Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Road Trip: Fort Revere and the Tiny Town of Hull

The night before, the weather had been promising. All signs pointed to only a slight chance of rain and only in isolated patches. I made up my mind to go for a ride and went to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, the ground harbored small, but shrinking puddles. I took that as a sign that whatever rain was going to happen had already passed, although the sky was gray and thick with clouds. Throwing on my gear and grabbing my pack for the day, I confidently stepped outside to prep my motorcycle and brought it alongside the house as I finished putting on my helmet and gloves. The moment my visor came down, the first corpulent drop of rain splatters itself all over my field of view. Crap!

Riding in the rain is never much fun. The slicker road conditions mean not only less lean angle and more tire slip, but also crazier drivers who seem to have no clue how to deal with the slightly wet conditions. Add to that the possibility of ending up soaked from being exposed to the elements and you might start to see how the enjoyment can be sucked out almost entirely. Still, on this particular day, traffic was light and it was early enough in the day that I figured things would still be pretty calm by the time I returned. With those thoughts barely having time to fully register, I pressed on to the coastal town of Hull in Massachusetts where the remnants of Fort Revere sit, slowly being worn away by visitors and the ceaseless beating of Mass weather.

As I got further from home, it became clear that the rain was not going to abate. If anything, it felt like it was getting worse with each passing minute. What started out as a few sporadic obese drops turned into a full-on storm with moderate to heavy rain. My gear, luckily, was doing a great job of keeping me warm and dry. Even my gloves, which were the most exposed part of my person, were staying nice and toasty because of my heated grips. So despite the weather, I pressed on.

The road to Hull felt particularly depressing in the stormy conditions. Passing through several towns along the way that felt old, abandoned, and somewhat run down tended to dampen the mood more than weather. Still, the sight of open water raised my spirits somewhat as seeing the ocean always reminds me of home. I press on, past sleepy seaside bungalows and tiny waterfront cottages, the rain incessant against my visor. Finally, as I cross the small isthmus that connects the fort to the mainland, a tower rises up towards the sky from the highest point.

As I reach the fort, set atop a hill with expansive views of the surrounding waters, I circle around the location, trying to get an understanding of the environs. The pace of development is obvious as homes have crept right up the edge of the park that now surrounds the fort. Weary eyes peer out from behind curtains, cautiously observing me, the stranger in their midst. As I pull around to the west side, around the back of the fort, I spy the entrance to the fort's underground bunker. Curiosity gets the better of me and I park the bike, exploring for a bit on foot. The unlit bunker is pitch black inside, daylight unable to penetrate due to the lack of any windows. Lacking proper lighting, and with the bike sitting out in the still driving rain, I decide against proceeding further into the inky depths, opting instead to explore the fort's above ground tenements.

Situating the Beemer in the parking area between the tower and the fort itself, I am able to walk around the slowly crumbling brick and concrete structure. Graffiti artists of all kinds have turned Fort Revere into their own personal canvas, decorating it with images depicting everything from ships to aliens to princesses. The outsides of the structures are largely decorated in monochome, but inside the structures, the faded brick walls have been painted up with all manners of colors. Without another soul in sight, the walk through the fort, my footsteps echoing off the garrishly decorated walls, is eerie. One can imagine that during the days when the fort was in use, soldiers running around, keeping a watchful eye over the Massachusetts coastline and making preparations for a pending battle. Now, the structures sit crumbling and neglected, a sad testament to how little we care about our history.

Standing atop the wall, one can easily see for miles in any direction out to sea. Ships heading into and out of Boston's harbor are visible off in the distance while smaller ships dodge traffic as they make their way back to shore. I take a few more minutes to drink in the scenery before deciding that I was tired of the rain and head back to the bike. As I depart, a loan cannon wearily standing guard over the entrance to the park cannot but darken the mood further. This place is a somber reminder that there is so much history in New England that, while they may not have been made famous by large battles, still played a part in the founding of this nation. I cannot help but feel a twinge of sadness knowing that places like this will likely crumble away in near total anonymity.

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