14 April 2007

Day Three - The Freedom Trail!

Welcome to Day 3 of the Awesome and Incredible 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration of Mulletman and Groovy. If you haven't read the first coupla days, you may want to scroll down a few pages and be dazzled before you start reading here.

Warning: This is a looooong post. Then again, it was a looooong day! I will forgive you if you skim, just make sure you only skip the boring parts...

The Preparations:

We arose early from a surprisingly good night's sleep and immediately (Immediately after 3 cups of coffee!) started perusing all our maps and AAA info to make our final plans for our final day. Then came the big dilemma.

Groovy: Honey, it was kinda chilly yesterday. I was thinking of layering a couple of shirts under my lightweight spring jacket.

Mulletman: (knowledgeably) We're going to do a lot of walking, you know.

Groovy: Meaning?

Mulletman: Meaning you're going to get all hot and sweaty while we're walking and then you'll have to peel off layers and carry stuff. You hate carrying stuff.

Groovy: Good point, Darling. (Groovy puts her lovely, warm turtleneck back in the suitcase) You are always so wise in these matters.

"Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord, even when they are WRONG." (Ephesians 5:22, emphatic addition mine)

We had a nice continental breakfast in the lobby and headed, once again for the T. This time, being seasoned Bostonites (cough!) we had no difficulties. Except waiting for the train. We had a hard time waiting for the train because we were...cold. Teeth chattering, hug-yourself-and-shiver cold. This was perfectly understandable though, because it was still early in the morning and there was no sunshine on the platform.

The Freedom Trail:

Our objective for the day was to walk the famous 2.5 mile, self-guided Freedom Trail through Boston's North End where we could Ooooo and Aaaah over such renowned historic sites as the Old North Church and Paul Revere's House and Bunker Hill, etc. Please do click the link above if you want the low-down on the whole tour.

I had read in the AAA guide that the tourist information office in Boston Common opened at 8:30am and - what luck! -we got there right at 8:30! Except that it was Saturday and on Saturdays they open at 9:00am. I was all for taking off without the $2 map. I was all for going ANYWHERE at all and going there quickly because I was freezing. But Mulletman wanted his map, so we dove into a nearby McDonald's and bought the largest, warmest coffees we could get and huddled over them.

The Bathroom Conflict:

This would be the McDonald's with the one seater bathroom. Yep. And I had to go.

Dutifully and patiently I stood in line for a few moments. Then it dawned on me that it might be empty, but with a closed door, so I tried the handle. Nope. It was locked. So I waited. But it was SO quiet in there. After a few moments I began to doubt my lock checking skills. Had I really tried that latch? Maybe it was just stiff. But if someone WAS in there, it would seem awfully rude for me to rattle the latch again. I listened intently. Silence. So I rattled. Yep, it was locked. Then, to my great relief, I heard a flush.

About this time I was joined in line by a cute little elderly Chinese woman. She looked at the door and asked me, "Is Locked?"

"Yep," I assured her. "And someone's in there. I just heard her flush."

She scowled at the door, waited exactly 5 seconds and then started banging on the door with the flat of her hand. No response from the silent restroom dweller. This seemed to infuriate my impatient companion and she started beating on the door furiously.

Suddenly the door flew open and we were faced with hulking, angry, vengeful black street chick with fangs and claws. Street chick glowered at me and spat, "You can't WAIT??????" I gave her my best wide-eyed, innocent, scared-to-death-of-city-violence, I-am-a-doormat look and said, "SHE did it!", pointing to my 90 pound comrade. Then I ducked into the bathroom to pee while the two of them screamed wrathful words at one another.

On The Trail:

By now, it was time for us to go back out into the cold, secure a map and hit the trail. So that's what we did. We also drooled longingly over the merchant cart full of warm, comfortable, fleecy Boston sweatshirts, but we didn't buy any because we were going to be walking and that would, theoretically, warm us up.

Here are our actual feet on the actual Freedom Trail:

The State House was closed on Saturday's so we couldn't go inside. We admired the 24 carat gold-plated dome that looked so radiant and warm in the morning sunlight and then hustled off to see Park Street Church and then the Granary Burying Ground where oodles of famous and important folk are buried, including Mother Goose. There was a tour-guide there with a group, so we eaves-dropped a bit on his presentation and discovered that the colonial idea of what angels look like were quite different from our view today:

Here's Mulletman chillin' (literally) with Paul Revere (I was "chillin' just about everywhere!):

And The Famous Mother Goose:

We scurried our way down the trail - moving quickly = keeping warm(er) - and ducked into every heated historic attraction we could find. ;-) Several of the buildings were churches. Each one was interesting and we duly read every plaque and discussed historical events and were suitably impressed. But our favorite part of the churches were the pews:

Apparently, each family rented their own pew and then could heat and decorate it as they chose. This one has 3-way cushions for a large family. Don't you wonder which family members faced the back of the church? Some had kneeling cushions, others had cradles or rocking chairs, all had little coal heaters; Very fun! So, how would you decorate your pew?

