Sunday, September 30, 2018

Massachusetts - Day 30

Sippewissett Campground
Sunday, 30 September 2018

My last day in Massachusetts, and I need desperately to do laundry and generally straighten things out before tackling a different state.

The family who own this campground have sold it, and all their seasonal people have been notified to move their trailers by November 1st.  I've wondered from time to time about the “seasonal” places I’ve seen at these campgrounds, because quite a few of them looked like they haven’t moved in years, even though the majority of the New England campgrounds close in the fall.  Now I know – they haven’t moved.

But they’re moving now and it’s interesting to watch.  People all around me are dismantling the various outdoor accessories they’ve put up over the years, they’re hiring professional trailer movers to detach them and cart them out, they’re pressure washing them and repairing them – these trailers haven’t looked this good in years.

The campground’s still getting a lot of business, though.  The spot I’m in used to be rented by a seasonal who’s moved out, and I’m seeing that at several of the vacated sites.  I’ve been here now for a week and a half so am getting fairly familiar with who’s new and who’s long-term.

This campground doesn’t all dogs until after Labor Day, and much of the time I’ve been here mine have been the only dogs.  On weekends, though, it’s different – more people are coming in on weekend camping trips and the seasonals are paying visits to their campers, and a lot of them are bringing dogs.

I had an unfortunate run-in with one of them 2 nights ago when Dexter decided there was something horribly wrong with the man’s dog and made a serious attempt to attack it.  The whole thing was a mess and of course made me very nervous about walking the dogs.  That’s the main reason we left so early yesterday morning and stayed gone much of the day – I’d already walked the dogs really early but I wanted to take them someplace else to do any more walking.

Last night I went over to the man’s campsite and asked if he was going to take his dog out in the next 20 minutes or so, and then quick took the dogs for a bedtime walk.  The office told me yesterday the man was leaving this morning so I kept the dogs inside (after the 5 AM walk) until I saw the man leaving.  Too much tension.

Otherwise this has been a decent campground and the cheapest by far in the area.  They don’t know exactly what the new owners will do with the land, but it’s guaranteed it won’t stay this same little family-owned minor-league campground.  For one thing, the owners have been here since 1961 so got grandfathered in regarding their septic and water systems, and the new owners won’t get that privilege.  They’ll doubtless cut down quite a few of the trees – which can be a major nuisance when I’m trying to get into and out of my site but are still very pretty and soothing and helping cut down on air pollution.

Changes everywhere.

Massachusetts - Day 29 - cranberries and coastline

Sippewissett Campground
Saturday, 29 September 2018
today's route
This campground is very near Rt. 28, and as I was waiting for a chance to turn onto it, I saw 8 wild turkeys feeding in a small plot of grass next to the road.  They were a little alarmed when I pulled up and stopped, but then they kept on eating.  Pretty neat to see so many of them.

RV maintenance
I went first down the road a piece to the Jiffy Lube in Mashpee (has to be an Indian name), a town between Falmouth and Hyannis.  Jiffy Lubes are happy to help me out if they’ve got doors big enough to handle my little guy, and I usually call ahead but I’d passed this one several times and could see that they did.  And they did.  I walked the dogs around on a decent sized patch of semi-landscaped lawn for a bit till they were done.  A young guy who’d helped work on it said he thought my RV was “awesome!”  He said he could totally see himself driving it all over the country.  So I told him that’s what I was doing, which he thought was a great idea.

Route 3A
From there I was on my way back up to Rt. 3A, which runs through the little coastal towns up to Plymouth, and the most direct way was across the Sagamore Bridge.  I decided this was a demon I needed to face, and that I could do it in the left lane, so I did.  But I was seriously terrified – really terrified – for miles on either side of that bridge.  Anticipating it, driving it, trying to relax after it was past – didn’t matter that I’d figured out a way to do it.  I was trembling all over, my hands could hardly hang onto the steering wheel, my foot could hardly work the accelerator pedal, I had to make my jaw not drop open, my breathing was haywire – it was a real event.  But I didn’t hit the curb and the dogs were undisturbed, not knowing there was anything different going on.  What a bizarre experience.

The Massachusetts countryside was very pretty, but the state highway department is either truly negligent or filled with major tree-lovers: over and over I’ve had the problem of not being able to see direction signs clearly because tree branches haven’t been pruned in way too long.  It happened again this morning when the sign that said turn left here was so completely covered that I could barely read it as I drove by it just a few feet away.  Which meant that, yet again, I’d have to find a place to turn around, being peeved because this one was definitely not my fault.

The first turnoff that looked useful turned out to lead to the entrance of the recycling center.  This being Saturday morning, lots and lots of people were coming to drop off recyclables, so I quickly became a nuisance.  A guy leaving the center stopped to ask if I was lost and needed help, and I told him I was just having problems with Massachusetts not trimming the tree branches covering their road signs, and he agreed it was a problem.  Then he said he used to have a 27’ RV and loved it but wished he had a smaller one like mine.  I guess this was RV Admiration Day.

As I was getting back on the right road, I saw a much larger flock of turkeys – must have been 25 or more – feeding in a field.  And no, it wasn’t a turkey farm; it was a reservoir or pond of some sort.  Pretty neat seeing all these wild turkeys.  But after all this is the Plymouth area, and we all know what the Pilgrims supposedly ate at Thanksgiving.

