So yes, I said the 'Other Innsmouth'. For those not in the know, HPL based
his description of Innsmouth on Gloucester, as well as the nearby port of
Newburyport. I wasn't originally planning on going to Newburyport, but
as I said, I had a random desire to drive so I went ahead and did it.
Drove through various towns in Essex, if I'd had more time and more of a plan
I'd have stopped at various museums I passed, along with various cool old
buildings. Next time (and yes there will be a next time) I'll have to
make more stops.
Got to Newburyport, and I got an odd vibe. Not bad, but definitely more
touristy and 'hipsterish' than Innsmouth Prime. Drove around a bit,
stopped to find some lunch and a bookstore, found the bookstore but
nothing lunchy. Pulled out the Shining Trapezohedron and tried to find a
place that didn't charge $20 for a basic cheeseburger. I was not successful.
I widened the search and found a place on the way back that looked tasty,
didn't use ingredients that I had to google, and was reasonably priced.
So I turned back around and found the Choate Bridge Pub. Your basic
local place. Got a burger than was perfectly cooked and tasty, fries were
good, and the service was great. Definitely worth the driving. Then I
decided to go visit yet another Innsmouth...
In the story 'Shadow Over Innsmouth', HPL doesn't say exactly where the
town is, but he gives a lot of clues. There's a river, it's near Newburyport
and Rowley, it's past Plum Island by some amount, and there's marshland.
And I've spent more than a little time on Google Maps trying to puzzle out
a location. And as luck would have it, I'm just a smallish drive from
the location. So I decide to see if I can get there. So I drive down
winding roads, and some nice views of the water...and my GPS says it's
right ahead...and there's a sign saying 'No thru traffic, private' and a
security guard/suit. Now it could just be a private community, or Innsmouth
could have some secrets it wants to keep, even from a cultist like me.
So I decided discretion is the better part of valor, so I turned around and
drove a bit away to a public beach. Could see part of the community, but
not much. Was a really nice view of the water, I will neither confirm or
deny the presence of shapes in the water. Also, keeping the location to
my self. First Oath of Dagon all that jazz *wink*
From there I headed down to Manchester-by-the-Sea for another bookstore
that came well recommended. I also met a very friendly dog and his family.
Gave pets, then said something about 'Ok, your Mom has places to go' and she
came back with 'Oh no, we go on his schedule'. So more petting was had.
*laugh* From the bookstore I headed back to the hotel, and had a quiet
night of book, snacks, and early to bed. I had to be up early next
day to go sailing.
When last I went to Innsmouth, I had just gone through the tour of the
Sargent House. The rain had let up, so I headed back towards Main Street.
I stopped at two stores, first an antique place with lots of books. Lots
of books and knickknacks and stuff, in little to no order. So I spent
a lot of time shuffling around, skimming titles on spines hoping I'd catch
a keyword or author name or something. Was fun, if a little crazy. The
books were randomly placed, nothing by subject. I'm sure I missed some
treasures because my booksenses were overwhelmed by the chaos. Picked
up a couple of books and some antique postcards. Then I went further down
the block and visited Dogtown Book Shop. Wow. Bookshelves groaning with
books, piles of books on the floor. Books everywhere. Unlike the antique
shop, they were organized. But the shop itself was a maze of shelves and
nooks and stuff. Some logically, as all the histories were next to each
other. Some made sense as 'well yes, after mysteries you could stick
sci-fi/fantasy/horror all together...in the back of the shop...with the least
light'. And some were just...best example,
The erotica section was further into the back than scifi and friends, and
behind part of the wall that jutted out. So pretty much you had to know
where it was, or were willing to venture deep into the book-abyss to stumble
upon it. Was a lot of fun to browse (the store in general, I only gave the
erotica a passing glance), but I was more than a little claustrophobic
and terrified I'd knock over a stack of books and start an apocalypse. Found
some good books, again pretty sure I missed stuff, possibly a gateway to
The Library on Celaeno. Definitely liked the hours on the door 'x to x, unless
the proprietor feels otherwise.'
