Friday, August 31, 2007
The first sight you'll notice when you get off the boat is a boarded-up church near the docks. Except for the boards and the worn paint, the church looks as if it was transplanted from the rolling hills of Vermont. The church served Fort Andrews, which was built at the turn of the 20th century. The fort was abandoned after World War II, and there are numerous dilapidated brick buildings on the east head of the islands that are fenced off from the public. Probably the most notable use of Fort Andrews was that it housed Italian prisoners of war during the Second World War. Definitely an odd connection you wouldn't expect and one that's more interesting when you notice that the shape of Peddock's is fairly similar to Italy.
What gives Peddock's its unique character among the 34 islands, though, is its collection of summer cottages and islanders. Most of the summer cottages, which lack running water and electricity, are located in the middle part of the island. Follow the central visitor path from the Fort and it will bring you past the cottages. Some of the cottages are in tough shape, abandoned and falling apart. But you're also struck by the bright yellows, blues, reds, greens, and pinks (yes, pink) used to paint the well-kept cottages. And some of these "cottages" are bigger than I would have thought. Some are more like summer beach homes with porches, decks, patio furniture, and grills. (The outhouses, though, let you know you're not on the Cape.) The history of the cottages is as colorful as their paint jobs. The antecedents of some cottages date to the 1890s when Portuguese fishermen floated (yes, floated) their houses to the island after being forced to move from Long Island. There are stories of bootleggers during prohibition and many generations grew up on the island.
After you pass the Middle Head, keep going on the visitors path to the West Head. Soon the pathway takes you through a denser overgrowth. The pathway suddenly becomes a tunnel as you are enveloped by the green canopy. It's a pretty impressive sight.
Unfortunately, the public ferry to Peddock's only runs through Labor Day, but there are a few days left and the weather is supposed to be great. One piece of advice: show up at the dock at least 15 minutes early to catch the ferry off the island since it has a tendency to show early or confirm pickup with the ferry operator.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Monday, August 27, 2007
Survey says... It's when you're on a road trip that you discover the benefits of satellite radio. So since I don't have it, it was a bit interesting trying to find suitable radio entertainment driving through the deep woods of Maine before the French radio stations kicked in to leave me completely at a loss. Driving out of Portland, the best option was 87.7 on the FM dial, which carries the same frequency of Channel 6 on the TV. Since Portland has a Channel 6, we listened to Family Feud but it really loses something when you can't see the answers on the board.
Maybe Grimace is on the loose, too... When we were driving back to the States from Canada, we had to make the requisite stop at Border Patrol. It's always interesting the questions you get asked. Going into Canada, they seemed most concerned about bringing in alcohol, tobacco, and firearms. Coming back into the U.S., they wanted to know if we had bought anything in Canada that we were bringing in. Since we bought no souvenirs (not that Quebec doesn't have beaucoup opportunities to do so), the only thing we had was the bacon cheeseburger (hamburger wasn't an option, interestingly) I got at McDonald's 20 minutes before and hadn't eaten yet. I always prefer to follow the full disclosure policy in front of federal agents, so I said all I had bought was the hamburger. I thought he was making small talk when he asked if I polished it off. (It was around lunch time.) When I said I hadn't, he let me know that I couldn't bring it into the U.S. although I could pull over and eat it. Choosing not to do that, I tossed it. I imagine it's a beef regulation rather than any concern that the Hamburgler is plotting against any Burger King targets in the U.S.
I hear the Hanging Gardens of Babylon are gone, too... On the way back, we stopped at the former site of the Old Man of the Mountain in New Hampshire. The Old Man was the state's symbol, showing up on license plates and road signs. In May 2003, the Old Man suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed. So I was curious what has become of the site. We pulled into the parking lot and there were a few other cars there (probably a few more than I expected), but there was no notice that the Old Man had actually left the building, so to speak. The museum was shuttered, but the notice said it was because it was under construction. Not until you made the five-minute walk down to Profile Lake did you notice there is no man and find a sign explaining what happened that day in May. I guess there's a memorial that is now in the works, but if you didn't know the Man is gone, be forewarned before visiting the site.
By the way, if you are traveling to Canada, the country has done away with any refund of the GST it charges. That's too bad, since the federal and Quebec provincial taxes were pretty steep. And since the Canadian "looney" is now on par with the dollar, don't expect any deals.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Given the weather in Portland, it's probably a good idea that the Sea Dogs are no longer an affiliate of the Florida Marlins. They are the AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, and the design of Hadlock Field certainly takes its inspiration from Fenway Park. Left field is dominated by the "Maine Monster," a nearly identical recreation of the Green Monster. Both walls are 37 feet high, but the Maine Monster is 315 feet down the line not 310, it's not as long, and it's made of wood. No one got a hit off the Monster last night, so we couldn't see how the bounces off the wall may differ. There's a miniature Citgo sign and Coke bottle on top of the wall for more Fenway flavor. But before you think you're in Boston, the giant L.L. Bean boot in right field gives you the proper local Maine flavor.
