Love That Dirty Water
"Love that dirty water,
Boston, you're my home"
On August 25, Susan and I, both of our dogs (1 guide, 1 pet) piled
into our Toyota with luggage, computers and a few other things that we
thought we might need on our journey to Massachusetts.
The ride started in St. Petersburg and, on the first day, we got all
of the way to Florence, South Carolina. We had no idea that it would
take so long to drive through Georgia from south to north, we
definitely underestimated its size by a lot.
While they share a name, Florence, Italy may be culturally as far as
possible from its South Carolina namesake. We stayed at the Red Roof
Inn as we would every night on the road because they allow pet dogs at
all of their motels. From our hotel, we had a few options for a place
to eat, Waffle House, Omelet House and a very scary looking place that
also had "house" in its name. We only stayed one night there so the
culinary aspects of this town didn't really matter much. As far as I
could tell, the only Florence, SC exists is to offer food from cheap
southern chains and to sell fireworks.
I would have thought all of this homeland security stuff would have
cut down on selling explosives to random customers but, alas, I
suppose they figure the rednecks who frequent such places do not have
the intellectual capacity to organize an assault on anything of
importance and real terrorists must not believe that they can buy some
pretty serious inflammatory and concussion products from a ton of road
Day two we drove from lovely Florence to Virginia. As we approached
the North Carolina border, we found that a whole lot of billboards
advertised a place called south of the Border, a Mexican theme place
that, according to a leaflet in our room claimed to be exactly half
way from New York to Miami. It gave no explanation for its Mexican
theme in the middle of the Carolinas and I chose not to ask. As we
passed it, Sue described a really huge sombrero and a statue of a
Mexican guy that also seemed huge. From one of the billboards, we
learned that the complex housed "Rocket City" which claimed to be the
"largest fireworks store in North America." This in no way made me
Upon reaching Virginia, we followed our MapQuest directions to
Virginia Beach. We checked into the Red Roof Inn, took a quick nap
and then went to visit my friend and guide dog school classmate and
her Shotsi, a lovely goldador. As guide dog school gave us assigned
seats for all of our meals, Misty and I sat beside each other for the
entire month and our dogs sat on the floor together and became
friends. As we started down the hallway to Misty's apartment,
X-Celerator saw Shotsi and growled a little and then recognized his
old friend and practically dragged me to the apartment.
At Misty's, the two guide dogs enjoyed a lot of play time. They did
some doggie boxing, had a tug of war with some toys and generally
jumped around making doggie sounds. Baby, our 20 pound pet dog, found
the behavior of the two bigger animals a bit disturbing and insisted
on barking at them and trying to herd them as he finds such displays
of joy unbecoming of a sophisticated dog.
The following day, we drove north from Virginia, like Georgia, much
larger than we thought. We finally got to Maryland, Delaware and
finally Edison, New Jersey named for Thomas Edison whose famous
laboratory remains preserved in Menlo Park, one town away from the
town that bears his name. I grew up a few miles from Menlo Park in a
town called Westfield, New Jersey and we visited Edison's laboratory,
now a museum, on numerous field trips over the years.
Today, Edison is home to an enormous number of immigrants from South
Asia. I had hoped to eat in a South Indian restaurant which also has
a franchise in Cunard Place, New Delhi. Unfortunately, they stay
closed on Mondays and we had no intention of staying an extra day in
Jersey just to enjoy a meal.
The following day, we left on the final leg of our trip. This took us
north on the New Jersey Turnpike and we made our first stop at the
Vince Lombardi rest area to offer the dogs a time to relieve
themselves, for the humans to also relieve ourselves and to get gas.
At the pumps, a young man with a thick Latino accent asked us what we
wanted and it occurred to me that perhaps Lou Dobbs argument that
foreigners displace Americans from jobs must have some truth. What
person growing up in this country doesn't envy any immigrant with a
job pumping gas at the famous New Jersey Turnpike rest area named for
a giant of football history. I also wondered why New Jersey had a
rest area named for Lombardi as the great coach didn't come from
Jersey and he most famously coached the Green Bay Packers, a team
located in Wisconsin.
The rest of the ride from Jersey to Natick, Massachusetts went without
anything eventful. We stopped for lunch in Connecticut where I
enjoyed a turkey sandwich. From there it was smooth sailing all the
way to Susan's mom's house.
We arrived last Tuesday and have gotten into Cambridge most of the
days since. We've seen old friends and enjoyed the general
strangeness that is Harvard Square. We've eaten in a number of really
excellent places without analogue in our part of Florida. We've
gotten tickets to a number of jazz performances for later this month
and have enjoyed almost everything we've done so far.
X-Celerator, my guide dog, has performed excellently. On this past
Saturday, he got his first subway ride. We rode from the Riverside
station, the furthest west in the MBTA system to Park Street where we
changed to the Red Line that would bring us to Harvard Square. Before
heading down the stairs to the platform for the Red line, I slapped
some red tiles on a wall to the staircase. I told X-Celerator "watch
red." Yesterday, three days when we arrived at Park Street station, a
chaotic and very noisy place for people, I said, "find red" and, on
his first time leading me in that station, he confidently walked
directly to the same set of stairs I showed him three days earlier.
The doggie has constantly impressed me in a series of challenging
situations in Cambridge and on the trains in and out of the city.
We're having fun here in the north, enjoying the early fall weather
and the great restaurants.