Sunday, September 27, 2015

America's Oldest Fishing Port

After moving to our next stop, Wakefield, MA, Phil and I took a day took a day trip around Cape Ann, the peninsula about 40 miles northeast of Boston. There are two towns on the cape - Rockport and Gloucester. We visited Rockport first. Besides being a tourist town, it is known for two things -

One is that it is an artist colony, and Motif #1, this red building is known as being the most often-painted building in America. A replica of a former fishing shack, the original building, built in 1840, was destroyed in the Blizzard of 1978, but rebuilt that same year.

The other thing is that it is America's oldest fishing port, almost 400 years old, and home to lots of lobster fishermen.

Of course I was on the lookout for lighthouses. There are quite a few on the peninsula, but unfortunately, they are all either on private land or on islands off the shore. I did get a glimpse of Straitsmouth Island Light.

And of Thacher Island Light -

Which is actually twins.

Gloucester has the most crowded beach I've seen in a long time, but this was Labor Day, so I guess it's understandable.

Looking out over the harbor is the Fishermen's Memorial, in memory of the over 5,000 men lost at sea from the area since 1623.

The harbor was decked out in flags since it was Labor Day.

We also stopped at the Hammond Castle, which also overlooks the harbor. It was closed today, but we were able to wander around the grounds.

It was built by inventor John Hays Hammond, who pioneered the use of remote controls.

Next - venturing into Boston!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

First Stop in Massachusetts

While waiting for the rest of our group to get back from Canada, we made a short stop at Newburyport, MA. Just outside of town is a huge sunflower patch that is very popular.

It's impossible to get a bad shot.

There are small trails where you can get up close and personal with the sunflowers.

Hey - look at me! I'm the tallest one here!

There are lots of happy bees here too.

We also went out to Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

There's a very nice boardwalk there to explore the marsh.

Unfortunately, most of the birds had already left to go south, but I did find a few stragglers.

We stopped by the beach, where people were building their own shelters out of driftwood.

In Salisbury, there's a Great White Shark caught in 1957 weighing over 4000 pounds. I'm not sure how he still looks so good.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

More Lighthouses and Forts - I Think I'm Addicted!

We next moved on to Portsmouth, NH, on the tiny New Hampshire coast. We parked along a tidal river, with huge differences between high and low tide. This is our view at high tide.

And here's low tide.

See that poor little boat on the other side of the river? It's out of the water at low tide -

But perfectly happy at high tide.

The gulls and cormorants like the low tide much better.

We drove back into Maine a little ways to go to Cape Neddick to see Nubble Light. Unfortunately, I was looking right into the sun, so the picture isn't great, but it was a very pretty lighthouse.

Also just over the line in Maine is Fort McClary. The granite blocks lying around are not ruins, but pieces that were supposed to be used to complete the fort. But the plan became obsolete before it was finished, and the blocks were never used.

The granite walls that were completed were built in the 1860s.

There were lots of nooks and crannies to explore.

We went up into the blockhouse and checked out the view.

On the New Hampshire side of the border were 2 more forts. Fort Constitution in on the grounds of a Coast Guard Station. We had to walk on the blue line, and not stray, to get to the fort.

Off shore, we could see Whaleback Light.

It was neat to be able to see the double walls of the fort.

Also on the Coast Guard Station is Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse. We weren't able to go to it, but got a pretty good view from the fort.

Oh wait! A bee with a packet of pollen on his let! (I'm easily distracted...)

We also went to Fort Stark, which is not in good shape.

I actually like being able to see it in it's natural state.

It's kind of a shame about the graffiti, though.

Rusty stuff!

In Portsmouth, we were parked near a very old cemetery. It was fun to walk around and read the tombstones.

I spotted a group of tombstones that were under some trees. They turned out to be the oldest ones, and I actually found one from 1674!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cruising Through Casco Bay

While in Portland, Maine, we went on a cruise through Casco Bay on this boat, the Islander.

At the harbor is this fence full of love locks, a trend started in Europe about 10 years ago.

After leaving the Wharf, we went by the 3 lighthouses we had seen earlier from land. But then we got to see Ram Island Light close up. At high tide, the rocky ledges are completely covered and were the cause of many shipwrecks until the lighthouse was built here in 1905.

We also saw an old Indian Chief.

And we went by Peaks Island. If you live here, you spend a lot of time on ferries.

The same for Little Diamond Island.

We went by Halfway Rock, hoping to see some seals. They're hard to see though, but we saw lots of cormorants.

We saw several forts, including Fort Gorges.

Just as we were returning to the dock, the ferry from Nova Scotia was arriving. It was a great tour!