it was hot enough that it felt like summer when i biked my way down to the boston REI along memorial drive (stop briefly first to water my community garden plot). i thought about wearing shorts for the first time this year, but needed my pants to hike the thick wool socks i was wearing so i could better out hiking shoes. they'd already started closing down the drive for sundays, and for a brief stretch i had the entire road to myself until river street. everyone seemed to be out along the banks of the charles river, sunbathing, biking, walking, jogging, strolling. it'd would've nice to get a few snapshots, but i was on a mission. it was about a 3.6 mile trip that google map said would take me 30 minutes to get to. i followed route 2, over the BU bridge, across storrow drive and commonwealth avenue, down mountfort street and then park drive. i got off the bike so i could hop over an island to get to REI.

the place was busy, and the shoes department seemed to be the busiest, with not a free bench left to sit on. everyone seemed to be investing in a new pair of hiking boots, all of them seemed affluent: from the preppy college kid shopping with his mother tethered to a small dog, to the middle-aged adventure seeker looking to do some hiking out in the rockies. there wasn't enough employees to service everyone, so i just loitered around, navigating through the sea of people to examine other shoe options, every though i already knew what i was looking for.

i was here in search of a pair of men's merrell moab waterproof hiking shoes in size 7.5 ($110). i'd already checked the harvard square EMS store last wednesday, but they didn't carry any men sizes smaller than 8. i almost got the women's size 9 (same shoes just different colors, dusty olive in this case) but decided to try elsewhere first. i knew REI would probably have a better selection. i also had a coupon (just $2 off, but still) and 10% of my purchase today could be collected as a dividend check next march since i was using my parents' membership number.

my careless loitering must've attracted the right attention because soon one of the reserve employees found me and asked if i needed help. i asked him if he could check if they had any size 7.5 of the waterproof moab. a few minutes later he came back and said they were all sold out, and the closest he could find was an 8. i tried it but it was just a bit large. while he was gone though, i spotted the keen targhee ii waterproof shoes in gargoyle/midnight. it was slightly more expensive ($125) but i liked the look and asked my assistant to check if they had any in my sizes. they were all out of those as well, which was for the best, because the keen cushioning felt harder. so i ended up going with the size 9 women's waterproof merrell moab, plus 4 pairs of hiking socks.

sweat-soaked, i got back home by 2:00, quickly taking a shower before riding to belmont. i did change into a pair of shorts though. i brought my new hiking shoes with me, so i could show my parents. after the hour long roundtrip ride to boston in the heat, i was already sort of tired, and i didn't have any breakfast except for a greek yogurt cup, so it was a real struggle to pedal myself the 3 miles to my parents' place. i ended up going slow, which also gave me a chance to enjoy the spring scenery. it hasn't rained since forever, so none of the flowering trees have had their petals washed away. this also means the pollen level is off the charts, and virtually every car i saw parked on the road was covered in a layer of yellow dust.

my 2nd aunt was treating us to dinner tonight, so it was just a few hours before we'd leave at 5:30. i spent my time in the backyard, watering the plants, weeding the raised beds, erectly a short trellis on RB3, and cutting lengths of bamboo stalks to use as "bridges" for the peas to climb so they can reach the trellises (RB1, RB2, RB4). the grass could really use a mowing, and the clippings can then be used in our relatively dry compost heap. i did catch 2 rabbits hovering around the neighbor's front lawn. i tried scaring them away but they seemed nonplussed, and i actually had to get close enough that i almost touched them before they scampered away.

my 2nd aunt invited us to MDM noodles in brighton center. i thought it was in allston center, which is terrible for parking. brighton center? not so much. and with the student population quickly dispersing, there seems to be even less people. before we left, i pulled up some online reviews written by chinese patrons. it was mixed, some people loved the place, some people hated it. it seemed like it wasn't really a restaurant, more like a fast-food joint. there was a 1-star google review where somebody wrote in chinese, "extremely dirty, very unsanitary," ("非常脏,很不卫生") which scared my mother and she was having serious second thoughts about going. my father returned from the cafe with my 2nd and uncle. we switched to the camry (more seats) and drove out to brighton center.

i haven't been to brighton center in a long time, and only know it because john and dan used to live there back in our screen house days. but actually that isn't entirely true, as my records show i was there back in 2013, with dan and cymara and clarissa, for their 10 years anniversary. we parked 2 blocks away from the restaurant, afraid we wouldn't find parking, but realized as soon as we got out that there was parking everywhere, especially on a sunday, when residential permit parkings are free too.

MDM noodles turned out to be more restaurant than fast-food, although their largest table only sat 4 people, so we just added an extra chair. we were the first customers there (5:30), but more and more came in as we ate. the clientele seems to be mostly asian, with non-asians stopping in now and then only for pick-ups. the name of the restaurant - MDM noodles (面对面) - is actually a chinese play-on-word, "MDM" an acronym for "mian-dui-mian" meaning either face-to-face or noodles-to-noodles. besides an assortment of noodle dishes, they also had malatang and malaguo, which are variations on the spicy hot pot but minus the actual cooking at the table.

my father, 2nd aunt, and myself got the lamb noodle soup ($9.50), my mother got the spicy malatang ($7), and my 2nd uncle got the malatang as well but in a non-spicy version. the noodle was okay, it came in a milky-white bone broth. i didn't think the lamb taste was very strong, but it could probably be due to my nasal congestion following the nose-blowing embargo. both my father and i are big noodle eaters, but i saw my aunt struggling, and she ended up with bits of noodles all over her face. we also got some appetizers, some xinjiang style lamb kabobs ($1.50/each), a lamb burger ($4.75), and a cup of green beans drink ($4). the total meal came out to $70 including taxes and tip.

my father dropped off my aunt and uncle first before returning us to belmont. they could've easily dropped me off back in cambridge as well but my bike was still at their place. preparing to leave, i saw a rabbit on our lawn. i chased it away, both front and back lawn. had i really tried, i could've easily caught them, they seem to be super slow from lack of predators. how i wish belmont had more eagles and owls and coyotes! the rabbit population is really getting out of control.