a tale of two cities
15 July 2013
it was the best of times, it was, well, times have been pretty good. so good, in fact, that the summer is flying by. instead of ignoring the ol' blog because i have nothing to say, i haven't blogged because there's been too much. june was chaos and we were gone for half of it. and this is that story.
back when marc was only on week eight of being gone, his company, red hat, was holding its summit in boston the week of father's day. we decided that since the school year was done and the kids and i had been left alone way too much (and it was likely to continue. which turned out to be true. a month later.), we would fly out to boston on friday to join marc for the weekend. boston is one of my favorite places, but the kids had never been, so it seemed time.
i tried to hold off telling them about the trip, but decided to spill the beans the day before. our flight out of minneapolis was at 6:30 a.m., which meant we had to leave the house at 4:30 a.m. ... didn't seem like waking them at 4 a.m. saying, "surprise!" would go over well. they were troopers getting up and ready to go, and after a fiasco at the airport (one security line open. still waiting in line as our plane was boarding. running to our gate after security. no coffee or breakfast for anyone. the "no coffee" thing really sucked. made it onto the plane, only to be delayed 30 minutes because some brilliant person thought the plane was going to alaska, not boston, and put in waaaay more gas than we needed. which then had to be emptied.), we were on our way.
the rest of the trip was uneventful, and we landed without a problem. a quick cab ride downtown, and we walked into the hotel just as marc did. perfect timing. after dropping our bags in the room, we took a cab to little italy to meet marc's aunt and uncle, cousin and cousin's wife and new baby for lunch. after lunch, henry was, unfortunately, feeling pretty nasty so we headed back to the room for some cool, dark, and quiet. (ie everyone fell asleep and napped for, like, three hours.) we ate dinner close to the hotel and called it a night, hoping henry would feel better in the morning.
saturday turned out to be a gorgeous day, and henry was feeling much better, so off we went. first stop: dunkin' donuts. our poor midwestern kids have never tried dunkin' (they don't exist in minnesota). they were totally impressed.
our plan was to head downtown, wander, ride a duck boat, take the kids to the garden, etc.
but first, my boys had to stop and gawk at a lamborghini parked in front of a hotel. while they appreciated the car, i had to wonder what sort of person drives a lamborghini, parks in from of the w hotel, and self-identifies as "gatsby." turns out, according to the doorman, it is a local student.
and then we were off.
we grabbed a cab to the prudential center to board a duck boat. during all of our times in boston, neither marc nor i have ever taken a duck boat tour. and i'm so glad we did it with the kids. we were able to see all of the important/noteworthy/cool/historic areas, hear some amazing history, and were totally entertained by disco danny, our driver, the entire time.
and we bought the kids duck call necklaces. and they quacked a lot. that may have been a bad idea. (though it was actually the fault of danny disco. he told duck call holders to quack when he told them to. and to quack at other duck boats. my kids were just following orders. for the rest of the weekend. they quacked at every duck boat they saw.)
funny (to us) story: while we were on the tour learning all of the amazing historical facts and seeing all of the noteworthy places, we passed a bar called the red hat. i told marc he needs to take his co-workers there next time they're in town.
the tour ended about an hour later. we grabbed lunch at legal seafood ...
(oh, those lobster rollllllsssss ...)
our walk led us down boylston into copley square. it was a pretty emotional experience, being there only two months after the bombings. there is a beautiful memorial set up in the square with hundreds of pairs of running shoes with inspirational messages and prayers written on them. i thought it in bad taste to photograph the memorial, but i did get a picture of an adjacent tree that had been yarn bombed with love.
so we hung out in copley for awhile ...
and i saw my favorite thing about cities: old and new architecture sharing the space ...
as luck would have it, we were in town as the boston bruins were playing in the stanley cup finals against the chicago blackhawks, and the statues around town were celebrating:
we then continued our walk down boylston, heading to the park. we passed a chocolate store and got a little pick-me-up ...
the kids looked for and counted all of the "welcome red hat" signs around the area ...
and we paused for a quiet moment at the marathon finish line.
once we got to the park, the kids definitely seemed to relax in the green space. henry hugged a tree ...
we met a nice couple out walking their cute little puppies ...
i tried to take a photo of one of my favorite trees in the park, only to be photobombed by my eldest ...
and we found the "make way for ducklings" statues. harper decided to be an honorary duckling ...
we continued our walk up toward beacon hill and the state house. we talked about some of the historical points that disco danny had pointed out, and spent more timing observing and reading plaques along the way.
henry then observed and read this plaque, giving me a smirk and saying, "there's a general hooker entrance. where do the special hookers enter?" thus proving a) he's totally a 13-year-old boy, and b) he's totally my child.
further we walked ... the kids were both amazing and kept up and stayed interested the entire time. it was getting to be late afternoon by this point, and we were all hot and tired. henry found a place that looked like it might be right up his alley ...
but decided, "it's too early for dinner. and we're in boston. we need to eat sushi." so, okay then.
we wandered on to the granery burying ground - the third oldest cemetery in boston, and spent some time trying to read the headstones that had been weathered over the past three hundred years.
we turned off of tremont, heading toward faneuil hall, and passed the old state house, with its lion and unicorn statues, and the balcony on which the declaration of independence was read for the first time.
we made it to faneuil and wandered through, but it was a bit chaotic. so we settled into a booth at anthem for some iced tea. and the boys had clam chowder. and harper photobombed me.
seriously ... what is it with my children?!
that little pick-me-up got us through the remainder of our walk. we ended up at the harbor for a quick walk by the water, where harper was obsessed with finding jelly fish (because i told her i'd once seen the harbor full of jelly fish). she did ... a few ... all dead. and i discovered where i think i'd be perfectly happy living for a while ... boston, view of the city, view of the water, a boat. yup. totally doable.
