i biked down to MGH this morning for my 2 month follow-up appointment with the urologist. i thought about canceling because i already had a good idea of what he'd say, which was essentially nothing. i still occasionally get some pains, but nothing like before. marco was gone when i woke up, making good on his promise to get in a morning run. he came back by the time i left, skyping somebody in italian in his bedroom.
i forgot how young my urologist looks. in his no-nonsense way, doctor "doogie" gershman asked me how i was. he told me mysterious testicular pain is rather common (is it?) and that given the lack of any additional symptoms all we could do at this point is pain management in the form of ibuprofen, something that he recommended i try last time but i didn't bother because it never hurt that much that i'd reach for the pain relief. my urologist gave me one last "groin" exam before sending me on my way.
my 9:45 appointment was done by 10:00. normally that'd be the time i'd wake up, so this was an early wednesday start for me. with this surplus of time on my hands, i decided to do some exploring via bike. this was my plan all along, since last night i printed out a map route to east boston, my intended destination.
ever since marco brought up the idea of biking to deer island in winthrop, i've been thinking about the possibility of such a trip. on the map it doesn't seem that difficult, a fairly straight-forward route of 12 miles. however, maps don't show road conditions, particularly for cyclists. i wanted to do a preliminary run, or at least to east boston, just to see if it can even be done.
the trip would take me from boston to charlestown, to the edge of somerville (sullivan square), into the industrial zone of everett, then to chelsea center, finally crossing the andrew mcardle bridge into east boston.
i got onto the charles river bike path from charles/MGH and rode northeast in the direction of the museum of science. from there i went northwest along the monsignor o'brien highway, stopping for the craigie drawbridge to come to a close. i crossed the gilmore bridge, which only has a pedestrian path on one side (the east-facing side). i remember this bridge from when we came back from the recycling plant last week. on the other side of the bridge is the bunker hill community college in charlestown. i then went northwest up main street towards sullivan square, the same street john and i biked on when we did our boston tour.
at the sullivan square rotary i didn't have to do anything hard, just kept to my right and followed the road north across the alford street bridge (even then i still managed to get a little lost, making my way up main/mystic avenue instead). there was heavy construction on the bridge and traffic was reduced to a single lane per side. the pedestrian walkway on the eastern side had been completely demolished, leaving just the western side (something i'd need to remember when i come back).
the everett industrial complex is a scary place, full of strange looking refinery equipment, scrap metal processing plants, electric generators, warehouses, and a non-stop stream of shipping trucks hauling various cargoes. it's the sort of place normal people don't usually frequent, so there's a lawless feel to the area, heightened by the strip club, seedy adult video dealership, and random street-side vendors selling everything from souvenir t-shirts to cheap bulk produce. it's not really designed for bikes (barely for pedestrians) so the sides of the streets are cluttered with road debris like blown out tires, missing shoes, broken glass, and various scraps of discarded metal - essentially a great place to get a flat tire.
i went down dexter street followed by robin. i took a right on beacham, and was supposed to merge into behen street but kept going on beacham until i reached market street where i took a left, ending up on 2nd street when i should've ended up on williams (this happened despite repeatedly stopping and examining the printout map i was carrying). fortunately i've been to this area before (now chelsea) from past explorations (like when i visited that latina american fried chicken place) so it was at least slightly familiar enough for me that i didn't panic even though i was off-course.
i ended up in chelsea center, and went down broadway in the direction of the water to check out the tobin bridge looming overhead. i've been here before as well, buying some aquarium equipment a few years ago.
i went underneath the bridge and discovered there was a park on the other side, the mary o'malley waterfront park. not sure who mary o'malley was, and a search online revealed no additional details.
the park had a great view of the everett industrial complex on the other side of the water. this area also seems to be a port for large cargo ships, as one (the mare trader - from the marshall islands!) was slowing being led out by tugboats.
after my little tour of the waterfront park, i got back on track and made my way to the andrew mcardle drawbridge. it's hard to miss, next to the big piles of salt rock next to the shoreline covered up in red-white-blue tarp material. it's one of the only 2 bridges linking to east boston, with the other bridge closed until december for repairs. for such an important bridge it seems awfully narrow, wide enough for a single lane of traffic in both directions. there are pedestrian walks but like the road they're narrow as well, and getting onto the bridge i had to lift my bike out into the street because i couldn't go around a utility pole blocking the way.
