Sunday, August 13, 2017

Beach Rose RV Park, August 4 to 8, 2017

Rating:  2.5 on a scale of 5


Location: When I made the reservations here, I was looking for a stop in between Bar Harbor, ME, and Plymouth, MA, and we ended up here. With no particular attractions to visit in the area, we really enjoyed checking out the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site. We only drove through the beach area here, but it had a commercial area and lots of vacation homes (crammed together). Having been to so many beautiful beaches in Maine, the southeast and the west coast, we were not overly impressed. Although, honestly, any beach is pretty awesome! I think my opinion was influenced by the lousy weather we had during most of our stay.

Lot size: This was the biggest negative at the park. The sites were all back-in and very tight with no privacy whatsoever. We spent virtually no time outside here at our site. A campground employee provided assistance to John as he backed into the site, which was very helpful (and needed at this place). 



Amenities: There are some nice amenities here including cable TV with lots of channels and wifi (pretty slow as with most RV parks). There was a very nice pool. 


Very nice horseshoe pits, shuffleboard and bocci ball courts are available for guests.


A laundry room of decent size is located next to the bathrooms (6 washers/6 dryers). 

There is a fenced in dog park at the rear of the park. 


Additionally, there is really nice wooded area at the back that is also fenced in where dogs can play off leash. However, the office told us there were lots of ticks back there so we did not take advantage of it. 



Cost: $268 ($67/night)

Management: Check in was fast and simple. The woman in the office was a delight and provided information about the area and was very helpful. As I said, we were escorted to our site which is always a convenience. 


General Comments:  The combination of the tight lots and the high cost to stay here is the rationale for the low rating. On the positive side, the beach is only a .5 mile walk away. I would not, however, stay here in the future. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Micro Tour of Salem, 8/06/2017

Finding a parking space in Salem was a challenge. I wanted to visit the Salem Witch Museum (I guess it's morbid curiosity). Because we had our doggie, Sadie, with us., John opted to wait for me while I did some exploring. 

A visit to the Salem Witch Museum (www.salemwitchmuseum.com) involves two presentations. The first is as 30-minute dramatization of the witch trials held in 1692 here. The second is a 15-minute museum tour that covers how societies have identified witches nad their reaction to them throughout history.


I opted not to do this (too much time for me as their was a 20 minute wait, too). The cost is $12/adult and $10.50/senior. I did, however, walk around the lobby area and and gift shop. Seeing the list of names of those accused and those executed (20) is a haunting reminder of the puritan way of thinking at the time.




The movie, The Crucible, is a relatively accurate portrayal of what happened in Salem in the 1690s (although writer, Arthur Miller, did change some of the names of the accused). This display referenced the "witch hunts" of McCarthyism and the similarities of the attitudes of the accusers.


Near the Salem Witch's Museum is a bronze statue of Roger Conant (1592-1679) first settler of Salem.


Stickwork is an art exhibit, What the Birds Know, by Robert Dougherty in 2015. It was constructed using thousands of tree saplings and with the help of 50 volunteers. It is located next to the historic Crowninshield-Bentley House (1727). 



The Witch Trials Memorial is located in this small square. The names of all of those executed for being a witch are memorialized with their name carved on the projecting stones. It was dedicated in 1992. 




One of the 20 executed was pressed to death, meaning that heavy rocks were placed on her chest until the weight killed her. Horrifying.


Next to the Memorial is an historic cemetery. Information regarding the location of the graves of significant community members can be found near the entrance. 



As I returned to the car, I passed many historic homes that are now private residencesPlaques provide a brief history of each.




Heading back to Salisbury, MA, from Salem we stopped at The Clam Box for dinner. We had eaten here 7 years ago when we went to Maine. Their food is fantastic and we wanted to get there before it was too crowded. I ordered the native clams and John had the shrimp plate. 


Unfortunately, I got food poisoning and was violently ill later that night. I will not bore you with the ugly details! Nonetheless, it was a good day, although it took me a couple of days to feel like myself again.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site, 8/05/2017

The first successful plant for the production of cast and wrought iron in the "New World" was here. Built in 1643, it began full production three years later using skilled labor and capital from England. It is called the "birthplace of the American Iron industry." Iron making is technology is considered a cornerstone of our civilization. 


Our first stop was, as always, the Visitor Center where park rangers provided information about the site. We watched a 12-minute video (very informative) and then proceeded to the museum


The Massachusetts government offered John Winthrop, Jr., incentives to build an iron works after ore deposits were discovered near Boston. He was replaced with Richard Leader after the first ironworks in Braintree failed

Leader chose this site because of the water powertransportation (also by water) from the location, and access to raw materials. We watched a 12-minute video at the Visitor Center that told the story of Leader's role in utilizing technology equal to that found in Europe (at the time). These iron works made products for the surrounding area and England. 

Half of the original water wheel was discovered during archeological excavations by Robert Wells Robbins from 1948-1953. It was 16' in diameter and 30" wide. There are multiple models on display that illustrate the iron making process


The giant hammer was powered by water. A 500-poundcast iron head was mounted on a huge oak shaft. The hammer was used to form wrought iron bars for commercial use. The Colonists needed iron for tools, nails, stoves, and more. 


Be sure to pick up a map of the site when you are at the Visitor Center as it is a self-guided tour (just the way we like). Also, this site is dog-friendly, so our doggie, Sadie, was allowed to tag along with us.


As we walked towards the restored structures, we came upon this bronze representation of the site. As a map lover, I always love this kind of thing. It just helps me to envision what it must have been like here almost 400 years ago!


Below is the charging bridge, where workers would haul measured amounts of orecharcoal, and rock (gabbro) in wheelbarrows to pour into the charge hole to the blast furnace. The furnace held 3 tons of ore, 265 bushels of charcoal and 2 tons of rock (gabbro). After three days of intense heat, the ore and gabbro were liquidified.




Up to a ton of iron was produced during the blast process. The clay plug at the bottom of the furnace was pierced and the molten ore flowed into ladles (used to fill mounds in the ground) and v-shaped channels. It hardened into a heavy bars, called "sows." Also shown is one of the bellows used to create the intense heat in the blast furnace.


During our visit the forge was closed for restoration work. This is where the sow bars were turned into wrought iron, the primary commercial product at Saugus Iron Works. The 500-pound hammer powered by the waterwheel was used here. 


Next to the forge is the rolling and slitting mill where wrought iron bars were processed into rods 8-10 feet long. The rods were used to easily cut nails (in great demand in New England). 




The blacksmith shop produced nails and other commercial products for the local community. 


Iron products were stored in the warehouse until shipped by three company-owned boats Boston (10 miles away) and other local communities. Roads did not yet exist to connect the communities in the 1600s. Today, the Saugus River is no longer navigable to the Atlantic Ocean due to the environmental impact to the area over the last 350+ years.



I had no real understanding of iron works until our visit to Saugus. We both continue to find the history of our county and its forefathers fascinating. The historic site is a lovely oasis in an urban setting. It was a great way to spend an overcast afternoon.


For additional information about Saugus Iron Works, click on www.nps.gov/said.