Cheap Geek Tour
(Sunday, Sept 26, 2004 )
Well, it seems that flying across the continent on your butt takes a lot out of you. Or at least it takes a lot out of us, as we finally head out the door shortly after noon.
The hotel Laura found us is part of a chain called "Candlewood Suites," or as we like to call it, "A Cheap Geek's Wet Dream." This baby has got a refrigerator, stove, sink, microwave, VCR, ironing board--it even comes complete with all utensils and dishes.
And, it was way cheaper than anyplace else in the area. (They save money by doing housekeeping only once a week--and even slobs like us can live with that.)
Which means that we had a chance to make a decent cup of coffee (we brought our own beans, of course) and lounge about and read the Sunday Boston Globe.
Once in the parking lot, we discover the downside of picking up our car in the dark--Laura cheerfully tries to break into several cars before finding the one that we're legally allowed to break into. Fortunately, everybody else was sleeping in, too, so we weren't caught.
The weather today is nice and sunny. We hope it's pouring rain in Seattle. Hahahaha.
At the local "Family Diner" (a Denny's by any other name), we see that we could have "Lobster Benedict" for breakfast. Not only would this be too much lobster, but it occurs to us that in this part of the world, it might be named for Benedict Arnold, which means it might turn on us.
We amuse ourselves over lunch (breakfast?) by reading our guidebooks. We discover that the "Boston Area" (an ill-defined concept) consists of about 3 million people (or about six Seattles) and includes more than 100 towns. Which means Boston is like a giant hive, filled with lobsters.
One of the very cool things about cities on the East Coast is that they tend to have subways, which are great for getting around in.
It is extra cool here, because we did a little research about driving in Boston before we left. Everybody in our study said "NO!" when asked about driving in Boston. People who drove in Italy (where the laws of physics are regularly violated by drivers) were afraid to drive in Boston.
So, we made the command decision that, since Braintree is on the Red Line of the subway, we would be mingling with the locals when we go to Boston...
And look--we can even get a weekly Transit Pass for $18 each that's good for all the train riding we want to do. It's also good for the "Trackless Trolley," streetcars, local buses, and any stray horses we might run across.
Robert tries to figure out how to use the Transit Pass in the turnstiles. Despite the fact that there's no magnetic stripe, he's convinced there's got to be a way to run it through the reader. ("Look--it's got a hologram, so there's got to be an optical scanner here someplace!")
Finally, the attendant guy takes pity on him, knocks on the window and indicates that we just show him the pass and walk through.
"Low tech," Robert mutters, clearly disappointed.
We have arrived safely in downtown Boston, which on a Sunday is pretty much empty. Since, as tourists, our heads are also pretty much empty, this is a good match and give us a chance to acclimate to such Boston activities as dodging cars that run red lights.
We are headed to the Children's Museum, which is in South Boston. Apparently, South Boston used to be a tough part of town (why is it always the South Side of town that's tough? Why do you never hear "Watch out for the South South West side of town!"). But South Boston got gentrified, and probably putting the Children's Museum there was the final nail in the coffin.
Hard to sound tough when your turf includes a giant inflatable cartoon Arnold waving at people...
Outside the Children's Museum, we find (completely by accident) what is likely to be the World's Largest Milk Bottle! It houses an ice cream store that also sells chowder (or "chowdah" in Bostonian). As connoisseurs of the world's largest stuff, we're excited, and carefully document the artifact.
Our plan was to visit BOTH The Children's Museum and the Computer Museum, which were in the same building. The Computer Museum was a collection of obsolete computers (that is, ones more than three years old...) and Robert was just itching to show the guys how to work with 8" floppy disks and how to patch "core" memory.
Sadly, the Computer Museum itself is now obsolete. The Children's Museum bought out their space and so the Geeks gave part of their collection to the Science Museum and the rest is in somebody's garage someplace.
But--hey--we're in the Children's Museum and that's pretty cool. The museum is an old warehouse four stories tall, with a number of exhibits on each floor.
We start at the top where an entire Japanese house has been moved from Kyoto to Boston and reassembled here. It's one thing to read about how small the houses are, and it's quite another to dodge ceiling lights and duck through doorways that are about six inches shorter than Robert.
There's an exhibit called "Hall of Toys" that Robert was very excited about going to ("I can play with the slinkies and the silly putty and the dart guns and the fire trucks and all the toys!").
Once we got there, though, it was Laura who got excited. The Hall of Toys is a big room full of miniatures (this is what Grownups call "Doll House Stuff"). Some of the assemblies are pretty funny (there's a stuffed rodent selling stuffed people at a flea market), but you can't play with any of it.
There's a new exhibit about "Accessibility" where you get to put on blindfolds and try to navigate a street, or get around in a wheelchair. They even include some of the "lesser" disabilities like dyslexia and ADD.
The Blue Man Group gets an entire room (we saw them back when they were playing a small theater off-Broadway in New York and we would not have even remotely suggested that they were a Children's Group) and you can play on instruments that are similar to what they use. Laura watches a video about them, which you listen to through a tube.
We had hoped to get a tour on the "Ducks" today (the amphibious boats that zoom around in a city with tour guides auditioning for Vaudeville), but the Ducks are full today.
It's just as well, as our feet are sore and our butts are still shrinking back to normal size after their cross-country trek.
On the way back to the subway station, we find the Boston Tea Party Ship & Museum. Unfortunately, there was a Boston Fire Party and parts of the place were damaged. There's no ship visible, so maybe it caught fire and sank, or maybe they just moved it to someplace else.
We argue about whether or not a REAL ship involved in the Tea Party would have been parked there. Because it's in the middle of a channel, it seems unlikely.
After an uneventful ride on the Red Line, we arrive back at the car to discover that Robert has left passenger door wide open the entire time we were gone. He points out that it was locked ("See! It's locked! I just forgot to close it!").
Everything is still there, so Braintreeians (Braintreenites?) are incredibly honest--though not particularly helpful. Laura expected somebody would have shut the door.