Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Bridgewater Film Festival - Part I - Knight and Day

Back in the summer of 2009 Bridgewater, Massachusetts was all a-twitter because Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz were in town to shoot the airplane crash scene for the movie that was then only known as "Witchita". Knight and Day is not the kind of film we normally watch - an action flick with one implausible scene after another, strung together by a flimsy love story. However, in the interest of "The Bridgewater's Project" we felt we had to see it. It was pretty much as expected. We did recognize the field where the plane crashed, even though the filmmakers did an admirable job of making it look like it was really in the mid-west. Bridgewater really has range. I bet it could even disguise itself as the Pacific Northwest if necessary. We didn't much like this movie, although I can't say it was disappointing. It was, in fact, exactly what I expected. It did provide a bit of a diversion, and lasted under 2 hours, which is my threshold for crappy movies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bridgewater, New Jersey November 13, 2011 - Exit 13

So That's What Flag Day is!

We made our visit to Bridgewater, New Jersey as a side trip from picking up our daughter from visiting her camp friends who live in West Windsor (that's exit 8 for those of you who were about to ask!). Bridgewater has several claims to fame including the site where the American flag was first flown on June 14, 1777. A flag of the 13-star variety is displayed at the Middlebrook encampment 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We went searching for the location, but gave up after a while, as it had been a long day of driving already. We are pretty sure we were closing in on it when we noticed a large plywood board with the pledge of alligience written on it, but never zeroed in on the flag itself, giving us a good excuse to return some day.
Jersey Diners
Where to Eat?

We had no choice but to look for a diner for lunch when we arrived in town. With over 500 diners in this rather small state, New Jersey is well known for this special kind of dining establishment, which has spawned its own episode of  "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives", on the food network and was the topic of the New Jersey book (Jersey Diners, by Peter Genovese) Pam read during our year-long "Celebrating the States" project. New Jersey native, Jerry O'Mahony, is credited with inventing the pre-fab diner in the early 20th century.

Shortly after arriving in town we spotted the Bridgewater Diner and knew we had to look no further. 

Find Bridgewater Diner on Google Maps
Diners are meant for travelers and it seems especially appropriate that a diner in New Jersey would be not simply along the highway but in the highway. It is especially appropriate in Bridgewater; even in a state  known for highways, Bridgewater is particularly rich with divided highways and exit ramps. We looped and looped through and around the town, and the Bridgewater Diner is within a square-mile patch that includes four federal highways!

Our selections were typical diner fare: an open-faced hot turkey sandwich with gravy for Pam; Reuben for James (an indulgence a couple times a year, and almost the only way James eats sauerkraut); and grilled cheese and mashed potatoes for our daughter, Paloma. Her new friend James (xarĂ¡!) lives in New Jersey and had joined us for the ride back to school. Much to Paloma's chagrin (and embarrassment!) this meant letting a friend in on her parents' painfully nerdy habit of Bridgewater-collecting. The waiter was an paragon of unctuous service: his pad and sharpened pencil were held close to his face as he briskly and intently gathered our orders. Service was fast -- not regular fast, but fast like a Roadrunner cartoon -- and the food did not disappoint.

What Else is in Bridgewater
Bridgewater, New Jersey also boasts the Bridgewater Commons mall, one location used in the filming of the movie North 

Bridgewater Commons was in full holiday mode. This gigantic 3 story mall is actually listed as among one of New Jersey's smallest! Of course it doesn't matter how big a mall is, they all look pretty much the same, and have the same stores no matter where you go. This mall, like all others, exhibits the 600-foot rule described in the "Sprawl" section of James' Environmental Geography home page. Our only purchase was a cookie.

The Sri Venkateswara Temple is a beautiful Hindu Temple. Shortly after James wondered aloud "I wonder where that temple is" its presence became impossible to miss.

How Many Companies Called "Bridgewater Overhead Door " can there possibly be?

Well, at least two.
When Pam mentioned to one of her co-workers that New Jersey was the next stop of our Bridgewater's Project she said that her husband's company, Bridgewater Overhead Door, sometimes gets bills for a Bridgewater Overhead Doors in New Jersey. We did not find the latter. Again, a good excuse for another trip!
Bridgewater Overhead Doors

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bridgewater, Maine (or, the Hayes-Bohanan's Take the Solar System) June 6-8, 2011

"Is that a globe?"
"No, it's just a blue sphere on a stick."

Uranus at the Bridgewater, Maine American Legion Hall
In fact, it is Uranus!

