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.
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
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.
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."
Sinatra and his live version of
York, New York. I didn't actually visit New York City, but I did
drive across New York state... close enough.
RealPlayer. If problems, see
If you prefer, here's
a simpler MIDI version.
RealPlayer. If problems, see
York, New York
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.
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...
(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
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
22, 2001 (Boston, Massachusetts)
18, 2001 (Denton, Maryland)
16, 2001 (Cumberland, Virginia)
14, 2001 (Roanoke, Virginia)
9, 2001 (Sevierville, Tennessee)
8, 2001 (Fontana Lake, North Carolina)
5, 2001 (Manchester, Tennessee)
30, 2001 (Hohenwald, Tennessee)
29, 2001 (Corinth, Mississippi)
27, 2001 (Natchez, Mississippi)
24, 2001 (Austin, Texas)
20, 2001 (Canyon de Chelly, Arizona)
18, 2001 (Clay Canyon, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 2 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
15, 2001 -- Part 1 (Zion Nat'l Park, Utah)
14, 2001 (San Diego, California)
11, 2001 (San Jose, California)
2, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
19, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
30, 2001 (Hillsboro, Oregon)
19, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
5, 2001 (Bellingham, Washington)
* * * * * * *
Travels (2001-02) >
U.S. Trip >
July 20, 2001