Jersey to Nantucket
In between the 2 main legs of our trip we had some logistics to work out - in order to get onto Nantucket by airplane, we needed to fly out of Boston. So we dediced that the best and most enjoyable option would be to rent a car and drive up from New Jersey to Boston, and to spend one night in the city.
I have come to realize that one of the best ways to get a feel for the country is by automobile. You don't get to take any shortcuts to where you are going and are sort of forced into the scenery. Just be sure that your car isn't overstuffed with people who are prone to crankiness. The route involved driving out of New Jersey through Conneticut, and finally into Massachusetts. It was slated to take about 4 hours. As we entered Conneticut we were surprised by how beautiful the drive had become. We were on a smaller, 2 lane highway, and for many miles we drove under a gorgeous canopy of autumn colored trees. It was difficult to spot any houses or buildings from the highway, and I imagine that the road was that way by design. What we also noticed on the way up was this side of the country's obesssion with toll booths. After the first toll booth I said to Crystal, "This is such a great idea - It really makes sense to me. Having toll booths would reduce the state taxes, and only the people who use those routes have to pay for them in increments. They should do that in California too!" I was all for the idea at the time seeing as how my daily commute into work is now officially zero miles. But 10 toll booths later I was starting to run out of coins and patience and completely retracted my previous statement.
If you want to get an even better feel for a region, I suggest pulling over at one or more of the rest stops along the way. People tend to be in their most raw states at rest stops - constipated from being trapped in a car for an untold number of hours, cranky from the lack of space, or perhaps experiencing the Driver's Paradox: Desperate thirst accompanied by an undeniable urge to urinate. If you want true entertainment, simply pull over at one of the bigger, nicer rest stops and just sit & watch - you will be treated to the coming and going of people at their absolute worst. Tending to be high maintenance myself (particularly in the mornings), I must be quite amusing to observe at a highway rest stop. My idea of "roughing it" is not being able to take 2 hours in the morning to do nothing more than savor a cup of coffee after breakfast while catching up on a good read and listening to music. If I have to leave the house at a certain time, I must set the alarm to wake me up 2 and half hours prior. That's just how it is for me, and I recognize that. But imagine all those poor folks at the rest stops who did not have that luxury - being rushed to guzzle their coffee, and then having to pinch back their impending bowel movement while being stuck in a compartment on wheels for hours... it's no wonder that this world is full of so many stressed out folks with pissed off digestive systems.
Nearing the perimiter of Boston we started to spot more and more Red Sox memorabilia. We knew that we were getting close. After only 4 more toll booths we were officially inside the city limits and were a matter of miles away from our bed & breakfast. We decided to stay at a place called The Newbury Guest House. It offered reasonable prices along with being in a great location within Boston.
Their web site explains "The Newbury Guest House thrives on the most desirable street in Boston. Newbury Street is world renown for its cosmopolitan flair. This charming ten-block long street is located in the heart of Back Bay, one of Boston's most elegant and historic neighborhoods."
I have come to realize first hand that Boston must have more team spirit than most of the other cities around. I would say that they come closest to approaching the level of passion that the Europeans have for their soccer teams; because of this they might as well change their city name to Red Soxton. If Los Angeles had even half as much team spririt as they do for their Red Sox, then perhaps we would have kept at least one of the two football franchises that we had at one time. Seriously though - I gave up on counting the number of people wearing Red Sox memorabilia after about 100, although I know that I lost count well before that. We spent our Saturday night dining out with a friend, and then saw the end of the Red Sox game in a local bar up the street. I cannot comment further on Boston as a city since the time we spent there was so brief, although let me state for the record how amusing it is that 99% of the population is Irish Catholic. I don't know why I find that amusing, I just do.
One other thing which I am convinced of is the fact that Boston's street layout was designed by a 6 year old who was short on her daily Ritalin dose. No joke - there are one way streets leading to 5 way intersections with diagonal crosswalks, not to mention the designated toll booths for people who aren't Red Sox fans. Even the GPS unit in our rental car a.k.a. Sally (which was a life saver for finding our way to the airport on Sunday morning) could be heard saying in her robotic voice "Now approaching @#^$# what the hell is the matter with these streets ... syntax error could not compute !$#@*&^$". It certainly did not help that the exit from the highway to the rental car return terminal (which Sally had calculated for us) was closed for construction. But after going around in countless circles we finally found where we needed to be and made our way to the departure terminal.
If you ever want to fly to the island of Nantucket, make sure that you don't have a problem being in a small 9 person aircraft. The airline which has been charged with the daily flights is Cape Air. They operate a fleet of Cessnas, and I would say that it is definitely a unique experience to fly in one of those. My fear of flying is long gone thanks to my many hours of playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. I mean, I'm able to land planes in the game no problem, so how difficult can flying really be? ;)
Crystal did need some encouragement, but after we struck up a conversation with a very friendly group of 6 from Cleveland (and seeing how calm they were) her morale definitely improved. It did not bother her in the slightest that our carry on baggage had to be stored in the wings of the airplane. The flight lasted only 45 minutes and since those planes fly at a much lower altitude, we really got a feel for how beautiful the scenery was from Boston to Nantucket.
And so began the final (and most anticipated) leg of our vacation...