2015.09.15 – Beantown

2015.09.15 – Beantown

So far, my journey has taken me to some of the most amazing wilderness areas in the northern Midwest and the Northeast. As I head south, however, I am entering a totally different phase of my trip. Instead of driving straight from Acadia to Shenandoah Valley, I am going to spend time in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. These cities don’t necessarily fit many, if any, definitions of American wilderness, but they are nonetheless essential in understanding America and its wilderness. An old mentor mentioned a quote once that I have long forgotten, but the essence of it demonstrated the inextricable link between wilderness and cities. Cities need wilderness. Wilderness needs cities. I will be exploring the relationship between the two over the next week or so. Another selfish reason for visiting these cities is that they are where many of my friends from college now reside. Let the reunions begin.

Boston was my first stop. I dropped my mom off in Rockport, thanking her for a wonderful week of adventures in Maine and Nova Scotia. It was truly a gift to get to share part of this trip with her, after she has shared so much to make it possible for me. From there, I drove into the city. After driving over bridges, through tunnels, and getting honked at numerous times, I finally breathed a sigh of relief as I pulled into a parking space in Ashmont. I wouldn’t need to contend with Boston drivers on the roads for a few more days. Thank goodness.

The next few days can be best described as a series of vignettes with different people in different places. Each experience shared similar elements. Regardless of who I saw, we always recounted our stories from the past few years. Some were more in depth, others quite fleeting. From roommates, to college friends, to coworkers, to teammates, to travel buddies, I was able to squeeze an amazing amount of time in with people I often hadn’t seen in over two years. The serendipity of the scheduling of it all still astounds me. Sadly, I totally forgot to take pictures with all of them. I won’t make that mistake in the future!

Having left Sam behind in Ashmont, I had the luxury of couch surfing through Boston. This meant that I was not only checking in with friends, but also getting an unprecedented tour of Boston. I slept in Ashmont, Somerville, and South End. I explored the Commons, the Waterfront, Cambridge, Newbury Street, South End, and countless other districts of Boston’s relatively contained sprawl. I now feel much more comfortable with the layout and breakdown of Boston’s neighborhoods, which are all unique in relatively obvious ways. Wandering through them proved a wonderful experience.

Even though I was only there for a few days, I was already starting to feel antsy and wanted to get back on the road. Next stop NYC!

4 Responses

  1. Ben Cohen
    | Reply

    When you get to DC, if you want the inside scoop on kenilworth aquatic gardens and rock creek park, I can point you in the right direction. Since I moved here from Madison in 1998, I have run thousands of miles on the unpaved trails in rock creek park. The history kenilworth aquatic garsdens is quite interesting. Perhaps these parks are already on your list of places to visit. The chair of the board of Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is Alan Spears. He happens to work at the National Parks Conservation Associations and could arrange tour for you.

    • jcronon
      | Reply

      Thank you for the inside scoop Ben! Sadly, I decided to bypass DC this time around because of all of the papal madness. Having experienced firsthand the delays and closures in Philadelphia yesterday (a week before the pope even gets there!), I decided to return to DC some other time. I’ll have to explore the gardens and park then!

  2. Jean Cronon
    | Reply

    I think that was a smart thing to do so you can see the other side of “wilderness”. What fun to “hang out” with your Bates friends and not have to do any cooking in “Sam” until you get back on the road again.

  3. Susan Fey
    | Reply

    Yeah. It really doesn’t get much worse than driving in Beantown. I learned to drive with one hand on the horn there, and was often peeking through the fingers of the other one! If you and Sam made it out past I95 unscathed, you done good! NYC is more congested, but better signed and not nearly as chaotic. Forward!

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