Thu, 20 September 2007
He roamed the country barefoot sleeping under the stars, in clothes he made from sacks, with a cooking pan on his head. Everywhere he went, he planted apple seeds, gave things away, took care of animals, and made friends. He was John Chapman (1774-1845), better known as Johnny Appleseed, a legend in his own time, and still a legend today. Despite living a life of philanthropy, simplicity and voluntary poverty, Chapman left behind an estate of apple nurseries worth millions -- and he would have been even richer if he hadn't been so careless in his bookkeeping. We recount some of the tales told about him, most of which were in fact true.
Another man who became a living legend was author Mark Twain, whose footsteps we have traced around the country over the years. Recently we were back in one of his old haunts, Hartford, Connecticut, where he had a colorful and fabulously elaborate mansion built in which he and his family lived for some 17 years while he wrote his masterpieces. You can tour the bedrooms, the dining rooms, the drawing room and the billiard room, which have been restored in painstakingly authentic detail.
Dennis (Johnny the seedy), Kimberly (Mom) and Zephyr (boy and snake)
Thu, 6 September 2007
Lake Scargo in Dennis, MA (on Cape Cod) is the home of a colorful Native American legend about how the Lake came to be -- one of many such Native tales about the origins of natural phenomena and landmarks. Princess Scargo, daughter of chief Sagem of the Bobuset tribe, is presented with four little fish by a suitor, and the rest is the stuff of legend. Today, you can find descendants of these silvery fish (no, not silverfish) in Scargo Lake. And you can get a good look at the Lake, and the surrounding territoryterritorty, by climbing Scargo Tower in East Dennis. Not a terribly high structure, but it's located atop the highest point on the Cape, so the view is pretty impressive.
But we got a look at an even more impressive tower, which affords an even more impressive view: Pilgrim Monument, the 252-ft. monolith in Provincetown, right on the tip of the Cape. The tower commemorates the arrival of the Pilgrims in November 1620, when they hammered out the groundbreaking Mayflower Compact. The cornerstone was laid in 1907 by Pres. Theodore Roosevelt for this controversially designed structure modeled after the Torre del Mangia in Siena, Italy, and construction was completed in 1910.
We biked to Provincetown from Nickerson State Park, a distance of about 35 miles, and stayed at a campground just outside town in our teeny tiny tents. Then we used our bikes to explore this colorful little seaside resort with lots of historic buildings, the largest percentage of Portuguese population in the country, and also the largest percentage gay population. Although the year-round census is only 3500, it explodes to 50,000 during the summer.
There are three resident theatres in this town that was once the home of playwrights Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neil, as well as novelist Norman Mailer.
Dennis (Chief), Kimberly (princess) and Zephyr ("Hulk")