As I post this we are in the Econolodge in Albany, NY, on our way home. Three more days on the road and the trip is over. I am not sure there will be another one like this. Exhausted hugs, Lauri
The Adventures of Lauri and Rose on the Road in America
Day 9, Tuesday, June 21
We had another cold cereal, coffee and juice breakfast before we left the Econolodge in Manchester. I had good directions on how to get on the freeway headed north to Concord. It was only a short drive to the New Hampshire capitol and we were there in under half an hour. The capitol was easy to find, but it took a little longer to find a parking place. The nice security guard at the capitol directed us just up the block to a free handicapped spot on the street. We walked the block back to the building and took the elevator to the main floor to the visitors’ center office. We picked up brochures for the self-guided tour and wandered through the building. While we saw security people, there were virtually no restrictions to where we were allowed to go. We walked into an office area that was adjacent to the governor’s conference room. We walked through only to see a man, whom we later learned was the governor himself, standing there chatting with a couple of people. We quietly walked by. Back in the visitor’s center, we bought New Hampshire coffee mugs. Mother found post cards she was looking for. It was in then that I realized that I did not have my necklace watch. I could not remember picking it up off the counter in the room. We gassed the car in Concord so we would have a full tank for the trip to Boston.
Mother insisted we stop along the freeway headed south to go through my purse and overnight bag to make sure I had not dropped it into either one. Of course, the watch was not there. She told me to stop at the motel to see if someone found my watch since we were driving right by it. So, I pulled off at the exit and into the parking lot. We had chatted with a couple of the housekeeping staff before we left, and one of women recognized me when I walked back in the door. I told her I may have left my watch behind, so we went to ask the other housekeeping people. Sure enough, our room had been cleaned and my watch was found. It was wrapped in plastic with the room number and date. I thanked the man who had found it, and we were back on the road in a few more minutes.
We took US 3 toward Boston, rather than the interstate highway. The traffic may have been a little lighter but it was still a multi-lane expressway. I tried to remain calm. Mother kept a sharp eye on the road signs. We merged on to Interstate 95 and found our exit #26 or US 20 toward Waltham. While the traffic is heavy, the speed limit is 35 mph and the route is well-marked. Our motel was a five mine drive from the freeway. We pulled into the parking lot about Driving for the next two days was done!
I did not know if we would be able to get checked in so early, but the room was cleaned, and they let us have it. We walked about three blocks to Wild Willy’s for lunch – good, grilled chicken breast sandwiches. Mother had milk, and I had a draft root beer.
She decided we should head into Boston to see if we could tour the state house, after all, that is why we were there. So, armed with a bus schedule and directions to the Red Line train, we did just that. The bus runs just a half block from the motel. We waited on the corner with several other people. The bus finally came and was very crowded. The driver did not want any fare money, she just wanted to get everyone on, Mother seated and stay moving. The bus was on the verge of overheating or having some other problem as there was a warning beep that kept sounding. We made it into town to the Central Square area. Then we found the elevator to the subway station. I bought a token to get though the turnstile. Mother put 35 cents (senior rate) in the box. A transit person helped us get her walker over the gate. Then we saw that there was an entry for those with walkers, strollers of otherwise unable to get through the narrow turnstile.
The train came whizzing into the station and came to a halt. We quickly got in and found seats. We had to ride three stops before we got off. In just a few minutes, we were at the Park Street station. We got off the train, and discovered the elevator was in the middle platform of the train tracks. A nice woman told us to wait until the next train came though, and then when the doors open, walk through to the other side. It worked slick. We took the elevator to the street. We stood consulting maps to get oriented. Someone asked what we were looking for. Mother said the state house. The new one or the old one, we were asked. The new one, she said. The kind person pointed up the hill. We walked across the busy street and up the park only to find a fight of stairs at the end. I carried the walker while Mother used a handrail. A woman came along and asked if Mother needed some assistance. She said she was doing fine,
We walked across the street and around to the side entrance for those who have handicaps. Security is tighter here than in Concord. Our purses were X-rayed and I had to walk through a metal detector. Mother, with her artificial hip, was allowed to bypass the metal detector. We found our way to the information desk and picked up tour guide pamphlets. We were both feeling pretty hot and dry about now. I asked about a drinking fountain. There are none in the building as the pipes are too old, I was told. We found some chairs to sit on, and right next to us was a table with bottles of water, glasses, ice and even some leftover cookies and bars. We helped ourselves to water and glasses of ice. The cold water was so good. It really saved the day.
