Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Escape from Baltimore, Part I.

Over Labor Day weekend, Red and I fled town. We did this because of a small traffic jam known as the Baltimore Grand Prix (I’m not linking because get bent, you assholes). This is an event which, starting on the Thursday before Labor Day, turns the city into an Escape From New York-style nightmare in the name of tourism, cars that go really, really fast, and people dumb enough to want to sit outside on metal bleachers while the asphalt reflects the scorching summer heat. Once would be bad enough, but it is supposed to happen annually. I could write a book about all the ways it sucks, but I won’t because last year we decided that we would simply do an end-run around the whole clusterfuck by leaving town every Labor Day.

Every day for a month, I drove to work through a cage. Photo ripped from 
This year, it was a no-brainer. We have friends in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, so we hopped a short little flight up to Manchester and prepared for a weekend of food and camaraderie. New England did not disappoint us.

Our first stop was at my heart-sister Jess’ place. I miss her every day and hope that one day we’ll live in the same city again. She and her husband Matt are new parents to the most adorable, magical little stinker. I’m completely in love with him. He didn’t get to have any of this, though:

Hello, lover.
I was overjoyed to learn that Trader Joe’s stores in more civilized states (read: not Maryland) sell alcohol. Not only that, but they’ll also give you a list of all their vegan selections. Finally, cheap vegan wine! Turns out that Three-Buck Chuck is highly drinkable. So is Green Fin, which is about a dollar more. I don’t think I’ve ever bought two bottles of wine for under eight dollars before. It all went marvelously with the massive quantities of Indian food we powerhoused while gossiping and playing Scrabble.

Confession: Until this trip, I had never actually had a dosa. Sure, I’d eaten my fair share of my low-budget dosadillas, but those are crap compared to the real thing. The spongy, injera-like dough! The savory filling! The little cups of chutney and dipping sauce! These dosas were fantastic. That’s a samosa on top there, as a bonus. Basically we ate a lot of fried dough and carbs, then wondered why we couldn’t move.

Surprisingly, we were hungry again the next day, so we all met up at Life Alive CafĂ©, a hella hippie place that is also the most gorgeous restaurant I’ve ever visited. For real, look at the bathroom:

It was a tiny tropical paradise.
Tell me you don’t want to just hang out in there for a while.

All the dishes have ridiculous but friendly names. It’s hard not to feel like a spaz when ordering The Romantic:

It's basically tofu, avocado, and broccoli, but it hit the spot.
Jess ordered The Hot & Healthy Bachelor, though, so I think she wins. Everything was delicious. If only my latte had been bottomless. Endless caffeine makes everything better.

The utterly scenic Lowell, Massachusetts (I am not even being sarcastic; Lowell has come a long way since my dad grew up there):

I don't know. I just liked it.
This cool-looking building houses one of the UMass Lowell bookstores, among other things.
After that, there were many many hugs and baby snuggles before we hit the road to Providence. Come back soon and check out the rest of our trip! I promise to post the second half before winter arrives.