Massachusetts Whaling and Pilgrims

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North America » United States » Massachusetts » Plymouth
November 29th 2010
Published: November 30th 2010
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Swans a swimmingSwans a swimmingSwans a swimming

on a pond near our house
"To travel is to possess the world".

Burton Holmes

A summary of the past few weeks on Cape Cod---

It was a dark and stormy night on Cape Cod…… the wind was blowing and howling, gusting 35 to 50 miles per hour. As we looked out the front window we wondered if trees would fall and we will end up without power in our charming Cape Cod rental.

The rain had not started coming down yet but was due any moment. In our short time on Cape Cod we have realized this is a very windy part of our country, especially in the fall. We have experienced wind, wind and more wind. Of course when you realize that you are surrounded by water, this is not hard to grasp. Wind farm energy would excel in this area of the country, but we’ve noticed that there are few turbines and a lot of opposition and red tape in the way.

Our plan for tomorrow is to ride our bikes on the Shining Sea Bike path. We stand looking out the picture window wondering what kind of experience we would have riding into this kind of winds. It is a well-maintained bike path from North Falmouth to Woods Hole extending a total of 10.7 miles. Cape Cod is a bike lover’s paradise. Flat and well paved for the more…mature bikers. We are told the bike paths tally up to about 100 miles.

A mile or so from our house is a pond with two swans. It’s always a pleasure to take a ride over there and watch them float across the water. They are lovely and peaceful animals who seemingly glide on the water.

If you’ve ever read the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die”, they recommend that you take in the Cape Cod National Seashore and we strongly second that notion. This area has been federally protected since 1961, thanks to John F. Kennedy and his foresight. It is a 40-mile strip of quiet beaches and lovely sand dunes. (well, they are quiet this time of year) You’ll find plenty of places to hike and bike to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean. Picture yourself listening to the seagulls and smelling that fresh sea air. Picture postcard stuff.

Massachusetts has done a very nice job setting aside conservation and wildlife lands on the Cape. There are fields of pampas grass and acres of marshes where the birds and native creatures can hide and play. We suspect that “birders” would enjoy a stay here.

Cape Cod is dotted with quaint New England towns that look like Cabot Cove from the TV show “Murder She Wrote”. There are many Bed & Breakfast Inns to enjoy. Seemingly each town has its own unique character. Chatham is probably the loveliest of the bunch, but Provincetown is delightfully quirky, while Falmouth and Woods Hole hold their own charm.

The city planners on Cape Cod had a flare for the creative and humorous. One thing we love about this area are the street names: Stub Toe Road, Popple Bottom Road, Scraggy Neck Road, Trotting Park Road, Buzzard Bay Road… very colorful and descriptive names.

Plymouth, Massachusetts— the story of a Pilgrim landing.

As children, in America we are told stories about the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620. Research cannot substantiate this story, that the Pilgrim’s actually set foot on “the rock” but it feeds the imagination of children
Plymouth RockPlymouth RockPlymouth Rock

a bit of a disappointment
and encourages them to embrace the history of the United States. We decided we needed to go in search of this famous piece of granite.

We will warn you now that you will more than likely be disappointed by the small mass of rock that remains. It is not all that big and actually has been repaired with what appears to be some form of “Quickcrete.” Sadly, in the past decades, people stole chunks of this rock for themselves and years ago they moved it and it fell apart. One piece is in the museum and the other is available in Plymouth in a structure for viewing. Somewhat high on the lame meter here.

A few feet from Plymouth Rock in the harbor is a replica of the Mayflower that you are allowed to tour. They have done a fantastic job providing historical information so that you have a feel for their experience crossing the ocean blue. Over 100 people crowded onto a boat much smaller than you would expect and headed out on a two-month voyage, in the fall when it was not exactly balmy. Religious persecution was the motivator here.

We spent an afternoon at Piimouth Plantation, which is a step back in time. They have created a Pilgrim Village and a Wampanoags village. The Wampanoags are the original Indian Tribe who settled many of these New England areas. In the Pilgrim section they had actors who stayed in character to tell you stories of their life back in the early 1600’s. With much pleasure we found they had staff that are actually Wampanoags to tell the stories of the Wamapnoags people and their life.

