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July 2017

2017-07-21 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Maine – Penobscot Marine Museum, Searsport, and Lobster!

Friday again dawned with a mix of clouds and sun.  We convoyed to the nearby town of Searsport to see their Maritime Museum. It included several museum buildings, and we also were able to see the local Congregational Church. We toured the buildings, admired the art, and enjoyed learning about the maritime industry in this part of Maine.

The Congregational Church; this tiny church just raised funds to spend at least $30,000 per window to restore this stained glass:

2017-07-21 Searsport Congregational Church 01

The museum:

2017-07-21 Searsport Marine Museum 01

The town of Searsport, like most small towns in Main, has been in a depression for over 100 years due to the elimination of all the skilled labor industries that no longer exist; this house seems to be quite a bargain:

 

We then headed off to one of our favorite type of places: A lobster Pound; we found Young’s Lobster Pound, recommended by the staff at Searsport RV Park.

2017-07-21 Belfast Youngs Lobster 01

These places are usually located on a pier or wharf with access to the harbor. Lobsters are brought in by lobster boats and turned loose into the “pound” – an enclosed area of the sea, designed to contain the lobsters. Every hour or so, fresh, live lobsters are brought up to a tank in a shack on the wharf. These places don’t sell anything besides lobster, and maybe clams and/or mussels. You walk in, you tell them what size lobster you want, they pull them out of the pen, and throw them onto a scale.  If it looks good to you, they put them in a numbered bag and throw them into a pot of boiling water.  20 minutes later you pick up your lobster.

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You bring your own wine, utensils, napkins, whatever you want, and sit on picnic tables on the wharf:

Lynda, waiting patiently:

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The picnic tables; these “wood” planks are actually plastic, usually used for decking; they have a very high coefficient of thermal expansion:

2017-07-21 Belfast Youngs Lobster 06

And, finally, the feast:

2017-07-21 Belfast Youngs Lobster 02

This is a truly Maine experience and if is really a lot of fun.  When we were here in 2004, the hardest thing about eating at a lobster pound was to defend your lobster from the mosquitoes – they would swarm down and literally lift your lobster off the plate; if you didn’t swat them away they would fly away with your lobster.  Not this day at this place; no mosquitoes, just a light breeze off the harbor and lots of sun.  It was a great meal in a great setting – something not really available anywhere else in the world.

After our lunch, we returned to the Villa, and finalized more plans for our return trip home.  That evening we had another GAM, and got to know 4 more couples on the caravan.  An enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-07-20 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Maine – A quiet day with great food!

The first thing we noticed upon awakening in Maine is that the water sometimes does weird things – like just disappear…

2017-07-20 Searsport - Tide 4

If you recall, last night’s blog post showed the water lapping at the base of the RV park, like this:

2017-07-19 Searsport - Tide 1

Now it is like this…

2017-07-20 Searsport - Tide 2

Anyway, water comes in and then it goes out…

Our first full day in Maine began with a pancake breakfast, prepared by the RV Park. They have a nice tented area with picnic tables, just off the beach.  They have an outdoor kitchen and they seem to have their act together.  We had a lovely breakfast with blueberry pancakes and blueberry waffles, with both real and fake Maple syrup.   After having a nice time socializing with the other caravanners, we went our separate ways.  We opted to spend the day planning our return trip, across Canada, north of the Great Lakes, to Minnesota and back to California after the caravan ends.

2017-07-20 Searsport - Breakfast 22017-07-20 Searsport - Breakfast 1

We took several walks throughout the day and strolled along the beach. In between, we researched campgrounds and made reservations. It was a nice, productive time.

At 5:00 pm we rejoined the caravanners for Happy Hour and then, at 6:00 pm the fun began.

2017-07-20 Searsport - Lobster 01

 

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The lobsters came out.

This was a traditional Maine Lobster bake; the lobsters are first boiled lightly, then they are packed in between seaweed into crates, which are placed atop this giant iron slab over a raging hot fire. They spray water onto the hot iron slab, creating steam which then finishes the cooking of the lobsters.

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Steamed lobsters are supposed to be the best.  And I think we all agree.

