To the casual observer, and likely to most tourists, the quaint, red-sided fishing shack with lobster buoys along the side is just another – albeit very nice – old fishing shack. It’s identity goes a bit deeper than that, however. According to Wikipedia:
“Motif Number 1, located on Bradley Wharf in the harbor town of Rockport, Massachusetts, is a replica of a former fishing shack well known to students of art and art history as “the most often-painted building in America.” The original structure was built in 1840 and destroyed in the Blizzard of 1978, but an exact replica was constructed that same year.
Built in the 1840s as Rockport was becoming home to a colony of artists and settlement of fishermen, the shack became a favorite subject of painters due to the composition and lighting of its location as well as being a symbol of New England maritime life. Painter Lester Hornby (1882–1956) is believed to be the first to call the shack “Motif Number 1,” a reference to its being the favorite subject of the town’s painters, and the name achieved general acceptance.
In the 1930s, painter John Buckley used the shack as his studio. He sold it to the town in 1945, dedicated “In 1945, the town of Rockport purchased the Motif as a monument to Rockporters who had served in the Armed Services.” The town, recognizing its iconic value, has taken pains to preserve both its structure and appearance, finding a red paint which appears weather-beaten even when new, and keeping the area clear of overhead wires, traffic signs and advertising.”
For me, Motif #1 was a primary reason for deciding to visit Rockport. Going out early in the morning virtually assured no tourist traffic, and if another photographer happened to be wandering around, we likely wouldn’t be in each others’ way. Over the course of several mornings and evenings the only people I saw were the few fisherman that were up and about even earlier than me.
I don’t think I came up with anything special or unusual in my compositions, but just like photos of the gondolas in Venice or the famous views of the Taj Mahal or Machu Picchu, if you’re there it’s just something you have to do. And I’m very glad I did!
After our time in Hyannis we headed toward Rockport, Massachusetts. On our way there, we decided to stop in Plymouth to see Plymouth Rock and Mayflower II. I’m pretty sure the rock is just a rock that someone carved a date on, but the Mayflower II is quite impressive. We didn’t go aboard, choosing to not take the time or pay the admission fee. So I just took a few photos from outside. We also stopped by train stations in Easton and Stoughton, and visited the Minute Man National Historical Park in Lincoln where we learned about the opening battles of the Revolutionary War.
Continuing with our small coastal town theme, we looked for a place to stay in a town that was walkable, scenic and situated in a location that was close to other things we wanted to do. We liked the Cape Ann area of Massachusetts, as it looked to be fairly quiet but located in an area with lots of choices. We eventually settled on Rockport.
The town of Rockport is situated at the end of Cape Ann, on Sandy Bay. When I saw photos of the iconic fishing shack called Motif #1, I was instantly drawn there as a photographic destination. It’s about as cliche as you can get, often referred to as “the most often-painted building in America.” But what the heck? I’ll do a separate post on Motif #1, because there is a lot more to Rockport than just one building!
As we planned our trip, I realized that we would be arriving in Rockport on the day before a full moon. A little research led me to identify several good spots to catch the rising moon over the town, on the night before the official full moon. As it turned out, the inn we selected for our stay there was directly across the street from one of those places. Sweet!
While we were on Cape Ann, and one of the reasons we chose to stay there, we booked a whale watch cruise out of Gloucester. Gloucester is a much more commercial-oriented town, likely due to it having a more protected harbor area as compared to Rockport. That’s part of the reason we chose not to stay there. There are a number of places we could have chosen, but the more laid-back vibe of Rockport suited our needs better.
One of the great things for me about Rockport was the ability to get up and out before sunrise, walking around the town to take advantage of the many photographic opportunities. Besides the full moon and Motif #1, there was plenty of other subject matter. Mostly boats and boat stuff, but that was perfectly OK with me.
The one surprising and perhaps disappointing thing about our stay in Rockport was that many of the businesses had gone to off-season hours or closed completely. This was purportedly due to the lack of staffing, and while most places we visited appeared to be struggling a bit but managing, Rockport seemed to be impacted more by the lack of seasonal help.
It was most irritating that businesses did not keep their signage or their websites up to date. One restaurant we wanted to visit said they were open, but on the day we wanted to go they were closed. But the next night they were supposed to be closed, we walked by and they were open but full. We stopped at a restaurant on another night nearly an hour before closing time, but were turned away because they were understaffed. Across the street, another restaurant that was open was still welcoming walk-ins an hour after they were supposed to have closed.
