Trip Log: Massachusetts

"Massachusetts... a New Frontier..."

Fred: "Hold on."

Lewis: "What is it?"

Fred: "It's not 'new' for you."

Lewis: "Yeah, but that makes it sound more dramatic!"

Fred: "But it really doesn't make any sense."

Lewis: "*Sigh*. Okay, how about this instead:"

"Massachusetts... for one of us a new frontier, while the other has been here his whole life..."

Fred: "Better."

"These are the continuing voyages of two idiots in a Buick LeSabre. Their five day mission: to explore strange new stores. To seek out new toys, and even more new toys.. To boldly collect what no one else in the world wanted before!"

(Dramatic Pause)

Lewis: "Well... what do you think?"

Fred: "I like it. It sounds... stupid."

Lewis: "Yeah, I've got to agree with that. Let's keep going! I'm going to let Fred do most of the talking since he's the one visiting me."

Fred: "And I'm going to let Lewis do most of the cool ad-libbing and organizing, since all the days have blurred together into one giant ball of fun. With Maps."

Lewis: "Maps."

Fred: "Maps."

Lewis: "I'm very organized."

Fred: "Totally true. This report will cover many of the unique places visited while on vacation in Massachusetts. In addition to pictures and cool commentary, there will be a link to additional pages where you can read the *complete* itinerary, broken down by day, complete with maps!"

Lewis: "I love Maps."

Fred: "Who doesn't? OK, here we go!"


So why take this trip?

There's been a standing offer to come visit Lewis at his home, and I was finally able to take him up on it.

I'd spent the better part of the last decade building my vacation around going to shows. Going to a show was good 'back in the day', but after the change in format, and some life and health issues, I wanted something more.

I've found that visiting friends in their hometowns has been a much more rewarding experience than any show, and I encourage *everyone* to do it. We all know enough people in this hobby; we've all made some valuable friendships over the years. I say, it's time to go visit your friends.

Wednesday: The Arrival

Fred: "I almost didn't arrive. My original flight was to go to Detroit and then to MA."

Lewis: "But it was still less eventful than the Ark's trip to Earth."

Fred: "True. There are going to be lots of Transformers references, aren't there?"

Lewis: "Yup. Star Trek references too."

Fred: "Cool. So, apparently the flight I was originally on filed bankruptcy and was sold off while I was at the airport, so they put me on a flight to Minnesota instead. Cool deal, because:"

Fred: "At the layover in Minnesota, there was a Ms. Pac-Man with a speedup chip! I haven't played one of these in years. For those of you born after 1980, this is Nintendo classic for the hip set. I had to take it to Junior 2 level."

Lewis: "I haven't played that in forever. Is that a lot?"

Fred: "Put it this way: I was almost late for the connecting flight."

Lewis: "Did Smokescreen help you cheat the way he did in 'The Gambler?'"

Fred: "I can neither confirm nor deny."

Lewis: "I can't fault you for nearly missing your flight. The machine has Galaga. I actually would have missed my flight."

Fred: "It's amazing to me how all the airports look like pricy malls now, while all the malls sit abandoned."

Lewis: "Did they have any good toy stores? Comic stores? Toy stores? Sports card stores?"

Fred: "Umm... no."

Lewis: "At least I didn't miss anything important. If it wasn't for the airplanes, I don't know why anyone would go there."

Fred: "Moving on..."

Fred: "Pickup at the airport. I was told that in order to find the vehicle, I had to literally walk into the middle of the traffic. This pic does not do the effort justice; I was hardly in a position to take a pic while running for my life."

Lewis: "That wasn't exactly what I meant."

Fred: "But that is what you said."

Lewis: "True. But while you were dodging traffic I was driving in circles and picturing the idiot who designed Logan Airport strapped to the muzzle of Megatron's fusion cannon. I was using, as Spock might say, many colorful metaphors. I was literally afraid I was going to take a turn and find myself in New York, or worse, New Jersey. That make us even?"

Fred: "I think so."

Fred: "This pic describes it better. You have to leave the airport, cross the first layer of traffic (there on the far right), then you have to run into the middle of traffic to catch your ride."

Lewis: "I told him there was a Masterpiece Soundwave in it for him if he made it to the car alive."

Fred: "I did. There was. My passion for all things TF was already starting to light up."

Fred: "Leaving the airport. I have to say, Boston feels a lot like Milwaukee."

Lewis: "Only a little further east."

Fred: "True. I kept getting confused where I was. That is, until I saw the Clinton Monument in the distance. Milwaukee doesn't have one of those."

Lewis: "Actually, that was the Bunker Hill Monument. It commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, which mostly took place on Breed's Hill."

Fred: "I think I feel light headed."

Lewis: "I get the same way watching 'Autobot Spike'." Anyway, The Bunker Hill Monument looks just like the Washington Monument, at about 40% the size of that. It's kind of like Mini Me to the Washington Monument."

