Happy New Year! We returned yesterday from our vacation trip east. We started out in Massachusetts, where we visited a few of my relatives (aunt, cousins, etc.), did a little site seeing (including my childhood homes), and did "First Night" - Boston's New Year's Eve celebration.
We had a great time, and it was Leslie's first experience with "real" winter weather. Boston is a great city, and it's always a wonderful feeling to go back again. I think it's a city that's only gotten better in recent years, as well. I remember a time when it wasn't safe to out on the streets in many places after dark, yet we were walking around former danger areas past midnight each night we were there with no sense of doom. On the contrary, there were many people out on the streets, enjoying the city at night.
On New Year's Day we drove down to New Jersey, across Connecticut and a corner of New York state, in the pouring rain. Parts of it were a bit harrowing, but we made it safely, and in time for a home-made dinner at Leslie's great-aunt's house.
We spent a few days with the NJ family, including a one-day side trip into New York City with one of Leslie's cousins as our tour guide. Even with the sleet and the rain, we had a great time in the city. A highlight being our visit to Rupert Jee's Hello Deli. If you don't know what that is, you need to start watching David Letterman. Rupert was very nice and was very cool about posing for a picture with us.
Another New York highlight, which was a theme of the whole trip, was the food. In NYC we had the best hot pastrami I've ever tasted in my entire life at Katz's in the Lower East Side. Also, a real Nathan's hot dog (the franchised Nathan's outside NYC are NOT the same thing).
In Boston, it was pizza, more pizza, Italian dinners, and sea food. The pizza of my youth is from Regina's, and it's still excellent, beating the crap out of any pizza-like object you can get in California. I had a shrimp dish at Mother Anna's in the North End that was also to die for (with butter, Marsala sauce, and cheese). Also, Legal Sea Food for the lobster. And plenty to drink as well, ending almost each night at O'Conner's for a night cap.
The amazing part of the whole thing is that I gained back less than two pounds (of the 30 I lost in 2002). It's because of all the walking we did around each of the cities, as well as the extra calories we burned just trying to keep warm.
Now, today, back in the San Jose area, we're walking around in just a shirt, with no coat, scarf, or gloves, and enjoying the California sunshine. But, there's a part of me that will always be back in Boston, freezing my ass off, but loving every moment of it.