Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chapter 11 - Mystic to Bourne, MA

June 14th, Day 18: We were told when we made reservations at the Bay View Campground in Bourne, Massachusetts that check in time was 2 pm in the afternoon, and he seemed pretty serious about the time. No early check-ins.  The drive over to Bourne from our campsite near Mystic, Connecticut was almost entirely on Interstate Highways, mostly I-95, and the drive was less than 100 miles. We arrived to check in three hours early at 11 am.  The Bakers are always on time (or early.) Fortunately our reserved spot in the campground was vacant and they checked us in. Over the many months and different campgrounds that we have visited, we have learned that ratings do not always provide an accurate picture of a campground. In the case of the Bay View Campground however, their high rating was totally on target.  We were in a large pull-thru spot with plenty of shade. This was a great place to spend the next three nights. 

We chose to spend an extra day here in Bourne because we want to spend one day focusing on Cape Cod and then an additional day on Plymouth.  This afternoon however, we had not planned so we decided to drive out part of Cape Cod focusing entirely on the two lane scenic Route 6A that passed through the lovely old towns of Sagamore, Sandwich, Barnstable, and Yarmouth. We would then return back on the much faster, 4-lane Route 6 back to our campground. It was a great decision for all along this highway Route 6A we drove by old homes, and through charming little villages filled with quaint old shops, churches, cemeteries, and the other beautiful buildings we have grown to love. 

Unfortunately it was not always easy to stop and take photos of the many beautiful homes. There were often no places to pull over and often there was a car right behind us which made any sudden move on our part rather dangerous.  You will just have to trust us that this twenty-five mile drive along Route 6A in Cape Cod at around 25 to 30 mph was well worth the time spent.  Plus it was a gorgeous day for a drive.

At one point Kathy said as we drove through a small town, "Stop, I want a picture of that church on the left."  I reacted quickly and pulled off to the right into a parking lot that I thought belonged to the church across the street.  We had no sooner gotten out of our car when someone came out of the building next to the parking lot to greet us.  We told her how much we loved her church and wanted to take a few photographs.  She was delighted and suggested that we also visit their garden behind the church.  Then she returned inside happy to have helped us.

As it turned out the building across the street was not a church (at least not this year) and definitely not the church of the woman that we just met.  I photographed it anyway, plus so as not to get us in trouble, we took a photograph of the garden of the real church where we had parked.  The garden was lovely. Kathy did not let Cabo walk around the garden as she was convinced that his lifting his leg on anything in the garden would be sacrosanct. Just kidding.  We let him go for it.

On another occasion along our route Kathy spotted a sign announcing a book sale and she insisted we stop.  Fortunately, the building containing the book sale was also an old library and they had a parking lot. While I sat in the car with Cabo, I realized that this old building had actually first been someone's home as the sign out front read "Sturgis Library. It includes the house built about 1645 by John Lothrop, Minister of the Barnstable Church from 1639 to 1653."  While I might point out that while according to my family tree records, John Lothrop was the maternal grandfather of the husband of my 2nd cousin 10x removed, he is not exactly my direct ancestor. Obviously this is a bit confusing, although perhaps pointing out that he was also the 10th great grandfather of  Deb Plugh, one of my cousins and a reader of this blog, is far more important. Incidentally, Kathy returned with two books that she had purchased at the book sale. Plus she had a made a small donation to John Lothrup, or was it to the Sturgis Library.

Today is flag day all across America and as you can see in this photograph to the left, the Barnstable County Courthouse folks were celebrating the holiday with hundreds of flags stuck in the ground around their building. Cabo and I wanted to play our part so we posed for this photo waving a flag in celebration.  Right next door to the courthouse was another cemetery (there were many along Route 6A) but I resisted stopping by. It is sometimes saddening to see so many graves.

I mentioned previously that there were many churches that we passed by today and obviously we were not prepared or in a position to photograph all of them.  Furthermore the narrow road sometimes made it impossible to capture the entire church, top to bottom, as I attempted to do in this photograph.  Here is my attempt in any case. The church is the Unitarian Church of Barnstable. While obviously this is not the same building where services were held in the 1600s, this is the same congregation that our Rev John Lothrop established in 1639. This particular church was built in 1907. Still a baby by Cape Cod standards.

We arrived back to our campground around 4 o'clock after a long day of driving and site seeing. We had better rest up for tomorrow as we have decided to drive up and see what Plymouth Colony is all about.

