Guido and I had a great vacation, but there’s no place like home, Dorothy, and we’re glad to be back. We visited with friends whom we’ve never seen in their own home parks, even though in one case, they’ve been there for 16 years. Time sure flies when you’re hermetically closeted in your Own Private Idaho. Which in our case is a tropical rain forest
I’m glad to report that despite two border crossings (into and out of Quebec), there were no international incidents. “Where did you learn to speak French?” the guard asks me (on the way in). I tell him proudly I learned in public school, many years ago. “It wasn’t your major, was it?” he observes.
Arrogant wannabe-frog bastards.
Arriving in Burlington, VT close to midnight after a 3-hour layover at JFK – what a nightmare. It was like stepping backwards in time, complete with bus rides to the terminal and airplane — and situated in some school-bus sized vehicle called a Ford Flex (see photo), I discover I don’t know where the hotel is. I call for directions. “Exit the airport,” the clerk tells me. “When you get to a main road, find a service station and ask somebody.” Hotel Guy doesn’t know how to get to his place from the airport. Which, by the way, was 2 miles away, and exactly one right turn. But at least he spoke English, right?
Our friends D&A in Contrecouer live on the east bank of the St Lawrence River, where they can see a sunset daily, as well as white sturgeons leaping from the water. I ask if they’re gasping for breath. “This ain’t the Schuylkill,” D tells me, referring to the foul waterway we grew up smelling, bathing in, and drinking in the City of Bodily Harm. “And those ain’t deformed carp.” I try to get a photo, but they’re too fast and besides, the river is a mile wide.
Next stop – Swampscott, MA, following a long but lovely drive through the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. We don’t get lost even when I veer off the highway to painfully pee in the verdant late-spring foliage. Maybe that hour-long break at the brewery wasn’t such a good idea. Well, a man‘s gotta eat, and a weak prostate gland’s gotta be tapped. Consider it giving back to the locals.
We arrive in time to celebrate a significant birthday of our hostess. I won’t mention the milestone, but my toast goes something like this: Happy birthday, and welcome to the club. The dues are outrageous, the benefits niggardly, and the members both unpleasant and unattractive. On the plus side, you’re not dead yet, just closer. (Anybody see why I don’t get invited to birthday parties?)
We get a tour of the coastal communities of Marblehead, Salem, and Swampscott, as well as a jaunt through Boston and Cambridge where I haven’t been since John Harvard himself was still groping co-eds. My only haunt still standing in Harvard Square is the tobacconist Leavitt & Pierce, where I buy 8 ounces of Balkan Slices and a box of English Ovals in case I start smoking again. Be prepared, you know.
Then down to Philly, navigated by Webeneezer Scrooge himself, whose clueless route cost us about an hour and 60 extra miles. Although this was a brief visit, we managed to get in the three major food groups – scrapple, cheesesteak, and pizza – and sample a local beer called Yards Brawler that I’d drink all the time if I could get it here. That and Flying Fish. Which reminds me — we dumped Scrooge off in the Schuylkill (with the carp), and let the Masshole swim back north like a hairy bloated spawning salmon.
We get home just in time to finish the tequila we’d left behind, anticipating the need. The cats are so happy to see us they kill wildlife all night and bring us mangled bodies at dawn. Aaah, love. Say it with coagulants.