The Beast and I had a week-long American road trip in November. What follows are the highlights, told in two parts. Here is Part I: New England.
Recap: After nine or so hours in the car, at 7:00 p.m. we arrive in Concord, the home of literary giants like Hawthorne, Alcott, Thoreau and Emerson. It is pitch black, but we find our bed and breakfast, the Hawthorne Inn, settle in, and then walk about a mile into town to have dinner at the Colonnial Inn where I enjoy a bowl of clam chowder and an arugula salad topped with Vermont burrata and the Beast inhales a “Yankee pot roast”. Back at the B&B, I choose the 1994 film adaptation of Little Women from their DVD collection to watch in our four poster bed in our authentic room. From our window, we can see Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote the book. The next day we have a superb breafkast at the B&B, tour the charming downtown’s antique shops, walk around Walden Pond, visit the Concord Museum, whose main attraction include’s Thoreau’s writing desk, walk to the author’s ridge (Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau and Alcott, nearly side-by side) in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery, and tour Orchard House with two other tourists, both women. We end the day by visiting an important battle site of of the American Revolution on some bridge. It is dark. The Beast was emotional.
Lowlight: Me telling the Beast that the GPS we’ve borrowed from his parents for the trip is broken. The Beast pulls over at a rest stop and then turns it on. Also, still in a great deal of pain from a recent shoulder injury, I do some stretches while we hike around Walden Pond. The Beast says, “Maybe you’re dwelling on the pain too much and that’s making it worse.” I immediately walk ahead of him, continue to swing my arms around in large circles and start fake-crying. The Beast asks me what is wrong. I say, “Do you think I want this trip to be about me and my back pain? I don’t. My pain is real. And I haven’t pooped since yesterday.” The Beast replies, “I’m sorry we fought. I know your pain is real. From now on, I will honour your pain.”
Highlight: After our fight at Walden Pond, we spot a water bird. “Is that a duck?” I asked. “No, it’s a Heron or a Cormorant. Wouldn’t it be fucking awesome if we saw a Bald Eagle right now?” Asks the Beast. A few seconds later, he says, “I’m not even joking right now but there’s a Bald Eagle.” The glorious nature siting makes us forget about our fight.
Soundbite: (In our authentic B&B room)
Foodie: Look at my nightie! It’s like a Little Women nightie! I brought it on purpose because it’s old-timey! I love our room so much. Don’t you?
Foodie: Are you asleep? Hopefully I will go poo in the morning (I do not.)
Recap: The GPS takes us to a dead-end. We can smell the ocean but it’s so dark out that we can’t see it. We finally find the Soundings Seaside Resort hotel, where it feels like we are the only guests, and then head back out to find authentic New England food. We stumble upon Jake Rooney’s Family Restaurant. Our server sounds like she was in the movie A Perfect Storm. Her accent is so authentic that I can barely sit still in my seat. We order a lobster roll and deep-fried clams for dinner. Everything tastes authentic. Our server gives us instructions to get to a liquor store because I need a drink. We buy a bottle of wine and fall asleep before finishing one glass. Our alarm does not go off the next morning and we are rushed to get to the ferry terminal that’ll take us to Nantucket. We are dressed, packed and in the car in about seven minutes. We make it to the terminal.
Lowlight: With four minutes to catch the ferry, the Beast grew impatient with me about organizing the contents of the car (getting all the garbage into a plastic bag, separating the dirty laundry from the clean, etc.) “You better be doing stuff that’s essential right now or I am going to be very upset,” he warns. In my mind, there is no question that what I am doing is essential for us to enjoy our vacation.
Highlight: Starting our audio book of Moby Dick while driving from Concord to the Cape. And just me thinking about the movie Jaws and wondering if Amityville really exists or not.
Soundbite: (On the ferry to Nantucket)
Foodie: I can’t believe I didn’t even have time to take a photo of the ocean this morning from the hotel.
Beast: You realize that we’re surrounded by the ocean right now, right?
Recap: This place is incredible. We check into the Jared Coffin House Bed and Breakfast. Everyone is so nice there. It feels like we have the island all to ourselves. It is just so pretty and authentic. We visit the Whaling Museum. I am still in a great deal of pain but the the skeleton of a sperm whale makes me feel a little better. We visit Murray’s Toggery Shop, a bit of an institution on Nantucket: they sell authentic New England clothing–think seersucker jackets and loafers and walls of khaki pants in the shade of “Nantucket red”. We visit the Ralph Lauren shop and the women there fall in love with the Beast. Then we rent bikes and ride them along bike paths and end up on a beautiful beach. It is cold, but wonderful. I obsess over buying a size medium in a kelly green Nantucket hooded sweatshirt with a whale on it. It is too big. Before catching the ferry back to the mainland, I buy a size small.
Lowlight: We decid to have a fancy dinner at a place called American Seasons. The chef there has cooked at the James Beard House five times or something, and it was featured in Gourmet. But it was too fancy. All we wanted was a bowl of clam chowder like Ishmael and Queequeg have in Moby Dick.
Highlight: Before catching the ferry back to the mainland, I find out about an authentic bakery on the island and we walk there and buy authentic goods, like plain doughnuts and snickerdoodle cookies, for breakfast. There are real Nantucketers there, getting their breakfasts, too.
Foodie: I can’t believe I still haven’t pooped. I am like literally full of shit right now.
Stay tuned for The Trip: American Style Part II: Sons of Liberty (Philly cheesesteak wars in Philadelphia, Thanksgiving dinner in Washington D.C., George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon and Gettysburg. Plus, find out when I have my first American BM.)