Moments & Misadventures :: From Boston to Bar Harbor

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.

17 responses to “Moments & Misadventures :: From Boston to Bar Harbor”

  1. An area we explored too, many years ago, and like you I have far too few photos – it was the pre-digital era, and film was expensive. But your memories have sparked some of my own, especially of Salem and Bar Harbor. We missed the Nathanial Hawthorne house which is a shame, as I love visiting the homes of authors and read House of the Seven Gables as part of my university studies.

    • Thank goodness for digital cameras that let us take all the pictures we want. I would really love to go back to this area and see more of it. Salem at Halloween is suppose to be an incredible spooky experience… although I’m kind of a wimp so I might forgo that experience. When we saw the Nathaniel Hawthorne house I was so excited because I had just finished reading the Scarlet Letter and loved it. 🙂

  2. Not been anywhere near here, though I doing remember a barman in New York telling me that I should “get my ass to Boston one day”. We’d definitely be interested in the history surrounding Plymouth (Mayflower and all that) as ai remember being enthralled by those stories when I was a child.

  3. Sounds like a fun and educational experience! Boston is packed with historical treasures, and Bar Harbor looks beautiful. Recreating that trip with your daughter and digital camera would make for more lasting memories.

    • I would really love to go again with her and and share in the history and the natural beauty of the area. No better history lesson then being in the place. Thank goodness for digital cameras and the ability to take so many more pictures! 🙂

  4. My husband used to work in Boston for a couple of years so we’ve spent quite a bit of time in the New England area. It’s very charming and absolutely stunning in the fall when the leaves are changing colour. We went to Salem during October and as you can imagine, they take Halloween very seriously. We also used to go to Acadia National Park every May until the start of the pandemic. We’ve been thinking about returning one of these days as it’s been awhile since we’ve been there.

    • Oh I think I would really enjoy Halloween in Salem. Even though I’m kind of a wimp about ghost stories- there could just be no where better to get into the spooky season then Salem 🙂 I would be counting down the days till May if it meant a trip to Acadia. Going back there is high up on my list.

  5. I’ve not visited Boston but would like to go there sometime. It’s great to have memories from long ago and though we didn’t take so many photos then, they are all treasured.

    • I agree, the few photos I have from that pre digital age all treasures. Maybe more so because they were pre-digital. I think you would really love Boston and all the history there 🙂 Have a great weekend Marion!

  6. I feel that way about some of my earliest adult trips, too: Where are all the pictures?!?!
    I really must get out to Boston and surrounding areas for some history. It’s a real hole in my US travel resume.

    • I feel like ‘where are all the pictures’ could just be a tagline for the first half of my life. I would really love to go back and get into the history of Boston now that as an adult I find the history all the more interesting then I did as a teenager 🙂

  7. What an amazing adventure at that age! I was so lucky that I travelled when I was very young – and I remember at 11 going to South Africa and 16 going to Australia. They were truly formative experiences and it’s always so good to see something totally different to start realising how big the world is! I’d love to visit Boston one day soon 🙂

    • Absolutely! seeing more of the world during those formative years has such an impact on perspective and understanding. I would love to go back to Boston and immerse myself in the history now that I’m a little older and a little more likely to appreciate it 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend!

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