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2017-08-06 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Louisbourg Lighthouse and the Louisbourg Playhouse

Today we drove along the coast to the Louisbourg Lighthouse:

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The lighthouse is not unlike hundreds of others along the Atlantic coast, but this one seems more remote than most. It faces the open Atlantic along a very rocky and rugged coastline.  We walked along the “hiking” path:

2017-08-06 Louisbourg Lighthouse Walk 02We took hundreds of photos – every turn revealed another remarkable vista:

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As we watched the waves crash and the tides swell, I was struck by the thought that we are enjoying a few minutes of this awesome beauty, yet it has been going on like this 24 hours a day for millions of years… Very awe inspiring!

The hiking path followed the coast for about one mile; it was then interrupted by a stone beach; the sign said, “Path resumes beyond the stone beach”.  We walked a few hundred yards across the stone beach – it was very difficult – 5″ and larger sharp stones – not much smaller. I’m sure Mr. Rainbow didn’t anticipate this when he designed and made my flip-flops…

When we reached the other end of the stone beach we discovered that the hiking path turned into a very small trail through the woods, away from the coast, and it was labeled “only for serious hikers”, which we are not.  We are trekkers and walkers, not hikers, and we have the shoes to prove it.  So we turned around and hobbled across the stone beach again, and returned to the lighthouse along the shore path.  We ran into some of our caravanners, who are braver than we are:

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It was an exiting morning.  Unspeakable beauty.  It seemed to us like we were standing at the end of the world…

We returned to the Villa, after stopping off to see the tall ships again.  We found out that you can book a 2-3 week tour with these ships, to be part of the amateur crew.  Pay big money and work really hard…  Such a deal!

Back at the Villa we relaxed for the rest of the day… Most caravanners were out on various activities:

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This evening was another new treat: We attended a show of local musicians playing Nova Scotia music.  This music is a variation of Irish and Scottish folk music, but is a distinct version of it.  Violin, keyboard, guitar, drums, and base, plus vocals.  The Louisbourg Playhouse is quite an interesting place.

Based on London’s 1599 Globe Theatre, an open-air playhouse was constructed at the Fortress of Louisbourg by Walt Disney Studios for the motion picture “Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale”.  The Fortress stood in for the village of Plymouth, MA.  After filming wrapped up, the structure was donated to the city of Louisbourg and relocated to its current location, just off the main street of the town.  Subsequently, the structure was remodeled, with a roof being added, along with back stage facilities.  For such a small town it is quite an impressive facility.  It is booked with shows all Spring, Summer, and Fall.  This particular group was doing six weeks, six nights per week.

It was a fun time.  Lots of toe-tapping.  Best of all, afterwards, we could walk back to the campground; it had been raining, but the rain had died down by the time we left after the show.  But it was foggy, and dark; we realized that we had not been out after dark for many weeks now…

So another day is done; an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the Louisbourg Playhouse

2017-08-05 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Louisbourg Fortress and the Beggars’ Banquet

What is a Fortress? How is it different from a Fort?

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A Fortress is a fortified town.  A Fort is a military-only defensive structure.  A Fortress contains both the military and civilians. All the essential operations are of a town – the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker – are within the fortress, as well as government and military operations.

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The Fortress of Louisbourg was a French fortress on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.  Its two sieges, especially that of 1758, were turning points in the Anglo-French struggle for what eventually became Canada.  

The original settlement was made in 1713, and initially called Havre à l’Anglois. Subsequently, the fishing port grew to become a major commercial port and a strongly defended fortress.  The fortifications eventually surrounded the town.  The walls were constructed mainly between 1720 and 1740.  By the mid-1740s, Louisbourg was one of the most extensive (and expensive) European fortifications constructed in North America.  The Fortress of Louisbourg suffered key weaknesses, since it was erected on low-lying ground commanded by nearby hills and its design was directed mainly toward sea-based assaults, leaving the land-facing defenses relatively weak.  A third weakness was that it was a long way from France or Quebec, from which reinforcements might be sent.

Louisbourg was captured by British colonists in 1745, and was a major bargaining chip in the negotiations leading to the 1748 treaty ending the War of the Austrian Succession. It was returned to the French in exchange for border towns in what is today Belgium.  It was captured again in 1758 by British forces in the French and Indian War, after which its fortifications were systematically destroyed by British engineers.  The British continued to have a garrison at Louisbourg until 1768, when it was again returned to the French.

The fortress and town were partially reconstructed in the 1960s and 1970s, using some of the original stonework, which provided jobs for unemployed coal miners.  The site is operated by Parks Canada as a living history museum, much like Williamsburg, VA and the Plimoth Colony in Plymouth, MA.

