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July 20, 2001  (Pomfret, Connecticut) < Previous News  |  Next News >



Cruising Up The Mid-Atlantic

I spent three days driving north from Maryland to Boston, during which I visited Maryland's Eastern Shore for the first time.  The Eastern Shore, as I discovered, is more rural and laid-back than the rest of the state -- and it's also very pretty, with lots of rolling farmlands and marshes.  


When I reached southeastern Pennsylvania, I made a slight detour to drive through the Amish country near Lancaster.  Like thousands of other folks who visit this bucolic area each year, I gawked at all the horse-drawn carriages and laughed at the funny names of the Amish towns there, like Bird-in-Hand, Blue Ball, and that classic, Intercourse.  As a guy, I can tell you for a fact that Intercourse is much more fun than Blue Ball.


I had never been to northeastern Pennsylvania before, so I decided to drive north through the industrial cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Reading, stopping briefly in each.  Monopoly fans out there, I'm sure, know that Reading (as in "Reading Railroad") is pronounced "Redding" and not "Reading."  Although I didn't see any railroads and didn't collect $200, these cities were pretty interesting (even Allentown) and not nearly as run-down as I'd imagined -- maybe I've listened to too many Billy Joel songs.  


People had told me wonderful things about the Pocono Mountains and the Delaware Water Gap in far northeastern Pennsylvania, so I headed up there that evening to find a place to camp.  Overall, though, I wasn't that impressed with the Water Gap and didn't think it was anything special, probably because I'm spoiled by the beautiful landscapes out West.  Of course, it didn't help that the place was overrun with people, and I understood why after looking at a map that night and realizing that I was less than an hour's drive from New York City.  Since I'm not a real "city person," an hour away was about as close to New York City as I wanted to get on this trip.


The next day was bright and sunny and, as I pulled out of the Water Gap campground, I looked forward to a pleasant drive to Connecticut.  As I got onto Interstate 84 in rural southern New York, though, I noticed the level of driving intensity rise several notches -- this was definitely not like driving on the country backroads of Virginia.  As I was cruising along at 65 miles an hour, I saw something on the freeway up ahead that didn't register in my brain until after I passed it.  As I zoomed by, I realized that it was a huge wooden crate about five feet high sitting smack dab in the middle of the left lane.  I couldn't believe what I'd seen until I had passed it -- talk about an accident waiting to happen.  Boy, these freeways in New York were something else...



Above left:  Tilghman ("Till-man") Island, on the eastern shore of Maryland.

Above center:  The Tilghman Island marina.

Above right:  Darn it, how come I never meet women like this?



Above left:  The beautiful town of St. Michaels, Maryland, is known as "The town that fooled the British."  During the War of 1812, British ships sailed to this area during the night to bombard the city.  Residents of St. Michaels hung lanterns up high in the trees and the British cannon fired into the trees and over the houses, thus sparing the town.  Residents here still snicker about that one.

Above center:  Rush hour in Intercourse, Pennsylvania (yes, that's really its name), in the heart of Amish country.  They removed the city limits sign -- probably because goofballs like me would suddenly slam on their brakes and take pictures of it.  

Above right:  Speaking of which... 



Above left:  Allentown wasn't nearly as bad as Billy Joel made it sound.

Above center:  Camping in a dingy campground at the Delaware Water Gap.

Above right:  Crossing the Hudson River in New York.  According to Manhattanites, apparently I was now in "civilization."


Here's Frank Sinatra and his live version of New York, New York.  I didn't actually visit New York City, but I did drive across New York state... close enough.

Requires a RealPlayerIf problems, see Help.


If you prefer, here's a simpler MIDI version.

Requires a RealPlayerIf problems, see Help.


New York, New York

Start spreading the news, I'm leaving today
I want to be a part of it - New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it - New York, New York

I want to wake up in a city, that doesn't sleep
And find I'm king of the hill - top of the heap

These little town blues, are melting away
I'll make a brand new start of it - in old New York
If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere
It's up to you - New York, New York

New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I'm A-number one, top of the list,
King of the hill, A-number one.

These little town blues, are melting away
I'm gonna make a brand new start of it - in old New York
And if I can make it there, I'm gonna make it anywhere
It's up to you - New York, New York


A "Generally" Good Time in Connecticut and Rhode Island

I had a nasty time later that day driving through downtown Hartford, Connecticut on my way to visit Mark Twain's house.  In most places around the world, a red stop light means "Stop."  Apparently in Hartford, Connecticut, though, based on how some of the locals there drive, a red stop light means "Stop if you want, then go."  Oh, and it's also o.k. to double- and triple-park in Hartford.  And blasting your horn at merging traffic on the freeway, which happened to me here, is also perfectly acceptable.  Mark Twain's house and "Judging Amy" notwithstanding, I was glad to get out of Hartford.  And people wonder why I like the West.


