You know Its Spring in Boston When

How do you know its Spring in Boston?

Spring in Boston means different things to different people. To some it’s opening day at Fenway Park.  When the boys of summer come back north it must be spring, even if it snows. For others it’s the Boston Marathon, a 120 year tradition. For me we have to have the warm sunny days. And that’s just what we had on Marathon weekend.

It’s Spring so what did I see?

Taking the red line from Braintree, MA to the Park Street station in the heart of Boston is an adventure in itself. When I boarded the “T” the man seated across from me had his shoes off  and was stretched out over 3 seats. After a couple of stops he moved over to my side, still barefoot. Then he began calling out the stations. That amused him for one or two stops. After that he began trying to light things on fire with a disposable lighter. I kept a close eye on him until he finally left the train. My stop came next…Park Street.

Protesters, Police and the State House

As soon as I came up from the underground I spotted the protesters. These aren’t organized  protests but the end of the world type protesters. They always seem a little crazy to me. Today there were 3 protesters and a self appointed minister, each taking  a turn sharing their messages.

As I took in this spectacle a mob of bicyclists came flying around the corner. All decked out in their police  gear. I thought they would spread out through the Public Garden but no, they continued peddling down the path in a mass of blue and yellow.

Leaving the chaos that is Park Street behind I trekked up the hill to the State House with it’s golden dome gleaming in the sun. The various sight seeing trolleys continuously stopping to drop off and pick up tourists. A costumed narrator explained the black regiment to any and all who would listen.

On a Carousel, Fintstones and Dinos, and no lines or waiting

As I strolled on through the common I passed the Boston Carousel which was doing a splendid business.

I paused when I heard a whistle blowing , then the pounding of feet and there came a dinosaur chasing men dressed as Fred  Flintstone and women as Betty and Wilma.

Must be a Bedrock Road race.

But I got the biggest laugh when I spotted what was surrounding the playing field near the Boston Common Garage.

Row after row of Port-a -potties. There’s be no lines and no waiting here! Ahhh Spring in the city! What could be better?


The Not So Easy Trip to Boston

I bet you want to know what I did on Saturday that left me practically crippled on Sunday.

I went to a barbecue but not just any barbecue . I went to the Phantom Gourmet’s Barbecue Beach Party at City Hall Plaza in Boston.

Boston 017 copy

To get there I drove to John Quincy Adam station in Quincy to park and take the Red Line. When we got to North Quincy everyone had to get off the train and walk what seemed like a mile to the shuttle buses. They took us to JFK station where another 100 stairs or a long curving handicap ramp awaited until we could make it back to the train. Once back on the Red line I rode to Park St Station in downtown Boston.

I was going to change to the Green line here to go one stop to Government Center. But that was not to be. The Government Center station is closed for repairs and the escalator to ground level in Park street was torn apart. Another steep set of stairs stood between me and the the exit. Ugh! It really makes one sympathetic to the plight of the truly handicapped.

Once on the street I had to take a picture of the Spire on the Park St Church.

Boston 007a copy

I love spires and blue sky. If you follow along with me for long you’ll probably see many of them.

Boston 010 copy

There were a lot of people in Boston today. Tourists were out in droves. I stopped at the Old Granary Burial Ground but there was a waiting line to get in! Gives new meaning to the phrase “They were just dying to get in”. I’ll have to tell you some facts about this cemetery which was founded in 1660. Maybe that would make a good post one day.

Boston 011 copy

Anyway just a little past the cemetery is 3 Center Plaza, a rounded building that lies across from City Hall Plaza. ( I worked there in a previous day and time)  As I crossed the street I snapped a picture of the Old State House, now a museum. It’s so tiny surrounded by modern skyscrapers.

Boston 015 copy

From there I skirted the construction fences. I figured there must be someplace to get through  but nope. I walked past the coffee shop formerly known as the Steaming Kettle. The large kettle was still there but no longer steaming and the coffee shop is now a Starbucks.

Boston 016 copy

I followed the fence and the arrows as it took me up another set of stairs and back down the other side. Urban mountain climbing.  I had a nice view of Faneuil Hall, the birthplace of American Freedom.

Boston 020 copy

Then I was at the first check point.

To Be continued……..

Spring is in the Air

Boy the last couple of days have been busy! As you probably figured out from my recent posts I made a trip to Newport for my “Mystery Monday” and then grabbed the “T”  into Boston for one of our first really nice days which also happened to be OPENING DAY AT FENWAY.

opening Day 007a copy

Baseball is back in Boston! I also attended an all day seminar in resume writing and job hunting and applied for a position as a travel writer. Wouldn’t that be a nice gig?

