June 2012

Boston Highlights

Arrived in Boston late afternoon on Tuesday, June 25th in the midst of a typical east coast thunder and lightning show. After an exciting and adrenalin laden slide of a landing during a wind sheer, we rode the shuttle bus to the Airport dock and caught the Harbor Express boat to the Quincy boatyard. As we were reminded, the proper pronunciation of Quincy is “Quinzee” and don’t you forget it.

Wednesday, we ransomed a taxi to the Adams Visitor Center in downtown Quinzee. All tours start from the Visitor Center and begin with a five minute trolley ride to the birthplace houses. John Adams was born in the oldest house at the first site while John Quincy Adams was born in the second house. Each house is on the same small plot only a few feet apart and are surrounded today by a modern neighborhood in the middle of Quincy. After a short guided tour, the trolley and its passengers continued to the Old House or, as John Adams christened his home in tribute to the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War, Peace field. The Old house was home to four generations of Adams: John, his son and sixth President John Quincy, John Quincy’s son, Charles Francis and the fourth Adams, Brooks. Both Charles Francis and Brooks Adams were accomplished men in their own right. CF, in fact, played a critical role as ambassador to Great Britain for Abraham Lincoln and was nearly VP for Harrison but lost to CArthur... in other words, he was nearly our President after Harrison’s assassination.The home was bequeathed to the City of Quincy upon Brook’s death in 1927 and then transferred to the “people of the United States” in 1942. The National Park Service has maintained and managed the home since that time.

When compared to the magic of Mount Vernon, Monticello or Montpelier, the Adams home is relatively modest; more like Monroe’s house near Charlottesville, VA or Jackson’s Hermitage without the property. What sets Peace field apart is that, according to the guide, all the furnishings in the house, including the furniture, paintings and china on display were owned by the Adams. There are no reproductions or replicas in the house. In addition, adjacent to the Old House, is a magnificent stone library built by Charles Francis to house the papers and legacy of his father and grandfather. In the library is the desk John Adams used to write the CURRENT constitution of the Massachusetts’s commonwealth in 1789 and nearly all other original Adam’s letters and papers, including his amazing correspondence with Jefferson after their reconciliation. Also at the library was the desk John Quincy Adams used as a member of Congress after his one term as US President. He was active at this desk when he collapsed from the stroke that killed him at the age of 81 during the debates surrounding slavery and what eventually became the 1850 Compromise. What amazing stories these desks might tell!

On Thursday, while Vicki led the most successful Winn Feline Foundation Annual Symposium yet, I split for Boston. As I emerged from the subterranean Red Line (Boston Subway), I was immediately blinded by the reflection of the Boston Federal Reserve building (picture below). I know David will be thrilled by my experience as he “loves” the Fed as only a Paulite can. A short walk to waterfront landed me next to the Tea Party museum; another short walk and I was viewing Fanueil Hall. After those two short hikes, I bought a ticket for the tourist trolley and rode around Boston for two hours glimpsing several of the more famous Boston sites including the Commons, the MIT campus, Harvard yard, Fenway Park, Church of Christ Scientist (the largest church in North America) and several more.

IMG_3323Federal Reserve

IMG_3321Tea Party Central

I began my final sojourn (at least for this trip) across Boston by walking through North Boston and Little Italy-regretting the whole time my routine and boring lunch of clam chowder in a bread bowl as I passed many, many wonderful neighborhood Italian restaurants. Mama Mia, what a stupido! Also in this neighborhood is the North Church, famous, of course, for a certain midnight ride. Next, I wandered across the bridge to Charlestown (right past the Boston Garden, home of the Celtics) to the US Constitution (Old Ironsides). From the deck of the Constitution, I snapped a few pictures of the Boston skyline, then caught the bus back to South Station for the return ride to Quincy. As I entered the subway I glanced back at the many buildings and thought of the many iconic Boston sites yet unexplored: as best said by the terminator, I’ll be back!

IMG_3335 USS Constitution

IMG_3336Boston Skyline

I’ll be back in the next day or two with a short tale of our dash up US 95 to Bangor, our tour of Acadia National Part and the St. John Ferry to Nova Scotia. Thanks for reading!
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