Family Fun in New England, Part 1: Plymouth, Massachusetts

Our latest fun-filled family adventure took us to five states in fifteen days. We flew to Boston, rented a car, and then drove about 850 miles through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire before finishing up the trip back in Boston. 

As always, we packed in all sorts of educational attractions: museums, tours, historic sites, and more. We tried the local specialties and learned as much as we could about the area. We had a fantastic time and I'm really excited to tell you all about it!

Because I blog about educational travel, I was given admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. A few places we went are free for everyone, while we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm sharing is something that I recommend without hesitation. If you see any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, restaurant, or hotel enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.


Boston, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island

On Tuesday, June 13 we flew nonstop from San Francisco to Boston. Our plane landed at 11:15 pm local, so all we did that evening was get to our hotel. The Embassy Suites Boston at Logan Airport was clean, comfortable, quiet, and very convenient. I wish I could say I recommend it, but I can't.

We'd set a really early alarm since we planned to be packed and downstairs eating breakfast by 7:00 am on Wednesday, June 14. So all three of us were dressed and packing when the fire alarm went off around 6:45 am. We went to our nearest emergency exit (conveniently next door to our room) and joined a dozen people heading downstairs from the 6th floor. We met a few more along the way. The emergency exit led to an alleyway behind the hotel with a gate. A locked, or possibly jammed, gate. The biggest men in the group tried to force it open, but couldn't. A hotel employee noticed that we were trapped, and led us back into the building and through the entire length of the hotel and out a different emergency exit. There we were able to cross the street and join the other hotel guests who successfully evacuated. After awhile, the firefighters gave an all-clear. We were never in danger (it was a false alarm) but we were very distressed to have been trapped by what was supposed to be an emergency exit. We went directly to the front desk. The manager wasn’t there, but we were assured he would call us “immediately.” Care to guess how long that took? Nine days. And that was after I contacted him (and copied the CEO). The manager said the gate has been fixed. There's a lot more I could say about this, but I'd rather put my energy into telling you about the rest of the day. 

Our first destination was Plymouth, 41 miles south of Boston. 

If you know your American history, that name should sound familiar. In 1620, 102 Pilgrims arrived from England on the Mayflower, anchored at Plymouth Rock, and formed the first permanent European colony in New England. Their journey is memorialized at Pilgrim Memorial State Park.

There are two main things to see at Pilgrim Memorial State Park. The first is Plymouth Rock. It is housed in a large stone pavilion. 

See the grate at the water level? 

That's where Plymouth Rock is. It's underwhelming, but I expected that. And now I can say I've seen it. 

A short distance away, you'll find the Mayflower II replica. 

I can't even begin to imagine how awful it would be aboard a ship that small with 101 other passengers and all their belongings (including farm animals) for 66 days before reaching land. No latrines, no cabins, no privacy, no fresh food, no relief from the sea sickness, no thank you. 

And that was only the start of it. They continued to live aboard the ship for months, rowing to shore during the day to build houses, then returning to the ship. In New England. In the winter. More than half of the original settlers died that winter. It's incomprehensible. They'd planned to arrive in October, which would have been better (but not ideal) for months of rowing and housebuilding.  

We were blessed with perfect weather during our June visit. Having never experienced a New England winter, I can only imagine how different this would have looked to the Pilgrims. 

We took a beautiful walk through Plymouth to see the National Monument to the Forefathers. Believe it or not, Trevor and I are in that picture, standing at the base of the monument. That's a helicopter in the sky. 

Let me zoom in for you.... there we are!

The monument was completed in 1889 to honor the Mayflower passengers. The figures along the sides depict Morality, Education, Law, and Liberty, while Faith stands on the main pedestal. She is holding a Bible with her left hand while her right points toward heaven. 

At 81 feet tall, it is the largest solid granite monument in the United States. I was shocked to learn that the original design called for it to be almost twice as tall. At a "mere" 81 feet, it dwarfs everything around it. 

After another short walk, we reached the Pilgrim Hall Museum. It is the oldest continuously operating public museum in the United States. 

