Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 4: Korean War Veterans Memorial {Boston Tour, Part 2}

Salut mes amis

Charlestown Navy Yard was my next stop in Boston! This particular navy yard opened in the year 1800 where it served as an area to build naval warships and then supply and repair them when necessary. More than 200 warships were build here, not even counting the thousands that were merely repaired, before the navy yard was closed in 1974. Now it is part of the Boston National Historical Park, and two naval vessels - the USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young - still reside here as reminders to prospective visitors of Boston's naval past.  

The first thing I noticed upon stepping off the tour bus was this HUGE anchor mounted on the grounds! I immediately raced over to climb it. Can you find me?

Here I am!

I then spent a few minutes on the boardwalk, taking in the view of the naval yard and the waterway. Although still quite early, I nearly had the place to myself - it was already rather hot! I wasn't complaining; I'm too used to Southern humidity!

I ventured into a park (very fittingly called "Shipyard Park") set up around the outskirts of the naval yard and happened upon the Korean War Veterans Memorial. This memorial was dedicated on July 28, 1993.

I felt very patriotic (and a tad bit silly, not being American!) standing next to this United States flag at the memorial.

I walked around Shipyard Park a little bit more. I passed a playground with no children on it. I was thinking how odd a park was without any children playing in it, until I happened upon this fountain! Apparently Boston allows the city children to wade in designated fountains on hot days! How cool is that?! The tour guide told us later that there used to be a city ordinance against that, but enough people complained to repeal the rule! I'm glad - fountains should be for wading!

I very much wanted to join the children in the fountain, as I was already hot and sweaty. Not having brought my swimsuit, I sadly moved on. I had other places to see around the navy yard and a limited amount of time in which to see them.

Here is how downtown Boston looked from the navy yard. I love looking at city skylines. There is just something about them that makes them pleasing to look at!

Have you ever played in a fountain on a hot day? What do you like to do to cool off? 


Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 4: Bunker Hill Museum {Boston Tour, Part 1}

On my actual birthday (August 9th), I received another surprise - my guardian paid for me to have a guided tour of Boston and Cambridge! Since I'd never been to either of these cities, I was ecstatic! I only wished Juliette had been here to share the fun with me. However, she is not keen on traveling, especially not when it coincides with her ultra important summer ballet intensive. My guardian also doesn't feel comfortable traveling with more than one of us at a time. 

Luckily for me, there was a very small group of people going on this particular guided tour of Boston. It almost felt like I had the tour guide all to myself! The first stop was the Bunker Hill Museum and Monument in Charlestown (a historic neighborhood in Boston, which was a separate city in 1848), which is a Boston National Historical Park. You can earn a Junior Ranger badge here, after completing the handbook obtained from either the Boston National Historical Park Visitor Center at Faneuil Hall or at the Charlestown Navy Yard. I wished I'd had the time to do that, as it would be so nice to earn a Junior Ranger badge, but alas, that is the downside of taking a guided city tour - you don't have much time at each location! I guess this means that I'll have to go back! 

The Bunker Hill Monument (as shown below) is 221 feet high and is mounted at Breed's Hill (not at Bunker Hill, don't let the name fool you!). Breed's Hill was the site of the first major battle in the American Revolution, which was fought on June 17, 1775. The monument was built between the years of 1827 and 1843 using granite imported from Quincy, Massachusetts. You can go inside the monument and walk up to the very top! Be forewarned, though: there are NO elevators! There are 294 steps that you'll have to walk up to see beautiful Boston from a bird's eye view! Hmm, maybe taking a helicopter ride of the city might be better? 

This is not the first monument created on the site! In 1794, the monument was merely a wooden 18 foot pillar (with a gilded urn on top), created to honor Dr. Joseph Warren, a Mason and fallen Bunker Hill hero. 

The Bunker Hill Monument is part of The Freedom Trail, which is brick-lined and leads you on a 2 . 5 mile passage highlighting 16 important monuments, churches, and museums of historic Boston. The idea behind a Freedom Trail came into fruition in the 1950s, and since then, it has become an integral part of Boston's tourism. Over 3 . 2 million people walk The Freedom Trail each year, which includes places such as The Bunker Hill Monument, Old North Church, the site of the Boston Massacre, etc. On my tour, I got to visit most of these, and I will blog about them in future posts.

To the left, you will see a statue of Col. William Prescott. Another Bunker Hill hero, he is said to have coined the phrase, "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes." Perhaps you have come across this phrase in your study of the Revolutionary War? However, there are some who doubt Prescott said this at all.

Below, you can see me with the statue of Prescott:

The photo below shows part of historic Charlestown, the Boston neighborhood in which the Bunker Hill Monument is located in. Located across from downtown Boston, it is actually a peninsula to the north of the Charles River. If you look in the middle of the photo, you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Boston, as well as the bridge that separates it from Charlestown. As I said earlier, Charlestown was once separate from Boston; perhaps a bit like my hometown of Montmartre was to Paris, France back in the day? The first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Charlestown became a city in the year 1848 and didn't become officially part of Boston until January 5, 1874. Charlestown is home to many Irish American residents, due to the increased migration of the Irish during the Great Potato Famine in the 1840s. Also in this photo is our tour bus! Can you find it in this photo?

