I looked for a patriotic theme consistent with this week's Independence Day celebration. I decided to look back to a simpler time, when our nation was unified behind its national leader who won his election unanimously. I speak, of course, of George Washington. In his first year as President, he took a Grand Tour of the New England states (excluding Rhode Island, which I guess he thought not worth visiting). He had spent nearly a year in Massachusetts leading the Continental Army, but his 1789 visit was a very different event. He was a living legend, visiting "his people".
Today's ride followed the route of President Washington during his last full day in the Commonwealth, from Watertown in suburban Boston to Uxbridge, on the Rhode Island border. This largely followed the path of modern SR-16 (named Washington Street for much of its length in honor of the Father of our Country). Washington's diary of this day suggests it was a long and tedious one. His coach had spent much of the preceding day lost: "The roads in every part of this State are amazingly crooked, to suit the convenience of every man's fields; and the directions you receive from the people equally blind and ignorant", and he found the Coolidge Tavern in Watertown to be wanting: "We lodged in this place at the house of a Widow Coolidge, near the Bridge, and a very indifferent one it is".
Our day (November 6, 1789), Washington found his travels no better: "Upon the whole it may be called an indifferent road diversified by good and bad land cultivated and in woods some high and barren, and others low, wet and piney." His mood, I'm guessing, got no better when he arrived at his planned stop for the night, Ammidon Tavern in Mendon, run by Col. Ammidon, a Revolutionary War acquaintance of Gen. Washington. Unfortunately, Mrs. Col. Ammidon was the only one home that evening, and when she was told "The President is here and requests lodging", she thought it was the president of a nearby college who she didn't like, so she sent him away. LOL. So, Washington was forced to travel five more miles into Uxbridge and stay at the Taft Tavern. There is, unfortunately, no record in Washington's diary of how he reacted to his refusal. But, for the Taft Tavern: Washington again was not impressed: "though the people were obliging, the entertainment was not very inviting." Sorry, you just got one star in TripAdvisor from POTUS!
Washington had a one way ticket out of Mass., so the remainder of my day was a parallel road path home. I did take in Hopkinton, famed starting line of the Boston Marathon, and unlike Washington, was happy to finish the day in my own bed!