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They also had steamed clams and mussels, plus corn on the cob and potatoes.

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For dessert there was peach cobbler…  Massive amounts of food was consumed, and an enjoyable time was had by all.  There were also steaks for the non-shellfish eaters in the group.  We found some wine to accommodate all tastes.

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An enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-07-19 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Vermont, New Hampshire, and into Maine!

Today is a four State day!

We left Topsfield Fairgrounds at 4;45 am to get an early start on the day.  We are heading for Vermont!

2017-07-19 Vermont Welcome.JPG

Vermont welcomes us, we had a lovely breakfast, and we added a sticker:

2017-07-19 Map Vermont

A few minutes later we were in New Hampshire. We had a beautiful drive, stopping for fuel and adding a sticker:

2017-07-19 Map New Hampshire

We proceeded to Maine, and we stopped at Cabella’s in Scarborough to make a deposit; we had caught up with the rest of the caravan that had left Topsfield at 9:00 am or so:

2017-07-19 Cabellas

And we added another sticker:

2017-07-19 Map Maine

This completes our eastbound journey – coast to coast, from the Southwest to the Northeast:

2017-07-19 Map Eastbound

We stopped to shop at LL Bean in Freeport, and met up with more friends:

2017-07-19 LL Bean 1

2017-07-19 LL Bean 2

I bought two pairs of shoes (actually moccasins…).  And we headed for the final destination of the day: Searsport RV Park:

2017-07-19 Searsport - The Villa

We set up and settled in…

Tonight we have a campfire and something called s’mores.  I don’t get why you would ruin a perfectly good marshmallow like that…

2017-07-19 Searsport - Campfire

We had a long day. And an enjoyable time was had by all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-07-18 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Boston, day 2

Again on the bus into Boston; this time to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum:

2017-07-18 Boston JFK 01

The tour started with a short movie, depicting his early life, leading up to his nomination for the Presidency in 1960 at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles (recently demolished). Kennedy’s campaign headquarters was in the Biltmore Hotel, in what is now the Lobby. (At that time it was a large meeting room.  It was converted to the Lobby when the main entrance of the hotel was moved from Olive St. to Grand Ave.)

The movie was mostly the spoken words of JFK. At the beginning, I was struck by what he said at the Yale commencement in 1962:

Too often we hold fast to the cliche’s of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. Mythology distracts us everywhere. For the great enemy of the truth is very often not a lie: deliberate, contrived, and dishonest; but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.

I found this statement very relevant today…

 

The exhibits followed, detailing the election and his presidency; It was a very interesting design: The campaign and election displays were like storefronts in Anytown, USA, including products specific to the time: televisions, appliances, record players – things you might see in store windows in any small town main street; the presidency displays were in a reproduction of the lower level of the White House.  All in all a very interesting museum.  Outside, along the water, was JFK’s boat:

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2017-07-18 Boston JFK 03

 

We had a nice walk along the waterfront:

2017-07-18 Boston JFK 04

 

Then we were taken by the bus to see the USS Constitution: Old Ironsides:

2017-07-18 Boston - Old Ironsides

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Old Ironsides does not have iron sides; The ship is built with solid oak, about 24″ think, and it is clad in copper.  The British coined the term “Old Ironsides” when they saw their cannonballs bounce harmlessly off the sides of the ship in the first battle of the War of 1812.

 

Unfortunately, the ship is being restored, again, and is in dry-dock, where it has been for a long time. They are moving it this coming weekend, so it was not open for tours.  We spent some time in the adjacent museum, then headed to the Bunker Hill Memorial:

2017-07-18 Boston - Bunker Hill Monument 01

2017-07-18 Boston - Bunker Hill Monument 02

The Memorial commemorates the Battle for Bunker Hill.  It is located on Bleeds Hill, where the battle actually took place.  (You can’t make this stuff up…)  The British won this battle, but at a heavy cost.  Shortly after, the British evacuated Boston and never returned…

So this concludes our two days in Boston. The bus took us back to the Airstreams and we prepared the rig for travel tomorrow… We’re moving on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-07-17 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Boston, day 1

