My trip to New England
So mom died on April 12, 2015. It was a hard death; I hated to see her go. I had talked with her the last few months that she was alive; we talked about me taking a trip back to New England. She urged me to do the trip, I had never been to New England, she had been there several times, and she had visited Boston, Massachusetts and had been up to Bangor, Maine. She had been to Burlington, Vermont and she had traveled to Hartford, Connecticut. I was her care provider before she died. I watched over her until she left this earth. She had urged me to go, I wanted to drive back, take a cross-country trip, mom did not like the idea of me driving alone, and she wanted me to take the train if I could.
So, Mom died, it took me several months to organize everything, to go through her estate, to make sure everything was in order. Starting in June of 2015 I decided to sit down and plot out my trip with New England, I studied maps, went on line, found motels and campgrounds, with every city that I planned on visiting I would find two or three motels and two or three campgrounds. It took time picking the cities and historical places of interest that I would visit with my trip. I sold my mom’s Ford Fiesta, I hated to sell it, but I really didn’t need it, I sold it in September of 2015 and told myself that I would use the proceeds to fund the trip back east.
I called campgrounds, I called motels, I called some of the museums and art galleries that I would visit, I went to AAA and talked with travel advisors, and I went on line and studied each state that I wanted to visit. It took lots of work. I had decided that I would take about an eight weeks to do the trip. As I said I wanted to drive cross-country, the plan was that I would travel through Oregon, go to the Painted Hills, camp a night there, go to Idaho and camp a night, and then travel into Wyoming and camp at Grand Teton National Park and then go up to Yellowstone National Park. After visiting Yellowstone Park I would then go to Mt. Rushmore and cut through South Dakota and drop down into Iowa, camp a night or two there and then go into Illinois, then drive through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut and then drop back in Boston, Massachusetts. From Boston I would go in a counter clock tour with the New England states, I would go through Maine and then through New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, and then stop back in Massachusetts. From Boston, I planned to travel down through Virginia, North Carolina, cut through Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and then up through Northern California and back to Oregon. If I drove it would take about two months to do the trip.
Well, I had all the camping gear, I had everything planned out, and then in mid-September of 2015 it started snowing in Wyoming about two weeks before I was to leave. Global warming. I rethought everything; I did not want to go through Wyoming by myself and possibly face snowstorms while I was driving. I tossed and turned on it, finally I decided to take the train from Portland, instead of driving, I thought I’d take the “Empire Builder” back to Chicago and then from there go to Boston, Massachusetts. From Boston I could rent a car and camp through New England and head back home. I studied my maps, went online and made sure I had the phone numbers with campgrounds that I was going to visit, tried to make sure on dates and times, I wanted to make sure it was going to be an epic trip.
I called Amtrak and made a reservation. I bought a round trip ticket to Boston, Massachusetts and back to Portland, Oregon. I would be leaving on October 1, 2015 and getting back to Boston, Massachusetts’s on October 4, 2015. I would take in New England for about two weeks. I would then take the train back to Chicago, Illinois leaving on October 18, 2015 from the South Station in Boston. I’d stay in Chicago for four days and then take the train to Portland, Oregon. I’d arrive back in Portland, Oregon on October 25, 2015.
I booked the ticket for the train. I next had to book a motel or look at going to an AirBnB in both Boston and Chicago. I checked on prices with the motels in Boston, I wanted to make sure I was going to be close to the Freedom Trail in Boston, I studied maps of Boston and finally decided on booking an AirBnB. I checked online and found a great rate on a room in North Boston, up near Charlestown, up near Summerville, up near the Bunker Hill Memorial. I booked the room and got confirmation, I then booked an AirBnB in Chicago, Illinois, near Logan Square, and I booked it for October 19th-21st. I then checked on campsites in Salem, Massachusetts and in Bath, Maine. These would be the first two campsites that I would be staying at when I left Boston. I had planned to stay in Boston, Massachusetts for four nights and then on day five rent an SUV and car camp for about 10 days or so through the New England states. The next thing I did was to rent a SUV through Hertz out of Boston, Massachusetts. I would book the car for almost ten days and drop it back off in Boston on October 18th, 2015. It took a lot of work in making sure I had everything booked with the train, AirBnB and the rental car. I called all of the campgrounds that I would be staying in, I wanted to make sure I could get a site and wanted to know when they would be closing for the winter.
As October got closer, I made sure on what I would be packing for the trip. I packed sweat shirts and jeans and long-sleeve t-shirts, socks, I packed two pair of shoes, underwear, stocking caps, a sleeping bag, a pillow, a blanket, a toilet kit, a few jackets, two cameras, binoculars and a few other odds and ends. I decided to take on medium sized backpack and I decided to take a large backpack. I stuffed them full with everything I needed. I also decided to take my lap top computer and my IPhone.
I paid my rent in advanced with the month of October, made sure my mail was taken care of, I got phone numbers with bills I might have to pay while on the road. I asked my friend Dan Wade to watch my place and gave him a key to the apartment so he could make sure everything was all right.
I sold my mother’s car in mid-September, I got a good price for the car, it actually was going to pay for the trip back east. I studied Boston, got maps online, got maps with the Freedom Trail, and studied the location of my AirBnB in both Boston and Chicago. The location of my AirBnB in Boston was about twelve blocks to the east of the Bunker Hill Memorial, located in Summerville. From the Bunker Hill Memorial I would run into the starting point of the north end of the Freedom Trail. I studied The Freedom Trail; I noted the famous spots located on Freedom Trail. I then studied the highways in Massachusetts and in Maine. In studying the maps it looked like I would be going in a counter clockwise motion, heading through Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, Connecticut and back to Massachusetts. I wanted to make sure I would get to some of the states in their peak with colors of fall. I was going to photograph the fall colors of New England. I made a list, got most of the things I needed for the trip in order. I had found campsites that I could stay at.
Well, the day had come to go back east with my trip. I was packed, got everything in order, my big backpack was heavy, my smaller backpack felt light, I grabbed my laptop and my cameras. My buddy Jonathan Swanson picked me up and took me off to Union Station in Portland. He dropped me off in the front of the train station and said good-bye, it was a sunny day. When I got inside of Union Station I could not help but notice all the activity with armed security, there were several police officers walking throughout the train station, several of them had dogs, I felt like something was wrong, I remember wondering what had happened, I felt like there was a heightened security.
The police started to search people; they went through their bags and belongings. I remember how hot it was that day, it was close to 85 degrees, it was hot and humid, forest fires had been burning down in the gorge, haze, and smoke was pretty thick that day in Portland. I realized right away that I was probably carrying too much for the trip. The red brick train station is one of my favorite train stations. I sat and waited for my train. Soon the speakers in Union Train Station had a loud voice blaring out an announcement, “All aboard for Chicago! All aboard the Empire Builder!” People scurried to get in line for the train. I grabbed my ticket and grabbed my backpacks. I would be staying in the coach section on the train. We went outside, crossed over a few tracks and a big conductor waved at me to board the train. I had just stepped on board the train when suddenly three police officers and a dog stopped me. “Ah sir, may we check your bags?” I was hot, I had a jacket on and I was sweating, I looked at the police officer, “Sure, go ahead, I’m traveling to Boston, Massachusetts.” They went through everything in my bag, the train started to move, the conductor looked at the police officer, “We need to get going.” The police officer looked through everything and then looked at me, “You’re free to go, thanks.” They stepped off the train and went on their way. I put my large backpack up on the storage area; I took my smaller backpack and my laptop up to the second level of the coach car. The silver streamlined train started to pull out of Union Station.
I found a good seat, next to a window, I had two seats in my row, I would have ample room to stretch out, and the car was about half full. There were four or five people sitting around my section in the train. I was settled in. The train moved forward, it jerked back and forth, it soon slowly pulled out of Union Station, we went west, headed over the Willamette River and then headed through North Portland and then went over the train bridge that crosses over the Columbia River; we stopped in the train station in Vancouver, Washington. I love the train station and the train yards in Vancouver, Washington, the train yards have a great old roundhouse. We stayed in Vancouver, Washington for a few minutes and then we were off, heading through Camas, Washington and down west through the Columbia River Gorge. We followed the Columbia River to the east. It was a clear day, the train left Portland around 5:00 P.M. that day.
Within a few minutes one of the passengers on board the train looked at me with a horrified look on his face, he was staring at his IPhone, “Did you see what happened in Roseburg, Oregon?” I looked at him curiously, “No, no I didn’t hear anything all day, what happened?” he paused for a moment, “Ten people have been killed in a shooting at the Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, several people have been hurt. Looks like some student went nuts.” I paused and felt sick. I thought to myself, another shooting. “That’s terrible, no wonder there were all those police officers at the train station back in Portland.” He looked at me. A gal dressed in a jean jacket and wearing faded blue jeans looked at me from across from my seat, she was sitting in the row across from me. “I live in Alaska and where I live you need to have a gun. I’m all in favor in the right to bear arms!” I asked her her name, “My name’s Donna Boatright.” A few other people looked over at her. A college student by the name of Gabe Smith was sitting there and listening to her carry on, he interrupted her, “Ten people have been shot!” An intense argument took place between Donna and Gabe, they argued for almost an hour as we rolled down into the Columbia River Gorge, it was starting to get dark, we were headed toward our next stop in Spokane, Washington. The train rolled through mountains and forests. The sun set and I was heading into the first night with my trip.
Well that Donna Boatright from Alaska went on about her Constitutional rights; she went on and on about the right to bear arms. A few more people joined in the conversation as my first night on the train started to approach. I thought of my mother, thought about the trip ahead. I had packed a few things to eat. I had enough food until we got to Chicago I figured. I remember going down the gorge, it was a beautiful sunset that night, I got some great photos, and I remember the air being full of smoke from all of the forest fires in both Oregon and Washington. People tried to settle in for a sleep, it was around 10:00 P.M. or so.
The argument about the right to bear arms went on and on that night. Three or four people were arguing with Donna, Donna was outmanned and she knew it. Suddenly Donna jumped out of her seat, grabbed her things, and looked at everyone in our section. “I’m moving to another section! I have my rights!” She stormed off and walked a few cars down. Gabe laughed, a few folks in the car started to talk about the shootings. All I could remember was the day I found out John Lennon had been shot. I always felt that this country needed to do something about gun control after John Lennon was killed. The night set in, we were supposed to get to Spokane, Washington around 2:00 A.M. in the morning, and I covered myself up with a jacket and slept until we got to Spokane.
It was hard to sleep on the train that first night; I dosed rather than slept. I would wake up occasionally, my body twisted in odd positions. It was dark; I could make out small homes in the distance, old country roads carried on through meadows and fields. We pulled into Spokane, Washington. I got off the train and looked around, I thought of Edward R. Murrow and the Journalism school at Washington State. It was dark out, clear and dark. I asked the conductor what time we might be pulling into our next stop in White Fish, Montana, “Oh will be pulling in there around 6:30 A.M. or so.” I thanked him, went back to my seat, and fell asleep. I woke up around 6:00 A.M. I was tired and did not get much sleep that first night. I decided to head up and check out the observation deck. I made my way through passengers sleeping in their seats, I weaved back and forth as the big train shaked and shimmied. I worked my way up to the observation car. There were wide windows on both sides of the observation car; the observation car was about half full. I could see beautiful views of the early morning Montana sky; we were approaching White Fish, Montana. I remember the pinks, blues, and shades of yellow. It was amazing. I got my camera out and started to take photos. The landscape was so beautiful. The beautiful light reflected off the mountains and rivers.
I remember seeing Donna sitting in a seat in the observation car, she looked over at me and made a dirty face, I was a bit surprised. I kept on taking photographs as we passed through rough hillsides, majestic mountains and beautiful rivers; soon we pulled up into the train station in White Fish, Montana. It was a beautiful train station, one of the nicest I have seen, the lodge was spectacular, and the countryside was beautiful. Large mountains and hillsides covered the landscape.
I sat in the observation car for a couple hours as we travelled through Montana. As I was sitting there I could not help but notice this gentleman and his friend sitting a few seats away from me. I got to talking to the two men and asked then their names, “My names Dean, this is my fried Tom.” I introduced myself and we got to talking. Dean was a big man, dressed in a heavy wool jacket; he had glasses and a stocking cap on, he had a big beard and he had an infectious laugh. Tom was younger, they were heading to South Dakota, they were going to get off near the far eastern section of Montana. Dean goes on to tell me that he was an engineer for Burlington Northern for over thirty years, tells me that he drove trains through the west. I come to find out that they both had worked for the railroad. I have always loved trains, loved the history of trains. Dean goes on for a few hours in telling me about some of the famous train stories and tells me about the famous train wrecks that happened in the west. He pointed out famous sites along the way through Montana. He pointed out the Lewis and Clark post in showing the point where Lewis and Clark traveled through Montana. He pointed out the site of the most famous train wreck in Montana and the locomotive that was in the wreck, we talked for hours as we traveled through the state, it would take us a whole day to travel through Montana. Montana was big and brown and the colors of the sunsets were amazing. We passed through rivers and countryside. Horses and cows stared at the train, we passed through small towns, people stood and waved. We passed through corals and barren land that sprawled out as far as the eye could see. It was western, raw, and rough. Montana was beautiful, the sunsets were beautiful and majestic, the colors in the early fall were so vivid. I got lots of photos through Montana. I was amazed at the sites through Montana; the one point of interest was the buffalo jump. It’s a famous spot of land where the Indians would herd the buffalo to a small mountain, they would herd them to the top of the mountain, and they would fall off the ledge dropping to their death.
Night set in, I tried to fall asleep, the train went darting along, pulling and winding its way east. We made a stop near 11:00 P.M. that night, Dean and Tom got off the train, they said good-by and waved as they stepped off the train, we were approaching North Dakota. I slept that night, woke up a few times, my seat shook back and forth, people tried to get comfortable. Some people talked, some people went to the club car or maybe to the observation car. I slept through the night; early that morning I found that I had slept through North Dakota, I didn’t see hardly any of the countryside, and we were going into Minnesota when I woke up that morning. We passed through cornfields and farmland, around noon; we pulled into St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a clear morning, sunny and bright. It was October 3rd, 2016. I remember getting off the train and taking photos of St. Paul. It was a beautiful town; I can remember how clean the city was. The sun shinned brightly.
We got on board the train and headed through Wisconsin, the Wisconsin countryside was beautiful, signs of fall were setting in, and the colors were changing. The sun shinned brightly; it was a beautiful fall day. I remember looking at the fields and lakes of Wisconsin, the farmland, the small cities that we passed through, I remember the small churches and schools. We stopped in Milwaukie; it was a beautiful town, canals and rivers wound through the city. I thought of Vince Lombardi and of the Green Bay Packers. We traveled through the lake country of Wisconsin. It was a beautiful day, clear sunny skies, the weather could not have been better. We would be arriving in Chicago, Illinois later that late afternoon and then we would be changing trains for Albany, New York, and then going to Boston, Massachusetts. We rolled through Wisconsin; I ate dinner that night in the club car. African American workers scurried about, they smiled at me and took my order. I made notes with my trip, in a few hours we would be stopping in Chicago, Illinois. The countryside of Wisconsin was fascinating, the colors changed as we went from the rural countryside to the lake country; hues of brown and green leaves flew past my window. While traveling in the southern part of Wisconsin the sun started to go down as we crossed the state line into Illinois.
We cruised through Illinois, going through small farm towns. Illinois was big, the countryside rolled on and on. Big farms and agricultural buildings spread out through the vast fields. Tractors and pick-ups were parked along the old dusty roads. Big grain elevators and barns touched the blue sky that day. We soon started to roll into Cook County, the stockyards and warehouses sprawled on through neighborhoods, I could not believe the massive buildings as we pulled into Chicago, the old red brick buildings, the masonry work, the massive warehouses, the scrap metal, the work yards. Soon we approached Union Station in Chicago, Illinois. We traveled past high-rises and skyscrapers, the John Hancock building stood up amongst the Chicago skyline.
We pulled into Union Station, I grabbed my backpacks and laptop and walked into the famous train station, I walked into the Great Hall, architecturally speaking it was awesome, and the purple illumination and lighting inside of the Great Hall was stunning. I always think back to the United Airlines Commercials showing the Great Hall. I waited for about two hours before hoping aboard the train to Albany, New York. I checked my IPhone with e-mail, I took photos of the Great Hall, it was nice to be in Chicago, Illinois, and it was the birthplace of my father. I sat and waited for the train to Albany. Within a few hours, the shiny train pulled into Union Station, we climbed aboard, and soon we were headed out into the night. We traveled through eastern Illinois, soon we were going through Indiana, it was dark, I started to fall asleep, and I didn’t see much of Indiana that night. Around 1:30 A.M. we made a stop in Cleveland, Ohio, I looked out and noticed the illumination and river walk around the city, we rolled through Ohio and made our way through to New York. It had been a long trip, I was heading into my third night on board the train. We would switch trains in Albany and then head up to Boston.
In the early morning, I remember going to the club car and taking photos of the countryside. We stopped in Buffalo, New York. It was another beautiful fall day. The architecture stood out while traveling through Buffalo, old brick chimney’s stood out, and big massive brick buildings passed by the train as we headed east… There were some great older brick refineries and factories as we headed east. The farmland of New York was beautiful, quant little homes dotted the countryside as green lush oaks and maples flashed their early October colors. I was impressed with how big New York was; we were in upper New York. We would be getting to Albany in the early afternoon. People onboard the train got off at their destinations, the conductors scurried about as people worked in the dining car. There was a rhythm to the train as we went along. I ordered lunch and watched the scenery. I was tired, had not really had that much sleep. By early afternoon, we pulled into Albany, New York. It was a great town; I loved the countryside through Albany, the sunshine felt nice as we rolled through the countryside. We came to our stop in Albany, it was a nice train station, and we waited a bit and then climbed on board the last train that we would be on in getting to Boston. We switched trains and headed towards Syracuse. I liked Syracuse, New York, it was a great town, and I wish I could have stayed a few days. We moved through New York, we headed into the Hudson River Valley.
I have to say that the Hudson River Valley was a gorgeous; it was one of the most beautiful parts of the trip. The colors of fall really started to show while we went through the countryside, the farms and dairies were mesmerizing. I was excited; we would be getting to Boston by 5:00 P.M. that night. The train took us through southern Massachusetts; I had known idea of the majestic beauty that would unfold before me while going through the Hudson River Valley. I now could understand why the Hudson River painters moved to this area, the landscapes were beautiful. It seemed that every view or point along the way would lead your eye towards something stunning to look at. The trees in early October were really starting to show their colors. It was a sea of orange when we went through the Hudson River Valley.
We started to approach the south side of Boston; it sprawled out in front of me, the architecture stood out, it jumped out at me in a way. The brick and masonry work with the buildings weaved patterns with the neighborhoods as we weaved through South Boston. The city of Boston went rolling past me, historical buildings and modern silver steel high-rises shinned in the fall sky that late afternoon. We approached the South Train station; we pulled in at exactly 5:00 P.M. that day, it was dark, night had set in. I had known idea where I was, I had made it to Boston! I remember how relieved I was to be in Boston. I was tired, for the last three days I had not gotten that much sleep. The plan was to catch the Redline up to Sullivan Station, the AirBnB that I would be staying at was in North Boston, up in Summerville. I grabbed my backpacks and laptop; I went inside of the South Station in Boston. I walked round a bit and flagged won someone in asking where I could catch the Redline.
The South Train station in Boston was beautiful, I love train stations. Along the trip there were some beautiful train stations, the South Train station was awesome. I asked someone where I could catch the Redline; I went through a turn style, bought a ticket for the Redline, and waited for about fifteen minutes. The Redline pulled up and I walked on board. In about ten minutes I was at my stop in Summerville.
I got off the subway and looked around; the AirBnB that I was going to stay at was on Myrtle Street. I walked toward a cab that was waiting to pick someone up. It was dark out. There was a young guy standing by the cab, “Hey I’m from Portland, Oregon, I’m visiting here, and I wanted to know if you know where Myrtle Street is?” The young kid looked at me, “I’m taking this cab close to Myrtle Street, jump in I’ll give you a lift there.” The cabby jumped in the cab, the young kid jumped in and we weaved through north Boston to Myrtle Street. I remember feeling tired and I was not real sure of the young kid or the cab driver, in a few minutes we pulled up to my AirBnB. I could not believe how nice the kid was; he waved as the cab took off down the street. I had made it to Boston, it was October 4th. 2016.
I stood in front of the AirBnB, it was a big brownstone. I walked up the steps with my backpacks, I rang the front door, and in a couple of seconds there was a young gentleman that answered the door, “Grant, welcome to Boston.” I was relieved, I introduced myself and he showed me to my room, I unloaded my things, we chatted a bit, I thanked him and I unpacked my things. Shortly I soon fell asleep, I slept through the night. The next morning it was beautiful, no clouds in the sky. I took a shower and ate breakfast. I got my cameras. The plan was to walk the Freedom Trail. I studied my maps and my IPhone with the Freedom Trail. I wanted to hike about twelve blocks to the Bunker Hill Memorial. I locked the house up and started to hike toward the Bunker Hill Memorial. It was sunny and clear, a beautiful day. I was lucky to have such nice weather. I felt relieved to be in Boston, it had been a long exhausting ride on the train.
I walked through North Boston, I loved the old buildings and homes, and I remember how kind people were in trying to find my way to Bunker Hill. Boston was rich with history; the architecture was amazing. I remember feeling a great sense of pride in my country. I remember the rows and rows of flags hanging from the houses. I remember being impressed by the city squares that each neighborhood had, a place for the neighbors to congregate. Cobblestones and brick rambled through the streets and alleyways. I kept walking east towards Bunker Hill, soon I noticed the monument, it was a special moment, I stood there and took photos, I walked up to the memorial, I turned south and looked at the view into Boston. It was a beautiful view, I could see the Charles River below me, and I remember wondering what it must have been like to have cannonballs falling on top of Bunker Hill. I felt a great deal of pride while I stood there. The British ships shot their cannons on top of the Patriots. I climbed to the top of Bunker Hill, went to the top of the memorial. I climbed back down and walked south across the street and went to the Bunker Hill Memorial Museum, I spent an hour or so there. I found Freedom Trail once again and walked south, down through old neighborhoods, this was one of my favorite parts of my trip while in Boston, and I just loved the old brickwork of the homes. Some of the ironwork and hardware on the homes was truly amazing. I remember taking photographs of old iron doorknockers; they were beautiful; I kept heading south and soon was at the U.S.S. Constitution. I was amazed at the shipyards in Boston, the U.S.S. Constitution was sitting in front of me, I took photographs and stood there for at least a half hour marveling at the craftsmanship with the famous ship. The ocean air felt wonderful. I felt like Gulliver in a way. I loved the history with ships and the sea while I was in Boston.
I continued on hiking Freedom Trail. In a few minutes I came to Boston City Square, there was a beautiful fountain in the middle of the park, it had plants and vegetation, a fountain splashed water as I sat a bit and ate an orange, I sat a spell, it was a great park, and I continued on my way and soon approached the Charlestown Bridge. I looked south and could see The Boston Garden. I have always been a big Boston Celtic fan. I took photos of the Charles River. I remember standing there and trying to calculate how far the British ships must have been from Bunker Hill when they shot their cannons. The Converse headquarters stood out against the Boston skyline. I headed into Boston.
I kept heading south; I was soon approaching Coop’s Cemetery and the North Church. From where I had hiked I was approaching Coop’s cemetery from the north, I walked up a hill and there at the top of the hill was the famous cemetery. I took photos and walked through the grounds. Large gravestones[GAK1] going back to the late 1600’s stood in front of me. I remember an old black cat walking through the cemetery. Some of the gravestones go back to the late 1600’s.
I continued south and within a few seconds, there was the famous North Church standing tall in the beautiful fall day. I noticed the plaque on the south side of the church spire; it notes the famous ride of Paul Revere. I could not help but notice the date of the famous ride, April 18th. 1775. My mother’s birthday was April 18th 1930. I went inside and walked through the famous church. It was beautiful; the gold organ located on the north wall of the church was stunning. Small figurines were placed throughout the church. A guide went on a told the history of the church. I walked outside, went along the west side of the church, down into the courtyard. I had brought some of my mother’s remains with me on the trip; I brought some of her remains with me that day. I put them down at the North Church. She loved Boston so. She loved the history of New England. She was a huge Red Sox fan and Celtic fan. I put her remains down, said a prayer and kept walking south on the Freedom Trail.
I passed through a large courtyard and then there standing in front of me stood another famous old Boston church, St. Patrick’s. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was married at the church, they had Rose Kennedy’s funeral at the St. Patrick’s. I went inside and marveled at the intricate woodwork. I went back outside and continued walking through the old neighborhoods; I could not help but notice the Italian and Irish sections of Boston, it really was something I enjoyed in being part Italian. Within a few minutes I approached an old cobblestone road, I headed down the road; soon, there to the right of me was Paul Revere’s home. I took photographs and marveled at the wooden structure. There was a line of people waiting to go in. It was dark brown, located on an old section of historic Boston. It was a memorable moment. I continued on Freedom Trail. It was close to noon by now.
I soon came to a busy intersection and crossed into Nathanial Hall. Cars and people crossed the intersection. It stretched out for a few blocks. I walked through some of the shops, there were musicians playing out front. I stopped in the Black Rose. The Black Rose is one of the more famous Irish bars in Boston, I continued through to the site of the Boston Massacre. I loved this spot; the gold leaf decoration on the buildings was beautiful. It was in the early afternoon, I had lucked out that day, and the weather was beautiful.
I came to a statue near the old Boston City Hall. It was a statue in tribute to the Irish Famine, had to do with honoring those that starved during the great famine of Ireland. I remember sitting there and how sad I felt thinking of those that had died in the famine. I crossed the street and there stood a fruit stand and I bought some fresh fruit, the owner was Irish, his name was Tom, we talked for a few minutes. I continued heading south, down into the Boston Commons. I remember how relieved I felt in getting to the Boston Commons. The Boston Commons is a beautiful park and green space that goes down through the south end of Boston. The State Building is located there, it’s a beautiful building. I sat on a park bench and took photographs of the State Building. Big trees wound through the park. There were hundreds of people walking around the Boston Commons that day, I walked over to the Cheers Tavern and took photographs of the famous spot. I wore my Oregon baseball cap, a few people commented me on my cap, I liked wearing my Oregon hat, I thought that people might comment on the hat, it might make in getting to know people. I was glad to be in Boston, the people were so friendly to me, and they were so kind. I loved Boston. It was a beautiful afternoon, the sun started to go down slowly.