There was more to see and do in town, but I felt a weird urge to take a road
trip. So I hopped in the rental, set the GPS and went cross Essex county
to...the Other Innsmouth.
Friday dawned early. I'd left the balcony door open, and the curtains pulled,
and my room faced directly to the east. Not that there was much of a dawn,
it was a gray, overcast day. But still enough to wake me up early. Got
up, got ready and headed back into Innsmouth proper. I'd looked up parking
online, and found a place kind of center. Seemed a better idea to pay for
a day's parking vs trying to find parking as I moved around, plus more
fun to walk through the old streets and houses. So I did.
There was no plan as I went. I wanted to go to the harbor, and I had some
landmarks, and stores I wanted to visit, but I just went as the mood and
feet took me. Had breakfast at a crowded little diner called 'Sugar
Magnolia'. Omelet (big chunks of tomato and bacon in it), potatoes and
toast. Went from there to 'The Bookstore of Gloucester', which was a small
but nice little shop with new books. As it my habit, I picked up a book
about local history, and some postcards/art cards. Also met the store
pup, Finn. A little snow white...something. Cute guy, gave me a sniff,
got his pettings, then took his human out to pee (he peed, not the human...
I think). I then walked to the harbor, stared out at the water for a long
while (I did that a lot this trip). Saw the memorial to all the fishermen
who'd died over the years. All the names that are known are written down,
going back centuries, up until the 2000s. It's humbling.
On a lighter note, the various kinds of gulls around were yelling at each
other, different calls. Really sounded like they were cursing each other out.
After the harbor, I walked up though the town going towards one of the
landmarks, the Esoteric Order of Dagon Hall (or American Legion Post #3, if
you believe in such things). I would say of what I learned there, but I am
bound by the Second Oath. Oddly, there's also a statue of Joan of Arc across
the street, a memorial to those who fought in WWI. What's funny, I only
just realized it was Joan of Arc. I was distracted I guess. From there
I went The Sargent House, one of the original fancy homes in town. Old
Georgian mansion, which is always a good excuse to get out of the drizzle.
The house was built for a Judith Sargent Stevens Murray in 1782, she one
was of the early feminists. I showed up just as a tour was starting, so
I joined in. Beautiful house, lots of portraits on the walls, very cool
furniture, and my fellow tour takers were big art and history nerds from
NJ, so they asked tons of questions I didn't think to ask. Some books on
display, including a family bible that was epic in size. Of course, it
could have also been the Necronomicon, but I wasn't willing to risk it.
Historians will have your arm off for offenses like that. If you're in
the area, I highly recommend visiting. The tour takes about an hour, and
it's worth it. I wonder if the local bus driver comes here a lot...
I'm cutting Friday off here because I've been writing for almost 2 hours, and
I'm running out of tentacles. Tune in next time for stories of me
semi-randomly going to another Innsmouth, wandering around Essex environs, and
maybe actually finding where my port of dreams is...
I headed back to the hotel, stopping by a local grocery store (Not, sadly
of the First National Chain), and picked up snacks. My hotel room had a
kitchenette with a fridge, so I got some fruit and cheese along with soda and
chips and cookies. I read for a while til dusk set it, then I went for a
walk along the private (to hotel guests and people living in the houses in
the immediate area.) Sandy beach, like what I grew up with, but with a lot
of small/mid sized rocks, well water worn. I'm not sure if that's fill,
or that's what was original there and they brought in sand, or what. After
a while, I stopped, picked a memorable spot to stow my socks and shoes. got
rid of them, and walked down to the surf.