Knowing what traffic is like in Boston, we were grateful that the Caravan provided a nice Prevost bus to take us in to the heart of Boston:

2017-07-17 Boston Bus

Today we will have an opportunity to take a trolley tour to get oriented around Boston; after the trolley we can further explore areas as we wish…

From the bus we first saw the Boston Skyline:

2017-07-17 Boston - Skyline

And then the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge:

2017-07-17 Boston - Zakim Bridge 2

2017-07-17 Boston - Zakim Bridge 1

This is a cable-stayed bridge, not a suspension bridge.  The difference is that a cable-stayed bridge has one or more towers, from which cables directly support the bridge deck. A distinctive feature are the cables which run directly from the tower to the deck, normally forming a fan-like pattern or a series of parallel lines. This is in contrast to the modern suspension bridge, where the cables supporting the deck are suspended vertically from the main cable, anchored at both ends of the bridge and running between the towers. The cable-stayed bridge is optimal for spans longer than cantilever bridges and shorter than suspension bridges.

The lead designers were Theodore Zoli (from HNTB) and W. Denney Pate (from FIGG).  It has a striking, graceful appearance that is meant to echo the tower of the Bunker Hill Monument (more on this tomorrow), which is within view of the bridge, and the white cables evoke imagery of the rigging of the USS Constitution, docked nearby (more on this tomorrow).

The bus dropped us off at the waterfront; we boarded the trolley for a 90 minute tour of the historic and civic landmarks of Boston.  We were dropped back at the waterfront, leaving us the rest of the day to focus on our own interests.

Boston has nicely marked its sidewalks with a red stripe as a path they call the “Freedom Trail”.  So after our trolley tour we walked the trail and saw many famous sights, most related to the War for Independence.

You will recall the Longfellow poem I quoted when we visited Concord and Lexington:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year.

It goes on to say:

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

So we went to see the Old North Church:2017-07-17 Boston Old North Church

And Paul Revere’s house:

2017-07-17 Boston - Paul Revere House

 

Along the way we saw the location of Cheers bar; Exterior photos of this place were used in the TV show, although the bar inside is nothing like the TV set. The owner has recreated the TV set in another Cheers bar location near the waterfront…

2017-07-17 Boston - Cheers

 

We saw the Charles River; a little regatta or sailing lessons are going on today:

2017-07-17 Boston - Charles River

 

Fenway Park; they play baseball here:

2017-07-17 Boston - Fenway Park

 

We really wanted to see Trinity Church, located in Copley Square; we walked and walked and when we finally got there we saw that it was closed on Mondays. Who ever heard of a church being closed on Mondays? What’s next? Closing the Stockbridge dump on Thanksgiving?

We did get in a nice lunch at La Famiglia Giorgio’s.  And lots of walking.  The bus took us back to the Villa and we slept soundly that night… a good thing, because we come back tomorrow!

 

 

2017-07-16 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Whale Watching and Rockport, MA

Today was Whale Watching Day!  We carpooled and convoyed to Gloucester and boarded the big ship…

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I takes awhile to board; conversation was lively:

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Our intrepid caravan leader, Cape Cod resident, Trevor Lake:

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Once the boat was underway we could enjoy the sights of the harbor:

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We were headed about 30-40 miles out, about halfway to Provincetown on Cape Cod…

Our first sighting of a whale:

2017-07-16 Gloucester Whale Watching 21

 

Due to the natural features of the ocean bottom and other sea life in the area, whales return to about the same areas to feed, providing easy viewing for tourists like us on our boat and all these other boats in the area.

Whales generally travel together is loose associations (not pods – pods are livelong “families” of whales).  They seem to do two things:  surface and spout, and dive. I was hoping to see them jump out of the ocean like in the insurance commercial, but no luck.

The whales were plentiful today, as they surfaced and spouted:

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When they dive, we get to see their great tails; the people who study these whales identify them by the markings on their tails:

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After seeing many, many whales, we headed back to Gloucester; then we headed to Rockport to see this picturesque town and have lunch.  Rockport was crazy busy this afternoon…

Our carpool buddies, Victoria and John:

2017-07-16 Rockport MA 05

 

The town and harbor of Rockport:

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This church was having a little work done; notice the top of the steeple sitting on the ground:

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We had a delightful lunch of lobster rolls, with a nice white wine from New Zealand.  We headed back to the Villa; we have a meeting tonight to discuss our next two days as we travel to Boston!

