Two point five miles of history

3.27.2011 Freedom Trail 10

Maybe I’ve lived the majority of my life in Boston. And maybe I’ve walked across or along the Freedom Trail on at least a weekly basis for the last five years. But maybe I’ve never walked the actual Freedom Trail, from beginning to end. Worry no more! The situation has finally been rectified. And I have pictures to prove it.

3.27.2011 Freedom Trail 4
In anticipation of this adventure, I downloaded a podcast audio tour. It was free and I thought I would like it better than finding a book and having to read as I went along. In case you’re ever walking the Freedom Trail and want an audio tour, don’t download that one. It’s probably worth paying for one of the not free ones that you can find on iTunes. It was entertaining to listen to the ridiculous computer voice call the Old North Church “the Old Number Rth Church”, but it got annoying once it mispronounced Copps Hill as “Copes Hill” for the tenth time. I’m sure there are better audio tours out there, I just didn’t spend any time researching. Learn from my mistake.

Pete joined me for the first half of this walk, and because he’s a history major (sometimes referred to as the “Human Wikipedia”…by himself) he was annoyed that I kept stopping to listen to my podcast so I would know the significance of everything we were walking past, and amused that I kept stating facts that were completely obvious to him but completely new and interesting to me. I should have just made him play tour guide and left my iPod at home.

3.27.2011 Freedom Trail 3

Right before we parted ways (he went home to spend some quality time with the couch, I continued on to the stretch of the trail that I have never walked along before), we saw a big line of folks waiting to enter Faneuil Hall for who knows what. There were two Boston Police Officers standing at the doorway who I guess were in charge of letting them in when the time came. And until the time came, they were in charge of trying to hit the lotto with scratch tickets. Pete thought it was hilarious and made me take a picture. I didn’t even bother trying to be subtle because they were so absorbed in their scratching that they never even saw me.

3.27.2011 Freedom Trail 7Once I got into the North End, I realized exactly what I would do differently if I were ever to walk the Freedom Trail again – and/or what I would recommend to someone doing it the first time. Go backwards. Start at Bunker Hill. Timing wise,  I would definitely start after a good lunch. By the time you’ve climbed the Bunker Hill Monument and made your way across the bridge, down Copps Hill, and through the North End you’ll be 100% ready for a cappuccino and a delicious pastry as you’re passing Modern Pastry.

After your treat you’ll be refueled and ready to fight through the most crowded portions of the trail.After you finish the trail, head down the hill on Beacon Street to Charles Street and have a dinner at whichever restaurant you come across. You won’t go wrong with any of them, but I’m partial to King & I for Thai food or 75 Chestnut (turn right onto Chestnut St to find it). Bonus: you get to browse some very cute local shops and antique stores.

3.27.2011 Freedom Trail JAG
Anyway, back to my own Freedom Trail adventure and not someone else’s hypothetical one. I was cheap and wanting to get on with my day and get home, so I didn’t go into Paul Revere’s House or The Old North Church. I did find this brick with my sister Jen’s initials outside of Paul Revere’s House though. I’m pretty sure that at least a dozen tourists who were standing along the trail there and taking pictures of the Freedom Trail plaque in the sidewalk or Paul Revere’s actual house wondered what the hell I was doing taking a picture of a random patch of sidewalk two doors down.

