The Battle Road Trail

Roy and I rode our tandem on a good portion of this trail over the course of two days. It runs from the shores of the Charles River to North Bridge, just outside of Concord.

Note: I’m going to use regulars, soldiers, Army, and Red coats interchangeably. And use colonials, Patriots, rebels, and militia interchangeably.

When the 700 British regulars landed in the swamps of Cambridge just after midnight on April 19, 1775 they had no inkling that they would be successful in burning or confiscating munitions at Concord.

They also didn’t know they would face a gauntlet of angry colonials/ militia with muskets, hatchets, and a thirst for revenge for 16 miles to get back to the safety of Charlestown 20 hours later.

Why revenge?

-The Patriots were under martial law administered by General Gage and enforced by 4,500 Redcoats quartered in Boston.

-The colonials were taxed for almost all imports, and had no representatives in Parliament.

-Land was scarce and King George forbade anyone traveling west of the Appalachian Mountains.

-There was no more land to give to one’s children; it had been subdivided as much as practicable.

– And then they heard of the eight dead in Lexington and the two at North Bridge.

The Red coats also didn’t know that 73 of their comrades would die that day. (Most of the 174 soldiers injured were left behind to be cared for by the colonials. And of those left behind, many died from their injuries. So the 73 number was actually much higher.)

The soldiers were 3,000 miles from home, 20-something years old, sleepless, wet, nervous, and untested going into the unknown Massachusetts countryside.

On Aug. 14 Roy and I rode the eastern half of Bay Road. That portion is very built up now and we didn’t take any pictures.

On Aug. 16 we rode from Hanscom Famcamp to Lexington and started the western half of the “Battle Road Trail” at the Lexington Green.

I’ll insert pictures where appropriate. And I’ve organized the info by means of a timeline.

At 5 a.m. After marching eight miles from their starting point at Cambridge the British Army found 77 militia waiting for them on the Lexington Green.

At first the Army was going to march right through the militia, but from somewhere a shot rang out. The Army fired a volley without orders and eight colonials died.

Captain Parker was the militia’s leader, and he avenged their deaths at 2 p.m. that same day.

The Buckman Tavern was right across from the Lexington Green, and the militia gathered there as the call to arms went throughout the countryside.

Some contemporaneous journal entries talk of sleeping in those upright chairs by the fire awaiting action.

Here’s the table in the Buckman Tavern’s meeting room where Hancock and Adams held councils and planning sessions.

Here’s the path Roy and I rode along. It stretches from the Minuteman National park visitor center to Concord.

At 7 a. m. The British Army made it to Concord. The citizens had moved huge amounts of weapons and supplies into neighboring barns, cellars, and homes thanks to the warning of Dr. Prescott. The British Army found some and…

At 9 a.m. the regulars started setting weapons and military supplies on fire. (Anything they couldn’t make use of themselves.) The Concord militia were watching from nearby hills and thought their homes were on fire. So the colonials/ militia advanced on North Bridge, outside of Concord.

At 9:30 a.m. 400 colonials confronted the 700 British soldiers at North Bridge; the Red coats fired without orders and killed two. One was a militia officer named Isaac Davis, and who is immortalized in the Minuteman statue at North Bridge. Roy is trying to find out whether Isaac is in his Davis family tree.

Major John Buttrick ordered his rebels to return fire… Which was an act of treason against the crown and empire. This was “the shot heard round the world”.

At 11:00 a.m. The British Army continued to search for munitions and ate lunch in Concord. This was a significant error because it gave time for more militia and Minutemen to pour into the area all along the Bay Road.

Noon British Regulars departed Concord, heading east on the Bay Road. They thought “mission accomplished”.

At 12:30 p.m. At Meriam’s Corner the militia (growing by the hour as word got to outlying communities as far away as New Hampshire and Connecticut) ambushed the regulars as they slowed to cross a stream. The running battle back to Boston began.

(I can’t remember the name of the owner of this home, but it bore witness to the Battle on April 19.)

At 1:30 p.m. Location: Bloody Angle. Militia attacked where the road veered to avoid marshes and streams. Spring flooding discouraged the regulars from deviating off the Bay Road.

As soon as the militia could disengage, they ran to an advantageous spot and waited for the Red coats to arrive.

