Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Perfect Storm, Witches and Boston

 We now have a new way of defining whether a town/city is nice or not.  It depends on the quality of their roads, and the aggressiveness of the drivers.  While we were in Maine, there were some rough roads, mainly with cracks in the tarmac, which we understand from the cold and heat differentials in summer and winter.  The great thing is that there were a lot of roadworks in Maine, in the tourist areas that we went to.  What this means is miles and miles of brand new smooth blacktop on the road, which is bliss to ride on.

New Hampshire had smooth wide rides in most places with a shoulder on, and the route that we took was quite flat.  Then we hit Massachussetts.  Obviously taxes are used for something other than road upkeep here, the roads so far have been horrific.  Patches on patches on patches on patches (and I'm not joking),  Where there aren't patches, there are potholes.  And the drivers are all in such a hurry to get somewhere and are so aggressive!!! In all of the other states and provinces, we have been amazed about how courteous and kind the drivers are.  They stop to let us in (probably so that they don't have any legal liability for hitting us...), but in Mass, it seems like the whole environment and culture have changed.  It will be interesting to see on the rest of our trip, as apart from a few days in Rhode Island, this is where we are for the rest of our trip.

The problem with bad roads and aggressive drivers, is that all of our time is spent concentrating on the road and the drivers, and we don't get to see anything we are riding against.  Yesterday, we rode from Gloucester (more below), to Salem, and managed to hit a huge pot hole (while going at speed down a hill, it was hidden in the shade under a tree).  I went first, warned Peter, but it was too late.  Water bottles and panniers went flying, but fortunately no damage to riders, and hopefully not to bikes.

What did amaze us yesterday was that there was one stretch of road with beautiful roads.  I was going to name this blog 'Beverly has beautiful roads', but that was only a small part of Beverly and then the roads deteriorated again.  Because the roads were so nice, we were able to look up at the surroundings.  We can see why those roads were so nice. There were mansions upon mansions upon mansions along the side of that about 5 mile stretch of road.  They were on acres and acres of land, some fully fenced.  Again, it reminds us again of the wealth in this country, that we can't really imagine in New Zealand.  These places could be commuter distance easily to Boston, but they are quite old.  We looked up on the internet, but it didn't really help us, except to realise that a lot of them are probably only summer residences for the extremely wealthy.  Then... back to bad roads.

The bad roads and drivers meant that we got to Salem and just wanted to get on to the ferry to Boston and stop riding.  So we haven't done the 'witch' thing yet in Salem. Its a short train ride from Boston, so we will go back at the end of the trip.  But Salem was so touristy with everything 'witchy', it was quite depressing really!

Got to Boston, to our nice hotel, and today are heading off to Harvard on the bikes, using the bike trails on the map that the lovely receptionist at the hotel gave us.  Boston looks lovely, very different to Chicago, much more open, but we will explore more at the end of the trip.

When we left Brent and Beths, Brent rode with us along the coast of New Hampshire to the border with Massachussetts. Because he knew the way, and the roads were flat and we had a tail wind, we rode quite fast for us.  It was quite achievable and we made really good time.  But boy did we pay for it later. 

It made us realise how often we have to stop and check our directions.  So, whilst the GPS drives me up the wall (it often says that a distance to somewhere is - say 50km, and then it keeps changing the distance, the closer we get, so that it is usually half as far again, ie 75km, but we are learning to adjust now), now that I have worked out how to use it (in conjunction with maps), it is useful when we regularly stop to work out which way we are going!

The rest of the day played out to plan like all our long rides, - the hard riding was at the end, hills going into Gloucester.  We decided to go to Gloucester  because it is where the film 'The Perfect Storm' was based.  We are so glad we did.  But, at the end of a long hot day, with hills, we were not thrilled that the 'welcoming centre' was at the top of yet another hill in a park'. Then, the accommodation that they recommended we go to was - according to them, only a mile away.  But, I'm getting much better at this. I looked at the actual location we were going to and estimated it would be 6km (just under 4 miles).Yep, sure enough I was only 100m short!

