It has been a long week. We flew out to Boston last Friday, and returned Wednesday of this week. The conference was about what I expected. Plymouth, MA is a neat town, but the place that was the highlight of the trip was Cape Cod.

Friday we flew from Minneapolis to Milwaukee where we had a lay-over. I’ve never been the the Milwaukee airport previously. I really never need to go there again. It is the smallest metro airport I have ever seen, with little to eat and nothing to do. From Milwaukee we flew into Boston, arriving at 10:45PM. By the way, Midwest Airline’s chocolate chip cookies mid-flight are the bomb! We got a van from National Car Rental, and headed to the hotel in Brockton, MA. We chose to stay there because the youth attending HOPE and NAPF at Stonehill College. Saturday morning we dropped our youth off at Stonehill and then headed over to Plymouth. Our conference was in the Plymouth Memorial Hall. Memorial Hall was a comfortable and spacious place for our meetings, though it would’ve been nice to be able to do break out session at this location instead of in a neighboring hotel.

We spent the week going to various sessions at Memorial Hall. The highlight of the sessions was the opportunity to listen to Dr. David Fischer on 4 occasions. Dr. Fisher previously served as the Senior Pastor for Colonial Church of Edina, MN and is now Senior Pastor of Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn, NY where Henry Ward Beecher was once pastor.

Some things I found interesting on the trip:

Tunnels – Boston is very similar to those hamster cages you find at pet stores with the tunnels you can run just about anywhere. I think the first 10 miles after leaving the airport were all underground, and some of that under water! A credit to Boston for finding a solution, and for keeping the tunnels clear and clean.

Road Signs – Massachusetts has really poor road signs. For example, the street you are on is never labeled, only the cross streets. This works fine if you know what street you are on, but as a visitor that often isn’t the case. Or when one street turns into another street, often there is no indication so you are now clueless where you are if you have a map. It makes getting to where you want to go frustrating. You can find the general area, but the specific location can be tough to figure out. I now know why there were so many vehicles with GPS units. Not even the locals can figure this system out. Speed limits – I think the philosophy is that if they’ve placed one speed limit sign on the road, then they don’t have to post it again. I think I drove the length of Cape Cod seeing only 2 speed limit signs. This is also true in town. So when you turn from one street to the next, good luck on knowing what the speed limit might be! The only comforting thing that goes with this is that in spite of posted speed limits, few actually drive that slow, especially on major highways.

Blinkers – I’m not sure why cars come equipped with these in New England. Nobody uses them. I don’t know if it’s a plan to save energy or something, but it sure makes driving more “interesting”.

Food – I was a bit disappointed in the food on much of the trip. Many places we visited seem to favor quantity over quality. I did however have the best fried scallops of my life, and considering how many of those I have eaten in 9 years of seafood food service that is saying something. If you are ever in Plymouth, MA, check out the Lobster Hut. Everything is ala cart, and everything is tasty.

Provincetown, MA – if you drive the length of Cape Cod, at the very end, across the harbor from Plymouth, you arrive at Provincetown, MA. I’d never heard of this place, nor anything about it prior to getting there. So I had no pre-conceived ideas about it. It is a great/bizarre town. My wife calls it very European (I’ve never been to Europe so I’ll take her word for it). The narrowest roads I’ve ever driven on. Imagine an alley, a narrow one at that. Then park cars all along one side of that alley. Then add in thousands of people walking and biking down the road because there is no room for sidewalks. Make the streets all one way. Then call them the major roads through town. Really. I was driving a Chevy Uplander Van (think a large mini-van). Had the vehicle been any wider, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to maneuver through town. There is no way a “duelly” truck like a F-250 could pass on many of the streets. I’m uncertain how they deliver goods to the businesses in town because there is NO POSSIBLE WAY a tractor-trailer can get into town, and even trucks like the U-haul style delivery trucks would not fit down the streets. There is one two lane street that runs through town, and it is narrow for a two lane! This is all a result of space being limited at the end of the Cape, but it is a bit harrowing on your first driving experience, especially when it is raining, and you have no idea where you are going, and visibility is low at night. And I have no idea what they do to plow streets when it snows. (photo is of the main street running the length of town on the harbor side of town!)

Beyond the driving conditions, Provincetown has the highest concentration of GLBT that I know of. I would not be surprized if more than 50% of the town was GLBT. Some towns have a Gay Pride parade, this town is Gay Pride. You may think I am exaggerating, I’m not. They advertise it – Where Gay Pride is Everywhere. When we told local people we had gone there (in Plymouth), the looks we got were “interesting”. Gay pride flags and stickers everywhere. My wife and I holding hands were the abnormality. Lifestyle stores and very different advetising abounded.

Cape Cod – This is an amazing beautiful stretch of earth. The beaches are out of this world, especially Coast Guard Beach on the Atlantic side. I could spend a long time near these beaches. As Henry David Thoreau once said “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.” I could spend days just sitting watching the surf come in, tracking birds, listening to the sounds and smelling the salt on the air. The beaches of Cape Cod were the highlight of my trip.

Tuesday afternoon I got word from a tennant of ours that a hot water heater had died in one of our houses. So I got to spend part of Tuesday afternoon on the phone tracking down plumbers in Minnesota who could fix this problem. I think something break or a bad storm hits every time I leave town. Last time we left town a tornado hit up the road 3 miles from this property in Hugo, MN and caused over $15,000 in damages to our property.

Following my resolving the water heater problem, we made our way to the Plimoth Plantation. The Plimoth Plantation is a neat experience, and I wish the water heater problem hadn’t taken away from our time there. We got to interact with some outstanding period actors who nail their Pilgrim characters. We also got to learn about the Wampanoag Tribe, who were the original inhabitants of that region.

On Wednesday, we got up at 3:30AM and had to pick our youth up by 4:45AM in Brockton. Brockton was about 45 minutes from our hotel, and unfortunatly not in the direction of the airport. From Stonehill College, it was another 40 minutes to the airport, where we caught a 7:00AM flight to Kansas City. We then had a 3 hour lay over in Kansas City. We then flew to Milwaukee. We were supposed to board directly onto our connecting flight to Minneapolis, but that flight was running late, so we got to wait there too. We eventually made it into Minneapolis around 3:00PM. Probably the longest travel day of my life. I’m still feeling the effects of it 48 hours later.

All in all a good trip. A great get away with my beautiful wife. A chance to explore new places and experience new cultures. A chance to relax. Our genrous church sent us both, and I am deeply appreciative for the opportunity they gave us!

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