Several years ago we heard some rumours about witchcraft in Carol’s
ancestry. Since her behaviour during our ten years of marriage had already
made me a bit suspicious about her background, I began to do some
Yup, she comes from solid witchcraft stock. Carol is a direct descendant
of William Towne and Johanna Blessing who left England in 1635 and settled
in Salem, Massachusetts. They raised a family of eight children and in
1692 three of their daughters were charged as witches in the Salem
Witchcraft Trials. Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, Mary (Towne) Estey and Sarah
(Towne) Cloyse were charged and both Rebecca and Mary were convicted and
Last summer we visited Salem and really enjoyed touring the
Homestead and many other historical sites. When we heard that the
Towne Family Association were
holding their 31st Annual Reunion in Salem we decided we just had
The motorhome is all packed up and we’re ready to roll!
So why don’t you ride along with us?
We got off to a very tense
start on this trip. We picked the RV up from winter storage last week and
did a bit of running around making preparations for some minor “fixes” – and
what do I discover? The Air Conditioning is busted! So into the shop it
goes. I dropped it off Monday morning and warned them, “I have to have it
“No problem,” they replied,
“We’ll get at it right away this morning.” Later that day came the dreaded
call, “It needs a new evaporator core; we’ll have to order one.” It arrived
Wednesday afternoon and the mechanic scrambled to finish it that afternoon.
It was done by 5:15 Wednesday - Whew! Just in time! Off we went home to
pack it up in a hurry. Carol put the last items in the refrigerator at
about 10:15 and we hit the hay to rest up for our first day on the road . .
. our first long day on the road in quite some time! I hope my Poopy-Knee
is up to the challenge!
Thursday I woke at 5:30,
tossed and turned a bit and then got up and
hopped hobbled into the
shower. As soon as I got out Carol lifted her head from the pillow and
said, “Is my Timmie’s coffee here yet?” I drove over to get the coffees and
a bite of breakfast while she got ready and loaded the dogs. We pulled away
from home at 6:45 a.m.
It was a terrific driving
day! Clear skies, bright sunshine and not too hot! We pulled up to US
Customs at about 7:15 and a nice young customs officer came aboard the
motorhome for an inspection. He was so taken with Zak and Blue that he
never got past where they were seated on the couch. We could have had the
bathroom and the bedroom full of illegal aliens and he would have been
none-the-wiser. After petting the dogs for a few minutes he was on his way
and so were we!
Blue’s first trip in the RV and he wasn’t too comfortable. We always put
them in a harness and hook it to the seatbelts on the couch. That way
they’re safe and secure. Zak is a seasoned veteran and he curled right up
and went to sleep. Not so for Blue though . . . he sat up on the couch,
shivering, shaking and panting. Carol went back and sat on the couch with
them several times and we made more than our usual number of stops to walk
the dogs, hoping it would help Blue adjust!
By 11:30 we pulled into
Wal-Mart at Schenectady NY. I walked the dogs and read my book while Carol
picked up some groceries. Soon we were off again and just a few more miles
down the road, still in Schenectady, we pulled into Applebee’s for lunch!
Some of the locals joined us, Linda and Bruce, and we had a wonderful time
over lunch, trading Disney stories, skiing stories, cruising stories and any
other lies and exaggerations that came to mind.
By 2:00 we were underway again
for the short run to our home for the night, Deer Run Campground at
Schagticoke NY. We like to try new campgrounds, always looking for ones
we’d like to return to. We didn’t find one today. It’s a good park for an
overnight stop, but it’s not a “destinaton” we would return to.
Carol took the dogs for a nice
long walk while I did the RV hook-ups and then we relaxed for a while. We
didn’t want to leave Blue alone too long on his first day so we loaded the
dogs in the car and drove to a nearby grocery store. Carol picked up a
rotisserie chicken and a baguette which we took back to the RV for dinner.
We had a quiet night of TV and
hit the sack early. Tomorrow we’re off to Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts.
What a glorious day! It was
cool last night and the campground was quiet as could be. What a treat to
fall asleep with a nice breeze blowing in as we listened to the tree frogs!
Carol complained a bit this morning about Blue jumping on the bed and then
back down, then back on the bed, then back down . . . all night.
Fortunately I slept through it all.
