Tuesday, September 28, 2010

V-formation (The Geese Travel): Rockport, Part One

Hello Friends! We are safely back from our jaunt to Rockport, MA. It was a blast! This was our first trip (besides to see family) with both kids. My dad was in Colorado for most of September, so it was the four of us, plus my mother (aka: Grammie). She is so fun to be around (I always joke that growing up with her was like living in an episode of "I Love Lucy"). 

First, a little about the Town of Rockport:

Rockport is a town of under 8,000 people, 25 miles northeast of Boston, MA. It is located on the Cape Ann peninsula and is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on three sides.

Cape Ann was inhabited by the Agawam tribe of Native Americans. The expedition of Samuel de Champlain landed in the Rockport area briefly in 1605, naming in Cap Aux Isles. When Europeans settled the Gloucester area around 1623, they had included Rockport in their territory. Unfortunately, as is true in most of America, the vast majority of Agawams had perished due to disease and other contact with European settlers.

Rockport began its legacy in timber, fishing and granite in the 17th century. The town's first dock was built in 1743. In 1840, Rockport was incorporated as it's own township and garnered success from America's demand for granite during the Industrial Revolution. Granite lost a bit of it's popularity after the mass introduction of concrete in the 1930s. Rockport's identity as an artist's colony quickly replaced that of a granite hub. Rockport's rocky coastline, quaint architecture and lobster and fishing boats have been the subject or artwork for decades, and the red fishing building on Bradley Wharf is commonly known as Motif Number 1 based on the hundreds of paintings and photographs that feature it.

Rockport is a "dry" town, due to the 1856 revolt against rum. Except for a brief lapse in the 1930s, it has remained dry (you can have a drink in a restaurant, but there are no liquor stores).*

Now, on to the good stuff...

On Thursday we left bright and early and headed East to Rockport. Grammie and Edie manned the backseat (with Eric, of course). Edie perused the travel brochures to find the best attractions and restaurants.

Then Grammie taught Edie how to make a telescope.

I sat behind the wheel for most of vacation (mainly because it's impossible for me to stay awake in the car unless I'm driving. Anyone else like that on roadtrips?)

I think it took about 4 hours to get Rockport from Silly Goose Farm (including a few pit stops). We rented a house that was in a nice neighborhood and within walking distance to the ocean and downtown Rockport. It worked out really well for us.  Here are some pictures of our little Rockport home:

The house had a cozy little garden with water features in the back. This cat showed up to see what all the ruckus was.

Eric was so happy that Grammie came with us! He just loves his Grammie (I love this picture!).

After we settled in, we took a walk around town. One of my favorite things about vacation is exploring new architecture and getting some ideas for Silly Goose Farm. The following homes are located on King Street.

I love the details!

The rugged coastline of Rockport.

The sandy shore of Front Beach (we went swimming here).

This was Edie's first time at the ocean! I'm so lucky I get to provide opportunities like this for my kids.

Hey Edie! Where's Europe? "It's that way!"

Eric was a little less impressed with the water, and slept most of the afternoon (I love his little hat and the sailboats on his shoes)

Rockport is such a welcoming, charming town. Although you can tell there are a lot of tourists, it still has the feel of a real community.

A peek of the ocean from between buildings.

Edie was very determined to push the stroller.

You can feel the history in Downtown Rockport. This particular section is known as Bearskin Neck (after a visitor of the ursine nature drowned in the water surrounding it and washed to shore).

This particular building is the Old Stone Fort. Read below for more details. Edie's new "trick" is knocking on doors and saying "hello?" (which really comes out at "yo?"). She went right up to the door on this building, knocked, and when no one answered decided to try to let herself in. What a knucklehead.

I love sailboats. I want one so bad!

Eric was more concerned with what the heck those "hand" things are, and what he's supposed to do with them.

Edie loves the water so much. I think she would have stayed out and watched the waves all day.

Carrying the backpack/diaper bag around was a relief from carrying a heavy baby on my front all day. Although, it was a little heavy, as evidenced in my overly-dramatic pose.