Fred: "I don't remember actually eating on Wednesday. I do remember we went to Kmart, and found the IDW toys (Bumblebee, Megatron, etc - which won't be out in Wisconsin for another month, if the pattern holds.) (and by the time you read this report, a month will have passed, so... eh.)"

Lewis: "Actually, it will be more like three months. That's my fault. I'm a little behind on things."

Fred: "But not as far behind as I am on my e-mail."

Lewis: "True. While Fred just picked up the new Generations series sans Orion Pax, who we didn't find, I made a massive dent in my want list. K-Mart, 2 Targets, and a Walmart yielded this on Wednesday night:"

Generations Deluxe Bumblebee, Megatron, and Trailbreaker
Rescue Bots Optimus Prime Rescue Trailer
Rescue Bots Flip-Changer Chase and Heatwave
Constructabots Elite Soundwave and Wheeljack
Constructabots Ultra Optimus Prime vs. Megatron
Kre-O Micro-Changer Combiners Abominus, Defensor, and Piranacon
Prime Deluxe Skylynx
Prime Cyberverse Commander Optimus Prime vs. Predaking
Prime Cyberverse Legion Cindersaur vs. Smokescreen and Abominus
Prime Voyager Darksteel

Fred: "Wednesday night at Lewis' house: I can't tell you anything except how amazing it was to see a collection of this caliber. The man has artifacts I didn't even know existed. You folks are missing out if you don't at least go look at his site."

Lewis: "I just picked up the 1986 Transformers Sticker Book in Greek! I've been told that could be considered a cry for help, but I assure you it's not. I'm just that crazy. :-)"

Fred: "I won't show you pics of his collection - you can read about Tarmac's Adventures at the Cape to get a glimpse of that. What I can share with you is this:"

Fred: "An R2D2 lego snowman! I can't even tell you how hilarious this was to me. I knew immediately that I must find one. (And we did, later in the week. I think I paid 3 bucks for the advent calendar that he came in.)"

Lewis: "Leave it to Fred to find that amongst everything else."

Fred's Receipts - Wed 8-07-13:

Minnesota International Airport
- Ms. Pac-Man, $.50
- M & Ms Plain, $1.39
- Diet Coke, $2.31
- Jalapeno Cheese Stick, $.99

Kmart - Somerville, MA
- IDW Transformers, $42.00
- Gatorade, $1.00

Target - Woburn MA
- SW Droid, $4.99
- TF, 12.99

Toys R Us, Woburn, MA
- Masterpiece Soundwave (Waiting for me upon arrival.), $128.00

Target, Everett, MA
- Pringles, $2.79
- Nutrigrain Bars, $2.50
- Kashi Mocha Flax 7 Grain Granola, $2.75
- Lucky Charms, $3.00

Complete List of Wednesday Shopping Stops.

The Next Day...

Lewis: "Also known as Thursday."

Fred: "I don't remember for sure, but I believe this was the stop for oatmeal the first morning. Or am I wrong?"

Lewis: "That was it, the Burger King that had oatmeal, then didn't have oatmeal, then did have oatmeal, then gave you two oatmeals. It was almost certainly the more interesting meal of the trip."

Fred: "It was hard to stay properly nourished. Although I did make a detailed list of everything I ate."

Lewis: "With Maps!"

Lewis: "We made several wrong turns after this on Wednesday morning, but it had the inadvertent affect of us stopping at a Target that we had driven past and elected to skip. Here we found Prime Deluxe Beast Hunters Arcee, Knock Out, and Vertebreak. Sometimes a poor sense of direction isn't a bad thing. And speaking of a poor sense of direction..."

Fred: "Salem. If you believe such things, there be witches afoot. I can't speak to that (to me, it looked like anytown usa), but I can tell you that Harrison's is cursed:"

Fred: "Oh, wait, that's not Harrisons, that's LP motors. They're out of business."

Lewis: "Typical. We needed gas."

Fred: "The Nathaniel Hawthorne monument. You can Google for more info."

Fred: "Almost there. The map kept trying to drive us the wrong way down a one-way street."

Lewis: "That may have been due to a finger accidentally telling the map that our destination was actually in a different place than it really was on the map. However, the finger in question could not be... identified. You'll note the time in the photo, 11:13 AM. We were only about 90 minutes late at this point, and I was on the verge of a Hate Plague like episode. The plan was flawless, the execution had a lot to be desired."

Fred: "I'd suggested parking and just walking, but technology would not be denied!"

Lewis: "And if I had tried to walk that far, Fred would have had to carry me."

Fred: "That we would have had to get photos of."

Frerd: "The Salem Inn."

Fred: "And here we are, after going around in circles. (You will find that going around in circles and sitting parked on interstate highways for hours at a time are the favorite pastime of the Massachusetts motorist. Seriously, they have picnics out there. More on that later.)"

Fred: "It's big for what it is. Kind of like if Westfield Comics were double in size and had more old and foreign stuff mixed in."

