To celebrate the captain's birthday, he wanted lobster for lunch, so we decided to take a day trip to Gloucester (Yankees pronounce that Glos-tah). This entailed taking Lin to work so we could borrow her car and heading to Cape Ann on the North Shore of Boston just around rush hour. Rush hour in Boston is any time of day ... further complicated by summer tourist season. We left Lin about 8:30 am. We stopped en route only for a Dunkin Donuts coffee (America runs on Dunkin' … free coffee on your birthday) and a quick breakfast nosh. This 60 mile trek from East Walpole should have taken just over an hour. At 11am, we finally crossed the causeway leading into Gloucester. The captain drove and remained calm, patient and amiable as usual. Luckily, he is selectively hard of hearing in his right ear because the first mate groused about traffic all the way. Gloucester, by dint of its prime location on the coast, has always revolved around the maritime trades. Made famous by The Perfect Storm among other things, it's now gentrified somewhat for tourists, but still a working, commercial fishing port. We've visited many times, by land and sea, and thoroughly enjoy the whole Cape Ann area. But Gloucester, in particular, has a certain working man's allure and appeal to these sailors.
We'd done a little homework as to where we might find a good spot for lunch that we hadn't tried before and had narrowed it down to two or three places. We settled on a lobster shack kind of place on the water appropriately called the Blue Collar right in the downtown. We each ordered a bowl of New England clam chowder and split an order of twin boiled chicks (two “chicken” lobsters, i.e. lobsters weighing about 1 pound each). Blue Collar is a no-nonsense restaurant that offers only the basics: lobster, lobster rolls, chowder, peel and eat shrimp, raw oysters and corn on the cob. Everything a good Yankee needs for lunch. You can get your beer next door and walk it over. The atmosphere of the place is in its surroundings.
The day was perfect … warm and sunny with a light breeze as we sat under colorful umbrellas at rough wooden picnic tables. The salt in the air was heaven to our senses. We miss Nine of Cups at the moment and this was a palpable reminder of her. We watched as lobster boats worked their way to the wharf below, unloading their catch. The crew of Dog & I especially caught my attention. My, my, my … toting those lobster traps and crates definitely keeps some lobstermen in fine trim.
The schooner, Thomas E. Lannon, filled with tourists for a harbor cruise, slid out of her berth and past the historic Cape Pond Ice House.
Sea gulls soared overhead and cried as they passed. Some followed the lobster and fishing boats in and out of the harbor; others were content with tourist leftovers and discards ashore. When we finished, there was very little remaining for the hungry gulls.
We drove a bit further along the coast for awhile then headed inland towards Ipswich and Rowley. We figured we'd end the day in fine form by stopping at the 1940s Agawam Diner for pie. Just listening to the waitress recite the list of freshly baked pies had us mesmerized … apple, cherry, pecan, blueberry, coconut cream, lemon meringue, peach, chocolate cream, pumpkin, custard, blackberry. We'd died and gone to pie heaven.
Sated to capacity, we waddled back to the car, battled 2/-1/2 hours of North Shore traffic and arrived just a few minutes late to pick up Lin at work. (Oops!) It was David's birthday and the tardiness was forgiven. No, we didn't need to eat dinner … just in case you wondered … but we did slosh down a bit more wine before playing a rousing game of partners Pitch with Lin and Matt.
All in all … a fine way to celebrate another birth year past and another year beginning.