By the late afternoon I headed back north on the Freedom Trail, I continued to take photographs, I loved the Charlestown Bridge. It was rustic and I enjoyed the old rust and yellow paint. I loved standing on the bridge and looking at the Charles River and thinking of all the history. I was hungry, I went up to the Boston City Square in Charlestown and sat for a while, I checked my IPhone and Goggled in trying to find a good restaurant so I could get something to eat, I found a place called “Warren Tavern,” it was located in Charlestown. I walked up to the Historic Inn. It was built in 1780. It was a great spot; I found a seat at the bar and ordered something to eat, I remember ordering a turkey sandwich with dressing and a salad. It tasted so good. I watched a Monday Night football game that was on the television. The place was packed, I soon found out that Samuel Adams and John Hancock use to frequent the famous Inn. It was old and the woodwork inside of the tavern was wonderful an ornate. I got to talking with the bartender, his name was Pete. We talked about sports, we talked about Oregon, I told him I was staying on Myrtle Street, he was so kind, and he offered to drive me back to my AirBnB that night. Again, I was so impressed in how kind the Boston folks were. I got back to the AirBnB, thanked Pete and he drove off.
On the second day in Boston, it was a beautiful sunny day; I had lucked out with the weather. There was not a cloud in the sky. I decided to go back down Freedom Trail and go see Fenway Park that day. I have been a Red Sox fan since I can remember, their season had just ended and they had a disappointing year. The playoffs with baseball were going to start shortly. I started out on my hike in the mid-afternoon. I hiked over to the Bunker Hill Memorial and took a few more photographs; I went by the U.S.S. Constitution and snapped a few more photos of the huge ship. I went over the Charleston Bridge and hiked down to the Boston Garden. It’s a massive building, I went inside and cruised up to the gift shop with the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins. I bought a few mementos and then headed back over to Freedom Trail. I found a pizza spot and grabbed a few slices of olive pizza. It was getting dark. The great thing about Boston when it gets dark is the illumination of the city. The State Building was aglow when I got to the Boston Commons. I kept hiking south down through South Boston. I hiked past row upon row of homes. I kept heading down the trail until finally I had come to the S.W. corner of Fenway Park, I actually walked up to the street that goes behind “The Green Monster” I stood there in awe, I looked down Lansdowne Street Street. I looked up at the left field section of the historic ballpark. There were banners hanging from the side of the ballpark, there were long banners showing the years that the Red Sox won their A.L. Pennants and World Series wins. I cruised around the ballpark three times; I snapped photographs of historic statues, monuments, and plaques. The old brickwork was really amazing. It’s in a great neighborhood.
I decided to go around to the backside of the Green Monster. I was like a kid in a candy store; it was like a dream in away. I thought of all the memories in watching the Red Sox play baseball when I was a kid. There were bars and restaurants and even a blues club in back of Fenway, I was standing directly behind the Green Monster, I remember I was wearing my University of Oregon baseball cap, when all of a sudden I hear a voice from across the street, “Go Beavers!” I stopped and looked across the way. There standing across the street was a big man, he was wearing a suit and tie, he had blonde hair, and was laughing, and I thought I recognized him from somewhere. I walked across the street and chuckled, I thought it was funny that someone would go out of there way and yell, “Go Beavers!” I extended my hand to him and introduced myself, “Funny, you must have gone to Oregon State!” He smiled and we got to talking, turns out that it was the Boston Red Sox color man Steve Lyon’s. I laughed; he goes on and tells me that he played baseball at Beaverton High School located back in Beaverton, Oregon. He tells me that he played collegiate baseball at Oregon State University; he was drafted in the major leagues and played for the Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox. We chatted for a while; he was really kind and funny. I took a few more photos of the historic ballpark. I laughed to myself as I headed back north, up Freedom Trail.
I went through South Boston, the Boston Commons, I wound through old historic districts. I took photos of the illumination of the city. I remember it must have been close to midnight while I walked through the streets of Boston. I went past the North Church and kept heading north on the trail to the Charlestown Bridge. The city looked so beautiful. The Leonard P. Zakim Bridge illuminated the sky; it really was beautiful with all of the lights. I decided I would hike back up to the Bunker Hill Memorial, I took photographs of the monument, I looked down into Boston, and it was gorgeous that night. I had covered a lot of ground that day; I fell asleep around 1:00 A.M. It had been a long day. I had covered a lot of ground in seeing Boston.
With the third day in Boston, I decided I would hike back down Freedom Trail once again; I’d go to the North Train Station located under the Boston Garden and take the commuter up to Lowell, Massachusetts that day. I had planned to try to visit American authors’ memorials, historical homes, and gravesites while I was on my trip. I had planned in visiting Jack Kerouac’s memorial that day. Jack Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts; he was of French-Canadian decent. Lowell is located about an hour north of Boston. I consider Jack Kerouac to be one of this country’s greatest writers. I bought a ticket and soon I was off to Lowell. The countryside going up to Lowell was beautiful. We arrived in Lowell within an hour; I walked through an old neighborhood that led me down towards the downtown section of Lowell. I studied my IPhone, there was a park named in Jack Kerouac’s honor, which I visited, there are large pieces of marble with etched quotes from his books in the park. An old textile mill sits across from the park. I sat there awhile and rested, I read the various quotes, I got up, and walked a few blocks, shortly I came across the high school and the Catholic Church that Jack Kerouac attended as a young boy. He wrote about Lowell in his books. I went across the street and went into the Textile Memorial and Woman’s Workers Memorial Museum. Inside of this museum is a tribute and memorial to Jack Kerouac, I went inside and went up the stairs to his memorial. I have always loved Jack Kerouac; he was an inspiration of mine when I was younger. I loved his descriptive way in which he wrote, he wrote about his travels across America. I soon came to a large glass display, I was amazed at the items they had, there sitting behind the glass case memorial was the original typewriter that Jack Kerouac used to write “On the Road.” I felt a sense of accomplishment in knowing I had trekked all the way across the country in trying to see this great American writer’s typewriter. I was in awe. I walked up close to the display case; there was a backpack of his, some socks, shoes, and various items of interest. I was amazed at his typewriter, it really was something. I remember feeling like I was in a bit of a dream standing there. This was one of the places I wanted to see and I did it. I remember feeling happy and satisfied. I left and walked down through Lowell, soon I was at the train station and I hopped on board the commuter and headed back to Boston, it was dark by the time I had arrived at the North Train Station. I decided I would go back to the Warren Tavern that night and have dinner; I walked through Charlestown and got to the Warren Tavern. The place was packed, I got to talking with some of the locals, there was a baseball game on, the Cubs, and Cardinals were playing. I sat there and ate, around 11:30 P.M. or so I headed back to my AirBnB. I slept well that night, I was tired, and the next day I’d rent a car through Hertz Rent-A-Car and head up north to Salem, Massachusetts.
It was a beautiful morning the next day, it was October 8th. 2016. I ate breakfast, took a shower, and packed my things. I hiked back down Freedom Trail and went to the Hertz Rent-A-Car located in South Boston. I rented a Nissan SUV. I spread out my sleeping bag in the back of the SUV and put my backpacks and other items in the car. I had planned on car camping the next ten days or so. I got everything in order. Soon I was heading out of North Boston; I took the turnpike and drove north towards Salem, Massachusetts. I could not believe how fast the cars went on the turnpike out of Boston, they flew by me, and I got nervous for a bit and pulled off to the side of the turnpike. I was glad I had my IPhone, I checked on the route I would take going north to Salem that day. The trees and foliage was turning color, orange and red covered trees passed by, the scenery was beautiful. I drove up to Salem.
Soon I rolled into Salem; I parked south of town and found a parking spot in an old historic neighborhood. I parked the SUV. I walked heading to the north toward Salem, I went about six or seven blocks and suddenly came across this old Unitarian Church, I come to find out that it is one of the oldest churches in the United States, a few doors down was the famous “Witches House.” It was creepy, I felt lonesome and worried in a way; it was around 3:00 P.M. that day. I felt strange when I got to Salem. I guess it was the history with the witches. I took photographs and walked inside of the “Witches’ House.” According to one of the guides there, the famous house was where the women accused of being witches were put on trial. It was an eerie feeling in a way. It was getting late in the afternoon.
I decided to walk through Salem, I walked through the town, it was cool, and there were some great shops and several famous sites to see along the way. It was a small town, with great old brick and wooden buildings. I headed up north, up through the downtown section of town. There were several cute shops and several people in costumes walking around. It was a fun town; I headed north of town and came to the “Friendship Ship.” I took photographs and marveled at the famous old wooden ship. It was built in the late 1700’s. A famous ship indeed, a tall massed ship, it looked beautiful while at rest. I continued to head up north of town and soon came across the home of Nathaniel Hawthorne and “The House of Seven Gables.” It was a beautiful old historic section of Salem, right near the ocean. I walked around the neighborhood, walked through small streets and alleyways, rested a bit and headed back into town. I loved Salem, it was a great town, and I loved the historical points of interest and the small shops and businesses. I came across the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery; it sits in the middle of town. It’s a statue from the television show “Bewitched” It’s a great statue. I loved the old buildings, the back alleys, and green spaces that wound through the city. I loved the comic book shop there; it is one of the best comic book shops that I had ever seen. Orange and red bricks buildings were scattered through town. Small trails wound through the outskirts of town. Crows flew through the air as night approached that day. Fall was setting in.
