Tag Archives: Boston

A Minimalist Trip to Boston

This past weekend, Dave and I went up to Boston! I love going there. It’s an easy drive (as long as you don’t hit traffic…), and the city itself is just so… people-sized.
Months ago, I saw that The Minimalists were going to do a show at The Wilbur. In a moment of spontaneity, I bought us tickets. So that’s how we ended up on this trip.

I accidentally booked our Airbnb for the wrong night… luckily it was just the night before the show instead of the night of. So we just went up a day early.

We got to our Airbnb a little after 3, got settled, and then hit the streets. We walked up to Boston Public Gardens and strolled around and people-watched. Boston Common was already set up with all kinds of tents and stuff in preparation for the Marathon.

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We walked along Newbury Street and made our way to the Prudential Center. My mom had mentioned that there was an observatory there that you could get great views of the city. As I am a fan of looking at life from above, we made this a priority to check out.

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The view from the Pru was nice, and it was a gorgeous sunny day. We watched planes coming in and out of Logan, saw lots of sailboats on the Charles, found the finish line for the Boston Marathon, and finally, watched the sun set over Fenway Park. Pretty cool! We did sit and watch some of the documentaries they had about immigrants to Boston and how the culture has changed over time. It was well done, and very relevant to our current political climate.

There was a lady playing her violin during the sunset. She played Can’t Help Falling In Love, which is one of the many UB40 songs that Dave seduced me with back in the day. (I know it was originally done by Elvis – whatevs…) Here’s part of it…. I didn’t think to start recording until midway through, and then I move the camera too fast… ugh. I am not a videographer.

After that, we were super hungry, so once at ground level, we found a place called 5 Napkin Burger. There was a veggie burger on the menu, so I was game. It wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped, but it was good. I was more enamored with the mint and lemon iced tea, of which I drank two.

We walked back to our Airbnb, which was in the Theater District. By the time we went to bed, around midnight, we had already been hearing lots of ruckus from the comedy club next door, and the people leaving the various theaters around us. Not a big deal – that’s life in the city, right?

After snuggling into the comfortable bed, we fell asleep quickly and peacefully. Several hours later, I began dreaming that a band of jolly Irish men was bustling down the street, singing heartily. But no, it was no dream. As consciousness returned to me, I realized there were actual men singing heartily down in the streets below. I don’t know if they were Irish, but they were loud. Then there was lots of yelling and honking and general mayhem. I regretted not bringing my earplugs along… fail!

Fortunately the commotion only lasted about a half an hour and then we slept soundly for the rest of the night.

The next day we met up with Nick and Matt for lunch at Temezcal, and the weather was so nice that we sat outside. It was a leisurely lunch and a great time of catching up with each other and discussing life. Actually, I had just seen them both the week before in Northampton, but that’s a story for another time. (Not really, but it made you think my life was interesting for a second there, right?)

Matt, Nick, Dave and me – obviously

After parting ways with Nick and Matt, Dave and I cruised up to the North End. I mean why not hit all the sections of Boston while we were there? We hung out on the pier by the aquarium for a while and then got a delicious pineapple smoothie in Quincy Market, before wandering around for the rest of the afternoon.

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Eventually the time came for us to get over to The Wilbur theater to see the Minimalists. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve been reading their blog and listening to their podcasts for a while now – if you’ve been paying attention to my blog, I have mentioned them before and my own quest to live a more minimalist lifestyle.

We were a bit early – we arrived at 6:45 or so, which seemed like a reasonable time for a 7pm show. There was no line, and most of the seats were still empty.  The stage was plain, and they just had some mellow background music playing.

The place filled up, a little after 7pm. They came out and the crowd went wild. They started out by telling their story, which if you search for their TED talk, you can hear for yourself. The second part of the show was a Q&A.

The majority of the questions were what you would expect – people asking for advice about a particular aspect of minimalism, or how to make certain lifestyle changes.

Some of the questioners were – dare I say it – devotees of minimalism. One women proclaimed that she had a “one in, one out” policy, so before she would buy something new, or, presumably, receive a gift, she had to get rid of something she already had. She asked them how they dealt with the emotional struggle of deciding whether to keep something or get rid of it.

After some prodding, she revealed that the item in question was her mothers vintage Levi’s jacket that she actually still wears.  For some reason she felt it was frivolous and she should get rid of it, even though she obviously didn’t want to. At that point a bunch of people in the audience shouted out that she should just keep it. Seriously.

