Roger Williams National Memorial, Providence RI

As the quest for the National Parks Stamps continues, I may not have succeeded in getting the Adams National Historical Park but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t successful. I took a quick trip into Providence, RI. Providence is only about 30 minutes from my home so when I say a “quick trip”, I mean it.

I was heading into Providence to see the Roger Williams National Memorial. This time I went to the web page www.nps.gov/rowi to download the directions. Then I backed it up with Map quest. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Garbage in – Garbage out”? Well I did it again. I entered the wrong address! The Memorial is on North Main st, I entered South Main St.

I found my way to S. Main St. with no problem. The directions were “spot – on” but I couldn’t find anything that looked like a memorial. I parked at a meter and fed about $1.50 in quarters into it’s maw and began to search on foot. According to Map quest (which I still didn’t realize was the wrong address) it should be on my left. There was nothing. Confused I returned to the car and pulled the little Passport book out and that’s when I realized my error. Rather than back track I decided to see if S. Main would turn into N. Main . So back in the car I continued on down South Main and sure enough. With no fan fare or street sign change, there was the National Parks Sign.

As I stopped at the light I realized I was right next to the visitor center. I made a left to go around the block and at the next light I saw a little parking lot designated for Roger Williams Park. I had arrived.

The park is a very attractive little park. I didn’t see any big statue to Providence’s founder but there were a lot of trees and picnic tables and benches. I bet it would be a great place to have your lunch in the summer or just to sit and “commune with nature”. (Sorry that’s my inner flower child coming out.)

After snapping a couple of pictures I made my way to the Visitor Center to collect my stamp. The Center was manned by a really nice ranger who was friendly and informative.

There was a short movie about Roger Williams that was very interesting. It was only about 5 minutes long but that 5 minutes was crammed with information.

Most people learn in school that Roger Williams left the persecution of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in search of religious freedom. I remember when I learned about him in school he wasn’t much more than a foot-note to the Puritans and there was sort of a bad-boy image. It was “ see what happens when you question authority? You get sent away.” Although there is some truth to this image, I think it may have been a bit slanted as there was so much more to this man.

Roger Williams was trained as an Anglican Clergyman but while he was still in England he became more and more sympathetic to the Puritans. Some Puritans sailed to the New World in 1630 to escape the severe restrictions, persecutions and penalties they faced in England and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A year later Williams and his wife Mary followed with another group.

Williams soon clashed with Governor Winthrop. Williams became a “separatist” pushing for a clean break from the Anglican Church. The colony wasn’t ready for so radical a step. Williams also clashed with the Puritans on jurisdiction over what were know as “Matters of Conscience”. These were the first of the Ten Commandments. In Williams opinion, there was no place for civil jurisdiction over such matters.

He disagreed with the colonists where the Native Americans were concerned as well, arguing that Native Americans had as much right to property as the English Settlers. He went on to denounce taking civil oaths in God’s name and paying church ministers from civil taxes.

At some point he crossed a line and the colony refused to tolerate him anymore sentencing him to deportation. To avoid arrest he fled the colony. He spent that winter with the Narragansett cementing a life long friendship. Eventually the Narragansett deeded Williams the land at the headwaters of Narragansett Bay for a colony that he named Providence.

Williams was always a friend to the Natives of the area and although still exiled from Massachusetts Bay Colony, Governor Winthrop had no qualms about calling on Williams to intervene and negotiate on the colony’s behalf whenever relations with the Natives became strained.

I didn’t realize that Rhode Island was the last colony to ratify the Constitution but Williams pushed hard for the First Amendment and Rhode Island did not ratify until that amendment was included. Hence, we are guaranteed freedom of religion thanks to Roger Williams.

All that from a man that was considered a troublemaker and banished to avoid arrest. Sadly, Williams died destitute, only the year of his death being known.

Quite a different take than I got in history class. But to borrow a famous radio phrase: Now you know the rest of the story!

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Afternoon at Daniel Webster

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Leaving Hull I hopped back on RT 3 to head down a couple of exits to RT 139, Marshfield. When I pulled into the small dirt lot at the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary there were 3 other cars there already so I knew I was going to have company. I didn’t have my hiking boots since this was an unplanned visit but you really don’t need them. It’s easy walking. I just like them because of the support they provide my weak left ankle. But I did have my walking pole. As I was putting my stuff together a big delivery truck pulled in. The driver got out and asked me what I’d seen today. I told him I had just arrived. He said he’d seen osprey hunting over Webster Pond. He said he hadn’t seen osprey here in years and never this early in the season.

