Another Birthday on the Cape

I spent my birthday on Cape Cod for the third year in a row. This year’s locale was Falmouth. We had one beautiful day and one crappy day weather-wise. Allen and I spent the beautiful day exploring the art exhibits and grounds of Highfield Hall and Gardens. I love touring historic homes and grounds, so I was so pleased that the community rallied and raised millions of dollars to keep this estate safe from bulldozers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we walked to a neighborhood beach and sat for a while. I wanted to catch the sunset and a lighthouse at the same time, so we drove along winding roads to Nobska Light. We watched the sunset from a spot across the street from lighthouse that overlooks Vineyard Sound.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It rained on my birthday, so we took the opportunity to visit the Woods Hole Science Aquarium and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. They are small institutions but interesting nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a lovely Italian dinner and then drove to a nearby beach in hopes of seeing another sunset. All we saw was fog. But fog is pretty in its own way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way out of town, we stopped at Coonamessett Farm because I had read there were farm animals there. Alpacas, sheep, goats, chickens, oh, yes! I also picked some fresh lettuce to take home with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forty-eight hours of a quintessential New England vacation. A happy birthday indeed.

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Visiting the Durant-Kenrick House

My boyfriend and I lucked out when touring the Durant-Kenrick House in Newton, MA, the other day. It was a gloomy Sunday afternoon and we had the house to ourselves!

The house had me at its exterior green paint, since green is one of my favorite colors.

Durant-Kenrick House

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a small historic house, but it gives a nice overview of the Durant and Kenrick families. The Durants lived there in the 1700s and the property was a working farm. The Kenricks bought the property in 1790 and established the largest New England nursery in the 1830s. One of the Kenricks was a founding member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The property was eventually sold off in pieces. Arthur Dewing bought the house from the Durant family in 1923, and his family lived there for 50-odd years. Now the city of Newton owns the property.

It’s a family-friendly place and the grounds are pretty with many large trees and gardens. If you enjoy historic homes, it’s worth a visit. The day we visited, we bought a combo pass, so we will be visiting the Jackson Homestead at some point as well.

A Tour of the USS Albacore

I finally toured the dry-docked submarine in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the USS Albacore. It was a Navy research vessel from 1953 to 1972. After it was decommissioned, it was moved to a facility in Philadelphia but came back to Portsmouth in 1984. It was no small feat for community members to create this museum and bring the Albacore home, so it’s an inspiring story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tour is self-guided, and there are audio descriptions in most areas. Unfortunately I only got a few photos because my phone died in the middle of the tour.

bunks on the USS Albacore

Bunks!

kitchen of USS Albacore

The kitchen staff cooked meals for 50 men in this kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m 5’1″ and I can’t imagine sleeping in those bunks! It was a great tour. All of the research and subsequent improvements to submarines was over my head, but it was still interesting to read about.

There is also a small museum with models and artifacts and a video screening. This is definitely worth a visit whether you are a submarine or Navy fan or not!

2017 Birthday Trip

OK, I’ve finally made it to the last item on my 2017 birthday list: my birthday trip to Sandwich, Massachusetts.

This is the 13th year that I’ve traveled to a new place for my birthday. I decided to go to another town on the Cape (Cape Cod for non-locals), since I’ve lived in Boston for 18 years and can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to the Cape.

Sandwich caught my eye, because it’s the first town on the Cape, and I found an Airbnb that was within walking distance of the town. The trip had a rough start. I took a bus from Boston, which dropped me off at a Park and Ride lot a few miles from Sandwich. I planned to pick up a regional bus from there that would stop in downtown Sandwich. It was raining very hard as I waited in a bus shelter at the Park and Ride lot for an hour until the regional bus arrived.

Well, the regional bus arrived and blew right past me. The next regional bus would be coming by two hours later. In a panic, I tried to find a local taxi service. All I could find were charter airport buses. I was unable to download the Uber app because there is something wrong with my Apple ID. I contacted my Airbnb host to ask if she knew of any taxi services, but she didn’t respond immediately because she was out running errands.