The museum's status as the oldest in the US would be reason enough for me to want to visit, but that's far from the only reason you should go. It is an excellent museum, with a strong commitment to historical accuracy and inclusion. Not only do they tell the story of the Pilgrims and showcase their belongings, but they also feature the experiences of the Wampanoag. They lived in the area for 13,000 years before the English colonists arrived and are still there today. 

We started with an excellent exhibit about six different women of Plymouth, representing different ages and life situations, some colonists and some indigenous. As we continued through the galleries, I was impressed by the efforts to correct the many myths that persist about the Pilgrims. 

It was all very interesting. 

I appreciated the opportunities to sit in a reproduction of the chair on display and to touch part of Plymouth Rock.

This was my favorite part of Pilgrim Hall Museum. It was so interesting to learn where, when, and why the myths about the Pilgrims originated. 

Paintings and poems from the 1800's gave us a stereotyped image of the Pilgrims, often with many historically inaccurate details.  

I was amused by this sign in the bathroom. 

One final thing to share from the Pilgrim Hall Museum: this poster. If I still had a classroom, I would have bought it in a heartbeat. It is fascinating and horrifying and really helps you visualize the struggles of the Pilgrims. 

We could have easily spent all day exploring Plymouth. It's a cute, walkable town loaded with history. But we had other places we needed to be. Our next destination ended up being one of the highlights of the entire trip. I'll tell you all about it on Monday.  


Alaska 2022: Surprise! There's a Second Page

You knew there was no way I'd make a layout about our Alaskan cruise and not include at least one photo of each family member, right? While I did make the left side the same way I'd make a stand-alone page, I knew I would be making a companion page immediately afterward using the same papers. Here are the two sides together.

Alaska 2022 (affiliate link)

It was a real challenge for me to design this 2-pager as two single pagers. I've never done that before. I think they each look better with the other, which is how they'll be in the album. The right side counts for the Travel square on my card, which means I've completed a second BASH-O!

I can't finish three more layouts before June ends, so I'm finishing BASH-O 2023 with two prize entries. I'm really happy with the pages I made and had a lot of fun. 


Alaska 2022

 For the stars space on my BASH-O card, I made this page about our 2022 cruise to Alaska.

Alaska 2022 (affiliate link)

I'm really pleased with how I adapted that eagle journaling card to make it work as a title card for this page. It's from a patriotic collection, but a well-placed sticker (IT'S TIME FOR AN ADVENTURE) covered the word LIBERTY. Then I spelled out Alaska in the spot where journaling would go. 

There are some very subtle stars on the title card, but they're not nearly prominent enough for it to count for BASH-O. So I used gold star stickers to recreate the Alaska flag. The stars are a little bigger than they are on the real flag, but the idea is there and I think it adds to the layout. 

I didn't leave myself much journaling room on this page. I should have anticipated needing more and cut the ocean paper a little bit narrower. I managed to squeeze the important stuff in, plus it's all well-documented in four blog posts

One more layout until my next BASH-O!

"But Cindy," you're saying. "You dedicated four blog posts to this trip and shared 100+ photos. This layout has only five photos and two of them don't even have people! There are no photos of literally half of the group, including you. The whole point of the trip was to celebrate your parents belated 50th anniversary and there isn't even a photo of your mom on this layout! This cannot be the only page you made from that trip. It can't. But you have a one-layout per trip rule, so I'm totally confused!"  

To which I say: You know me well. Come back tomorrow. 


California Bear Flag Coaster

I made another flag coaster to go with my United States flag coaster. This one features California's bear flag, which has a fascinating history. Affiliate links below.   

California Bear Flag Coaster



Paint six craft sticks white and one red. Let the paint dry completely. Use a pen to write CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC centered on one of the white sticks. Draw or trace the grizzly bear on a piece of scratch paper, cut it out. Line up the craft sticks and position the bear where it belongs on the flag. Add the star sticker on the left of the second stick from the top. 

Trace around the bear, being careful not to move any sticks out of place. 

Paint the bear and the grass he's standing on. 

When the paint is dry, seal the sticks with Outdoor Mod Podge and let that dry completely. 

Arrange three mini craft sticks vertically on your work surface and add glue. One by one, transfer the painted craft sticks onto this base. 

This is a fun project that can be adapted for many other states and countries. 


What to Do with Dried Acrylic Paint - Make a Coaster!

