Tag Archives: MA

Boston Now and Then

When we were in Boston we went on a tour called the Freedom Trail. This is a trail that took us around Boston and to many of the sites that were important in the Revolution. On the trail we realized that many things were different in the time of the American Revolution: their daily life, their relations with Britain, and warfare were all different from modern times. Here are a few examples:

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Printer with a hand painted picture of the Boston Massacre

Today, many of the things that we have are very convenient. They are cheap, easy to make, and easy to buy. But during colonial times, most things took a long time to make and weren’t always cheap and available. For example in Boston we learned that chocolate used to only be a drink. The chocolate was made in to hard chunks. These were too hard and bitter to eat by themselves so they added sugar and water to make hot chocolate. Then they would only drink it in small cups because it was very sweet and the sugar and chocolate were very expensive. Usually making the blocks of chocolate would take a couple of hours and would be very hard to make which is why it cost so much. Another example from the Freedom Trail is when we visited a printing shop where the person was printing copies of the Declaration of Independence. It was very interesting because we saw how the printing press worked. When they wanted to print something they had to place each individual letter on the printing board! This would take the printer hours to make each paper. Imagine if you had to print multiple sheets of paper each with 900+ letters and putting them in the correct place. Then the printer took two giant stamps and put ink on the letters. Finally he put the sheet down and pulled a lever that put thousands of pounds of pressure on them. When it came out it looked like a newspaper today but with no pictures or color. This took so long to do that people didn’t make papers every day like they do today because it took so much work. Chocolate and printing are just two examples of things were different about daily life back then.

Also today, England is one of America’s greatest allies. Our countries help each other in many ways, but during revolutionary times the British and the colonists didn’t get along very well. During the Revolutionary War period Britain didn’t like America. They thought that the people in America couldn’t rule themselves and that they belonged to Britain because they had settled the colonies. The colonists thought that they were British too and because of this they should have the same rights as the people in Britain. The British didn’t agree with this and they taxed the colonists. This made them mad so when a British ship with tea (one of the main taxed goods) came into a port in Boston the people dressed up like Native Americans and threw the tea into the harbor. The British didn’t like this at all and they sent troops to Boston and as punishment closed the port so that no ships could come in. The people in Boston were starving and many of the people were not making any money. Before this had happened the different colonies had not paid much attention to each other but now all of the colonies were sending food and other things to Boston to help them against the British. Another thing that the Boston Tea Party did was that it stirred up hate against the British. The other colonies started thinking about Revolution and started training militias to fight against the British army. All of this shows how the British treated the colonists and how the colonists responded rebelliously to them

Modern warfare is based on stealth, speed, and accuracy. The war between colonists and British soldiers was out in the open, slow, and inaccurate. During the Revolutionary War the soldiers would stand in lines and shoot all at once.This might sound kind of dumb but there is a reason behind all of this. The guns they used were incredible inaccurate so if they all stood in a line and shot then they would hit more people than if each person aimed at one enemy. They stood so close because the muskets could hit a person 75 feet away at most.  During the war the British had another problem. The muskets at that time made huge amounts of smoke when they were fired and no one knew who was the enemy and who was not. So they decided that they would just wear big red coats. This was a great plan because then it was clear that they were the British and their soldiers would not be confused who was who. However, there was one flaw. It was also perfectly clear to the enemy that they were the British and that was who they were to shoot. So when the colonists were hiding to ambush the British, they would see the bright red coats. All in all the British might have been the strongest army of the time but they might not have been the smartest. Both armies used tactics much different from todays.

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Revolutionary War reenactment

As you can see in the time of the Revolution many things were different from the way that they are now. They had a difficult overall lifestyle, unbearable relations with each other, and unproductive ways of fighting. I think that it was interesting to see how people lived back then and I hope we can see more of how people lived at different times.

The Fun Farm

Shooting paintballs at targets.

Shooting paintballs at targets.

When Miles and I were visiting our aunt and uncle outside of Boston, we drove to a farm. It had a lot of fun things to do.

There were exciting activities like rodeo, corn maze, paintball, and a huge jumping pillow. The rodeo was a fake bull that moved in all directions. It was really hard to stay on and fun to ride. Miles and I held on for a while and when it started we looked really weird trying to hold on. There were two paintball games. The first was we shot paintballs at targets. The next was a paintball gun that shot foam balls. We picked some really good apples and raspberries. There was a huge corn maze shaped as the US. We got lost a few times. It was pretty hard but we got through it eventually. We had good cider donuts that were covered in sugar. We also watched a pig race. There were four small pigs. Each one of us chose one pig that we thought would win and Miles’s pig won (pigs are surprisingly fast). At the farm there was a big jumping pillow that was really fun. There were a lot of people on it so I got double bounced a lot.

The farm was really fun. If you’re in the Boston area you should try and go to Connor’s Farm.

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Four Foto Friday – Boston and the Cape

Last weekend, the boys had a great time with their Aunt and Uncle (thanks Barbara and David!) while Jen and I enjoyed a relaxing couple of days to ourselves. On Monday, we resumed our family road trip with two days in Boston and another two on Cape Cod. Here are some photo highlights:

Practicing the muster drill at the Minuteman Museum

Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!