We enjoyed a tasty seafood dinner, then made our way back to our rent-a-home. Of course, as we were walking home, the skies opened up and we all got completely drenched. Grammie rushed the kids home (that lady can push a double stroller like no body's business), and Dave and I stopped off to grab a gallon of milk, peanut butter, cereal, coffee and cream at a nearby convenience store. Grand total: $30. Gotta love convenience store prices! We all slept quite soundly in our new surroundings Thursday night.

Friday morning came, and it was still very wet and dreary. Mom and I had to postpone our traditional 6am swim for later in the weekend. We had a leisurely start to the morning, and once the rain stopped (albeit briefly), we launched into adventure mode. The thing about my family and vacations (which I love) is that we never really have a plan. We have certain things that we keep in mind and attractions we'd like to see, but we schedule things loosely enough where a rain delay doesn't put our whole day off the rail.

We decided to head to Gloucester Friday morning and see if we could meet the Gorton's Fisherman (ha ha just kidding... maybe). We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with waterfront views at Morning Glory Cafe. The place was rather unassuming from the outside, but the food was delicious (isn't that true for the best places?).

This was Eric's first time in a restaurant highchair. I'm not sure what he thought (we had to prop him up with our jackets).

Edie ordered herself a big plate of scrambled eggs, toast and homefries. She ate most of it, too.

After breakfast we walked across the street to the Gloucester Fishermen's Memorial. I'm always proud to see a community represent its heritage and remember its roots, but what a sad legacy of lost sailors.

Remember the book/movie "The Perfect Storm?" The crew was from Gloucester.

"That they go down to the sea in ships"

All those plaques feature the names of sailors who lost their lives at sea.

Walking back towards Gloucester.

This building is across the street from the Fishermen's Memorial. See how the chimney is white with a black band? It's a sign that the house was home to Tories (also known as Loyalists) during the Revolutionary War.

Gloucester is still very much a working harbor.

I really like the style and colors of this house. It stands right near the water. I wonder how many gales and storms it has seen.

Even the bike racks have a fisherman motif.

Looking back up at Gloucester. I love all the brick. It feels like everything in Gloucester was built to withstand hurricanes and saltwater. How many fishy fingers have been run across the time-worn masonry, I wonder?

I really liked Gloucester. It is a little "rougher" than Rockport, but I thought it had some neat shops and restaurants. We did a little browsing, and I stopped to grab some beer (more on that later). While I was at the brewery, I actually met someone who grew up in Albany, on the same street Dave and I used to live on, and graduated from Albany High School. Of course.

The kids were getting pretty tired (read: cranky) so we decided to head home and take a little siesta. Driving out of Rockport, we passed the Gorton's sign, just like in the commercial. Stuff like that always cracks me up.

I love these two pictures. It's like Eric was thinking, "Okay, I'll just put on my reading glasses, lose myself in a few chapters, then start a new bottle before bed."

Once we awoke from our naps, we decided to "hit the town" again. We took different paths and tried looking at attractions from another angle. I especially loved this house. It just looks so stately and simple at the same time. I feel like important business has probably been conducted here at one time or another.

The sun finally came out. I was starting to think we'd have to trade the car in for a boat.

My men. I love these pictures.

I think I need a sign with a rolling pin on it.

Here, you can catch of glimpse of Motif Number 1.

Argh matey! A pirate ship (yours to charter, should you feel inclined).

Edie and Grammie led the way home. Those two are inseparable. Whenever I would get near Edie, she pushes my hand away, screams and runs in the opposite direction. We brought home pizza for dinner, played some Bananagrams, watched a movie and called it a night. We had many more adventures ahead!

Stay tuned for more pictures and notes on our Rockport trip, as well as recommendations if you are considering your own excursion. Have any questions? Feel free to post them in the comments and I'll try mt besr to answer!

*Hey Mom! All that money for a history degree at fancy private college paid off! Information from Wikipedia.