Monday, August 30, 2010

Quincy-officially pronounced with a "z" sound

Quincy, MA.  Home to two presidents and two very respectable first ladies.  Another link in what I like to call the revolutionary chain of Massachusetts (with Boston, Lexington and Concord).  On the list Quincy has six sights and being that it is also the city in which I work in, it made sense to make it the next stop on my list.  Also, it was the first time Harold accompanied me and as you can see in the pictures below, he had a blast.

First up on the list was Adams National Historical Park, which consisted of the birthplaces of both John Adams and John Quincy Adams and The Old House in which 4 generations of the Adams family lived until 1927.  Unfortunately, due to a burglary, they don't allow photographs inside the homes, which blows since they have all original stuff from the families inside the Old House.  It was pretty cool seeing the actual bed where Abigail Adams passed away in, or the desk which John Adams wrote the Massachusetts State Constitution with his glasses sitting on top.
birthplace of John Adams

Home of John Adams and birthplace of John Quincy Adams
The Old House

After the Adams National Historical Park I went into Quincy Center for the United First Parish Church.  John Adams donated land for the church to be built on and John Quincy Adams worshipped there.  They even rented a pew for their personal use, as was common at that time.  This is also the final resting places of both presidents and their wives, although Louisa, wife of John Quincy Adams, did not like Quincy all that much and wished to be buried in Washington D.C.  She was buried in Quincy anyway because death is just as difficult as life. 

Harold loves sitting in the seat of Presidents

John Adams tomb.  Notice the flag has 15 stripes instead of 13.

John Quincy Adams' tomb

Marina Bay was a "must see" on the list according to friends.  I've heard so much about it that it became the first stop on my tour of Quincy.  It was smaller than I expected but I'm someone who grew up in VA Beach with a very long boardwalk with tourist shops every square inch.  Marina Bay was very beautiful with a gorgeous view of Boston across the harbor.  It was punctuated with a tall clock dedicated to the Vietnam Veterans.  There are restaurants and shops located there for those looking for a little nightlife or just dinner.  I was impressed with the wooden boardwalk which is pretty rare these days I think.

Third stop was the USS Salem/Naval Shipbuilding Museum.  It was great walking around the battleship and the presentations they set up on the second and third decks are very interesting, especially when they talk about life aboard a ship.  It was cool to walk into the compartments and see the inner workings of a ship.  It reminded me of when my father was on a ship.

The Col. Josiah Quincy House was nothing more than a house.  It is only open by special appointment and is tucked in a neighborhood surrounded by residential houses.  The architecture is nice to look at and there is a story of how Josiah Quincy while keeping watch for invading British ships scrawled on the window information on the position of these ships in order to pass the information along to Gen. George Washington. 

Last but not least was the Quincy Quarry.  It used to be filled with water but now has a field with huge granite rocks that has become a favorite spot for rock climbers.  It is marked by colorful graffiti that, to me, gives the quarry a little character.  There was a time when this quarry supplied the entire country with granite for roads, buildings, etc.  Now, its a recreational place. 

Harold trying his hand at some rock climbing

Overall, I enjoyed Quincy, especially the revolutionary historical aspect of it.  Its the kind of place that has a lot to offer depending on what you are looking to do for the day.  I was impressed by it and from what I'm hearing they are attempting to redesign the layout of the city to make it nicer.  If thats the case, I can't wait to see that because it looks pretty nice already.

Friday, August 27, 2010


We haven't confirmed what he had to do to get all these beads
Still not sure if he's really Irish

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Introducing My Traveling Companion

So far, its been great going to these sights, checking out what these places have to offer and then marking them off of the list. Hop in the car, turn the music up and just drive, occasionally stopping to glance at the map and figure out how to get there. But, it would be nice to have someone to share it with, a travel companion.

Well, one has arrived! Harold the Traveling Moose will join me on my exploits across the state starting this weekend as we take on the sights of Quincy.

Harold is a little unknown so allow me to brush you up on who he is as a moose. Harold is a male moose, or bull, from the western part of Maine. (exact location is unknown since his family wandered all over the place but we're pretty sure its near the Canadian border) Harold is single and is casually looking. His favorite bands include The Strokes, Florence & the Machine, Dylan and Frightened Rabbit. His all time favorite movie is Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  Some other favorite movies of his are Animal House, Slapshot, Strange Brew and Fiddler on the Roof. He doesn't usually do a lot of traveling so it will be a new experience for him but he is looking forward to it almost as much as I am.

Thats Harold in a nutshell so if you happen to see the image of a moose popping up in some pictures, do NOT be alarmed, its just Harold.

Stop #2: Arlington

"I know I've been here before."

That's what I kept saying to myself when I drove into Arlington. There was something very familiar about it. As I got out of my car I realized that not only had I been to Arlington before, my cousin Dave actually bestowed upon me one of the greatest views of the Boston skyline I've seen yet. With each new town I visit on this list, I hope to discover a hidden gem, a place that is not real obvious to people but everyone knows its there. Arlington has two: Robbins Farm Park and Spy Pond.

The picture below was taken on top of a hill in Robbins Farm Park. The view deserves a better picture than what my Blackberry is capable of because it was breathtaking. As soon as I saw it I said to myself, "Holy crap! Dave took me here when i first moved up here!" It was pretty great. The park is a marvel to say the least. Wide open space for soccer and baseball games, a playground set that I wish I had as a child, complete with a slides that were embedded into (yeah, INTO) the hill. It made me want to push the kids aside as I yell out "MY TURN!! MY TURN!!" But I held back. On top of the hill of the greatest view of boston was this older couple that you could tell have been coming here for years, not that I blame them. Made me hope to have that one day.

