Tag Archives: National Park Service

Road Tripping Through New England

Took a road trip up to Saint Gaudens National Historical Site in Cornish, NH. Attempted to get to Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller too, but their signage SUCKS!!! But we managed to walk around the town and drove around the entire park site, so that counts as a visit in my mind.

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The Robert Gould Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial in Cornish, NH.

The park property is gorgeous and the staff that greeted us today were quite enthusiastic. Only $5/person to get in and tromp about the grounds. I would love to go back and go along the trails that they have as well. We had limited time since we planned on hitting 2 parks today, but only got to one. And then we got tired and hungry and cranky. lol. The whole site, though provides beautiful photos.

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I only wish that we had gotten there before 1 p.m. Its a long drive up, especially with leaf peepers, but there was a ton of rain today and it made everyone move even slower. The season ends at the end of the month, so we’ll have to wait until 2015 to go back again.

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Spectacle Island

Many of my adventures have taken me onto boats for this summer…and my trip to Spectacle Island was no different.

Spectacle Island is a 15-20 minute ferry ride out of Long Wharf in Boston and is part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Today’s island has been reshaped over the years with dumping, erosion, and the fill from the Big Dig to become one of the highest points in Boston Harbor.

The National Park has a green visitor center that has CLIVUS toilets, expansive views of the city, and covered picnic area.

There are a number of trails to walk along and view the city or the lighthouse.  One of these trails takes people along the shore that is scattered with rocks and the occasional dead fish:

The other main feature of the island is the trash that is coming out of the ground and washing up on the shore…seaglass and pottery shards. As an archaeologist, I am always looking down on the sand at the beach for seaglass and random things. At Spectacle, you don’t even have to search…it is all there, but not for the taking.

The ferry to the islands is almost done, just about another month. I hope to get back out to George’s sometime before then to find the dark space again!

Lowell National Historical Park

Yet another field trip to another National Park, this time Lowell. Not a lot of people would think that Lowell would have a National Park, but it is a great example of what happened all around the country during the Industrial Revolution.  Not only are a lot of the buildings still there, many of them have been revitalized into new spaces.

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Excavated by two of my professors (One from UMass Boston and another from Boston University) the Boott Cotton Mills Museum presents the history of the Industrial Revolution in a way everyone can understand. By using the oral histories left behind by former workers and actual artifacts from that time period, you can really get the feel of what it might have felt like.  Inside the Boott is a room with a number of machines that are needed in the process of the creation of fabric.  Here is a video that has only a few of the machines running:

Lowell is also known for having one of the best education centers in the National Park Service and they provide a huge variety of programs for children to attend and learn math, history, language arts, and science during.  One of the programs has children weaving on a loom:
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They are also in possession of Jack Kerouac’s backpack from when he went off on his tour of America. Not only was Kerouac an important poet and writer, he was also a native son. At one event, they gave away bobbleheads of him 🙂
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There is also a lot of artwork in the surrounding area and a stage for performances during the summer.
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All in all, Lowell is an awesome National Park and quite worthy of a visit. Go in the spring when you can ride the canal!

USS Constitution

I had a great post here about the neighbors who want the USS Constitution to change the way she fires her cannons because they feel lit is too loud.  They want the cannons to be quiet until 9 AM on the weekends and the National Anthem to not be played so loudly and the charges to be smaller.

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To which I say: shut up.

This tradition has been going on since before 1800 and the charges have been made smaller over the years already. They barely use any black powder to set the cannons off already and oh yeah, we are at war. These cannons are shot off twice a day in honor of the men and women who are serving and who have served. Many of these sailors will be going off to active duty combat after their 3 years at the Constitution is up and many of the National Park Rangers have also served in some capacity.  This ship is the mascot of the entire Navy and it is only appropriate for her to fire her cannons off as a sign of respect…and its pretty cool to watch them do it, as well.
I was lucky enough to get to take a trip on the Constitution a few years ago with my Dad. It was Armed Forces Day and so there was a 19 gun salute (why are they always odd numbers?) to the men and women of the Armed Forces. While I couldn’t really see over the sides of the ship, I knew enough to get down to the gun deck in time to see them load and fire the charges. Afterwards, I got one of the shells as a souvenier of my trip…it stunk to high heaven for a few weeks, but it is awesome. See:

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So, be quiet people living at Flagship Wharf…Nomar would have never been a jerk like you are. Oh, and I hope you enjoy it next summer when they are turning the Yard back into a working one and putting the USS Cassin Young into drydock! That should be exciting…lots of banging and crashing and melting and tearing. Its going to be awesome to see what kind of letter you send to the NPS unit.

Saugus Iron Works

Another National Park here in Massachusetts is Saugus Iron Works. Located in Saugus, MA it encompasses one of the first Iron works in the colonies and created some of the best iron outside of Spain.

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There is a collection of buildings that can be visited including a nail forge as demonstrated by Ranger Brandon here:

One of my favorite pieces of this park was the small map of the original site. Reminded me of a similar map I saw in Munich…

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There is also a project to get the river cleaned up by taking out the phragmites that are choking the river. By taking them out, the river will flow quicker and take out the sediment that has settled on the bottom. It will make the river healthier and bring back even more animals. When I was there, they had orioles, frogs, eels, little fishes, and signs of groundhogs. So well on their way.

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Saugus Iron Works is open until the end of the month and is free.

A Scottish Tramp

John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt

Perhaps the most significant event in the history of the National Park Service was the early friendship and influence of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt.  It is because of him that we have Yellowstone National Park, as well as Rocky Mountain and other areas preserved by people influenced by him.

I think, though, that the best thing about John Muir was his writing. It is very accessible and entertaining; he was not writing to impress people with his knowledge…he was writing to impress people about the importance of nature.  Some of my favorite quotes follow:

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” — from Our National Parks (1901)

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” — from Our National Parks (1901)

“As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.” — from The Journals of John Muir

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”

New things

Today I did a few new things.
1. I went to a National Park I’ve never been to, Saugus Iron Works. It was quite fun because I got a personalized tour, saw some frogs and swallows, had a nail made just for me, and almost caught on fire. How great, right?
2. I took a lot of pictures…while that isn’t new, it was of stuff I haven’t taken pictures of before. So that counts.
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3. I had a tire blow out on me while going a bit over the speed limit. No one at the tire shop can figure out how I did this because the damage is to the edge of the tire rather than on the tread itself. It came off quite easily for a tire and we had to replace them soon anyways so we are halfway there.
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Oh well…tomorrow I have a wedding that I am participating in. One of my fake relatives is getting hitched and it will be a fantastic event. Chocolate, wine, love, and family…you really can’t go wrong!