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Derby Wharf Light Station in Salem Harbor, Massachusetts.

If you’re just tuning in, I have been recounting my journey to New England in May. It was a two-week trip, and I spent the time with my friend Will. We did a ton of stuff, so I’ll be blogging about it for at least another month.

I have time to drag it out. I played so much in the first half of 2019 that I am totally out of money and I need to stay home for a good long time, so there won’t be any new vacations to talk about till my birthday trip. Every 10 years I like to go somewhere amazing for my birthday. At 30 I went to Greece & Turkey, at 40 I took Tara to Egypt, and for 50 I want to go to New Zealand. I’ve got six months to figure out how to pay for it, since my birthday is in January. Anyhow… back to the story:

For those of you at home playing lighthouse bingo, we have spotted four so far that I mentioned in a previous post (I’m counting the Thatcher Island Twin Lighthouses as only one). Number five was in Salem. In the evening after our cold wet whale watch, the weather took a drastic turn for the better. We decided once more to go in search of a lighthouse. Derby Wharf Light Station is number five.

Two kids try to unlock the light house door.

The Salem Maritime Historic Site is not only part of the US National Park System, but also the oldest National Historic Site in the country. The website says the purpose of this site “is to preserve and interpret resources along the waterfront of Salem, Massachusetts that explain the nation’s settlement, its evolution into a maritime power and its development as a major industrial force.” Along the wharf we got an up close look at Pedrick Store House, that was dissassembled and reconstructed here on the wharf. The point of erecting the storehouse on the wharf is to emulate the days when merchants commonly stored their goods near the ships. A replica tallship, the Friendship of Salem, was docked right behind the storehouse, but undergoing repairs. Typically it is a working tallship. Sorry, I didn’t get a photo of either.

We walked to the end of the wharf in the warm and lovely sunshine with a few other people. Grandparents were walking their granddaughters, who asked to go inside the light house. “We can’t, it’s locked, see,” said Grandpa. After her grandpa was out of sight, the oldest girl got to work. She reached into her bag and pulled out a bunch of keys, and began trying them in the lock, one at a time, while her sister watched eagerly. The adults hollered after a while, and the girls gave up. We caught up with them all before we arrived at the Custom House, and the grandpa gave me his email address so I could send the photo of the girls.

The beautiful old Custom House is also part of the National Historic Site.

We admired the Custom House in the lengthening shadows of evening. Also from the website: “There has been a Custom House in Salem since 1649, collecting taxes on imported cargos first for the British Government during the Colonial period, then for the American Government after the establishment of the U.S. Customs Service in 1789.” It was closed so we were not able to go in and explore.

We returned to Wingaersheek Inn (which I have to mention again because of the funny name) and turned in for the night, but not before we looked up a walking tour for the next day.

Salem offered splendid weather for our walking tour the next morning. What a change in 24 hours! Not a cloud in the sky, we met our guide early and walked the city streets while he told us about the history of Salem that had nothing to do with witches. “Witches are a different tour,” our guide said. He pointed out historic buildings and places occupied by famous people in US history. He pointed out Front Street that used to be the waterfront of Salem Harbor – now so far away from the water we couldn’t even see it from there. The land was filled in and the city expanded over time. After a couple hours, he said goodbye and went back to meet his next group. Will and I bought ice cream and sat in the sunshine to eat it.

Along Salem’s Washington Street during our walking tour.

Daniel Low & Co. established 1867, had a signature silver “witch” spoon for sale – clearly they knew how to capitalize on tourist trinkets. They also sold Nathaniel Hawthorne spoons. The company is now out of business, but there is a nice restaurant at street level now.

Built in 1698, this is the former home of the London Coffee House. Now it’s a sandwich shop. {photo by Will Murray}

A plaque on the building reads: “Lyceum Hall. In this building on February 12, 1877 Alexander Graham Bell presented the first public demonstration of long distance telephone conversations.”

We gazed at this church while we ate our ice cream, from a shop called Melt.

