Sunday, August 20, 2017

Boston Summer 2017 - Playing in Plymouth

Two Fridays ago, Shira and I boarded a plane to Boston at 5:45am and began one epic week of fun and adventure. It all started when we landed a little over an hour later, hit the store for some essentials and picked up Gavriella. Our first destination: Plymouth. Specifically, Plimoth Plantation. I have dim memories as a child of being amazed at the size and scope of Plimoth Plantation. In my mind's eye, it was a sprawling historic location.

Our first stop on the plantation was to the Wampanoag Homesite, or what us uneducated folks would simply call the Indian village. Gavriella had a great time exploring the buildings (which according to the guide, takes two weeks to create, and last for 12 years!) and loved the dug out canoes she could sit in. I chatted it up with some of the staff in one particular hut and asked them what it must have been like during a frigid Boston winter. They explained that outside it might be below zero, but indoors, it would be around 80°F. As the guide put it, you don't live in a location for 10,000 years without figuring a few things out.

After the Indian Village it was off to the craft center, which was interesting, but seemed a bit bare bones. For the cost of admission, it would have been awesome if we could have participated in the craft making versus just watching a few folks at work. Perhaps our timing was off.

And finally, it was time to step back in time and visit the 17th century English village "home" to the original pilgrims. Unlike other parts of the plantation, the people you see in the village are role players who are specially trained to act and respond as though they live in the 1600's. When asked, with Gavriella at my side, what they did for fun, one costumed player responded with a puzzled look: what is fun?.

I have to admit, I was shocked at how small the English town was. Like I said, as a kid, it was huge. But as an adult, I see it's just a smattering of houses. To Gavriella, and her tiny little legs, I'm sure it seemed huge.

We explored the town, but of course, I only thought of truly interesting questions to pose to the staff *after* I left. Along with being surprised at the relatively small size of the town, I was also surprised at the cost. At $56 for two adults and one under-6 child, that was a pretty steep price to pay. Plimoth Plantation is definitely a top tier living history site, and I'm sure a tremendous amount of effort goes into keeping it that way. I'm also sure that much of the authentic nature of the site was lost on us. I definitely recommend the plantation, but I think it's probably smart to come prepared with questions and your curiosity piqued (though, don't come in costume). It's an awfully expensive way to see a few old buildings and take in a relatively short walk.

After the plantation we made our way to one of Shira's best High School Friend's home. There Shira and I kibbitzed with her and her wife, and Gavriella ran around playing the with the kids. They have a pool and a top notch set of floaties, so Gavriella was in heaven. And, they had a well-stocked dress-up area which Gavriella raided, making her beyond ecstatic.

Finally, we made our way to a small B&B in the quaint town of Plymouth and called it an evening.

The next day, we started with a tour of the Plymouth waterfront area. We did some shell collecting, visited Plymouth Rock, and oggled various monuments and plaques. Along the way, Gavriella enjoyed the many colorful lobster statues that made up the Plymouth Lobster Crawl. We finished up at around lunch time with a visit to Pligrim Hall, the country's *oldest* continuously operating museum. Like the rest of Plymouth, this museum was relatively compact, which was perfect for 4 year old Gavriella. Gavriella especially enjoyed the wedding dresses through the ages exhibit, explaining which outfit she wanted each of us to wear (presumably, for the rest of the day). I really enjoyed the gallery which contained various massive paintings relating back to the Pilgrims in one way or another. It was interesting to see how various artists imagined the voyage and landing of the Pilgrims on the nearby shores. Of course, we all got a kick out of being able to touch a bit of Plymouth rock that the museum has on display.

Speaking of Plymouth Rock, the relatively brief ranger introduction to the Rock, was truly fascinating. My first association with the Rock is of a series of brave individuals who would help found the land I'd grow up in (and by brave, I mean that they apparently knew of the massive failure of Jamestown, and that a high mortality rate awaited them in the New World). But that's only one perspective. To the Indian populations, this party of 130 or so individuals was to spell the beginning of the end of their centuries of civilization. You also need to consider that the Pilgrims came here not to conquer a land, or in search of riches, but to find a safe heaven to practice their religion. That's a lot of meaning to rest on one relatively small rock.

After exploring the Plymouth waterfront and getting lunch, we made our way to an operating mill. I was impressed to see all the big gears moving the actual production of corn meal and grits. Gavriella was less impressed, but ultimately liked mashing up the corn by hand in one of the displays on the lower level. And from there, we walked down the coast a bit to a beach and playground. We enjoyed more shell collecting and splashing in the water. As a preview of what her older siblings would be up to, Gavriella had the most fun jumping (at times with my assistance) from rock to rock that served as a boundary around the park.

By the time we made it back to our hotel, we were all beat from a day of exploring.

Sunday morning, we awoke and drove back to Boston. We dropped off a happy Gavriella and would pick up three new children. For them, the adventure was just getting started!

All Photos with captions

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