South Hampton, New Hampshire “Hampton Beach;” Sandwich, Massachusetts “Cape Cod;” Ashaway, Rhode Island “Newport;” and Mystic, Connecticut (Chapter 4)
August 31 thru September 9, 2018
traveling the Northeastern region continues . . .
South Hamptons, New Hampshire, Tuxbury Pond RV Resort (3-Nights) https://rvonthego.com/new-hampshire/tuxbury-pond-rv-resort/: Friday, August 31, Labor Day weekend, we arrived at Tuxbury Pond. It was only a short-drive by GPS (30 minutes) from York, ME; however, we do not recommend you relying strictly on your GPS because it can miss-direct as the office staff confirmed when we arrived.
Saturday morning we drove to Hampton’s Beach, not to be confused with The Hamptons in Long Island. Hampton’s Beach New Hampshire is a very nice, sandy beach actually prettier than York beaches (in Maine) because of the large expanses of white sand. We walked along the boardwalk’s nicely paved sidewalks and across the street where all the shops and restaurants were located. Karen purchased her “collectible” Christmas ornament from a cute store called Sand and Santa.
Back at Tuxbury Pond, Saturday night there was a live-music (band) on the large pavilion, just across from our campsite. It was an enjoyable evening listening to the band, dancing and people-watching.
Sandwich, MA – Cape Cod, Peters Pond (3-Nights) https://www.sunrvresorts.com/resorts/new-england/massachusetts/peters-pond/: Visiting Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket has been on Karen’s bucket list since she was a young girl. She remembered reading articles, seeing photos of beautiful beaches, sailboats, yachts, and the many things about The Kennedy’s luxurious vacationing lifestyle in the Hyannis/Martha’s Vineyard area.
Monday – Labor Day, our first evening, we drove to Falmouth’s Nobska Lighthouse for the very picturesque views. There were a couple of memorials scattered in the seaside observation area, one of which was for a 27-year old who lost her life in the 9/11 World Trade Center, very touching. We had dinner at Shuckers http://www.shuckerscapecod.com/, a dockside restaurant in Woods Hole. It was fun watching a small draw bridge open for sailboats with tall masks.
Staying in Cape Cod, we had a choice to take a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard from Woods Hole dock. There is no public parking located at the dock, you park offsite with shuttle service to dockside. You have a few choices on transportation to both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. There’s the Steamship Authority’s (SA) standard speed ferry with ports from Falmouth – Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard and from Hyannis to Nantucket. Also, Steamship Authority and Hy-Line Cruises both offer a fast, high-speed option to Nantucket allowing for a shorter ride (1-hour) versus the 2 ½ hour ride on the SA’s regular ferry. Steamship Authority’s Nantucket high speed ferry was a little less costly and that’s the one we took.
Tuesday, we took the regular SA ferry over to Vineyard Haven, a village located on Martha’s Vineyard. We met Phebe, a 27-year old young lady on the ferry who was raised on Martha’s Vineyard. She showed us places on a map that we should visit and explained the island’s public bus transportation. We followed her advice and got a bus day pass as soon as we disembarked the ferry. After a short-walk around the main area of Vineyard Haven village, we caught a bus to visit Gay Head Cliffs and Lighthouse (a highlight) in Aquinnah, a small town in the Vineyard. We read of the interesting history of the Wampanoag Indians who used clay from the red clay cliffs in making pottery. Also of interest was stories about the fossils of ancient flowers and sharks and camels found in these cliffs.
We then took the bus from Aquinnah to Edgartown, another popular Village on Martha’s Vineyard. Edgartown became our favorite of the three popular island villages we visited. Edgartown is memorable for its stately white clapboard houses and rose-covered picket fences. The village is defined by history as a whaling village in the 1830-1845 era. The many historic, stately homes were built with the huge fortunes brought to the Island from the golden era of whaling.
There are many tree-lined streets with cute shops and a beautiful seaside where we enjoyed sitting at the Memorial Wharf (Edgartown). We watched the small maximum 3-vehicle carrier ferry move cars the short distance from Memorial Wharf to Chappaquiddick “Chappy” island and peninsula (occasionally when tide is out).
We saw the Pagoda Tree and read the history of how this tree was brought as a seedling from the Orient to the Island in the early 1800’s by Captain Thomas Milton. The Pagoda Tree is the oldest of its kind on the continent. In China the tree is commonly called the Flame Tree.
Oak Bluffs, the last of the villages we visited on Martha’s Vineyard, is most popular for young people and is a lively seaside town with a bustling harbor and miles of sandy beaches, shops and dining. On the bus ride from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs we learned the American Legion Memorial Bridge is one of the various locations that the movie Jaws was filmed and now the locals refer to it as the Jaws Bridge.
One of the main tourist attractions in Oak Bluffs is the 318 colorful gingerbread cottages and Victorian summer homes. The gingerbread cottages are located in the section of Oak Bluffs called the Camp Meeting Association District and it is the Island’s only National Historic Landmark. The gingerbread historic homes were built in the 1800s. Today, they are restored and kept in excellent condition with many rentable to tourists. The entire collection is maintained as a historic neighborhood and walking through the park-like area, the homes are quite a site to see. You should visit their website for pictures, history and a good write-up of the attraction, check it out: https://www.countryliving.com/real-estate/news/g3613/marthas-vineyard-gingerbread-houses/
Oak Bluffs was established as a religious retreat in 1835. Originally named Wesleyan Grove, in honor of brothers John and Charles Wesley, preachers/evangelists of the 1700s. Charles Wesley is remembered for the hundreds of hymns and poems he wrote, one we hear annually at Christmas is “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” that he wrote in 1734.
