Salem,MA

Off to a Ham Radio Shop

Huh ? Where are we ???

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We always try and swing past a Ham radio shop when were are on or travels; Even in the US these shops are becoming fewer and fewer apart, as internet shopping slowly kills these businesses.

However we managed to get to HRO in Salem, NH - and I picked up a few bits and bobs.

We were rushing all morning as it had been raining heavily when we were driving, and we were trying to get to Gloucster, MA so go whale watching at 13:00

Gloucster, 7-Seas Whale Watching

We arrive with 55 minutes to spare, and despite getting a little lost in the one way system around the town, found a free parking spot (not easy); All excited we walked to the ticket booth, which was advertising a trip today for 13:00, only to be told no trips until Saturday.

This was really annoying as we had been traveling for nearly 4 hours to get here, and their web site ("updated daily"), was still saying the trips were ok.

The only course for regress alas is social media - and suitably negative reports were posted. I only hope it helps some other travellers like ourselves.

The problem now was what to do for the rest of the day....

Haloween, Salem .... do the maths ? Yes time to go and see the famous Witch trail capital of the modern world.

Salem, MA

Please note - there are 2 Salems, in adjoining States, separated by about 40 miles which in US terms is next to each other... But we were in spooky Salem - that is in Massachusetts.

Once again a nasty one-way system, and a lack of visible parking (they really are taking the New-England concepts from England too much too heart) meant we did a couple of laps of the town. But again managed to find someplace.

Rather stumbling around, we came across a Witches Dungeon Museum, which rather fitted the bill. It was really well done.

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For 25 minutes you had actors doing exact word for word re-enactments of the Salem witches trial. With little pauses from an "interpreter" to highlight what the significance of what was being said.

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The main issue was one of "temporal evidence" - that mark is the sign of the devil, or when I see you I am afflicted. This coupled with good old fashioned basic greed resulted in 22 people being hung, 4 starving to death in prison, and over 150 imprisoned in very unpleasant circumstances.

Plus Side ?

The only good things possibly about the Salem trials was the concept that physical evidence was now needed for court proceedings, and that the "temporal evidence" was now debunked.

Sea Side Tour

We went down to the sea ... and enjoyed a very fresh sea-food meal.

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A couple of nice looking birds ....

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Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Lincon NH

Heading to Vermont

We rather slowly got going from Lake Placid, the early morning sun felt lovely and warm, and as we were driving through yet more trees, the few leaves that remained were a mass of shimmering colours.

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Juliet has been looking out for the Halloween decorations, and usually when we see some - they are on the wrong side of the road. Today there were some that were on the right side.

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Ferry Time

Just for a small surprise, I had planned a ferry crossing over Lake Champlain. It was nice to be back on a ship again - alas not the QM2.

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Stowe, VT

Stowe is a small town nested in the Mount Mansfield State Forest, we had a walk around the town, prior to having a very pleasant lunch.

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The local graveyard, had an amazing collection of old gravestones - life back in the 1820s must have been extremely harsh judging by the ages on the stones.

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There was 1 very old US military headstone - the badge indicated the fallen soldier had fought in the war of independence. Very nice that still to this day - someone is flying a flag for the combatant.

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On to NH

NH has much speedier Interstates, 75 mph - as we travelled towards White Mountain National Forest; We clouds started brewing on top of the mountains, and the temperature changed from 25C to 16C very quickly.

Soon we arrived in Lincon, NH. We found a place to stay - a nice cabin - which reminded us of the last cabin we were in just prior to Yellowstone.

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Lake Placid

Lake Placid

We drove over to Lake Placid on a lovely late summers day.

25c weather, lots of people out for possibly the last nice warm weekend, as the forecast is for it to be cold very soon.

More of a photo montage today sorry.

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Niagra Falls

Getting there

We left Williamsport and drove on I-44 North through some of the best woods we have ever experienced.

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We only managed to spot a few deer, but as the hunting season has started this was probably a good thing.