As I was nearing Plymouth, I found a turnoff for Plymouth Long Beach and decided it was time to stretch our legs.  Smelled very strongly of seaweed and salt water and sea smells.  You can’t see it in my photo, but there’s a lighthouse at the end of that spit of land.  I think the buildings in one of those photos are part of Plymouth, which was just down the road a bit from here.

I wasn’t interested in visiting Plymouth Rock, not believing much of the stories we’ve been told about it and the settlers, and anyway I think my family came here when I was a kid.  It’s easy to see that all these coastal towns are old, and all of them are figuring out ways of reusing the old buildings while making their town continue to be relevant for them in today’s world.  In other words, they don’t want to live in a museum but aren’t tearing down their heritage either.  Plymouth is the same way.

From there I turned inland along surface streets on my way to a cranberry farm, which I found with no problem, thanks to it being just down the road from the airport so I could follow the airport signs most of the way.

Flax Pond Cranberry Co., a family-owned farm, has been a member of Ocean Spray, which is a grower-owned cooperative, since it was formed in 1936.  This farm is among the 2% of cranberry growers that dry-harvest their berries.  When you buy a bag of whole cranberries in the grocery store, they were dry-harvested, and the dry-harvesters are known in the industry as fresh-fruit growers.  All water-harvested cranberries (98% of the industry) are processed and become cans of cranberry jelly and cranberry sauce and such.

cranberry fields

everything red is cranberries
The water you see in these photos was not wanted – it was from that deluge yesterday and has held up the cranberry harvest in these fields.  Industry standards say they can’t harvest as long as there’s water on the crop, so they’ve had to suspend harvesting until the water sinks in.

They use this machine – a picker/pruner – to harvest the berries.  It’s operated by a man who walks behind it as it runs.  The machine picks the berries, trying not to disturb the plants, and prunes the vines that get caught in the machine.  The berries are funneled into a burlap bag attached at the top of the machine.  Full bags are left sitting in the field and the farm hires a helicopter to lift them from the fields onto a truck to take to the plant (which I saw not much farther down the road after I left the farm).  The guide said the helicopter expense is actually cost-effective, so they’ve been doing it for many years.

The plants at this farm were planted 125 years ago; this is not an industry that pulls up the plants to harvest the product – it’s more like the grape growers who harvest while leaving the vines intact.  Like grapes, cranberries grow on vines that can get quite long.  They can mat together along the ground and inhibit new growth.  Someone figured out, after an enormous storm relocated a bunch of sand from the beach to his fields, that sand helps separate the vines and encourages new growth (guess what farmers now do every year).

Cranberry plants produce pretty little pink flowers which, unfortunately, don’t make the fields look like a pink carpet because the flowers hang down toward the ground.  In June, this farm rents bees for several weeks to pollinate their plants.  When the beekeeper takes the bees home, he harvests the honey and this farm buys it back from him.  There are apparently quite a few people who want it because it’s unprocessed and so is useful for people with allergies (I think that’s what the tour guide said).

You may be able to see in my photos that this farm has a sprinkler system, much like a suburban lawn does, and they water the cranberry plants just as a lawn is watered.  In the winter, though, they take off the sprinkler heads and flood the fields 4”-5” above the tops of the plants.  This protects the plants because the top of the water freezes without damaging the plants farther down in the water.

The cranberry growers are coming to a crisis, unfortunately, due to increasing use by water-harvesters of hybrid plants.  They produce berries that are far larger than ordinary cranberries, so the yield/acre is too high for the market to bear.  The USDA is curtailing production from all growers and the price is plummeting, which means the small growers are having trouble making ends meet.  Plants with ordinary berries produce about 125 barrels/acre; hybrid plants produce 300-500 barrels/acre because the berries are so much larger.  And this is why the market’s getting flooded.

There are 228 different kinds of cranberries (did you know this?) and only 10 of them are cultivated.  This farm grows 3 different kinds.  Cranberries, blueberries and Concord grapes have always grown wild in this country; cranberry cultivation began in the early 1800s.

More countryside
I had left the campground fairly early this morning so, by the time I was finished at the farm, it was still only just after noon.  I decided to do a little more coastline driving.

The thing about this whole southern part of Massachusetts is that even when I’m driving on the road along the coast, I’m not on the coast.  These county roads are only 2 lane/no shoulder roads, but whole towns and villages aren’t visible.  Instead it’s like with Sandwich the other day: I see a sign saying “Wareham Center” and, if I want to see more than a few shops and travel-related businesses, I have to turn off the road.  That fact keeps on surprising me – I keep on driving these small roads expecting to see the towns, and I keep on being surprised that I’m not seeing them.  (Slow learner, here.)

This fact was brought home to me in Wareham (pronounced ware-ham, not ware-am like my name) at the grocery store when the young man checking me out told me what he liked best about living there was the beach.   And I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of a beach, or of beach-related businesses.

I still want to visit the New Bedford Glass Museum, but by the time I got in the vicinity it was mid-afternoon and I decided to head back to the campground.  I’ll stop on Monday on my way to Rhode Island, I think.

Massachusetts - Day 28

Sippewissett Campground
Friday, 28 September 2018

I’d been planning to spend today driving over to New Bedford and that general area, but the weather forecast on the TV today showed a major storm system moving quickly this way.  I decided to just stay put for today and go tomorrow, weather depending.

