Wednesday, December 29, 2010


We made a day trip to Gettysburg in the rental car.  It was a very pleasant outing, made even more so by returning north of the Mason-Dixon Line, if only for a few hours.  I had been there twice before.  The first was as a grade schooler sometime before April 1960 when we left for Japan.  We had been living in Prince George's County, Maryland.  The second was in 1973, not long before I graduated from the Naval Academy.  Penny had never been there, even though she graduated from George Washington University in D.C.

There is a new visitor center and it is very informative.  You can find many descriptions and analyses of the battle on line, and so I won't go into that here.  It was a good day for pictures.  (Hurrah!  The history prof has spared us!)  ;-)

There is a driving tour of the battlefield, and an early part of it goes along Seminary Ridge, which was where the Confederates formed up to launch their various assaults on the positions of the Union's Army of the Potomac.  Most of the guns are replicas.

Fall colors were beautiful here as they were in Massachusetts and New York.

The blue and gray port-a-potty motif is found throughout the park.

These next photos relate to the 20th Maine regiment's defense of Little Round Top on the battle's second day.  The monument is located among that outfit's positions, and you can see the area from whence charged the Alabama rebels whom the Mainers defeated and turned back.

This road looks much as it would have looked in 1863.

Annapolis and Baltimore

We left Virginia Beach on October 29 and drove up the Eastern Shore toward Annapolis.  It was a very nice day, and we always enjoy seeing a part of the country that we haven't seen before.  Well, we usually enjoy that.

We had reservations in the Hampton Inn in Annapolis, which is located in the western part of town in the area we used to call Parole.  At least, I think that is where Parole is.  Annapolis has grown quite a bit since I graduated in 1973.  As midshipmen, most of us did not spend much time in the city itself.  You could run into officers there who might take issue with something you were doing, and so if you could, it was generally better to head toward Washington or Baltimore.  I usually chose the former.

So midshipmen did not appreciate the city of Annapolis, and I was no exception.  We referred to it as Crabtown by the Bay, or the small fishing village on the banks of the Naval Academy.  It was, and may still be, the only state capital without either its own airport or train station.  We also used to say that the best view of Annapolis was as it got smaller in the rear view window.

So more recent visits over the years have changed my outlook about the city itself.  Annapolis is phenomenally picturesque and is a very historic place.  It was a tobacco shipping port and there was also a slave market in the harbor area.  The Middleton Tavern has been there since before the French and Indian War (Seven Years War).

We went to the Navy football game on Saturday, which the Blue and Gold managed to lose.  We had been out to my first class (senior) year roommate's house.  John and Susan moved to Maryland from San Rafael just as we arrived in San Francisco four years ago.  We had a great time visiting with them, and also seeing other classmates at the tailgate before the game.  I took a few pictures of the Academy grounds.

Above is Bancroft Hall, which houses the entire Brigade of Midshipmen.  It is actually several interconnected buildings.  These are of the front of "Mother B," and you can see the window to my room during my last year there.  See the dormer windows on the top deck (floor)?  Mine was the second one from the right.

The grounds of the Yard are quite picturesque.  I had quite a few classes in the buildings in the lower photo above, including the Mahan Hall library which housed most non-technical books.  During our last semester there, the various libraries were closed for several weeks so the collections could be centrally located in the brand new Nimitz Library.

These two pictures are of the Macedonian monument.  The guns are from the British frigate HMS Macedonian, captured by USS United States during the war of 1812.  This action cemented the reputation of Captain Stephen Decatur.  During that action, USS United States's sailing master was John Drake Sloat, the subject of my current historical research.  So I took some pictures for the time when the publisher wants them.  That time is a long way off.

For the same purpose, I also went to Baltimore to take some pictures of USS Constellation, the square-rigged sloop-of-war maintained there as a maritime museum.  Those were analog pictures taken in black and white, and so I don't have them available here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Williamsburg and Virginia Beach

On Sunday, October 24, we had a nice brunch with David and Louis, and that afternoon flew from JFK down to Baltimore.  The airport formerly known as Friendship, now called BWI.  We got our rental car and made our way south.  We had made a reservation at the Best Western in La Plata, Maryland, and that was quite comfortable.  We then continued toward Williamsburg the next morning, staying off of I-95.

A friend had recommended a nice restaurant in Williamsburg, but it was mostly outdoor seating and the heavens were about to open up.  So we passed it up and drove around until we found a nice Italian place where we could eat indoors.

Colonial Williamsburg was a mixed bag.  I have long been a student of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and so I had long been looking to going there.  There was an American Revolution period reenactment taking place on the streets, and that was very interesting.  The homes and shops that were open were also fascinating.  There was a very educational part dealing with slaves and their lives on tobacco plantations.

