New England Blog Posts
The Lobster Claw in Orleans, Massachusetts is one of our favorite summer tradition. For many New Englanders the summer Cape Cod trip isn't complete until we visit the Lobster Claw.
I can remember enjoying steamers with the family when I was a kid. I remember getting a bakes stuff lobster and enjoying dipping the lobster in the butter.
On some really busy summer nights, we had to wait upstairs at the bar and enjoy some appetizers before we could go back downstairs and have a meal.
Then there was this summer night when we ate during a really bad rainstorm, and the back doors swung open. It was scary. But we still got our food and it was still yummy.
I remember when they didn't have a gift shop - ya we been going there for a long time.
The seafood seems to just taste better here.
Five Things I Learned About the Lobster Claw
- Opened in 1962 by Don and Marylou Berig
- They still own the place, and chances are you'll get a visit by Don asking you how your meal is. Wow-what a great restaurant! After 58 years he still wants to know how things are going.
- The summer of 1999 might have been the best summer they had. Cape Cod traffic was at its peak and Don Berig told the Cape Cod Times that his sales were up 15 to 20 percent over the previous year. (I couldn't find any other reference to higher year over year sales.)
- In 2016, the Lobster Claw opened on April 1st with a short staff because of Visa delays. According to the Boston Herald, in 2016 the restaurant employed 40 people. About 13 of them come from Jamaica as part of their summer help. The owners worked really hard to keep the restaurant open while other places had to close until the Visa delays were settled. They were working 14 hour days!
- In 2019, the Super Bowl MVP, Julian Edelman, stopped in as he was enjoying a weekend on Cape Cod.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the business to focus on take-out orders. They are using DoorDash to deliver the food to customers - no word if they will deliver to Nauset Beach.
Check out the Lobster Claw
The next time your driving through Orleans, Massachusetts be sure to check out the Lobster Claw. I recommend trying a bowl of New England Clam Chowder with some Steamed Little Necks.
Enjoy the afternoon, and go have a beer and a Cup of Clam Chowder. Enjoy the Cape Cod charm
If you're celebrating something special you'll want to try the New England Clambake - 1 1/4 lbs Boiled Lobster, Steamed Clams, Corn, French Fries, and Coleslaw. You can forget about going to Sundae School after eating this.
Last summer we ventured out looking for a good ocean beach. We heard a lot of good things about Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester, Mass. We decided to pack up the car and check it out.
The beach is .6-mile long but has limited parking. It features beautiful views of the Annisquam River. There are plenty of large rocks along the shoreline to explore sea life. It's New England water, so it will be cold.
Things We Learned about Wingaersheek Beach
- Highly recommend arriving early for the best parking spaces. (Best to arrive before 9 am!)
- Pay attention to the tides time before you go so you don’t pick a spot and have to move later. (Use the Annisquam Lobster Cove Tide Information on the Massachusetts Marine Transe Tide Chart)
- There is a snack shop just off the beach. We brought sandwiches in via cooler. The snack shop was a long walk from the beach and we only visited it late in the day to get ice cream.
- Just off the distance is the Annisquam Lighthouse. It opened in 1801 and is one of the oldest lighthouses on the Gloucester peninsula.
- It cost $35 to park at Wingaersheek Beach on the weekends. (2020 Parking Rates)
- The roads near the beach are very narrow. The nearest gas station is 6.6 miles away! Make sure you have plenty of gas!
- Don't forget to bring games to play while on the beach.
Directions to the Beach
Easy Directions to the Beach
Take Rte. 128 to Exit 14. At the bottom of the ramp, take a right onto Rte. 133. About a mile on the left you will see a small traffic island with a sign saying Wingaersheek Beach. Take this left. This is Concord St. Follow until you reach another traffic island on the corner of Concord and Atlantic St. Take a right. Follow this along to the beach.
