Family Trip

Well, July was pretty busy with school work. My job at the day care fell through, so I ended up unemployed this summer (like so many other people – I’m just grateful I don’t have a family of my own relying upon my income for food and shelter…). My time was definitely needed for school, though, so I guess it all worked out well! Some of the recent assignments I’ve done involved creating a workshop for new immigrants about the Ontario public school system, analyzing ESL and ELD Level 1 writing samples and proposing appropriate teaching strategies and modifying a grade four unit on currancy to meet the needs of a learner with Down Syndrome. Right now, I just have to finish writing up my practicum assignment and then I am ALL DONE! Hooray! I’m hoping to finish it tonight, but we’ll see…

At the end of July (like, the Friday, the last day), we went on a long weekend vacation! It turned out everybody could go, which was great because it’s not as much fun vacationing when you have to leave someone behind… The Monday was a holiday here, and everyone took the Tuesday off, too. So what did we do with our vacation time? Well…

We went to Massachusetts and Rhode Island!

We had SUCH a super great time! I have always wanted to go out that way, not to see anything in particular, but just to be there. This trip was just amazing (though my goodness do we ever know how to pack a lot into a very few days!!!).

On the Friday, we left around 4:00 (after Marilyn was done helping at horse camp), and drove all the way to Albany. We stayed the night there. It was kind of funny, though, because even though we’d “reserved” a rollaway for Harley, they didn’t have one available. So much for a “reservation”, right? He ended up sleeping on the floor, which he was okay with, but still… We did get a deal on our room, though…

On to the better stuff…

The next morning, we drove to Plymouth. The first thing we did was get some food (we got there around lunch time, I guess…). We ate at the Water Street Cafe, which I would highly recommend, if you’re ever out that way. The employees were really nice, and so was the food.

Then, we went on a walk around the town and saw Plymouth Rock and toured the Mayflower 2. It was such a hot and beautiful day. I decided that I want to live in a town on the coast some day so I can smell the ocean…

Then we went to Plimoth Plantation, which is a historical “village” of the area around the time of the European arrival. They had a family “site” (like, it was more than just a house – it had all the other buildings that a family unit would have, too) for the Wompanoag people, who were the native peoples living there before the Europeans. They had local natives there to share about their lifestyle and native issues, both historically and at present. They were dressed in traditional clothing, but did not speak “in character” (as historical people) so that they could help you learn about their culture in modern times, too. Then, they had a whole “village” set up like the Europeans would have done when they first got here. There, they had people dressed up and actually acting in character. We got there just in time for a musket demonstration, which was pretty cool. It was SO hot there! This was definitely a very well done historical site – well laid out, well introduced (they had a short movie to watch that explained the rationale behind many of the things they did, such as why the native people spoke as themselves and the white people spoke in character), and really well done by everyone involved.

After that, we drove out to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. It was a beautiful drive! We got there around sunset(ish) and went down to the beach for a few minutes. The water was just perfect!!!

After that, we had dinner at a restaurant in Provincetown called Michael Shey’s (I think), and the food was amazing! I’d definitely recommend it; the sign says seafood and ribs, but there was definitely enough on the menu for not-seafood-inclined people. Also, the service here was, again, really very good!

We drove to Westport to spend the night.

The next morning, we drove to Newport, Rhode Island and did our tours of the Newport Mansions! Wow! I would absolutely recommend this to anybody who likes to tour historic homes! Newport was basically the summer vacation spot of all of the absolutely ridiculously rich people in America during the late 1800s to early 1900s. Almost all of the houses were built JUST to be summertime “cottages” and entertainment venues. Society there was SO rigid and formal. There were these three ladies that basically ruled the social sphere and you couldn’t so much as have someone over for a bridge game without their approval or else they would spread the word and everyone would boycott you. Yikes!

Also interesting to note is that Newport was a society basically run by the women. This is because the men went home during the week to make more money, and only came out on weekends. Thus, women basically had the run of the place. And you know what they did? … They threw some awfully big parties!!! More about the parties later…

We bought tickets to see five houses – what a busy, busy day! We managed to get them all in, but it was so much walking! I’d do it again in a heartbeat, though. I’m glad we did the first house first because it was my absolute favourite and it was nice to go through it when we were just starting our day.

The first house we was called the Breakers. That was by FAR the most ornate one of them all – and the biggest!!! It was one of three houses to have audio tours. You wore a headset and had a controller that hung around your neck. When you moved from room to room, you just pushed play and it started telling you all the cool stuff about it. Then, often they’d have “off-shoots” you could take – like, if you wanted to hear more about a tapestry, it would tell you the numbers to enter and then you could here more. This house was just beautiful! On the second floor, it had a huge open area (as big as a ballroom!) with the most beautiful breeze, and it overlooked the sea! I could have stayed there forever… You can see it in this picture:

Next, we went to Rosecliff.

