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Rocky Road

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, Sumiki's Dad, The Great American Road Trip Jun 06 2014 · 69 views

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We got up groggily. My dad got up to see if the service station had a part from Sydney. They did not, but we were cleared to drive around the greater Chéticamp area from the edge of Cape Breton Highlands National Park down to a little beyond the edge of Chéticamp. Our brakes sounded no different than they had previously on the trip. Without using the emergency brake, we were initially pretty confident that we could limp along back to the States ... but if we broke down on what remains of the Cabot Trail and back off Cape Breton Island, we don't have a towing option - even less so on the weekend.
 
All of Chéticamp's businesses and half of the houses are on one road - the Cabot Trail - that acts as its main street. Everyone knows everyone else, and while nearly everyone communicates in French as the default, everyone is also bilingual. English speakers are initially regarded with a slight air of contempt, but we endear ourselves to them with our attempts at trying to speak their language.
 
With the car cleared for local excursions, we drove south from Chéticamp and drove over onto Chéticamp Island, which parallels the town. We went as far as the pavement did before turning around, but we could see the entirety of Chéticamp.
 
We turned back and ate some massive sandwiches at All Aboard Restaurant, sampling the local custom of putting vinegar on their fries (which made my dad's eyes cross because he put a little too much vinegar on a tiny fry). We split their strawberry shortcake and got some advice from the waitress, who told us of a lighthouse on the other side of Chéticamp Island. While she said that it was a dirt road, she also said that it was in good condition.
 
My parents took a nap in the room, waking up around 4:00 or so and ready for the lighthouse. We took the same road over to Chéticamp Island and turned onto the dirt road.
 
At first, the road wasn't bad. It wasn't great, but one could see well-wore tracks with less gravel. But as we passed over a small cattle crossing, the road conditions worsened considerably. Potholes filled up with muddy water, huge rocks shook the car back and forth, and gravel made up the rest of the slanted road - all not but a few feet higher than the water that was a little too close for comfort.
 
We had to turn back, but not before going up and then back down a hill - which wasn't fun for anyone involved.
 
You have no idea how much of a relief pavement feels after that.
 
With a newfound awareness that the Chéticamp folks' idea of a dirt road differs significantly from our idea of a dirt road, we doubled back towards the town, stopping for some supplies at a small convenience store/music shop, a local institution. The man who ran it had heard of us, saying "so you're the folks with the black car ..."
 
We're becoming famous in Chéticamp.
 
We purchased some more water, a can opener so my dad can get into the Coca-Cola bottles he got yesterday, and a cream soda, purchased on the advice of the tow truck driver, who remarked that the blueberry soda tasted like "blueberries mixed with cream soda." I'm drinking it now, and it tastes like liquid cookie dough. It's delicious.
 
This also marked the first time in my life that I've seen bagged milk. I'd heard stories about Canadians purchasing their milk in bags, and it's just as ridiculously impractical in person. I cannot for the life of me understand how bagged milk is of any advantage to the consumer.
 
Back on the road up Chéticamp, we stopped at the church, which we'd heard had a gorgeous interior but kept weird times. The steeple is visible throughout the area, and the inside didn't disappoint.
 
It looked much more like a church interior from a large and affluent city, not the Acadian Mayberry of Chéticamp. Gold leaf was everywhere and everything was extraordinarily intricate. We walked around, then went up to the balcony to see a bird's-eye view of the stunning chapel and to look at the organ, which appears to still use a hand-cranked bellows system. Lifelike statues of saints look down from alcoves, massive murals adorn available spaces, and everything just feels so vast and grand.
 
After ogling sufficiently at this architectural marvel - built stone-by-stone in the 1890s - we went back through Chéticamp and through to the other side, back into Cape Breton Highlands National Park. We stopped right before the great big mountain that was the site of the beginning of our problems. We went down to the ocean and dipped our hands into the waves. I was surprised at how warm this portion of the north Atlantic is, as I'd always envisioned it as cold almost year-round.
 
We hiked up the short but steep trail to the overlook at the top of a large rock, but we couldn't see too much from the top - especially compared to the vistas we could see on the Skyline trail yesterday.
 
We headed back to the car and double-backed into town, stopping at Hometown Restaurant, where we had our 4:00, post-Skyline lunch yesterday. We ate light, with individual salads (their Caesar is one of the best I've ever had - croutons that aren't bread-rocks and just the right amount of garlic), a lobster dip, and a slice of turtle cheesecake. All three are worth a third trip on their own.
 
(My dad and I ordered tea, since they had decent sweet tea before. Unfortunately, we're used to iced tea being the default, and so we were rather shocked when our waitress brought out steaming pitchers. We rectified this, but it was quite the faux pas on our part.)
 
We ended up talking to the owner/chef a while about various things. My dad's still trying to rope me into playing the piano at one of these restaurants - there are a surprising number of them here! - to help pay for our time in Chéticamp (although, amazingly, our Cape Breton experience will come out significantly under budget). We also learned that the reason the fellow earlier knew about our car is because one of the folks at the repair shop is quite the gossip and tells stories about folks who had come through to most anyone who will listen.
 
At the conclusion of this light supper, we got a second dessert just a little ways down the street at a place called Mr. Chicken, which has - according to the Hometown owner/chef - the best ice cream in Canada. Coming from a woman who has been all across Canada, we decided to give it a whirl.
 
My dad had a milkshake, but my mom and I got the maple walnut. Though we got the smallest size - a "baby bite," as they were called - they were easily a half-pint each. When they said "baby bite," I thought they meant a bite for a baby, not one the size of a baby.
 
With the days' adventures concluded, we headed back to our room.
 
The brakes didn't act up. We probably could make it at least as far as Antigonish, perhaps all the way home. But it's a long rural drive from here in Chéticamp all the way to the Prince Edward Island ferry, and tow trucks don't operate on the weekends. Though the thought that we could make it is still there, we know it's best not to push our luck.
 
If the part doesn't get here by Monday, though, we're going to get out of Chéticamp. As nice as this little place is, we still have a schedule to keep.
 
Tomorrow: another day on the town in Chéticamp.



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Breakdown Cruise

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip Jun 05 2014 · 71 views

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The man from the repair shop knocked on our door at about 10:00 to tell us that our brake had been fixed. My dad went down the street to get it, as my mom and I packed up in the room. The problem was in the emergency brake, and we were told that we should be good as long as we remembered not to use it.
 
We set out back up the Cabot Trail, retracing our steps almost to the site of the brake-flame. Our destination was the gorgeous Skyline Trail, an almost five-mile trail on the top of French Mountain, overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Cabot Trail itself as it winds its way down the next mountain over towards Chéticamp.
 
