A Travellerspoint blog

Captivating Cape Cod

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I thought it would be fitting to follow my water logged Boston entry with a glimpse at what was experienced on the last two days of my trip to Massachusetts. Overnight the weather literally went from chilly torrential rain to sunny blue skies with puffy white clouds. It couldn’t have been timed more perfectly as Dan and I had grand plans of beachcombing and sunbathing in Cape Cod for our remaining days on the East Coast.

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Cape Cod literally has a town to suit every need. From liberally gay Provincetown at the Northern most tip to the Richie Riches of Chatham in the South, you could easily spend months uncovering the diversities of each and never fail to discover something unique. It was a whirlwind but Dan and I took time to discover five different communities on the Cape – and being one who plays favorites, well I decided to devote this entry to the town I favored most.
Before I tell you… take a guess which of the following I fell for:

Was it snooty but stunning Chatham?

How about the rustic harbor town of Sandwich?

Or flamboyantly gay Provincetown?

What about conservative Falmouth?

Or quaint and quiet Wellfleet?

If you guessed the gay Mecca of the East Coast – Provincetown – you win! Think San Francisco but completely concentrated onto two by twenty square blocks. I have never felt so homely and unattractive as I did surrounded by perfectly manicured gay men. Seriously – why I am taking tips on fashion from female penned magazines – these guys had more style than Kristi Yamaguchi on ice. Not to mention the town itself exuded all the colonial style a Cape Cod town could muster.

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But, what really drew me to Provincetown was Cape Cod National Seashore. Being the weekend after Labor Day all the kiddos were back in school, vacationers had all but abandoned the sand, and the beaches exuded tranquility. We quickly took post at Hatches Harbor Beach where the sand was warm, the surf mild, and the lighting perfect. I was totally in my element.

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We stayed until the setting sun dipped below the ocean, a rare sight for those on the East Coast, before heading back into Provincetown to enjoy some more of the scenery – not in the form of beaches, but in the form of flamboyant gay pride. Food, wine, and lots of laughter later, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

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Posted by Jennylynn 06:51 Archived in USA Tagged gay_travel Comments (0)

Following the Freedom Trail in Boston

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Boston was soggy and my shoes were crap. The forecasted showers turned into a massive waterfall from the sky. Lightning struck and thunder rumbled through the flooded streets. I became certain that any moment we would spot families rafting towards the aquarium, which I was convinced was drier than outside. Seattle knows rain. Seattle lives rain. But Boston… well they could flood Seattle. In any case, the floodgates did little to thwart me and my laundry list of sightseeing.

Dan and I were determined to map out the events which triggered the Colonies eventual independence from British rule. When pondering U.S. history (which I do all the time, right?), I often considered Washington, DC to be the hot seat for political activity, but many of the greatest steps towards liberty took place right within the city streets of Boston.

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Don’t believe me? Well I am not about bore you with a history lesson, because honestly I would fall asleep writing such tedious details, but if any of the following ring a bell, you have the rebellious rabble-rousing Bostonians to thank:

Do events such as the Battle of Bunker Hill, The Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s famous ride, and the Boston Tea Party sound familiar? Or perhaps the names Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Benjamin Franklin spark your interest? If I haven’t caught your attention yet, maybe you’ve heard of Harvard or MIT? No?! Well, then, just look at the pictures.

So it was that Dan and I found ourselves navigating the streets of Boston on the famed Freedom Trail, a red bricked path winding throughout the city highlighting historically significant sights along the colonists’ road to independence. Fair warning, my recollections of said Freedom Trail are slightly hazy. Between a semi-conscious red-eye flight, loads of caffeine consumption, and nearly fatal amounts of Italian food it felt like I was waltzing through the psychedelic worlds of Sgt. Pepper and I was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. That being said, you will have to forgive me if I let the photos do most of the talking.

The Freedom Trail runs 2.5 miles long and begins at the Boston Common. Here we took in the commanding presence of the Massachusetts State House sitting atop Beacon Hill.

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The trail continued to the Granary Burying Ground, the final resting place of many notable patriots. Here tour groups were led around by colonial clad guides spouting witty commentary about the famed buried below. I couldn’t decide which was more disrespectful: my taking photographs or their comical antics.

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We made a quick stop at Old City Hall. Everyone deserves some self-indulgent glamour shots so we of course practiced our poses.

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Onward we went to the Old South Meeting House where the colonists first protested the British Stamp Act and whose ruckus eventually led to the Boston Tea Party.

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Just around the corner we took in the striking contrast of the Old State House dwarfed by the presence of the imposing skyscrapers above. Here Bostonians were first read the Declaration of Independence. A cobbled path out front marked the sight of the Boston Massacre where the first blood was shed in the American fight for independence.

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The trail then led us around Fanueil Marketplace towards Paul Revere’s House. Paul Revere was most noted for his famous horseback ride to warn the colonists of advancing British forces. Although no photos were allowed, the square out front was rustic and charming.

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Wandering on along the trail we discovered a touching memorial to fallen soldiers near Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.

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We then finished our tour of the Freedom Trail by crossing the bridge into the neighborhood of Charlestown where the Battle of Bunker Hill was faught.

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By this point all the walking and rain and ill-fitting shoes left me angry and bitter, not to mention hungry. I was so annoyed that I was about ready to strangle Dan for having the hiccups. I knew the only way to calm my soul and that involved a long walk back to the North End Italian district where I devoured a plate of gnocchi pasta smothered with cheese and sauce. I left completely satisfied and not at all displeased with the fact that my feet were swimming in water within my shoes as we traversed the flooding streets back to our cozy abode.
Walking back I imagined the colonists fighting their way to freedom in the streets flooding with water. I bet the Sons of Liberty and crusading colonists never complained and I am almost positive their shoes were more uncomfortable than mine. The next morning I put my soggy shoes back on and kept my mouth shut.

