Three States and Red Sox

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
Trip End Oct 18, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Sunday, September 9, 2012

Howdy folks,

Last night we stayed at the Bayley's Camping Resort, which I can honestly say looks like a resort. With over 700 camping sites, 2 fishing ponds, 3 pools, onsite restaurant, café and shuttle down to the local beach it is definitely a holiday destination. They charge a premium as well, but luckily we arrived just after the long weekend and paid half what they normally would charge. We were too late to play minigolf so we settled in and ended up drinking the night away. Shots straight from the whisky bottle aren't exactly tactful, but we were out of soft drinks.

In the morning, I woke up a little less energetic than usual despite my deep, drunken sleep and once everyone was up and moving we packed up the tent and continued along our way. The plan was to drive south through Maine and New Hampshire to Massachusetts and around Cape Ann to Salem. It was only 200kms or so, but we wanted to avoid the tollway so we ended up driving along Highway 1 instead. This proved to be a mistake because it took twice as long and we only saved $5 although we didn’t know how much the toll was at the time. On the other hand we did get to see why Maine is called 'Vacationland’ because for a good 20kms we passed nothing but hotels, souvenir stores and shops.

We made it to Portsmouth, New Hampshire before lunch and stopped at McDonalds to grab a bite to eat and get some directions. Our Road Trip Bible said that there were a few good places to stop on Cape Ann, but when we got there we found that the streets were narrow and parking impossible. We weren’t even able to stop at Rockport which is a famous daytrip out of Boston with a big lobster factory and harbour. We did stop at Gloucester where the US Coast Guard has a station and plenty of places to go for cruises around the area. There wasn’t a whole lot going on though so we continued onwards to Hammond Castle.

The ‘castle’ was built in the 1920s by John Hays Hammond Jnr who was an American inventor. He had quite a number of patents under his belt and was a bit eccentric when he built his mansion adding quite a few old European paintings, architecture, artifacts and even a huge organ inside the great hall. It was hard to know what to make of the place because it seemed to be just a copycat or mishmash of elements that didn’t really fit. There were quite a few rooms with some stone spiral staircases and it took a while to go through. After his death, the mansion became a museum and now it is pretty popular with weddings and functions.

We drove into Salem which is on the outskirts of Boston and famous for the Witch Trials of 1692. Twenty people lost their lives in the mania that spread through the area and there was no shortage of witch type attractions. They included the old burying grounds, the memorial, the Witch House plus all the gift shops selling all manner of witchy business. One of the most interesting things downtown was a collection of people dressed up in true steampunk style. There was even a homage to Bewitched with a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery.

We had planned to get Couch Surfing for our stay in Boston, but we never received a reply so we found a hotel between Salem and Boston in Wakefield and checked in. The room was really good and we were happy not to be camping again. When we got up in the morning, Steffie and I went down for breakfast and it was massive. I’m talking scrambled eggs, waffles, hash browns, yoghurt, cereal, coffee and bagels. Obviously I didn’t eat all that, but it was pretty good.

We drove into downtown Boston and after navigating around the one way streets we parked at the Prudential Center where we took an elevator up to the 50th floor to the second tallest building in Boston. The skywalk gave an impressive view of the surrounds including downtown, Harvard, Fenway Park, the Christian Science Center, the John Hancock building and the State House. It was cool to finally be in one of the biggest cities on the East Coast.

Boston is home to the oldest baseball stadium in the country: Fenway Park. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity of seeing a Boston Red Sox game, so we headed along to watch a Sunday afternoon game against the Toronto Blue Jays. The age of the park gives the field some unique asymmetrical features adding to the character of the place. There are also many traditions in baseball as well such as the ceremonial first pitch and the words ‘Play Ball’ which are said before each Red Sox match. The Jays’ pitcher was different than the Toronto game and they actually won the game in just over 3 hours. It was a pretty tense 9th Innings, but the Jays prevailed much to the dismay of the home side. It was interesting to see some of the local icons such as the old Green Monster scoreboard and I had the luck of sitting in Section 42, Row 37, Seat 21 which is the lone red seat in the bleacher section. This chair was where famous Ted Williams hit the longest home run in Fenway in 1946! It was really far back and I was pretty excited to have had the luck to sit there.

On the way back to the Prudential Center, we stopped to take a look at the fountain, reflection pool and church at the Christian Science Center. There were a number of people racing R/C boats and even a yellow submarine on the bottom! Steffie and I had dinner for our anniversary at the Whiskey’s Smokehouse. We ordered BBQ ribs and pulled pork which was very filling and afterwards we all went back up to the Skywalk to take a look at Boston at night. It was a beautiful sight with the sun setting and the lights illuminating the night sky. Needless to say we were all tired by the time we got back to the hotel!
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