When I lived in Boston for four years, it was my express goal to see as much of New England as possible. As a former English teacher, it had been a long-awaited dream finally tumbling onto my lap in a haphazard way. I was determined to make the most of my time spent in that region.
I found my way to Lynn, Amherst and Concord, Massachusetts to visit the Eddy, Dickinson, Alcott and Emerson homes, respectively. Each entailed a lot of research on travel plans and I also enlisted the help of some of my co-workers who hailed from the New England area. They assisted me in figuring out which trains or buses I needed to take to get to my destinations.
Then, quite like a magic wand, I was somehow led to Brush Hill Tours, a division of Gray Line Tours. Or, perhaps, it found me; but whichever way that worked, it proved to be a solo traveler’s answered prayer. My greatest challenge was simply making certain that I was at the Charles Street depot in Boston, before the bus left at 9 a.m. on that day.
There were a variety of tours listed and the beautiful thing is that I would be back home about 6 p.m. on that same day. What a treat! Though it took a degree of spunk, the fears and apprehension quickly faded when I saw that I was not alone. There were small groups, couples and even a few single wanderers like me. I was lucky enough to always get a window seat and I had two entire seats to myself to breathe, think and listen to the driver when he chose to speak to us.
I chose Maine first because I had met a woman where I lived who used to refer to going to ‘down Maine.’ though it is actually north of Boston. As I was boarding the luxury bus, two women called out and said, “Make sure that you take the Newport Mansions Tour!” I told them that I would, which I did at a later time.
We went through New Hampshire first where I bought a colorful granny skirt. Once in Kennebunkport, I remember us driving by the Wedding Cake House built by a shipbuilder. It was rumored that it was built for his bride who did not have a proper honeymoon but that has been questioned. However, it was a memorable sight.
Also, along the coastline, we bypassed the Bush home and we saw several Secret Service men in tube-like water boats guarding the political dynasty’s home. Maine was so refreshing. It was like enjoying a cool drink of water filled with large ice cubes. Ahh!
Each trip included shopping sprees and planned stops at great eateries. The drivers often talked in spurts and gave us lots of new information about that particular part of the country.
When I did take the Newport Mansion Tour as the women had recommended, we went into The Marble House and The Breakers. We saw how the Vanderbilts, and other high society families lived in the summers during the Gilded Age. I bought souvenirs at the bookstore and ate BBQ in Newport and witnessed where the famous Newport Jazz Festivals were held. And, yes, of course, I went shopping at the local shops!
I later took the Cape Cod Tour and we stopped in Hyannis and ate scrumptious cod fish at a refined restaurant facing a pier. We even took a ferry, and we were able to get a glimpse of the historic Kennedy Compound. I remember having on my headphones and listening to some great music as we propelled along on the water.
I could go on and on about Brush Hill Tours which became my weekend go-to. I was always surrounded by cool people who were there, but never too intrusive. They, like me, were simply travelers who were out there taking in the new!
February 12, 2022