Ye gods and little fishies, it was COLD. I grew up swimming in the Atlantic, but that was a few hundred miles south, and usually later in the year...and oh yeah, not in the evening *laugh* Still, wow. But once the initial shock wore off, and my bones stopped trying to shrink around the pin in my ankle, it felt
good. First 1/3rd of my life was spent within easy distance of the ocean,
and I miss it. And it felt like I'd come home. I've been to the Atlantic a
few times since I moved to Texas, twice in the last few years. But this is
the first time I let myself to be in the water, even if it was only up to
my calves. Oh, part of me wanted to go swimming. But the wiser part of me
remembers that I'm not a great swimmer, that the water was bloody cold, and
that swimming at night can be dangerous. Especially if you don't know
the water. So ignored the siren call and just stood there. Well, not just
stood. I was reminded that even in shallow water like I was in, the Atlantic
will move you around. Water flowing over feet will pull sand from under you,
and suddenly you're in a hole with an unexpected swelling knocking you over.
So think of it as half trancing out to the sound of waves and the feel of
water, and half Irish step dancing as you try to keep balance. I could
feel all the negative feelings I'd had the last few months drain out.
Stress, sadness, anger...all pulled out. I don't care what you believe
or don't believe, in moments like that you realize why people have always
loved, worshiped and feared the ocean, often all at once. Been a long
time since I felt that peaceful about anything.
Stayed out there for a while, eventually decided that the cold was winning
out, so I came back on land (with some regrets), listened to the waves
for a while longer, then decided the mosquitoes that ignored me in the
surf, decided I was fair game on land. So I beat a retreat for for hotel
room, where I hid behind a mesh screen and read, finally going to bed
with the ocean singing to me live, instead of from the white noise generator
playing a recording of the ocean.
I don't recall if I dreamed (any of the nights I was in Innsmouth), but
I haven't slept that soundly in forever.
Innsmouth is a town of wide extent and dense construction…(Ok, yes I know
it’s Gloucester, but this is my blog, and from here on out it’s getting called
Innsmouth). Lots of older homes and buildings, some new stuff that fits in,
and some stuff that just plain looks weird. The main streets are like
most any street USA, but if go down the side streets it gets kind of…
cramped. Especially since parking is at a premium, so everyone parks at
the curb if possible. Got turned around a bunch, (a common theme) but
finally made it to The Pilot House, which is a strange but cool mix of
American bar food, and Chinese and Japanese Food. I went for the sushi,
my usuals, plus a appetizer that was a mix of spicy tuna, avocado, and rice
with eel sauce, deep fried, with more eel sauce on top. (I’m a huge fan
of the sauce they put on freshwater eel sushi, so this was just heaven)
The waitress was
very friendly and attentive (and pretty darn cute too, nice big eyes), and the food was great. Lots of locals came in to grab take out orders, also a good
sign. I left with leftovers and a very contented stomach.
Ok, if I don't start writing the tale of Innsmouth, I'll just keep putting
it off. So, here, we, go!
The airport and the flight out were not much to speak of. Well other than
I thought I was getting a plane full of college kids who looked like they
were going on spring break. Got major 'Final Destination' vibes, but
luckily they were going to Cancun. I spent the flight reading, William
Meikle's 'Operation: Siberia' and bits and pieces of other stuff. Got
to Logan that afternoon, took a very crowded shuttle to the car rental.
Got upgraded to a sedan (they were out of compacts)...and I found out that
these new fangled autos are smarter than me. I literally spent 5 minutes
trying to figure out how to start a push button starting system. Including
Googling the url they gave me for car instructions...it's a year or two out
of date. The nice lady though took pity on me and told me to hold the
brake down. The more I use consumer electronics, the more I understand how
Mom felt. That and if it doesn't have a CLI, it sucks. *wink*
So I fired up my phone's GPS, and headed out into Boston traffic. Within
3 minutes I was cursing to make my New Yorker brethren proud. Soon after
that I was gesturing like a native. Miss a LOT of turns because Boston
is laid out like any city that's grown organically for 4 centuries. (I
just will not drive in London. Ever. I've heard stories) I finally got
on the road I wanted, the 1A which parallels the Atlantic. Windows down,
sea breeze smell, the call of seagulls over an audiobook of 'The Call of
Cthulhu'. I was happy. And cursing much less. The drive took about 2
hours, with a short stop in Salem to check out a bookstore. (shocking, I
know). Got to my hotel north of Gloucester (by about 5 miles), signed in,
got an actual key, not a magnetic keycard like everywhere I've been in
recent memory, and went up to my room.
