After 8 weeks of the East Coast, I have a few reflections that I probably wouldn’t have realized if I had spent less time there. It was the little things I noticed that left a lasting impression on me.
For example, the Harvard Observatory is totally awesome. I met so many nice people waiting in line to see the transit of Venus. And the lecturer was educational and hilarious to listen to.
Now, I have to say that most of the people I saw on the street or hiking as a rule weren’t too friendly, but the people I met through my vetly work were pretty interesting and nice. My roommate and coworkers were also extremely wonderful. I guess I’ve just gotten used to the Midwest the past several years.
Despite what passed for unfriendliness on the streets, I did notice that people in the greater Boston area care deeply for their ties to the past. All of the monuments, graves, and historic sites I saw were visited with respect and were well-tended.
On a brighter note, who can beat seeing a peregrine falcon on the way to work, complete with a personal police officer to keep people away from it?
This little dude stuck around all day; I got to watch him hop around the roofs of the buildings around me while I was on break.
Some of the other things I enjoyed in Boston were the street performers that hung around literally every street corner. Friday nights I would take my dinner to one of the squares in Boston or Cambridge and people watch. There were quite a few that were pretty awesome, including a couple of bands, a father who let his 5 year old son play violin on the weekends, and an Australian guy who juggled chainsaws.
The other thing that is picking up at home but has a solid footing in Boston is food trucks. I had my first food truck experience this summer, and it was amazing. Definitely not the grease-pot I was expecting.
I spent the Fourth of July holiday there as well, and I have to say that the fireworks were pretty stinking awesome, as was the Boston skyline after dark. Though I did wind up walking two miles home in the rain because the subway was overwhelmed afterward. Hey, it was totally worth it.
I also learned a few things while I was exploring. I didn’t have a printer with me, so I hand-drew the maps I used to get around the first several weeks.
Then I realized something: I have a Kindle the Other Half and I had purchased at the beginning of the summer so I wasn’t trying to stuff paperbacks into my carry-on luggage. Kindles support PDF files, so I started saving trail maps to the Kindle and bringing that with me instead. It came in really handy several times, though I did get a few strange looks when I was looking up trails on a Kindle in the middle of the forest.
I’ll finish with a small story of my childhood: When my siblings and I were kids, my mom decided that we needed to travel so we ‘d have a wide base of experience to grow up with. This meant we road-tripped across the Southwest from California all the way over to Georgia and Florida visiting national parks and historic sites on the way. On one of our trips, we stopped at a dam in Nevada that had a life-size paper-mache replica of the donkeys that used to be used in the area. I was such an excited little kid that I bothered my mom until I got a picture with this dusty donkey statue. She still carries that picture with her.
Well, mom, I found another donkey statue and thought of you and all those great memories:
To be honest, this summer I really liked the fact that I didn’t need a car to get around Boston; I really liked the hiking; I really liked the people I met and talked with, and the cultural diversity. I didn’t like the fact that the city stank of vomit and car exhaust as soon as it got above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I hated getting crammed into the subway if I got there during rush hour; living there costs so much more than I’m used to; and I never felt like I was truly alone the entire time I was up there, even when I was on a trail in the middle of a forest. So I really enjoyed the little things of Boston’s lifestyle, but there were some major issues that I don’t think I could come to terms with enough to live there permanently.
But hey, there’s always Wisconsin, right?