Samuel De Champlain
Samuel De Champlain was a European explorer that traveled back and forth from Europe to the "New World." He is credited for discovering Quebec and New France on July 3, 1608. (New France is the territory that people call New England today.)
In Chatham, Massachusetts there's a monument where Samuel De Champlain made his first landing.
Fun Facts about the Monument
- The monument was installed as part of Chatham 250th Celebration on August 25, 1962.
- During the unveiling ceremony about 40 residents did a re-enactment of Samuel De Champlain and the American Indians.
- The plaque was installed next to the monument in 2012 - during the celebration of Chatham's 300th anniversary.
- On the plaque is a map of Chatham that Samuel De Champlain made in 1608.
- The Monument and Plaque is located next to Chatham Harbor Master.
- The small parcel land that the monument is on is owned by the Town of Chatham. The fence area is only 435.6 sf.
- After landing on the shores, he called the area "Port Fortune." A room at the Old Harbor Inn has that name.
Text on the Plaque
Here's the text of the plaque that was installed in 2012:
Samuel de Champlain was a French explorer, navigator, map maker, journalist, artist, and soldier. In 1605 and again in 1606 he sailed from Nova Scotia to Cape Cod exploring and mapping much of the coast along the way while searching for a site for a permanent French settlement. In his 1605 expedition, he landed along the coast of Cape Cod at Nauset near the present location of the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Center. In October of 1606, he returned, this time visiting the shores of Monomoit, now Chatham. He described the harbor as not being deep enough to start a settlement. Although he stayed for only ten days, Champlain explored the land, described it in his journal, and made a map and drawings of what he saw thus leaving us a wealth of information that was so accurate that we can still recognize Mill Pond, Oyster Pond, and Great Hill today. He described the land as hilly and wooded with oak, cedar, and a few pines. Wild grapes were common as were beach plums. The harbor and bay were filled with every variety of fish and oysters. Game birds were also plentiful. The natives were not so much great hunters as good farmers. Primary crops were beans, corn, pumpkins, and squash as well as tobacco.
During his stay, Champlain traded iron hatchets and knives for tobacco and wampum and the explorers were supplied with fish, corn, and beans. Although the interaction between the French and the Wampanoag, in the beginning, was positive, a moment of misunderstanding regarding a hatchet ultimately led to a deadly confrontation which resulted in the loss of life on both sides.
Champlain sailed back to Canada and never returned to Cape Cod. In 1608 he went on to found the City of Quebec and became known as the Father of New France.
Salem Witch Museum
One of the popular places in Salem, Massachusetts is the Salem Witch Museum. Its a place where people can learn all about the 1692 Salem Witch Trials. It's a perfect first stop when you arrive in Salem, Massachusetts.
People learn about the Salem Witch Trials through a three-dimensional audiovisual presentation with life-size figures of the events surrounding the audience. You learn all about the events of the summer of 1692.
Ten Things I Have Learned About the Museum
- The building was built in 1825 as the Second Unitarian Church of Salem. It was used as a Church until 1902. It was unoccupied for many years and it 1957 the Salem Antique Car Museum took over the building.
- On October 22, 1969, the was a major fire at the museum. The fire caused $300,000 worth of damages to the building and property. Many priceless cars were totally destroyed. The fire completely destroyed the museum.
- In 1971, Thomas and Holly Mulvihill purchased the building to start the Salem Witch Museum.
- For many years, they owned a gift shop in downtown Salem. Every day tourists would come and visit Salem and asked them about the history of the Witches in Salem. They felt a need for a museum to help educate people about what really happened at the Salem Witch trials.
- It cost the Mulvihills $250,000 to restore the building from the fire. ($1,651,990.98 in 2020 value) Once the base of the building was set up, they hired a bunch of local artists to create all the cast of characters on display.
- The Salem Witch Museum first opened its doors on May 8, 1972.
- There is a new show every 1/2 hour and each show lasts 22-minutes. We have found that for young kids (under 6-year-old) it isn't a great show - some kids may get scared because the room is dark most of the time.