We were able to walk from the RV park to the Visitors Center, whereupon we were bused over to the Fortress.  We entered through the original gates, where we were met by a “guard” who demanded to know our business here.  We wandered the town, hearing some of the history from our guide. They have a bakery operating in the old bakery building, making fresh bread daily using centuries-old recipes and methods. They also have a few restaurants, serving food of the era… we passed on the opportunity to eat centuries-old food…

They also have daily recreations of various milirary operations… After our tour we walked all the way back to the Villa…

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That evening, we were introduced to another fascinating feature of the modern day town of Louisbourg: we learned about what they call “The Beggars’ Banquet”.  We were told nothing about this event, other than we had to pre-select our entree for the dinner – lobster or steak.  This didn’t sound like what beggars normally ate, but we went along with it.  Also, we were told that we would have to dress in period costume, something that always freaks me out…

We arrived at the location of the Beggars Banquet about 30 minutes early, and we were not the first ones there.  This proclivity of being chronically early for all events is an Airstream Club tradition (and curse…).  We were immediately re-dressed in what we assume are “beggars clothes”.  Luckily for me, this consisted of an oversized shirt and a 3-corner hat.  We then were shown to our dining room and invited to buy drinks at the bar.  So far, so good.

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The dinner was quite good, considering the buffet banquet-style operation. There was musical entertainment all through the evening.  One of our members even helped-out at one point in time:

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Other members of our group:

The “fun” began about halfway through the evening: A bizarre-looking caricature of a women joined the group and set about selecting men from our group to dance with.  I almost ran screaming running from the room… I vowed to do just that if she approached me… Luckily, she did not…  I must have looked as scary to her as she looked to me…!  (We later found out that she actually is the owner of the place, and this is just her shtick for the evening…)

We again walked back to the Villa.  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:

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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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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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-07-12 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Provincetown

Today is wasn’t raining – yet.  It is a free day, so we can do whatever we want to enjoy Cape Cod. We had seen the normal sights when we were here in 2004 – Martha’s Vineyard, Hyannis, light houses, beaches and sand dunes… We also didn’t want to fight the summertime traffic, so instead, we headed back to Plymouth and caught a fast boat to Provincetown.

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You can see that it is a quick boat ride, about 1 1/2 hours. To drive, in no traffic (and there is ALWAYS traffic…) is 1 1/2 hours. It was an easy call…

The weather in Plymouth was a little foggy, but nothing to obstruct the views.  The little temple on the shore is the “canopy” over Plymouth Rock:

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In the outer harbor are houses and a lighthouse along a tiny sand spit:

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The entrance to Provincetown Harbor:

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Looming over the town is this giant tower:

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It is the Pilgrim Monument:

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The Pilgrim Monument was built between 1907 and 1910 to commemorate the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown on November 21, 1620. It was dedicated by President Taft.

Yes! The Pilgrims in the Mayflower landed at Provincetown, not Plymouth! It is where the Mayflower Compact was written and signed.  We’ve been lied to all these years! After they landed at Provincetown, and saw that there was no fresh water, and that the sand was no good for farming, they set out in a small boat to explore Cape Cod Bay.  They found Plymouth, with a natural harbor, fresh water in a flowing creek, and land good for farming, at least once you clear away the rocks. Lots of rocks!

It claims to be the tallest all-granite structure in the United States.  The tower is 252 feet, 7.5 inches (77 meters) tall and rises 350 feet above sea level. So, of course, we had to climb the tower. It was raining at the top:

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Provincetown prospered as a fishing village and as a whaling center.  Whale oil had always been the principal light source in the United States.  Kerosene was cheaper, but it was smelly and smokey.  John D. Rockefeller (see my earlier posts) hired research chemists from Yale to develop a cleaner burning kerosene. They succeeded.  In the late nineteenth century the whaling industry died as kerosene replaced whale oil as a lighting  source. Another New England industry bites the dust, and John D. Rockefeller gets rich.

(As electric lights became available, kerosene became another dead industry.  Luckily, by that time JDR was refining gasoline for the new-fangled automobiles…)

We spent the day wandering the delightfully crowded and narrow streets, peeking into shops, and enjoying the day. We had a late lunch and followed up with an ice cream cone… The boat ride back to Plymouth was uneventful. I may have dosed off a bit. An enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

2017-07-11 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Cape Cod and Plimoth Plantation

Another tourism day, in the rain, this time to Plimoth Plantation. I know, I’m not spelling it correctly, but that’ the way they spell it, so I will go along. It also helps to distinguish it from the town of Plymouth…

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Similar to Mystic Seaport, Plimoth Plantation, founded in 1947, is a living history museum just outside Plymouth, Massachusetts, that attempts to replicate the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established in the 17th century by English colonists who later became known as the Pilgrims.  In many ways, Plimoth Plantation is similar to Mystic Seaport, in that it displays buildings built as the Pilgrims would have built them; there are costumned people who will speak the Olde English, and will tell you what life in the Plimoth is all about.