The walk there was uneventful - lots of woods, even more moose droppings. We didn't see any wildlife, save for two small light brown ground squirrels and one small gray snake. That was just fine by me - I've already seen bear and moose from the safety of the car, and I have no intent of ever seeing one without the protection of a motor vehicle.
 
The trees cleared and we walked out on the boardwalk overlooking the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean ... but the fog had rolled in. Fog comes into the area around Chéticamp very rarely and we'd heard that the conditions can change suddenly at the series of viewing areas, so we waited.
 
We sat down and waited, occasionally stretching our legs out, for the better part of an hour. Just as the wait became unbearable, the fog began to lift around the mountains, slinking back along the water.
 
We were above the clouds, The long tip of the mountain, jutting out towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence, was completely clear, as were the peaks surrounding it. One could see the Cabot Trail as it wound around the mountain, down into the clouds and then back up again.
 
It was a wonderful view.
 
We stayed there for a long while, thinking that the fog might just break so we could see a bit of the ocean, but it never did. Once the locals started turning back, so did the few tourists - including a family from Orlando, who we talked to for a while. I took a few group shots on their camera for them and they did the same for us.
 
It was a long haul back. It's one of those trails that just sort of feels uphill both ways, and once we knew what we had ahead of us, with nothing to look forward to, and no fog to keep things cool, it was a slow haul back to the car. But get there we did, and we set back off down the Cabot Trail towards Chéticamp in low gear.
 
We stopped at every available pull-off, making sure not to hit the emergency brake. The brakes seemed fine, didn't smoke, and didn't smell bad. But as we headed into Chéticamp, the brakes sounded bad - specifically, that back right one that had had all the problems. As we pulled into a restaurant parking lot, the brake sounded like a muffled scream mixed with the sound of fingernails on a blackboard.
 
Hoping that the brakes were just overheating, we ate a late lunch. My dad split after he ate in order to drive the car down the street to get looked at by the same folks who took care of it earlier. My dad, meanwhile, limped back on down to the service station. By this point, he said that the brake was smoking again.
 
My mom and I got out of the restaurant and walked another mile or so to the service station, where we got the scoop: the brake was not totally disengaging. It was too late to call the dealership in Sydney, the nearest major city, so they will do that in the morning.
 
We walked down another block, got a room at the same motel as last night, and crashed.
 
Tomorrow: If the dealership in Sydney has the brake part we need, our car will be fixed by 2:00 and we can get farther down the road closer to the Prince Edward Island ferry. If not, we may have to patch it back up and see if we can limp down the road to Antigonish, which has a dealership.



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The Fault in Our Car

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip Jun 04 2014 · 75 views

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We began the day at the Alexander Graham Bell museum, along the Cabot Trail around Baddeck. We thought it'd be interesting to poke around - after all, we figured it'd be mostly about the making of the telephone. As it turned out, Graham's life and inventions far surpassed the telephone - as a noted teacher of the deaf and proponent of his father's system for teaching deaf students to speak.
 
In fact, what was most striking was that the museum didn't talk all that much about the telephone - a good chunk of it was dedicated to the Silver Dart, the first manned flight in the British Empire, flown not far from the site of the museum. Bell assisted in the creation of the Silver Dart, and lived a short distance from Baddeck.
 
Bell's forward-thinking spirit and childlike enthusiasm for tinkering meant that he ended up producing tons of prototypes, some of which were almost a century ahead of their time. Bell actually produced the first cell phone - similar to his telephone prototype, only that the electrical signals were sent via light. Though he called it his greatest invention, it would have been impossible to commercialize at the turn of the century. Still, the principle of bouncing electromagnetic waves around to send signals sans wires was the same one behind the invention of the cell phone.
 
After a lively walk around and new information in our heads, we started of on the glorious Cabot Trail and began the great loop around Cape Breton Island. The road conditions were somewhat poor to start off, but improved immensely once we entered Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
 
We poked around the nearly deserted visitor center and then entered the all-but-deserted park. We stopped at the pull-offs and traversed some of the smaller trails ... but the trails gave us worse views than from the road, so eventually we decided to stick to the places that we knew we could see stuff from. The fresh bear droppings along our first trail kept us on our toes - or, should I say, in the car.
 
Rain and mist came in and out, on and off, for most of the day. Hungry, we stopped at a place featured on the Canadian equivalent of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, a show called You Gotta Eat Here - Coastal Restaurant in Ingonish, a place that did a pretty good job at advertising its television appearance. I got the burger that was featured on the show - the Ringer Burger - which is piled with onion rings and some kind of sweet honey barbecue sauce. It looked a lot bigger than it really was due to the onion rings, but it was still quite filling.
 
We headed back on the Cabot Trail, winding in and out of the park. Most of the prettiest scenery on the Trail was on the other side, which we got to as we turned and began heading north and back down on the north edge of Nova Scotia.
 
Of course, this is the time that Murphy's Law began to kick in.
 
We began a slow climb up a mountain, stopping at the ample pull-off areas for breathtaking panoramas of the seascape and landscape - the Trail far below, mountains above, valleys with small babbling brooks, and the Atlantic Ocean, stretching out until it met the sky.
 
At the second of these pull-offs, my dad said that he felt the car acting funny - like it wasn't rolling all the way. He chalked it up to trying to start from 0 on an incline with a lot of weight in the trunk ... that is, until we got to the next pull-off. Something smelled kind of funny, and sure enough, our back right tire was smoking slightly.
 
We figured that it just got a little hot while going up and down massive inclines, so we stopped for a good while until it had stopped smoking and no longer radiated heat. I kept an eye on it in the rearview mirror and my mom kept her window down so she could smell it if it started smoking again.
 
Without any signs of trouble, we reached the next pull-off. My dad slowed the car down, put the emergency brake on, and we all heard a pop. The next thing we knew, smoke was coming out of the brake apparatus anew, and my mom briskly warned us that there was a small fire.
 
I launched out of the car and threw what remained of my water bottle on the tire, which steamed up. We dumped quite a bit of our water supply on the tire. It was still hot when we were done, but the fire and smoke had gone out. The smell, as thick in the air as the midges we would come to hate, was still there.
 
It's at times such as these when faith in humanity is restored, for half a dozen different cars rolled up to see if we were fine. We must have been quite a sight - three folks gesturing and talking around a tire with a veritable puddle around it. We met a family from Salt Lake City visiting a family member in Maine, who took my dad down to an emergency call box two kilometers down the Trail. (We had tried OnStar, our cell phone, and the cell phones of anyone else who had offered help, all to no avail. There's no reception on the Cabot Trail.)
 
We met a independently-minded older lady from Austin out on a free-wheeling road trip of her own. She didn't know where she would end up before turning back, but was thinking about hopping on the ferry to Newfoundland. She offered us fruit and water, but we assured her that we had plenty of supplies.
 
