Thursday, June 19, 2008

beantown and la belle province 2: boston beckons


Day two began with a quick bite in the hotel lounge. It was your standard bare-bones continental: juice, cereal, fruit and Otis Spunkmeyer bagels (the latter displayed little spunk, but an application of apple jelly and Philly helped). I took the Thruway to Utica, then hopped onto New York Route 5 to drive along the north side of the Mohawk River.
It was a peaceful drive, with few agitated or pokey drivers between Utica and Schenectady. A relaxing winding highway, towns with baby food factories, places my brother-in-law warned me not to linger in, etc. The weather was a damper, with intermittent showers preventing me from shooting photos.
Farmer Boy Diner (2) Farmer Boy Diner (1)
I stopped for lunch at the Farmer Boy diner in Colonie. First up was a soothing squash soup with bonus red peppers and bacon. My main was one of the better-marinated half-chickens I've had, bathed in lemon and oregano and flattened, served atop chicken-flavoured rice pilaf. It was roadtrip comfort food gold.

After a few hours on the Massachusetts Turnpike listening to special reports about the health of Ted Kennedy, I reached my hotel in Woburn. I had booked a room at an Extended Stay America, figuring a cheap suite might be a good place to stretch after a couple of days of driving.

The room was larger than bachelor apartments I've visited.

Woburn Hotel Room (1) Woburn Hotel Room (2)
Woburn Hotel Room (3)

The full-size kitchen was well-stocked with pots and utensils, which I was tempted to test when I discovered that I let my search for a place to eat run too long after checking out local grocery stores. 8:00 p.m. on Sunday seems to be lock-the-door time for eateries in suburban Boston. If the search had been a cartoon, I would have been banging on the door at the last failed attempted, with physical appearance rapidly degenerating.

I made it just in time to be seated at the Burlington Mall branch of Legal Sea Foods (I had intended to eat lunch at one of their Cambridge branches the next day). After the frustration of finding one restaurant after another calling it down, Legal's ultra-creamy clam chowder was a well-deserved reward. This was followed by the Wood Grilled Assortment, featuring three kinds of fish (forgot to ask what they were but one was definitely tuna) and a choice of two sides (my picks were steamed broccoli and jalapeno cheddar polenta).

Back at the hotel I played around with the ice maker in the freezer, accidentally setting it so that it was a cube assembly line all night (I was convinced for awhile that I broke the lever). I settled in for a night of watching Showtime (Tombstone, a TV version of NPR's This American Life and a Weeds rerun) and plotting the next day's walking route.

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