New Bedford and Salem
6:30 a.m. Praise the Lord/Buddha/Vishnu/your respective deity that we finally got to sleep in (relatively speaking). Luckily, our hotel’s bathroom window didn’t close fully, so we had a lovely juxtaposition between the 40 degree bathroom and the 85 degree bedroom, causing me to wake up in a sweat (and not the usual kind I get from dreams or eating too much bacon).
(Once again, quick reminder of the two protagonists: myself and my brother)
Okay, back to the story:
Our hotel provided us with complimentary breakfast. Although I want to dwell upon the fact that they only had four mini muffins, a few slices of bread, two boxes of cereal, coffee, and a container of yogurt, THEY HAD A WAFFLE MACHINE SO I GUESS IT ALL WORKED OUT IN THE END? Sure?! I personally enjoyed the hotel staff awkwardly creeping in the background of the café floor, watching us eat. It was like dinner and a show, except the dinner was breakfast, and the only show was the staff watching us.
After eating and showering, we finally left and headed south for an hour and a half to reach the coastal town of New Bedford. Why New Bedford? Well there are 2, count em, 2 specific reasons:
New Bedford is the city where Frederick Douglass lived after escaping slavery. You can read about his time in his autobiography (one of my favorite non-fictions).
And my true reason for visiting, New Bedford is the land location of Herman Melville’s famous novel, Hamlet. I’m kidding, it’s Moby-Dick. One of the most famous (or infamous, depending on if you enjoy the book or not) scenes takes place at a chapel in the town, where the protagonist, Ishmael, listens to a sermon about the ocean by Fr. Mapple, which focused heavily on the story of Jonah (foreshadowing much?). That chapel exists to this day and is called Seamen’s Bethel. THAT is the reason for visiting the city.
Arriving in New Bedford, we got lost immediately (that’s three now, I believe), wandering the streets aimlessly until we could get our bearings. Coming to our senses, my brother pointed out the steeple of a church among the rooftops, which luckily revealed itself as Seamen’s Bethel.
LUCKY ME, IT WAS UNDER RENOVATION. While I was happy to still visit the structure itself, I will admit that I was a tad disappointed that I was unable to see the pulpit that is shaped like a fishing boat, and witness the epitaphs throughout the building. But, “counting my blessing” (which I think is an old-timey saying), I was still excited to view the exterior as well.
We then went to lunch and enjoyed warming and delicious soups and sandwiches. I had a nice bowl of vegetable chili (which I think would just be vegetable soup); regardless, it was superb and hit the spot of “I need something warm in me now because New England winters are cold.”
Following our time in New Bedford, we traveled back to our hotel in (regular) Bedford to take a nap. Sidenote: naps are amazing and I would always recommend. I wish I could take one now, but it’s 11 p.m. and I think that’s just called “going to bed.” This nap gave us the needed energy to carry on with the game plan and head to the spookiest city in America: Salem.
Why Salem, you ask? Salem was the home of one of the nation’s first prominent authors, Nathaniel Hawthorne (AKA Herman Melville’s lover [that was for you, Professor Renker]), and is the setting of all/most of his books. My destination, visit the House of Seven Gables and the birthplace of Hawthorne, both of which are located on the same plot of land.
The site was very ~spooky~, being that this was the actual house that Hawthorne referenced and described in his story. The city itself was very self-referencing–and somewhat proud?–of their witch-burning past. There were at least seven attractions we saw for witch-related activities, including witch houses and witch museums. It was a little bizarre, but nonetheless, incredibly interesting.
Later, after visiting the Hawthorne establishments, we wandered around the city for, um, about an hour trying to find a good restaurant for a poor college student and his poor recent college graduate brother. It was, how do you say, hopeless? Instead, we drove back to our hotel in Bedford and found a restaurant nearby (it was Chipotle. That authentic Boston cuisine). It was a good ending to the day.