My week of bad luck in Massachusetts

After my time in Canada, I headed to Massachusetts in America. The border crossing was at Buffalo and we all piled out of the bus, grabbed our luggage and headed into the security check building. I got asked a ridiculous number of questions before being told that I had to fill in a green form and report back to the counter. Another border agent dealt with me when I had finished my green form and proceeded to ask me the same questions. I can’t stress enough that these guys have complete sense of humour failure and if you want to enter America, you just don’t argue or complain. That was especially hard to do when they announced that I needed to pay $6 to enter the US. My stomach twinged because I only had Canadian dollars on me. Luckily they took credit card…

After the 17 hour long bus journey, I eventually arrived in Springfield, Massachusetts, exhausted but happy that my monster journey was over. For the next week, I would be staying with a friend from school who I hadn’t seen since 1988!!

The town of Springfield is in the state of Massachusetts. My friend lives in a suburb of Springfield called Agawam. Agawam was the name of the Indian village which originally sat on the west bank of the Connecticut River. My friend, her husband and their two kids have lived there for many years and both children attend school there. What would follow is a week of writing and catching up with a large dose of personal bad luck thrown in for fun.

Let’s explain up front. My plans for this week were to catch a bus to Boston and spend the day there (the bus journey is just over an hour from Agawam) and visit New York (slightly longer bus journey at just on 3 hours but doable in a day). I also wanted to watch my friend’s daughter compete in a dance competition since I’d only seen pictures on Facebook and was eager to watch her in person.

I arrived at 13:30 on a Tuesday. I was so exhausted, I slept from 15:00 until 07:00 on Wednesday morning (with a small feast of a cup of tea and bagel at midnight). Those long bus journeys are quite exhausting.

I spent the Wednesday catching up on some blog writing (when you read all about Ireland, I was in Massachusetts). Later on that night, I slipped on their kitchen floor, whacking my one foot, knee and hand quite badly. So much so, I had to spend quality time with a bag of ice until the swelling went down.

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Bad luck no 1.

I had decided to visit New York on the Friday but on the Thursday morning I had started to come down with a nasty cold. This didn’t stop me from attending my friend’s son’s school orchestra concert. I was moved to tears as the whole hall stood in silence, hands on chests, as the high school orchestra played America’s national anthem. It was such an emotional moment that I was moved to tears….and it’s not even my national anthem!!!!

By Friday all I was fit to do was spend the day in bed. Because of this, I missed my friend’s daughter’s dance competition training and the actual competition on Saturday.

Bad luck no 2.

So no New York but there was still time for Boston and I made loose plans to meet another travel blogger there on Monday; Ellen from ‘The Time Crunched Traveller’.

On Saturday night, feeling a little bummed that I’d spent some days in bed and eager to go out, I eagerly accepted an invitation from my friend to go out in their boat on the lake on Sunday.

We had a great day and it was so refreshing to be out in the fresh air and feel the thrill of the speed boat racing up and down the Connecticut river. I even jumped in for a quick swim…..with my clothes on (I didn’t take a costume). MAN, it was freezing and it probably scared the rest of my cold away!!

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Unfortunately, on Sunday Ellen emailed to say she couldn’t make it so Boston with her was cancelled.

Bad luck no 3.

I decided that I would go to Boston on Tuesday because I was leaving Massachusetts on Wednesday.

On Monday, I noticed I had been bitten by something on my forehead but just thought it was a mosquito bite. On Tuesday morning, I woke up to discover a HUGE lump on the forehead and after checking with a local pharmacist, decided that I would go to the doctor. After announcing that I was a foreigner and paying……wait for it…….$104, I waited an hour to see a doctor.

It was just as well I did, because he decided that I had been bitten by a brown recluse spider and needed antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. I wasn’t to scratch it, pick it or touch it because brown recluse spider bites poison destroys tissue and if I picked at it, it would leave a bigger hole. Lovely… I didn’t like spiders before and this did NOTHING to convince me of their good points. So…no Boston.

Bad luck no. 4

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So instead of New York and Boston, my friend kindly drove me around Springfield showing me some sights. I saw the Basketball Hall of Fame (a 40,000sqft museum dedicated to basketball history) and I ate in Taco Bell for the first time.

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We drove through Forest Park which is a beautiful green park with lakes, rose gardens, fountains, chipmunks, walking trails and, in our case, lots of rain.

Bad Luck no. 5

We visited Storrowton Village which is a preserved 18th / 19th century Massachusetts/New Hampshire town . It was really like going back in time and when we saw some people dressed in period costume, we headed over to talk to them. The man was kind enough to show us inside some of the buildings.

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This is also the the site of ‘The Big E’ also known as the ‘Eastern States Exposition’. It is 17 day exhibition which takes place each September. The whole of Storrowton and the surrounding exhibition area fills with people, food stands and fun fair rides. People can explore the old buildings as well as the 6 New England state building copies: Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In America, every state has an official State Building which stands in the state capital. Each state is responsible for maintaining their state house in Storrowton.

But to be honest, this blog post is all tongue and cheek. I had a REALLY great week, caught up on loads of writing, caught up with my school friend, met some lovely people, ate a giant pizza (well, ate 2 slices of a giant pizza), ate Taco Bell for the first time, watched a little bit of Lacrosse, ate a cannoli for the first time, had LOTS of laughs, enjoyed some great hospitality, swam in the Connecticut River, sped up and down a river in a speed boat, watched a school orchestra, listened to an amazing national anthem, and really had a good time.

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A big thank you goes to my friend Mireille and her lovely family for putting me up for a week.

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