Another woman was kind of a sad case.  She spoke of how she had successfully followed all the steps to becoming a minimalist and now she didn’t know what to do next. She seemed to be hoping that they would just tell her what to do with her life. At this point, they had reached the “lightening round”, where they were only supposed to give tweetable-sized answers, so they gave her some statements about how life without passion isn’t living, and that sort of thing. It was disturbing to me that she apparently didn’t have passion for anything. Or maybe she felt she needed some kind of permission to pursue it. Or maybe she was just trolling all of us…

The show was interesting and light – there were lots of funny comments and good points made. I can’t say that I went away having learned anything new, but Dave said he enjoyed it and that he thought it was interesting.

They had a meet and greet afterward, which we decided to skip since we hadn’t had dinner yet and also because I feel super awkward meeting “celebrities” and I wouldn’t have known what to say.

We grabbed dinner at Panera and then headed out. It was actually pretty nice driving home after the show – there was virtually no traffic and we made it home in just under two hours.

All in all, it was a great trip. If you’ve never been to Boston, make sure to check it out someday!

The Mins
As seen from the window of Panera, where we immediately ran after the show.

Whale, Whale, Whale…

Dave wanted to do something special for my birthday and he gave me the choice of going up to Boston for the day and doing a whale watch or going down to NYC and spending the day at the Met. I admit I was tempted to do the day at the Met, but it would have been a shame to waste such a gorgeous day inside.

In order to make the 10am boat, we had to leave home at 7:15. Believe it or not, I was up and out of bed before 5am. Dave thought this was hilarious and kept pointing out how I *can* get up early when sufficiently motivated. Maybe I need to get a job as a whale watcher…

Did I metion how perfect the day was? Not a cloud in the sky. The temperature was probably not more than 80. The water was incredibly still – there was barely any wind.

Blurrily getting our snack on.

As soon as we got on the boat, we got snacks to fill our bellies so we wouldn’t get seasick. When we’d finished snacking, we went out onto the deck to enjoy the day. Holy smokes, it was windy! I was wearing  a hat to keep the sun off my face and if I didn’t keep my head at the right angle, it was about to blow off. In fact, it did end up blowing off but luckily my tangled mess of hair held onto it so it didn’t blow away.

We stayed out on the deck for the whole ride out, being battered by the wind the whole time, but I didn’t care. I wanted to smell that saltwater and enjoy every minute of it. It took about an hour to get out to the marine sanctuary where the whales hang out. Not being terribly familiar with the sea, I expected that we must be somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, but when I googled it later, it turned out that we’d only gone about as far east as the Cape.

Not quite as far out as I’d imagined.

The boat slowed down as we got to the general area where they expected the whales to be. Everyone looked around with anticipation while the tour guide explained what we should look for, which was basically spouts in the horizon, or, if we were lucky, whales leaping out of the water and splashing around.

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Blowhole in action.

The first whale we came across was actually lying on it’s back, floating belly up in the water and it’s pectoral fins were up and flapping around. It was hard to tell that’s what it was, so we took her word for it. The boat turned and we couldn’t see it anymore from where we stood, but before long there were whales everywhere!

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There were two swimming side by side next to the boat on our side. We could hear them breathing. Then they dove gracefully underwater, barely even rippling the surface. Whales were rising up out of the water with their mouths open. They were blowing bubbles in the water, slapping the water with their tails and leaving slap marks, which kind of look like a big footprint. The tour guide explained that the behaviors were all part of how they would trap and stun the plankton they were going to eat.

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A whale of a tail.

We mostly saw humpback whales, but there were a few minke whales, which I couldn’t see from where I was. We also saw a seal that was further away in the distance. Of course there were lots of seagulls too, hanging around to collect whatever the whales may have left behind.

The tour guide was flabbergasted by how many whales we were seeing. She kept shouting with glee when she’d spot another one, and excitedly talk about some feature or other. We stayed in pretty much the same area for a whole hour, and the whales were just doing their thing all around. A couple even breached on the other side of the boat. Sadly, we didn’t see the actual jumps, but when everyone on that side of the boat yelled, we’d turn and see the splash at the end.

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Whale face – and some dude.

After the hour of magical whale-time, we had to turn back. Most everyone retreated inside, away from the wind. After a little while, I went back outside. It’s not every day I get to glide through the water with the wind in my face, so I figured I’d enjoy it while I could.

A beautiful day for some sailing

Once we were back on dry land, we went to Quincy Market and grabbed some lunch, which we ate on a bench near a charmingly talented busker.

Then we headed to the aquarium, which wasn’t the brightest idea considering it was a busy summer day. The place was, not surprisingly, packed with droves of children and their exhausted parents. Fortunately we managed to find spaces to squeeze in so we could gaze into the tanks and look at all the cool fish and aquatic life.

