Well, we're back from our trip and I have a lot to say about it.
Want an idea of where to go for the 4th of July? Here's one: BOSTON!!! It's the BEST! EVERYONE should go there for the 4th! How many times did i spontaneously make that exclamation whilst on the trip? At least 4. .. as in, 4..th of July(!!) Aaah! i loved it. It was so much fun seeing all the sights and doing patriotic activities on the 4th. Seriously, it was an outstanding way to spend the holiday. I have visited Boston before, and I felt so patriotic then. So this time it was almost overload. Almost. Let's begin by looking at some pictures.
But before we do, I have to recommend this hotel. This post will be awesome because it'll basically be a redo of the last time i was there but that's ok, right? I stayed in this hotel the last time and I can't say enough good things about it, but i'll make a list to organize them. It's the Constitution Inn which is in Charlestown across the river. It's a YMCA hotel that is located in the navy yard that is also currently used by the military. Having stayed here with no kids & also with, I can say it is equally fun in both scenarios.
First, you take a boat into town every day which is delightful. And for a small boy who is unaccustomed to such things, this was Disneyland. We could have ridden the boat to and from the city each day and nothing more and it would have been worth it all.
Here's a pic of the ferry.
Sean pointed out to Julian that our boat's name was Rita and Julian would say it all the time in the cutest way. "Ee-ta" (hard t) He would blow kisses and say "bye bye!" to it every time we disembarked. What a love affair he had with Rita.
At the hotel, there are ample grassy hills, a playground and the most amazing splashy water area ever, which we played in.
I know, right? What IS that? It's just this fun watery land made entirely out of the scariest granite. It's pretty much how I imagine an ancient Greek wading pool would be. There are 3 levels. Those little inverted ramps to the left lead up to a pool and there's another one still above that where there's a waterfall. It seems completely dangerous since if you slipped you could easily bash your skull on a corner but MAN is it cool. Loved this thing.
Our room had a kitchenette which was awesome, and a tiny nook for Julian's bed. Ha ha.
It juuust fit into this closet. Now Julian can say that he, too, once had to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs. The ceilings were slanted and it was all sorts of odd, but seriously perfect. A YMCA hotel doesn't sound awesome but trust me, it is. It's a good price and, among other cool things, it's situated next door to the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill.
The USS Constitution is a ship that was used in the war of 1812. It won all of its battles, nicknamed "Old Ironsides" when every cannon blasted to it would bounce off pathetically. Here's a pic:
Here's another, below deck:
It was here where a dialogue took place that greatly amused me. I recorded it and will paste it here:
Sean: I'm feeling some emotion.
Jen, amused: You are? Some emotion? (thinking: feeling extra patriotic?)
Sean: yeah, can you feel it?
It was when Sean started making surfing gestures that I realized he actually said motion... and I then busted a gut for 15 seconds. "Can you feel it?" Hahahaa! I was relieved, a little worried i had married kind of a dweeb.
Next to the Constitution is a serious battleship whose name i can't recall. Pretty cool, right.
I think it's been too long, but I forgot how awesome being on vacation is. Eating out for almost every meal, buying stuff, doing whatever you want. Yeah, I'm into that. We tried to get some kind of seafood wherever we ate. For lunch one day, I ordered a cobb salad with lobster. Normally I shy away from taking pictures of food but I did it anyway:
I'm a big fan of the Cobb. I renamed this one a Clobb Salad. They cut off a chunk o' iceberg and put the tastiest lobster salad on top, then surrounded it with the rest of the traditional Cobb makings (as you can see). Delicious. Love the chunk of cheese to the side. I really enjoy assembling my own meals sometimes.
Something else I'm a sucker for: A good carousel. Here's a nice action shot. (Sean is holding Julian. I am taking the pic from my own horse, obviously)
Another thing I enjoy is an aquarium. We visited the New England Aquarium (which is right where your ferry boat will drop you off, by the way). I loved it! I followed this shark around and around the big windy tower all the way to the top. I'm sure he was totally creeped out.
It's so fun to be standing there,
face pressed up against the window for far too long and have a big sea turtle or something else cool enter your view and swim centimeters away from you r face.
I will keep aquarium pics to a minimum since it is not nearly as cool as being there in person, but it illustrates my words, which are these: I love sharks. Not as much as whales though. If Julian were older we'd have gone on the "whale watch" tour. It's 3-4 hours out to sea where you see a whale or your money back. YES.
I really like fish tanks. I had one when i was small. I had a friend who had a saltwater tank and he'd go out of town a LOT because I was feeding his fish a LOT. He had a tiny shark, a shrimp, a clown fish, a puffer and other cool things. So the tropical fish are beautiful. I am particularly fond of fish with faces, and snapped a pic of this guy:
heh heh. look at his nose. It gives him a personality I know he just doesn't have. But maybe?
We visited the Old North Church. It was here where P. Revere had 2 lanterns alit to warn the citizens that the "regulars are coming out!" by sea.
I brought my Paul Revere book that i bought here last time, and read it on the trip. On the ferry boat, I liked to picture Paul quietly rowing his boat to Charlestown as the British warship Somerset stood... floated? bobbed? lurking in the shadows nearby.