Breakfast with the Mayor

We had been moving for about 90 minutes, when we stumbled on a small country store. The local mayor and 2 other constituents were having breakfast, we not only had a really nice breakfast but met some very pleasant people.

Alas being on a touring holiday means we sort of have a schedule to keep, and getting close to Niagra was the plan for today. So back on the road and another 70 miles of driving through a forest.

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Lake Erie

As the miles flew past Lake Erie appeared on the GPS, so we took a slight detour and stopped at a small state park on the lake shore. It is hard to believe it is a lake as it is so expansive.

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Having made good time, we now decided to push on to Niagra with the hope of seeing some of the sights.

Niagra

Wow it was busy... Car parks full, but eventually we stopped and parked. However it was not clearly signposted when we were out of the car - now it may be obvious to people who had been there before, but there were a lot of very lost looking people.

As a result we booked into a tour, and were promptly in a small bus and off to the 1st attraction Cave of the Winds.

Cave of the Winds

As the name suggests, it used to be a cave. But it got dangerous and was blown up ! Instead it is wooden multi layered viewing platform.

Top tip: Wear shorts as there is lots of water

After a short visitors centre explaining how the falls used to be, we were given a plastic mac, and a pair of sandals.

Here is Dora modelling this years rain-ware.

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You descend to the foot of the falls, where you are greeted with this.

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At this point you are quite dry - but the noise is really loud.

As you walk around you get closer and closer to the falls. Here we are looking towards the Maid of the Mist site, the bridge is the Rainbow Bridge connecting US and Canada.

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Start climbing up

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Still not too damp, Dora manages to still smile.

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To the Hurricane

The viewing platform closest to the falls, which is the

  • loudest
  • windiest
  • wildest
  • wettest

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Three Sisters

We next went to see 3 small islands just downstream from the very impressive rapids.

After this - we headed to the Maid of the Mist, which we all had seen from the movies.

Maid of the Mist

Being on a tour - means we did not stand in line - which was a great way to speed things up. So very soon we were again donning a plastic mac and getting on a very short, fat ferry boat.

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As we moved down the river the port side started yelling and whooping. As we closed towards a side of the falls.

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We were all now pretty wet

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Just when we thought we had seen it all - we then found ourselves in the middle of the horseshoe falls - alas being down in the boat means you can not see the 270% water wall that is around you. The noise, spray and power of nature makes itself very clear.

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Final View

Leaving the Maid of the Mist, we now headed to shore, were just as we were leaving we spant a few minutes looking from the viewing platform.

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Dora still having fun

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As was I

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Next place of call .... Lake Placid.

Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

11-NY-to-williamsport

How to get to Niagrra Falls ?

We have a plan - and the plan goes something like this

  • Get to NY
  • Get Hire Car
  • Head Towards Niagra Falls

With the nice people/ship at Cunard heping with the first stage. We got into a New York taxi, and made it 200m. Before the Taxi broke down.

2nd Taxi

With a replacement Taxi arriving within 2 mins, we were again on our way to Newark Airport, where we had booked a car.

This Taxi driver also had no idea of where we were going - instead gave us his mobile phone so we could enter the location. I am not sure if either Taxi driver can speak English - with Arabic and some unknown African language looking the most likely reliable form of communication.

Thrifty rent a car

We were 1 hour early for the car, but there was a nice choice of possible vehicles. After the paperwork, we have got a nice VW Tiguan to roam around in.

New York

The arrival in New York is a sad highlight of the crossing. We all knew it was approaching, but when it arrived - I rather wished we had a couple more days on the ship.

0430

At 04:30 we were up - and dressed, as the QM2 was scheduled to cross under a major bridge at 04:45.

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Dora in some very fashionable early morning deck gear.

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Up on deck the city of New York was shimmering in the darkness. Ahead was the bridge, showing some navigation lights to assist us.

Verrazano Narrows Bridge

By now I guess there were several hundred people up on Deck 12, all with cameras, some with Champagne !!.