At 2:00 Parker’s Revenge took place a little west of Lexington. The Bay Road bent to pass below a small hill. It was an ideal place for an ambush.

Unfortunately, sometimes militia shot militia. They had the Red coats running between them on the road. If their bullets missed an enemy, it shot a friendly on the other side of the road.

This home was owned by one of the Hartwells. It’s situated near the Tavern I posted in the last blog entry. Notice the large Central chimney. It allowed the heat to go throughout the home. The Park service built the roof over it to protect it from the elements.

At 3:00 Exhausted and thirsty soldiers staggered into Lexington where 1,000 British reinforcements fired cannons at the colonials. Short rest.

At 4:30 4,000 militia from 27 Massachusetts towns joined the fighting at Menotomy/ Arlington. The Patriots took shelter in homes and attacked via sniper fire. Redcoats stormed the houses and routed the rebels. (Arlington is very built up now. No pics.)

Dark The 1,450 Regulars crossed the Charles River from Charlestown back to Boston. By week’s end in April 1775, 20,000 militia trapped/ sieged the British Army in Boston.

General Howe surrendered peacefully 11 months later and took his men and equipment to Halifax.

49 colonials died that day and the British empire was proved to be vulnerable.

It was sobering to ride along the beautiful tree-lined path and think of all the blood shed that day. How many families were torn asunder? …On both sides?

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Myths and Misconceptions of the American Revolution

(Sorry, very few pictures in this entry.)

We recently spent a day on the Freedom Trail in downtown Boston with an actor/ guide “playing” an historical figure, Thomas Hutchinson III. The guide’s name is Mark Linehan, and he is well read about all things Revolutionary.

So, in the course of our almost two hour tour and with my additional research, I learned:

1. Paul Revere was not the only and wasn’t the first alarm rider sent out to arouse the militia around Massachusetts on April 18, 1775.

Thirty additional riders had been recruited by Revere, according to this citation https://oldnorth.com/historic-site/the-events-of-april-18-1775/

2. Before all the infilling, Boston was a diamond-shaped island with one tiny connection to the mainland at the southern end. They called it The Neck.

3. William Dawes was the first rider sent ( via The Neck ) at 8:30 p.m. on April 18 to Concord (~23 miles away) where the Patriots kept the majority of their supplies.

4. Paul Revere left Boston at 10:30 p.m. that same night by taking a boat NW over the Charles River and then picking up a horse in Charlestown. His route was 4 miles shorter than Dawes’.

5. The famous “one if by land, two if by sea” lantern signal from the steeple of the Old North Church was set up by Revere. His militia leaders in Charlestown watched for a signal every night. Riders were always at the ready.

The double lantern signal on April 18 let the watchful militia know that regulars/soldiers were taking the shorter way, across the Charles River. (700 regulars would land in swampy Cambridge early morning of April 19.)

(Sons of Liberty were generally the spies for the colonists. Almost every troop movement was known ahead of time because of their network.)

6. A laminated brochure we picked up named 20 other alarm riders, who operated like a telephone tree. I don’t know how many of those 20 were among the 30 recruited by Revere.

7. Because the British overseers had imposed a curfew and armed patrols moved throughout the countryside, no one was shouting “The British are coming.” Messengers and spies had to move stealthily. (And that wasn’t the actual message. See #8)

8. The message was “The regulars are out.” Meaning, His Majesty’s soldiers had left their quarters in Boston. Everyone knew/assumed that they wanted the Patriots’ guns and ammo, most of which were in Concord.

9. In 1775 most colonists considered themselves British subjects, so saying #7 would have been nonsense. Massachusetts colonists wanted the occupation by 4,500 soldiers (and all taxes) to cease and wanted representation in Parliament. There were other grievances, of course.

10. The Revolutionary War was really America’s first Civil War. It pitted neighbor against neighbor, sons against fathers, brother against brother.

11. Many Loyalists moved to Halifax and areas of Nova Scotia for safety. A huge influx to England’s northern colonies (eventually becoming Canada) occurred in 1783 (the ceasefire and the Treaty of Paris), which we learned during this summer’s trip to the Canadian Maritimes.

12. The Minutemen were an elite corps within the militia. They tended to have guns, ammo, and a rucksack in their homes, ready to be gone “in a minute”. The rest of the militia readied a little slower, possibly needing supplies at their armory.

