(2010) Boston

The 4th of July in Boston

What better way to celebrate the birth of a country than at the key place of its birth? Dan and I had decided to visit our friends in Providence, RI and then take a day trip to Boston to see some historic sites. It was a brutally hot weekend, but it was a great way to spend it.

July 4-5, 2010
Providence, RI and Boston, MA

Dan and I decided to spend our long weekend with our friends Craig and Aaron in Rhode Island. We headed up to their place Saturday morning and got in 4 ½ hours later – only an hour longer than usual, thanks to the holiday traffic. We bummed around Craig’s apartment for a while and eventually went into downtown Providence for a fantastic meal at Hemenways, reputed to be the best seafood in the Northeast. I’ll have to let others be the judge of that, as I had the best steak I’ve eaten in over a year. Mmmm.

The next day we drove up to Boston, just a quick hour away, and parked at Craig’s work place and proceeded to spend the next 6 hours walking around Boston. We were fortunate to arrive at the precise moment that the USS Constitution was out for her annual tow out of the harbor. If we’d been a couple of minutes sooner or later, we never would have seen her go by.

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The U.S.S. Constitution, launched in 1797

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A Boston Harbor party boat

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Queen Mary 2

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Guess which one I married?

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A random wig sighting

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Sea serpent guards the stairs

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The Partisans statue

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Statue with plaque

Craig works near where the Queen Mary 2 docks, which is about a mile from the main area of downtown Boston. We made our way there, seeing random and bizarre things along the way, such as a wig laying in the middle of the sidewalk. Craig has lived and worked in the area for over 8 years and he shared his knowledge with us, telling us how the convention center’s roof was poorly designed and they had to manually hack down massive icicles each winter and the history of the Big Dig.

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Boston waterfront

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Talk about living “on the water”

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Site of the old interstate

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The highway now runs under the city

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Yeah, it was hot

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Five planes spelling out a Red Sox cheer

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Public fountain

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View from Christopher Columbus Park

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Quincy Market

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Scary clown in the market

At first we just meandered around, looking at the waterfront and the boats and the people. The weather was hot but the humidity wasn’t unbearable, especially when we kept walking. We finally found a very good place for lunch at the Boston BeerWorks. I’ve never had a bad meal at a brewery and this one was no different. Mmmm – a fantastic steak AND a great burger, two wonderful meals in a row!

After lunch we formed a plan and Craig took us on the Freedom Trail. It is a red painted line (or red brick) that runs from the northern end of Boston in Charleston down south through the Boston Commons. It included a lot of famous sites along the way and gave us quite a view of the history I had previously only known from books.

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The oldest, continuously run restaurant in the country, Union Oyster House

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Soley St near Bunker Hill

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Bunker Hill Monument – 294 steps to the top. No, I didn’t count

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Plaque at Bunker Hill

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Volunteer describes the situation leading up to the Battle

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Joe gave us a musket demonstration

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Kids – they never listen

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Monument Ave near Bunker Hill

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Following the Freedom Trail

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Boston firehouse – check out the backboard bench

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Patches from other firehouses

We were technically taking the Freedom Trail “backwards”, not that it really made that much of a difference. Craig pointed out that if you start in the south and head north, when you reach the end you’re essentially in the middle of nowhere. But if you go the opposite direction, when you’re done you find yourself in the middle of downtown. Much easier to catch a bus or a subway if you’re worn yourself out.

In an effort not to wear ourselves out, we stopped for ice cream at a small shop. We had great timing, as a busload of tourists piled in behind us and filled up the place. We ate our cones in the relative coolness of the shop and then continued along the Trail. The city was bustling no matter where we went. Apparently the enticement of the historic city, matched up with the expected fireworks/Boston Pops concert later that night was really drawing in the crowds. We weren’t going to stay for the fireworks, but we did watch them on TV later that night.

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Emack & Bolio’s ice cream

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Dipped cones!

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Rock n Roll cow

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USS Carr

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If the Goldwing could float

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Across from Copp’s Hill

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The burial yard was founded in 1659

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Copp’s Hill

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Sagging headstones

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Continuing on the Freedom Trail

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Old North Church

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One if by land, two if by sea

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Neighborhood near the Old North Church

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Taking a break in the heat

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Paul Revere

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Park across from Paul Revere’s house

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Paul Revere’s house

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The Freedom Trail map (we found it at the end of our walk)

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Coming back out near the Union Oyster House

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Old State House – home of the “Shot heard ’round the world

We were historied-out. We had been walking for hours and miles in the heat and didn’t know how many more battle sites or historic buildings we were really interested in. We followed the Trail a little longer, but only to get to Boston Commons. There, we relaxed on the grass in the shade, drinking water and people-watching. That’s always a fun activity in a big city. Eventually we put our shoes back on and made the 1.5 mile walk back to the car, looking forward to the drive home and the Providence fireworks.

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Irish Famine Memorial

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Irish Memorial

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Irish Memorial

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Fountain in Boston Commons

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Support the starving Chemists!

It was a long day in Boston. We had walked about 8 miles though, exploring the city and its history. The sun was almost setting as we left Boston and went back to Aaron’s apartment, where we parked the car and walked to the main fire work display in India Point Park in Providence. It turned out that Aaron’s apartment was about 2 miles from the park, so we got a few more miles under our free before the day ended.

The fireworks in Providence were good. I have set the bar very high with the Seattle fireworks that I had gotten used to seeing, so anything close to it is actually pretty nice. The music they chose left a lot to be desired, so maybe it was a good thing that I couldn’t hear it very well from where we were sitting. After the last spark fell from the sky, we walked back to the car, had some cold drinks once we got back to Craig’s place and then watched the Boston fireworks on TV.

The next day Dan and I headed back to New Jersey fairly early, as we wanted to miss as much traffic as possible. I’m glad we did, as it was tightly packed, but moving fairly well, in the usual congested zones on I-95. It was still hot when we got home and it felt good to hide away inside with the A/C on and the blinds drawn. It had a been a great weekend, but I was ready for a nap.

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