Tuesday

Welcome to "Travels With Nathaniel"!

Hi, my name is Nathaniel, you might remember me from such great literary works as "A Scarlet Letter", "The House of the Seven Gables", and "Twice Told Tales". I was born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts back on July 4th, 1804 and made my home here for quite a few years before I went off to Bowdoin College in Maine, got married to the love of my life, Sophia (okay, so it took me eight years to screw up the courage to do the whole marriage thing but a man must be sure of his intentions when it comes to the monumental choice of which beautiful flower he shall spend the rest of his days on earth with, am I not correct?), had three terrific kids, became a great writer, and rubbed elbows with the likes of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and Franklin Pierce who eventually went on to become a United States President. I even got to meet the great President Abraham Lincoln at the start of our nation's horrible Civil War, an experience which I wrote about in my essay "Chiefly About War Matters" in 1862.

All in all, I had a pretty good, fulfilling life even though that blasted Edgar Allan Poe writer from Baltimore was a bit harsh in a few of his critiques calling my writings "peculiar" rather than "original" before turning around and then calling me, "... one of the few men of indisputable genius to whom our country has as yet given birth". Talk about being able to wield a sword that cut both ways; his literary critiques could often be the equivalent of lying strapped beneath that giant pendulum of which he wrote once!

However, I guess that's really neither here nor there as eventually I died just like everyone does. If memory serves, I shuffled off this mortal coil during my sleep, of all things, in May of 1864 while I was on a tour of the White Mountains of New Hampshire with my old friend Franklin - talk about a lousy way to end a vacation! That old codger Bronson Alcott had said I was too ill to travel but I assumed he was just being a talkative blowhard as he had a tendency to be on so many occasions, such a tedious neighbor he was when Sophie and I lived next door at The Wayside in Concord. Lord how that man could talk! How were I to know that he was right for a change and I really was too sick to travel?

Even though I had been having stomach issues for awhile, suffering from what certainly couldn't have been more than major indigestion, I feel I was way too young to have met my demise at only 60 years of age while I still had several other romance stories in the works that were never going to make it to the publisher in Boston; it just didn't seem fair, especially considering I had so much more to see and do! I had great plans to travel around with my beloved Sophia once I managed to retire from my life as a writer, but I was so tied to my quill and desk as I scratched ink across parchment, writing things in order to pay the bills and try to work out those damned inner demons of mine, that I never had the chance! Sophie and I had talked about visiting some of the more interesting towns and sites nearby but alas, the cold hand of death reached out and snatched me away before I ever had that opportunity. I once wrote, "Our Creator would never have made such lovely days, and have given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above and beyond all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal" but it seems I was gravely wrong!


After mouldering in my grave on a Concord hillside, quaintly called "Author's Ridge" being as that I was surrounded by several other literary geniuses, but located in a rather more dismal and depressing looking place one would be hard-pressed to find no matter how far they looked, with a rather puny gravestone that hardly befit a great author like myself, for quite a long time, I thought, "Wouldn't it be grand to recapture my youth and go back as a younger man to see some of the places that I missed along the way?"  Why, I had even overheard some people visiting my sad graveside talking about a marvelous hotel in my old hometown of Salem that was named for me as I am apparently quite well known as the "Local Boy Makes Good" around there. I surmised that a hotel named after myself would make the perfect place to stay during the course of my travels and perhaps even beyond as truth be told, it gets damned cold just lying in a grave during the cold Massachusetts winters and there's nary a fire to warm my cold bones by like I've heard tell is in the Tavern of the Hawthorne Hotel! Additionally there was talk of a grand statue of myself within view of the restaurant at the hotel also named for me - "Nathaniel's".  What better name for a restaurant can there be? I can think of none other!

Unfortunately, when I put my plan in motion to return to Salem (the details of which I shall let you guess for yourselves), take up residency at the hotel that was named for myself, and start traveling the local countryside, I didn't realize that I could only return as a rather stiff 4-inch fellow who could barely lift his arms and not move his feet at all! Blast! This was almost like something that Washington Irving fellow from Sleepy Hollow or even Edgar Allan Poe himself might write about in one of their highly-imaginative stories! However, being a rather clever and resourceful person myself, I decided that things so trivial as small size or barely-moving appendages were not going to stop me from seeing some of the sights within a day's travel of my namesake hotel.  Having slept in the cold ground for way too many years, I vowed that I would spend the rest of my nights in a fine hotel instead and I was certain that I could easily get around using the new modern conveniences of the automobile, train, and ferry if need be. I simply needed a traveling companion who wouldn't mind carting around my miniature self to the places that I wanted to see.

Fortunately for me locating such a person was not difficult at all, and I soon found myself traversing the countryside not far from Salem, returning each night to rest comfortably beneath the roof of the hotel that bears my name ... the Hawthorne Hotel ... a better choice of name could not have been found I'm sure! As I spent so much of my previous life writing and not entirely enjoying the moments at hand, I persuaded my traveling companion to be the one to do the writing about our journeys (even though I'm the one carrying a quill) so that we would have a record of the places that we have journeyed to, as well as taking photographs of the places that we have seen. I have been along for, as they now say, "the ride" and fine rides indeed they are! Getting around the countryside has become so much easier than it was back in my day and I am so thoroughly enjoying my travels that I even allow myself to be photographed near some of the wonderful sites that we have seen in the hopes that perhaps someday I can share the tales and pictures of my travels with my Sophia should she ever choose to stop with that eternal slumber rubbish.  Unfortunately it seems that in all of the photographs, I hold the same expression regardless of where we may be but please believe me when I say that I am having the time of my life ... or perhaps I should say my afterlife!


As it seemed selfish to keep my travels to myself, we have decided to share with you - dear reader - some of the places that myself and my traveling companion have been and the things that we have seen.  As I am a historical figure and my hotel is a historical one, we have traveled to many historical areas and here in the pages of this blog (certainly something we never dreamed of in our wildest imaginations back in my day when it would take Tichnor & Fields forever just to publish a small book of stories!), I hope that you will find a few places that you would like to visit before you end up mouldering away on your own Author's Ridge wondering why no one ever thought to buy you a nicer gravestone or at least planted some grass?

At the top of this page you will see a list of pages from which to choose - "Suggested Stops" is a list of the places that I have been which are all lovely day trips from my namesake hotel - consult that page to get an idea of where you might like to travel to yourself and then read all about it; "Helpful Links" are just that - links that will help you plan your travels and not directions to the local golf course; "Scenery" is where you'll find some of the photos that my traveling companion and writer couldn't fit into our travel chronicles but still wanted to put somewhere; "About" tells you a little more about this blog; and "The Hawthorne Hotel" takes you directly to the website for my hotel where you, yourself, can stay and enjoy some of the best hospitality on the North Shore while relaxing in comfort and style while enjoying the best that Salem has to offer. Trust me that I tell you the truth when I say that and it's not just because they had the good sense to name the place after myself - after all, dead men tell no tales ... or so they say!

Please remember to check back here occasionally to see what new places I've been to, look around the blog a bit, leave a comment or two if you'd like - especially if you have any suggestions that would be helpful for future travelers - then start traveling on your own by first making reservations to stay at my hotel and then taking a trip or two or three through the history that can be found nearby Salem and the Hawthorne Hotel - preferably before you, too, are only 4-inches tall with feet that don't move!

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