- The narrator of the show is author Charles M Fair - an American neuroscience researcher and writer. From his obituary - "He was a multitalented man with a varied career: editor, poet, banana importer, computer-company executive, scriptwriter/ narrator, historian, and neurology researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital."
- Since 1980, the museum management has been operated by Biff Michaud. Biff is responsible for helping turn Salem into the Halloween central. Working alongside the Salem Chamber of Commerce he helped create "Haunted Happenings." An event that started out as a one-day family celebration that is now a month-long party.
- The Museum is in Fallout 4 "Museum of Witchcraft." The museum is located in the northeastern area of the Commonwealth in section 2287.
In Orleans, at the intersection of Academy Plaza and Massachusetts Route 28, is a small island. There are many war memorials on this small piece of land. One thing that people may not see is an old Bell next to the large Pine Tree.
Sign on the Bell
This is the engraving that is on the Bell
This Bell Rode a Buoy off Race Point from 1941 - 1969 and was given to the Orleans Historic Society by the U.S. Coast Guard
The bell has the year 1938 inscribed on it.
This was once a Bell that warns boats that land was nearby (Provincetown, Massachusetts) was nearby. The buoy is located 9 nautical miles (About 10.3 miles) north of Provincetown, Massachusetts.
This particular bell is significant because this bell was in the waters during World War 2. On June 12, 1942, a German U-87 manage to arrive at Boston Harbor. The sub managed to sink two ships that were in port off Provincetown killing 93 men.
Most likely the German navigators on that U-87 certainly used the sounds of the bell as part of their navigation to Boston.
This bell was given to the town of Orleans because the "Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station" that is located in Provincetown, Massachusetts was originally located in Orleans.
National Data Buoy Center
Today the United States Coast Guard has an advanced buoy that not only warns boats of the nearby land but also gathers very important scientific data.
You can read all the latest Wind Speeds, Wave Heights, pressure change, and other key critical information. The buoy is now maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
With all the uncertainty of the post COVID-19 world, one thing is certain - New Englanders won't be traveling outside of New England as much as they used to - at least not in the short run.
Chances whatever summer 2020 vacation plans you have - it's going to be local.
Think You Know New England?
Check out the Yankee Magazine's "Best of New England" Summer Travel guide. This is a good guide to the best of the best of New England.
In the changing times, Yankee Magazine is making the guide 100% free! No Paywall or signup needed! Simply click on the graphic to read the latest issue.
Things to Checkout
Here are some of the features:
- 25 Inspired Ways to See New England from the Water
- The Hall of Fame collection of the "Best of New England"
- Check out Designer Mally Skok's Colorful Massachusetts Home.
- Lots of great ads for local business around New England - its like browsing around a gift shop in Salem or Cape Cod.
About 56 miles west of Boston is Old Sturbridge Village, a re-creation of a typical New England village of the early 1800s. Old Sturbridge Village is a way to look back on how life was in New England between the years 1790 and 1840.
The largest outdoor history museum in the Northeast - a great place for the whole family to learn about history.
Fun Facts About Old Sturbridge Village
Open to guests on June 8, 1946.
The whole concept was created by Albert B. Wells. He didn't see It open as he had a heart attack and moved to California.
Today there are 40 antique buildings spread out over 200 acres. Among the buildings are homes, shops, a meeting house and schoolhouse.
The graveyard is not a real one, but the gravestones were real. They are old gravestones from other cemeteries that are donated to Old Sturbridge Village. Many of these gravestones were being replaced at the original location. In some instances, the bodies that were buried at the original gravesite were missing.
The Vermont Covered Bridge is a great place to take pictures in the fall. This is one of 12 covered bridges that are still in use in Massachusetts.
Near the Freeman Farmhouse are some apple trees, another great family pictures spot. This is great any time of the year.
