Living life to the fullest

OF WRITERS, WATERFRONTS & WITCHES

Our trip started with a stop in the city for a “quick” errand, which then took an hour. After battling the traffic, 30 minutes later, we were off. I though it was going to take 4 hours++ to get into Boston, MA. But we made it in 3 hours. No, we were not speeding. But tomtom took us on a “scenic route” with less traffic – 87 to 91 North to 84 to 95. Not too shabby.

Pulling into our hotel, Doubletree Bedford/Glen, 44 Middlesex Turnpike, Bedford MA, we were pleasantly surprised by the sprawling lawn of flowers and greenery that welcomed us. Located in a quiet little turn of Middlesex Turnpike, this will definitely be a return hotel, if we ever came back again. Not only did they have a gorgeous garden (great for weddings and walking dogs), but they also have two tennis courts! Next time, if we have nothing to do around Boston, we will bring our racquets, and pick up balls for the rest of the trip.

marrow

After checking in, resting for a bit, we were off to Walden Pond at 915 Walden Street, Concord MA. Unfortunately, we had to leave Jess back in the hotel as the Pond prohibits canines. It was a quick 16 minutes from the hotel, passing by the Minute Man National Historical Park. The Minutemen were once the guardians of New England charged with protecting the colony against the invading forces of the English army during the American Revolutionary War. They were highly mobile and could be deployed immediately to war threats, hence the name. Paul Revere, a silversmith and most notably a messenger warning John Hancock and John Adams of the warrant on them by the British, was a member.

Little did we know, but we had to pay to park in the park. ( !! ) As we pulled into the parking lot, we realized that we were not dressed appropriately. We were neither ready for the hike, nor for the swimming at the pond. Thank goodness I brought my Crocs! I switched from my slippers to a sturdier pair of shoes. Hubs wasn’t as lucky. He brought a pair of leather flip-flops and a good pair of leather shoes. Neither would be appropriate for a hike in the woods.

walden

We wandered into Walden Pond, half hiking and half watching the half-naked people in front of us frolicking in the water and browning, careful of every step we took. As hubs says, he has never seen girls in almost nothing flitting around in the woods before – like under-dressed faeries, without the wings. There was a lot of screaming and hollering too. People! Thoreau came here to think because it was a quiet place of refuge. It is not a place for wanton waifs. It is a place for reflection.

walden

As we climbed the mole hills through the woods, we began to sweat, under the canopy of trees, which seem to trap the heat even more. Inappropriate footwear and clothes stopped us from moving farther. We wanted to head to the house of Thoreau, but was later told it is just a site.  A house no longer stands in that spot. We turned back. City folks like us are not meant for the wild, and neither are we meant to sweat so vigorously in “going out clothes.” We weren’t equipped with our Adidas, Nike or Bodyglove attire.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. … I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; …. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! – Walden, Henry David Thoreau.

A few times, we tried to walk off the beaten path, but the warnings nailed all over the woods and the barb wires circling the perimeter cautioned us against that. Try telling that to Emerson.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We met a couple of VERY pregnant women attacking the trails too, to get to the heart of the Pond. They are much braver than me, if I ever am in that situation. We finally left the woods, sweaty, tired, and with soiled feet.

We wanted to stop by the Emerson (28 Cambridge Turnpike, Concord) and Alcott Houses (399 Lexington Road, Concord), but we were too late. So it became a drive-by shoot. The Houses were only 5 minutes away from the Pond. The Emerson house was considerably bigger than the Alcott residence, considering the number of people residing in each.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was a philosopher, prolific writer, poet and transcendentalist. He is a well-known American thinker in search of the potential of the individual person. Emerson lived most of his adult life at his home in Concord, MA, writing about Self-Reliance and The American Scholar. He was widely associated with Bronson Alcott (Louisa May Alcott’s father), Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.

alcott

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) was the daughter of a transcendentalist and educator, Bronson Alcott, and mother, Abba, who was a women’s rights and abolition activist. She was largely educated by her father and family friends including Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. The Alcott’s Orchard House (circa 1690) is where Louisa May Alcott, wrote and set her classic novel, Little Women in 1868, loosely based on her childhood experiences with her three sisters with her as the main character (Jo).

At 5 o’clock, we still haven’t had our lunch. Thank goodness cheh bought us red bean buns for the road, otherwise I would have died. My marrow of life would have been sucked dry. We stopped at a strip mall, bought Thai food, and swallowed it the moment we reached the hotel. I can’t remember how it tasted, or if it was as good as I thought it was. Pad Thai and Mango Curry Chicken can’t really go wrong, right?

