Mon 1 Jul - Mon 30 Sep

As Blogger only allows a maximum of 100 posts per blog, our posts from 1 July to 30 September will be found under:

Our posts from 1 April to 30 June will continue to be found under (here):

And our posts up to 31 March can be found under:

Sun 30 Jun - Salem, MA

Our trip today from Concord, NH to Salem, MA was likely to take only 80 minutes of driving so we did a small detour along the way - via Burlington MA - to visit another L.L. Bean store. This one was supposed to have just 1 ladies Weather Challenger 3 in 1 jacket in Di's size (like Hans bought in Freeport, ME).

We found the store, but struggled to find the jacket. Whilst Di was rummaging, Hans got distracted by all the cool stuff in the store (again) and was smiling at this particular item - a CFD - "Canine Floating Device".

Yep, this is a life jacket for a dog. A dogs life in New England...

We headed into Mens Outerwear in the hope of finding Di a small man's jacket. Some staff in this section were very helpful but initially they had no luck in their search. Then one lady persisted "out the back" and ta-dah, a jacket identical to Hans' but in Di's (large female) size was found. Possibly the last one in New England! Woo hoo. Made Di's day. The jacket was bought and Di smiled. Of course today's weather was nearly 30 degrees so the joy of wearing the jacket will need to wait a while. Here is a later shot...

After our successful shopping trip we were still very early arriving at our motel about 10 miles from Salem, MA in an area called Danvers. Unfortunately, they would not allow check in before 3pm and yes, from what we could see they were very busy with checking out the punters from Saturday night and getting the rooms ready again. Fair enough.
So we got back in the car and headed to historic Salem to explore before joining a 3pm "witch walking tour" there, which we had already booked.

The historic waterfront area is where we started our exploration. Long before Salem was known for witch trials it was the biggest north eastern seaport. Bigger than Boston.

A tall shop replica sits alongside the historic Derby Wharf with Di (a bit hot and sweaty) in the foreground.

We wandered to the end and read the various plaques. It was obvious that the Derby Wharf was very old and had been well used. Lots of rusted old iron bolts in stones and old timbers.

At the end of the wharf, Di pretended she was the "queen of the world"...

Looking back towards Salem from the end of Derby Wharf.

Lunchtime was approaching and after exploring various overpriced options for 20 minutes or so, we settled for Rockefeller's, which had a menu selection that was wide enough for both of us. "Rustic Pasta" for Hans (penne in tomato sauce with artichoke and grilled chicken) and a "day after" sandwich for Di (meaning leftover thanksgiving stuff on a sandwich - quite good).

We wanted a photo of the restaurant as we left and as Di posed she was joined by 3 charming young period actors who participated in good spirits and also promoted their theatre play called "live witch trial performance". Sounded quirky enough - maybe for tomorrow.

Salem has been a tourist town since 1970, when some episodes of Bewitched were filmed here, but not much before that. Since the 70s, the town has attracted witches, psychics and performers as it thrives on the unfortunate witch trials of 1692. The witch with the broomstick "logo" is everywhere including on police cars we were told although we haven't seen that yet ourselves. There are even directions on telegraph poles for how to get to the various witch attractions.

No, Disney did not create the facade to the Salem Witch Museum, it is a revamped old church. We feel that we need to visit one of the many witch and witchcraft museum that can be found in Salem, and this will probably be the contender tomorrow as it is the oldest, looked the most popular from what we could see and our witch craft walking guide recommended it later.

The person depicted on the statue next to the museum is not a witch. First of all, the staute is of a male who was the original European settler of Salem named Roger Conant who arrived here in 1626.

Another photo of the outside of the museum, and it seemed to have some strange attraction for Di...

Across the road from Salem Witch Museum is a leafy and green park known as Salem Common. It looked very inviting on a hot day so we strolled the outer paths and sat and watched the world go by until just before our walking tour started, which was just around the block on Essex Street.

Hans was prepared to brave the hot sun so we could provide a good location shot of the Salem Common.

We sat on a bench in the shade for a while enjoying a light breeze, watching locals enjoying their Sunday afternoon. All very relaxing and nice.

The "Salem Witch Walk - Salem's only magical tour" started outside this old building, which is a Witch Shop called Crowhaven. The lady in the hat may or may not be a witch...

...she was promoting the store and based on this "help wanted" flyer she could be brand new to all of this.

Our "witch walk" is just that - a 90 minute walking tour led by a witch. A male witch. Tom was our guide and resident witch (not warlock). Hans thought that he looked more like a rock artist...

We started with a witch ritual in the courtyard/alley near the store. Tom chatted the whole time about witch rituals to call on energy from north, east, south and west and from earth, wind, fire and water and various icons used, like a sword and candles. The whole time, a strong incense was burning...