The Salt Lake City folks returned and my dad emerged from their small sedan. We thanked them profusely for their trouble and offered to pay them, but they refused. He'd contacted a tow truck in Chéticamp, where we were originally planning to spend the night anyway. We had to wait another hour or so, but we spent it talking to the families that drove up to offer us their help.
 
Eventually a man came up from Pleasant Bay, a little village that we'd gone through at the base of the mountain upon which all of these events transpired. Interested in the car - as many guys who know cars are - he poked around and posited a few theories as to the origin of the fire. Whatever it is, it will likely be a pretty easy fix, even if they have to bring in parts from Sydney - which is just a few hours' drive away along the northeast edge of Nova Scotia.
 
Eventually, the tow truck came barreling up the mountain, right before we were totally eaten alive by the pesky and ever-curious midges. We gave the driver a brief rundown of the situation, and my dad drove the car up onto the bed.
 
Unfortunately, the cab was even smaller than the one we all had to cram into in Texas last year. We were all crammed into an area of about one and a half seats. We maneuvered around to the least uncomfortable position in the cab, to the amusement of the driver. I was originally going to sit equally on parents' laps, but to do that, I would have had to basically lean over because my head wouldn't fit upright. So I got the other window seat, my dad was in the middle, and my mom sat halfway.
 
This meant that there was no room for seat belts. My mom leaned over onto my dad or myself depending on the curve. We were packed into that cab like Sardines playing Twister, and we were keeping the driver laughing by cracking jokes left and right. By the time we had traversed the most scenic parts of the Cabot Trail and made it into Chéticamp, our driver felt like an old friend.
 
We rolled into the small repair shop, met a fellow with green teeth, and got a ride to the motel just up the street. I had my reservations (no pun intended) at first ... but this place is actually pretty nice. People up here put pride into what they do. It's a small-town kind of feel without Americana ... Canadiana, perhaps?
 
For dinner, we walked a little ways down the street and ate at the restaurant adjoining the Harbor Inn. It was good food and good ambiance - I ended up with the haddock, with some kind of dill sauce on the side. Dessert was fried ice cream. All in all, not our best meal, but it was excellent. (My dad ordered his first beer in 32 years.)
 
Tomorrow: depending on the car situation, we'll either get a little farther down the road (after backtracking to see what we missed on the last little stretch of the Cabot Trail) or staying in Chéticamp another night. At most, we'll spend just one more night in this sleepy little town, but that would be unexpected.



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From Way Downtown ... Bang

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip Jun 03 2014 · 81 views

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We left our hotel at 11:00 and topped off the gas tank before going back downtown as we accidentally did yesterday, this time entering the now-open Halifax Citadel. Used from colonial times up until WWII for various purposes, the Citadel is now refurbished and acts as a living history museum, with folks dressed up in period costume, marching around, playing bagpipes, firing off cannon, etc.
 
After going down a blind one-way ramp (and hoping that people would be following the stoplight at the bottom), we parked and entered the Citadel. We walked around quite a bit of it, asking the folks in costume any questions we could think of. The re-enactors and other costumed men were from the 78th Highlanders, and we saw them fire off the noon cannon, which could be heard echoing off of every building in Halifax. It was quite an explosion.
 
We wandered up and down, checking out the cannon, the magazine, holding cells, and other things. We visited the schoolhouse, where the poor and illiterate soldiers could get a high-school level of education in order to advance up the ranks. In the schoolhouse area, we saw an old-timey Magic Lantern (an early kind of color image projector), a primer book which listed the seventh planet - later to be known as Uranus - as "Herschel," after its discoverer.
 
Further walking around the place, we stopped by a room where we could try on replica uniforms of the 78th Highlanders. I ended up with the uniform of the lead piper, while my dad got the officers' uniform. We posed with the agreeable fellow who helped us put the thick wool jackets and kilts over our clothing and with Yoder.
 
After walking around most of the Citadel, we backtracked along the road up to Truro, where we had split off to go to Halifax yesterday. When we got to Truro we turned east, heading along Nova Scotia bound for Cape Breton Island.
 
I started driving for a bit around the town of Pictou ... which is where the fun began, road-wise. The speed limit was constantly changing, the road kept changing from an Interstate-quality limited-access corridor to a thin two-or-three-lane one, and the locals went 150 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on the two-lane sections with trucks oncoming way too close for comfort.
 
Civilization was few and far between already, but somehow everything got even more desolate around Canso Causeway, where we got a quick bite at a nearby Subway before almost every scrap of civilization ran out.
 
In the ostentatiously-named Municipality of the District of Guysborough, we had to stop for a bridge that was rotated to let a ship through the causeway. It didn't take too long, and it was interesting seeing the bridge twist around before us. At around 5:00 we officially crossed over Canso Causeway and onto Cape Breton Island.
 
Most of the communities we passed were inhabited by Native Americans, but we did pass through a number of signs and place names indicating the region's living Celtic heritage. A few signs were in Gaelic and the only Gaelic college in North America is here - somewhere along the Cabot Trail. We'll be seeing it some time in the coming days.
 
A little before 6:00 we arrived in Baddeck and checked into our quaint little motel, overlooking the gorgeous Bras d'Or Lake. We're not too far from the site of the first flight in the British Empire - in fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that our room overlooks it ...
 
We ate at the adjoining restaurant. Unsure of what we wanted, we ordered the Thai Nachos - spicy won-ton chips covered in cheese, chicken, and a spicy sauce. I also had this for an entrée. My dad had the fish and chips, my mom had the salmon, and we all sampled around. I found the sampler dessert rather gross (not a fan of carrot cake, bread pudding, or mint brownies), and we entertained ourselves and our waiter, who had about as pronounced a Canadian accent as one can have.
 
Tomorrow: we begin the drive on the scenic Cabot Trail around Cape Breton Island.



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Last Tango in Halifax

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip Jun 02 2014 · 113 views

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We caught up on some well-deserved rest and ended up leaving the hotel a little after noon. Our first stop of the day was an optical illusion called Magnetic Hill. Magnetic Hill has been known since Moncton was founded and the road was put in - there were reports of wagons and goods rolling uphill since the early 1800s. It was more publicized in 1933, and today, there's a whole Magnetic Hill complex around the illusion itself.
 
Magnetic Hill is bizarre. To look at it, you'd say that the road dips down before coming back up on the other side. But once we reached the bottom, we put the car in neutral (as the sign directed us to) and we began rolling backwards - what appeared to be uphill.
 
After reaching the end of the hill, we drove forward again and I hopped out to capture the illusion on video. However, I have to say that the illusion pretty much vanished as soon as I stood up, for even though it looked uphill, I could definitely tell it was downhill.
 
Disinterested in the rest of the Magnetic Hill complex, we got some gas and began the trek to Halifax.
 