As we were quietly filling our stomachs and watching USA lose a goal to a referee’s call in the World Cup, Jess suddenly began growling at “something” / “someone” at the corner of the room. That was rather alarming and just a teeny bit eerie. Hubs was about to change rooms, or better yet, the hotel, but then she stopped after 5 minutes. Maybe someone followed us back from the woods.

jess waiting

We decided, after that brief episode of the hauntings, to bring Jessie into Boston with us; go on the trolley route to have a quick tour of Boston and then head to Mentei at 66 Hereford Street for ramen. Of course, you can only plan up to a certain point, and let fate take its course. We were heading towards Fenway, but they were showing Grease at another park around the area, so there was a huge jam. After making our way to the baseball stadium, we realized there was a game that night. We promptly turned away. The crowd scares us.

I tried to maneuver hubs through the city, at night, but being as blind as a bat really didn’t help. tomtom needed addresses, which we couldn’t supply, so we were groping in the dark, with Jess in the back seat “eating the wind” / going for a joyride. After fumbling for a while, we landed up at Beacon Hill and Newbury Street. We decided it was getting too late to be roaming the streets of Boston. Odd thing was, being such big city, Boston was empty and surprisingly quiet on a Friday night. It was barely 9:30, and we stopped at Mentei at 66 Hereford Street for ramen. The store was already closed. Do people not eat pass 9:30 here?

So we headed into Chinatown. If one thing’s for sure, it is that the Asian community eats from sunrise to sundown. We love our food, and eating at weird hours adds to the experience. We headed to a restaurant that was “recommended” called the Big Fish, which turned out to be Jade Garden at 18 Tyler Street. We ordered noodles recommended by the staff and a bowl of shrimp wantan. By the time we got back to the hotel, and I took my shower, it was pass 11 pm. Hubs opened the box of noodles, ready to dig in, but was greeted by plain extra oily noodles with a few strips of shiitake mushrooms. This was their recommendation?! Plain noodles?! I could have done better with instant noodles. My SHRIMP wantan turned out to be PORK wantan. NO PORK NO PORK! I wanted SHRIMP not pork. I want shrimp wantan like the ones in Hong Kong, like the ones found in the food court in the Royal Pacific Hotel. Thanks for the recommendation online/Boston people. That sucked royally!

I went to bed, unsatisfied with my paltry meal, but rather full. I slept like a baby.

The next day, we woke up (rather begrudgingly) bright and early to make our way into Cape Cod. Waking up that early really didn’t help, when you have a four-legged creature you have to care for first. Thank goodness for our leftover noodles from lunch and dinner that we never did finished, which we then had for breakfast. It was cold, but it was food. Beggars are not choosers.

Our trip started at 9. We got into the “start” of Cape Cod 1.5 hours later. After roaming and fumbling around the area for what seemed like eternity, trying to find sand and water, we decided to stop at another recommended eats (this time by AAA), called the Lobster Claw on 42 Route 6A in Orleans MA. Since they didn’t have outdoor seating, and we had Jess with us, we decided to just order to go. Once again, I asked for their recommendation and was told to order the overpriced lobster roll (for $15, which I saw for lesser than $10 at other restaurants down the road) and clam chowder.

jess waiting

While hubs and Jess waited outside the restaurant, I went gallivanting around the area, and saw a Fish Market next to a Fish and Chips place. The Fish Market had gigantic king-sized lobsters, while the Fish ‘n Chips place was crowded. In hindsight, we should have gotten this instead.

Orleans MA

When I picked up our order, I asked if there was a park around the area to sit at to enjoy the “view.” They immediately told me about a “windmill” park just around the corner by a lake. That “park” turned out to be a parking lot next to a lake. We ended up at the parking lot, eating our food. The chowder isn’t worth mentioning, and the lobster roll was just filled with mayo and way too much celery seed. The restaurant is a no-go.

We were off to the Silver Pond Visitor’s Center in Emherst after that. Hubs picked up a few more reading materials for me and Jess picked up a flea (because when we went back to the hotel that night, we saw a dead flea on the carpet).

Atlantic Spice

We stopped at the Atlantic Spice Company on 2 Shore Road, Route 6A in North Truro. I bought more tea (4 bags) and spices (herbs and peppercorns) than I would know what to do with. Christmas present, anyone?

