Again it rained all night, and the day was wet and windy.
We left early and drove back into the National Park, stopping to enjoy our breakfast of bacon pancakes sitting above Nauset Marsh. The sea looked very wild!
We worked a bit on the website before driving back up the coast, stopping to walk to 3 attractive lighthouses called the 3 sisters.
Adrian by one of the 3 sisters
We passed the place where a Frenchman had laid a transatlantic cable from in 1879, and now we came to the site of Marconi’s transatlantic wireless communication. We have been to Poldhu in Cornwall, where the English equivalent one was sited.
Because of coastal erosion there is virtually nothing left of the huge site which was here, but we looked at a model reconstruction.
It was still raining, but we walked a pleasant trail through the woods, called the Cedar Swamp trail. We’re glad that we did, because afterwards the rain got worse!
We drove on to Great Pond, and then to Orleans, where we finished the website and sent the email.
Although now getting late, we made one last visit - to Nauset Beach. It had stopped raining, so we had a quick ‘blow’ before heading back on the motorway, turning off to Mary Dunn Road in Barnstable, where we had looked for somewhere to dump yesterday. We pulled in beside the road at 6.20, just as it was getting dark.
Saturday 15th October 49 miles
We’re hoping that this long period of wet weather is nearing an end! Not yet though! There was some light rain during the night, but in the morning it was torrential. Consequently it was very dark, and we were in no rush to get off!
Even so, I did walk across to Mary Dunn Lake just before we left.
The roads of course were now flooded as we drove towards Hyannis. We were able to log in. We looked at the weather forecast, and actually saw some SUN for next week. Let’s hope that it’s right!
I bought a fresh loaf, and we stopped by a little inlet called Edmund Harlow Landing to have lunch. We found the GPS really useful today to find the smaller roads. We managed a short walk onto the beach.
Soon after we set off again, the rain became really torrential, so we pulled in for a while. When we continued driving along by the beach, we pulled into a flooded car park. It was difficult to see what was car park and what was lake! We saw people arriving for a wedding reception – the ladies in stiletto heels were wading through several inches of water! Later, in a break between the rain, we saw wedding groups posing for photos by the beach and lighthouse.
We found the coast here at Falmouth a delightful surprise – rather like an unspoilt English coastal town. Very low key, and with not much housing.
The beach near Falmouth
We made our way to Walmart at Teaticket, to check if we could stay. We then set off on a delightful tour of this most southwesterly corner of the Cape Cod peninsula. We even had a short glimpse of the sun, and a second or two of blue sky, before the next heavy grey sky came in.
We drove down to Woods Hole, where the ferry goes from to Martha’s Vineyard. We had been able to look across to this from Stone Dock, where we had stopped to have a cup of tea. The cormorants here had grabbed the chance of a few minutes dryness to stretch out their wings.
Having made the most of this little respite in the dire weather, we returned to Walmart just before 6 o’clock, as heavy rain descended again.
But when we looked out later, we saw the almost full moon! We haven’t seen clear skies for days!
Sunday 16th October 66 miles
Instead of rain we had high winds all night and all day, but at least we woke to a blue sky and sunshine.
We left at 9 o’clock and drove north to the bridge over the Cape Cod canal. Heading west, we stopped briefly at Onsett Beach, enjoying the blue sky.
At Marion, we saw a collection of old cars, so pulled in. The chap said it was $10, so we said that we were just passing, so he said OK, just pull in if you want a quick look! It was fun to see, but as they were all ‘hot rods’, it wasn’t as good as ‘proper’ vintage cars.
Fun for Adrian!
A bit further on, at Mattapoisett, we pulled into Dunseith garden, a run down little patch of greenery, and enjoyed our coffee sitting outside on a flat rock, for the first time for days.
Now we headed for New Bedford. This had been an old whaling port, with more whaling boats leaving from here than from any other port. We had a particular interest, as we thought that my ancestor William Lawson might have passed through here in the late 1840’s.
Much of the town is a National Historic Park, with free entry to wander around. However many of the buildings were privately owned, with separate fees. This included the whaling museum, which we wanted to visit.
We parked in Bethel Street, an extension of Johnny Cake Hill, home of the Sailors Bethel. This chapel is where sailors would call into before setting off on their long voyages. It was immortalised by Herman Melville in ‘Moby Dick’, and had a ship’s bow pulpit added in 1959 to fit the one of Melville’s imaginary description. It was closed when we first walked past, but we were pleased to be able to visit it later.
Seamen’s Bethel New Bedford
After walking around some of the cobbled streets, and seeing some of the historic buildings and the dozens of fishing boats by the dock, we came back to have lunch, and then to visit the museum.
