Boston-Day 9

I’d been reading some of Yann Martel’s short stories and finished reading in bed the night before (a beautiful way to spend my vacation, reading in bed, BTW) in time to give the book away today. However, they gave me a very strange dream that I think I’d like to one day try to make into a story, though it was a bit emotional. I spent some time over breakfast writing down elements from it and mapping out in my head my ambitious plan for the day.

Today, I had more specific plans than just following my snarf map: I wanted to visit Bunker Hill properly (I’d spent about 2 minutes there on a previous visit), I wanted to go to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (my boss had recommended it), I wanted to see the rest of the Freedom Trail, and I wanted to go to the monthly BookCrossing meetup. That was a pretty tall order for one day, but I started out early with great hope.

Day8-01Tobysrus gave me some good advice about how best to get to Bunker Hill, so I ended up taking the T to Boston and then walking across a bridge along the Freedom Trail–man, I do love that red line that goes through town and takes you to the historical spots. There were tons and tons of bonus snarfs on the way to Bunker Hill, including a small park in which I completely missed a war memorial in the corner. Oops!

But I got to Bunker Hill at last and caught as many snarfs as I could, walking around the whole thing. Then I decided I really should go up to the top of it, given that I’d made it all the way there anyway. So I did. I went in and the park ranger told me there were 294 stairs to the top and no elevator. I went in and got my National Park stamp; the ranger told me there were 294 stairs. I stood and listened to the intro talk a guide was delivering; he mentioned there were 294 stairs. When I went to finally climb up, the ranger there reminded me there were 294 stairs. Honestly, 294 didn’t seem like all that many stairs. I set out on the climb. There were a few bonus snarfs inside the monument I wouldn’t have had a chance to snarf if I hadn’t gone in, so I was happy about that. There was also a warning about how many stairs there were. I laughed. How many steps again? I started up them, counting as I went (I liked that some of them were labeled so I could see my progress).

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By the time I’d reached the top, having been passed by people 20-30 years older than I was as well as little kids who were breezing up and down them, I had realized something incredibly important: THERE ARE 294 STAIRS!!!!! Yeah. I was beat. My feet hurt. I had to sit on one of the little benches and catch my breath before even looking out of the windows. I couldn’t believe I’d thought this would be nothing. 294 stairs after a full day of walking yesterday and all morning walking across the bridge and up the hill to the monument? Terrible idea! But it was still worth it. Beautiful views and some bonus snarfs inside the monument as well.

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Day8-08I needed a rest after climbing up and then down the 294 stairs. So I headed to the (free) Bunker Hill Museum (another snarf, of course).

I really liked the models, sketches, and postage stamps depicting the monument. And I learned more about its role in the war/its part in history. I took it easy there and bought a few souvenirs. I almost cried when I found that the only way to get to the bathroom was to go down stairs and then up again, then down again to leave the museum. These Bunker Hill people really do love their stairs!

Day8-02 Day8-09I sat down on a bench in the museum for a long time, pouring over my snarf map and making some plans. Then I found the start (end?) point of the Freedom Trail and started out on it. There were still a few things on this end of it I had yet to visit, and I was looking forward to completing my Freedom Trail experience properly. But after the 294 stairs, walking all the way back across the bridge was mistake #2 of the day. My feet were killing me by the time I got back into Boston.

I found a burial ground, with plenty of snarfs inside and some really lovely old graves. I found the Old North Church, which I’d walked by on a previous trip but hadn’t thoroughly explored. I found a beautiful set of gardens behind the church I hadn’t known were there, where there was snow untouched since the last fall. I almost didn’t want to walk on it, but I saw markers ahead. So I took a few photos of the beautiful unspoiled snow-filled gardens, took a deep breath, and took a step. I tried to minimize my footprints, to keep it as beautiful as possible, but then two young college-aged students came by about 5-10 minutes later and trampled all over. Oh well!

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Day8-14After this, I headed to Paul Revere’s house, the last major stop on the Freedom Trail that I hadn’t visited. I saw a few snarfs inside, but I wasn’t willing to spend the money or time to go in and explore the grounds. I had other things to see and places to be. It was a nice part of town, and I ventured off the trail to get to another T station. It was absolutely wonderful to get to sit down for a little while on the way across town on my way to art museums.

I first visited the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA). I balked at the museum’s $25 admission fee (I really am spoiled living near Washington, D.C. with so many free museums). So I went to the gift shop and did my favorite thing–buying art postcards (about 20 years ago I started a special journal where I put my favorite art postcards). I also bought some Story Cubes (a writing tool) I didn’t already have that were a great price. As I was checking out, the woman behind the counter asked me if I’d had a good visit. I felt silly not telling her I didn’t want to spend the admission fee money, so I told her I had. She started talking to me about two of her favorite temporary exhibits–the postcards and the blue & white art (note: I collect postcards and my favorite color is blue). I pretended I’d seen them and really liked them, though I secretly really wished I had seen them.

