Mark and I went to New England last week without much planned or many expectations, which really worked out and made it so relaxing!

Tuesday night when we got in we just drove around downtown Boston a bit then drove right out north to Chelmsford where we were staying while Mark was working out there on Wednesday and Thursday. I worked on an event follow-ups on Wed morning. When Mark got off at 3, we drove down to Salem. Unfortunately, everything in NE seems to close around 5 pm, so we just had an hour. We spent that hour at the Salem Witch Museum and then walking around the homes and buildings from the 1600s-1850s.

Thursday I drove into Boston (well, Cambridge) while Mark worked, so that I could see the one museum I really wanted to see Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. This place is amazing and so inspiring to me and my love for art. I HIGHLY recommend it!! I walked around Harvard Medical School and Emmanuel College trying to find the museum. It was a cold day but I was so excited that I hardly felt it. I drove to pick up Mark from his last day of work and we decided to drive as far north as we possibly could.

We finally stopped in Brunswick, ME. We spent the night there and then drove back down south — taking the long way! We stopped in Freeport at the largest LL Bean store in the world. We found some cool stuff for Mark and both of our Moms. Then we drove down to Portland — saw the oldest lighthouse (commissioned by George Washington in 1791 — museum closed for the season). It was beautiful. There was an old fort in ruins nearby that we explored as much as we possibly could. It was FREEZING!!! And there were men in trucks with snow scooping things on the front of them out just waiting for the next snow storm — which was just about an hour away. We then went to downtown Portland and LOVED it!! We both agreed that we could both easily live there. We went to a Photo Gallery with Maine artists taking photos of Maine subjects that was preparing for an opening. It started to snow and rain pretty badly so we abandoned our plans to head to the Portland Museum of Art and find a hotel. So we stayed in for the day and ate at a local dive called, uh, Chili’s (it was close enough to run to from our hotel room!). It snowed a couple of inches an hour overnight, but with the shovel trucks and with the rising temperatures overnight it wasn’t really noticeable in the morning with the exceptions of all the hills of pure snow on all the parking lots and various places.

Actually there were remnants of snow everywhere we were the entire time!! It was wonderful to see!!

We left Portland the next morning (Saturday) and continued to drive. This time to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We were originally looking for Portsmith because that is how everyone seemed to be pronouncing it to our Southern ears! In Portsmouth, we found Strawbery (yes, just one “r”) Banke. A collection of houses and buildings from the 1630s. Of course, as was our experience the entire time, the museum was closed for the season, so we just explored around ourselves. We then continued south to Ipswich, Mass. There, we understood, was the largest collection of First Period houses (meaning, those built between 1625 and 1725) than any other community in America. But we actually spent quite a bit of time in a couple of antique shops.

With everything closing in Ipswich at 5 (and it gets dark at 5 too), we headed to Concord to spend Saturday night. I couldn’t believe how many people were friends who lived in Concord at the same time — Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Louisa May Alcott — mid-1800s!! PLUS, it was where Paul Revere’s ride took place and the 1st battle of the American Revolution. So we saw Walden Pond. And while Mark studied, I went through the Orchard House where Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” and scores more books, poems and essays. I LOVED it!!!!

Because we drove around and around looking for the Concord Museum. We stumbled upon 1800s cemetery and we walked around there — I LOVE old cemeteries and had never walked around one with snow all over it, so we did! Mark FINALLY stopped at a gas station so we could ask directions and it was just around the corner we hadn’t tried yet. The streets aren’t marked very well and they change names quite often too making driving a challenge! We then went to the Concord Museum. Little, tiny Concord is just bursting with history!!!! It is truly amazing!! I told Mark that I just really love being so surrounded by history — it just invigorates me.

We then drove into Boston Sunday evening. We stayed at a 1800s hotel just on the corner of Boston Common. We got there while the city was bustling with excitement and loads and loads of people. We settled in to the hotel and then ventured out — walking around Boston Common, we ended up for dinner AND the Super Bowl (New England Patriots vs. New York Giants) at the bar that was the inspiration for Cheers!! It was originally called Bull & Finch, but they smartly changed the name to Cheers. We got a great table — had dinner and drinks and then walked back before 1/2 time. Walking back we were laughing about how deserted the city was. In the Boston Common, there is a huge ice rink. When we were walking to the bar, there were probably 100 people skating. When walking back, there were Three!!! It was funny!!

Back at the hotel, we watched the game, laughed at WHY they had Tom Petty for 1/2 time, and then had to rush out for a fire alarm (false alarm, thank goodness!!). We had a great time though!

Monday morning we were ready to head to the airport early and back to Dallas at 3 pm on Monday. It is good to be home, but what an incredible trip. And with not much planned (I wanted to see Salem, Concord, and lighthouses), we did and saw SOOOOO much!!