Overflowing Adventures – Driving, Riding, and Walking

Long Wharf compass rose

Casting my shadow over Boston.

My recent trip to New England was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. With so much to do and so much going on in the places I visit, I try to fill my time as much as possible with interesting things. I live a relatively quiet life in Upstate New York most of the time, so filling my road trips to overflowing is always something I enjoy.

I was blessed with beautiful weather driving out to my hotel in Seabrook, New Hampshire on Wednesday. It was cool at my house in New York when I left, but by the time I reached my hotel, it was 90 degrees and humid. It’s not unusual for that to be the case and I was happy just to arrive after a full day of driving. Following a small issue where the first room at the hotel hadn’t been cleaned yet, I was given a nice, clean, recently updated room that was bigger and far more comfortable.

I stayed at the Seabrook Inn and the staff were very friendly and accommodating, especially since I kept somehow rendering the key card to my room useless. I’ve stayed at the Seabrook Inn before and I’ll be staying there again as needed on future trips. They have a nice continental breakfast, they’re in a somewhat secluded location, but still right near plazas filled with everything I need. I spent Wednesday night unwinding a bit from the drive, doing some homework, catching up with friends, and grabbing what I needed from the nearby Wal-Mart.

Thursday I headed into Boston early by catching the commuter rail from Newburyport Station in Massachusetts. Although the train is a bit more expensive than me driving to the nearest T station and taking the subway into Boston, after so much driving, I enjoy just sitting on a train for an hour to get where I want to go. The train started out mostly empty, but by the time we arrived in Boston, I was squished against the window as the seats around me filled up. I still didn’t mind though because while all those people were commuting to work, I was just heading into Boston to enjoy myself.

Once the train arrived at North Station in Boston, everyone rushed off while I took my time. I didn’t want to get in the way of people who had somewhere urgent to be.

North Station Boston

People heading into North Station ahead of me.

I walked leisurely through North Station amid the crowds and patiently waited in line at Dunkin Donuts for some iced coffee to help me wake up since it wasn’t even 8:00 a.m. yet. Iced coffee in hand, I navigated out of the North Station and walked to a little park like area with an overlook of the bridge coming into Boston. Traffic coming in was thicker than traffic going out and I snapped a photo because I like that vantage point.

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

Traffic coming into Boston on the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge

I then began my walking journey through Boston as it was a cool, breezy morning and I didn’t feel the need to use the T just yet. I walked through Quincy Market and grabbed a breakfast burrito to eat in the upstairs seating area of the building. There was only one other person sitting up there and she left shortly after I started eating. I enjoy being in Quincy Market that early before it gets so crowded with people you can barely move. At that time in the morning, restaurants and stores are still receiving their early morning deliveries, people are sipping coffee, and the full bustle of Boston hasn’t started yet.

Quincy Hall, Boston, MA

Looking out the windows on the upper level of Quincy Market

Once I finished my breakfast, I headed toward Long Wharf, one of my favorite spots to visit when I venture into Boston. The sunshine and breeze made for a lovely visit and I watched the whale boats and ferries fill with people heading out on the first trips of the day. From Long Wharf, I wandered south along the harbor trail and saw new areas I hadn’t explored yet.

Long Wharf Boston ferry

Ferry coming into Long Wharf.

Long Wharf compass rose

Looking toward Boston at Long Wharf

I discovered some very nice looking apartments/houses/condominiums/town homes, whatever they call them there, along the waterfront and wondered what it would be like to wake up every morning with such a gorgeous view of the harbor. Of course they also had to deal with the constant noise of planes taking off from Logan Airport (although not too loud at that distance) and the boat traffic sounds, but I imagine it’s a minor inconvenience. While I can understand the appeal of living in such a location, I know how much I like having a yard, space of my own, and not having to share walls with people. Certainly doesn’t rule out the possibility of me having a weekend place in the city someday when I’m a famous author though. 😉

Boston harbor condos

Homes with a beautiful view of Boston Harbor.

 

Arch at Rowes Wharf, Boston

Arch at Rowes Wharf, Boston

Boston skyline

Boston skyline view from the end of Rowes Wharf.

I ended up walking all the way down to South Station in Boston without even realizing how far I’d gone. It was just such a beautiful day for a stroll along the harbor! I stopped into South Station and grabbed a muffin for a snack before heading to the nearest T station to make my way to the library. For me, no visit to Boston is complete without a visit to the Boston Library to sit at one of the long tables with their green lamps and convenient plugs to charge my phone. Plus, it’s a nice opportunity to enjoy the quiet and rest my feet for a while.

Bates Hall in Boston Public Library

Bates Hall in Boston Public Library

Once my phone had a better charge and I’d written down some of what had happened that day in the small notebook I always carry in my messenger bag, I headed to the Copley T Station and took the T back north in search of a restaurant I’d visited before. I really liked what I’d gotten there, but I was dismayed upon arriving to discover that they’d changed their menu completely. It was getting close to the time I wanted to get back on the train to return to Newburyport, so I decided to forego lunch until later and get back to North Station.