We were disappointed to see that the museum centred more on the artistic side of whaling. There were lots of paintings, as well as exhibits of scrimshaw –intricate carving on whalebone, which the sailors used to do during their long voyages. All very nice to see, but we had hoped for more actual details about whaling. There was a half size model of a whaling ship, which was central to the museum. From an outside observation deck, there was a good view down to the docks, and the water beyond, where over the years there have been many, many shipwrecks.
A tiny exhibit showed handmade items from the Marquesas, which was good to see.
In the book shop, there were lots of books associated with Herman Melville, and another book which caught our eye was a huge tome on Captain Cook, written by Nicholas Thomas. We had spoken on the telephone to this man, while we were in Australia, as he had mentioned my ancestor Thomas Lawson, William’s brother, in a book he had written.
So there were some things of interest, but not as much as we would have liked. We found out about the Research Library, but on driving around and locating it, found that it isn’t open on Mondays, so there was no point in hanging around until tomorrow.
At 4 o’clock, we headed out, looking for somewhere to stop, but everywhere was so busy. We tried Walmart at Dartmouth, but that had notices saying no overnight parking. We drove through a small corner of Rhode Island, and back into Massachusetts at Fall River, where there was another Walmart. It was incredibly busy, and Adrian had an uneasy feeling about it. He tried several times to see if it was OK for us to stay, without getting any sense from anyone (usually it is so easy), so we gave up, and drove back to a rough pull off we had seen a bit further back, just as the sun went down.
Monday 17th October 76 miles
It was still windy, but sunny. We drove back to Shaw’s car park for breakfast, realising that we had been just into Rhode Island when we parked last night.
We now drove back into Rhode Island again, and drove through Portsmouth. We would liked to have stopped, but there were no pull offs at all. In fact, we had to use the GPS to find somewhere to stop not far from Newport.
We had coffee sitting in the cab at a lovely sandy beach, then went for a windy walk along it. The road had been rather flooded on the way.
We continued to Newport, passing more lovely beaches, and stopped at Easton Beach. We set off on the Cliff Walk. This purpose made walk, created by ‘the rich and famous’ in the early 1900’s, runs along the top of the cliffs, supposedly for 3½ miles. It was delightful, because it was out of the wind, so warm and beautiful. To the other side are several of the mansions which Newport is renowned for.
However, after about a mile, a sign said ‘cliff path closed to through traffic ½ mile’. We wondered what it meant, but sure enough, after about half a mile, the path was closed, as it was being rebuilt. It looked as though it had been like this for a long time. Why didn’t the signs at the start of the trail mention it?
We decided to make our way back. After 10 days of rain and cloud, this walk had been an unexpected delight, especially as it was so warm.
It was now 2 o’clock. We drove along the ‘Ocean Drive’, passing several more of the mansions, and then getting lovely views as we passed more grand houses. There weren’t many places to stop, but we did find one or two.
Cove at Newport
We drove around Fort Adams, where the Newport Jazz festival is held. The Americas Cup also ran from here for many years, and there is still a real boating atmosphere.
We drove back through Newport, which looked a nice historic town, and then crossed on the huge Newport Bridge. We now drove south to Narragansett, where we stopped again to enjoy the view. Rhode Island is certainly all sea, peninsulas and islands.
From here we made our way to Burlingame State Park for the night. We had several false starts, as the picnic area of the park is a couple of miles away from the camping area, and signposting in USA is never good.
When we finally got there, at 4.15, we reached our lovely spot beside Watchaug Pond. Unfortunately the wind was blowing here, and it felt quite chilly. The wind dropped, and we had a wonderful fire at the edge of the lake, sitting out until 8.45.
Tuesday 18th October 42 miles
We were disappointed to wake to rain. Luckily the day gradually cleared, and the afternoon was fine and sunny.
We came down to the sea at Weekapaug and walked on to the windy beach. This didn’t seem to bother the fishermen. One was cleaning and gutting his fish, one of which was quite a whopper. His wife was photographing him with it. The sun was making strands through the greyness, making us think of the Northern Lights. Cormorants were plentiful here too.
We drove along beside the sea to Westerly, the most western town in Rhode Island. We had passed vast car parks by the beach, and wondered how busy it must be in summer.
As so often, the directions were very poor, and we had to resort to the GPS system to find our way as we drove back into Connecticut. We made our way to Stonington, another former whaling port. It looked really attractive as we drove through to the point. The sun had now broken through, as we made our way to Mystic Seaport, where we spent the rest of the day.
This seafaring museum had been started in 1929, and was of the usual high standard of museums of this type. Very much ‘hands on’, not ‘keep off’, so kids were loving it.
