Saturday, June 7, 2008
Our vacation to Sturbridge Village was even more fun than I thought it would be! We left Wednesday morning and drove west to Mason, NH to have breakfast at Parker's. It was wonderful, as usual, and so nice not to have to wait! My stuffed french toast was raspberry and cream cheese this time and Tag had an omelet stuffed with hash. Delicious! Since it was raining, as the weathermen had predicted, we couldn't go canoeing so we went to Plan B. We drove to Worcester and went to the Ecotarium. This turned out to be better than I thought. They had tons of displays on animals and wildlife and habitats. Their special display was all about the weather, which was cool. They also have a big area outside with animals, including a polar bear. The rain had let up a bit by that time so we took the nature walk around the pond. Tag begged so I let him have a ride on the train. Inside, they had a presentation in their Planetarium on the planets which was aimed at children but was fun and informative. We spent a longer time there than I thought we would. We left Worcester and got into Sturbridge about 6pm. I was a bit disappointed in the area of Main St. where our B and B was located. I thought it would be cobblestone streets and little shops we could walk to....ala Newburyport or Rockport. But it was a regular street with lots of traffic. Our B and B was very nice. Not the same kind of B and B we usually go to. This was bigger and more of an Inn, so it didn't have that "family" feel to it that we usually enjoy. But the room was nice and the girl at the desk was very pleasant. We asked her for a recommendation for dinner and she sent us to Admiral TJ O'Brien's. The food was good and the atmosphere was nice and quiet. Breakfast at the B and B was a disappointment. We usually pick a place that has a full, hardy breakfast, but I wanted a place that would be within walking distance of everything (or so I thought) so I picked this place even though I knew it was a "continental breakfast". There was some pastry and muffins and you could cook your own english muffin and that was about it. After breakfast we left for Sturbridge Village. The weatherman may have been right the first day but he screwed up the rest of the week. It was overcast and threatening rain. We were well-prepared with both rain coats and sunscreen in Tag's backpack. As it turned out it was cool and overcast all day but did not rain. Really perfect weather for walking around outside. Sturbridge Village was awesome! I had never been there, and Tag went when he was in fourth grade. He only remembered the gift shop. It's all set up like a village from the 1830's. There was a town common and all the buildings one would expect to see. The first place we entered as called "Small House" because it was literally very small...about 400 square feet! Two women in there were dressed in 1830's clothing and were cleaning up from breakfast. They didn't try to stay in character of the time.....which actually turned out to be great. They gave us tons of history of the time and compared it to the present. From there we went to the Quaker Church and then the Congregational Church. The "pastor" was in at the Congregational Church. We visited so many different buildings it's hard to remember them all. Most buildings had people in them, or "interpreters" as they were called, who were extremely knowledeable about the time period and were very willing to talk. The buildings that did not have people in them had interactive displays. We talked to: A farmer and his wife, the Cooper (barrel-maker), the Tinsmith, the Blacksmith, the Potter, the men droving the oxen, the General Store, the Gristmill. the Carding Mill (where they take the wool from sheep and separate it into big bales of clean, smooth wool that women can then spin), the Tavern, the Glass blower, the Printer, the Sawmill, the bank, the lawyer's office and the schoolhouse. The potter had an outdoor kiln that was wood-fired only once a year. Everyone were farmers and only did the extra jobs on the side. The school master said he was not a school "teacher" as all the children did was memorize and then recite what they memorized. The parents were responsible for buying whatever books they wanted the children to memorize, therefore deciding their own child's curriculum. Life revolved around church and family. Children were put to work doing whatever they were able to do. Children under 4-10 went to school just about year-round. Children over 10 went in the winter only so they could help on the farm. There was no mandatory education. The funniest thing I saw was a sign in the lawyer's office explaining how to get a divorce. There was a list of reasons for which you could divorce, including "idiocy". I took a picture of that sign to show to Tag when I want to keep him in line! We finally left the Village when it closed at 5pm. They allow you to return for free within the next 10 days. Since we had forgotten our camera, we decided to return the next day to take pictures. Thursday night we went to The Cedar Street restaurant. We had gotten a gift certificate from restaurant.com, so even though the place was pricey, we only paid $25, including tip. I got an absolutely delicious plank-cooked Salmon and Tag got a pork chop stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and goat cheese. It was a wonderful place, and may have cured us of our aversion to restaurants with tablecloths! Friday we woke up to pouring rain. It was disappointing because we were still hoping to canoe. We decided to do some browsing around. We visited a beautiful pottery shop and studio. I got some great inspiration for my class! Then we went down to Southbridge to a place called 12 Crane. It was an old cannery building that was supposedly renovated but when we got there, I think it was more like they were in the process of renovating. We wandered around, confused. We saw workmen, but no one else was there so we left. By this time it had stopped raining and the weather was similar to the day before. We went back to the town of Sturbridge and visited a few antique stores then went back to Sturbridge Village, supposedly for an hour to take pictures but we ended out staying for the rest of the day! The few places that hadn't had people in them the day before had someone in them on this day so we talked to more "interpreters". On the way home we stopped at Cracker Barrel for our last hurrah. We love the place and go to the one near home occasionally. We love going away but we love coming home. We unpacked and vegged. I did the budget and we congratulated each other on staying in-budget for our trip.....we made it with $4.16 to spare!