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Best Memorial Day Weekend...in my memory!

I'm winding down from an absolutely splendid Memorial Day weekend. It started with a mini-getaway to Trumbull and Bridgeport, CT, with Ben. Good time, including a visit to the Beardsley Zoo. Productive, too. I continue along the path to having a real webpage, and am now a Skype user, too! That latter bit immediately resulted in a welcome conversation with bohemiancoast. Neat!

Potential squick alert. While looking through a visitor's guide looking at restaurant options Friday night, I ran into a serious contender for Worst Restaurant Name Ever. Bloodroot is a feminist vegetarian restaurant in Bridgeport. Interesting though some feminist views and practices regarding blood (menstrual blood, in particular) might be, I really don't care to contemplate any of them in conjunction with restaurants or dining. And saying "bloodroot" in conjunction with feminism does not bring the delicate flower first to my mind, beautiful though the flower is, as seen in this photograph taken by Raphael Carter.

The name doesn't work for a vegetarian restaurant, even without the feminist connection. While it isn't a rare plant in Connecticut, it is considered endangered in several areas. It is reported to have some medicinal value, but is not edible, or tasty, as this description from Jack Sanders explains, "Many modern herbalists warn that if the juice gets on the skin, it may cause an allergic reaction similar to that of poison ivy. Modern herbals describe its uses, but often warn that the plant is so strong that it should never be ingested or used without medical supervision. An overdose can kill a man, though its taste is so awful it's hard to believe anyone could consume an overdose." Info link via Raphael's bloodroot photos.

The restaurant's website includes a page explaining why they chose the name, but it's not enough to overcome the repulsion I felt when first seeing the name in the restaurant's ad in the visitor's guide.

I took the long way home Saturday, wandering around Bridgeport, admiring the architecture of the Barnum Museum and tracking down the US PEZ factory in Orange, CT, thanks to a phone call and quick online search by Ben. More fun! I was plenty tired by the time I returned home Saturday night.

Sunday afternoon, I was back on the road, heading to debgeisler and Mike Benveniste's. I arrived in time for the final 20 or so laps of the Indy 500, and was delighted to see the expression of avid interest and joy on Deb's face as the drivers sped 'round and 'round the track, saddened only that it ended while at the yellow caution status, with all drivers frozen in position due to a crash in the last lap by Sebastien Bourdais.

We then watched the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race, which has deservedly been dubbed a "wreckfest." Over a quarter of the 400 laps were done at yellow caution status, and they stopped the race all together just 9 laps before the end. Of those 21 drivers who led the race, all but five were either involved in or eliminated by crashes, engine failures, or tire failures. The race set a new record with 22 cautions in all, and most of the cars looked like they'd been in a demolition derby by its end. It lasted more than 5 hours, during which time we ate an amazing, utterly egg-rich brioche fresh from the oven, homemade salsa, chicken chili, and the best chocolate chip cookies I've had the pleasure of munching on in recent or even not-so-recent memory, and tried not to contemplate too closely just many more times those yellow lights could possibly flash. All this and more was washed down with enough beer to make my plan of staying for the night a wise one. Good times, good friends.

When I left Deb and Mike's shortly before noon Monday, I drove straight south rather than southwest toward home. My intended destination? Provincetown, MA, at the tip of Cape Cod. I made it, too. It was my first taste of the Cape, and I already have thoughts and tentative plans to return twice by mid-September.

Parts of my quick jaunt to the Cape were Fannish as Hell, such as when I passed an exit to Plymouth from Hwy 3. A single sign promised Beaver Dam Rd (where Roscoe lives, no doubt), White Horse Beach, and Priscilla Beach! Then there was calling Tom Whitmore in the BayCon Dealers Room, hoping he could hand his cell phone over to Laurie Edison. Sure enough, she was right there, and she was able to immediately answer my question, telling me how to find the Provincetown Portugese Bakery she told me about last month. I was soon munching on a delicious shrimp pie, unlike anything I've ever tasted. The small lemon custard tart was also yummers. There's nothing quite like calling a friend 3200 miles away to find out how to find a bakery less than two blocks from where you're standing.