13. Paul Revere and William Dawes met in Lexington about midnight. Dawes had ridden 16.5 miles and Revere 12.5 miles at the point.

Besides raising the general alarm, they warned John Hancock and Sam Adams (staying at the Hancock-Clarke House) to flee. The latter two had been hiding from General Gage, provincial governor.

14. Revere and Dawes never completed the last segment, to Concord. Six armed red-coated horsemen stopped them about two miles west of Lexington about 1:30 A.M. A third fellow, Dr. Samuel Prescott, had joined them in Lexington. Prescott was a member of the Sons of Liberty and very eager to spread the word.

15. Revere was held for awhile and eventually released without his horse. Revere walked east to Lexington, arriving in the afternoon of April 19.

16. Dawes turned his horse south and galloped to Lincoln to alarm those folks.

17. Dr. Prescott was a Concord man and knew the area very well. He spurred his horse to jump a stone wall, galloped through the thicket, got back on the road at the Hartwell Tavern, and arrived in Concord at 1:50 A.M.

The above picture is the Hartwell Tavern, still standing. It’s part of the Battle Road Trail.

18. One alarm rider was a 17 year old girl from Natick, Abigail Smith. She rode from Natick to Needham.

19. One last fun fact from our guide. John Hancock’s signature on the Declaration of Independence was the only one on the document for a couple of days. As President of the Continental Congress, his was typically the only signature needed on Laws and Declarations. And it is sized appropriately for the text above it.

When the other members of the Continental Congress realized the importance of their Declaration, they insisted that their signatures be printed on it as well. They had to write small to stay on the single page. That’s why we see such a disparity in sizes.

Oh, the stuff I didn’t learn in history class – both high school and college! It wasn’t for lack of attention! I love this stuff!

Next blog entry will be about the Battle Road Trail, part of which Roy and I biked the next day.

Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, NH

After a delightful 3 hours at the Andres Institute of Art we were hungry. I ordered the Parker platter with a pumpkin pancake, fried egg, pan roasted potatoes, hash, and their own maple syrup.

Roy had French toast stuffed with a raspberry, blueberry cream (yogurt compote was Roy’s description) and ate half my pancake, since it was about 8 inches in diameter!

After lunch, we walked to the entrance of the Sugar House, and I asked if we could come in. The gentleman said yes and took us to the oldest part of the “house”. He explained that Mr. Parker liked to reuse buildings as much as possible, so the “house” is actually 3 different sheds stubbed onto one another.

So, here are the tap lines that go from the maple tree(s) downhill to the gathering container. Our guide said the lines are hard to unwind around each tree in the cold of the spring so he labels each strand as to the farm the strand is set up for. Then he has a fighting chance of getting the tapping done expeditiously.

Here are the large containers sap goes into. They are the same size and shape as the rain barrels we had at 512 Lisbeth Road.

Here is a 500 gallon tank that holds the sap that flows into the evaporator. It’s in the air for gravity feed.

Here’s the pipe from the tank into the evaporator.

And here’s the pipe on the right side of the pic with a look at the evaporator tank and all the gills. They are shaped like i-beams to get maximum heating surface around the sap.

Here’s the firebox for the evaporator. Our guide explained some operations use gas, but connoisseurs complain that that method tastes bad.

The lumber is cut into 28 inch lengths to fit right in. The guide said they hired a 21 year old “evaporator whisperer” who keeps it going at just the correct temp for hours at a time.

Here’s some of their lumber cache.

So when the sap goes from 2% sugar to 67% sugar, it’s done. They can store it awhile before bottling or go right into bottling.

On the stove they heat it to 190° and add diatomaceous Earth to catch any sediments or impurities.

Here’s the multi-stage filter that catches the diatomaceous Earth particles.

Finally, it gets to the bottling station, which keeps the syrup at 190° the whole time. It’s like a slow cooker with heating elements in the 4 walls.

Our guide explained that the industry renamed Grade B to Very Dark Amber. It was an image thing. Here’s the new grading system from their website

And here are all the colors they produce.

I learned that all the grades have the same mineral content, it’s just a matter of stronger flavor or weaker flavor.