I told him that Riverquest on the Connecticut River had sent me an email about Osprey Watching Trips but he just dismissed my comment. Later, when I reviewed the Audubon literature I picked up in the entry building I noticed that it addressed the question of Osprey in the sanctuary.

The osprey pole at the sanctuary has been occupied since 1990 and was one of the first successful nests on the South Shore after a dramatic decrease in the osprey population during the 1950’s and 60’s.”

I wish I had known that when he was telling me about it.

Anyway, I was ready to start walking. The network of trails amount to 2.2 miles. The main trail is a straight shot right through a field and up a little hill to the Foxhill Observation platform. That was my ultimate destination today but I wasn’t going to take the direct route. I took the right fork past the Purple Martin Colony. I could see that the Audubon Society had been busy. The hanging gourds that will serve the birds as a home had been hung. They hadn’t been put out when I was here a few weeks ago.

I spotted a red winged blackbird in the reeds by Webster Pond. The Canadian geese were everywhere as usual while a mute swan swam tranquilly on the far side of the pond. There were some smaller ducks but they were too far away for me to identify.

I stuck my head in the observation blind but there was nothing on the wet panne so I didn’t linger. As is my usual habit I took the next right again through the Red Maple Swamp on the Secret Trail. This leads into the meadow where I saw a deer the first time I visited the sanctuary. Today the meadow was empty.

I took a turn around the loop trail. When I got back on the main trail I met one of the other visitors heading in the opposite direction and really bookin’ it. He slowed long enough to say “ nice day” and then he was gone. I continued on at a more leisurely and considerable quieter pace. I was pretty sure any chance of seeing any animals was out of the question now but I headed up to the observation platform anyway.

Along the way I experimented with silhouettes using trees , poles and fences posts as subjects.

Once at the observation platform I saw a hawk that I didn’t recognize. I watched it for close to 20 minutes but it never came close enough for me to get an ID on it. Even with my camera at 200mm it just wasn’t clear enough for me. Another large bird flew an erratic path close to the ground. I’m guessing another hawk because of it’s size but it was also too far away for a picture or ID and I didn’t recognize that flying pattern. I can’t wait till I get that big lens!

 

I checked the sun and it was still pretty high in the sky even though it was past 5 pm. I headed over to the Green Harbor River or as it shows on the sanctuary maps, River Walk. Something moved near the woods just as I started down the trail. As I was standing there trying to make it out I met another of the visitors. This one was also “out for a brisk walk”. When I turned back to look again whatever I had seen was gone. I followed Mr. “Brisk Walk” back out to the main trail. He was way ahead of me. I slowed down to let him get even farther ahead in hopes that his commotion would fade and whatever animals might be around might come back out.

I had now reached the other observation blind. I peeked in there and saw that some ducks had landed in the panne but they were on the other side near the first blind. I decided to walk the loop again so I started around again.

The swan, geese and red winged black birds were still at Webster Pond. I didn’t see any osprey but some black birds scolded me as I walked past. I went into the blind again but the ducks were in heavy shadow so I still couldn’t get an ID. I think they might have been mallards but can’t be sure. With dusk approaching I didn’t linger because I wanted to get back up to the Foxhill observation platform. I made my right turn into the Red Maple Swamp and then I saw them. Through the bare tree branches I could see the little meadow and it was filled with deer. It wasn’t just one this time. I could see 6-8 as I peaked through the trees. I moved as slowly and quietly as I could, stopping every time I saw a head pop up.

Eventually I made my way to the edge of the meadow. That was when some of them spooked, white tails flying but at least 4 stayed behind and just stared at me. Pretty soon the ones that had run came back out. I hardly dared to breathe. I tried to work my way a little closer so I could get a decent picture in the dimming light and they did let me cover quite a bit of ground but it was still too dim for a decent picture.

Eventually they trotted off into the woods and I headed on up to the observation platform. I stopped briefly on the boardwalk and spotted them traveling parallel to me through the woods.

Back out in the main field the sun was starting to set and putting on an amazing display. Even if the deer pictures were a disappointment, the sunset was not. At Foxhill I spotted more deer but here they, like the hawks earlier were too far away for photos, but I was surrounded by them . There were 3 deer in front of me, another group of 5 off to my right and a small bunch of 3 or 4 almost behind me. They were the closest but they also had some rocks and brush between us so no photo op there.Well, I got my wish. I saw some deer. I got some pictures and it was time to head home. I love this place !

The wind had come up and it was getting cold as well as dark so I started hoofing it back to the parking area. For a day that looked like it was going to be a total loss, it turned into pretty good day.

