Thursday, September 22, 2011


It's official. We successfully drove Sylvia from Montana to Boston. All 3,200 miles. Without incident. Arriving on Saturday, we settled into the houseboat in Charlestown that we would call home for the week. Sunday we drove Sylvia out to the best Vanagon mechanic in Boston and dropped her off for a check-up and to have her clutch replaced. We are so excited because our friends from Portugal, Sandra and Paulo, and Dinis from London joined us in the marina in their own houseboat for the week. After kissing Jason good-bye in the morning as he, Sandra, and Dinis headed to the office, with poor Paolo working in his warm houseboat as it rocked back and forth, the boys and I, feeling somewhat guilty, spent the days going to the aquarium where they now have a shark and ray touch pool (we thought this was beyond cool, feeling these curious creatures cruise under our open palms as they swam around and around), exploring Bunker Hill and the Charlestown neighborhood, playing at the Children's Museum, eating yummy food in Harvard Square, and the nights enjoying the company of our friends as we shared dinner, laughed, and talked. At the office, Sandra would report, Jason was receiving what appeared to her to be a new camper van, piece by piece each day, in the mail, leaving it to the boys and I to ferry the parts out to the mechanic, three hours by train. Most of Friday was dedicated to picking Sylvia up. When we reached the mechanic, I was both starving and caffeine-deprived, not a good combo for me especially when I am about to drive in a city that I vowed I would never drive a normal car, much less a camper van in. When I started up Sylvia, she ran like a dream, no sputtering or coughing. I carefully started backing out, watching the UPS guy so I wouldn't run him over when he shouts in his Boston accent, "Do you know your back hatch is open?" No, I didn't because my brain was barely functioning. So I pulled back into my spot, set the parking break and took my foot off the clutch. The giant lurch let me know that I had not put her into neutral. Oh boy. Not good. I can only imagine what the mechanic was thinking. Luckily, we had planned to stop at Whole Foods along the way to pick up lunch, coffee, and groceries so my brain would start functioning in some kind of a normal fashion. After lunch Isaac, my navigator, was doing a fabulous job directing us to I-90 with Sylvia purring like a kitten and driving so smoothly, when he accidentally erased the directions off of my iPod. Oops. I had anticipated something like this happening because, curiously, similar things happen to me when I am the navigator and so I had memorized the last of the instructions, which were the trickiest. Though my memory served me well, it would not be a proper driving experience in Boston if I had understood all the signs and gotten it right. We inevitably ended up heading in the wrong direction on a one way street, with no opportunity to turn around. It is the Boston way. But luckily we have spent a lot of time walking around the city and know it well so we organically, without the aid of any GPS or smart phone, found our way back to the houseboat. A feat that I am inordinately proud of and must share with all of you. Isaac and I were triumphant as we pulled up to Jason, Sandra and Paulo in the parking lot. I must admit that my legs were shaking when I stepped out of Sylvia, but we made it.

After basking in our glory for a short while, we set out to show Sandra and Paulo the Freedom Trail that winds past major historical points throughout the city and some of our favorite stops along the way. Starting at the U.S.S. Constitution, or Old Iron Sides, we worked our way past Bunker Hill, where a very decisive battle took place, through the North End, the Italian quarter, home to the Old North Church of Paul Revere fame, and where we stopped for coffees, pastries, and, the boys favorite, gelato, at Café Vittoria, past the oldest oyster bar in the nation, through the Holocaust Memorial where all of us wanted to cry and some of us did, to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market where we caught the very end of a break dance show and we witnessed the very extensive fleecing of the crowd. Here Dinis joined us and we headed up to the old State House where the Boston Massacre and many Sons of Liberty meetings took place, to the Granary Burying Ground where Paul Revere and Samuel Adams are buried. Here we cut across Boston Commons, where the British were stationed, to Beacon Hill, an old, utterly cute neighborhood of ivy-covered, brick homes where we found a cozy French restaurant snuggled in the a basement of one of the old homes. Here we enjoyed one final dinner together before everyone travelled their separate ways in the morning. It was so good to spend time again with you Sandra and Paulo, and it was so nice getting to know you better Dinis. Thank you all for joining us in Boston.

Click here for photos.


  1. Boston is the best city in the world.

  2. Oooh! Ahh! My boys would have loved to actually see the places they studied last year in American History! Someday . . .

    Hearty congrats on getting Sylvia repaired and managing another classic Boston driving experience. Raising a glass of wine to you!

    All our love to you, Jason and the boys!