Good decision.  It didn’t just rain, it poured.  Hard.  For hours.  The entire states of Connecticut and Rhode Island were under a flash flood watch, because the ground got saturated the other day and the prediction was for another inch or so of rain along the coastal area.  I’m picking up the Providence NBC station, so I have to figure out the Falmouth weather trends when the weather guy moves over a bit and I can see under his arm when he points at Providence.  Good enough.

Early this morning I found another piece of jewelry by the picnic table – I think the rain is moving the mud around and uncovering things people dropped.  This one is a pin – 2 pins actually, connected by a chain.  My sorority pin is that way, with the symbol for the chapter connected to the main one for the sorority.

The smaller pin is the number “48,” and the larger pin has a shield on it with an “S,” and underneath is written “Gregory.”  Well this, of course, caught my eye so I looked a little closer at the “S” and I think it might actually be an “St” which might mean St. Gregory, which there is one of – a Saint Gregory, I mean.  And taken together with the “48” I decided this must be an old school pin, because someone who graduated either from high school or college in 1948 would be a generation older than me.  It looks like the sort of thing they might have had for my mom’s Rhode Island high school.  I tried to take photos of it but I don’t have a lens that’ll do close-up work.  Here’s the best I came up with.  Not too good, huh?

I’m getting truly lousy internet reception today, what with the rain and all, so will keep trying to find something.  I saw that there are quite a few St. Gregory schools around the US, but I’m thinking the best bet would be those in PA or this general area.  I can’t get a signal long enough to find any images from these schools.  But Mass., like Maine and Vermont and New Hampshire, gets lots of people from nearby states coming to visit.  Though why on earth someone would bring a pin like this to a campground is beyond me.

Massachusetts - Day 27 - car repair and countryside

Sippewissett Campground
Thursday, 27 September 2018
today's route
I’ve been worried for some time now about my water pump – right from the beginning it’s made weird noises when I use it, but lately it’s sounded worse and worse, so now I’m afraid to use it.  This has been inconvenient because it means I can spend the night only in a place where I can hook up to water, which is limiting.

I did a little online research on user ratings for RV repair places in the general vicinity and found one not too far away with a good reputation.  I made an appointment for this morning at 10:00, meaning I needed to leave here by about 8:00 in case there was trouble on the highway.

It was Bradford RV in Brockton; I got there about 9:15 and they took me right away, and Mark the service guy was great.  It took us a while to find the pump, which turned out to be inside under the rear bench seat by the table.  I’d turn on the pump and we'd follow the sound, which still sounded pretty bad.  Once Mark finally found it he figured out right away that the problem was it wasn’t screwed down tight and was rattling and moving around.  He tightened all the screws and, though it still made noise, he said that’s a totally normal water pump sound.  So now I have a functioning water pump and I didn’t even have to buy one.

I had some other little chores and questions for him, and he took care of everything while telling me that he loves old cars and listens only to music from the 50s and early 60s and his daughter’s favorite song is the Beep Beep song.  I said, do you mean the one about the Cadillac?  And the Volkswagen?  And he said, no it was a Nash Rambler.  And I suddenly started spouting off, “A little Nash Rambler was following me about one-third my size.”  Nutty what sticks in your brain.  I haven’t heard that song in decades.

Mark also told me he’s had my same problem with the Sagamore Bridge and he too drives straddling the lane line and doesn’t worry about the other cars.  He pointed out that one of my curb-contacts earned me a serious gouge out of my right rear tire (not to mention crimping in the end of the exhaust pipe).  He thought I’d probably need to replace it and recommended a local tire company.  So off I went.

The Bennett Tire Company is a family business that caters to tractor-trailers and other big rigs.  The boss took a good look at my tire and said I’d gotten lucky and there was no cord showing, so I could replace it but it’d just be for my peace of mind because he didn’t think I needed to.  He did say I should be rotating them every 6,000 miles or so, and since I’m now nearly at 18,000 miles and haven’t rotated them once, and anyway he was saving me the money of a new tire, I said sure go for it.

I was surprised they didn’t make the dogs and me get out, but they didn’t put us on a lift, just used big jacks.  Gracie didn’t like it when they started moving the RV up and down, but I stayed with her and she managed to live through it.  Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was testifying, which didn’t help my mood any, listening to that poor woman reliving that situation for a national audience.  And remembering my own somewhat similar event which I don’t think I ever talked about much.  I guess that means it didn’t happen, according to our president.  Sorry to inject politics.  The whole thing has left me with a queasy feeling.

So anyway, I found good people to help me and I now have a functioning water pump and safe tires, and it cost me only $160 total.

Those businesses are on Route 28 just south of Randolph, and it’s the same highway number I drive on every time I come and go from the campground.  I’ve wondered since I went to Randolph whether they’re connected, but it’s hard to trace the connection on either of the maps I have.  But I decided to try to follow the road itself this afternoon.

And sure enough, they are connected.  I drove through some pretty, rural countryside with not many towns along the way, for some reason.