A kid loving it!
The place has been set up as a seaport village, with a working shipyard as part of it. We visited this area first, before coming back out to have lunch in the Bam. We returned to see ‘the rest’ – several boats, including 3 tall ships. One of these, the Charles W Morgan, is the last wooden whaler in USA. They even had a log of all the people who had sailed on her – we would have liked to have seen William Lawson’s name, but it wasn’t there.
Tall ship with its dory
We walked through the ropewalk, the enormously long shed where the making of rope was explained as we walked through it. Everything looked so authentic and ‘right’, not all clean and polished.
On the village green, a chap was playing and singing seafaring songs in the bandstand. There was a 3 story museum on seafaring and numerous shops and other buildings to visit.
It was 4.15 when we returned to the Bam – it had been an excellent visit.
We now made our way to Walmart at Groton.
Wednesday 19th October 91 miles
The night was quiet, and we awoke to a blue sky.
We left at 9 o’clock and drove over the Thames River to New London. We found ourselves at Fort Trumbull, having driven under a bridge which we just fitted under. We had a lovely walk around on this beautiful morning, looking across the river back to Groton.
We found our way to the ferry terminal to Long island. The next boat left at 11 o’clock and it was now nearly 10.00. I had wanted to walk around the town, but we spent the time sitting in the warm sunshine. It was a calm crossing, and we sat on the top deck enjoying the view for the first half hour. It then got a bit windy, so we went inside.
We arrived at Orient Point at 12.20, and found our way into the long peninsula of Orient Beach State Park. After driving along a road with nowhere to pull off for 2 miles, we came to the parking area beside the beach. We enjoyed lunch sitting at a picnic table – first time for ages. We had walked onto the beach, which is made up of shells of all shapes and sizes. There were small birds and large butterflies.
We drove the 2 miles back, and then on to East Marion, where we had a short walk on the beach, this time made of small pebbles.
At Greenport we left the North Fork and caught a second ferry to Shelter Island.
We drove across this ‘smart’ island, and half an hour later, at 2.45 we caught a third ferry, to the South Fork of Long Island.
We made our way to Hither Hill State Park, where we hoped to camp tonight before going on to Kate’s tomorrow. We were flabbergasted o find that it would cost $48!!!
This wasn’t on, so we drove along to the end of the peninsula at Montauk Park, and stopped briefly to view the lighthouse.
We drove back again, stopping several times to phone Kate, but she wasn’t yet back. When we got there, Kate had just arrived back. She made us welcome, and we spent much time chatting.
Tuesday 20th October 31 miles
The night was quiet. As Kate had left for a hospital appointment, we had a busy, catching up morning.
We drove down to Sagaponack beach where we had lunch and then walked along the fine sand, where it was warm and sunny and out of the wind.
Sagaponack beach Long Island
We then drove to visit Sam in the care home. He seemed well, apart from the discomfort of his newly replaced hip. We chatted to him for some time, then left to drive to the pretty village of SagHarbour. We had a walk around the attractive streets before coming back to Kate’s just before 5.30.
Friday 21st October 165 miles
We heard rain as we awoke at 7 o’clock, but mostly the day was just grey.
We said our goodbyes and left at 8.45 to drive along the Montauk Highway towards New York. We drove through one pleasant town after another, and passed numerous pretty inlets surrounded by colourful autumn trees.
It gradually became more ‘American suburbia’. We stopped by a little park beside a pond at Patchogue, to have coffee, and looked across to the autumnal trees. We then continued to the western end of Fire Island, which we drove onto at the Robert Moses State park.
Fire Island – just a few miles from New York City
This is the only bit of the long sandspit that you can drive along. The rest is National Seashore, accessible by ferry. In the summer, there is a fee to come here, and it must get really busy, but today it was practically deserted as we walked across to the sandy beach in the light rain. On the beach there were lots of starfish (which we heard an American call ‘sea stars’).
We drove on to the next sandbar, stopping at Cedar Beach, overlooking the sand dunes. We walked on to the beach, once more in the drizzle. Groups of schoolchildren were walking out along the beach.
We were surprised how rural it was, until we got quite close to New York itself. But then we got into the busy roads and the traffic. We had passed dozens of tiny kamikaze birds, which seemed to dive straight into the Bam. Now we had the kamikaze drivers, who constantly jumped the red lights – something we have not seen before in USA.
So now we continued through the traffic, to Brooklyn and then to Staten Island, having seen the New York skyline mistily in the distance. We were glad that we had visited New York in the spring, so that we weren’t trying to look for the sights today, when things were quite hectic!
