Day 22 – Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts

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We were up and about at our usual time. Our hotel did not include breakfast in the tariff but did have a capsule coffee maker in the room so we had coffee in the room before moving.

We had noticed an on site cafe that advertised breakfast so we decided to try that as our first option for breakfast. Their breakfast special was 2 eggs, with two slices of toast, and home fries for $2.99. We opted for that and I added another cup of coffee. The total came to $8.02 which is extraordinarily little compared to what we would expect to pay in Australia. How they could do it for that price and make a living is beyond me but it probably goes a long way towards explaining why some US citizens do not pay income tax – they make so little income it is not taxable.

After breakfast we finished packing and hit the road. My original plan had been for a relaxed late breakfast by the beach and a slow trip down the coast to reach our next destination at Cohasset around mid-afternoon. Our wandering in Old Orchard Beach last night suggested that it might be difficult to find such a breakfast, especially at this time of year. Moreover, I knew that Majella was keen to have an oval wooden Shaker Box as a belated birthday gift and in my reading of guide books yesterday I had discovered that there was an historic Shaker village with museum and shop near Canterbury, north of Concord in the south west of New Hampshire. That was about 2 hours drive from Old Orchard Beach and another 2 hours on to Cohassett, which was easily doable without affecting our expected arrival time. It took no effort to persuade Majella to make that deviation.

We opted to avoid toll roads and took the slower, but more scenic, route south west across Maine into New Hampshire and then across that state. We saw some interesting small towns and splashes of Fall colours along the way but nothing to entice us to stop other than for a few minutes to change drivers after about an hour. That was to allow me to drive the middle stretch so that Majella could drive through the Boston area to Cohasset while I navigated.

The last stretch from Concord was mostly on the interstate until we spotted the signs to Canterbury and the Shaker Village. As we neared Canterbury the traffic intensified but they were not going to the village and did not bother us as we made our way along narrow shady roads to the village.

We arrived there just after 11:00 am. Tours were advertised for 11:00 am and 1:00 pm so we had just missed one and would not have time to wait for the next even if we were so inclined. Our main interest was the gift shop where it took Majella some time to choose a box from among the selection of different sizes, woods, and finishes available. She also found a Christmas tree decoration that she added to our purchase. Once that was completed we moved to the separate building where food was being sold. It was too early for lunch but we had coffee from a larger version of the capsule machine we had used this morning in the hotel and shared a slice made from cereal and fruit. We also watched part of a video about the history of the Shakers before setting off for Cohasset.

On the way to the I-93 which we followed down to Boston we found that the road in our direction had been reduced to the emergency lane to allow for more traffic coming toward us. It was then that we realized that the signs we had seen about the speedway were significant and that we were escaping from a major local event.

Near the state line crossing to Massachusetts we turned off to Salem hoping to find lunch. We drove around for a bit, getting lost and then following the GPS back to the interstate without finding lunch. I drove on and left the interstate again a little way in when we saw signs to fast food outlets. That landed us in Methuen where we found a supermarket and bought a simple lunch of some bread and fruit – more than enough to keep us going.

Traffic was variable from there into Boston and beyond. We encountered a few slow patches but mostly made good time. Just south of the central Boston area we turned east and following the GPS and directions provided by our hosts managed to find our way to our destination.

We are staying with Alan and Helen Gruber, parents of a friend and former colleague of Majella, Kerry Gruber-Vella. As it happens, Kerry is here visiting with her two boys so it was a chance to catch up with them as well as with Alan and Helen who we had entertained when they visited Toowoomba some years ago. We have enjoyed good conversation and a fine dinner of swordfish with potatoes, beans and salad.

Distance today was 320 km. It was an easy day of driving punctuated with some interesting things to see and ending with a warm welcome.