Every year for a few years now, I’ve visited the town of Concord, Massachusetts. With every successive year I’ve gone, I’ve been dealing with new sets of challenges and new personal goals along the way.

The original purpose in visiting Concord (and the surrounding towns of Lexington, Lincoln, and Bedford) was to bone up on my history and explore a town that had a lot to do with the beginnings of the American Revolution. Through the context of my own visits, I hoped to gain some insight into what it was like back then, what the people were like, and what it felt like to be in a significant historical spot like The Old North Bridge. (Mostly for my writing…at the time of my first visit, I was writing a YA novel set during the American Revolution – which I still hope to eventually finish, by the way…)

What I found when I visited, however, is a town that holds endless interest for me. In the context of history, in the context of pure aesthetic, and also through the eyepiece of literature and the history of it in America. Not only is Concord a significant footnote in the 1700’s, but also in the 1800’s – as the philosophers and writers of that time congregated there or in places just like it.

And so, having had somewhat of an obsession with Longfellow and Hawthorne as I became the writer I am today – I found myself also being drawn into Hawthorne’s friendships with other authors and writers of the time such as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau.

Each year, I visit their homes and lived-in spaces, and pay tribute to them at their burial plots – all of them together on Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. I visit the Old Manse, where Hawthorne wrote most of “Mosses From An Old Manse” (his short story collection from 1846), where Emerson penned his influential essay “Nature”, and where Thoreau planted a garden for the Hawthornes. I also visit Emerson’s simple former dwelling up the road, only a few houses down from The Orchard House – where Louisa May Alcott wrote “Little Women” and other works. And up the road from that is The Wayside, where Hawthorne lived out his final years but where the Alcotts lived in first and where Louisa lived out many of the scenes she featured in “Little Women”. Also – on the outskirts of town, I visit Walden Pond and the site of Thoreau’s cabin where he wrote “Walden”.

The past two years were no different for me from other years, aside from being there with my wife Peyton. We strolled the streets of Concord together and talked in the warm spring sun. We ate delicious sandwiches and drank cold lemonade in an outside cafe. We walked the grounds of the Old North Bridge (flooded) and the Old Manse, as I explained to her what these places meant to me. We walked part of the Battle Road Trail. We ate ice cream and picked our way through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where I showed her the final resting places of these authors I’d talked to her so often about. It was the perfect opening to spring for us. Last year was much the same. This year, we went back and I tried to show her even more than in previous years.

Each time I visit Concord, it’s a pilgrimage for me – to get my inner creative juices going. And last year, when I laid a penny on Hawthorne’s headstone on top of Author’s Ridge, I wished for guidance in my writing endeavors, and for help in bleeding my stories onto the paper. Since then, I’ve had some success and some hardships. Of course, Concord is not steeped in actual magic and Hawthorne is not going to be able to cast a spell from his grave. If he were alive, or able to give me advice – he’d likely just tell me to write.

And so I’m trying.

Here are some photos I took of various cool things in Concord over the past five years or so (all photography by me):

30710164_10155427108386931_4306796842818994176_n

There are a few churches in Concord, and the steeples evoke a simpler time as they rise above the small buildings of the town below.

30716464_10155427108496931_2398439325839654912_n

On the Battle Road Trail, which stretches from Concord, through Lincoln, and on to Lexington – you may encounter various groups of living history interpreters such as these gents.

30725602_10155427113076931_4127900678867648512_n

The Battle Road Trail is maintained and has very cozy little wooden bridges spanning the marshy fields so you won’t get your feet too wet. 

57317243_10156229032016931_2992704229413486592_n

The Old Manse is great if you love history and old buildings, which I’m a fan of. There are guided tours of the inside and on the outside you’ll find the Old North Bridge. The top right window is one that people witnessed the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World” from.

57387305_10156229032121931_2370313376019513344_n

There is lots of wildlife on the trails around Concord. 

57183788_10156229031391931_9075956754822463488_o

Visit the final resting places of famous authors Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. They are all buried together on Author’s Ridge. 

56902400_10156229030881931_8238779702261579776_o

There are plenty of places for photo opportunities. This is me sitting on some stairs in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. 

42710886_10155792736496931_2846848179423412224_n

Check out nearby Walden Pond and the site of Thoreau’s cabin. 

30726614_10155427121146931_7420070390598205440_n

Check out the Old North Bridge, site of the “Shot Heard ‘Round The World”