One morning while I was out walking around I had planned to stop at a shop that was known for its strudel, hoping to surprise Kathy with a little treat for breakfast. Their website and sign on the door said they would be open, but they were not. So we had to forego the strudel and make other plans. First world problems, I know. 😉
Rockport is a nice little town. Now that we have “done” it I probably wouldn’t need to stay there again. There just isn’t that much to do, and maybe that’s the point. 😉 After our stay in Rockport, we headed north to spend 9 days in Maine. I have a lot to say about Maine! 🙂
When choosing where to stay and what to do in Massachusetts, we decided to keep with the smallish coastal fishing village vibe as much as possible. We wanted to avoid the larger cities with their traffic and congestion, understanding that even though we were past the peak travel season, anywhere we went was likely to be busy. We really want to visit Boston, and in fact were scheduled to spend some time there last year before a cruise that was cancelled. It’s a destination in itself, and this trip was already shaping up to be a long one!
We wanted to stay near or on Cape Cod, so we looked for places to stay that suited our preferences – centrally located, a selection of restaurants, not too urban, etc. We also wanted to be able to take a coastal cruise, either sightseeing or whale watching. And we also hoped to get over the Martha’s Vineyard. We settled on Hyannis, because it met those criteria.
But first, we managed to do a little sightseeing on our drive from Mystic. I mentioned in a previous post that we had encountered traffic in Newport due to the boat show. We lost some valuable time there, and that cut into our visit to New Bedford, the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park and the Jonathan Bourne Whaling Museum. We spent a couple of hours in New Bedford before moving on. The drive ended up taking most of the day, albeit with some good stops.
Since we only had two full days to spend on Cape Cod, we had to choose wisely. We ended up deciding against Martha’s Vineyard, as it would have taken an entire day. We would have had a boat ride on the ferry, but would not have seen the sights around Hyannis Harbor and Cape Cod Bay. We had to make a choice and decided to devote a day to some time in town, a coastal cruise and then some driving down to Falmouth and Woods Hole. The second day was devoted to Provincetown, Chatham and Cape Cod National Seashore. Sadly, the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory was closed to visitors, so we did not get to visit. 🙁 We did, however, find some good clam chowder for lunch, so all was not lost! 🙂
Our coastal cruise was interesting, because it took us past a number of lighthouses, and houses built to look like lighthouses. The homes around the Hyannis Port Yacht Club include those once owned by members of the Kennedy family. We saw ‘Mya,’ the sailboat once owned by Ted Kennedy. It was moored in the harbor along with an unnamed sailboat that was moored to a mooring ball painted with the name “Kennedy.” No idea whose boat that was or who now owns Mya, but I’m guessing it is still in the family. That afternoon we visited Falmouth and Woods Hole, taking in a few more lighthouses.
Provincetown was an interesting place. A smaller version of Key West, perhaps. Funky shops, funky people and a real laid-back attitude. Probably not a place we would want to have stayed, but we were glad to have visited.
Along Cape Cod National Seashore, we made stops at the visitor center, Marconi Beach to see the remains of the original Marconi Wireless Station, Herring Cove, and the town of Chatham (more lighthouses!). No, we didn’t see any of the sharks reported to be making a comeback along the Cape, but we did see a few seals, which the sharks like to have for dinner! 🙂
Before returning to our hotel we made a stop at the John F. Kennedy Memorial. It was dark and cloudy and not the best conditions for photos, but I did manage to snap a few. The next day we headed up the coast, around Boston and on to Rockport. Stay tuned! 🙂
I posted this on Instagram yesterday but not everyone here would have seen it. One of a number of interesting scenes in Rockport, MA. I need to and will begin to highlight some of my more favorite photos from the various places we visited on our recent road trip.
I’ve edited and processed my photos through Massachusetts, but realized this morning that I have over 2500 from Maine! 🙂 Many of them are burst shots of waves and whales, but still. We were there for 9 days, so there was a lot of subject matter!
I’m not sure what attracted me to Mystic, Connecticut. It wasn’t ‘Mystic Pizza,’ the pizza shop made famous by the movie by the same name. I haven’t seen the movie, although I was familiar with the name. No, it had something to do with something I had once read or heard about ‘Mystic Seaport.’ And we found it to be an excellent home base for our short but busy exploration of Connecticut.
