Sunday, July 12, 2009

on the Rhode again

Massachusetts and Rhode Island were part of our itinerary two years ago during my son's college search. We made a three thousand mile road trip that circled from Knoxville to the Midwest, the Northeast and back to Tennessee. This year we did a 2,500 mile circuit to New England as part of my quest.

In 2007, Massachusetts was a "do over" for me. Technically, I had been in the state as a kid when my parents took us to a Boston Pops concert at Tanglewood. Two years ago we made a campus visit and drove through Boston although we really didn't have time to do anything touristy. This past Tuesday we ate dinner in Lowell at a popular local chain called The Ninety Nine, which is owned by O'Charley's. The next morning we had time to do a quick "drive by" at Lexington and Concord.

The Lexington Battle Green is in the middle of a suburban setting. It almost looks like a nondescript city park. The visitor center has a helpful diorama of the battle and a gift shop, where my wife bought a Christmas ornament. If we weren't rushing off to a lunch appointment with a college friend of mine, we would have done more than just drive through Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord.

After lunch, we headed to Rhode Island for another "do over." In 2007, we took I-295 around Providence, stopping only at a Panera Bread. This time, we took Route 24 into Newport to see the mansions on the Ten Mile Drive.

Right before we got to the Claiborne Pell Bridge, my son spotted a big red lobster above the door of Long Wharf Seafood. We had heard that lobsters might be cheap in Newport and we had promised my sister we would get some if the price was right. A chalkboard out front advertised "New Shell Lobsters $4.99 a pound."

Once we got inside, a very friendly clerk named Eddie informed us that new shell lobsters are a little deceiving. The claw may look big but the meat inside has not yet grown to fill it. Just for fun, he showed us the biggest lobster in the tank.

As we did the calculations to see how many lobsters we needed for four people, Eddie sensed that we were looking for a bargain. While I played with the behemoth, Eddie suggested we buy five culls for $33, which he would pack in ice for us to eat the next day. A cull is a lobster that is missing a claw and can't be sent to a restaurant or supermarket. He even threw in a bullet, which is what he called a lobster with no claws. Other places call it a pistol. You could always just ask for a nice piece of tail.

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