Shipping Up To Boston

It’s been a little stressful at work recently, so I decided to jump on the road and drive up to the city I consider my second home, Boston. I lived there while I went to school for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, and have many close friends who still live in the city. Every few months I get in my car and head north to go to The Hub (one of Boston’s many nicknames). With the end of the fiscal year approaching, and having some use-it-or-lose-it personal time to spend, I decided to leave work early on Friday and pay New England a visit for the weekend.

Leaving Southern New Jersey around noon, I was met with awful weather. Rain-driven wind soaked the NJ Turnpike, slowling traffic to a crawl several times. The Garden State Parkway was not much of an improvement, although Northern New Jersey and New York didn’t seem as bad. It was not until I entered Connecticut that I realized what a nightmare my drive would be: traffic, rain, traffic, rain, traffic, rain, and repeat. I think I took years off the life of my car’s brakes and transmission, crawling for hours through rain-soaked Connecticut. Slated to arrive at a friend’s house in Boston around 6:00, I finally rolled into his driveway at 8:15 pm.

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Connecticut traffic. This was my view for most of Friday afternoon.
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Connecticut is kind, enough, to provide easy-on, easy-off rest stops. No need to hunt for a clean gas station bathroom, The Constitution State has you covered.
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Seeing this sign in Hartford usually means that Boston is about an hour or so away. Not Friday- it would take three more hours to get to my destination.
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I passed this milestone on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Despite the awful rain, accidents, and the Toyota Camry that was ablaze on the shoulder of the road around exit 12, traffic on the Mass Pike never slowed below 65 mph.
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There’s a sight for sore eyes…

The weather this weekend was somewhere between miserable and consistently awful. I never once took my camera out of its case; my plans for a great blog post with lots of colorful photos from the city I love has been postponed for another time. However, I did still manage to have a great time with friends.

For starters, breakfast on Saturday morning was at Kelly’s Diner. Located in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kelly’s is an authentic dining car, produced in 1953. It was originally located in Delaware, but in 1996 was purchased, disassembled, trucked up to Somerville, and reassembled in painstaking detail. The diner is authentically 50’s Americana. It also has great diner grub, and is a must-visit for my friends when I come to town.

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It’s been trendy to build diners that look like they are from the 1950’s. Kelly’s IS from the 1950’s.
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Born and raised in New Jersey, I appreciate a good diner.

One of my friends’ sons has his sixth birthday soon, so we did a quick Target trip after breakfast. Since his birthday party has a Star Wars theme, I was consulted on decoration ideas. My answer? Buy everything. All of it. At once.

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How does a 6-year old celebrate a birthday? With Star Wars. Lots and lots of Star Wars.
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Another friend decided I needed a companion for my drive back to NJ. The force was strong in my car today…

After running errands, I took a little time by myself to visit Harvard University, where I earned my master’s degree. Established in 1636 as a seminary for the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Harvard has grown into a school known around the world. In fact, I almost feel silly for trying to explain Harvard- is there anyone who does not know this school? Yet, for all its mystique, Harvard is still an institution created and run by people. And the professors, staff, and fellow students I met there were some of the best people I’ve ever known. I like visiting periodically, just to reconnect with my old school.

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A very rainy Harvard Yard. Harvard Hall is on the left (it’s the second Harvard Hall- the original burned down in 1764) and University Hall is in the distance.
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University Hall. The statue of John Harvard is on the pedestal in front. Why is the toe of the statue shiny? Because it’s considered good luck to rub the toe. Who rubs it? Tourists. Lots and lots of tourists. Also, that’s not really John Harvard (a student sat for the statue).
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If you saw the movie Good Will Hunting, there is a scene between Will and Skylar at an outdoor cafe, which was filmed at the Au Bon Pain in Harvard Square. Sadly, that location is no more, as Harvard closed it and the other stores in the Smith Campus Center, as that building is being renovated.

One place where I do stop often is Widener Library at Harvard. Finished in 1915, Widener Library is the flagship library for Harvard University. It was named after Harry Elkins Widener, a Harvard graduate and avid book collector who perished on the RMS Titanic, along with his father. His grief-stricken mother constructed the library as a monument to her son, and also as a repository for Harry’s personal book collection. Widener is only open to Harvard faculty, staff, students, and alumni. The throngs of tourists are forced to wait outside while those with ID cards (ahem) go right in.

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Widener Library, in all its imposing glory.
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The rotunda for the Harry Elkins Widener Reading Room. In the glass cases are artifacts that tell the story of Harry, his fate on the Titanic, and the creation of this magnificent building.
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The Harry Elkins Widener Reading Room. On all four walls are book cases that hold Harry’s personal library collection. Including…
Gutenberg Bible at Widener Library
…his family’s Gutenberg Bible. Have you ever seen one before? I hadn’t until I came here.

After spending some more time with friends, we made our way to another place that I always have to visit: Gourmet Dumpling House in Boston’s Chinatown. Serving xiao long bao, or “soup dumplings,” Gourmet Dumpling House is very popular, and always crowded. They do not take reservations, so expect to show up and wait outside, no matter what the weather. Rain? Wind? Snow? Scorching heat? Dress appropriately and wait, because the meal that follows will be absolutely worth it. The restaurant does not have a website, but there is a page on Yelp.

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Gourmet Dumpling House, accept no substitutes.
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Soup dumplings. Each dumpling is filled with pork and crab meat and a warm broth. How I eat them: Pick the dumpling up in the spoon, bite off the top, suck out the broth, and then eat the rest of the dumpling. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

It was a fun trip. On Sunday morning I got on the road early and headed back home… in the rain. The rain did not let up until I was in western Connecticut, and the sun finally broke through the clouds. Later, as I was driving over the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, I hit a bit of a traffic jam, but that was alright, as I got to watch the building of the new Tappan Zee bridge, which will replace the original structure, built in 1955. Apparently, the current Tappan Zee Bridge is considered a potential disaster (!) given its age and deterioration, with it being referred to by officials as the “hold-your-breath” bridge (via Wikipedia).

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Stuck in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge, watching the new version being built (on the right).
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The new bridge being built beside the old one. After the articles I read about the old bridge while writing this post… they really should hurry up with the new one.
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Have I mentioned how much I like the paint color Polished Metal Metallic? Up close, the car is completely filthy. From a distance, however, it still looks freshly washed.
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Finally home. I filled the tank in Boston, and almost 350 miles later, I’m barely under a half tank. This car continues to impress.

I made it home after a wonderful weekend. Visiting Boston always helps me relax, and despite the weather, it was still a great trip. The Accord handled all kinds of awful weather conditions very well, the car remaining sure-footed despite slick, rain-soaked roads.

Thank for coming along on another voyage of DH!

‘Til next time.

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