Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Rainy Anniversary

August 29, 2009

Happy Anniversary to us! Today was our 38th wedding anniversary—doesn’t that sound like a lot of years? I have to admit I don’t always remember what we did to celebrate our anniversaries, but thanks to this blog, we’ll always be able to see what we did on our 38th.
For one thing, we had a very rainy anniversary. It was raining for most of the night, and as a result I didn’t sleep very well. I guess I kept worrying about the roof leaking. As it turned out, there was absolutely no leaking that I know of, and we woke up all snug and dry. It was, however, very cool (and still raining HARD) when it was finally time to get out of bed. Joey and Roxy had a very fast walk in the rain, and after a relatively quick breakfast, we packed up to leave. We stopped first at the campground office, however, to make use of their wifi connection—the main reason we bothered to pay for a campground last night, really. All we actually needed was a place to spend the night, because we were not planning to use the facilities (too cold to swim, too late in the evening to enjoy the views) and wanted to leave early and get back on the road.
Our first stop was an impulse—Joe said “Look!” as we passed a large office building with the DeLorme sign outside. The windows on the side were three stories high, and behind them I could see an ENORMOUS globe! Joe said that it was “famous” and that he’d known it was there. I made him take the next U-Turn so we could go back and I could photograph it through the windows, but to my pleasure I saw that they actually had a Map Store in the building which was open to the public, and of course, the lobby was filled with the globe.
It turns out that its name is Eartha, and it is, in fact, the largest globe in the world (the certification from the Guinness Book of Records was on the wall. As a “map person” (i.e. someone who just loves maps), I found both the store and the globe fascinating.

The office building had balconies on the 2nd and 3rd floors so guests could go upstairs to view the northern hemisphere of the globe. The entire thing was rotating on its axis as well as revolving, so it was possible to see the entire thing from any angle if you were patient and let it turn toward you at the 3 different heights. After taking several photos, I realized that it was really necessary to include some people on the ground floor next to it to give a sense of its size—it’s not really enough to say it was 3 stories tall!
I thought it was great.
The store was lots of fun too. It was not just a showcase (and retail outlet) for all of the DeLorme mapping products. It also had maps of pretty much everywhere in the world, as well as tour guides, language phrase books, atlases, globes, posters, and all kinds of toys and travel items. It was very heavy in the Maine department, with books etc. about the state, but there were books of all kinds relating to travel and finding your way around, plus novelty books. We had a good time browsing through, but didn’t buy anything. Just being there, though, reminded me that I had planned for us to try geochaching during this vacation—but not having an internet connection (and thus not being able to find where any local caches might be hidden) made that impossible. I guess next time I should plan ahead better and print out the directions or something…. But that would require knowing where we were going in advance!
We got back on the road (still U.S.1) and our next stop was at a chocolate store named Len Libby’s. The specific reason to stop was to see Lenny, the world’s only life-size Chocolate Moose. Sure enough, Lenny is made with 1,700 pounds of chocolate, and he now has some brown (chocolate) bears, a mama (another 300 pounds) plus two cubs to keep him company. The bears don’t look life-size to me, though. We weren’t there too long, only enough to meet Lenny and purchase a few small samples of the extensive chocolate inventory (we skipped the chocolate covered blueberries, but I did buy the chocolate nachos, which were pieces of sugar-cone-like stuff with chocolate drizzled on them. I haven’t tried them yet .)
By then it was around noon, and we decided to make some more definite plans, since we needed to make some greater progress today. We decided to get onto I-95 and head down to Salem, Massachusetts, and stop there. Our basic problem was that we wanted to do something else touristy today, but it was still pouring rain, which let out anything to do with boat rides, walking in cute villages, botanical gardens, picturesque wharfs, or anything outside. Neither of us was interested in touring a Victorian mansion, either. So since I’d never been to Salem, I thought we could stop there.
We stopped just over the border in Massachusetts (it was teeming sheets of rain) and I ran into the visitor’s center to ask about routes through/around Boston. It’s been ages since we’ve been up there, and never with the RV. The guy told me that today was Ted Kennedy’s funeral (which, being out of touch, I hadn’t known) and that it wouldn’t be a great day to drive through the city, but then when he realized we were talking well after 5 pm, decided that perhaps it would work. Meanwhile he gave me the Salem tourist book.
So we drove to Salem first, and after looking at all the available museums, decided to go to the Witch History Museum, which sounded the least hokey of the available museums (the one “real” museum, the Peabody Museum, was just too much to deal with by 3:30 in the afternoon.) As it turned out, the Witch History Museum was plenty hokey, but oh well, it was something to do in the afternoon.
After we left there, we went to the Boston Hot Dog Company for a snack. This was a small shop with a huge variety of every kind of hot dog. We got their signature ¼ Lb Black Angus Beef hot dog, and chatted with the owner, a native of Malden, while we ate. He said it was too bad we were leaving so soon, we could go to Boston and eat pizza at Regina’s. Joe said we used to swear by the pizza at the European, at which point he brightened up and said, “Even better!” But the European is gone, and we couldn’t stay anyway. We chatted some more before heading out into the rain (which was slightly easing up by this time—almost 6 pm!) Btw, one of the coolest things about being in the RV was that even though it was so rainy, we were unfazed—we had two plastic slickers tucked away in our drawers and we just threw them on and walked through the deluge. We always have whatever we need!
After we left Salem, we got back onto the interstates and took I-93 straight down through Boston, via the Big Dig underground route. The traffic was light and it couldn’t have been faster or simpler. It seemed kind of odd, though, to be zooming past a city like Boston without even a pause to drive down our old street (which would have been nuts to try in Mo, of course.) One local note was that all the electronic message boards, which are designed to give traffic updates, were all instead programmed to read “Thank You, Ted, From the People of Massachusetts.” We stayed on I-93 until it rejoined I-95, and took it into Rhode Island so we could collect yet another state for our sticker map (Massachusetts was a new one today, too.) By this time it was after 7 pm and was pretty dark, although the rain was finally reduced to mostly an active sort of mist. We decided to skip the campground routine for tonight (there are really very few to choose from around here, it seems!) and just overnight at one of our RV-friendly roadside options, a Cracker Barrel. This one is only about 20 miles from the Connecticut border, so we are spending the night in the smallest state out of 50, and will get our final New England state sticker for our map tomorrow. The plan is to wake up early and take I-95 the rest of the way home. With luck, we will find a wifi at one of these local businesses before we leave, so I can upload this blog.

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