This house was funny. The main room (the middle of the house, right behind us in the picture) is pretty much all white because the lady of the house loved white a ridiculously lot. When she threw her housewarming party, she made the theme “white”. Get this – in order to come, you had to wear completely white AND unless your hair was blonde, white or grey, you HAD to powder your hair or wear a wig – or stay home!!! Can you believe it? Talk about power-tripping! And that’s not even the best part! Now get this – she looked out the back windows at the sea and thought it looked empty so SHE CALLED THE NAVY and ASKED THEM TO MOVE THE FLEET so that it was positioned outside her house to make the seascape look prettier for her party! Can you believe it??? Wow! Just imagine eventhinking you had that much power…! The Navy said no (of course!) and she ended up investing a small fortune in having models built that she anchored in the water by her house.

Here’s a picture of us in the backyard.

Then, we went to the Elms.

This was a beautiful house, but all we can remember about it is that we ate lunch there (in a little cafeteria type place out back). Yikes! I guess that’s what happens when you cram too much good into one day! 😛 Oh yeah, the people who owned this house wanted the guests to feel like everything happened “magically” (ie. you didn’t see delivery boys bringing the milk in the morning – it just showed up). So, for example, they built a green hedge along the delivery driveway so that you couldn’t see vehicles pulling up to deliver supplies.

The next house was Marble House.

The lady who lived here was quite mean, especially to her poor daughter, Consuelo, who had to study with a rod tied to her back and her forehead (how can you study without looking down???) to “help” her posture, marry a guy she didn’t love, and live in a bedroom that her mother decorated and wouldn’t allow her to bring any personal items into (I mean knicknacks and decorations, of course – obviously her clothes and stuff was allowed in!), amongst other things. One room in the house was all Medieval Gothic (aka dark and scary) just to match a collection she purchased. The house WAS nice, though, especially the first room which was made entirely of gold! That is to say, the entire room was covered in gold leaf! Absolutely everything! Even the colour in the border decorations was painted (?) onto the gold leaf! Some of the gold was polished so it looked solid, other gold was left so that you could see the grain of the wood underneath (very cool effect!), some was dark, some was light – so many different shades of the same colour! It was incredible!

Also, this lady built an oriental tea hut in her backyard.

The last house was called Chateau-sur-Mer.

This house was the only one that was built to be used year-round. Yeppers – the smallest house of them all, and it’s the only one that was used for more than nine weeks a year! It was quite nice – simpler than the others, but nice, just the same. Mostly what I remember is being SO exhausted and relieved our day was coming to an end!

We drove to Providence for dinner, and then to Boston to spend the night.

The next day, we toured Boston! We parked our car and took the subway, and ended up in a mall (like, the hugest mall I’ve ever personally been in). We walked through the mall and found a tourist station, so Mom and Dad stopped to figure out what we were going to do. While they were doing that, we went into a souvenir shop and guess who was there?

I had my picture taken, too, but… um… let’s just say he blinked and it didn’t turn out too well… 😛

We also found some really weird “shades”…

We ended up going on a trolley tour of Boston, which was just lovely! There were no windows, and the breeze was just beautiful! I took lots of pictures of neat things, but none really nice enough to post here (like, they were out the window of a quickly moving vehicle, so while they weren’t blurry, they also weren’t “framed” nicely…).

Here’s a neat one:

This was on a bridge we drove over. This guy named Smoot back in 1958 wanted to join a fraternity at MIT, so he had to measure the bridge. He measured it using himself as a unit and discovered that the bridge was 364.4 Smoots long. Now, the markings are painted roughly every 10 Smoots, and are repainted every term.

When we got back from the trolley tour, we got a free harbour tour, too!

Then, we went to Harvard. Now, it’s not really that unusual to see students sitting on the ground studying at a university, but I’ve never seen so many people sitting on the ground leaning against trees and studying before! Evidently it’s the “thing to do” at Harvard!

Then, we drove out to the country to Colrain where one of the people Dad met at Harvard lives. She and her husband live in a renovated apple cider vinegar mill. It was really neat to see all of the history in their house! They are really neat people and I really enjoyed chatting with them! We played a fun game (Bananagrams) and he made homemade mint soda (which I’ve since tried to recreate, with moderate success…). They were just such friendly people, and I really enjoyed meeting them.

And the next day, we came home!

Ta da! The end of our whirlwind vacation! 😛

It was definitely SO much fun, but I’m glad to be home again! I need some downtime to get ready for my next adventure!

On another note, I dropped Marilyn off at horse camp (volunteering, not riding!) Wednesday morning, and it turned out they needed an extra helper – so I got to stay and volunteer this week! I tacked up horses all by myself! And I untacked them, too. I got to lead a horse during the lessons – two lessons, one hour each. That’s a lot of walking! And you have to run when the horse trots, too! So, I got my exercise in a fun way!

Random fact: I found an online ASL dictionary with video clips of the signs, so I’ve been learning a few words (it’s on my ‘short list’ of courses to take someday, but not likely to happen anytime soon). I can now say “I’m going to Thailand” in ASL, but not in Thai. Haha.

Oh yeah, I now know where else I’ll be going when I’m in Thailand – Japan and India (Kolkata). This is going to be quite the experience! More information when I have more…! 🙂

I’m off to finish my coffee now.

Have a great evening!

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