Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Year's Report and Kicking it in Boston

Happy Belated New Year! And Happy 1/11/11 day. (Is that even a Holiday? If it isn't it should be!) We were in Vermont for New Year's Eve and Day, staying with Neil and Betsy. We had a wonderful time and we went to a New Year's Eve party at their friend's house, a party this particular host holds every year. We'd actually been to his New Year's party three years ago so it was fun to see the beginnings of a tradition of sorts. The party also doubled as a 60th Birthday so there were poetry readings, toasts and tearful speeches by the woman's son. Plus the food was catered and it was outstanding, including an amazing chocolate mousse cake!

New Year's Day we took a snowshoe up at Grafton Ponds where my Aunt Betsy does cross-country skiing and snow shoe instruction. She was leading a wine and cheese snowshoe tour where you snow shoe up the little mountain to a cabin where there is wine, cheese and a little camp fire waiting for you. It was amazing! A great way to spend the first day of the year!

Back in Boston, after that large Christmas snow storm, we've only gotten a few more dustings of snow, but apart from a warm spell on New Year's weekend, it has stayed cold, causing snowy/icy conditions on the roads. I've decided to try and commute by bike all winter so I picked up some studded tires for my bike. They're small studs that are placed on the outside edge of the tire to primarily help with lateral sliding. You also run the tire pressure a little low so that you get more surface area under the tire. For the most part, Boston treats the roads (including the bike paths!) exceedingly well so I wasn't needing the studded tires too much, although yesterday morning I took my normal route through the Arboretum and came across packed ice and snow:

See what I mean about treating the roads. This is inside the Arboretum, where no cars are allowed, so they plowed this for pedestrians and bicyclists. I was a little hesitant at first but then I realized the tires were gripping just fine so I made my way through. Here's another shot of the tires, all packed with snow:
As I've said before the commute is actually the best part of my day; despite the cold I love riding every day, and I hope to keep it up the rest of the winter. Plus, the studded tires are harder to pedal so I will be very strong when Spring rolls around. When I switch back to my "slicks" it will feel so fast.

This past weekend, we received a last minute couchsurfing request from an Australian guy doing a two month bus trip around the US. He had only one reference from a fellow traveler and not a host, but we took a chance on him and it worked out great. He's a super nice guy, very knowledgeable about the US, including sports. We went down to the local pizza place to watch one of the NFL football games (since we don't have TV at our apartment), and I was surprised how much he knew about football. But apparently basketball is his favorite sport and he went on ebay and bought two tickets to last night's Celtics game. He wouldn't let me pay but he took me along, and it was super fun, even though as it turns out, the Celtics lost. As luck would have it, we watched the first Celtics home loss since mid-November. But, I'd never been to a Celtics game before so I enjoyed it. I'd never seen so much green before; next time I go I should definitely get a team jersey:
He's moving on today to Montreal, then Ottawa, Buffalo, Detroit, Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Austin, and who knows where else, eventually making his way to Los Angeles where he flies back to Melbourne, Australia.

We might have more couchsurfers this coming weekend. A couple, he's from Philadelphia, she's from Taiwan and they're trying to couchsurf in all 48 of the lower 48 states (while writing a book about it). Meeting all these travelers makes us miss our travels a lot, and it feels odd to now be in the position of living vicariously through other people's travels. Part of me wants to just jump on a bus like our Australian friend, but then again, Buffalo and Detroit in January? Detroit at all? I think he needs some help planning his itinerary.

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