The drive was surprisingly hilly, very woodsy, and utterly desolate. A brief change of scenery occurred right before we entered Nova Scotia, when we dipped down into a lower, more marshy area.
 
After getting information at the Nova Scotia welcome center and surviving the vicious wind in the area, we stopped in Amherst to get a cash advance at a bank. It took half an hour to get through the clogged line, so my dad did that while I walked around and took pictures with Yoder the Duck next to creepy statues.
 
We stopped for a quick late lunch at a Subway and then rolled out. We passed Oxford - Canada's Blueberry Capitol - and saw forested mountains in the distance. We paid a four-dollar toll and kept trucking to Halifax, and checked into our hotel a few minutes after 5:00.
 
Still hungry, and knowing of a great place just a few minutes from the hotel, we set out for it ... only to get turned around by the insane road system of Halifax, going over one of its two bridges over to the heart of the city, ending up near Citadel Hill, home of quite a bit of Halifax history - mainly, a fort that was used for defense against the French and updated for different wars, being manned and used for various purposes until World War II.
 
We paid a small fee to park and walked around the hill, though it was not open. Still hungry, we got back in the car, drove past an iconic clock tower on the edge of Citadel Hill, and took our second shot at finding the restaurant.
 
We found it - but only after going over the other bridge, winding our way through intersections with almost no lane markings, an extra helping of potholes, and no signs telling you what road you're on or what road you're intersecting with.
 
Despite all this - and did I mention the road work? - we found the place - Cheese Curds Gourmet Burgers and Poutinerie - about five minutes from the hotel, but a trip that took us very nearly an hour.
 
It was worth it. I got a burger with a large hunk of fried mozzerella and some spicy chipotle mayonnaise. The bun was flimsy but the mix of flavors was delightful. My parents split a chicken burger and a lamb burger - but my mom couldn't finish her half of the lamb burger, so I tasted it. It featured a lemon hummus - a little strong, since I didn't know it was coming, but it had a unique flavor.
 
As a side, we split a poutine. This was not the fake, flimsy poutine we got in Moose Jaw last year - this was the real thing. A bed of freshly cut fries on the bottom, topped with a ton of cheese curds and a thick, rich gravy. Best of all, I finally got my dad to try a poutine. He exhibited some apprehension towards trying a poutine - which is strange, considering his general adventurousness, but I convinced him to try a bite, which he rather liked.
 
Tomorrow: Cape Breton on the northeastern end of Nova Scotia. We'll be traversing one of the prettiest drives not just in Canada, but the entire world - the Cabot Trail - over the next couple of days.



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Adventures in Demented Utensils

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip Jun 01 2014 · 81 views

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We left Ellsworth before noon, gassed up amidst what appeared to be an octogenarian biker gang, then braced ourselves for a drive on "the Airline" - the local name for Maine Route 9. The moniker doesn't refer to air travel, but in the sense that predated mankind's first flight; it's because it's a faster route to Canada than going up and around on the modern Interstate route.
 
The grades were steep and there were a few potholes, but it wasn't anything like the 20 miles we had to traverse on Route 179 in order to get to Route 9. The frost heaves had frost heaves and the potholes went down multiple layers. We survived this hilly and bumpy route intact, and the Airline was a smooth ride all the way to the New Brunswick border - but we did top off our gas tank.
 
Our trip odometer at 1,668 miles, we experienced what was our easiest and quickest border crossing ever, then got to New Brunswick. New Brunswick is in the Atlantic Time Zone, so we skipped an hour ahead as we looked for some kind of visitor center.
 
We exited at one of the first opportunities, at St. Stephen, the Canadian chocolate capital. As is the norm with cities on this edge of New Brunswick, it's named after a saint. After getting a massive amount of information on New Brunswick from a particularly bubbly Wicker, we crossed the street for a late lunch at a place called Pizza Delight.
 
Pizza Delight, it turns out, is a small chain with locations around New Brunswick. We were the only people in the whole place, and after admiring my extremely bent fork, we decided to split something called a Donair.
 
A Donair is kind of a local thing - you don't see them much outside New Brunswick. It consists of a pizza crust, a little tomato sauce, Donair meat (similar to the thin lamb meat you'd find in a gyro), pepperoni, and cheese, all baked like a pizza. On top go fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and a thick, sweet garlic sauce called Donair sauce.
 
It's fairly hard to describe, but just think of a meat lover's pizza with a minimalist salad on top and you'll be close. I was skeptical at first but then came to love it.
 
We entertained the two waitresses there for a while before getting back on NB 1 to Saint John, which we got to and passed through within the span of five minutes. It's the largest city in New Brunswick, which tells you a lot about the population of this province.
 
There wasn't much in the way of scenery between Saint John and Moncton, which is the largest city in the tri-province area where New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island meet. The number of hills was surprising, as was the dearth of birds. I got us from Hampton - just a few kilometers from Saint John - to Moncton.
 
The lack of traffic on main Canadian corridors always surprises me. Two lanes in both directions and you still wouldn't see a car for long periods of time.
 
We rolled into Moncton - where the hotel has almost no one in it aside from us and the staff members - and entertained the girl at the front desk who was obviously bored out of her mind before our arrival due to having no other human to talk to. She suggested a few places to eat in downtown Moncton, and we chose a place called Catch22 - a lobster bar just a short drive downtown. We also got three complimentary beers (!) and some maple candy. We took a picture of her posing with the one and only Yoder the Duck.
 
My mom got a lobster roll, and my dad and I both got the same thing - the massive Fisherman's Platter. Each had half a lobster, shrimp, scallops, haddock, crab cakes, rice pilaf, and a roasted vegetable medley of broccoli, zucchini, and carrots, all served on a massive translucent fish-shaped plate.
 
The utensils in the place were worse than the demented fork I'd experienced at Pizza Delight - the knives, while cool-looking, had their handles twisted 90 degrees around their axis. Ergonomically sound, there was just no place to put it. My dad knocked his first knife clear off the table, and I nearly dropped mine into the booth cushion - only some catlike reflexes prevented a second mess.
 
We started a few running jokes with the waitress about seeds, the utensils, and a few other things. After we'd cleaned our plates, we got a banana and strawberry flambé, set aflame right at our table. We also got their last peppermint crème brûlée - but this was complimentary.
 
Upon our return to the hotel, we got some more maple candy from the front desk and learned a few interesting tidbits regarding the non-standard operation of our hotel. Suffice it to day that the inner workings of this place sounds like a mix of McHale's Navy and Fawlty Towers.
 
Tomorrow: we make the drive to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I am bound and determined to get my dad to try a poutine.



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The Maine Event

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 31 2014 · 86 views

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After a delicious breakfast in Bangor, we headed down on Route 1A towards Acadia National Park. Route 1A gave way to Route 3 in Ellsworth, and we got to the entrance of Acadia around 1:00.
 