The Bunker Hill Museum (the brick building to the right in the above photo) opened in 2007 and teaches visitors about the Battle of Bunker Hill, the construction of the Bunker Hill Monument, and the history of Charlestown. The sign to the left is the first thing you see as you enter the Bunker Hill Museum.

This sign gives visitors a brief introduction to The Battle of Bunker Hill. It begins with a quote from First Lady Abigail Adams:

         "The Day - perhaps the decisive Day is come on which the fate of America depends." 
     - Abigail Adams, Letter to John Adams, June 18, 1775 

Then it goes on to say:

"Throughout the nation and over the centuries, Americans have honored the memory of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Why do we commemorate this particular battle in our collective memory? 

The patriots fighting at Bunker Hill retreated in defeat at the end of the battle. Yet, the Battle of Bunker Hill provided a significant strategic gain for the patriots. In battering the British Army, they thwarted British plans to fortify Dorchester Heights and attack patriot troops at Roxbury. This enabled the patriots to force the eventual evacuation of British troops from Boston. The battle also demonstrated that the patriots could successfully engage the British army, one of the most professional and well-trained forces in the eighteenth century. 

The Battle of Bunker Hill was quickly memorialized, first in stories and ceremonies, then ultimately in the building of the Bunker Hill Monument. Memorializing the battle helped a young nation define its patriotism and the meaning of being an American." 

Above is an illustration of the Battle at Bunker Hill; the artist is unknown to me.

I didn't have the time to explore the Bunker Hill Museum, but I browsed the gift shop quickly. I was particularly amused when I saw copies of the Declaration of Independence for sale. If you know why I was amused and felt obligated to take a picture of them, you will receive a virtual cookie! I'll give you a hint: It has something to do with one of my all-time favorite movies!

The Bunker Hill Museum is housed in the old Charlestown branch of the Boston Public Library. Isn't it a lovely building? The Charlestown branch has moved buildings several times. This particular building was in use by the library from 1913 to 1969; the current library was opened in 1970. I am quite glad that this building is in use again. I love the ornamental façades on the front of the building.

That's all for now! The next stop is . . . well, you'll see! But I'll leave you with a couple of questions: Have you ever been to Boston? Have you ever walked (or ridden by) the Freedom Trail?


Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 3: American Girl Natick!

Salut mes amis, 

On August 8th, I got to visit American Girl Natick (the Boston area Boutique & Bistro) again! While I'd been before, I was super excited to be able to meet up with some dear friends from YouTube. We were going to have lunch together! (I'm also told that there was shopping involved, but that's another story!). 

Once we made it into the store, I zoomed (no pun intended!) over to try out Julie's new Volkswagen Beetle! Since Julie was already seated in the passenger seat, I found a seat in the rear, put my hands up, and squealed with delight. Julie said that her mom would be out in any minute to give us a spin in the car, but it took her long enough! I bet Ivy could've driven us . . . 

Once my friends arrived, we headed up to the second floor to get seated for lunch. While our table was being prepped for us, I took a photo with the McKenna photo-op that was available:

Soon I was seated at the table in my very own cushy pink chair! The waitress took our orders and left us to it. 

 These are my friends! Maya is on the far left, while Katherine is seated next to me. We got to know each other better by playing the conversation starters ("Table Talkers") while we waited for our food to arrive.



 As my starter, I ordered this leafy green salad:

Then I ordered this dish of gluten-free pasta, complete with broccoli and chicken. Yum!

Finally, as a birthday surprise (since my 14th birthday was the next day, on August 9th!), Maya and Katherine surprised me with ice cream for dessert! They'd told the waitresses to sing 'Happy Birthday' to me, and boy, was that embarrassing to be the center of attention throughout the whole of the restaurant (but in a good way)! Still, it was a sweet thing for them to do, and I'm very grateful that I got the chance to spend time with them! 

After lunch, the grown-ups did some shopping, but I wasn't allowed to see what they bought. I think some of what they bought were birthday presents for me, hehe! However, Maya and Katherine brought a new friend named Phoebe home, and I got to meet her briefly, too.

That was quite the day! I loved meeting up with friends at an American Girl store! Celebrating my birthday there was extra fun, too.

Have any of you ever celebrated a birthday at an American Girl store? What was it like?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 2: Greater Boston Metropolitan Area!

After saying goodbye to Susie's family and friends, we started in the direction of Framingham, Massachusetts (which is part of the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area). Before we could exit New Hampshire, however, we came upon a tiny little hole-in-the-wall called Richmond. This had us bursting out laughing because we are from a place called Richmond (only ours is much, MUCH bigger!). We had to stop at the gas station in town just to say we've been in it! 