After getting briefly lost trying to find North Station (getting lost is sort of my thing), I found my way there just in time to board the train back to Newburyport. The train was a bit crowded when we started out, but more and more people got off with each stop and I was able to stretch out a bit and just enjoy the ride. I was very hungry by that point, but had a plan for lunch when I got back to the station, so I knew I’d be okay. Overall, I was very happy with my visit to Boston and suitably tired.

I wasn’t able to make a solo trip into Boston last May when I made this annual road trip, so I was glad to have accomplished it this most recent trip. There was more I’d wanted to see, but I just didn’t have the energy and I know I’ll be able to see it next time. Some people might get tired of Boston after a while living, working, or visiting there, but I don’t see that ever happening for me. It will always have a place in my heart and call me to it for new and interesting adventures.

The Trip That Almost Didn’t Happen

massachusetts-welcome-sign

One of the welcome signs for Massachusetts.

Every May for the past few years, I’ve headed out to Massachusetts on Memorial Day weekend so I can volunteer at and attend the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow at the Marshfield Fairgrounds in Marshfield, MA. I love helping out and dancing at the pow-wows and I arrive in New England a few days before the pow-wow to embark on other adventures, such as spending a day in Boston or heading to the beach to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scent of the ocean.

However, with the various problems I’ve had these past few months such as major plumbing repairs and needing a new transmission and clutch in my Matrix, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make my annual Memorial Day trip. Thankfully, through something almost akin to divine intervention, I am actually able to make the trip. Today is finally the day I head out to New England where so many people, places, and events happen that lift my spirit and I’m so excited!

My last road trip to Massachusetts was last August with my girls and we’ll be doing our annual summer vacation out there again this August, but my solo trips are always a different adventure than family trips. These solo trips have been one of the many things that have helped me better understand who I am as I expand my horizons and bravely adventure alone. My first ever trip out to Massachusetts and into Boston in November of 2011 was one of my most memorable experiences and was the start of my New England adventures.

The weather for my trip as predicted now is supposed to be beautiful. There’s a chance of rain on the weekend during the pow-wow, but I’ve danced in the rain before and I can certainly do so again. If you’re in the area of Marshfield, MA, I urge you to come to the pow-wow because it’s always an amazing, educational, and memorable experience. It got a semi introvert like me out dancing in front of people, so it’s obviously capable of great things! You can find information about the pow-wow on the MCNAA website or the MCNAA Facebook event page. If you have the time, we can always use more volunteers too!

As I head out to New England this morning, I’ll probably pinch myself at least once to make sure I’m not dreaming. Even though I’ve made so many of these road trips they’ve become almost second nature, they will never become old to me. Every trip out brings new and unexpected adventures and I revel in every moment of it! After the past few months, I feel like I definitely need and deserve a bit of fun and I’m certain I’ll have much more than a bit!

A Highly Successful Vacation Redo!

My girls standing at Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA

I can honestly say that this most recent vacation with my girls was the best one we’ve had so far. We crammed a lot into it while still finding time to relax and best of all, we had fun! Having spent last year’s vacation in hospitals, Jaycie was eager to do things on this vacation and every day she enthusiastically asked, “What are we doing tomorrow?” She wanted every day filled with something and for a girl who admits that she’s lazy and is proud of that fact, it was an amazing thing to experience!

While the drive out was filled with the usual traffic on 495 the last hour or so, we all had a good time. The girls watched movies on my laptop and I listened to my music up front. We stopped plenty of times for leg stretches and snacks and I didn’t worry about being stuck in traffic because we were in no rush.

We arrived at the Best Western Merrimack Valley in Haverhill, MA a little after 5 p.m. and I was immediately impressed by the cleanliness of the facility and the friendliness of the staff. Our room was on the third floor and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had our own private balcony with a sliding glass door leading out to it. Being on the top floor, the room had high, upward slanting ceilings and was very spacious. We had two queen beds and they were very comfortable with clean bedding. The room felt very homey and welcoming and I knew we’d be happy there.

Shortly after unpacking the car, the girls and I headed down the road to the 99 Restaurant. We don’t have 99’s where we live in New York, so it’s a treat going to one in New England. Although the restaurant was a little busy for a Wednesday night, we had a great waitress and got our food relatively quickly. The food was delicious and the girls devoured their food, while I took half of mine back to the hotel to eat later. It was a great first evening on our vacation.

The next morning, we headed into Newburyport for the Newburyport Whale Watch. This was what Jaycie had been most excited about and her excitement continued for the entire cruise. She loves boats and being out on the ocean and she was smiling, animated, and happy the entire time. We saw a large pod of dolphins, a sunfish called a mola mola, a couple minke whales, and a humpback whale. At one point, Jaycie was walking back and forth through the lower level of the boat checking one side and the other for whales as the narrator of the tour suggested. She’s spent most of the summer relaxing on the couch or outside swinging so watching her be so animated was almost like seeing a different child. Jordan enjoyed herself too, but was a bit more reserved in a typical 15-year-old fashion. She’d go up on the upper levels of the boat or sit inside reading the book she brought along.

