Sat 1 Jun - North Dartmouth, MA

Our first morning in Massachusetts could have started with a Big Bang.

While Hans was having his morning shower, there was a sudden noise in the bathroom ... the top of the bathroom mirror had detached itself from the wall. The mirror would have fallen down on the floor if it wouldn't have been stopped by the wall mounted hair dryer.

We used good old duct tape to temporarily fix the mirror back onto the wall until we could get motel management to check it out and fix it. We love duct tape and it is an essential for traveling. So far we've used it to repair Hans' camera case and to plug baths.

The scene of the crime...

We reported our handyman work at the front desk and they arranged for someone to fix it during the day.

After a lazy breakfast we hit the road in our fabulous car and explored the area east and south of where we are staying. We took small roads and the drive was very scenic and relaxed.

In a short while we crossed into a new state, Rhode Island, and into a beach reserve area known as Fogland. Not foggy today though, lovely sunny weather.

The beach is not much - a thin strip of pebbles then the road, then a small sand dune with more water access behind (to the north). A popular spot for kite boarders as the wind hammers in from the south but the dune acts like a seawall and minimizes chop.

We had previously been advised that beach access in this area costs about $10 and you pay to park your car. Not us, we just told the guy we were driving through to turn around and he was fine with that. Of course we worked out quickly that you can park your car for free just a short distance away but generally Americans do not seem to be prepared to walk and will rather pay.

The sun-seekers in the picture below did not seem to walk further than a couple of meters from their cars to set up their beach chairs and sunbathe. It baffles come all this way to the beach then you sit in the car park?

We knew we were back in true countryside...

The drive through the countryside and the roads were very scenic...very pretty coast.

No wonder that this area is called New England...
We continued south to Sakonnet Point which looked like a nice little peninsula on the most south western part of this area. When we got there we soon realized that everything is "private". Private club - so no coffee for us plebs but we asked nicely to use their bathrooms and they caved in and let in the dumb Aussie tourists for a few minutes.
Private roads, private beaches... Rhode Island, the private state.

The sea wall is not private so we walked out on that. Nice views, including looking back at this little fishing wharf where the fisherman were unloading their catch with funky jazz music playing loud from the truck. Interesting mix...

Very pretty... again...

The non-private sea wall...

We had asked at the private club where we could get a coffee and an older staff member recommended the hamlet of Little Compton nearby and a cafe there which "does the best Johnny Cakes". Doing what? We had to investigate.

The Commons Lunch cafe was charming. We sat out on the deck under a beach umbrella and chatted to the waitresses who were a lot of fun.

So what's a Johnny Cake? It's like a pancake made with white corn meal. Here they are famous for their version which is thin like a crepe and crispy. The accompaniments can be butter, or maple syrup or a combo (or of course eggs and bacon etc). Our waitress said just butter was her favourite. We tried both ways but she was right, although Hans could easily eat these with eggs and bacon.

Johnny Cakes (or "Johnnies" as the waitress called them once) are yummy. Another way of serving them could perhaps have been "Here's Johnny...". Moving right along...

Why are they called Johnny Cakes? Another waitress was a wealth of information...they are a local Native American recipe originally called a Journey Cake. White corn was fast to grow, easy to transport and cooked quickly on a griddle when you were on the move.

The back end of the deck had this cute little gift shop and this interesting clock caught our eye.

We decided to head east (can't go west without a boat) and towards Horseneck Beach which had been recommended to us by the lady at Alamo in Boston (a local North Dartmouth girl). On the way there, we saw that a car had stopped in the middle of the road...for a tortoise crossing.

We stopped and when he seemed to be continue making himself comfortable in that somewhat inappropriate place Hans hustled him along (well tortoise paced hustle...).

Our first traffic jam...a long line of cars and we deduced they were queued to get into paid parking at Horseneck Beach. Once we go to the front we realized you did not have to! You keep driving straight along and come to the western end of the beach and bay and park for free.

The beaches still looked good at our end so we decided that there must be something that we don't know about that particular area attracts people to sunbathe and swim in that crowded space and queue and pay for the privilege.

The coast is lovely and we enjoy being back in country USA.

Fun graffiti...

The beach road turns north east and runs along the coast into New Bedford. Along the way we pass people who have got themselves a strip of beach and parked their mobile home or caravan there (think Rockford Files and how Rockford lived on the beach).

New Bedford is a much bigger town and just south of it we find a nice looking place called Davy's Locker to stop for lunch. Again we dine outside and upstairs under a beach umbrella. Lovely day and we get to see the view too from the top deck.

A side salad each (think big bowls) and a shared seafood combo is perfect. The seafood included were shrimp, local scallops (very big and good), clams (not for us, did not taste as good as Oz clams) and a nice piece of fish called Scrod.
The location and atmosphere makes us want to settle in for several drinks and a long afternoon - but we are driving and the lite beer options are shit (Coors, Bud or Miller).

This restaurant expansion was a great idea. The restaurant used the last few meters of its car park and turned it into a waterfront bar area. It looked popular.

They had painted the asphalt and concrete barriers blue to give a sea effect. Nice one.

We drove further into New Bedford and stopped when we saw the major fishing piers.

Fishing is big business here. You can't tell from this photo but there are more piers on each side and the boats are huge. Di is fascinated.

For the netting and crane arrangements we can tell they must have a few different fishing targets - we saw what looked like a Mussel boat, we assume they also go for some deep sea fish (maybe the Scrod) and scallops.

The boats are rafted up 3 deep along the pier.

In the distance you can see the rock wall, built 50 years ago by the US Army Engineers and is designed to withstand hurricanes. The rock wall has sea gates, 150 feet wide, which they close in fierce storms to protect the Harbour. Fishing here is obviously too vital to risk damage by something like Hurricane Sandy.

We wander further and come across this old wooden schooner Ernestina.

Ernestina was built in 1894 and fished the Atlantic for many years before being used for scientific expeditions to the Arctic. She then started making supply trips to Cape Verde Islands and bringing immigrants to America, which the ship continued to do until 1965. Who would have known that immigrants came here from Cape Verde? Sea ports do tend to bring in mixed cultures - apparently the first Japanese man to immigrate to USA landed nearby too.

It's now after 4pm and we are feeling a bit lazy so we head home for a rest and a cuppa (and a painful visit to the gym downstairs for Hans).

We had a night of planning to do - as we had no accommodation booking for tomorrow night or any plans beyond that. After a bit of strategic planning of where we would like to go and stay between now and our return to Boston on 2 July (30 nights, limiting ourselves to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts in that order).

We also booked accommodation for the next 10 days (5 nights in Falmouth, MA and 5 nights in Manchester, VT).

Dinner is sludge - ahhh comfort food.


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