April 17, 2017, Prescott- Last, but never least, on my recap of what has mattered most to me, in jaunts around the contiguous United States, are the special places that are on, or within a few hours of, the Atlantic Coast.
I’m a native of Massachusetts, so the places and people of Boston and the North Shore have had the most direct influence on the me that you see. My special places in Saugus are still the Ironworks (now Saugus Ironworks National Historic Site), Breakheart Reservation, the Marsh (near where my middle brother lives) and anywhere along the old rail path, now a Rails to Trails hiking and biking route. Kowloon and Prince Spaghetti House are still around; Hilltop Steak House and Augustine’s Italian Restaurant are not.
Lynn and Nahant still mean The Beach, and as a teen, I went to Fireplace 10, as that was where Saugus kids hung together. The evening before I was to ship out for VietNam, I was with two of my mates at The Beach. A rent-a-cop wanted to haul me in, for “being bombed”. I had had two sips of a 12-0z. can of Budweiser. His sergeant heard my story of being about to head for the war zone, and let us go, with the comment, “Next time I see YOU here, is a year from now, right?” “Yes, sir.”
There are almost as many beaches, along the Coast, as there are rent-a-cops. Crane’s Beach was the site of one of my part-time jobs, after the Army. Yep, I was a rent-a-cop. I tried to arrest an Ipswich Selectman (town councilman) for being drunk and disorderly. Guess how that worked out. My favourite beach is still Hampton, NH- it had the biggest waves, when I was a kid. Salem, Marblehead, Newburyport and all of Cape Ann (Gloucester area) are my favourite seaport towns. Gloucester House and Woodman’s (Essex) are fave seafood places, with Kelly’s, in Saugus, good as well, especially for take-out.
The rest of New England certainly has featured prominently, from childhood, on. The White Mountains and Cape Cod were yearly fixtures of our family summers. Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island were places where I got my toes wet, in terms of ferry trips and island adventures. I didn’t get up to Maine much, except to Aunt Marie’s dairy farm, in Eliot, just over the New Hampshire line. Now, I’ve been all over the Pine Tree State. Cadillac Mountain, Kingfield, Moosehead Lake and coastal York County are all special areas.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, I used to enjoy Larrison’s Chicken Farm, near Bedminster, NJ, until it closed. The diners of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, like the Mark Twain, on Hwy 22 (aka the Death Trap-the road, not the dining spot), and Bedford Diner, off the PA Turnpike, remain close to my heart, though my doc would prefer I leave such places in the rear view mirror. Annapolis and Cumberland are intensely special places, at either end of little Maryland.
I have fond memories of the great cities- Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington have all been kind, when I have either passed through, or had extended stays. Boston Public Library is one of a kind as an edifice, and rules, as a grand place of public learning; so, too, does the Library of Congress. I have had mixed experiences in DC- the security force, in the Bush II Era, gave us, and those near us, an unpleasant time, in July, 2007. When I next visited the Nation’s Capital, in 2011 and 2014, all was delightful.
The Southeast is not as deeply ingrained in me, as the rest of the Atlantic Coast. There are some special spots, though- Martinsburg, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Hilton Head, St. Simons, Savannah,Okefenokee and St. Augustine are this solo traveler’s “feels like home”. The Atlanta and Tampa areas have family, so they are built-in magnets.
Florida, south of The Villages, remains a mystery to me. At some point, I will solve that puzzle. Charleston (SC), Baltimore, Delmarva and the Hampton Roads area are, likewise, places that will get special attention, sooner or later.
Well, that’s it, for now. I’m back to work, tomorrow and will be back in eastern AZ, next weekend. Have a great post-Easter week, one and all!