Thursday, November 17, 2011

Really, Really Back on the Road this time

So why have we posted no Blogs since our promise of October 28th?

A couple of reasons really: foremost is the fact that we have been having such a good time with old friends from Los Gatos that we had no time to write, secondarily we had technology problems which are now thanks to the wonderful folks at Lenovo resolved so we’re now busily (on a dull rainy day in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia) recalling experiences and writing several weeks/months blogs - photos to follow.

We arrived back in Boston on route to Augusta, ME on October 24th. With a few hours to kill before our flight, and to stay awake, we walked around the terminal so you can imagine our surprise to hear Adele’s name being called from a coffee shop; as there are not too many people called Adele we turned to discover that it was Sue and Bob our good neighbors from across the street in Los Gatos. They had spent the weekend in Boston visiting their daughter at BU. We enjoyed chatting with them and getting caught up on the news of our respective families, friends, the neighborhood and Los Gatos. It was wonderful to meet them and we all marveled at how small the world is.

It was dark by the time we caught our little plane to Augusta so it was lovely to see the lights of the towns twinkling among the trees. On our way down to Boston, a day time flight we flew along the coast. The plane was a small 9 seater Cessna which stays low providing a wonderful sightseeing tour both ways. When we arrived in Augusta Eileen and Carl were there to greet us; we could see them from the plane which brought back memories of landing in Guernsey and seeing our grandchildren before we deplaned.  It was good to be “Back in the USA”. We spent the next four nights with Eileen and Carl, buying supplies, washing clothes and generally getting our act together. As a big Nor’easter was forecast for the area and to avoid bedding down with the Barth’s for the winter we decided to get on the road.

On the 28th we headed down to Middleboro, MA from where we planned to visit Plymouth, Rhode Island and Cape Cod.  Next day we headed for Plymouth and saw the famous Rock in a Greek like granite structure on the shore, one leans over the rail to see the rock. We also toured the “Mayflower” an exact replica of the original it was a very small ship where on-board actors dressed in period costumes assumed the speech and persona of the original passengers in 1620. A dockside exhibit provided the many stories of the passengers, what they packed, their food and the conditions they travelled under on board. We reckon that 3 or 4 people used the same hammock - when one saw an empty hammock one got in and had a rest. There were cannons and guns on board, this was a time of piracy on the high seas and, religion or not, they had to defend themselves.

We then went on to visit the Plimouth Plantation as spelling was not fixed at that time names and places often had several spellings. Located on the banks of the Eel River again, we met costumed actors who took on the role of a person who lived in the village in 1627, speaking Shakespearian English. We have a great video of a chicken complaining as we chased it out of several houses; it was a cold and wet day so it was looking for shelter. The houses look much the same as any peasant’s house in England in the 17th century. The village a fenced wall around it with cannons for protection and also rare breeds of goats and chickens in a pen. We (visitors) were summoned to the big hall at the top of the village were we got a much too long lecture on the Bible and the religious beliefs of the Plymouth Brethren. After a decent time we left and headed over to the Native Peoples (Wampanoag tribe) village - there actors dressed as period Native Americans spoke English. They were "living" in the winter home, a large hut built of bark that they striped from the trees in the spring when the sap is soft, there were lots of skins on benches around a central fire that vents through a hole in the top of the hut - it was nice and cozy in there. One actor told us that he was married to an Irish girl - many times on out travels we have met people who have Irish blood running in their veins.

As we drove through town on our way home we saw there was Mass in the church in the center of town, as it was Saturday we decided to attend. 

Next day we woke up to a covering of snow, it was a cold, sunny day so we decided to head for Newport, Rhode Island and visit the Mansions.  We toured two of them “The Elms” inspired by the 18th century Chateau d’Asnieres, this magnificent villa belonged to the coal magnate Edward Julius Berwind and “The Breakers” which was built by one of the Vanderbilt’s at the cost of $11 million in 1892; this mansion was modeled after the Petit Trianon at Versailles. These very large mansions were used for just 8 weeks of the year when the rich left New York to get away from the very hot summer weather.

Afterwards, we walked along the famous Cliff Walk and enjoyed the view of several other mansions. We then went to see the “Casino” (A Sports Club) Americas answer to Wimbledon? This is the HQ for the Tennis Hall of Fame - a beautiful building and lovely grounds. It hosted tennis, horses jumping, bowling and many more sports.  The town of Newport is very similar to an old English town, narrow streets in the middle of the busy town center.  We dined in an Irish pub owned by the Crowley family, whose ancestors hailed from County Cork, Ireland.  It was a bright, sunny day yet cold out of the sun but ended up as an enjoyable day for both of us.

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