PS:  As an update to our visit to Fallingwater on June 22, we saw on the news today that Mill Run, the creek that runs beneath Fallingwater, is at flood stage due to recent rains; the news story featured this photo of the team rescuing a statue that was toppled in the flood:

2017-07-16 Fallingwater Flood Topples Statue

(Sorry for the size… blame the newspaper…)

We had seen the statue, sitting adjacent to the plunge pool:

2017-06-22 Fallingwater 010d

Apparently, all is now well…

 

 

 

 

2017-07-15 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Lexington, Concord, and The Shot Heard ‘Round the World; Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer…

We had a free day to explore the region. We chose to tour Concord and Lexington.  After driving to Lexington we joined a trolley ride for a 90 minute to drive along the roads between Lexington and Concord; our guide told us the history of the Battle of Concord and Lexington, the start of the War for Independence.

 

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 01

Our trolley tour told of the first shots fired – it was it Lexington, but no one knows who fired first.  Paul Revere and William Dawes had ridden in from Boston to warn the town that the British were coming. (Although everyone here was British at the time…)

Also, because Longfellow told us, everyone knows:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear 
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, 
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; 
Hardly a man is now alive 
Who remembers that famous day and year. 

 

In 1896 Helen F. Moore, dismayed that William Dawes had been forgotten by Longfellow, penned a parody of Longfellow’s poem:

‘Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear—
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

Revere was arrested, but the word was out. The main confrontation occurred in Concord, as memorialized in the first verse of the Concord Hymn:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

We walked along the area of the first battle, and across the bridge. (Not the original bridge…):

2017-07-15 Concord Lexington 01a

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There are graves of British here, too:

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Along the trolley tour we saw the houses of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  Thoreau’s house is about 1 1/2 miles from Walden Pond, so for all those months when Thoreau was isolated and alone at the pond, he usually walked home for dinner in the evening…

We walked about to see several historic houses in Lexington; this is the house that Revere (and Dawes) were riding to:

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I know it’s a really old house, but this house (especially the door…) needs some attention:

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The Munroe Tavern was occupied by the British as their headquarters:

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After our memories of the history of the war with the British were refreshed, we needed to be refreshed with a little French food:

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We walked about the town a bit, and headed back to the truck:

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I had been in this area in 2008, on a bus tour, but not to see historic sights; we were here to see architecture.  I recalled a neighborhood of modernist houses, but I didn’t know where they were or whose houses they were.  I did remember the bus driver pointing out Walden Pond, so I thought we should check out the area and see what we could find.

We easily found the pond.  So I tried turning down some small roads to see what we could find; on my second try we found it!

This is the Walter Gropius house:

2017-07-15 Gropius 02

Walter Gropius founded The Bauhaus in Germany in the 1920s, revolutionizing modern architecture around the world. Apparently, the Germans were not impressed, because they closed The Bauhaus and Gropius fled Germany in the 1930s. After a time as a refugee in London, Gropius was hired to head Harvard’s Architecture Department.  As his fame and influence spread, a nice lady offered Gropius $20,000 and 4 1/2 acres of land for him to build himself a house; here it is:

2017-07-15 Gropius 01

It is Gropius’ idea of a modern New England cottage; wood siding, but vertical, not horizontal; also, horizontal windows, not vertical. Flat roof, not pitched… Plus an angled front porch and a spiral stair just for fun.

Inside the house is wonderful; the entry hall with the traditional center stair:

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The study, with an interior wall of glass block to share light with the Dining Room beyond:

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The Dining Room, with the screened porch beyond:

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Upstairs is a lovely deck, with one wall painted his custom-designed color, Bauhaus Pink:

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And the view down from the deck towards the screened porch:

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After all, what says “New England cottage” more than a screened porch?