Meanwhile back at Fenway  I didn’t have tickets and wasn’t about to spend $50 for one of the “Cheap Seats” but it was fun to be a part of the  excitement. Boston is a sports town where excitement always runs high but the Home Opener at Fenway Park is always something special.


Once most of the shouting mob was in Fenway I slipped into Uno’s in Kenmore Square for lunch and missed the best moment of the opening…the   Fly Over! I’m not sure what kind of planes but as I was being seated I saw it on the big screen TV. What I wouldn’t have given to be outside to try to get a picture of that! It caught me completely by surprise!

opening Day 019 copy

But now I needed sustenance so over steak tips and salad I chatted with my waiter who hailed from South Africa. Must add a trip or two to that county to my bucket list.

From Uno’s I headed back to Park St.. The previously crammed subway cars were now empty making for a much easier ride if not as exciting.

I was now on my quest to see the “Duckling” statues. You remember the story Make Way for Ducklings? Well I had heard that someone had outfitted them with spring bonnets and I wanted to see this. Since rain was in the forecast I knew if I didn’t go right away they would be a wilted mess. Hard to believe that it was going to rain when I looked at the brilliant, cloudless blue sky.

opening Day 034 copy

I’ve seen the statues before but of course I couldn’t remember where in the public garden they were located.

opening Day 051 copy

Like most things that are lost, you find them in the last place you look.

opening Day 044 copy

In my case it was after I had walked all the way around the Boston Common.

opening Day 052 copy

But it was worth it.

opening Day 056 copy

Those little Spring Bonnets were just the cutest touch! 🙂

opening Day 059 copy

Boston on a Hot Hot Day

A couple of weeks ago my friend Nancy and I made plans to meet in Boston for the day. She is a college professor and she only had morning classes. I wanted to get some pictures of Boston landmarks for my photo cards. I figured I’d go into town early, grab as many shots as I could then meet Nancy for the afternoon.

Well, let me just say that going into Boston is never an easy jaunt. In fact it annoys me so much it’s hard to believe people do it daily for work. Trying to be frugal I decided to take the  “T”. I timed my departure (I thought I was being so smart) for 9:30 am to miss the rush hour traffic on Rts 24 and 93. Well that part worked . Traffic was heavy but moving and I found a parking spot on the 5th level of the Quincy Adams Parking garage…inside…so the sun would not be turning the car into an oven. So far, so good.

10:00 am I’m in front of the Charlie Card machine and I hear a train pull into the station.  I grabbed my ticket and ran for the platform…too late it had loaded and was just pulling out. Boy that was quick! No problem though. Trains run about every 10-15 minutes at that time of day. Sure enough it wasn’t long before another train pulled into the station. It was pretty empty and I got a seat right away. Only 10:15. I expected to be in town by 10:45 which would give me an hour to shoot pics before meeting Nancy.

But here’s where things began to fall apart. We seemed to be waiting longer and longer at each stop. Finally just before we got into Boston proper we stopped completely between stations. Now we got an announcement that there were “switching” problems at Park St. As soon as they got the train in front of us out of the way we’d be on our way. Tick Tock Tick Tock…I could hear the clock ticking in my mind.

Finally moving again we made it to Boylston but then we sat again. By now it was after 11:00 am So much for a free hour for my photo shoot.

Originally I was going to get off at Park St. Take pictures of the Boston Gardens and then walk over to the Aquarium taking pictures as I went. Now pulling into Park it was almost 11:15 and it was HOT…a record setter and HUMID. I decided I might as well take the train to Government Center and switch to the Blue line to get to the waterfront where I was meeting Nancy.

I’m not sure how I messed up. Probably faulty memory since there were no maps posted in the T car I was in but somehow I got twisted around and ended up over by The Rehab Hospital and the old Jail, the Science Museum and Esplanade on the Green Line. I got off and changed platforms to back track.

Finally on the Blue Line I made it to the Aquarium Station. Stepping onto the street was like walking into a solid wall of humid heat.

It was so extreme it took my breath away.

The various trolley companies all have ticket booths right there so I stopped by the Olde Town Trolley booth for a short chat.

JR used to work for them once upon a time  so I have a soft spot for them. But aside from personal prejudice I do feel they do the best job for the money.