Truro Vineyard

Truro Vineyard was a few blocks away from the Spice Company (11 Shore Road) so we stopped by to purchase a few bottles (while other visitors carted off boxes). After we got our wine and fed Jess the remainder of her breakfast (the princess didn’t want to eat in the morning), we headed into Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod.

Truro Vineyard

We drove right into the bustling road of Community Street and found parking inside a lot by a beach. At last! Sand and water! We strolled in, where Jess took her first walk on the sandy beach, while I got my feet dirty, sandy and a little fried. I had Jess tied around my waist to stop her incessant pulling, but I ended getting squeezed instead.

anchor

Jess was like a superstar walking down the artsy street filled with an array of characters. Everyone wanted a picture of her, touch her, or cooed at her cuteness in booties. When hubs asked about “lunch” after our unsatisfying sandwich from earlier, we stopped at the Purple Feather at 334 Community Street, Provincetown for overpriced ice cream. For $11, we had Pistachio and Mocha ice cream and ate till we wanted to gag.

provincetown

We took a stroll around the town, stopping at a pet store, art galleries and even an extra windy beach that almost blew away my straw hat and that bit of dignity I have left. I held on to my skirt so tightly like my life depended on it.

Before we left, hubs spotted this store, Spank the Monkey, which got him giggling like a 16-year-old. What is men’s fascination with farts, blow torches, and sexual connotations? Maybe not in the same order, depending on the time of day. We literally had to stop for this shot.

spanking

We left at 5 pm, since we needed to track back for another 2.5 hours to the hotel. Hubs wanted to hit the missed Mentei store again in Boston, so we swung by Berklee College of Music (WLH’s old stomping ground) for the second time in two days. I got off to order the lobster ramen and chicken yakisoba for dinner. When I saw that they had taiyaki I added that to the order, so that we had breakfast the next morning.

This meal was much better, topped off with watching Amanda Bynes’ and Channing Tatum’s She’s the Man. Fun night in the hotel as we were too tired to even head to the pool.

Jess woke me up at 5 am, with her incessant licking and scratching and trying to drink from her empty bowl. I finally stumbled out of bed, rummaged for water in the dark, poured (hopefully) into her bowl and crawled back into bed. I woke up the second time again two hours later when she scratched on the bed trying to wake me up to go out. Message received, Your Highness.

jess

The last place on the agenda before leaving for home was the Salem Witch Museum. It’s quite a rip off, considering that everything in that “museum” is what you can get from wikipedia or google. I demand a refund of my $17. The town, on the other hand, is interesting, to say the least.

salem

It all began with a few young girls, Ann Putnam, Betty Parris, Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Hubbard, who out of boredom during the cold winter nights, visited the house of the Reverend Samuel Parris. Reverend Parris owned a slave from the Indies by the name of Tituba. Being of a different culture (most likely Arawak or Carib Indian from Barbados) and upbringing, Tituba would regale these girls with folktales of her childhood, and might have even taught them a little fortune-telling mixed in with voodoo.

The girls soon began to rant, rave, crawled on all fours and began talking in tongues soon after. After the local doctor pronounced that it was not epilepsy and pointed towards other non-worldly afflictions, the girls began to point their fingers on easy scapegoats, namely Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne (died in jail after imprisonment on May 10), and Tituba. Good was a homeless misfit known to beg for food or shelter from neighbors, while Osborne, a cantankerous old woman had sex with her indentured servant and rarely attended church meetings.

The witch trials lasted less than a year, with the first arrest and trial held on March 1, 1692, with the three women. By summer of that year, 180 people were accused and imprisoned, all defenseless against their accusers in a society driven by superstition and fear of the unknown.

Bridge Bishop (a 60-year-old tavern owner who refused to pay her bills) was the first to hang on June 10, and thus set forth a precedent for a summer of executions, which finally ended on September 22, 1692. Two courts convicted 29 people of witchcraft, out of which 20 were tried. Nineteen of the accused, 14 women and five men, were hanged, while the last man was pressed to death with stones. Eighty-year-old farmer, Giles Corey, refused to enter a plea, even after two days, as he was crushed to death under heavy stones.

A few hundred more were accused of witchcraft, and some even imprisoned. Those stuck in jail confessed to witchery as a way to avoid the gallows, but ironically signed their death warrant too, as they were forgotten and left to rot in their cells. In Europe, the witch hunt numbered into the thousands and many were burnt at the stake.