We both paid for this ride yesterday, with sore legs and muscles and I had a sore knee ligament.  Fortunately we only rode 30km, and today we won't have any gear on, and have had a nice rest yesterday.

We are so glad that we went here.  It is a fascinating city.  It was settled in 1623, so is nearly 400 years old.  It has always been a fishing port, with a huge natural harbour. I had to take three shots to get the whole harbour in, the photo below is just one of the three.

There are three main facets/claims to fame to Gloucester:
1.  The fishing industry
2. The artist colony and
3. The place of the invention of frozen foods (as the brochure says, 'much to the dismay of children all around the world' as they can now have vegetables year round!).

The fishing industry.  This is the core of the industry in Gloucester.  The Perfect Storm, written by Sebastien Junger (good read), and made into a film with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in 2000 is non fiction, based on the storm in 1991, where many ships were lost at sea, the coastguard was able to save most of them, but the Andrea Gail was lost at sea with 6 aboard.  This is the bit from the local newspaper:

A northeaster's giant tides and gale-force winds blindsided Cape Ann on Oct. 30, 1991, leaving a path of destruction that demolished homes, devoured waterfront property and sank a local fishing vessel with all six hands lost at sea.

This storm was  quite a metaphor for the city.  Since fishing began, nearly 400 years ago, over 10,000 fisherman have been lost at sea, many on the 'Outer Banks'.  The memorial below names 5368 lost since records began.
The fisherman, 1925 statue/sculpture, Gloucester, Mass

Tribute to the 5368 fishermen lost at sea in Gloucester, Mass, since records began.  Over 10,000 since town incorporated in 1623

View from our room over the water at the Artists Colony on Rocky Neck Point, Gloucester, Mass
 The artists colony. We stayed at Rocky Neck Point, which is the oldest artists colony (I think in the US.) Artists have come here in summer to write, paint, etc, for years and years.  We stayed right in the middle of the artists colony and went out to The Rudder Bar for dinner (which was packed).  The photos show just how the artists can get inspiration.
Tide is in, from room in the morning at Rocky Neck Point, Gloucester, Mass

Finally, frozen foods. Clarence Birdseye invested flash frozen fish here, and turned it in to Birdseye, tha we all know of.  It has now been renamed 'Gortons'.  We saw some Gorton frozen goods in the supermarket last night, so I don't know what the brand is in NZ.  Maybe we don't get either brand anymore with the Heinz/Wattie, McCain dominance..

Night scene from restaurant, The Rudder at Rocky Neck Point, Gloucester, Mass
I totally succumb.  I know how people here get big bottoms!  We made three mistakes in the last few days.  The first was to treat ourselves to some Dunkin Donuts.  They are everywhere, even the smallest town has a Dunkin Donuts outlet.  People queue at the drive through in the morning for breakfast, so we thought we would try some. They are out of this world.  They are so soft and fresh, and could be quite addictive.

secondly, yesterday at Salem we treated ourselves to some icecream.  Stupidly we both got a 'large' forgetting that everything here is supersized.  They were three huge scoops, I couldn't finish mine, but it was fantastic.

Then thirdly, last night when we were at the supermarket getting cereal for breakfast, we bought some cupcakes.  Again, these were only supermarket bought cupcakes, but they were light as air and fantastic. Have to stop this otherwise we will be bigger than when we left, when we come home!!!

New England - This comprises Maine, New Hampshire, Massachussetts, Rhode Island, Conneticut, maybe other places, but those are the ones that I can remember.  A lot of the places we have ridden through were settled between 1623 amd 1680.  And you can tell the connection with England, in Massachusetts, we have been through towns called: Ipswich, Newbury, Essex, Manchester, Gloucester

Must go out into the sun and see Harvard, 10am already!!

1 comment:

  1. Wow - cupcakes Dunkin Donuts - don't get too american now!