Posted by Jennylynn 14:09 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Boston Sneak Peak

Short for: I don't have time to sit at my computer and write this blog! I would rather be eating Italian food!

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Dan and I have spent the last two days stomping through the rain in Boston. I thought Seattle knew rain, but well, Boston could drown Seattle in their rain. Between getting little sleep on our red-eye flight and navigating our way through all the major Boston sights we are tuckered out. Tomorrow we head for Cape Cod, where I promise not to get eaten by a Great White Shark (they have been spotted all over the Cape!).

In the meantime enjoy these soggy photos from our harbor walk this morning!

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Posted by Jennylynn 17:31 Archived in USA Tagged foot Comments (0)

Going Down Under

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Rats, flooding, sewage, and scandal. Yes, these were the glory days of Seattle past. Sure the founding fathers had the best of intentions, but building their city upon tidal flats created some problems. In a nutshell, Seattle’s rocky start can be summed up as follows:

The streets are flooding twice a day!

Fill them with sawdust!

The streets then turn into a fabulous oatmeal consistency.

Horses get stuck. People pry them out. Big holes are left in the oatmeal like streets.

The holes fill with water.

Yippee! Now people have the luxury of boating to work!

Until a kid rafting home from school drowns. Then swim lessons become mandatory.

Oh and did I mention Seattle had a bit of a plumbing issue? Think exploding toilets and use your imagination.

Finally, many years later someone gets the bright idea to build retaining walls (duh!).

Well kind of. The retaining walls took years to build which also required that the streets be built anywhere from eight to thirty feet above the flood waters. In effect this boxed in the city below and created what is now known as the Seattle Underground.

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Seattle’s underground sits just below Pioneer Square, the heart of historic Seattle. For many years it sat unused and forgotten, but along came Bill Speidel, a man determined to preserve the historic underground and unearth the stories of scandal and disease which plagued the haunted hallways. He began giving tours of the underground in the 1970’s and today massive tour groups leave Pioneer Square every hour to go down under into a world unlike anything you could imagine.

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The Underground was once home to prostitutes, rejects, and drug dealers. Today it resembles nothing more than a series of darkened hallways and rooms. Yet it remains rat infested (although the rats generally sleep during the day), it is also rumored to be haunted (several paranormal investigators have labeled it one of the most haunted places in America), and yes it still floods - somewhat. But these are mere hurdles to the fascinating whirlwind history lesson provided by the knowledgeable tour guides.

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So, how better to entertain my two young guests on Labor Day weekend, right? All seven and nine year olds deserve a good lesson in prostitution, alcoholism, and exploding toilets. Well, ok, maybe just exploding toilets. The tour is actually quite family friendly – if you don’t mind the excessive use of the word crapper, which without Mr. Thomas Crapper who invented the toilet, Seattleites might still be using their ineffective exploding outhouses. Along with being family friendly, the tour guides do an excellent job of speaking in code if you will, thus providing the scandalous history of prostitution in Seattle without offending uncorrupted young minds. If you are left hanging, the Underground also offers an adults only tour in the evenings, no speaking in code necessary. Overall, the tour was a hit with adults and kids alike. Stories of mystery, intrigue, and sewing circles (code for prostitution) kept us all on our toes.

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Ninety minutes later we emerged from the depths of Seattle into a downpour. As our clothes went from dry to wet in a matter of minutes, we quickly took shelter in an alleyway doorframe. Looking around at the homeless people sleeping under cardboard boxes and the rats scurrying for cover under the trash bags heaped in the alleyway, I began to realize that perhaps when the city rebuilt and the “underground” was paved over, the problems of drugs and prostitution were not eradicated but merely pushed to the surface. Either way, we found ourselves fondly reminiscing of the warm, dry interior of the ghostly haunted underground, but rather opted for the comfort of nearby café.

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After a whirlwind weekend of museums, zoos, aquariums, and restaurants this tour was the highlight for my young guests – and I would have to agree. I will definitely be going down under again – but this time on the adults only version!

Posted by Jennylynn 07:01 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Seattle by Night

There are very few cities whose skylines are instantly recognizable. If given a series of skyline photographs – I could just as easily confuse Boston for Houston and vice versa. Perhaps this is evidence of my limited geographical and architectural knowledge, but honestly who can distinguish between such cities as Sacramento and LA based on a skyline photo (unless of course you live in one or the other)? I can only identify several city skylines – Sydney, New York, and San Francisco are the first to come to mind, but Seattle, with the easily identifiable Space Needle always lingering in the foreground, must be a obvious giveaway, right?! Perhaps I have such inflated pride in my city that I automatically assume others must recognize Seattle, but I have been wrong many times before. Which cities stand out to you with their iconic skylines?

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This past week I headed out in the city at night to capture a few images of “iconic” Seattle. For those who have never been to Seattle, first let me encourage you to do so (I make a great tour guide!), but second do they give away Seattle’s identity?

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I apologize for the briefness of this entry, but as I have two guests (ages 7 and 9) staying with me for Labor Day weekend I have had little time do anything in front of a computer. We spent the last two days visiting many of Seattle’s famous landmarks and have ate our weight in cupcakes, gelato, cheesecake, and cinnamon rolls – so really I have been too busy stuffing my face to do anything worthwhile. Happy Labor Day!

Posted by Jennylynn 08:17 Archived in USA Tagged photography Comments (0)

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