September 15th, 2009



Mom got fired early on as navigator, even though she had several chances to redeem herself. She swears up and down that she CAN TOO read a map and follow directions, at least when she's alone, but yeah, whatever, Mom, hand over the map. In her defense, it WAS damned confusing that we kept having to go what was actually north on a road called south and south on a road called north. Luckily, I had printed out directions and maps in advance to most of the places we were going and we knew that if we just kept backtracking we would EVENTUALLY get to the hotel again. It was just ...that way. No! THAT WAY! :D

On Sunday, we drove east instead of west and made it all the way to the Atlantic Coast. Mom had done quite a bit of research about which part of the coast she wanted to see and decided on Cape Ann, which the guidebook called "the forgotten coast"...but judging by the crowds we encountered, if that was the forgotten coast, I'm REALLY glad we skipped Cape Cod. We figured, what with the holiday weekend, and the Kennedy funeral, that going anywhere near Cape Cod was just a bad idea.

Once again the weather was lovely: blue skies and sunny, Autumn-y temps but not chilly until evening. We made it to Gloucester, which the natives pronounce "Glauw-stah" and parked the car in a metered lot which was free on Sunday and holidays. Gloucester is the oldest seaport in North America and there was a schooner festival in progress during the weekend. We walked down to the water and then back up to Main Street and the little boutiques that lined it. I had marked a restaurant called Latitude 43 near the parking lot that sounded interesting, and after we checked out a couple of other places, I managed to convince Mom to head back there for lunch, persuading her with the fact that it wasn't JUST a sushi place...she could get seafood, too. Boy, were we glad we did, because it was FABULOUS.

They had a sushi PIT, lowered into the center of the restaurant with a huge metal coiling octopus sculpture hanging over it. Of course, I ordered a sushi appetizer but I was really in the mood for something light and when mom pointed out the Deck Salad it sounded good and we both ordered it. I think it was one of the best salads I've ever had in my life. Half a peeled and pitted Haas avocado, stuffed with a delicious lobster salad, served on perfectly crispy light romaine leaves and drizzled with a barely-there lemon vinaigrette. It was PERFECT.

After lunch, we took a scenic coastal drive, and then headed toward Rockport, which Mom had read had an artist colony and lots of galleries. Maybe it did, but how could you ever manage to find them through the CROWDS? As we came into the town, we ended up in a fairly major traffic jam, and saw a sign that gave notice that meters were in force every day. Crud. We finally managed to find a parking spot at a meter on the main street and paid for 2 hours. Holy moly, the whole world was walking along the main street and down the spit filled with tourist traps and fudge stores. There WERE lots of really great boutiques and galleries, but there were just too many of them.

We found excellent pistachio sugar cookies in one little shop but though we saw lots of really neat things (art, jewelry, ceramics, you name it), we didn't find anything else that really had our name on it, and finally we both started to feel completely overloaded by the amount of people and STUFF everywhere. 20 minutes before our parking time was up, when we were heading back to the car, I spotted a shoe store with big sale signs and zipped into it to see if they had anything dressy to replace my old black dress shoes. They did! 10 minutes after that we were at the car...which had a TICKET ON IT. The meter was expired and according to both our watches it was early by at least 5 minutes. And the ticket had literally been written a minute before we arrived but we didn't see a meter reader anywhere. ARGH. So aggravating! Only 15 dollars, but still!

So, fed up with the crowds and angry about the cheater-meter we bailed on our plan to eat dinner in Rockport and hightailed it BACK to Gloucester where we went for a walk on the beach and collected sea glass (which I just realized is still in the bottom of my purse) and had dinner at Latitude 43. Yes, the same place. Yes, it was worth it. Yum! Then we drove along the coast again, through Manchester-By-The-Sea as the sun was setting and went home to the hotel, completely satiated and shopped-out.

But the next day, the best was yet to come!