Yappy Hour

Our first week in Boston, Noah and I learned about an amazing event called Yappy Hour. During the summer months, Yappy Hour takes place each Wednesday evening at The Liberty Hotel in Boston proper. The building that holds the hotel was a prison until the 1990’s. Now, as a hotel, it maintains some stylistic influences from its prison days. Such as these barred windows:

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The hotel also has several restaurants, bars, and lounges with such inspired names as Alibi, The Clink, and The Yard. 

Back to Yappy Hour…

Yappy Hour is like Happy Hour. Except better because it’s with dogs! From 5:30-8:30pm on Wednesday evenings, people combine their love of dogs with that daily desire to get happy through reduced-price appetizers and booze, head to The Liberty’s outdoor patio called The Yard, and enjoy the wonder that is Yappy Hour.

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Noah and I don’t have a dog, but clearly this is an event that would be well suited for spectators.

After waiting in a long line to get drinks (which also involved being slobbered on by a huge St. Bernard), we found a table and did some doggie-watching.

There were cuties:

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Dogs who were sleepy:

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Dogs who wanted to hide by their humans:

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Dogs getting rowdy:

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And dogs doing what dogs do best:

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I also saw a beautiful Great Dane derivative (Great Dane and Dalmatian mix, maybe?):

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Bottom line: Yappy Hour was super fun(ny). I would definitely recommend to all dog lovers – whether or not they have a furry friend to bring.

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Vacation Weekend

After the long bike trip on Friday, we were overdue for some serious relaxation. On Saturday, we  woke up and prepped a breakfast of oatmeal, fruit, and coffee:

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I sported my new gear from Menemsha Blues:

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After breakfast, we plotted out our day:

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The plan was to relax at the house, visit the towns of Chilmark and Menemsha, and make dinner at home. The house had three beautiful porches:

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and we enjoyed taking in the incredible views and looking at boats through the binoculars:

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After enough time at home, we headed into the nearby town of Chilmark. We grabbed a quick lunch at the Chilmark General Store (they had pizza, sandwiches, salads, prepared foods, and a small grocery and convenient store):

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After lunch, it was time to head to the towns main attraction: Chilmark Chocolates. Chilmark Chocolates is – you guessed it – a chocolate shop selling homemade chocolates, truffles, toffee, caramel, and general forms of decadence. Not only is their chocolate universally praised, but they are also a socially-conscious organization, employing many people with special needs and partnering with the local community to give back. The only downside is that their hours are limited, so when they are open there’s a long line!

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The line moved quickly though, and before long we were in and out the door with this beautiful box:

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After safely tucking the chocolates into our bike bag, we were off for a second visit to Menemsha. We were exhausted and it was dark during our first visit to Menemsha, so we were excited to go back and get a better look at the town. Menemsha is a fishing village, and there was a lot to look at between the personal and commercial boats, gorgeous water views, and fishermen going through their day’s work:

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We even saw a special bike ferry to carry bikes between Menemsha and the nearby Aquinnah.

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Also, ice cream. Obviously.

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The last stop before leaving Menemsha was at Larsen’s Fish Market.

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Larsen’s sells fresh fish and seafood (all caught that day) and also serves up lobster sandwiches that appeared to be quite popular (judging from the length of the line!). We bought some halibut which we had with summer squash and potatoes that night:

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After a glorious day of relaxation, it was time to hit the road again on Sunday. Rather than reversing the trip from Friday, we took an alternate route that included two buses to get to Vineyard Haven, a ferry to Woods Hole, biking 20 miles to Bourne, and a 45-minute trip on the Cape Flyer back to South Station.

The CapeFlyer is a special train that runs only on the weekends and brings passengers between the city and Cape Cod. The train is very bike friendly; check out this special bike storage room onboard!

