2013 Road Trip Photos #34: Outtakes, Part 1/3: More Freedom Trail

At last it comes to this: the long-running photo series — chronicling our 2013 family road trip to Boston, Cleveland, and other towns along the way — concludes with one more trilogy.

I design our annual travelogues with two rules in mind: (1) each entry should comprise a story, or at least a chapter in a story, not merely a clutch of random pictures drawn from a hat; and (2) for the sake of readers with more limited devices, no entry should be bogged down with megs upon megs upon megs of photos. Sticking to my personal composition targets means a lot of photos don’t make the final lineup. I’m not convinced anyone unrelated to us would want to see all several hundred photos we took this year, but a few more shouldn’t hurt. Besides, I have selfish reasons: a 36-part saga sounds like a much nicer, rounder number than leaving it as a 33-part saga, which would invite curses and fatal feng shui errors in the site decor.

Our first batch of outtakes (plus commentary! as always! like it or not!) is entirely from our walk along Boston’s Freedom Trail and the adjacent areas, as seen in the Day Two entries from our handy, official 2013 Road Trip checklist. Up first: alternate shot of the Benjamin Franklin statue and the building behind it. I went with a head-on shot for the original entry to focus on ol’ Ben himself and make it easier to disregard the building whose name I didn’t write down. Also, it seems wrong to see Ben looking so moody.

moody Benjamin Franklin statue

This way for more deleted photos!

Midlife Crisis Crossover 2013 in Review, Including Last-Minute Posts Seen Only in NYC and LA

Hi-dee-hoo, fans and visitors! Welcome to the second annual Midlife Crisis Crossover year-in-review for this humble site, launched on April 28, 2012, as an excuse for one guy to do things, try stuff, and think whatever aloud. Next week will mark MCC’s 600th post, but that’ll be in an entirely different year and is therefore ineligible for celebration at the moment, so forget I mentioned it till next week.

This occasionally purposeful experiment has lasted a full twenty months without crashing and burning yet, though we’ve seen some excitement, some tears, some discomfort, some joy, some serious stress, and some much-needed days off. And that was all just over Christmas break. 2013 was a year of successes and failures, of triumphs and tragedies, of records and horrors. MCC’s own fortunes have ebbed and flowed depending on which subjects caught my attention at the right time, which times I was utterly out of step with the rest of the world, and what moments of synchronicity were the most unexpected of all.

Of all the nouns to frequent the site this year, none had a deeper effect than Boston.

Boston Public Garden, Boston vacation

Continue here for MCC’s own best and worst of 2013!

2013 Road Trip Photos #14: It’s Chinatown!

After spending the morning of Day Four stalled on the interstate and all afternoon in Quincy, we spent the early evening in Boston’s version of Chinatown. It’s much smaller than its counterpart we visited in Manhattan in 2011, and a little less tailored to nosy tourists (by which I mean I still haven’t gotten over how Manhattan’s Chinatown had information kiosks and a large directory in the middle), but Boston’s has its own way of doing things.

Chinatown Gate, Boston

Step beyond the gate into another realm!

2013 Road Trip Photo #10: Counting the Blessings While the World Races Past

I-93 South, Boston

Not every moment of the average vacation will lend itself to an attractive headline, a cheery anecdote, or a photogenic souvenir. Even the world’s greatest professional travelers have their share of failures, their horror stories, their occasional awkward faux pas, their incidental doldrums, their best laid plans gone awry. All of those not-shining moments are yadda-yadda’d from the eventual professional article, to the approval and applause of a hundred Likes, a dozen Follows, and a few cents’ worth of ad revenue generated by their hits. Selective anecdotal recounts can turn anyone with a travel budget into Hero of the Beach.

Full disclosure from this humbled amateur with complicated aspirations: Day Four of our road trip began not with entertaining travel heroism, but with ninety minutes of sitting off to the side of I-93 South during Boston’s mid-morning rush hour.

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2013 Road Trip Photos #9: In the Green of the Boston Public Garden

After our long, exhaustive walk of Boston’s Freedom Trail, we capped Day Three with a quieter, shadier stroll through the Boston Public Garden, across the street from Boston Common (under which we’d parked for the day). Both the Common and the Garden comprise one large idyllic hangout the size of several square blocks, smack in the heart of the city. It’s their version of Central Park, except smaller and less frequently seen in movies.