The Best Plans….

I think I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again. Flexibility is the key! It’s something that I am not the best at but yesterday flexibility  is what really saved the day.

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As you know if you have been following these posts, I do a great deal of preparation for my trips. Not so for my local excursions. I guess because they are local, no planes or trains or overnight stays and that lack of research and planning came back to bite me yesterday.

I thought I had my day all planned out. I had to go to Hingham, Ma on an errand. Since that is pretty close to Quincy I planned to visit Adams National Historical Park and get my next stamp. From there I was heading back to BJ’s to do some shopping and then home to do housework.

The only thing that went as planned was the errand in Hingham. Things went downhill from there but thanks to “flexibility” I did manage to salvage the day.

So here is part one of my story:)

After I completed my errand in Hingham, I pulled out the maps ( I still haven’t gotten a GPS) and checked the address in Quincy. The Adams National Historical Park was listed as 135 Adams St, Quincy. I found it and the exit # off the expressway on the map and headed off. It was cold but clear and bright. I figured it would be a good day for the visit.

I found the exit and got on Adams St. Adams St. crossed Furnace Brook parkway and I made a mental note that taking that would be shorter on my return. I drove past some beautiful homes and then the area began to change to more urban rather than suburban density.

I missed 135 the first time and had to turn around, muttering to myself about National monuments etc that are not well-marked but I did spot it on the 2nd pass along with the closed sign on the gates. The sign said they would reopen in April. Now I gave myself a mental kick for not checking before I came over and asked what do I do now?

I could go into Boston, but Boston is an expensive city. I had the car so I would have to deal with parking and I prefer Boston when it’s warm so I scratched that option. Then I thought of Cape Cod. Maybe I could get down there and get a nice sunset picture. I was coming up on RT 3 after all. In the end I decided to start heading in the general direction of the Cape but play it by ear.

As I headed south on the Expressway I saw a sign for Adams National Historical Park. It was on a different exit all together from the one I had taken. I found a place to pull over and  pulled out the little  “Passport” and oh gee, in the description it says “Begin your visit at …1250 Hancock St…” Hancock St, I didn’t see that when I started out. I might have been able to get my stamp after all but at this point I was well out of Quincy and I wasn’t going to go back. I’ll just wait until all the exhibits open in mid-April.

My first detour was to Nantasket Beach in Hull. I haven’t been here in years. It’s a pretty drive past beautiful homes. RT 228 winds it’s way right down to the beach so you can’t get lost.

This time of the year most of the places on the beach are closed but even so there were cars in the parking areas and people walking the beach. I spotted 2 lighthouses, one to my left and one to my right. The one on the left looked closer so I wondered if I drove along the beach if I could get closer for a picture.

As I drove along I noticed some kind of tower on a hill above the harbor. I thought if I could get to that hill I would have an unobstructed view so that was my target. After working my way through turning and twisting streets I spotted the tower and sure enough, I was on a hill but it was all built up so there was no unobstructed view. That’s not to say it wasn’t beautiful.

I tried different locations and took some pictures but it wasn’t until I saw the Postman that I got a hint on where to get an unobstructed view. I flagged him as he was stopped to make a delivery and asked him which light house I was trying to shoot. He said it was Boston Light and then added that there was a hidden public way if I wanted a really good view. He gave me directions and off I went. I hope you enjoy the result.

I wasn’t finished in Hull. After I got the Lighthouse photos I decided to explore a little more. I drove past the very exclusive and private gated community on Spectacle Island.

 There  were loads of things to take pictures of .

 As I was leaving Hull I passed a farm that could have been right out of the English countryside. It had no access signs so I only pulled into the bottom of the drive to grab a quick picture of the beautiful scene.

It was only about 3-3:30 at this point so I decided to scratch the Cape for now and swing over to Marshfield to the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary. I thought I would take advantage of it being later in the day and see if I could see more animals. I’ll let you know if I was successful in tomorrow’s post.

Wrapping up my New Bedford Day

 

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I don’t carry a lot of cash on my little excursions as  most places let you use a credit or debit card and my little jaunt to New Bedford was no different. Even so I hate to use a card for minor things so I paid cash for lunch and I had picked up a couple of small things at the Visitor Center which meant that I found myself cash poor and I still had to get the car out of the parking garage.

Not knowing what that would cost or if they would take plastic I went in search of an ATM. The little free map I had picked up at the Whaling Museum showed a lot of bank branches in downtown New Bedford, which from the waterfront was uphill.

