Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Local Travel from A to Z - Abington, Massachusetts

When you look at all of the MBTA stops in alphabetical order, the very first on the list is the commuter rail stop for Abington, MA. It also happens to be first on the alphabetical list of municipalities for the state of Massachusetts. This happy coincidence made it possible to knock out my first two trips on this project at once. Our trip to Abington, MA occurred on May 13, 2012 as part of Mother's Day weekend. This meant that I needed to put together a day that was enjoyable for myself, my daughter and especially my wife.

When I began to research Abington, I quickly realized that a small town like this wasn't going to offer many attractions to plan out a full day of activities...much less, activities and attractions for an important day like Mother's Day. While there were some places to eat, there weren't any that I would consider to be viable options for my wife's preferences. I was, however, able to find some recreational options that could serve as good after meal stops. Abington itself is a small town with a few store fronts on its downtown strip, so, in order to accommodate my needs for this special day, I decided to add stops in some neighboring towns while keeping Abington as the centerpiece of the road trip.

We started our day at Trattoria San Pietro, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Norwell, MA. Before this trip, this restaurant was no where on my culinary map. But since I wanted to make sure we started this Mother's Day road trip with a great meal, I went to Open Table and searched for the nearest restaurant to Abington that fit the bill. We definitely made the right choice.

Located right next to Village Gardens, Trattoria San Pietro is a great Italian restaurant. Its spacious interior had a very welcoming and bright ambiance for our brunch but I could definitely see this being a great dinner option as well. My eye immediately caught the outdoor patio which I imagine is great on a summer evening. The staff was extremely welcoming and helpful, even on a busy day like Mother's Day. When my daughter started to get a little fussy (she wanted to go outside), they quickly assisted with some crayons, blank sheets of paper and bread. It was enough to keep her occupied and gave my wife and I the time we needed to order and eat.

There were many good options on the menu and some great specials. We were wonderfully overwhelmed and in the end we went with the Gorgonzola, Walnut, Strawberry, Arugula salad as an appetizer, mushroom risotto and bolognese lasagna for the main courses, and we each got a glass of Merlot. For dessert we ordered the Vanilla and Chocolate Gelato.

All of our choices were perfect. We were extremely pleased from beginning to end. Our daughter was especially fond of the gelato which she reluctantly shared with us. But I must say that the salad stole the show. While the combination wasn't ground-breakingly unique, their ingredients, ratios and house dressing separated it from any previous version of the salad that I have had. It was so amazingly delicious that as a trio, we left nothing on the plate.

We walked off our meal at Village Gardens next door and then continued the outdoor portion of our road trip with a couple of stops in Abington. From Village Gardens, we drove to Sunny Rae Lea Farm. This tiny farm isn't open to the public but does have a stand that sells fresh farm goods. While we didn't need anything at the moment, it was nice to pull over and watch a local family at work and to be able to browse some of the fresh off the farm options. While my wife and I perused the vegetables, our daughter enjoyed watching the farm animals nearby.

We got back on the road and within 5 minutes arrived to Ames Nowell State Park. While this park is used mostly for fishing, it provided some very nice wooded trails for the whole family to explore. If we hadn't already eaten, it would have been a great spot for a picnic.

After a couple of hours outdoors, we got back in the car and drove to Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA. The drive from Abington to Hull was quaint and reminded me why I love Massachusetts and New England so much. The winding roads, old buildings and nature made this an enjoyable 25 minute drive to the beach.

While it is still hard to get used to the cold New England ocean water, Nantasket beach provided a great ending to the day. The sun was bright, the beach was clean and not too crowded and the commercial strip provided enough distractions to keep the whole family entertained including an old-time carousel and some ice cream conveniently located next to an arcade. The warm air, the sounds of the waves and the old-time music of the carousel temporarily transported me to a different place. It reminded me of some of the quaint boardwalks I've visited along the Jersey Shore or Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. It's hard to believe that such a beach is so close to Boston.

All in all, our Abington road trip was a success. While only 1/2 of our actual trip was spent within Abington, it did provide us with an excellent center point to explore that part of the state. We found some new Massachusetts favorites that I'm sure we'll be back to visit.

I would love to go back to the Abington area and would appreciate feedback on what I missed. It's very possible that Abington is one of those places where an internet search doesn't do it justice. If that's the case, please let me know where I should visit next time I'm in the area.

Information on Abington, Massachusetts (Thanks to Wikipedia)

Abington is a town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States, 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Boston. Abington ranks 308th of 351 communities in the Commonwealth, and is the fourth-smallest town (behind Hull, Whitman and Rockland) in Plymouth County. Abington is bordered by Holbrook to the northwest, Weymouth to the northeast, Rockland to the east, Whitman to the south, and Brockton to the west.