I crossed over the Bourne Bridge, marginally better than the other, but again I straddled the lane line like Mark, reminding myself that it was a short bridge and the other drivers could go around me all they liked on the other side.  Both bridges are attractive, Art Deco type bridges, but as far as I’m concerned they need to be redesigned.  Whoever thought up those seriously high curbs oughta have to drive it himself, with something besides a Model T.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Massachusetts - Day 26 - potato chips and sandwiches

Sippewissett Campground
Wednesday, 26 September 2018
today's route
To continue my plan of slowing down a bit, I decided to limit my travels today to the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory near Hyannis, and then come back to the campground by way of Sandwich and other north coast towns.

You see the prominent picture of the Nauset Lighthouse I visited a few days ago.  Very Cape Cod.

The factory tour is self-guiding, but toward the end I grabbed a passing employee who explained some of the machinery better than the little signs and diagrams.

Cape Cod Potato Chips have been made since July 4th, 1980. They’re kettle cooked in small batches (I saw the kettles), and the factory is closed on weekends, so you can see it’s not aiming for the major leagues.

They buy all their potatoes from the eastern US (e.g. Maine, Virginia, Massachusetts), except from April to June they buy from New Brunswick.  It takes 4 pounds of potatoes to make 1 pound of chips because potatoes are mostly water.  They buy 39,000,000 pounds of potatoes each year.

Before a truck of potatoes is unloaded, they sample the load for high specific gravity (low water content and high dry matter); potato temperature and size; raw potato defects.  Then they peel and fry a random sample.  If these tests come out okay, the potatoes are unloaded.  (This is what the sign said, but do you think they really keep the truck drivers waiting while they fry up some potatoes?)

The potatoes are cleaned, brush-peeled, inspected, washed and weighed (each kettle batch fries a set weight of potatoes).  They’re sliced and put in the kettles of oil, and stirred with a rake occasionally to keep them from clumping together and cook evenly.  A centrifuge spins off the excess oil.  Then they’re tested for color, moisture & defect levels, then seasoned and packaged.  The packages are inspected for appearance, weight, displacement, air leaks and breakage.

I’ve never visited a potato chip factory before – do you suppose they all do this?

Anyway, they gave me a small sample bag, and the chips were good enough that I bought a larger bag.  I always buy Lay’s regular potato chips; Cape Cod chips are similar but not as delicate.  I’m not sure – maybe they’re sliced a little thicker and the kettle cooking process produces a little firmness.

It was interesting.

I went from there up to Yarmouthport and picked up Route 6A we stbound. I used to have cousins that lived in Sandwich and I wondered if I’d see their house.  Actually, they were Momma’s cousin and her husband, my first-cousin-once-removed.  Momma and I stopped to visit them maybe in the mid-90s, but sadly both have died since then.

I might have been able to find their house if I’d turned down the road labeled Sandwich Center, but I’d already decided I needed to find Momma’s address book and look up their address before I tried to tackle the narrow roads around there.

Route 6A runs alongside the Cape Cod Canal.  Cape Cod is basically an island now, result of a canal that was built to connect Cape Cod Bay with Buzzards Bay.  The Cape is connected to the rest of the state by 2 very high bridges – the Bourne Bridge and the Sagamore Bridge, named for their nearby towns and built 1933-1935.  Ordinary bridges unless you’re driving a slightly larger vehicle, and for us they’re menaces.  Especially the Sagamore Bridge.  They've both got extra high curbs that aren't painted to stand out and are almost impossible to miss if you're driving in the slow lane, which I've been doing to be kind to other motorists.   When I hit the curb it's so jarring that Gracie would jump out if I had an open window and my jaw nearly hits the floor and my hands start shaking so much I can hardly hold the wheel.  

So today I tried to avoid the Sagamore Bridge, which is almost next to Sandwich, and cut over to the west side of the Cape.  I missed a turn (their signs assume local knowledge and aren’t put up to help tourists).  Of course I not only ended up on the bridge – hitting the curb again and scaring the life out of all of us – but also when I got to the other side I got confused about what road I needed to take (it’s Rt. 6 on one side of the Canal and Rt. 6A on the other side, but I guessed wrong which one I needed) and ended up going right back across the Sagamore Bridge.  I really hate that thing.  The second time across I drove sort of in the left lane and sort of in the center and too bad for the other cars, it’s not a long bridge anyway.  Then when I got back to the Sandwich side, I went back to where I thought I’d made the wrong turn and went down the other road, even though it wasn’t labeled the way I thought it ought to be – but that was indeed the right road and I got back over to the west side and, eventually, back to my little home away from home.

And this was supposed to be an easy day.

Massachusetts - Days 24 & 25

Sippewissett Campground
Monday & Tuesday, 24 & 25 September 2018

I went nowhere but here for 2 whole days.  I’ve been getting more and more tired and decided it was time for a break.  As it happened, Monday was a good day for it because it rained quite a bit and I read John Grisham’s The Firm.  I usually save Grisham books for the beach but figured this is close enough.

Today the sun’s been shining and the dogs could be outside on leashes for a while.  Gracie usually goes under the RV and digs a hole to lie in.  When I leave campsites, I leave holes behind me.  If she does it under the picnic table I try to fill them in a bit – I should probably get one of those folding shovels because I don’t have much luck with me foot or a tree branch, which are what I’ve been using.

On the other hand, there’s always litter at these campsites and I figure picking up some of it makes us even.  Today by the picnic table I found a pseudo-gold sand dollar that must have dropped off a necklace or bracelet.  I left it on the table for somebody to claim.

