New England stories from the region's top public media newsrooms & NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Off the Path

Davis Dunavin is back with another amazing season of Off the Path! Join him on his summer road trip through northern New England where he explores beautiful, historic—and even mysterious—sights. Learn what brought iconic poet Robert Frost to Vermont, who first thought up the idea for the Appalachian Trail, and why this graffiti appears on a rock in New Hampshire: “Chicken Farmer, I Still Love You.”

In the tradition of great storytellers, Davis is approaching this season’s Off The Path in serial form. He’ll explore each subject in 2 or 3 installments, and then combine them into a single podcast episode. Here, you’ll find those individual installments--which we’re calling “Mile Markers.” Enjoy the ride!

  • William Fly’s pirate career was short and brutal — and his death in 1726 is sometimes considered to mark the end of the days when pirates ruled the Atlantic. It began with a mutiny — led to a last-ditch conversion attempt — and ended with a gruesome display on an island in Boston Harbor.
  • Herman Melville published one of the great American novels in 1851. Just in case you missed it in high school, a quick refresher: we follow Ishmael. He’s a crew member aboard the whaling ship the Pequod. Its captain, Ahab, is a menacing figure obsessed with catching a whale he calls Moby-Dick. This book is all about whaling, which used to be one of the most lucrative industries in the world — and it was partially inspired by the author’s time in the seaside whaling town of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
  • America's first submarine dates to the Revolutionary War. Built by a Connecticut inventor, it sailed into New York Harbor in 1776 with a mission to blow up a British warship. It was ahead of its time — maybe a little too ahead of its time. There are a few places you can see replicas of the Turtle — and one of them is at the Connecticut River Museum in Essex.
  • One of the most successful pirates of all time died at sea in a dramatic storm, leaving all his treasure buried under the ocean floor. Hundreds of years later, a Cape Cod man followed a real-life treasure map to find it — and now you can go to his museum to see real-life pirate booty. Featured song: “Jolly Sailor Bold,” performed by the Ranzo Boys.
  • Host Davis Dunavin previews his upcoming adventure at sea! Among other things, you’ll hear about quite a few pirates in this series, which is why we decided to call it Off the Plank.
  • In 1820, Washington Irving wrote a short story steeped in the ghostly folklore of New York’s Hudson Valley. Its simple premise and terrifying climax has spooked and entertained people for two centuries. It was set in North Tarrytown, but Irving called it Sleepy Hollow.
  • Barney and Betty Hill claimed they had an encounter with aliens more than 60 years ago. Their story became the launching point for alien abductions in popular culture. And it happened — supposedly — late one night on a lonely road in New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
  • The state of Maine has deep forests and rocky shores. It also has one small stretch of sandy dunes in the town of Freeport — that looks more like the Sahara than northern New England.
  • Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 painting “Christina’s World” shows the reality of life for his longtime friend, a woman with a disability, on her farm in coastal Maine.
  • A small museum on an island in Maine boasts the world’s largest collection of a specific kind of artifact: umbrella covers. Not umbrellas — just the covers.
  • There are six words spray painted on a rock along a highway near Newbury, New Hampshire. How they got there is still a mystery. Davis Dunavin took a drive up Route 103 to see the mystery rock — and maybe get some answers.