She did respond eventually and offered to pick me up. I was beyond grateful! She was lovely as was her house. It was built in the 1700s, and our room had a secret panel that an owner built in case he had to run from the Tories during the Revolutionary War.

The rain finally stopped, so I was able to walk around downtown and get afternoon tea at a teahouse. The downtown was very small, but I enjoyed walking past a beautiful church that was featured on an Elvis Presley album cover and seeing the Dexter Grist Mill, which was built in 1637.

My partner Allen drove down the next day, so we were able to see some sites that were farther afield from the downtown area. The Heritage Museums and Gardens was fantastic. The rhododendrons in bloom were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also an impressive car collection on display as well as a gallery of American art and a working carousel! You could easily spend an entire day there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had an early dinner and then drove to the Sandwich Boardwalk to watch the sunset. The boardwalk is 1,000+ feet long! Part of it does not have a railing, so I started feeling dizzy while walking to the beach at the end of it. But it was totally worth it. The sunset was breathtaking, but isn’t it always?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we left town the next day, we went to the Sandwich Glass Museum. Sandwich was a major hub of glass production in the 1800s. We were lucky to catch a glassblowing demonstration when we first entered. Then we spent more than an hour learning about the history of glassmaking in Sandwich and seeing hundreds of glass pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plates, glasses, vases, salt cellars, chickens…all different colors and patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandwich was well worth a visit and I was glad to spend a birthday there. So now I’m counting down to birthday list #43, which will commence in about 1.5 months. !?!??!

A History of Saving Lives

I spent two enlightening afternoons at two of Boston’s more off-the-beaten-path museums: the Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation and the Boston Fire Museum.

The Russell Museum gives a historical overview of Massachusetts General Hospital, or MGH, as we locals say. Founded in 1811, MGH is the third-oldest hospital in the U.S.

Russell Museum, Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not a large museum, but the artifacts on display are interesting. There is everything from medical instruments from the 1800s to a virtual dissection table that a docent operates for visitors.

Medicine chest from the 1800s

 

 

Virtual dissection table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned that the hospital performed the first arm replantation in 1962, dental insurance didn’t exist in the U.S. until the 1950s, and researchers are studying Weddell seals—who can hold their breath for up to an hour when diving—to gain insight on how to help people with conditions associated with low tissue oxygen levels. I’m not big into science and medicine, but I found it fascinating. Definitely worth a visit.

I thought I would be in and out of the Boston Fire Museum in under an hour.

Boston Fire Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The museum is in one big room, which used to be an actual firehouse. When I arrived, there was a children’s birthday party going on, so I quietly strolled along and looked at a number of old fire engines, a display about the devastating Cocoanut Grove fire in 1942, and artifacts such as “clackers” used in colonial times to wake up sleeping families to alert them of a fire or other emergency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had just finished looking at a black-and-white photo of a firefighter emerging from a house fire on a Boston street. The photo was taken in the 1960s; I forget the rank of the firefighter, but he was pretty high up. His lungs were severely damaged during the fire, but he survived. The photo caption also said his three sons were firefighters.

Cue an older gentleman in a red volunteer shirt approaching from stage right, pointing at the photo and saying, “That’s my father.”

Paul and I ended up talking for TWO HOURS. This is what happens when you pair a curious person with a person who exudes passion for his life’s work. He gave me a rundown of his firefighting career. He explained the alarm bell system and all of the different symbols on the helmets that were hanging from the ceiling. Being an animal person, I had to ask him about the horses who used to pull the engines (there was a stable in the back of the firehouse/museum). I’ve always respected firefighters, but my respect reached a new level that day. And it was just a joy to talk with someone who was so dedicated to his career.

Another amazing thing about both museums is that they are free of charge. They gladly accept donations, and I gladly left a donation on my way out.

 

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BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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