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High Rock Tower in Lynn, Massachusetts.

On our way out of Salem we made a fun stop in Lynn, Massachusetts, to climb up the hill at High Rock Tower Park. The tower is tucked into a densely populated residential area, and the approach that we used has no parking area (we found street parking). There are no informational or directional signs, so when we found it, then hiked up the hill to see it, I felt like we had discovered something special.

This approximately 5-acre piece of land has held an observation tower since the 1840s. The original tower was burned down in 1865. The current tower is 107 feet high and was built of granite in 1904. Since 2002 the observatory has been open to the public for views of the starry skies, from 8-10pm. It contains a 12-inch Meade telescope and visitors get a good look at the craters of the moon, the rings of Saturn and the great storms of Jupiter.

If a person were to approach from the other side of the hill, there are wide streets and parking spaces. I don’t know why the map app sent us in the back way, but it was more fun. Up on top we found a small city park there as well, with a jungle gym for the kids and grassy lawn to play in. A few parents and kiddies were running around, but it was mostly abandoned. No one was appreciating the beauty of the place, the tower itself, the gigantic boulders of fascinating porphyry rock (a reddish rock with big crystals embedded in it) all over the site, or the incredible views. Will and I did appreciate all of that, however.

View of the sea overlooks Stone Cottage, also part of the site. There is a clear view of Nahant Bay, and the community of Nahant, on an island.

The Boston city skyline appears to the south, while standing at High Rock Tower.

Will then took me to see a ball game in his hometown of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, at McCoy Stadium. That is the home (for now) of the Pawsox (the Pawtucket Red Sox), a team affiliated with the Boston Red Sox. Of course seeing a hometown minor league game was fun, but there was the added excitement that we might get to see one of the major league players on the field, while they got up to speed after an absence from the Boston team. Will thought maybe Dustin Pedroia would be playing that night. Pedroia is one of the players who was a star when I was watching a lot of baseball about ten years ago, so it would be super cool to be able to watch him play.

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Tickets for the game.

Pedroia would be playing!

It was a warm night. We parked in a neighborhood and walked to the stadium. It felt wonderful to be sharing a small-town experience with all the other happy people walking to the game with us. Once we got our tickets and got inside the stadium, I checked the roster. Yep, Pedroia was on there.

We were hungry and I had fun standing in line for deep fried food and beer, all the stereotypes of baseball you could ask for. We found our seats and settled in. By the time we sat down the game had already started.

The Pawsox played the Gwinnett Stripers, from Gwinnett County, Georgia. I didn’t know anything about either team, but you can learn the players pretty fast by watching them during a game. These days of course you get up-close photos of the players, their positions and their stats up on the marquee every time they are at bat or make a significant play. That helps you learn. Another fun tradition is that each player picks a theme song and a few seconds of it are played as they approach home plate to bat. I learned who the country guy was, the hip hop guy, etcetera.

Hoping for a Pawtucket Red Sox run.

We had a pretty decent view of the field from our seats.

Stripers pitcher fixin’ to let loose.

Even though I only had my phone camera, I thought it did alright with capturing the scene.

The Stripers started off strong with three runs in the first inning, and another run in the the second. Pawsox gained momentum as they played, and by halfway through the game were clearly putting their hearts into it. That isn’t a way to win a game though. We finally got two runs in the 5th inning, but never caught up, and we lost the game 5-2.

I’m glad I got to see a game there. The team has been sold and is going to move to the city of Worcester in 2021. Once they move they will no longer be the Pawsox. It’s a pretty significant loss for Pawtucket, a small town that really doesn’t have much to brag about, or for the citizens to come together and enjoy.

After the game we hung around for fireworks. It’s a summertime tradition at McCoy stadium. Will’s mom is not a fan of the fireworks I hear, because it makes a lot of noise when many people are trying to get some sleep. I recommend being AT the game for the fireworks, because then all the light and noise go together, and it’s a lot of fun. After the show we walked back along the sidewalks to the car, in among many tired happy families heading home.

The full moon, birds, and construction towers, viewed from my room at the Kintai Inn on the Marine Base at Iwakuni.

August 2 was a full moon. The window of my room at the Kinati Inn on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is perfectly positioned to capture views lit by the rising sun. And thus, perfectly situated to snap some shots of the full moon. At first I was cursing the unnatural-looking construction towers in the foreground. But now that I look again, I like the effect.

Moon and birds. Or bats?

Iwakuni Castle glows in the morning sun. Another great view from my window.

August 4 was a huge festival at the Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni. There would be the biggest fireworks show of the year, apparently. I walked over there in the evening, using the small concrete dam I often walk along, as a shortcut. Families were set up with picnics and umbrellas along the dam, waiting for the show. Kids were swimming in the river and catching fish with nets.

When I got closer to the bridge area, I saw that it was teeming with people. I was not in a people mood that night. Often, I am not in a people mood. I turned right around, though the fireworks had begun, and went back to the dam.

View of the fireworks over Kintai Bridge, from the concrete dam. Iwakuni Castle, lit up at night, sends a long column of white into the water.

I didn’t have a tripod, so I had to set my camera on the rocks in front of me. I didn’t use the timer, just took a bunch of shots trying to keep the camera still. Some of them turned out ok.

My unsteady hand makes an interesting photo with the lights of the double bridge.

Green sparks reflect off the water

Red smoke drifts into the air

But more than fireworks photos, what I experienced this night was the warm quiet of happy families on a summer night. People spoke in murmurs, with little chuckling laughs. It was hot, so I took off my shoes and sat with my feet in the Nishiki River. No one paid any attention to me, partly due to the politeness of the Japanese custom, partly due to anonymity of darkness, partly because others enjoyed the peace and quiet as much as I did. We were perfectly content not to extend ourselves outside our fuzzy dark night bubbles of serenity. The booming of the explosions was out of sync with the cascades of sparkling lights, due to the distance. The cicadas droned their ceaseless instruments. I could have laid back onto the concrete – still holding the warmth of the afternoon – and fallen asleep.

Families (and their bikes) sit along the dam, watching the fireworks.

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