This is a coaster that lives in the craft room. I use it for normal coaster purposes (i.e. drinks), but also as a place to set a paint or glue bottle, a paintbrush, or other messy items. Affiliate links below. 

When it gets full, I don't wash it. I peel it. After the paint dries completely, it peels off in colorful chunks. It's extremely satisfying to see the pretty colors on the underside. 

To make my coaster, I took an old plastic lid (off an oatmeal container) and filled it with a generous layer of Mod Podge Sparkle. I started arranging my paint bits in the Mod Podge. 

This is how it looked when I'd filled it in completely. Well, almost completely. I wanted the sparkly Mod Podge to show between the paint pieces. 

It took two full days to dry in a warm room before it was ready to use. I thought about adding a top coat of Mod Podge to seal it in and level the surface, but decided against it. The surface is almost perfectly level (good enough for my purposes) and I don't care if any drips of paint might get on the surface. 

Look at all the sparkle!

I love a functional trash-to-treasure project. Mine lives in the craft room like I said, but it could just as easily solve a problem in a different room. It would make a good plant saucer, for example. You could set condiment bottles on it at a BBQ so that mustard doesn't drip on your table. Lots of possibilities!


Behind the Wheel

Trevor had his very first driving lesson in February. Of course, I had to document the first time he climbed into the driver's seat! That's the photo on the top right. We did our lesson through Coastline Academy and were very happy with our instructor, Junelle. (If you're looking for driver training, feel free to use my referral code! (#GGCMAGINF2)

After that 2-hour lesson, it was my job to take Trevor out for daily practice. I was not adequately prepared for getting into a car driven by someone with exactly two hours of time behind the wheel. Yikes! Trevor has always been extremely cautious and fortunately that has been the case with driving. With my encouragement, he has improved quickly during our practice sessions. Eventually I was able to snap a photo of him driving from my perspective in the passenger seat, which is the photo on the bottom left. 

Behind the Wheel (affiliate link)

I was so happy to find this road paper by Paper House Productions. Since both of my photos are pointing inward, it looks like traffic on two sides of the double yellow. I'm pleased with how the title came out; I think this is the first time I've done a round title. Did you notice that the circles on my title and journaling blocks line up with the circle of the tire and the steering wheel in the photos? I find that very satisfying. And it sure was nice of Trevor to wear blue in both pictures, as it goes nicely with his instructor's blue vehicle! This was a really fun layout to make. 

I'm counting this for Circles on my BASH-O card

Will my next page be travel or stars? I don't know yet, but it will definitely be one of those!


Sparkly 49ers Sign

I rarely work with bling, yet I have an enormous supply of sparkly, glittery things that have been sitting in the craft room forever. Time to use some of it up! This wooden arrow is decorated with gold paint, gold glitter, and leftover Diamond Dotz, It’s super sparkly; the photo doesn’t do it justice.

You may recognize the 49ers logo from a diamond Art kit I completed a couple of years ago. I had enough extra Dotz to make a second logo. Self-adhesive canvas with a printed grid makes it really easy. Affiliate links below. 

Sparkly 49ers Sign



Sand the wooden arrow until it is smooth. Add a coat of Treasure Gold. When that is dry, add a generous coat of gold glitter glue. 

Create the logo or design of your choice by applying the Diamond Dotz to the canvas. When it is complete, carefully cut it out with microtip scissors and glue it to the arrow with a strong craft glue.  


19th Anniversary in Grass Valley, CA

Look at me, scrapping our 19th anniversary trip just a few weeks after it happened! We'll ignore the fact that I have plenty of un-scrapped trips from 2022. 

19th Anniversary (affiliate link)

As expected, I got out the punches for this layout. I used a circle punch for the title and two scalloped circles to make the visual triangle. Yea - my first BASH-O for 2023!

I have a little bit of time left before BASH-O ends, so I'm going to keep going and hopefully finish three more pages in order to get a second BASH-O. My choices are: travel, stars, and circles; or family, acrylic paint, and wanderlust. I don't know how wanderlust differs from travel in terms of a scrapbook page. Maybe scrapping about where you want to go instead of where you've been? I'm not sure. Maybe I should just go for the travel, stars, and circles.