New Bedford, MA

The high and rough seas continued on Sunday at Horseneck Beach.  Swimming was impossible, as waves crested well over six feet and the winds were fierce.  We tried to go for a walk along a short causeway near the campground, but the wind out there was even more ferocious and we eventually turned back.  It is lucky that there is little sand on the beach here, or it would be a stinging experience indeed to be near the water.  We haven’t seen wind at the beach like this since we were waiting for the ferry to North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

Still, it has been nice here.  The view is still spectacular, the nearby town of Westport Point is beautiful, and we don’t often get to park the Airstream right by the seashore — waves or not.  The sound of the wind and waves masks the purr of generators at adjacent sites, and blows their campfire smoke inland and away from us.  (I can’t figure out how anyone can keep a fire going in this wind, but a few people have managed it.)

Given that this wasn’t the best beach day, we decided to explore the surrounding area.  Inland, the wind is barely noticeable. After a very leisurely morning in the Airstream, we wandered into the village on the assumption that every good beachfront area in Massachusetts has a place that sells fried clams. We were pleasantly rewarded with the discovery of the Handi Hill Creamery, which sells both fried clams and an incredible range of ice cream flavors. That stop and the resulting picnic at the outdoor tables took up a good chunk of our day, and it was well worth it.

A long time ago, I used to lead bicycle tours around Massachusetts, and one of our signature trips was up to the North Shore where we’d stop in at a clam shack and pig out.  I assured all tour participants that they could eat a fried lunch, because they were going to cycle 40 miles that day and burn it all off.  (This theory worked well except for those who failed to recognize that eating a lot of grease before completing the final 20 miles of a bike ride can be hard on the stomach.  You do need to show some moderation.) Puttering up in a car and doing the same thing yesterday gave me some small unease, as I felt I hadn’t “earned” the meal, but I got over it pretty quickly.

new-bedford-whaling-museum.jpgNot far from Westport Point is the former “whaling capital of the world,” New Bedford.  Although whaling is now regarded as an international crime, New Bedford has not shied away from its history, and in fact hosts a national park site and a very good Whaling Museum in the center of the historic cobblestone/gas lamp district of town.

I can recommend the museum if you’ve got 1-2 hours to explore it.  The collection goes far beyond whale bones and harpoons — there’s some great ship models, modern science about whale research, and ancillary collections about life aboard ship and life back at home during the era.

From the museum you can walk a self-guided tour through New Bedford’s working waterfront and the downtown.  Eleanor and I were surprised to see how much architecture of the 18th and 19th century has survived in downtown New Bedford.  This makes exploring the city an extremely photogenic experience, for those who appreciate urban landscapes and historic buildings.

Sunset seems to be coming very early now.  It’s a reminder that we are still fairly far north and fall is coming.  From our spot on the beach it’s hard to believe that in three weeks the leaves will be turning and 80-degree days will be just a fond memory.  But not for us.  If all goes well, we will follow summer all the way down the east coast to Florida.

Solar report:  with full sun, the battery was recharged to 99% by 2 p.m. That means we have plenty of excess capacity, so last night we were considerably more generous with laptops and lights.  At 8:30 a.m. this morning, the battery was at -28.9 amp-hours again and with full sun in the forecast today we expect the battery to be fully charged this afternoon.