Portsmouth was one of those cities we drove through, waiting for something to catch our attention and maybe stop. This didn’t happen, so we kept driving towards Boston. The plan was to visit Boston and continue along the coast through Providence, RI and then New Haven, CT (we preferred the coastal road without knowing what we’ll encounter rather than visiting Hartford where we could see the Mark Twain house).
Before reaching Boston we took a stroll through Salem, the witch city. It was one of the most profit oriented cities so far. A former harbor that became too small, striving to survive by squeezing all they can from visitors. Asking the visitor center guy about the witch stories and why the city became famous, his reply was to send us to a 30min movie for $5, no further details. The place would be a nice place for thrill seekers if all the ‘haunted houses’ and ‘scary mansions’ were reasonably priced. We continued our trip after a stroll on the recommended path around the city. And if you are curious why there’s so much fuss about Salem and the “witches” – read on wikipedia in advance.
Boston is a busy city, and the first place so far where we spent about 2h stuck in the city traffic. I wanted to see the world famous universities of MIT and Harvard, so we spent about 1h in each of the campuses, walking around and exploring the buildings, passing as students. We crossed off 2 from the top 5 list of the most important attractions of Boston: Cambridge and Cheers pub. The Cambridge area is probably the most peaceful of all the city, and at the same time full of life, and students. I enjoyed walking through one of the MIT buildings, looking at the labs and people doing stuff… possibly studying. Not the same I can say about Harvard, where the buildings were not available to public, and guards were by every door, checking for your student card. However, the campus was green, with lots of chairs and artsy monuments, and the buildings looked a bit better. Cheers pub, on the other side of the Charles river, was a crowded pub, famous because of the popular series of the 80’s – Cheers. If you never heard about it, don’t worry – neither did we! However, the place was swarming with tourists and even had a souvenir shop. No, we didn’t have a drink or anything else inside, other than a picture – you probably need to book a seat a few days in advance.
And since the traffic jam killed all the good vibes and energy to visit anything else, we drove out of the city to look for a suitable parking place (or Walmart) to sleep. We found it right before Providence, after checking a small official rest area on the highway, full of strange people peeing in the bushes (no toilets there) and noisy trucks. This Walmart parking that we chose to spend the night in, wasn’t very friendly as well – their cleaning truck passed a few times around our car, and was even left running next to us, with the headlights on, while the driver went around counting stars for half an hour. What were the odds that out of the whole parking place (maybe a thousand free places) the janitor decides to leave his truck running next to ours – the only car left in the whole parking lot? In spite of this delay, we had a good night sleep and started fresh in the morning to see the city.
Providence is the capitol city of the smallest state of the USA. Small but powerful, and even a trend-setter. So we checked out the Capitol building there – one of the nicest capitol buildings we’ve seen so far. After Providence, we kept driving on US 1, along the coast, going through small cities – former ports, skipping the famous Cape Cod (sorry, not really on our way, not that attractive to be worth the detour). A short one hour stop at Yale University in New Haven, during the parents’ welcoming weekend revealed a nice university with well maintained stone buildings and with very restrictive access for guests. At least the library was open for public.
It was already late afternoon when we decided to head West to Danbury where the GPS showed a green area. We hoped to find a park, or a forest, with awesome autumn foliage, but it turned out to be a very crowded area, with all the housing lots taken and no other way to park in the forest for a nap. Also, as we crossed to the state of NY, strict rules were posted on the ‘welcome’ signs: no parking on any road from 11pm to 7am! And obviously no rest area or free parking lot. So we kept driving a roller-coaster road (lots of really steep hills with no visibility from the top, and many tight curves) until we found ourselves on the banks of Hudson river. There was a big full moon, lighting up the whole valley. This was another moment when a good camera would be a good asset. However, we were lucky to find a parking place to spend the night a couple of miles after crossing the Hudson river. It was already past midnight and we slept like babies. The morning came with a lot of cars parked next to us: it was the trail head to one of the paths in the Bear Mountain state park, and the weekend people were ready to climb.
We woke up, had a nice tea by the road and spent the rest of the day driving to our friend Victoria, in Severn (close to Baltimore). Her son, Dante, let us in, as she wasn’t home – and we had the first good shower in a few days. Now we are stink-free, and ready to meet John in NC!