This is the first posting of a week-long road trip to New England.
Back in September, our youngest left for college and finally, my wife and I had achieved the elusive “empty nest”. I say elusive because there were times when just as one of our adult children was moving out, another would be moving back home again!
As much as I enjoy the TV always being connected to a video game, and the sound of people coming and going at 3:00 am on a weeknight, it was time for them to begin their adult lives.
Then we spent a long cold winter watching Netflix, just the two of us; and by spring, we started to think a little activity around the house would be a refreshing change! Fortunately it was time to bring the college student home.
We had to drive to Maine to get her. so we decided to make a road trip of it. I have a lot of family and friends we never get to visit. This seemed like a nice chance to reconnect and enjoy some spontaneous adventure–and that’s exactly what we did!
We would get up early on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend and drive 450 miles to Boston in one shot, stopping only for short breaks. After that we would hop from town to town in New England, never more than 2 hours away. We had a large empty car with a Thule on top to hold a dorm-room-full of stuff and bring Margaret, our youngest, home.
At 7am we snapped a selfie and were on our way. We were fortunate to avoid heavy traffic the entire way, through Baltimore, Delaware, the New Jersey Turnpike, the George Washington Bridge, Hartford, it was all smooth and fast. From what we could see, this was because the rest of the world was heading south!
We were staying the first couple nights with my old college friend Denise. She lives in the beautifully restored Boston Navy Yard. It’s in Charlestown on Boston’s inner harbor with a spectacular view to your right of the city skyline. To the far left you can see planes coming out of Logan, and in between there are sail boats, large tankers, and cruise ships. We pulled in around 4:00 in the afternoon ready for Happy Hour!
Denise was visiting family on Cape Cod overnight but had left us keys and a fridge full of beer God love her. We checked into her guest room, opened a couple cold ones, and sat on her balcony looking out over Boston Harbor!
A few moments later another old college friend (all my college friends are old) called. Stephanie lives in the building next door and we made plans for drinks at her place and dinner right there on the pier. A short time later we were feasting on Wellfleet oysters, straight from nearby Cape Cod, lobster rolls, and local craft brews! We rehashed old college days, and caught up with the years. The vacation was off to a fantastic start!
The next morning I was very excited because Denise had talked up a breakfast place in Charlestown. I could tell from her description that it was exactly my kind of place. We walked out of the Navy Yard and under the Tobin Bridge into downtown Charlestown. Charlestown is a charming New England suburb with tree-lined streets and classic architecture. Its centerpiece is on Monument St, the Bunker Hill Monument, a 221′ obelisk to commemorate the first battle of the American Revolution. Just up from the corner of Monument St and Bunker Hill St is the Grasshopper Cafe.
The first good sign was the line out the door for breakfast! The waitress called me “hon” and the coffee was perfect. Next to me at the counter were two guys right out of Central Casting. It was like I was in a scene from Good Will Hunting. The guy next to me was on his phone talking in the thickest Boston accent saying, “I don’t want to go to your mother’s! Bring Anthony and Victoria, I’m watching the Sox this afternoon!”
I ordered one of my favorite breakfasts, poached eggs on corned beef hash and the hash was home made and hand-cut! The eggs had Sriracha sauce and Day 2 of vacation was turning out to be even better than the first!
We walked back from breakfast and stopped at the Bunker Hill Monument. Coming from Washington, DC part of me wants to refer to it as a scale model of the Washington Monument but when you’re right there looking at it the monument is pretty impressive. It doesn’t cost anything to walk up to the top…and we started to. It’s a dark claustrophobic circular stairway that offers a little less air every step you go. About 100 steps in, I turned to my wife and said, “I’ve seen enough”. It was beautiful out and here I was trapped in this spiral chamber of panic!
We walked back to the Navy Yard and visited the USS Constitution. “Old Ironsides” sits in the Navy Yard and had just recently begun a 3 year period of restoration in dry dock. This dry dock process alone is worth the visit, before you even see the ship!
Around noon, Denise had returned and I will pick up the next post from there. Suffice it to say, there are more cocktails, more family, and more fun to come!