When we went to bed last night, the plan was to leave around 6:30. I woke up twice during the night, first around 1 a.m., then again around 3:30 a.m. About 20 minutes after I fell asleep the second time the smoke detector in our bedroom started beeping, every 30 seconds really, really loudly.

After three beeps we were both fully awake, and I was on the computer googling why it was making the noise. It’s hardwired into electrical so there’s no battery. And the three detectors , one on each level, are linked so that if there’s smoke in the basement, it will beep upstairs. But the strange thing was that only the upstairs one was beeping.

Eventually we figured out that the lifespan is seven years, which just passed, and it needs to be replaced. By then it was about 5:00, and we only had an hour to sleep before the alarm would start beeping. On the plus side, Wellington was extremely happy to have play time on the kitty condo at 4 a.m.

We’d debated our route from Ottawa to Boston, and eventually decided to go to Montreal, then down through St-Jean-sur Richelieu, through Vermont, New Hampshire and into Massachusetts. We decided if traffic on the 40 was bad, we would switch to  the 20. But traffic was surprisingly good. In fact it was better than the last time we were there on a weekend.

The experience crossing into Vermont was different. We’re used to the Prescott/Ogdensburg crossing, where we’re never asked more than a few questions and rarely have anyone ahead of us. The crossing at High Point was busy and slow. And despite being in the U.S., the signs were bilingual, and so was the Homeland Security official who checked our passports.

We’d left home with only a couple of U.S. dollars and weren’t sure if we’d hit any tolls, given that the route was new to us. So we pulled off the highway into Burlington to get to a bank machine. I used the Garmin to find one, after we’d driven for a while following directions from a gas station attendant.

NosyNeighbour walked in the main doors to the Citizens Bank. Marble walls grew up from the floor, only broken by rich wood inlaid in the stone. The tellers were located in a circle in the middle, looking out at clients from their wickets. He wondered whether they even knew bank machines existed. After another scan of the premises he saw a secondary entrance to the side where the bank machines were located. When he got there, one of the machines was beeping incessantly and asking if you wanted to finish your transaction. A receipt for money withdrawal and the bank card were still inside the machine. He selected “yes” and the card was spat out. He then brought the card and receipt to the teller. Note to self: Citizens Bank gives you the cash before you remove your card.

We returned to the I-89 and stopped at the next rest stop. It was the antithesis of the ones along the I-87. There was no restaurant, just a coffee pot with an honour system. A visitor information centre agent was there to help you, but there was no gas station. The restrooms were incredibly clean. And outside metal picnic tables were scattered around the lawn. We brought our cooler bag to a table in the sun, and ate our sandwiches with sweat dripping from our brows. As soon as the shady table was free we moved over. A small apple orchard was next to the picnic tables, and we thought we’d struck gold: free fruit for the taking. But on closer inspection they were mostly diseased.

The drive through Vermont and New Hampshire was long, and to break it up I started to select those epic sing along songs. You know …. Meatloaf’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light, a whole lot of David Wilcox, and of course Boston. Eventually we hit traffic about a mile before our exit.

We’re staying at a B&B in Cambridge. But it’s not the friendly type of B&B with a cooked breakfast in the morning. Sometimes the host is here, but most times she’s not. So when we arrived we used the instructions to get the key from the lock box to get in. The lock box had been sitting in the afternoon sun for about four hours and was extremely hot. Every time I tried to move a number, it felt like my fingers were picking up hot embers.

We found our room on the top floor, nice and clean and bigger than we expected, although an odd layout. Then we went for a walk around the neighbourhood eventually finding the Whole Foods store. I wanted to pick up some whole wheat pastry flour for my muffins. About $40 later, we had a quarter watermelon, some chips, two oranges, two apples, bananas, coffee, and Tropicana orange juice.

When we got back to the B&B, I sliced up the watermelon and we sat on the back deck slurping it back. While we were there, the neighbour behind the B&B arrived. We chatted for a bit and he knew right away we were from Canada. Maybe he saw our license plates. We asked him about a good pub, real ale and fish and chips.

Then we went inside to google the places he’d mentioned. By the time we came back outsidethe neighbour had printed off a few pages with the menu for the fish place and the beers on tap at the pub.

So tonight we had fish at the Court House Fish Restaurant. I had the baked haddock with chips, and NosyNeighbour had the Bluefish with chips. We both agreed the fish and coleslaw were very tasty and good value for money. The chips weren’t the greatest, but they’d do if you’re hungry. They don’t have a liquor license, but that was okay because we planned to stop at a pub about 10 minutes from the B&B.

Unfortunately the Lord Hobo pub was out of real ale. And another one at Harvard square is closed for renovations. We still have a couple of options within walking distance, so the search will continue tomorrow.

Before we returned to the B&B we went to the 24 hour convenience store to pick up some beer. Although the sign said WE ID EVERYONE, NosyNeighbour did not get ID’d. Then I looked at the sign again: WE ID EVERYONE under 30. Okay, he doesn’t look 29 anymore.

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