I set out to locate a bank and pretty soon I saw a lot of them. I also saw some really interesting buildings and decorative trim. I took some pictures of the architecture and the bustle of the downtown area.

Having made a successful ATM stop I wandered back to the parking garage. Before I headed to the exit I drove to the roof to see what kind of views there might be from up there. It’s actually a pretty interesting view. You can see out over the harbor and all the fishing boats and ferries. On the other side is a bridge that looks like it must be a pedestrian footbridge.

Being so close to the water I had plenty of company from the sea gulls and took the opportunity to take some more pictures of them. There’s a building with whales painted on it. I’m told it’s just a warehouse but that the artist Wayland painted the mural. He is known for his ocean murals and has painted around 84 murals. There used to be one in Boston but I haven’t been there since the “Big Dig” so I don’t know if that was saved or razed in the construction. I sure hope it was saved.  

Photo op finished I headed back down the ramp to the exit. When I got to the booth to pay there was no attendant. I waited  and waited, cars came in but no one came out but me and no one came to take my money. After about 15 minutes I gave up and headed back out to the highway and home.

 

In speaking to some of my co workers who have lived in New Bedford all their lives, I get the feeling I have only scratched the surface of what this city has to offer. I see many more visits and posts about New Bedford in my future. But until then I can say  this was another nice visit to a very interesting city.

Historic New Bedford and The Whaling Museum

Cobblestone streets, grand old mansions, ornate trim. Walk the streets that inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick, that’s historic New Bedford.

Inside the Visitor Center I chatted with the 2 volunteers for a bit while I secured my stamps. I hadn’t planned to visit the museum but the volunteers were good. They were quick to tell me about the movie that was showing and that there was a new whale skeleton with a fetus. That kind of got my attention in a morbid sort of way. They said yes, the whale had a fetus and that was on display too. So I wandered off in that direction.

I planned to get lunch before I got involved watching a movie…and one with no pop corn to boot…and headed toward the Catwalk, a pub style restaurant that served amazing food for a reasonable price when Nancy and I were there last year. A couple of guys were hanging out in front that looked like they had just come in off the boat. Unshaven and in watch caps they were loitering and smoking in front of the Catwalk. It turned out the restaurant was closed for renovation. So taking a deep breath I asked the guys about it. They seemed to know all about it explaining that it was being completely done over. I asked them to recommend someplace for lunch and they suggested I go back uptown to a sandwich shop.

I asked them about Pizan’s which was right across the street and they just kind of shrugged, commenting it was ok if I wanted Pizza.

I decided it was worth a shot. It kind of reminded me of the little bar/restaurants I grew up with. There were little booths and a few tables. A plank floor and a counter where you placed your order. 2 Environmental Police came in with me so I figured it couldn’t be all bad. I’m not sure what they ordered but I had a meatball sub and a soft drink. It was not bad but nothing special either. If I go back there again I will have to try their pizza as that seemed to be what those guys felt was the best.

Finishing my lunch I wandered on down to the waterfront. RT 18 is quite a busy street so I didn’t try to cross but I could see the signs for the various ferries to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. I began working my way back up toward the Whaling museum. In the process I spotted a building with really outlandish window decorations. There were Buddha’s and crows and vines to name just a few. They were all made from a black material, cast iron maybe????…and very shiny.

The sign on the building read Old Dartmouth Historical Society.

A little farther up the street was another white multi-columned building. According to the informational sign displayed this was once a bank. In fact, 2 banks. One side was for the wealthy merchants and whaling elite, Merchants’ Bank and the other side was for the working man , shopkeepers and tradesmen, the Mechanic’s Bank.

 This was right across the street from the Whaling museum so it was time to check out the baby whale skeleton and the movie.

As I approached the museum I noticed some decorations I didn’t remember from last year. There was a bright orange squid, a miniature whale boat frame, and a sailor.

 There was also some other statue that I couldn’t identify and I forgot to grab a picture. I will have to save that for another trip.

The movie was good, Around the World…The Business of Whaling in 19th Century New Bedford . The title was longer than the movie! You don’t wait for it to start as it is on a continuous loop. You just go in and sit down and stay until it’s back to where you made your entrance. It tells about the whaling days and was very well done. The theater is also quite attractive. I didn’t go through the museum again but did go into the atrium to see the new whale skeleton and sure enough, there was the little baby skeleton. That is so sad but I guess that’s life …and death…in the wild.

Leaving the museum I wandered back uptown in search of an ATM. I’ll share those pictures and a bit more next time.

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