Day 37: Boston

Thursday,  October 10, 2013 

We fill up on a hot breakfast before heading out. As we enter Boston, the traffic becomes congested. So different from the rolling hills and easy traffic of New Hampshire. We see parking garages charging $24 for two hours and more. Lonnie hits his EasyPark app and finds one for $20 for all day. We get there and realize they are repairing the entrance and everyone is using the exit for both ways! It’s a block from Chinatown with easy access to other areas. I say, “Go for it, Honey!” Talk about living dangerously! We have to honk before each concrete curve up the parking garage and a couple of times we or the vehicle coming down will have to back up to let the other pass. At the curve, many of the cars have no business squeezing into a small slot at the end, causing great concern as we carefully negotiate around jutting bumpers. “Whew!” We make it up to the top of the 8 level garage. When we tell the guys downstairs our harrowing drive up, one says matter-of-factly, “We all need a little excitement in our lives.”

It's still here!

It’s still here!

We eat at the restaurant we’d eaten at about 15 years ago on a family trip with the New York cousins.

Then, we go by Fanueil Hall and walk the Holocaust Memorial. So poignant …

The Holocaust Memorial is easily accessible to everyone

The Holocaust Memorial is easily accessible to everyone

The horror ...

The horror …

Please remember ...

Please remember …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are plenty of things to see and we just wander around, drinking in the atmosphere.

Samuel Adams watches over present day Boston

Samuel Adams watches over present day Boston

1847 Custom House finds new life as a Marriott hotel

1847 Custom House finds new life as a Marriott hotel

Board of Trade Building embellishments

Board of Trade Building embellishments

Residence Inn by Marriott

Residence Inn by Marriott

We settle in at the Residence Inn by Marriott. It’s a new experience as we haven’t booked at an extended stay hotel before. This is wonderful! We’ve stayed at plenty of Marriott properties on this trip. The Fairfield Inns by Marriott are not up to my expectations of what a Marriott property should be. The Courtyards by Marriott have lovely decors and nice touches. The larger Marriotts have been a lovely experience. But, this Residence Inn would be my choice when we settle down for a bit in Houston between trips. A full kitchen holds dishes, silverware and pots needed to cook meals. And, they have a recycle bin! No cooking this trip as we head to Legal Seafood to see if it tastes as good as it did 15 years ago! Our server is friendly and professional, but my lobster bisque is a BIG disappointment.  A few small pieces of lobster in a pinkish bisque that had no seafood flavor … this one of the very few times I don’t polish off my soup. Lonnie’s seafood platter came out lukewarm. When we brought it to their attention, they made a new platter, hot broccoli included and comped his order. So, however we feel about the quality, Legal Seafood stands behind their food and will make it right!

Day 36: Cavendish, Manchester

Wednesday,  October 9, 2013

Vt. Apple Pie Co.There aren’t a lot of restaurants around, but someone mentions Vermont Apple Pie for breakfast. We recognize the couple at the next table as being at the hotel last night. We strike up a conversation. Another table comes in. They join in on the conversation. A fourth table is seated and asks if we all know each other before jumping into the lively conversations floating around. One of the diners impresses me. He’s 78 years old and used to ski in the area. A couple of weeks ago, he bought skis and will be taking to the slopes this winter! (His wife voiced her concerns with a “What can I do?” shrug.) Lonnie’s breakfast is fine and my breakfast quiche is pretty good. Hmmm … apple pie after a full breakfast? Well, that’s what the place is named for, so we order Apple Pie a la Mode. Another hmmm. Let’s just say that if the pie is not freshly baked or has not been re-heated in the oven to crisp up the crust, microwaving it is not a good way to go.

Sharon, Vermont visitors center houses a Living Machine Center with a 360° view of the fall foliage!

Sharon, Vermont visitors center houses a Living Machine Center with a 360° view of the fall foliage!