Fred: "Yep, they had a Transformers case. Zoom in on the pic and you'll see why they still had them. I'm not going to pay 40 bucks for a 2 dollar Jumpstarter, nor am I going to pay 25 dollars for a 5 dollar Hoist missing everything. I'm glad they were there. This kind of thing doesn't make me angry; it makes me laugh. Clearly, there is a different sense of the TF market in this place (much, much more on that later, see the Raythem Flea Market section). The Internet really has changed everything, at least for me. That's why trips like this are so important. I'm tickled that there are still pockets of vintage TFs to be found. Three cheers for the tourist trap!"

Fred: "The sign for his old place, now inside in the back. As I said, the place has plenty of space. I was tempted to bring back a number of foreign posters to films I'd enjoyed (Transformers the Movie in Greek, anyone?) but alas, I've long passed the point where I have walls to hang things on."

Lewis: "That's why my posters are all in tubes, the walls have too many toys hanging on them, and putting toys in the tubes would be silly."

Fred: "Didn't some 2007 movie toys come in tubes."

Lewis: "Exactly."

Fred: "Right..."

Fred: "The area has a number of interesting shops. I was tickled by the game console that was a sign for the game shop next door. Talk about hanging out a shingle."

Lewis: "Can you imagine hitting Up-Up-Down-Down-Left-Right-Left-Right-B-A-Start on a controller that size?"

Fred: "Alas, there were places to be, so we did not stay any longer in Salem than we had to. Onward!"

Fred: "The previous pic had The Barking Cat as a pet place. We also passed one called Kissable Paws. Seems like animals feature prominently in this town. Hmmm."

Lewis: "Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur. Happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr."

Fred: "..."

Lewis: "Haven't you ever watched The Big Bang Theory?"

Fred: "Moving on..."

Fred: "The Container Store! I love this place. I drove 3 hours to get to the one in Illinois (near the Ikea sports dome) and walked out with two grocery bags full of plastic stands. Now I find out that there's one just a convenient 7 hour flight across the country, too! Wow!"

Fred: "Comically Speaking!"

Lewis: "We spent a while here sifting through the toys bins that were 3 for $10. I picked up a couple of Silverhawks for the sake of nostalgia. If I remember correctly, Fred got a shell for a Pretender Monster."

Fred: "Raaar! This is what we say to Gobots fans. (If that is not topical enough for you, just insert 'Twilight' in-place of Gobots. Same thing.)"

Lewis: "Comically Speaking has been in at least five different locations in the last ten to fifteen years. I've been to it in several locations including Arlington, Billerica, and across the street from the current location. They used to have multiple stores, but I think this is the only one now. It's big and the selection is pretty good, but I don't often find things there for me."

Fred: "Onward..."

Fred: "Command-D comic shop! This shop was by far my favorite. It was not the biggest one, nor did it have the most stuff. What it *did* have was a friendly owner with a sense of humor. For those who don't know the meaning of the giant mural of Kamandi over there, and how it relates to this shop, well, I can't explain it. But it's very clever."

Lewis: "I can attest to how much fun Fred had here. He was haggling like crazy."

Fred: "More murals. This place is great. You may also notice the hot pink pants if you like."

Lewis: "But I'm not wearing pink pants."

Fred: "Moving on..."

Fred: "This pic does not do the store justice, but you can get a small flavor. My favorite part of the place (other than that cool refrigerator) was that a lot of the toys I wanted to buy were hanging by wire off the ceiling. You unhook the toy you want and make an offer."

Lewis: "I picked up a Titanium Indiana Jones Biplane. That's what happens when I can't find anything I really need for seven consecutive stops. Pretty cool for $3 though."

Fred: "Among other things, I came home with two vintage Ironhides for a couple bucks each. My luck was looking up. New recruits into the Workshop are always welcome."

Fred: "Larry's Comic Store and Chop Shop was next on our itinerary. I'm not making this up. It's a comic store, and an auto body shop all in one. Two great tastes that taste great together... So yea, we're in a seedy part of Lowell."

Fred: "OK, now how can you not see that last pic and not laugh? This is a Crime Area (bottom left) and the Batman logo (top right)? Heh? Heh?"

Lewis: "I know. A rich playboy in a bat suit always makes me feel safe."

Fred: "..."

Lewis: "Wait... that's not exactly what I meant..."

Fred: "Pawtucket St. Apparently, if you drive down this street long enough, you end up in Rhode Island. In actuality, this is the corner for the Stadium for the Lowell Spinners, the Single A team that feeds the Boston Red Sox."

Lewis: "This stop was for me, obviously. I needed to pick up the last two year's trading card sets. I don't get up this way too often. Nice place to see a game if you're ever in the area and waaaaaaaay cheaper than Fenway Park (but it's no Fenway Park... ). This was a highlight of the trip as I managed to pull a muscle in my shoulder trying to catch a receipt being carried away by the breeze. It hurt pretty much for the next week. Fun times."