This morning we were up at
6:30 and had a relaxing start to the day. We shared a pot of coffee, I
played at the computer and had a bowl of cereal. Carol took the dogs for a
nice long walk and Blue saw his first squirrel. Our house is in a brand new
development so the trees are all newly planted and very small. The
squirrels have not moved back into the area yet. Blue wasn’t sure what to
make of it, but when Zak chased it up a tree Blue seemed to enjoy the show.
Maybe he’ll take up the sport too!
We were all battened down and
back on the road by 7:45. Blue seemed a bit better, he still shivered and
shook a little bit but it looked as though someone had turned down his
frequency dial. The shake wasn’t nearly as vigorous. By the end of the
drive he had almost stopped vibrating!
The skies were clear and the
traffic, although a bit heavier, moved well. The scenery was terrific;
mountains and trees everywhere. We were surrounded by the Catskill and
Appalachian Mountains and the Hampshire Hills. Carol yawned several times
and complained about not sleeping well . . . something about a snoring
husband and a restless dog. But I didn’t complain, I was in my glory.
I just love driving this big
beast! I feel like the king of the road! You sit up high, at the same
level as the big trucks, and you see things you cannot see from a car. I
really enjoy it! I have two very important ladies with me. Sadie, she’s
the woman who lives in my GPS and she tells me where to go and always gets
us to our destination. Then there’s Carol; she also tells me where to go,
but it seldom has anything to do with our destination. Aaaahhh! Life is
At about 9:30 we crossed the
state line from New York into Massachusetts. Holy Crap! What happened to
the road? The New York Thruway (I-90) was bumpy and rough but as soon as we
crossed into Massachusetts I-90 (now the Mass Pike) became a goat path.
Ouch! The long wheelbase of the motorhome magnifies the bumps but . . .
Wow! This is bad! If you are from Massachusetts I feel sorry for you
having to drive on that! Why does it always seem that toll roads are worse
than all the rest? They have a revenue stream . . . they should be in the
best of condition!
We bounced and bucked around
so much on the Mass Pike that Carol soon had a headache. We were sure glad
when the ramp to 495 north came into view. We skirted around the Boston
area on I-495 and about 10 miles short of our exit onto SR110 everything
came to a halt. It was creep and crawl that last 10 miles, construction was
the culprit . . . and it was Friday afternoon, everyone was heading to the
By 1:30 we were finally at the
campground checking in. Carol took the dogs for a quick walk while I did
the RV hook-ups and then we had a sandwich for lunch. It really felt good
to just sit still for a few minutes. Then we headed back outside and set up
the outdoor chairs, table, lights and the little touches that will make our
vehicle into our home for the next few days. Then it was time for a longer
walk for the dogs before they both joined Carol and I for a well earned nap.
We were up, showered and
heading off in the car by 5:30. Our destination was Petey’s, a terrific
little seafood diner on the beach at Rye, NH. We discovered it by accident
four years ago when we were in the area enjoying the autumn colours. We’ve
been back several times since then. Carol just loves one of their specialty
dishes “The Lazy Man’s Lobster” so off we went, heading north along the
beach. We drove almost the entire coast of New Hampshire (all 13 miles of
it) and soaked up the scenery. There is everything here; Hampton Beach is a
typical beachfront resort town with hot dog stands, seafood grills, t-shirt
stores, etc. We passed some magnificent beach homes and quite a few
stunning mansions surrounded by manicured grounds on rocky points jutting
into the ocean. Wow, it’s pretty here!
When we pulled into Petey’s at
about 6:15 the place was packed. They said the wait would be about 45
minutes but within 25 minutes we were seated. We both ordered a cup of clam
chowder and I had a broiled shrimp and scallops dish while Carol had her
favourite, the Lazy Man’s Lobster. They take a 1 ½ pound lobster and remove
it from the shell for easy eating. I wanted to take a picture of it but
there wasn’t time! In a flurry it was gone! Gosh it was good!
We left Petey’s just before
8:00 with plans to visit a nearby mall so Carol could check out the Disney
Store but the plans didn’t work out. There was a beautiful and bright full
moon shining out over the ocean and glimmering on the water. We stopped and
Carol took a few pictures of it. By the time we got back to the campground
it was almost 9:00 and too late to make it to the mall in time. That will
have to wait until another time.
We settled in for a quiet
night with the dogs.
August 13, 2011
We started the day slowly; we
will be very busy with reunion activities starting in the afternoon so we
thought we’d spend the morning with the dogs. We were both up early and
Carol took them out, later I took them for a walk all around the
campground. We sat outside and relaxed with them and promised Blue that we
would not move his house today!
