Saturday, December 30, 2006

Boston Trip 2004

3/9/04 9:10pm LAX

Waiting, waiting, waiting. I'm in the terminal at LAX waiting for my flight to Boston. It's another red eye flight (I had the same flight 2 weeks ago). I leave at 10:25 pm and arrive in Boston at 6:45 am. It is such a big difference because Boston is 3 hours later (Sao Paulo is 4!). The worst part of traveling is the waiting. I just want it to get started.

Plus it seems like I have been doing this all of my life. My Mom and Dad got divorced when I was very young and my Dad ended up in Los Angeles while my Mom and I stayed on the East Coast. A few times a year I would fly back and forth spending quite a bit of time in planes and at airports alone (since not every flight was direct/nonstop). I’ve gotten delayed and canceled in lots of airports all over the country when I was a teenager.

When last I wrote an email it was less than 2 weeks ago and I was on a plane flying back from Boston....(the oldest flight attendant I have ever seen just walked by...good for her....and I mean Grandma old).

Anyway.....I was flying back from Boston and it is less than 2 weeks later and I am flying back to Boston again. ‘Why?’ must be the obvious question. Well... Why Not! The real reason is I am earning a free roundtrip ticket anywhere United flies. In the World! 2 weeks ago was my Mom’s birthday so flying this extra time just made sense to me. I will check my bags at the hotel once I get in and go walking....and walking....and walking. I plan to see as many historical sights as possible in the less than 2 days time that I have there. I’m even staying in a fairly historic hotel. It is called the Parker House. The Boston Cream Pie was created at this hotel (one of my most favorite desserts....and they still serve it today. Guess how many slices I’m going to have...yummy!) Also in the hotel’s restaurant JFK proposed to Jackie. It sounds like an interesting hotel. Lots of dark wood paneling on the walls I think, from the pictures I have seen on the internet.

Boston makes it easier to see and find the historic sights around town by painting a big, red, two and a half mile long line in the road called the Freedom Trail. My hotel is near the start of the trail so once I check my bags I will set out on the trail and see where it leads me.


I am on the plane. We are still at the gate, but we should push back any minute now. I might be lucky. So far no one else is in my row. I have a window seat and the seats to my left are empty. More room to stretch out if it remains this way.


And now the captain’s attempt at communication. The quotes are his, “Some of you may have noticed a mechanic in the cockpit at the moment, but don’t be worry because it is nothing serious.” Whenever someone says ‘don’t worry’ I start to worry. The pilot then went on to explain that the mechanic was looking at some equipment that was written up on the previous flight, but that would not be needed on this flight, so nothing to worry about. Again with the word worry. For all I know this could be a former military pilot who thinks having half a wing is nothing to worry about.

“All the paperwork is done that goes along with doing the tests so we will be leaving shortly.” Good, and the seats to my left are still empty.

We are now taxiing. Something is going on at the Fed Ex building. All the way across the airport is the Fed Ex building, and emergency vehicles continue to pull up at the building. I can’t see it anymore because we are taking off.... Weee....The pilot didn’t waste any time. Off we go and L.A. is below us. The airport is right at the coast and it looks like the fog is rolling in off the ocean. It has been very hot recently and I think that the heat is about to end. Usually the fog means it is about to get cooler. But I won’t be here. Where I am going it is about 40 degrees cooler.

I’ve been listening to the cockpit and air traffic control (channel 9 on United), but now it is music time and hopefully some sleep. Time in Los Angeles is 11:06pm, so time where I am going is 2:06am. So I will think like that. Goodnight! (The moon is almost full and very very bright at 17,000 feet.)

I’m not sleepy....grrrr. I was sleepy 5 hours ago at work but I am not sleepy now. Why is this??? Someone needs to do a study and figure out why this happens.


Clouds, we have clouds. We are approaching Boston. Apparently it is 32 degrees on the ground. Time to descend into the clouds. Strange, we are flying right over the airport. The path does reveal a nice view of the city.