as we waited for a cab back to the hotel, my kids continued quacking at duck boats, and harper kept track of which ones we saw in a little booklet she picked up at the ticket booth. (we scratched off more than half of the list before our weekend was over.)
henry had said he wanted sushi, and he had seen a sushi place at the end of the block by our hotel. we opted to try it ... and let me just say that it was some of the best sushi we've ever had. ever. we will definitely return to genki ya the next time we're in town.
after dinner, we all fell into bed. i have no idea how much we walked that day, but the path looked something like this:
the next morning, i was up by 7:30 ... and at 9:30, my people still looked like this:
so i started bouncing on beds until they woke up.
sunday was all about the aquarium. it was the one thing harper had her heart set on doing while in town.
and then as we left, harper looked for more jelly fish in the harbor. this time, she saw two that were still alive.
we walked from the aquarium to the rose kennedy greenway and hung out by the rings fountain for a bit. it was a nice day - warm, but breezy, and the mist from the fountains felt wonderful. harper got as close as she dared ...
while henry tried to decipher the timing of the fountains, in his rodin-esque way.
harper continued to keep a respectful distance ...
but henry thought he had figured out the system. so he was all in. and feeling very confident. even after we said, "you know, if the fountain gets you, you'll be wet all through lunch and on the plane." but his confidence said, "i know. i'm fine."
well ... guess who was surprised by the fountain's random timing ...
that's right, boy. you'd better run.
(also, notice how he runs. this is why he swims. he gets his running skills from his mother, too.)
once we had a good laugh at henry's expense and expressed our thankfulness that he was still, amazingly, dry, we had one last lunch in boston then headed to the airport.
it was a great weekend ... too short, but wonderful. the kids loved the city as much as we do, and we are talking about when we can go again and spend more time. until then, boston ...
but wait: i said this was a tale of TWO cities, right?
so we got back home on sunday night. monday morning, marc left ... again ... for the week ... again. he got home thursday night, and friday henry had a camp until 3:30 in the afternoon, at which point we picked him up and pointed the car south to indiana. my cousin got married on sunday in indiana, we hung out with family on monday, and on tuesday we drove two hours south to drop the kids off at marc's parents, before driving three hours back north to chicago, where marc was working for the next two days. so i tagged along.
we started our Kid Free two-and-a-half days with a grown-up fancy steak dinner on tuesday night. just us. and a cocktail.
on wednesday, marc left for his meetings, and i left to wander ... and, turns out, buy a rain coat, because it wouldn't stop raining ... to meet a girlfriend i haven't seen since high school. we killed the afternoon at the art institute, looking at the art and sharing memories and catching up. it was so great. then i walked back to the hotel (marc prefers cabs ... i prefer sidewalks) and got ready for dinner. we tried a sushi place that the concierge recommended (it was okay; couldn't compare with the stuff in boston.) ...
wandered up michigan for a little window shopping, then stopped by a theater to see a movie. world war z. because when i have "kid free date night" time with my husband, we see a movie he wants to see. it was okay ... henry tells me i would prefer the book.
that night, we could not get to sleep. we kept hearing sirens and yelling on the street. turns out, the stanley cup was in town, the blackhawks having won it a few nights before, and it was making an appearance at a bar a few blocks north of our hotel. i was convinced the zombie apocalypse was starting and the crowds were yelling in fear. but they weren't.
i should have known. i'd seen the hockey helmets on statues that afternoon. a week earlier, it was jerseys on statues in boston. the symmetry made me smile.
anyway, on thursday i was feeling not so great, so i opted to enjoy the quiet of a hotel room and king sized bed all to myself. i laid in that bed and flipped ... and flipped ... and flipped through terrible daytime hotel tv, and i re-read every magazine i'd brought on the trip. the movie i wanted to see that had been playing the day before at only 1:00 and 4:00 and i thought for sure i could go see on thursday? no longer playing. figures. however, marc was done for the day by mid-afternoon, we got cleaned up, and met his boss' boss for delicious cuban food. then we walked all the way up michigan and back to our hotel again and called it a day.
on friday, we had a few hours before we needed to leave for indy to get the kids. the blackhawks parade and rally were being held in the morning, and we debated what to do and whether it was wise. in the end, we decided to do an architecture boat tour along the chicago river and out into lake michigan. like boston, all the times i've been to chicago (which is innumerably more than the times i've been to boston), i wanted to do a boat tour and never have.
we headed down the stairs to the boat, which was docked by the wrigley building. more old/new architecture juxtaposition for my nerdy little heart. wrigley and trump, two tycoons and their expressions of wealth.
the tour was really amazing. like the duck boat tour, it was full of information and history, and was so worth the time and money.
(old IN new, as opposed to old AND new.)
we were on the boat while the parade was going on, so the sky was full of planes with banners and media helicopters. i think we counted 11.
soon our boat went through the lock and headed out into my beloved lake michigan.
it was a wonderful ride on a perfect day.
as the boat turned to head back to the river, we started hearing yells and tons of bangs coming from the south shore. the rally in hyde park was ending, and fireworks filled the air ... the loud booming kind. you can see the smoke.
our tour wrapped up about 15 minutes later, and we joined the throng of red and black-clad fans walking through the streets. we walked back to our hotel, grabbed a nice mexican lunch around the block, then got in our car to head south. the traffic was, amazingly, not terrible.
we spent the night in indy before heading back home on saturday. we drove right through the town where my dad and stepmom and grandma live, and met them for an impromptu lunch.
in the space of a week, we managed to see all three families, attend a wedding, have some alone time in a fantastic city, and be smack in the middle of a stanley cup celebration.
truly, the best of times.