Sunday, May 22, 2016


Red Sox Baseball : My husband is a baseball fan and seeing a game at Fenway Park was on his bucket list. It was no surprise that the Red Sox fans take the game seriously, but what surprised me was how much they liked to sing. "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and "Sweet Caroline" are to be expected. But "Take On Me"? With a crowd full of people trying to do the high note? Anyway, the Red Sox won 13 to 3 over the Oakland As.

Boston Commons / Boston Public Gardens : Having read about the Commons and the Public Gardnes in the Spenser books by Robert B. Parker, we were interested in seeing them for ourselves. The park was even lovely at night.

The Public Gardens is where they have the swan boats, which were also mentioned in some of the Spenser books. Yes, we went for a ride on them.

Boston Duck Tour : The Duck Tour not only drives around town, sharing the history and architecture of the city...

...but it also goes into the Charles River. (So including the Swan Boats and the row boat in Central Park, that makes three boat rides on this trip.)

Mt. Auburn Cemetery : Located across the river in Cambridge, this cemetery is more like a park, and they also have the Washington Tower which you can go up in and see views of the city.


When we were planning our trip to Boston, one of the things we wanted to see was the Boston Public Commons. So I decided we should stay near the commons. The only problem was that the hotels in that area are expensive. Like $400 a night. And if I thought a $400 room was four times better than a $100 room, I might be willing to try it once. But I wasn't sure that it would be.

Instead we were able to rent a whole apartment at Back Bay Beacon for less than that. Kitchen, dining area, living room, and bedroom. In a quaint brownstone just around the corner from the park. And it wasn't even an Air B&B, the whole building is apartments that are short and long-term stays. We were on the 6th floor but the building did have one of those charming, tiny, old-fashioned elevators.

This location was less than half a mile from a parking garage, about a quarter of a mile from a subway station, and 1.5 miles from Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox baseball stadium. This was important as the subway was very crowded after the game so we walked back.

Boston Dining :

Because we had an apartment, we didn't dine out a lot. And it wasn't until after dinner on our last day that we discovered that there were many restaurants that looked interested a few blocks over on Newberry Street.


We only spent three nights in New York City, so this certainly doesn't cover all of the things to do, just the things that we did.

High Line : One of the things we were most interested in seeing was the High Line, the  1.45-mile-long linear urban park built in Manhattan on an elevated section of the New York Central Railroad that is no longer used for trains. We walked the whole thing from south to north then back south.

Last year I made an art quilt based on a photo that a friend had taken at the High Line and we wanted to see that location in person. Above is the photo I took from the same location. The building that has the billboard on top of it is part of the Chelsea Market, which is an interesting place to do some shopping and get food. One of the outdoor food vendors that day was People's Pops which had homemade popsicles. We enjoyed both the blueberry-black tea-cardamon and also the peach-balsamic-blueberry.

Central Park : I remember the first time we went to Central Park. We were amazed at how big it was, and also how there were areas that you could go to where it didn't feel (or sound) like you were in a large city.

There are many wonderful places to see in the park including the Bethesda Terrace (above), the Conservatory Garden, the Belvedere Castle, the Mall, and the Central Park Zoo, just to name a few.

There are also several bodies of water including the pool, the pond, the lake, the Harlem Meer, and the reservoir. Above is a photo I took of the Bow Bridge from the row boat that we rented to go out on to the lake.

Empire State Building : I like to go up tall buildings and look down on the city. On a Monday in May at lunchtime turned out to be a good time to go to the top of the Empire State Building. Other times it looks like it might be a longer wait. The photo above is looking north and you can see part of Central Park in the background.

Museum of Art & Design : I had really wanted to go to the American Folk Art museum, which was in the process of moving the last time we were in the city, and this time they were closed because they were between exhibitions. So instead we went to the Museum of Art & Design. It is located near the south west corner of Central Park. Above is a photo by the group known as "Studio Job."

We really enjoyed the "Sonambient" sound scupltures created by Harry Bertoia. They will be on display through Sept. 25, 2016 but here's a video of how they work and what they sound like.


New York Accommodations : 

We stayed at the Hotel Newton, located on the Upper West side at 2528 Broadway at 95th Street. It was a good price and a good location. That glass dome building to the left of their awning is the subway stop, which made it very convenient to get around the city. There is also a reasonably priced parking garage right around the corner from the hotel.

I'm not going to lie, our room was small. But it was clean and newly renovated and we were mostly going to just sleep in it, so it was fine for us.

When we were here in 2008 we stayed at the Morningside Inn, which is also on the Upper West Side but a little farther north at 235 West 107 Street. One thing to make sure of when booking a hotel room in New York City (and other large cities) is to make sure the room has a private bathroom, if that's important to you.

New York Dining :

One of the things we like about the Upper West Side is that you can walk out of the hotel and there are many inexpensive dining options right there. We didn't go to many upscale restaurants, but we did go the Lido in Harlem which was very nice and we are also fans of New York style pizza, so we also enjoyed Giovanni's Pizza at Columbus and 110th Ave, across from Morningside Park.


Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race :
According to the the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race's website, "Kinetic Sculptures are amphibious, human powered works of art custom built for the race." On the first Saturday in May, "the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) hosts the East Coast Kinetic Sculpture Race Championship on the shore of Baltimore’s Harbor in central Maryland. The eight-hour race covers 14 miles--mostly on pavement, but also including a trip into the Chesapeake Bay and through mud and sand."

My husband and I first encountered Kinetic Sculptures at the Kinetic Sculpture Museum in Ferndale, CA (it has since closed) and we got to see the 2010 race at the DaVinci Days in Corvallis, OR that year.

We also attended the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race in back in 2013.

If you can't commit to the whole eight-hour race, you can see just parts of it. I'd suggest going to the starting line at the American Visionary Art Museum before the race starts, All of the sculptures are lined up and you can get an up close look at them, and even talk to the pilots if they are around.

Once the race starts you can head up the hill that is Federal Hill Park right behind the museum as the first challenge for the sculptures is to go up the hill and around the park. This is another good place to see the sculptures up close, this time in action.

Above is the sculpture, "Dr. Disaster's Spin Cycle" was one of 24 entries this year.

The other really cool thing to see is the splashdown in Canton Waterfront Park. The sculptures go into the water, around the dock, and then exit on the other side, It can get crowded here but it's very entertaining to watch.

If you want to learn more about this year's race and contestants, the full coverage can be found here, with lots of amazing photos. If you want to attend this event be sure to check out the web page for the Spectator's Guide. It has a list of the contestants, prizes that will be awarded, a glossary of terms, a map of the whole event, plus parking suggestions.

Other cool stuff to do in Baltimore

American Visionary Art Museum : Aside from being where the race starts from, the museum features artwork by artists who are self-taught and not formally trained as artists. It can be a little odd but it's odd in an interesting sort of way. There are two buildings and a sculpture park.

For other things to do in Baltimore, check out my post from 2013.