On Friday, our last day, we headed up the coast another two hours to Salem. The unexpected bonus of that choice was the weather. Zero chance of rain there all day. It was raining everywhere else.
We began our Salem tour with the House of Seven Gables. I hadn't mentioned anything about the secret staircase to the boys, so that was a fun moment during the tour. Pictures aren't allowed in the House of Seven Gables, but you can see it and the hidden staircase in this article.
The article verified my memory that the last time I did this tour, we only looked at the staircase. This time we climbed up and got to see the secret room that has only this year been open as part of the tour.
After our tour, we got a few recommendations and with permission to leave our van parked at the Gables due to it being off season (story of our whole vacation) we walked to town to find some lunch and visit a few sights. It was warm enough that we all left our jackets in the van. So there!
We ate lunch at the Scratch Kitchen. Homemade pickles, delicious sandwiches and Brian and I both ordered up - you guessed it - fish tacos. Our waiter was a vibrant and trendy young man, who had the silver hair going on with a spot of color in the front, a few funky piercings, arms that he threw out with a flourish when suggesting or describing a dish and camouflage shorts that were so tight our Mark leaned over to us at one point and whispered, very concernedly, "I'm afraid his pants will rip if he bends over." The bacon and Parmesan home made fries he suggested were wonderful, as was everything. I was tempted to go back again for dinner.
I'd been to Salem before, and remembered from that time and was further reminded during my Google searches - that a lot of what Salem offers in regards to the witch trials and tourism, are not worth the money that they shill. When I'm learning and experiencing history, I prefer to find those experiences and exhibits that really put us into the moment and have us feeling what that time in history was really like.
I really appreciated this memorial designed and built right alongside the cemetery. This wasn't here the last time I went through, having been dedicated in August of 1992.
If it were up to me, I'd have all cemeteries placed by peaceful lakes and wooded trails and not butted up against buildings holding their very own wax likenesses, but that's me.
That all being said, and wanting the boys to learn a little of the history - after much research (I am a Laakso, after all) and having that research backed up with local recommendations - we decided that the Witch Dungeon would be one that we'd plunk our cash on. The tour began with a short play presented in the most darling of small theaters while we sat in what felt like our old church pews. Pictures were allowed during this presentation, but I was so caught up in it - I didn't take a single one. I was also enjoying Mark's wide eyes while he was nipping on his fingernails. Already worth the cost. The narrator explained the time frame, mood and the act that followed very well, and the boys followed along with interest.
After the play, she took us to the dungeon. While not the original dungeon, it was a well done replica, complete with a beam from the original beam on display that we were welcome to touch. Others, she said - with an eye roll, have touched it and claimed that they felt spirits, saw spirits, and some even said that they gave birth or got pregnant due to touching it. This was the part of spring break that Brian relayed to his class during post break share time. I think how he said it was that some claimed if you touch the beam, you'd give birth. He got the giggles then when telling me that one of the class hams raised his arms and shouted - INSTANT BIRTH!
I was just relieved that he shared that rather than our trip to Wacky Streakingville as mentioned a few posts down.
Brian, our one who always begs to go on haunted house tours claiming that they wouldn't be scary, couldn't WAIT to get out of the dungeon. Again, worth the money.
The other sight we chose in Salem was The Witch House. This was the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, and is billed as the only structure still standing that has direct ties to the 1692 Witch Trials. The online reviews were very mixed. While it had one of the highest ratings of the town's offerings, it rated higher when a tour guide walked the guests through and much lower when it was a self guided tour. Knowing this, we went in with the attitude of - we'll only pay if it's a guided tour! Once there, we weakened and paid anyway based on someone's review on the way out the door. I've got mixed feelings on this one. I would have loved a guided tour that offered a bit more insight and history, but I did enjoy the bits that I took the time to read.
Seen on our way out of town. We walked about 5,000 steps going from one side of the town all the way to the other and back.
It's probably obvious that we don't kick our feet up much on our vacations.