Martha In Vancouver
Okay, so last time I said that I was starting a new series here on Xcargo. Specifically, I said I am going to be posting the “Martha & Michael Chronicles,” which can be defined as the tales our attempts to get un-bored. I referred to it as stomping our ennui like it was a bug.
But I also thought maybe I ought to talk at least a little about how we got into our current “Slough of Despond” (good old John Bunyan. Such a cheerful fellow). In other words, why are we bored, and why didn’t we do anything about it sooner.
The brief answer is that Things Just Happened. We moved to Texas for no other reason than we wanted to be near our kids and grandchildren. But, well, our timing was not the greatest. We arrived just in time for Covid to hit, and for us to consequently spend two years in lockdown. Then, just as Covid was starting to lift, Martha had her fall, and we spent three more months effectively in (as I’ve said elsewhere) in house arrest. (For the details of those last three months, see “The Martha Chronicles,” a name suggested by a friend, which were originally posts to Facebook, but which are now collected into a book, the free PDF-version of which you may find here: https://www.michaeljaytucker.com/basic-01)
Finally, all of that was in the past, and we started up again. We determined we were going to have fun and pleasant adventures, even if they were small adventures…because adventures, however tiny, are better than staring at the same four walls.
But…we soon discovered a distressing thing. Even with our restored freedoms, we were having a bit of a hard time finding stuff to do. The adventures, in other words, were elusive.
That was partly because of our new neighborhood, the lovely little city of Georgetown, Texas. We like it very much. Yet…
Well, consider from whence we came. Martha is a life-long New Englander. I moved there in 1979 and was in the area for over thirty years. Basically, both of us are Bostonians, by adoption if not by birth.
And, frankly, it’s hard to bored in Boston. It really is. There is just so much to do.
We were used to being able to get at anything, pretty much anytime, whenever we wanted it. Want to get to Harvard Square, Harvard University, MIT, Tufts? Want to hit the bookstores, the cafes, the restaurants, the museums, the shops, the downtown area? No problem. Just hike or bus to the T-station (i.e., the subway) and you’re there in less than 30 minutes.
Or, want to go a little further? Okay, how about Salem? See where the “witches” (who weren’t really witches, of course) met their end...and from whence clipper ships sailed to the ends of the world, taking American rum and iron and wood to exchange for coffee and spices and Chinese jade. (Fortunately, little slave trading. Most of that happened further south. Salem’s traders focused on goods, not people.) Or there’s Lexington and Concord...just up the way, shot heard round the world, rude bridge that arched the flood, etc. etc. and, of course, etc.
Or, how about going along the coast? To Cape Code and P-town. P-town is *wild.* Or, why not head off to New Hampshire or Maine. Do a little leaf peeping, you know? Or go the other way, South, and see Rhode Island. Little Rhody. That’s where Martha was born, btw. Sometimes I annoy her by singing “Little old Rhode Island is famous for you.” Thank you Blossom Dearie (look her up).
And, if all else fails, there’s always the train to New York.
Okay, but then we moved to New Mexico, specifically, to Albuquerque. Now, this may surprise you, but Albuquerque is a pretty rocking town. In spite of the sneers of many an Easterner, and not a few Californians, (for whom Abq is, at worse, Breaking Bad and meth, or, at best, site of Bugs Bunny’s ill-fated “left toin”), there is a lot to do and see there. There is a vigorous art scene, as well as a healthy, even booming university community. The Federal Labs and the military base on the Southeast side of the city bring in a considerable money, and rather a lot of people, many of them young and entrepreneurial.
There is a surprisingly active foodie-restaurant scene. Without too much effort, you can find a lot really good, really sophisticated cafes and restaurants. (Take my advice, if you’re ever in the city, visit the Cocina Azul, particularly the one at 1134 Mountain. The Brisket and Ribeye tacos are to die for.) And coffee shops are everywhere. Give my regards to the Satellite coffee on Montgomery.
Oh, and if you’re in my old neighborhood, the Northeast Heights, drop by the La Quiche Parisienne Bistro. All the food is superb, though my favorite was the croissants for breakfast.
As for things to do, take your choice. There was Old Town, decidedly worth a visit, and Downtown (a little seedy, but coming back. Give it a couple of years), and shops along all the major thoroughfares. And as seasonal events, well, Christmas in Old Town is not to be missed--beautiful, with row upon row of Luminarias, a.k.a., Farolitos., a.k.a., small candles in brown paper bags which cast a strange and lovely light. Or, there’s the Day of the Dead, November 1. That can be very, very impressive, and, in its way, beautiful.
Or, if you want still more, there’s the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, when, for nine days in October, the sky is full of balloons and vivid colors.
If, somehow, you get tired of all that, there’s always other places. Less than an hour’s drive away, Santa Fe, with all its museums and history and movies stars. And little further away from that...Taos, that strange, hard, beautiful city in the mountains.
I could go on...and on....and on...but my point is surely already made. We were used to having a heck of lot of stuff to do.
We weren’t there any more.
And that was a bit of a shock.
More to come.
PS - As usual, the photo above has nothing to do with this story. It is actually of Martha during our one, brief, but greatly enjoyable visit to Vancouver in 2017. We were there on the way back from a trip to, of all places, China. Friends of ours were getting married there and we stayed in British Columbia for a few days afterwards. Honestly, we fell in love with the place. Could move there real easy...
This particular photo was taken in a Yaletown coffeeshop.
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