Post-Visitor Center, the first few pullouts were beautiful vistas of the shore, the ocean, and distant islands, but they were marred by the trees that got in the way. We eventually kept going after getting close to a few fearless seagulls, likely fearless because they equated humanity with free food distribution.
 
Before 2:00 we experienced our first big excursion: the Schooner Head overlook. I spotted what looked at first to be an old trail, as the pavement that once had smoothed it out fell victim to the vicious Maine frost heaves that have taken such a heavy toll on their roads.
 
We wound our way on this trail until I spotted a cut-through to some rocks. At first, I thought it'd just be a clear shot of the gorgeous, rocky shoreline that gave Acadia its fame, but it ended up being so much more than that.
 
There was no sign of any human activity on these rocks. Looking down on the Atlantic crashing against the granite below, we climbed around and ogled at the scenery for quite a while before eventually, sadly, having to meander our way back to the trail. In the meantime, we examined the bits of wildlife - plants, algae, and lichen - that have made the barren rocks their home, and looked out to the shore below and seascape beyond.
 
Our next stop didn't come too much later - this time at Monument Cove. We parked and asked a bearded park ranger how to best see the Monument - which isn't actually a man-made monument, but rather an erosion that ended up creating a cracked brown monolith of stone. It was in its own area, impossibly difficult to reach due to the large but smooth stones that lay beneath it. Instead of the more traveled rocks to the left, we took the path to the right and worked our way down the rocks right up to the Atlantic itself, sitting on one end of a long rock as waves splashed up against the other, throwing spray out where it was visible in its entirety but not near enough to hit me in any way.
 
I was sad when we had to go back, but go back we did. Soon enough we pulled off again at Otter Point, and again we clamored out on the rocks. These rocks were much different, however - layers of granite were crushed up, creating a labyrinth of large jagged stones down to the ocean. Here, we investigated a layer of incredibly jagged quartz, incredibly smooth rock (which we also saw at the first rock-carousing excursion), and incredibly still pond-puddles - some surprisingly deep. Indentions in the rocks created places for water to run into during storms - it was higher than even high tide could reach - and algae would thrive in it. White and fuzzy-looking on the bottom, it grew in green strands upwards to the top, where they'd float.
 
One thing we didn't see while exploring Otter Point was an actual otter, but I saw something that looked quite like an otter scurrying across the road at a very fast clip. We were too far away to see if it was an otter or a beaver - in fact, I was the only one who even caught a glimpse of it - but either way, I know I've seen a new animal.
 
The last big rock adventure of the day came at a stone beach, on a very narrow trail that hugged the edge of a sheer rock face. Once on the other side, it opened up to a much larger expanse of rock, one that was easier to climb around, as the rocks in general were much larger. My mom spotted the biggest algae-filled pond-puddle of the day, which we looked around before heading back again.
 
We stopped at the Jordan Pond House for a quick bite to eat to tide us over until dinnertime. For a drink, I sampled a locally made blueberry soda, bottled in what looked at first glance to be a beer bottle. I loved it, but it's one of those things that you either love or you hate. It's quite possibly my new favorite drink, which is a shame since it's not sold anywhere outside of the Portland-Bar Harbor area.
 
After an attempt to hike a trail to the Bubbles (strangely enough, they're mountains) we turned back due to the bugs that ate us like they were at the top of the food chain. We didn't get out again until we were most of the way up the road on Cadillac Mountain.
 
(Side note: Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast, is less than 1600 feet tall, but seems much higher because it basically rises from sea level. It was named after Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, who was granted rights to the land after he requested it from the governor of New France. The same absurdly-named fellow would go on to found the city of Detroit, hence the Cadillac brand of cars. I wouldn't bother mentioning this except for the fact that, despite not having a Cadillac car, we do have a sexy Cadillac engine.)
 
The views from the road up and the summit of Cadillac Mountain are stunning. Mountains - which would be considered rolling hills were they not so close to the water, thus amplifying their height - lay beneath us, and the rocky shoreline ran in and out every which way, etching out an intricate design as it met the Atlantic. Inland, lakes dotted the landscape, and if one tried, one could make out the very road we'd traversed earlier when we were between rock-clamoring excursions.
 
It honestly felt like we were walking around inside a postcard; everything was just that gorgeous.
 
We took our time walking around on the summit (home of the earliest sunrise in America) and then began making our way back. We would have stayed longer, soaking in the details of the landscape and seascape, but our stomachs won out, so we rolled into Bar Harbor to see what we could find.
 
The thing about Acadia - and, in fact, most places this time of year in this corner of the continent - is that the season hasn't exactly opened. The restaurant at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia is due to open tomorrow, on the 1st, and many other places won't open until school gets out a little later this month.
 
Nevertheless, since the locals have to have somewhere to eat, we drove through the streets of Bar Harbor, noting all of the lobster places. We'd all been craving some Maine lobster - specifically, my dad - so we went into a place that wasn't crowded. It turns out that it'd just opened earlier in the day, so we were one of the few customers they'd had all day.
 
I hate saying this, but lobster places are lobster places - i.e. functionally interchangeable. Our bet paid off - they brought out whole (cooked!) lobsters, which we cracked opened and sucked the morsels out of, all while looking supremely idiotic in our restaurant-supplied bibs.
 
The lobster, along with our sides, our fries, our dinner rolls, our desserts, and our pre-meal soups, made for a very big meal - but we ate nearly all of it, having spent so much energy climbing around on the rocks earlier in the afternoon. Around 7:00 we left Bar Harbor, doubling back to Ellsworth along a highway that somehow has worse potholes going than coming.
 
Tomorrow: we hit the road to Moncton, New Brunswick. With very little between here and the other side of New Brunswick, we'll make a day of it across what is thankfully one of Canada's smaller provinces.



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Bforoad

Posted by Sumiki , in BIONICLE/LEGO, BZPower, HATPILE, Life, Sumiki's Dad, The Great American Road Trip May 30 2014 · 114 views

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We explored our Mount Washington hotel thoroughly. We saw the Gold Room, where the setting up of and signing of the International Monetary Fund took place, and a few old fuses - well, I thought they were old. It turns out that the fuses, part of the original wiring put in by Thomas Edison, were actually still partially in use.
 
Honestly it sounds like a fire hazard, but I'm not an electrician.
 
We decided to skip the treacherous Mount Washington Auto Road due to the fact that it's a private road that doesn't have guardrails, and doing so in a car that has well over 100,000 miles on it and has just come off of its fifth road-trip repair in three years is just kind of asking for trouble, especially when the road is notorious for burning out transmissions and brakes.
 
It was just as well, since that was well out of our route.
 
We worked our way through sleepy towns in rural New Hampshire as we wormed our way back down amidst the towering granite faces of the mountains. As we kept on the route to Portland - towards the stadium of the Portland Sea Dogs (or, as my dad called them, the "Portland Dog Drips") - the towns increased in size and had signs that designated earlier and earlier dates of incorporation.
 