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When we finally arrived to South Station it was late, dark, and we were exhausted, so we took the T home. I’m already missing my vacation weekend. 🙂

Biking to the Vineyard (a 6-step program)

Remember all the biking Noah and I liked to do in Minnesota?

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A top priority in exploring our new state is to test out the biking scene. Despite our total lack of training or experience with bike touring, we decided to bike to Martha’s Vineyard this past weekend. Previously, the longest ride we had done was 40 miles on the Minneapolis Grand Rounds. Martha’s Vineyard is about 90 miles from Boston, and we’re not totally crazy, so we decided on a route that included one train, one ferry, and about 60 miles of biking.

Step 1: Prepping the bikes

Since we would be taking everything for the weekend with us on the bikes, we needed to do some prep work. Noah cleaned and oiled the chains,got new tires for his bike, we filled the tires to capacity, and we borrowed some sweet saddlebags from Noah’s parents.

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Step 2: Train

To begin the trip, we took the train from South Station in downtown Boston to Plymouth. Maybe you’ve heard of it….there’s a rock there. 😉

Biking to South Station was a bit of a harrowing experience on the crowded Boston Streets…

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…but we made it to the train and to Plymouth in one piece:

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Step 3: Bikes

After Plymouth, we biked along the Claire Saltonstall Bikeway to Sagamore and then biked along the Cape Cod Canal to Bourne. After crossing the Bourne Bridge we made our way to the Shining Sea Bikeway that took us from North Falmouth all the way to the ferry terminal in Woods Hole (thanks, Noah, for planning an awesome route!!)

In all, this leg of the journey was about 40 miles. The biking itself was fun: we set a good pace, saw some great views of the ocean, and enjoyed the adventure of it all. Although overall enjoyable, there was definitely a significant portion of the ride that took place on roads with little to no shoulder. Some cars were good about slowing down and scooting into the other lane when traffic was clear to give us room but others were not, and there was more than one occasion that I felt pretty nervous about the proximity of our bikes to cars zipping by.

I had one ill-fated fall, but luckily there were no cars racing by at that moment, and I made it out with nothing more serious than a few scrapes and bruises.

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Nothing that an iced coffee can’t fix!

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Step 4: Ferry

Woods Hole is on the far southwest corner of Cape Cod, and it’s the departure point for ferries heading to Martha’s Vineyard. Noah and I were planning to take a ferry to Oak Bluffs on the Vineyard, and we had about an hour to kill between our arrival in Woods Hole and the ferry’s departure. We took the opportunity to get some food (a burrito bowl at Quicks Hole Taqueria) and the aforementioned iced coffee.

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The ferry sure was HUGE!

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Not only does the ferry hold hundreds of passengers, but there’s also space for cars aboard! As bikers, we waited for all the cars to file in and then we were able to park our bikes along the side:

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Step 5: Bike Again

The ferry trip took about 45 minutes, and we still had a solid 15 miles of biking left to do from Oak Bluffs, so we were ready to get going!

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The house we were heading to was on the western side of the island near Menemsha, and when we finally arrived we were exhausted – but pretty darn proud of the day’s work!

Step 6: EAT!!!

After a long and draining day on the road, we were ready for some serious eats. We headed into the nearby town of Menemsha (yes, more biking, but it was a short ride!) for some food at The Home Port. We went to The Home Port’s ‘back door’ – a walk-up order counter.

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The day’s events put us in the mood for some greasy goodness:

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We agreed this was just about the best meal we’d ever had…although we did wonder if it would have tasted so amazing had we not just biked 60 miles.

Before heading home to crash hard go to sleep, there was one more stop to make.

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We went to Menemsha Blues, an apparel shop whose shirts I have long admired. The visit officially commemorated my first visit to the Vineyard.

Check back soon for more pictures and recaps from the weekend!

A New City

For most of the summer I’ve been in the hot California desert working at camp, hence my long blogging hiatus. I’m back to real life now…but real life looks totally different than before.

Goodbye Minnesota.

