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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Havin' a Whale of a Time

Ah, I never did finish writing about my luvely weekend off, so I shall bore everyone with a few paragraphs or so!

Sabbath morning a week ago I woke up with a marvelous headache (due to lack of sleep and dehydration) so I skipped church and slept instead. Around 3:30, Heidi and Joan and I hopped into our cute red Chevy, set the GPS and headed east to the Atlantic Ocean. We followed a combination of map, GPS, and then map again to make it to the Winthrop Beach, avoiding tolls along the way. Free parking, a slightly polluted beach with gray sand and a lot of seaweed and broken seashells, and several hours of downtime made for a relaxing Sabbath afternoon. Then we headed back, stopping at a rest area to grab something to eat.

Sunday morning I was up early. Everyone else had other plans, so I found myself zipping down the Mass Turnpike into Boston's downtown as I listened to a country station and obeyed robotic commands to "turn left after zero point six miles." Even with GPS, though, I managed to miss parking on the first time around, and of course every other road would be a one-way, but I eventually parked, collected my tickets and entered the darkened aquarium. If you do happen to be in Boston, don't bother going to the New England Aquarium unless you have little kids, and even then it may not keep their attention long enough. I don't think I have ADD, but after about 45 minutes I had seen all the exhibits. Of course, being one who likes to visit any zoo, aquarium, and national park that I can get to, it could just be that I had seen most everything already. But I think the Monterey Bay Aquarium has more to see with more interactive exhibits and feeding stations. I did enjoy the Dolphins and Whales 3D movie at the adjacent Imax Theatre (and got a $3 discount using my AUC student card which I promptly used to buy popcorn and cookies!) and learned that there are many common species which are in danger of extinction right now, which is very sad. After watching a fur seal training demonstration back in the aquarium, I grabbed some lunch and got in line for the whale watching tour. The sun came down hot that afternoon so I was happy for my miniature sunscreen I'd picked up at Target before coming out to AUC. Once on the ferry, which seemed rather small to be heading all the way out to the open sea, I firmly ensconced myself at the front of the ship and held on tight to the railing. I had taken homeopathic travel-sickness tablets an hour prior and tried not to worry when they said we would be encountering 2-foot waves on a choppy sea and that if we thought we might be prone to seasickness we should take Dramamine immediately. It was a lovely trip out but I'm pretty sure those waves were higher than 2 feet, they felt more like 4 feet or higher, especially when we were going up and down in the midst of them! We saw several humpback whales but I was disappointed that 1) there were so many people on the boat that you couldn't see the whales each time they were spotted 2) the whales were usually quite far away and 3) we didn't stay out as long as I had hoped. But I did get a few good pictures, for which I'm happy :)

The best part of my afternoon was quite unplanned. After I ran back in to the gift store to buy one last thing (I know, I know, I love gift stores, and I know I could probably find similar things at some cheapy garage sale or in the free room or Salvation Army, but every now and then I like to treat myself with something that doesn't smell musty, dank, nasty and used!) I wanted to walk around Boston a little longer. It was only 6 pm and was too early to head back home, but I am not a very adventurous person and was hesitantly unsure whether it was safe to wander about as a single woman. I decided to just walk a few streets over from the parking garage and found myself in what looked very much like downtown London. Quincy Market, or Faneuil Hall Market Place, is a fun place where street artists, live theatre, funky stalls, and people mingle as skyscrapers tower above. Quincy Market itself is a long narrow building that must house at least 50+ fast-food sections with any food you could imagine available for a rather expensive fee. I paid $4.50 for 6 little pieces of avocado rolls but felt it was money well spent for the quality of the food. I bought a Napoleon pastry for old times sake, but had forgotten how much custard is in one and didn't find it as tasty as I had imagined. Elvis was doing a live show at a seafood restaurant so I enjoyed listening to "You Ain't Nothing but a Hounddog" and "Love Me Tender, Love Me True."

This Sabbath I am relaxing after a hectic week of classes. I am grateful for the quiet time to read, blog, look at people's pictures on Facebook, and listen to my favourite music on Pandora while a breeze keeps me cool and distant church bells chime out the hour with a tune or two. Maybe I'll go for a walk later, if the mosquitoes aren't too voracious!

Recommended reading: Once in a house on fire, by Andrea Ashworth and Daughter of China by Meihong Xu and Larry Engelmann.

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