The roads leveled out as we neared the Maine border, but we could still look back and see mountains - some still with traces of snow near their peaks.
 
Conway was one of the towns we passed through, and its quirks included a motel with different "themes" for each room like storefronts in the Old West as well as bizarrely funny shop names.
 
Around 12:30 we entered Maine, and got some literature at the welcome center from a guy who was born in North Carolina but moved to Maine when he was young. He'd long since lost any southern accent he might have once had, replacing it with a thick northeastern accent that turned "Bar Harbor" into "Bah Hahbah" and "Bangor" into "Bangah." I didn't hear anything close to that in Boston, where I thought I would.
 
The potholes got really bad as soon as we crossed the Maine border. Only a few were absolutely unavoidable - the fault lines - but these were eased over as best we could. We slalomed through the rest, only hitting one - which was pretty good considering that there were as many potholes in one mile as there are living humans on Earth.
 
It didn't slow us down considerably, so we stopped by the Sea Dogs and got our customary pennant, then set off for the Portland Head Light. Before doing so, we ate pizza at a local place called Otto's, which converts old gas stations into "filling stations" - for your stomach.
 
The crust was flaky and buttery - one of the few crusts I actually liked. Onions, sausage, and marinara sauce gave it a little bit of kick. It was a filling and delicious late lunch.
 
We then got to the Portland Head Light, which was absolutely gorgeous.
 
The Head Light was built at the directive of George Washington and is now part of a municipal park complex encompassing both it and an abandoned fort. Rolling green grass saw much use from local citizens, but our main objective was to see the Head Light.
 
We saw so much more than that.
 
The Head Light itself was interesting - especially since it's still in use! - and the high-intensity fog signal that blasted out was close to deafening if you got too close to the lighthouse. We spent most of our time down on the rocks below, climbing and clamoring over the jagged rocks that claimed so many ships, even after the Head Light was fully operational.
 
Seaweed and assorted flotsam would get tossed up into the rocks. Most of it would just run off back to the ocean, but in a few places, it would pool up in large rocks. An algae that looked like grass flourished in these tiny ponds, anchoring themselves onto the rock bottom of their little world.
 
We were out on the rocks for the better part of an hour, enjoying the challenge of navigation, investigating interesting details in the rocks, and getting as far out on the rocks as was safe before heading back, taking care to avoid the slippery bits.
 
After this rather extensive exploration, we headed back to the car, over a curved drawbridge, and back onto I-295, which eventually merged quite unexpectedly with I-95.
 
Our destination was Bangor, just a short drive away from Bfahome. (He says that it's pronounced "B-F-A-Home," but I pronounced/sneezed it a little more as it's spelled.)
 
My dad and I met him at a bar & grill in Orono. By the end of the day, we wanted to keep him around to be our new GPS, found out that he owns every university from here to Kingston, Ontario, recited bits from old BIONICLE games and the asdfmovie series, discussed the fun and hats of BrickFair, and generally had a blast. 10/10, would Bfahome again.
 
Tomorrow: Acadia National Park.



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Thoreau-breds

Posted by Sumiki , in Life, The Great American Road Trip May 29 2014 · 94 views

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We left the labyrinth disguised as a hotel at 11:00, having traversed 1031.5 miles at that point. By 11:22 we'd found our first stop at the Lexington Commons, site of the first skirmish of the Revolutionary War. Green troops on both sides panicked after hearing a gunshot somewhere, and began opening fire around the Commons. Only a handful of people were even harmed, but it nonetheless marked the beginning of the Revolution.
 
We visited the tavern across from the Commons, which houses the original door - a door which gained significant fame by having sustained a bullet hole during the skirmish. It's no longer the door, but is hanging inside, protected by a sheet of plexiglas. According to one of the tour guide ladies, most visitors to the tavern do so to see the door, not to stand in the very room the militia gathered in before heading out into the Commons on that fateful night.
 
The next stop was at the Minuteman National Historical Park, which runs along the road between Lexington and Concord and chronicles the events between the battles of both towns.
 
After a brief tour of the area, we drove around Concord to see the homes of the great Transcendentalist authors - first, the house of the Alcotts, then of Emerson, then Thoreau's Walden Pond (which is honestly more of a lake than a pond), and finally "The Old Manse" - the home of Hawthorne.
 
Between our visits to Walden Pond and the Old Manse, we stopped in downtown Concord and ate lunch at a café. They served what was possibly the best reuben in existence, despite having a typo on the menu that flipped the word's consecutive vowels. This time, it was my dad's turn to have a massive sandwich - a gigantic club that could have fed any lesser man twelve times over.
 
He ate it all.
 
We then headed back out to see the Old Manse, which was next to the North Bridge, the final part of the Minuteman Park and where the British were sniped heavily by the Americans in their retreat to Boston. Seeing this after Bunker Hill means that we're working backwards, chronologically speaking.
 
After this final Concord stop, we headed up the back roads to Lowell, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, the city with the second-most canals in the world (this side of Venice, of course), and the home of the Lowell Spinners. We stopped in for our customary pennant and hat, talked with the sales guy, and then got back on the road towards New Hampshire.
 
We entered New Hampshire (only two more states to go until I've been in all of the 48 contiguous!) at 4:00, and almost immediately saw the White Mountains - a hundred miles due north but still clearly visible. We went through a few toll plazas and exited in Manchester to get a pennant at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
 
Of course, that was before we realized how backed up the traffic would be. All the traffic fed over a bridge, and even though the stadium wasn't but a mile or so away, it took us ten minutes because the traffic coming into the city not on the exit would keep going until it backed up through the intersection, regardless of the light. Once we got in, though, it was easy to get back out again.
 
We talked with the guy in the team store for a little while about our travels to minor league stadiums around the country before leaving. Though getting into a little bit of traffic, it wasn't anything like trying to get in.
 
On the road again at a little before 5:00, we passed through the second Concord of the day - this time, the capital of New Hampshire. The traffic on I-93 was busy, but not slow, and it gradually thinned out as we traveled northward.
 
We stopped at a rest area, and then for gas in the community of Northfield. However, there was no re-entrance to I-93 northbound, so we had to go through the sleepy downtown of Tilton to access the highway again. This didn't put us back very much, and we saw more of rural New Hampshire than we expected.
 
After an ominous-looking "MOOSE CROSSING" sign, we entered the White Mountains. The White Mountains are unlike many other mountains - sheer granite, poking straight up or curved. Many seemed unnatural at first glance.
 
We never saw a moose, though - it figures. The moose never find us we find them.
 
It took us a while on a road with little to no people, but we wormed our way through these scenic mountains all the way to Bretton Woods, where we checked into the very same hotel that the Bretton Woods Financial System was agreed upon in 1944, with the end of WWII imminent and the world in the need of a new monetary order.
 