The room itself had nothing really eye catching...well other than the view
out over the Atlantic. WOW! Surf, a nice wind coming in, just what the
Doctor ordered. (West, Herbert west). Unpacked, stared a lot at the water,
finally decided that if I didn't eat fairly soon, I'd be snacking on a
beachgoer. So I pulled up my map, and picked a place and drove back into
Well, as of about 4:30 CDT, I went into vacation mode. Work notifications
are muted, I had a fairly busy day of getting things done, or assigning tasks
to other people for when I get back. Also one of my pals at Carcosa is
leaving, so me and my fellow admin took him out to lunch. Busy busy cultist
I also woke up about 2 hours early. Since I still had packing to do, this
ended up being a good thing. Redid the packing, did some around the house
stuff, and went to work an hour early. Came home, watched 'Dagon', did
some more packing foo, ate dinner. Thinking I'm going to hit the showers
soon, then bed with book and early to sleep. Have to be up earlier than
normal tomorrow for the fun and games of airport security. I won't be
blogging while I'm gone, like the last couple of trips I'm not bringing
a computer (or a tablet, just my phone and kindle). I'll probably ramble
on Facebook though, I usually do. Then back from Innsmouth on Sunday.
So wish me safe travels, well stocked bookstores, friendly Deep Ones and
fine seas. I'll try to not make the change early and swim down to
Y'ha-nthlei...but if they've gotten internet you landlubbers may be out
of luck *wink*
Been a while since I posted on an actual blog. Part of the problem is I can't
just open a term window and post to wordpress, like I used to do on
Livejournal. Those were the good ol days. There are tools, but they're
way overpowered, have weird access, and well...I'm just paranoid enough
to worry about installing strange php scripts on servers. (Yes, I'm talking
So what's been going on ? I've had some crazy mood/anxiety issues. I'm
fighting it, but I'm very tired of fighting. So I'm trying a kind of
Iä Cthulhu play, and taking a short vacation this coming week. Flying up to
Boston, and from there driving north to Gloucester. Or as I call it,
Innsmouth. Grandpa Theobald based his depiction of Innsmouth on Gloucester
and the nearby town of Newburyport. So, I'm going to my city of dreams,
see the 'Gilman House' and the 'Esoteric Order of Dagon Hall'. I'm also
going sailing around Cape Ann on a schooner, and I'll be spending more than
a little time in my old friend, the Atlantic. Will only be up there 4 days,
but I hope it will be enough to reboot my brainmeats. And if nothing else,
I get to check a few items off the bucket list.
Besides brainmeats and Innsmouth, I've been kind of doing the usual. My
reading has kind of narrowed down to almost all history. Part of that is
coping with mood problems, it's very hard to develop an emotional connection
to things that happened 100/1000/2500 years ago. Which is kind of weird,
as I've been binge watching 'Babylon 5' the last week or so, which is full
of characters I care about. Oh well, it's still fun, even if it's made me
want to cry more than a few times.
Also, I've been playing a lot of chess against the Shining Trapezohedron.
I've always wanted to be a good chess player. I'm not one. But lately I've
found that I can plan further ahead than before. Not much, but enough that
I don't have to play the computer on the utter beginner mode, instead
1 level up for beginner. So far I'm batting .500. Which I'll take, and the
small endorphin pulse I get from a win, or for even fighting a solid loss.
So, long post short, I'm struggling. But I have plans, and tools, and I'll
keep on trying. Hopefully it won't a month and a half before I post again.