3.27.2011 Freedom Trail 8Out of everything along the Freedom Trail, I was probably the most interested in seeing the USS Constitution. I knew it was free admission and while I’ve walked along the waterfront in Charlestown, I had never checked out the Constitution itself. I was even more excited after coming across the first adorable sailor in his wide leg pants and cute white hat. I was a little less excited after sitting out on the windy waterfront waiting for the tour to start – it was chilly! Not that you would know that if you saw the goofball wearing flip flops who was also on my tour. Anyway, it turned out that the tour of the USS Constitution was definitely the highlight of my adventure. The guy that led my tour was pretty good looking (and that sailor uniform certainly doesn’t hurt!), but it was real fun to climb around on the ship and hear stories about what life was like for the folks that served on it. Definitely worth every penny! ;)
And finally…I headed over to Bunker Hill. Because I’m ridiculous, I decided to climb all 291 stairs to the top of it. That probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea if I hadn’t gone for a 3ish mile trail run in Blue Hills with my running club in the morning. Then walked about a mile to meet Pete for lunch and get to the start of the Freedom Trail. Then walked 2.5 miles along the Freedom Trail to get to the monument. If climbing 291 stairs after all of that doesn’t sound like a good idea, I don’t know what does! Off I went…I took a few breaks on my way up because I don’t think I could have made it otherwise. This is what you see when you’re about 1/3 of the way to the top and you look up…
3.27.2011 Freedom Trail 12

…stairs that look like they may never end. I would love to show you what you see when you get to the top, but you’re going to have to survive that climb yourself! Just kidding. Well, not really – you really will have to climb it yourself to see, but not because I’m a jerk. The batteries in my camera died. Oops! Anyway, it’s worth it once you’re up there. Not just because they have a few benches up there, but because the views are pretty nice. Also, thank God for the breeze at the top, because I was definitely sweating by the time I got there. My calves were also killing me, but the breeze didn’t help at all with that.

I did treat myself to a frappe at Friendly’s on the way back to the T – I figured I earned it with all those stairs. And now I can finally say that I’ve walked the Freedom Trail!


3.26.2011 MFA 2

Back in November Leyre, Amy, and I headed to the MFA to see the Avedon exhibit. It happened to be the opening weekend of the new Americas wing, but we passed on checking it out because it looked super crowded. I am a very lucky person because I can show my work ID and get into the museum for free, so I knew I could plan a day to come back and dedicate to exploring just the new wing…and it only took me four months to do it!

3.26.2011 MFA 1

So the new wing…I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I also should have grabbed myself a map, because the new wing has a lot of nooks and crannies that make it easy to get turned around and skip over large chunks of the gallery without realizing you’re doing it. I’m much more interested in modern and contemporary art, so of course I rushed through the lower floors and then absolutely loved every second of the top floor. I’m pretty sure I’ll start at the top next time I’m there.

3.26.2011 MFA 4

The new wing is, itself, a work of art. I love the contrast of the modern wing attached to the original building. They did an amazing job integrating the two buildings. I think some of my favorite parts of the new wing are the hallways along the exterior where you get peeks of the downtown skyline (and there are a few benches and couches where you can get comfy and enjoy those peeks) and peeks of the atrium-like spaces where the original building and the new wing meet.

The courtyard between the two spaces is also pretty awesome, and there was some pretty fun live music that the kiddos were loving. There is also a restaurant in the courtyard, and I would imagine that it’s a nice place to eat and soak up the energy in the heart of the museum. There was also a huge Chihuly piece installed in the courtyard (see above) – one of the first pieces of an upcoming exhibit to be installed. It happened to be in my second favorite color, so of course I enjoyed it!

After I made my way through the entire Americas wing, I had to visit my Buddhas. I get cranky when I head up there and find other people…but they usually leave before I’ve had my fill and I can get some peace and quiet in there. And when I had my fill of peace and quiet, I headed back home and snuggled with this guy:

3.26.2011 MFA 6

The Great Nebula Orion

3.25.11 Observatory 4

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted about my Winter To Do List…mostly because I’ve been a slacker about checking items off! The first day of spring really snuck up on me, so I decided to give myself a little grace period. New deadline: April 1st.

3.25.11 Observatory 2

Lucky for me, I have a lot of free time and so-so weather this weekend, so I get to squeeze in a few last items. First up: Check out the Museum of Science Observatory. I honestly don’t know how I got this far in life without knowing that you could do this. For free, no less! It’s definitely worth doing, although you should probably wait until the temps are out of the 30s. And definitely either bring someone with you or bring your iPod so you can drown out the whiney little boys (and their fathers) who are too young to appreciate the observatory, too cold to deal with waiting in line for it, and have mothers that don’t care.

