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Autumn in New England (Part II)

This is a continuation from Part I. We've just left Vermont....

Massachusetts Bound

From there we drove south toward Massachusetts. Along the way, we saw this very cool little gallery just south of Bennington. I found the most awesome little clock there, and I really wanted to buy it, but I just couldn't bring myself to pay for that "piece of art", so I passed. I find myself still thinking about it, so who knows...

We drove into Williamstown, Massachusetts, which was the location of Williams College (founded in 1793). It was a beautiful stately old school in a neat little college town. I found out later that it's considered the top-ranked liberal arts school in the U.S. We started driving east toward Boston along Route 2, which is called the Mohawk Trail. It was a very picturesque drive going up and down mountains and valleys, a lot of the time following the Deerfield River. It was a very nice drive.
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(By the way, we didn't just HAPPEN across all these scenic drives. I did some internet research before we left to find out wher ethe most scenic drives were).

We Pahked the Cah in Boston

OK, we finally made Boston. We found a little motel in Cambridge, just about a half mile from the subway station, so that worked out well. As soon as we checked in, we hopped on the subway and got off at the Boston Commons. The Commons, and the adjacent Boston Gardens, are basically a huge park in the middle of the downtown area. The Commons was established in 1634 (!) as part of the layout for the original city. We decided to walk around the old Beacon Hill neighborhood adjacent to the Commons. This neighborhood contains a lot of old homes and churches; the location of one of the first abolitionist organizations; Acorn Street, a skinny cobblestone passageway which they say (arguably) is the "most photographed street in the world"; the State House, which is the current state capital building; and finally, the Bull and Finch Pub, better known on the outside as the entrance to TV's Cheers Bar.
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From there, we discovered what is called the "Freedom Trail." This is a trail throughout the city that is either painted red or composed of red brick that takes you past all the various historic sites. We passed by some more old churches, by a couple of old cemeteries (yes, right in the middle of downtown), the famed Faneuil Hall (which has been a Boston marketplace since 1742), the old State House (which is now the entrance to a subway station), and over to the North End where you find the Old North Church (where Paul Revere rode from). One of the cemeteries, the Granary Burial Ground, contains the remains of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Robert Paine, and Paul Revere, among other famous people.

As we came around the corner walking toward Faneuil Hall, we saw thousands of people gathered at City Hall.
Northeast_227.jpg Come to find out, there was a rally taking place to cheer on the Red Sox, who had just won the division championship. We went down there for a while, but there were tons of people, and we couldn't hear very well, so we went on.

Time to Eat Again!

We started walking down toward the Financial District, and were getting hungry, so I stopped a lady on the street to ask if she was from Boston and where she thought we should go eat. She said she was formerly from Boston, but now lived in Sicily and was just there in town for a convention. She said we definitely had to go over to the North End, where there were some good Italian restaurants (should I have expected anything less from this Sicilian??) ;-) We started walking over that way, but wasn't sure exactly where to go, so I stopped another person, who told us to go to Hanover Street. I asked, "Are there some good Italian restaurants over there?" He laughed and said, "Yes, you won't believe it." I didn't quite understand the enormity of that response until we got over there. I have never seen so many Italian restaurants congregated in one area in my life (not even in Italy!). We found out later that in the North End, there are about 300 restaurants, with most of those being Italian. You just walk up and down the streets and alleys in this area that's about a half-mile square, and they line the streets, one after the other. It was difficult to decide which one to go into, but we did make a decision -- and it was a good one. Mama mia! The food was-a so good!!

As we were talking with the waitress there (who was from the state of Washington), she told us that after dinner we absolutely had to walk down the street to Mike's Pastry for dessert (she didn't even seem concerned with selling us dessert from the restaurant). The people who were sitting behind us turned around and concurred with that decision (!), and that lady said that we just had to have a chocolate chip cannoli. Well, we walked over to Mike's and it was absolutely crammed full of people -- people at all the tables, people spilling out onto the sidewalk, multiple taxis driving by dropping people off -- I've never seen such a commotion!
Northeast_035.jpg So we went in and stood in line for quite a while, but finally I got my chocolate chip cannoli!! Yummmm!!! It was enjoyable to eat the Italian pastry, but more enjoyable to just be a part of this cultural phenomenon!

JFK Library and Museum

The next morning we rode the subway down to the JFK Library and Museum. Just a side note -- when you get off at that subway stop, you have to then ride a shuttle bus over to the Museum. When we started getting on the bus, I noticed the license plate -- it was "666". Yikes!! Who was driving this bus and where was he taking us?? ;-O
Northeast_003.jpg Well, we did make it to the Library after all (whew!). First we walked around to the back of the building where they had JFK's sailboat. There was also a great view of Boston Harbor and downtown. Then we went inside. I will say that it was interesting, but it was, in my opinion, mostly "fluff." When we had visited Truman's Library in Missouri, we were very impressed. But this one didn't have too much substance to it. It seemed to us that a good part of it was about Jackie and how she classed up the White House. I'm glad we went, but were a little surprised by what we saw.

More Boston Adventures

We took the subway back over and got off at Newbury Street, which is full of trendy little shops, art galleries, and restaurants. After a while, we walked back up toward the Commons. We decided from there to take the trolley out to Boston College. The trolley ride took probably an hour, winding through all the Boston, Brookline and Cambridge neighborhoods. By the time we got there, it was starting to get dark, so we weren't able to see the campus under optimum conditions. However, we could still see that it was a very beautiful campus. We got back on the trolley and headed back. It was getting near dinner time by then, so we couldn't resist walking over to the North End again and dealing again with the difficult challenge (!) of which Italian restaurant to choose! ;-) And, do I even need to say it?? Yes, we went to Mike's Pastry again! ;-)

When we rode the subway back to the motel area, we still had to walk the half-mile back to the motel. It was probably about 10:30 when we walked up, and we started seeing lots of people stepping outside the motel. We thought maybe a busload of people just came in or something. When we got closer, we heard the motel fire alarm sounding, and realized that many of these people were walking outside in their robes and jammies. Soon we had two firetrucks and the fire chief's car coming in the driveway. Of course, I and one other woman whipped out our cameras to record all the fun. Thankfully, it ended up being a false alarm, but it did lend some excitement to the end of the day!

Overall, we loved our time in Boston. It had a lot of personality, the people were extremely friendly and helpful, there was a good mix of modern and historic, and of course, there's the North End!

Brain Power

As we left the next morning, we drove over to the Harvard University campus. I went over there with a vision in my mind of what I'd see, but it was nothing like that. The campus is very spread out and interwoven around a packed little downtown area. There were some old buildings and some new buildings, but to me, it didn't really have an identity. It just seemed crowded and confusing. I didn't even get a picture of it because there was no "it" to take a picture of. It was surprising to me. From there, within a couple of miles, is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Again, it was underwhelming. The one thing that did occur to me as being significant is imagining all the brain power in that two-mile radius. But other than that, hmm......

A Picture of a Rock??

We went on down the road, heading to Plymouth. When you drive over to the beach area in Plymouth, there are people (and buses) everywhere. But lo and behold, over on the sand in a little fenced-off area, is an actual rock, maybe about three feet across, with "1620" engraved on it. And everyone (including myself) is taking a picture of this rock -- kinda funny, actually.
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A few yards away is the "Mayflower II." Some 50 years ago this replica of the original Mayflower was built using the original blueprints and by shipbuilding standards in place in the 1600's. It then retraced its original route across the Atlantic to its present position. It was interesting to see just how small that ship was (only 106' long and 25' wide), and to imagine that 102 passengers rode together for 65 straight days on this thing! That whole beach area is an obvious tourist trap, but I am glad I got to connect to that part of our history.