Mystic Seaport is the name of the Mystic Maritime Center, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading maritime museum.” I’ll write about our visit to the museum in a separate post, so for now I’ll just talk about the town of Mystic itself.
The town of Mystic itself proved to be a quaint, albeit busy, seaside town. The Mystic River flows through the town, and there is a drawbridge on Main Street that opens once per hour to let sailboats and other larger vessels pass through.
We stayed at the Steamboat Inn, a small B&B right next to the river and the drawbridge, and it was the perfect location to explore the town while still making it easy to get out of town to see other places. I loved being able to walk out the door and photograph in the early morning, while Kathy caught a few extra Zs in our room. I’d get back in time for coffee and breakfast before starting off on whatever we had planned for the day.
We’re not big shoppers, so a few hours wandering around the town on afternoon was all the time we needed. We did buy ice cream, and yes, I did take a few obligatory photos of Mystic Pizza. There were several good restaurants within walking distance, including one we visited twice. S&P Restaurant & Oyster Bar impressed us so much on the first visit that we went back a second time. Fresh fish, excellent service and a decent wine selection is what we look for, especially at the coast, whether it is the northeast or the southeast. It fit the bill nicely for us.
In addition to the Maritime Museum, we ventured over to Groton, on the Thames River, to visit the USS Nautilus. The Nautilus was the first nuclear powered submarine and, among other feats, was the first to complete an underwater crossing of the North Pole. I remembered reading about the sub as a kid, and at one time seem to recall having a toy or plastic model. That was a long time ago! Photos from that visit and from the Maritime Museum are included in the gallery 2021-09 New England Part II on my Adobe Portfolio page.
Some might say that it is hard to do a lot in Rhode Island, but I don’t think that is true. While it’s a small state, it packs a lot into a small area.
We had originally planned to just spend a day in the state, but when we made a last-minute adjustment to our itinerary we were able to add an overnight in Narragansett before backtracking just a bit to Connecticut. Narragansett is a lovely seaside town with lots of beautiful waterfront homes, without the hustle, bustle and big money of Newport. We spent an evening and most of the next day exploring the town as well as Cape Elizabeth and the Port of Galilee.
And I had my first of many Lobster Rolls! It wasn’t the best one I had, but you never forget your first one. 😉
On our drive from Mystic to Rockport, MA we passed through Newport. We had originally wanted to overnight in Newport but were put off by high hotel prices and low availability. When we drove through we quickly realized why – it was the first day of the annual Newport International Boat Show! Duh – our research had not discovered that. 🙁 So we gritted our teeth, drove through the crowded streets and out to Fort Adams State Park for views of the Newport Harbor, the Claiborne Pell/Newport Bridge and views back toward Narragansett. As it turned out, we were very glad to have spent the extra time in Narragansett, as we would have ended up really shortchanging the state without it.
By the standards of a Rhode Island local, we certainly missed a lot. I’d be happy to return someday, possibly even to Newport. But we saw and photographed enough to “check it off the list” and moved on to the rest of New England. More to come, soon!
After Staunton, VA we spent a night in Scranton, PA. We stayed at a Radisson hotel in the former Lackawanna railroad station in downtown, and the following morning visited Steamtown National Historical Site before heading off to Rhode Island.
Steamtown National Historic Site is a railroad museum and heritage railroad located in downtown Scranton, PA at the site of the former Scranton yards of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). The museum is built around a working turntable and a roundhouse that are largely replications of the original DL&W facilities. The roundhouse, for example, was reconstructed from remnants of a 1932 structure. The site also features several original outbuildings dated between 1899 and 1902. All the buildings on the site are listed with the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Yard-Dickson Manufacturing Co. site.
This is but a small sample of the photos I took there, and as usual mostly just scratch the surface of the place. A real railroad fan could spend days there!
I’ve posted a New England Part I gallery on Adobe Portfolio for anyone wanting to see more of my snapshots. The photos in that gallery take us through Rhode Island, which I’ll cover in a future post.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love to visit there, but hate dealing with the crowds that flock there, especially in fall when the colors are happening. Such was the case this week, when Kathy & I decided to head to the high country for a few days to check out the fall colors.
