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Well, this day started really early, 04:30 hrs to be precise. Yes, you guessed it the time difference of 4 hours really caught us this morning as we were both awake very early. We decided to make the most of things by taking drive to Winter Island near Salem to take in the sunrise, and it was well worth the trip.
Winter Island gives some great views over the Salem Channel to the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Salem Harbour to the south. It was a beautiful, clear, albeit quite chilly morning, and seeing the sun rise up, seemingly out of the Atlantic Ocean was quite an amazing way to start the day.
We were surprised at the amount of Caravan Trailers and RV’s that were parked and in use on Winter Island, although the Fall season, which is one of the major tourist seasons for the area was about to start, so perhaps that had something to do with that.
After taking in the sunrise, we headed back to the hotel to take advantage of our free breakfast and some much appreciated hot tea and coffee, before gathering our belongings, checking out of the hotel and getting back into the car to head on into Salem.
It was still pretty early and we easily managed to find a parking space in the Central Square (Free too, because it was Sunday, bonus!). Our first port of call was the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, which commemorates the 14 women and 6 men who were accused, tried, convicted and executed for being witches between June and September 1692. The memorial was opened in 1992 to commemorate the tercentenary of the trials. The area comprises of a relatively small square with a central grassy area, which is framed with a horizontally mounted memorial stone, each one dedicated and engraved with the name, date and method of execution of the 20 victims of the Witch Trials. Quite interesting to learn about being “pressed” to death which involved placing large stones on the victims, one at a time in the hope of getting them to confess to being witches, which of course they did, although it was not enough to prevent them from suffering an altogether horrible death.
After a momentary break in the stocks, we headed for the Salem Trolley Tours office, and took the Salem Trolley on a round trip of the sights. Unfortunately, because we had a bit of a drive ahead of us, we decided not to get on and off at the various sights, but rather took the entire tour and then made our own decisions about anything that we felt deserved further investigation. There is certainly a lot to see in Salem and the varied attractions could certainly keep any visitor engaged for a few days. We were lucky to have such a gorgeous day for our tour, which lent itself to some amazing photos, during the tour, although if I am perfectly honest the open sides of the trolley can lead to some severe chills at the time of the year we visited, especially whilst the trolley was in motion. We did manage to get a good view of a lot of the sights though, including Pickering Wharf, the Salem ~Maritime site, the House of the Seven Gables, Winter Island (in full daylight, not quite as spectacular as at Sunrise, but still worth the visit), the Salem Witch Museum, the Witch Dungeon Museum and the beautiful houses of Chestnut Street, on the way back to the Trolley Tour office where we got off and took a stroll around the central streets and parks.
Salem Town itself is really picturesque, with lots of tourist shops selling everything from the expected key rings and T-Shirts, right through to Spell Books and Magic Wands, yes seriously. It also has a number of well-kept open spaces and parks and numerous eccentric old houses, including the famous Witch House, the only structure still standing, that can be dated back to the famous Salem witch trial of 1692. It was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, the local magistrate and civic leader called upon to investigate the claims of witchcraft. I even had the opportunity to get my photo taken with the statues of Elizabeth Montgomery famed for her portrayal of the nose twitching witch Samantha in the 1960’s TV show Bewitched. The statue caused some concerns when it was officially dedicated in June 2005, as to whether it is somewhat insensitive to what actually happened in Salem in 1692, but the truth of the matter is that it has proved very popular with the tourists, and some say it has helped to create somewhat of a revival in the quantities of tourists that are visiting Salem.
After a short stop at Wendy’s for a less than memorable fast food stop, certainly not up to the standards of the Wendy Burgers that I remember purchasing in London in the mid 1980’s when Wendy’s had a short outing in the UK, before retreating back to American shores, we jumped back in the car for our trip northwards towards Gorham, New Hampshire, where our route took us through some incredibly scenic areas of New Hampshire with some awe-inspiring views, that I can only imagine would be truly splendid when the Fall (Autumn) season is at its peak. The entire area is so idyllic and peaceful, with long winding road travelling through seemingly endless forests, dotted with numerous lakes. We did take the opportunity to visit a few of the many covered bridges for which New Hampshire is well renowned, made famous by the love story depicted in the film “The Bridges of Madison County”.
We did briefly enter Madison County, when we passed Purity Lake and the King Pine Ski Area, however our first bridge was on the outskirts of the town of Conway, just outside of Madison County, and pretty spectacular it was too. We continued northwards, through Jackson, passing Mount Washington and onwards to Gorham, where our second nights stay would be at the Mt. Madison Inn & Suites, a truly wonderful location for a motel, especially if you fancy a lungful of some fresh mountain air and a spot of hiking. For those of you paying attention, yesterday’s photo showing our car was actually taken outside of our motel room here in Gorham. So, our day was almost over and all that remained was to get some much-needed food and some liquid refreshment, which was provided most excellently by the SAalt Pub, where we had some amazing food and a most refreshing glass of the local Smoke House & Brewing Co. ale. Our day was complete and it was time to retire for some well earnt sleep before we headed westwards into Vermont.