Fred: "I picked up the entire 2004 team card set for a buck."

Lewis: "That was not a great year for the Spinners."

Fred: "These will be handed out to everyone at Dairycon. :-)"

Fred: "The 5 Degrees Below store! I'd been to one of these in Rockford IL. If you like, go read the container store joke from earlier and insert it here. Same thing."

Lewis: "I like the $4 Airachnid. It's still way overpriced. But at that price, you can afford to run it over with your car, which would improve the toy immensely."

Fred: "Now That's Entertainment! This store is exactly like Westfield comics in Madison. I believe we were getting close to Worchester."

Lewis: "We were only about two hours later than I had planned. I don't think I'm ever going to Salem again. And it's pronounced 'wooster,' by the way."

Fred: "Yea, I pronounced everything wrong while I was there. That's ok: say 'lake butts des morts'."

Lewis: "No."

Fred: "There was a 14 dollar Inferno in the bucket, no accessories. He was left behind."

Fred: "Now That's Entertainment! Their other store. This one I like; the building is big, somewhat ramshackle, and crammed absolutely full of various cool things."

Fred: "That's Andres. He lives there."

Lewis: "He's the one wearing glasses. Otherwise we're pretty much interchangeable at this angle. (That was funnier in my head... )"

Fred: "That's a street sign. It's witty."

Lewis: "I would have called it 'Jim Roads'. Get it? I kind of love awful puns. The more awful, the more I love them."

Fred: "I have no memory of this, which must mean the psychotherapy is working..."

Fred: "That's the inside of the store. Click on the pic to zoom in. It goes a lot deeper than this pic indicates. (I suppose I like the store because it reminds me of what my basement used to look like, before the flood. *Sniffle*.)

Fred's Receipts - Thur 8-08-13:

Burger King, Danvers, MA
- Oatmeal, $2.99

Target, Danvers, MA
- Ballpoint Pens, $.90

Walmart, Danvers, MA
- TF Legends Prime, $9.99

Walmart, Salem MA
- Planters Nuts $3.49
- TF Legends (2), $7.00

Target, Salem, MA
- TF, $12.99

Harrison's, Salem, MA
- R2 Tin Candy Droid, $4.99

Target, Lowell, MA
- Tylenol, $3.68
- TF, $9.99

5 Below, Lowell, MA
- TF, $4.00

Walmart, Chelmsford, MA
- Mountain Dew (With Nickel Deposit), $4.25

That's Entertainment!, Fitchburg, MA
- Doonsbury Book, $.25
- Wasabi Peas, $2.99

Target, Framingham, MA
- Kreo Perceptor, $2.99

Walmart, Framingham, MA
- M & Ms, $.68

Burger King, Waltham, MA
- Whopper and Salad, $7.69

Fred: "On a personal note, everywhere I went, there was no French dressing. They don't *have* it anywhere in the state. Never heard of it. I'd ask, and they'd go 'huh? Did you say Ranch?' NO, dammit, I said French! I had to take balsamic vinaigrette every time. The pain and horror was unimaginable. I starved during this trip. Except for the delicious home cooked meals at the Cape. Yum."

Complete List of Thursday Shopping Stops.

The Next Day...

Lewis: "Also known as Friday."

Fred: "Are you going to do this every day?"

Lewis: "Probably."

Fred: "The Post Office in Arlington on Friday Morning. I like post offices that are in these cool old buildings. Most of our buildings have been torn down and made into low income housing. I mailed several packages from here. I can also tell you that, no matter where you go, there you are. It did not matter that I was halfway across the country, it was the *same* post office people. The same quiet fellow that's been there forever, and the same bossy lady who I cannot make smile, hates everybody, but gosh darn it, she knows her stuff."

Lewis: "Yeah, I hate her."

Fred: "It really felt like home. Strange, because I don't get that feeling when I go to McDonalds, and they all feel the same, too."

Lewis: "Fred would like me to add the disclaimer that we did not go to McDonalds and eat even once. He ate only healthy wheat biscuits the entire time. Ignore that drive thru picture from earlier. That was just for me. I don't eat wheat biscuits, and McDonald's always feels like home to me."

Fred: "Bagels! This was more like it. This was every cool place you've ever been to in your life. And the food was delicious."

Fred: "The Japanese Association of Greater Boston! Um... . We don't have one of those."

Lewis: "I have no idea what goes on in there. I didn't even know it was here until Fred pointed out. I've only lived in this town my whole life. And we aren't actually in Boston."

Fred: "Anyways, this is what we were really here to see. The Jason Russell House:"

Lewis: "The Jason Russell House was the site of the bloodiest fighting during the Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1779, the first day of the Revolutionary War. Interestingly, it is neither in Lexington nor Concord. This kind of thing seems to happen a lot in Massachusetts history. (See my previous comments about the Battle of Bunker Hill that was mostly fought on Breed's Hill.)"

Fred: "I'm a fan of history, and as I said, everything in my town has been torn down or bulldozed over to make room for other stuff. I'm also a fan of rocks."