We bought a large plastic jug of their darkest syrup for $22. Can’t wait to finish the old jug to get into the new.

Here’s a little humor to end the blog, hung in the Parker Sugar House:

Andres Institute of Art in Brookline, NH

We hiked New England’s largest outdoor sculpture garden with friends, Cheryl and Bruce, on a cool but humid day in August. The trails varied in pitch and stone and/or metal sculptures were sprinkled throughout the 140 acre park.

The park was a former ski operation that went belly up in the late 1980s. And part of Potanipo Hill was a granite quarry.

The current owner, Paul Andres, bought the acreage “for a song” per Cheryl. He lives in a private residence at the top of the hill (former ski chalet) with a beautiful view of the valley in the background and some sculptures in the foreground. Admission is by donation.

So, how does he acquire his almost 100 sculptures? He invites artists from all over the world to use the studio, stay with locals who willingly house the artists, and use his equipment to create their works for the location of their choosing.

He has a backhoe, lumber, grinders, and lots of tools for the artists. Each artist stays for 2-3 weeks in the summer (it’s called a symposium) and a party is thrown for the unveiling.

Here is just a tiny portion of what we viewed:

Contempo Rustic by Peter Harris (Vermont)

House of Wish by (illegible) Moradpour (Iran)

We are One Together by Ennica Mukomberanwa (Zimbabwe)

A Passage Through Time (with our two New Hampshire friends)

Still Loading (Again, again, again…) by Klaus Hunsicker (Germany)

You have to touch this piece to appreciate the gradual way he went from highly polished to rough on the granite. Just beautiful workmanship.

Conscious by Isadore Batu Siharulidze (Republic of Georgia/ USA)

Scissors, Paper Stone by Marcus Vergotte (England) I was intrigued as to how he placed his stone in the space created by the four tree trunks. Must have had a boom truck and/or block and tackle and lots of hands??

We believe this piece is 2019’s symposium project and it’s not quite finished. There is no explanatory plaque around it. But then again, maybe it is finished!

Around the bottom side of an outcropping were two pieces titled (e)motions by Ivana (illegible) Croatia

These white pieces were strung on strong wire and hung.

These metal tubes were a wind chime of sorts. But the area is very protected, so they would rarely chime.

The Boat by Milen Vassilev (Bulgaria)

Souls of Peace by Gerard Motondi (Kenya)

Animals by Tony Jimenez (Costa Rica)

And finally, my favorite piece by Tomas Kus (Czech Republic) is three figures made of scrap metal. Called “Debate”.

You have to be up close to appreciate them. The lower jaw of one is part of a stapler and the upper jaw is one half of a pair of scissors. Joints in the toes are nuts threaded onto bolts. Hair is strands of electrical cables.

Each has a rock of varying size in his/her hand.

Here’s all three in one pic.

It was a pleasant way to spend the morning…

And then we went to Parker’s Maple Barn for breakfast and a tour of the Maple syrup operation. But that’s another blog entry.

The Mi’kmaq in Eskasoni, Nova Scotia

The First Nation Mi’kmaw people have lived and thrived throughout the Maritime Provinces for thousands of years. During one of our free days in Nova Scotia we drove to the town of Eskasoni to take a guided tour on Goat Island.

Led by a young Mi’kmaw man, we met a variety of “animators” along the 2.5 km loop trail. We visited with six or seven Mi’kmaq in traditional clothing explaining a different aspect of their culture.

First, we were taught how to smudge properly with sage or sweet grass. Then Kenneth drummed and sang a song for us.

Secondly, we spoke with a man who made his own fishing spears (left) and eel rakes (right).

He also made a moose call out of a cone of birch bark. Hunters hold a horn above their head to look like one.

While the men traditionally did the killing, the women did all the rest: removing the pelt, dressing it out, hauling it into camp, making strips, smoking it, cooking some fresh, harvesting the sinews, etc. Hard work! Didn’t matter if it was deer, caribou, or moose, it was woman’s work!

Next we roasted bread on sticks. Ours had baking powder in it, but traditional bread would not have had leavening. Delicious with molasses.

Our friend, Lee Artman, said the American boy scouts would make bread like this.

