To Wooster and Beyond
September 7, 2021
One of the best parts of travel is climbing behind the wheel of a car and exploring interesting historical places. Boston is one of those places where history seems to live on every corner.
The Old North Church, Boston Commons, Bunker Hill, and Paul Revere’s house are but a few of the many locations one can visit.
Boston – which was named as a settled town on September 7, 1630 – was one of the earliest and most influential places in America.
Of course The Infallible Wikipedia has something to say on the subject:
“Boston is one of the oldest municipalities in the United States, founded on the Shawmut Peninsula in 1630 by Puritan settlers from the English town of the same name. It was the scene of several key events of the American Revolution, such as the Boston Massacre, the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Bunker Hill and the siege of Boston. Upon American independence from Great Britain, the city continued to be an important port and manufacturing hub as well as a center for education and culture. The city has expanded beyond the original peninsula through land reclamation and municipal annexation. Its rich history attracts many tourists, with Faneuil Hall alone drawing more than 20 million visitors per year. Boston’s many firsts include the United States’ first public park (Boston Common, 1634), first public or state school (Boston Latin School, 1635) and first subway system (Tremont Street subway, 1897).
Today, Boston is a thriving center of scientific research. The Boston area’s many colleges and universities make it a world leader in higher education, including law, medicine, engineering and business, and the city is considered to be a global pioneer in innovation and entrepreneurship, with nearly 5,000 startups. Boston’s economic base also includes finance, professional and business services, biotechnology, information technology and government activities.”
In the United States today, the greater Boston area is the tenth largest Metropolitan Statistical Area and the largest city in New England.
The hubby, daughter, and I had the chance to visit Boston in 2008 when she was the representative for Massachusetts for the Washington Idaho Rainbow Girls. We only had one day in Boston proper, but visited a number of the historic sites. The city was a busy, vibrant place even on that cold and rainy April day. We walked around the city and thoroughly enjoyed the historical immersion.
Now, getting into Boston was a completely different experience. Because our trip would take us into western Massachusetts, renting a car was essential.
On the day we arrived at Logan Airport we picked up our luggage then made our way to the rental car lot. The clerk was not too concerned about which car he assigned us; instead he told us to pick one from this one particular row of vehicles.
So out we wandered to the dozens of identical make cars. How to choose? We decided on one with New York license plates for no other reason than our niece and my sister were visiting in New York while we were in Massachusetts.
Soon we were ensconced in the car and off on our adventures. On our second night – after our first down in Plymouth – we stayed in a hotel out in Revere. This afforded us reasonable access to Boston proper with about a 20 minute commute.
Soon we learned that to get to Boston the most direct way was to head south on Everett Street and then merge into the traffic rotary (we call them roundabouts in Washington) and then on to the 1-A.
It was a great plan in theory. In fact there were two things wrong with our plan. Did I mention that we were driving a car with New York plates?
As it turns out, people in Massachusetts pretty much hate New Yorkers. Might be related to the Red Sox and the Yankees, but I’m speculating. Or it might be that they just have no patience for anyone who does not drive as crazy as they do.
We were honked at, gestured at, and given the double middle finger salute multiple times over the course of the week.
But back to the rotary. This particular roundabout was HUGE… and the cars were doing at least 40 miles per hour and, in some cases, traveling three abreast.
The hubby, like a good granny driver, pulls up to the stop sign and then waits for a break in the traffic; but there is no break in traffic. Cars whiz by at speeds which made my head spin.
Meanwhile there are now cars backing up behind us. Horns are honked at us as if doing so will somehow motivate the hubby to hit the accelerator and dive into the path of oncoming death.
Then the weirdest thing occurs. The car behind us – his patience apparently all used up – pulls around us on the left and, in a life endangering move, zooms into the rotary, squeezing between a truck and a car. This happens a couple more times – honking horns, hand gestures, and illegal passing – while the hubby is evaluating the possibility of success. Eventually he spies two feet of open space, floors the gas pedal and we rocket into the rotary, somehow emerging unscathed.
In fact our visit to Massachusetts was one driving adventure after another. Heaven help you if you miss your exit and end up in Jamaica Plain. But that’s a story for another day. And woe unto you if you are relying on paper maps… by the time we got to Worcester (pronounced Wooster, by the way) street signs had all but disappeared. I guess most people have lived there for so long that they don’t need street signs.
Somehow we made it to Barre (pronounced Barry) for our event despite the navigator (that would be me) making wild guesses as to which road we needed to take.
So just remember this… if you are flying into Boston and need a rental car, never ever, under any circumstances agree to drive one with New York plates. On second thought, hiring an Uber might be a better plan.
A link or two: