The Northeastern States
In the fall of 1991, Angie and I took a seven week assignment in Hudson, Massachusetts (near Boston).
On this trip, we learned the most important lesson of our wandering lives;
Nothing Creates Action Better Than A Deadline.
Like a man who's been given one year to live, we had the luxury of knowing our timeline in advance.
Forty-five days. Six weekends.
So we made a plan and executed it.
And, amazingly, everything worked out.
For example, one day we visited Mystic Seaport, in Rhode Island, to see the boat museum. After a day spent looking at beautiful antique ships, and talking with friendly staff about the design and building of boats, we drove up the coast for dinner.
We stopped in a seaside town called Watch Hill and, following instructions, watched. As fog roll into the harbor, I started to take pictures. As I was shooting, appropriately, this boat named Mirage, a swan appeared out of the mist, and swam into into my picture.
The whole trip went that way.
Weekend One - Gloucester
On our first weekend, we went to Gloucester. Gloucester is a fishing town north of Boston that is, for some inexplicable reason, pronounced 'Gloushta'.
There we hoped to see some whales. But first we visited a castle, the former home of inventor John Hammond. He has the second most patents in American history, after Edison. He had a quote that I love, "Live in the past, work in the present, and think in the future". His castle is worth visiting, as it's an extraordinary building, and he was an extraordinary man (who I had, sadly, never heard of, before this visit).
And then, yes, we saw some whales. Eighteen humpbacks, to be exact.
It was a warm, sunny day. The water was calm. And the humpbacks were very active.
The naturalist aboard the boat said that we were very lucky, for it was an unusually large number of whales.
I don't know anyone who isn't awed by a close-up view of a whale.
This probably isn't a good time to mention that I've eaten whale in Japan, but I did, in jerky form (The proprietors of this small town coastal restaurant swore to us that the whale had washed up on shore).
After tasting it, you wonder why anyone would bother.
Weekend Two - Vermont and Montreal
The next weekend, we drove to Burlington, Vermont to visit some friends.
The drive was scenic, although there are a lot of annoying little green signs that appear along the roads.
The signs look like government signs, but they list local businesses, along with directions.
For instance, "Sticky Buns, Inc - left on 107 then right". Other signs included, "Take a Gander", "Fire and Ice", and the "Eyrie Motel" (by law, all Vermont businesses must have 'clever' names).
One thing these signs don't tell you is how to find waterfalls and other scenic points. Vermont seems to be hiding their scenic areas.
You can almost picture someone in a town meeting saying, "Lets distract them with all our junk stores, until they run out of vacation time and can't go to the good places. Then, we'll take all the money we make off them, and hang out in the good places."
It's actually a great idea. Most tourists just want the souvenirs, anyway.
Our friends took us on a day trip to eat lunch in Montreal (all the arrogance of France, without the jet lag or visa hassles!), and take a jet boat ride up the St. Lawrence River.
The jet boat ride was invigorating. Did we get wet? Umm, can you say 'hydraulic enema'?
Weekend Three - Cape CodThe next day we went to Wellfleet and found the trail head for the Great Island Trail. During whaling times, this had been an island, but now it was a peninsula. It's protected by the National Seashore status and is truly an indication of what Cape Cod was before the 'Captains' restaurants and used book stores and chic boutiques and drunk horny teenage lovers in their daddies cars (though I wouldn't mind being a drunk horny teenage lover in my daddies car, I never got that lucky).
Our new friend Tom Karpowicz invited us to his cottage on Cape Cod.
We explored Provincetown, and ate dinner at restaurant named 'Captain Something'. I wondered why so many restaurants think they need the word 'Captain' in their name, or even worse, 'Rusty'?
I've never figured out why 'Rusty' is supposed to be synonymous with great seafood. The Rusty Nail, Rusty Pelican, Rusty Scupper. These are all real restaurant names. I'm surprised we didn't find 'The Rusty Captain' or 'Captain Rustys'
We walked past a bay and saw dozens of fiddler crabs. To our right side were grassy sand dunes.
The weather was perfect, sunny and 80 degrees.
We walked to the end of the Gut, and then headed over the dunes to the ocean. The view was spectacular, with the Plymouth Monument visible to the north.
We swam, ate a spaghetti lunch, and chased crabs for the whole afternoon.
Indiana, on top of a mountain in the Adirondacks, laughs in the face of danger
Weekend Four - Lake Placid, New York
The timing was perfect. My parents already had a week scheduled in their time-share condo, in Lake Placid. This is the home of a classic sports phrase "Do you believe in miracles?"
So, of course, Angie and I drove up to visit them.
It rained for most of the weekend, but any weekend with family is a good weekend (well, I can't speak for your family).