We saw this model shortly after we passed the "Welcome to Bridgewater" sign. It was not until we noticed models of Saturn and Jupiter a bit farther along Route 1 that we realized that it must have been a planet. As it turned out, the model for the sun, a big yellow arc, is located at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, which was just across the street from the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center, where we were staying.

We really had no choice but to take the entire tour of this orrery, which is located along a 40-mile stretch of Route 1.

We actually stopped at each planet including Pluto, which has not been demoted for purposes of this project. Rather, some of the smaller planetary bodies have actually been added -- one much farther south -- so we need to return. Pluto is located at the Houlton Visitor Center, which was originally the end of the tour, and served as such for this time. Photos of each of our stops are included among our Aroostook photos on Flickr, as are various artsy contributions by Paloma.

Paloma experiments with sepia, to good effect
As the photo above illustrates, the afternoon light at this time of year and latitude (nearly 47 degrees) lingers and glows. Sunset was a few minutes later than at home, with sunrise much earlier. At higher latitudes, the sun sets at an increasingly oblique angle, so that twilight lingers. The effect of the light is at times mesmerizing, particularly as it interacts with the region's many commercial windmills.

As it turned out, Uranus was about the most exciting thing in Bridgewater. We did stop at a barrel store, and attempted, on two occasions, to visit the Wood Prarie Farm, but both times we tried we never saw any people, or anything that looked like a farm stand. We had hoped to buy some potatoes to support the local economy, but ended up not spending any money in Bridgewater.

After touring all the planets up to Uranus we headed east the Canada. Our destination? Potato World!

We visited the museum and learned some cool stuff about potato farming. I never knew potato plants flowered! We had lunch at the Potato World Cafe - Baked Potato soup for Pam and the curliest, skinniest curly fries we ever saw for James and Paloma (who described them as "beast," which apparently is a good thing). The very helpful and friendly guide at Potato World took our picture and let us know about the zipline across the St. John River Gorge in  Grand Falls. Paloma took the bird's eye view tour of the falls and saw a rainbow in a complete circle below her feet!

We did enjoy our stay in Presque Isle, though next time we will pack our own coffee and brewing equipment. The hotel coffee was bad, as we expected, and although we enjoyed a very nice breakfast at Governor's Restaurant and Bakery, the coffee was only slightly better than at the hotel. We had hoped to visit the Sorpreso Cafe, which had been reviewed by one of James' students, but its was not open during our visit.

On Sunday we visited the last two planets, Neptune and Pluto. Of course Pluto has since lost its planetary status.

Our return to Bridgewater, Massachusetts featured a traffic crawl on 93 through Boston reminscent of our return from Bridgewater, New Hampshire. Even on a Tuesday and even with the HOV lanes, congestion seems to be inevitable on the misnamed expressway.

Plus, we almost forgot to mention the moose!

~~ post by Pam with some help from James

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital

Located just north of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in Bensalem, we are not sure where the name for this one came from, but it gets a post on the blog nonetheless.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bridgewater, Vermont

Bridgewater, Vermont was established in 1761 as part of New Hampshire, but it is distinct from the town of Bridgewater, New Hampshire that we visited at the beginning of this blog project. (It is about 40 miles to the west if one is flying; 65 if flying along the shortest paved route.)

The Vermont town has about twice the areal extent of "our" Bridgewater in Massachusetts but with about 1/20th the population. It encompasses four hamlets: Bridgewater Village, Bridgewater Corners, West Bridgewater, and Bridgewater Center, the last of which was once incongruously known as Briggs. In Massachusetts, the three "Bridgewaters" are incorporated as separate towns (each with its own government), but all of the places bearing the name in Vermont are legally part of the same town.
Image of all four hamlets; click image to enlarge.
CLICK HERE to browse on Google Maps
Bridgewater, Vermont was named for Francis Egerton, Duke of Bridgewater (England) while that noble was still alive. According to an article on VirtualVermont, the naming was meant to honor Egerton's contributions to transportation works in England and and possibly also to curry favor with the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which had named Bridgewater, Massachusetts for John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater, in 1656. (Thus the earlier town was named for a recently-deceased Earl while the newer town was named for a Duke who was very much alive at the time.)

Readily available online sources provide more historic than contemporary information about this Bridgewater, aptly reflecting its greater relative prominence in the past. From 1820 to 1830, its population  doubled to 2,320; at 980, the population is now less than it was two centuries ago. An excerpt from Hayward's New England Gazetteer of 1839 also reveals that sheep were even more numerous, with an ovine population of 6,000! A decade or so later, overgrazing by sheep was a key factor leading George Perkins Marsh -- of nearby Woodstock -- to write Man and Nature: Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. This book -- considered to be the first modern geography book -- sparked the first conservation movement in the United States. His home a few miles downstream from Bridgewater is now a National Historic Park dedicated the study of conservation. I have written a brief article about that park and have enjoyed bringing students to it.

