Is it Friday yet?

This work week is going to be a long, slow one. After all, how can I get excited about a normal work week when it’s vacation time next week. New York City, here I come!

On a Lazy Day, an Interest in Civil War Battles

It’s a lovely day in Flagstaff. It’s not lovely due to the weather, though watching the clouds skuttle by overhead and the breeze blow through the open windows is nice. It’s lovely because I can be as lazy as I want today. I’ve no place to go, have nothing to do, and have books to read.

My vacation to Maryland, where I visited Baltimore and Washington, DC, made me ready for a day to do nothing. My visits to the Civil War battlefields Antietam and Gettysburg has me wanting to learn more. This morning I read James McPherson’s Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, a book that covers a lot of territory (prior battles, politics in Washington, and mini-biographies of the various generals involved).

As someone who detested the Civil War and the stupidity shown on both sides, it’s funny that a visit to two battlefields has me now interested in what happened. Seeing the cornfield and the sunken road at Antietam now gives me a mental picture of what it was like. But I think what really got me was the view from the visitor center at Antietam. Off to the left and down the road was a little white building. I didn’t think anything of it until seeing this photograph:

That building, the Dunkard Church, still exists. Somehow this image and walking the actual location fired off a desire to learn more. And I certainly needed to learn more. The poor Park Ranger must have been used to visitors who know every aspect of the battle, but he had to hear me ask, “So, who won this one? North? South?” Yes, I was that clueless.

I rented the movie Gettysburg to learn more about what happened there. I think I may finally find the willingness to rent Ken Burns’ documentary, The Civil War.

So, from something that I hated to read about, I’m now obsessing over. I do believe travel makes a difference. Seeing the places where well-known history occurred gives you a better sense of place, and reading about it gives you a better sense of the time.

I’m glad to have this lazy day to do my reading. I’m glad to be home. I’m especially glad that I didn’t live during the Civil War. It’s still miserable history, but I’m glad to learn about it all.

One of Those Days

I’m sitting here at the kitchen table, trying to get my act together. The coffee I’m downing won’t help — I buy decaf. I’m sore and tired. A raging case of shin splints keeps me from enjoying the nice weather by taking a walk with Spencer.

Those shin splints came from my wandering around Boston, so I won’t complain too loudly (just a little). They weren’t helped by my mad dash through the Phoenix airport. I mean, really, when you arrive late to an airport and look to see what gate your flight to Flagstaff leaves from, and see the word “Departed” wouldn’t you assume that it had, well, departed? Except then you hear over the loudspeaker that if you really want to get on that flight you better get to the gate right now. Damn! We had slowed down trying to figure out how to get back to Flag and were heading to Customer Service when we heard that call.  Luckily, Dan, my co-worker, could run faster than I. We made the flight but really did not appreciate how the airlines communicates.

Today is also a sad day. Someone I know from work was killed in a car crash last week. She worked in a different department, but I’d done some projects with her. I heard about her death from some of her co-workers who were at the conference with me. It’s such a shock that someone could be there one moment then gone the next. Her memorial service is this afternoon and I’ll be there.

It’s going to be one of those days.

Fenway

I made it back over to Fenway Park yesterday and took the tour. Wow. There’s nothing like sitting in the old grandstand seats made when everyone had tinier butts. It was fun sitting up on top of the Green Monster and looking down at the field. It was just so much fun sitting inside Fenway knowing that some amazing baseball history happened there. My baseball hero, Ted Williams, showed up at the ball park every home game (except for the times he was fighting in WWII and the Korean war).

I just thought it totally cool. I haven’t made it to any of the other Boston historical points of interest, but I did make it to Fenway. I’m happy.

Boston Wandering

My feet throb with pain. But who cares? I’ve been walking around Boston, exploring areas close to my hotel. Man, is this a great place — or at least the places I explored were great.

I wandered from the Sheraton to see if I could find the Back Bay Fens. Don’t ask me, it’s some kind of watery thingie. As a product of dry Arizona, I must go look at watery thingies. The fen was a pretty canal like area with greenery and people walking their dogs. Very nice. My next goal? The Charles River, which was definitely a water thingie.

My little map showed me the way. Just cross these few roads and I should find the river. Okay, the problem is, there’s this one little thing called the Massachusetts Turnpike — finding a pedestrian walkway to cross seemed impossible. I continued to attempt going down different roads, when lo and behold and hallelujah. No, I didn’t find a way across; I found Fenway Park. It was a few blocks over, but it was Fenway. Wow. I stood and looked at it for a moment or two, and decided that if I couldn’t find the way to the river, that I was coming back to see Fenway.

I walked down more streets and soon realized that the residential neighborhood that I was walking through was, in fact, Boston University. Let’s just say that the sorority houses and residence halls are charming. There are these huge trees that tower above the road (I don’t know trees — could they be elms or chestnuts, or maybe oaks?). And there it was: a pedestrian bridge to cross the busy road. I ended up at the Charles River.

You know those scenes in the movies where you can see the people in long boats rowing in unison? There were two teams out on the water doing that movie scene. The lowering sun reflected on the water, joggers ran, children played, and I sat on a bench taking it in.

My next stop? Fenway, baby!

Some co-workers were trying to arrange dinner and possibly hitting a blues club, and talking to them on the phone it was decided that we’d meet at Fenway. So, I found myself heading toward the park where Ted Williams used to play.

I walked down Brookline, then Landsdowne, to stroll past the different entry gates. People were dining outside at restaurants across the street and a general hubbub existed. After more cell phone calls with the guys to figure out where everyone was at, I decided to wait at the corner of Landsdowne and Ipswich, at one of the corners of the park. And wouldn’t you know? A very nice Bostonian stopped to ask if I was lost (could it have been the map I was waving around that made him think so?). Oh my, he had that Boston accent. My grin was huge. We talked for a bit. He’d been to Arizona, but not Flagstaff, and he hated Nogales. What a nice guy.

Waiting for Dan and Chris to show up, I walked down the other side of the park. While on another phone call trying to figure out which way the guys were walking towards the park, I meandered a little farther. When I saw the guys walking down the road I also saw the statue dedicated to Ted Williams. By golly, we managed to get a picture of me with Ted!

I’m going to skip out of some conference presentations tomorrow just so I can visit Fenway again. They offer tours of the place every hour. I’m going.

I still want to see Harvard, the older parts of town, and whatever else I can fit in. So far, Boston has been a delight.