Ghosts and Gravestones is Olde Town’s Ghostly tour. Love their promos! Halloween all year ’round! But I imagine the young lady was pretty warm in those volumes of skirts.

Leaving the trolleys behind I noticed that Boston has continued to move into the eco-friendly realm with bicycle rentals. A very nice idea.

By now I was soaked with perspiration and feeling very uncomfortable.  I found a nice outdoor bar on the wharf and plunked myself there to wait.

My icy cold club soda arrived at the same time Nancy stepped out of the T station. As I went to meet her the waiter reminded me to “stay hydrated”. Got it! I sure will.

It was time to put our heads together and make a game plan to survive the heat.

Let me tell you a story about a man named Charlie

…On that tragic and fateful day.

He put 10 cents in his pocket, kissed his wife and family,

went to ride ont he MTA.

We all know the tale of Charlie and the MTA ..he never returned , no he never returned…

Sadly on our return trip on the MBTA, a “Charlie” went to ride at Wollaston Station. As of this writing no one knows what happened. All that we, the public and other passengers know is that  a young man was hit by a red line train and there was no miracle. The young man did not make it. Was it an accident? Was it suicide? Was he drunk, impaired by some other substance? Was he distracted by his phone, texting? or an i-pod? We may never know. Hopefully the family will learn the details and be able achieve some kind of closure.

My heart goes out to the family and to the engineer and the conductor on that train. It was surely traumatic for them, a life changing event.

But I want to comment on the actions of the rest of the MBTA; how the tragic affair affected the rest of the passengers and there were many as it was rush hour.

So let me start at the top. We left the MFA and decided to walk (I know, I’m a glutton for punishment) because I wanted to get some pictures at the Christian Science Center. It is a beautiful spot and I recommend that anyone visiting Boston take a minute to  stop by.

Using the benches along the sidewalk and taking frequent rest stops, I was finally able to get to the Christian Science Center and get some pictures. Yea!

After another rest stop it was back to the OP Shuffle (No offence but it’s the “old person” shuffle. As a card-carrying member of AARP I can say that. I was bent over and had to shuffle my feet . I couldn’t pick them up) Pretty funny now but it wasn’t at the time.

We stopped at Border’s Cafe for a fruit smoothy and then hooked up with the Green Line. If I had hopes of relief there I was sorely (Pun intended) mistaken. It was standing room only and even though it was 4:30 (rush hour) we had to wait 30 minutes for a train, not the normal 10-15.

Arriving at Park St we changed to the Red Line where conditions were no better. We finally got on a train where we hung from poles and straps and my back screamed in protest. I was counting the stops when 2 stops from where the car was parked we were thrown off the train.  A medical emergency in Wollaston we were told. You’ll have to take a shuttle bus.

We were herded off the train and up to the platform where there was 1 bus. Yup, just one. I took advantage of our misfortune by snagging a seat on a bench but the relief was short-lived. It was quickly apparent that if we wanted to have any chance of getting in a shuttle that we would have to stand on the curb and push into the fray when the buses pulled in.

We got on the 4th or 5 th bus..standing room only..again. As the bus pulled into Wollaston Station we saw the crime scene tape and the ME’s van pulling out. We knew it was something bad then. The few passengers for Wollaston exited and the bus turned around to take the majority of us to Quincy Center where we would get off the bus and back onto the train. Standing room only…again.

One of the other passengers used her cell phone to get the latest news and told us a man had been hit by the train in front of ours. That was all we knew and as I write this it is all I have been able to find out.

We finally made it to Quincy Adams Station where my car was parked. As we exited the garage we did a time check, 7:15! 2 hours an 15 minutes for a ride that shouldn’t have taken more than 1 hour! I dropped Nancy off about 15 minutes later and pulled into my complex at 8pm.

The sad part of all this is that this is not the first accident like this on the “T”. I tried to get the numbers of similar incidents for 2011 but couldn’t find any however I did find plenty of news clips about train hits and close calls going back to 2009. So I can’t help but wonder, what steps have the MBTA taken to prevent these kinds of accidents? And with experience with this type of thing, why aren’t they more prepared to provide for their other passengers? No one wants accidents or injuries but that’s why they are called accidents. Shouldn’t the T have contingency plans in place? Our driver said he didn’t even know what station he was supposed to be driving to! I give the “T” a C- for their response to the emergency.

As for my back, a visit to my doctor secured some muscle relaxants and although not 100%, I am well along on the road to recovery!