Wednesday, September 5, was our granddaughter Lily’s 12th birthday! The day began early with a call wishing her a wonderful day, the rest of the day was spent in Nantucket. The hi-speed ferry to Nantucket is out of Hyannis. Again parking was offsite, but this offsite parking is walking distance to the dock.
One of The Kennedy’s Compounds consists of three houses on six-acres of waterfront property located in Hyannis. A couple riding the ferry with us, pointed the compound out (though it a little far away and difficult to see from the ferry). They explained that it is closed to the public and still used by the Kennedy’s.
Nantucket’s history is from a 17th century farming community to the Whaling Capital of the World, to its current resort colony. This island has many museums and galleries. Large stately mansions of the former Whaling captains stand among the many old historic homes that today are well maintained and most still lived in.
This was a place we originally were going to take our bicycles, then we decided against the bicycles when we learned they rent Mopeds. The Mopeds did not have a basket or carrier for Gabby to ride along with us, so we decided to do the walking tour which ended up being the best choice. Once we stopped at the bus information center and the visitor information center (located next door to each other), we were told that Nantucket is best for walking. The streets are all cobblestone streets and though there are designated areas to ride a bicycle or a Moped, those are off the beaten-path/main attraction areas. It too, like Martha’s Vineyard, has many, many shops to browse and restaurant options. Nantucket has 82 miles of coastline and is known to be among the most pristine beaches in the world.
The Historic walking tour included a tour of the Old Mill, identified as America’s oldest continuously operating windmill with its original handcrafted wooden gears. Walking the streets we saw the many old historic homes and passed-by the Nantucket Atheneum, established in 1834 and now a public library. We saw the Soldiers & Sailors Civil War Monument and we walked to the Brant Point Lighthouse where we spent time just sitting on the large boulder rocks watching locals fish off the shore and we watched the large yachts and many sail boats enjoying the day on the Atlantic.
At the end of this full-day, walking in flip-flops (don’t recommend wearing flip-flops, non-supportive shoes) on the cobblestone streets and walking from one end of town to the other, we were quite tired, Gabby included. The ferry ride back to Cape Cod was a quiet restful time for us.
Bradford, Rhode Island, Ashaway RV Resort (2-Nights) https://ashawayrvresort.com/:
Thursday, September 6, early afternoon, we arrived at our campsite in Rhode Island and just wanted to relax the rest of the day. After a night’s rest, we were ready to tour Newport. Karen found a website listing things to do if only 1-day to tour Newport and it recommended visiting the Mansions of Newport. There are five Newport Mansions and we toured two of the five https://www.newportmansions.org/. The entire area driving to the Mansions is very scenic with college campus buildings and many large, beautiful homes and of course views of Newport bay . . . fantastic!
Breakers Mansion, formerly the Vanderbilt’s summer “cottage.” It was built by Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877) who established the family fortune in steamships and later in the New York Central Railroad. It was absolutely breath-taking! Visitors are provided with a headset to hear the narration as you walk throughout the mansion. The information provided while seeing this magnificent mansion led us to do more research on the Vanderbilt’s family. We took many photos, but flashes were not allowed and the website has the best illustrations.
Rosecliff Mansion is said to be in walking distance from the Breakers Mansion, 0.7 miles (13 minutes) along Bellevue Avenue (Bellevue Avenue Historic District) where we saw many historic homes as we walked by. Also, there are signs along the walk describing the historic homes, although they are not open to the public for touring. There is public parking at both of these mansions and you may want to drive between the two. This typically would not have been a long walk for us, but we were still recuperating from two full days of walking in Massachusetts.
The Rosecliff Mansion (aka the Herman Oelrichs House or J. Edgar Monroe House) was not as big or magnificent as the Breakers Mansion. It was built by Theresa Fair Oelrichs. It was quite interesting to listen to the narration as we followed through room-by-room where we heard stories of her life and the history of the mansion. Theresa aka “Tessie” designed this summer cottage for entertaining on a grand scale. The movie The Great Gatsby (1974) has scenes that were filmed at the Rosecliff Mansion. Rosecliff is still used today for weddings and other events. The large fountain in the back grounds and the views of the ocean are very nice. This mansion had other owners after the passing of Tessie.
Newport, Rhode Island was quite a pleasant surprise for us! It was a fun-day seeing what we were able to see with a short-stay and could be one of the places we want to visit again and stay longer. We ate at the Red Parrot and enjoyed walking around the Newport Seaport downtown area.
Mystic, Connecticut, Seaport RV Park (2-Nights) https://www.sunrvresorts.com/resorts/new-england/connecticut/seaport/: Saturday, September 8, just a 30-minute drive from our campground in Rhode Island, we arrived at Mystic Connecticut. Seaport RV Park is another nice campground, clean and friendly, nice staff at check-in.
Karen found a fun, surprise in her search of things to do in Mystic, before our arriving! The weekend we were in Mystic was their 5th Annual Mystic Eats, A Riverside Food Festival. There were over 20 local eateries, live music throughout the festival, and gorgeous Mystic River views. We took a selfie outside of Mystic Pizza, a restaurant whose name inspired the setting of the 1988 movie with Julia Roberts, but we learned that it was not actually filmed at this location.
What a cute, cute town and although it was cloudy and occasional light rain, we had such a fun time.
Our visits of the New England northeastern region of the United States has grown a passion and love for this beautiful Atlantic coastline, its quaint towns and villages and encourages to visit again.
Monday, September 10 on the road to New York City . . . the next Chapter of this road trip.