Lewis: "Rocks?"

Fred: "Rocks."

Lewis: "Why?"

Fred: "Do I need a reason?"

Lewis: "Guess not. I'm sure I made a 'stoned' pun in here, but I don't remember. Possibly also a 'that rocks,' pun as well."

Fred: "..."

Lewis: "After breakfast we headed toward Cape Cod. A Toys R Us, and a couple of Walmarts and Targets yielded nearly nothing, but then we got to lunch, which was the real high point of Friday."

Fred: "Kool Kone! Voted Top Three Fried Clams in all of New England! I assume that means they got third place."

Lewis: "I don't know. I always get the linguica sandwich with cheese and onions, which is so good it's worthy of being a last meal."

Fred: "..."

Fred: "The Cape!"

Lewis: "For clarity's sake, we were not technically at "The Cape" yet, you have to cross the Cape Cod Canal to really be on the Cape."

Fred: "We'd... man, did it rain a lot. I know there's a joke somewhere for that, too. If you look in the distance, you'll see a pointed metal thingie."

Lewis: "I know what you're thinking, but it's not Madonna's bra."

Fred: "We'll get back to that... the thing in the distance, not Madonna's bra."

Fred: "The conglomeration of the ocean, old houses, new construction, wind power, storms... Well."

Lewis: "Sadly Buzzard's Bay (the area we were in at this time) used to be a lot more interesting. A lot of the old stuff remains, but a lot of things have been torn down that was really cool, like the lobster restaurant that had a six-foot tall wooden lobster for a sign. Another one was the New York Central Tugboat #16 that was brought to the area in the 1980's and put up on land to be used as an ice cream parlor. I went there a few times when I was a kid. Unfortunately it was demolished some years ago."

Fred: "Ahh, here we go, the Harbor. Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale... ."

Fred: "Rain rain go away, come again some other day..."

Fred: "Ahhh, Buzzard's Bay. So this is Cape Living..."

Lewis: "This is the view from the parking lot at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. It's open to the public and a good place to watch the boats go by, or to go fishing."

Fred: "There's that pointy thing again. We're aaaallllmost... ."

Fred: "There! It's an antique Rail Road Bridge. Built between 1933 and 1935, I doubt they could build one today. Essentially, it raises up across the bay to allow boats to pass thru under it (they lower it so the trains can drive over.) Pretty cool."

Lewis: "It's a vertical lift bridge (the technical name for what Fred said). It's 272 feet high and 545 feet long. I've been over it a couple of times back when the Cape Cod Central Railroad ran scenic excursions. They stopped for a while, but I think I head they started up again."

Fred: "Buzzard's Bay Tourist Trap, or as I like to call it, the Whatchamacallit Shop at the Cape. It has that unique eastern seaboard spin on it."

Lewis: "It's filled with old crap."

Fred: "Exactly. I remember liking something about this string of places, and not just the lady in a tight dress showcasing her tremendous... assets."

Lewis: "There's a lot of that around here.

Fred: "I'm moving here tomorrow."

Lewis: "Just down the block from here is an empty lot that used to be the Buzzard's Bay Cinema. I saw one of the original Star Wars films there when it was first released. I want to say it was Empire Strikes Back, but I would have been 4 years old in 1980... so it could have been Return of the Jedi... maybe."

Lewis: "This was our worst day for shopping. All I found was a TF birthday card and a bunch of super-clearanced Nomar Garciaparra Starting Lineup figures. Even Ocean State Job Lot (a big store that sells all the crap other stores can't get rid of) didn't have anything."

Fred: "This pic is a reminder to me to paint my milk cans to look like this when I get back."

Lewis: "You have milk cans? Wait... Wisconsin... cheese... dairy products... right."

Fred: "The Lion's Den! We made it. This is the proverbial, 'home away from home.' If you ever hear people say, 'MMM, yes, we summer at the Cape', well, this is what they mean."

Lewis: "Technically, it is not on the Cape, but it's less traffic to get here. A lot more on Traffic later..."

Fred: "Lewis' family met us here. These are some down to earth, friendly, gracious people, who welcomed me into their home with open arms. As I said at the beginning of the trip, these days I am looking for something more meaningful in my vacations. This is what I'm talking about."

Lewis: "The house belonged to my grandparents. It's something of a family heirloom... like a ring... but that you can live in... or something... I don't know."

Fred: "At the Cape, Mmm, we don't need sidewalks on both sides of the road. Very wasteful."

Lewis: "Not like anyone uses them anyway."

Fred: "Lewis parks his car vertically while there. Or my camera is rotated wrong."

Lewis: "I could fix the picture... but then again... I've on occasion been told I was a little... off. :-)"

Fred: "I feel light headed."


Fred: "At the Cape! More unique tourist attractions. I can't tell you what that one is, because we turned too-fast.