Groovy Gets Grouchy:

Well, sight-seeing was lovely, but it was WAY past lunchtime, my blood sugar was nose-diving, my feet were tired, I was still shivering and I was starting to get just a wee bit cranky.

Fortunately, our next stop was Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. I was too famished to care, even remotely, about souvenirs or cool "stuff". I wanted food and I wanted it NOW. So I did what any sensible person would do in such a situation; I got in the longest line I could find to place my order. The line - oh happiness - moved very quickly and efficiently and I got a huge slice of the best pizza I have ever had, bar none. I wish I could remember the name of the place, but my brain was so fuzzy that it's a miracle I even remembered my name!

Poor, unsuspecting Mulletman tried be kind and thoughtful, "Do you want to inside or outside? Wouldn't you like to sit down? Wanna look at some of these cool shops after we eat? What did you like best so far?"

I just snarled and chewed viciously. Groovy is neither kind nor thoughtful when she is cold and hungry and tired.

He took the hint and went off by himself for a few moments in search of a chicken caesar roll (smart man!). By the time he came back, I was feeling infinitely better. I was warm and I was full, both of which did much toward remedying my disposition. However, it was very crowded inside and both of us were getting a bit claustrophobic, so we went out to sit on the steps and rest a bit before continuing our journey.

That's where we saw THIS:

Now, how the heck are the firemen going to get to that hydrant? That's what I want to know!

We also saw some incredible hip-hop dancers out on the sidewalk. If I had been thinking, I would have video taped them for you all to see, but I wasn't thinking, so you lose out this time. Sorry!

On The Trail Some More:

We toured Paul Revere's house - very cool, and then pressed on the Old North Church of "One if by land, two if by sea" fame. We managed to skate in on the heels of a college tour group from Michigan. This meant we got to hear the whole dramatic retelling of the story Paul Revere's ride by a professional "interpreter". We were pleased enough by that bit of luck, but then, just as we sauntered forward a bit so we could get a better view of some of the pipe organ, all the students stood up and started to sing.

They sang the most incredibly beautiful acapella classical worship song in perfect harmony. The acoustics were absolutely amazing and Mulletman and I were caught right in the middle, swaying, eyes-closed. You couldn't listen to them and NOT worship. God was suddenly so real in that place. It was tremendously moving. It was almost painful to move on after that. We wanted to stay and praise a while!

But move on, we did. Several people had told us that we needed to see "Old Ironsides" - the USS Constitution - and that was next on the tour. We had to to hike about 400 breezy, chilly miles across the Charles River to get there, but it was worth it in the end.

The USS Constitution turned out to be our very favorite part of the entire tour. She is the oldest active duty Naval vessel in the U.S. She was launched in 1797 and they still take her out a couple of times a year!

Here's an artsy shot of her sailing masts:

Her nickname was given to her in a battle with the British. Their cannon balls were bouncing off of her wooden sides and one of the Brits exclaimed, "Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!"

We had a marvelous tour guide and a wonderful time looking around and imagining what t'would be like to be sailors aboard a mighty fighting vessel. Aaaaaaaaarrr!

Groovy on deck:

We were having a great time, but at this point I was REALLY feeling exhausted. We'd reportedly only walked about 2 miles thus far, but it felt like a thousand. I just wanted to grab a cab or a bus and ride back to a restaurant! Instead, we crossed over the huge parking lot and went to the USS Constitution's museum.

We started out by watching a film. This was great because it gave us a much needed respite from being on our feet. I also sucked on a couple of coughdrops hoping to stave off another attack of the dreaded "grouchies". It worked. The museum was so much fun! It was very kid-friendly and interactive and Mulletman and I made fools of ourselves running around and trying everything out.

Mulletman in his hammock:

Then we spent some time in the gift shop hunting around. We'd already bought gifts for the kids and a souvenir for ourselves, but we had nothing for the Folks. They were taking care of the girlies for us, so we really wanted to get them something special. We finally settled on a beautiful pen and desk case made from the wood of Old Ironsides. She's been refurbished twice and both times they recycled any removed pieces of wood into cool souvenir items.

Now it was time for Bunker Hill, but we were both pooped, so we settled for a distant photo of the monument and hoofed it back toward town. We were going to eat at the famous Union Oyster House, but first we stopped at the Holocaust memorial, pictured here.

Each of the glass tours represents one of the major concentration camps in WWII. Aneary mist creeps up through grates in the sidewalk. Inside, there are quotes from prisoners of that camp and then...and this was the horrifying part of it...the tattoo numbers of every prisoner ever held in that camp. The numbers go on and on and on and on and on, up and over and around to the very top of the very top panels. So many suffered and died! It was quite sobering.

Supper was at the Union Oyster House which is billed as the "Oldest Restaurant in America". If you look back at the pic of the Holocaust Memorial, you can see the restaurants high, obnoxious interstate sign sticking up above the building.