We wandered around town for the rest of the day, exploring things that seemed interesting. We found the site of the old witch jail, the site of the pressing, and also went to the witch museum, but I’ll cover all that tomorrow in my witch-centric Salem post.

We got a laugh out of this.

This honors Salem author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who apparently added the “w” in his name to distance himself from the witch trials Judge Hathorne, his relative.

In Ireland for the first time.

The Custom House in Dublin, on the River Liffey.

Tara and I boarded our first plane Tuesday morning. After a 6 hour layover in Washington, D.C., we boarded our second plane and in 7 hours arrived in Dublin. Exhausted. Sadly, during that time, Tara developed a cold. Though we felt excited and upbeat at first, the kiddo was wiped out by noon.

I was tired too, but tucked my sweetie into bed and went out to take a look at Dublin. Our room is in the center of town, near the mouth of River Liffey, a couple of blocks from Trinity College. I walked along the water at first, and admired The Custom House across the water. Then I made my way south through the streets past Trinity College. School was clearly in session and crowds of young people pressed past me on the sidewalk, all the boys in suits and slacks – they looked so nice.

Sights of Dublin on the way to Trinity College.

Streetcar curves past shops near Trinity College.


Narrow streets of Dublin.

St. Andrews Church

Springs blossoms in front of St. Andrews Church.

Dublin has so many smiling happy chatty people. I’ve had five random strangers strike up a conversation with me. One guy watched me taking photos of St. Andrews Church.

“You wanna take a photo of me? I’m famous.”

“Oh yeah,” I ask, “what for?”

“Football,” he replies.

“Unfortunately,” I tell him, and this is with real regret, “I know nothing about football.” I’m sure he’s not famous, but it would be nice to know more about the World’s Favourite Sport.

“You must be from America,” he says. And we both know Americans are famous for being completely out of the football/soccer loop compared to most of the rest of the world. “So what’s it like? Living in America?”

I tell him that so far, Dublin is a lot like Oregon. Same climate, same early stage of Spring, same plants grow here. He talks about Trump a little, and says he’s not racist like people are in America.

I walked past Trinity College and continued south to the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology, because it was one thing I wanted to do, and wasn’t sure if Tara did. I found the museum easily and was pleased to see that the entrance fee is free. This is one of those museums in which the building itself is a big attraction. I happened to stop first at the almost-identical library across the parking lot (oops forgive me: carpark), and shot a photo of the whole building (which is enormous):

National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

The entire floor inside is mosaic tile. Some places are so beautiful that I hesistated to walk on it.

Columns inside the museum.

Decorated bronze mount.

Ancient carved stone.

Roman silver artifacts.

Exceptional metalwork

Carved stone 1-2 century AD

Golden cross.

After the museum I found a convenience store and bought some medicine for Tara, then went back to the room to deliver hot lemon medicated tea and cough syrup.

It was quiet and warm in the room and I couldn’t help it but take a nap! Later that evening, I went back out for sustenance and found quite by accident, two great places. I stepped into The Vintage Kitchen and put my name down for an 8:30pm table, then went next door to Mulligans.

It turns out that Mulligans Pub is an old and famous pub! Apparently James Joyce drank here, as well as John Kennedy. I was treated well and surrounded by Irishmen, their accents rising around me. I finished my pint of Five Flags lager, and walked back over to the kitchen.

The Vintage Kitchen is another narrow, quirky place with immediately friendly staff. The waiter insisted that if I like seafood, I needed to order the chowder. I obeyed. I enjoyed the quirky atmosphere and in no time had my chowder, which is to die for. I filled a little dish with mussel shells that I dug out of it, and dunked a variety of homemade breads into it. The chowder, though listed under “starters,” was a meal unto itself. Alas, I still had a risotto coming. No worries though, once I crammed as much of the fabulous risotto with kale (and leeks and broccoli) into myself, I asked them to pack up the rest for my sick kid. Tara was happy to take the leftover dinner off my hands.

John Mulligan’s Pub around the corner from our AirBnb.

Inside the pub

Inside The Vintage Kitchen

The rain makes everything sparkle at night.

Pubs and cobbled streets.

We had a better look at Dublin the next day.

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