The enjoyment wasn't only Boston. In fact, there's only so much
Boston wandering that I can take because the busy-ness and energy wear
me out. We alternated days in Boston with days in Marblehead, on the
North Shore. There are other interesting towns and historical sites
on the North Shore, and we had all sorts of ideas for things to do, but we never got to the others because we never exhausted
The house we stayed in (above) was built in Colonial days. You could tell
where the kitchen and bathrooms were added on. The washer was in the
kitchen, but the drier was in the cellar - down a steep flight of
stairs (photo, right, by older son). I didn't do much laundry.
The first evening, we
discovered The Muffin Shop (older son's photo, below). It has the best muffins we ever tasted.
Every morning, we'd wander around the corner and choose our breakfast.
By the last few days, the owner knew our order - at least the parts of
it that were consistent. I almost always had something including
chocolate (the one exception was the lemon poppy seed muffin), and
younger son always had "the best cinnamon rolls he's ever had in his
Here's the view down the street from the Muffin Shop. Marblehead, itself, is a beautiful place to wander:
Marblehead Bay was about three blocks away. Fort
Sewall, where you can see the open ocean, was less than a mile away.
The trip to Boston was longer - a half hour car trip to the end of the
T's Blue Line. If it weren't for the long, gray winters, I would love
to live there (couldn't afford it, though). Alternating between busy
Boston days and calmer Marblehead days worked very well - with one
Sunsets. If you stay in Boston or at a seaside park
until sunset in late May, you end up finishing dinner at about 10 pm.
It was one of the least relaxing vacations we've ever had, just because
we couldn't stop.
We didn't even stop the first night - after
driving for two days. After unpacking and getting groceries, we
wandered down to Crocker Park (below), only a few blocks from the
has a number of small natural areas, and we explored as many as we had
time for. Castle Rock (views from it, below) was one of our favorites.
I've never been
anyplace else like it before. You're at the edge of the ocean, you feel
above and inside it all, and you're filled up with sunlight.
tides there are far more dramatic than at the beaches in North
Carolina. At NC beaches, the tide goes up and down the sand maybe 150 feet. In that part of New England, the tide goes up and down the rocks
for about ten feet, and, if the beach is more gradual, it can go up and down the
rocky beach for 1/10 of a mile. I enjoy the NC beaches, but I absolutely love
the coast in New England!
High tide and low tide at the same spot near Sewall Park:
The rocks peeking above the water in the photo above are the rocks we're wandering in below (photos thanks to dear husband) at low tide. There were lots of hermit crabs in the small pools left in the rocks.
I waded with younger son as the tide came in (the same rocks):
I must remember the winters, though.
Seasonal depression hit me so hard at MIT that I think I rarely
I know I could never live there, but I just wish it
weren't so far away.
[Written over a week ago, but I've been too busy/out of town/too tired to finish it. I have a number of blog posts hanging around in various states of incompleteness, including one about Up that I dictated into my mp3 player last fall.]
Karen-in-Law left a brief comment last week on my Boston photo post, in which she asked, "It must have felt wonderful to be back, no?"
Yes. Absolutely wonderful.
And her comment made me realize that I wrote that Boston post with my emotions totally off. Or, maybe they were just asleep; it was rather late.
Our vacation was one of those things that I knew I'd remember the rest of my life - and I knew that while we were there (like my whole Joseph experience last year).
Actually, I haven't been able to let myself think about it much since we came home. Not just because I really didn't want to get back to regular life - which is pretty regular from now until daughter goes off to college. And not just because it may have been our last family vacation. Daughter and older son are very serious about working and saving for college so they may not want to take a week for vacation in the upcoming summers.
The vacation also struck a chord in me that has been silent/dormant/buried for a long time. Even though I was only in college in Boston for a year, there's a place deep down inside me where my Boston self resides.
Actually, I was only there for a school year (September to early May), which means that I almost never experienced weather like we had. The days were gorgeous, and the temperatures were almost ideal. We only had one really hot day, and we had one rainy afternoon where we never got wet because we spent it in the Museum of Fine Arts (younger son and I wandered there together, spending most of our time in the Egyptian galleries and the musical instrument gallery (right)). There weren't many insects yet, and, although the pollen covered our van, it didn't seem to be the nasty, allergy-inducing pollen we get here.