Like all the National Parks, the Blue Ridge Parkway, as the most-visited National Park in the country, has been overrun by tourists seeking an outdoor experience. I’ll be glad when many of them head back to the office, although there appears to be a large number of retired folks as well. Drivers on the Parkway range from the Floridian driving white-knucked around the winding corners at 30 MPH to the motorcycle riders trying to make the Parkway their personal Lime Rock Park. Add in those of us just trying to drive comfortably and enjoy the scenery and it can be a frustrating mix.
We left home on Wednesday morning with the goal of driving the Parkway from Blowing Rock to Mount Pisgah before heading to Waynesville for a couple of nights. We have friends who own a motel there, and I have a cousin who lives nearby who we don’t get to see often enough. Seeing both of them was long overdue.
Wednesday was a Chamber of Commerce Blue Sky Day on the Parkway. The leaves in the Grandfather Mountain area were just about at their peak. We stopped at an overlook and had lunch before continuing south toward our destination.
I didn’t take a single photograph all day.
Between having a case of “Get-There-Itis” * and all the people crowding into any overlook with a view, my heart just wasn’t in it. It was nice to see, but I rationalized that the mid-day light wasn’t ideal for good photographs and decided that any photograph I made would be no better than a cell phone photo, just taken with a nice camera.
On Thursday, we headed back to the Parkway with the express intention of making photographs. As we headed higher, it became clear that fog would be our companion for the day. That suited me just fine, because fog means interesting photography and…fewer people! The fog and the fall color varied greatly by elevation, and we drove in and out of the fog for several hours. Some places were pretty clear, while others – like Richland Balsam, the highest point on the Parkway at 6053 feet, were totally in the soup. But for the first time in a long time, I was able to get a photograph of the sign without someone’s car or motorcycle parked in front of it! 😉
On Friday, we headed toward home by a different route than we usually take. I got a few photographs from the drive home that I’ll share in another post. We may try to head back up to the Parkway early next week, weather permitting. If so, hopefully I can contain my “affliction” and make a few nice photos!
*Get-There-Itis (my definition): (a) in photography, a condition where one is so focused on the final destination that it prevents stopping to take pictures; (b) in aviation, often referred to as exercising poor judgement, resulting in a decision to fly despite adverse conditions, often with sub-optimal results.
Over the years we have managed to create a nice group of “photo friends” here in the Land of Blog. As Kathy & I travel, we like to make a point of seeking out our photo friends whenever we are nearby. Interestingly, it seems that the friends we do meet are often the ones farther away. For example, Faye lives near Charlotte after a having lived in Atlanta, but we have never met. We saw Earl numerous times when he lived more than an hour away, but since he moved closer to us we haven’t seen him. We have visited Monte in Colorado a number of times. Although Jeff lives in Wisconsin and Michigan and we have visited him there, we met for the first time in Italy! 😉
When we planned our trip to New England, I knew that we would be “in the neighborhood” of several of our friends and worked to set up some meetings. Paul and Ken, both in the Rochester area of New York, and recent Maine transplant Joe were on the radar.
Joe and his partner Katherine were up for meeting for lunch at a lobster shack on the Maine coast before spending time in Boothbay Harbor. He and I spent a little time photographing in Boothbay before we parted company. We managed to meet up with Ken, his wife Michele and Paul for lunch while we were in Rochester visiting the Eastman Museum.
Photographers being photographers, Joe and I never thought to get a photo of us together, although we each managed to get photos of each other so there is photographic evidence – albeit circumstantial – of us being in the same place! We asked our waitress in Rochester to take our picture, but when I looked at the camera she had never pushed the shutter button! Fortunately we corralled a waiter who was also a photographer, so he did manage to shoot a few photos, although the lighting could have been better. 😉
It’s always nice to put faces and personalities with names and websites. We hope to do some more as we continue to travel! 🙂
Photographers know this, of course. But for the few non-photographers who read my blog (and possibly even the photographers!) this might be interesting.
I took these two photos exactly 30 seconds apart. For the first one, above, there was just the right amount of light filtering through the clouds to provide some shape and contrast to the scene. In the second shot, below, the cloud has moved over the sun and the light has gone flat. Both of these photos are pretty nice, but to me the one with the shaping light and subtle shadows is the superior one.