June 15th, Day 19: Considering that we are on vacation, I sometimes wonder why we wake up and get up so early (Kathy blames it on Cabo,) but we do, and today after having breakfast and cleaning up ourselves and our "tiny home" we headed out to visit Plymouth by 8 am.  Eight o'clock is about the time everyone is driving to work even here on Cape Cod, so the roads were a bit crowded. But the day was lovely and the drive short so we were not bothered. Despite the fact that five of my great grandparents sailed on the Mayflower to Plymouth in 1620, I had promised Kathy and Cabo that today our focus would not be on hunting for gravestones in cemeteries. Besides, the actual location of the burial spots for these Mayflower passengers has been long ago lost.  Our first stop in Plymouth was to see a replicate of the Mayflower. Almost immediately after exiting our car, I spotted a statue of William Bradford (1589-1657), 2nd governor of Plymouth Colony and my 10th great grandfather. A photo of the two of us was in order.

Almost in front of the Mayflower is a rather elaborate structure of columns covering the famous Plymouth Rock.  As an historian, I agree with most other historians who are skeptical that this is the actual rock upon which the Pilgrims stepped in Plymouth.  But the whole exhibit is a great tourist attraction and even this skeptic took a photograph.

The present superstructure over this immortalized rock was built in 1920. Frankly, I was more impressed with it than the rock and the view of the structure containing the rock from Cole's Hill overlooking the bay was very pretty.

The Mayflower sitting in the Plymouth harbor is of course a replica which in fact may not be a replica at all since obviously there were no paintings made of the Mayflower during the 1620s nor were any photographs taken. So who knows what it really looked like.  But here again it may be a good facsimile and more importantly, it is a great tourist attraction.  Frankly, both Kathy and I enjoy viewing and visiting real things like real buildings (and old gravestones) that have survived through our country's long history. Fortunately there are plenty of these old buildings in Plymouth.

One old building that we really loved was the Mayflower Society House which we both agreed was one of our favorite historic old buildings of all times, and we have seen plenty of old buildings.  This old house was built in 1754 and was acquired by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants in 1941. As a Mayflower descendant I am eligible to join the Society but I have never bothered to fill out the necessary forms for membership plus I am squeamish about writing the check.  Besides with 28,000 members worldwide, including my cousin Carol Young, they hardly need me as another member.

Both Kathy and I agreed finally that we should drive by and pay our respects to those who are buried in Burial Hill Cemetery.  This cemetery is huge but despite its size we could not find a parking spot unless it was on the small road leading into the cemetery that was currently closed due to construction. We did find a handicapped parking spot where we stopped briefly but the sign by the H/C spot threatening to tow away violators, quickly got our attention. Fortunately Kathy spotted a monument to one of my five Mayflower ancestors that we just had to photograph.  The monument was in honor of Edward Doty, my 9th great grandfather. He was buried in this cemetery but his actually burial location has been long lost.  The original carved wood grave markers somehow just did not survive.  I must not fail to mention that a good friend of mine back at our home in Florida, my cousin Robert Doty, shares Edward Doty as a great grandfather. Wish you were here Bob?

Kathy and I and Cabo visited several other tourist attractions here in Plymouth including the well known Plimouth Plantation, the recreation of the old Plymouth Colony.  Cabo of course, was not allowed entry (although there really were dogs in the old Plymouth Colony back in the 1620s) and the fees were high, but the real reason that we did not visit the recreated Plymouth Colony was that today every grade school student in the eastern half of the United States was visiting this attraction. This photo does not show even a fraction of the young folks waiting for their turn to pass through the entry gates.

We visited several other tourist attractions including the old Jenney Grist Mill and the Jabez Howland House before returning to our campground in early afternoon.  The grist mill was attractive but it was hardly the original structure.

Incidentally, Jabez Howland is not one of my distant relatives (other than by marriage which does not count genetically.) The house was built in 1667 and despite the fact that the original owners probably owned dogs, once again our Cabo was not allowed inside for the tour.

We returned to our campsite around 1 o'clock after a brief stop at Walmart for a few supplies. Yes, you can even find Walmart in the Cape Cod area. The rest of the afternoon was spent by Kathy reading her new (used) book recently purchased and by yours truly writing this latest chapter in our travel blog. Tomorrow we are going to drive out to the end of Cape Cod where incidentally the Pilgrims first landed and set their feet on America's sandy soil. There was no Plymouth Rock out there. Anyway, we will continue our story of our travels in our next chapter.  This chapter is already way to long.

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