Concord: Minute Man National Park was the main historical stop with Uncle David and Aunt Barbara. Here they spent the day learning about the Battle of Lexington and Concord. They also enjoyed a private lesson on how to “muster” like a revolutionary solider. The boys also had a chance to go apple picking, do a corn maze, shoot paintball guns, watch the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, play in an arcade, win loads of candy, and ride a mechanical bull (seriously). Aunt Barbara and Uncle David are way too much fun… no way we can compete with that!


Rockport Harbor

Rockport: With the boys in good hands, Jen and I also had a nice weekend exploring the north shore (Cape Ann). Our first stop was the quaint town of Essex, where we ate at Woodman’s, a 100-year institution that specializes in fried clams, and checked out the a few antique shops. Then, we visited Gloucester to pay our respects at the Fisherman’s Memorial in the center of town. Finally, we hit Rockport, a wonderfully picturesque village that beckoned for us to just poke around the many art galleries and cafes. A very pleasant couple of days.

Outside Paul Revere's House.

Outside Paul Revere’s House.

Boston: By Monday, we were back together in downtown Boston to explore many famous sites along the The Freedom Trail and Black Heritage Trail. The historical info was flying fast, but the guides and park rangers did a great job of keeping things interesting and understandable. We toured Paul Revere’s House, climbed the Bunker Hill Monument, boarded the USS Constitution, learned Revolutionary-era printing, and visited the first African American school in the country.  We also had fun checking out the buskers in front of Quincy Market and eating some incredible Italian food in Boston’s North End.

Skim boarding the Cape

Skim boarding the Cape

Cape Cod: On Wednesday, we said goodbye to Boston and headed south to the Cape. Most of the day was spent along Cape Cod National Seashore, which provided opportunities to hike around a salt marsh, climb the Highlands Lighthouse, enjoy the secluded beaches in Truro, and checkout the sand dunes near Province Lands. Skim boarding was the boys’ highlight… we even had seals (and probably sharks) watching us from the waves just beyond the sand bar. Sunset and dinner in Provincetown capped off the action-packed day.

Our time in Cape Cod has been so fun, we’ve decided to stay one more day in order to visit the annual Scallop Festival in nearby Yarmouth. Tomorrow, we’ll move to our final stop, Charlestown NH, and checkout a Revolutionary War re-enactment at Fort No.4.

Our first leg of GFRT comes to an end on Monday, so we’ll put a pause on FFF until our travel resume in early October. It’s been an amazing start to our yearlong adventure. More photos and reflections on New England (and much much more) are still to come.


Four Foto Friday – MA and NH

Just returned from an action packed week in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Even though we don’t have the RV yet, we wanted to visit Jen’s Aunt and Uncle at Silver Lake, something we try to squeeze in each summer. We’re also easing in to the “school” year with a few educational activities, which are part of the highlights below.

Boys at Plimoth

Plimoth Plantation: The first stop this week was a day trip to Plimoth Plantation. This “living museum” tells the story early English settlement of the northeastern US. Historical re-enactors go about their daily lives and answer questions from visitors to their village, just seven years after the Mayflower‘s landing. The story is told not just from the English perspective, but also from the Wampanoag Indian’s whose camp lies just outside the plantation walls. Miles and Owen especially enjoyed hearing about Native American life, learning to how to plaster a colonial house with wattle and daub, and checking out the muskets that were used at this time. We finished the day with a quick trip to the Mayflower II, a full sized replica of the original ship that carried these settlers to the New World. A great trip for us all!

Mt. Chacorua

Camping and Climbing Mount Chocorua: From Plimoth, we drove to New Hampshire for two days of tent camping. Even though we don’t have our RV yet (pickup this coming week!) it was a great way for us all to get into the camping spirit with a pretty location, evening campfires, and a great hiking challenge. It took us 6 hours to hike the 8 mile trail up and down Mt Chocorua, a beautiful climb that affords incredible views of the state’s White Mountains. This was a big accomplishment for Miles and Owen, who have done hikes in Asia, but nothing of this length or altitude (3478 ft). Let’s hope this is the first of many more mountains to come.

Boys Letterboxing

Letter-boxing in Madison, NH: From two nights of tent camping, we joined Jen’s aunt and uncle at their cabin on Silver Lake (Madison, NH). Debbie and Dean are both history buffs, and they recently obtained a set of letter-box clues that describe the history of the local area. This scavenger hunt activity took us to an abandoned lead mine, to the huge glacially-deposited Madison boulder, and to the site of bean-hole cooking that was inherited from Native Americans and is still celebrated in the town today. In this photo, Owen is adding a stamp (found in each letter box) to his journal.

Jen Silver Lake

Relaxing at Silver Lake: No trip to New Hampshire would be complete without a bit of fun at Silver Lake. Whether it was listening to family stories, playing with Bentley the dog, jumping from a rope swing on Blueberry Island, or spotting baby loons from a kayak, there’s no shortage of entertainment at the lake. It was especially nice to experience the lake so late in the season (something we often miss) with its cooler nights and hints of autumn colors. Thanks for a great visit, Debbie and Dean!