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September 18th, 2011 - Boston By Blacks

Boston has been one of my favourite cities so far on our journey. It is also one of the few cities where we put the effort into exploring it. Having all our possessions strapped to the back of the bike requires that the bikes be in view at all times if not securely parked somewhere, so parking and walking around a city isn’t really on option. We needed a base camp and tried to find a campground in the Boston area but after half a day on the internet we found there is no such thing. Campgrounds ranged from 25 to 50 miles outside Boston with ridiculous rates from $26 to $42 a night. We settled at 30 miles away for $30 a night which is over half of our daily budget but I was determined to explore Boston.

We picked out a great spot in the back woods of Cape Ann Campground and felt it was a safe and comfortable spot to leave our gear. Originally we had planned to ride one bike empty into the city but after talking to the owners of the campground we had another option. There is a passenger train only 5 minutes away from the campground and would apparently equal the cost of parking in downtown Boston. It turned out after paying for parking at the train station we were out an extra $5 but we did enjoy our train experience. All the trains in the greater Boston area converge on North Station and it being such a big station we figured it would have lockers available for rent that we could store our helmets in.  This was not the case and after a little bit of a goose chase in the area we managed to find a place that would hold our helmets… for $20. No way we were paying that…  So for the first 2 hours of our time in Boston I was a big grumpy baby lugging my helmet around. I eventually got over it knowing that my $20 could be spent on something amazing like a tank of gas in the Andes Mountains or a cold beer in the Sahara.

Boston is a great city for people on a tight budget like Erin and I because there is so much to see for free. Many cities have “things to do” but from a travellers point of view that means “things to spend money on”, so we often look for “things to see”. Boston offers The Freedom Trail, well marked with bricks or red paint, that leads you around the historic downtown showcasing the history of the American Revolution. The first stop for us was the USS Constitution, the oldest floating commissioned naval vessel  which was originally launched in 1797. The ship is stored in a naval yard and after passing through security we were treated to a free guided tour. I enjoyed the whole experience, even with my helmet, and would recommend it to anyone looking for free things to see.

As we continued on the trail it led us down beautiful old cobble stone streets surrounded by ancient building and monuments of distinguished revolutionary figures. Although the city is one of the oldest in the United States, I started to notice the overwhelming amount of youth in its current culture. Young business men fresh out of collage walked the street in abundance, along with students and artists from every ethnic background. It was a cultural mosaic thriving on a very active and modern lifestyle. Bicycle lanes and recycling programs were apparent throughout the city and people seemed to enjoy their green lifestyle as the streets were packed with people walking, running and cycling. I don’t consider myself to be a city person but I could picture myself living in Boston even if only for a short time. Although it had its hustle and bustle it seemed to have a very relaxed feel and I look forward to one day experiencing it again.

Erin and I are now enjoying our first Couch Surfing experience in Middle Haddam, Connecticut. Our hosts Richard and Linda were very quick to respond to our very short notice Couch Surfing request and kindly opened their home to us. For those of you who don’t know what Couch Surfing is, take a moment and look it up, it’s a fantastic community of people. Not only is it a free place to stay but you get to meet great people and get true local insight to the area you are traveling through. I’ve enjoyed the relaxing few days we have spent here and find joy in such simple things like taking their dog for a walk around the neighbourhood. Come tomorrow we will trade these simple pleasures for the city of all cities… New York City!

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