Then at about 8:30 we loaded
them both in the car and left to drop into that Disney Store we missed the
night before. It is at Saugus MA, about 30 miles away.
As we were driving along Carol
said, “Oh look, there’s a Christmas Tree Shop.”
“Do you want to stop?” I
As soon as the words left my
mouth I realized what a stupid question it was! There are two stores Carol
can never drive by and the Christmas Tree Shop is second on the list, just
below the Disney Store. So we wheeled in and I waited in the car with the
dogs while she shopped. She emerged all excited! She was excited with her
purchases but even more excited because she found out this is “Tax Free
Weekend” in Massachusetts. Oh boy! Let’s get shoppin’!!
Away we went again, another
few miles to the Disney Store. Our grandson Sean has quite a collection of
die cast toys from the Disney movie Cars and we were on a mission to fill in
a few gaps in his collection! The dogs and I bonded some more in the car.
Success, there were a few there – but the cast member in the store suggested
we try K-Mart and Wal-Mart, they carry the Cars too! Hallelujah – there’s a
K-Mart next door. Another chance for some canine bonding.
By 11:00 we were northbound
again on I-95 heading for the campground. Just one more stop, a shop just a
mile from the campground which carries a huge selection of Department 56
collectible pieces. Carol headed in to browse while the dogs and I found a
cool parking spot in the shade. Soon Carol was waving at me – she needed me
in the store. As it turns out, she only needed my credit card. A new
Department 56 piece, Mickey’s Mouse-Ears Factory, became my birthday gift to
her. It’s really cute and will be added to her Disney Village display at
By noon we were home and had a
quick sandwich for lunch. We walked the dogs again and before we knew it
the time had come to head south to Salem. Our first stop was at J.C. Penney
in Peabody MA. I needed to buy a few new shirts. I don’t think I’m
particularly messy or clumsy, but after almost every meal there’s another
shirt to throw out! J.C. Penney always has a wide selection in the “big
boy” size I need!
Then we were off to the
Hawthorne Hotel in historic downtown Salem where we registered for the
reunion. There was no one in line when we arrived so within minutes we had
our nametags and registration package and were on our way to the Library for
a presentation on the DNA Project the association is involved in. I’m the
genealogist in the family, Carol is not, so she found the session to be a
real yawner but I found it quite interesting. It helped me to better
understand the DNA project I am involved in with my Cruise family. This was
the only reunion event for the day so by 5:30 we were on the road heading
back to the campground. Zak and Blue were happy to see us but they let us
know that their dinner was about an hour late. After feeding and walking
them we headed down the road to a local diner for a light dinner then picked
up the dogs and went a few hundred yards down the road for an ice cream
Before 9:00 we were settled in
for the night. We have a free morning tomorrow and if the weather is nice
we plan to take the dogs to the beach, then Sunday afternoon and all day
Monday we have a full schedule of reunion activities before we begin our
journey home on Tuesday.
We slept until almost 7:00
a.m. When Carol took the dogs out it was spitting rain and the showers
continued off and on all day. Dang! Wet sand and long-haired dogs is a bad
What to do? Silly question –
it’s a tax free weekend . . . let’s shop! We went to the grocery store just
a few miles away and picked up a few items. While we were there Carol got
directions to the nearest Wal-Mart and K-Mart. So we headed a few miles
south to the K-Mart at Newbury MA and then a few miles north to the Wal-Mart
at Seabrook NH. We scored a few new cars for grandson Sean!
Back at the campground we had
a sandwich for lunch and then loaded Zak and Blue in the car for a trip to
nearby Topsfield MA where Carol’s ancestor Jacob Towne lived in the 1600’s.
Jacob was the brother of those three witches Rebecca, Mary and Sarah. We
visited the The Parson Capen House
which was built in 1683. The house is one of the finest surviving examples
of Elizabethan architecture in America. The house is situated on a knoll
overlooking the Topsfield Common, originally on a twelve acre lot of land
granted by the town fathers to their new preacher Reverend Capen in 1682.
Parson Capen served the Church in Topsfield for 44 years until his death.
The Topsfield Historical Society purchased the house in 1913. In 1960 the
Parson Capen House was designated a National Historic Landmark.
There were supposed to be a number of old
Towne Family artefacts which the family had donated to the Capen House
Museum on display for reunion attendees. Unfortunately the volunteer
curator thought the reunion was last weekend so there were no artefacts.