I made it back to my car; I was parked in an old historic neighborhood south of Salem. There were beautiful homes in the neighborhood. Some of the homes went back to being built in the late 1600’s. I checked directions and started to drive to the east of town and found the first campgrounds that I would be staying in with the trip. I had called a few days earlier in checking on availability. The campgrounds were located about two miles east of Salem, I rolled up to the office of the campgrounds and reserved a campsite, and it was a quiet spot, located near the ocean. It was dark now. There were other campers there that night. There were crickets loudly chirping in a small meadow near where I camped that night. They played a melody of tunes as I tried to fall asleep, I was a bit uneasy sleeping there that first night, I wasn’t sure of where I was, it was the first night that I would be falling asleep in the car, I woke up a few times during the night, the crickets chirped. I had made it to Salem, Massachusetts.
I woke up in the morning and looked out at the ocean that laid out in front of me; I had found a great campground indeed. It was sunny that morning. I got out of the car and showered; I got back to the car and went on a hike exploring the campgrounds. I came to find out that the campgrounds where I was staying was only one of only two campgrounds inside of a city. I walked along through some small thickets of trees and came to an old airplane hangar; it was big, there was a small store nearby where I got some things for breakfast. I get to talking with one of the park rangers and he tells me the old hanger was originally built for the U.S. Coast Guard. There were some photographs hanging from the wall. I went back to the car and decided to grab breakfast in Salem. I remember someone telling me I should go to “Red’s.” I found the restaurant; it was a great breakfast diner in the middle of Salem. Small businesses and little homes dotted the town. I had a great breakfast there; the place was packed as I woofed down my pancakes. I left Salem, Massachusetts by noon; my next stop would be the Hermit Island Campground located outside of Bath, Maine. It was a sunny fall day that day, I’d be heading to the north, and I’d be driving for about four hours up to the next campgrounds.
According to what I could find out about the Hermit Island Campground was that it was a private campground and I’d be staying there for two nights. I drove for close to four hours up to Bath, Maine that day, I rolled off the highway into Bath, it was a beautiful town, old brick buildings dot Main Street, and the masonry work was wonderful. It was a very clean town. It was getting close to dark and I still had not found the campground that I was supposed to be staying at that night. I found a Subway and went inside. I was tired from driving; I ate a sandwich and then drove a few miles before I found the road heading to the south that would take me to the Hermit Island Campgrounds. I drove through the dark night, trying to find the turnoff into the campgrounds. It was dark, it was hard to make my way.
I pulled into the campgrounds around 9:00 P.M., I went into the general store and reserved a campsite for two nights. It was a great general store; I bought a few donuts for fifty cents and wolfed them down. I drove on an old gravel sandy road through pines and forest until I found my campsite, it was dark and I could not see much, I pulled into the site and got out of the car, another clear night. It was October 9th, 2016. I camped under tall pines and looked up at a beautiful site with the constellation. The stars popped out of the sky that night. I fell softly to sleep. The fragrance of the pines permeated the air.
I woke up the next morning; it was around 6:30 A.M. I found myself up on a ridge overlooking a beautiful inlet, tall pines were everywhere. The Blue colors of the early morning loomed large over my campsite. I grabbed my cameras and started to take photographs of the landscape. It was beautiful, it was peaceful, and on the other side of some sand dunes was the Atlantic Ocean. There were a few other campers parked around me, nobody had gotten out of their cars. I tried to be quiet as I organized my things. I pulled out a few maps and tried to study notes I had made with the campgrounds and the city of bath, Maine. I ate some food and I drove to the general store to get some coffee. While I was waiting in line to pay for my coffee there was this big guy standing over in the corner, he had a huge, large Boston Bruins parka on, he was wearing a Boston Bruins hat on top of his noggin’. He was huge, at least 6’ 5” and maybe 280 pounds. His daughter was working behind the counter; he had stopped by and was visiting with her when I got to the counter. I get to talking with him for nearly a half hour. We talked hockey and we talked about the Bruins. He worked in Bath, worked for one of the defense contractors. His name was Paul. I told him I was going to go to Bath and take in the city that day. He tells me that I should visit Fort Popham when I got done looking through Bath, he tells me there’s is a state park with an old fort that I should go and visit. He tells me the directions and gives me the names of the roads; I scribbled them down on a piece of paper. He tells me that it’s a beautiful spot and that I should see the fort. I thanked him and drove down towards Bath, Maine the fall colors were really starting to pop out; I took several photographs that day. I traveled down a country road for about ten miles.
I drove down that old country road that led me down into Bath, Maine. I guess I left my campsite around noon I guess. I parked and walked a few blocks and found a little breakfast spot, it was a great breakfast. I drank as much coffee as I could and walked through the town. Bath, Maine is famous for the ships it builds for the U.S. Navy. I loved Bath, I found a small park and sat down for a few minutes and tried to look at my IPhone in making sure where I was and looked up points of interest. I found a great coffee shop and recharged my laptop and my IPhone. I cruised through Bath, Maine. I visited City Hall and stop and talked with some of the locals. I walked through some shops and wound my way through the town. I came across the famous “Chocolate Church.” It was a famous old church that was located a few blocks from the downtown. I drove around Bath, Maine for most of the afternoon, I stopped by old mansions located north of town. I walked through green hillsides that overlooked the city. The sun felt good. Around 4:00 P.M or so I drove back down the road south to the campgrounds, I turned left down another country road that took me to Fort Popham. It was getting near sunset; it was a beautiful spot, right on the ocean. It was such a spectacular night that night; it was one of the most beautiful nights on the trip, I was glad I had gone and visited the famous fort. I drove back to my campsite, the stars came out, and I was sitting on a picnic table in my campsite. I was looking up and all of a sudden a Chinese lantern went flying through the air, just grazing over the tops of the tall pines, it cruised over the forest, I could see it drift down for what seemed a half mile or so over a large body of water and then disappear into some mountains across the way. I had never seen anything like it. I went and talked to some other campers that saw it flying in the air. They were surprised in seeing it as well. I listened to the Chicago Cubs on the radio; they had just beaten the St. Louis Cardinals. I ate some snacks. I drank some seltzer water I had. I slept well that night, I was full, and it got cold at night. I had my trusty down sleeping bag. I was comfortable in the car.
The nights in Maine were beautiful; the stars were bright and eliminated the fall sky. In the morning I had a Blue Heron visit my campsite, he was big and stood there and looked at me, it was a great campsite, I left early that morning, I would be heading due S.W. on Highway 2. Highway 2 would take me through western Maine; it would take me through New Hampshire and take me down into Burlington, Vermont. It would be a six-hour drive that day, one of the longest stretches while driving through New England. I studied my maps, double checked my directions, and headed out of the Hermit Island Campgrounds. It was a beautiful sunny fall day, I drove through beautiful countryside, small cabins, and farms dotted the land. I headed out west through Maine, the colors with the trees were amazing, and a sea of yellow and orange covered the landscape. I stopped several times along the way just to look at the scenery. I loved Maine, the people were so friendly. I passed through small farm towns, rolling green meadows and orange, red, and yellow covered trees spread out for miles. It was cool and crisp, Maine was rural; the little towns reminded me of Norman Rockwell paintings. I drove through Maine; highway 2 is a two-lane highway that covers a lot of ground. I kept heading S.W. down into New Hampshire, soon I could see off in the distance Mt. Washington towering out in front of me, I was close to the new Hampshire border. The trees were in their full colors, I had timed the trip perfectly. I kept driving. I listened to the classical radio station and from time to time I took photographs with the landscape. I was amazed at the small town, they almost seemed to be a picture perfect postcard.
By noon or so, I was now approaching eastern New Hampshire. I remember the beautiful lakes and streams along the way, cows and horses standing out in green meadows, small tiny towns dotted the countryside, and little white churches were located in almost every town. Small gas stations and little diners could be found at nearly every corner. I remember the orange, red and yellow covered hillsides of New Hampshire, I passed by Mt. Washington, the tallest mountain in New England, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky that day, the hills were covered with orange, red and yellow maple trees. It was October 11th 2016. I drove by pumpkin patches and farmland; I drove up on a hillside looking down on a forest aglow with color. The orange light from the trees seemed to cast beautiful streams of color down valleys and illuminate through the forest. The light passed through the trees casting shadows of color. It was beautiful. I took photographs and kept driving down Highway 2. I passed through New Hampshire; it did not take that long to get through New Hampshire, maybe a couple hours at the most. I stopped several times in trying to get a photograph. The valleys and hillsides were beautiful. I kept heading for Vermont. I soon was driving in Vermont. I stopped along the roadside a few times taking photographs of the countryside. I walked by a farm and the beautiful corn fields that covered the rich fertile soil. I drove most of the afternoon, I finally reached the capital of Vermont around 5:00 P.M. in the evening, I pushed own through to Burlington, Vermont. The colors of fall were screaming at me as I approached Burlington that night. There were times when I wish I could stop; I kept moving on towards Vermont.