Massachusetts - Day 23 - Adamses & Randolph & Marshfield

Sippewissett Campground
Sunday, 23 September 2018

today's route
Adams Family Homes
(I can’t help but think of the Addams Family, which I never watched but my brother and sister both liked a lot.  Somehow I doubt if these Adamses had that kind of sense of humor.)

Today I was sure I could find the original homes of US presidents #2 and #6, the Adamses.  And I found the Visitor Center, no problem.  Sadly, there’s no parking anywhere near there, even on Sunday mornings, for RVs.  Nearby parking garage has a serious height restriction.

As I drove around and around looking for parking I also looked for the houses, which should have been easy to see in contrast to the modern buildings around the Visitor Center.  Broad green area across the street, and I was sure they’d be there.  Honestly, I don’t know where they’ve hidden them.  I never found even a street sign to tell me.  If I could have made it to the Visitor Center I’m sure they’d have given me a map, but that was out.

It was truly bizarre.  This is a National Historical Site, for heavens sake.  These were presidents.  Moderately important presidents.  I mean, if I could find JFK’s birthplace, why on earth would John Adams’s birthplace be a secret?  Maybe you can tell I was disappointed.
John Quincy Adams's birthplace

John Adams's birthplace

These are photos I took from the internet.  I now know these are salt box houses – distinguished by a central chimney and a long sloping roof that goes from 2 stories in the front to 1 story in the back, creating the look of what used to be a box for storing salt.  I found all this online and now I drive around looking at houses and can recognize them and feel so educated.

Another state and another town named Randolph.  I finally got curious enough to look it up, and I don't know who the other Randolphs were named for, but this one was name for Peyton Randolph, the first president of the Continental Congress, which I guess makes sense, considering where we are.

Unlike the one in Maine, this Randolph seems to be thriving.  It’s clear from their City Hall.As many towns do, this one has memorials in front for the veterans of the US wars.  The one for the Vietnam veterans was striking.  Many city halls have a drop box for people to pay fines or taxes, as did this one, but they also had some other drop boxes I thought were unusual.  One of these is for eyeglasses donations for the Lions Club; the other is for old US flags that need proper disposal.  Interesting use of retired mail boxes.
front of Vietnam marker

back of marker
Randolph is the home of the Boston Higashi School – Educating Children with Autism, according to their sign.  Didn’t know there was such a school.

Seemed to be a nice town.  Near downtown I passed Mother Anna’s Ristorante and Bar. Sadly it was too early in the day for me to stop and sample, but there were good smells coming from it. 

About 35 years ago, my husband and I visited one of his oldest friends here.  I still have vague memories  of the town and how pleasant it seemed and have wondered if it still looked like it did.  I was afraid, being so close to Boston, it would have succumbed to takeover building frenzies, but if it has, it’s keeping it well-hidden.  I was happy to see that it still looked as charming as I remember it.  Houses are strung out along a 2-lane county road as in so many places up here, but these houses are mostly set back from the road a little way – about double the front yard that we had in Austin.  And they’re separated about the distance of a city block from each other – close enough to be a community but not on top of each other.  Lots of old houses and old trees and almost all very well kept – undoubtedly a lot of money here but it’s quiet, self-assured money that doesn’t need to call attention to itself.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Massachusetts - Day 22 - Boston & JFK

Sippewissett Campground
Saturday, 22 September 2018
today's route
I assumed people would want to come to Cape Cod on a weekend and that traffic would likely be much heavier here than usual.  And I assumed traffic in Boston would be lighter today than on a weekday.  Which is why I picked today to go into town to Brookline to visit the house where JFK was born.
I don't even want to think about what this house would cost today, but back in the early 1900s when Joseph P. and Rose bought the house as newlyweds, it was completely middle-class.  John was only 6 when they moved to a larger house, the family having outgrown this one (it only has 3 bedrooms and they had 4 kids here, and we all know now that many more were on the way).  But after JFK was assassinated, this street was completely packed with people who wanted someplace to go to grieve and to honor him.

spontaneous gathering post-assassination
The house was owned by another family then, but from then on people would come knock on the door and ask if they could just see inside to see where he'd lived, and not surprisingly the family soon put the house on the market.   Rose Kennedy bought it and contributed family items and memories to recreate the house as it looked in 1917 when Jack was born.

The tree in the left foreground of this 1963 photo is the same one that's in my 2018 photo above.  Those trees line the streets, with their roots bulging out as you can see in my photo.  It must be hard for those trees being surrounded by all that pavement, but they do make parking tricky.  Those trees are London Plane trees, a cross between a sycamore and a plane tree, bred to thrive in an urban environment.  (I asked the park ranger.)

Much has been made of the JFK/Nixon televised debate, but his ties to television go farther back.  JFK won his first Senate election through paid political programs in 1952 called "Coffee with the Kennedys."  Jack joined his mother and sisters in their living room and interested people would come and they'd have coffee and talk about Jack and the family and his positions on things and so forth.  Apparently they were very popular programs: JFK beat Henry Cabot Lodge, the incumbent, by 70,000 votes, largely female votes.

During his presidency, JFK held 64 press conferences, usually every other Wednesday or so, and took questions from the press.  He was good at it and the press and public loved it.  FDR mastered the radio, but JFK mastered television.

