Posts Tagged ‘East coast’

        I recently wrote an article on the Oregon Lighthouses so I thought I would do something on the Atlantic Ocean.  The problem is you could write a book if you started talking about the East Coast lighthouses so I decided to concentrate on one important area in North Carolina.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore has a lot to offer.  It extends more than seventy miles on the northeast part of the state.  It includes three islands: Ocracoke, Hatteras and Bodie Island. These islands are connected by a free bridge and free ferry service.
Actually the first two Bodie Island Lighthouses were on Pea Island, an area now underwater.  The first one, built in 1847 was abandoned due to a poor foundation.  The second, built in 1859 was destroyed during the Civil War.  The current lighthouse was built in 1872 and is 156 feet tall.  Currently the public is not allowed to climb it.
After your visit, it’s time to move on to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse with a climb up the 257 steps to the top if you are adventurous.  This area has always needed a lighthouse because of the shoals in the area.  There are two ocean currents in this area, the cold Labrador and the warm Gulf Stream.  And when these waters collide, they cause ever changing sandbars which means lots of shipwrecks.
The funds were given in 1793 but the structure at Hatteras wasn’t finished until 1802.  Over the years they kept making modifications, especially when they realized the light wasn’t strong enough to warn ships of the dangers of “the Graveyard of the Atlantic.”  The 208 foot brick lighthouse was finally moved to its present location in 1999.
Next we take a ferry to Ocracoke Island.  Native Americans have lived on this island for a long time and European presence started in 1719.  This island has a lot of history, including pirates, and recently many artifacts have been found from its past. The original lighthouse was built in 1794 adjacent to the island but was obsolete in thirty years since the main channel changed and then lightening destroyed the structure.
In 1823 a new lighthouse was built on the island and is 75 feet tall.  The walls are solid brick 12 feet thick.  There is an octagonal lantern at the top which houses the light beacon.  This is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the nation.
If you have time you could also journey to Kill Devil Hills to the Wright Brothers National Memorial.  There is a Park Ranger program and Visitor Center that exhibits information on the brothers background and the development of the gliders as well as the 1903 Flyer.
Just west of the camp buildings is a large granite boulder commemorating the take-off point.  And you can climb Big Kill Devil Hill for a breathtaking view of the area from the sound to the sea.  On top of the hill stands a 60 foot Pylon, the site where Wilbur and Orville conducted their glider experiments.
From sea to shining sea there are so many incredible sights to explore in our country.  Whether you live on the East Coast, the West Coast or points in between now is the right time to visit these sights.

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Last summer I was out researching a tour for my company and ended up in Ohio.  I have been to several cities in Ohio over the years.  There really are a lot of places and attractions to discover in that state.  And when I got to Columbus, it reminded me of a tour I had done there previously.

Columbus is a city that makes for a great Mystery tour.  There is so much to see and do in this Capital city of approximately 800,000 people.  The city was the birthplace of James Thurber and he once said, “Columbus is a town in which almost anything is likely to happen and in which almost everything has.”    In 1873 a college was opened, later to be named Ohio State and with a current enrollment of 48,500, the rest as they say is history.

The city ranks with Silicone Valley as a center for scientific and technological information.  It houses 15 Fortune 1000 companies and has been ranked by Forbes as a top place for business and top 15 Most Affordable Cities to live. This was the first town to offer 24 hour banking machines and city wide cable TV.    It is roughly in the middle of the state with Clevland and Akron to the north, Cincinnati to the south and Dayton to the west.

On that particular tour, we arrived from the Chicago area in the evening, just in time for dinner and a play at the Ohio Village.  Just four miles north of downtown, the Ohio Village is designed to recreate a typical county-seat town in Ohio in the mid 19th century, about the time of the Civil War.   Since this was a Mystery tour our play was a “who dunnit” and many of the travelers were involved.  We had to guess who the murderer was and only 2 people out of 50 were correct.

The next morning we met our guide who took us on a city tour, including Ohio University and stadium, North Market, Santa Maria (a replica of Columbus’ ship) overlook and the Topiary Gardens.  Since we were going to dinner at the Buckeye Hall of Fame, I made sure the guide pointed out a buckeye tree that morning.