The only downside to this historic and fancy hotel is that they're hosting a prom from a town an hour farther north, and thus most of the four-star dining establishments in the hotel are booked. We did, however, get 8:45 reservations at a place with the same food but a little more casual dress code, which was appreciated - although we brought along suits and assorted nice bits of clothing, we really didn't want to get overly dressed after a long day on the road.
 
It was, quite simply, one of the best meals that I have ever had.
 
It was easygoing, unpretentious, quiet, and serving four-star food without necessitating getting all dressed up. We took a shuttle over to a small cottage-like converted house, originally build in 1896. The server was polite, knowledgeable, and agreeable. My dad and I had a melt-in-your-mouth filet mignon, served with a bacon-sweet potato hash, roasted asparagus, and a delicious Vermont blue cheese fondue - a cold, brown, delicious cheese sauce on the side. My mom had the Israeli couscous salad - a warm mixture of pearl couscous, tomatoes, summer squash, asparagus, and green onion.
 
Before the main course, we were served some kind of polenta-based concoction served on a demented-looking spoon. It was the only part of the meal I didn't like - it was followed by two kinds of bread with butter sprinkled with brown Hawaiian sea salt, and then a small dollop of apple sorbet to cleanse the palate before the main course.
 
Afterwards, we split a marvelous maple crème brûlée and were served two rounds of peanut butter fudge as another palate cleanser - but it was hardly necessary. The brilliant, succulent, and buttery filets were enough to serve as dessert in their own right.
 
We took the shuttle back to the hotel and looked around. The loud music and general busyness on the prom-hosting wing of the hotel precluded us from seeing the room where the Bretton Woods deal went down - we'll see that tomorrow morning - but we looked around the parts of the sprawling hotel that we could. They have multiple restaurants, an astonishing attention to detail kept up through the years from 1902 to the present, with unique features in every room - from massive pocket doors to curved chairs that look like they're from the set of the villain of a late-60s Bond film.
 
Poking around the basement a little - and even ducking into a former speakeasy known as "the Cave" - we eventually decided to head back to our room in preparation for tomorrow's travels.
 
Tomorrow: the possibility of Mount Washington, en route to Portland, Maine, and then possibly the Bangor area if we feel up to it.



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Get a Piece of the Rock

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip, Life May 28 2014 · 121 views

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my parents' 31st wedding anniversary

 
We had a small breakfast at our Hyannis hotel, then checked out, loitering in the lobby at the business-center computers looking up routes to Boston until the dealership called. They called, and we left, the last time I'd ever be in that terrible excuse for a car, the loaner Saab. As always, it barely turned over, but it got us to the dealership amid rain, wind, and cold blowing in off of the Atlantic.
 
Back in our car by 12:15, we rolled out of the dealership and made good time off of Cape Cod. We stopped for gas a little before 1:00, knowing that we'd likely get snarled up in traffic as we approached Boston. We'd looked at several different routes, but there was little difference in time between them - going up secondary roads or just sucking it up and going up the Interstate into Boston would get us there at the same time. As such, we just decided to go up the Interstate, which would be the most direct route.
 
Our first stop, however, was the town of Plymouth, site of the famous Plymouth Rock. We found some parking and got out to see the rock, which is underneath a neo-Gothic façade which keeps people from touching it yet keeps it on the beach, near its original location. While it has shrunk in size to about a third of what it was - due to tourists grabbing their own chunks, as well as the natural forces of erosion - and has been moved from its original location for display elsewhere, it's still there to see.
 
I wish I could say that it was impressive, but ... well, it's just a rock. There's really not a whole lot to it.
 
Plymouth Rock itself is in a complex also housing a replica of the Mayflower, which we would have gone to - but the weather was very bad. It threatened to rip hats off and send us flying into the air aloft on our umbrellas à la Mary Poppins. The cold - about 50 degrees - turned into a biting chill with the help of the wind, and the rain, while not hard, sliced diagonally at anyone unfortunate or insane enough to be walking around.
 
We made surprisingly good time out of Plymouth and onto the Interstate up to Boston. Traffic increased and there were some slower sections, but we never came to a complete stop. Along the way, the most interesting thing was a truck built to re-arrange the concrete barriers along the side of the highway. It'd roll through the lane, feed the barriers through its body, and deposit them on the other side, thus marking off the lane.
 
At 1:49 we crossed over the river into the Boston city limits, and a little after 2:00 we'd parked in a parking deck in Cambridge, just across from the U.S.S. Constitution. The ship - "Old Ironsides" - was our first stop of the day, although we tried to keep our time spend outside to a minimum. The Constitution was never officially decommissioned, and thus could still officially be sent into active duty - although her weaponry is over 200 years out of date.
 
We toured around above and below deck, saw some things, asked a few questions ... but all in all, there was nothing particularly special or mind-blowing about this ship as compared to other old ships I've been on. As far as history is concerned, the Constitution has a long and gloried one - many victories in the War of 1812, a trip around the world in the 1840s, and has sailed under her own power in 1997 and 2012.
 
From the Constitution, we hoofed it over to Bunker Hill. Though the celebrated Battle of Bunker Hill was a victory for the British - a fact sometimes overlooked or downplayed by jingoistic historians - the casualties for the British were immense. The American loss was due to lacking another round of ammunition for their muskets - when the ammo was out and hand-to-hand fighting commenced, the British were the only ones with bayonets.
 
One of the more interesting characters in the battle was Joseph Warren, a doctor who was commissioned as a Major General in the Massachusetts militia shortly before the battle began. He opted instead to enter the battle as a private, and was killed during the final British assault. His death served to spur on the movement for independence, as he was the first real martyr of the Revolutionary War.
 
After the battle, his mangled body was identified by none other than Paul Revere, who organized a proper Masonic burial. Despite having relatively little impact while alive, he was immortalized in statues and in town and county names across the nascent nation.
 
Ironically, most of the fighting at the Battle of Bunker Hill didn't actually take place on Bunker Hill, but rather on nearby Breed's Hill. While most of these hills are now taken up by quaint houses, the spot where Warren was killed now has an immense stone obelisk. We got our tickets inside the Bunker Hill museum and proceeded to walk up the hill.
 
For the obelisk is not a solid structure - it's hollow, with 294 granite steps to the top.
 
It was a long walk - one which I made much faster than my parents - but the views from the top were excellent, although the windows were rather small. After resting from the climb at the top (and looking down the grate right down the center of it), we went back all 294 steps, which was a considerably easier endeavor.
 
With some light left, we headed back out into Boston itself - technically these first two stops were in Cambridge - along the Freedom Trail, a link between historical sites in and around Boston denoted by red bricks in the pavement. Getting to Boston meant walking over a bridge. The walking surface was a massive grate, which meant that one could look down all the way into the water below ...
 
