When Ed and Rachel Barnhart retired in 2004, the intrepid RVers hooked up their Alfa Gold fifth wheel on a mission to see all that God created and man constructed…and find the best pizza in the USA. From the beaches of Seattle, Ed and Rachel set their sights on Maine. From there they would turn south toward the sunshine, only to be greeted by the worst Mother Nature had unleashed in decades. Undaunted, the Barnharts headed off into the sunset, through the southwest and across the Rio Grande to the shores of Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. From sea to shining sea and back again, all in their first year traveling the “Land of Awes.” In Chapter 14, Ed and Rachel explore Boston’s revered Freedom Trail and face a culinary conundrum.
Founded in 1629, the historic nature of the small seacoast town of Marblehead is evident in its winding streets, barely wide enough for the horses and wagons common at the time. This created an interesting “give and take” travel pattern for our 1999 F-350 and its dually “training wheels.” Each oncoming vehicle became, essentially, a four-way stop. We would slow and exchange polite gestures with the oncoming driver to determine who would pull off and allow the other to pass. Beyond a simple exercise in patience, it was a great opportunity to share a smile with a stranger and brighten both our days.
When we stopped for a waterfront picnic at Gloucester, we encountered yet another example of exemplary Yankee hospitality. After locating a side street with a terrific view of the harbor, we approached a homeowner to ask if it would okay to park near her home. She said “sure” but then offered to let us borrow her resident pass to gain access to a nearby waterfront park. This is the sort of uncommon courtesy and gracious trust you find in the Land of Awes. With that generous offer encouraging our spirits and a spectacular view of Gloucester Bay providing the ambiance our simple picnic lunch felt like a five-star feast.
One thing for sure, traveling along the Massachusetts seacoast, you will not go hungry.
We lost count of the number of lobster shacks we passed along the way. Most offered only outdoor seating, but that’s a pleasure this time of year! No matter the time of day, they all had a fast-moving line of people at the pickup window – always a sure sign of good eatin’.
While the lobster shacks keep your belly full, the beautiful sights along the coastline are a banquet for your senses. There is such rich history and culture here! Driving past so many homes dating back to the early 1600’s was awe-inspiring. After our fulfilling day tour, we returned to Salisbury to relax, relive our trip and prepare for tomorrow. We’re goin’ up to Boston!
We opted to rely on public transportation for the trip to the cradle of the American Revolution. Rising early we shared a quick breakfast and drove six miles from Salisbury to the Newburyport train station. Our ride on the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority rail line ended at the North Station. From the Fleet Center we walked to Boston Common, site of so many pivotal moments in the early history of this nation. Today the circular patch of green is crisscrossed by walking paths and serves as the starting point of the Freedom Trail, a walking tour that connects sixteen historic sites. The Trail transforms an already easily-accessible city into an absolute pleasure to tour on the stroll. You can cover nearly two and a half centuries of significant American history in about three hours. Or, if you are so inclined, you can spend the entire day immersed in our rich colonial and revolutionary past.
Old North Church
Just follow the red brick or painted trail markers to visit Boston Common, the Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, the Granary Burying Ground (where Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere and John Hancock are buried), King’s Chapel, the site of the first public school with its adjacent statue of Ben Franklin, the former site of the Old Corner Bookstore, the Old South Meeting House, the site of the infamous Boston Massacre, the Old State House (where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the citizens of Boston), Faneuil Hall, the Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard and the Bunker Hill Monument. For history enthusiasts like us, this tour represented a time machine to wonderland; but, if you plan to hoof it, be prepared for a decent hike. We made it to everything but Bunker Hill and logged nearly seven miles on our pedometer.
Because many folks wish to linger at the various sites as they see fit, the self-guided walking tour is very popular. But, if you wish to be off your feet between stops, the trolley tour will get you to many of the sites along the Trail. There is a cost for the trolley service. For this and other information about the Trail, visit www.cityofboston.gov/freedomtrail.
Our trek in and around historic Boston left us with quite an appetite, so we headed downtown
Samuel Adams Gravesite
and discovered La Filmiglia Giorgio’s. We ordered the white spinach and garlic pizza as well as a pepperoni calzone. Both were excellent, and the pizza was especially authentic. After consuming so many outstanding varieties of pizza on our coast-to-coast-to-coast adventure, we are discovering that the inherent differences of each offering make it difficult to pick a favorite. We may have to work on our “Unofficial Criteria” before awarding first place. What a delicious “problem” to have! No matter which pizza ends up wearing the crown – laurel? – you can be sure we will keep you posted on where to find the best pies all over the USA before we are done. Are we taking this contest a bit too seriously? Absolutely not! Pizza is important.
And, speaking of important food, the time has come to hook up the Alfa and head out to Rockland, Maine for the Annual Lobster Festival!
Read previous chapters by selecting one of the links below:
Chapter 14 - Historic Boston, The Commons & Uncommon Pizza
Chapter 13 - Plymouth Rock and Saugus Iron
Chapter 12 - At the Atlantic and Around Cape Cod
Chapter 11 – Marches, Mozart and Mozzarella
Chapter 10 – Loving Life on the Road
Chapter 9 – Picturesque Settings & Police Surveillance
Chapter 8 – Erie Museums and Niagara Mist
Chapter 7 – The Amish and Edison
Chapter 6 – Dutch Treats and Bavarian Festivals
Chapter 5 – Two American Icons – Miller Beer and Chicago Pizza
Chapter 4 – Touring the Twin Cities
Chapter 3 – Discovering Middle America
Chapter 2 – A Trip Around the Sun
Chapter 1 – Pacific in the Rearview, We Wave Goodbye