We stopped for lunch at the German Village and this was definitely a fun place.  Established in the 1800’s by the Germans, this restored district has over 200 acres of houses, parks, gardens, shops and restaurants.  Before turning everyone loose for lunch and shopping, we saw a twenty minute video that gave us a history of the area.

Next stop was the Franklin Park Conservatory.  This 12,500 square foot glass Palm House was built in 1895 in the style of the Glass Palace from the 1893 Chicago’s World Fair.  You can see a tropical rain forest, the Himalayan Mountains, a Zen Garden, an arid desert and a Pacific Island water garden.  There was also a bonsai collection.  Our tour focused on the Blooms and Butterflies exhibit where newly hatched butterflies were released daily and we had a
short class on butterfly gardening.

The next morning we were off to the Anthony-Thomas Candy Company.  We walked through a glass enclosed suspended “Cat-Walk” and saw eight lines that produced 25.000 pounds of candy per shift.  We saw huge copper kettles where the centers were made and silver wrapped pipes that carry liquid chocolate throughout the factory.  The tour ended in the gift shop where we were able to sample and/or buy candy.    I kept looking for Lucy and Ethel trying to jam candy in their mouths from the assembly lines but never did see them.

Then it was on to the Kelton House Museum,  This is a 19th century brick house in Greek Revival style and the docents were all dressed in the era—roughly 1850’s.  If you asked them a question they spoke as if they were living back then.  And we got a surprise at the end.  After telling us about their neighboirs and what it was like living during that time, we learned the house was a stop on the Underground Railroad.  We were all amazed by this and then we were able to view the exhibit in the basement about that part of the house’s history.   It was truly fascinating.

After the Kelton House, we went to the State Capitol for a tour and a turkey dinner for lunch.  It was a good thing we didn’t have much to do in the afternoon after that meal!  We made a stop at Camelot Cellars where we got a chance to watch and help stir a batch of wine being made.  We all received a wine glass for a gift and after sampling wine, cheese and crackers, we were ready to go back to the hotel and enjoy the amentities there for the evening without another thought of food.

On our last day in Columbus we stopped at the Ohio History Center and the Thurber House before heading back to the Chicago area.  It was easy to see how this city is a perfect cross section of consumers and is used to test new products.  So many fast food chains have developed their menus here, the city is also know as “Test Market USA.”

A couple of other places to mention in Ohio: Not too far to the West is Dayton, home of the Wright Brothers  and the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.  Actually that is another place I could write a whole article on and perhaps I will at another time.

But, if you get a chance to go to Cambridge (about 70 miles East of Columbus) at the intersection of I-70 and I-77, please try and visit during the Christmas season.  The population of this little hamlet is just under 11,000 and was home to William Boyd.  Are you old enough to remember Hopalong Cassidy?   It is also the home of the National Museum of Cambridge Glass.

During the holidays (early November to early January) the Dickens Victorian Village is set up with almost 90 scenes populated by hand made mannequins dressed in period clothing set up by the benches and lampposts in the downtown area. They depict Dickens era activities and literary characters including Bob Cartchit and Tiny Tim.  I was only able to see them in their wharehouse where they get repaired for the following Christmas season but even that was quite a site.  In the evening you can stop by the 1881 courthouse right downtown.  Each night it is lit with 30,000 lights set to music.  It is reminiscent of Fremont Street in Vegas although the lights are on the building, not overhead.

Remember the Christmas season is fast approaching so if you live anywhere near that neck of the woods consider a road trip to that charming village.  It will definitely be worth your while.

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Hey, guess what? I have a new book out and it is available on Amazon! I write Travel Romance stories that are classified as “Boomer Lit.” They are romance stories for 50+ and the problems they encounter.  The stories also read like travelogues. “Journey Beckons”
takes place in the Pacific Northwest. “Journey To Port” takes place in Wisconsin and Michigan. And, my new one “Journey to The Tropics” takes place on cruises to both the Bahamas and the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

In my new book, the ship stops at Key West so I thought that would also make
a good travel article in case you are looking for a warm place to visit next winter.                         The Florida Keys are a coral cay archipelago in the southeast United States. They begin at the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula, about 15 miles south of Miami, and extend in a
gentle arc south-southwest and then westward to Key West, the westernmost of
the inhabited islands.