Wasn’t she the least bit suspicious last weekend when no one showed up? But
all was not lost, we did get to tour a very interesting old home.
We left Topsfield and took a leisurely drive
north on Route 1A along the coast on our way back to the campground. We
retraced our steps through the pretty little tourist town of Newburyport and
Carol made a quick visit to a shop she really liked last year. I was
shocked when she came out empty handed.
The Parson Capen House
We spent some time at the campground with
the puppies and then showered and changed to head back to the Hawthorne
Hotel in Salem for the banquet in the Grand Ballroom. There were about 200
of us and we almost filled the room. After dinner we were treated to a
presentation by Dr. Nathan Hamilton,
associate professor of archaeology at the
University of Southern Maine. He is leading the team which is presently
doing research at the Rebecca Nurse Homestead. They have documented
cultural finds spanning 7,000 years there, with textiles and ceramics from
prehistory through the 17th and 18th centuries. It was quite interesting to
hear how they were able to date Indian pottery from 5,000 years ago to a
village of natives growing corn on the site and then date a clay pipe for
smoking tobacco to about 1638, the time when the home was owned by Governor
Endicott. Tomorrow we visit the dig site with Dr. Hamilton. That should be
After dinner there were a few group
pictures and a draw for a few dozen raffle prizes; then we hopped in the car
and scooted back to the dogs.
These people were attending the TFA reunion for the first time
These people are all descended from Jacob Towne
We will be up bright and early tomorrow
and heading back to the hotel for an 8:00 breakfast!
It was a miserable day! Wet,
wet, wet. It was raining when the alarm woke us up at 6:15 and it never
stopped all day! We had a great day nonetheless.
We were up and moving
quickly. It was a quick blur; out with the dogs, slam down a couple of cups
of coffee and hit the road! We were on the road within an hour, southbound
in the car heading to our 8:00 a.m. breakfast meeting in Salem. We were
unsure what the traffic might do as we got closer to Boston, but there were
no problems. We made it just in time!
After a very good buffet
breakfast the Annual General Meeting of the Towne Family Association began.
It was quite interesting for us, as new members, to see the projects the
organization has underway and how money is allocated to genealogy projects,
DNA projects, etc. We had planned to get away before 11:00 to return to the
RV and let the dogs out but we had trouble tearing ourselves away as they
spoke about plans for next year’s reunion. It will be a week-long affair in
and around Greater Yarmouth, Norfolk Shire, England.
We finally got away, rushed
back to the camp and gave the dogs a potty break. After a quick sandwich
for the humans we were southbound again, this time heading for the Rebecca
Nurse Homestead. The plan had been for a picnic lunch on the grounds of the
homestead but Mother Nature intervened with a couple of inches of rain so
the group picnicked in the Grand Ballroom of the Hawthorne Hotel before
heading to the homestead. We met them all there at about 1:30.
In spite of the rain it was a
very interesting afternoon! We spent some time huddled under canopies
watching the archaeology students dig and sift, asking them questions as
they worked. Dr. Hamilton was there as well and talked about what they had
already done and what is planned for the future. Some of the recovered
relics were on display and more students were there to interpret them and
We toured the house, the
actual building where Rebecca (Towne) Nurse was arrested in 1692 and charged
with witchcraft. Last year we had the place to ourselves and thoroughly
enjoyed our visit, but this time it was much better. The place as teeming
with people in period costume and it really enhanced the experience.
We visited the replica of the
original Meeting House (Church) which was built on the homestead property
for the 1985 PBS movie Three Sovereigns for Sarah. The host and interpreter
in the Meeting House was a man who has volunteered at the homestead for
decades. He appeared in the PBS movie as the man who piled the rocks on
Giles Corey as he was crushed to death following his conviction for
slide show in the Meeting House we made our way back to the car for our
drive to Topsfield. We followed our hosts Arthur and Jean Towne as they led
our little two-car parade to the 40 acre property where William Towne and
his wife Joanna Blessing settled in 1635.
The Towne Family Association
has recently installed a stone bench in memory of William and Joanna.
Several other family members joined us as we looked out on the small farm
where this pioneer couple raised their large family almost four centuries
ago! What a powerful feeling it was!
