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Boston, Massachusetts

Frustrations reached a new high today on the road back to Boston. I had gotten plenty of sleep since we decided not to leave Bar Harbor until ten, so I slept in late, which should have had me in a good mood. And really, I was in a good mood for most of the day, but lots of nerves got pressed and there was just a general tension in the car almost all day. It mostly centered around indecision — where to stop, when to stop, when to eat, how I should find a library to update, what route to take back, who should lead. It was mixed with large volumes of irrationality and sourness and probably a little road wear and tear.

So really that’s the main highlight of the day: the arguing and frustrations in my car en route back to Boston. The drive, despite the tensions, seemed to take a long time and I even let dad drive a bit since I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with this whole family thing. I was almost ready to drop them off, turn around and head to Canada — a good place to escape, I’m told. It really all started when I decided to pull off the interstate in Augusta, Maine. My GPS showed a library, the other car needed gas, we were ready for lunch, and I could really have gone for a slurpee, so I figured it a perfect opportunity to stop. When the library wasn’t where my GPS showed it to be, I had a hard time justifying us getting off the interstate since everyone seemed to want to get back to Boston quickly. It turned out okay, though, since we missed one of the turnpike toll booths because of the diversion, so I saved us money I think.

Our only other stops were at a service station where we had the choice between Burger King and Sbarro for lunch, and rush-hour traffic in downtown Boston.

We had no problem finding our hotel, the Club Quarters, smack dab in the middle of beautiful downtown Boston. It’s the perfect location a couple blocks from the subway (which isn’t really too useful, I don’t think), but also very close to many of the other sights like Faneuil Hall and Government Center and the rest of the North End. The hotel is very nice — “fancy schmancy” were my exact words at first, I think. It caters to business people and geeky kids like me by — get this — having the entire hotel equipped with 802.11 wireless internet. This is terrific news for me, since I won’t have to worry about paying for internet this week, let alone seeking out a place to access it. I can do my journal at night and have it up 30 seconds later, and all without leaving my bed. Which reminds me, all the rooms in the hotel are furnished with a single queen sized bed, so they had to bring up a little foldable bed for me to sleep on. I was happy with the floor, really, but since we’ll be here for five nights, this will be much better.

Since there’s no parking around Boston and certainly not at our hotel, we had to take our cars out to the airport, which didn’t take hardly any time at all. Either we were very efficient — and we were, I’m that good — but there also seemed to be a lot of luck or urban planning affecting our good fortune too. The buses were just where we needed them, when we needed them. The subway ran from the airport to just a few blocks from the hotel. Very handy.

Oh so we eventually pounded the streets of Boston along with hordes of other tourists likely in town for the full slate of Independence Day activities starting yesterday and stretching well beyond the Fourth of July to the Sixth, the day of the wedding. I briefly skimmed the schedule of events and found lots of things we should get involved with when we get the chance. And we should definitely have the chance. We were apparently headed towards Cheers for supper, obviously not my decision. If I was on my own, I’d have avoided eating at Cheers at all costs — the epitome of food for tourist’s sake, with prices to match. It’s novel, sure, but I had no desire whatsoever to actually eat there. I’d have been just as happy to take the requisite picture of the classic Cheers sign (which I did) and walk twenty feet more to the center of Quincy Market for an entire smorgasbord of other, more genuine options. The center of Quincy Market, at the heart of Faneuil Hall, is crammed with small food stands with every possible type of cuisine as well as some super-looking sweets.

After our so-so dinner at Cheers (I had the chicken quesadilla; Erika: cheeseburger; Jamie: Lobster-Artichoke dip; Lori: some kind of salad with chicken; Janie: seafood & pasta; Joe: seafood chowder, fries), we walked it all off through the North End of Boston by the waterfront. There’s a boardwalk out there on the water’s edge where lots of couples were having quiet (until we came along) moments of kissing and stuff, which was kind of depressing or whatever, but what I was really getting to is that the waterfront really didn’t seem all that pretty. The boats and certain buildings were pretty in the distance, yeah, but the whole effect was less than spectacular. It was actually quite unremarkable to be honest and I was sure there were prettier places to take walks or to sit and make out. Not that I know where they’re at (yet), but I imagined that they have to exist. At any rate, our wanderings around the water’s edge took up most of the rest of our night, save the trip back inland to our hotel. We didn’t get to see many places of significance tonight — Cheers doesn’t count — so tomorrow and the following days will still have a lot of room to maneuver.

I’m hoping to get some time alone to wander on my own, so that I can avoid as best I can the whole “tourist look.” Not that I’ll be mistaken for a local or anything, but I just prefer being the invisible tourist as opposed to one in a group, a very very loud and obvious group. It’s embarrassing, I must admit, and serves as a frequent reminder of why I prefer to travel solo. I also seem to be able to see a lot more and get a feel for a city by wandering around alone — I don’t feel any need to know where I’m at, worry about the interests of others, what they want to do and whatnot. So hopefully I can do that tomorrow, since the family starts to arrive late tomorrow night and I probably won’t have a chance after they start rolling in.

Right next to our hotel is a little pub, no surprise, but since they’re having Trivia Night tomorrow at 7:30, we’re hoping we can get a team in for the competition. Ideally, we’d like to have two teams, so we can play adults versus the kids, but we’re not sure they’ll even have room for one since you’re supposed to make “reservations” for teams ahead of time and we didn’t get around to it tonight. Anyway, that might be what we’re up to tomorrow besides welcoming Tony and Kate to the city even later tomorrow.

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