We participated. An interesting and quite light introduction to witchcraft and kept light with some funny discussions of key misconceptions of witchcraft etc.

Tom was an enthusiastic tour guide. We got a wide selection of information, about witches, Salem, some history and of course the witch trials. Tom walked and talked fast and was full of energy and passion.

We learned that all the original buildings in Salem with any link to the witchtrials of 1692 are gone (age and fire etc), except for one building, the home of one of the judges, but we did hear from Tom about various locations that are thought to have been key in the history and trials.

One fascinating story that Tom told us was about Giles Corey, a wealthy old man who was accused so that a trial could be held, leading to (of course) a guilty proclamation his land could be snatched by the government.

Giles refused a trial and this meant he was tortured first to force him to a trial. The torture took place in a field near the Old Witch Gaol. According to the law at the time, a person who refused to be tried was to be tortured - basically "pressed to death" - by being laid naked in a pit covered by a wooden board with heavy rocks added one at a time. Corey Giles took more than 2 days to die and never gave in, demanding "more weight". With his dying breath he cursed the sheriff and Salem. He won in the end, without a trial they could not snatch his land and it was bequeathed to his son.

The site of the old witch gaol, which was a dungeon and not a jail according to Tom. History somewhat rewritten. An office building occupies that location today.

We learn about various rituals and altars, including Halloween and honoring the dead, emphasised with dear Peter's skull below.

Our last stop on the tour was The Burying Point cemetery and its adjacent witch trial memorial ground.

We will spend more time here tomorrow - looks very interesting.

As a follow on to discussions of rituals, sacrifices and offerings, Tom did a small ritual in the graveyard to a goddess, sacrificing his favourite snack - a honey bun!

This is a memorial to the 20 innocent men and women who were executed during the witch trials of 1692, one stone bench for each of the victims. In addition, another 150 men, women and children were imprisoned.

Bridget Bishop was the first person to be tried as a witch and was then promptly hanged.

We finish our tour around 4.45pm back where we started. A small funny side note - the red trolleys roam the streets showing tourists the sights. Each time a trolley passed where we stood, Tom asked that we all enthusiastically wave on cue. Some funny reactions from those on board.

Back to our motel around 5.15pm to formally check in, get our key, and relax a bit after a hot afternoon of walking. Di had a swim in the pool while Hans was lazy in the room.

Dinner in our room, finishing up some our tinned provisions. Good night.

Sat 29 Jun - Concord, NH

Driving in the Lake District of New Hampshire... Sort of...

We awoke to a grey and muggy day and decided that a drive around Lake Winnipesaukee to the north of Concord may be the best option to sightsee as the weather was unpredictable.

We left Concord just after 9am heading north east and going for an anticlockwise loop around the lake. Di was driving today and she was very deer conscious on the smaller country roads.

First stop was Wolfeboro, a cute town with water on 2 sides, Lake Winnipesaukee and Back Bay on the other side (there were more lakes further east).

They were offering scenic lake tours in Wolfeboro, but we gave that a miss as we were uncertain as to what you would see from the lake that you wouldn't see from a car. OK, we were tight fisted...

Another shot of the tour boat...

This waterway was the only one that connected the two sides of water in Wolfeboro from what we could see. Yes, we did see a small boat going through there and the 2 people on board sat on the floor or ducked.

Coffee and cookies were offered by Yum Yum Bakery and Cafe and we took them up on the offer. We noticed this plaque next to their door as we left... It rings true with us...

Self portrait at a bench provided by a Russian town (name forgotten) that was perhaps a sister city with Wolfeboro. The bench was next to the lake and we enjoyed our morning cuppas here.

Wolfeboro is yet another town or city which had transformed old railway tracks into joint pedestrian and cycle paths (which we are strongly in favor of). They had even made a point of showing off their railway past with a restored train station, now a visitors centre and this end stop (or whatever these things are called).

Di enjoying a small part of the walkway. Work apparently is still in progress and the path will link several towns and run for 12.5 miles (20 km) when it is completed.

More railway memorabilia along the path, this on a bridge with a dam underneath.

We then continued driving north along the eastern shoreline of Lake Winnipesaukee up to Moultonborough where we turned to drive south along the western shoreline and to Meredith (which looked really touristy so we didn't stop) to our next stop which was Weirs Beach.

Weirs Beach looked like a place that would be favored by bikers and families. A bit touristy, but also with cheap and old looking motels, several penny arcades, pizza and fried food joints and water crafts for hire or touring. Of course, a pier with arcade games and cheap eats is almost mandatory in a place like that (see behind Hans)

You could take a tour on the "Mount Washington". What a mountain has to do with boating, we don't know.

