As things have continued to improve on the health front, we’ve been getting back to our regular sightseeing schedule. This past week, we spent some time in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, both of which were settled in the 1600’s and both of which feature things that were new to us.
While my interests tend toward history, Kevin’s tend toward science, so we knew that before we left New England, we would have to check out the museum of the venerable Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Focused primarily on the University’s impact on the fields of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, the museum had a lot of interesting exhibits highlighting its work…up through the early 2000’s. Oddly enough, this world renowned university, with cutting edge research being performed day in and day out by some of the best and brightest science and engineering students in the world, has one hella dated museum….
While the items on display were fascinating:
the exhibits abruptly stopped in the early part of the last decade. For example, in a section about the development of robots that could operate in outer space, we saw this:
As you can see, they’re discussing robots that they hoped would be exploring Mars some time in 2003….. And if you’ve watched any news at all over the past couple years, you probably know that in 2004, NASA sent two rovers to Mars – “Spirit” and “Opportunity.” And while Spirit, as expected, went silent several years ago, “Opportunity” is still hanging out doing its thing 12 years after its sell-by date. All of which would be super interesting to hear about from MIT’s perspective, but apparently, MIT doesn’t care to update its visitors on these incredible achievements.
The only exhibits featuring post-2002 research were those found in a small section of exhibits about current MIT students. Several of these were interactive which made them especially engaging. The best was this robotic hand that reacted to our own sensory inputs. In other words, put your index finger on the index finger of the plate and the robot’s index finger curls in.
I took the opportunity to show Kevin some of my favorite gang signs.
Anyway, like the JFK Museum, it was interesting, but obviously in need of an update. It seemed to us that with thousands of young whippersnapper students in need of ways to brown nose their professors, the University could have the whole museum updated by today’s most brilliant minds, in no time at all, and on the cheap. But what do we know?
When not throwing shade and gang signs, we headed up to Portsmouth, a beautiful old city that reminded us a lot of Old Town, Alexandria and Georgetown in DC.
Our day in Portsmouth was all about trying new things. Most importantly was me walking! That’s right: I can walk!!! (…with crutches). My doctor gave me the go ahead to put as much weight as I can handle on my leg. Now comes the part where I have to build back all the muscle I lost when I was in my brace. It is a task I am MORE than excited to take up. Let’s. Do. This.
Luckily, walking around Portsmouth didn’t seem like work at all. Around every corner was something new – or old – that was worth taking a good look at. Old historic homes and the North Church (which we were kind of obsessed with, because… well, look at it…)
Shop lined streets…
and a woman dressed as a polar bear, wearing red crocs and a matching scarf talking to a bus driver….
While we were trying new things, we figured we should try some new food and beverages as well. First up, Earth Eagle Brewery, a teeny tiny operation in Portsmouth that brews a number of “Gruit” beers.
“What the hell is Gruit,” you ask? It’s a method of making beer that does not rely on the use of hops. Historically, Gruit was made from a combination of herbs, including “sweet gale, mugwort, yarrow, ground ivy, horehound, and heather.” If that all sounds vaguely familiar, you’re probably thinking of this:
Nowadays, brewers use more commonly available herbs like ginger, caraway and aniseed. We sampled several types:
Our overall impression?? “Meh…. It was ok.” Neither of us hated it, but we didn’t love it either.
What we DID love was trying Himalayan/Nepalese food. I stumbled across this tiny restaurant when researching Portsmouth and it sounded incredibly intriguing. Someone described the cuisine as a cross between Indian and Thai, which might be correct. I don’t know. All we know is it was awesome and spicy and flavorful… and people should NEVER go here on a first date. Holy Onions, Batman!
Otherwise, definitely go here! Everything we tried was fantastic. Specifically, we ordered their wild boar MoMos, which are like steamed dumplings, their Gundruk soup, which is a spicy soup that will fix all your sinus problems, the duck Takari and the goat curry – both of which are like a stir fry made with curry paste. For each dish, the owner asked what spice level we wanted, from 1 to 10, helpfully adding that he usually goes for an 8. And since we are not nearly as dumb as we look, we asked for 6’s and 7’s. We were rewarded with damn spicy, but super delicious, dishes. Before we’d even gotten on the highway, we were already discussing a return trip to this incredible restaurant before we depart for good. Which… is suddenly on the horizon!!
In just a few weeks, we will be southbound for Florida! Call it “Massachusetts Stockhome Syndrome,” but I think we’re gonna miss some stuff around here. Not the broken leg obviously, but we’ve found some great little restaurants, familiarized ourselves with the local shops, and enjoyed spending quality time with family. I expect we’ll be a bit sad to leave when all is said and done, but…. every time the temperature dips below freezing, which is happening more and more these days, we know we need to get moving.
Before we head out, we hope to visit Minuteman National Park (Lexington and Concord), Salem, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island (again). We’re torn on Boston. Its such a fantastic city and we both love it, but as you may recall, we have a long tortured history with Boston, and I’m not sure going there is such a good idea. Especially after my most recent fortune cookie contained no fortune at all… which is kind of concerning.
Maybe we’ll just steer clear of Boston…..
Anyway, til next time….