10:15am Parker House Hotel

On the ground and in the hotel. Since a room was available I was able to check in early. I am freshly showered and now it is time to walk. First stop is the beginning of the Freedom Trail.

10:51am Visitor’s Center at Boston Common

If Los Angeles is a city of different cultures then Boston is a city of different accents. In L.A. you can be from many different countries and find a place to live where you feel comfortable and can continue to speak your home language. In Boston, you get the Boston accent layered on top of wherever someone is from. The sounds are really quite interesting. The Boston accent of course really doesn’t have the sound of the letter R. Car is more like caa or caah. On to the start of the Freedom Trail. It starts here.

11:51am Fanueil Hall

I’m walking along the trail. Lots of old buildings as one would expect. I get to Fanueil Hall, which is the front of an outdoor shopping place and market, and I find something interesting. At least 100 people are standing outside in the cold waiting to enter the hall for a ceremony at noon. A swearing in ceremony to become citizens. A few people I see running around the corner with worried looks on their faces, afraid they are late. They aren’t late. Everyone makes it. The security men point people to the correct doors to enter, one for guests and one for the soon to be new citizens. The men seem to have been at the job for a long time, showing some respect to the impending ceremony, and especially making sure all hats are taken off upon entering the building. A tradition not often followed in the day and age. Back to the walk and the Trail.

12:06pm The Big Dig

The cold is starting to have an effect... on my camera. Battery number 1 has just run out. Let’s hope #2 lasts longer.

3:53pm The Hotel Bar

I’m waiting for my Mom, who is driving up from Rhode Island to have dinner with me. Now is a good time to reflect on the day (with drink in hand of course - a warm kahlua and coffee drink for the cold day - plus I could use the caffeine since I’ve only gotten a few hours’ sleep in the last 48 hours.)

There’s nothing like having a comfortable place to have a drink. This is a very comfortable bar. Even if it was crowded I don’t think it would be loud, and it isn’t crowded so no noise and nice music playing (music for older people, older than me, but still nice music). The table to my left has people wine tasting. Possibly a sales call for the bar, but still, they are wine tasting. Very cool. I need to find a place like this near home. Very comfortable and expensive furniture, extremely comfortable. One piece is worth more than all of the furniture in my place.

This was suppose to be a sum up of my day, instead I’m just fixated on this bar. (An aside, it sounds like the guy from the bar is not buying the sales’ reps. wine - too expensive.)

It's getting colder outside. I can see it on the faces of people passing by.

9:09pm Back At The Bar Again

Time for some pie. This hotel invented the Boston Cream Pie so I must try some. I ordered the pie from the waiter. He asked me if I wanted anything else and I replied, “Let me think about it.” And I get a look back from the waiter like I had just kicked his dog. I don’t know if I want anything else, so what else was I suppose to say. I don’t know if I want a drink because I want to sleep well tonight and pie will be enough food.

Getting back from the restaurant to the hotel with my Mom was an adventure bordering on a nightmare. I think it almost caused her to have a breakdown...almost. I’ll call her soon to make sure she got home okay. Boston is a city full of one-way streets and no street runs straight. Even for the experienced Boston driver getting around in traffic keeps many therapists in business. The inexperienced don’t have a chance. Plus the city of Boston has added an extra twist, random detours caused by long term construction (the Big Dig!). There is another really fun part, the pedestrians are constantly trying to commit suicide by stepping into traffic. Normally this is called ‘jaywalking’ (crossing against the light), but I have never seen anything like what goes on here. Maybe it is the cold here and all the pedestrians want to warm up by dodging cars. (The pie finally showed up... I really made an impression with that waiter. In fact a different waiter brought the pie, maybe the other one jumped in front of traffic.)

So back to driving back to the hotel. We take a side trip to see some areas my Mom lived in 40 years ago (obviously she’s rarely been back). Doing this side trip gets up really turned around. With each turn we seem to alternate between getting closer and getting further away. Sometimes I would recognize a street from my walk long walk earlier in the day, but at the same moment she thinks she recognizes something and goes another way. This continues for an hour. Each turn in the wrong direction makes my Mom more sad. I’m too tired to get sad (In fact I was probably falling asleep.)