You can buy iron goods made at the Blacksmith in the general store. Supplies are limited. All nails that are used in the Village come from the Blacksmith. When you visit the Blacksmith shop, you can ask for some old nails - if they have enough stock they may give you one!
Sunday Brunch at the Village is a great place to stop by for Brunch. We have enjoyed going here for a nice quiet classic New England meal. The food is great and if it's a nice day, going through the Village afterward is a fun way to spend the day with family.
Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge
Just off the coast of Chatham, Massachusetts lies a large Island. This is the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge - or as the locals call it Monomoy Island. This is a safe ground for New England wildlife.
This is federally protected land. (This post is general information about the island. Detail breaks information will be done in another post this summer.)
Six Fun Facts About Monomoy Island
The Wildlife Refuge was established in 1944 and became a federal Wildlife Refuge in 1970.
This is a 7,600-acre (8-mile long) refuge which provides a resting, nesting, and feed grounds for migratory sea birds.
The beaches along the Chatham shore has the highest concentration of nesting piping plover in New England.
There are five species are protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA): the piping plover, roseate tern, red knot, northeastern beach tiger beetle, and seabeach amaranth.
The island used to have lots of dune shacks. When the government took over the island in 1944, the US Department of Interior's Fish and Wildlife took over all the land by eminent domain. However, they let the current landowners keep their land as long as the original owner lived and the structure was held up against the tides and storms. The last living person to legally own space died in September 2000. When the structure was taken down it marked the first time in 300 years that the island was free of human building.
The only remaining structure is the Monomoy Point Light which is located on the further point south on the island. It is on the National Historic Register. In 2016 it went under major repair to restore the lighthouse. Chatham Coast Guard helicopters were used to bring in lumber and supplies to help restore the lighthouse.
Visiting the Island?
The Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge has a printable map of all the public accessable trials on Monomy Island.
There's also a handy bird guide to find out when your favorite feather friend visits the island.
Boats to Monomoy
The only way to get on the island is by boat. You can take the Monomy Island Excursion to tour the island and see the seals - you don't get off to explore the island. The boats leave from Harwich.
The Monomoy Island Ferry is one of the oldest tour boats of Monomoy. You can get pretty close to seals and perhaps some whales. They do offer private charter tours of Monomoy where you can walk part of the island. The boat departs from Sage Harbor in Chatham - right next to Monomoy.
Go this Summer
Visiting Monomoy Island is a unique way to see Cape Cod and it worth the visit to get close to nature and enjoy some fresh salt air.
Gillette Stadium is home of the New England Patriots and the New England Revolution. Every Summer it hosts many top performers concerts.
The stadium is located on Route 1 in Foxboro, Massachusetts - 29-miles from downtown Boston.
Six Things I Learned About Gillette Stadium
- The stadium first opened on May 11, 2002 at a cost of $325 million. It replaced Foxboro Stadium which stood next door from 1971 to 2001.
- The stadium holds 65,878 football fans and 20,000 soccer fans. The largest attendance record for a concert was set by Luke Bryan in 2014 when 60,000 fans attended his concern.
- The Jumbotron in the stadium is the largest HDTV video screen in the NFL.
- Gillette likes to promote that they have twice as many parking spaces in Gillette’s parking lot as there are parking meters in Boston. Currently there are 6,955 parking meters in Boston, which means that there are 13,000 parking spaces around Gillette Stadium.
- The lighthouse in the North End Zone is a signature staple of the stadium. It rises 10 stores about the field. It is somewhat hidden from the outside by the height of the 16-story stadium.
- The grass surface was natural grass until 2006 when it was replaced with FieldTurf.
- The New England Patriots have sold out every game since December 26, 1993.
Adventure New England
This is the start of a new blog series where I’ll be showcasing places that I have visited around New England.
There are some complications in creating today’s post, so I won’t be able to post the scheduled content and will have to do that next week.
Some places that I’ll feature over the next few months.