Although I have passed through Bridgewater a few times -- at least once with Pam and Paloma -- we did not make any deliberate attempt at a visit until this past weekend, as an outing during a delightful stay at the Golden Stage Inn, which our Bridgewater (MA) friends recently purchased. It was once an actual stage coach stop and is now a delightful B&B on five acres in the tiny village of Proctorsville.

On previous drives through Bridgewater in previous years, I remember noticing only some declining and even defunct properties. Just a few minutes of research, however, revealed what must have registered -- however dimly -- on my consciousness from reading beer bottles over the past decade or so: Bridgewater Corners is home to Long Trail Brewing, one of the premium breweries in the Green Mountain State. The brewery is named, by the way, for the Long Trail, a north-to-south transect that inspired -- and is partly conterminous with -- the Appalachian Trail.

The brewery provided all we had hoped for -- good pub food (including jalapeno poppers!), a nice variety of beers, and a furtherance of our brewing education. Because the somewhat crummy, wet weather (about 10 degrees too warm) had driven many skiers inside, Long Trail was quite crowded. When we return -- and we certainly will -- I would like to spend a bit more time exploring the brewery and less time waiting for a table. We would also like to spend some time on the Long Trail itself. From what I can tell (online maps are not very detailed), the trail does not go through the brewery itself, but the trail certainly inspires the company and many of its customers.

Since we began brewing our own beer (mainly IPAs so far) in September 2010, we have been trying to learn what we can, and we found the brewer on duty at Long Trail to be knowledgeable, helpful, and very welcoming to us as novice fellow brewers. We have no delusions of adequacy in this area, as we are very much amateurs working from kits, but I have found that the men and women who brew beer (and ale, et cetera) are very generous, and the young brewer at Long Trail was no exception. During the course of our brief conversation, he described how he had gotten from our kit-only stage to his current role, and also mentioned several competing commercial breweries where we could see particular practices or techniques.

Herewith, a few photos (click each to enlarge):
We have one of these, too. But ours is plastic and sits on the counter.
This one at Long Trail is about 20 feet tall.
We do not usually wait in restaurants, even special ones.
But in the interest of blogging and beer education, we made an exception.
Despite the long wait, we ended up happy campers. It was good
to be in a brewery with a vexillogical bent.
Not only did we finally get seated:
We got seated by Long Trail's pin map. Oddly enough,
I forgot to post a pin, but I did enjoy basking in the glory of the map.
The pin map at Long Trail is no ordinary visitors' map.
It is a special "projection" that wraps a flat map around the wall --
putting a right angle relatively close to the
 all-important hundredth meridian. A close look at the image of me
(above) shows reveals the pins sticking out at this edge.
Even greater than seeing the pin map was hearing a couple of young
guys speculating about the reasons for the patterns they noticed.
They concluded, for example, that the cluster around Denver 

has to do with the importance of beer in that town.
I should have gotten up so they could see the world map that was

 tucked behind my seat, so that they could engage in even more
geographic analysis!
For me, the availability of a 6x4 beer sampler clinched the decision
to make Long Trail Brewery the focus of our Bridgewater visit. I have
seen this offered all-too rarely since I first encountered it
at Padre Island Brewery about 15 years ago. At Long Trail, a card accompanies
the little muffin tin of samples, so that it is easy to compare by 

ingredients (hop and malt varieties), bitterness units, and so on. These beers
 were presented in order of heavier body, with the 
blackberry beer (Pam's favorite) at the light end and
Traditional IPA the heaviest. I was surprised that the latter was

 not my favorite, as it was the hoppiest, and I really wanted to like the 
Scottish Hibernator (being Scottish). My favorite is the one simply called Pale Ale
 -- fairly high in hops but also balanced.
My final Bridgewater photo is not from Bridgewater at all,
but from nearby Woodstock. It is one of those places made
rare by errant zoning regulations in the era of sprawl -- a nice
townscape with a variety of retail and residential uses that is 
delightful for a stroll.
Scenes of rushing, just-melting streams were emblematic
of the entire weekend stay in the area, as the transition from snow 
season to mud season was underway, and many rivers and 
streams exhibited simply amazing
patterns of intertwined motion and stillness.