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Mystic Seaport in Four Hours (cont.)
Mystic, Connecticut

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NHS

The Seaside Village is a trim summary of the artisan buildings that might be located in a 19th century seaport. Some are interpreted, some self-guided, each moved and refurbished to its unique purpose. There's a stone bank, a print shop, a fire house, a shipsmith, a cooperage with resident cooper making barrels. It's greatly compartmentalized for kids, laid out like a game board and surrounded by the trades that are critical to shipbuilding -- ropework, a chandelry, and more. 

NHS

Growing up, we New Hampshire kids all went to Sturbridge Village in nearby Massachusetts. Mystic was too far, but this area brings back memories of those childhood tours. Here we're inside the 19th century office of the Mystic Press. The difference is that, out the windows here are the constant reminders of the sea -- centered on the 1841 whaling ship Charles Morgan docked just outside this window, at the heart of the Mystic museum.  

NHS

Scattered about the campus are educational tidbits, like this fish drying rack complete with dried fish. These details are often the things kids remember best, found objects that feel like treasures.

Mystic

 Our favorite building was the ropewalk. We've seen models and drawings, but this fully operational long, long building clearly shows the process. The spools of twine at this end are twisted mechanically into the strong thick ropes critical in the age of sail. Even if you run through the building and miss the detailed explanations, you get the point.

Mystic

The importance of the ropewalk is apparently aboard the training ship Joseph Conrad directly next door. Here, we learned, is where the kids with the sleeping bags spend the night aboard a real, nonsailing, tall ship. They get to climb a mast, learn sea chanties, all experiences kids will likely remember forever.

Emilios

Sail training begins on these little sailing boats in the shallow part of the nearby river. We had no time to sail, or row, or see Mystic Seapost from a river perspective, but all that is possible for visitors with more than four hours.

Emilios

Another favorite place was below the decks of the last wooden whaling ship Charles W. Morgan. We almost missed this key part of the tour having lingered too long in the extensive museums. But this is where Mystic is most mystical. Although the stench of the whale carcas is gone and the decks are clean and tidy, visitors can here actually feel a sense of the sea. We slipped away from the guides and the kids and the crowds and spent a few prayerful moments here.

Emilios

But the bus was waiting back in the parking lot. so we had to leave the museum of America and the sea -- and return home -- to America and the sea in Portsmouth, NH.  That's not a hard task, but standing on the deck of the old whaling ship made us wonder how anyone who doesn't live around here can go home to anywhere else and breath anything but salt air. 

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Opinions and photos courtesy of J.Dennis Robinson
Text copyright 2002 SeacoastNH.com. All rights reserved.

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