We ate lunch on the boat and weren’t quite ready for dinner yet so we headed into Amesbury, MA to Friendly’s for some ice cream. Ice cream after several hours in the sun on a boat was just what we needed and we decided to just have dinner back at the hotel after picking up some groceries.

On Friday, we headed into Salem, MA because the girls had never been there. I’ve visited twice before, once in October and once in the summer, so I knew my way around pretty well. We walked the streets a bit and I took the girls to the Salem Witch Memorial and around the graveyard a little. We then ate lunch in Red’s Sandwich Shop, which was delicious! Jordan and I brought over half of our lunches with us and they were worth carrying around Salem for a bit before we returned to the car. We visited the Peabody Essex Museum just for the gift shop and to enjoy the air conditioning and then decided it was time to head back to the hotel. We ended up back at the hotel most evenings by 5 p.m. and that was fine with all of us because we were tired.

Saturday, we headed into Boston via the Oak Grove T Station and we got in shortly before lunch. Comic Con Boston was going on so we headed toward the Convention Center just to people watch. On the way there we stopped at South Station for lunch in the food court area because we could all get what we wanted and it was nice and air conditioned! We eventually reached where Comic Con was happening and sat down outside to watch people coming and going. It was fun seeing all the people dressed in costumes and trying to guess what some of them were. Jaycie didn’t quite understand why Jordan and I were so excited seeing people in costumes, but she was a trooper and made the walk for us.

After that we headed back to South Station and then took the necessary subway lines back to where we’d parked the car at Oak Grove. It was a good day to be in Boston because there had been some clouds and a nice breeze, but we were all hot and tired nonetheless. I showered once we got back to the hotel to wash the T humidity off of me and we just relaxed for the evening again.

I’d determined Sunday would be our day of not doing anything and that’s indeed what it turned out to be. We hung out at the hotel for most of the day then drove to a nearby town in New Hampshire to get Popeye’s and Long John Silver’s for dinner. We don’t have either of those chains near us so again, it was a treat for us. I got my beloved hush puppies from Long John’s while the girls got chicken and biscuits and we all ate happily back at the hotel.

Monday, we headed up to Portsmouth, NH for a bit and then drove the short ways up to Nubble Lighthouse in Maine. There’s not enough parking at the lighthouse for the endless stream of cars coming in so we ended up parking at the ice cream place up the road and walking down to the lighthouse area for a bit. We then walked back up the hill and enjoyed ridiculous large “kiddie” size ice cream dishes as a reward for our exercise.

The highlight of Tuesday was heading to Hampton Beach State Park in New Hampshire in the afternoon. The girls had a ball walking and splashing in the waves and as they both said that was their favorite part of the trip, we’ll be spending more time at the beach next summer. Actually, when I asked Jaycie what her favorite part of the day was at the end of the day she’d always say getting whatever toy I happened to buy her. When I asked Jordan what her favorite part was, she’d say not being in a hospital. So having both girls agree that the beach was the best part was quite impressive.

Although the hotel was nice, clean, conveniently located, and had a lovely indoor pool that Jaycie enjoyed, we all three agreed that next year we’re going to rent a cottage on Plum Island, MA again. It’s just nice staying in a home where I can make dinner and we can just hang out and enjoy our surroundings. I’m going to try and reserve the cottage I stayed in our first week long vacation in New England because it was on Plum Island sound and I loved watching the various birds fly overhead every morning and see the tide come in and out from the sound. As I have a whole year to save up for next summer’s trip, I know I won’t have to type my fingers off the last couple months before the trip and I won’t feel quite so pressured. Next summer sounds like a long way away considering this summer isn’t over yet, but I know it will be here sooner than we expect!

The Great New England Vacation Redo!

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Every summer I take my girls on vacation to New England. This year marks our fifth year of this annual tradition. Although we’ve visited the areas of eastern Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire many times, there’s always something new to see and we always have interesting adventures.

Unfortunately, last year’s “adventures” were a bit more than I bargained for as Jaycie had a bout of appendicitis that had her spending almost the entire New England vacation in the hospital. She received the best care in the two hospitals she stayed in and she doesn’t remember much of the ordeal thankfully, but her older sister and I still remember. Jaycie had her appendix removed last fall and has been healthy and happy ever since, much to my relief and delight. She’s feeling perfectly fine this year as we prepare for our trip and we’re all looking forward to making new memories. 

