A New England Odyssey

Saturday, August 12, 1995

     Whew! What an exhausting day! Let’s go back to last night briefly so you can see why... Just as we were leaving Phoenix, some thunderstorms started rolling in and the humidity jumped up. Before long, everyone in the terminal was sweating. When we got on the plane, someone was in my seat, and the “flight attendants” (what’s wrong with “stewardess”?) shuffled people around a bit.
     Once we got up in the air, I decided to give Dan’s laptop a try. In fact, I even considered using the phone to e-mail everyone from 30,000 feet, as per Charles’ suggestion. Well, the battery didn’t work, so I didn’t get to give that a chance – nor could I play any “Alone in the Dark,” which I had loaded onto the laptop...
     Our first leg of the trip was to Detroit, and on it I eventually drifted off to sleep. About an hour before we were to land, I awoke abruptly for no apparent reason. Groggily, I looked out the window to see if I could judge where we were. Below us I saw what was easily the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen from the air. An enormous network of orange lights stretched out below us. The shape of it was unmistakable: Chicago. I’ve never been there, and am no more inclined to go now, but I’d love to see it from the air again. It was gorgeous.
     We switched planes in Detroit (an easy, if slightly irritating, process) and went on from there to Boston. When we landed in Boston, we arrived at what I believe was the North Terminal. It seemed as if it were an abandoned part of the terminal, because after disembarking we walked through hallway after hallway to get to the main concourse. Once we got to the baggage claim, we spotted Wayne, who we were meeting there. He’s my wife’s step-father’s son (got all that?), and he and his wife generously offered to let us have their place for the weekend. They live in Cambridge and were leaving for Hartford, Connecticut, this weekend.
     After renting a car (a Pontiac “Grand Am” – can’t you just hear Patrick Stewart saying it?) we followed Wayne through Boston to the Post Office and then out to Cambridge. He took us along the scenic route and I pointed out places of interest to Pam as we drove. We got out to Cambridge, met up with Wayne’s wife, Darryl, and hung out with them until they were ready to depart.
     Although we had arrived on the flight at 9:10 a.m., we had by now managed to kill about four hours, and had effectively accomplished nothing so far. The four of us went out to Jimbo’s Fish Shanty for lunch, and I actually ordered some seafood (Schrod Parmesan), even though I’m not much of a seafood fan. It’s probably because I don’t know what fresh seafood is like, and since this was fresh, I liked it.
     After lunch, Wayne and Darryl dropped us off near Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market and headed off for Hartford. We wandered around the area for a while, just getting used to being in Boston again. By the way, George, there’s a Warner Brothers Studio Store near the east end of Quincy Market. We crossed under the freeway, entered the North End, and began following the Freedom Trail. Along it, we stopped and filmed or photographed whatever we happened across. Tight, twisting streets, Paul Revere’s home, St. Stephen’s Church, Revere Mall, and the Old North Church.
     Once we got to the turnoff to Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, we instead doubled-back along some side streets until we were at the intersection of Hanover and Battery Streets. Then, as per Lovecraft’s instructions in “Pickman’s Model,” we...
...struck along the old waterfront past Constitution Wharf. I didn’t keep track of the cross streets, and can’t tell you yet which it was we turned up, but I know it wasn’t Greenough Lane. When we did turn, it was to climb through the deserted length of the oldest and dirtiest alley I ever saw in my life....From that alley, which had a dim light, we turned to the left into an equally silent and still narrower alley with no light at all; and in a minute made what I think was an obtuse-angled bend towards the right in the dark.
     All this lead us to turn left on Foster Street, and then into Foster Court. There didn’t seem to be any sign showing Foster Court, but one flat did have its address posted outside. As I was videotaping the sign with the address, the owner/resident of the flat came outside and belligerently asked if I needed something. I just commented that I was filming “architectural stuff” and we moved on. I guess the ghouls in this area just don’t have a sense of humour...
     After this, we climbed the hill to Copp’s Hill Burying Ground and sat down for a while. By this time it was nearing 5:00 p.m. and we hadn’t really done much so far. We weren’t likely to get out to Mt. Auburn Cemetery today, nor would we get out to Games People Play, a game store in Cambridge that sells European games. Our lack of sleep combined with the dreadfully high humidity finally exacted its toll. We sat down and just vegged out for over half-an-hour. I must admit that at this point we were in a bit of a bad mood, and were actually looking forward to getting out of Boston and moving on to Gloucester.
     Finally, we gathered up our collective strength, wandered around Copp’s Hill a bit more, and headed for the “T.” Heading down Salem Street, we crossed back under the freeway and entered the station. After consulting the maps, we hopped on the Green Line to Park Station – our first ever trip on a subway. My mood improved at this point, and I enjoyed the journey down to Park Street. At the Park Street station, we disembarked, and got on the Red Line out to Central Square. After exiting at Central Square, we hiked the distance back to Wayne and Darryl’s flat.
     Just before we got to their place, we stopped at a little corner convenience store. There, we acquired “Funny Bones.” For those not in the know, these are “Frosted Peanut Butter Creme Filled Devil’s Food Cakes.” I originally heard of them years ago playing Infocom’s classic Lovecraftian horror adventure game, “The Lurking Horror.” I had always thought that they were fictional, but I found out on alt.rhode-island several months ago that they were real.
     Well, they’re quite good, as we found out once we got back “home” and relaxed some. We took the opportunity to review the videotape I had made by this point, and I was pretty disappointed. Although I had pretty adequately chronicled much of our journeys, I wasn’t yet accustomed to Dan’s videocamera, and so had some blank spots where nothing at all had been recorded – it was a bit jarring to watch. Also, I abused the zoom buttons and spent too much time panning around. It’s probably better than 90% of all home videos, but since George (who will be arriving on Friday) does video work for a living, he’ll probably pick it apart (lucky me!).
     By this time we were exhausted and decided to take a nap and to get up later for a drive. We didn’t have an alarm, so I wrote a quick program on the laptop to sound an alarm in just over an hour. Four hours later we finally dragged ourselves up to go for our drive. At about 1:00 a.m. we headed out to find the Museum of Fine Arts (for “tomorrow”) and to just drive around the area. We quickly located Games People Play, and found that they’re not open Sunday – we’ll probably go there first thing Monday on our way towards Marblehead and Gloucester.
     Then, we ventured into the center of town and the Back Bay. What a madhouse! People flooded the streets, hanging out, making out, yelling at each other... It simultaneously gave you a sense of security (safety in numbers) and a sense of insecurity (those numbers being crazy people you didn’t know!). After a bit of circling about, we finally located the Museum and will probably go there via the “T” first thing tomorrow.
     We then headed up to Beacon Hill just to take a look around. I specifically wanted to find the cobblestoned street that is so well-known on postcards. After over an hour of circling around a half-mile-square area, we finally located it: it’s Acorn Street, just south of Willow. Beacon Hill is an absolutely beautiful area lit with real gas lamps. We also took some night shots of the State House as well as the Bull & Finch (the pub that was the inspiration for “Cheers”). On the way back, we stopped in front of MIT and also took some shots of the Charles and the Great Dome.
     At about 4:30 a.m. we arrived back at Wayne and Darryl’s and are now getting ready for bed. As I mentioned, we’ll be going to the Museum of Fine Arts and Mt. Auburn tomorrow. Judging from how exhausted we are, that’s probably all we’ll do. See you all tomorrow!