Boston
September, 2000

We all enjoyed Boston -- what a great city!  If we were keeping a "Top 10" list, Boston would get a "10" for personality.

Although many complain about the traffic, (and it was frustrating at times), we enjoyed the entertainment of it as well.  In short, driving in Boston is just like driving in Mexico.  For a complete description click here.

Boston is a town of American history as well as an enjoyable place to visit.  This page focuses more on the general sights and stories of our Boston visit.  (Click here for our "Adventures on Boston History.") 

The photo on the left is the U.S.S. Constitution, better known as "Old Ironsides", America's oldest floating battleship.  The sides are not iron, but oak.  This type of oak, found on the east coast, is an extremely hard wood.  Cannonballs would simply bounce off the sides and so it got it's nickname "Ironsides".

Here's a picture of Boston from the top of the Bunker Hill Memorial.  (It's a little hazy looking due to looking through the plexiglass window).

When we first drove into downtown Boston, we came across a huge hole in the city -- it was the largest inner-city freeway construction project we'd ever seen.  They're in the process of building new bridges, a new underground transportation system and new freeway system all at the same time.  It's apparently been underway for the past several years and is scheduled to continue for several more.  (Of course it's already millions and millions of dollars over budget and the locals love to complain about it).

We camped at a Massachusetts State Park about twenty miles south of downtown Boston.

These rocks are part of a short wall that goes through the woods.  We learned that settlers in the 1600's cleared most of the trees all along the east coast.  This provided building material, fuel for heat, as well as clearing the land for farming.  The rocks are basically fences.  Some mark property lines, others are tall enough to keep sheep from jumping over. They also made a good place to move the rocks cleared from the farm land. 

We saw these rock walls in lots of places where today's urban development hadn't rolled over the open land.  When shipping canals like the Erie, and later the railroads opened up the midwest, the small farms on the east coast could not compete.  Soon the land was covered by trees and underbrush once again.  It's hard to imagine that anything in America has ever been reclaimed by nature, (especially in this, the earliest and most heavily populated part of the United States).
 
The Boston Science Center became a home base for us.  We drove around town a couple of times but the only place we ever found to park was in the Science Museum garage, (we're too high for most downtown parking garages).  From here we could catch the "Green Line" elevated train to downtown Boston, about a ten minute ride.

This is a picture of the museum's Vandergraph generator.  Large rubber belts travel up and down through the tubes creating a static charge.  The charge builds up in the domes atop the tubes.

The operator is standing in a wire cage that looks like a large canary cage.

This is what it looked like once the Vandergraph generator generated enough of a charge to jump over to the cage.  This generator is the largest of it's type in the world and was donated by M.I.T., (which is just down the street).  I think this is the best, or one of the best science museums in the country.  It has a great mathematics department and many hands-on displays for the kids.

Boston is surrounded by water.  So naturally you'll find some sort of Duck Mobile, (old military amphibious landing vehicles turned into narrated tourist boat-buses).  Max really wanted to go on this one.  Next time we're in town we'll do the Duck tour.
Here's the public market that we passed on our walk along the Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is part of the National Park Service's three mile long loop of historic Boston.

The market is only opened on Fridays and Saturdays.  We had passed by here on Friday and then again late Saturday afternoon, about half an hour before closing; (boy, had the prices gone down).  Fruits and vegetables were going fast and cheap.  We picked up a whole flat of beautiful strawberries for $2.

Most of the streets in Boston were created over 300 years ago so, needless to say, a Winnebago was not part of the road design specifications.

Bostonians simply paved over cow paths.  The Boston Commons, a huge park right in the middle of downtown, was originally set aside so that everyone would have public grazing land for their livestock.  (In New Jersey we stayed at an RV park that was located on a busy, main street named "Cow Path Road.")

Do you recognize this bar?
Here's a clue.  This guy is eating a "Norm" burger.  He squeezed it together, looked at it, held it up to his mouth, squeezed it some more and then did his best to get his mouth over it for a bite.  It was at least 6 inches high when it was served.
If you guessed "Cheers", you got it!  This is the bar that inspired the TV show.  It's a very crowded place, full of tourists.  Even though it's extremely popular, the food was great, the service good and the prices reasonable.

Boston is a truly unique place, full of surprises.  One day we were strolling through downtown when we came across a beautiful park with a lake, manicured shrubs and brick walkways.  Cheryl realized that we were in the Boston park described in one of her favorite childhood books, Robert McCloskey's classic "Make Way For Ducklings". There's even a statue of the ducklings.
 


Here is the grave of Mary Goose.  Would you believe she is the original "Mother Goose"? As we were told, she was a great story teller and her son-in-law owned a local print shop.  You can guess the rest of the story.  It was amazing to realize that Mother Goose was a real person.
We stopped by Paul Revere's house in the North End, (a few blocks from downtown).  We walked down it's main street which is now in the Italian district.  We wandered into a good looking bakery and ended up going back three times.  It turns out that "Mike's" is a terrific bakery.  This is the sales line.  We purchased some great Marzipan, (almond paste candy shaped like small fruits and berries), and a very sloppy, delicious Boston cream pie.
Friday night we drove through this neighborhood and the main street looked like a mob scene.  There were people everywhere! Cars were double-parked all along the narrow street and two-way traffic could hardly maneuver through.  The bars and restaurants were packed, everyone was dressed to the hilt and music filled the neighborhood.  The local guys looked like they were right out of the 1980's gangster movie "Wise Guys" -- black suits, black shirts and black ties and lots of attitude.  It was great -- another true piece of "Americana".
You've got to visit the Italian District when you're in Boston.
OK, you can tell we like Boston, but if you're thinking about moving here you might want to brace yourself.  We found a building near Mike's Bakery next to the Paul Revere's house, (here's a picture of the building and a look down the street out front).  Here's the rental ad for three of the units.
So what will Mitch and Max remember about this great city when they're 40?  I think it will be this grate.  After we climbed up 296 steps to the top of the Bunker Hill Monument we discovered this grate.  It went straight down through the center of the obelisk tower to the bottom.  The boys ran back down the circular stairway and about every 30 steps would yell up into the chamber, "can you still hear me?"  By time they got to the bottom, every one at the top was involved and laughing.

 
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