There’s one particular memory I wish to erase from last year.  During the ultrasound in the hospital that was very painful and uncomfortable for Jaycie, she told the nurse that we were going on a whale watch later in the week. The nurse and I both knew that wasn’t going to happen and that moment broke a little crack in my heart because she wouldn’t be able to do the thing she so wanted to do. None of us really got to do what we’d wanted or planned and it was difficult for us, but I know that all that really matters is that Jaycie was properly cared for and eventually recovered.

To help undo the unpleasantness of last year’s trip, one of the first things we’re doing is going on the Newburyport Whale Watch. Jaycie loves boats so she’ll be happy even if we don’t see any whales. Being out on that boat will replace a bad memory with a good one and I’m sure everything that happens on vacation will continue to erase last year’s memories.

We’re staying in an area of Massachusetts I’ve never stayed in before but it’s close to a T station and a short drive to the coastal areas I’m familiar with. Although we were in Boston last year while Jaycie was in Boston Children’s Hospital, our visit there obviously wasn’t the fun time we’d hoped for. So our return to Boston this year will be infinitely better. We’ll make it into Salem, MA this time and wherever else we feel like venturing. 

It means so much to me as a mother to spend a full week with my daughters and I know this year’s trip will be another amazing vacation for the triumphant trio!

Upcoming Massachusetts Adventures of the Triumphant Trio!

Boston trip by JulieAnn Corbin

My daughters and I at Long Wharf, Boston, 2014

Next Tuesday, my daughters and I hitting the road and heading to Massachusetts for our annual summer vacation. The triumphant trio rides again! The past two summers we stayed in cottages on Plum Island because I love the ocean. As my girls love the pool more than the ocean, I decided we’d stay in a nice hotel with a pool for this year’s trip. I chose a Homewood Suites by Hilton because of their lovely looking accommodations with kitchenettes, ideal location, daily hot breakfasts, evening socials and of course, the pool.

We’ll be closer to Boston and Salem this trip but we’ll still head up to the North Shore area of Massachusetts to enjoy our favorite areas there. We’re going to take a whale watching tour that heads out of Newburyport, visit downtown Amesbury and Cider Hill Farm, and head into Boston for a day like we always do. We haven’t gone on a whale watch in several years and the one we took out of Boston last time was full of interesting adventures that didn’t exactly equal fun.

tired girls by JulieAnn Corbin

How the girls looked heading back from the Boston Whale watch. Jordan wasn’t crying, just tired. Lol.

Aside from that, I have no set plans. I want to take the girls into Salem, MA because I’ve been there twice in October, but never during the summer. The girls have never been to Salem and I figure visiting in summer will be less “spooky” than visiting in October. I’d also like to take them to Plymouth, but I’m not sure if that will happen, it depends on how much energy we have.

I love these vacations with my daughters because it’s the only time I get to have an entire uninterrupted week with them. I share custody 50/50 with their father and while I’ve grown to like my alone time, I always miss my girls when I don’t have them. My daughters are the best part of my life and nothing will ever be more important than them. I love them more than words and I love being a mother.

My girls and I always have interesting and unforgettable adventures on our vacations. We retell stories from years ago that still make us laugh. Laughing is definitely something we do quite often when we’re together. We’re all happy and at ease when we’re together and as this is a vacation and I don’t plan on working, I won’t feel as conflicted as I do when we’re home. To say that I’ve been looking forward to this trip since I booked it in February is an understatement!

Although my girls don’t enjoy the driving out part as much as I do, we still have fun when we’re on the road. I’m up front as the pilot while they watch DVDs, write, color or read in the back seats. I do periodically have to tell them to “stop touching each other” but it’s in a joking way because they get along extremely well for sisters that are four years apart in age. Jordan is turning 14 the day before our trip and she’s a younger version of my sarcastic self so we tend to banter when we’re together. Jaycie is 10 and like me in her lack of tidiness and her love of daydreaming, so I’m sure she’ll be telling me interesting things and random facts she read in a book months ago.

It’s hard to believe that the time of our trip is almost here, but I know that time moves along whether we want it to or not. I’m going to cherish every moment of our vacation just as I do every moment with my girls and I look forward to the upcoming Massachusetts adventures/misadventures of the triumphant trio!

Changing up my New England trips

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites on my New England drives.

When I cross this bridge on my New England road trips I know I’m close to MA.

When I started making frequent trips to New England, the dates I would visit were mostly random and didn’t usually coincide with any particular events. That all changed after I attended my first Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness pow-wow and realized I wanted to attend as many as I could. To that end, I’ve planned my trips around the dates of the MCNAA pow-wows for the past two years and I continued that tradition this spring with the Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow, their first pow-wow of the year. It was after that most recent trip that I realized it was past time to change things up a bit.

As usual for my most recent trip, I drove out on a Wednesday, stayed in a hotel up in Seabrook, NH, stocked up on a few groceries from Market Basket, visited Newburyport and Amesbury and took a day trip into Boston. I’d told the friend I’d known the longest from New England, and who was one of the main reasons for my first trip out that way, that I wanted to see them and they said they wanted to see me too. It had been a year since we saw each other and I thought a brief chat and a hug wasn’t too much to ask.