We were soaked but satisfied
by the time we returned to the campground and the dogs at about 4:45. After
we took down our outdoor lights and packed away a few thing to get ready for
our departure in the morning we fed the dogs and relaxed a bit. Soon it was
time to head out for dinner at Stripers, a seafood restaurant in nearby
Newburyport. We had a very nice meal there last year and we weren’t
disappointed today. It was great. By 8:15 we were back with the dogs,
listening to the rain on the roof.
Tomorrow we hope to be on the
road by 8:00 a.m. and will spend the night near Saratoga Springs NY.
We got away a few minutes
early and started the day under blue skies and in light traffic. About a
half hour after we left the campground we were scooting south on I-495 when
I was startled by a red tailed hawk which swooped across in front of the
motorhome and almost hit the windshield on the passenger side. Carol was
un-phased by the whole thing . . . her body was in the copilot’s chair but
her mind busy somewhere on Facebook!
Traffic slowed as we got
further south but soon we left the construction zone and turned west to head
away from Boston. Traffic sped up and we zoomed along on the Mass Pike. It
didn’t seem nearly as bumpy as it had been on our eastbound trip. We
stopped once at a service area and picked up a coffee. The skies turned
grey by mid-morning and we had intermittent showers. Just before we got to
the Massachusetts/New York State Line the windshield wipers went ka-boom!
The left wiper went left and the right wiper went right . . . and they
didn’t come back to the middle. It’s the second time this has happened so I
knew exactly what to do! Luckily we were approaching an exit and I was able
to wheel off the turnpike and into a small town. We pulled in to a small
plaza and hauled out the toolbox. Carol held the hood up while I reattached
the wiper linkage to the motor that powers them. Within 10 minutes we were
back on the Mass Pike and at about 11:15 crossed into New York State.
At about 12:15 we were
discussing lunch . . . do we pull into a rest area and have a sandwich or do
we stop at a restaurant. In the middle of the discussion a Cracker Barrel
sign appeared and our decision was made! Cracker Barrel it was!
Soon we exited I-90 and headed
north on I-87. We pulled into the KOA Campground at Lake Luzerne, NY at
2:30 and by 3:00 we were all set up and walking the dogs. They were sure
happy to be stopped again! Blue seems to be adjusting to life on the road,
he seemed a lot more comfortable today.
Rain kept us indoors for a
while so we had a nap and then took the dogs out for some play time. They
were quite excited to have some open space to run and chase a ball.
We took a drive before dinner
and drove past many, many restaurants, all closed! It’s prime tourist
season and we’re in a beautiful and busy resort area in the Adirondacks, why
so many closed restaurants? We finally found one that was open, Ciro’s
Italian American Restaurant. It was great! By 7:45 we were back at the
Tomorrow we will continue
north through Adirondack Park for an hour before turning to head west in the
park through Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Star Lake as we take
the scenic route home! We will drive at least another three hours in this
beautiful park! If all goes well we should be home by mid-afternoon
It was a busy morning, we had
quick showers then dumped and thoroughly rinsed the RV’s holding tanks,
disconnected all the hook-ups and were on the road by 8:15. Our route took
us north on I-87 for about an hour and then we made a left turn and put
civilization behind us. We followed SR73 as it wound through the valleys in
Adirondack Park following the Ausable River. This is an amazingly beautiful
part of the park. The road is narrow and twists, winds, bobs and weaves its
way along side the river with vistas of rocks, trees, waterfalls and
cascading whitewater at every turn! I really enjoyed the scenery. I’m not
sure that Carol had time to appreciate the view . . . she was pretty busy
clinging to her seat and biting her lower lip!
Soon we approached Lake Placid
and turned to follow SR3 heading west. The road was an iota better, Carol
could cling with only one hand now! At about 10:30 I turned to Carol and
asked, “How are the dogs doing?” I can’t see them from the driver’s seat!
She turned back for a look, smiled and said, “They’re both sound asleep.”
It looks like Blue will adapt to life on the road after all . . . good news!
By 1:00 we were approaching
Watertown, NY and we stopped to fill up on the cheap gas. The $3.89 price
compares well to the $5.00 we pay here in Canada. I put in a whopping
$245.00 in gas, our most expensive fill-up ever and we were back on the
road. We had planned to stop at Cracker Barrel since it was chicken pot pie
day but we missed the exit so we continued north on I-81. There was no line
at the border and we were virtually waved through. We pulled up in front of
the house at about 2:45 and began to unpack! Yuck – we sure hate this job!
But all is not lost, in only
16 days we will be loaded up and pulling out again! Destination – Fort