Return of the Non-Natives

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.

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11 Responses to Return of the Non-Natives

  1. Borkon says:

    Yards is good, but it’s no Latrobe vintage Rolling Rock.

    • CLJ says:

      Yards Brewery was founded by my HMHS classmate Tom Kehoe. Back then, he was noted more for consumption than production. The Class of ’82 is proud of Tom, and I’m not just saying that because he always brings kegs with him to our parties. Well, OK, it’s mostly that, but we’re still proud. Free Beer is good, but Good Free Beer is priceless.

      Now if I can just get him to make some GF product….

  2. SteveBM says:

    Ah, Swampscott. Hit me first live game HR at the age of 10 there. Over a high fence and everything.

  3. Camiel Toe says:

    Welcome back! The blogosphere was empty without you.

    I went to a Wiccan convention in Salem a few years ago. It’s a charming little town (if over-touristy), and the Peabody Museum is first-class.

    I still have the sign I bought there: NO PARKING VIOLATORS WILL BE TOAD.

  4. Yono Senada says:

    WELCOME BACK to the swamp!

  5. Scrooge cannot help but notice that you only viewed the ‘white’ sturgeon on the Saint Lawrence and you described the the benefits of Mrs. Scrooge’s aging as ‘niggardly” …. which is why I took you through Allentown Keeps ya away from the bad neighborhoods of Patterson and Hoboken an Metucheon on the Garden State Parkway;places where you would and the population upon seeing you might feel unsafe…respectively.

  6. sharpshooter says:

    It sounds like you had a great time during your vacation. As Yono said, welcome back to the swamps! LOL.
    You missed great 100 degree weather here, hot enough to roast hamburgers on the sidewalks without charcoal. Even going to the beach in Hollywood was not pleasent and that says a lot.
    BTW, what the the heck happened to the Deli Den? I went there last week real anxious for a chopped chicken liver sandwich on pumpernickel with pickles and found out the place was closed for good. What gives? Did they move somewhere else? Do you happen to know where?
    Any other place where we can get those delicacies in Hollywood?

    • Squathole says:

      Sharpo: I’m not a deli fan, so I referred your question to a Jewish NYer who tells me that Publix’ s chopped liver is as good as any you can find locally. She also recommends Bagel Cove in Aventura for deli food, or Two Jays in Plantation. She does not recommend Sage in Hallandale.

      Rumor is that Deli Den is contemplating a newe place in Pembroke Pines, but nobody has seen anything definite.

      You’d think with all the NYers around here we’d be thick with delis, but we’re not. Guido and I used to go to Deli Den and Post Haste/Fosbergs/Pumperniks/NY Bagel (the place changed names as frequently as it repainted, presumably to dodge creditors) for breakfast now and then, but except for Sunday mid-mornings, they weren’t crowded at all. Go figger.

      Now when we go for Sunday breakfast, we usually bike to the Broadwalk. (We should all meet there one time — including Yono.) If we want deli, well, we never do any more! Although I sure miss those pickles (but not the loud obnoxious customers that Deli Den seemed to attract like flies).

    • Paot says:

      Sharpshooter: This listing might help you:

      Not all are delis, but some will have what yoiu’re looking for. Call first, as the list is often out of date, and the food business is volatile.

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