Monday, October 8, 2007

The Walking City - A Boston Weekend

Our lucky little boy finally rode a train. We drove to the outskirts of Boston on Saturday to Jeremy's cousin Mike's house. From there we were able to hop on "The T" for a short trip straight to the center of town. Boston was a great town to walk our boy through, following the red brick road called the Freedom Trail. The town is filled with history. Plaques throughout the town describe the historical significance of countless sites. It was refreshing to be able to walk through a town and soak in the history without spending the day in museums. The Irish Potatoe Famine memorial was one of the sites that impressed me the most. The statues were beautiful but haunting. The Old North Church was also impressive. The pews were very different. Each family would actually pay rent on their pew box. These boxes look like a great idea for anyone with small children. In order to stay warm and avoid drafts, each family would sit in one boxed in area, similar to an old train car box.

As I expected, my favourite part of town was Faneuil Hall Marketplace. We arrived just as hunger was overtaking us, and after watching a short juggling show we wandered through the busy Quincy Market. I found one of my favorite food combinations, a basil, mozerella, tomato panini. Yum. Jeremy surprized me by ordering lamb kabobs. The shopping itself in the market was a bit of a disappointment to me. I was expecting something similar to the diverse handcrafted offerings of Pike Place Market in Seattle, but found more modern standard stores, like Crate and Barrel. The open square itself was more than I imagined, though, reminding me of the crazy streets of Paris. Around every corner we were surprized and impressed by street performers. There were two living statues, one of which was a golden pirate, who would remove baseball hats from unsuspecting tourists with her hook hand. The musicians were also entertaining, especially a one-man band. One crazy street performer was juggling knives high on a pole held up by audience members.

We finally broke away from the entertainment and made our way to a beautiful nearby fountain where Alex and I joined others walking through the cool cascade. The three of us then wandered on to our final stop of the day, Paul Revere's House, before heading back to "The T" and Mike's house.

On our way back from Boston on Sunday, we stopped at Dianosaur State Park near Hartford for a short walk. We were there late in the day and didn't go in the dome with the actual tracks, but enjoyed watching fearless chipmunks along the trail.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sleeping Giant

This was a morning of frustration. I'm beginning to realize that I can't read maps while the car is moving, even if I'm not the one driving.

We decided to visit Sleeping Giant State Park this morning, taking the scenic route. After multiple wrong turns and my complete inability to read a map and watch for signs, we finally arrived at the fortunately still sleeping giant. A 1 1/2 mile hike up a well maintained trail brought us to the tower. We're not sure why the tower is there, (is it military, or whimsy, or ancient castle from a long forgotten society?) but it provides a 360 degree view of the New Haven area. We were a week or two early for the prime fall foliage, but the slightly turned leaves were unreal in the bright sunlight. We'll have to return.

After a little pb&j picnic we headed back down, while competing to find the largest acorn, which Jeremy did despite not even looking.

Our next stop of the day was relatively disappointing. The Eli Whitney museum had very little information about Eli Whitney. It did have a fun marble wall where you could push buttons to move marbles up a screw and then let them drom through bells and ramps, which I'm sure Alex enjoyed more than reading information about cotton gins, anyway.

After another confused map reading session, we arrived at the Savin Rock Museum just down the beach from our apartement. The museum gives the history of the Savin Rock amusement park that has dissapered without a trace from the beach we spend our days on. It's hard to imagine Fun Houses, a carousel, restauraunts, and rollercoasters on our peaceful beach.

To round out our day, we spent the evening building sand castles on our favourite spot of sand as the sun set.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yale = Alex's College Fund

Vacationing today, we decided to keep close to our Beach House in West Haven, CT, and visit nearby Yale.

We began our education at the Peabody Museum. Just in time for the opening of a new exibit, we were disappointed to find Flyfishing as the topic. We didn't come all the way from Montana to learn about flytying. The great hall of dinasours was worth the trip, though. It may be the inspiration for a mural in Alex's room when we return home. What a relief to find that the museum was well designed for toddlers. Glass walls keep little hands from the artifacts. Alex enjoyed thd dinasour bones, and recognized some skeletons, such as a giant leatherback sea turtle. There were also small tables set up for little ones with fun activites. He won a little hamerhead shark toy by catching three paper rainbow trout with a magnet and then was able to construct his own little fishing pole to tap on the glass throughout the rest of the museum.

After a morning at the Peabody we raced to the Yale visitor's center for a free guided tour of campus. At first, the tour reminded me of the various college tours I attended during High School. As we left the visitor's center and neared the center of campus, it became apparent that we were entering a very special place. Walking through the gates into the original old campus quad, the similarities and differences between the Ivy league and my state college experience became apparent. The beautiful gothic architecture and green open space surrounded by high brick walls was stunning. It was an oasis in the midst of a busy city. This area was, without a doubt, the inspiration for the small brick quads I lived in my freshman year. It is as if I attended school in a doll house, and now here is the emperor's palace it was modeled after. This was the real deal. Yale students generally live on campus throughout their undergraduate studies. I would guess that upon their graduation they must be literally booted out the door and their keys pried out of their grasping hands as they beg to stay.

The rare book library left us equally in awe. 1 1/4 inch marble walls pruduce a glow to the building, and the impression of windows while maintaining a dignified darkened library setting.

While I enjoyed my college years, I didn't have the Ivy League experience. This was the first time that I began to really appreciate how different that experience was. One little fact that made a large impression on me was that professors actully live in the dorms with the students. The atmosphere is simply academic. It's lucky I didn't visit Yale before I graduated from college. Even now, a few years down the road, it almost left me in tears with envy.

Alex and I brought home a little acorn, and scratched a "Y" in it for Yale. Perhaps in Alex's little head that little seed will someday grow into something as monumental as the campus walls. Perhaps we should consider a college fund.

baby growth