The art stores and street scene in Provincetown reminded me of walking the streets of Lahiana on Maui. The sand dunes and terrain were completely different, though, tugging at old memories gained from living two years in coastal North Carolina back in the mid-'70s and reminding me of my intention to revisit the Outer Banks one of these years Real Soon Now.

Much though it was a holiday, most people were leaving the Cape as I was heading onto it. The backup to the Sagamore bridge and rotary stretched over 6.5 miles in the westward direction at the time I was heading east and sailed through without delay. By the time I passed that way heading west, the backups had cleared hours earlier. There were enough people in Provincetown to make the place convivial, but I never had to wait for a sales clerk, or to walk someplace. The various stops I made at Cape Cod National Seashore typically had fewer than a dozen cars in the parking area. Everyone I talked to reported a busy weekend, which will certainly be a welcome and expected boon to the local economy. But thanks to my Monday timing, I had the experience I was looking for, often driving roads by myself, and rarely being slowed down by any traffic at all.

Before going, I researched various low-price hotel options, finding a few rooms available in the $44-50 range, and others for under $80. The Traveler Discount hotel coupon book I picked up at a tourist info stop along the way turned up a few more options. I expected to find a cheap room for the night and then head home tomorrow. But after spending most of the walk-around money I allowed myself in Provincetown, spending the night in my already-paid-for bed at home held more appeal. Besides, I'd rather save whatever hypothetical money I had for a hotel room and use it to return to the Cape with Susan and Gavi in a couple of weeks. So I headed for home after driving around Hyannis and Hyannisport in the dark.

When I stopped at the Charlton Service Plaza on the Mass Pike, I decided the weekend had been so fortuitous that I'd take my chances with a couple of lottery tickets. The $80 million prize had gone without a winner on Friday after all, and I'd enjoy the fun that comes with the fantasy. I was amused to learn that good fortune was continuing to shine upon me -- the ticket-selling computer at the service plaza was down, so I came out $2-3 ahead by not buying any tickets after all.

I'm not promising I won't give into the temptation when I go out to vote on Tuesday. (We're having town elections, and the races I know about are more than a tad contentious.) My favorite use for the lottery fantasy game is as a reality check of what I want from life. The bottom line is that if I won the lottery right now, I'd keep most of my life as it currently is, simply adding more of the desired travel back in. And maybe a rental on the Cape for a few weeks this autumn....

This weekend was full of excellent reminders of ways in which my life is going exceptionally well. That's not the whole story; it never is. But it was good to be reminded of all of the good parts. This weekend was utterly splendid. Finestkind, and All That Jazz.

Memorable. Of all good things, in all good ways.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2005 07:28 pm (UTC)
Geez. That's making me a little homesick, and I never went to the Cape while I lived out there. But hearing the local elections are contentious is pushing that button just as much; I still have fond memories of my social studies teacher being one of the leaders of the attempt by Brimfield to secede from the Commonwealth.
May. 31st, 2005 07:35 pm (UTC)
Restaurant names at which I make a frowny-face have been Mud Pie and Fattburger. On the other hand, I do like The Stinking Rose (and have eaten at both the San Francisco and Beverly Hills locations).
Jun. 1st, 2005 06:48 am (UTC)
My favorite business name was also in California, in El Segundo: the Flying Dutchman Travel Agency.
Jul. 11th, 2005 10:54 am (UTC)
I grew up in Stratford, the town next to Bridgeport, and Beardsley Park was within (long) bike-riding distance for me as a kid, so I hung out there quite a bit. In those days, there was a zoo, also. Very minimal, but free or very cheap, so very accessible. (I've visited in recent years and have seen there has been a bit of an upgrade.) There was also a set of greenhouses and formal gardens where people went to take their wedding pictures. And a lovely river, opening out into a dammed lake with a sandy beach (this was before they built Route 8, which took all the land on the far side of the river and wiped out the beach). I found out many years later that the park was originally designed by Olmsted, which adds to the many wonderful impacts Olmsted has had on my life.

Leslie Turek
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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