August 3:  Farewell to the Cape, another president, a philosopher, and more history

Today I left Cape Cod.  It was a lovely couple of days, but time to move on.  Before I did, though, I stopped in Hyannis and went to the JFK museum, which wasn’t, as I’d thought, his presidential museum and library (which turns out to be in Boston), but is about his connection to the Cape – among other things, he signed the bill creating Cape Cod National Seashore (thank you very much, Mr. President!), and of course, his whole family has had homes here for generations (his father bought their first house here).

This used to be the post office in Hyannis.
This used to be the post office in Hyannis.

And so back over the Sagamore Bridge and north on I-495, which is a pleasant if monotonous drive (lots and lots of trees and gentle hills, but not much else).  There’s really no other efficient way to get around Boston, though, and that’s pretty much what I’d decided to do at this point (I have been to Boston before, honest).

This was sorta surreal to me, kind of the symbolic halfway point in the trip (probably not quite the actual halfway), because almost 3000 miles west on this interstate and I'd be at Snoqualmie Pass.
This was sorta surreal to me, kind of the symbolic halfway point in the trip (probably not quite the actual halfway), because almost 3000 miles west on this interstate and I’d be at Snoqualmie Pass.
What most of I-495 looked like.  In the over 8000 miles I've driven so far, I'd say about 800 of that has been on Interstate.
What most of I-495 looked like. In the over 8000 miles I’ve driven so far, I’d say about 800 of that has been on Interstate.

I did turn off the highway once, though, and that was to go to Concord, to see Walden Pond.  I’d been to Concord once before, and had gone to Louisa May Alcott’s house and the Minutemen Museum, but I’d somehow missed Walden.  Not that I’m a huge Thoreau fan or anything, but I just wanted to see it. Turns out Walden Pond is now a state park primarily used for its swimming beach, which I found rather amusing.  But there is a trail around the pond which leads to the appropriately-marked cabin site.  Most of the people visiting it seemed to be young Asian men, for some reason.  There was also a replica of the cabin next to the park’s parking lot.

Where Thoreau's cabin once stood.
Where Thoreau’s cabin once stood.
Walden Pond.
Walden Pond.
The replica cabin.
The replica cabin.

Back on the freeway, I was only a few miles from my destination for the night, the town of Lowell, Massachusetts.  Lowell was one of the places where the industrial revolution got started in the U.S., with the Merrimack River giving it water power for textile mills.  It has a very interesting multicultural history, and the visitor center downtown has its own free parking lot (a rarity in New England in my limited experience [wry g]).

A patent model of a loom in the visitor center at Lowell National Historic Park.
A patent model of a loom in the visitor center at Lowell National Historic Park.
A statue outside the visitor center.
A statue outside the visitor center.

And then there’s the New England Quilt Museum just down the street, which had some gorgeous quilts, as well as an exhibit of presidential wall hangings.

One of the presidential wallhangings, this one of Jefferson, of course.  There was one for each president, up through Obama.
One of the presidential wallhangings, this one of Jefferson, of course. There was one for each president, up through Obama.
The hand quilting on Grant's wallhanging was pretty amazing.
The hand quilting on Grant’s wallhanging was pretty amazing.
My favorite quilt in the New England Quilt Museum.  It's supposed to evoke the Maine coast and succeeds amazingly.
My favorite quilt in the New England Quilt Museum. It’s supposed to evoke the Maine coast and succeeds amazingly.

Unfortunately, the Textile History Museum had closed due to lack of funding, but the rest of the neighborhood was fascinating.

This evening I met Ann, another listee, and her husband Ben for dinner at a little place called the Eggroll Café in Lowell.  It wasn’t easy to find – Lowell does not appear to believe in street signs – but the food was good and the company was fun.  I enjoyed myself very much, and when it was time to go, Ann rode with me to my motel (no campgrounds nearby and I didn’t want to go searching for one in the dark) to help me get back out of Lowell, and Ben picked her up there.

Tomorrow I get to have lunch with my copy editor (who lives in Dover, New Hampshire), and then it’s on to Maine!