Richmond, NH was incorporated in 1752 and held its first town meeting on March 27, 1765. Located in the southwestern corner of New Hampshire, it borders Swanzey, NH; Troy, NH; Fitzwilliam, NH; Royalston, MA; Warwick, MA; and Winchester, NH. There is a beach, a fire station, a town hall, a gas station, a cemetery, a library, and houses. There is not much in the way of shopping! 

Once we were in Massachusetts, we stopped in Concord for lunch and a little shopping. It was here that we called a friend in the area, and since she was free, we decided to stop by her house for a quick visit! We haven't seen this friend in several years, so being able to meet up with her again was a real treat.

While the grown-ups talked, I met some of the girls who live here. This is Hazel Laura, who is actually named after my guardian:

Hazel introduced me to her good friend, Sonali:

After visiting with Hazel and Sonali for a bit, I was starting to get hungry. My new friends pointed me in the direction of the nearest ice cream parlor. After ordering a root beer float, I met Mia St. Clair, another local resident.

Mia was babysitting this darling little girl; isn't she sweet? 

Before I had to leave, I introduced myself to the ice cream parlor's owner, a girl named Mei Ling. She was just finishing up a batch of doughnuts, which I totally would've taken for the road had I not just finished a large root beer float!

After our brief visit, we continued on to Framingham, where we stopped for the night. Can you guess where I was headed next?


P. S. The friend we visited today runs a website called Just Magic Dolls. It's a great resource that compares American Girl dolls with other 18" (or similar) play dolls like Magic Attic Club, Just Pretend, etc. Please check it out, if you haven't already!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 1: Keene, NH with Susie & Claudia!

Salut mes amis,

Wondering where I've been? I've been on a New England road trip for the past couple of weeks, and boy, do I have a lot of photos to share with you!

The first stop I made was to revisit some friends I met a couple of years ago, in 2010. Remember when I visited Ashuelot Park with Annie, Sarah, and Elphaba? Well, I got to go again!

On August 6th, I met up with my friends Susie and Claudia in Keene, New Hampshire. After having lunch at Olive Garden and walking through Michaels together, we three decided to hang out in Ashuelot Park for a bit. We talked, posed for pictures, observed nature, and shared a bowl of Walpole Creamery ice cream.

Susie is on the left, I'm in the middle, and Claudia is on the right:

Here we are with Ashuelot River behind us; isn't it pretty? 

In addition to having photos taken of me, I brought out my own camera. I took pictures of the river, plant life, and numerous wildflowers that fell across our path.

Here is one picture that I took of the Ashuelot River dam. Can you see the man sitting on the opposite bank? I think he was giving us weird looks; I wonder why?

Keene is such a pretty city! If I was going to live in New Hampshire, I think I'd live here! It's not too big, yet not too small, and there are a lot of fun boutiques to shop in:

I think that is Queen Anne's Lace on the left, but there are a couple of different flowers that resemble it. It does look like lace, that's for sure. Do you see the bug nestled on it? I was quite proud of myself for being able to capture the bug while he was actually on the flower.

Aren't these flowers pretty? They look like some kind of wild daisy to me.

After we said goodbye to Claudia, Susie and I continued walking around downtown Keene for a little bit. She took me into an old mill that has been refurbished into a neat shopping center. One of the stores in the shopping center was a bookstore, which is where I was in the photo on the left.

I am posing next to a sign announcing Julia Child's birthday. Some of you may know that I'm a huge fan of the American chef best known for her cookbooks Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume I and Volume II. Mrs. Child, had she lived, would've turned 100 years old this year, and this bookstore had a nice birthday tribute display set up to recognize this fact.

There were several picture books discussing Mrs. Child's life and even one told from the point-of-view of Minette, her cat! I had to get a picture by the books (in case I decide to buy them someday).

In the lobby of the shopping center was this old-fashioned buggy. Immediately Susie and I hopped aboard so that we could pretend we were two elegant Victorian ladies going to a ball. There was a sign on the seat of the buggy that prohibited people from climbing on it, but we pretended to ignore that. You can probably see the bit of white paper sticking out from around us as we tried to cover up the fact that we shouldn't be in the buggy. We were quite the daredevils, haha!

When we'd had our fill of the buggy, Susie took me to the infamous Parrish Shoes sign, as seen in the movie Jumanji (the movie was filmed in Keene). I'd seen the sign before, but my guardian hadn't. She's a huge fan of the movie and had to see the sign for herself! 

Susie and I continued walking around the shops in downtown Keene for a bit, before having dinner at the local Friendly's. After dinner, we said goodbye, and I went on my way back to Bellows Falls, Vermont, where I was staying for this leg of the journey.

It was so good to see Claudia and Susie again (as well as some of their other friends whom we didn't get pictures with due to inclement weather)! I already miss them! Perhaps I shall have to make a third trip up to Keene someday?

Have you ever taken a road trip to see friends who live faraway?



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