Monday, 26 June 2017

The Baseball Connection

    I had heard that parking can be a bit of a challenge at Fenway Park so I decided we better get moving at about two o’clock if we were to stand any chance at all of getting a spot. Good decision because I was totally unprepared for not being able to get there from here. Boston‘s road system is not a grid like many familiar cities but rather is set up in circles encompassing Beacon Hill and intersected by streets like spokes on a wheel. This is very European and very picturesque but is a nightmare when it comes to locating and getting to unfamiliar places. Such was the case as we drove in continuous circles able to plainly see Fenway Park but unable to figure out how to get to it. It was very frustrating but ultimately we did fluke it and arrived at the curbside of one of the streets bordering the park.

      It was about three o’clock by now and the game didn’t start until seven so we were able to find a perfect parking spot and were determined to keep it no matter how much money we had to feed the parking meter between now and 6 PM. We were just about to leave for a walk through the Fenway neighbourhood when a man and his weenie wagon appeared and asked if we would kindly move our vehicle so he could have this fine parking spot. I was just about to tell him what he could do with his wagon and all his weenies when he suggested that we simply move ahead one spot and he would pay the parking meter for us. Well, not even I was about to argue with sound logic and good ideas like that so I happily moved forward and we were off without having to worry about running back to feed the meter.

      Fenway Park had been home to the Boston Red Sox since it opened in 1912, and was the oldest major league baseball stadium still in use today. The ballpark had several quirky little areas unique to Fenway, not the least of which was the famous Green Monster, the nickname given to the 37 foot 2 inch high left field wall that serves as a popular target for right-handed hitters. Our visit tonight was made even more meaningful as the Red Sox opponents would be our very own Toronto Blue Jays.

      Trying not to be too obvious about which team we were cheering for was a perfect way to spend an autumn evening. It was part of a Whitehead vacation in its best form – two teams chasing the elusive American League Pennant, ballpark franks and a couple of spellbound kids watching America’s game.


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Monday, 19 June 2017

Ducklings Lead the Way

    We had tickets to the Red Sox baseball game that night so decided to spend a leisurely day in Boston. As we walked the perimeter of the Boston Public Gardens adjacent to Boston Common along Beacon Street we came upon the bar from the television series “Cheers”. I was going to look for it anyway, it just made it much easier when it presented itself so readily. I probably would not have found it if I had gone in search of it. The bar, which was founded in 1969 as the Bull and Finch Pub, was used for exterior shots only in the show and does not resemble the bar in the television series at all on the inside. However in 2002 the owners gave up and officially renamed the bar Cheers.

      The Public Gardens were beautiful in the morning light as we walked somewhat aimlessly about to a second coincidental stumbling on our part  (remember I mentioned if you look, something will always come up to entertain your children and save the day). Ours was the discovery of the bronze statues commemorating Robert McCloskey’s children’s story “Make Way For Ducklings.” It is located near the central pond not far from the Bull and Finch Pub. The book was so popular the statues were created and placed in the public park. It was pretty exciting, to Gavin in particular, as he had just finished reading the book in school so this discovery was a gold mine for him. Sitting on the large mama duck’s back, Gavin proceeded to tell us the story of the two mallard ducks who decided to raise their family on an island in the pond in Boston’s Public Garden.

      Neither of these things were typical tourist things to do in Boston. The bar has become one but at the time of our visit the series was just getting under way. They just happened and it’s important you be prepared to embrace these types of opportunities when they occur. It adds a wonderful dimension to your travel plans and in all honesty works best when you have not tried to plan it at all.


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Monday, 12 June 2017

Plimoth Rocks

    To be able to learn History by viewing it firsthand would be best but also impossible so the next best thing is to be able to learn history by seeing its remains firsthand. That is exactly what the boys were able to do as we arrived at Plimoth Plantation near the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

      It is a reconstruction of the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established by English colonists, later referred to as Pilgrims, in the 17th century. As we entered this living museum we passed through the fort at the gates equipped with cannons to protect the village. We spent a wonderful day wandering around the sand and dirt roads and pathways flanked by split rail and twig fences. Wooden houses with thatched roofs were bordered by corrals for the livestock, chickens and goats.

      Museum interpreters populate the 1627 English village and speak, act and dress as they did in 1627. A little disconcerting at first in a “What the hell did he just say to me?” kind of way, they interacted with their “strange visitors”, us, in the first person, answering questions, discussing their lives and viewpoints and going about their daily activities of cooking, carpentry, blacksmithing and gardening/farming. It was indeed interesting to watch a couple of matronly women pluck a goose to cook in a pot of boiling water over an open fire. One young lady was asked what she did. “What do I do? I do my labours,” was her surprised, almost indignant response.

      In the town of Plymouth near the legendary Plymouth Rock rests the Mayflower II, a replica of the 17th century ship celebrated for transporting the Pilgrims to the New World. The ship is under the care of Plimoth Plantation and like the museum is inhabited by colonial first person interpreters representing the sailors, officers and workers on the 1620’s ship. The actors in character added to the enjoyment and understanding of the era. How anyone ever survived the long ocean voyage on a vessel like this is beyond me.

      Once again, an unscheduled diversion took us into a world we didn’t know existed, a world we uncover by spontaneity on the Holiday Road.

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Monday, 5 June 2017

The End of Cape Cod

      The area of National Seashore near Nauset Light Beach in Eastham was the picture of Cape Cod I had in my mind before arriving there. The sand dunes capped with weather beaten wooden homes really made me feel like I had finally found the real Cape Cod – yes it was just as Patti Page crooned, “You’re sure to fall in love with Old Cape Cod.”


      The beach itself, flanked by large sand dunes and the ocean water was quite breathtaking. Although we did not have time on our drive through, Nauset Light Beach is reputed to be a great place for swimming, surfing and boogie boarding. The boys were a little young yet but in subsequent vacations to Florida and North Carolina boogie boarding would rule for them.


      Just south of the northern tip of Cape Cod the old town cemetery in Truro beckoned us to stop. This was the site of four grisly murders in 1969 but that was not what attracted us to the cemetery. Karen has always enjoyed reading the headstones and often learned a lot about a place by doing so even with Adam riding along merrily on her back. Today Truro is an exclusive town on the Cape, marked by affluent residences and rolling hills and dunes along the coast.


      Our final destination on Cape Cod was Provincetown, located on the extreme tip of the Cape, which is reason enough on its own to go there. Referred to locally as P-town, it is known for its beaches, harbour, artists and reputation as a gay community. With a year-round population near 3,000 that balloons in the summer months to 60,000 – thankfully we missed that pleasure. The town is surrounded by water and strewn with boats, working vessels and partially sunken wrecks, a living personification of almost any Jimmy Buffett song, it was the perfect spot to terminate our exploration of Cape Cod.

National Seashore



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