Winter is coming.

As we reach the midpoint of December, there is a chill in the air. Temperatures are plummeting throughout much of the country. Some regions have already received their first snowfall of the year. In the words of Ned Stark, the leader of House Stark in the series Game of Thrones: “Winter is coming.” And, with a day off on Friday, what better way to spend my weekend than by visiting Boston, where temperatures were predicted to be 8-10 degrees colder than in New Jersey. While others might use their vacations to visit tropical islands, I head toward the coldest possible locations. If there was a bridge to Antarctica, you better believe DH and I would head there.

Kidding aside, I was looking forward to a nice weekend in Boston, visiting friends and old favorite spots, as well as doing some Christmas shopping. Before heading up, however, I stopped by my local Honda dealer on Thursday night to pick up some winter mats for my car’s interior, hopefully to keep the inevitable slush, salt, and snow from staining my carpets. While I was there, I asked the service department to give the car a courtesy check before my long drive. Everything was fine, although the mechanic who checked my car noted the battery was a little weak. The service advisor was relaying this to me while the TV in the waiting room was showing the evening news on ABC. At that exact moment, the reporter on the TV mentioned that temperatures in Boston on Saturday would be in the mid-20’s. I turned to the advisor and said: “New battery. Do it. Do it now.” An unexpected expense, but better safe than sorry.

Friday morning, I headed up to Boston, arriving at a friend’s home late afternoon. We headed out to dinner at a buffet restaurant that served Chinese food and all-you-can-eat sushi. It was magnificent, although by the time I was finished I was so stuffed I was afraid I’d have to roll myself to the car, as getting up from the table proved a bit of a challenge. We decided to head to Boston Common, the central public park in Boston, for a little post-dinner exercise. Decorated for the holidays, the Common was absolutely beautiful.

Saturday I drove to Harvard Square for some Christmas shopping and also to visit some favorite haunts. I also was finally able to stop by the Harvard Art Museums. Housed in what was once known as the Fogg Museum, the Harvard Art Museums holds a sizable collection of art, from ancient Egyptian, Buddhist, and Greek, to modern installations. The Fogg Museum was one of my favorite places to visit when I was a graduate student. However, the museum had been closed for a major renovation from 2008 through 2013, and didn’t fully reopen until 2014. This was my first time back since the reopening, and I was absolutely blown away by the new galleries. I spent several hours there before departing Harvard, and spending the rest of my weekend visiting friends, before finally heading home Sunday afternoon.

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Every time I drive to Boston, I’m amazed at the progress on the new Tappan Zee Bridge on the left. Aside from one section, the bridge spans almost the entire river. Meanwhile, I am happy to report that the old “Hold Your Breath Bridge” is still standing.
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No significance to this picture at all. I just liked how DH looked in the mid-afternoon light while stopping in Connecticut.
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DH casting a long shadow in the setting December sun. A few minutes later a large stone would fly out from under the tractor trailer in the picture. The stone hit my windshield and chipped it in three places. Sigh.
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Flaming Grill & Buffet in Revere, Massachusetts, where my friends took me to dinner. It should really be named “Eat Until Your Pants Burst Grill and Buffet.”
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The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge.
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Christmas decorations near downtown Boston.
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Boston Common lit up for the holidays, with the Boston skyline in the background.
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Every year an ice skating rink is set up at the Boston Common Frog Pond.
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Admission prices are based on height. 58″ and taller? That’ll be $6.00. If you’re shorter than 58″, you skate for free.
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Returning to my friends’ house, we played old Nintendo games on their Retron 2, a system that allows you to play old video games. We relived our childhood for a while. And yes, I still remember where all the hidden 1UPs are…
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29 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday morning. Seat heaters on HIGH, please.
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Arriving at Harvard Square, I parked underground. It was more expensive, but it was warm!
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Harvard Yard, on a cold December morning.
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Memorial Hall at Harvard, built to honor the Harvard students and faculty who perished fighting in the US Civil War.
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The Harvard Art Museum, formerly know as the Fogg.
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The Calderwood Courtyard, which lights the galleries through its glass pyramid roof.
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Paintings and statues by the European masters.
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Ancient Chinese Buddhist art.
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Turkish manuscript from 1400 AD.
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Seals from the Ancient Near East. Whoever thought of this magnifying glass which can slide over any of the objects deserves a raise. I have never seen a  museum with something like this… I’m often left to  just squint at the tiny inscriptions and engravings.
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An Egyptian cat statue from 640 BC.
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The American masters’ paintings, including this one of George Washington by Charles Wilson Peale.
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A more modern piece: one artist’s interpretation of the Cold War.
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Sunday morning in Natick, Massachusetts to see my friends’ son sing in a choir.

A Timeout for Tires:

On Saturday, my Dad had called and asked if I was worried about potentially driving home through snow on Sunday afternoon. I said no, and for good reason: the tires on my car. Several years ago, disappointed with the performance of the stock tires on my old Subaru (which managed to cause my car to skid in a moderate rainfall), I was recommended to look into tires by Nokian, a Finnish company. Nokian invented the winter tire over 8 decades ago, and is one of the leading companies for winter tires. DH rolls on a set of Nokian WR G3 tires, which are classified as “All Weather” tires. Different, than all-seasons, All-Weather tires incorporate a softer rubber compound, which enables them to grip snow and ice, even in very cold weather. Most all-seasons freeze and harden under 40 degrees, which causes a loss of traction. Essentially, all-seasons turn into hockey pucks in cold weather, which can lead to fishtailing, skidding, and losing control of your vehicle. The advanced compounds in the WR G3 tires keep them pliable in cold weather, meaning better traction, which helps with starting in deep snow, handling icy corners, and preventing the car from sliding through intersections. I have had Nokians on my car since 2013, and am a customer for life.

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The Nokian WR G3. It carries the Severe Service Emblem (a symbol of a snowflake within a mountain peak), which is a government standard that indicates suitability for severe winter weather performance.
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All-Season tires say “Mud and Snow,” but that is misleading, as it only refers to the tread design. The Nokian tires are made of a soft rubber compound to ensure adequate traction. In addition, the grooves are polished, to evacuate snow, and the tread pattern is designed to push snow, slush, and water out the sides of the tire, ensuring maximum grip.
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Flurries falling on the Garden State Parkway in northern New Jersey. I motored on, reassured by the Nokian tires on DH.

I had a wonderful weekend in Boston, and a much needed mini-vacation from work. I returned home refreshed, ready to tackle the next few weeks at my job. As the winter months get colder, the posts here on The Voyage of DH will likely become a little less frequent, but do please check in from time to time, as I do have a few adventures planned during the winter months. In the meantime, happy holidays to you and your family!

‘Til next time.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Winter is coming.

  1. A lot of stuff caught my eye in here! The architecture of those bridges is beautiful. We just don’t have structures like that out this way. What was the best item on the menu at Flaming Grill? And I love that you spent some quality time with a 1985 NES!

    Liked by 1 person

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