I ventured out to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, not far away. If I had to pay to visit an art museum, that’s the one I wanted to go to. I definitely didn’t have the money to visit both. But when I got to the museum, I found that it was CLOSED ON TUESDAYS! Oops! I’d failed to check that and no one had mentioned that fact to me. Suddenly, the $25 MFA admission price looked a whole lot better to me. So I walked all the way back to the MFA.

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Turns out, the MFA was expensive but worth every penny. The postcard exhibit was astounding; I spent a lot of time there. I also loved the musical instruments exhibit. The variety of art from so many different parts of the world was wonderful. There were recreations of rooms from different periods of time, even a Buddhist Temple room. I picked up a map & visitor guide that said on the back “Only have an hour?” and it gave me a 12-piece highlight tour. I decided to visit everything on the tour, though I was there well over an hour and saw a whole lot in-between, of course.

Before I left, I knew I had to see the blue & white exhibit. The museum was closing in about 30 minutes, and I kept following signs. But I couldn’t find the exhibit. I asked three different employees who gave me good directions, I just couldn’t find it. There’s one area of the museum that’s like a circular room with halls stretching out from the center, and I kept getting turned around there. I was just about to give up when I finally stumbled upon it. And it was definitely well worth it. They didn’t allow photography of that exhibit.

But my absolute favorite part of the museum was a room I stumbled upon trying to get to the mummies. I suddenly found myself in a small gallery filled with art and artifacts from Papua New Guinea, where I was born. Some of the pieces looked a lot like the masks or statues we had in my living room when I was growing up. I visited this gallery three times during my trip and even teared up a few times. I ended up sitting down on the bench in the center of the room (to give my feet a break) and just soaking it up. I even texted my mother about it. It was such a neat experience!

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When the museum closed, I took the T up to Harvard in order to go to the monthly Boston BookCrossing meetup. I was there a little early, so I walked around Harvard Yard a bit and snarfed a few buildings and markers. I even paid a few students at an organization fundraising table to take a photo of me and Eeyore in front of this statue of John Harvard, rubbing his foot for luck.

Yes, it was raining. It’s not so much fun snarfing in the rain, but I’ll do it if I have to. What I really wanted to do was to find the coffee shop/restaurant where the BookCrossing meetup was. Apparently, it was supposed to be easy to find, but I was having trouble finding it on the map and on the streets. I found myself in a park that was way too large and full of snarfs I couldn’t resist. I was running late and wet and freaking out a little, but I snapped a bunch of quick photos while looking for the meetup location. I asked for directions from a couple people, who had no idea where it was. I was starting to worry.

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Day8-27 Day8-25Then I realized that I wasn’t late… I was an hour early! I’d remembered the wrong time! Then I suddenly stumbled upon the place, which was a snarf, coincidentally! So I had an hour to kill. I ventured on, almost unable to walk by now, drenched in the rain, and tired. I made it as far as the end of the block before turning around and going back. Sure, I was an hour early and could have snarfed more or gone back to get better photos of the markers I’d hurriedly snarfed along the way. Instead, I opted for going to the restaurant early, sitting down, drying out, and having a nice hot chocolate. It turned out to be a good choice.

When it was closer to meeting time, I walked around the place then headed upstairs–there were the BookCrossers and the books! More of both arrived during the next half an hour. Being a part of BookCrossing is like having family in cities all over the world, and I was so lucky to be there during the week of the Boston group’s monthly meeting anyway! I’d met a lot of those BookCrossers during the UnCon a few years ago, so it was great to see familiar faces and meet a few new ones! Gorydetails even made the drive to the meeting (and to bring me a wishlist book or two! That was a treat; I felt honored to get to see Gory again). The books I’d brought found good homes. I came home with a few I hadn’t planned on taking home with me (that is the problem with BookCrossers; they are so generous and none of us can resist a good new-to-us book!)

Day8-28Tobysrus and I headed back to her place, but not before I’d snarfed a series of historical signs inside the Harvard Square station! My last snarfs of the day and of the trip. I went back to her home, packed up, worried about the weight of my suitcase, failed to weigh it on her scale, and then slept like the dead.

Did I mention that the Bunker Hill Monument had 294 stairs?

The next morning, Tobysrus drove me all the way to the airport, because she is so incredibly sweet, and I did curbside check-in for the first time. They didn’t even weigh my bag; so I needn’t have worried about the weight as much as I did! I had a good flight back home.