Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Cool Places in America~ Salem MA and the Westford Knight

 Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months....

My parents get lots of contracts on the Informational Highway outside of Boston on Rt. 128. One of our favorite places to reside while on the North Shore is Salem. We learned years ago to avoid the witches, they fight among themselves too much. The true magic in the town is the cool Harry Potter Shop and Wynot's Wands, the smuggling tunnels, Mr. Zac, and the story about the Vikings who landed there in 1398!

In 1784, Prince Henry Sinclair was identified by Johann Reinhold Forster[7] as possibly being the Prince Zichmni described in letters allegedly written around the year 1400 by the Zeno brothers of Venice, in which they describe a voyage throughout the North Atlantic under the command of Zichmni.

Zichmni had sailed to America after meeting a sailor who got lost in a storm and ended up in a land far to the west of the Orkney. In this land he told about the various kingdoms of natives, the book written in Latin they had from a previous adventurer, and how the tribes fought over his knowledge of the fishing net. These tails from the sailor inspired Sinclair to sail west with some Vikings and the two Venetian brothers who wrote about the journey.

Prince Henry Sinclair had numerous titles including Roslyn in Scotland. His son William built the fabled Roslyn chapel from the Da'Vinci Code. His family were the hereditary masters of the Templars in Scotland. Haakon V, King of Norway, had bestowed the Earldom of Orkney to Sinclair. By 1401 he disappears from Scottish History. There is no history of his death. Stories of him can be found in Arkham:Tales from the Flipside in the Sinclair Narratives. In the tales he is described as an immortal who has brought the Holy Grail to Salem which later gets stolen by the mysterious Salem East India Museum who has built tunnels throughout the town. Now the true story does not seem any less mysterious...

In 1398 Henry Sinclair sails a fleet of Knarrs and Longships with a crew of Norse and Norse Scottish Vikings. They are sailing with the two Zeno brothers who write down their tale as they search for the fabled Vinland. Vinland was described to have two rivers and two islands in the harbor. First they drop anchor on Oak Island in Nova Scotia and then sail further south to Salem, creating the myths of the great treasure in the Money Pit. Salem also fits the description with the two Misery Island and the North and South Rivers entering into to the hinterland. This was their second venture through the continent. From here they will travel further west to Westford. This is where the knight Sir James Gunn dies, the details lost to history. Today you can still see the stone inscription dedicated to him on Depot Street. His effigy lies on a granite slab.

Just one of many tales of Vikings within New England. Provincetown and Boston also have tales. These tales have inspired the Salem Normal School (Salem State University) to have a Viking as their mascot. I bet you always wondered why they chose that mascot...

Westford Knight

17 Depot St., Westford, MA
I-495 exit 32. Drive west on Boston Rd. When you reach the Westford Common, turn right onto Lincoln St. and continue straight onto Main St. Just past the Roudenbush Community Center bear left onto Depot St. The knight is about a quarter-mile up the street, on the right as the road bends right. It's right on the road, so drive a little further, turn right, and park at the high school.


To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler's latest book "Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida" on It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name.Keep checking back for the best cheap vacations which might just become the best vacation you ever had!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cool Places in America~ Whiting NJ Serial Killer, Jersey Devil, Nudist, Nuclear Accidents, and the Hindenburg in the Pines!

Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months....

The town we stay in while my parents are working on several of the contracts for the "Mad Inventor" in the Pines is called Whiting. A sleepy little town filled with more old codgers, than Florida, has many secrets.

First developed as part of the property owned by General Lacey. One of the General's serving under George Washington. Lacey had owned Lacey Iron Forge and needed miles of woods and ponds to fire his various pig iron stoves and forge. Part of his property was in what is now the Fox Hollow section of Whiting. 21 Lakes, Boy Scout Pond, and Doctor's Pond were used to collect bog iron from. These ponds could be mined for a period of time until you had to let them rest for three years till the bacteria under the peat moss in the ponds could grow new bog iron. So you had to acquire large tracts with several ponds on it to keep mining the bog iron continuously without interruption. This iron was used for household goods and ammunition during the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Later Fox Hollow would become a poultry farm, produce farm, and the location of a clay mining business. The clay mining business ran a donkey engine track off a spur of a railroad turnstile where Civil War soldiers traveling south had to disembark to enter trains utilizing the narrow gauge rails of the south versus the cattle gauge rails we still use today. A donkey engine is a steam powered winch that pulled a copper wire attached to mining carts. One was placed on either end to pull the carts to and fro.

Then in the 1920's Joseph Parisi would acquire the property. He had dreams of creating a city to rival New York City in which he lived outside of in Brooklyn. This city was to have a grand avenue named after Roosevelt with fountains on it (today it remains the only unpaved road in the development). On the original map he laid out places for factories, churches, schools, train stations, homes for the working poor, and the wealthy. He cut out all of the roads and the service roads that would run behind them to be used for deliveries and such. Unfortunately he only sold a few handful of properties and had only three roads lit by gas lamps. One of the few people who purchased 20 acres from him were a couple who were masseuses. They built a resort called Nature's Rest which would serve the nudists that would of disembarked from Lakehurst on the Zeppelins or off the trains from Philadelphia and New York. Many silent film stars would head to the Pines to enjoy its many resorts.  Joe Sullivan even had a Title Bout at Ong's Hat which is 15 minutes away deeper in the woods. They had a hotel, a barn, a waterwheel powered spa, and nature trail for their patrons to enjoy. Many of the ruins still remain. They were neighbors of Parisi in Brooklyn. They also bought shares in the old Manchester Iron Forge.

