I drive on and get near one of the coasts of R.I. This state is called the “Ocean State” because; as I intuitively figured out, it has more coastline in proportion to its area, than say, Florida. Just as I’m about to turn north to Providence, I see this 60 ft. high lookout tower. I climb its steep stairs, and there laid out below me is the entire state! Could this really be? I start remembering mountain-state vistas, where I thought I could see a neighboring state. But, this is really a great view! Another parking space courtesy of H.I. south of Providence. I talk with the native R.I. lady serving coffee in the lobby. She hates R.I. and would rather live in Arizona. Oh well, just trying to get a barometer on the “state” of things.
On to Boston, where I pull off at that familiar green and white insignia of “Your Home on the Road”. I call brother Franz in Boston, and get this call-forwarding answer with Lynnet on the other end. “Are you in Boston?” “No, you’re talking to me in Santa Cruz.” Wow! Franz and his electronic age. Can’t complain. Got to talk with them for 30 minutes for 10 cents! I head to Boston, here we go, fast lane forward past Foxboro, where those inept Patriots perform. I cruise the city center, well not exactly cruise. It was more like “poke my way through” the throngs of pedestrians. I’m not bothered, even though there’s an anxious cabby behind me. “Hey, cabby. What can I do? You want me run down these people like so many bowling pins?”
Unbelievably, I find a parking space, and trot up Tremont to case out Franz’s apartment building. Holy Boston Commons! There’s a doorman and glitzy lobby. Must cost him a bomb. His apt. is on the 11th floor overlooking the park, so I guess it’s worth it. I head west? on Tremont hoping to find Newberry St. and the A.S.A.P. headquarters (a perspectivist group), but to no avail. Dadgum Boston with its angular streets: I just keep on going to Mass Ave. which I know will lead me back to the Interstate North to Marblehead. Geez, that street is lined with brownstones as far as the eye can see. Looks rather depressing.
I-93 swings through downtown Boston, with its very compact cluster of high-rise office buildings, and over the Charles River. To the left, there’s the graceful Cambridge span of arches. To the right, row upon row of ancient structures, mostly residential. It’s an old, old city. The University of Harvard is 350 years old. Boston – the Cradle of our Civilization. It ranks right along side with San Francisco as the two most civilized cities in the U.S. of A. I eventually make my way to Marblehead, but not before I take a self-induced detour via the Mystic Park/Revere Parkway through north Boston.
I’ll never forget this one particular scene along old U.S. 1, a very “tight” road winding its way through towns and marshes. High reeds obscured a lot of view. All of a sudden, here’s this recently-built apartment structure rising three levels above the roadway, with its balconies practically hanging out over the pavement. The thing is, it’s abandoned. Like it never got off the ground. Some developer really messed up on that project, to say the least. Then I get to Marblehead, and see everything so intact.
Quite a transition! I think, now at least, that the three-day visit with the Hamiltons in that special town jutting out from the Massachusetts coast has got to be one of the highlights of the trip. It started so fortuitously. I’m parked across the street in front of their house, when I notice two figures emerge from the door and jump into the car parked in front. I leap from Ol’ Baleau and run over to their car just as they’re pulling away. I bang on the car’s roof and holler, “Hey, don’t the Hamiltons live in that house you just came out of?” The door pops open and out jumps Charlotte with a big hug for me. It doesn’t get any better than that. Thanks again, Hamiltons, for one beautiful and special time.
Now, just to tie all this together, I meander along Highway 114 through Salem and numerous other small towns, which will junction with I-95 north to Portsmouth NH and Portland, Augusta, and eventually Vienna ME.. So many of the New England coastal towns have endings such as “-mouth”, “-head”, and “-port”.
In contrast, many Mid-Atlantic town suffixes read “-burg”, “-ville”, and “-town”. Somewhere in this neck of the woods in northeast Mass. lies Walden Pond. I can really empathize with a story about Henry David. Seems as though he would take leave from his idyllic surroundings and wander over to nearby railroad track to watch an “iron horse” churn through the countryside. He was fascinated by the way the preciseness of the man-made, cast iron rails dichotomized God’s green earth. And when the puffing, hissing, rolling stock of steel came by, it just added to the paradox of the whole scene. I can sure relate to that, by dingy.