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 Breakin' Spring 

Submitted by Carlo Becker on Fri, 03/14/2014 - 15:57

If you really want to hear about it,

here’s the collected works of my spring break experience. Six blog posts written shortly after the respective days of the last week. If, however, you just want to kill five minutes, or if you want to get a quick idea of what you could do over spring break if you like the cold, just read this summary. Ideally, of course, you do both.

   As soon as I started planning spring break, I was pretty sure that I wanted to use that week to travel New England a bit. Secondary only to the Pacific Coast, New England is one of those regions in the U.S. which I’ve really wanted to see for a long time. To a certain extent, Thoreau, Kerouac, and Lovecraft are to be held accountable for that. But my desire to see New England has been rooted much deeper than that; there's also the history, the nature, and so on. However, there is no real point in trying to list anything here that has caused my fascination with the region.

   So I flew from Columbus, OH to Boston, MA, met my girlfriend at the airport, and we rented a car. The next day, we visited Walden Pond and Lowell, Massachusetts. You have most likely heard of Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau. I’ve read a good chunk of it and liked a good deal of that chunk, and since that pond is just outside of Boston, going there wasn’t optional. It was cool; a crisp and sunny day, the entire pond was frozen over. Every once in a while, the warmth of the sun caused the ice to crack which produced immensely bassy sounds, never heard anything like it before. And aside from us, there were no more than four people (man ice fishing, two joggers, and the nice old vendor at the gift shop). After that, the next highlight: Lowell, Massachussets. Not only an important former mill town and cradle of American industrialization, but first and foremost the birthplace and youth home of Jack Kerouac. Just as with Walden Pond, it’s hard to explain reasonably why I so hardly wanted to see Lowell. I mean, unlike we sometimes like to imagine, you don’t feel the presence of Thoreau or Kerouac in these places, and how could you? They're totally different places today. Also, I really didn’t find too much information which I could not have gotten anywhere else. But then again, I think there is something to the idea to visit the places that have influenced those people who in turn have influenced you. Let's have a discussion on that when I'm back. Anyway, Lowell was nice, and definitely worth the visit.

   The next days, we drove further north, spent some time on the road, on beaches and at lighthouses, in Kennebunkport and Portsmouth, NH, and in Portland, ME (good city; had my first lobster there). And then, Acadia National Park in Maine. Once again, we had perfect (if cold) weather, and Mount Desert Island, which is the main location of the National Park, is really beautiful. Rocky shores, a lonely sand beach, the blue Atlantic, woods, and mountains. All you need. Due to heaps and heaps of snow aside the road, we could not really explore the island on foot, or go up Cadillac Mountain, which is a real pity. There are these somewhat depressing moments when you realize that travelling does, in fact, result in increasing, instead of alleviating wanderlust. As much as I’d love to see Acadia (and New England in general) again in the summer and the fall, I know it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever go there again because there are too many other places to see.

   After Acadia, we drove 3½ hours through the night on a highway amidst the incredibly dark and deep woods of Maine. Perfect Lovecraftian hinterland setting for his cosmic horrors. Nothing, no one, only trees.

   The next day, off to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Crappy weather the first day (thick grey mist evoking Lovecraftian images again), perfectly clear skies the second day. Next to the road, the snow covered Presidential Range governed by Mount Washington. Then a quick one-hour hike up to the frozen Arethusa Falls. Like in Acadia, we could not really do too much in the mountains because most trails were blocked by walls of snow, so New England definitely offers much more opportunities between May and September; even many museums were closed for the season. Which was, in the end, good for a student's budget.

   Having left the White Mountains, we spent the last day of our trip first in Salem (1691 which trials, Nathaniel Hawthorne, that Salem), and then in Boston. Nice city which on every corner makes you aware of how much you have already forgotten of SHP I. Had a good burger and beer in America’s oldest tavern (supposedly), the Bell in Hand of 1795.

   The next day, saying good bye and flying back to Columbus with about two or three hours of delay (because the crew was late...) and wondering until the last minute how I would get back from Columbus to Athens because all my five or six potential options for a ride did not work out. Gladly, the wardrobe of three out of five OU students does exclusively consist of OU attire, so that I could easily  identify and recruit people to take me back home with them.

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