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Gloucester, MA

On September 7, 2014, Ed and I took our first East Coast excursion to Gloucester, MA.  Gloucester is a beautiful, quaint little fishing town 37 miles above Boston on Massachusetts’ North Shore.  Fun facts: the first schooner (a sailing vessel that looks like a pirate ship) was reputedly built in here in 1713, and “The Perfect Storm” was filmed and set in Gloucester (I hope that’s cool – I’ve never seen A Perfect Storm).

Someone once told me that many of the towns surrounding Boston have names of Native American origin, and I believe they included Gloucester in the list.  When they told me that, I was like, “Ha, WHUT.”  Because coming from Minnesota where almost ALL of the towns have names of Native American origin (Wayzata, Winona, Pokegama, Nisswa, Minnehaha, Bemidji, Chanhassen, etc. and of COURRRRSE Minnetonka), it’s pretty clear that Massachusetts has roughly zero.  Plus, I bet the Pilgrims were fairly eager to change the names of everything so the Indians knew who was Boss.  So now Ed and I are surrounded by places like Gloucester (pronounced Gloster), Portsmouth (pronounced Portsmith), Worchester (pronounced Wuss-ster), Scituate (pronounced Sitch-eau-it) and Ipswitch (pronounced…Ipswitch).  Add a good Southie Boston accent to any of those places and you get something like this:

Hi mah name is Bahbrah n’ I live on the No’th Sho’h neah Glostah.  Have you been to the Stah Mahket yet?  They got a real good bahgin on eahs ah coh’n.

Here’s a map!  Gloucester is faintly outlined in red in the upper right, Boston is down in the bottom left:

Gloucester, MA

The population of Gloucester is 28, 789; the town is known for its fishing industry and its popularity as a summer destination.  Ed and I saw plenty of mansions and expensive, fancy looking landscaping on our drive along the coast:

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There are lots of beaches to enjoy along the way as well, and our first stop was this one on our way into the town:

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That little dark spot on the horizon is the Boston skyline.  Can you see it?  Here let’s zoom in:

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Once we made it into town, we stopped at a visitors center and were stoked to learn that Gloucester has some pretty reputable whale watching tours.  They prove it with this whale skeleton:

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Don’t you love the caption under the whale head?  “Unusual North Shore Resident.”  Lolz!  Funny whale people.  Since we were too late to join a whale tour (they guarantee sightings or you can keep coming back for free until you see one), we headed to Rockport (the tip of the peninsula above Gloucester) to relax at a beach.  I got really artsy with my camera while sunbathing:

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This pic was actually quite difficult to take, I think it took us six tries. Nailed it!


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A sexy lifeguard was on duty

After the beach, we headed to the only other attraction we knew of – the light house and the Breakwater.  Eastern Point Lighthouse is at the entrance of Gloucester Harbor and was first lit in 1832:

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Eastern Point Light House

It sits on giant rocks and semi-successfully helped guide ships into the harbor up until 1905.  Extending out from the light house is a huge reef called Dog Bar Reef and even though ships could see the light from the light house and identify the shore, they would regularly ship wreck and run aground on the reef because they didn’t know how far it extended or didn’t even know it was there.  So in 1905 the town completed a 0.5 mile long granite jetty and named it the Dog Bar Breakwater (locals just refer to it as “The Breakwater.”  As do Ed and I, faux-locals).

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Looking out at the breakwater from the light house

The Breakwater cuts the wind in the harbor by half, protecting the boats anchored there, and successfully prevents vessels from shipwrecking on the reef.

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Boats safe in the harbor

The walk down the Breakwater is so fun – all of the giant blocks make for a treacherous hopscotch.  There are locals sunbathing on the rocks and lots of recreational fisherman.  Some men walk at the bottom of the blocks, looking for and collecting treasures from the water.  Each block in the breakwater weighs 12-13 tons.  Here’s a treasure hunter and a good view of how huge the rocks are:


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Me, still being arty

It takes about 15 minutes to walk all the way to the end:

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Mr. Massachusetts

We worked up quite an appetite for beers while exploring, so we headed back into town and found a little bar with Allagash on tap.  Allagash is like Blue Moon but one thousand times better (sorry mom).  It’s brewed in Maine and is my favorite beer, of all time.  Here’s me enjoying one:

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Ed got fancy and ordered something with fruit in it:


We asked the bartender where we should eat dinner and she told us to go to the Fisherman’s Cape Anne Brewing Co.  We do as the locals say, so off we went.

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This place was a true gem.  The whole interior was decorated in a fishing motif, per the town’s pride, and they brew all their own beer.  We shared a sampling flight:

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How fun is that?!  We had these exotic flavors: vanilla, rhubarb, pumpkin and spruce tip.  SPRUCE TIP.  It was like tasting the magic of the forest in a refreshing glass of beer.  But better.  Had we known we’d never see it again, we would have purchased as many cases as we could fit in the trunk of our rental car.

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Arrow is pointing to spruce tip, our favorite

For noms, we had seared scallops with fancy mashed taters and some of the best, freshest fish tacos I’ve ever eaten:

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Ed’s been to this plate, which is why it is half empty

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After we ate, we drove back to the city and that was that.  Two snaps up!

And Juicy if you’re reading this…

1) I have not seen the Cambridge turkey in a REALLY long time.  So long that I’m wondering if there even is a Cambridge turkey anymore.

2) Last week, a 1980 HBS-alum-turned-hedge-fund-magnate donated $400M to the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).  That is the largest donation in Harvard’s history.  The fact that this guy has $400M to donate at one time speaks to the volume of his overall wealth – which happens to be $11.2B.  And I have a hard time ponying up my $5 charity donation in order to participate in casual Friday at work!  SEAS was only established in 2007, so it’s a fledgling program and not very well known.  When I first heard about this, I was like, “Why don’t you just cure cancer instead?” but after discussing it with my boss (also HBS alum – no donations), we figure he probably wanted to kill two birds with one stone and position Harvard to develop a world-class engineering school to compete with MIT, and make sure the kids who get an education there eventually do end up curing cancer.

3) Ed turned 27 on June 3rd; he is officially in his Late Twenties!  He’s not thrilled at all about it, but I am.  To celebrate, I’m taking him to a Florida Georgia Line concert in September (they’re a country band), and we’ll be using Airbnb for the first time ever.  I got us a room in some guy named John’s house right on a lake so we can kayak and paddle board around the morning after the concert.

4) I read in Cambridge’s monthly newsletter that people of my generation are referred to (I’m not sure by whom) “Digital Immigrants” and people of my future nephew Atlas’s generation are “Digital Natives.”  I guess that’s accurate?  The article also mentioned that the incoming generation Z will be the smartest generation ever, and proved it by saying Harvard University accepted a record low of applicants for the class of 2019 – only 5.3 percent of 37,305 applications.  Ed said it’s a good thing HBS accepted 10% of applications, as that’s the only way he was able to sneak in.

5) I’m going to my cousin’s wedding in Minnesota this weekend and can’t WAIT!  JUICY GET READY