Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Day 24 - Back to Massachusetts

June 30 - This was a travel day, so the writeup will be short and sweet. We got out of Oneida in great shape at 8:45 a.m. Both girls were inspiringly cooperative. Boston is almost dead east of Oneida, but we took a quick side trip west back to Can-of-soda to take a couple of pictures - most importantly of the purple house on the main street that we'd driven by several times.

The countryside in eastern New York State is beautiful - rolling hills and hardwood forests, the Erie Canal or the Mohawk River along side. Even the rest area on the New York State Thruway was pleasant - they had separate trash cans for recyclables - the first time I'd ever seen that. In Louisiana, we're happy if people use the trash cans at all. My attempt to photograph the Hudson River from the passenger seat of the CRV was thwarted by construction in the right lane and a bridge with a lot of steel.

We planned to eat lunch in Massachusetts countryside so we got off the Mass Turnpike almost as soon as we got on and started searching. The first two towns, Stockbridge and Chester, yielded nothing - any restaurant we found, and there were precious few, was either dinner only or closed on Monday. The song remained the same, almost, in Huntington, but Kay decided to keep looking after I was ready to head down the highway to Westfield, which was in bigger type on the map. Her determination was rewarded by the Foothills Grill, a struggling little place over the bridge on the other side of town. Their food was tasty even though the soup cook was out sick, and I enjoyed talking about the local economy (bad) with the proprietor. She laughed at my theory that the locals were trying to discourage travellers from passing through their paradise by failing to provide any services, but she did admit that their dedication to preserving the view prevented her from posting a sign to let travellers know about their restaurant.

We rolled into the Boston area right on schedule - early enough to miss rush hour, but as it turned out, not early enough to miss the amazing practice of driving in the breakdown lane (what we call the shoulder) on I-95 during rush hour. People don't just drive in this lane, they speed and pass other cars. Drivers merging from the on ramps have a new challenge--avoiding cars zipping along in the shoulder. God forbid someone should have a flat tire. I drove slack-jawed until we exited I-95 onto the next freeway, which didn't allow such a dangerous practice.

Sac took us straight to the Hampton Inn on Wood Road in Braintree, a wonderful hotel (a virtual palace compared to the Vacation Lodge in Pigeon Forge or the Super 8 in Oneida) that features free hot breakfast, a shuttle bus for trips to the mall and the train station, a pool, a laundry, wireless internet and duvets on the beds (no Bravo Network on the TV, to Kallie's dismay). We took immediate advantage of the laundry to wash dirty clothes that collected during our four days in central NY.

The laundry clean, we opted for a low stress evening - a quick dinner at a nearby restaurant and the 7:50 show of the new Pixar movie, Wall E. Pixar set the bar for animated features back where it was with their classics like Toy Story and Finding Nemo with an amazing story of "life" on a depopulated earth after humans have filled the planet with garbage and rocketed themselves into space to live (for the last 700 years). Title character Wall E is a robotic trash compactor. Early in the story he meets Eve (Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator), another robot sent back to earth by the humans to look for signs of life. It's love at first sight for Wall E (whose ideas on the subject come from an discarded VHS tape of the movie musical Hello Dolly). The rest of the first act develops the love story between Wall E and Eve without dialogue, just clicks, beeps and "facial" expressions. It's amazing stuff. The second act takes place with the humans in space. What we become will give you pause for thought. The filmmaker clearly liked 2001: A Space Odyssey a lot, though we never see a VHS tape of it. Even if you don't have kids, go see this captivating and unique (G-rated) movie.

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