Next stop... Burlington MA at a very nice Hyatt House hotel to spend a few days relaxing, visiting, shopping before moving just a few miles up the road to Lowell MA for race weekend. My accommodations at the Hyatt House were spacious - a separate bedroom, living room, eating area, full kitchen - and within walking distance of several restaurants, Starbucks, some shopping. I should be quite comfortable here for the next 4 days.
Tuesday morning I drove just a few miles up Route 3 to visit with an old friend of mine, a woman I'd met when I joined the faculty at the U. Mass College of Health Professions in Lowell. She was the same age, had a son who, like my son, was 4 years old at the time, and we hit it off immediately. Her family and mine did almost everything together on the weekends. But I'd only seen her once or twice since I moved away to Texas in 1990. Both of our lives had changed significantly over those years. We'd both remarried, we'd both retired, we'd both seen our sons move far away.
She prepared a lovely lunch for us - beef kabobs on the grill, big tossed salad, rice, and homemade apple crisp for dessert. We chatted for hours and could have continued to do so had I not needed to get back to the hotel to beat the horrific rush hour traffic on 128 in Burlington. I stopped at a grocery store, the same one I used to shop at when I lived in town decades ago, and then headed south on Highway 3 toward Burlington and my hotel.
Wednesday morning early, I jumped in the car and drove out to Gardner MA, on the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) to meet a motorcycle friend for lunch at the Gardner Ale House. She lives in Vermont and Gardner seemed just about right for a meet in the middle. We had a nice lunch and nice visit and then I mentioned to her that I was going to continue on a little bit west on Route 2 to Philipston, to the Red Apple Farm orchards. Was she in? She was!
|Red Apple Farm|
On Thursday I shopped at the LL Bean store across the street from my hotel, making some great purchases and saving myself some sales tax money. It was a cool, wet day, best spent indoors, so I bought a cappuccino at Starbucks, a sandwich at the Pot Belly Sandwich Shop, and brought it all back to my hotel room, where I spent the rest of the day knitting and watching TV.
Time to check out of the Hyatt House and move up the road to Lowell and the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center. I gathered together all of my dirty clothes, a few clean clothes I knew I'd never wear, and most of my purchases from the last few days and stuffed them into my carry-on wheeled tote. There's a UPS Store on my way to Lowell and I stopped there and arranged to have the suitcase boxed and shipped home.
It was still much too early to drive to Lowell and check in to the hotel...it's only 15 miles away and it's not even lunchtime yet. So I exited the UPS Store parking lot and drove across the street to the Burlington Mall. Now this really brings back memories!! I even remembered where most of the major anchor stores were and where best to park to be near the best mall entrance. Some things are just never forgotten!!
There's a CVS store here and I needed to make a purchase, then walked out into the mall area to find the Talbots Petites store. I bought a couple of nice long-sleeve tops and had the store ship them home to me - they ship at no charge! On the way back to the escalator I passed a Lindor chocolate shop and stepped inside. So many truffle flavors I've never seen before! So of course I had to buy 1/2 pound of mixed truffles, all flavors I've never tasted.
I simply could not find other ways to kill time so got back in the car and drove up to the Inn in Lowell and hoped they'd let me check in. But they wouldn't. My room wasn't ready yet. I left the car there and headed out on foot in search of a late lunch. I found it at Wings over Lowell, a not-too-bad chicken wings place that was cheap enough and convenient.
After lunch I continued down Market Street to the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center where I picked up a park map and then watched the 20 minute film about the history of the mills in Lowell. Lowell is the home of the industrial revolution in the United States, being the first city to industrialize and automate a manufacturing process. Francis Cabot Lowell brought the power loom across the ocean to Lowell and a city grew up around it.
|Lower Falls canal|
|One of the wooden locks on the lower falls canal|
With map in hand, I left the visitor center and strolled along some of the canals that crisscross through the city. The series of canals and locks control water that feeds into the canals from the Merrimack River. Lowell sits on a portion of the river that drops down a series of rapids, the perfect place to tap into that rapid flow to provide power to the textile mills that sprang up along the river.
I returned to the hotel and they finally had my room ready. It was suppertime, so I placed my things in my room and returned to the hotel restaurant for dinner.
The next morning - Saturday - I drove to the Radisson Hotel in Chelmsford to visit the race expo and pick up my race packet. I was surprised that packet pickup was in the next town, not in downtown Lowell, but it did force me to get up and get moving.
|Packet pickup at the Radisson Hotel in Chelmsford|
The Boott Mills:
Here's a photo of the mill yard today, and a photo of the plaque showing what the mill yard looked like in the 1880's. Not much difference!
|Mill yard today|
|Mill yard photo from 1880's|
The boarding houses for the girls who worked the mills:
|Corner of Boardinghouse Park|
|Lowell National Park Gateway - at Boardinghouse Park|
Tomorrow: Race day in Lowell