The islands lie along the Florida Straits, dividing the Atlantic Ocean to the east from the Gulf of Mexico to the west.As I mentioned in my St. Augustine article, Henry Flagler, an industrialist, began building hotels in St. Augustine in the late 1800s. His goal was to turn that city into
an exclusive winter retreat.  However, the temperatures were not as warm in northern Florida as
they were in the southern part of the state. So he began building hotels further south, eventually all the way to Key West. However, there was just one problem; getting tourists to the island

Flagler had started a railroad which stretched from the Northeast states to St. Augustine to get his hotel guests to that city. Next he laid the railroad track that became the roadbed that put the Keys in easy reach. In that way, he could transport the wealthy Northerners to his hotel there. Eventually a two lane road was built, which stretched one hundred thirteen miles on US Highway 1, from the Florida mainland down to Key West. The road was a marvel in the making with forty two bridges connecting the different islands. Key Largo (made famous by the Humphrey Bogart film and in song) was the island next to the Florida mainland in the upper keys. The road ended at Key West, the southernmost city in the U.S.

At the nearest point, the southern tip of Key West is just 90 miles from Cuba.The population is only about 25,000 but naturally that figure is higher when the tourists are in
town.  The island has long been a haven for writers and artists such as Ernest Hemmingway, Tennessee Williams and Robert Frost.

Naturally so close to Cuba, the island has been a refuge for Cuban political exiles. The island has also served as a base against pirates as well as a large salvage business from the many shipwrecks in the area.

When my brother and I visited the island, the shuttle bus from the ship dropped us at Mallory Square where you can catch the conch tour train. The trolley is a ninety minute narrative about the island and it is a good overview of the area. We saw both the old and the new Key West including Hemingway’s house, the waterfront, and a stop at a sign that said we were at the southernmost point of the United States

The island’s look reminds you of a coastal New England town but with lush vegetation as found on many Caribbean islands. As we rode the shuttle bus for the 10 minute trip to the downtown, we could see palm trees, hibiscus, and bougainvillea. The architecture is predominately Bahamian and the ship captains’ used wooden pegs instead of nails to build their homes. Living in a salt environment, they did not have to worry about the rust and corrosion that comes
with using nails.

Today tourists flocked to the area for the beautiful sunsets and nightlife, as well as margaritas and key lime pie.  But don’t forget to tour the Hemmingway house if you have a
chance. The mansion was built in 1851 and Hemmingway bought it in 1931. The
lush tropical garden, planted by the author, is home to more than fifty cats
descended from the author’s felines. No worries about rats or mice getting into
that house. And you can see a penny embedded in the concrete at the head of the
pool.  Hemmingway supposedly did that when he found out what the pool would cost to install.  You can almost picture the author sitting in his house writing “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” as he watched his cats running around in the yard.”

In the evening you can take a ghost tour and hear all the legends of haunting and shipwrecks. And just before sunset, everyone flocks to Mallory Square to watch the various street performers. Musicians, jugglers, and contortionists vie for the attention and donations of the spectators gatheredto watch them.

That seems a great way to make a living.  Be sure and have a margarita in hand as you wait for the sunset.  There are also several museums you can visit or even go diving on some of the shipwrecks in the area.  Just remember, you are now on “island time.”

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Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall–anytime is a good time to visit Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

My company has a bus tour out of Chicago to Myrtle Beach in the spring and fall.  Did you know that Myrtle Beach is referred to as the “Branson of the East Coast”?    Although the population is low at under 30,000, because of the way it is situated on the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean, the area known as “The Grand Strand” tends to not get direct hits from hurricanes.  It also helps that the Gulf Stream is about 40 miles offshore which contributes to the temperate climate.

The Grand Strand runs along the ocean in a crescent shape for over 60 miles.  To say it is a major tourist area is an understatement.  The German word for Strand means beach and that is why the area is called that.  Myrtle Beach is the biggest city along the Grand Strand area.    The city began as a year round golfing resort in 1927 and by the 1970’s it had become a premier golfing destination.  And they are also known to have more minature golf courses than anywhere else.