- Honeypot Orchards in Vermont
- Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg Massachusetts
- Manchester by the Sea Beach
- North Conway 5 & 10 Store
- Wychemere Harbor
- LL Bean Store in Freeport Maine
- Provenience Town tower
If there’s any place that you want to see, let me know and I’ll post it.
Henry Knox Monument in Framingham
The Henry Knox Trail is a set of roads and paths that trace the route that the team of soldiers, led by General Henry Knox, to deliver artillery to George Washington. The artillery was used to help win several key campaigns in the Revolutionary War. In particular, it helps free Boston from the British troops.
In Framingham, there's a monument to celebrate that General Henry Knox actually passed by here:
Through this place passed GENERAL HENRY KNOX in the winter of 1775-1776 To deliver to General George Washington At Cambridge The train of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga used to force the British Army to evacuate Boston erected by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 1927
Four Things I Learned About the Henry Knox Monument
- Part of the 56 commemorative plaques on the Henry Knox Trail
- The monuments were placed on the 150th anniversary of the Knox March
- The trail goes from Kinderhook, New York to Roxbury, Massachusetts
- You can see a Bust of General Henry Knox at George Washington Monument at the Forest Hills Lawn Cemetary
Fitchburg Alumni Brick Location
If you graduated from Fitchburg State College in the late 1990s, your parents might have gotten a promotion to purchase a commemorative brick. The brick would be placed as a walkway in the Hammond Plaza area.
Changes to the Plaza
A few years ago the small grass area in front of Thompson Building was removed and cement bricks were put in place. This was to allow the school to make better use of the area for events.
Hammond Plaza Before/After
The before the picture was taken with my FinePix F601. The after a picture was taken iPhone 6s Plus. While putting together today's blog postings, I noticed that the pictures taken that day with my FixPix actually look better than ones taken with my iPhone. I'll have to do a side-by=side comparison of the two.
Gone but Not Forgotten
The bricks were not destroyed. They are still on campus.
The bricks were moved to an area behind the Alumni Center off of Highland Ave. Some people may remember the building by the former name - the Newman Center (Also known as the Chapel).
To get to the location from the old site:
From the Hammon Plaza, head to Highland Ave, and walk down the street towards the "New Halls." Just before the street ends you'll see the former Newman Center - now named Mazzaferro Alumni Center. Walk along the path between the parking lot and the Mazzaferro Alumni Center, you'll see a brick patio in the back.
Mazzaferro Alumni Center Patio Area
Finding your Brick
The bricks were not put together in the same order. So it may take time to find your brick. There is no guide to help you, simply walk row by row to find your brick - who knows you may find some names of old friends.
One more Thing
Favor: If you're attending Fitchburg State University, can you take a better picture of the Hammond Plaza Area? I would like a better before/after photo.
TD Garden Event Parking Rate
If you're attending an event at the TD Garden, you should know about your parking options.
First off it's very expensive to park at the North Station Garage, from the TD Garden website:
With the most convenient parking for every game and show, the North Station Garage, located directly underneath the TD Garden, offers a flat event rate of $50 when you enter 2 and 1/2 hours prior to the scheduled event time. Elevators located in the parking garage will bring you directly to the main concourse in North Station.
Know your Options
If you're new to Boston, you should know that you do have many options which are just a few blocks away from the station:
Cheapest Option - Public Transportation. The Northside of the commuter rail and North Station T stop is just a few steps away from the TD Garden. The TD Garden Website has all the details on getting there using public transportation.
Government Center Garage - Event Rate is only $35, garage is a 10 minute walk to the TD Garden.
Pro Park Garden Garage - Event Rate is $40 ($10 Cheaper than the "offical parking" lot). The garage is located directly across the street from the Garden.
Longfellow Garage - About a 5 minute walk. Event Rates vary from $20 to $50.Center Plaza Garage - No event rates published, Saturday or Sunday rates are $11.