Behind the center, visitors are encouraged to sit back and enjoy the view

Behind the center, visitors are encouraged to sit back and enjoy the view

 

When we reach Vermont, it’s time to go by a visitors center. Sharon, Vermont has an interesting one. It has a Living Machine System (with a glorious view of the countryside). There are two tanks – an anaerobic (without oxygen) reactor and a biosolids holding tank.

 

 

The man at the front desk says on Father’s Day, in the valley below, there’s a hot air balloon festival. When they launch, a magnificent mass of brilliantly colored balloons gently rise up past the center!

 

 

Rock of Ages quarry

 

Rock of Ages quarry is a short stop. We go to the visitors center first to watch a video about the history of the quarry before walking across to the visitors’ platform in the factory. The video is interesting, but it’s really an infomercial. We don’t make time to visit Hope Cemetery to see the granite car, soccer ball, etc.  Maybe the next trip around.

Love the tasting tables!

Love the tasting tables!

 

 

 

On to take the Ben & Jerry’s tour and drop by Cabot Cheese. I especially enjoy trying more types of cheeses than the ones I usually buy in Sugar Land.

 

 

 

We'll be waking up on the bright side tomorrow!

We’ll be waking up on the bright side tomorrow!

Arriving at the LaQuinta in Manchester, New Hampshire, we’re pleasantly surprised. The last LaQuinta (New Haven) was the worst LQ we’ve experienced on this trip. Happily, this one was renovated in 2011 after its purchase. It has had at least five owners and was a neglected child in the Clarion family. LaQuinta came in and changed everything! Along with a cheerful, professional staff, it was awarded a 2013 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence. It’s also the #2 LQ in the East Region. (One of my very favorite LQs is in Aurora, Colorado!)

The front desk gives us a list of area restaurants and we Yelp the Red Arrow Diner before heading over. It seats maybe 25. It opened in 1922 and besides a short break, has continued to serve the surrounding community. The third owner created an interesting menu. It even has a favorite of Guy Fieri’s. My husband’s Chicken Fried Steak has a cream gravy with sausage bits. He says the sausage doesn’t overpower the other flavors and it’s good! My Turkey & Rice soup has lots of vegetables, so it’s a pretty balanced meal. Red Arrow Diner has a really nice way of welcoming newcomers. If they find out it’s your first visit, they have a surprise for you! It involves the whole diner and includes a small commemorative memento. Come visit and feel the love!

Day 35: New Haven, Cavendish

Tuesday,  October 8, 2013

A man soaks up the sun in the park in front of New Haven's City Hall.

A man soaks up the sun in the park in front of New Haven’s City Hall.

New Haven, Connecticut is also called “Elm City” for all those trees scattered throughout town. We stop by Barnes & Noble to pick up a Yale t-shirt before walking around the Yale campus. I love the old architecture!

On the campus of Yale University

On the campus of Yale University

 

 

 

 

I know that some of the buildings were built in the early 1900s and made to look older, but still … it feels like we’re at Hogwarts, waiting for Harry, Hermione and Ron to walk by on the way to class.

We walk over to Hillhouse Street to see the brown house where former President George F. Bush lived as a graduate student.  (At one time, Charles Dickens thought it was the most beautiful street in America!)

Parking tip from a local.  Beware of meter people.  They have been known to write a ticket for metered vehicles that have 5-10 minutes left.  If they think you aren’t coming back in time, they’ve been spotted writing early tickets!

Bedazzled Hello Kittys

Bedazzled Hello Kittys

PEZ Hobbits series

PEZ Hobbits series

We stop by the PEZ factory to take the short tour.  There’s a timeline and other PEZ history.  There are also PEZ dispensers you might not find in your city.  Sorry, I think I got too close to the Swarovsky crystal-ed Hello Kitty collection, so the image isn’t very sharp.  They’re not for sale, but you can make your own using 200-900 crystals!

