Day 9: Ogunquit to Portland, Maine

 

Marginal Way Footpath

After a quick continental breakfast at the hotel, we set out on foot to explore the Marginal Way Oceanview Path. The 1.25 mile footpath skirts the edge of the cliff between tiny Perkins Cove and the larger (yet still small) town of Ogunquit to the north. Although it was hot and humid, we really to enjoyed the expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Ogunquit Beach

 

The big black clouds that were looming ahead released a downpour as soon as we reached Ogunquit, forcing us into another hasty restaurant choice. Caffe Prego, a little Italian restaurant, hit the spot and gave us reprieve from the rain. After the rain cleared up, we walked looped back around to our hotel and started our drive toward Portland, Maine.

I was curious about Kennebunkport knowing that the Bush family had a summer home there, so we meandered up the coast until we arrived in Kennebunkport. When I consulted TripAdvisor for points of interest, it suggested we take a scenic drive on Ocean Drive. As we were taking in the views, I remembered that I had read that the Bush Compound was viewable from the road somewhere in Kennebunkport. I suggested that Jeff pull over so I could look it up on the map. We just happened to pull over at the lookout point overlooking Walker Point where generations of the Bush family have spent their summers. It was pretty cool to get a peek into their lives.

Way Way Store

From Kennebunkport, we went further north to meet up with a colleague of Jeff’s that lives in Saco, Maine. We had a little time to spare, so we stopped by the Way Way Store to load up on “penny” candy (actually $6.95/lb.). The Way Way Store has been in Saco since 1927. It sells candy, ice cream and slightly used canoes. Cray cray.
In Saco we met up with Jeff’s work pal, Randy, and his lovely family. Jeff enjoyed catching up and we both enjoyed hearing about their recent trip to Europe. We got some great tips for things to around Portland. (Thanks to the Vaughn family!)

 

Portland waterfront

 

After arriving in Portland, we checked into the hotel. The kids and Jeff had some pool time while I tried to catch up on my blog. (I didn’t.)

 

Steamed lobster dinner

 

Clam chowder AND clam strips

In the evening, we walked into town to find Kai some “chowdah!”  Portland is the largest most populous city in Maine. It is said to have the most restaurants per capita of any city in the United States. For that reason, it was not difficult to stumble upon a restaurant with “chowder” in the title for yet another fantastic dinner. No dinner is complete without ice cream, so we went to the variety store for homemade ice cream to cap the night. I had “Maine Blueberry.” So good! *sigh*
Once we made it back to the hotel, we carried on with my children’s new HGTV addiction and watched several real estate flipping shows before finally pulling the plug on the TV around midnight to get a bit of rest.

Zzzzzzzzzz……

Day Eight: Salem + Maine

This morning we drove 15 miles north to Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is most commonly known as the location of the witch trials of 1696. To prepare for the town we started reading Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer.

 As we drove into town, we stumbled upon the Salem Witch Museum, apparently Salem’s most popular witch museum. Although it was dated, it’s mannequin-like exhibits illustrated the facts we had learned from Schanzer’s book.

As we emerged from the museum, we came upon a surprise downpour. We quickly wandered through the town to find a restaurant to shelter us from the rain. After lunch, Jeff took Kiki to a haunted house (she begged to go!) while Kai and I explored further into town.

 Salem is a port town, that no doubt has some very interesting history, unfortunately it was all overshadowed by the witch trial events of 1696. Much of the town is very kitschy, dominated by modern day witch-types selling lots of crystals, herbs, velvet cloaks and the like. (I did not buy a crystal ball.)

Charter Street Burying Point

 

Part of the Salem with Trial Memorial

Kai and I stumbled upon the Salem Witch Trials Memorial (http://salemaward.org/swtm/about-memorial/) next to Charter Street Burying Point. The memorial was erected to honor the 20 victims of the hysteria of this period and to remind us to not repeat the social injustices of the past.