Spy Pond is located right near the center of town, but you wouldnt know it without looking at a map. Its location is absolutely perfect. You can drive down to the park on this winding, almost maze-like road or you can park your car at the center of town and take a stroll on the Minuteman Bike Path to the park. I happen to arrive at the perfect time of dusk to snap this picture.

Spy Pond at sunset
I love it. The pond has a playground to take kids, a boat launcher if you'd like to sail on the pond and a path that goes a short way around the pond but with little steps along the way in which you can sit down and enjoy the pond. It fit the definition of a "hidden gem" to a T.

Arlington had a couple of other points on the list. The Mystic Lakes, Robbins Library, the Cyrus E. Dallin Art Museum and the Samuel Wilson Memorial Statue.

Let me start off by saying the Mystic Lakes were a big disappointment. There are two Mystic Lakes (Lower and Upper) and it seemed like Upper Mystic Lake was shut off from the world by the Arlington Boating Club. Seriously, I couldnt even find a place to take a picture of it. Lower Mystic Lake had a tiny beach and a short trail that ended on this jut in which a young man was fishing from. You could walk around the pond but again, its pretty tough to get a photo of it.

Robbins library is a great library. Apparently it contains the oldest continuously operated free children's library in the country, which kind of confuses me because I thought libraries were always free. I think I'm missing something with this little nugget of info.

Inside Robbins Library

Uncle Sam. Who is he? Was he a real person? Where did he come from?

Yep. He was a real guy and he was a native of Arlington, MA. Samuel Wilson was his name and all he did was supply the United States Army with beef during the War of 1812. The barrels this beef was shipped in was stamped U.S. (for the country) but the soldiers joked that it stood for Uncle Sam and associated his name with the initials therefore forever branding him a national symbol. Share that story with your friends and make yourself look like a genius. You're welcome. :P

Then there was the Cyrus E. Dallin Art Museum. This guy was an artist.

Lets cut the bull. I'm not big fan of art and this museum's hours were very limited (12p.m. to 4 p.m.) which didn't allow me to go inside and see what it had to offer. So, here's a picture of the outside. :)

Stop #1: Lexington

The hardest part about starting a list (especially one that contains 1,000 places) is deciding where to start. I know that I wanted to start somewhere close to Tewksbury, the town in which I live, and I wanted it to be a place that I had a great interest in visiting to begin with. So, I decided to lean on my love for American History and start this journey off in the most fitting way, in the town that began the American Revolutionary War, Lexington.

Lexington has only three entries on the list: The Battle Green, The Minuteman Statue and Lexington Center.

The Battle Green is the site where the first shots were fired in the Revolutionary War. It is also the burial site of the first victims of the War. There are all kinds of historical buildings surrounding the green. One had a sign above its entrance tell the brief story of how a so-and-so (they gave a name but I can't remember it) was shot and dragged himself through "this door way to die at the feet of his wife." That really grabbed my attention. The War Monument was pretty captivating since it was the burial place of the first victim's of the War. There is a marker with the names of those victims and previous visitors to the monument had thrown pennies on top of the marker. I dont know why they threw pennies, but the sight of it made me smile knowing there is some kind of meaning, and if not meaning, appreciation behind it.

The Minuteman Statue is not without controversy. Some say it more accurately depicts a militia member than a minuteman. There is also a minteman statue in Concord that some say accurately depicts a minuteman more so than this one but we'll have to wait and see, that is further down on the list. :)

Lexington Center was a very enjoyable walk down Massachusetts Ave lined with shops and restaurants and a very old, yet quaint movie theater. I didn't go into any stores since I just wanted to enjoy the beautiful day. The CVS store had fascinating pictures of Lexington in the early 1900s up into the 60s. I just want to say that I was very impressed with how clean the town was. It just seemed like a great place to live.

The List

Its only fitting that my first entry describe what this whole blog thing is about. So here ya go.

I'm originally from Virginia Beach, VA. I've lived in VA Beach for twenty some odd years and felt as if I needed a change. I decided to move up to Tewksbury, MA in August 2003 to 1) Be closer to my family up here, 2) Be closer to Boston, and 3) to just get the hell out of Virginia Beach.

I've been living in the Bay State for roughly seven years and realized that I had not seen anything that the state has to be seen. Don't mistake me, I've seen the necessary things such as Fenway Park, Gillette Stadium, Boston Common, The Freedom Trail and various other things but nothing really outside of the typical, run of the mill touristy things. Then in the summer of 2010, the state released a list of 1,000 Places in Massachusetts to promote tourism to the state. Since I am a HUGE fan of lists (and somewhat of a nerd with unextraordinary life), it inspired me to get off my butt and go out and see what the state has to offer.

And what fun would it be if I didn't document this journey? Not very much. Hence, this blog. (yeah, hence) So, with every stop I make, every check mark off the list, I'll make an entry, posting pics and small descriptions about what I've seen and the places I've been. I usually go it alone on these types of things but every now and then I'll have a co-pilot riding shotgun with me to visit these weird, somewhat unknown places. I hope you enjoy reading this blog and maybe you'll discover new places for yourself as I go along! :)