Compare and Contrast

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.20150911_172317Our 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.20150912_10400520150912_12021420150912_12193320150912_125554wpid-20150912_104900.jpgOkay, now Compare and Contrast those peaceful scenes with our current campsite at Winter Island Park in Salem, MA.wpid-20150913_164925.jpgIf 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.wpid-20150916_060545.jpg20150913_160535Our 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.20150914_13130420150914_13153420150914_131744(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.20150914_12185020150914_12401720150914_12334820150914_122741-120150914_12341920150914_122459Loved the guy who was brave enough to hang a NY Yankees jersey in his window. That takes guts in this town!20150914_122116One 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.20150914_12153220150914_121350wpid-20150915_103048-1.jpgOf 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.20150914_14245520150914_14202020150914_14040720150914_141409Across the street from the wharf is the Customs House, where vessels entering the port paid tax on their stores. 20150914_103035Although we didn’t visit the Peabody Essex Museum, we did enjoy the willow sculpture commissioned by it which sits near the town center.20150914_104010Another 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. wpid-20150915_112858-1.jpg20150914_130111Marblehead 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.wpid-20150915_120207.jpgPoor 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?

16 thoughts on “Compare and Contrast

  1. So glad you two are exploring the area as we will go to the NE next year. Thanks for providing some of the options you’ve discovered to forgo the driving into the cities. Like you, we want to avoid driving into cities. Are you going to NJ to camp and then ride the ferry into NY?

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    • Hi, Cait. We’ve decided not to do the NYC option this year. Think instead we will try to explore the Jersey shore a bit, before swinging back thru Philly, then southern PA as we head back east. Nothing firm yet tho after Oct 2, so well see which way the winds blow.

      We have been at Wampotuck SP in Bingham, MA for the past couple of days. This is a fantastic base for exploring Boston. Excellent quiet, large campsites. We cycle 6 or 7 miles down to the ferry, and get a $16 (senior) round trip ride into Boston, which takes about 45 minutes. From there its been boots on the ground, but you can easily bus or subway to any of the sites you want to see. Long days, and we are tired by the time we get home. But terrific! Tomorrow, we are taking the ferry to a National Park island that is an old Revolutionary War fort. Sunday, we’re going to try taking our bikes into the city on the ferry, and riding crosstown to the JFK Library/Museum. We’re hoping it’s less nerve-wracking to cycle on the weekend. Time will tell.

      Are you still eating salmon 3x a day? Or, have you gotten to the hoarding point? ;-)

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  2. I’ve always wanted to take an extended trip to the northeast to see the historical sites and the scenery, and your post is more evidence that I need to do so one of these days. I really liked the old buildings in Salem, along with the ship, that would definitely be on my list of places to see. I’m glad that you had a chance to go below, even if it wasn’t really allowed. I can’t say that I care for the campground that you’re staying at, but I suppose that you have to take the bad with the good.

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    • Everything out here seems so not-Michigan. It’s interesting to be treading on streets that have been in place for hundreds of years. Cemeteries have headstones that go back to the 1600s. Some of this is hard to get my head around.

      Sometimes camping just has to be about the location, and this was one of those times. There were some nice grassy spots for tents, and that wouldn’t be such a bad option. We did have custody of the sole tree in the parking lot, and were fortunate to have it provide lots of shade cover in the afternoon. Everyone else just had to bake. We loved being right in town.

      We’ve now moved to a gorgeous State Park about 20 miles south of Boston. Our plan is to ride our bikes the six or seven miles to the ferry, which will take us (and bikes, too) right into Boston. The history lesson continues.

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  3. When we were in the Boston area we thought it would be cool to get away and head for Cape Cod and the seashore for some tranquility. Turns out Cape Cod is just another suburb of Boston and commuter traffic was a nightmare. When I mentioned this to the nice lady at the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center, she just laughed and said, “Ha, this is nothing, you ought to see it in season …. nothing moves” ! I don’t know if you have plans to go there but if so, you might check our videos from there beforehand. Also if you do, be mindful of traffic cops. There was one writing tickets every mile we drove.

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    • Our plan is to only use public, foot, or bicycle transportation. The truck isn’t going to leave the campsite, hopefully. We’ve heard the horror stories about Boston traffic, and hope to avoid much of the pain. Somehow, we will manage, and I’m pretty sure Boston will survive the Crankshaws.

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    • Can’t remember the T@Bbers names. We had a discussion on the yahoo group about it. Hope they enjoy it.

      Having good weather really helps the enjoyment factor of camping, doesn’t it?

      These New England rookies are pretty impressed so far. Gorgeous.

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  4. John….Sewall? Name sound familiar to you??

    Judy…next time you hit MA, try the Berkshire mountains and all the little towns there. And biking is FAB!!

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