Unfortunately, when it came down to it my friend made excuses for why they couldn’t see me and we never saw each other. Although I tried to shrug it off at the time, it hurt my feelings and made me realize it was time for a change.

As it turned out, I did get my chat and my hug during that last trip, just not as I’d expected. I gave one of the MCNAA Board members a ride home after helping out Friday before the pow-wow and she and I had a nice chat while navigating the stop-and-go Memorial Day traffic. I received several hugs from familiar friends at the pow-wow and an especially tight one from Harry the Hawk, one of my favorite pow-wow dancers. So despite the hurt caused by someone I had called friend, the universe reminded me that I am a valued friend to others.

In the spirit of change and taking a different path, the main reason for my upcoming New England trip is to volunteer at and attend the MCNAA Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA. I won’t be making any trips up to New Hampshire, northern MA or into Boston, not that there’s really time anyway. I will be heading out Thursday evening instead of Wednesday morning because I watch my girls for my ex Thursday and don’t want to miss time with them. Plus, heading out in the evening should help me miss a lot of the usual traffic I encounter in MA.

My hotel is a less than 10-minute drive from the pow-wow location at Endicott Park, which will be a welcome change from having to drive down from Seabrook, NH. I’ve never stayed in Danvers, only visited there for pow-wows so I’ll have to learn a completely new area, but I’m sure it will be good for me. It’s past time I explore more of Massachusetts than just the few specific locations I’ve visited and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of interesting experiences just like always. I’ll probably get all sorts of lost too…just like usual. 😉

Another New England Adventure Awaits!

 

Wampanoag post at Plymoth Museum

Informational sign at Plymouth Museum

As I don’t have my daughters for the upcoming school break, I’ll be heading to New England Wednesday morning on another adventure! It will most likely by my last trip out that way until next year so I plan on make the most of it.

My plans include attending The National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA, heading into Boston for a day and attending the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Annual Inter-Tribal Potluck Social. While I’ve visited Boston several times, this will be my first time attending the two Native American events. I’m eager to partake in these new experiences and further expand my knowledge and understanding. I urge anyone in the area to attend one or both events as everyone is welcome.

It was only a few months ago that I uncovered my own Native American ancestry and I’m constantly working on learning more about the culture that was kept secret in my family for generations. To that end and to acknowledge what this time of year means to Native Americans, I started reading The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving by Larry Spotted Crow Mann last week. I saw Larry Spotted Crow Mann at the very first pow wow I attended at UMAss Amherst in Spring of 2014 and I found him to be a very engaging storyteller. Although I’m only a few chapters into the book, I’m finding it very educational and interesting and I feel it’s something that everyone should read to help learn the truth about this time of year.

I am a solo traveler and to some, the idea of being alone in a hotel room during this time of year might not appeal, but as my days will be quite full of new and exciting experiences, I’m sure I’ll happily collapse into bed every night I’m there. I’ve been making these road trips out to New England since November of 2011 and while I didn’t know during the first trip that it would become a regular thing for me, I’m very happy that it has and I look forward to every single one with the same excitement of my very first trip!

 

 

On the road again

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To say it’s been a challenging past couple of weeks is an understatement and I certainly think I deserve a break! Thankfully, I headed off on a road trip to New England this morning and my adventures always restore and re-energize my spirit.

While the weather was overcast for most of the drive through New York, there were a few breaks in the clouds and I even saw the sun a couple times!

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Alas, shortly after I crossed into Massachusetts the clouds thickened and I soon drove into rain. I didn’t encounter any overly heavy downpours but the periodic gusts of wind were enough to blow my little Matrix around.

Despite the weather, I still enjoyed the drive and was quite happy to see that the trees in Massachusetts and New Hampshire have more substantial foliage than the nearly bare trees back in New York.

When I finally reached my exit in Seabrook, NH, I made my usual trip to Market Basket for a few little necessities like milk and snacks. Then it was off to the hotel to check in, unpack, and take a nice hot shower. I relaxed for the rest of the evening by watching television and I discovered there are some funny new shows I’ve never managed to sit down long enough to watch until now. It felt kind of weird not doing freelance work or college work tonight but I know I need the break and will benefit from it.

For some reason, driving through rough weather makes road trips feel like they take days even when they really didn’t take much longer than usual, and I’m already starting to doze off. While the forecast for the next couple days doesn’t look great, I know I’ll still manage to keep myself busy and have fun!

A trip of firsts

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This past trip to New England was the first I’ve ever made in July. Last summer I skipped July because I went solo in June and then with my mom and girls in August. I was also still working at my office job last July so taking a road trip every month wasn’t yet a possibility. While I knew this was my first trip in July, what I didn’t realize was how many other firsts it  was going to be filled with.