The down side of Colonial Williamsburg was that so much of it was closed due to lack of staffing.  The tickets are expensive.  Paying full price for less than full access made for an experience that was not as satisfactory as it ought to have been.

We have no pictures from Williamsburg because of the rain.   Oh well.

We went on to Virginia Beach, where we spent a fun couple of days with Mark and Martha Nesselrode.  They learned Bananagrams from us and soon had their own set of tiles!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New York City

We took the limo bus from Boston to New York on October 16.  It actually left from Cambridge, Mass.  The ride was quite nice, and a few hours later we were in mid-town Manhattan.  The bus was a much better option than going out to Logan, going through security, flying to LaGuardia, and taking a cab.  And it was cheaper!  We traveled on a Saturday, so we didn't get slowed down very much as the bus crossed through New York.

Penny does all of our travel planning on, and just like for Massachusetts, she really nailed this one.  We stayed in Chelsea at Dupuy House, located very near to David's and Louis's place.  They bought an apartment there in Manhattan.  Don't ask the price, and we won't tell.   Of their apartment, I mean to say.  Dupuy House was astonishingly reasonable for Manhattan.

We were very busy in New York, but did not do the tourist thing and take lots of pictures.  We have quite a few from 2008 when we passed through on our way to Siberia.  David and Louis both have high-powered jobs that keep them very busy, but they took time out for us.  We really appreciated their hospitality, and it is always a joy to spend time with them.

We went out to New Jersey and saw Hairspray at the Paper Mill Playhouse.  Our neighbor from San Diego, Deidre Haren, had a part in the show.  We also had Michael and Christine Flaherty to our place for dinner, and later we went out to Darien for dinner at their place.  The advantages of renting a place with kitchen facilities!  It was fun to entertain! Between Trader Joe's and the Chelsea Market, we were able to get good things to cook.  

David has been very active in The Trevor Project, and we were fortunate to be able to attend a fundraiser for that anti-suicide effort.  It will get better!  If you are reading this, then you can help too!

I did some research at the New York Public Library on my book project.  Obviously not much could be done in just a few days, but I did discover a line of inquiry that will have to be pursued later.  So we are planning to come back from Europe next year and go straight to New York, where we will stay for a month.

On October 24, we flew from JFK airport down to BWI, the airport formerly known as Friendship.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Concord, Massachusetts and Boston

We headed back the way we came, to Concord, Massachusetts.  You may wonder why we went to Cooperstown, back to Boston, and then took a limo bus down to New York City.  Because it was considerably cheaper than paying the drop-off charges for a one-way car rental!  And that way, we got to "leaf peep" in Massachusetts twice!  I know, I does sound kind of weird to put it like that, doesn't it?   I didn't invent the term.
Concord is a small town outside of Boston and it is important to U.S. history for two reasons.  One is its role in the outbreak of the American Revolution (War for Independence, call it what you will), and the other is that many important American authors of the nineteenth century lived and worked there.  Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, to name but a few.  You all read them, right?  Nod your head and say "yes."

We had wonderful accommodations at the Colonel Roger Brown House on Main Street in Concord.  The room had kitchen facilities.  Those have been a key aspect in the lodgings search for this walkabout, because we prefer to cook for ourselves most of the time.  The idea is to live in places, even if our stay is a short one, instead of doing the hotel and restaurant thing.  Lauri  Berlied was a wonderful hostess, and we had a great time talking with her.  We highly recommend this place and hope to be back there ourselves.

The National Park Service maintains Minuteman National Park which stretches from Lexington out to Concord, along the old road which served as the British line of march in April 1775.  At the Old North Bridge, Massachusetts militia opened fire on advancing British troops when they saw smoke rising from the center of town.  The original wood in the bridge has, of course, been replaced more than once over the years, but this is where it happened.

We have been lucky time and again with the timing of our visits to places.  This time was no exception.  The park had redcoat reenactors that weekend.  Also, we saw an evening play at Hartwell Tavern between Concord and Lexington, in which park rangers acted in character and costumes from 1775.  Monica Squires was one of the reenacting rangers.  We met her in Toulouse earlier this year, where she was finishing up a period of teaching in France.  Now she teaches high school history in New Hampshire.

This tavern is along the old road.  As the British retreated along it toward Boston, Minutemen harassed them from the trees.  Penny's ancestor, Increase Claflin, was a minuteman of the Hopkinton militia which was one of those that moved up to fire on the redcoats.  Here she is, standing at the place where that unit attacked the lobsterbacks.

Now, Penny never misses a chance to point out that her ancestors all fought on the right side of the war, and that one of mine was a Tory militiaman from Stone Arabia, New York.  He ended up in Ontario.  That one happens to be the one whose surname I bear, but I had other ancestors from the other side.  Just to set the record straight.

I also went down to Lexington, Mass., where the first militia to oppose the British advance were fired upon and brushed aside.  Lexington is as picturesque a New England town as ever there could be.

