Just like anyplace else, New England has its rainy season. And, when the hurricanes begin to churn the atmosphere, the chill driving rains come up the coast of Massachusetts like clockwork. As luck would have it, our Fall Mystery trip to Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth Rock, and the Mayflower II coincided with just such a weather pattern, and we set off at 7:00 am for coastal Massachusetts in light rain and dreary conditions.
We took a nice rest stop at one of our favorite McDonalds in Middleborough, and arrived at Plimoth Plantation shortly after ten. Our group of 60 passengers was confronted with torrential rain, wind, and muddy paths as we departed the warmth of the visitor center and headed down a muddy slope to the Wampanoag home site where we encountered a settlement with a small corn field at its center; there were boat making exhibitions and several dwellings to see as well as various native crafts. It was a given that most of us would be soaked to the skin within a short period of time. And, so it was!
Plimoth Plantation is a living museum where the stories of both the Pilgrims and the native peoples who lived here are illustrated. The Wampanoag village surrounds a corn field and consists of several bark and mat-covered round houses with native interpreters who tell the story of day to day life at this time for the family of Hobbamock who lived across the brook on the south side of the Pilgrims’ fortified town. We were invited inside two of the houses where fires were burning in the hearths. We sat on sleeping platforms covered with soft furs, and the warmth and dry space inside these houses seemed luxurious in such wet conditions.
Next we walked up a sloped walkway to the fortified town. Those who had difficulty walking were ferried from place to place in a covered golf cart, the only modern intrusion on the scene. At this point the rain seemed to intensify, so we moved quickly from house to house to learn about life in this 1620’s town. I asked about indoor tasks when weather was as inclement as it was today. A group of three women huddled around the warmth of a fire in the hearth told me that the animals still needed to be tended; the wood and water had to be brought in; and the bread still needed to be baked. They would be making the main meal of the day within the next hour or so. At another house, a widow invited me to sit in her best chair by the fire. She thought I looked weary. Weary and wet were the watchwords of the day.
At noon we assembled at the Peabody Picnic Pavilion for a sit-down turkey dinner. The facility is used for weddings and banquets and is thankfully heated with round tables for eight and bathroom facilities. Dinner was quite good with the sliced turkey wrapped around the stuffing (which kept it moist); the menu follows.
After our meal, we headed for downtown modern Plymouth where we had a look at Plymouth Rock and boarded the Mayflower II. Once onboard, we were allowed to explore three decks of the ship. There were 102 passengers on the original Mayflower plus ship’s master, crew, and farm animals. 66 days at sea under such cramped conditions is astounding – not much like today’s Norwegian cruise, eh?
We were cold and wet, so we didn’t spend too much time on the ship, and once back in the motor coach, we had a short meeting to decide how to proceed. Would we tramp around town for some shopping, or head home with a soothing rest stop for coffee and hot chocolate. One brave soul wanted shopping and the other 59 voted to head home. I think we'll have to make it all up to our lone shopper on another trip. It was a weary and wet day, but I told everybody that this is the kind of day we will long remember. Ten years from now, we’ll joke and laugh about how cold and wet we were on our Plimoth Plantation Mystery Trip!