New England Redux: History, Fenway and Bronchitis

Trip Start Sep 07, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Bullocks' House

Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Friday, October 12, 2012

Coming off our memorable visit to Maine, we arrived in Milford, New Hampshire at the home of friends Kimberly and Jordan Bullock on Friday, October 12th. I was trading Facebook messages with Kimberly up to the moment of our arrival, and she met us out on her porch late that night.

Milford is a cute little town about an hour Northwest of Boston. The houses mostly sit on hills above the center of town, which they call the Oval (even though it's triangular). The Bullocks kindly let us crash at their place for six nights. We originally planned on four, but Kat developed a rather severe, constant cough (which we discovered later was bronchitis after a trip to the doctor) and our hosts were kind enough to insist that we stay a couple of extra days so she could mend. It helped a ton. The cough took another three weeks to go away, but those two extra days of rest helped her turn the corner.

We had two sightseeing days among the six days in the area, staying put the other four days so Kat could rest. On the day after we arrived, the three of us drove to downtown Boston, with the intention of walking the Freedom Trail. We ran into some trouble with parking, because we had a cargo carrier on top of our car, and we couldn't fit in any of the underground parking garages. We finally double parked and took it off the car, piling all the stuff inside, including partially on top of Wren. She didn't care for that, but there wasn't much we could do!

When we finally got parked, we started walking around Boston Common, which is the oldest public park in America, founded in 1634. We learned about a time when the British army had camped 10,000 soldiers in the Common to control the city as the colonists were getting restless. We also learned that the park was the site of several hangings, including some resulting from the Salem Witch Trials. On our jaunt through the park, we ran into some researchers from Harvard that recruited Wren to take part in a study about sharing, and used candy to test kids' willingness to share. I don't know what the results were, but Wren ended up with a lot of candy. 'Atta girl.

From Boston Common, you can begin walking the Freedom Trail, which takes you to several historic sites along the streets, with a total distance of about 2.5 miles each way. As we started the walk, Kat was feeling pretty bad. She said she was very tired and was coughing a lot. After the second stop, which was the Granary Cemetery (where we saw the graves of Paul Revere, Mother Goose, Ben Franklin's parents, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence -- Paine, Hancock, and Sam Adams), Kat called it quits. She decided to wait back in Boston Common for Wren and I to finish the tour.

Not knowing at this point that she had bronchitis (we found out the next day), Wren and I decided to quickly complete the Freedom Trail and then return to Kat. By the time we got back, she needed rescuing, because she had been propositioned by three different guys (not sure if it was the persistent cough or the death rattle breathing sound that made her so alluring) and the cops kept kicking her out of the parking garage entrance where she was trying to stay warm.

(Note: If you go to downtown Boston, be warned: there are no restrooms or tables in the restaurants that surround the park. They have areas where you can stand up and eat, but nothing else. I had to walk three blocks to find a restroom outside of a Starbucks in the Marriot Hotel.)

Wren and I, oblivious to the seriousness of Kat's illness, continued down the Freedom Trail, where we saw the Massachusetts State House with its gold-leaf dome; the Old State House, where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public; Paul Revere's House, the only original wooden house still standing from that era; the Green Dragon Tavern, where Paul Revere and friends plotted the Revolution; and the Old North Church, where Paul Revere lit two lamps after his famous ride to warn the people that the British were invading by sea.

Part of the Freedom Trail goes through Little Italy and a great little outdoor market. There are a lot of Italian bakeries in this part of town, and the most famous, Mike's, got a write-up in a national magazine. It had people literally lined up down the block to get a lobstertail, their signature pastry. We thought about waiting in line, but we knew Kat was waiting for us, so we hurried along, pastryless.

In between this day on the Freedom Trail, and our other sightseeing day (Fenway Park, with Wren but not Kat), we spent three days just staying put at the Bullocks' home, doing work, blogging, relaxing, and visiting with our friends. Kat spent much of this time in some combination of sleeping, trying to sleep, and being drugged. We tried to leave her alone.

Some of our favorite highlights from our stay with the Bullocks: Wren and Arabella going on "ghost hunts" around the house (very fun, but then Wren was too scared to sleep); Piper making friends with everyone, chasing the cats and dogs around and performing for us; some great home-cooked meals and pumpkin lattes; and the last night, when Wren and I made a spaghetti dinner to thank our hosts for their kindness. We had a great time, and we can't say enough about the generosity and understanding of our hosts, when Kat was needing some extra time to recoup.

The other thing I really wanted to do in Boston was to get a tour of Fenway Park, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. If you've been following our blog, you'd know that earlier, I got a chance to tour Wrigley Field. Wrigley and Fenway are the two oldest remaining baseball parks in America, so seeing them was a top priority for me as a baseball fan.

Wren was tired of staying put at the house, and so she decided to take the tour with me. I was a little concerned that she would be bored, but we had a great time. I even made a deal with her that if she watched a few baseball games with me later on, I'd buy her some Red Sox earrings. She doesn't know much about baseball, but she wants those earrings! She will need to earn them. I'm hoping to use this as leverage to turn her into a sports fan.

The Fenway Tour was great. We got to visit the new seats on top of the Green Monster, go into the clubhouse and pressbox, and hear lots of stories about Boston baseball lore. Here are a couple stories about Fenway:

- The Green Monster is the only outfield wall of its kind. Because of its uniqueness, the park has special rules that take it into play. For instance, if you catch a fly ball off the wall, it's not an out - it's a single. The seats on top of the Monster were installed in 2005, and were selling out so quickly that now in order to get them, you have to actually win a lottery on the Red Sox website just to have the opportunity to buy them.

- There's a seat painted red in center field that's known as the Ted Williams seat. Ted hit a home run 502 feet out to this seat and hit a guy on the head that happened to be napping during the game, waking him up. This marks a funny story, but also marks the longest home run ever hit in Fenway. In 2001, Manny Ramirez hit a ball off the light stands above the Green Monster that some fans say would have traveled farther, but it was recorded at 501 feet, to defer to Ted Williams, and because no one can be sure of its distance.

- The biggest comeback in sports history was performed by the Red Sox in 2004, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Yankees 4-3 in the American League Championship Series. I remember watching this on TV as it unfolded, and it will live in infamy forever in the rivalry between Boston and New York.

After this fun tour, Wren and I had lunch at a local burger stand, and then went back and cooked dinner for everyone (pasta with Alfredo sauce, salad, and garlic bread).

All in all, our trip to Boston had some great moments, but also was a difficult time, with Kat being so sick. Luckily, she did get better, but it took some time.

Stay tuned for our next blog entry, from Mystic, Connecticut, made famous in the movie Mystic Pizza.
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