Massachusetts is one of four states (Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia) to still use the term Commonwealth.
While the term has no legal impact, John Adams included it in their state constitution in the 1700′s, and it stands for the state government being a political community based upon the common good and consent of the people.
The State of Massachusetts is steeped in American history and has many historical sites to visit. We’ll probably be working through the list for years to come.
But on this recent trip with our granddaughter, we spent time in Salem and Quincy.
Since we wanted to maximize our time in Salem, we decided to enjoy a narrated tour on the Salem Trolley. The Trolley stops at the various attractions, and you can hop on and off all day for the price of one ticket.
We stayed on the Tour and enjoyed hearing about the witch trials, George Washington’s visit, Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, and seeing Dead Horse Beach, the House of the Seven Gables, Salem Witch Museum, Peabody Essex Museum, Winter Island and several other historical stops.
We only had a morning to spend in Salem, but it was enough time to point out to us that we need to go back and check out several attractions including the Peabody Essex Museum.
After a wonderful morning in Salem, we drove on to Quincy with the intention of touring the homes of our second and sixth Presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams.
These two homes also happen to be the oldest Presidential birthplaces in the United States. Much to our disappointment, all of the afternoon tours were full.
With some time on our hands, we decided to check out the United First Parish Church a couple of doors down from the Adams Visitor Center.
The Church is absolutely beautiful and for a small donation you can have a narrated tour of the church, hear the history of the John Adams and John Quincy Adams families and can actually sit in the pew they sat in to worship.
The most interesting part of the church tour was beneath the church sanctuary where the historical birth and death records and crypts of John and Abigail Adams and John Quincy and Louise Adams are located.
You can actually walk right into the room with the four crypts and stand beside the flag-draped resting places of two Presidents. It was an amazing experience.
President John Adams’ crypt is draped with a flag with fifteen stripes because originally they were adding a stripe every time they added a star to the flag. President John Quincy Adams’ crypt is draped with a flag with thirteen stripes which was the number adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.
Did you also know that Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams are the only two Presidents who chose not to attend the inauguration of their successors, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson? Narrated tours are always a wealth of historical trivia.
It is humbling to be reminded about what our forefathers went through to establish this Country and how we sometimes take our democracy for granted.
We certainly enjoyed sharing this learning experience with our granddaughter in the form of a family adventure – joining the fun of a family trip with a real-life history lesson. It was a good thing.
Granddaughter (12) says: I thought it was interesting to see all the different sites in Salem and to sit in the Adams’ Family church pew and touch the crypts of two Presidents.
After waiting an entire year to camp again at Hampton Beach, it rained day and night for five days. We averaged a couple of hours each day when we could explore the beach or roast some marshmallows.
One evening while the grandkids were climbing on the rocks, there was a beautiful rainbow that we all enjoyed.
It was a really good thing that we had our camping buddies from up north to enjoy spending time with because the weather sure wasn’t the highlight of the week.
Hope your week was a good one.
She reads horse encyclopedias for enjoyment and can quote race horse statistics like some kids quote sports trivia. ♥
Last year, one of our stops on our spring adventure was in Saratoga Springs, New York, but racing season had not started yet when we visited the track.
This year she really wanted to visit Belmont Park, Elmont, New York, watch a horse race from the stands, and see where Ruffian was buried in the infield.
Did my husband and I share a small smile that we were going to drive our twelve-year old granddaughter through five states to see the burial site of a legendary race horse? Yes, we did.
But, I have to say we had the absolute best day ever because of her excitement, beautiful Belmont Park, the gorgeous horses, and the friendliness and knowledge of the Belmont staff.
We arrived at Belmont when the gates opened so we could walk around before post time and see as many horses as possible. We checked out all the historical photos and trophies, visited the gift shop, ate our lunch in the stands, and saw some great racing on both turf and dirt.
Ruffian, one of the best know three-year old fillies to ever run with the big boys, broke her leg at Belmont. When the leg broke, she kept on running on three legs. After finally coming to a stop, they performed surgery, but it was unsuccessful. Out of respect for her short but very successful racing career and her big heart, she is buried in the infield under the flag pole with her nose facing the finish line.
In 1997, Belmont started a new tradition in the paddock area where the horses are saddled and paraded by installing 4′ cast iron horses and jockeys. After the Belmont Stakes is won, the jockey is painted with the winning horse’s colors.
I know some may think taking a grandchild to a racetrack is an unusual destination, but in our case we plan our trips around what she wants to see and add in some history. And, Belmont Park certainly has history.
The Belmont Stakes first ran in 1867, is listed as one of the top three racetracks in the US, and is the third leg of the legendary Triple Crown.
There is also plenty of eye candy for a gardener including gorgeous flower beds, wonderful container gardens, beautiful ivy, and the giant white pine in the paddock, which is estimated to be around 300 years old.
Watching the Belmont Stakes last Saturday, seeing the thousands of beautiful people fill the stands, the riders mounting the many spectacular horses in the paddock, and seeing Palace Malace beat Orb and Oxbow, was a real thrill.
When Palace Malace won the 2013 Belmont Stakes, he received the winner’s blanket of 300-400 carnations. The large flowers to make this spectacular blanket were imported from either California or Bogata, Columbia. From this Belmont Stakes blanket of carnations comes the name, “The Run for the Carnations.”
In the paddock area, the statue of Secretariat recognizes his win at the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths competing against four other horses before a crowd of 67,605 on June 9, 1973. Secretariat became the first horse in 25 years to win the Triple Crown.
It has now been 35 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978. Every year, we wait for that special horse to win all three races, Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes again.
Adventures with our grandchildren are all fun, but this visit to Belmont Park and then seeing how excited our granddaughter was watching the Belmont Stakes was right up there on our list of best times ever. Do you have a fun trip planned?
If you have a child or grandchild who is into horses including Breyer model horses, they might enjoy my granddaughter’s blog, Horse Daydreamer.
Granddaughter says: I thought it was really cool seeing where so many famous horses had run.
Linked to Family Home and Life Say it Saturday
During our wonderful five-day adventure with our granddaughter, the temperatures at home soared into the 90′s. After several days of these extreme temps, some welcome rain arrived.
Turning into the driveway, we were amazed at the growth in the gardens and the flowers in bloom. We literally stopped the car in the middle of the drive to try and take it all in.
On the veggie side, lettuce, beans, peas and spinach are all up while tomatoes, cukes, and squash are trying to cope with the temperature extremes. The raspberries love the heat and are loaded with blooms, and the blueberries and cherries are coming along as well.
As all gardeners know, everything doesn’t grow as you plan. Our flats of zinnias and marigolds that I nurtured from seeds have almost all been eaten by bugs. Disappointing – we do love these annuals because they remind us of someone very special.
Overall, the gardens are looking good – food for the body and flowers for the soul. Love it.
Happy gardening, and if you don’t garden, happy shopping at your local farmers’ market.