 

Salem Whatf with Friendship

On the way out of town, we made a quick stop at the Salem maritime National Historic Site where I jumped out of the car and took a picture of the only three remaining wharves left out of the over 50 that lined the shore during the height of the shipping era.

 

House of Seven Gables

Not far down the shore we stumbled upon the House of Seven Gables, a 17th century ship captain’s home made famous by the 1851 Nathaniel Hawthorne romance novel of the same name. We skirted sound the fence and enjoyed the view from afar and then hit the road, bound for Maine.

A mere 70 miles north of Boston and we were in a the quaint town of Ogunquit, Maine. Ogunquit is an Abenaki word meaning “beautiful by the sea.”

 

Perkins Cove

After checking into our hotel and having a quick swim in the pool, we ventured into the tiny little community of Perkins Cove to find some dinner.

 

Lobster Roll and Seafood Chowder at the Lobster Shack

After filling up on lobster and chowder, we decided to take in a “cocktail cruise” on the local boat Finestkind. It was fabulous to cruise down the coast and look at some of the gigantic summer homes that dot the rocky Maine coast.

 

The girls are driving!

The girls got to go up to the bridge to drive the boat with the captain, while I stayed down below being reminded of how rough seas make me queasy. Luckily, I didn’t barf and we ended the day on a high note.

More of Maine to come.

Day Seven: Boston Part III 

After a nice long lie-in, paired with multiple episodes of The Real Estate Brothers, we hit Starbucks and then stopped hopped the T for a look at Cambridge and the Harvard campus.

 

John Harvard Statute

We got lucky and scored an excellent tour guide, Jake with “Hahvahd” tours (www.harvardtours.com @hahvahdtour). He showed us around campus and gave us some interesting facts on culture, history and traditions at Harvard. His commentary had the perfect blend of humor and history. If you ever find yourself in Cambridge, I highly recommend this hour long tour.

 

Shake Shack

After the tour we had a satisfying lunch at Shake Shack (@shakeshack). I had a black and white shake and a SmokeStack burger that was so delicious I might have to try to replicate it at home!

 

Memorial Hall Transcept

From lunch, we walked over to Harvard’s Memorial Hall, one of the most distinct building on campus. Jake had mentioned that it had the world’s largest collection of non-religious Tiffany glass. The building is in three segments. The northern portion, Annenburg Hall, flanked by walls of Tiffany glass, is a dining hall for Freshman. The southernmost portion, Sanders Theater, which seats 1166 and is known for its superior acoustics, has hosted many famous speakers yet is also a lecture hall for large entry level classes. We could only access the central hall, known as the Memorial Transept. It displays 28 white tablets commemorating the 136 Harvard men that died while fighting for the Union during the Civil War. Its large vaulted ceiling, walnut paneling, marble floors and gothic design are very reminiscent of Hogwarts.

 

Boston Tea Party Museum
Boston Tea Party Museum

 

After just scratching the surface at Harvard, we took the T two stops into Boston to see the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. The Museum consists of two ships and interactive exhibit followed by a tea room and gift shop. It is staffed by costumed reenactors that made the experience come alive for all of us. Each of us were given a card that listed our name (the name of a real patriot) and how we contributed to the Revolution/Tea Party. After a brief introduction teaching us the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party, we were able to go on one of the ships for a tour and to toss some tea overboard. After the ship, our guide took us through an interactive exhibit that taught us about how the Boston Tea Party helped to spark the American Revolution. It was an excellent museum packed with information.

 

Seaweed Salad

After soaking in so many facts, we were all hungry so we got back on the T and rode over to Chinatown. We ducked into the first restaurant that we came upon, Montien, a Thai restaurant.

 

Make Way for Ducklings

After a light dinner, I wanted to see if we could find the Make Way For Ducklings statue in the Boston Public Garden, erected in honor of the book’s author Robert McCloskey. We found the statute and then wandered through the gardens visiting all of the sites that Mr. and Mrs. Mallard visited throughout the story, including looking at the infamous Swan boats. Kiki even came upon Mrs. mallard and her ducklings!