Next was a woman who led us through weaving a simple bookmark out of white ash strips. She said that the ash borer has killed most of their local source. They have to buy in the U.S. and ship it. They are planting new saplings, but it takes 70 years for an ash tree to mature to the point of harvesting.

Next, was a medicine woman with a small collection of roots and stems. She told us how each was prepared in order to combat an ailment or injury.

She was particularly upset with people who don’t know the best way or time to harvest something, take it in large quantities, and sell it for profit. If God puts it out for all to use, no one should profit, she said.

There was a duck hunting blind made of birch at her site. Volunteers hadn’t quite finished the edges, she said.

The original advocates of reduce, reuse, and recycle, they use stumps for flower pots.

And birch bark and sinew for pouches.

The Mi’kmaq converted to Roman Catholicism when the French priests came over in the 1700s. Blending their honoring of spirits with the Roman Catholic catechism, the trail had gnomes and painted rocks to represent the fairies believed to live in the woods.

We met a man beating on 2 inch x2 inch x4 foot long pieces of ash with a piece of hard wood to make strips along the grain. He’d thin those with a steel edged plane to make them more flexible, and give them to the basket weaver.

Posters in the gift shop explained more about the Mi’kmaw nation. They already had a game using sticks and balls, so took to the game of hockey naturally. Lacrosse was and is considered the “Creator’s game” and they excel at that too.

Apparently many professional hockey players are of Maliseet or Mi’kmaw heritage.

Finally, the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers were translated into the Mi’kmaw language. Our guide played both prayers on his phone for us, because he said he does not speak it very well. The written and spoken language is very beautiful.

We learned so much from these gracious people. They asked us to tell our friends and family about them, and so I have.

There are 12 First Nation reserves (Americans call them reservations) in Nova Scotia, and more in the other Provinces. Some have casinos for revenue and some don’t.

Each is striving to maintain their language, stories, foods, medicines, tools, skills, songs, dances, hunting ways, fishing ways, and pass them to their children. And they do it with humor!

Prince Edward Island

I didn’t take a lot of pictures of Prince Edward Island. We had three days to enjoy it.

We were told PEI is known for potatoes, mussels, and great beaches. It’s also known for its Anne of Green Gables connection. So, those are the four topics I will tackle.

First, “ba-day-duz” as our bus driver pronounced them. Almost all fast food French fries are supplied by PEI farmers, said our guide. Many, many acres are devoted to them. The deep green plants are pretty against the red, high iron content soil.

The white flowers are Russets.

And purple flowers are Shepody.

We saw many road side stands selling new potatoes, but didn’t want to take the chance that they’d be confiscated at the US border.

Weird fact: we couldn’t buy white potatoes by the single or from a bulk bin at any grocery store in PEI or New Brunswick. It was new potatoes in 2 pound sacks or larger potatoes in 5 pound sacks.

Because of the potato wire worm the farmers plant mustard and plow it into the soil, after harvest. They will also sow it to hay for one season. So potatoes are in a field every 3 years.

Mustard field outside the truck window.

We enjoyed PEI mussels for several meals in Nova Scotia and PEI. They are gently sauteed in a broth of beer, garlic, onion, and carrots typically.

The beaches along the North shore of PEI are usually a deep red from the red sandstone, but some are white as the rust in the sandstone goes away.

The water is also as warm as that in the Carolinas because of the ocean currents. It was pleasant to walk in it on one of our bike ride days.

Neither Roy nor I read Anne of Green Gables as youth. The author, L. Maud Montgomery, was reared by her grandparents in Cavendish, after her mother died. Montgomery had a vivid imagination and started writing at an early age.

She created the orphan Anne and set her adventures in the town of Avonlea. But the characters, the geography, and the farms were based on Cavendish.

We toured the National Heritage Park in Cavendish that contains the green gabled farmhouse owned by her grandfather’s cousins, just a quarter mile from her grandparents’ home.

Montgomery spent a huge amount of her life at that farm and wandered two trails through the surrounding woods which she named the Lovers’ Lane and the Haunted Wood. She wrote about those walking trails in many of her books and had many creative ideas while walking them.

Montgomery’s grandparents’ home is gone, but she is buried in the local cemetary just outside the boundaries of the park.

We saw many Asian and French tourists at the park. We were told that Japanese students are required to read Anne of Green Gables in middle school. It creates a lifelong interest in the author and her home turf.

