Four months before Monica’s first Boston Marathon, we arrived on a reconnaissance mission to check out Bean Town. Surely we’d find Boston as agreeable as other old and fabled favorites. But when you’re on the road for two months, it can’t all be sunshine and roses.
I could encapsulate our stay in one brief scene as we walked…nay trudged… through the city after the final day of our visit completely rained out. The moment was punctuated by an act of human kindness. As we passed by a nice hotel, a tiny old lady got out of an Uber. Her aged back stooped her to a 90 degree angle. A woman she didn’t know stopped to help pull her suitcase from the trunk.
“What’s your name?” the sweet old lady asked the Good Samaritan.
“My name’s Rochelle,” came the younger woman’s reply.
“Rochelle, you’re trash!” the lady said.
Taken aback, the woman responded, “Well, that may be, but here’s your suitcase anyway.”
We prefer to think of Boston like Rochelle. Despite our best efforts, the city was hard on us. But we still had a good laugh.
One week earlier
Our initial foray into the city started with great promise. The short ferry ride from the tony enclave of Hingham, where we camped in Wampatuck State Park, was a splendid way to get introduced to Boston’s skyline. And we did make some positive memories along the Freedom Trail. But quickly the wheels began to rattle.
Our kids almost always get along really, really, really well. They’re best friends. Watching them bond has been one of the positive sides of the pandemic. This bonding also means they know how to push each other’s buttons through passive aggressive volleys (no insults until you see the whites of their eyes). The situation then devolves into one of them overplaying their hurt feelings and the other exaggerating their innocence. It reminds me of soccer players taking a dive. As referee, judge and jury, my wife and I are insulted that they think we’re fooled in any way. My instinct is to respond with deep, biting sarcasm, to which Monica always says, “You’re not helping.”
An illustration of our kids when they fight.
But Boston wasn’t a total bust. Wampatuck State Park is unusual. Right in the mist of the (hauntingly) idyllic town of Hingham, Wampatuck is a retired Naval munitions depot. Miles of rail have been turned into hiking, biking and running trails. Old bunkers dot the wooded landscape. Blair Witch vibes are strong. They also have a pump-track where the kids honed their mountain-biking skills. It’s a convenient place to visit the Boston area with an RV as the nearby ferry terminal has a huge empty parking lot.
It rained while we were there. A lot. At times it was freezing cold (fine with us, since we were mocking our friends in Florida where it was 90 degrees). Monica had to don her winter gear and continued her training, sometimes with me offering support on bicycle.
Hingham is a town of manicured homes, and interesting waterfront and a pristine State Park. The entire place had the fiction writer in me thinking, “What if something really terrible happened here?”
Our kids got to throw bundles of tea into Boston Harbor. In Boston, Monica scrambled for a scarf and gloves, turning herself into Miss Fourth of July. The last photo is a testament to our ability to grin and bear it while the kids acted like they were being taxed without representation.
We were determined to salvage our last day in Boston. With coveted Red Sox tickets in hand, what could go wrong? Well…
It started with the helpful directions the state park gave us for parking our RV at the train station. They explained perfectly how to get to an open-air lot, where our RV would have plenty of space. What they didn’t know was that a new parking garage was built on top of said lot. So new, in fact, that the signs warning “low clearance” weren’t even installed yet! So, following the directions to a T, I turned a narrow curve to an abrupt garage entrance with a 7 ft. clearance. A full 4 feet too low. Not only did I have to reverse down a narrow drive under the angry eye of a carload of Bostonians, but I wasn’t entirely sure there was an egress for us that didn’t involve shutting down a major highway. My mind had images of a team of cops closing the freeway at 2 a.m. so we could escape.
But once I extracted us from the narrow lane, I found some oversized parking behind some torn caution tape and the not-yet-marked exit. This garage was so new, entire levels were still under construction and the walkway to the train led to a ledge still missing an escalator. We followed spray painted directions to the train platform. I’d tell you that the rest of the day went perfectly, but the game got rained out, the museums were all full, and all we got was a long walk through Boston in the rain. But we actually had fun.
Goodbye Boston. Thanks for not sugarcoating our visit. For the remainder of our trip, “Rochelle, you’re trash.” was our rallying cry any time things got stressful.
Even if we didn’t get to see a game, it was cool to see Fenway Park.
A footnote to this episode was our stay in Newport, RI, where Monica won her age group in a half marathon, I won my age group in finding free camping in an abandoned casino parking lot (top left), and we all marveled at the massive mansions along the Cliff Walk. Newport is great, but life is far less interesting when things go to plan and people aren’t hurling random insults. I give you beautiful, Newport, RI:
You’re enjoying the FOURTH summer trip of “Don’t Make Me Turn This Van Around.” This blog is written by Jonathan Kile, and approved by Monica Kile. In 2016, after series of major medical issues, Jon was diagnosed with a serious genetic condition called Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. With life completely altered, they developed a road-trip habit. Reach Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monica is a non-profit consultant, grant writer, marathoner, baker, tour guide, and prolific bath taker. Also, don’t forget to follow our Instagram feed for stuff that doesn’t make the blog.