Apr 29

Tales from the Edge of America – Day 4

by Paul in Tales from the Edge of America

A cold start to the day in Mystic, the damp Connecticut air crept into the bones. ‘The weather’s not usually like this,’ said my host Guy as he peered into the murk, ‘but then when you go to most places, people say “it’s not usually like this” there, too.’

The Charles W Morgan, the only surviving whaling ship. Guy pointed it out on the banks of the Mystic river where it’s currently undergoing extensive renovations funded by Mystic Seaport, the largest maritime museum in the US. It first set sail in 1841 and was much more than a ship; it was a factory too, where sailors would harvest whale blubber and barrel the oils. It was a necessary deed in the 19th century, when lamps required oil and the advent of petroleum was still decades away.

I asked Guy if we could take a closer look, so he led the way through the streets to back gates of the drydock; it’s a ferocious beast of a vessel, a huge wooden hulk that carries the wear and tear of sailing the world many times over. The museum plans for it be be seaworthy again one day – although the investment required will be substantially more, the museum should recoup its investment with when visitors have the opportunity to set sail on board.

There were gales whipping through the streets of Boston when I arrived. I only spent on hour there while I waited for my transfer to Portland, but there was enough time to walk to the harbour while attempting not to be blown across the Atlantic.

Here’s a 360 panoramic view from outside South Station, Boston. I also had a play with Viddy to upload a short video as the bus left the city.

Once I arrived in Portland I met up with Michelle, the owner of The Green Hand Bookshop. What I didn’t know was that tucked away in the backroom of the book shop was the International Cryptozoology Museum.

The museum is curated by Loren Coleman, who has spent decades scouring the globe for artifacts, sculptures and paintings that celebrate the beasts and creatures found at the fringes of our scientific understanding.

Great American hoaxes are showcased and debunked alongside genuine studies and expeditions into the existence of black cats and Sasquatch. It’s a colourful, Fortean world of sideshows, curiosity and superstition that both scares and delights in equal measure.

A final, surreal twist in my tour of Portland – a section of the Berlin Wall down by the waterfront. Obviously.

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