NorthEast Coast Road Trip: Massachusetts
June 21, 2014. En route to Maine we decided to make a brief stop in Plymouth to see the Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II. The Pilgrims first landed in Provincetown but couldn’t find a reliable source of fresh water so they settled in Plymouth. The Plymouth Rock is supposedly where they might have first stepped ashore and Mayflower II is a replica of the ship they used on their voyage. Mayflower II was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, it was hard to imagine how 100-some people fit in there for 2 months. They have “actors” on board the ship posing as the passengers and would give personal accounts of how it was like during the voyage. I asked about where they get water for drinking. The actor said “we used barrels to catch rain but we also brought a lot of beer with us.”
From Plymouth it was about 1 1/2 hour of traffic to Salem.
Salem was a surprise. It was a big city but somehow very organized. I found it easy to navigate around it. As it was late afternoon already we rushed through the historical sights before they closed. I liked the visit to The Witch House, the only house remaining in the city with direct ties to the Salem trial. This was the house of Judge Corwin, the local judge who investigated the witchcraft claims. Inside were interesting anecdotes on the lifestyle and beliefs during that period. Here’s one I remembered: if a cow refused to give milk it was because a witch was stealing the milk the night before…
The Witch Trials Memorial was erected to honor the men and women hanged for alleged witchcraft behavior.
My favorite site here was The House of the Seven Gables. You might recognize the name from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s book with the same name. Indeed, when the house was being restored, it was done to fit more of the book’s description instead of the original style. So here we were in a house based on a book that was based on a house. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house was moved in the same compound as well. This script was written on the wall: Time flies over us but leaves its shadow behind. The Marble Faun, 1860.
If you visit the House of the Seven Gables make a quick stop to the the candy store across the street, Ye Olde Pepper Companie Candies. It has a good history behind it. In 1806 Mrs. Spencer survived a shipwreck and arrived in the New World penniless. With a loan she bought a barrel of sugar and created the “gibraltars”, a candy so sweet everyone loved it. The store changed ownerships since then but they still use the same recipe. I got some lemon and peppermint gibraltars to try (holy cow they are so sweet!), and some black jacks, candies made from black-strap molasses.