From Brookline I aimed for the birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, which are next door to each other in Quincy.  I never found them.  In trying to maneuver through Boston's streets, I missed a turn, then stumbled on the right road but was in the wrong lane to make the turn, then couldn't find a place to turn around - and drove and drove still not finding a place to turn around - and by then was completely lost and pulled into a if-you-park-here-we'll-annihilate-you space in front of a school which must have had some kind of function because lots of kids and parents were around - and in desperation I jumped out with the engine still running and accosted a parent and asked for help.  She of course pulled out a GPS and gave me very good directions to get on the highway.

I was sure there was a sign on the highway to the birthplaces (a national historic site) but never could find it (turns out the sign was on a different highway).  So I pulled off the highway at an exit that had a familiar sounding road name and turned in the direction I thought I should be going in - and drove and drove and finally in desperation I stopped at a fire station and the guy gave me directions to get down to the Cape.

It was late afternoon by the time I got back to the campground.  I know the houses are there because I've seen signs and pictures.  I'll try again tomorrow.  Surely on a Sunday I can beat the traffic.

Massachusetts - Day 21 - Cape Cod

Sippewisset Campground
Friday, 21 September 2018

At my previous campground, I could tell there was wildlife around, partly because now and then I could smell a skunk, and partly because now and then Dexter, and sometimes Gracie, would alert significantly enough that I knew it wasn't another dog they sensed.

Well, the last full day I was there, the one when it rained much of the day, that morning I had the dogs out early and they got so wildly excited I couldn't hold them - actually, I was afraid if I kept holding them they'd run me into a tree.  I was handicapped by holding an umbrella and didn't want to give that up because it was pouring rain.  The rain didn't slow the dogs down and it took me some work to catch them.  I had to be careful not to yell and to sound coaxing no matter how I felt about doing all this in the pouring rain: because other campers were sleeping nearby, and because Gracie was taught by her previous abusive owner not to come when she's called, and because Dexter will come but only after his pea-brain instincts have turned off and his reason has turned back on.  A distressing incident.

Walks later that day were okay, but then there was the walk at bedtime.  I of course took a different route from the morning to avoid whatever critter it was that had gotten them so wound up - but apparently the critter also decided to move to a different place because that first one was too crowded - and we all ended up in the same place.  And the dogs went bonkers again.  And this time I held onto them for dear life, figuring running into a tree was preferable to losing them again.  No tree, but my whole right side got planted firmly into the ground.

Ever since then - that's 3 days now - my right upper arm has been hurting a lot.  I've only got about half the function of it because of the pain.  I've tried cold packs and a heating pad (at different times, of course), and neither one has made a lot of difference.  Crummy dogs.  And it makes driving more of a challenge.  Oh well.  Many lives are much much harder than mine.
today's route
Today I wanted to go out to the end of the Cape - all the way up to Provincetown - so I tried to make my way up to Route 6, which is that limited access road I was on yesterday.  The campground had provided directions, which included eventually getting on Rt. 149 that connects Rt. 28 along the southern edge with Rt. 6 along the northern edge.  Simple enough, except Rt. 149 left a very great deal to be desired.  The signage was wildly insufficient - along the road and at the roundabouts (they LOVE roundabouts in this part of the state) and at T and Y intersections - I kept having to guess and hope which was the right road and somehow got lucky enough not to have to turn around anywhere.

On Rt. 149 (which is only about 3 miles long, you wouldn't think it could be such a nuisance in such a short distance), I saw 6 UPS trucks and 6 FedEx trucks.  Who does their scheduling?

All over the state, I've noticed that at road construction sites it's the police who direct traffic, not construction workers.  Everywhere.  Apparently it's how they do things in Massachusetts.  I've never seen that anywhere else.

All along the way I went through forested lands full of pines and oaks.  Over by Provincetown when the road started going through the Cape Cod National Seashore, the pines and oaks plus grasses were holding together huge sand dunes on both sides of the road.
Pilgrim monument
Provincetown was once a quaint little fishing village, but those days are but a distant memory.  Now it's a full-fledged tourist town that's impossible to navigate in.  My main goal there had been a monument to the Pilgrims, because before they landed at Plymouth Rock, they landed on Cape Cod.  Well, I found it ... and drove by it ... and that's all I could do.  Zero parking on the street, so I followed a sign that directed me to parking, and got there - which was up on the hill above the monument - and found I'd have to pay $15 to park, which of course I didn't want to do since all I'd wanted was to take a picture.  So I told the nice elderly man that I'd been hoping for some free parking, and he said, "Free and Provincetown don't go together."  Cheerful.
crowded streets of P-town
But he was right.  When I got back down the hill and down by the water, I found another parking lot with the same price and a man telling me to turn around and go left and then go straight for the campus.  I couldn't figure out what campus he could possibly be talking about and why he assumed I wanted a campus.  So he repeated it twice and FINALLY I understood he was talking about campers - not campus.  I swear it sounded like campus.

Of course, the space he wanted me to turn in was pretty tight for a campus and I was eyeing it, trying to figure out if I could do it, and he kept telling me to turn around, turn around, like I couldn't understand English.  And then he walked away and a 2nd man walked slowly in front of me up to my window and said the same thing - though if he hadn't been holding me up by walking slowly in front of me I'd have already turned around.  Jiminy what a place.  So I left.