The sunset in Burlington was beautiful that night, one of the most spectacular sunsets that I saw while I was on my trip. The pinks, purples, and blues were spectacular as they illuminated Lake Champlain. The Adirondacks stood out to the south, big and dark blue with color. Lake Champlain was unbelievable; I rolled through Burlington and found the campgrounds that I would be staying at for the next two nights. It was located right on the lake, right on the border with the city limits. I remember checking in and getting my campsite. It was a great campsite, under a big ‘ol elm. I parked, organized some of my belongings, and walked down to the shoreline, not located more than a few hundred feet from my campsite. I marveled at the sunset and naturally took photos. I got back to my car, someone was playing a guitar a few cars down from where I was parked. The music sounded wonderful that night. I fell asleep. The stars illuminated the sky. I was glad to be in the great state of Vermont.
I woke up early the next morning, ate, went, and got some coffee at the campground office; I asked questions about Burlington and found out a few details in what to see in the city. I would only be there for a day; I would be leaving the next day. I found a breakfast spot in town, and then hiked along the beach of Lake Champlain. It was another beautiful fall day, cool, and crisp. I went and visited City Hall and walked the historical parts of the downtown section. I went by the University of Burlington, hiked down to the campgrounds. I took photographs of the sunset and the clouds that night. I was amazed at the sunsets in Burlington, they were unbelievable, spectacular with purple and pink colors. It was a beautiful view looking across Lake Champlain from my campsite. I took a shower and went to bed early that night. I loved Burlington, Vermont; I really hated to leave the city. I loved the architecture and loved the beaches and the campground that I stayed at. I lucked out when I was there; the last night I stayed in the campgrounds was the last night that the campgrounds would be open. It was October 12, 2016.
So I left the campgrounds early the morning of October 13th, 2016. I headed for the ferry boat located in Charlotte, Vermont. It was the first day with overcast weather; rain clouds rolled in by the mid-morning. I took the ferryboat across Lake Champlain; I floated over the beautiful lake. It took about twenty minutes to cross the great lake. Lake Champlain was big and wide, it stretched out, the Adirondacks stood out to the south, and the beautiful lake glistened in the fall morning. The small ferryboat stopped off in Essex, New York. I loved Essex, it was a small town, the fall colors were everywhere, I had timed my trip perfectly, I had hoped to catch the fall colors in their zenith, and I had. Upper New York was amazingly beautiful; the countryside was gorgeous. I wound through small towns, following the shorelines of Lake Champlain. I was on my way to Cooperstown, New York and the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I wound through the side of Lake Champlain. The colors were spectacular, I stopped a few times in looking out over Lake Champlain.
I was excited as I drove through the farmland; I rolled through the hillsides as I finally came into the small town of Cooperstown, New York. The fall colors adorned the city. Historical homes surrounded the downtown section, I drove east a few blocks, and soon, there standing in front of me was the National Baseball Hall of Fame. I took photographs and walked around the entire building; I walked over to Doubleday Field and took photographs of the first baseball field ever built. I grabbed breakfast at a small diner and then tried to find the campgrounds that I would be staying in for the next two nights. The plan was to camp the first night, and then spend the next day at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and also go and also go and try to find the statue and memorial of James Fennimore Cooper, another famous American author that I had planned on seeing with my travels. I drove a few miles south out of town and found the Cooperstown Family Campgrounds. I loved the spot as soon as I pulled up to it, I pulled up to the general store and got to talking with the owner of the campground. He tells me that the campgrounds had been in the family for two generations that it had been an old farm and they turned it into the campgrounds. It was a beautiful farm, he had goats and some wild cats cruising through one of the barns, there was a beautiful lake and the leafs had started to fall. He gave me one of the best campsites; I drove my car down through a small forest and then parked in my spot. It was a beautiful setting. I organized a few things and soon I fell asleep that night gazing at the stars. It was October 13th, 2016.
I woke up early and drove back into Cooperstown the next morning. I drove through farmland and then dropped into Cooperstown. I found a place to park and walked a few blocks to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Large maple and oak trees covered the city. I paid for admission and spent the entire morning and most of the afternoon going through the Hall of Fame. It was incredible; almost every part of the Hall of Fame had something that was of interest. I am a huge sports fan; I just could not believe that I had made it in seeing the famous Hall of Fame. There was so much history and memories that flashed in front of me as I looked at all the exhibits. I cruised up both level, I walked through all the hallways that had big plaques and large glass showcases. They had statues of famous ball players. There were photographs and bronze memorials. I was fascinated with everything that they had on display. I found my favorite teams and found my favorite players. It was wonderful.
In the late afternoon, I went two blocks or so and found the famous statue of James Fennimore Cooper. It stands on what was once where his home stood before it was destroyed by fire. I walked a block or so and found his gravesite; he is buried next to Christ Church. I walked the famous grounds; the trees looked beautiful with the colors of fall. Large yellow elms and maples stood tall around the city. As night approached, I found a small pub and had something to eat. I got back to my campsite and fell asleep. The next morning I would be driving to Hartford, Connecticut and would be visiting the Mark Twain Mansion. It was October 14th, 2016. I was a bit concerned that night. I tried calling the campgrounds near Hartford; most of them were closing the day I would be getting into Hartford. I wondered where I would sleep with my first night in Hartford.
I left early on the morning of October 15th, 2016. I headed out of Cooperstown and drove through the Adirondacks. It was beautiful cruising through upper New York, it was some of the most beautiful countryside’s with the trip, I cruised down the New York turnpike, passing through dense forestland, and I drove for nearly four or five hours. I pulled over a few times and tried to find a campground that might be open near Hartford. I called two or three campgrounds and could not find anything that was open. I was tired from driving and I pulled into Hartford around 2:00 P.M. that afternoon. Hartford was beautiful. I thought to myself and decided I would worry about the campgrounds later on. I wanted to get to Mark Twain’s Mansion. It was clear and sunny that afternoon. I kept driving until I came to the Mark Twain Museum and Mansion. I was so excited; it was one of the most important stops with my trip, it was another famous American author stop with my travels.
I pulled into the parking lot, Mark Twain’s mansion sat up on a small bluff, I walked over to the museum and paid my admission, I spent nearly an hour going through the Mark Twain museum, they had several display, and there was the linotype machine that he invested so much of his money. They had one of his writing desks on display; they had several of the original books that he had written. It was fascination. I went to the gift shop and bought a few items.
I next bought a ticket and took the tour of the Mark Twain Mansion. I walked across the way over towards his mansion. I noticed some acorns on the grounds and picked a handful of them up, something to remember his mansion with. It was unbelievable, I walked inside the huge historic mansion, he had elaborate etchings in the walls, and ornate fixtures were made out of cast iron. A large stairway went up three stories. There was beautiful crystal and handcrafted wooden furniture. We took the tour through the historic home. I was amazed at his writing room or office if you will. He had a pool table in the middle of the famous room; it was a wonderful home. I was left speechless.
After the tour of Mark Twain’s home I took the tour of another famous American author, I cruised through the home of Harriet Bircher Stowe, the author of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” It was a beautiful home, the painting and handcrafted items were stunning. I finished looking at both homes by 6:00 P.M. or so, it was dark and I was sitting in the Nissan SUV wondering where I was going to stay that night. It was getting dark, I looked up a few restaurants nearby and found an Irish pub close to the museum.
I decided to head over to the Irish pub, it was just a few blocks away from the mansion, I got something to eat, and got to start talking with the bartender, I told him I was traveling through Hartford and that the campgrounds I wanted to stay at had closed that day. He thought a bit and then he tells me that it’s O.K to park in the bars parking lot located out back of the pub and tells me that I could stay there for the night until I could figure things out in where I was going to stay. I was tired, parked my car, and fell asleep, it was cold, and I woke up around 5:00 A.M. I woke up and I quickly did a Google search on my IPhone, I wanted to find a motel that I could stay in. It was cold and I had not slept well, it was a rough spot of Hartford[GAK2] . I found a Motel 6 about five miles away, I found the spot thankfully, I called and made a reservation, I checked in and slept most of the morning and early afternoon once I got to the motel. It felt so good in getting a good night sleep that night. I was close to the Hartford airport; I could remember planes flying over the motel. I took a shower, got something to eat, and watched a college football game that night, it was the Michigan vs. Michigan State game. It was a classic game. It was the first night that I had slept in a bed for almost eight days or so. I tried to catch up on food and sleep that day. It was October 17th. I spent two nights there in Hartford in the Motel Six.
The next day I decided to go to the National Basketball Hall of Fame, located not more than ten miles away in Springfield, Massachusetts. I took off around noon and within a half hour or so I was in Springfield, Massachusetts. I found the National Basketball Hall of Fame; I bought a ticket with admission and went inside. It was a newer building, almost reminded me of a mall in a way, it was impressive. It had a basketball court; I spent almost five hours at the National Basketball Hall of Fame that day. I found my favorite players and favorite teams. They had photographs, shoes, statues, and plaques; it was really a great museum. I left late that afternoon and went back to the motel. I got something to eat and went to bed early that night, I had planned to get up early and head back to Boston the next morning, I would drop the rental car off and then take the train out of the South Train Station later that afternoon and head back west to Chicago. I would be heading west and planned on spending three nights in Chicago, Illinois. It was October 18th, 2016.