Lewis: "That would be a coffee shop and an empty store. Over the years these two places have contained a restaurant, an art gallery, a jewelry store, and a donut shop among other things."

Fred: "I have to remember to do that to my front yard when I get back..."

Fred: "Cape Cod! It's a picture of another post office. I mailed a letter from there."

Lewis: "That evening we watched a movie, 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lighting Thief. I figured I only had time to try to expose Fred to one of my other obsessions. Perhaps next time I can get him to watch The Hunger Games or Game of Thrones."

Fred's Receipts - Fri 8-09-13:

Post Office, Arlington MA
- Post Office (Stamps), $4.00

Burger King, Newton, MA
- Orange Juice, $2.19
- I also had oatmeal, but I can't find the receipt?

Target, Stoughton MA
- Misc Hot Wheels Parts, $1.17

Toys R Us, Brockton MA
- Star Wars R2 Snowman, $3.00

Walmart, Brockton, MA
- Triscuits, $2.50
- Antibiotic Ointment, $.98
- Bandages, $1.97
- Coke, $3.88

Fred: "It is interesting to note that the food prices a bit higher here than at home, and the sales tax is at 6.6% (vs 5% here). In-addition, though I didn't see it listed, there's a nickel charge per bottle for soda (so a 6 pack can get expensive). Less interesting is that, no matter where I go, retail prices for Transformers are the same. ;-) No, wait, there's an exception! Over the course of days, we saw the MP stuff at the various TRU. The longer the week went on, the more expensive the shelf tag got. 120, 128, 133... Interesting to watch."

Complete List of Friday Shopping Stops.

The Next Day...

Lewis: "Also known as Saturday. Is that getting old?"

Fred: "About two days ago it did."

Lewis: "That it's all going as planned."

Fred: "Ahhh... . Peaceful. My kind of existence."

Fred: "No parking. But it's cool."

Lewis: "This sign used to not mean anything, as there were never cops in Onset. (Probably never mentioned our house is in Onset, which is part of Wareham.) Then they put in the Dunkin Donuts and the place filled with cops. I'm not kidding, that is really true."

Fred: "What a great way to start the day. Once you've contemplated nature and your place in all of creation, you'll want to head over to the Sand and Surf Shop for the world's largest collection of wicker furniture for sale anywhere! Bring a U-haul. Or rent one on site, they're that good."

Fred: "Air! Only 75 cents. If your nozzle is cold, you know where to stick it. For charging me 75 cents for air, I'll tell them where to stick it."

Lewis: "Could have been a mistake. You know what they say? To air is human. :-)"

Fred: "I felt that one physically. Perhaps I need coffee. I'm taking a picture of gas station equipment, for goodness sakes."

Lewis: "This may have been my fault. When I constructed our epic schedule, I... forgot to include sleep in the itinerary. I forget other people actually need sleep to function."

           "Wait... I still function!" - Megatron
           "Wanna Bet?" - Starscream
           "Starscreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeam!" - Megatron

Fred: "Sleep is for the weak! Now where the hell is that free air..."

Fred: "New Bedford! Antiques! History! Those concrete highway things!"

Fred: "I don't know why, but it seems like the heavy industrial is awfully close to the residential. In point of fact, *everything* seems very close together around here. I was feeling... cramped."

Lewis: "That might have been the free air after breakfast."

Fred: "..."

Fred: "Holy crap! We're awfully close to the other cars at this speed. Now I'm not just cramped, I'm scared."

Fred: "Boats."

Lewis: "Did you wave at them? :-)"

Fred: "STOP!"

Fred: "The lions are everywhere. Beware!"

Fred: "I took this picture so Lewis could look the guy up later. I run the plates to every car I see with TF logos on them."

Lewis: "I don't look people up this way. I meet people the old fashioned way... at toy conventions."

Fred: "The Cranberry Flea Market! The way the boots were piled showed promise. I'd found spychangers sealed on card for a buck each, but I passed on them. Too-good of a condition for me."

Fred: "The State of Collecting in Massachusetts. A sad commentary on our materialistic life. This used to be a Toys R Us."

Fred: "I'm kidding, of course. I had to stop and look at the abandoned fallen down building in the middle of an otherwise affluent area. I'm tickled by the fish-themed gangs marking their territory at the Cape."

Lewis: "Ahh, I remember this. This was when I sat in my car ready to make a quick getaway because I was sure Fred was going to get arrested for trespassing. I had this image in my head of Fred diving in the open passenger side window and me driving away with his legs flailing out the window. Fun times."

Fred: "On our way to Plymouth, MA! That fancy little building ahead is our destination."

Fred: "Yes, you can stop here to impeach Obama if you want to. I'm hoping Lewis will add some witty banter here."

Lewis: "I would love to get a table and set up next to them with a petition to have them deported to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The USA is over its quota of idiots, and we need to get rid of some. Oh wait... you wanted witty. How about this: Well, I could have parked my car on top of them. *Laughs.*"

Fred: "Moving on..."

Fred: "The sign said it all."