These are the names of those accused and tried: Bridget Bishop
, George Burroughs, 
Martha Carrier
, Martha Corey
, Mary Easty, 
Sarah Good
, Elizabeth Howe, 
George Jacobs, Sr.
, Susannah Martin, 
Rebecca Nurse, Alice Parker
, Mary Parker
, John Proctor, 
Ann Pudeator
, Wilmott Redd, 
Margaret Scott
, Samuel Wardwell
, Sarah Wildes
, John Willard.

On the trial of Rebecca Nurse, an old, deaf, feeble but pious woman who can barely stand; when the jury of her peers came back with an acquittal, the hysterical crowd and the young girls who accused her, Ann Putnam and Abigail Williams, began screaming and ranting, calling for “justice” to be served. The court ordered the jury to reconsider and they finally came back with a guilty conviction.

Even being openly critical of the trials is cause for scrutiny, as it turns the innocent to a guilty person. One such person, who stood up for the targets and ended up being a target himself was John Proctor. He was hanged, but his pregnant wife, who was also convicted of witchcraft, was spared.

Even in death, the accused were not only excommunicated from their churches/communities, but they were thrown in shallow graves without proper burial. In the dark, families of the dead would reclaim the bodies of their loved ones and bury them in unmarked graves. Of course, nothing is known about those accused who died in their jail cells.

The accused of the Salem witch hunt were better off financially than most of their accusers. Most accusing families stood to gain property from the convictions. This chapter of American history is a cautionary tale of the dangers of extremism in any form and false accusations in the name of religion. One wonders whose side the devil was really on.

hawthorne

After this history lesson, we took a walk around Salem and stumbled upon Nathaniel Hawthorne’s statue in the middle of the city. We also went into Crow Haven Corner, a purveyor to witches around the world and bought myself a tiger eye stone. Finally we found an antique shop which mislabeled a qilin (chinese unicorn/baby dragon) as a foo dog. The owner was only listening halfheartedly as I told him the difference. Our time was almost up to return, but hubs still insisted on driving around that little town. I got even more frustrated and angry at him when he almost hit another car because of his impatience. Then he tried to find parking to visit some of the more eclectic stores. He finally found a spot, just about a mile away from everything else. I hurriedly walked out, just to appease him, and went to the stores. We went to one pet store, and quickly turned back after. We really had to go by then. We rushed back to the hotel, packed and left. But at 2 pm, we still haven’t had lunch yet, and hubs brilliantly wanted to go to the Naked Fish outside the hotel, which was closed (people in the area must not eat after 9:30 pm and on the weekends).

By then, fainting would be too easy. The hunger pangs were so excruciating but I would not tell hubs, as I was still fuming from the earlier incidents. When he asked if I were hungry, I ignored him. I would rather die of hunger than lose my pride.

Girls are so queer you never know what they mean. They say No when they mean Yes, and drive a man out of his wits for the fun of it. – Louisa May Alcott

Before leaving Massachusetts, we still had to make a pit stop at Union Oyster House on 41 Union Street in Boston to pick up a bucket (or what seemed like a bucket) of clam chowder for cheh. I wanted to order sandwiches to go, but was told I can only take away the clam chowder. Come again? This town is very weird when it comes to food. We finally left Boston, heading towards home at 3 pm and rolled into a McDonalds off of 95 to grab a bite, before I ate hubs. After being fed, the exuding aura of daggers stopped attacking hubs. He was able to drive home “safely” without dealing with and dodging my wrath at the same time.

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

However, the trip home wasn’t as smooth sailing as the trip there. tomtom didn’t want to take us on the less-traveled route that we took on our way there, even though I tried forcing it to. We were only redirected back to the main corridor of the Northeast after we strayed. Then, we were met with traffic jams, torrential downpours and eyes that could barely stay opened. What a tiring trip back!

We got home, thoroughly exhausted, but still have to clean up before relaxing for the night. Jess needed her shower, (and her tick bath, just in case), and things had to be put away, washed and dusted.

When we finally plopped down for dinner in front of the TV, celebrating cheh’s birthday, it was 9 pm. We toasted her birthday with Chinese take-out, wine from Cape Cod, and dessert from a Japanese bakery in Fort Lee.

Taking a holiday is tiring. I always end up needing a vacation from my vacation after I return. Lucky for me, I had two days to kill after…

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