Road Trip, Part 1

Oh, hi there!

Yes, yes, I know. I haven’t written in a while. I am well aware. I guess you can say I’ve had a bit of writer’s block recently, and with the MDA Clinical & Scientific conference fast approaching, I also had a handy excuse not to write for a few weeks.

Which is a good thing, because the conference, and the road trip to Orlando, gave me a lot to write about.

Although I wasn’t technically on the road each day, I was away from home for three weeks, which seemed like an eternity. That is a long time to go without my adjustable bed.

But all in all, it was worth it. I had a great time at the conference, and also had a chance to see my sister and her family for a few days, which made the aches and pains of a long car trip bearable.

Rather than write a long narrative, I feel like making a list instead. I like lists. Most importantly, it’s easier to insert GIFs into a list.

This particular list is not ranked in any order. Instead, it’s 18 thoughts to commemorate the 18 days I was away from home. At least, that’s what I counted on the calendar. If it turns out to be more or less, too late.

This post is broken up into two parts. Even in list form, I can’t help but write thousands of words.

Continue reading “Road Trip, Part 1”

A.C. Petersen Farms

Quick tangent: I am all about using acronyms when possible. I was originally going to preface this title with “The Reluctant Traveler”, in order to distinguish it from my regular posts, but it felt too wordy. Then, I was going to call this “TRT: A.C. Petersen Farms”, but according to Google, “TRT” stands for Testosterone Replacement Therapy, which would be a rather odd thing to associate with my travels. You might forget TRT stands for that but I never would. Needless to say, I will not be using a preface, and will just tag these posts under “The Reluctant Traveler” instead.

Now to the topic at hand. Recently, I had the pleasure of eating at one of my favorite childhood restaurants in West Hartford – A.C. Petersen’s. This landmark has been around in some form for over 100 years, occupying its current location on Park Road in a beautiful art-deco building. I grew up coming here, and it was nice to be back. It brought back a lot of memories from childhood – a much simimg_2257pler time.

My parents and I came here mid-afternoon, after running errands and driving around most of the day. It turns out we were the only customers in the restaurant at 4pm which, for two retirees and this unemployed 30-year old, meant dinnertime.

It was a nice, peaceful break to our hectic day, and best of all, everything was just as I remembered it. The kitchen counter and its round, cushiony seats welcomed us when we entered the front door. Overhead, the old, trusty sign showcasing the restaurant’s dozens of ice cream flavors rotated slowly, still kicking despite its age. To our right was the main dining area, completely unchanged, with dark brown walls and long tan booths in the middle aisle that can sit an entire party of children. Late afternoon sunshine poured through the windows on the right, illuminating the window seats where I’ve spent many a time gazing out at the streetscape while eating ice cream. There was a comfort to this familiarity that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

img_2258The menu, however, was a little different – more options than I remember, but then again, more options is usually a good thing when it comes to food. After carefully weighing the pros and cons of several sandwiches, I ended up getting the tuna club. My mom followed suit with a tuna sandwich and my dad ordered an omelet. As we were the only customers, the food came out quick, and like any respectable diner, the portions were enormous.

Since there was no one else in the restaurant, I didn’t feel weird taking pictures of the interior. However, I still – and always will – feel weird taking pictures of my food, so sadly, no pictures of my meal here. Just imagine a tuna sandwich on top of a tuna sandwich, held together with a toothpick, and that’s what my tuna club looked like. Besides, any time spent taking pictures of my food would delay eating, and I was starving. I devoured the sandwich and the curly fries (seriously, what’s better than curly fries?) in minutes.

Like any responsible adult, I made sure to leave room for ice cream. I ordered the chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream, one scoop instead of my usual two, doused in whipped cream and hot fudge. I don’t usually eat like this anymore, so by the time I was done I was ready to be carted out on a stretcher. It was worth it!

Leaving the restaurant, I was thrust back into the present. The brick Park Road sidewalks aren’t the best for someone like myself, since it’s tough to gauge where there are uneven bricks, and the gradient of the sidewalk can be deceiving. I nearly wiped out walking to our van, but stopped myself in time. I may be living in a perpetual state of change, but it is always nice to have a place like A.C. Petersen’s in your neighborhood that has stayed the same over the years, providing a beacon of comfort and stability. Hopefully it won’t be several years before I go back again.