once i was over the bridge and into east boston, i rode south down border street, in the general direction of the maverick MBTA station. this was just my 2nd time being in east boston (instead of just passing through). at central square park i linked up with meridian street. from there i continued southwards, exploring the streets until i saw water west of clipper ship lane.
from here (carlton's wharf) i had a great view of boston across the water, with the cargo vessel mare trader (last seen from chelsea) about to transit the city.
i began to head back. since it was close to noontime, i decided to get some lunchtime at the many fine latin american restaurants dotting east boston. i remember a quaint little place on border street right along my return route and figured that'd be a good place to go.
the restaurant was called mi pueblito. inside spanish music was blaring and 3 tables of latinos were already dining. a pretty waitress dressed in form-fitting black sauntered out from behind a counter and told me i could sit anywhere. i'm pretty sure i wasn't there usual clientele and the waitress even chuckled when see saw me looking over my map. for a little central american joint the prices on the menu were higher than i expected. i ordered a tamarind jarritos ($2.25) and the mexican torta (con lengua, $6.50). spanish sportscenter was broadcasting on a ceiling-mounted HDTV; i couldn't hear the audio over the blaring music coming from the video jukebox nearby, but the focus seemed to be the slew of regular season finale baseball games playing tonight, including the red sox-orioles game which could decide whether or not boston makes it to the playoffs.
the mexican torta is like a hamburger, but instead of a beef patty, it was stuffed with things like cow tongue, avocado, beans, and jalapeños. the lengua was very salty and there was an awfully large amount of bread. combined with the fries however, the lunch still managed to fill me to capacity.
after leaving the restaurant, i snapped a photo of the place. a pickup truck pulled up to me on the street. the driver was peering at me from the passenger side window. i thought he wanted directions so i went up to him. "can i help you?" he said, which got me confused, because i thought i was helping him. "why are you taking photos?" he asked, in a slightly angry manner. "i just ate here," i said, "i wanted to remember the place." he just glared at me. not sure where this was going, i continued, "i had the mexican burger. with lengua." "the torta?" he replied, nodding. "what, do you work here or something?" i said. "i'm the owner," he told me. he continued staring at me, escalating the awkwardness to 11. "are we all set here?" i asked him, backing away to my bike. he didn't say anything else and just drove away.
okay, so what was that about? in hindsight, there was a bunch of other things i could've said. i could've told him i was a food critic and was reviewing his place. or i could've asked if he treated all customers like this. it was just really strange. it wan't like i'd come back to mi pueblito (the food wasn't that memorable), but given the mysterious interrogation by the owner, i'm definitely not coming back.
crossing back on the mcardle bridge into chelsea, the drawbridge was up, just like it was on the craigie bridge back in cambridge-boston. figuring the return trip would be easier, i still managed to get lost, ending up on 2nd street again when i should've been on williams. i also got my shoelaces stuck in the pedal and had to pull over on the side of the road (right in front of pollo campero) to take off my right shoe and unwind the shoelaces.
biking through everett industrial park was less scary the second time around. crossing the alford street bridge into somerville-charlestown, i remembered the construction work that was going on and kept to the eastern side of the bridge where there was still a pedestrian walkway (another biker on the western side wasn't so lucky and had to cross over a few lanes of busy traffic).
the sullivan square rotary was a slight challenge since it's built for car traffic, but there was a crosswalk button which gave me enough time to circle counterclockwise and get onto cambridge street. once i was on washington i felt relaxed to be back in familiar surroundings, and once i hit union square, it was downright homey.
after a shower, i went out to get some groceries, a few things to make tuna fish sandwiches. marco came home late (9:30) and had a salad for dinner. i gave him a can of tuna fish. we watched 2 more episodes of breaking bad.
the red sox game was prolonged due to a rain delay. the score was 3-2 going into the 9th inning with boston in the lead, but it was too close for comfort. i wasn't surprised when baltimore tied the game, and i wasn't surprised when they won. it was only salt to the wound when tampa bay finally beat the yankees in extra inning, officially eliminating the red sox from the postseason. what went wrong? i think the team hired too many mercenary players, guys who are here only for the paycheck and haven't paid their dues nor earned the love of the fans. the team never felt like a team. maybe because there are just only so many players from the original 2004-2006 world series championship team.