Day 92 - Old Sturbridge Village (beginning week 14, July 28)
I rode in to Old Sturbridge Village, which I first saw on "The New Yankee
Workshop" with Norm Abrams. I love historic sites like this where they
recreate everyday life as it was in the past. In some ways this was more
interesting than Colonial Williamsburg, because Sturbridge had more displays
of actual trades and crafts. Williamsburg had its heyday around 1770, when
they were still dependent on England for many products; but Sturbridge is
set in 1830, when most products were made locally. So people in Sturbridge
were printing their own books, making their own cloth, and producing lots
of other products instead of importing.
In the herb garden they were growing an odd selection of medicinal plants,
including datura (an hallucinogenic), "medicinal" poppies, and nightshade.
Of course they also had hundreds of other more innocuous herbs which were used
for everything from aiding digestion to flavoring food to coloring yarn.
A musician played 5 or six period instruments for us, including fiddle and
flute (which he was best at). He played a scandalous tune for us - a waltz!
Most dancing was done in lines, often with changing partners; and it would
be shameless for people to dance so close and exclusively as a waltz would
Today's mileage: 12. Trip total: 2468.
I had a delightful conversation with the woman who was tending one of the
vegetable gardens. She does this as a weekend job, when she is not doing
Civil War re-enactments or working in corporate America. She snuck me a couple
of raspberries from the garden, because I never tasted them before. Delicious!
Sturbridge has the best and most extensive gift shop of all the historic sites
I have visited. Plus the book section had many interesting books on period
music that I was tempted to purchase (to play on my tin flute).
Day 93 - to Boston, almost
I made an early start (before 9:00), rode into Spencer, and had breakfast at
McDonald's. Spencer is a town built on a hill, which I slowly learned while
I pedaled up it. Fortunately there was a bagel shop halfway up, so I had an
excuse to take a break while I purchased snack food.
I went off my map to go to Sturbridge, so I had to guess at which roads would
be lightly travelled. I rode through the industrial section of Worcester,
where I was constantly being passed by dump trucks and semis. If I were to do
this again, I would try harder to find back roads and stay off of US 20.
I reconnected with the Adventure Cycling route at Northborough, and it was
a pleasant (if hilly) ride from there to Littleton. The hostel at Littleton
is another big old farmhouse, and it is extremely quiet. I may stay here
instead of going to the Boston hostel. The hostel is cheap at $10
At the hostel I met a woman named Kart, a teacher from West Virginia doing a
short trip in the northeast. She just came from Maine, where she went on a
whale watching cruise. They cruise out to the middle of a group of whales
and wait for them to surface. She said that that Maine wasn't great (very
touristy), but the whale-watching was fantastic.
Towns in Massachusetts like to encompass as much territory as possible. I saw
the sign for Spencer a mile before I saw any buildings. There's probably a
reason for this that dates back to the 1700's.
While I was eating breakfast, I listened to two older couples at the tables
near me. They were talking about how lots of people go to Florida, but no one
ever stays. I held my tongue. They kept going on and on about how bad it is
everywhere else (Virginia, Germany, etc.) and how they were glad to stay here.
As I was riding through South Berlin, I passed a produce stand with fresh
blueberries. I bought a pint and sat under a tree eating until the berries
were below the top of the basket, so they wouldn't crush when I packed them up.
Someone told me that blueberries are so common in the wild that some people
never have to buy them - like blackberries in some parts of the country.
Today's mileage: 57. Trip total: 2525
Day 94 - the Freedom Trail
Kart was driving into Boston, so I rode with her to the commuter rail station
in West Concord, and we took the train to North Station in Boston. We walked
to Boston Common, and Kart headed to the Boston Tea Party museum as I headed
to the Freedom Trail.
I did the National Park Service tour of the Freedom Trail, and our tour guide
was great. He told us a few things you don't often see in schoolbooks. For
example the Boston Massacre was probably planned by the Sons of Liberty so
they could have propaganda to promote their cause. It's a great tour and you
can't beat the price (free).
Continuing from where the tour ended, I walked to the USS Constitution, nick-
named "Old Ironsides" because it never lost a battle; the ship is actually
made of wood. Then I walked to the Bunker Hill Monument (actually on Breeds
hill) and climbed the stairs - over 300. My legs were complaining big time
before I made it to the top. The climb was worth it, because there is a
great view of Boston from the top.
