Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Day 19: On my own again

Prologue: Someone needs to inform the east coast and Canada that the 90's are over. Seriously, roller blades? This plague of an activity is everywhere you look it seems, from shirtless old guys cruising the parks to trendy 20 somethings around universities. It's obvious from the popular culture media that the correct rolling trend right now is roller SKATES (following more accurately with the 20 year cycle of trends). Anyway, on with the blog.

Downtown P-town, east coast version
Portland, ME conclusion: worthy of being Portland, OR's predecessor. This city was very neat; it had the same small town city feel of its west coast cousin (probably a bit smaller actually) while still offering quite a lot to look at and do. We parked and simply walked around for a while. The architectural feel of the city is obviously a bit different since it is a real port, and quite older (brick is fairly prominent throughout, especially in the sidewalks). However, apparently the city (and indeed the state) is very craft brew friendly, something we found very agreeable. Even though we really only got a small taste of the city, we did leave with the feeling that living there may not be as entertaining as just visiting if you're not into boating.

We found a nice little brew pub (with wifi nonetheless) called Sebago. I had an excellent IPA (in fact, two of 22 ounce servings! Yum), and Graham had, according to him, a delicious barely wine and a not so delicious blueberry ale. Being the middle of the afternoon the pub wasn't too busy, so we were able to chat quite extensively with our bartender who filled us in on what it was like to live in east coast Portland. It also seems that most ePortlanders don't realize that wPortland was named for their city. Go figure.

A message everyone can get behind
After a couple super pints, we were in the mood for chowdah (being in New England it was pretty much mandatory). According to our bartender pretty much any restaurant along the bay made their own chowder, and most all of them were excellent, so we couldn't really go wrong. We ended up at a place called Dewey's, a quiet pub/eatery on the south end of the walkable waterfront. The chowder was okay, not terribly impressive but I'm sure quite authentic.

Having thoroughly enjoying our stay, we left Portland behind on our way south down towards Boston. After the previous night (and in fact previous week) of bad motel luck, we smartly decided to book ahead. This meant we didn't really need to hurry (as long as we arrived before 11pm or so), so we took the scenic route along the coast.

Passing through many an affluent New England neighborhoods was very interesting, especially the coastal towns. I imagine that image is what Cannon Beach was really aiming for, had they not been pressed up against a mountain range immediately to the east. We tried unsuccessfully to touch the Atlantic at a rock beach, but luckily found a nice beach town close by with ample parking.

Our timing was excellent, the sun had just set and a full moon was just rising. As we walked out on the beach towards the water, a dark, burnt copper colored moon was just beginning to become visible. We stood there for a while, ankle deep in the not so frigid waters of the Atlantic, watching a beautiful moon rise. What a waste of a romantic moment.

I guess I taste better than Graham to the insect community, because after about 15 minutes of this I felt like one giant bug bite, so we hit the road again. For all the beauty and elegance of some of these east coast coastal towns, their road system seems to have been designed by a four year old. Needless to say, Sunday night traffic towards Boston sucked extensively for pretty much the rest of the night. We ended up at our Motel 6 on the south side of Boston (Braintree) just before 11.

I felt smarter just looking at the buildings
In the morning we ate down the road at an awesome diner called the Olympian (cheap, quick, and very delicious), and stole some internets from the library to book us a hostel for the night on the north side of Boston (Everette). Now having a base camp (and place to park my car outside of the city), we headed straight to the hostel to check in. From there, we took the subway into the city and out to Cambridge. Our first stop was the MIT museum. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame take note: this is a museum well worth the entrance fee (only $7.50 in fact). We had allotted close to two hours to walk through this place, and were still unable to finish it all before closing time. Anyone in the Boston area with any interest at all in science should definitely check this place out, there are tons of exhibits, videos, and things to read about the cool things MIT has been doing over the years.

Being in the area, we had to tour the campuses of both MIT and Harvard. The buildings were, of course, quite impressive; large, massive, and classical at MIT, and old, brick colonials at Harvard. The latter in particular definitely gave off the classic "college campus" vibe, so much so that I felt like I was almost walking through a movie set.

