Thursday, September 24, 2015

Visiting the Northeast: Concord and Boston

Saturday, September 5, 2015

After all the official events of Curtis' graduation weekend were over, we planned to have one more full day of exploring New England before heading back to the Midwest. We were up bright and early on Saturday morning and ready to go. We said goodbye to Curtis' parents as they had to get back to Iowa, and took Curtis' sister Claire along for the rest of the ride. The 5 of us piled in Ghillie, we were off!

The Old North Bridge

The thing that interested us most in the Northeast was the history that is so well remembered and preserved all over. My dad used to plan big road trips for my family out East to visit all sorts of battlefields, forts, and historic sites for our country's history. This trip was no different - except we only had 1.5 days to fit it all in rather than 2 ½ weeks! So we decided to go to where we could see so much of this history all within a small area: Boston!

We started off by driving to Concord and visiting the Old North Bridge and the site of the "shot heard 'round the world" was fired in the Minute Men National Historic Park.

In light of experiencing the graduation yesterday and being surrounded by all things military, the patriotic feeling was still very present, making this all the more to see. Here is where the Minute Men so bravely served this country at the beginning, and just yesterday we witnessed 92 people become commissioned ensigns in the US Navy who intend to do the very same thing - to serve this country in whatever ways they're asked.

After our short time in Concord, we hopped on a train to Boston. We decided that the easiest way for us to visit this big city was by taking public transportation into it. The ride was about 45 minutes long and took us right into the heart of the city. We were once again impressed with all the forests and natural land along the tracks - being from the Midwest, we pictured this area to be much more populated and occupied, but were pleasantly surprised to find that wasn't the case!

We heard the best way to see the historical sites was by following the Freedom Trail. We didn't have time to see it all, but we were able to see all the main highlights that we wanted. Much of what we saw happened to highlight the same time period of the Revolutionary War, which helped put it all into context.

Our first two stops didn't fit this trend however starting with the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned US Naval ship. The Constitution was built after the Revolutionary War and saw service in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812.  Currently, the boat is in dry dock undergoing some refurbishing, but we were still able to walk on and enjoy it.

Before getting on the ship, anyone over 18 is required to show their ID. Dad, Curtis, and I obediently pulled ours out. The guy there checked Curtis and Dad's, but ignored me as I continued to try to give mine to him. "Wait, you're over 18?" he asked. Thanks a lot, guy. ;)

Next, we stopped by to see a destroyer from WW2: the USS Cassin Young. We were able to walk all around much of this ship and see some of the rooms on the first deck.

After that, we continued our walk on the Freedom Trail into downtown Charlestown, admiring the houses and brick buildings all squeezed together. Fall colors on the trees were only beginning to show, but we can imagine why people talk about visiting Boston in the fall - it must be lovely!

Our next stop was to see Bunker Hill. They warned us of the 294 steps leading to the top, but we brushed those off thinking "no biggie, we hiked the Grand Canyon in 8 hours!" But let me tell you, climbing up those narrow Bunker Hill steps is harder than hiking down and up the Grand Canyon. Good grief! ;)

Looking down from Bunker Hill - Downtown Boston

Looking down on Charlestown

We made our way back across the bridge to Boston proper and to the Old North Church. It was past lunchtime now and Bunker Hill had taken a toll on some of us. ;) Curtis still managed to find a couple of letterboxes as we walked along the busy streets filled with tourists.

One if by land, two if by sea.....three by aircraft, four by dinosaurs, five if they just disappear

Inside the Old North Church

The organ!

Our final stop on the Freedom Trail was Paul Revere's house. We only stopped outside to check it out before heading back to the train station and grabbing a late lunch. We knew there was much more to see here, but we were content with what we had done - and we still had a 3 hour drive to Albany before our day was done!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in this "big city" though. We typically aren't the type that would choose to visit one, but our day here was great. Public transportation took away the stress of driving and parking, and we felt like we had both gotten the high-energy "big city" feel while still not forgetting about all that happened here over 2 centuries ago. 

We rewarded ourselves for all that walking by grabbing ice cream in Concord before driving to Albany. Instead of going on I-90, we decided to take the scenic route through Northern Massachusetts, then a little further North into Vermont through the Green Mountains. This area was so gorgeous, and made Curtis wish he could hike the Appalachian Trail even more than before. :)

Sisters at sunset :)

With my love in another new state for us - Vermont! Yay! We'll be back. :)

Because you know you missed seeing kissing pictures this summer...
And that was our day in Boston! Come back tomorrow to read about our last little adventure and the rest of the drive back. :)

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