20 years ago, I ventured to the far north east corner of the country with my mom and her friend. At this point in my life I had only visited a handful of states in the Rocky Mountains and never been farther east than Colorado. So the prospect of venturing to the completely other side of the country was absolutely thrilling at the thought of seeing a place so different from what I knew. We would begin in Boston, Massachusetts and drive up the coast to Bar Harbor, Maine.
The thing that struck me most was how green it was here. I never realized just how much of a desert my home state of Utah was until I compared it to the vibrant greens and plentiful trees of New England. I also never realized that I had an accent until coming here and being asked by locals where I was from with that accent. It was then I learned that while those in New England tend to drop their R’s, where I come from we tend to drop our T’s. Apart from the greens and the accent though, I was excited to learn more about this part of the country.
We walked around the beautiful park in the middle of Boston known as the Boston Commons. This is the oldest city park in the country and would later come to be referred to as Boston’s version of Central Park in New York.
We passed by the Cheers bar, made famous by the tv series of the same name. Being at the too young end of the legal drinking age we didn’t go in the bar. I remember being disappointed at not getting to see the place where supposedly everyone knows your name and they’re always glad you came. But that would have to wait for a couple years.
We took a tour of the city on a bus/boat with Boston Duck Tours. This wild contraption acted as both bus on land and a boat on sea as it took around the city. I honestly don’t remember anything about the tour itself, but I will never forget that moment of driving into the water and floating along the bay.
We saw The Old North Church where in 1775 on a signal from Paul Revere, two lanterns were hung in the steeple as a code that the British troops were coming by sea. To let the people know the path of the British, they would hang lanterns in the church- one if by land, two if by sea. Paul Revere would ride through the towns alerting the people with his call of ‘The British are Coming, the British are coming’. This would be the beginning of the Revolutionary War when the American colonies would fight for their independence from Great Britain. The Old North Church is one of the most visited historical sites in the country. You can also see Paul Revere making the famous ride.
One of my favorite parts about walking through Boston, besides the incredible history everywhere, was the buildings and streets. I remember marveling at the cobblestone streets and the beautiful detail on so many of the buildings.
One of my favorite parts of the city was getting to tour the USS Constitution. This naval ship was launched in 1797 as one of six frigates to come from the authorization of the Naval Act of 1794. She is the world’s oldest ship that is still afloat. This ship earned the nickname Old Iron Sides because it survived countless attacks on the water but still remained afloat. Walking around the ship and seeing the mechanisms at work was incredible.
After Boston, we drove to the town of Salem to see the spooky place of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-1693. These years saw a mass hysteria revolving around accusing people of witchcraft in the ultra conservative Puritan communities. Hundreds of people would be accused of witchcraft and executed accordingly. There is a Salem Witch Trails Museum which puts you in the midst of things and gives the feeling like you are one of the mob. A walk through the cemetery is a sad and fascinating look at this troubled time.
Also in Salem is the home of American author Nathanial Hawthorne where you can tour the inspiration for his book ‘The House of Seven Gables’. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote many gothic novels in the 1850s where he often wrote about history, morality, and religion and the duality of these things. I loved seeing the house and its hidden passageways and imagining the scenes of his stories taking place here.
Our last stop in Massachusetts was to visit Plymouth Rock. When the first pilgrims to America crossed the ocean in 1620, it is said that this site is where they disembarked from the ship The Mayflower and first set foot in the new world. There is a lot of debate about the accuracy of this. But to honor those that made that journey there is a rock with the year carved into it. The rock is surrounded by brick to protect it. Apparently, this is the place to be for Thanksgiving as they go all out with celebrations and food.
We drove through New Hampshire with hardly a stop along the way and continued up into Maine. We spent one night in the beautiful town of Kennebunkport complete with lighthouse next to the rocky shore. The lighthouse had a small cafe next to it and we went there for breakfast where we had fresh blueberry pancakes to eat as we watched the waves hit the rocks.
When we arrived in Bar Harbor the next day we got to go sailing around the bay on the Downeast Windjammer, a beautiful 3 masted sailboat. There is no better way to see the beautiful landscape then from such a majestic ship.
And of course we spent time in the beautiful Acadia National Park.
When I think back to this trip to New England my first thought is at the criminal lack of pictures I have of it and my next thought is a kind of ache to go back and experience it as an adult. I just want to be wrapped in the history and the beauty of this whole area.