What the world needs more of is Science!
Dinner was provided by a hole in the wall falafel place (I think it was in fact a Falafel Palace, or something like that), and drinks were courtesy of the Miracle of Science Bar. I kid you not, there is a place near MIT called the Miracle of Science. We had to go there. And in fact, it was a neat place (they had a periodic table menu on one wall), good atmosphere and good beer.

After drinks we took the subway back to the hostel, where we watched Olympic diving (I will keep my opinion to myself about this sport). We shared a room with a couple other guys who apparently hadn't thought to air the room out before night time, so when we finally went to bed it was probably 30 degrees warmer in the room than outside. Add to that someone watching something very loudly in the room next to us, and you get a night of not much sleep.

Vote yes on monolithic statues
Our next day in Boston was spent walking around the Freedom Trail, a 3 mile walk through Boston that showcases many of the historical places and events that took place in early America there. Very interesting, I'll give it a B+. It ended at a giant obelisk marking the location of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Makes you wonder why there aren't more giant monolithic structures commemorating history throughout the states. Graham postulated that it had something to do with the decline in paganism, and I'm inclined to agree.

Tuesday marked the end of Graham's journey with me. After the Freedom Trail walk, I bid him farewell. Thanks again for coming along Graham, the company was quite refreshing after almost two weeks on my own. We drank some good brews and stayed in some shady motels. All in all good times were had.

Beginning the second solo portion of my trip, I continued down the eastern coast to historical Plymouth, MA. All I have to say is this: Plymouth Rock, very unimpressive. I've seen larger boulders in rock gardens. I guess I was expecting something more magnificent for the landmark of the first landing of the pilgrims. Maybe something along the lines of Haystack Rock off the Oregon coast, now that is a rock.

Plymouth marked the end to my mostly eastward journey, as from there I began heading west again. I passed through New Bedford, checked out Dartmouth (very strange place for a campus, there is really not much surrounding it in the way of a town; I was hoping for a neat college pub or something to stop at, but no such luck), before ending up just east of the border of Rhode Island for the night. Providence is next on the itinerary. Using Wikitravel I've found some places that may be of interest within the city. On a whim while on Wikitravel I checked out Portland, OR to see what they had to say about the city. Reading about it made me realize that I'm really beginning to miss the City of Roses. Of all the places I've been so far, very few seem to offer what Portland does. Maybe it's simply because I was raised there, and therefore am more familiar with it. Either way, I'm glad it is my destination.

Observation 3: When on the road, especially on your own, your mind tends to wander a lot. The thing is, you never think of the things you mean to ponder, at least not for long. In fact, often your mind leads itself to areas you'd prefer not to think of, and begins to repeat itself. Nothing can really show you what is on your mind more than 500 miles of interstate with nothing to do but think.

Status update: Well rested, slightly clean shaven (I decided to stop looking like a bum and give my beard a bit of a shape. Plus my neck was itching like crazy).
Miles under my belt: ~5400. I'm pretty close to my estimated half way point, although the path I have taken has deviated quite widely from my planned route. Check the map under the links section to see where I've been so far.
Flaw - Endangered Species and Through the Eyes
Incubus - Morning View


Cate said...

I was just talking about taking up rollerskating.

g said...

ah, thanks for having me along Mr. Douglas, it was a swell time. i definitely miss the daily beer swilling.

that is funny that plymouth is teeny. Jamestown will be a little more impressive I think.

Keep it real homie.

g said...

whoa, i just added up how much i spent during the trip.... ouch.

i recommend eating ramen and sleeping in your car from now on, cuz holy crap, thats a lot of cash. :)

g said...

dude, i just read about quebec on wikipedia... i highly recommend reading the history section, its pretty crazy.

first thing: officially, the province of Quebec has not signed the constitution of Canada which accepts it as a province (to this day!!). There was a terrorist organization in the 60s that did all manner of horrible things in the pursuit of Quebec's liberation.

second thing: French is the only official language in Quebec - they don't even have to put up english signs at all!

third thing: they've had a lot of referendums about whether quebec should be its own nation, but they have all failed (although narrowly). right now, the prime minister of canada says that quebec is a 'nation within a nation [canada]', but the problem is that no one knows what that means.

so yeah, quebec is a freaking crazy place. Also, after the US revoluationay war, 50,000 loyalists from the US fled to Quebec. (i remember we were pondering that).

anyway, i thought you might be interested. :)