I remarked to Sean (several times) how fun Boston is because a) it's such a doable city and b) it has a theme. New York is just too vast, too huge, too complicated. It's overwhelming and a bit discouraging to think you'll never know even a fraction of the history there. And i know there's more to Boston than the Revolution but it's obviously a major theme. And everything relates to it. You could really actually learn a decent chunk about the first steps toward creating our nation...which is why.. everyone should visit Boston on the 4th!!! Alright, sorry. Moving on.
While Sean visited the Revere house one day, Julian and I splashed in the most marvelous fountains. It was delightful! Julian was soaked through and we parent-failed, having only brought an extra t-shirt, so we made him a loincloth out of a blanket. Looks to me like it was satisfactory.
Though I felt like I learned a lot there, I was always getting the names of buildings confused.
Jen: I can't keep anything straight. Old North Church. Old State House. Old South Church. Old/North/South/City/State/Court/Hall/House.
Whilst walking to a burial ground, Sean pointed to a [servant? i'm guessing] door and said, "that's where you live." He said it so unexpectedly and accusatory...ily... unnecessarily & uncharacteristically mean that it took me by surprise and made me laugh, so i took a pic.
Ok, so here's what we did on the actual Day of Our Independence.
First, we dressed in our reds whites & blues. You've seen Julian's adorable lobster outfit here and there. I bought that at a gift shop because I'm a sucker. Or am i? That thing paid for itself. People commented on it all day. (Julian's usual reply: Boats!) Sean went for subtle patriotism. I had on a red & white shirt with blue shorts and star-spangled nails that fortunately for YOU i took a picture of:
We then walked over to the Old/North/South/State/House/Hall. Ok, it's the Old State House, right where the Boston Massacre took place. Here's a front-side pic from a couple of days before:
On the morning of the 4th we visited it again and listened to a reading of the Declaration of Independence that was first read from that very balcony July 18, 1776. Did YOU do that on your July 4th morning??? It was awesome!
I felt like I was really there, then, hearing it for the first time. Although I'm pretty sure the colonists didn't have access to a phone onwhich they could read along. Nice.
I remarked several times that all I needed on my 4th of July was some fifes. That's all I ask. And that's what i got.
There would be a small group of fifes and drums every day we were there, playing from here to there and there to there. Love it.
After that, we took the ferry back to Charlestown to have a more chilled-out afternoon, to see Bunker Hill and fireworks later on. We hopped aboard Rita and got this excellent picture:
Best thing ever.
We had originally planned on taking a tour of the USS Constitution that morning but unfortunately for us, they were taking her out for a "turn about" because oh yeah, she is still functional. But fortunately for us she was out during our ferry trip and we got a spectacular view of her!
To add to the specialness of the moment, I turned to Sean and said in a hushed voice, "I am reminded of when, anchors aweighed, the pirate ship in the 80's classic Goonies emerges into view. Majestic!"
We overheard that next year they're going to bust out the sails and all, so note that as you book your Boston Trip 2012(!)
Julian loved his boats. He is a pretty friendly kid and will talk to strangers but when they ask him specific questions, his over-excitement gets the best of him and he usually gets out the only word that is recently on his mind. Usually it is "bus" but this time it was "boats!!" Here he is waving goodbye to the Constitution:
After getting some patriotic rest, we visited Bunker Hill where the bloodiest battle took place. The British won the battle but at a terrible cost. They lost 1,000 lives and the Colonists lost around 300 or so. But it showed the British just who they were messing with, and that they should be taken very seriously.
On our walk, we ooed and ahhed at all the lovely old homes and hilly roads. Sean stopped short when we came upon this house and exclaimed, "how can i ever look at another house again?"
He then had us stand in front of it, the "3 loves of [his] life"
Ha ha. Alright. (Remember how dramatic Sean gets about aesthetics sometimes?)
Here's the monument.
I should note that before we arrived, we stopped at a ice cream shop and ordered a Bunker Hill Sundae. See? Patriotic in every way.
We decided not to attempt hoofing it to the exact location of the big deal fireworks, but opted instead to hang out on our pier by the hotel(!!! so close!) We took a bench to view the skyline, wait for the big fireworks, and watch other fireworks going off all along the river.
It was beautiful and fun and after some awesome fireworks, all the boats hanging out on the river would toot their horns. Here is Julian's face after viewing his first firework:
It was magical. a) hardly anyone was there which is VASTLY VASTLY different from watching the NYC 'works where you have people from all sides going up your nose, b) again, it was right by our hotel and on a pier [fun], c) we had such a stunning view of the city, and d) during the finale I sang the 1812 Overture (which the Boston Pops play during the show, which we couldn't hear) for all to enjoy which I'm SURE was just as good, if not better.
Twelve words: Best. July. 4th. EVER. in. my. life. i'd. do. it. again. absolutely.
That night, at about 11:30 when we finally put Julian to bed, to round off the Day o' Independence, i quietly yet sweetly sang him a bedtime lullaby. This one was different: The Star Spangled Banner. Sure I may have gotten a word or two wrong... " through the.. o'er the.. wait...and the.. ramparts.. wait-- i always get the prepositions wrong--we watched, were so gallantly streaming..." But the patriotic songs of my heart rang through, and it just shows that i should probably revisit this place again.