Our last stop of the day was the infamous George Washington statue on the west side of the park, which was conveniently located just a block away from the T stop which brought us back to our hotel in Cambridge.   We read Make Way for Ducklings and then went to bed.

George Washington Equestrian Statue

 

It’s been wicked pissah, Boston, but tomorrow we’re off to Salem to learn about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Day Six: Boston Part II

Day 6: Boston

We made all of the stops!

We set out today to finish the last two stops on the Freedom Trail. Both stops are on the same side of the river as our hotel, so we made a point of stopping at the playground (I saw from the train yesterday) so the girls could have some playtime. It was super hot even at ten o’clock in the morning, so the girls enjoyed skirting around the edges of the adjacent spray park, as well.
 We eventually found the signature red line of the Freedom Trail, so we followed it toward the Bunker Hill Monument, finding a popsicle truck on the route.
 Bunker Hill Monument is a 221-foot tall granite obelisk that was built to commemorate the Revolutionary War Battle of Bunker Hill, which took place in 1775. The monument has 294 steps to a viewpoint at the top.

Thankfully (really?), we were one degree from the NPS closing the monument due to the heat index. It was almost 90 degrees, but the ranger said it is typically 2 degrees warmer inside the monument. We made it to the top, although I did see my life flash before my eyes a few times. The only thing that keep me going was knowing that once I made it to the top, I could go back down again.

 

We followed up our tower climb with a visit to the accompanying museum across the street. I enjoyed the exhibits, including a battlefield diorama, but I also enjoyed that it was housed in the former Charlestown Public Library building.
From Bunker Hill, we followed the trail down to the Charlestown Navy Yard to see the USS Constitution.

Built in 1797, the USS Constitution, also referred to as “Old Ironsides,” is the world’s oldest commissioned war ship. That means the men and women that work aboard are active duty Navy sailors. Although it is currently in dry dock undergoing a two year renovation project, we were able to go aboard and look around the main deck.

There is a museum on the adjacent dock, unfortunately none of us had the patience to endure any museum time. We stopped in merely to use the head and get the girls some wicked naval tattoos.

  

Next, we walked down the pier to tour a World War II-era Destroyer, the USS Cassin Young followed by a quick lunch before we hailed a cab for a ride back to our hotel.

We watched HGTV for a few hours to unwind before taking a Duck Tour around Boston, including a short cruise on the Charles River.

After the Duck Tour, we took the T to the North End to try to find some Italian food for dinner.

 We took a stab in the dark and tried one of the first restaurants that we came upon, Fiorino. The lobby had a picture with the owner posing alongside Matt Damon (circa 1990-something), so it has to be good, right? Although Kiki refused to eat, Kai and I shared some delicious Chicken Saltimbuca while Jeff had Veal Parmigiana.

 For dessert, we tried to make a stop at the famous Mike’s Pastry for some cannoli. One look at the line (more like a mob) and we kept on down the block to Modern Pastry. We were able to find yummy Italian pastries for each of us to eat once we got back to the hotel.


It was another wicked good day in Boston.

Day Five: Boston

Day 5: Boston

Boston Cream!

After making a stop at Honey Dew Donuts we left the cape in our rear view mirror, bound for Boston.

Our room at Hotel Marlowe had a nice view of the Charles River

We were able to check into our Cambridge Hotel just before lunch. We unloaded our luggage, had a nice sit-down lunch and set out for the Freedom Trail!

The Freedom Trail is marked throughout Boston with a red brick line

The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile marked path that winds through Boston leading you to several historical sites. Our first stop was Boston Common, the oldest city park in the United States. During the Revolutionary War, the British used the area as an encampment.

Boston Common

Next up was the Massachusetts State House. Completed in 1798, and boasting a distinct gilded gold dome since 1874 Is the home of the state legislature and the office of the governor.