I walked back into Boston, passing Kart on the way, visited a couple of
bookstores, and went to Chinatown for a cheap dinner. I missed the early
commuter train, so I sat in the depot for over an hour waiting for the
next train. North Station is attached to a coliseum/concert hall and this
was the night of the Kiss concert, so there was a steady flow of people in
strange clothes and costumes. There were so many people on the escalators
that the motors blew their circuit breakers.
After the train ride, it took an hour to walk from the train station to the
hostel, so I didn't make it back until about 11:00. Next time I'll plan a
Day 95 - computer consultant
The day started out dreary and drizzling, so I decided to stay in. Our host,
Mary Helan, was having trouble with her Mac, so I volunteered to track down
the problem. It was just a configuration issue, so I brought the machine
up on the net and picked up my e-mail (my modem is broken). The down side
of doing it that way is that I had to carry the messages in a text file on
a floppy to my machine; so I can't easily reply to the messages.
Martin is an Irish tourist staying at the hostel, and he learned to play
the tin whistle in school (only he called it a flageolet). We played with
my whistles and recorder, with mixed results; Martin was out of practice and
I just haven't learned enough.
Day 96 - Harvard - Th
Last night I met some friends of the Turners (who run the hostel), and they
gave me a ride into town. They dropped me off right next to Harvard, where
I hoped to connect with my friends Bill and Betsy, who recently moved from
Atlanta. I took a tour of Harvard while I was there, and I found that this
is only a small part of the university. The graduate schools are located
elsewhere around the city (law school, business school, medical school, etc.),
but the undergrad school is probably the prettiest part.
During the day I tried what should have been a simple transaction - getting
cash using my bank card - but found I'm out of money! My investment account
has a negative balance and my old checking account has less than $20 in it.
I was frantic, because I didn't have enough cash in my pocket to pay for the
train ride back to the hostel. I thought the bank might be having problems,
so I tried several banks - no luck. I even tried the American Express office,
but they don't allow you to charge travellers' checks on an AmEx card.
Now I'm not really out of money; it's just all in mutual funds and will take
a couple of days before I can access it. But that didn't make me feel any
better today. Finally I thought of getting a cash advance on a credit card,
and that turned out to be easy. I learned several valuable lessons today
that I won't soon forget.
I did finally track down Bill (who works at Harvard), and we picked up my bike
and bags from the hostel. I'll be staying with Bill and Betsy for the rest
of my time in Boston.
Bill is a big biker; he rides to work and he used to train with Atlanta's
Race Across America team. He could blow me away on any bike at any time,
but he hasn't put in as many miles as I have this year. He wishes he lived
further from work!
There are an amazing number of panhandlers around Harvard. My guess is they
come to play on the hearts and pocketbooks of the students. Harvard is a
very expensive school, so many of the students come from rich families.
Public restrooms are rare and well controlled. In a small shopping mall,
the restrooms operated on tokens that you had to get from the merchants.
For my ideas on why they do this, see tomorrow.
Day 97 - a pilgrimage to MIT, and I go to Boston but don't drink the water - F
For the first time in a month I was able to get on the internet, pick up mail,
and browse the web. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I lost it.
I took the bus to MIT (via Harvard), and I had a look around. Since I went
to Georgia Tech and MIT was the only other school I considered attending, I
wanted to see what it was like. It looked a lot like Georgia Tech, only with
less space between the buildings. It's not a campus you visit to admire the
I decided to head into Boston proper to check out music stores, but had no
luck finding anything relating to the tin whistle. I also had no luck finding
a water fountain. I could find no working fountains in the whole Boston Common
area. I asked Bill and he said he thought it was so they wouldn't have to turn
them all off in the winter. But I think it's to be hard on the homeless, who
would also have trouble finding restrooms (see yesterday).
Day 98 - a slow day - Sa
Today is Saturday, so we worked around the house, setting up shelves in
Betsy's office. We had dinner at Bill's favorite Irish pub. There's
just not much else to say.
Changes last made on: Sun Aug 24 06:46:03 1997