I headed out of Hartford early that morning, it was cold, and frost was on my car windows. I took the highway through Connecticut and traveled into eastern Massachusetts, it was very scenic along the way, and I stopped several times in order to get a photograph. It was beautiful and sunny that day. I headed through to Boston and dropped off the rental car at the Hertz Rent-a-Car office in South Boston. I then grabbed my backpacks and walked about six blocks or so to the South Train Station. I waited about three hours there. My train for Chicago was going to leave around 3:00 P.M that afternoon. The South Train station in Boston is really a great train station. It’s big and has gigantic columns inside of the main hall. It was crowded; people were busily walking around. I sat there and watched the people, until it was time to board the train for Chicago. The train pulled up and I settled in my seat, we headed west through Massachusetts, the Hudson River Valley was gorgeous, the fall colors had popped out and the train slowly made its way to down through New York. I got some great photos while on the way to Albany, New York. Around 5:00 P.M we pulled into Albany. It was a beautiful night; I remember watching the sunset. We switched trains in Albany and headed down through Ohio, it was dark that night as we passed through Ohio. In the middle of the night we stopped in Cleveland. I remember the illumination with the city, skyscrapers dotted the skyline as we rode through to Chicago.
The next morning, say around 7:00 A.M. or so I woke up and went to the club car. An Amish gentleman sat down and joined me for breakfast, his name was John Pryor, and he lived in Pennsylvania, he was curious about Oregon, curious to hear about the new marijuana laws that went into effect on October 1, 2016. We ate and watched the cornfields roll by. There were several Amish people that I noticed while I was on the train with my travels. We were traveling through Indiana now; I just remember Indiana in being rural, cornfields went rolling by, big farms, beautiful fields stretching out as far as you could see. There were orchards, miles and miles or orchards. By the early afternoon we reached the outskirts of Chicago, Illinois, it was October 19th, 2016. It was clear and the fall sky was warm and inviting.
I remember the stockyards, I remember how big they were, huge locomotives roared, old abandoned warehouses seemed to stretch out for miles, and scrap iron an old rusted metal was lying in work yards. Large vacant brick buildings stood out against the skyline. There were big dark brown warehouses that sat on big lots, to the west I could see the silver skyscrapers of Chicago, we traveled through south Chicago, soon we pulled up to Union Station, our train came to a stop. I stepped out into the massive train station, I found a place to sit, I would now walk a few blocks and catch the Blue Line up to Logan Square, and it was located in North Chicago. I got on board the “L” and rode through Chicago, within fifteen minutes I got off in Logan Square. Logan Square is an old neighborhood, the neighborhood stretched on and on, big brick homes and townhouses crowded the blocks. I walked about eight blocks or so and soon found my AirBnB. I knocked on the door and I met the owner of the three level brick row house. Her name was Paula and she was really kind, she showed me my bedroom and I put my bags on my bed, it was about 5:00 P.M. or so. I was tired and hungry, I took a shower and then walked down Kedze Street and found a neighborhood bar, and I ordered something to eat. It was a crowded section of the neighborhood, traffic passed by as I sat and ate my dinner.
The Chicago Cubs had made it to the National League Pennant; they had beaten the St. Louis Cardinals a few days earlier in one of the playoff series. Seemed like the whole city of Chicago was caught up with the excitement with the Cubs being in the pennant. All the restaurants and bars flew Chicago Cub flags; everyone was wearing Cub hats. The Cubs would be playing the New York Mets in the 2015 Pennant; the Mets won the first two games in New York a few days earlier, the Cubs were down 2 games to none. Game 3 and game 4 would be played at Wrigley Field. Game 3 was scheduled to be played on October 20th, 2015. What were the odds that I would be in Chicago when the Cubs were in the National league pennant? I remember getting home that night and stretching out in my bed, it felt so good. I fell asleep soundly that night. I had made it to Chicago.
The next morning I woke up and ate breakfast, I took a shower and had decided to take the “L” down to Michigan Avenue and go see the Art Institute of Chicago. My mother had told me to see the Art Institute of Chicago; she had been there several times. She loved Chicago. I hiked about eight blocks and got on board the Blue Line. In about fifteen minutes, I got off close to the Art Institute of Chicago. I walked a few blocks and took photographs, soon I was at the Art Institute of Chicago, and it’s a massive building. I walked up the front steps and walked in. There hanging in front of me was a painting by George Seurat. It was beautiful, people were scurrying about, and it was a busy day. I checked in my backpack and I decided to head to the Impressionistic Section. It was about 10:00 A.M when I got to the institute that day. I grabbed a program guide and tried to find the paintings I wanted to see first. I went through the Impressionistic section, it was fabulous, and they had so many beautiful paintings, painted by well-known artists. There were paintings done by Cezanne, Matisse, Renoir, I was in awe. They were all so beautiful.
Next, I went through the American Art section, it was amazing. There standing in front of me stood paintings done by Grant Wood, Jackson Pollock, Edward Hopper, Fredrick Remington, and Winslow Homer. I cruised through the huge museum, I went in almost every room, and I took photographs of some of the more well-known paintings. I could have stayed for two or three days. I was glad that I could take photographs of the paintings. It is a great museum, one of the finest that I have ever seen.
Around 2:00 P.M, I stopped and ate lunch the Art Institute of Chicago has a big cafeteria located on the second floor. I wanted to see a few more rooms with paintings after I finished my lunch. By 4:30 P.M or so, I had spent almost seven hours in the Art Institute. I wanted to go up to Wrigley Field and take photographs of the grand old stadium, the Cubs were playing in game 3 of the National League Pennant that night, I walked a few blocks and jumped on board the Red Line, it took me up to Wrigley Field. The crowd had gathered around the ballpark, I got off near the N.E. section of the famous old ballpark, near the right field bleachers. Cub fans were everywhere; there was a sea of blue as far as I could see. I started to take photographs of the crowd. There were bars and shops and sports stores circling all around the ballpark. I weaved my way through the crowd. People were scalping tickets, television crews gathered around and shot film of the crowd, some newscaster was interviewing some fan about the game. I made my way up to the statue of Ernie Banks, it’s a big statue located in the front of Wrigley Filed. There were thousands of people jammed in big lines waiting to get into the ballpark. A line had formed near the front of Wrigley Field. I got in the line and waited about an hour in seeing if I could get a ticket. People were yelling and screaming out in the streets, “Let’s go Cubs!” I strolled up to the ticket window and started to talk to the ticket lady, “I’d like to buy one ticket if I could,” She looked at me. She looked at a computer screen. “We have one ticket in right field, it will cost you $110.00” I looked at her and looked at a map with the seating with Wrigley Field. It was a bad seat, located in the middle of right field.” I looked up at her and said, “No thanks.” There was a guy standing next to me, he suddenly looked at me and said, “Come on, let’s walk around the ballpark, we can get a cheaper ticket from some scalper.” He introduced himself, his name was Jeff Alston, and he goes on and tells me that he lives in Chicago that he was a Physical Education teacher and a lifelong Cubs fan. He pointed out things of interest as we walked through a huge crowd of people outside the left field bleachers. We stopped and talked to a few people that were trying to sell tickets; they all wanted around $100.00 or so. We kept walking around the stadium, soon we were over in the right field section of the ballpark, and across the street was “Murphy’s Tavern.” The famous tavern was named after the famous goat that a Chicago Cub fan once brought to the ballpark back in the 1920’s. We stood there a moment a looked around, the place was jammed with people. The lights of Wrigley illuminated the dark night.
There was a huge crowd standing outside of the ballpark, we weaved back in front of Wrigley Field, and we walked up to the ticket window one more time just to see if the prices had dropped with the tickets. I went up to the ticket window; the same ticket lady was there. She looked at me and then glanced at her computer screen. “I have two tickets about forty rows up from home plate, located in the first level, $95.00 a piece.” I talked things over with Jeff and we quickly decided to buy the tickets. We went through the turnstile, walked up some old wooden stairs, went down a ramp, and walked out into the ballpark. It was an amazing site; I stopped and looked out at centerfield. In right field was a big scoreboard. There was Wrigley Field; it was massive. It was packed, the announcer was introducing the ballplayers, and we got to our seats and they started to play the national anthem. Huge rows of lights lit up the ballpark. It was a great experience. It was gothic in a way, American gothic.
Our seats were great; we could see the whole field. The game started out with a few runs being scored by both teams, by the second inning the score was tied 2-2. In the 5th inning the Mets scored a couple of runs, the third baseman for the Cubs made an error. You could feel the life go out of the crowd, it started raining around the 7th inning, and I walked around the ballpark and took photographs of the game. It was an amazing sight. The Mets won the game 5-2. The Mets were now up 3 games to none in the series. People booed, I tried to push through the crowd as I tried to find an exit. I waded through the huge crowd. I remember mounted police riding huge horses through the crowd. I remember the horse poop on the streets. There were drunk people screaming and yelling, the rain poured. I tried to find a restaurant or a bar so I could get out of the rain, Jeff and I walked into some club across from Wrigley Field, a rock band was playing loud music. I sat there and tried to regroup, the massive crowd jammed the streets and sidewalks. I talked with Jeff a bit and then we went our separate ways. I walked in the rain, walked down side streets. I hoped a bus that took me to Logan Square, within a few minutes I was back at my AirBnB. It was around 1:00 A.M. I fell asleep; it had been a long day. The rain came down as I fell asleep that night.