Feeling a little frazzled.

I like the Boston Aquarium. It’s not big and spread out like other places, but instead it has this huge central tank that’s 4 stories tall. You walk around it on a spiral ramp so you’re gradually rising from sand-dwelling creatures up through colorful coral-dwelling creatures and then up to the surface, where turtles and sharks roam. Of course the rays and the turtles and the sharks will swim down to the lower waters too. We even saw one of the eels, which don’t usually come out during daylight.

When we had seen all there was to see at the Aquarium, we got some ice cream and went to sit on the dock for a while. We watched the boats coming in and going out, and observed the various passers-by. Dave was getting pretty tired by then, as he hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. We made one last trip to Quincy Market to get some dessert items to take home with us, and then we left.

All in all, it was a great day trip and a nice way to celebrate my birthday. It also had the happy memories of being there just a few months ago and getting to see Norma and Joe and Elizabeth.

Where will we go next?

Shipping Up to Boston

This past weekend I made a quick trip to Boston to visit my youngest brother and some of my favorite NFED friends who were visiting from Canada.

Before I tell you about that, I must mention that this is the 100th post on EEC Chick! Party! Also, I have not forgotten about the Five Life Influences post series, and I will eventually get around to posting the rest.

All right, let’s go to Boston.

On Saturday morning I woke early and threw some things in my sweet NFED duffel bag and hopped in the Mazda and I was off! It was a beautiful sunny day and the leaves were absolutely glorious. I made it to Nick’s place in just over two hours, which has got to be record time.

Once there, we snacked (a love of snacking runs in the family) and chatted for a bit. I admired his Game of Thrones bobblehead collection. Just kidding, there was only one of them.

Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion Lannister

After we had eaten our fill of hummus, pita and veggies, we headed out to the Arnold Arboretum, which made me miss my days of landscape architecture and master gardening exploits.

Walk with me.
Walk with me.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love trees?

Clearly this bench is meant for stargazing or cloud watching.

The arboretum also has a visitor center, which we explored. This contained an art gallery which had some stuff in it that I could have made in 7th grade. This made me miss my days of art pursuits and also made me think I should enter some of my work in a gallery because clearly their standards aren’t that high.

This is the list of wildlife people saw at the arboretum. Does a chipmonk wear a little brown robe tied with a rope?

It was a beautiful day to be strolling around outside. A bit chilly, but that’s better than a bit hot, if you ask me.

A lovely day with my baby bro, who I accidentally called Babe at one point.
A lovely day with my baby bro, who I accidentally called Babe at one point.

After the arboretum we went to Starbucks to get some hot drinks and then we wandered around Faneuil Hall Marketplace and took a stroll down to the waterfront.

Sounds like our kind of show. Meow! Note Nick's reflection in the glass. Hah!
Sounds like our kind of show. Meow! Note Nick’s reflection in the glass. Hah!

We sat by the water for a while and enjoyed the colors of the sky, and the sight of seagulls dropping mussels onto the piers to get the meat out.

The sky was quite lovely!
If you come to Boston, Nick will greet you exactly like this.
No filter! Also, look at all the seagulls.

As we made our way back towards Faneuil Hall, we strode past Paul Revere’s house. He was not there.

Paul Revere probably never saw a Camry in his life.
Paul Revere probably never saw a Camry in his life.

That evening we met up with the MacDonald clan from the great white north.

Enjoying some Canadian company.
Enjoying some Canadian company.

Nick was delighted to meet the MacDonalds, even though our ancestors were from opposing Scottish clans.


We had a lovely dinner in which we discussed everything from Canadian politics to Nick’s teaching aspirations to life in Honduras.

The next day, I drove out to the JFK Library to experience some culture and history with the MacDonalds. It was another gorgeous New England fall day.

JFK Biblioteca
Inside the atrium of the museum. Gorgeous!
JFK’s sailboat, The Victura.

I just noticed you can see the flag inside if you look closely at the upper left of the above photo.

After we were thoroughly educated in the life and times of JFK, we said our goodbyes, and the MacDonalds headed off to do some shoe shopping for Norma, while I headed westward.

I don’t know if I should mention this, but I actually drove through some snow on the way home! It was so incongruous with the bright blue skies of earlier, but then again, I was driving through Worcester at the time, which is not known for it’s beauty. Sorry Worcester, but you know it’s true.

Well, that was my quick trip! It was so cool to see the MacDonalds in October. Norma commented that she is used to seeing me in summer clothes. haha. I hope they enjoyed their jaunt to Boston as much as I did.

Let’s do it again sometime!