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August 26 - Sept 30 - Oh, the things we saw! (Part 2)

We originally came to this part of Massachusetts to visit Boston. And we actually did. Here's Part Deux of our September.

Historic Boston: Took us two days, and we only covered the highlights. We bought a three-day "Hop-on/Hop-off" pass to one of Boston's sightseeing trolleys, and used 2 days worth. Bunker Hill, Paul Revere's home, Old North Church, USS Constitution, Boston Massacre. the Boston Tea Party, Fenway Park, the Freedom Trail, the old Quincy Market, a colonial chocolate shop, and much more.

Got some interesting perspectives on some things. Found out that the Boston Massacre wasn't really all that much at the time - essentially a bunch of poorly-armed, possibly drunk, colonists heckling a bunch of the King's soldiers. One thing led to another and the soldiers opened fire, killing 7. But by the time the "Sons of Liberty" got done re-telling the story to try to incite a revolution, it had turned into a really big deal. The Battle of Bunker Hill (actually fought on Breed's Hill) was technically won by the British after the rebels ran out of ammunition and had to withdraw, but the Brits also suffered very high casualties - 40% of their troops killed or wounded, including 20% of their officer corps. Found out that what Paul Revere really yelled was "The soldiers are coming!" - everybody was British in those days, even the rebellious locals, so "The British are coming!" wouldn't have made any sense.

Judy climbed the Bunker Hill Monument - 294 steps to the top. Al stayed below and acted his age.

The Adams Family: John and John Quincy, of course - the original father and son US Presidents. The National Park Service maintains the Adams family compound at Quincy MA, with three of the original buildings open for tours. While neither were terribly effective Presidents, each serving just one term, both men made significant contributions to the early years of our country. Professing that all he really wanted to be was a farmer, John first studied to be a clergyman, then a lawyer, but never completed studies in either area. But he did practice law. He was one of the writers of the Declaration of Independence (word was he goaded Jefferson into putting it all onto paper, thus ending a strong friendship) and several years later was the principal author of the US Constitution, coming up with the concept of three branches of government and the checks and balances system. He was the first US Ambassador to the Netherlands and then to England following the revolution. He was George Washington's vice-president before getting elected himself as the second President. Adams reconciled with Jefferson later in life. Ironically, both men died within hours on July 4, 1826. Adams' correspondence with his wife Abigale (they wrote almost daily) provides a unique insight into the early days of the formation of the US.

Son Quincy (the park folk call him "JQ") was a skilled diplomat (some say the best Secretary of State the country's ever had), but not a very good politician and thus couldn't accomplish much as President (he was No. 6). But after his Presidential term was over, he ran for and was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served the rest of his life, suffering a fatal stroke at his seat on the house floor at age 80. The family compound includes the very modest home where the senior Adams was born, the much more elegant home that became the family headquarters, and the Stone Library, housing more than 12,000 works accumulated by four generations of the Adams men.

JFK Library & Museum: One of our bucket list items is to visit every US Presidential Library/Museum. The JFK was our third this year, Only two left - Carter and Hoover. The JFK is a magnificent structure that seems (to us) to celebrate the charisma and style of Kennedy rather than the substance. It does provide a fascinating insight into the life of JFK and family. The museum offers a structured follow-the-arrows type of tour, which tends to discourage exploration. There are lots of videos playing, and you can't escape the JFK voice. He was, after all, the first of the television Presidents. Interestingly, in the museum, Jackie got a whole wing, Bobby got a whole room, and Teddy got an alcove. We saw no mention of Marilyn Monroe and/or the "Happy Birthday Mr. President" song . . . .

We've heard for years about how bad the drivers are in Boston. After making four trips into Boston, two of them involving rush hour traffic, we found Boston drivers to be very skillful and usually courteous. Aside from a general disregard for speed limits and the use of turn signals, we've decided that the biggest problem with Boston drivers is the layout of Boston streets. There isn't any. Somebody said that it looks like somebody dropped a plate of spaghetti and decided it would make a neat road map. Said they'd blame it on the Italians, except the streets were there before the Italians arrived. Streets are old and narrow - one "street" is about 6 ft wide. We were told the law still says that a street must be at least the width of a pregnant cow. There are no alleys - they're all streets. We didn't see any cows in town, though.

Oh - we didn't eat any of the famed New England lobster while we were in the area. Al's allergic, and Judy's cheap.

On October 1, we pulled out and moved on. That's for our next report.

There are about 78 pictures in our slideshow for this report. Check them out here.

And if you want to see the first part of this report, click here.

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