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Ok I lied. One food picture.

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Trident Booksellers

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I hadn’t been to Newbury Street in a couple years, except when someone has made the fateful decision to drive down it. Between jaywalkers who don’t look up at approaching traffic, double-parked cars, and police activity, it is impossible to go more than a few blocks in 15-20 minutes. For the most part, Newbury Street contains everything I’m trying to avoid: crowds of people wandering aimlessly (*cough* tourists), brick sidewalks, and buildings with stoops.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a gorgeous street, especially around the holidays. However, I’ve been down this street countless times since I’ve lived in Boston, so I at least know the area and don’t feel too nostalgic missing out on it. That said, part of what I’m trying to do now is to re-introduce myself to areas that I’ve subconsciously sworn off since my disease decreased my mobility. I don’t go out nearly as much as I used to, but I am committed to changing this, as long as it takes. Blogging gives me the fun excuse I need.

Since winter break has just started, I figured this was as good a time as any to change my hermetic habits. Newbury Street, in all its hustle and bustle and annoyance, would be quite a challenge off the bat. But, like MacArthur returning to the Philippines, I returned triumphantly.

My destination was Trident Booksellers, tucked between Mass Ave. and Hereford Street. It was a place I had been meaning to go to for a while, a famous bookstore/cafe that combines three things I love: books, food, and MBTA memorabilia. I had never been inside, so I had this preconceived notion that it would be this quaint little bookstore with a side cafe, where people sipped lattes quietly while perusing the internet on their Macbooks.

I was wrong. Well, I was right about people on their Macbooks, but it wasn’t the quiet, quaint store that I thought.

Mirroring the gift-seeking, meandering crowds of people outside, it was actually a lot busier than I expected. It took a few minutes to get comfortable with my surroundings, as the store was arranged in a haphazard manner, with the checkout counter, cafe, and aisles of books all converging in one spot when I walked in. This setup made for foot traffic going in every direction, which, for someone who needs to be careful with each step I take, was a bit harrowing. But hey, I could actually go in the store, which I can’t say for most old buildings unfortunately. Trident does have a second floor which has a long, winding staircase to access, and as you can imagine I did not go up there. So yes, this is really only a half a review. I have no clue what is up there, so I apologize. Everything I needed though was on the first floor.

Today I met my friends Mike and Claudia for brunch. The Trident menu is quite expansive, encompassing both breakfast and lunch. When given the choice between the two I always opt for breakfast, specifically french toast. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by how their french toast tastes – what type of bread they use, the toppings offered, even the quality of their bacon on the side. Although I opted against bacon today (come to think of it, I’m not sure why), the french toast was on challah bread, and came with a side of strawberries and whipped cream. It was fantastic. Looking at what other people got around me, you really can’t go wrong with what you order here. The portions are generous and the food is hearty. The main dining area was a bit cramped, but at no point did I feel uncomfortable that I couldn’t get by the other tables okay on my crutches.

Afterwards, jittery from far more coffee than I probably should have consumed, I walked around the store. Since I didn’t bring a backpack I couldn’t purchase anything that I had to carry with my hands, which is actually a great strategy to save money. Otherwise, I tend to want to buy everything I can reasonably lug in my backpack.

Overall it was a great experience and I’d go back again. It was a little busier than I am comfortable with (from a pure safety perspective), however I was there during peak business hours – a Saturday afternoon right before Christmas. Accessibility-wise I’d say it is adequate, especially for Newbury Street which has a lot of old buildings I can’t get into. As I’ve learned rudely over the years, older buildings do not have to abide by accessibility standards outlined in the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yay human rights!

In all seriousness, I have to focus on the places I can go. The more places I find around the city that are accessible, the more inclined I will be to get out of my neighborhood, which at the end of the day is the important goal. So far, so good.

By the way, I can’t think of Trident and not think of Anchorman!