Williamsburg Hill

Williamsburg Hill

Monday, June 3, 2013

It Isn't Called Plymouth Boulder

Parade along the Freedom Trail
Summer has arrived, even though the weather contradicts this for some of us, and holiday vacation plans are in full swing. In a month, those of us in the US will find ways to celebrate this nation's Independence Day.  The week surrounding the July 4th holiday will see people traveling to beaches, the mountains or across town to be with family.  Some remain home to enjoy cookouts and fireworks with friends.

I've enjoyed and celebrated this time in many locations over the years.  Looking back, I think one of the best places to spend July 4th is in the city of Boston.  Where else to honor and celebrate our nation's history than in the city where patriotism began?  Find yourself along the Freedom Trail on that day and you become part of the reenactments, mingling with and watching costumed actors recreate parades and the excitement of the period.  At the Old State House, you can hear the Declaration of Independence read from the balcony, something that was done for the public for the first time at this same location on July 18, 1776.

Marker for Paul Revere's gravesite
The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile walk that features sixteen historically significant sites to see.  Some include Faneuil Hall, Boston Common (America's oldest public park), Granary Burying Ground (Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams and Benjamin Franklin's parents are buried here) and King's Chapel.  The site of the Boston Massacre is marked along the trail, along with Paul Revere's house (which is open for tours), Old North Church (remember the "One if by land, two if by sea" significance, with the two lamps actually proclaiming the start of the American Revolution), the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides" during the War of 1812.  Finish the day by enjoying the annual Boston Pops Fireworks Celebration at the Charles River Esplanade.  My family and I enjoyed all of this several years ago, yet thunderstorms prevented us from celebrating the fireworks show outdoors that year. It was the only downside of the day. 

Plymouth Rock
Of course, Boston has much more to offer and it's within easy driving distance to other historical areas, which really brings me to the title of this post.  Plymouth, Massachusetts is approximately 40 miles south of Boston and is the home of a symbolic piece of American history.  Plymouth Rock is viewed as the point where the Mayflower Pilgrims first stepped ashore in 1620.  Seeing it was special but I admit to having a "that's it?" moment.  The rock and its meaning serve as a foundation for this country's history. Anticipation of seeing something so great and significant perhaps hurt the fact that the actual size of the rock didn't measure up to the legend behind it.  I was expecting a boulder, but it was actually a large rock.  In all fairness, it supposedly was a boulder at the time.  According to Wikipedia: "During the rock's many journeys throughout the town of Plymouth, numerous pieces of the rock were taken, bought and sold. It is estimated that the original rock weighed 20,000 lbs." That, the tide and the fact the rock had been split in half at one time significantly reduced the size.  It's still worth the visit to see this piece of history.  Just remember the significance behind it.

Salem, Massachusetts
We took time to drive the entire New England area on that trip, including a stop in Salem, MA, a little over twenty miles north of Boston.  With the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 the theme of the town, of course we had to visit the Salem Witch Museum.  "The House of the Seven Gables" is also in Salem and open for tours. It's credited with inspiring Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel of the same name.  Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard are also stunning areas to see.  Our route for the rest of New England took us through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont (I highly recommend the quaint town of Woodstock, Vermont), Connecticut and Rhode Island (there aren't many who can resist Newport, RI and touring those "cottages").  New England is such a beautiful area of the country.  I'd like to visit again in the fall, a time of year I've never been.

Even though I sound as if I'm working for the Boston Tourism office (I'm not), if you're looking for a place to go next month, or even next year at this time, consider this great city.  Better yet, check the Boston tourism site and www.thefreedomtrail.org for a schedule of events.  It truly is one of America's greatest cities and you'll certainly feel the patriotism on such a patriotic holiday.