Summer got off to a quick start for us. The girls wrapped up school last Wednesday. Thursday afternoon we were flying to Boston for our summer trip.

This was my third trip to Boston, but first one that I would be spending most of my time in the city proper. Overall, we had a fantastic vacation filled with several firsts and lots of great memories.

The first first of the trip was our family’s first Uber ride. Pretty exciting, huh? We Uber-ed it from Logan to our hotel, which was a block down the street from Fenway Park. The Sox were in Baltimore on the night we flew in, so the park was dark and the area fairly deserted.

My first fun experience of the trip came shortly after our arrival at our hotel. We ordered food from a place down the street and I walked to pick it up. The man who helped me looked as if he had been born in West Africa, or perhaps the Caribbean. When he spoke, though, he sounded like your average Irish dude from Southy. It was a jarring, stereotype-crusher of a moment. I loved it! I really wanted to take my phone out and video him speaking to other customers.

Friday began with out second first: we hopped on the T to meet my in-laws, who flew in with us, and S’s brother, his wife, and their one-year-old for a Duck Boat ride. The girls were pretty excited to get on the T; it was their first-ever subway experience. They had a great time, even on the trips when they had to squeeze into one seat together because of crowds.

The Duck Boat trip itself was awesome. I had always heard that was a must-do part of any trip to Boston, but I had no idea how cool it would be. It was a 90-minute trip around the Back Bay, the Cambridge River, and downtown proper. You’re right in the midst of all the must-see sites of the city. Our driver was excellent, too. He was a 50-something guy who sounded like a Boston native. He had all the requisite history down pat, and shared plenty of his own views along the way.

“Right there is a stop for the Boston T, the oldest subway in the country. Just try it, you’ll see.”
“The Pilgrims fled England because they were not allowed the freedom to practice their own religion there. Upon their arrival in America, they proceeded to not allow anyone else to practice their own religion here.”
“That building right there is a wonderful assisted living facility. It’s the Boston city jail.”

It may seem cliche, but I highly recommend the Duck Boat tour of Boston.

We headed back to the hotel to freshen up then jumped onto the T again to head to S’s brother and sister-in-law’s home, which is across the river. This time we had to switch trains, which was a breeze. There was never a moment when we didn’t see terrible traffic everywhere, so riding the T was a great way to avoid all that mess. Even with hot, crowded cars, and some confusing routes, it was way better than fighting traffic in a taxi. Part of the dinner spread were our first lobstah rolls of the trip.

Saturday was our busy day. We took the T first to Cambridge, where we did a quick tour of the Harvard campus. After that, it was back on the T to hit the North End for lunch. We walked through the Holocaust Memorial, the farmer’s market, and many of the amazing streets of the North End before having a tasty, family-style, Italian lunch. We topped it off with cannoli from Mike’s bakery.

The girls headed home but I did not stay at the hotel. My brother-in-law and I crossed the street for the Red Sox – Blue Jays game. Our seats were way out in right field, amongst lots of drunken, yet happy, Canadians. I wore a Royals shirt, but really wished I had worn a Lorenzo Cain jersey.[1] The day began hot in Cambridge, was breezy and perfect in the North End, and turned into a steamy one when the harbor breezes were blocked in Fenway. It was only maybe 80 or so, but the sun was brutally right in our faces the entire time. But, hey, I was in Fenway! And the Sox beat the Jays, which I enjoyed.

Sunday it was rainy, so we spent the day at the Museum of Science.

Monday was our first departure day. I hit the T to head into town to pick up a rental that we and the in-laws were taking to Cape Cod. It was early, so I figured I would have to fight big crowds on the T. Little did I know…

When I hit Kenmore Station, they were unloading a completely full train and taking it out of service. I waited as two totally packed trains came through the station but I had no chance of getting on either one. So I walked. It was only a mile-and-a-half or so, but it was another steamy morning and I was a little sweaty when I reached the rental office.

Off we were to the Cape, with a stop in Plymouth along the way to look at Plymouth Rock and eat more lobstah rolls for lunch. The girls had their first-ever real clam chowdah. L especially loved it. She said it’s her new favorite food. Shame we can’t get chowdah that good here at home. We also just missed the arrival of the Mayflower II, which was returning that afternoon after its winter stay in Connecticut.

We were staying in Hyannis, right in the middle of the upper arm of the Cape. After the girls had a swim, we went to the Cape Cod chips factory, stopped by the JFK Memorial – which we had visited 11 years ago – and the girls dipped their toes in the ocean. M screamed and said, “Dad! It is literally ice cold!” Literally.

Tuesday was another day of driving. We headed toward Provincetown at the far end of the Cape, with the obligatory stop at a lighthouse along the way. P-town is full of interesting people and sites. The girls still aren’t quite old enough to pick up on the gay-friendly vibe of the town. Or at least I think they aren’t. I never heard them giggling when two men or two women walked by holding hands. As we did 11 years ago, we had lunch at the Lobster Pot, which is another near-obligatory trip.

Then yesterday we had a near-perfect day of travel. Not too much traffic between the Cape and Logan, through security in 10 minutes, an on-time flight, our bags waiting for us at the carousel, and only brief slowdowns as we drove home through Indy’s rush hour.

This was my third trip to Boston, but really the first time I spent any real time in the city. I loved it. It reminds me in some ways of San Francisco, just because so much is packed into such a small space. It’s a pretty easy city to do on foot and with public transit. I love the diversity, the history, and the energy of the city. And I love doing my faux-Boston accent whenever possible.

But the traffic is a nightmare, it’s a city that shows its age in many poor ways, and I’m not sure I could deal with the constant crowds. At (almost) 45, Boston is a great city for me to visit, but not one I could see myself living in. I need my Midwestern space.

Since we rushed out of town right after school began, today kind of felt like the first real day of summer. The girls all slept in. We have nowhere to be before their swim meet tonight. The trip was a lot of fun, but it’s nice to be home and taking a breath for a moment.

  1. #HeCanFly  ↩