And found sanity just across the highway at the Cape Cod National Seashore.  There was a road up to the top of a hill and I had a nice view of sand dunes and a bit of Atlantic Ocean.
The dogs could get out and stretch their legs and we had some lunch in the fresh air.

On the way back down the Cape, I passed a sign that got me curious, talking about Historic Route 6.  So I looked it up.  The signs they have photos of on that website are the ones I saw by the road there outside of Provincetown.  Bishop, CA, 3,205 miles away.

There's a long string of houses along the inner coastline south of P-town and not one single one had solar panels.  I couldn't figure out why.

I stopped in Eastham to see the Nauset Lighthouse, partly because it was accessible and partly because it's the lighthouse on the Cape Cod Potato Chips package.

I saw a youngish woman and her boyfriend walking toward the lighthouse and was astounded at her completely inappropriate attire.  She had on a mostly red with white dress, red very-high-heeled shoes, and a huge white flower in her magenta hair.  To walk in sand dunes by the ocean.  Oh well.  I know they both thought she was gorgeous because I had to wait a while for them to get out of the way so I could take a photo without that red dress showing up like a spotlight.  And while I waited I saw her strike poses and twirl her skirt around, and he took photo after photo.  But they were clearly happy and weren't hurting anyone so please don't think I'm judging.  I just thought it was quite odd.

At the Visitor Center for the Cape Cod National Seashore, I learned that when mile-thick glaciers covered the region, the sea level was about 400' lower.  As the ice melted beginning about 18,000 years ago, the water rose about 50'/1,000 years.

Erosion is a fact of life along the seashore, and 2.8'/year is eroded from Eastham, Wellfleet and Truro, with the sand being deposited on the shore at Provincetown and on the barrier beaches to the south.  Scientists expect erosion to increase as global warming melts glaciers which raise sea levels.  They've had to move at least one of the lighthouses twice already with a third move likely.

All along Cape Cod I kept thinking about Kurt Vonnegut.  When I was in the 10th grade or so, our English class read "The Report on the Barnstable Effect," which was in our textbooks.  I didn't learn until years later that it was one of the short stories in Vonnegut's Welcome To The Monkey House, but I remembered the story quite well and liked it a lot.  As an adult, I found his collected works dark enough to induce suicide.  But I still like Monkey House.  The title short story is set in Hyannis.  North of Hyannis is the real-life town of Barnstable.  And that's why I keep thinking about Kurt Vonnegut.

I got curious and have learned that he lived in Barnstable for about 20 years, and he owned and operated the first Saab dealership there in the 1950s.  He said later the fact that he wasn't very successful at it was the reason the Swedes never gave him the Nobel Prize for Literature.  He wrote most of his major works in Barnstable.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Massachusetts - Day 20 - southern Cape Cod

Sippewissett Campground
Thursday, 20 September 2018
today's route
Today being my birthday, I went looking for food to celebrate with.  I’d originally hoped to grill a steak, which I haven’t had since I left my brother’s wonderful cooking last February.  But the weather forecast held a moderate chance of rain so I decided against it.  Instead, I went on a quest for some decent bread, and some decent Parmesan, and some pate, to go with the champagne I’d already bought.  None of that was as easy as I thought it’d be.

I should have known what to expect when I tried to find champagne.  These days liquor stores seem to carry 2 or 3 brands that have actually seen France; the others – which have no business being labeled “champagne” but instead are correctly “sparkling wine” or some such – all came from somewhere else, mostly California.  Grrr.

So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find how difficult it was to find some Parmesan, and I ended up with some that was made locally and wasn’t bad, but wasn’t what I’d hoped for.  At that same place – the Chatham Cheese Shop, in Chatham down the Cape – I got some locally made mousse/pate that, again, wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for.  Both it and the cheese seemed bland to me.

I’d had this impression that there were some fairly well-to-do people living on Cape Cod and that there’d be stores catering to some upscale tastes.  Maybe so, but I had trouble finding them.

What I did find was the southern part of Cape Cod.  It reminded me a little of Long Island NY, which I didn’t visit when I was in New York during May but I did visit 35 years ago.  I remember a lot of rural country and small farms and small towns.  Here I didn’t see much in the way of farms but I did see a lot of rural country and small towns.

The towns are all old, and the streets were all laid out for the transportation of another era, meaning they get clogged pretty easily in today’s traffic.  So I found lots of traffic.  It being a Thursday, I hadn’t expected the roads to be as crowded as they turned out to be.

Regarding the bread, I found some store-made bread at a market somewhere, and when I got to the cash register with that and a couple of tomatoes, the clerk told me I owed $25.23 or so.  I said some restrained version of HUH???  And she looked and showed me that the bread had been marked $22.55 and said it’d better be really good bread for that price.  And then she started laughing and showed it to the other clerk who laughed and then called back to the bakery, who told her that $2.55 was a more appropriate price.  Certainly glad I asked.

When I lived in Alaska I learned to gauge the character of a town on the number of liquor stores vs. the number of churches it had.  On that basis, I’d say Massachusetts in general and Cape Cod in particular rank right up there with Alaska: the numbers seem about even.  Lots of liquor stores here.

Very strong Irish influence all over the state, but I’m really noticing it here on the Cape.

