Since this is our first family trip to Plymouth, MA we decided to make the most of our first day in town. Plymouth holds a great deal of meaning to me since my ancestry dates back to the Mayflower. I find it exciting to step where my forefathers have and equally exciting to see the place where the Pilgrims chose to found their colony after arriving in America on board the Mayflower.
To start off the day we visited Plimoth Planation. Yes I know I spelled it with an “i”; it’s not a typo. One of the things was noticed right away was the difference in spelling used; the variation Plimoth is used in the plantation and Plymouth is used for the spelling of the town and famous Rock. We learned that various documentation show the town’s spelling differed based on who was writing it. During the 1620’s the governor most commonly referred to the colony as Plimoth.
The route of the self-guided tour starts outside and leads you down a wooded pathway that follows along the banks of Eel River to the Wampanoag Homesite. This part of the exhibit features the Wampanoag people. These Natives were already living here in the 1600s when the Pilgrims landed. I enjoyed watching the boys faces and listening to their inquisitive questioning about the Wampanoag’s clothing. It was very interesting to watch the men of the village carve a canoe and the women cook a turkey over an open fire. The boys were fascinated with wood structured homes.
The path leads you to the craft center next; you can watch demonstrations of colonial pottery making or design of headdresses of the natives. My oldest son enjoyed looking out the window and watching the bee hives. When you exit the building there is an outdoor seating area perfect for taking a break and watching the beautiful scenery.
As you enter the colony, the first major building is The Fort. The fort is a two-story building; the first floor was used as a meeting hall, place for religious services and courthouse. The upstairs is a large open room with six cannons facing out each wall. I think this was the boy’s favorite exhibit. It was also one of my favorites because the view was remarkable.
After leaving the fort you enter the village. You can enter each house, which are very small and simple. I would have liked to go in to each home if my threenager and toddler weren’t more preoccupied with chasing the chickens. You will find the town’s people going about their daily chores; cooking, sewing, crafting and farming. It’s a lot of fun to see the actors stay in character as they share their personal stories of coming to America and settling into the new land.
We headed back to the main building for lunch. I was excited that the cafeteria serves historically accurate meals so you can sample recipes the pilgrims used as well as the Wampanoag.
Next we headed back to the hotel for a much needed nap time. After waking up refreshed we decided to head down to the Mayflower II Replica. We booked our hotel in a prime location so we didn’t have to worry about parking and could just walk in a few short minutes to the harbor. The walk along the bay is quite breath taking too.
The Mayflower II Replica is a full-scale reproduction of the Mayflower ship, which brought the Pilgrims from England across the Atlantic Ocean to this harbor in 1620. As you walk along the dock there are a variety of exhibits that share information about the history of the ship and its passengers. There was even a tiny boat for kids step into and raise a sail. Much like the plantation it is a self guided tour. I find the enactors to be very interesting, I love listing to stories about the journey. The kids found their accents to be silly. I enjoyed hearing the story about the two mothers who gave birth to baby while at sea. I can’t image having a baby on a boat. Can you image having morning sickness and seasickness all at the same time?
This wooden ship was only 25 feet wide and 106 feet long wooden ship and originally only meant for supplies. It’s hard to imagine that they crammed 102 passengers and 26 crewmembers aboard the Mayflower. Not to mention they needed room for supplies, food and livestock. It is truly a testament of patience, faith and conviction for these families to brave such horrible conditions in their journey to an unknown land.
Next we walked over to view Plymouth Rock. It was nostalgic to have an eye witness and snap a few pictures. The boys are more interested in playing with rocks than looking at them so we didn’t stay to long at this monument. Little do they know how impressive it is; looks can be deceiving.
For more information on the places we visited today go to: www.plimoth.org