Lewis: "The Pilgrims built that building around the rock. Wait... no... that's wrong. That came later. I might be a little... stoned? :-) (Not really.)"

Fred: "..."

Fred: "Get a Piece of the Rock. I'm told that, for national security reasons, this is not the actual rock. This rock is a stand-in, that everybody decided to agree was going to be the rock they showed tourists. The real rock is in a secure undisclosed location, probably warehouse 13."

Lewis: "Now that rocks!"

Fred: "..."

Fred: "Lewis, doing his vertical parking thing again. Or my camera is tipped. Either way."

Lewis: "We might have been a little tipsy. (For the record, we had not been drinking. It was a pun because of the orientation of the photo. Get it?)"

Fred: "It's all coming back to me. The puns... oh lord, the puns... Help?"

Fred: "More of the famous town."

Fred: "I am not joking about the picnic. Traffic slows down to a stop, for a long time. People get out of their cars and putz around. Some give up traveling entirely, and settle down right there. I believe this is referred to as 'homesteading.' Those two wagon wheels you see at the end of driveways? That's not decoration - that's where traffic stopped. They gave up and decided to just settle there."

Lewis: "It wasn't a pun... but nice."

Fred: "The traffic starts moving again rather suddenly, so sometimes things get left behind. I saw one guy scramble for a cell phone in the ditch. This fellow left his banana behind."

Fred: "Lewis took in a movie while we sat in traffic. That's his bag of popcorn."

Fred: "Welcome to Cape Cod! Wait a minute. I think I've seen this movie. Groundhog Day, right? That would explain it..."

Lewis: "Actually we never crossed the bridges, so we hadn't ever technically been on Cape Cod yet."

Fred: "Wait for it..."

Lewis: "You know, that popcorn I spilled is still on the floor of my car."

Fred: "..."

Fred: "The Sagamore Bridge (get it?). Built in the 1930's, it's still in use today. Kudos. They keep everything around here."

Lewis: "That's why I'm saving the popcorn."

Fred: "You've had the best, so try the rest! Welcome to Cape Mart. Brazilian groceries! The hell?"

Lewis: "I think I can explain the Brazilian groceries. There is a large population of Cape Verdean immigrants in New England. In Onset they have a Cape Verdean festival every fall. The Cape Verde Islands are off of Africa, and I think I remember hearing somewhere that Cape Verde has a large Brazilian population. So, Brazilian groceries does sort of make sense on the Cape. And now you know."

Fred: "And knowing is half the battle!"

Fred & Lewis: "GI JOOOOOOOOOE!"

Fred: "There are so many things to make fun of on this sign I don't even know where to begin..."

Lewis: "A little history here. It was on a ship from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute that oceanographer Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of H.M.S. Titanic in 1985, a discovery which eventually allowed James Cameron to make the movie Titanic. (Though I'm not sure that's the reason Ballard was looking for Titanic.)"

Fred: "It's a boat!"

Lewis: "You seem awfully excited. Whatever floats your boat. :-)"

Fred: "You're lucky you're seven hours away."

Lewis: "Yeah, I know."

Fred: "One lone flower struggles to give the world beauty in the concrete jungle..."

Lewis: "Shopping on the Cape was pretty good. I found a bunch of TF Prime party supplies and something I was really looking for, Dark of the Moon Optimus Prime and Bumblebee fishing poles. Still not a cry of help."

Fred: "This is the emptiest road you will ever see here. EVER."

Fred: "Reason being, this truck burnt down while it was on the road."

Fred: "I wonder what they make the tires out of around here. All that fire damage, and the tires didn't melt."

Lewis: "He must not have had a map."

Fred: "Right."

Lewis: "Later that night we went to the movies to see Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters."

Fred: "It was better than I expected."

Lewis: "It was awesome. I went to see it again the following week."

Fred: "You also like Michael bay movies."

Lewis: "No, I LOVE Michael Bay movies. He is the greatest director in the world."

Fred: "..."

Fred's Receipts - Sat 8-10-13:

Walmart, Dartmouth, MA
- Avengers Guitar Pick, $1.00

Walmart, Fair Haven, MA
- Pure Protein Power Bar, $1.46 (Think of a dog turd wrapped in chalk, you've got the flavor.)

Walmart, Plymouth, MA
- Water, $3.00
- Apples & Turkey Sandwich, $5.88

Flagship Cinema, Wareham, MA
- Movie Ticket, $10.00

Complete List of Saturday Shopping Stops.

The Next Day...

Lewis: "Also known as Sunday."

Fred: "Mornings at the Cape. So peaceful."

Fred: "Wait... I thought I was the only one here. Could it be... ?"

Fred: "It is! Tarmac the Traveling Transformer has arrived! You can read about his new adventures here. Onward!"

Fred: "Morning grocery shopping. But... waitaminute..."

Fred: "My God! No alcohol before noon? On Sundays?! Oh, the humanity!"

Lewis: "But you don't drink."

