July 16, 2013

The "Maine" Event; Day 1: North By Northeast

Saturday, July 6, 2013: At about 4:45am, I loaded my bags into the car to set out on an epic road trip that would take me across Long Island Sound on the ferry "Susan Ann," through the states of New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and all the way up to Acadia National Park in Maine. As I was inputting the address for the first destination into the GPS, I knew that the eight days ahead of me would require many hours of driving. To occupy all of that time behind the wheel, I made a pair of mixed CDs of 70's rock songs. Through the miles, I had groups like The Who, Queen, Kansas, Styx, The Eagles, Boston, and The Rolling Stones to keep me singing catchy tunes to the dashboard. By 10:30-ish, I was relieved to finally pass a sign that read "Entering Salem, Settled 1638." The first stop on my itinerary, while a little touristy, would offer a lot of cool things to do. Within a few minutes, I arrived at the House of the Seven Gables, the home made famous by the 1851 Nathaniel Hawthorne novel of the same name. As I toured this Gothic residence, learning about its history and architectural design, I delighted in discovering a few of its surprises such as the secret staircase behind the chimney and a hidden passageway into the attic. The house overlooks the water and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace is also located on the grounds. After a long morning in the car, it felt great to simply walk among the flowers and take in the summer breeze.

After leaving the House of the Seven Gables, I drove over to the center of town where I left my car in a parking garage. At a rate of $0.25 per hour, I found parking in the village of Salem to be quite a bargain. My next stop was to be the New England Pirate Museum. Here, I was regaled with tales of some of the infamous pirates of the area: Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and Thomas Tew, to name a few. I had a good laugh with the museum's curators (all of whom are dressed in pirate garb) when they told me that they liked my handlebar mustache more than Captain Morgan's and that I would have made a great swashbuckler. Argh! Ha!

Just across the street, one can find Count Orlok's Nightmare Gallery. This museum houses some very remarkable wax sculptures depicting scenes from classic horror movies. My favorites being Nosferatu, House of Wax, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Phantom of the Opera. Not a haunted house, this gallery is much more fun than scary.

Of course, interest in the village of Salem revolves mostly around the fact that it was the location of the witch trials of 1692. My next stop, the Witch History Museum, chronicles many of the events of that time in great (and often spooky) detail. I've heard that Salem is an exciting place to visit during Halloween time and I can certainly see why that would be true. I could definitely picture the streets packed with costumed revelers.

With a full day of activities already behind me, I checked into the Knight's Inn. I was very lucky to have the hotel's swimming pool directly across the parking lot from my room. I was happy to put on my trunks and spend the rest of the afternoon cooling off in the water. This adventure was only just beginning. There would be so much more to come...

"My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!'
    Your face, Lord, I will seek.

~Psalm 27:8