Massachusetts State House

One block away is the Park Street Church dating back to 1804.

Park Street Church

Adjacent to the church is the Granary Burying Ground one of Boston’s oldest cemeteries and the final resting place of many civil war patriots, including Samuel Adams, John Hancock and Paul Revere.

Paul Revere’s Grave

Our tour along the trail also included stops at:

King’s Chapel

Kings Chapel and Burying Ground – dating back to 1630, the burying ground is the oldest in the city of Boston. The adjoining chapel, completed in 1754, has an active Unitarian Congregation
Old South Meeting House – most famous for being the location where colonists met to organize the Boston Tea Party. It was the largest building in Boston at the time. Old State House – One of the oldest public buildings in the U.S., it was built, in 1713 and housed the state government until 1793

Old State House

Boston massacre site – directly in front of the Old State House, the site where British troops killed 5 civilians in 1770, fueling animosity toward Britain

Faneuil Hall

Faneuil Hall -built in 1742 to serve as a marketplace and meeting hall, it still serves as a marketplace most popular site for tourists in the city

Paul Revere House

Paul Revere House – built in 1680, occupied by Paul Revere from 1770-1800, the oldest house in downtown Boston

Old North Church

Old North Church – the site of the tower where the “one if by land, two if by sea” signal was sent in relation to the midnight ride of Paul Revere preceding the battles of Lexington and Concord.

I really enjoyed a demonstration of making drinking chocolate at Captain Jackson’s Colonial Chocolate adjacent to the church. There was also a fabulous printing press demonstration that I found particularly interesting because my great-grandfather was a printer in Worcester, Masachusetts. Apparently, printmaking was the second most popular profession (after farming) well into the 19th century.
Copps Hill Burying Ground – dating to 1659, the second oldest cemetery in Boston. It contains more than 1200 marked graves.

Some famous faces we saw along the way

Although we didn’t make it to all of the Freedom Trail sites, schlepping around the city in temperatures exceeding 80 degrees wore us out. We went back to the hotel for some much needed down time (in room happy hour, back to back episodes of Tiny House) followed by a light dinner and sleep.

Day Four: Chatham

Day Four: Chatham

We had a late start today, leaving the hotel after ten to get breakfast at IHOP in Hyannis. We followed up our meal with a rousing round of mini golf at Wild Animal Lagoon.

Wild Animal Lagoon Mini Golf

I wanted to see another lighthouse, so we drove down to Chatham on the “elbow” of the Cape. Chatham Light, established in 1808, was the second light to be built on Cape Cod. It was originally two towers, but one was moved north in 1923 to become Nauset Light. The adjacent home, originally constructed for the light keeper, now houses active duty Coast Guard personnel.

Chatham Lighthouse

Directly across the street is Chatham Light Beach. The parking lot only allowed us 30 minutes (perfect for me), so we walked out to the beach where I planted it in the sand and Jeff took the girls for a little beach stroll.

Monomoy Wildlife Refuge

South of the lighthouse and connected by a deceivingly tiny little road marked “no outlet” is Morris Island, part of which is part of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Monomoy was established as a refuge for migratory birds in 1951, but boasts many kinds of wildlife, including horseshoe crab, deer, harbor seals, and gray seals. After crossing the small land bridge, the island opened up to a large residential area including two gated communities boasting large oceanfront homes with yachts anchored in adjacent Stage Harbor. We found a spot to park along the road to wonder down to the beach. On the ocean side of the road, we found an expansive salt water marsh, which was not conducive to walking. On the sheltered harbor side we found a sandy beach.

Sometimes you stumble upon the neatest things without ever expecting to find anything. As we wandered up to the sandy shore, Kiki discovered hundreds of tiny fiddler crabs. When they heard her coming, they all scuttled off to hide in the sea grass. It was quite a sight. We all enjoyed wading up the beach to watch more and more flee. The same beach had hundreds and hundreds of tiny little hermit crabs. Pretty neat.  