The Manchester Iron Forge was created in the 1800's and sat on Lake Horicon in what is now Lakehurst. Now Lakehurst is an independent borough siting in the middle of Manchester Twp. Which is funny that the location that the township is named after is no longer called Manchester, but only a 1 mile square doughnut hole within it. The other strange thing about Lakehurst is that it has a naval base which is 40 minutes from any ocean. This is the base in which the Hindenburg exploded. Any lovers of Led Zeppelin will know of this base indirectly from their first album cover. The local myth of how it exploded says that moonshiners shot the zeppelin down thinking it was revenue agents trying to find their stills... Now another funny thing about Lakehurst Naval and Air Engineering Base is that it is not in Lakehurst, but in Manchester Twp. Just like Portsmouth Naval Yard is in Kittery MN. No naval base seems to be ever in the town its named after. Today Whiting is part of Manchester Twp.

This Iron Forge was part owned by the masseuses and Parisi and about 20 others. Today its called Heritage Minerals (one of many of mineral pits), but most locals call it Asarco. It was closed eventually because of the radioactive mining of monazite-(Ce). In the middle of it has this man made lake that is a square mile long that people jet ski on. It also has this beached barge that is fun to play on. Every weekend you have hundreds of people partying on the lake and 4x4ing throughout its property. Now kids have mysteriously have died in the lake over the years. Supposedly dragged under by undertows?

See Parisi was one of the founders of the NYC mafia. He was the head of the mafia that ran the garbage trucks. Which explains the Hess landfill that has been used as an illegal dumping ground for all the toxins NYC did not want within their city. In Chinese culture those who knew how to heal also knew how to kill using martial arts. Did the masseuses act in the same manner for the mob. Only the next town over Al Capone had a hotel which was this pink castle with escape tunnels running under the driveway to the lake in front of it. Behind the castle up the river was a hut in which he would take people out to and kill them. As you all have seen on the Soprano's the Pine Barrens have long been a dumping ground for dead bodies. Now Asarco/ Manchester Iron Forge was one of many locations in the Pines. The locals used to joke about a road called Bone Hill Road that led to it. They thought it was named after all the teens who would drive up it to smoke joints. More likely it was named after all of the dead bodies that were hidden within it. This might explain all of the dead children floating in the lake. They might of seen something they should of never seen. Anyway who has ever heard of undertows in a freshwater lake...

Now on the edge of Asarco is Crow's Hill. It commands a view of where the Hindenburg blew up and the massive Hanger 1, Fort Dix machine gun fire and tracers, and the disposal ground for the mafia. One evening as locals were partying on top of it a serial killer had deposited a body in several Hefty bags on that old rail that would carry soldiers off to their deaths in the Civil War. At first it was assumed to be a mafia hit, but the body still had its ID which most hit men take to get paid by their employers. Nearly 20 years later they caught the man. He was a gay nurse from Philadelphia who would go to NYC to pick up men to dismember them and deposit them in several locations on the Garden State Parkway. This time he dropped the body at the bottom of this hill.

Now the mafia is quite quiet, but in the 80's it was right out of Donny Brasco. Lisante Foods had owned every pizza restaurant in NJ. This mob run organization also built the local pizza shop that was ran by one of the local Sicilian families. See Whiting is where several highways intersect making a perfect distribution point for Atlantic City, New York City, and Philadelphia. In the 80's the owner was busted with the chief of police's son who was a detective on the police force. A month after the bust was buried the owner of the restaurant placed a sticker on his fridge that said A.D.A.M. (Against Drug Abuse Member). Also he bought the old bar that mysteriously burned down when a Harley kick started in the planter next to the building caught fire. To this day strange smoke comes from the sewer across the street at 2 A.M.

How can all of this go on unnoticed? See back during Prohibition a Harry Wright ran for mayor. He won because he promised the local Pineys that their families would be employed by the road department forever and he had a flatbed truck full of free moonshine. Remember those guys who shot the Hindenburg... Then form the 50's to the 80's a man from Hague's corrupt political machine in Jersey City became mayor of Manchester Twp. Joe Portash would only be mayor for a short time, but would run all of the future mayor's for 30 years. After being caught as a bag man for the mafia, he became the evil vizier running the scenes through a string of Alzheimer patients. Right before getting caught Portash faked his death in Maine. The town veterinarian signed his death certificate, he had a closed casket funeral, and his twin brother showed up in his mansion off the lake in Maine with the view of his yacht from his dinning room table that sat 20. So anything could happen with him running the town and an illiterate chief of police who took the job for a free Harley and dry cleaning for life. See the police rack up money on all of those intersecting state highways issuing illegal traffic tickets. So much so they have 75 police officers for a town that has under 16,000 people to collect them and a colonel.Now after Portash's death... all of those mayors could not stand trial because they could not remember anything. This was at the same time that the Oliver North Trial in which Reagan could not remember anything too.