 

The Hobbit series impressed me too.  A ticket price includes one complimentary dispenser.  Unless you really enjoy learning about PEZ history and want to see what other dispensers you can buy, I wouldn’t recommend taking the short tour.

 

 

 

 

Time to try out Frank Pepe’s pizza! The friendly server says that the clams are fresh so we share a medium pizza with half clams and half sausage with mushrooms. Some of the clams were chewy but the flavor was rich and the crust was crispy. If you like a good char on the crust bottom, they certainly do that here.

Now this is a real coal burning oven!

Now this is a real coal burning oven!

Know your Frank Pepe

Know your Frank Pepe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I ask our server about the founder and she brings over a pamphlet and Pepe’s postcard. How generous!  When I ask if they use a wood burning oven, she gives me a look and says, “It’s a coal burning oven.” She walks me over to the counter and asks a worker to open the oven door. He does and there’s a red-hot outline of a pile of coal that shoots a 20 foot burst of heat right across the kitchen into our faces! WOW!!! I’m impressed.

We arrive in Cavendish, Vermont mid-evening. We’ve been in so many mediocre hotels that I have to say how much we are enjoying the night at The Pointe in the Hills. It was a bit hard to find, but once here, I am happy. It’s like a little lodge near Okema Mountain. There are two other buildings in the Castle Hills Resort & Spa. One rents out bigger units and the other is “The Castle.” “The Castle”, built around 1900, is the former home of Vermont Governor Allen M. Fletcher. It was the first home on the mountain to have electricity and an elevator.  The elevator doesn’t work, but the original light switches do!  Downstairs, it’s a restaurant with a library and private dining room. Upstairs are 10 hotel rooms that are always booked.

Dinner at The Castle

Dinner at The Castle

We spring for the dinner and enjoy a romantic meal for two! It helps that our room came with coupons for a relaxing massage and dinner at “The Castle.” After dessert, I’m given a brief tour of the mansion. The original embossed wallpaper graces a portion of the stairway. It feels like tooled leather! The library has it’s original books that guests are welcome to read, but with care, please. It’s been a long day as we drive the short distance down the trail to the lodge. Our room is simply done, but has an elegant feel. The towels are the luxuriously fluffy ones that make me feel pampered.

 

Day 34: West Point, New Haven

Monday, October 7, 2013

As we head out at 9am for West Point, we see more signs of Fall. Red tinged branches, bright golden hues and fiery orange leaves fight for attention! Leaves drift silently down to add to piles of withered brown discards. It’s a windy day and sunlight reflects off fluttering leaves, creating a glittery dance of tints and hues.

West Point Museum has a wonderful timeline of its place in American history!

West Point Museum has a wonderful timeline of its place in American history!

We arrive in West Point and stop by the visitors center before going to the museum next door. A woman at the front desk says they were supposed to be off (furloughed) but were called in this morning. I tell her we appreciate that! The museum gave an interesting history of West Point, along with the types of weapons that have been used over the years.

Graduate Robert Edward Lee

Graduate Robert Edward Lee

The blustery winds and light rainfall hampered picture taking.

The blustery winds and light rainfall hampered picture taking.

West Point graduates have played important roles throughout American history.

We drive around the campus and I’m impressed by the preserved architecture. We pull over for some pics of the river, but an overcast, rainy afternoon doesn’t yield many good shots.

In town, we stop at Andy’s. The baked chicken lunch special has Lonnie going “M-m-m!” all through the meal.

Andy's at West Point

Andy’s at West Point

The present owner says the restaurant is over 50 years old. He poudly says there have only been three owners and they’ve all been Greek! The owner before him had the restaurant for 37 years and he’s had it for 13.

It’s late when we arrive in New Haven, Connecticut. So glad to stop for the night!

