“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”
– A. Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”
The American Civil War has been, and will always be, my historical topic of choice, one nearest to my heart. My research resides there, and my mentor Dr. Robert McGlone lived there with his writings about Abolitionist John Brown. When I visit a monument, memorial, or battlefield, I take the opportunity to explore and understand that historical moment. It makes sense then that I have visited Gettysburg, PA, twice during my life. While exploring those two travel adventures, this post will offer insight into my fascination with Civil War history and where it all began. Join me as I get personal, but with a pointed look at my core historical topic, and the trips that illustrate that tether, tied, and fixed by people, places, and time.
“Full of crooked little streets; but I tell you Boston has opened and kept open more turnpikes that lead straight to free thought and free speech and free deeds than any other city.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
I have always dreamed of living in a major city. While my hometown wasn’t small, it wasn’t a city. The closest city to where I grew up, New Bedford, was more prominent, but it wasn’t anything like Providence or Boston. In my life, I would go on to have the pleasure of visiting several major cities in the U.S. and the world and residing in a few. Three years in Honolulu, one month in Shanghai, but Boston will always be the first. In 2008, I, along with Corinne, set sights on the city of Boston as our living location. Corinne and I had recently started living together, but we did so in her suburban apartment. So, we moved to Boston. For the next 12 months, we learned to be partners, adopted our shelter pup, Mr. Tuttles, and enjoyed city living, both its beauties and drawbacks. Today, let’s explore Boston as Corinne and I did.
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
– Fred (Mister) Rodgers
Recently, and on a foggy but temperate Sunday morning, I, along with my brother Jeff visited the historic town of Mystic, CT, and I closed one chapter of my running book. Not only is Mystic beautiful, but it reminded me that running in New England is second to none. While reintroducing me to half marathon running, Mystic served as a milestone moment in my running journey. Today, I want to explore my New England running adventures. As an individual formally devoid of running, I used my New England upbringing to carve out a lofty but inspiring, yet sometimes spirited, running goal. Mystic served as a fitting location as my last New England state completed during my trek to run in every U.S. state, a plan I started in 2015. Each New England state offered a unique race experience, some emotional and exciting, others downright depressing and awkwardly infuriating. No matter the outcome of any race, miles of New England roads were counted, and I seek to retrace them.
“We all come from somewhere. We carry that place with us wherever we go. That never leaves our hearts. Not entirely.”
– Doug Jones (Saru) from Star Trek: Discovery
My hometown matters to me. Yet, I rarely go back to the town I called home for nearly 25 years. It’s not that I don’t want to go back; it’s more that there is little calling for me to return. My parents no longer live locally, and they sold my childhood home years ago. Each time I return, there are fewer reminders of who I once was. Many of my posts situate my hometown as a consistent backdrop. Avoiding the town, therefore, is impossible. I love my hometown. I no longer want to position it on the periphery. But returning home is emotionally challenging and brings forth pleasing and unpleasant emotions; fear, happiness, and uncertainty. It’s a conflicted feeling, but I have attempted to work through these complexities. Fairhaven, Massachusetts, is ultimately home. I may not return for some time, but home will logically always be merely a drive away. After Corinne and I purchased a 2003 Jeep Wrangler, I felt the urge to explore the town I took for granted and left behind nearly two decades ago.
“Most men, they’ll tell you a story straight through. It won’t be complicated, but it won’t be interesting either.”
– Albert Finney (Senior Ed Bloom) from Big Fish
I love to tell a story. Spinning tales about travel, personal dislike of snow, and even craft beer crusades allow me to narrate the story of my life, but hopefully, in an entertaining fashion. It reminds me of the film, Big Fish. I constantly think of the line Billy Crudup delivers, as William Bloom, “Have you ever heard a joke so many times you’ve forgotten why it’s funny? And then you hear it again, and suddenly it’s new. You remember why you loved it in the first place.” That is how writing posts on this blog makes me feel. I have forgotten the central meaning of so many stories that I see those events from a fresh perspective as I dig through photos or retread old roads. This fact became clear during a recent trip Corinne and I took to Newport, RI.
“Marty, don’t be such a square. Everybody who’s anybody drinks.”
– Lea Thompson (Lorraine) from Back to the Future
On New Years’ Eve, I attended a small party at my brother Jeff’s home. He and his family, Corinne and I, and my mom, who traveled from New Hampshire, attended. The night before, my mom asked me what she should bring. I suggested some craft beer from local breweries near her home. She agreed, knowing that Jeff and I might have fun trying various styles. The next day, upon arriving at Jeff’s home, I discovered my mom purchased a growler and two 4-packs of IPA and wheat beer options from Rek’•lis Brewing, located in the heart of the White Mountains in Bethlehem, NH, and three 4-packs of IPA and NEIPA options from Schilling Beer Co. in Littleton, NH. None of these beers were disappointing, and Jeff and I had a wonderful evening.
While traveling, I have visited incredible breweries and sampled delicious beer. I have written about these experiences multiple times on this blog but failed to examine several beer-related adventures. Some of these experiences are local; a beer festival or brewery visit. Other beer moments were in another part of the world in Asia or Europe, and several were a short drive to a neighboring state like Vermont. Traveling for craft beer is a unique way to explore a new area. But enjoying the taste of an IPA, Wheat, or Kolsch style beer is a relatively new thing. It took me years, and miles, to see its value and accept the experience with open arms. Today, I write about those beer moments and breweries that stand out as memorable.
Snow, what happened to us? We used to have such extraordinary times together, but we have hit a rough patch lately. Blizzards, adverse temperatures, like what’s the deal? Why can’t it be like when I was younger, and talk of an impending New England storm brought cheers rather than dreadful heart-stopping tears. Yes, I know that rhymed, but it’s true; we used to be so good together. Carefree and happy, the spirit of joy and excitement over the prospect of canceled school coming over the radio, but now I don’t feel the same way. It’s definitely you, not me, and I know that might be mean, but sadly it’s true. I have seen what it’s like to be around warmth year-round, and it changed me, and it changed how I see and think about you. I should be sorry, but I am not.
As a New Englander, I accept the terrible winters because the fall and spring are gorgeous, and while the summer is hot, it can be enjoyed with excitement. But winter, well, winter is another animal. Still, I haven’t always felt that way. When I was a kid, I loved it when it snowed, but now I wouldn’t say I like it. I am a born and raised New Englander, and maybe that’s why when the first snow descends from the sky, the battle commences. Shorter days, darker sky and mood, but a happier person emerges from the slumber at the first sign of spring. The weather creature, Punxsutawney Phil, might see his shadow, but spring will come in six weeks no matter what he says. Six weeks can’t come soon enough.