Now on most nights and days these woods in which the Jersey Devil is said to roam through, nothing ever, ever happens. It is so boring. Real boring. I mean boring. Surrounded by Fort Dix that caught a UFO and shot an escaping alien, has the main communication center for the military, and a leaking nuclear warhead the town is real boring. It is just that when something happens within this Senior Citizen Haven, it really happens with a bang.

The "Mad Inventor" had chosen a really strange place to put up our family while they worked on software for him...


To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler's latest book "Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida" on It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name. Keep checking back for new cheap vacation ideas that might just end up becoming your best vacation ever!

Cool Places in America~ Smithville, NJ and the Bicycle Railroad!

Its your favorite child travel adviser, Tyler,  once again bringing you the best in last minute vacations. Your road trip planner for the weekend getaway to the coolest and strangest places in America. How do I know about them all? My parents are contract workers in the software industry and keep moving the family every 6 months....

 The first time my parents worked for the "Mad Inventor" deep in the heart of the Pine Barrens of NJ I was 8 years old. As you know my parents are software engineers who are always on the move. Contract to contract. Their biggest client is the "Mad Inventor". I think he has some Military contracts since he lives equitable distanced to Lakehurst Naval Engineering and a section of Fort Dix in Whiting, NJ. Who knows what he is up to and my parents will never tell me...

Near his guest house we stay in is a town called Smithville. Today it has a bunch of shops and restaurants my mother loves and my father puts up with.  We have visited there several times throughout the years. So much so I looked up its history and it had this cool bike train!

In 1892, Arthur Hotchkiss received a patent for a bicycle railroad and contracted with the H. B. Smith Machine Company to manufacture it. The initial track ran 1.8 miles from Smithville, in a nearly straight line, crossing the Rancocas Creek 10 times, and arrived at Pine Street, Mount Holly. It was completed in time for the Mount Holly Fair in September, 1892, and the purpose of the railway was supposed to have been enabling employees to commute quickly from Mount Holly to the factory at Smithville. Monthly commuter tickets cost $2.00. The record speed on the railway was 4.5 minutes, and the average trip took 6–7 minutes. The railway was exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. It only had one track so that it was impossible to pass another rider, and if riders traveling in opposite directions met, one had to pull off onto a siding. By 1897 ridership had declined, and the railway fell into disrepair.

Now Smithville started as a village in Eastampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey. It was originally established as Shreveville in 1831 by Jonathan and Samuel Shreve as a textile village on the Rancocas Creek. It was purchased by Hezekiah Bradley Smith in 1865 and renamed to Smithville. The H. B. Smith Machine Company, which produced the American Star Bicycle beginning in 1880, was located there.

The American Star Bicycle had a small front wheel, 18–23 inches in diameter, steered, and the large rear wheel, 42–60 inches in diameter, provided the forward driving force and bore most of the rider's weight. The light load on the front wheel was reported to have made it skittish on loose surfaces such as sand and gravel. American Stars incorporated pneumatic tires very soon after they were developed, and braking was provided by a spoon brake acting on the rear wheel and actuated by a lever on the right handlebar.
A pair of independent treadle mechanisms collected power from the rider's legs instead of a crank. Power from each treadle was transferred to the rear wheel by a leather strap over a ratchet mechanism. (See image in gallery below.) The attachment point of the leather strap could be moved to provide multiple gear ratios, and both treadles could be pressed simultaneously for a brief increase in torque. A spring attached to the ratchet rewound the strap when the foot was raised. This treadle arrangement also allowed riders of different sizes to ride the same bike comfortably without modification, as the pedals were not constrained to trace a circle about an axle. An undated advertisement lists prices from $75 to $120, depending on wheel size and finish, which varied from "plainly finished machine; painted and striped" to "all nickled  and polished, except the rim, which is painted and striped in gold." They also made a tricycle.

Smith started making the tricycles in 1887 and 1888 and patented a steam tricycle in 1889. At the first Maricopa County Fair in 1884, Lucius Copeland demonstrated his steam bicycle, one of the first motorcycles, a steam-powered Star high-wheeler. It was claimed to have traveled 1 mile (1.6 km) in 4 minutes, at a steam pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (5.5 bar), and carried enough water and fuel to run for an hour.

Smithville is still a great place to visit. While Mom loved the shopping and my father dragged his face around handing her his charge card, I got to ride the paddle boats. I wish I was not too old, I could of rode on the toy train too...


To find out more about Tyler visit Salem House Press and buy Tyler's latest book "Tyler Moves to Gibsonton Florida" on It is now available in paperback at most bookstores. Ask for it by name.Keep checking back for new great cheap vacation ideas that just might become the best vacation you ever had!