by Philip Greenspun; created 1993-1996
Start in Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod, where you'll learn the truth about the Mayflower. It did not land first in Plymouth but in P-town in 1620. If you've been living a lie as a closeted homosexual, there is no better place to come out than mostly-gay Provincetown. You can sunbathe nude with your new friends among the Cape's most impressive natural feature: the dunes. So important are these dunes that they are protected by the National Park Service so that future generations can enjoy the Cape just as it was when the Pilgrims arrived. A convincing lie; the area was a pine forest until the Pilgrims cut down all the trees, leaving the dried-out soil to be blown into sand dunes.
Nobody can do lies like a politician and nobody can do politics like a Kennedy. Take the boat across to Martha's Vineyard and then a small ferry from Edgartown to Chappaquiddick. Head down to the bridge on Dike Road, where Mary Jo Kopechne died in Ted Kennedy's car. Stay the night in Edgartown, either in Room 56 at the Katama Shores Motor Inn (Mary Jo's) or in the Shiretown Inn (where Ted spent eight hours before reporting the "incident").
Aside from talking about your uncle Ted, the most effective lie you can tell in a New England singles' bar is "I went to Harvard." When you get to Boston, stop in the Harvard Yard so that you can at least say "I went to Harvard... for lunch." Holworthy Hall is where freshman Lothrop Withington, Jr. started the goldfish swallowing fad in 1939. Also, don't forget the walk-through stained-glass globe next to the Mother Church of Christian Science.
Head north to foliage country. If you are reading P.O.V. then you can't be stupid enough to be visiting New England except in the fall. It is too cold in the winter, too hot and mosquito-ridden in the summer. There is no spring; only Mud Season. As you cross into New Hampshire on I-93, look for the massive "Safety Rest Stop/State Liquor Store" on the side of highway. Live Free or Die.
Grab yourself a Michelin Green Guide to New England and work your way through the pine trees of the White Mountains. My college major was math so it took me a few years to realize that pine trees do not change color. That's a good reason to head west into the lower elevations of the small towns and farms of Vermont. If your mate is nagging you with lies like "running makes you fit," stop in Hardwick. Jim Fixx, best selling running author of all time, collapsed and died while running fifty feet north of the Village Motel on US 15. Pick up some honey-dipped bacon egg-yolk donuts with extra lard at Dunkin's (a Boston-based company) before continuing west through the Green Mountains, and over Lake Champlain into the Adirondacks. Follow Route 3 along the shores of Lake Ontario into Oswego, New York, a dream town for any public relations person looking for a challenge. The town contains three nuclear power plants and a concentration camp for Jews.
Stop at the nuclear power station visitor's center to tank up on some new lies, but if you want to correct the ones you learned in high school, visit Fort Ontario. You aren't too far from the Proclamation Line, laid down by the British who gave the Indians jurisdiction to the west of the line and the white settlers jurisdiction to the east. George Washington already claimed 500,000 acres in Ohio and wasn't very happy with this arrangement. Nonetheless, in order to settle the Revolutionary War in 1783, Washington pledged to honor the Proclamation Line. The British held onto a bunch of forts like the one here to ensure that we kept our part of the bargain.
In 1812, the French encouraged us to invade Canada and renounce the Proclamation Line agreement. We thought it would be easy, but got our asses kicked in what turned out to be America's first Vietnam. That's not exactly how it reads in our textbooks, but talk to the professional historians at Fort Ontario. You can also ask them about the Fort's role in 1944 as the U.S.'s only concentration camp for Jews. Roosevelt had resisted taking any Jewish refugees for the entire war, but British pressure finally forced him to admit one boatload of 982 people. They had already escaped the Germans and were living in liberated Italy.
Roosevelt wanted to make sure that these folks never became permanent U.S. residents and imprisoned them in Fort Ontario behind barbed wire, intending to deport them after the war. With Europe in ruins and Palestine closed by the British, there was really nowhere for them to go when the war ended. Thus they stayed behind the barbed wire until 1946 when Harry Truman managed to slip them out during a Congressional recess.
From Oswego, head southwest to Hill Cumorah, just south of the Joseph Smith home in Palmyra. This hill is where Joseph Smith met the Angel Moroni and received the gold plates inscribed with the Book of Mormon. Just about everyone accused Joseph Smith of lying, but he had the last laugh; there is a big visitor center on the site today, complete with a statue of Moroni.
If you can't be a politician but still want to lie 40 hours/week, advertising is a good career choice. Eastman Kodak might have lost the technical lead to Fuji, but they still have the best ads. Stop at George Eastman's house in downtown Rochester with attached photography museum. Ask to see his suicide note: "my work is done".
Head west through the apple orchards along Lake Ontario until you get to Love Canal, once home to 717 families, 43 million pounds of toxic waste, and some big lies, e.g., "Children with three heads are normal." The dump today is a mound of earth between 99th and 97th streets, six miles from downtown Niagara Falls, NY. The government spent more than $250 million cleaning it up.
Niagara Falls represented the end of single life for millions of Americans until the jet airplane dragged all the honeymooners out to Maui. The infrastructure is still there, decaying in an almost charming way. Take a macro lens to Tivoli Miniature World, on the Canadian side. You can get the Kremlin, Easter Island, Mesa Verde, Abu Simbel, and St. Peter's all on the same roll of film and then lie to your friends about your round-the-world trip.
If you are actually planning to take this trip, you may wish to look at the user-contributed Related Links page.
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Text and pictures copyright 1993-1996 Philip Greenspun