After Hartford, things mellowed out as I headed to eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island, where I enjoyed visiting the homes of two of my ancestors, Israel Putnam and Nathaniel Greene, both of whom were generals during the Revolutionary War.  Come to think of it, they were both very charismatic and able leaders so maybe we're not related after all...


Israel Putnam (1718-1790) was a Major General during the Revolutionary War and fought at, among other places, the Battle of Bunker Hill near Boston early in the war.  Israel is my first cousin and his cousin, a fellow named Seth Putnam (1756-1827), who's my 5th great-grandfather, was at the Boston Tea Party in 1773, two years before the war started.  During the tea party, my grandpa Seth dumped lots of tea into the Boston Harbor to protest a tax the British had imposed on the American colonists.  I'm not much of a tea drinker and neither are most Americans today, largely because of that incident. 


Along with Israel and his cousin Rufus Putnam, who were both generals during the Revolutionary War, I have several other ancestors, mostly from Massachusetts, who fought in the Continental Army against the British during the war, including a Massachusetts Bradstreet who was a Captain in the Army.  Many American colonists were actually pro-British during the war, but another relative of mine named his son, who was born in 1778, "George Washington Bradstreet," so you can clearly tell where allegiance was. 


I can trace the Putnams and Bradstreets back on my family tree (8 to 9 generations), but my connection with Nathaniel Greene, who I've always thought was the finest general in the Continental Army, is a bit hazier.  From what I understand though, my great-great-grandmother for years proudly claimed that we were descended from him.  I just haven't figured out the connection yet in my family tree.


By the way, one thing I had to get used to as I drove through the tiny states of Connecticut and Rhode Island was the scale of the road maps.  On the AAA maps that I use, each state is printed to fill up the same sized sheet no matter how large or small the state.  Having spent time in Texas, where an inch on the map takes an hour to drive, I had to adjust to Rhode Island where an inch on the map is... oops, I just passed it.



Above left:  Hartford, Connecticut is known for more than just insurance.  In fact, it was a literary haven during the 1800s.  This is Mark Twain's unusual 19-room house where he wrote "Tom Sawyer," "Huck Finn," and several other books.  Twain's house is next to the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

Above center:  Mark Twain slept here... from 1874 to 1891, in fact.

Above right:  Here's an old ribbon factory.  We don't have these kinds of old abandoned brick buildings in Oregon, but they're all over New England.  I thought they were pretty interesting.



Above left:  Believe it or not, I'm related to that guy on the horse.  This is the tomb of my cousin, Israel Putnam, in Brooklyn, Connecticut.  

Above center:  A close-up of "Old Put."  He was a General during the American Revolution and led the patriots during the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston. 

Above right:  In 1742, Israel killed what was supposedly the last wolf in Connecticut here.  The wolf was a real nuisance, I guess, since it had been marauding sheep herds.  Local farmers cornered the wolf here in its den, but no one had the nerve to crawl in and shoot it except for 24-year old Israel.  Of course, this was before the S.P.C.A.



Above left:  One of the main reasons I decided to take this trip was to trace my roots.  Here's the home of another ancestor of mine, Nathaniel Greene, a general during the Revolutionary War.  Being a Revolutionary War buff, I'd always admired Greene because of his intelligence, modesty and competence, but learned only recently that I'm supposed to be related to him.  This was his house, in Coventry, Rhode Island, which is now a museum.

Above center:  My man, Nathan.  Before the Revolutionary War, Greene operated a forge near his house and was a self-taught man.  Greene was appointed the Army's Quartermaster General during the early part of the war then became a Major General, leading the American troops in the South during the last few years of the war.  He harassed the British General Cornwallis all the way to Yorktown while George Washington was in New York.

Above right:  Me again, standing on Nathaniel's doorstep.  I got a personal, hour-long tour of the house from a nice woman named Mary, the caretaker of the Greene Museum, who didn't want to have her picture taken.  So she took mine, instead.



Next News

July 22, 2001  (Boston, Massachusetts)


Previous News

July 18, 2001  (Denton, Maryland)

July 16, 2001  (Cumberland, Virginia)

July 14, 2001  (Roanoke, Virginia)

July 9, 2001  (Sevierville, Tennessee)

July 8, 2001  (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)

July 5, 2001  (Manchester, Tennessee)

June 30, 2001  (Hohenwald, Tennessee)

June 29, 2001  (Corinth, Mississippi)

June 27, 2001  (Natchez, Mississippi)

June 24, 2001  (Austin, Texas)

June 20, 2001  (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)

June 18, 2001  (Clay Canyon, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 2  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 15, 2001 -- Part 1  (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)

June 14, 2001  (San Diego, California)

June 11, 2001  (San Jose, California)

June 2, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

May 19, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 30, 2001  (Hillsboro, Oregon)

April 19, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington)

April 5, 2001  (Bellingham, Washington) 


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Home > Travels (2001-02) > U.S. Trip > July 20, 2001