The PEI vendors all jump on the bandwagon: there are Anne of Green Gables chocolates, bed and breakfasts, souvenir shops, etc.

Our tour one day took us to The College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts in Summerside. The school offers classes in five disciplines: Highland bagpiping, drumming, Highland dancing (soft shoes), fiddling, and Step dancing (tap shoes).

A Piper, drummer, and dancer explained how long they had been playing their instrument or dancing and where they were in their schooling. And then they performed for us.

The clothing behind the Piper are examples of what traditional dancers would wear, we were told.

Also in Summerside is a year old brewery named Evermoore. The veggie pizza and beer mussels were excellent, and the beers we had were good. I had a porter and Roy had a Session IPA. They had run out of two of the beers listed.

The new brewer told us he’s having a hard time keeping up with the demand. We hope he can improve the quantity and create some of the barrel-aged styles he said he wants to create.

The brewery is named after the owner’s grandfather’s sailboat, upon which he (the brewery owner) sailed for many years of his youth. When his grandfather died, the boat mysteriously was sold before the grandson could make any inquiries into buying it. All he has are memories of good times.

What our trailer looks like inside

For those who don’t RV or camp you may wonder what a 5th wheel looks like inside.

I took some pictures the other day.

Here’s the kitchen double sink, counter, microwave, and dishwasher.

The big orange container is water kefir. We make it by the gallon. Next to the undersink cupboard is our dishwasher. To its left is the gas oven and 3-burner stove top, covered with hinged countertop material.

Here’s the refrigerator to the left of the oven and our computer work station. We keep our espresso machine on it.

Television is in the double doors above the work station. We watch the occasional DVD.

Here’s the back end of the trailer with a built in settee. Deep storage on the sides and 4 deep drawers in the center. We keep tall bottles in the milk crate: gin and fish sauce primarily.

We own two Stress-less chairs. One in burgundy leather and one in off white leather.

To the left of the easy chairs are the dining table and chairs. We can put a leaf in the table for a little more elbow room.

Next is the front door (next to the mirror) and the two steps to the bedroom and bath.

Here’s the sink and shower.

And the toilet and linen / coat closet.

Then the vanity and emergency escape window.

A full length closet sits in the front cap of the trailer. Doors are mirrors.

Then the bed. We each have 6 inch wide side tables and small windows.

Mirrors surround the head board. Finally the sink and back to the shower.

It’s 40 feet long and about 13 feet wide with the three slides out. We have been living in it full time since October 2015. The brand name is Teton Homes. Made in 2005.

And life is good!

Titanic disaster, Part 2

Last week we stayed in Twillingate, Newfoundland and toured a museum at the base of the town’s lighthouse. The exhibit was a series of 42 panels created by the Johnson Geo Center in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

I didn’t take any pictures, because it was so text intensive.

The gist of the exhibit was that human pride and hubris was the cause of the Titanic disaster. To blame the iceberg for the loss of life is the same as blaming a mountain for a plane crash.

So, here are the major take-aways.

1. J.P.Morgan got into luxury shipbuilding to drive out the Cunard line and create a monopoly. His White Star line only built 3 ships and all 3 met disastrous ends. He had no shipbuilding experience.

2. He larded up the Titanic, the Olympic, and the Brittanic with amenities for the passengers to outcompete Cunard on luxury.

3. However, those luxuries were at the expense of sound structures, safety, and prudent procedures.

4. It was underpowered with only 3 engines. You’ll note there are 4 smokestacks, but the last was a “dummy” to make the ship look more powerful.

5. Despite a heavy advertising campaign, it was short about 1200 passengers on the inaugural voyage. So, the ship’s captain and the White Star line president (who was onboard) decided to try to set a new transatlantic speed record. (To deflect JP’s anger.)

6. The Marconi wireless company was an independent contractor on board. The two operators spent 98% of their time sending and receiving messages from passengers to friends and family. The other 2% was messages from other ships or shore stations with warnings or greetings for the captain and navigator. The operators were paid for the personal messages, not the business messages.

7. Nine messages came in warning about the ice fields with exact coordinates. Only seven were delivered to the captain. In one instance the operator replied to the other ship “Shut up! Shut up! I’m busy.”