The largest building in the village is the meeting house, which was later fortified into a “fort”:

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They even built a wall around the village to keep out their enemies:

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I’m not sure who they think they will keep out with this fence, but what do I know…?

 

The local residents, posing with the tourist:

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And the typical houses:

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The buildings and gardens were interesting, but I came to fear sticking my head inside a house lest I be invited in and be subjected to some stranger talking to me.  I don’t like talking to strangers…

So after seeing all that there was to see, including a moderately interesting Indian village and a museum, we had a quick lunch and headed back to the Villa.

Tonight was our second GAM (Get Acquainted Meeting). We were hosts to 4 other couples. We enjoyed the social time getting to know each other and hoping to remember their names…

Our dinner for the evening was provided by the caravan, in the RV park Rec building:

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Each couple received a whole “broasted” chicken, plus all the side dishes and desserts we wanted… It was another opportunity to socialize with the other 48 people on the caravan. And an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2017-07-10 Nor by Nor’east Caravan – Cape Cod, Sandwich, and Kentucky Bourbon

Today is moving day!  The caravan organizes the comings and goings of the Airstreams in a much more formal way than I have ever experienced.

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There are two reasons for this format: one is safety; we have a team of “Deparkers” who check each Airstream as it leaves the RV Park, checking for lights, directional signals, windows and doors being closed, TV antenna being down, things like that.  We also have “Parkers” at the next RV Park, guiding the Airstreams into their assigned spaces and making sure traffic jams are kept to a minimum.  However, for this reason, we are not permitted to arrive at the next RV Park before an assigned time.  So we teamed up with two other couples, one with a 34′ Airstream and the other with a 32′ “Squarestream”. (Airstream experimented with making a fiberglass Airstream in a traditional boxy shape back in the 1980s. I had never seen one until this trip… you can see it in the photo above, second from the left…)

So we arrived safely and parked at Sandy Pond Campground in Plymouth, MA. We added another sticker to the map:

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We had a free afternoon, so we headed out towards Cape Cod to the little town of Sandwich. We are headed to the Glass Blowing Museum.  In the 17th and 18th centuries glass blowing was an important industry in New England.  Eventually, by the late 19th and early 20th centuries, this kind of manufacturing industry ceased to exist here. Competition from more modern techniques, in areas of the country with cheaper fuel, doomed glass blowing in Sandwich.  This type of story was repeated throughout New England in many industries: textiles, clothing, shoes, whaling, fishing, and on and on. Even farming is rare here; fields that were laboriously cleared of trees and rocks by the Pilgrims and Puritans and other colonists were abandoned and have now been taken over by forests again.

In Sandwich is a museum showing the types of glass that was made in Sandwich, both by blowing and by pressing. There was also great information on Sandwich’s own factory and its history, owners, labor strife, and competition.  But the best part was the glass blowing demonstration.

We asked the glass blowing guy how he got into this line of work. He said he took the job right out of high school because it was easy and convenient. He has been here six years now.

2017-07-10 Sandwich Glass Blowing 1He has his patter down, much like a magician; he was a great performer, swinging these red-hot rods around like a baton twirler.  It was really fun to watch.  He asked the group (about 20 spectators) if he should make a vase or a wine glass. The immediate answer (me) was “wine glass”.

It was a really amazing demonstration. First the blob of sand is heated to about 2,000 degrees F:

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This hot glob of melted sand is gently shaped as he rolls the rod along the bench.  Then he blows into the end of the tube and the glob expands into the glass bowl:

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He continues to shape the bowl, then grabs another glob of molten sand and forms the stem, then the foot.  It all happens so fast that photos were difficult. Finally, he set the perfectly formed wine glass on the work bench. I’m so excited! I want this glass!

Then he tells us that within about 5 minutes the glass will explode. As the glass cools the differential between the internal temperature and the surface temperature will cause the glass to crack.  To prevent the glass from exploding it must be cooled slowly, in an annealing oven. It takes from 1-7 days, depending on the type of glass and the design.  By now the glass is down to about 900 degrees… He sprinkles a few drops of water on the glass, it shatters, and he throws the scraps into the broken glass pile.  Demonstration over.  (The broken glass is put back into the oven and it is 100% recycled…)

I’d watch this again! It was much fun!

So, empty handed, we set out to Seafood Sam’s for lunch – Lobster Rolls (New England style, not Connecticut style…). After lunch we walked along the Cape Cod Canal.

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The canal actually cuts through the peninsula, from the open sea into the protected harbor, technically making Cape Cod an Island.  We also walked along to the end to see the Beach:

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Just what Cape Cod is supposed to look like… Lynda had to see if the water is warm or cold:

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It is cold – very cold…

We walked until our Apple watches were happy, then we headed back to the Villa. We have a Bourbon Tasting tonight!

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Three of our caravanners are from Kentucky, and they brought out a grand selection of Bourbons for us all to taste.  Needless to say, an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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