Day 33: New York – 9/11 Memorial

Sunday,  October 6, 2013

Our son is out of town so we decide not to get lost trying to get to church.  Instead, we head to the 9/11 Memorial ticket office.  (We were told tickets are free, but they have to be picked up at the ticket office.)  A long line snakes through exhibits as we slowly edge our way to the ticket counter.  Merchandise is also for sale.  We stuff a bill in the donation box.  Our assigned time is an hour away.  We wander the streets and head over.  What?!!?  Another line at the entrance is for people without a ticket to go through to get a ticket and walk right in!  Yeah, yeah, I know, life’s not fair. 9/11

9/11 Water Wall

 

 

 

A work in progress, the 9/11 Memorial Museum disappears into the mist.

It’s an awesome sight.

 

 

 

There are two huge, identical square water walls next to the museum.  Visitors next to it seem teeny tiny.

9/11 Tribute

 

 

 

Names are cut through the metal, creating an unexpectedly lovely way to secure flower stems.  A light rain refreshes blooms left to remember and honor loved ones.

9/11 Celebrate life

 

 

 

 

I take a picture with a security guard who was there when the tragedy struck 12 years ago. He doesn’t usually smile for pictures, but I tell him that now is a time for the celebration of life and the resilience of New Yorkers. That got me a small smile.

 

 

It’s time to wander downtown. Famous department stores and lovely displays. Wish we were here in December when everything is lit up with Christmas greenery and lights!

Turkish Eggplant PureeFor dinner, we’re going Turkish. Aroya (?) is a tiny cafe that has maybe 20 seats. They serve complimentary flatbread with olive oil.  Sorry, I have to compare that with Bijan restaurant in Sugar Land.  It also serves complimentary flatbread, but with feta cheese and mint sprigs.  That’s my favorite part of a Bijan meal, honest!  Anyway, the food is delicious, especially the creamy pureed eggplant!  A good way to end the night.

Day 32: New York – Subway music, dim sum and a surprise party

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Lonnie & I take the train to visit relatives in Flushing.  There are many stops along the way.

One stop entertainers!

Usually we see street musicians and subway musicians, so we are surprised to see (what I assume are) three Mexican musicians hop onto the train along the route.  They play enthusiastically all the way to the next stop and quickly exit!

Dim sum cart

Dim sum cart

 

 

The relatives take us to dim sum in Flushing.  The food is delicious and the restaurant is impressive.  All the columns around the very large dining room turn the same color at the same time – lavender, blue, pink, etc.

 I notice that their Chinatown looks busier than the one in the city.  Cousin explains that after 9/11, many of the Chinatown businesses moved out of the city.  

 

 

 

Flushing’s Chinatown is a thriving community and very busy on a Saturday. 

Just one of the many places Aunt took us!We visit various Asian markets on the way to Cousin’s house.  Everyone follows Aunt as she goes through, picking and choosing the best thinly sliced beef, vegetables, lobsters, tofu, crystal noodles, fish and shrimp balls, etc.  All will go into a hotpot dinner – yum!  We go by a couple of bakeries.  Aunt says they have the best char shew bow and other savory pastries.  We can snack on them late afternoon as dinner will be quite late – some relatives are coming after a long work day.

We aren’t home too long before relatives start coming.  Loud greetings and big hugs ensue.  The calm afternoon morphs into a noisy evening.  Latecomers arrive and steaming hotpots are brought to the table, ready for quick immersions.  Small mesh ladles are loaded with raw ingredients to dip into the roiling broth.  Shrimp and fish balls dance about as they are pushed aside to make room for several ladles at one time.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

Surprise!  A cake and butcher knife come out, wrapped presents appear and we celebrate an upcoming event!  “Happy birthday, Cousin Eva!”

What makes the meal so enjoyable is the love that glows within, the give and take conversations of a close-knit family.  So nice to be here to soak all this up!

Time for a Break

There are so many things to see and do on our two month road trip, so I need my rest.  Can’t continue to work on blog entries late into the night after a full day of activities.  It’s time for a break.

I will continue to observe and save photos, videos and thoughts for this blog.  They will just come … later …