I was expecting people to cheer when we passed underneath - but there was more of a "ohh-ahh".

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We cleared the bridge - but it looks very close indeed.

Statue of Liberty

We now moved ahead slowly passing through "The Narrows" - the skyline of Manhatten growing ever larger.

We all had been informed by the captain, that we should be seeing the statue of liberty - but trying to see it in a dark area, with a brightly light skyline proved a little more challenging.

Then, as often occurs, we could see the statue - and how could we have ever missed it.

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Liberty off the side of the QM2.

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Getting of the Ship

With the QM2 docked along side, we grabbed a quick coffee before getting our suitcases and proceeding to disembark.

The disembarkation process was somewhat drawn out and confusing, and one of the few things that Cunard should try and address. But after 45 mins we stepped off the ship, into the US Immigration process.

With US immigration formalities completed, a short walk and we were out of the cruise ship building.

Sitting there in the morning sun was the QM2 - looking majestic, solid and dependable.

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Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery.

Last day at sea

The last day at sea

Very sadly, our last day at sea has come around. After the rather opulent previous evening, we arouse at 0715 and went for a stroll around the deck.

Good Morning everyone

So far on this voyage we have experienced, mild, cold, stormy, windy and wet conditions - often in combinations of each other. We have not experienced warm and sunny - until this morning.

Clear blue skies, a slight breeze (the Queen Mary 2 is doing 18.5 knots) - and a lovely sun-rise.

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Dora - all prepared for the cold.

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Roaring 20's Ball

Our penultimate day at sea was to culminate with the final formal event of the cruise. However before that started we had another fully packed day at sea.

Walk around the deck

At around 08:00 we went for our morning stroll, this felt a little earlier that usual, as the clocks had not gone back (for the first 3 days we got 25 hour days) - the TV in your stateroom reminds you of this each evening prior to going to bed.

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20's Ball

As this was the final formal evening (in total there were 3 on our 7 night cruise), we (correctly) assumed that this was going to be the biggest one. Certainly people went to the most effort;

Getting ready

Dora trying to decide which to do first, drink champagne or get up !! fn

Having made her decision, Dora quickly sprang into action - appearing a few minutes later looking very 20's glam.

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Main Deck Festivities

On the formal evenings, the main thoroughfare becomes awash with ship's photographers (who also double as the ship's dance company) - they are strategically positioned in the Grand Lounge and it's approaches - so you can try and avail of that special photo.

Of course memories like this do not come especially cheap - at aprox $26 per photo (you can choose which ones you like and do not like - so there is no obligation on your part). However business looked much brisker than usual.

These are my (somewhat cheaper) efforts.

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A quite striking fresco in the Grand Lounge ceiling.

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Dora looking very lovely.

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Richard our table waiter

The crew has an amazingly high number of Filipinos on board. Which was really nice to see. They were all very attentive and helpful - none more so that our table waiter Richard.

In total there were just 1 Filipino passenger as a guest (2 others being Naturalised Americans) - but the crew were ever so happy to see, chat and joke with us whenever possible.

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Vic and Judy

The smashing couple seated next to us were Vic and Judy, who had been cruising on Cunard for the past 12 years and were not only great company but a great source of information.

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As Vic would often comment - "I will wait until I am old until we do that" ... a lovely attitude.

Evening Meal

As this was the last formal evening, it was fitting it was also the most sumptuous evening meal. With a choices like

  • Caviar
  • Fois Gra

Followed by

  • Lobster
  • Beef Wellington

And finally

  • Baked Alaska

It was a splendid effort by all of the ships crew.

So with the band playing the Radetsky March, the 168 chefs !! and 82 kitchen assistants did a lap of honour in our dining area. Yet again 80% must have been Filipinos.

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Before retiring

After dining we carried on enjoying the evening in the Queens Room, where the 20's ball and the big band were. We also sampled the in-house band who were playing some 60/70's music in the adjoining room.

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Gallery

There are some more photos including these in the gallery