Every trip I take to New England is filled with new experiences, some of them planned and some of them not-so-planned. This trip I planned to go to the community theatre show I was invited to Thursday night and then down to Plymouth and Cape Cod Bay area on Friday. My weekend plans were to attend the MCNAA Summer Moon Pow-Wow. I did everything I planned and it kept me busy with plentiful new adventures! But it was the firsts that stood out most in my mind.

This was the first trip to New England where I didn’t see any of my friends in Amesbury, MA. There were various reasons for that but it still made me a bit sad. This trip was the first time I attended any kind of show in New England. I’m glad it was The Village Theatre’s production of The Secret Case of Sherlock Holmes because I felt honored to have been invited.

A bit bummed in Amesbury, MA.

A bit bummed in Amesbury, MA.

It was the first time I saw with my own eyes parts of the Wampanoag culture I’d only read about in books. I had my first experience with the craziness that is Cape Cod traffic and also my first meeting with an online friend from that area. It was the first time I was finally brave enough to go out and dance in the circle at a pow-wow for both the Round Dance and some Inter-Tribal dances. That last first is rather huge for an introverted semi-hermit like myself!

The inter tribal dances are a chance for everyone to dance together.

The inter tribal dances are a chance for everyone to dance together.

Along with expanding my knowledge of Massachusetts and its history, I also learned a lot about myself. I learned yet again that I’m stronger than I think. I faced some rather tough lessons, lessons I’d been certain would reduce me to rubble, but I didn’t crumble. In fact, I stood taller and prouder of myself. Certain life experiences add cracks in the foundation of my beliefs but I always fill those cracks with a truth that makes my spirit ever stronger and more determined.

Sunset as I head back to NH from Cape Cod area.

Sunset as I head back to NH from Cape Cod area.

One thing that will always remain true is that my trips to New England renew my soul, stimulate my mind and fill my heart with joy and fulfillment. The first time I see the “Massachusetts Welcomes You!” sign when I cross into the state makes me smile, take a deep breath and remember that I’m on the right path.

Massachusetts Welcomes You

Pictorial New England adventures!

I had such a busy and adventurous day today that I’m far too tired to write many words. So instead I’ll share some pictorial highlights from my travels as a prologue to future posts. Enjoy!

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Map of Plimoth Plantation

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Dwelling in the Wampanoag Homesite

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View from the fort at Plimoth Plantation

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plimoth Grist Mill

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Plymouth Rock

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Mayflower II

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Driving toward Cape Cod

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Waterfront in Hyannis

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Driving back north through Boston

You can’t keep a good girl/resourceful woman down!

Driving toward the Mohawk Valley area of NY.

Driving toward the Mohawk Valley area of NY.

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites!

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites!

When I left Upstate NY this morning it was a pleasant 60 degrees with low humidity, blue skies and tons of happy, puffy clouds. That was an extremely welcome change from most of my previous trips where it was pouring, snowing, sleeting, ice-storming or marking the return of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Okay, that last one was a slight exaggeration…

Shortly after I crossed the border into Massachusetts, the clouds got thicker and less happy looking. The skies eventually turned quite dark and ominous but luckily I only drove through a few sprinkles. I could tell by the state of the roads though that it had rained quite a bit during the day.

I only got caught in a couple of bouts of stop-and-go traffic amid construction and that was another positive improvement! Usually I encounter bumper-to-bumper situations through every major city/town in Massachusetts.

Notice how much distance I keep between myself and cars ahead of me. I used to work for an insurance company, nuff said!

Notice how much distance I keep between myself and cars ahead of me? I used to work for an insurance company, nuff said!

I arrived at the hotel in Seabrook, NH at around 4:15, checked in and unloaded my car. Once everything was settled in my room, I hopped in the shower to wash away the day of driving. The cooler, drier weather hadn’t reached New England yet despite my best  efforts to drag it along behind my car. It was still rather gloomy when I left the hotel to head into Amesbury, MA but I was certain it would clear up eventually.

My usual route into Amesbury was blocked by a police car and I didn’t realize why until later when I left the town. There were some lines dangling so low that it was impossible for cars going into town to sneak under them. I don’t know what kind of lines they were but they must have diverted traffic because of them.

Well at least there's caution tape on the lines...

Well at least there’s caution tape on the lines…

 

My trip into Amesbury proved less eventful than usual because shops were closed and I was bit bummed. I’d really wanted to see some familiar faces today. But I’m not one to stay down for long so being the resourceful woman that I am, I decided change my plans and head elsewhere for dinner.

I’ve been craving clam strips and fries ever since I failed to get them during my last trip so I typed “seafood restaurant” into Foursquare and one of the places that came up was Lena’s Seafood in Salisbury, MA. They listed exactly what I wanted on their menu and were only a few minutes from Amesbury so off I went. I ordered my food and didn’t have to wait long before they called my number and presented a plate covered with a mountain of clam strips, fries, onion rings, coleslaw and a roll. I definitely got my money’s worth!

It'd take 4 of me to eat all this!