Other views around the house:

 

Much of the furniture inside the house was designed by Gropius’ colleague, Marcel Breuer.  Breuer was also given land next door to build his house, along with three other people this lady with the land liked… The other houses are privately owned and were not open, but back in 2008 we were permitted to walk the grounds.

Walter Gropius and his wife lived in the house until their deaths in 1969 and 1980, whereupon it was donated to the Historic Society…

We headed back to the Villa and enjoyed another GAM (Get Acquainted Meeting) with the other caravanners… Once again, an enjoyable time was had by all…

2017-07-14 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Camping at the Topsfield Fair Grounds…

Today is moving day once again. We traveled from Plymouth to Topsfield. The trick, though, was to avoid Boston and their bridges and tunnels that prohibit propane… So it was a relatively long drive, about 125 miles, 2 1/2 – 3 hours.  We are camped on the grounds of the Topsfield Fair:

2017-07-15 Topsfield 01

No defined camp sites, just a lot of grass:

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It was fun to be all by ourselves – just the Airstreams and the Caravanners – no one else anywhere around…

That evening we once again had a meeting to discuss the tourism opportunities in this part of the country:

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Since this day has little other opportunities for photos, I post pictures of my grandchildren; they are at the beach in California:

2017-07-15 McAnoy

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

2017-07-13 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Plymouth, National Monument to the Forefathers, and the Grist Mill…

Once again it was raining. We convoyed to Plymouth to see and hear about The National Monument to the Forefathers:

 

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This thing is huge. Not Statue of Liberty huge, but impressive, none the less… It is 81′ tall.

The original concept dates to around 1820, with actual planning beginning in 1850. The cornerstone was laid August 2, 1859 and the monument was completed in October 1888. It was dedicated with appropriate ceremonies on August 1, 1889.

Our guide, in Pilgrim garb, explained the monument:

2017-07-13 Monument Forefathers 05

He was a little preachy, and it was hard to tell when he was talking as a Pilgrim and when he was talking about today. But the Monument has a lot to say.

On the main pedestal stands the heroic figure of “Faith”, with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching the Bible. Upon the four buttresses also are seated figures emblematic of the principles upon which the Pilgrims founded their Commonwealth; counter-clockwise from the east are Morality, Law, Education, and Liberty. Each was carved from a solid block of granite, posed in the sitting position upon chairs with a high relief on either side of minor characteristics. Under “Morality” stand “Prophet” and “Evangelist”; under “Law” stand “Justice” and “Mercy”; under “Education” are “Youth” and “Wisdom”; and under “Liberty” stand “Tyranny Overthrown” and “Peace”. On the face of the buttresses, beneath these figures are high reliefs in marble, representing scenes from Pilgrim history. Under “Morality” is “Embarcation”; under “Law” is “Treaty”; under “Education” is “Compact”; and under “Freedom” is “Landing”. Upon the four faces of the main pedestal are large panels for records. The front panel is inscribed as follows: “National Monument to the Forefathers. Erected by a grateful people in remembrance of their labors, sacrifices and sufferings for the cause of civil and religious liberty.” The right and left panels contain the names of those who came over in the Mayflower, including distant relatives of Irvine’s own Kirk Winslow.  The rear panel, which was not engraved until recently, contains a quote from Governor William Bradford’s famous history, Of Plymouth Plantation:

“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all praise.”

The overall scheme was designed by architect Hammatt Billings.

The rear:

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The close-up:

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After we learned everything and more about the Monument, we walked down to see a recreation of a 17th century grist mill.  It is a fully functioning mill, and it operates on the weekends, and it sells its flour to the public.

The water wheel:

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2017-07-13 Grist Mill 01

 

The millstones – 2,500 lbs each:

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The two millstones are apart for display purposes. When the mill is operating, the one that you see vertical is turned and set atop the lower stone. The upper stone is fixed in place, and the lower stone is turned by the power of the water wheel and the gears below the floor:

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These wheels and gears are the heart of the mill.  It is a fascinating operation and display of the incredible power water and simple tools have. The first public grist mill was built about 10 years after the Pilgrims arrived – before that, all grain had to be ground by hand… not an enjoyable time…

After our time at the grist mill we went to lunch at a local pub. Unlike the early Pilgrims, an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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