Friday, January 05, 2007

Austin to Boston - Conclusion

Owing to an ungodly 6:30am Saturday morning departure from Logan, Friday was my last full day in Massachusetts with Kate.

After slowly rousing ourselves to wakefulness, we left Shrewsbury for a quick tour of Worcester, which is pronounced "Wister" or "Wista," but never "Wooster" or "Warchester." A good drinking game would be for someone to hold up cards with names of Massachusetts towns for me to pronounce. Every time I horribly bastardized a town's name, everyone would have to drink. We'd all be hammered in no time.

We drove through downtown and walked around Kate’s old school before meeting her mom and stepdad for lunch. I enjoyed meeting them both. Her stepdad is a fount of area history. I regretted forgetting to ask him about the deadly 1953 Worcester tornado.

As it was, we roughly followed the tornado’s path in reverse out of town to visit with Kate’s friend Caitie and her family near Petersham (that’s "Petersam" to all you non-Yankee types). Caitie’s mom and dad live in a restored 18th century farmhouse set against hilly, pastoral terrain that people from Texas don’t often see. Kate, Caitie and I took a walk over the frozen fields and through a dairy farm before dinner. I could only imagine what those fields would look like covered with snow.

Meanwhile, Kate and Caitie’s friend Jess had gotten her rental car stuck in a slushy roadside ditch a few miles away while trying to take photos of the amazing sunset. Kate, Caitie’s dad and I drove down to see if we could push her out. That wasn’t going to happen, so we took turns sitting in Jess’s car and listening to Neil Young until a tow truck came along.

Once everyone was warm and in place, we ate a delicious spaghetti supper preceded by the singing of "Dona Nobis Pacem." Kate and her family called me in Houston on Christmas Eve and sung it over the cell phone. My mom and dad overheard this and assumed Kate's family was at some sort of performance because they sounded so good. My Uncle Mark jokingly suggested calling back to sing the old Buck Owens chestnut, "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy.”

Anyway, after looking around and noticing everyone at the table was singing "Dona Nobis Pacem" except me, I sheepishly tried to join in, hanging on Kate’s hand directions for dear life. Even so, my lack of religion and formal musical training came through with flying clams. Fortunately, this was a gracious, welcoming group and I didn’t feel the least bit self-conscious about it.

As much as we were enjoying the great food and company, Kate and I had to drive back to Shrewsbury around 8pm. After a few hours’ sleep, we woke up at 3:30am and headed for the airport. When it’s 20 degrees and pitch black outside, you begin to understand why there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner in New England.

We made our flight with time to spare, but between headwinds and having to fly way the hell out of the way to avoid a storm system, it took over four hours to get back to Austin. That’s a long time to be on a small plane, but it beats having to make a connection. While three days wasn’t enough time to really “do” the Boston area, my ever-growing travel appetite is now extra-whetted for future exploration of the region.

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