We drove over several huge bridges – 4 of them toll bridges – and under numerous low bridges, which we always hoped we would get through.
We were heading for Cheesequake State Park in New Jersey, and navigated ourselves there with the aid of the GPS, arriving at about 4.45.
The office said that it closed at 4.30, but the man opened up and we signed in. He looked at Adrian’s form, with our mailing address on it and proudly said ‘I knew you had an accent – that’s it, Texas!’
He then told us that the route to the campsite in this vast park went under the highway, and had an 11 ft height restriction! Thank goodness the Bam is only 9ft 11in!
We found our spot in the autumnal trees, and Adrian soon lit the fire.
Despite the ‘no alcohol’ rule, we felt that we deserved a drink after this day which had gone so well, despite our reservations of driving through New York City.
The evening was surprisingly mild, and we enjoyed our meal, sitting outside, and not coming in until 8.45.
Saturday 22nd October 71 miles
There was rain in the night and for much of the grey day, so we had no enthusiasm to rush off.
After breakfast we had a short walk through the autumnal forest.
In Cheesequake State Park New Jersey
We mistakenly came to the coast at Union Beach, but this gave us a view across to the misty New York skyline in the distance. The sea looked angry and brown, and everywhere was pretty wet and flooded, with water over the road in many places.
We had a similar view when we stopped for lunch at Atlantic Highlands.
We were heading for Sandy Hook, a peninsula which juts up into the Atlantic, below New York. It is a National Recreation Area, and in summer must be thronging with people, but today there were just the few stalwart fishermen. We drove around the park to the fort at the end, stopping to walk to both the Atlantic and the inlet side, but both were windy and wet!
It was still wet and windy as we drove south, mostly near the coast, through one town after another, some more attractive than others.
The unpleasant day became dark earlier than usual. We were heading for Walmart at Brick, using the GPS. After a diversion, as the instructions were wrong, we arrived there at 5 o’clock.
Sunday 23rd October 63 miles
The night was amazingly quiet. The sky was blue and it was a fine sunny day. We watched birds outside while we had breakfast.
We drove through pretty forested country with lots of autumn colour. We stopped to buy a huge bundle of firewood for $5, so now needed somewhere where we could have a fire. We headed for Bass River State Forest, which we found with difficulty as usual. When we reached it, we found that today they were celebrating the centennial of the park – the first park in New Jersey.
After driving on to find a pitch, we came back to see something of this festival. It was a very low key affair, with a few stalls beside the lake.
Bass River State Park centennial celebrations
It was warm in the sun, but the wind was blowing across the lake. A pleasant group was performing – a woman singer with 2 men on guitar and banjo. A second group came on who I didn’t like at all – the women singers seemed really un-tuneful. We hung around for a bit though, because there was a large celebratory cake, and we waited to try a piece before driving back to our pitch, where Adrian set to and lit a fire with this huge amount of wood.
So, we had a most wonderful fire, which we sat out beside until 10 o’clock, underneath the stars, in our splendid isolation.
Monday 24th October 83 miles
It was a really quiet night, but cold. There was light cloud, which became heavier as the day went on, and ended up as yuk!
We soon came to Smithville, an old established town which now had a plethora of gift and antique shops centred around a small lake. Geese and ducks were prolific too. We had a pleasant little wander around – there were very few people about on this chilly grey Monday morning, but we imagine that the place gets packed ‘in season’.
We drove down to the quiet of Oyster Creek to have our coffee before making our way to Atlantic City. This town has been a resort since the 1850s, and has a wooden boardwalk stretching for 5 miles alongside the wide sandy beach. This dates from 1870, and is apparently the oldest in the world.
First boardwalk at Atlantic City, with ‘taxi’
Now though, the town has a dozen or more vast casinos, and all that goes with it, so it is America at its ugliest. We managed to find a place to park by the front, and had a short walk on to the beach and along the boardwalk. A real plus was seeing a tiny yellowy bird with a red ‘cap’ which I think was a ruby kinglet.
We had our lunch by a fishermen’s pier at Great Egg Harbour Inlet. Here we saw wildlife which was not so welcome – 2 Norway (brown) rats.
At Ocean City we had a short walk on to the beach, but the blustery day wasn’t enticing for walks.
The string of coastal towns we now drove through became rather monotonous in their sameness. We were driving south along highly populated sand spits, interspersed with numerous toll bridges.
We were heading for Cape May, a town dating from 1620, at the south eastern point of this New Jersey coast. We would like to have seen it in better weather, as by now it was raining hard, and was also very windy. We drove around the town, which featured lots of attractive houses, and made our way to the lighthouse. We braved the weather to walk out briefly and view the beach. It would be a lovely place on a nice day. Apparently this is a migrating route for birds of prey.