The restaurant was crowded and noisy and warm and wonderful. My clam chowder was terrific, but Mulletman was uncharacteristically adventurous and tried some new foods. Let's just say that the swordfish and salmon got two thumbs down!

Back to the hotel - The LONG Way!:

After supper our only objective was to get back to the hotel. There was a T station a few blocks away, so we headed for it post-haste. The sun was going down and it was getting - you guessed it - colder! We grabbed some large coffees and some Lindt chocolates to nosh on the ride back and then darted into the station to buy our return fares.

It was strangely deserted down on the platform. Perhaps 7pm on a Saturday is a quiet time for the T. Then again, perhaps we're a couple of clueless hicks from Maine.

We waited. A voice came over the intercom, explaining the situation, "Snargoogle! Zelpom mata grrrrrunf!" We waited some more. Nothing. And we were cold!

Then a nice man in a uniform came down and announced that the outbound track was closed and we needed to move out. He barked out instructions and we smiled and nodded as we followed the 3 other confused and derailed wannabe passengers.

Mulletman: What'd he say we should do?

Groovy: I dunno. Something about shuttles.

Mulletman: Where?

Groovy: Oh look! A balloon man! He's making animals and hats!

Mulletman grabbed my hand (the one that was not holding the coffee and packages) and dragged me down the sidewalk muttering something about focus and lack thereof. We trudged 87 cold, dreary blocks (alas, no more balloon men) to the next T Station.

There, guarding the entrance, was Burly-Man the Boston Bouncer. It was his job to keep desperate travelers from throwing their desperate weary bodies on the electric tracks. He blocked the station door with his ample, uniformed body and pointed "that-a-way". Far off in the distance, at least 10 miles away, we could see the fabled Boston shuttles lining up on the road to help cold, confused Boston tourists find their way back to their cars. We shuffled our shivering bodies in the right direction and finally boarded a shuttle. We didn't even ask where it was going. It was warm and it was free and we could sit down and nothing else mattered.

The driver never announced the stops, he just braked to a halt and people piled or they stumbled off. We just sat way in the back and stared blankly while eating chocolate and drinking coffee.

Suddenly Mulletman gasped, "Oh NO!"

Panic lifted me from my stupor. Had we accidentally passed out T-station? "What's wrong?!"

"It's 7:30 at night and you're drinking a large caffeinated coffee!"

"Honey, I don't think it's going to be a problem tonight."

And it wasn't. We made it back to our station, where another burly dude barred our way and said the station was closed. We zombie-walked past him and headed toward the never-ending skywalk of icy breezes. He followed us suspiciously all the way until we got to the pay-for-parking booth. That's when he realized that, duh, we were going back to get our car.

We got back, took turns soaking our old aching bodies in the tub and, caffeine notwithstanding, we were both asleep by 9pm!

Next on the Docket: Day 4, where we think it's all over, but it isn't.


Marianne Arkins said...

I'm taking my DD on the Freedom Trail this year -- I think she's finally up for it. BUT... I'll be going in June. I'm not entirely certain, given the current weather, but I think that it might just be warm by then.

Feel free to drive down and join me :-)

We'll also be doing the science museum at some point, too. Fun!

groovyoldlady said...

Science museum in June. We'll be there! :-)

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

Oh what fun you had! I would have been grumpy to if I were hungry and cold! Nothing cracks my sense of humor more than those two things! LOL!

Ballpoint Wren said...

What a great trip! I would LOVE to go see all that stuff.

You're like me when you get hungry, too. Heh!

Dawn said...

I wrote a long comment last night, discovered it may not have gone, re-wrote it, then found your comment approval thing below, so thought it probably did go after all, so deleted it. Oh, brother!

You crack me up. Sounds like such a great day in Boston, albeit exhausting. We spent such a short time in the city when we went to visit Kev at Teen Challenge in Brockton. DC wanted to see Old Ironsides, and wouldn't you know, it was closed for Columbus Day! You guys take Columbus Day seriously out there! Nothing wrong with that! We'll definitely have to make a week long trip of it sometime - but wait till a bit later, but not too much later - I really dislike humidity.

I listened to the radio show - fun! I agree with whomever said "Went missing" is their pet peeve - it's on "Without a Trace" every single week - really weird phrase.

Have a great Sunday!

Dawn said...

I just heard the nor'easter was the worst in 14 years. Did you get hit that hard??

groovyoldlady said...

It started as snow, but now it's rain, rain, RAIN! Yippee! Time for hot chocolate and a good book. Dr. Doolittle, anyone?

Carole Burant said...

I'm not sure if you had a great day or a bad day?? lol I know how exhausting walking can be while playing tourist...one time in Niagara Falls we must have walked most of the day and I swore my running shoes had no bottom left on them by the end of the day...my burning feet probably melted them! You did get to see some neat stuff though:-) Love the way you write!! xox

groovyoldlady said...

Definitely a GREAT day. Great, but thoroughly exhausting!