We walked around the building looking at both House and Senate chambers, the ornate iron work on the stairways and colorful stained glass windows. With another restroom stop, we were ready to leave. The next quest was where to find Massachusetts souvenirs. We stood on the sidewalk consulting maps and got more offers of help from people on the street. We sat and rested for a while. Mother decided she wanted to get to Fanuell Hall, a large shopping complex. It was about a mile away. She said we would just take it easy. Fortunately, it was downhill. But, it was a LONG walk, and we did rest often. We finally got there and checked out several shops. Nearly all the souvenirs are for Boston. Mother found postcards, a magnet and we both picked out a lapel pin. That left coffee mugs and Christmas ornaments to find. But, we found nothing except Boston items.
We were getting tired and hungry. We picked out Shepherds pies, salad and lemonades in Quincy Market. After eating we wearily started back up hill toward our train station. Again, we rested frequently, but we were getting concerned as it was getting dark. The streets seemed filled with loud young black men, rather intimidating for two older white women. Finally, we arrived at the elevator to take us to the Park Street platform. There were four or five young black kids who took the elevator down to the gated entrance. We did not realize we would need a transit token to get out to the platform. And, there we were with all these rude, noisy kids. Finally, over a speaker box came the voice of a transit person who said she “saw the lady with wheelchair” and would let us in, but the kids should have a token to get it. Well, of course, when we went through the gate, so did they. We all got in for free.
I don’t know where the kids went, but we made our way to the Red Train outbound platform. Finally, the train came and we got on. Mother almost fell over when the train started and someone quickly got up to give her a seat. Three stops and we were where the bus was supposed to be.
We made our way to the street and stood there trying to figure out where we were supposed to go. Again, we had helpful people get us headed in the right direction. One more consultation and we were in the right place. The bus came and we gratefully dropped into seats for the ride back to Watertown. Mother told the bus driver where we needed to get off, and he said he would let us know when we got there. The ride was going along smoothly until someone made a U turn across a double yellow line and pulled into the bus stop to park. There was someone waiting to get on the bus at the stop. The driver stopped and laid on the horn. The car’s driver waved the bus around her/him. The driver inched closer and honked some more. He yelled at the driver to get out of the bus stop. The driver finally caught on and moved down the street. The bus driver was really steamed and vocal about his frustrations. It turned out to be a preamble for the next altercation.
We stopped near the Watertown Mall and several people got on. One woman got on and tucked her transfer into the place where the driver is supposed to put them. He fished it out and told her it was invalid, not issued for this route. He told her she had to pay the 90 cent fare. She proceeded toward the back of the bus. The driver waited and waited some more. Finally, he put the bus in park and went to get her. She came back with a bus pass, but when it was scanned, the driver said it had already been used and it was not hers. What happened next was a shouting match between the woman and her daughter (both black) and the driver (white). The driver called in for assistance and the police. The two women kept shouting at him. The daughter said he was making an issue of it because they were black. Someone offered to pay the fare, but the woman refused his money. Finally, the driver told the women to get off the bus. Some more shouting took place, but they were FINALLY gone. We sat there just shaking our heads. Again, the driver was vocal about their attempt to scam the transit system and how angry charges of bigotry made him. It was not much longer before we were at our stop. The driver stopped and a young man (probably 8 or 9 years old) got up and helped us get Mother’s walker off the bus. It was just another kind gesture in what had been a day of kind gestures and a couple of wacky women.
We made our way across the street to the motel and into our room. Mother went to get a bucket of ice. I shed shoes and socks. She poured us both a big drink from her bottle of Manhattans, commenting that we would have to buy a bottle of something to get us home. We showered, sipped and laughed at the bus ride from town. We are both so sore we can hardly move. But, we had survived the Boston transit system and managed to tour two state capitols. We have another day in Boston before we head to Providence. Of course, we still need those coffee mugs and Christmas ornaments.
"Go confidently into the direction of your dreams. Live the life you always imagined" Thoreau
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.