Fred: "Oh yea. Nevermind."

Lewis: "When I was a kid, the liquor stores (and most other stores for that matter) couldn't even be open on Sunday, so this is progress as measured by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. They still won't let the stores open on Thanksgiving though. That sucks."

Fred: "..."

Fred: "Random Tidbit #286: A Massachusetts plate that says Arkansas. Heh."

Fred: "Raynham Flea. New England's Premier Flea Market! And they're right. Best ever. Imagine going to Rummage o Rama or 7 Mile Fair and actually finding it dedicated to Transformers. That's what this felt like. There was the usual insane guy who thought his crap was gold (you know the one) but mostly, there was cheap and reasonable G1 to be had."

Fred: "Can you find the Transformers? No, that's a Bayformer. Doesn't count. :-)"

Lewis: "Well... *I* like Bayformers."

Fred: "Sure, there were other things at the show, but I didn't see it. My mind and heart were on the TFs. At an outside booth, I picked up: G1 Inferno, Breakdown, Wildrider, and Deadend. Paid 4 dollars total for the four. Yep, that's a buck for an Inferno. Good deal. Much better price than the 14 dollars from the store a day or two before."

Lewis: "Sorry, Fred, I don't have the picture of the guy's table."

Fred: "That's ok. I didn't take a pic either. My hands were full of TFs."

Fred: "Inside booths: Lots to choose from. Spent considerable time looking at a fellow who had all the foreign and exclusive stuff (not only some previous Botcon exclusives, he had boxed versions of the vintage Land Bison gestalt too!) as well as Japanese exclusive stuff. Didn't buy a thing. :-) Was cool to look at, though. Almost reasonable prices. I'm still tickled there are booths with this level of TFs in them.

Faux Lewis: "There were TFs? I remember buying a Honus Wagner rookie card. Traded him three of my Ted Williams."

Actual Lewis: "Fred wrote that last line. I wouldn't trade any of my Ted Williams cards for anything. And who the hell wants a Honus Wagner card? He never even played for the Red Sox. And I know I'm taking this too literally, but Fred invoked the name of the Ted. Okay. I'm done now."

Fred: "Never get between a man and his socks."

Fred: "The booth that really got me was this guy. Friendly fellows reasonable prices, the bearded guy (not pictured) knew his stuff. I paid 14 bucks total for Grapple, Ratchet, Hoist, Jazz, Trailbreaker, and another Ironhide."

Lewis: "I heard there were two other guys looking at the time, and you couldn't get in there, so you asked the owner in a loud voice 'how much for *all* of them?' That got his attention. And caused the other guys to back off."

Fred: "Hey, in my defense, we compared notes, they only wanted jets, I only wanted cars. And then they left the jets behind anyways. Why would they waste that guy's time and mine? I'm a paying customer."

Lewis: "All I bought at the Flea was some Red Sox cards. Also saw a number of them that were overpriced, so I made note of them and bought them on ebay for 25%-50% the price on eBay. Thank god for eBay... and Michael Bay. All the important Bays."

Fred: "..."

Fred: "Our last stop of the shopping weekend was 'The Outer Limits'."

Lewis: "This store is one of my favorites."

Fred: "Why is that?"

Lewis: "Because this is where I bought the seven carded G2 prototypes in 1998 for $5 each."

Fred: "..."

Lewis: "And the following year I found a G2 Hero Optimus Prime prototype packaging sample for $10."

Fred: "..."

Lewis: "No, we didn't find anymore."

Fred's Receipts - Sun 8-11-13:

Walmart, Raynham, MA
- Mountain Dew, $3.26
- Ice for Cooler, $1.14

Raynham Flea, Raynham, MA
- Admission, $1.00

Complete List of Sunday Shopping Stops.


Lewis: "Also known as Monday."

Fred: "After all of this, it seems inevitable that there would be a 'haul' pic. So here it is:"

Pic 2 | Pic 3 | Pic 4 | Pic 5 | Pic 6 | Pic 7

Lewis: "Here are my haul pics:"

Pic 2 | Pic 3 | Pic 4 | Pic 5 | Pic 6

Fred: "In the end, though, it's not the stuff."

Lewis: "Well, it's a little bit the stuff."

Fred: "It's the experience I had. It was... like old times. And new ones."

Lewis: "With Maps."

Fred: "..."

Fred: "So, who's having me over next? :-)"

Fred's Receipts - Mon 8-12-13:

Post Office, Arlington, MA
- Postage, $26.92 (Mailed all my clothes and toys home - I don't like to check a bag.)

Logan International Airport, Boston, MA
- Sbarros Pizza and a Drink, $6.72 (I made that drink last through the layover in ***, where my plane broke.)

General Mitchell Airport, Milwaukee, WI
- Parking Garage, $4.00

Afterward: Tarmac Busts Out!

Will Tarmac ever recover his T-cogs? Find out in The Adventures of Tarmac, the Traveling Transformer!