There are many resort hotels and high rise condos along the beach with a Boardwalk and Promenade that runs a little over a mile.  This has truly become a family destination (or you may want to take the grandkids) with many restaurants serving a smorgasbord of buffets with lots of fish, including crab legs and shrimp and everything in between.  For breakfast or lunch you can try the food at one of the many pancake houses in the area.

Also right downtown is the Family Kingdom Amusement Park which is reminiscent of old time amusement parks with a wooden roller coaster, ferris wheel and carousel.

And, the shopping…. There are 2 Tanger outlets very close to each other as well as my favorite place, Broadway at the Beach.  This is a fun place to stroll around with over 100 shops and 30 restaurants.  You can follow the Boardwalk through several different themed villages and
there are 3 bridges you can use to walk across the man made lake.   Besides shopping for the adults, there is plenty for the kids to do, too, including the Ripley’s Aquarium.  We took our travelers there and you walk through a tube with sharks swimming all around you.  Truly awesome.  And if you get tired out from all the walking, there is an IMAX theater so you can sit and recharge while watching a movie.

And, did I mention theaters?   There is a variety theater called, The Carolina Opry, Legends in Concert, featuring Elvis, of course, Medevial Theater, Good Vibrations, Big Laughs Theater, Alabama Theater, The House of Blues, Pirates Voyage Dinner Attraction, and The Palace Theater where you can see anything from magicians to Irish dancers.  I heard a couple of years ago that Pat Boone was looking at building a theater in the area, but then I guess that is still on the back burner   However there is certainly no scarcity of shows and music for you to choose from.

If you want to take in some other attractions outside the city, to the north is another shopping area called Barefoot Landing.  To the south is Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark with a large outside collection of fugurative sculptures by American artists.  Not far from Brookgreen Gardens is Pawley’s Island, one of the oldest summer resorts on the East Coast.  The rice plantation owners brought their familes here to escape inland heat in the summer. You can still buy the rope hammocks hand made by the locals.  The island has been termed “arrogantly shabby” with its shoeless laid back lifestyle.

On our tour we also took a day trip up to Wilmington, North Carolina.  This town along the Cape Fear River was the last Atlantic port opened to blockade runners during the Civil War.  It has one of the largest historic districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was founded more than 250 years ago.  Great pine plantations lined the river and produced rice, indigo and cotton which contributed to its wealth.  The battleship North Carolina resides here and the city has been refered to as Hollywood East for the many movies made as well as the television shows, “Dawson Creek” and “Matlock”.

If you do nothing more than take advantage of the beaches it is worth the trip.  And if you come from the Midwest, you get to travel through the Smoky Mountains–one of my favorite drives in the U.S.   Meanwhile back in Myrtle Beach, I hear “Crabby Mike’s” calling me for dinner and after that a little rock n roll at the Legends Theater!!!!!!!