3/11 11:24am Quincy Market

I’m up and at Quincy Market. Lots os places to eat with a nice courtyard in the middle to sit. I just passed a guy staring a scone on a Starbucks window like it will save his life. He really wants that scone, just staring and staring at it. I keep moving.

Surrounding the market (and I should say it isn’t a real market - there are no raw fruits or vegetables to be purchased) are buildings with smaller shops and larger stores. The small shops I haven’t heard of and the larger stores I have. The same stores you can find in any mall USA. The style of Quincy Market is a bit unique, but what you find inside really isn’t. I just realized I’ve been spelling Quincy wrong, there is no ‘e’. Whoops.

I am having lunch with a friend next, that is why I am hanging out here. He works in Boston and this seems like a good place to meet. After lunch I think I will take a water shuttle to where the U.S.S. Constitution is berthed. It is an old wooden masted ship that has been restored. It was in the U.S. Navy in 1800. It fought British ships and pirate ships, always with success. I was over there yesterday, but the ship itself was closed. Today I should be able to get on it. Lunch Time.

2:45pm back at the hotel bar (oh, I don’t have a drinking problem.....really)

I’m looking out the window and passing by are a group of protesters regarding gay marriage. I say regarding and not protesting for or protesting against because I don’t know which side they are on. I can’t make any sense of their signs. Way too much stuff written on the signs. They must be pathetic protesters if they can’t even make clear protest signs.

3:30pm Beacon Hill (near Louisberg Square)

Beacon Hill is behind the State House. There seems to be a large protest in front of the State House regarding gay marriage. Both sides of the argument were well represented in the protest with many of them spilling over into Boston Commons, which is in front of the State House. The signage from these protesters is much better than the people that passed by me at the hotel bar earlier. In front of the State House I saw “Homosexuals are Possessed.” I assume he was using ‘Possessed’ in a bad way (like in the movie The Exorcist), but maybe he meant it in a good way (like in the movie All of Me). I also saw the sign “Can We Not Be Civil About This”. (Maybe she was trying to be ironic.) Probably too subtle for this crowd. Many signs that were mass produced. Many people being loud, but no one listening. Probably all protests are like this. Lots of people being loud and yelling, but no one listening. The biggest problem I had with the protest was that IT WAS IN MY WAY! I have an hour left to walk around and where I want to go is Beacon Hill, which is on the other side of this protest/demonstration. Protesters, police, and TV crews are all blocking my path so I have to go a few blocks out of my way to get to Beacon Hill.

I started this part already on Beacon Hill and just backed up the story. The area is filled with brick and brownstone buildings. The brick buildings date back to 1800 and the brownstones’ 1850. Very nice condos with NO parking (no cars in 1800). What it seems to have created is the Best Parallel Parkers in The Universe. Cars are parked almost bumper to bumper. They must hire people to guide them into the spots, the cars are that close together. I noticed this parking phenomenon because I wanted to take a picture from the middle of the street (Don’t try this at home, remember, I am a professional), but I couldn’t get by the parked cars to get to the street. I don’t want to climb over the bumpers of the cars so I keep walking until I come to a fire hydrant so i can get into the street. Just amazing how close all the cars’ bumpers were to each other.

4:15pm On the way to the airport

Boy did that protest really screw up traffic. I am so happy I am walking to the subway. I took a cab from the airport when I arrived, but now that I know where everything is I am taking the subway back to the airport.

Earlier I mentioned that it seemed like all of the pedestrians were suicidal in this town because they kept crossing streets against traffic. Well, I’ve revised my opinion in this area. In less than 24 hours being in Boston I find myself running into traffic as well. As far as I know I am not suicidal so there must be another explanation. Also I’m not very prone to doing things others are doing if I think it is a bad idea. There must be another explanation than just just mass hysteria. Maybe this is a result of too much chlorine in the local water. I did have a lot of water the previous day. But, it probably can’t be explained. Why people run out into traffic in Boston (and why it seems to be contagious) will remain a mystery, at least for now.

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