Boston: South Boston, plus Mount Auburn Cemetery and more Flight Troubles

I flew to Boston on Friday, February 13, 2009, on Virgin America (very pleasant), met Di Yin, and proceeded immediately to Maine. We stayed in Maine at my parent's place for two nights, then returned to Boston. I stayed in Boston until Sunday, February 22, 2009.

On Sunday, February 15, 2009, my parents and I strolled around Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge in the snow. It's pretty, with some good views of Boston's skyline from the tower near the center. There were a few frozen ponds. I could imagine the cemetery being very nice when the trees have leaves and the ground has grass.

February 18, 2009, was another one of those clear cool days Boston's been having all week. I took some time to see a part of city I never previously explored on any of my previous visits: South Boston.

The day's plan was to explore Four Point Channel, the inlet that divides Boston from South Boston, and the area around it. By happenstance, I discovered that the Boston Harbor Walk, a series of trails along the various waterfronts throughout the Boston area, has two downloadable audio tours. I loaded them onto my mobile device, planned a route combining the tour that covered the area I wanted with the half a tour that covered an adjacent area I wanted to see, and was off on my way.

The audio tours were well done. They were recorded at a walking pace so I didn't often have to pause them and were complete with directions and walking music. The narration had a touch of humor which helped keep me generally interested, though in my opinion there were a tad too many new age comments ("take a deep breath; relax") along with new age music. I especially liked that the tour led me to historic places with no signs and down ordinary streets, just to get the feel of a neighborhood.

I took a few pictures while exploring.

I learned stuff. I learned South Boston was made from filled-in tidal flats. One company actually did the work of filling in this land and owned all the "land" for some time. South Boston grew into a factory-town, was later abandoned, and is now mostly an artists' district. The buildings, mostly still original, are all made of brick in various colors. This part of Boston has many bridges, all with different designs. Whereas one is a stone-weighted drawbridge, another bridge rotates to allow boats to pass.

The tour brought me to a building of artist studios where I saw some neat photographs by Gary Stubelick (more pictures). He draws light into photographs by taking pictures with prolonged exposures. (View the pictures and you'll see what I mean.)

I detoured from the tour to visit the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse. I didn't take a picture of it because the building was horribly backlit, but you can tell from the web page that it's a nice space with a modern glass exterior and an old brick interior. I glanced through the few art exhibits scattered around the building and liked the display of large-than-life-size sketches of police officers.

I also stopped by the Institute of Contemporary Art, mainly to see the building. (I knew they didn't have any current exhibits I wanted to pay the entrance fee to see.)

On February 19, 2009, a day that was slightly warmer than usual, I jogged along the Charles. How nice it is to jog while viewing the Boston skyline above the river! I think it's interesting that the Charles was mostly frozen over on the M.I.T. end, the end nearer to the ocean, whereas the inland part was clear of ice.

February 20, 2009, was windy, so windy that garbage cans and recycling boxes were scattered around the street (as I saw when I walked to lunch).

Like returning home from Chicago, I had plane issues. The plane to be used in my flight arrived half an hour late. While that may be irritating, it worried me more that they immediately pushed back the departure time eighty minutes. That indicated possible mechanical troubles. Then it got pushed back an hour, and yet another. Finally, they let us on the plane.

Then they discovered a warning light. We sat on the plane for thirty minutes while the mechanics investigated. It turned out to indicate one of the deicing mechanisms wasn't sealed properly. Given the late hour and the temperature, we'd need the deicing equipment. They said the repair wasn't easy.

Happily, American Airlines had two other planes nearby that weren't in use. We got off the plane, waited another half an hour for the flight attendants to clean and supply one of these planes, and boarded it. Finally, we took off, leaving nearly five hours after our scheduled departure time. I disembarked in San Francisco at 3:15am. This delay wasn't as bad as it sounds--I slept most of the way on the plane.

Later, American Airlines sent me a nice apology about the delay and gave me some additional frequent flyer miles to underscore the apology.