History, Bridges & Dead Animals on Our Drive to Boston

Unplanned Stops and History Surprises, www.marianamcdougall.com, photo of Waldo-Hancock Bridge

Finding pieces of history is one of the great joys travel.

History, Bridges, and Dead Animals on our drive to Boston, www.marianamcdougall.com, picture of Cabela's and taxidermy inside store.

October 13th

Drive to Boston

Our drive to Boston is uneventful. To pass the time, we continue (and finish) reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This was the first time I read the book, and it was special to read it aloud and share it with the children. Reading and unplanned stops are how we help longer drives to feel less long.

On the way to Boston, we see a beautiful steel bridge. Just as the natural ocean and waterfalls enchant me, human-built bridges mesmerize me. I know nothing of engineering or how bridges are built, and don’t have a particular interest in studying it in depth, but the mere sight of a bridge fills me with wonder. The Waldo-Hancock bridge is no different.


Waldo-Hancock Bridge, Maine


I’m not the only one who thinks this bridge is majestic. There was once another majestic bridge standing in its place. This wonder of engineering won an award as the most beautiful of its kind in 1931. Unfortunately, the bridge eventually corroded to the point it couldn’t be repaired, and it was replaced. I love finding these little bits of history as we move from place to place in our travels.

American Institute of Steel Construction Award for Waldo-Hancock Bridge


Waldo-Hancock Bridge Interpretive Panel

October 14th

Cape Elizabeth, Maine, and Fort Williams

Wherever we find ourselves on a Sunday, we find a church to attend. This Sunday we attend mass at St. Bartholomew’s parish in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The church provides “toddler bags” to keep kids occupied during the service, which I think is wonderful.


Toddler bags at St. Bartholomew's church, Cape Elizabeth, Maine


After the service, we make conversation with parishioners over coffee, juice, and doughnuts. The lady with whom we’re speaking highly recommends we visit Fort Williams before leaving Cape Elizabeth. We had planned on going to our next destination right after mass, but we decide to heed the lady’s advice, and we’re not disappointed.


View from Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth, Maine


Sitting on a beautiful park with gorgeous views of the ocean, the ruins of Fort Williams are the delight of tourists, historians, and children alike.


Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth, Maine


Rugged hiking to get a better view of the lighthouse is exciting, but also terrifying, so I hold on to my children’s hands tightly. Were Dan and I alone, we might be a little more daring and careless, but with three little ones in our charge, safety is the number one priority.


Father and son hiking on rocks in Fort Williams, Cape Elizabeth, Maine


After observing it from the other side, we climb to the top of the hill to get a closer look at the lighthouse, and the girls watch as an artist makes pendants out of seaglass and bent wire. She asks where we are from, and tells the girls they are so lucky to be on this adventure.


Lighthouse at Fort Williams


After Cape Elizabeth, we make our way to a Cabela’s parking lot to spend the night. There’s something intriguing but also morbid about the animals that fill the store. Taxidermy has long been considered an art, and the displays are definitely impressive, but to me, there’s something eerie about being surrounded by dead animals.


Cabela's store in Maine


The store is gigantic, and the staff is friendly. The girls are fascinated by the giant fish tank and the large fish within it. They observe the aquarium for several minutes, and a salesperson comes out and asks if we’d like to watch him feed the fish. The girls are excited to see it, so he comes back within a few minutes and throws feed into the tank, creating a frenzy and even some waves at the top. Even the catfish, normally resting at the bottom, come up to get their share.


Mother and two daughters at Cabela's


The children enjoy looking around at the store, but somehow end up at the gun section, which makes me uncomfortable. It just seems strange to have young children very close to deadly things they have no knowledge about. I quickly divert their attention to the toy section, and they spend some time there. We finally leave the store and spend the night in the parking lot. Cabela’s offers free overnight parking for RVs, and sewer pump-outs for a fee. Unfortunately, this particular one was not working, but we still enjoyed our stay. 

The next day, we’ll reach Boston, where history, literature, and inspiration are on full offer. Read more about that visit tomorrow.


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