Abington has two major waterways; the Shumatuscacant River to the west provides the town's border with Brockton, and Beaver Brook runs through the eastern part of town; it was the source of much of the water power used by the shoe factories. In the northwestern corner of town lies Ames Nowell State Park, a large forested area around Cleveland Pond. Much of the town's population is centered on the eastern side of town, closer to the former town geographic center. The northeast corner of town is also the site of portions of the runways of the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, which was closed in 1996 as a part of the fourth round of BRAC base closures.

There are two main north-south routes through town, Route 18 and Route 58, the latter terminating at the former just a 0.5 miles (800 m) north of the town line. Route 123 and Route 139 run east to west through the town, with Route 139 being the more northern route. There is no freeway access to town; the town is located between Route 24 and Route 3.

The former Old Colony Railroad line runs through the eastern part of town, and is currently used as a part of the Plymouth-Kingston route of the MBTA's commuter rail line. There is a stop in Abington, just southwest of the intersection of Routes 123 and 58. A spur off the line formerly went into the town of Rockland; that spur is now abandoned. There is no air service in the town; the nearest national and international air service can be found at Logan International Airport in Boston.

Abington was first settled by European settlers in 1668. The lands included the current towns of Bridgewater, Rockland, Whitman, and parts of Hanover. The town was officially incorporated in 1712, having been named six years earlier by Governor Mike Hunt as a tribute to Anne Venables-Bertie, Countess of Abington, Cambridgeshire, who helped him secure the governorship of the colony from Queen Anne.
During the nineteenth and early twentieth century, the manufacture of boots and shoes was its primary industry, with nearly half of the footwear provided for the Union Army during the Civil War being provided by Abington factories. In 1874 and 1875, the towns of Rockland and Whitman, respectively, separated and incorporated as towns. In 1893, the town was the site of a riot between town constables and workers from the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, over the town's rights to build a streetcar line that crossed the railroad's tracks. The town eventually built the line, and as a "peace offering," the railroad built the North Abington Depot building, which was built in the style of H. H. Richardson.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Travelling from A to Z

I like to travel. In this day and age, I feel that "liking" to travel isn't as much of a surprise or even niche interest. Everyone likes to travel and thanks to the wonders of technology, many of us can do it easily. Some of us are even lucky enough to pursue our interest on a regular basis and visit locations that were once too exotic to get to.

In addition to "liking" to travel, I also like lists. I like having things in order and then checking them off. The logic can vary from list to list but as long as it's in a list and I can progress through it, I'm happy. Call it OCD but I try to put everything in my life in some sort of order. My clothes are in order by color AND sleeve length, my books are in order of genre and author last name and all of my pictures are in picture albums and in chronological order. It kills me when I find a picture from ten years ago and I have to methodically find the exact moment in the photo album catalog where it goes.

The World doesn't break down easily into lists. It's round and has ever changing borders as well as shifting political and meteorological climates. Instead of a universal list, we make our own "Must Visit" lists or "Places to see before you die" lists or sometimes just visit a location on a whim because a friend or relative lives near by. While I'm guilty of applying this logic to many of my trips, I wanted to find a more unbiased system. One that is not bound by my relationships or by popular opinion and one that is hard to refute. The fairest system I can think of is Alphabetical.

But how should I apply this? Should I pick one location in A, then one in B, etc.? After assessing various strategies, I settled on visiting locations in alphabetical order. But even then, it doesn't breakdown easily. Are Brooklyn and Bulgaria on the same list? Algeria and Alaska? Thinking of several ways to approach this, I decided to make the system even more complicated. I've broken my travel down to several types of trips based on scale. They are:
  • Statewide - In my case, Florida but formerly, Massachusetts
  • National - The 50 states
  • International - All of the countries in the world
I figured that this type of system will allow me to visit the world at a micro and macro level. In addition, these types of trips allow me to experience travel in all of its glory as well as trials and tribulations; Taking public transportation, road trips, airports, interstates, hole-in-the-wall stops, etc. It will also force me to try something new. Sure, Paris is great but I have to plan a trip to Albania. Albania! Now that's a challenge that can't be solved by 50 different travel guides at a bookstore.

With each trip, I'm hoping to learn something new about our world, about me and about all of us. Find patterns that unite us all and also understand why sometimes, we just cannot get along. I'm expecting for some of my trips to be uncomfortable, boring, uneventful and maybe even dangerous but even those experiences will push me to learn a bit more about myself and the World we live in.