BOSTON, MA – Not much sleep to start the Magical History Tour. We were two hours late into Boston thanks to a lavatory vandal somewhere over Texas. The equipment changed out, we touchdown at Logan at 2:30am. Erin’s prime Beacon Hill real estate exceeds a modest walk-in closet by a few square feet.
Up by 8am to beat the mugginess of Boston in August to run the Freedom Trail one last time. Before you snort with derision, fellow history nerds, know that in the eight years Erin has lived in Boston we have explored with time and reverence the multiple shrines of American History in Oliver Wendell Holmes’ hub of the Solar System. The briefest of looks at Sam Adams’ grave, Faneuil Hall and the Old North Church (“One if by land, two if by sea”) before meeting our biggest challenge: the 290 steps of the Bunker Hill monument. With trembling knees, we stagger to the nearest subway station.
Erin fights Massachusetts traffic for the last time and we make our way to Connecticut’s capital city: Hartford. Competing for parking with a weekend street festival and a confusing street grid we abandon the first capitol and Hartford’s creepy vibe for the Hudson Valley of New York.
We don’t quite make the 6pm closing time of FDR’s Presidential Museum but we’re invited to tour the grounds and visit his tomb. The late afternoon is the perfect time to enjoy the golden glow of Roosevelt’s mansion. I see the appeal of Hyde Park as a retreat from pulling the nation out of the Great Depression and fighting a world war on two fronts in opposite hemispheres. He was in Warm Springs, Georgia just as the Allies were closing in on Berlin that he told the artist painting his portrait, “I have a terrific headache.” I think I outclass Erin by dissing my favorite president when she demanded reverence at Jefferson’s grave last year.
Can we make it to Princeton, NJ before dark to visit the next dead president? No, so there’s a little extra time to indulge Ben’s pleadings to drive close enough to Manhattan for a night view of the famous skyline. The Google Maps navigator nearly sends us the wrong way to our death on the New Jersey Turnpike The Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower are clearly visible over the New Jersey Palisades. Outwardly, I grumble at the schedule being changed but really I’m a giddy tourist seeing the Big Apple for the first time.