TRAVELOGUE #4 (Parts 1-5 and 9-37)
Well, dear readers, Connecticut was nice. Our van was neither broken into nor stolen, which was pleasant for both of us, and the weather fared nicely throughout our 2 week stay. Melissa's brother Joey was a blast to hang out with (he might say otherwise, but that's only because we paid him so) and we hardly went a day without good food or pirated movies from the internet. Ha! Take that, Hollywood! We stayed at an Artist Co-op in the middle of downtown Middleton, where the visual art was rooted in the weird and extraordinary (as it should be). Expensive private school, Wesleyan, is located here and is fairly unremarkable save for the strange mushrooms growing out of their trees and scenic architecture. Joe, Melissa, Carrie, and I hiked up “The Sleeping Giant”, and painfully reminded each other how physically out of “shape” we all are.
What a view, though! There is a scenic castle built at the top by the Army Core of Engineers back in the 1970's (maybe) and trees a plenty! O'Rourke's diner; major shout-out. They have amazing bread that they bring to your table gratis, plenty of blank wall space to throw a mural up on (if you have the time and the chalk skills), and breakfast sandwiches that satisfy. Apparently the place burned down years ago and the entire city came together, pooling their money and resources to rebuild the thing, even granting the diner a gold key to the city! What does it open? Treasure chests? A door to the water treatment plant? Underground tunnels to the Plymouth Rock Geologic Extravaganza?! Only Brian O'Rourke can answer that...and he's not talking.
We ventured into Manhattan, taking in the Statue of Liberty from afar, in the fog, and the wealthy galleries of Chelsea.
Major highlights: The New York Public Library from Ghostbusters (in all of it's lion statue glory), Alex Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, Ed Cohen's liquid acrylic bursts of color, and Jeremy Fish's (is that right?) “Seasons of Change” exhibit and cartoonist style rocked the socks out the dry docks' bagel and lox. For real. Yo. We had to cut the trip a bit short, but made up for it in Scrabble fights. The words ran on into the night, and no entendres were spared! Saying goodbye to the Bro-seph, we lit out to Massachusetts to Melissa's uncle's garden center and house. The most beautiful ponds and waterfalls were on display, with Koi the size of a turkey. Giant, mutant Koi, who will have your arm for lunch rather than be fed your measly fish food kernals from a plastic tub. These Koi attack small dogs on a semi-regular basis. The Terrors of Rowley is what they're known as, in small discrete circles whom whisper quietly.
We biked through Boston, stood on the Boston Massacre, Boston Tea-Party, and Boston Stamp Tax Revolt sites, and had a fun time watching swans and little children go crazy at their big green park in the middle of the city.
We visited Danvers, which was known as Salem Village, a rural area of Salem, in the mid-1600's.
There we found the old castle of lost souls, or Danvers Institute for the Insane. Built in the 1800's under the most noble of auspices, it quickly denigrated into a place of hydrotherapy, lobotomies, electro-shock and torture. It was completely over crowded and shut down in the 1970's. It has since turned into luxury condominiums, overlooking the city on Hathorn Hill (named so after Johnathan Hathorn, the prominent judge who presided over the Salem Witch Trials and lived in this very spot!). We visited the coolest comic book store in Salem, of all places, and checked out the spooky witches dungeon. The dungeon wasn't spooky because of the witches, of course, but because of the reminder of how fast a town (or nation) can scapegoat an entire collection of people due to the contagious effects of widespread hysteria. The House of Seven Gables was visited as well, where we got to see Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace and residence. Much to our surprise, the author of The Scarlett Letter was himself related to Judge Johnathan Hathorn, have changed the spelling of his name to cover and links to the past for which he was so ashamed! Ha! Ha! Hahahahahahahaha!
Plymouth, Massachusetts! You are an old city! You have the oldest surviving Anglican Church! Your cemetery is cool! Your Plymouth Rock was really more of a pebble that we had to grab away from the neighbor kids, as they were throwing it around over cars in the street and hacky-sacking with it! In one of these pictures is the real Plymouth Rock! Can you guess which one it is?
We drove into Maine on a beautiful 4th of July morning, and stayed on the rock overlooking the coast in York, an old sea town with a gorgeous surf.
We drove through the hoity-toity Hamptons where Summer Vacation had most assuredly “hit“. It appeared as if a mall had exploded somewhere. Acadia National Park, a pristine location found right on an island, was our next stop.
We camped for three nights, taking in the multiple views and down time to catch up on reading, painting, and pork chop grilling. Maine was hard to leave, and is easily among the most scenic of our visits thus far.
We pulled in through Highway 201 Customs, on the Maine/ Quebec borderline, and were detained for 2+ hours due to our suspicious looking van, American Charms and good looks, and overabundance of pepper spray and tequila. Mark these words: enter through some other access point if you're planning on going into a country whose police will speak nothing but French to you while they take your van apart. It will be a thousand times more “quaint”, I assure you. However, you will be able to hold on to your machete and ax, which are obviously only used for chopping wood. It's just your pepper spray that will be taken from you. That said, Quebec is nice and clean. Did I mention it was French? Here's the funny, interesting thing about Melissa and I: we speak no French. We can say: Bonjour, bonsoi, merci, merci beaucois, bon, oui and no. Isn't that delightful?
I have been writing from gridlocked traffic, where gasoline is 1.48(Canadian) per liter. You do the math. One more thing! We are on our way into Toronto tonight, and Detroit soon afterwards, where a large aquarium awaits! Peace out!