Hadlock is truly a neighborhood ballpark. More so than Fenway. It's next to the local gym and ice arena and across the street from triple deckers. Last night was Brandon Moss bobblehead night. We showed up right before gates opened, and as we walked by the triple deckers, we saw a long line snaking all around the block. Hundreds of people were waiting 90 minutes before the gates opened to get in-- and this is for a minor league game! (The free bobblehead was the real draw, though. Surprisingly, there were still some left when we got in the park.) Last night's game was a sellout-- another thing in common with Fenway.
We're leaving Freeport and its outlets behind today and heading north through Augusta and moose country to Quebec City.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I grew up on the North Shore, and there might as well be places on the South Shore that might as well be in Mongolia based on the numbers of times I’ve visited. I’ve been to Reykjavik, but never Randolph. Tokyo? Yes. Plymouth? No. Kangaroo Island? Yes. Martha’s Vineyard? No. Hull? Might as well be h-e-double hockey sticks. (I went to Cape Cod once when I was a kid, but that was one of those nightmare family trips. Haven’t been back since.)
Furnace Book Parkway. Fore River Bridge. The Braintree Split. These are just some far-off places I always hear about on the morning traffic reports. Well, last week I made a trip down to Nut Island and World’s End (which is where it might as well have been for a North Shore boy) for the Boston Harbor Islands book. I drove through Quincy, Weymouth, and Hingham. Crossed over Furnace Book Parkway and Fore River Bridge for the first time. Now I can put some places to the names!
The culture shock wasn’t nearly as bad as I had feared. I may take a trip back there in a few years. After all, the Pilgrims made it to Plymouth from England. Guess the trip down Route 3 wouldn’t be that bad.
Monday, August 13, 2007
The weather was nice last Thursday, and we wanted to sit outside, so we gave wagamama a try. It wasn't too crowded, but most of the outside seats were filled up. The seats are similar to long picnic tables, so we were put across from each other at the end of one of the tables. Another couple was at the other end with two seats in between, which eventually got filled up. If you're looking for some privacy with your meal, this may not be the place for you.
Most of the items on the menu are noodle dishes, which include either soba (thin) noodles or udon (thick) noodles. I had the teriyaki steak soba, slices of steak over thin noodles. According to The Boston Globe, wagamama added this item to the menu for the Boston location, and I'm glad they did because it was excellent. As a side dish (don't call them appetizers, presumably because they come with the meal and not bef0re) the tori kara age (deep-fried chicken prepared with soy sauce) was really good, too. Beer choices were a blend of Boston and Japan, with Asahi (available in a 22 oz. bottle), Kirin, and Sam Adams.
The waitstaff places orders on a handheld computer so that it gets to the kitchen ASAP. The food is served quickly also. While the computers are high-tech, the waitstaff use a decidedly low-tech method— chalk on the table— to note the numbers that correspond to your orders, so that the food is delivered to the right location.
According to their web site, today is opening day for wagamama's Harvard Square location, so you may want to check them out there as well.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Friday, August 3, 2007
I can't stand the 3 H's of summer (hazy, hot, and humid). Ninety-five degree days have me pining for the cool, crisp days of autumn, so the opening of football training camps are a benchmark for me that there's probably six more weeks of summer.
So I headed down to Patriots training camp at Gillette Stadium yesterday to catch the afternoon session, the second of the day for the team. It was my second time there in less than a week since I went to last weekend's New England Country Music Festival with Erin (you can take the girl out of honky tonk, but...). There is construction all around the stadium as Patriot Place is being built. During yesterday's session, the crowd was coming in for the Revolution soccer game, so needless to say traffic wasn't an issue, but parking could be interesting for the Pats games this year.
For most of the time I was there, the offense was running plays against the defense, starting in the shadows of the goalposts and moving the ball down the field. There were three different squads that would change up every five to ten minutes or so. It was fun to watch. Not much tackling, but still the QBs were throwing, running backs were taking handoffs. And the players were definitely into it. Tom Brady was even jawing with the referees on some calls. Brady looked in good form with some nice touch passes and solid catches from the new receiving corps.
Parking was free. That was the good news. The bad was that, just as some of the Pats looked to be in mid-season form, so were the concession prices. I was a little surprised when I was told my bottle of beer would cost $7.50. Yikes. Still, it was a good time. The training camp schedule is on the Patriots web site. I've got more photos from training camp on Shutterfly.