We dove on to ‘Sunset point’ – not much chance today – and at 4.30 pulled into a rough area for the night, as the rain continued to lash, and the wind to blow. To cap things, the black laptop gave up working!
Apart from the inconvenience, as everything was set up on it, Adrian was upset at the thought of the data which might be lost.
The wind continued to blow and the rain to fall.
Tuesday 25th October 103 miles
The rain and wind continued all night, and in varying degrees for the rest of the day. It had been surprisingly mild in the night.
We left just after 9 o’clock. I would like to have seen something of Cape May in better weather, but this wasn’t to be.
We made our way to the place where the ferry leaves from to cross Delaware Bay. It looked pretty bleak today.
We made way through this watery, marshy area, stopping at Mauricetown, by the Maurice River, to have lunch. The town had been established in 1780 as a lumber port, but there was also a large glass making industry in the area, using the local silica. It was still raining, but a chap had walked over to ask about the Bam.
We continued on a pretty route, even in the rain, through a lot of low key attractive villages and past numerous creeks and ponds. At Bivalve we could see the tall ship AJ Meerwald, which must be a tourist attraction in the summer, but looked rather hidden away.
We stopped at Bridgeton, as we had read that there were a lot of historic houses here.
It had more or less stopped raining, so we walked a trail to view some of them, before rain returned heavily. Although there were lots of pleasant buildings, the town looked rather rundown and unloved, but there were some nice bits of autumn colour.
We drove on, through nice looking Salem, to Walmart at Pennsville, arriving just after 5 o’clock.
Wednesday 26th October 88 miles
After hearing more rain and wind in the night, it was wonderful to wake up to see the sun just rising into a sky of blue. We were on route to have a really good day.
We left at 9 o’clock and drove back to Salem so that we could see the Salem Oak. It was apparently under the shade of this tree that John Fenwick signed a treaty with the local Indians in 1675.
The Salem Oak
We continued to Fort Mott, dating from 1896, and one of 3 forts built in this area to protect Delaware Bay. We walked around, and realised how cold the wind was, but the trees looked beautiful in the sunshine.
We drove down beside the Delaware River, with views up to the impressive Delaware Memorial Bridge, which we then drove over ($6).
Now in Delaware (we had briefly visited Delaware on our way north, for Adrian to buy the computer), we drove the short distance to New Castle. This small town goes down as a favourite in USA. It was an absolute gem.
A house in New Castle
This was the place where Penn had first landed, before he continued to Philadelphia, a bit further up the river. The Dutch had also come here in the 1600s (Peter Stuyvesant), but had been massacred by local Indians. The town showed the influences of both countries, and almost every house was a picture! They were mostly built of brick, and were centred around a green or common, which has been a meeting place since the 1600s. The blue sky and the glorious colours of the ancient and varied trees did much to add to the beauty – today was the ‘jackpot’ as far as taking photos goes!
Only the parked cars and the ugly electricity wires spoiled things. Also the old brick pavements and cobbled streets were uneven in the extreme, where tree roots had pushed up through. After walking around, we made our way to the Delaware River. There was a large park area alongside the river, so we walked out again after lunch – there were even photogenic posts in the water, and a few little sailing boats. Definitely a top spot!
A bit further on was Delaware City, another attractive small town on the Delaware River, and the end of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. It had been an ancient port, and still had some nice houses.
On again, we stopped briefly at Port Penn, another former port, but now just a pleasant, quiet village, as the canal, and later the railway, had taken away its importance as a port.
We were enjoying driving along this rural road, through remote marshland and creeks. We turned off to visit Odessa, which had some really lovely ‘historic’ houses, and like the other towns, was almost deserted as we walked around in the afternoon sunshine.
We now needed somewhere to stop for the night. We got stuck behind two huge combine harvesters with 2 large trucks in support. They eventually turned into a farm, mowing straight into the corn field, across the corn, to start their work. We turned down on a long lane to Port Mahon, hoping to find somewhere to pull in for the night. We soon realised that the land was very low lying, even if there had been anywhere to stop. We came down to the sea – quite remote and delightful – but water had recently washed over the road, and sand and debris had been scooped up beside it. Amongst this were lots of large horseshoe crab shells, looking like plates of armour. We had read that Delaware Bay has the largest population of horseshoe crabs in the world, so here was some evidence!
We would love to have stayed here, but knew that it was impossible, especially as we could see threatening looking clouds above.
As we wanted to visit Dover, the capital of Delaware, which had been founded by Penn, we made our way to Walmart there, arriving at 5.15.