Several weekends in the fall they have dinners that you can attend where they provide entertainment of singing, music and a few more stories. It was a fun evening but in the spirit of providing a real 17th century Harvest Dinner we can honestly say the food was not good. We enjoyed the evening talking with other people at our table and the entertainment was enjoyable but please do not make the decision to attend this event if you are looking for a nice meal. The food was bland and overcooked!!

New Bedford, Massachusetts - The hub of the Whaling Industry

We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Whaling Museum. The
Great ShipsGreat ShipsGreat Ships

in the Museum
history of this industry is fascinating. It was a hard and dangerous way to make a living. We did not realize that the men were at sea for two to three years—what a voyage. They were hunting the whales and prepping the blubbers for oils. Long before the advent of gas lamps, electricity and the like, whale oil was utilized quite a bit for lamps and New Bedford was the center of the trade. Specialized ships rendered the whale blubber which was placed in barrels for transport.

The museum explored this history in rich detail and helped bring a better understanding to those of us not so enlightened.

That’s it for now…..we’ll be back later with more lore of the northeast!

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Wampanoags IndianWampanoags Indian
Wampanoags Indian

telling stories of the native people

Plymouth Massachusetts
Whale BonesWhale Bones
Whale Bones

Blue Whale
Ship modelsShip models
Ship models

great detail
Blowin' in the windBlowin' in the wind
Blowin' in the wind

serene and quiet Cape Cod
Fall in Falmouth, MAFall in Falmouth, MA
Fall in Falmouth, MA

winter is around the corner.
Local pondLocal pond
Local pond

the quiet life
Seagull snackingSeagull snacking
Seagull snacking

he has food in his mouth

30th November 2010

Beautiful land
I went to Cape Cod 19 years ago .It was much more barren than I expected. So beautiful.
30th November 2010

Beautiful pictures- I laughed out loud about Plymouth Rock- your account matched my reaction when I saw it for the first time!! LOL
30th November 2010

I spent almost 50 summers in Plymouth and know the story of the 1st Thanksgiving quite well. It is not the idealized version in our History books. Many of the first settlers died within the first year. They landed in Plymouth in December. What were they thinking? If it wasn't for Squanto and Massasoit the colony would not have survived. The Pilgrims and Puritans ( they were two distinct groups) had no knowledge of the weather or the planting seasons. The natives taught them how to fish, gave them corn to grow, and taught them how to survive. In return, we fought the King Philip war and killed most of them. Aren't we nice people? Thanks for your piece. Most of the writing on this site is about foreign places so it was a delight to read about a part of the country that I knew well. BTW it was Ted Kennedy who did the most to get the National Seashore and that beautiful wild part of Cape Cod protected. If you are still in the Eastham or Dennis area stop in at The Donut Shack- best donuts in the world! Blogger 'Gunga'
1st December 2010

thanks for sharing
looks so peaceful out there! far from the "America" i was exposed to! thanks for feeding us this lovely dimension of American life.
1st December 2010

Slow and peaceful America
Lilliram, Thanks for your comments. I find that most, not all, foreigners who travel to America go to NYC, San Francisco, DC or LA. They never see the "real" America. A large part of America is small towns and farm land. Because America is so large they see little of it. I understand why this happens but makes me sad to read their negative comments on travelblog when they have seen less than 1% of America. I do understand that some American people are a pain in the neck when they travel to far away lands so some people arrive here looking for reasons to say "America is not so great" Anyway, back to my original point. I hope you will make an effort to see the real America when you come back. I will be happy to hook up with you and show you around-- where ever I might be living at the time.
1st December 2010

great pictures
As always the travelogue was greatly appreciated and enjoyed. I don't envy you the winter to come, but the place is beautiful and I might need to include it in my next road trip at a more hospitable time of year. Hope you are enjoying your sabbatical and that the holidays will be fun and exciting. Keep in touch.
1st December 2010

Nice narration, Merry Jo, and great pics! Lovely! Susan

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