For a number of years when my older kids were younger, I had a difficult time in large cities and up north. Even though I had grown up in Michigan and New York, the different manners really bothered me. Everything seemed harsh and rude.
That doesn't happen any more. I actually found Boston rather refreshing - you don't have to greet everyone you pass. Not that we do in Hillsborough, either - some people don't want to do that, but then you end up looking at everyone to see if they will or not. And usually I like saying hello to people because it seems warmer, particularly in our neighborhood. Even so, the impersonality of Boston was a very good change for me. Marblehead was sort of in between. The drivers there, surprisingly, had better manners than those around here, and people greeted you about half the time. I even ended up in an impromptu conversation or two.
Dear husband ended up in an impromptu conversation on the Blue Line the first morning we went in to Boston. For whatever reason, a lady started a very loud (on her end) conversation. Of course, everyone on the subway is pretending to ignore everyone else. At one point, however, dear husband mentioned to her that his wife went to MIT, and he gestured towards me. Daughter and I were sitting on the opposite side of the car, further back, and the man next to me (perfectly still until this point), said, "Oh!" in a surprised tone and turned towards me.
I was nice and didn't smile at him and say "So you were listening!"
I turned back into a Boston pedestrian again while we were there. I always wait for walk lights here. There, half the time they didn't work. If enough pedestrians walk into the intersection, the lights don't matter. I just joined them. By the time I got to my solo wander, on the last day, other (obvious) tourists were following me across intersections.
Overall, I felt that I could be more energetic, really focus, and really throw myself into what I was doing in Boston, without worrying about the social expectations around me. The major expectations are that you shouldn't get in others' ways or bother them.
What else I love about Boston... The architecture, the sheer variety of everything, the variety of people and languages, the energy, the street performers, the variety of food, the unexpected finds like the Japanese store I mentioned in my previous post, the beautiful churches (although Trinity Church was closed again for the holiday weekend), the mix of city and nature, the feeling that there is so much to do and see...
One evening we were very tired and our feet were sore, but the flamenco guitarist playing in the subway station was so good that we almost didn't want the train to come. Street performers now sell CDs too. We came home with a few.
We didn't celebrate Mother's Day for me at home this year. I decided that I wanted my Mother's Day event to be a dinner at a good Italian restaurant in the North End. One evening, we ate at Vinoteca di Monica (right). Also, as part of my Mother's Day, we wandered through the Back Bay from Boston Common to Emack and Bolio's for ice cream.
Swan Boats at Boston Garden
Other scenes on Newbury St in the Back Bay
The last morning we were there, daughter wandered by herself, dear husband and younger son wandered together, and I wandered solo (older son stayed at the house and slept - too many almost-all nighters during the semester).
My solo wander was very good for me. I know Boston well, but haven't been there much since college, so it was familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. I headed for Trinity Church (right) first, only to find that it was closed for the holiday, so I walked a few more blocks and consoled myself with an ice cream cone from (again) Emack and Bolio's - one of the places I went to most when I was at MIT because ice cream cones are relatively cheap.
The Esplanade, along the Charles River, is famous, but I'd never been there before. If you're at MIT, there's not much reason to go to the Esplanade because you can walk along the river on the MIT side and get a greatviewofall of Boston. I didn't want to take the time to go over to that side, though, so I walked along the Esplanade for the first time. It was a nice, shady, leafy break. I'm probably too nature oriented to live in cities anymore, regardless of how much I enjoy them. After all those years of watching TV broadcasts of Arthur Fiedler conducting Boston Pops concerts at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, I finally saw it in person. I also crossed the nearby Arthur Fiedler Memorial Pedestrian bridge.
There's the paved trail with lots of walkers and joggers, and the dirt trail, closer to the water, with just the occasional jogger. You know which one I chose.
View from the Esplanade. It was a hazy day due to, as we found out later, smoke drifting down from Quebec.
Arthur Fiedler Pedestrian Bridge
I also hadn't ever wandered in Beacon Hill. All the guidebooks recommended it because of its interesting, authentic Federalist architecture. Maybe I was in the wrong section, but, to me, it looked somewhat like Charleston, if you take out the little courtyards, squish all the houses together, make them all brick, and make them all look the same. The only difference seemed to be the colors of the doors, the doorknockers, and the few potted plants on the front steps. I headed back out to Boston Common instead.
