2017 Birthday Trip

OK, I’ve finally made it to the last item on my 2017 birthday list: my birthday trip to Sandwich, Massachusetts.

This is the 13th year that I’ve traveled to a new place for my birthday. I decided to go to another town on the Cape (Cape Cod for non-locals), since I’ve lived in Boston for 18 years and can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to the Cape.

Sandwich caught my eye, because it’s the first town on the Cape, and I found an Airbnb that was within walking distance of the town. The trip had a rough start. I took a bus from Boston, which dropped me off at a Park and Ride lot a few miles from Sandwich. I planned to pick up a regional bus from there that would stop in downtown Sandwich. It was raining very hard as I waited in a bus shelter at the Park and Ride lot for an hour until the regional bus arrived.

Well, the regional bus arrived and blew right past me. The next regional bus would be coming by two hours later. In a panic, I tried to find a local taxi service. All I could find were charter airport buses. I was unable to download the Uber app because there is something wrong with my Apple ID. I contacted my Airbnb host to ask if she knew of any taxi services, but she didn’t respond immediately because she was out running errands.

She did respond eventually and offered to pick me up. I was beyond grateful! She was lovely as was her house. It was built in the 1700s, and our room had a secret panel that an owner built in case he had to run from the Tories during the Revolutionary War.

The rain finally stopped, so I was able to walk around downtown and get afternoon tea at a teahouse. The downtown was very small, but I enjoyed walking past a beautiful church that was featured on an Elvis Presley album cover and seeing the Dexter Grist Mill, which was built in 1637.

My partner Allen drove down the next day, so we were able to see some sites that were farther afield from the downtown area. The Heritage Museums and Gardens was fantastic. The rhododendrons in bloom were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is also an impressive car collection on display as well as a gallery of American art and a working carousel! You could easily spend an entire day there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had an early dinner and then drove to the Sandwich Boardwalk to watch the sunset. The boardwalk is 1,000+ feet long! Part of it does not have a railing, so I started feeling dizzy while walking to the beach at the end of it. But it was totally worth it. The sunset was breathtaking, but isn’t it always?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we left town the next day, we went to the Sandwich Glass Museum. Sandwich was a major hub of glass production in the 1800s. We were lucky to catch a glassblowing demonstration when we first entered. Then we spent more than an hour learning about the history of glassmaking in Sandwich and seeing hundreds of glass pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plates, glasses, vases, salt cellars, chickens…all different colors and patterns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sandwich was well worth a visit and I was glad to spend a birthday there. So now I’m counting down to birthday list #43, which will commence in about 1.5 months. !?!??!

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A Taste of Home

I’ve lived in the same general area of Boston for 16 years and have never owned a car. That partially explains why it took me so long to check out an ice cream (well, frozen custard) shop that is not accessible by subway. As a passenger in a car, I would ride by this ice cream shop possibly two or three times a year.

Every time, I would study the sign, Abbott’s, and wonder if it could be the same Abbott’s that I grew up with in Rochester, New York. The logo looked exactly the same. Nah…

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this was the year that I found out that yes, it is the same Abbott’s! I didn’t have to ask to be sure, because this sign was hanging in the window:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The glare makes the sign difficult to read, but basically, some Rochesterians moved here and missed the frozen custard so much that they convinced the owners to let them open a franchise.

Not only was there frozen custard, there were Zweigle’s white hots for sale! And there were pennants of Rochester universities on the wall! What a treat to find a taste of home in the backyard of my second home.

 

Free Rise

New England is a great place to live if beer is your libation of choice. New breweries seem to be popping up all the time.

Don’t ask me why it took me a few years to make it to Trillium Brewing Company, even though it’s a 15-minute walk from my office, because I have no answer.

But this was the year that I added it to the birthday list. It’s a small shop on a random side street in South Boston. There is no tasting room; you stop here to buy growlers or cans. Just about two years ago now, Trillium opened a tasting room outside of Boston. Maybe I will get there next year…

I bought a mini-growler of the Free Rise, which is a dry hopped saison. And it was delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next on my list to try is one of its IPAs. Next brewery on my list to try is Turtle Swamp!

A Dolphin Layered in Gold

I read #89 of the Modern Library’s list of top 100 novels: Loving by Henry Green.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an upstairs-downstairs story set in an Irish country house during World War II. The story is almost completely composed of dialogue. I had trouble getting into it at first, especially because the downstairs characters have quite the British accents.

Like all good upstairs-downstairs stories, there’s infidelity, troublemaking, camaraderie, and theft (of both hearts and money). What I really enjoyed about Green’s writing is the exquisite details he would slip in now and then—making me pause and marvel.

Here are a few favorite lines:

“She pushed the ashtray with one long lacquered oyster nail across the black slab of polished marble supported by a dolphin layered in gold.”

” He seemed to appraise the dark eyes she sported which were warm and yet caught the light like plums dipped in cold water.”

“Raunce went on looking sideways past her at the red eye of a deer’s stuffed head.”

If you still miss Downton Abbey as I do, this book will bring temporary reprieve…

A History of Saving Lives

I spent two enlightening afternoons at two of Boston’s more off-the-beaten-path museums: the Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation and the Boston Fire Museum.

The Russell Museum gives a historical overview of Massachusetts General Hospital, or MGH, as we locals say. Founded in 1811, MGH is the third-oldest hospital in the U.S.

Russell Museum, Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not a large museum, but the artifacts on display are interesting. There is everything from medical instruments from the 1800s to a virtual dissection table that a docent operates for visitors.

Medicine chest from the 1800s

 

 

Virtual dissection table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned that the hospital performed the first arm replantation in 1962, dental insurance didn’t exist in the U.S. until the 1950s, and researchers are studying Weddell seals—who can hold their breath for up to an hour when diving—to gain insight on how to help people with conditions associated with low tissue oxygen levels. I’m not big into science and medicine, but I found it fascinating. Definitely worth a visit.

I thought I would be in and out of the Boston Fire Museum in under an hour.

Boston Fire Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The museum is in one big room, which used to be an actual firehouse. When I arrived, there was a children’s birthday party going on, so I quietly strolled along and looked at a number of old fire engines, a display about the devastating Cocoanut Grove fire in 1942, and artifacts such as “clackers” used in colonial times to wake up sleeping families to alert them of a fire or other emergency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had just finished looking at a black-and-white photo of a firefighter emerging from a house fire on a Boston street. The photo was taken in the 1960s; I forget the rank of the firefighter, but he was pretty high up. His lungs were severely damaged during the fire, but he survived. The photo caption also said his three sons were firefighters.

Cue an older gentleman in a red volunteer shirt approaching from stage right, pointing at the photo and saying, “That’s my father.”

Paul and I ended up talking for TWO HOURS. This is what happens when you pair a curious person with a person who exudes passion for his life’s work. He gave me a rundown of his firefighting career. He explained the alarm bell system and all of the different symbols on the helmets that were hanging from the ceiling. Being an animal person, I had to ask him about the horses who used to pull the engines (there was a stable in the back of the firehouse/museum). I’ve always respected firefighters, but my respect reached a new level that day. And it was just a joy to talk with someone who was so dedicated to his career.

Another amazing thing about both museums is that they are free of charge. They gladly accept donations, and I gladly left a donation on my way out.

 

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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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