Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 4: The shot heard 'round the world

Day 4 it was off to Lexington and Concord...the beginning of the American Revolution.

Having not been since he was a kid, my dad thought it would be a good idea to start off at the visitor's center to get a feel for what happened at Lexington and Concord, and where we should start off sight seeing.

We pulled up to a parking lot and there was a trail that led to the visitor's center. It seemed kind of odd to me that the parking lot wasn't just right outside the building, but then we would have been denied the view getting there.

I never ceased to be in awe of how green everything is back east. They say it has something to with it not being a desert? I guess it rains there from time to time so things grow :)

We took just time to just enjoy the trail and think about the importance of the place we were standing in.

There was also a turtle in this little pond along the way that the boys became quite fond of...not entirely sure why, but there he is in all his glory.

We went to the visitor and made it just in time to watch their interactive video on the history of Lexington and Concord. It was really cool. Reminded me a lot of the video the church put together at the Mormon Battalion memorial in San Diego.

After that, there was one clear mission: we had to get Mom to see Louisa May Alcott's home. So we drove down the road a little and stopped at the Orchard House.

We were told this wasn't the home Alcott grew up in, but the house she wrote Little Women in and based the setting off of it. They didn't allow pictures inside, so these are the only visual representation I have of the next two hours of our trip.

We actually learned some really cool things during the tour. For instance, I honestly didn't realize Alcott had formed the characters in the book from her own sisters. They're all a bit exaggerated, but they're real people. Alcott's father was a bit of a looney...wasting the families money on cockamamie schemes, etc. So it cool to hear some of those stories, but I honestly don't think we could have picked a crazier tour guide.

No lie, this women was straight out of 1967. No way to be sure, but it appeared she didn't own a shower...or at least not shampoo and certainly not a washing machine. Her glasses were bigger than her actual face and she could TALK. What could, and should, have been a 45 minute, informative tour turned into a 2 hour tour that dragged. Didn't help that air wasn't really working and it was unbelievably stuffy in there, but really. She could have cut it down by at least half.

The important thing is that Mom really enjoyed it and we made her happy by going through it.

By the time we got through with the tour, it was nearly 3:00 and although we were starving, we decided to knock out the rest of our sight-seeing so we could just be done with it and then have a big dinner.

We made our way to the Hartwell Tavern which doesn't have any real historical significance other than the fact that is was standing in 1775 when the battles at Lexington and Concord began. It was also along the road of the battle and there were some detailed accounts from people staying there about what it was like as the soldiers passed through that area.

What drew us to the tavern, however, was the musket demonstration they do there every hour or so. We got there in the afternoon just as a storm was rolling in to watch the demonstration and a couple guys dressed in colonial gear walked out to talk to us about the minute men of the revolution.

The guy on the left was an intern at the park who did the demonstration. He sped up his pre-talk and got right to shooting the gun because there was lighting and as he said..."I'm holding a large lightening rod." He was a little nervous haha but the demonstration was pretty cool. It's crazy to think how anyone could wage a war when it takes 30 second to reload your gun every time. I would be worried about getting shot while reloading. I don't think they give you a time out in war like they do in tag in your shoelace comes untied...

But anyway, if you want to see it, here's the video of the demonstration. The guy loaded the gun with the same precision as the minute men would have. They did each step with precision because they wanted to seem like a real army rather than what they were...which was basically a bunch of farmers with guns. 

You can hear the thunder and people worrying about this poor guy's life in the video. The gun was pretty loud, but sounds kind of wimpy when you compare it to the thunder. We joked it was more authentic like there was a real battle going on. At the end, his instructor says, "okay, that's enough. Let's move this inside".

We went inside the tavern where he finished his spiel on the minute men which was really good. There's nothing quite learning about history as you're standing in the place where it happened. We have that here, I guess with the pioneers, but I just think people back east are so lucky to be so close to the setting of major historical events. Unreal.

After the tavern, we made our last stop at the Old North Bridge...better known as the setting of the "Shot Heard 'Round the World". This is where the first British blood was spilt as the result of a direct order from the colonial leaders. Until that point, any red coats killed had been by accident or in self-defense, but this is where the war began.

It's really peaceful at Old North Bridge. There's a river (obviously) that runs under the bridge that is just really still. The bridge itself sits in the opening of a huge grove of trees. Once again...GREEN. EVERYWHERE. That, I guess is the reward for the unbelievable humidity.

At Old North Bridge there are two monuments on either side of the bridge. One is an obelisk to mark the spot where "the first forcible resistance to British aggression" occurred. The other is a more modern memorial to the minute men who fought in the battle at Lexington and Concord on April 17, 1775. It was like an 8 mile long battle that lasted all day and it was the first of many miracles of the American Revolution that we were able to hold off the British and force them back to Boston.

I thought this was a really cool part of the monument. I mean...obviously, I'm always going to be on the side of the colonists when talking about the revolution, but I think sometimes we vilify the british soldiers more than they deserve. They saw the battle as a civil war. They were trying to keep Britain united and many of them lost their lives for that cause.

I couldn't get it in the shot, but off to the right was a wreath that had been laid by a british armed forces regiment. I don't know, I got kind of choked up reading this. Interesting thing to think about.

By this point in the day, we were thrashed and starving so we tried to find a place to eat. The Lexington and Concord area is not the most happening of places in the greater Boston area, but they did have a McDonalds...which we had done to death so we sought out a buffet, thinking we might find some local flavor there. Not quite.

Dad's phone ID'd the closest buffet which was not local...neither was the flavor. It took us a good 30 minutes to find this place as we drove through a backroads residential area.

The buffet was in a strip mall which usually you're like...sketch, but we were so hungry at that point, we didn't care. It was very much a Chinese Buffet which also sold pizza and apple go figure. The food was pretty good, but less good was the drive back to the hotel after we ate ourselves sick.

Back at the hotel, we just sat and relaxed. Played some card games and tried to recoup from a long day of walking and learning and get ready for Day 5 when the Carlsons take Boston.

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