Weirs Beach has a sand beach which would explain some of its attraction. There are not that many sand beaches in New England as rocks dominate.

And there is a scenic train in Weirs Beach too... It arrived just a little bit later after this photo was taken.
OK, Hans used to be a pinball tragic when he was young. In one of the arcades, they were offering a 3-ball pinball game on "Pirates of the Caribbean" for 50 cents. Deal.
The display was in Spanish and the pinball machine even yelled to us in Spanish. Very cool. We got excited and were yelling too.

Hans managed to get a free play on the very first ball, which meant we played one game each. Di's turn...she also loved it. More yelling at the Kraken (where we got 3 balls at once - panic...)

There was more fun to be had inside the Arcade that made Hans think of his childhood long long time ago. USA vs Russia in ice hockey...

Didn't these signs look great? Something from Happy Days or similar... The old style cottages looked quite inviting too. We are not sure about the King Size Pool though.

On the way back towards Concord and outside Laconia, we were overtaken by these bikers. We thought that their vests looked very shiny, almost too clean... No, helmets do not appear to be mandatory anywhere in the US from what we have seen.

We were coming up to lunch time and despite yesterday's less than satisfactory experience with lunch at a diner, we decided to try another one.

Tilt'n Diner just looked too cool from the outside, and with a full parking lot and a queue of punters waiting for seating to become available, it ticked all the right boxes. The silver section you see at the front is the original diner, built in 1953, and where we eventually were seated in a booth. Cool.

Tilt'n Diner had some rules signage that we have not seen before. "No crybabies" (there must be a story behind that...), "No beepers" (is anyone really using them anymore?).

And how can you not like a place that has a lit up guitar in the ceiling, the first thing that you see when you get in?

We got our booth and just enjoyed the ambience as our orders were prepared and cooked for us.

Hans ordered roast beef with mash and veggies which was a Saturday lunch special. Di had a serving of fried chicken with a side salad.

The menu and its holder also looked very "Happy Days" to us. We were not sure about the airport link, but there was a sign next to the front door that read that this diner started off in New Jersey some decades ago but has since moved twice. Moved as in physically moved that is... Moving buildings seems to be a widespread business in the US.

The bill arrived clipped onto an old 45' single vinyl. And the bill was very reasonable. $25 covered it all for two of us with tip.

The time was approaching 3pm when we got back to Concord, via a gas stop at Hess around the corner. At $3.33 per gallon, that was the cheapest gasoline price that we have seen for quite a while.

Unfortunately, as we arrive to our room at Holiday Inn, the cleaner is just about to go in... At 3.15pm or so. Oh well, we return to the lobby and loiter there for the next half hour or so before we go up again. Cleaner's mission was accomplished, but clearly without an extraordinary amount of attention to detail.

Time for a break in our motel room before our stand up comedy night called "How Men Think..." with a bunch of New England comedians. We found out by accident that there were performing downstairs tonight in our hotel.

Dinner was a bowl of soup in our room - still not hungry after a good filling lunch.

This was the easiest gig we ever attended. We caught the lift down to the ballroom, we bought tickets at the door about 20 minutes before the start, bought a drink and chose a table.

We sat with a lovely couple from Panama, who were here to drop off their son for a 6 week summer camp at Wolfboro. The lady's grandfather had helped build the Panama Canal and they both had dual Panamanian and American citizenships. We chatted for a while and then the show kicked off at 8.40pm

Our host and the first comedian was Dave - quite funny and likeable. A 54 year old man relating stories about his life and interacting with the audience quite well. We missed some of the jokes because we don't know the inside story on "people from Lawrence, NH" and other local traits - but still funny.

Dave ran a few sections where he got women from the audience on stage and asked multiple choice or True/False questions that they had to answer as a man would. One, Ruth, gave as good as she got.

The second comedian, a young single dude, was not our style and fell a bit flat with the older crowd.

Then we got a charming Indian man, engineer and recently to USA. He was quite good and his performance had a focus on cultural differences, poking fun at both Indians in the US as well as Americans dealing with Indian people.

The best comedian was at the end of the show. His name was Tim MacIntire and he has been on Comedy Central TV and other shows. He shared some very funny stories about his life and family, even about his sister "coming out as a lesbian" and his mum coming out as an alcoholic when she found out about it. Some of his jokes were clearly "adult only". He was on for the longest of all the comedians and we laughed pretty hard.

The show finished around 10.30pm and we were back in our room 5 minutes later. The Panamanian couple stayed in the room just opposite ours.

Some winding down before sleep. Good night.