Monthly Archives: October 2014
Here we are On Songo Pond near Bethel. Its about 10k out of town. What a great little spot! Sitting in the lounge room of our Pond side cabin looking out across the water. One can imagine Henry Fonda wiling away his last years here ……………….or Betty White feeding that giant Crocodile dairy cows and her husband.
The last colours of Fall dance on the water and the sun (sometimes ) glances through the clouds to warm the chilly waters of the Pond. One senses the Pond is feeling the onset of winter during which it’s soul will rest through until springtime.
And so no more, just enjoy the photos!
We are now in Bethel in northern Maine having left Woodstock in Vermont and crossing through New Hampshire. Weather continues to be chilly with scudding rain and cloud.
The balloon ride had to be cancelled at the last-minute. Apparently, radar was showing approaching rain storms and the pilot was not of a view to go up. He suggested it would be unwise as he wanted to go ballooning again. Who is to argue with this guy! Dianne was deflated! Perhaps we will get to these parts again sometime and do it then!
Headed back to the hotel to check out. Leanne and I went off to The Creamery for some breakfast. L devoured a blueberry pancake with some maple syrup. On the other hand allthego got stuck into two pancakes, with some crispy bacon and maple syrup. Rather good as always.
Weather continued as usual on the way to Bethel We paused briefly in Littleton for some coffee and donuts at Dunkin Donuts. Allthego awarded this store the worst coffee award. Simply thin and watery. And the donuts, well they were passable.
Lobbed into Bethel around 3pm and headed for our accommodation for the following 3 nights.
We have now spent a couple of days here in Woodstock after having travelled up from New Haven in fine weather. Along the way we by- passed Hartford and stopped off in Springfield to visit the old Armory. George Washington ordered the construction of the Springfield Armory after the War of Independence. Up until this point the former English colonies had imported their weapons (muskets and cannons) from Europe and so the Armory was constructed to manufacture weapons so as to relieve this dependency. It opened in 1794 and continued operating up until 1964 when it closed down. The museum here contains an enormous collection of hand guns and rifles of all types and vintages, including those used in the Vietnam War. There is also a display of the machinery and technological innovations that occurred over these 174 years. The grounds outside it are magnificent.
The Fall colours are also starting to show up as we headed north although it does appear that we have missed the peak. There is not a lot of reds, plenty of yellow and orange though. The big trees are particularly good.
Here in Woodstock we have visited the Marsh, Billings, Rockefeller National Historical Park. This Park is a ‘living’ example of a degraded landscape and farming environment being rehabilitated over many years, starting in the 1870s, just after the end of the Civil War. There is a magnificent mansion which was the home of the 3 families that owned the property. The Rockefellers ultimately giving it to the National Estate in 1997. It was originally built in 1805, but modified over the years.
The Woodstock area is extremely photogenic, what with its old properties, farmland, forests and the river flowing around the town. We have had a couple of drives around looking at the covered bridges and a craft brewery, great lunch of fried onion rings and a local lamb/pork sausage in a bun with accompaniments.
We leave tomorrow for Bethel, if we survive the balloon flight at 7.30 in the morning. The weather today has been really good, sunny, blue skies, wind dropping away and a bit of scattered cloud.
We are now at New Haven having travelled down here yesterday along the coast road. We did a detour up the Cape Cod road to have a look at Provincetown which is right on the tip of Cape Cod looking out into the Atlantic. The weather continues to be a bit grim with wind and rain in the morning, but we do get blessed with interludes of sun and clearing skies into the afternoon. The fall colours along the way were pretty good, does not quite seem to have reached its peak in these parts, still plenty of green leaves around.
As we arrived the sun started to poke through and the skies lightened up a bit allowing us to get out of the car and have a wander around.
The Atlantic was in a pretty foul mood. It was a big surf. In summer this beach would be crowded with holiday makers. There just a few birds and well cladded tourists here on this occasion. Provincetown was a quaint little village, on a clear day you would be able to see across the Bay to Plymouth. A few narrow streets and shops were there to tempt visitors with their wares. We stopped for a coffee before getting back on board for the trip down to New Haven.
It started to rain not long after we set off and pretty much stayed that way for a couple of hundred kilometres down to New Haven. We went lunchless and arrived around 6pm quite hungry and ready for a feed. Longhorns steak restaurant was an easy choice. Neil had an enormous plateof beef ribs which kept him busy. The rest had various iterations of fillet. We crashed back at the motel and didn’t stir until around 7.30 today.
After breakfast it was back in the car and off to Groton to have a look at the USS Nautilus the first nuclear powered submarine. It is tied up as a museum vessel at the submarine museum at Groton, which is one of the US navies submarine bases. This is a fascinating place and tells the US submarine story from the early days, which started way back in the American War of Independence. Some fellow invented a small single person device to that travelled underwater. It was designed so that explosives could be attached to the British ships. It didn’t work! But it was the start. The museum story then carried on right up till now, showing the changes in technologies and weaponry.