See what I mean?  I took the picture above from Lexington Green, where the skirmish took place.  This next one marks the line where the Minutemen mustered to face the British.

 The literary legacy of Concord is quite astonishing.  Several houses survive where they had lived at different times, and many of them are buried in Concord's cemetery.  It is really something to look around and see headstone after headstone that remind you of the table of contents of your junior year English textbook.
Nathaniel Hawthorne lived here, near the Old North Bridge.

Alcott and Hawthorne both lived at this house at different times.  Because it had been the property of a minuteman, it qualified for inclusion in the national park, but the presentation there is all about American literature.
These are only a couple of the author-related sites in Concord, which was an intellectual center of the transcendentalist movement.  Henry David Thoreau lived for a while at Walden Pond and wrote about his experiences.

We took the commuter train into Boston one day.  Again, the American Revolution's history has an important and permeating presence in this great city.  The Freedom Trail is a walking tour of important sites of Boston of the period.

Listen my children, and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

The Freedom Walk ends at the old Charlestown Navy Yard, home to the sailing frigate USS Constitution.

Boston is a great city, almost as nice as San Francisco.

After a long day on our feet, we were glad to get back to Concord and the Roger Brown House.  The next day, we took the car back to Cambridge.  This was quite a feat, because there was a lot of traffic due to the Harvard-Lehigh football game.  But we made it, and then took a cab to the hotel to get the limo bus down to New York.

We will be back to Boston, again and again.  Just not in the winter.


On October 7, we left the Cape and headed for Cooperstown, NY.  If you are a Facebook friend, then you may have seen all this before.  As I sit here in Santiago, I tell you in all seriousness that so far, the Cape has been the high point of the walkabout.  I know that I will have to give some credit to Antarctica when we get there.  Penny posted how much she liked Provincetown.  That was nice enough, but it also reminded me a bit of Fisherman's Wharf or Pier 39 which are not my favorite parts of my favorite city.  I really liked the mid-Cape areas of Dennisport and Hyannis.

We got a lucky break in timing.  We hit "leaf-peeping" season just about right, and the scenery was fabulous along the Mass Turnpike and on through the Mohawk Valley.

Cooperstown!  We have both wanted to come here for as long as we can remember.  For those of you who don't know, this small town in upstate New York is the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We are both fans of the San Francisco Giants, which I am sure surprises nobody here.  Our bed and breakfast was on a post-cardworthy street not far from the hall.  It was lots of fun, and the place was full of fans from all parts of the country.  There were some very nice Phillies fans who were soon to bite the bullet!  Grins!

A warning to all fans who come to Cooperstown.  This is Yankees country, and it shows in the shops around town.  Some of these people still haven't forgiven the Giants (yay) and the Dodgers (boo) for moving to the West Coast half a century ago.  Red Sox Nation folks may feel like pilgrims in an unholy land.

Inside the Hall of Fame itself, the presentation is balanced.  I really liked the piece above.

There is more to the Hall of Fame than plaques honoring the greats of the major leagues, and the negro leagues from the days of segregated baseball.  The history of the game is well presented.  Abner Doubleday did not invent it.  The game actually seems to have come from England, where it was later replaced by cricket which came there from Flanders.  

There are displays about the women's leagues and about baseball in Latin America.  The only disappointment was that there was nothing at all about Japanese professional baseball, or in Korea and Taiwan.  So Shigeo Nagashima and Sadaharu Oh aren't here.  I lived in Japan as a kid, and remain a Yomiuri Giants fan.  Don't get me wrong, because coming to Cooperstown was a bucket list thing for both of us.

If you were paying any attention in literature class, you may have heard of James Fenimore Cooper.  Guess where he was from?  You got it!!  (Statue picture deleted.)

The streets of Cooperstown have many sports memorabilia shops.  This one is guilty of false advertising.
They don't have them!  Dad threw them away because of household goods weight limitations coming back from Japan, and that was the end of those!  

Editorial change

So welcome back, friends!  Fortune smiles warmly upon us by allowing Penny and me to travel the way we do, and we are truly glad that you can share these memories too.  Welcome aboard!

One of the strengths of our long-lasting marriage has been the division of labor with each spouse doing what s/he does better.  We are now in Santiago, Chile, just before Christmas.  Our last post was leaving Dennisport, MA in October.  So, as of now, Bruce is in charge of keeping up the blog.  He does precious little else, but this thing he can do.

I have three friends that have MFA degrees.  Each one has told me that we should write a book about our travels.  I don't know about that, but I will bring this up to date over the next few days, and then make periodic postings on a regular basis.  I promise.  Really.  When we went around the world for four months in 2008, I kept a journal all the way through.  Now it is on pdf files with illustrations and maybe I will put that here too.