All of that worry for nothing! We (me) had spent a bit of time wondering how we would navigate Boston. Would our plan to take the ferry from our camp in Hingham be doable? The answer was a resounding yes! Whew.
Wompatuck (WOM-pa-tuck) State Park was our home base for five nights. Wish we would have stayed five more, as there’s too much to see and do in this gorgeous city. Everyday, we hopped on our bikes and sped (mostly downhill) the six miles to the ferry dock. Our $4.25 one-way ticket got us a 35 minute ferry ride into Boston. Presto! Lots of departures made this so easy. Seeing the city from the Harbor was incredible.First on our list of things was to wander the Freedom Trail, a 2.5 mile red brick path which winds around 16 historic sites – Boston Common (the oldest public park in the US), the Old North Church, Faneuil Hall, the Bunker Hill Monument, Paul Revere House, historic cemeteries, and many other locations. Tucked in among the skyscrapers and modern traffic are all these gems – it’s an amazing tour. A huge disappointment to us was the fact that the USS Constitution was in drydock, and we were unable to board for a tour. This legendary warship, undefeated in 47 battles, was impressive even through its cloak of scaffolding. We’ll be back for a tour when she’s ready. We did, however tour a mothballed destroyer, which is permanently located at that dock.
Day 2 was a more relaxed pace. More sightseeing and coffee with a cousin that I have seen just once or twice in 20 years. We met at the Boston Public Market, a new food emporium which harbors all local artisan butchers, bakers, cheese-makers and farmers. Beautiful food in a wonderful setting. Energized, we traipsed around the City again, wandering into the Massachusetts State House, whose dome was actually covered with 23k gold in 1874. We sure don’t build public buildings like that anymore. In 200 years, will anyone want to visit the public buildings we are constructing today? Stained glass, mosaic, and paintings in the dome brilliantly depict scenes from Massachusetts history. Boston has a very moving Holocaust Memorial. Six huge glass towers represent the six primary concentration camps. Etched into these glass sides are hundreds of thousands of numbers, representing the prisoner numbers of those exterminated there.It’s an emotional bomb.Changing course, we had stop into Cheers, the pub which inspired the show I loved for so many years. Elbow to elbow – but a fun stop. Saturday was Day 3, and we decided to take a different approach to exploration. We hopped aboard a ferry to Georges Island, the site of Fort Warren. Constructed of massive granite blocks over two feet thick, the Fort is situated on the island with views out to all directions, and cannons mounted to defend from any direction. Under construction for more than two decades, it was completed in time to become a prison for Confederate soldiers. The Fort itself was never fired upon, and never fired a shot.
Taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather were hundreds of sailors, who headed out into Boston Bay in sailboats of all shapes and colors. Our ferry navigated through the regatta. At home, we get 20 people together to go for a bike ride – in Boston, they get 200 sailboats to all travel the same path around the Islands. It was a spectacularly beautiful sight.Sunday was our last full day in Boston, and we still hadn’t gotten over to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum yet. This was the day we decided to bring our bikes on the ferry, so that we could make the cross-town ride to the Library. We figured that our best chance of survival in the legendary Boston traffic would be on a Sunday morning, and we were (almost) right. John plotted our route, and we had little trouble navigating through mostly deserted streets. Until….we found ourselves on a popular bicycle path that goes thru UMass and toward the Library. There was some kind of huge organized bike event in progress, and hundreds of riders were headed the opposite way from us. John had a VERY close call with one guy who was zooming along while staring across the river. He careened within about 3″ of John before finally snapping back into place. It would be too ironic that our (imagined) dreaded bike mishap would be with another bike instead of a motorized vehicle of some sort.
The JFK Museum was an emotional experience for both of us. Watching and listening to the Inaugural Address, reliving that horrible day in Dallas and the funeral afterward was powerful. The intensity of those ten days in October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis was explained in frightening detail. The US was truly at the brink of war with Russia, until Kruschev abruptly pulled back. The hours we spent there flew by. Did you remember that Jackie Kennedy was only 31 when she became First Lady? 31! That’s so hard to imagine.
Next door to the JFK Museum is the Edward M Kennedy Institute for the US Senate. What an unexpected treat this was. Inside a full-scale reproduction of the Senate chamber, we participated in a discussion of an actual Senate bill (requiring immunizations for Head Start kids). We listened, discussed, and voted. John eloquently quoted Abraham Lincoln in his comments in support. After discussion, we voted (14-1 for the bill). Our vote was compared with nationwide polls, and results of other groups voting at the Institute. We both wished we could hang out for more sessions, but we still needed to peek at the other exhibits, including a replica of Ted Kennedy’s office, and other exhibits about the US Senate for the last 200 years. Fascinating. It was frustrating to have to rush through, but we had been away from camp (and Jezzy) for hours, and we still had a two hour bike-boat-bike trip to get back home. Those 10 hour days were killer!
This post has gone on far too long. Too many mediocre photos, because I was in too much of a rush to concentrate and take a few good shots. But, there is just so much here to explore and enjoy. Can’t wait to come back. Just a few more random photos.