I passed a business called the 1830 Sea Salt Co.  I looked them up later, hoping they offered tours (sadly, they don’t), and learned that, in the 1830s, there were 442 salt works on Cape Cod alone.  Next to fishing, it was the largest industry.  During the Revolutionary War, the British blockade made salt works a necessity.  Plus, the relatively easy salt production allowed fishermen to ship their product, salted as a preservative, world-wide.

Directions on Cape Cod seem to be very relative.  South Yarmouth is actually southeast of Yarmouth; West Yarmouth is southwest of South Yarmouth and thoroughly southwest of Yarmouth.  The only town on the Cape farther south than Falmouth is Woods Hole less than 5 miles away (probably why there’s no South Falmouth); East Falmouth is northeast, West Falmouth is north of Falmouth and west of East Falmouth, but North Falmouth is, indeed, north of them all.

There are lots of names from both Indian and early settler times: Quinaquisset Rd. near Meetinghouse Rd.  Stub Toe Rd.

By the time I’d found the Chatham Cheese Shop, I was tired from dealing with traffic all the way across the peninsula and still had to get back to the campground, so I took the “highway” which was a limited-access road so the traffic moved more quickly.  Plus, most of the traffic was coming back to the Cape, while I was heading west.

Tonight, I’ll be watching a really great movie called “Denial.”  It’s a British film about an actual libel suit brought by a Holocaust denier; Anna and David sent it to me, wonderful family that they are.

As birthdays go, this has been a good one.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Massachusetts - Day 19 - Saugus and points south

Sippewissett Campground, Falmouth
Wednesday, 19 September 2018
today's route
My previous campground issued a plastic card that allowed entry through a gate into the campground, and required a $10 cash deposit for the card.  I forgot to turn the card in yesterday - probably because it was raining so hard I couldn't think of anything else - so couldn't leave until 10:00 this morning when the office opened, so I could get my $10 back.

That meant it was nearly 11:00 by the time I got down to Saugus.  I've been wanting to visit the Saugus Iron Works Historical Site for days but haven't been able to work it into previous itineraries, but I didn't want to leave the northeast part of Mass. without seeing it.

now visitor center, former home of iron works boss

Turns out it was a lot of the same information I'd gotten at that iron works a while back but can't remember where.  I've got to figure out a way to retrieve information from previous posts, I'm sure there's some system people use to do this and, just as I'd expected, places are starting to run together in my memory.  That's why I wanted to do this blog - so I could retrieve that kind of information - now I just need to learn how to do that.

Anyway, there're a couple of things that are different about this iron works from the other one.  One is the age: it operated from 1646 until about 1670, seriously old in this part of the world.  It closed due to financial mismanagement, clearly not a modern invention.  The other is that they've got a sort of monument to a bunch of Scots who came to work there as indentured servants in 1650.  The Scots had been captured by Cromwell at the Battle of Dunbar and sold as indentured servants; nearly 40 of them ended up at the iron works.

These are both photos of the same plaque, one with a flash and the other without.  But both have spots where one is easier to read than the other so I'm putting both of them up in case you've got a larger screen than I do and can read them more easily.

I didn't think the bottom part had enough light so took that separately:

Can't say I've ever seen a historical plaque so full of emotion.

So, on a different note entirely, I saw that Sen. Ted Cruz is now saying that if his Democratic opponent, Beto O'Rourke, is elected that Texans won't be allowed to have barbecue any more.  Because, you see, what Texans barbecue is meat, and Beto will California-ize and tofu-up Texas so Texans won't be allowed to eat meat.  Sure.  Makes sense to me.  (I only hope it was just a campaign trail joke.)

I accidentally ended up on a toll bridge over the Mystic River into Boston and they had no toll booths to allow me to pay cash.  They had signs saying don't worry, we'll bill you using Pay By Plate.  Swell.

I managed to find a highway route that allowed me to go right through Boston without getting stuck in the Byzantine street system.  And one of the things I saw was a building for the Fortress Storage Co.  I got this photo off the internet.
That really is what it looked like.  Pretty clever, huh?

The entire day I was getting intermittent rain - sometimes nothing, sometimes actual rain, sometimes just drizzle.  Not so good for panoramic views but not too hard for driving in.

I decided to pass up the turnoff for my new campground to go into Falmouth (pronounced FAL(to rhyme with my gal Sal)-muth).  I actually found a legal parking place in town, and I stopped a man to ask about a nearby grocery store.  He was the chatty type - told me I'd like Cape Cod better than any other part of the state, told me he owned an RV for years and missed it, told me his kids used to stay at the campground I'll be in but he thought it was too hilly, and gave me good directions to a market.

I walked the dogs a bit, wondering about how there could be too many hills in the campground when I'd assumed the cape would be fairly flat.  Turns out he was right.

This campground is nothing but hills and trees.  It's a nice setting but difficult for me to get in and out of the campsites.  The first one they assigned me had the water connection too far away for me to use - and since I haven't gotten my water pump fixed yet I have to have the hookup.  So I went straight (up and down hill) back to the office and they gave me another site.

This one is fine except it's situated on a curve, and it has a large wooden patio that takes up almost half the site, so it's extremely difficult for me to get into.  The thought of coming and going every day from this site for the week I've reserved isn't an inviting one so tomorrow I'll see if they've got anything else.