The US submarine fleet is a pretty big operation today and makes our half a dozen subs look totally insignificant in comparison. On the other hand we probably have enough of them to keep the New Zealanders at bay. We did a short self guided tour of the USS Nautilus which amongst its other claims to fame was the first submarine to travel under the North Pole in August 1958. In March 1959 the USS Skate actually surfaced at the Pole. We were also able to see a submarine coming up the river to the Groton base after being at sea on duty.
It was a dry trip back to New Haven but we arrived in plenty of time to ready ourselves for an attack on the Longhorn steak house.
We leave tomorrow and head north for Woodstock in Vermont, not sure of our route.
We left Plymouth today having spent a couple of nights after leaving Boston. The weather has not been great. We had some sun and breaks in the light rain on the day we arrived that allowed us to get around and see the main sites. Plymouth is viewed as the heartland of America, where it all began. This is notwithstanding that there had been British colonies in North America for a good number of years before, let alone the native Indian presence. There is a lot of feel good fuzzy stuff in Plymouth that endeavours to capture this patriotism. Flags everywhere, museums, monuments. A lot of old architecture is well maintained. It strikes one as a justifiably proud little town. No doubt there are some dark stories as well! Now what about those sites we had a look at.
The Mayflower replica was built in England in 1955/56. It was sailed across the Atlantic to Plymouth in 1957, did a few short cruises around the north-east coast and then retired as a museum ship at the Plymouth docks. The replica is starting to get a bit ragged it seems as there is a fundraising campaign to get $2m to help keep it afloat at the dock side, let alone sail it again. The original Mayflower and a number of other ships had brought the Pilgrims from the Netherlands in the early 1620s to Plymouth to found a colony based around Puritan beliefs. The Puritans had escaped to the Netherlands from persecution in England, following their split from the early Anglican church. Asylum seekers if you like! The old grave yard where a good number of them are buried was also very interesting, bodies going back to the early/mid 1600s residing here. Military flags sit beside those who fought in the American War of Independence and the Civil War.
The Plymouth Rock is also prominent, covered over in a Portico structure to protect it from the elements. Although in a high tide the water may well cover it. This is the rock that the Mayflower was supposed, thought to have tied up to. This is despite the fact that the Plymouth harbour is very shallow and the ship is documented to have stayed offshore a reasonable distance. Maybe it was the shore boats that tied up to it? Not sure if anyone knows. But hey it’s a tradition and there is nothing really wrong with that. There is also some evidence that it was because 1620 has been carved into it. Then again maybe that was done later. Who wants to spoil a good story. What we do know is that the Pilgrims came ashore near here.
Yesterday was rain and wind and it got quite cold in the evening. So it was indoors at the Pilgrim Hall Museum. This was quite impressive and is the oldest museum in the USA. It documents the whole Pilgrim thing from its origins in the UK and the Netherlands, through the Mayflower’s sailing to Plymouth, the early struggles to establish the settlement, the relationship with the local Indian population and the eventual amalgamation of the colony with the rest of Massachusetts. Of the 100 odd Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower about 50 had died within the first year,it was by no means an easy start.
On a more happy note the food has been pretty good. Some clam chowder, crab cakes, lobster pasta, fish and chips, seafood stews have been enjoyed by all. Lobster is pretty cheap over here compared to Australia. $US20 thereabouts seems to get a good feed in most places. We also managed to get a quick visit into the Mayflower craft brewery to taste some product, most impressed with the aged Porter.
Set off now for New Haven along the coast back towards New York, via a trip out to Provincetown on the end of Cape Cod.
Well the Imlays and Browns have arrived in Boston and have collapsed into the Rodeway Inn. It’s now about 10pm Boston time and all up it has taken about 20 hours travelling time from Brisbane plus a few more for time zone changes in the US. We are somewhat tired and fragile. We pick up the car tomorrow morning and head off on a short drive for 2 nights at Plymouth. This is our first stop on a 12 day or so drive around the New England countryside and coastline. Catching up on the Fall colours and some seafood along the coast. A bit of history as well no doubt.
Some readers may have wondered where I’ve been, well just reflecting. All have been at home now for a few days after the cruise. We have lamented the Cowboys’ close loss and also coming a close third in ‘cruise along’ trivia. Is there any moral in this? In both cases it seems being behind the pace in the early and middle stages makes it hard to come back at the end. Even if there are a couple of crook calls and missed answers.
The final two days on-board were ‘at sea’, cruising through the Coral Sea and then down the Queensland coast to Brisbane. Much happens on board the ship during ‘at sea’ days. Sitting around reading a book, enjoying a puzzle, keeping the ice cream parlour busy, lolling around in a good outfit, eating and having a good old chat. Quite tiring. I will let some pictures tell the story of the last days.
Well this is the last post for this cruise. All it seems had a good time visiting our near neighbour and relaxing on board. Just can’t wait to do it all again sometime soon!