Monday, October 19, 2009

Boston: Part II

We woke up to bad weather reports, which damped our spirits a bit (no pun intended, really!). I believe it was the first time any of us had ever heard, or been under, a "gale warning". As we waited for our shuttle to take us to a sub stop, a fierce rain blew in, and as quickly left. If that was all a storm did in Boston then we would be okay, we figured.

Our first stop was for lunch at Legal Sea Foods on the pier. With great happiness we indulged in a delicious, if pricey, cuisine. (but hey, it's not everyday that you can eat a lobster roll or clam chowder when you're from Texas).

After lunch Mom, Ashley, and Lexi went to the New England Aquarium

where, in addition to fascinating sea creatures, they also saw Jeff Corwin and his crew filming an episode for Animal Planet. Apparently you could look but not loiter around the cameras, so their time observing Jeff Corwin swimming in the large tank was brief.

I had been to the NEA on a previous visit to Boston so opted instead to join my brothers

on their excursion to the USS Constitution, a historical sight I figured I might as well see once.

Having now been, I think I can safely say that once was enough. It would have been far more interesting had we been allowed to do a self-guided exploration, but people were only allowed in 3 areas of the ship (which, I must admit, was probably all that was interesting to see - yet I wanted so badly to see the details of remnants/relics from her history left around the boat) and were conducted and guided by enlisted members of the Navy.

One Naval guide did say something that I thought was interesting and provoked thoughts later when on the ferry heading back to the NEA. As he related a story of how the Constitution came to be known as "Old Ironsides",

he said that during the historic battle, sailors on the boat became very afraid as the British Navy rained shells with frightening accuracy on them and speedily gained on the Constitution in order to board and taker her. The captain of the Constitution reigned in his frightened men and reminded them to stay their ground and "stay true to their end". I was really struck by that expression. Those just aren't words that you hear today (unless you're on a sports team).

The ferry ride to and from the Constitution was cold and brisk,

and I found the icy wind a relief as it chased away my afternoon weariness (i.e.,. sleepiness - I had not recovered yet from the restless nights I had experienced the week before departing - which were totally not related to the trip, btw) and I felt reinvigorated and ready for more trekking around Boston.

Mom, Ashley and Lexi were on the pier waiting for us.

We regrouped and headed to the subway for a trip to find a certain bookstore near the Commons. We emerged from the underground into the very heart of Boston with bitterly cold winds, crowds, and old streets that reeked of times long past. We were heading to Brattle Book Shop, which unfortunately closed 5 minutes after we found it. Disappointed and now very cold, we refreshed ourselves at Dunkin Donuts (the stop of choice in Massachusetts - you can't throw a stone without hitting one!), then we boarded the subway again to go back to the Brookline area where we had spotted an independent bookstore the day before, which we now visited and subsequently did some minor wallet damage while there.

When we at last left Brookline Booksmith, we found it was dark and even colder than it had been. A stop at the Starbucks next door was necessary for steaming cups of hot espresso drinks to warm (and wake) us up. Armed with our hot drinks, we headed out again into the cold city.

Boston at night is somewhat quieter than it is during the day, and it's many twinkling lights only added to the already atmospheric city.

We went back to the airport and picked up our rent car, then back to the hotel to pick up our luggage, and then we were finally on our way to Maine, arriving 4 hours later at a time most unearthly. But we had arrived, and we were thankful.

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