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            St. Augustine, FL is another city I like with lots to do.  It is the oldest occupied European settlement in the US.  In April of 1513 Ponce de Leon landed in the area looking for the Fountain of Youth.  Although it was claimed by the French, the city was eventually given to England.  In the 16th & 17th centuries, pirates sacked the city and due to its strategic coastal location forts were built around the area.
            This town was very quiet until the 1880’s when Henry Flagler began to develop the area as a winter playground for rich Easterners.  He built the Ponce de Leon hotel, which has now been turned into Flagler College.  There are 79 Tiffany stain glass windows and today you can tour the college to see what it looked like in the early days as a resort.
            Flagler was an interesting man.  First he built the railroad stretching from the North to St. Augustine.  His hotel was beautiful and many of the rich and famous stayed there in the winter but it never really caught on because the city is in northern Florida and the temperature wasn’t overly warm in the winter.  Eventually, Flagler built hotels and extended the railroad all the way down to Key West.
            If you like visiting churches the Cathedral-Basilica is right downtown facing the plaza.  It was originally built in the 1790’s but reconstructed after a fire in 1887.  Then there is the Old City to visit.  This is a pretty fun area with narrow streets filled with old homes, museums, stores and restaurants.   We had a winter tour to St. Augustine and I did several tours there so I was able to explore the Old City region.  There are the typical tourist places like several places to tour, the oldest school house, the oldest house, a wax museum, a pirate museum, the Old Jail complex, the original Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, a Lighthouse, and the list goes on and on.  And, of course, one must not forget the Fountain of Youth.
            Naturally I stopped there and it was kind of a neat place but trust me—the water doesn’t work.  Not only am I not younger but the water tasted like rotten eggs with a soda taste.  But if you visit, I’ll bet you will try a taste from the spring hoping that it might work!
            The best thing to do, which my company did, is to take the Old Town Trolley Tour.  It starts where the Old Jail is located (you can leave your car here) and they take you on an open trolley ride for 70 minutes pointing out all the sites and giving you background information.  The cost is over $20 but it includes admission into the Heritage Museum and it’s good for 3 days.  There are 22 stops and you can hop on and off.  Since the streets are narrow and parking at a premium this is really a great way to get around the city.  Trolleys run every 15-20 minutes and they are easy to flag down.  If you stay at a hotel downtown, you can keep your car at the hotel and use the trolley instead.
            We also took a scenic one hour cruise on the harbor and saw dolphins while we learned more history.  We took the motorcoach a little farther afield and went to the golfing and outlet areas.  And then one day we went up to Amelia Island.
You have to pass through Jacksonville, FL (where we went to a dinner theater one night) to get to Amelia Island and that was a beautiful area.  Fernandina Beach was named one of the top twelve vacation destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  Once a vibrant Victorian seaport village, there is a fifty block historic district with many original structures dating back to the 19th century with many Victorian style mansions and cottages well preserved.
            The Visitor Center, located in a downtown train station, can give you all kinds of information and don’t forget to take a picture of the pirate Pegleg Pete outside the Palace Saloon.
            And, if you are going back to St. Augustine when you drive through Jacksonville, there is Anheuser-Busch that gives tours and sampling.  Some of my travelers really enjoyed that stop, especially the free sampling part.
             If you can help it, I would avoid this area in the summer when it can be very warm and humid.  But perhaps you like that kind of weather.  I guess anytime you can visit St. Augustine is a good time.    Florida beckons………   

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Since I have quite  a few new followers I tought I would update this article…

Where is the most perfect place to live?

Headlines last summer said “Half the country wilts underunrelenting heat.”

I couldn’t help but wonder if there is “the” perfect place to live in the US. I know Northerners like going south in the winter but you never hear about a big exodus from the south to the north in the summer. I am sure some people do come north. Personally I find it is easier to button up against the cold but there are only so many clothes you can take off. And I have never been a big fan of “glistening” as the southern ladies refer to just plain old sweat!!!!

It almost seems the best idea would be to have two places–one south in the winter and one north in the summer. But this is only an attainable goal for just a few people and not realistic for most of us.

So where is the perfect place to live?

Looking at the big map of the US hanging on the wall in my office,obviously the first place that comes to mind is southern California. However,with the high taxes, budgetary problems, and over crowdedness that seems like a strike against that area. And, of course, there is always the specter of the”big one” that is coming. Could the Sonora Desert, the hottest desert in the world, actually become beach front property someday? And, if it did, would that create a temperature change?  Ocean breezes across the desert….hhhhmmmmm!

But if you had just one place to live, where would it be? I think the first place that jumps out for year round living is California.  LA and San Francisco are expensive and very overcrowded, but what about San Diego? I have always liked that area. It is big in population, but still retains a small town feeling. The hills around the city are lush and the temperature is very moderate year round so plants and shrubs flower almost continuously. But will tidal waves wipe out the city if the “big one” hits? And, of course, taxes are horrendous.  Perhaps home prices have fallen some with the downturn in the economy but they have always been pricey in this area. Nevertheless, there is a lot to like about San Diego. Over fifteen museums line the streets of Balboa Park which includes the zoo, one of the finest in the world. And then there is Sea World which is also a big attraction. In the winter you can take a cruise from the downtown docks out to see the whales that migrate between Mexico and the Northwestern states. And, the airport is right downtown; as well as “Old Town” with many restaurants, historic buildings, and museums depicting life from 1821 to 1872. If you are looking for something free, the beach is always available with the ocean waves rolling in. They even have a “doggy beach” for the animal lovers. And one must not forget Coronado across the bridge from the downtown where the famous “Hotel Dell” is located. I once had a chicken dinner at that hotel for only $55.00. It was the cheapest entree on the menu!  California has a lot of parks,good weather, and many things to do. It is easy to see why people are attracted to this state. However, overcrowding and high taxes have to be taken into account.

