My husband was given the opportunity for his first Surgical Tech Traveler assignment to take place in Springfield, Massachusetts. I decided that since the licensure to teach certification program I am hoping to get into doesn’t actually start until the Fall, why not travel with my husband for the next six months as I study for the Praxis exam and finish up my prerequisites? It can be very difficult to focus on my studies at home. I decided that taking myself out of my comfort zone–to give myself the next two months to study and take the exam (which is due in May)–would be a great way to stay focused on the end goal. Besides, one of the reasons for my move to the East Coast and Virginia was to experience all that it has to offer. My family’s roots lie in New York and Massachusetts as well as Wisconsin and I felt the need to see what my grandparents saw when they were young and living on this side of the country before WWII and their moves to California and the Pacific Northwest led them to their future lives. While I haven’t gotten to Wisconsin yet, I’m starting with New England, where my heart is closest.
The house we are staying at is in a historic neighborhood downtown. The homes are old and gorgeous. Many have been repainted and are colorful and well-loved. Since it’s still snowing here, I haven’t had the opportunity to see them shine as brightly yet as I’m sure they do once Spring decides to open up and show all the beauty she has to offer. Since we are here through May, I know I’ll get to see her bloom.
When we first arrived, my husband and I were greeted by a sweet and friendly pooch who is still a pup and ready to play. She isn’t a small pup though, in fact she is quite large and I fell in love with her instantly. Though we don’t get to see her that often, when we do I can’t help but want to play with her. I miss my own pups so much, so she’s a little bit of sunshine in the snowy depths of Springfield. Our host and housemates are all wonderful professionals working in either academia or the medical field like my husband, and while we haven’t had a chance to get to know all of them yet, we have enjoyed the talks we’ve had so far in the cozy kitchen we share. The atmosphere is very welcoming which made me and my husband feel much more comfortable than we expected.
The buildings are mostly historic that surround us and bring to mind what you would expect traveling to New England. Lots of brickwork homes, schools, colleges, and Roman Catholic Churches which are stunning, as well as leafless trees lining the neighborhoods, snow everywhere, and colorful characters throughout the Downtown area. We found a great hole-in-the wall pizza shop called MJ’s Pizza and Grinders where my husband and I stopped yesterday during his orientation break and bought a slice of pepperoni that was the best pizza I’ve had since leaving Las Vegas five years ago. Yes it’s been that long. I mean there is pizza and then there is pizza. We also found a great restaurant called Sunny Side Up where we had breakfast which also offers lunch specialties selling Polish food such as homemade pierogis and other Polish dishes to be found like on my father’s side of the family that I haven’t tried yet but am looking forward to trying once we go back for lunch. The breakfast was tasty and the service, wonderful.
Driving through the streets downtown, we also ran across a fabulous bakery and restaurant called Puerto Rico Restaurant and Bakery. The small building was packed with people ordering sandwiches to go and bakery goods that were to die for. My mouth was watering as I looked at all the treats that were available to purchase from this Spanish restaurant, my mother’s side of the family’s Puerto Rican roots urging me to try some of the desserts and pastries offered. I ended up taking home a Baker’s Dozen of bite-sized yummies that I’m still working over. I will definitely be going back to try all of their desserts, main dishes, and sandwiches as well.
Finally, we checked out the famous Wahlburgers founded by Paul, Donnie, and Mark Wahlberg, some of Massachusetts’ own home-grown boys and famous for their acting, singing, and cooking abilities. In all honesty, I didn’t know that the family Wahlberg had opened up a chain of restaurants so this was a welcome surprise to me. The bar offered some great cocktails for those who enjoy a liquid lunch or social hour as well as some great burgers which were delicious, and other classic dishes that people love to eat. My husband and I both got the original “Our Burger” with something called the “Wahl Sauce” which added a whole other dimension to a classic burger. I don’t know what is in the “Wahl Sauce” but whatever it is, it made the burger taste extra yummy. The restaurant itself was aesthetically pleasing with some really cool specialty lighting in the main dining area which was super fun to look at while waiting for the food to be served.
As I sit here in the gorgeously old, Springfield Central Library with its Mezzanine, dark wood, and ornamental metal and woodwork, I’m excited for what the next few months will hold. Luckily we’re only a 7.5 hour drive from home or a one hour flight from Boston to Richmond so I will be able to go back and forth whenever I want. I still have responsibilities at home that need attending to but knowing that I can stay here for a week or two at a time with my husband and then go home for a little while without it being to much of a hassle makes this first travel assignment for my husband something I’m still excited about. Now, it’s time to get back to studying.