Remember when you were in elementary school, and the lesson was to Compare and Contrast? That’s the theme of this post – our last two camping experiences could not be more contrasting.
Here’s our campsite at Lakawanna State Park, near Scranton, PA.Our two nights there were peaceful and quiet – the most notable sound being the rain that persistently drummed on the roof. We wandered for miles through the Park trails. Nothing truly notable, but there were plenty of wonderful scenes.Okay, now Compare and Contrast those peaceful scenes with our current campsite at Winter Island Park in Salem, MA.If you peer just to the left of the tree in the center of the photo, you’ll see the Fireball tucked into our little square of pavement in this busy parking lot at Winter Island Park in Salem, MA. We’re right next to the boat ramp. Behind us (behind where I’m standing to shoot this photo) is the sewage treatment plant. But, the other view is the gorgeous Salem Bay. Wow – it’s a knockout sight, especially at sunrise.Our first order of business is to check out the NHS Visitor Center and see the film. Actually, there are two films here – we only saw the one you had to pay for, which centered on the witch trials of 1692. Nineteen men and women were hanged, and one 81-year old man was pressed to death (a most gruesome way to die) before the fervor passed, and life moved on. In the city cemetery in the center of town is a quiet, moving memorial to these individuals.(I flubbed my panoramic shot just above, causing some of the lettering not to quite match up properly. But, you get the idea.)
If you have a vision of a colonial New England town, Salem would fit the bill. The main historical sights are easy to find by following the red line self-guided walking tour through the city. Particularly fascinating to me at the towering homes, many built in the 1700s. Compact courtyards, carriage houses, shutters, and some elaborately details soffits make this a photographer’s delight. It’s a sad fact that my photos really don’t convey the beauty of this area.Loved the guy who was brave enough to hang a NY Yankees jersey in his window. That takes guts in this town!One cannot help but be struck by the challenges of living in these historic homes, where repairs are frequent and expensive. I’m thankful that there are folks willing to take on these challenges, and maintain these places for us to enjoy.
Churches are everywhere.Of course, an important part of Salem’s story is her history as an important port. There’s a replica of the three-masted, square rigger merchant ship Friendship in the harbor. We climbed aboard as guests of the National Park Service. Although the ship was completed in 1997, work continues on it. Unknowingly, we went below deck and wandered around – startling the Park Ranger on deck when we came back up from the hold. Apparently, that door was supposed to be locked. Ha! Our gain.Across the street from the wharf is the Customs House, where vessels entering the port paid tax on their stores. Although we didn’t visit the Peabody Essex Museum, we did enjoy the willow sculpture commissioned by it which sits near the town center.Another fairly crappy shot, but I do remember this sculptor’s show at the Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids several years ago. Whimsical and fun.
What would be a visit without an exploration by bicycle? That was the plan for our second day, having logged nearly 9 miles by foot on Day 1. Our plan was to circle the bay and roll around Marblehead. We didn’t find much there, although it is the location of one of the oldest cemeteries in New England. Established in 1632, there are nearly 600 Revolutionary War soldiers buried here. Marblehead is also the home of Fort Sewall, which is neatly bunkered below ground. This Fort sits on a gorgeous spit of land, jutting into the bay. Originally a British fort, was captured by the Americans, and used in as a base all the way through the Spanish-American war.Poor time management hampered our plans for cycling to Gloucester, a fishing village north of Salem. We pedaled most of the way there, but turned back at Manchester by the Sea, because we realized we were cutting into the time when Jezzy needed to be walked and fed.
Today, we leave Salem and move to a Wompatuck State Park in Hingham, our base for exploring Boston. We’re pleased to know that our campsite here (#16) is going to be occupied for the next few days by someone from our T@B/T@DA Facebook group. What are the chances of that?