But what of other southern areas?

The Gulf Coast states–Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama & Florida seem like good places to live. Winters are great. But the humidity in the summer is mind boggling. I have not lived in FL but have visited there in both winter & summer.

I have, however, lived on Galveston Island in Texas and loved it in the winter. Very mild and the water temps help keep the weather from getting too cold. Once in awhile you get a cold front from the north, but the winds always turn southerly after a couple of days.

However, summer is a different story.  Coming from the north, I could not take it.  I had a brother-in-law who moved to Houston from South Dakota  and after thirty years he still could not take the oppressive summer humidity; although the alternative, winter in the north, was also not an answer.  But he could afford to live north in the summer & winter in Houston which gave him the best of both worlds.

People who are raised in the south don’t seem to be bothered by the heat as much.  However, they don’t sweat….they glisten!  I must say Galveston, being an island, is a lot cooler than inland and that is why people stream to the coastal areas all along the Gulf Coast states in the summer. Usually there are ocean breezes that help, but the dewpoint is always over 75 and you can sweat while being in your house with the AC on. Of course, everyone has outdoor pools which also help some. But I am used to water being refreshing and the bathtub warm water in a pool does not do a lot for me. If you do go to the pool, evening seems to be the best choice. However, Southerners who have always lived in the south seem to adapt to the temps and don’t seem to mind them. Even Floridians seem to take the warm summer temps in stride.

So, what about the north? Winters definitely can be brutal but no more than heat in the south in the summer.

Its definitely easier to bundle up against the cold, while you can only take so many clothes off in the heat. And, lots of people like the snow.  Up north (and that includes the West, like Wyoming and Colorado, as well as theNortheast), they ski, skate, and snowmobile and do other winter activities. And summer temps tend to be perfect.

So is there an answer to where is the best place to live?  I guess living in the north, south, east or west doesn’t really matter.  One thing I noticed is people like to live in the same areas they grew up in, if at all possible. If you lived near water, you like living near water. If you lived in mountains, you tend to gravitate to those areas. They say people who live in the desert would not trade it for green grass or flowing rivers. It is what they are used to.

So if you can’t afford to live in two places, the most perfect place to live is where you are. Weather is something we can’t control. We must accept the cold, the heat, the rain or snow–or lack there of.

To me, the perfect place to live is where your family and friends are. That is what makes life worth living no matter what the outside conditions.

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First stop…Boston. A guided tour takes you on the Freedom Trail with stops at Old Ironsides, Paul Revere’s home and Old North Church (one if by land and 2 if by sea). After lunch at Quincy Market (what a fun place this is) it’s a short 2 hour ride to Portland, Maine where dinner is served on an old ship converted to a bayside restaurant. The next day is a ferry ride among the islands. The “summer homes” are unbelievable and can only be reached by boat. After lunch there is a quick stop at a lighthouse (immortalized in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who came from this area) before continuing through the White Mountains to North Conway, NH. In North Conway we ride the Notch train up a steep mountain. And after lunch we take a drive back to town on the “Kank”. One time I was sure I saw Julie Andrews coming down the mountain singing to me! Then a quick ride through the Green Mountains of Vermont to Connecticut. So much there to see and do. The Essex Riverboat and train is our next excursion. The train was featured in the latest Indiana Jones movie and the last time I was there the conductor who was featured in the movie was still there on the train he loves. Finally we end the train on Cape Cod in Hyannis for two nights. We do a harbor cruise to see the Kennedy compound and ride the Cape Cod train through all the cranberry bogs. Dinner, of course, is lobster and the next day we are on our way back to Boston for our trip home. Memories of New England in the fall last forever in our heads. Next week: San Antonio

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