Great Wolf Lodge
This past week we visit the Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, otherwise known as Great Wolf New England. We spent 2 days at the Waterpark and having fun with the MagiQuest.
We had Dinner and breakfast at the Lodge Wood Fired Grill. Eating out can be a challenge with a seven-year-old that needs to eat Gluten Free.
The Lodge Wood Fired Grill had a dinner buffet, but when we went up to see what was being served, we didn't really see anything that was safe and decided to stick to the menu.
When the server came to our table, we told him about my daughter allergy and he told us that it was the restaurant policy to have a chef come and talk to us about our options.
A couple of minutes later, the chief came over and talked to my daughter about what she wanted to have for dinner. It was nice that they started that way to allow my daughter to pick what she wanted. She wanted Mac & Cheese, Chicken Nuggets, and french fries. Basically, the same thing that her friend was having.
The chief told us that he would be able to make all of that gluten-free, the Mac & Cheese would take a bit because they need to boil a fresh pot of water. He would get the chicken nuggets and fries out as soon as possible.
The chicken nuggets and fries did come out pretty quickly - just before the adult's meals. About 10 minutes later the Mac & Cheese came out.
My daughter was very happy to have her Mac & Cheese and other things that she wanted. She didn't feel left out from not having the same thing that her friend was having.
My daughter got a lot of food, she enjoyed it and was very happy.
We went up to the buffet and picked things that we knew were safe for her to eat. We did meet a chief at the buffet and they came to see us at our table to explain other options - including making a special plate of Potatoes because the ones at the buffet were deeply fried not in a dedicated fryer.
Breakfast was good. She got a lot of potatoes, she probably only need 2-3. She was happy to have lots of options and enjoyed the sausage and bacon too. (We noticed that the bacon wasn't all that salty.)
Five things We Learned
- To me, I felt the service was slow, it took a long time for the server to take our orders. At breakfast, I felt that our table was forgotten.
- The chief at the Breakfast buffet asked what tolerant level my daughter had with gluten. That surprised us. When you are a Celiac, you have to avoid gluten. The FDA rule for packaged foods is 20 parts for million is the maximum ratio of gluten levels in food deemed safe for people with celiac disease.
- The next time we'll let the table host know about the allergy so they can leave a chief to know after they sit us down at the table.
- The breakfast potatoes were crunchier than the regular potatoes.
- They served a lot of food, which is good, but it seemed too much. We couldn't take it home since we were staying at the resort.
Interesting Message on the Dinning Page:
ALLERGY AWARENESS: At Great Wolf Lodge, all our culinary teams are well versed in common food allergies and dietary restrictions. We are more than happy to accommodate your needs, and we encourage you to speak to your chef, so your meal can be prepared safely from the very beginning. Great Wolf Lodge dining facilities do not serve peanut or tree nut products, but some of our products may be manufactured in facilities that also process nuts.
Playhouse at the Breakers Mansion
The Playhouse at the Breaker's Mansion is an often overlooked attraction when visiting the popular mansion. It is located near the exit as you walk around the property.
Six Fun Facts about the Playhouse
- Some documents refer the playhouse as simply "The Cottage"
- The Playhouse building was build in 1895, the house was constructed in 1893.
- Designed by Peabody and Stearns, who designed the original Breaker's Mansion.
- The Fireplace is a real working fireplace.
- The playhouse was where the five Vanderbilt children could play in the summertime: William Henry Vanderbilt II, Cornelius Vanderbilt III, Gertrude Vanderbilt, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, Gladys Moore Vanderbilt
- In the back room, where there is a pretend kitchen are two buttons on the wall. One of the buttons says '2nd Floor.' We asked someone about it and they said it was a mystery. However, when you look at the playhouse from the backside, you can clearly see windows as if there is a second floor in the playhouse. The windows are very similar to the ones in the Breaker's Mansion.
Playhouse is the Same Today as it Was Then
Pictures taken shortly after it was built vs today.