Boston Public Garden

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2013 Road Trip Photos #8: Freedom Trail, Part 3 of 3: the Town

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Day Three was set aside for our long walk of Boston’s Freedom Trail, a ground-level guideline to escort tourists past all the most noteworthy locations to bear significance from previous centuries. In some areas of town it’s a painted red line; in others, it’s a series of bricks built into the very sidewalks, as seen here at far left, next to one of many quaint cobblestone back roads not conducive to comfy driving, biking, or navigating via phone app.

Freedom Trail, cobblestones, Boston

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2013 Road Trip Photos #7: Freedom Trail, Part 2 of 3: Statues

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: we began Day 3 of our vacation by walking two miles or so along Boston’s Freedom Trail, which winds its way through its centuries-old heart and guides you near the most talked-about points of interest. The only trick is you have to remember to look up from your map so you can see and appreciate them instead of passing by them obliviously.

Wherever you find history, you’ll find statues. Tonight’s episode collects our views of the inanimate guardians who glared at us along the way, but thankfully didn’t come to life and try to scare us out of town. For example, you may recognize this famous thinker from such popular works as HBO’s John Adams, The Office, and the American $100 bill.

Benjamin Franklin statue, Boston

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2013 Road Trip Photos, Part 6: Freedom Trail, Part 1 of 3: the Departed

Day Three was our first full-length day in Boston. We arrived the night before and discovered for ourselves the convoluted, aggravating, illogical, asymmetrical, mind-bending labyrinth that is their street “design”. According to a legend I’m making up on the spot based on my exasperated experiences, the Puritans who first settled the area in 1630 chose where their roads should lead by donning blindfolds, spinning around fifty times, and trying to walk in straight lines while carrying overflowing buckets of paint. Wherever they splashed the paint, no matter what contorted shapes it made, even if paint lines crisscrossed, overlapped, swirled in arcs, ran up the side of buildings, dropped into sinkholes, or dead-ended in someone’s parking lot, thus was the gravel laid and the licensed cartographers called in to stamp the resulting wagon-sized entanglements with the Department of Transportation’s official Seal of Approval. When future generations suggested that perhaps some courtesy straightening or extensive rerouting might be in order, those generations were thrashed within an inch of their lives and asked to leave town for attempting to undermine sacred tradition and for daring to badmouth The Way Things Have Always Been.

Centuries later, some radical free thinker was appointed to head the Department of Art, Tourism, and Special Events for the Mayor’s Office and was struck by the realization that the city’s tourist trade might go bankrupt if their numerous historical attractions were impossible for tourists to find without using black magic. To that end, Boston’s Freedom Trail became the first time we’ve ever seen a major city create a permanent travel guide based on the Raiders of the Lost Ark red-line method. With some portions painted and some made of collinear bricks, the Freedom Trail street guide leads interested parties on a two-mile walking tour of a dozen-plus famous spots of considerable renown without playing a paid game of Follow the Leader with a local part-timer.

Freedom Trail lines, Boston

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2013 Road Trip Notes, Day 4: Refuge in a Gated Community

Chinatown Gate, Boston

We hail from one of seventeen states that has never had a Chinatown to call its own. When we visited Manhattan in 2011, we spent hours walking through their Chinatown and immersing ourselves in surroundings resembling absolutely nothing back home. When we assembled our Boston to-do list, we considered their Chinatown was an obvious must-see. I wouldn’t call myself a travel authority by any means, but I imagine every great Chinatown needs a giant-sized gate like theirs.

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2013 Road Trip Notes, Day 3: Garden of the Ducks

ducks, Swan Boats, Public Garden, Boston

Today’s main event was a few miles’ worth of walking through the heart of downtown Boston. Part of our journey was structured according to the thoughtfully organized recommendations of The City of Boston. Part of it was freeform whim-based wandering. Once we were done having it both ways and had checked off the highest ranking items on our to-do list, we made a point of concluding the day’s tourism with a few minutes of natural tranquility.

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