I made my way up to the top floor of the parking garage and saw the line for the observatory. And a pretty nice view of the Back Bay skyline across the Charles, too! There were a few different museum reps there, updating everyone in line about what we would be seeing, and where it was in the sky. First up for us was the Orion Nebula. Or as I like to call it, Baby Star Land. I had no idea what to expect, and it was pretty fun watching and hearing the reactions of the kids in line in front of me (and their parents!). I was kind of underwhelmed by the Orion Nebula – it was really just a few bright (baby!) stars and a cloud of dust and gas. And then I would realize that I was looking at something that was 20 light years away, and it was pretty cool.

After everyone already in line had seen the Great Orion Nebula, as the very enthusiastic museum rep would call it (in a booming carnival-esque voice), they moved the telescope to look at Saturn. See the first picture I posted? And see the teeny little dot just to the left of the top of the spire above the butterfly billboard? That’s Saturn. Cool, right? Well…not so much. Until you’re seeing it through the telescope, where it’s not even as big as a dime, but it’s one of the coolest freaking things I’ve ever seen. And I saw it’s moons! Well, okay, only two of them, because Saturn has a boat load of moons…but at least one of the the ones I saw was Titan. As one of the Museum reps pointed out, if you can see any of Saturn’s moons you can be sure one of them is Titan because it’s the biggest. Titan has it’s own atmosphere, which makes it very cool and amazing if you’re a ten year old boy. Or a museum rep with a booming carnival-esque voice.

You guys, seeing Saturn was awesome! After being underwhelmed by the Orion Nebula, I was prepared to not be so impressed with Saturn either, so it was a nice surprise when Saturn made my standing in the freezing cold totally worth while.

3.25.11 Observatory 3

Superbowl Beef Stew

It’s been five weeks since I put “Cook in the crock pot at least once a week” on my Winter To Do List…and I’m all over it! On average, at least. Every recipe I’ve used has been from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes For Two, although I do have a recipe of Lana’s on the books for next weekend. So far there have been two batches of delicious risotto, chili, butternut squash soup, and today it’s beef stew.

When I first put this on my to do list, I envisioned it being totally different than it has been. In my head I was going to toss ingredients quickly into the crock before heading to work and come home to a delicious meal. In the end, I’ve made all of these things on the weekend or when I was working from home in the crappy weather, so I didn’t start any of them in the crock until lunchtime at the earliest. I’d love to find some recipes where there’s less prep (browning of meat, sauteing of onions, etc…) so I can actually throw stuff in the crock in 10 minutes or less and then head to work, but I’m also fine with how things have been working out.

What’s your favorite crock pot recipe? Don’t be greedy, share!

A List: Things To Do This Winter

I had a bit better success with my fall list than I had with my summer list…I got a bit ambitious with some budget-hungry items. Two trips to New York and tickets to a show while leading into the holiday/gift giving season? Not so much! I also over-planned for things that needed doing in October, which was a busy month even without to do list items. Two of the unfinished items I’m not giving up on – I am going to carry over the Freedom Trail to my winter list, and seeing the Urban Nutcracker will go back on my list next fall.

In the end, I got five out of nine to dos checked off – not too bad!  Even better, I think I’ve learned some lessons on seasonal to do list planning – this time around I spent a bit more time comparing my list to a calendar and my budget. Hopefully I’m really setting myself up for success this time around.

Without further ado, here’s my Winter 2011 To Do List!

  1. Have a Hitchcock Movie Marathon  DONE! (but no pictures…)
  2. Go ice skating at the Frog Pond  
  3. Try Phở (Possibly here?)  
  4. Visit the new Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts  DONE!
  5. Walk the entire Freedom Trail (carried over from my fall list)  DONE!
  6. Check out the Museum of Science Observatory  DONE!
  7. Cook in the crock pot at least once a week  DONE!
  8. See Mary Poppins at the Opera House  
What’s on your Winter 2011 To Do List?? Let me know if you want to join me for anything on mine, I would love to have company while I work my way through it!