Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Wedding of Mario and Elizabeth, Salem, Massachusetts

Salem, Massachusetts is just 17 miles north of Boston, home of the Peabody Essex Museum and what seemed to be hundreds of gift shops, scary museums, graveyards, tours, churches, psychics, statues, taverns and weddings all dedicated to the 1692 witch trials. This place isn't shy of its dark past as the Salem Witch trials are even now enacted at the Witch Dungeon Museum and other places we thought best not to bring Amy to. We were returning after two years to this small but touristy town because Marie's brother Mario was tying the knot with his girlfriend Elizabeth. We and 90 other guests were gathering at the Hawthorne Hotel in the heart of the town's historic district for the next three days. We had Amy with us for the weekend and she proved to be an excellent traveller and companion to me and Marie. We all gathered at Mario's home after we had settled into the hotel, meeting his and Elizabeth's friends and her family, coming from all corners of the USA and Canada. Amy made friends at once with the younger and older children there. As the wedding wasn't taking place until 6pm that evening we walked with Amy around Salem, explaining the history of the town and it's obsession with witches. As I have said the museums there were not really for her age group so we took her swimming at the Y, treated her to ice creams and let her play in the kids playground on the Salem Common across from our hotel. We also showed her a 400-year old graveyard, the Burying Point, where we explained to her the significance of the old headstones there. One noted person connected to the Witch Trials is buried there - Judge John Hawthorne, the 'Witch Hanging Judge' who died on May 10th, 1717 -  almost 300 years ago to the day we strolled over his remains. Our hotel was named after one of his descendants, the author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
US border crossing at Highgate Springs, Vermont
lunch at Applebee's, Berlin, Vermont

Amy with her tablet whiling away the miles and in a Stickwork 'bird's nest', Salem

'What the Birds Know' Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty

Amy at 'Maria's Sweet Nothings', the Burying Point graveyard, and supper with Elizabeth & Mario

our little bar maid, Hawthorne Hotel

Marie and Amy outside the Hawthorne Hotel, Salem, Massachusetts

in front of Bewitched star Elizabeth Montgomery, Lappin Park, Salem

Amy at the 'Y', Salem, Massachusetts
MELT, another delicious homemade ice cream shop in Salem

Burying Point, Salem
That evening we descended on the hotel's ballroom for supper and the wedding ceremony, followed by drinks and dancing afterwards. It was a pleasant surprise to see Adam, Mario's son there, as we had been told he wouldn't be attending. Zoe unfortunately was absent. The ceremony was performed by the wife of Elizabeth's sister, a poem was read and the assembled guests were attached by a long maroon coloured ribbon as the wedding was conducted. I think everyone agreed Mario and Elizabeth were made for each other and we wish them many years of happiness together.  Before returning home the next morning all family members gathered in the hotel dining room for a farewell breakfast. With goodbyes and promises to return we left for Canada, hoping to see Mario and Elizabeth again soon and wishing them a safe journey as they prepared to fly out the next morning to the enchanting and beautiful Caribbean island of St. Lucia for their honeymoon.   gws

Elizabeth and Mario, Salem, Massachusetts

Amy and Adam

the ceremony

breakfast next morning!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Visit of Carolyn and Michael

A few days after returning from our month long European wandering we got ready for the arrival of Carolyn and Michael - their much promised visit! It was the first time since 1991, when we were living in Paradise, Nova Scotia, that they had come up to see us and we were eager to see them again and show them around our new home. They had driven from Utah to Tennessee to be with Rachael when their first grandchild, Silas, was born, staying there a month before heading north to visit Michael's nephew in Rhode Island, then making the trek through Maine to Québec. We drove to the border to meet them and after what seemed like an unusually long interrogation, search and general unpleasantness by the Canadian border security they were let in and followed us back home. The weather when we returned from France was cool and cloudy but the next day after they arrived it changed for the better. That day we walked six miles around the Domain, down past the lake, along the back roads looking at tiny cabins that had been for sale ever since we had been here, up near the start of the trail that winds and slogs its way up toward the Canada-USA line, through the woods with the sun now coming out forcing everyone to strip off their jackets, making a circle to come out back on our road and then home. Mike and Carolyn, the two fittest people ever to grace this part of Québec didn't look at all tired. We all gathered by an evening fire for a cold beer or two, or maybe three, and later wandered up the stairs through the wood in the dark to bed.

The next day we rose to sunshine and very warm temperatures and planned a day to visit the local area. After breakfast we headed out to Mt. Magentic, planning to drive up the road to the observatory and get a nice view of the US and southern Québec. Unfortunately there was still "thigh high" snow on the top part of the ascent and the park was closed. It was a two hour walk up so we headed back towards Notre Dame des Bois, intending to drive out to Lac Megantic for the afternoon. That plan also went awry as the right front wheel of the truck began smoking and we were forced to turn back for home. In dribs and drabs, stopping every few miles as the brake again overheated, we switched vehicles, dropped off the truck at the local garage and continued on our merry way to Lac Megantic. We took the back road past Piopolis where we stopped at the Marina and enjoyed the peaceful, almost deserted waterfront. A seaplane took off but except for two boaters we were alone. Marie suggested we take the gravelled back road to town from there and after a few miles I found the traffic pretty well non existent, the road more rocky and narrower and we suddenly ended up in someone's backyard. Okay, I thought, this day is going amazingly well so far...



We made it in one piece, no wheels falling off the Escape (Mike and I had switched the winter wheels for summers the previous day) and had a late lunch at McDonald's. Carolyn wanted a Tim Horton's coffee and donut to say she had finally had one. Now she can call herself a real Canuck! We headed out to the local beaches and later visited the downtown site of the 2013 train derailment. At Baie des Sables there were few people around for such a beautiful day except for some town employees putting the finishing touches on the washrooms and sprucing up the beach in expectation of the hordes that will certainly flock there once the weather warms up. As we followed the train tracks back into town I showed Michael and Carolyn the route of the runaway tankers and how they gained speed on the incline as the 72-car nightmare hurtled towards the centre of town. We walked slowly about the boardwalk starting where the train jumped the tracks, the now decontaminated land being grassed and turned into a park, a huge memorial for those 47 people who died that night on July 6th. Many statues and carvings had been placed all about the area, some we had not seen before, and it was obvious this town had no intention of ever forgetting the tragedy.

Lac Megantic from the other side of Piopolis

Dock on Lac Megantic waiting for the summer

in front of the church and granite memorial

supper with a view
It was even hotter the next day when Mike and Carolyn were to leave. After some strenuous jogging (no, not me or Marie. You guess.) and bike riding around the Domaine we walked over to our little  pond where I showed my prowess in frog snatching, taking some last minute pictures at the bottom of the drive (thanks for the hanging basket guys!), everyone reluctant to get in the vehicles and drive to Montréal, the next part of their long drive home to Ogden. Mike treated us to some delicious poutine in Bromont for lunch on our way to the city and we arrived in time to go to the daycare and pick up the grandkids. Amy had to go with her Mom and Dad to meet the new teachers at her school she will be attending in the fall so we walked down to the park with William. I think Michael enjoyed it as much as his little nephew! The next morning I escorted them out of the city, pointing them towards Ottawa where they were going to stop and visit Christina, before continuing east to Guelph to Richard's new home. The four days had passed as four days do when you are with someone you haven't seen for a few years and I hope they, like us, will long remember this visit. Thanks for coming sister, thanks for being you and hopefully we can do it with you and Michael at your home soon!   gws

Carolyn cleaning out her car

one last picture

Poutine in Bromont


Carolyn, Mike and Marie at the park with William

Amy and William planting flowers in the next door neighbours front yard