The next chapter.

After living in the Philadelphia metropolitan region for the last 9 years, the preparations for my move to Massachusetts are well under way. This past weekend I spent several days apartment shopping, furniture shopping, and supply shopping in preparation for relocating to the Boston area. Despite the hectic schedule, however, I decided to take a timeout for another installment of the Voyage of DH! This week’s trip took me to the site of one of the most storied, successful, and at times controversial, sports franchises in America.

Before I could get to Boston, however, I first had to attend to some car repairs, a parting gift from the New Jersey Turnpike. Driving home from a work event last week, a large stone flew out from under a tractor-trailer and hit my windshield. There did not seem to be much damage at the time, so I shrugged it off and kept driving. The next morning, however, a large crack had appeared in my windshield. After consulting with my insurance company, I decided to get the windshield replaced before I move to Boston. My local Safelite took care of the installation, and after a few hours of waiting, I had a new windshield installed, to the tune of $350. Ouch.

Thank you, NJ Turnpike. This was taken the morning after the stone hit the windshield. By the time the windshield was replaced, the crack had spread another three inches.
New windshield installed. One enormous benefit: five years of rock chips, pitting, and scratches had the old windshield looking a bit tired. This new one makes me feel like I have a new car. The whole world looks so clear!

I drove up to Boston on Thursday and began my apartment hunting Friday morning. I had plans to meet friends for dinner on Friday evening, and so with a few hours to kill on Friday afternoon (my apartment visits had wrapped up early), I decided to detour to Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. Located in Foxborough, Massachusetts, Gillette Stadium opened in 2002, replacing the older Foxboro Stadium, which was the home of the Patriots from 1971-2002. Foxboro Stadium was a no-frills sporting venue, built in the early 70’s to a strict budget and it lacked many of the amenities of the newer stadiums being built in the 90’s and early 2000’s. The team was also lackluster during most of the Foxboro Stadium years, the highlight being “The Tuck Rule Game” in January of 2002, when during a snowstorm, the Patriots beat the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoffs on the way to their eventual first Super Bowl victory (via Wikipedia).

Opening in 2002, Gillette Stadium is not just a sports stadium, but a shopping, dining, and entertainment megaplex called Patriot Place. Besides attending a football game, you can eat at restaurants like 5 Guys Burgers and Fries and Olive Garden, shop at Bass Pro Shops and Reebok, go to the movies, or take a turn at bowling. I chose to spend some time visiting the Patriots Hall of Fame, which celebrates the Patriots’ history. While it has a good overview of football history and the early years of the Pats, many of the exhibits are focused on the glory years of 2001-2017, which has seen the Patriots reach an unparalleled level of success: 14 AFC East Division Championships, 7 AFC Conference Championships, and 5 Super Bowl victories. There was little mention in the Hall of Fame of the controversies that have surrounded the Patriots over the past decade, most especially “Spygate” and “Deflategate.” Overall, however, the museum is a good presentation of Patriots history and general football information.

Arriving in New England with a reminder that winter is more vicious in Massachusetts than it is in New Jersey: there was still quite a lot of snow on the ground from a storm the previous week.
The town of Foxborough, Massachusetts. It’s a typical small New England town with one notable exception: signs plastered everywhere reminding you that this is the home of the Patriots.
Foxborough is laid out like many other old historical towns in New England: a central square (or commons) forms the heart of the town, with many of the oldest buildings surrounding it.
Arrived at Gillette Stadium!
During the off-season, you can look down on the field from near one of the end zones.
New England sports fans consider this sacred ground.
The entrance to the Patriots Hall of Fame (“The Hall”) is on the right.
A display case with memorabilia from the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl victory a few weeks ago. The football in the center of the front row was the actual ball carried by running back James White for the game-winning touchdown.
Less focus is on the early years of the Pats, when they were one of the least successful franchises in the NFL (the unfortunate monicker “The Patsies” stuck with them for a while).
Head Coach Bill Belichick’s trademark sleeveless sweatshirt (he cuts the sleeves off personally). This was worn during his 200th career victory as a head coach. One of the coolest exhibits is an interactive display where you can select a play in the Pats’ playbook, and a video of Belichick is shown as he diagrams the play for you and then narrates game footage of the play in action. Pretty awesome for any sports fan.
This video game allows you to pass or kick a football, and then it shows you the physics behind the game. Cool stuff.
A display on the history of football in America, much of which is focused on the role of the Ivy League Colleges (Harvard, Yale, Penn, Dartmouth, Cornell, Princeton, Brown, and Columbia) in popularizing the game. My favorite was the press clipping from the Harvard Crimson newspaper: In 1968, Harvard and Yale tied 29-29 in a game that Yale was heavily favored to win, leading to the Headline: “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29.”
A video of “The Tuck Rule Game”, as well as the bronzed cleats that Adam Vinatieri wore when he kicked one of the most difficult kicks in football history: a 45-yard field goal to tie the game through driving wind and snow.
Interactive displays that honor each of the members of the Patriots Hall of Fame. I spent several minutes learning everything I could about Troy Brown, one of my favorite players of all time.
You can stand in a huddle with a life-size replica of Tom Brady (hint: he’s very tall). I took this photo of the wristband that he wears during every game. To save time, the coaches call a number, and then Tom is able to know exactly what play has been called and relay it to his teammates in the huddle. For instance, the coaches telling Tom to run play 5 means that the team is going to use “0 Flood R-34 Gap A Shark.”
As you leave, you walk through an enormous gift shop. Of course.
Dinner with some friends at Red Bones Barbecue in Somerville, MA, one of my favorite restaurants in Boston. By the end of the meal, we were absolutely stuffed. I went with the pulled pork sandwich, but one of my friends ordered the beef brisket (pictured right) which was simply amazing.
I’m back in Boston!

The Hall at Patriot Place is a great place to visit for both die-hard New England Patriots fanatics, but also casual football fans. There are exhibits both for children and for adults, and you can easily spend an hour or two there. The Hall is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturdays 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, and Sundays 10:00 am – 7:00 pm. Adult tickets are $10, seniors and active duty military are $7, and children 5-12 are $5 (children under 5 are free).

My apartment search has successfully concluded, so much of the next several weeks will be spent setting up my new home and beginning a new job. Stay tuned, however, for new adventures around New England, and thanks for coming along on another Voyage of DH!

‘Til next time.

6 thoughts on “The next chapter.

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