I'll write more in another post about one of my favorite bookstores - just a block from Emack and Bolio's.
Part 2... maybe Wednesday (hopefully). Tomorrow is Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!
[I wrote most of this post a week ago, but then I couldn't add the photos because we had two computer problems. Thank you, dear husband for fixing them!]
From our recent trip. We started out with the Freedom Trail because daughter has wanted to walk it since we went there a few years ago.
The U.S.S. Constitution - the oldest, commissioned warship afloat - and the thing that younger son wanted to visit the most.
View of Boston from the deck
Organ in the Old North Church. The angels around the organ were actually stolen. In 1746, Captain Thomas Grucy, a pirate who was working with the British and also a member of this church, stole the angels from a ship that was bringing them to a Catholic church in Quebec. Later, the Canadian church was contacted, but they said to just keep the angels.
Paul Revere's house in the North End - one of our favorite parts of Boston.
View of the Financial District from the edge of the North End. For those who haven't been to Boston in a while, the park in the front of the photo is where the elevated highway used to be (now underground). The change still slows down my navigation because I've only briefly been to Boston since.
Another view of the Financial District from Faneuil Hall.
Street dancers at Faneuil Hall. Street performers are another of my favorite things about Boston. These guys had a great show. [Photo deliberately small so that no one can increase the size and look at individuals.]
The old State House. The surroundings don't look anything like the Colonial days, but I've always loved its setting in the midst of the tall buildings. Maybe it's because it can hold its own, architecturally speaking, without being large.
We went to Harvard Square for dinner. As we were wandering, we found Kofuku, a store that sells Japanese toys and gifts. It was a basement store so here's the entrance - complete with Totoro. Daughter and I bought some small things.
We celebrated dear husband's birthday today - four months and one week
late. A year and a half ago, dear husband decided to start celebrating
it in April - when it's warm and sunny, we can grill, and garden
presents are appropriate/ possible to buy - rather than a week before
Christmas when everything is hectic.
Last fall, when we were at the Craft Center in the Cone Manor (up on the hillside in the photo above) in Blowing Rock, dear husband really liked a handmade, stuffed mammoth they had. Younger son fell in love with a stuffed armadillo.
A day or two before we left, we walked one of our favorite hikes at the Cone Manor - the hike up to what we call the kite meadow (above). On the way back, I told dear husband that he should distract younger son while daughter and I headed back to the Craft Center to get the armadillo as a Christmas present for younger son. We were also planning on getting the mammoth as a Christmas present for dear husband.
We got the armadillo, but the mammoth, unfortunately, was gone. They said they could order another one, which would probably be in soon.
That didn't happen, the Craft Center closed for the season a few weeks later, and I forgot all about it.
A week and a half ago, I had a message on the answering machine that they were open again, and that they had gotten my order in. They shipped it, and it came in a few days.
Dear husband had really forgotten about it, but he still thinks it's wonderfully made:
One of the things I love about Charleston, SC, of course, is the focus on gardens in the historic section. Many of the gardens there are on the side so you can see them, or, if they're in the back, you can get a peek down an alley. Even the houses whose gardens aren't visible from the street often have beautiful window boxes.
This one is very simple, but everything goes together so well. Charleston is a wonderful place for photography because everywhere you turn there's a lovely picture waiting to be taken.
I'm always really impressed by the window boxes. I'm still trying to put hanging baskets together that work - i.e. they're balanced, the plants go together well, and all of the plants survive through the summer. In Charleston, they also have to combine plants that go with the color of the house.
A set of three window boxes - which is not very common
When we headed to Richmond last week, the map showed a parking lot a few blocks away from the Capitol. We didn't spend as much time at the Capitol as we had expected because the parking lot turned out to be a parking deck under St. Paul's Episcopal Church - which is beautiful.
Dear husband's panorama:
The stained glass windows are wonderful (dear husband took most of the window photos):
Although this window is about Moses, we called it the Joseph window because of the resemblance to the actor who played Joseph in the musical:
The church is steeped in Confederate history, which I'm too tired to remember at this point.
I eventually sat in the balcony...
...enjoyed listening to the organist practice... (this photo taken by dear husband)
...and looking at my favorite stained-glass window.