Alright. So here we are at Day 3. Up until this point, we'd mostly been just traveling. First on a plane, then a full day in the car. So day 3 was really the beginning of our vacation and so we decided to start at the very place you could call the beginning of America: Plymouth, MA.
Something that is rather baffling to me about the east coast that while everything is close together and not quite as spread out in the east...everything always seems to be about 40 minutes away from where you are. It was always between 30-40 minutes to get anywhere. Blame it on the traffic, or some strange cosmic phenomenon, I don't know, but we drove the required 40 minutes to Plymouth where our story begins.
I promised a story about how the twins received a history lesson on day 3. Well, let me tell you folks, the public school system is failing the children for somehow neither Brett nor Brady knew what happened at Plymouth. We pulled up to the harbor and they asked..."what's so special about this rock anyway?" Now, I understand the rock is mostly symbolic, but still. We had sang songs and watched movies and performed skits about Plymouth Rock all throughout elementary school. How is it that in the span of 6 years...the curriculum could have changed that much??
So we made sure the guides gave them a lesson on the history behind Plymouth Rock and why it was so important to visit.
The rock itself is housed about six feet below the street underneath a columned pavilion. They used to display it out in the open but visitors kept chipping away at the rock, taking pieces home as souvenirs (as tourists do).
As a result, the rock is not very big. It's not quite as small as it looks in this picture, but my childhood led me to believe it was large enough to sink a boat. I'd say it's probably about three feet across and 2 feet tall. Not exactly grandiose, but it was still really cool to see the rock that inspired legend and is so symbolic of the Pilgrims' landing in 1620.
This is us under the Pavilion that houses the rock. Right behind that railing is where the rock is kept underground. (Mom was pretty good at taking pictures with people in them...but that usually meant she wasn't in any of them.)
A little back story: my junior year in high school, I took an American History class from my favorite teacher of all time, Mr. Barksdale. At the beginning of the semester, he assigned us all a research paper in which we were supposed to find an ancestor who was witness to or apart of an event in US History. I did mine on William Brewster. He's like my great (x7 or something) grandfather on my Dad's side, and I learned a lot about him over the course of that semester. It made our trip to Plymouth so much more exciting remembering that I had an ancestor who had lived in this town and who risked his life to come to America for the sake of religious freedom.
The statue on the right is another William B., but not William Brewster. It is, in fact, the first governor of Plymouth, William Bradford. He was a pretty cool guy, but the words on the plaque honoring Brewster were written by him because he thought Brewster was a pretty cool guy. Cool huh?
So here we have the first church in Plymouth. After years of persecution and months of harsh sea life, the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, and built this church. Everything they had every wanted came to fruition right here in this building where they were free to worship as they pleased with no one to say otherwise. I can't even imagine what this building must have meant to them and what they went through to finally have a place of their own such as this. Just makes you really appreciate how great the builders of this nation were, and we as Americans can be proud of such a rich heritage.
This is burial hill right behind the first church in Plymouth. I thought we might find William Brewster's gravesite here, but apparently no one knows where he was actually buried. Most of the early settler's in Pilgrims didn't have marked graves, or if they were marked, 400 years of wear and tear probably ensured the writing would be illegible.
We still took some time to wander around the site for awhile. It was peaceful and eerie at the same time. The old headstones really made it feel like a horror movie, but it again reminded me of how amazing those first settlers were and how much they lost in the fight for freedom.
So, one thing I haven't mentioned about today was how unbelievably hot it was. I have honestly never been so miserable in my life. We were outside most of the day, and walking most of the time in the hottest, most humid conditions New England has seen in over 25 years. Truly thought I was going to die.
We debated briefly over whether we should visit Plymouth Plantation, but after pondering on the heat, decided to press forward to Gillette Stadium where there would hopefully be air conditioning.
The whole ride up, my dad was trying to convince Brady that we were going to Lexington and Concord instead of Gillette, but he saw the road signs guiding us to Foxboro, and when he caught his first glimpse of the stadium, he lit up...and could not stop smiling for literally the rest of the day.
If you'll take a look back at the family picture from earlier in the day...you may notice the lack of any facial expression on this child's face. We have an entire vacation album now of similar faces from all three boys. They simply refuse to smily in pictures...unless...that is, they're doing anything related to their favorite sports team. You'll see this is a theme in later pictures. That, my friends, is an honest to goodness smile of the face of one Brady Carlson. A smile, as I said, that did not go away for the remainder of Day 3. The words "Best Day Ever" were used on numerous occasions.
This pictures requires a little explanation. You see, Dane has this knack of placing himself in pictures he has no business being in. Sometimes, like this one, it's intentional. Most of the time, however, it is simply him not paying attention. We often wonder how many stranger's family pictures he's appeared in over the years because he just walks in front of cameras without a care int he world.
I tried taking this picture three separate times. After having Dane photobomb the first one...Brett pulled a Dane and aimlessly walked into the shot after I had just told Dane to get out of the way. I mean, some people's kids. I'm trying to take a picture here! Pay attention.
So after we had taken several pictures outside the stadium, it was time to take Brady into the Pro Shop. He walked in and it was like he was seeing light for the very first time. He would have been perfectly content if we had just left him there and he lived there the rest of his life, I think. He bought a new Tom Brady jersey, as the one he'd had for years no longer fit him, and a new hat that we wore the rest of the trip. This was heaven on earth for this crazy kid.
But even though it started because of Tom Brady, over the years Brady has become a loyal Pats fan...not just because of Tom Brady, but because he just loves the team. He'll get so worked up over the games, he'll lock himself up in his closet after a loss and we won't see him for awhile. He's about as loyal as they come.
So my dad and I took him through "The Hall" (It was $10 a person, so Mom, Brett and Dane went around the shops while I went to take pictures). The Hall is a two story Patriots museum above the Pro Shop that features everything a Pats fan might ever hope to experience short of an actual game.
We watched a 17 minute video on the history of the Patriots, and walked through all the exhibits which took us like an hour and a half.
There's also an area where you can try on pads, pants, cleats, helmets-you name it and get all suited up for a game. Brady put on the jersey he bought downstairs and just the helmet. He said the other stuff was too gross...which will seem hilarious to you in just a few photographs.
Remember how the pads were too gross...and Brady didn't want to try them on? Yeah, well...apparently kissing the glass around the Lombardi Trophy is no big deal. Forget the fact that you don't know how many people have touched that...just put your lips right up on there. Makes for a pretty great pictures though.
And thus ended our time at Gillette Stadium. Brady was on cloud 9...but the three we had left behind were not quite as enthused. We found them at this Dunkin Donuts. (Not kidding. They are EVERYWHERE).