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Day 54 (10.25.07) - Changing Plans, Adams & Plymouth

Well, we couldn't find ANY parking in Boston so had to give it up. We visited the Adams Homestead in Quincy and Mayflower II & Plymouth Rock in Plymouth - not a bad fallback!

overcast 0 °F

Summary: We had to get a police escort through the 'Big Dig' in Boston, found it possible to drive through small streets - but not to park, so we drove to Quincy instead and visited the home of John & Abigail Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Charles Francis Adams. Then we drove to Plymouth, MA and visited the Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II.

Logistics: Miles Driven 94
Weather: Overcast, Cool, Windy

Details: Well, not all gambles work. We did pretty good yesterday finding parking, so I thought I'd try it again today. Actually, I was trying to be a little more conservative today and called the Trolley company and was assured there was pleanty of parking near the Aquarium, so off we headed. First we ran into some trouble at the toll booth for the tunnel on I-93 (the 'Big Dig'). We found out we weren't supposed to use the tunnel at all, a propane tank (as all RV's have) is considered hazardous material (OK, now we know) - but once we'd gotten to the toll booth, there was no place to turn around. The toll operator called a police car who decided it would be easier to escort us through the tunnel then to try to get us out of there - so we were escorted through the tunnel by the police car, flashing lights and all. Great way to start off the day (not).

Next we got to the Aquarium and tried to find parking. There wasn't any - there were a few handicapped spots, but they all had cars in them, most without handicapped license plates or hangers. After driving around a bit, we gave up on the Trolley idea. I figured all of Boston would be just as bad and we should just leave town, but Mom said there must be some parking up by the Library, being a public building and all. So we headed up to the downtown section.

Unfortunately, we discovered that the map I'd purchased wasn't nearly detailed enough to navigate through downtown Boston. Mom kept trying to navigate for me, but couldn't tell which streets were one way, too narrow to pass, etc. We ended up on some very narrow streets on Beacon Hill, went around the same spots a few times, and somehow managed to pass the Boston Commons and actually recognize it. As bad as things were, I could get the RV around downtown Boston and we didn't hit anything or get stuck anywhere. We couldn't manufacture parking out of thin air however, there just wasn't any. The handicapped spots (few and far between) were full, again mostly with regular cars in them. The no parking zones were full. People were double parking on the bigger streets (and some of the smaller ones). There simply was no place to park, so we had to give up on Boston.

We are pretty good at changing plans on this trip, so we just headed south to Quincy. On the way, we took another wrong turn and were driving along a lovely, long sandy beach so I decided to stop. It was windy, so when I asked Mom to turn around for a picture - she decided to pretend she was flying.

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At least she hadn't lost her sense of humor!

After spending the morning driving in circles in an RV in Boston, I decided to fire up the GPS navigation for the rest of the day. This time, I think Mom was actually relieved (maybe she's making peace with it?). The Visitors Center for the Adams National Historic Park is downtown. You have to take a tour on a Trolley (Yes, Trolley's again). This time, we found a handicapped spot just across the street, bought our tickets and got on the next tour bus:

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We couldn' t go through the houses that were the birthplace of John Adams because there was a wedding reception there. Actually the site cannot be used for weddings, but I guess they have to make an exception if you're one of the family members that gave the site to the state! We drove by them however and on to the main home.

Day_54_-_A..mestead.jpg

Of course, no photo's are allowed inside so you'll have to take my word for it - this was a very interesting tour. The family has donated thousands of artifacts to the National Historic Park, so it is filled with furniture, paintings, books, china and all sorts of things that had been used in the house for generations. John Adams and John Quincy Adams were two of the presidents I didn't know very much about. We did learn more on the tour, probably not enough - but enough to want to learn more. John Quincy Adams wrote most of the Monroe Doctrine. His son, Charles Francis Adams was Ambassador to England during the Civil War and considred by many to be the third most important person for the North in winning the war (after Lincoln and Grant), because he convinced England not to join the war on the side of the confederacy.

John Quincy Adams designed a library, but his son Charles Francis had it built after his fathers death - in some ways now the oldest presidential library. There is also a garden with two tree's still standing that John Adams planted (look for the oldest tree's in the picture, of course).

Day_54_-_A..Library.jpgDay_54_-_A.._Garden.jpg

And of course, if you want to learn more they have a great web site (and I'd also recommend Wikipedia):

http://www.nps.gov/adam/index.htm

We then drove to Plymouth, Massachusetts. This is where in 1620, Pilgrims founded the second permanent English settlement in America (after Jamestown), and the first in New England. I had heard that Plymouth Rock was a big disappointment, so wasn't surprised to see just an average looking rock in a big, fancy housing.

Day_54_-_P..ock_Ext.jpgDay_54_-_P..th_Rock.jpg

However, there was a ranger on hand and interpretive signs that helped explain it better. First, when the Pilgrims landed, the shoreline was straight - it was filled in later as the town grew. Then when they decided to put the rock back where it belonged, they left some of the fill on the sides to make a nice park. So, if you were there in 1620, you would see the rock stand out from the edge of the hill that extended down to the shoreline.

Second, at high tide, the water comes up almost to the edge of the rock. When there are storms in the area, as there was when the Pilgrims landed, the water is even higher and would have covered the beach completely.

Finally, the rock is only 1/3 it's original size. In the 1800's, the townfolk actually kept a hammer and chisel near the rock for people who wanted to take a chunk of it home for a souviner!

So the ranger said that when you take all these factors into consideration, it probably was the actual rock the pilgrims landed on (when they settled in Plymouth that is - more on that tomorrow). It was also identified fairly early on as the landing site and has been called such as long as anyone can remember.

Next door to Plymouth Rock is a full replica of the Mayflower, named Mayflower II. It is already 50 years old so has outlived her namesake! I thoroughly enjoyed going through this. In spite of the cold wind, Mom actually enjoyed herself also. There were people dressed as Pilgrims and speaking with an old English dialect, which made the experience even better. The smaller boat to the side is what the Pilgrims used to explore Cape Cod before deciding to settle in Plymouth.

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Here is the foredeck (and bow if you can see it). There were about 100 Pilgrims and 25 - 30 crew crowded on this tiny ship.

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The flash washed out a couple of the re-enactors, which is really unfortunate because they were quite good. The third crew member needed to be in a picture however, so here they are. Also I was surprised to see they built the ship's stove out of Bricks, but of course this was almost 400 years ago.

Day_54_-_M..I__Crew.jpgDay_54_-_M..__Stove.jpg

After doing all this, it was too late to also visit the Plymouth Plantation, so we drove on to a campground we had reserved on Cape Code and called it a night. I had a great internet signal and started to work on the blog, but got side tracked watching a History Channel show on the French Revolution on YouTube, so didn't get the blog done. Of course, now I'll have some catching up to do...

Posted by jl98584 19:59 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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