It’d take 4 of me to eat all this!

The food was delicious but way more than I could eat. I stayed at Lena’s Seafood until the latest bout of rain stopped and then headed back to Seabrook for a little shopping. I’d forgotten to pack an item of clothing I needed so I headed to Kohl’s where I originally bought it. When I parked my car I noticed a couple shopping cars scattered about blocking parking spaces. I grabbed two carts and then saw a third and managed to steer them awkwardly back into the store. Nobody likes having a stray shopping cart run into their car and I figured they’d been rained on enough for one day. Happy with myself for doing such a good deed, I breathed in the air conditioning and looked around to discover the store was laid out exactly like the one back where I live in NY! They had what I needed and a few other shirts that jumped off the rack and into my arms 😉

After Kohl’s I went to Market Basket for my usual milk and other small essentials before heading back to my hotel. By then the skies were clearing up nicely and the red tones of the sunset promised warmth and sunshine tomorrow.

Looking a bit brighter when I parked at Market Basket.

Looking a bit brighter when I parked at Market Basket.

Glimpse of the sunset from my hotel.

Glimpse of the sunset from my hotel.

While the evening didn’t quite go as I’d hoped, I’ve learned to adjust quickly and think on my feet. I am living proof that you can’t keep a good girl/resourceful woman down!

My Clark Kent persona. Glasses and fuzzy hair.

My Clark Kent persona. Glasses and fuzzy hair.

Expanding explorations

A rough idea of where I'll be going this trip!

A rough idea of where I’ll be going this trip!

Tomorrow I’m heading out to New England for one of my monthly adventures. I make it a goal every trip to explore a new area of New Hampshire or Massachusetts and so far, so good! My last trip I explored new areas of Boston, scouting out places to take my daughters in August and finding the best route to get there. Despite getting lost once or twice in Boston, I found exactly what I was looking for and know the girls and I will have a ball in Beantown.

For my trip starting tomorrow, my newest exploration destinations are Plymouth and Cape Cod, MA. I’ll be staying in Seabrook, NH as usual but on Friday I plan on leaving rather early to head south to the Cape Cod Bay area. I’ve encountered the traffic to the Cape on more than one occasion and I know that the earlier I go, the better. I plan on visiting Plimoth Plantation and the Wampanoag Homesite and then wander wherever the spirit takes me.

Before heading to Cape Cod Bay Friday, I’ll spend Thursday in my favorite city/town of Amesbury and the surrounding areas. I plan on visiting my favorite businesses in Amesbury and investigating a couple of the new ones for future write-ups. There are also trails I’ve yet to walk and sites I’ve yet to see! I’ll scope out where the girls and I will be staying on Plum Island in August and visit the beach at least once.

On Saturday and Sunday I’ll be attending the MCNAA Annual Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA and have volunteered to help out there on Saturday. It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend and I’m looking forward to experiencing more of the Native American culture.

I cram a lot into my days in New England and I love having the freedom to go wherever I wish. This summer is going far too fast but I’m going to fill it up with endlessly expanding explorations as I pursue the path leading to my future in the area I love most!

Jovial Julie, Road Warrior

A little rain, or even downpours, aren't enough to stop me.

A little rain, or even downpours, aren’t enough to stop me.

I thought I’d continue my movie-themed blog titles with a play on the Mad Max Road Warrior flicks from the 80’s. I’ve been driving to New England pretty regularly for a year now and I do consider myself something of a road warrior. I definitely don’t need GPS to find my way anymore and I even though I’ve driven the route many times, I look forward to every single trip!

Unlike my first trip to New England in November of 2011, I now have packing down to a system, everything fits in my car and I can still see out the back window and I even know where to stop on the thruway and expressway for decent food that isn’t McDonald’s. I always need some breakfast and a jolt of caffeine to start me on my trip so I stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts near the dog boarders before I hop on the thruway. I grab a nice big hot or iced coffee, a breakfast sandwich that holds me for 2-3 hours and hit the road!

I stop every couple of hours to stretch my legs and do other important things and during those stops I often make interesting observations. I get behind couples in line who can’t decide what they want and stand there saying ” What do you want?” “I don’t know, what do you want?” I want to suggest they grow a backbone and be decisive instead of overly complacent but that would be rude. Instead I just stand behind them and roll my eyes until their wishy-washy shared brain makes a selection. I know what I want and when I want it and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that!

By now I expect foul weather of some kind during my drive out to New England. I’ve driven through everything including ice storms, blizzards and torrential downpours that slowed traffic to a crawl. I bless my reliable little Matrix and the powers that be for getting me through all kinds of weather and keeping my driving skills sharp. This last trip I drove through several bouts of heavy rain but I was prepared with a brand new set of wipers that did their job splendidly!

Rain drops on the windshield don't ruin the lovely view!

Rain drops on the windshield don’t ruin the lovely view!