(At the beginning of the bridge, there's a spray-painted sign on the ground: "Acrophobia Friendly Zone." I don't think they're kidding.)
 
Once across the bridge, we decided - a little on the spur of the moment - to eat in an Italian restaurant. It was exceptionally authentic - I'm pretty sure our server was the owner and a first-generation Italian-American. I got a dish of calamari (tentacles and all - yum!) served with a rich tomato sauce over linguine. My parents got the same thing, some sort of crab-farfalle concoction which was a little bit of a let-down. Despite this, we enjoyed the authenticity, appreciated a little time away from the bustle of Boston, and really came to appreciate the quick service.
 
We got to the Old North Church five minutes before they closed up. It's still in use today, and you can tell that they've kept it up - the pews are boxed off and rented out to families, who could, historically, do what they wanted to do with regards to decorating them. The pulpit was accessible by spiral staircase, the week's hymns were put on a board for all to see, and the place, in general, looked simply divine - pun intended.
 
Leaving the Old North Church, we continued along the trail to Paul Revere's house. We got there just a few minutes before it closed as well, and were able to have enough time to leisurely work our way through the four rooms of the house open on the tour and pick the brains of the two ladies who served there as tour guides.
 
We learned interesting information on the production of accidental stained glass, the fate of Paul Revere's manufacturing company, his immense family, and architectural trends of different periods, as the downstairs was decorated like the 1690s, when the structure was built, and the upstairs like the 1790s, when the Reveres lived there.
 
Working our way back, we noticed something - we were in Little Italy. We heard Italian spoken on street corners, saw dozens of Italian restaurants, and saw three shady-looking characters dressed in all black, loitering outside a building. I generally like to assume the best in people, but I'd honestly be surprised if those guys weren't involved in some kind of black-market dealings. They were simply too stereotypical.
 
With the wind and rain having long since stopped, we worked our way back through the quaint and surprisingly quiet little neighborhoods, then back out over the bridge and finally to the car. We'd managed to do everything we'd come to do in a little less than four hours.
 
At 6:00 we left the parking garage and began worming our way out of Boston. This was insane, mainly because we had to go through a traffic circle. Now, traffic circles are generally not that bad. In fact, for most low-traffic intersections, I'd like to see more traffic circles. But this one had about a million people in it, a million people trying to get off of it, a thousand people cutting a thousand other people off, and exactly zero demarcated lanes.
 
You read that right - there were none of those handy dashed lines to mark off the lanes, which turned the traffic circle into a road-rage-fueled free-for-all. After getting through this mess, we were confronted with even more roads without lane markings, until we finally were back on the Interstate, with the same start-stop traffic as earlier.
 
After a few interchanges, we made it to the hotel.
 
Now, most hotels are generally built as a solid block, with the lobby, amenities, and maybe a few rooms on the first floor, with the upper floors devoted exclusively to rooms. This hotel is built nothing like that - it's sprawling, spreading its wings and floors out to fifteen different counties and three time zones. It took ten minutes of walking to get to a room only a floor above the lobby.
 
After a long day of walking - not to mention up and down those 294 steps - we really weren't looking forward to walking anywhere, but we were still hungry and we knew we had to. With the traffic of the day, it was an easy decision to eat at the hotel. My parents split a lobster roll, and I got the second-largest sandwich that I've ever seen, which consisted of a massive hunk of fried cod, garnished with massive slices of vegetables - but, despite the immenseness of both tomato and lettuce, they just seemed puny when compared with the enormousness of the fish.
 
I ate it all.
 
We finished it off with a cheesecake garnished like a turtle - caramel and chocolate sauce over the top, with three chunks of walnut over that.
 
Tomorrow: more history at Concord and Lexington before heading north to New Hampshire. The second leg of this trip is about to begin.







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He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo


"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker


LISTEN TO SUMIKI - Cholie


Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva


BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex


What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus


I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh


EAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH - Kakaru


Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok


Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker


He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist


I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens


I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig


I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk


I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome


Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex


Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz


10/10, would Sumiki again. - Bfahome

     

Sumiki
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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)

1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/12 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi

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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Leaders:
Sumiki
Waffles

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
Members:

ChocolateFrogs

ToM Dracone
xccj
Uzmakikunai
Novek
Nukaya
Overlord
Kaymac
(((DARKNESS)))
lunaticCircuitry
-Toa Lhikevikk-
DeepFriedZombies
Dirk Strider
GUYUGKUYG
Toa Flappy
Lime Paradox
McSpit
RotationalBasis
Mesonak
chunkeh!
Toa Robert
The X
Nuparu574
Dave Strider
Akuna Toa of Sonics
Commander Helios
Popup2: The Camel
~Shadow Kurahk~
Luna
Rho
~System Of A Down~
Kohrak Kal17
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Thunder on the Mountain
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Rahkashi
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Vinylstep
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Doc Scratch
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Eyru
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Millennium
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noob
Makuta GigaDon
WORT WORT WORT
~Toa Drokonas~
Kwydjybo
Progenitus Worldsoul
Toa Kuhrii Avohkii
-Morgoth-
Bohrok Kal
Toa Neya 2011 Edition
~prisma son of dawn~
Nidhikiandco
.: WoLVeRINe :.
Zokau
DragonxFlutter
Lebon
ChocoLvr13
Uzumakikunai
Dokuma
Carnifex
Xetra
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Alternate Velika
HercuLesss
Absol'd
SquishyFrog
Ynot
qUESTIE
SonicBOOM XS
Tavakai
Schnee 1
Brickeens (again!?)
Kakaru
The Great Forgetter
Kylus
Thomas the Tank Engine
Roablin
Aho-Chan
Jonah Falcon
~MatoroIgnika~
Vocals
Oh my miru
Element lord Of Milk.
e=mc^2
Lexuk Toa Of Insanity
Michael J. Caboose
GlatorianJaller
knuckles chaotix
The Bean
Kyronex
Lord Kaitan de Storms
Jaicho
Toa of Dancing
/Got_Your_6/
ZamorBob
Daiker
Toa Arzaki
The Oncoming Storm
Darkrylles
Lego Obsessionist
Toa of Pumpkin
christo1096
Unit#phntk#1
Teal Armada
Toa Zehvor Blackout
Mr. M
Chibinuva
Vohon
Mylo Xyloto
Lord of Ice
Celu
Architect
Rix
.:ENCRYPTION:.
~~Zarkan~~
TornadoToad
Fantasia
Gamzee Makara
Zarayna: The Quiet Light

Paleo

Xaeraz

Vorex: Keeper of Time

Roablin

Toa of Smooth Jazz

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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle
 
so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra

 


 


 


You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.
 
It's a long story.

 

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