We had planned to go on down the coast and out to Cape Code and Martha's Vineyard. The weather while we were in Boston had been perfect, but that day, it was very hazy and overcast. We figured that it was a pretty long drive out there and back, and we probably wouldn't be able to see anything once we got out there. So we decided to leave that venture until the next time we go to Boston.

Don't Blink or You'll Miss It

We then headed for Providence, Rhode Island, only about 30-40 miles from Boston. As soon as we crossed the state line, it seemed to have a different look and feel. I told Michael that I thought it looked kinda "Rhode Islandish" (of course, he had a good time with that one). I'm not sure how to define that term, but it just looked like a sea-faring town with clapboard houses and sailboats.

The 49th State

We drove through Rhode Island (which is only about 37 miles across -- weird, huh??), and into Connecticut. I was excited because that was finally my 49th state. I've now been in every state in the U.S. except for Alaska (I told Michael that he'll have to take me on an Alaskan cruise someday). We headed along the coast, then into New Haven, where we went over to the Yale campus. It was also pretty spread out, but prettier than Harvard, and the area around it wasn't as crazy.

Out of New Haven, we drove north, then east, heading for New York again. Along the way, we passed several horse farms. We could definitely tell there was money out there. We got to Kingston, New York, and spent the night there.

The Beautiful Catskills

The next morning, we headed westward through the Catskill Mountains. I don't know if it was the terrain, or the passing of another week, but this area was the most beautiful yet as far as fall colors. Every curve of the road brought new ooh's and ahh's.
Northeast_104.jpg Again, we had the top down and were just enjoying every mile. Besides the colorful trees, we also saw lots of farms, rolling hills, and emerald green pastures. The road wasn't as crowded, so we were able to stop several times and take some good pictures. You can see them on my photosite. We both decided that overall, New York was the prettiest state we went through.

Our next destination was Ithaca. As we approached the town, we drove under an overpass. What we didn't realize until too late is that they were working on that overpass, and were using a water truck in the process. So as we drove under the edge, a bunch of water just fell down on us! Fortunately, it mostly hit the windshield, but we certainly got wet too. Ah, the perils of driving with the top down! ;-)

The Nicest Campus Yet

We headed over to Cornell University. This was probably the most beautiful campus we had seen the entire trip. The buildings and grounds were beautiful, and the whole place felt very serene. We went over to one part of the campus where there was a footbridge. As we walked out on it, we found that it overlooked a gorge and a little river that were probably about 150 feet down. That was a surprise.
Northeast_110.jpg When we left the campus and got away from it maybe 3-4 miles, I could look back and see that the whole campus was built on a big ridge, and that's what the gorge was cutting into. It looked like pictures I've seen of the Greek Parthenon sitting up on a hill. It was quite impressive.

Finger Lakes

We went north from there heading toward Seneca Falls, and driving along the big Cayuga Lake, one of New York's "Finger Lakes." There's a series of about seven sizable lakes and other smaller lakes in that area, all long and skinny like fingers. After we got up to Seneca Falls, we drove over to Geneva, then down the other side of another of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake. It was bigger yet. This part of the state is definitely its "bread basket." We passed lots of farms, crops, vineyards and wineries. It was a nice drive.

Heading Home

From there, we headed back down to Scranton, Pennsylvania, where we spent the night. And the next day, we headed home. What a wonderful trip -- one that I've wanted to make for probably decades! We ended up putting about 3250 miles on my little bug, which increased my total miles by over half! Near the end of the trip, my odometer passed 10,000 miles. Not bad for a 2-year-old car! :-)

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Well, guess what? We've finished the planned portion of our travels and this is the end of my blog! :-( We will certainly make other trips in the months and years to come, since we are so centrally located to just about everything; but this is the end of the journey that we had originally planned.

I've certainly enjoyed sharing my journey with you. I'm now sitting here at my desk, looking out the window at the squirrels and the falling leaves, and ready to start settling into my new life as a Southern Girl. Our home is certainly open to anyone reading this, so if you ever venture to Tennessee, y'all come see us now, y'hear!
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Posted by semitte 13:27

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