A New England Odyssey

Sunday, August 13, 1995

     After not getting to sleep this morning until after 5:00, I was awakened at 6:30. I believed it was Pam (my wife) calling my name, but I didn’t notice her anywhere as I glanced around the bedroom. Assuming that she was in the bathroom and that I was imagining things, I lay back down and almost instantly fell asleep again. What seemed like seconds passed and the same thing happened. This time, I investigated further and found that Pam was below the bedroom window calling for me.
     Apparently, she had let Wayne and Darryl’s cat outside and had gotten locked out herself. After letting her in, she complained that she couldn’t get the cat inside. I told her not to bother, but she insisted on doing something about it and went back outside. Before long, she came back in complaining that the cat was now in the basement. By this point, I was getting pretty irritated. It’s bad enough being woken up after your first hour of real sleep in the last 48 hours, much less having to get dressed and chase down a cat in a dark, cobwebbed basement.
     Despite my irritation, I took care of the cat and collapsed back onto the bed; I slept like a log throughout the rest of the night. We got up just before noon and headed out for breakfast. Deciding that we’d like to eat at the International House of Pancakes, we headed off towards Harvard in search of the one we’d found in the phonebook. About an hour later we gave up and just drove out towards the Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Just past it we found a Friendly’s Restaurant and settled for lunch.
     The Mt. Auburn Cemetery is a gorgeous park that we could have easily spent the entire day in. It has hills, ponds, and also the 62-foot high Washington Tower which gives a beautiful view that extends in all directions. Besides the fact that “Holmes, Lowell, and Longellow Lie Buried in Mount Auburn” (we saw the graves of all three), many other famous people are buried there. We visited the gravesites of Buckminster Fuller (who invented the geodesic dome), Charles Bulfinch (a famed New England architect), and Burrhus Frederic (B.F.) Skinner (noted behaviorist and favorite psychologist of my friend, Greg – cool, eh, Greg?).
     Before we knew it, we had spent several hours at Mt. Auburn and only two hours remained before the Boston Museum of Fine Arts would close. Fighting one-way streets, long red lights, and thick traffic, we made it there with just over an hour remaining until they were to close. We found that they allow free entry when only an hour remained, so, cheap folks that we are, we waited the five minutes and acquainted ourselves with the map. The only portion of the museum that was of particular interest to us was the Egyptian Collection, so we headed there first.
     We got to see Egyptian statues, steles, sarcophagi, columns, jewelry, scarabs, wall paintings, and papyrus. It was the first time we ever got to see Egyptian antiquities in person and it was mighty cool. But there was one very irritating aspect – you couldn’t videotape or flash photograph any of it. We took some non-flash photos, but there’s no telling if they’ll show up or not. Also, we took a single 3D photograph of a statue of Ramses II which I’m dying to see later. Besides the Egyptian collection, we also saw Greek and Roman statues, medieval paintings, and early-American paintings and ship models. Pretty good for an hour, huh?
     Hoping that the museum store would have a book or series of postcards showing most of their collections, we went there next. Pam found a couple of books on Egyptian mummies and myths, as well as a few postcards, but no books full of photographs showing the museum’s holdings. As we were leaving the museum store, they announced that the museum was closing, so we prepared to leave. Which was when we spotted “Mummies” on the museum map. We tried to head towards the front entrance, but the security guard pointed us towards the side exit, and out we went.
     As it so happens, there’s a single room on the first-floor map labeled “Egyptian” and one labeled “Mummies,” while the second-floor has 5 rooms labeled “Egyptian.” The second-floor holdings had distracted us from looking anywhere else for Egyptian items. We figured that we’d just come back tomorrow and see what we missed – unfortunately, they’re closed Monday. If we’re lucky, we can stop in again just before we leave through Boston in two weeks. We’ll see.
     By now it was just after 6:00 and we weren’t exactly sure what to do next. So, we drove around trying to find Edgar Allan Poe’s birthplace. I read somewhere that it’s near the intersection of Broadway and Carver, yet I found no place where these two intersect. In fact, I couldn’t even find Carver! After finally giving up, we drove around a bit more and then headed back to Wayne and Darryl’s house to relax before dinner.
     Normally, I wouldn’t say much about dinner other than where we ate and perhaps what we ate. However, we had an especially interesting dining experience. Just east of Harvard is a restaurant called Midwest Grill Churrascaria & Restaurante, which specializes in Brazilian and Portuguese cuisine. We both ordered the Churrasco Rodizio, which translates roughly into “Brazilian BBQ Banquet” (according to the menu). You start with a simple dinner salad, and then the side orders arrive: corn grits soup (hearty and very good!), black beans, white rice, french fries (odd, but battered), and feijao tropeiro, which is a stuffing-like melange of cassava (yucca) meal, bacon, sausage, eggs, garlic, and onion. Then, the meal begins:
A seemingly endless stream of waiters will circulate (rodizio means rotation!) with swords full of meat, fresh from the grill. You’ll be offered as much as you like of an item. We suggest you dig right in, because before you know it, another waiter will be offering another choice. And so on...
     Wow! If you’re a carnivore in Cambridge, this is definitely the place for you! We had chicken breast, top butt beef sirloin roast, pork loin, linguica (homemade sausage), chicken hearts, and lamb, all cooked over open charcoal flame in a wood-fired brick oven. I’ve listed them in the order we liked them, with the chicken being the best. I usually shy away from things like lamb and hearts, but the hearts were made tolerable through the method of cooking and marinade.
     The waiter/cook keeps strolling by with another slab of meat and they’d let you gorge yourself until you burst. How much for all this food? $14.95. There’s so much going on in this place, including a live trio playing Spanish songs, that things get a bit confusing. We had to wait on water several times, and it took forever (maybe longer) for the check to arrive. But the meat never stopped! Meat, meat, meat!!!
     After dinner we drove around Harvard and past the Irving House, the bed and breakfast we would have been staying at if we weren’t at Wayne and Darryl’s. It looked like a pretty quaint place – next time we’re out here I suspect we’ll give it a try.
     Well, that’s it for our second day. Tomorrow we’ll be heading out of Boston and up the coast towards Gloucester. That’s pronounced “Gloster” for those of you not already in the know. See you tomorrow!