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Hello Boston!

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The jump from the Midwest to the East Coast has resulted in – if nothing else – a much classier stairwell.

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Minnesota

Boston

Boston

Although I’m not in Boston for very long (only a couple weeks before a much bigger move to Israel!), there were a few things that I was looking forward to doing during my time in Boston.

First and foremost, exploring the new area! I love finding and trying new cafes, coffee shops, and restaurants, and while there was certainly more exploration to be done in Minneapolis, moving to Boston provides a whole new crop of activities. During one of our first days in Boston, Noah and I got coffee at Crema Cafe in Harvard Square.

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I got an iced Americano and thought it was amazing! I’ve been back a handful of times since. In addition to coffee, they also have a nice selection of baked goods and a small menu of sandwiches, soups, salads, and breakfast items. The drinks definitely shine more than the food, but the food is still good. Be warned, however, that Crema does NOT have wifi. A clever trick indeed for a coffee shop!

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I was also really excited to try the November Project during my time in Boston. I first read about The November Project in a Runner’s World Magazine article from November 2013. The November Project is a free fitness/social group that meets in the wee hours of the morning (ie, 6:30am). It was started in 2011 by two friends who committed to working out together every morning during the month of November. To increase motivation, they started posting about their workouts on Facebook and other social media, inviting others to join. Incredibly, people started coming, and today, as many as 600 Bostonians meet on any given Monday, Wednesday, or Friday to work out with the November Project. The group has also spread to 16 other cities! The iconic November Project workout is running the Harvard Stadium stairs (yes, all of them!), and the group continues to do the stadium workout every Wednesday. Monday workouts are held at traveling locations and Friday workouts are running Corey Hill in Brookline.

On Monday, I went to the traveling workout – this week at Old Morse Park in Cambridgeport. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but when I arrived at the park I immediately found a large group already gathered.

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Even though I knew a lot of people go to November Project, it was still surprising to actually see so many people! The November Project cofounders, Brogan and Bojan, still lead the group each meeting. Monday workouts are usually shorter because the assumption is that people run to and from the workout, so after a brief warm up, the workout was seven minutes of nonstop burpies. It was definitely tough and my chest was sore for the rest of the day!

After going once, I could tell that the social aspects of the group are really emphasized. The ‘warm-up’ was more about hugging the people around you (no one shakes hands at November Project – only big bear hugs), learning the names of a few others, and high fiving with awesomeness-affirming “f*** yeahs.”

After the workout, Brogan and Bojan take a photo of the group, give out the ‘positivity award’ to one lucky participant, and ‘Happy Birthday’ is sung to anyone who has a birthday that day. After the Monday workout, a group of regulars had breakfast together at a nearby apartment. Since I knew one of the regulars from Minneapolis, I tagged along!

After Monday, I was a little hooked and wanted to see what all the fuss was about for the Harvard Stadium steps. So, Wednesday morning, I woke up bright and early again and took a short jog over to Harvard Stadium.

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There were a lot more people there for the stadium workout than the Monday meeting, and the crowd was a lot more diverse (ie, not only young people).

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There was one older man (probably in his mid-late 60s) who was there with a trombone that he played during the workout for added motivation!

Harvard Stadium has 37 sections, and the workout is to run up the big steps and walk down the small ones.

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For me, running quickly turned into walking about halfway up each section. To complete all 37 sections is called ‘a tour,’ and Brogan told the newbies (people who had never done the steps before) to aim to complete a half tour. I completed the half tour plus three additional sections. Holy cow, it was SO difficult! I thought it would be tough, but it far exceeded my expectations. My legs were shaking by the end, and I have been incredibly sore since! The stadium steps definitely had a little bit of an addictive quality to them, and I’m already looking forward to going next Wednesday and trying to complete a full tour!

This weekend, Noah and I are taking a bike trip to Martha’s Vineyard, so I hope to be able to post soon about that adventure!