Fiddler Crab

After exploring the beach a while, we drove up to Main Street to find some sushi. The restaurant didn’t open until five, so we took some time to wander through the local shops until dinner. Bluefins Sushi & Sake bar did not disappoint. After dinner, we drove back to the hotel for a little unwinding at the pool. After a few hours of properly unwinding, we went into Hyannis in search of something “not sushi” for Kiki to eat.
 We were surprised that Hyannis had a pretty active nightlife. A lot of the shops were still open after 9 o’clock, allowing Kai to replace her blown out flip-flops and me to find an adorable little dress. Jeff found Kiki a hot dog, which she followed up with two slices of pizza. We closed out the night with some of the best ice cream in New England from Katie’s Homemade Ice Cream.

 Tomorrow we’re off to Boston!

Day Three: Provincetown 

The trip three hours into the future caught up with us today. No one stirred until 9 am. After a quick shower, we slipped into the hotel continental breakfast just in time to grab a carb heavy breakfast. 
  
The first stop this morning was the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory tour. The self guided tour only took about 15 minutes, which was just enough time to show us the process for making their delicious kettle-cooked chips. The factory can produce up to 350,000 bags of chips in a day! After loading up on chips, we hopped in the car for the 47 miles “down” (actually, the very tippy top) the cape to Provincetown, aka P-town. 

  
Provincetown is famous for being the spot where the pilgrims first touched land before later settling on the mainland at Plymouth. In the 18th century it became a fishing community. It became (and still is) an artists’ colony in the late 1960s. It is now well known as a popular LGBT resort. 

 
We started with climbing the Pilgrim Monument, which is set atop a hill above the main street and can be seen from anywhere in town. The monument was built to commemorate the pilgrims landing in 1620. It is the tallest all-granite structure in the United States. “The heart-healthy walk to the top on 116 steps and 60 ramps only takes about 10 minutes at a leisurely pace.” (http://www.pilgrim-monument.org/overview-faq)

 We climbed the steps, enjoyed the view, zoomed through the adjacent museum and then set off to explore the main shopping corridor, Commercial street. 

 Commercial street is just as it sounds, commercial. We found a delightful little restaurant called the Mayflower Cafe. Their menu had just about anything you could ever want, including: a full bar, massive amounts of fried seafood and a selection of Portuguese dishes. Many Portuguese sailors from the Azores settled in Provincetown after the Revolutionary War after being hired to work on merchant ships. Jeff enjoyed his Portuguese kale soup. 

  
After a delicious (two drink each) lunch of assorted lobster dishes, Jeff split off to go check out the pier and the girls and I explored the eclectic shops downtown. 

  
On the way out of town, we made a stop at Race Point Beach. I wanted to go there mostly to see the lighthouse (which was not visible), but the girls enjoyed sticking their toes in the coarse sand of the Atlantic Ocean. As we strolled onto the beach, we noticed several people lined up taking pictures. It turns out there were several huge seals, a dozen or more, swimming up the coastline. The girls really enjoyed just standing on shore spotting seals as their heads poked up here and there. No doubt they were just as curious about us as we were about them. 

  
Our next stop was up the coast a bit to Highland Lighthouse, also known as Cape Cod Light. Highland Light Station was commissioned by George Washington in 1797. It was originally a 44 foot wooden tower situated a top the cliff on outer Cape Cod. It was the first lighthouse established on Cape Cod and the 20th in the United States. The lighthouse has been restructured several times, most recently in 1857. The severe erosion of the adjacent cliff forced the relocation of the lighthouse 450 feet     In inland in 1996. Only 6.5 acres, of the site’s original 10, remain because of the erosion. Highland Light, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, remains an active lighthouse to this day. 

  
After a long day of exploring, we were all ready to take in some Zzzzs. We picked up a pizza and went back to the hotel to watch a movie on the TV and unwind a little so we can get up a have another adventure tomorrow. 

Goodnight, from Yarmouth.