8. Lifeboats could only take one third of all persons onboard. Morgan didn’t want the Promenade Deck ” cluttered” with lifeboats and the wires and ropes needed to secure them or deploy them in an emergency.

9. They used an inferior grade of steel.

10. 15,000 shipbuilders were needed and the vast majority had no ship building experience.

11. They double-hulled the front/bow and bottom/keel of the ship but not the side, where the iceberg created a 250 foot gash.

12. The single rudder made for sluggish maneuvering.

13. The captain had never commanded such a large ship before and was retiring after this one voyage.

14. They had no sea trials and most of the crew were hired days before sailing from the pubs of Southampton.

15. No emergency lifeboat drill was performed with the passengers or crew, ever.

16. The captain had dinner with the president of the White Star line as they entered the ice fields at a blistering 22 knots, and then he went to bed.

17. After the evacuation order was given, stewards kept 3d class passengers below deck and behind a gate awaiting word from the captain that they could go up. When those passengers were released and arrived on the Promenade Deck all the lifeboats had left.

18. Only the crew had a higher mortality rate than the third class/steerage passengers.

19. The flares used to signal for help were the ones for “entertainment” not for “emergency”. So one of the closest ships sailed onward.

20. When the lights stayed on and the band continued to play, people thought there was no cause for alarm. They didn’t make for the lifeboats with any speed. And the frigid waters and the late hour made many reluctant to leave their cabin.

21. I don’t believe any families were compensated for their loss. It was an act of God, the shipping company said.

22. The first ship on the scene was a Cunard line ship, the RMS Carpathia. It had to gingerly pick through the ice fields to get there.

An inquiry board convened afterwards. They said the ice berg was at fault. But they mandated that there be enough lifeboats for everyone onboard.

Morgan ultimately sold his company to the Cunard line, a humiliating defeat. But there were never any personal repercussions for his short sighted, stingy decisions and the 1,523 people he killed.

Titanic disaster, part 1

Several weeks ago we toured the Atlantic Maritime Museum and the Fairview Cemetary, both in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax is where the vast majority of survivors and victims were taken after the ship sunk.

First we toured the non-denominational cemetary where 121 were buried. The tombstones were arranged in a shape that looked like the bow of a ship.

A doctor instituted a numbering system for the bodies as they were retrieved from the ocean. That number was printed on a toe tag, a first in the mortuary industry. In some cases, a number is all they had. No personal effects could help identify him/her.

This toddler had been the subject of intense investigation. He was the 4th person pulled from the icy waters. All the authorities knew was he was a blond boy between the ages of 2 and 4. DNA testing on possible relatives just in the last decade or so concluded he was Sidney Goodwin.

This mother drowned with her four children. The husband was in New York waiting for them.

We drove by the Catholic and Jewish cemeteries, but didn’t enter them.

Then we toured the Titanic section of the Maritime Museum. It has one of the deck chairs.

And a section of the steel plating. The exhibit said the steel had a high sulfur content making it brittle. That’s why the ship broke in half as it sank.

Here’s a model of the ship.

And here’s one of the cloth bags that contained #41s personal effects. I asked the docent where the items were. She said the effects were shipped to the next of kin, if they could be found. Not sure how the museum received the bag. Identification toe tags on bodies were started with this disaster.

Crews of the Halifax cable-laying ships that were among the first on the scene took pieces of the wooden flotsam and made items out of them: rolling pins, picture frames, platters, etc. It’s called wreckwood. These items were kept as mementos of famous wrecks. I read it was a centuries-long tradition.

My next post will be … the rest of the story.

Insectarium in Deer Lake, NL

We explored the #1 indoor entertainment in Newfoundland per Trip Advisor.

The owner explained the life cycle of a honey bee hive with a lot of humor, then cut us loose to explore.

I was struck by his insect collection for Indonesia. As you may know Roy and I spent a year on the island of Java from March 2014 to February 2015.

We saw a lot of ants and cock roaches, but hardly any butterflies, song birds, or beetles.

Here are some of the insects we didn’t see due to the heavy use of insecticide. The panels are 12 inch squares, so these specimens are fairly large.

The museum is housed in a former barn purchased 24 years ago.

Here’s the before:

Here’s today:

I had a visitor in the butterfly garden.