The next morning I took a shower, I ate breakfast and took the “L” down to Michigan Avenue. I walked around Chicago; I had planned to take photographs of the city that day. I wanted to hike the city and see some of the famous architecture. One of the highlights that day had to have been the Chicago library, it is a stunning building, the ornaments, and decoration was truly spectacular. Around noon, I stopped into a Subway and grabbed lunch. I walked up towards the Chicago Art Institute; I headed up north on Michigan Avenue. I passed by huge, massive historic buildings, I walked into the financial district and stopped to look at all of the buildings, it was magnificent, truly a marvel. Concrete and steel structures spread out in front of me, I hiked the modern day caverns and by-ways. Tall skyscrapers rose into the skyline as buses and delivery trucks honked and moved through the busy city. The wind off of Lake Michigan blew some leaves in the air. There was a mixture of old and new buildings as I kept heading orth. I stopped to marvel at the monstrous silver steel and concrete gray structures. I came across the Tribune Newspaper building; it’s a great old building located in the heart of downtown Chicago. I walked around a bit and kept heading north. Soon I was at the John Hancock building, one of the tallest buildings in the world. Across the street is the 4th Presbyterian Church, it was beautiful. I stood there, looked at the historic church for a while, and snapped photos. I went inside the lobby to the John Hancock. I took the elevator up to the 96th. Floor. I got off on the observation floor. The view was incredible. There was the city of Chicago and Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful view. I stayed on the observation floor for about an hour and then went back down the elevator. I walked back outside and hiked back south down Michigan Avenue. The financial district of Chicago is massive, big brick and concrete buildings form canyons as you walk through the huge city. It was getting close to dark. I hoped the “L” back to Logan Square. I stopped and got something to eat. I went to bed early that night. It was October 21st 2016.
The next morning I grabbed my bags and grabbed the “L” to Union Station. I got to Union Station a few hours before my train was supposed to leave, it was scheduled to leave Chicago around 2:00 P.M. that afternoon. I waited in the station. The “Great Hall” in Union Station is beautiful; it was a highlight with my trip. The purple lights and the ornate decorations really were beautiful. I waited awhile and watched people board their trains, shortly our train pulled into the station and we lined up and boarded the “Empire Builder” back to Portland, Oregon. I would be getting back to Portland on October 24th, 2016. It was a sunny afternoon that day. I was glad that I was on the last train with my trip; I wouldn’t have to hop on board and switch on to another train. We pulled out of Chicago, the huge stockyards sprawled out for miles, big dark warehouses and busy work yards followed the rail road tracks, heavy equipment and scraps of metal and rusted steel sat next to the tracks as we passed through the northern end of Chicago. Old buildings, and small neighborhoods passed by my window. We kept going north through Illinois, farmland and fields rolled over hills and drifted off into small forests.
By the late afternoon, we rolled into the fall of Wisconsin; the colors had changed since the first time I had been there not more than three weeks earlier. Brown fields and small lakes dotted the countryside; we made a few stops along the way in Wisconsin, we stopped in small towns as little white painted farms dotted the landscape. Big dairy cows stood out in green meadows as our train went rolling by. I remember seeing migrating ducks and geese flying in the fall sky. I went up to the observation car and took photographs of the landscape. Wisconsin was brown and orange decorated with all of the fall colors.
Night approached as we started to head into Minnesota, I stayed up until midnight, and I got my laptop out and watched a movie I had brought with me on CD. I went to bed as we rolled through Minnesota that night. All I can remember before I feel asleep was how grateful I was in knowing that I was heading back to Portland. It had been a long trip, almost four weeks. The train rolled through the countryside, I remember looking out my window and seeing the stars over Minnesota. It was a dark night, the stars shinned, as I feel asleep. The train rolled through Minnesota that night. The moon glowed and the light from the moon shown down on the landscape.
The next morning it was clear and sunny, we were now in the middle part of North Dakota. It was October 23rd, 2016. North Dakota was big, the countryside sprawled out in front of me, the brown land stretched out, and it was flat, big, and flat. It was dusty, we passed through oil refineries and big warehouses. We went along through the big state; I watched the fields from my seat as the scenery went on by my window. A pheasant flew by, I might see an occasional deer or two. We rolled through North Dakota and by the mid-afternoon, we were getting close to Montana. I went to the dining car and got some breakfast. Africa American workers moved around the dining car as people came to get their morning breakfast. I ate breakfast and headed back to my seat, the train rocked back and forth, people stood in the isles of the cars and chatted. I sat back down in my seat and checked my IPhone for e-mail. The day dragged on, we went through North Dakota, near the end of the day I spent most of my time in the observation car taking photographs from the observation deck.
While we were rolling through the western part of North Dakota I got to talking to a kid that boarded the train in Chicago, he must have been around 18, he was rocking out with some headphones he had on. He had thick glasses, he had a black t-shirt and his hair was slicked back. I got to talking with him. His name was Steve Jensen. He told me he was heading to Montana, “Oh dude I for sure like the Doors and Def Leopard, Rush is a totally cool band. It’s all so gnarly dude. My grandpa is going to pick me up in his pick-up when our train gets to White Fish, Montana. That’s where I am going, I’m going to Whitefish. I’m going to go to a trade school. I’m going to trade school and study electronics and motors.” I looked at him and listened to Steve name his favorite bands with rock and roll, we talked for about an hour. “Do you like the Foo’s?” I asked him. “Oh for sure! The Foo’s are awesome.” I looked out the big observation windows as the North Dakota sky turned beautiful colors that afternoon.
In the late afternoon we started to roll through Montana, Montana is big and the countryside rolls on for miles. We passed through ranches; horses in huge corals went passing by as ‘The Empire Builder” went rolling along. It was a clear afternoon, near the late afternoon, big gray and blue clouds rolled in along the hillsides; the sun started to set, we were approaching western Montana. As the late afternoon dragged on we went through some of the most beautiful countryside that I had ever seen. We approached the western section of Montana by nightfall. Steve got off the train and sure enough there was his grandpa in his Chevy pick-up waving as Steve got off the train. The sky was ablaze with pink, orange, and blue colors, white misty puffy clouds rolled in.
I took a few more photographs, went down, and found my seat on the train. I studied a few maps I had brought with me; I jotted down some things with my notebooks that I had stuffed inside one of my backpacks. The skies over Montana were pink and blue and gray, it was one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. It started to get dark. I settled down for the night. I was glad; it would be the last night on the train. It was October 23rd, 2014.
On the morning of October 24th I repacked my backpacks, made sure I had everything in order, I got breakfast. We were in the state of Washington now; we were heading into Spokane, Washington. It was another clear sunny fall day. We made our stop in Spokane and rolled through forests and streams as we wound down into the Columbia River Gorge, we followed the Columbia River. Mt. Hood shinned brightly to the south. We passed through The Dallas and soon approached Hood River. We headed down along the Columbia River. We went through rough hard-edged mountains, streams and small lakes followed us on our way. It was getting into the middle of the afternoon; we stopped in Vancouver, Washington. We waited there for about fifteen minutes and then we were on our way across the Columbia River, we had made it to Oregon. We passed through North Portland; we crossed the Willamette and finally stopped in Portland, Oregon around 4:00 P.M that afternoon.
I was relieved, people walked off the train. I got off the train and went inside Union Station. I sat down for a bit and waited for my buddy Jonathan Swanson to come and pick me up. I was tired; it had been a great trip. Soon Jonathan pulled up and we headed back to my place. I unloaded my bags, separated my dirty clothes, and made something to eat. I checked my cameras; I had taken over 1500 photographs with my trip back to New England. I fell asleep and slept for about ten hours that night. I was exhausted, it had turned out to be a wonderful trip, and I do not think I would have changed anything about the trip. Everything was perfect, the campgrounds were great, the only real issue was the first night in Hartford, the afternoon I pulled into Hartford and the campgrounds I wanted to stay at closed for the winter the day I got to Hartford. The rental car was perfect, the weather was wonderful, I figured I got one night of rain and that was the second night that I was in Chicago. I suppose I shouldn’t have brought my laptop, I really didn’t need it on my trip and I did bring too many clothes with my trip. I had traveled cross-country. I had seen just about everything I wanted to see while on my trip and I had seen many historical points of interest. It was a great trip. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I loved New England, I loved Chicago. I was glad to be home, the water, beer, and food tasted so fresh once I got back home. The climate of Oregon is something I missed while I was on my trip.
I was glad I had taken the trip, I enjoyed the history, it was great to travel and see the countryside. I’d like to go back and visit again, maybe stay a bit longer next time. I loved New England and I loved Chicago. I was glad to have seen almost everything that I had planned on seeing. The colors of fall in New England were beautiful. I loved the climate, the people were great. I loved the history.