My plan to leave Massachusetts fairly early and beat the Labor Day traffic rush to get back to Connecticut at a reasonable hour actually worked out quite well though that meant that Amanda and I had to leave Salem before Walt and Juli got back from Montreal so we didn't get a chance to hear about how wonderful of a trip it was. From the looks of the pictures I saw on Facebook, Walt was having a wonderful early birthday celebration and even though they missed those two little fellas pictured above, I'm glad he and Juli felt like they were in good hands and could relax and enjoy themselves.
Speaking of hands, yep - that's mine to the right giving Dewey a bit of a head scritch - something that I count as a great accomplishment. Unlike JayJay, Dewey is a bit on the shy side and it takes some time for him to warm up to people and let himself be touched so when he would actually nudge my hand and tap on my arm with his tiny little paw in a "Hey! Pet me!" sort of way, I deemed that to be a great honor!
It wasn't just all dog-walking and house-sitting for me this weekend though as I managed to not only do some wandering around the North Shore but also make a rather unplanned drive up to New Hampshire early Saturday morning. I had a phone call from Juli around 10:00 or so on Friday night explaining that she had a bit of conundrum as she and Walt had accidentally left their passports behind and they weren't going to be able to make their planned trip to Montreal without them. Ut-oh. They had stopped for their first night at the Quechee Inn about three hours away and it was as Juli was thinking of the day ahead of them on Saturday that the thought dawned on her that their passports were sitting in the kitchen cupboard back in Salem.
Well, I did what any friend would do and offered to drive them up to them as how could Walt celebrate his birthday in Montreal if he couldn't even get through the border crossing? Juli said that if we could meet halfway that would be great but as neither she nor Walt really liked driving at night it would be better if we did it early in the morning. Now anyone who knows me knows that I am not exactly a big fan of early mornings but knowing that the earlier I got going, the better it would be as far as traffic went and the better it would be for Juli and Walt to get to Canada without losing too much time having had to backtrack a bit so I said "Sure!" I Googled a halfway spot that would be easy for both of us to find, said I'd meet them there at 7:30, and went to bed hoping I wouldn't be too groggy in the morning.
At 5:00 (late by Barb's standards!), I climbed out of bed, took a quick shower, went down and fed the dogs and let them out, watered the plants out front, and then hit the road north while getting a last look at the lovely full moon that was setting while the sun was rising. If I'd had time I would have stopped to take some photos but I was a woman on a mission and there simply wasn't time.
After meeting up with Walt and Juli at a Hampton Inn just outside of Concord, New Hampshire, hugs were exchanged all around as I handed them their passports and then they insisted on buying me breakfast at a nearby little restaurant. After breakfast, more hugs were shared and they started towards Canada while I headed towards Ipswich in Massachusetts. As I came down I-93 southbound through New Hampshire and saw all of the traffic backed up at the toll booths that I had practically sailed through about an hour earlier, I was quite glad that we planned to meet early and avoided all that. Whew!
I got as far as Epping, New Hampshire when my gas light came on so I stopped to fill 'er up at prices that were .40 cents a gallon cheaper than here in Connecticut; not that $3.63 is anything to dance a jig about but it sure the heck beats $4.03 a gallon! In celebration I decided to splurge on a car wash - as pictured above! - before continuing my journey south. En route I stopped at one of the New Hampshire State Liquor Stores and picked up a few bottles of wine - one for myself and one as a thank you gift for the gal who was checking on Tesla for us while we were gone - as well as a bottle of 12-year old Jameson that my dispatch partner has been hankering for. Granted, he's going to pay me back for it so it's not like I'm some wonderful partner who bought the bottle for him but he was still very happy to pay the discounted price that the store was offering and he was very happy that I thought of him while I was there.
Continuing southeast, I soon arrived at the destination I had planned to visit that day - the Crane Estate on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Just a little "summer home" for an industrialist from Chicago who made his fortune on the advent of indoor plumbing and would spend a whopping six weeks a year there with his wife and two children.
Uhm, yea, summer home - sure, if you say so! I won't write too much more about the house here as I'll be writing a full-blown post for Travels With Nathaniel (hopefully soon) so if you'd like to learn more about the stately English manor house and the beautiful grounds surrounding it, you are invited to stop by there at some future point.
I will say that photos were NOT allowed inside the house however, they didn't say anything about taking photos of the grounds from the windows of the house so I took the one above with my iPhone just to give you an idea of how beautiful the Grande Allée is. Following my house tour, I walked the entire half-mile uphill/downhill stretch to the end where one gets an absolutely beautiful view of the ocean and a much welcome breeze, too!
Of course, once I was all the way out there, I had to walk all the way back! I bet on a nice crisp, fall day it's a great walk but on a hot, humid end-of-summer day I could have really used a bottle of water! And lighter clothing! Ah well, it was good exercise and the view was certainly worth the walk!
Once I finished walking around the rest of the grounds and taking more photos than I'll ever need or use, I decided that it was way past time for food so I drove back to Rowley to do some "research" for another Travels With Nathaniel post at the historic Agawam Diner.
Now, I know that a lot of you have been posting pictures of your food and talking about all of the fantastic healthy eating that you've been doing so I almost feel guilty about posting the following pictures - almost! - but in the name of research, sometimes a gal just has to make some sacrifices and eat things like grilled beef franks with a really delicious potato salad and tasty cole slaw ...
... and then follow it up with a slab of some of the best lemon meringue pie I've had in quite some time. With a crust that wasn't soggy at all!
So ... all of that walking from one end of the Grande Allée to the other and back in the hot sun was pretty much negated by lunch but how could I write a post about how good the diner food was at the Agawam Diner if I didn't actually eat any? Exactly, I couldn't! However, because it was late in the day, I didn't eat any dinner so this was really two meals. Two very delicious meals!
To wrap up my weekend, I spent most of Sunday writing the post on the Agawam Diner and then at night I drove down to Logan Airport to pick up a friend of Juli's who was flying in from India. He had a heck of a time getting through Customs as apparently all of the agents were taking a holiday weekend and there were only two on duty so by the time I got back to Salem, it was after midnight and definitely time for bed.
Today we made the drive back home after I took the pups for a final walk around the neighborhood and arrived back home to a cat who acted like we had abandoned him for days on end! Obviously Tesla missed us as he's been wrapped around Amanda since we got home but I know that he was well taken care of while we were gone as he had plenty of food and water in his bowls when we arrived home.
Heck, I just don't get it - I sometimes wish that people would leave me at home for three-and-a-half days by myself! I'd sure enjoy the peace and quiet but then, look at all the great stuff I'd miss!