I’m grateful for cruise control as I can rest my legs a bit as I navigate through traffic. Somewhere along the way I usually encounter stop and go traffic which isn’t enjoyable in a stick shift car but I make it through. I love watching the change of scenery and the increasing hills as I head east toward Massachusetts. A majority of the drive through NY isn’t overly spectacular but there are some sections like the Mohawk Valley that are breathtaking through all seasons. Seeing the “Massachusetts Welcomes You!” sign always makes me smile happily and I take in a deep breath as I return to a place that feels like home to me.

Time flies on my way out to New England as I think of all the adventures that await me and enjoy every moment of the drive. Well, all of them except the white-knuckle ones through bad weather. Every trip brings new experiences, life lessons and a reminder why I’ve become and remain Jovial Julie, Road Warrior!

An anniversary of sorts

Amesbury mural by Jon P. Mooers

Amesbury mural by Jon P. Mooers

This coming Wednesday, June 25th, I’m heading to New England for one of my monthly/bi-monthly visits/adventures. I’m celebrating an anniversary of sorts because around this same week last year was the first time I made an official and well-planned trip to Amesbury, Massachusetts. I visited during Amesbury Days last year and this year’s visit is timed perfectly with that same event!

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I started visiting the area that I immediately fell in love with during my first official trip to North Shore. After that first trip, I wanted to visit as often as possible and quitting my office job to do freelance writing full-time gave me the ability to do just that!

I’ve visited the area through all seasons now. Walking the sandy beaches in summer was invigorating, seeing the  autumn colors around Lake Gardner was breathtaking and I even found the area beautiful and welcoming when it was buried in three feet of snow. I caught a glimpse of spring’s beginnings during my April visit and by the time the girls and I visited for Memorial Day, the splendor of spring was in full bloom! I don’t live there (yet) but I know New England’s charm remains through all types of weather.

 

Plum Island beach

Plum Island Beach, MA

The beautiful color on Lake Gardner in Amesbury, Massachusetts

The beautiful color on Lake Gardner in Amesbury, Massachusetts

The deep snow in Amesbury, MA after a February 2014 storm

The deep snow in Amesbury, MA after a February 2014 storm

Spring flower boxes in downtown Amesbury, MA

Spring flower boxes in downtown Amesbury, MA

Girls playing on the beach at Salisbury Beach State Reservation

Girls playing on the beach at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, MA

My plans for my upcoming trip are flexible as always and I tend to go wherever the fancy strikes me. There’s the 16th Annual Amesbury Chamber of Commerce Block Party on Thursday, 6/26/14 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. that I’ll definitely be attending and a variety of other happenings around town I might investigate. I also think I’ll venture into Boston this trip since I haven’t been into the city solo since November of 2011. That first trip to Boston inspired me to write and publish my first e-book New England Adventures: Boston, MA and was the beginning of what has become an amazing and ongoing chapter in my life. I can only imagine what another solo journey will bring!

The conviluted walking route I took during my first visit to Boston

The convoluted walking route I took during my first visit to Boston, MA

I’m planning another visit in July and then August brings a huge first: the first time I’ve had the girls for a whole week of vacation since the divorce. I’m indescribably excited about spending that much time together! We’ve rented a cottage on Plum Island that comes complete with bikes and kayaks and we can even bring Jazz! The drive there is going to be unforgettable I’m certain as I fit an entire circus in my little Matrix but I know we’ll all have fun!

Before the fun for my upcoming trip can begin though I have to finish my freelance work so off I go! Is it Wednesday yet??

Not my usual New England visit

Grand Entry at UMAss Amherst Annual Pow-wow, 4/19/2014

Grand Entry at UMAss Amherst Annual Pow-wow, 4/19/2014

During my last trip to New England I attended a pow-wow for the first time in my life. It was held at UMass Amherst on a beautiful Saturday and the experience changed me forever. If you’ve never attended a pow-wow, I believe you’re missing out on something very important to the past, present and future of this planet we call home.

I found the experience so meaningful that I decided I needed to bring my daughters to a pow-wow. I was therefore happy to discover when I looked at the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness (MCNAA) website that the Spring Planting Moon Pow-Wow is taking place May 24th-25th. As that’s Memorial Day weekend and I have the girls for the holiday, I immediately made plans for the three of us to drive up to New England over the long weekend. If you’re in the area this weekend, I urge you to attend!

My usual trips to New England run from Wednesday to Sunday and involve me driving around solo on various adventures, wandering Amesbury and going wherever the wind blows. This will be the first time it’s just us three girls on a road trip and I’m sure it will be a fun and interesting challenge! Jaycie has been talking excitedly about it ever since I told her and I’m sure Jordan is eager as well. We’ll make the most of our time in New England and undoubtedly have stories to tell for the rest of time.

My next New England trip will follow the usual routine and take place end of June or early July. As long as the weather is nice, I get out to Massachusetts and New Hampshire as often as I can because that is where I feel most at home and welcome. It’s going to be a great summer!