Wednesday, July 11, 2012


On the second day of our Boston adventure, we went back into the city and caught a boat out to the Boston Harbor Islands. Before our trip, I didn't know that there were islands in between Boston and Cape Cod.  I wanted to take our boys on a boat trip while we were in New England and Jason suggested the short boat trip to the Islands as a good starter ride.

He did so much leg work beforehand to make sure that we could get Will's wheelchair on the boat.  They assured him that there would be no issues.  Sadly, though, when we arrived at the wharf, there was a very skinny plank to walk across to get on the boat - not wide enough for a wheelchair.  We aren't that easily deterred, though, so some cool dads got together and lifted Will's chair safely onto the back of the boat.

Once we were on the boat, we had another ADA challenge... the back of the boat was like a split level entry to a house.  Steps up, steps down... not a lot of room on the landing.  The hosts on the boat suggested that we leave Will on the back of the boat, because there was no way to get him to the upper deck. 

Yeah, because that sounds like a good idea.  I want to leave my 5 year old on the back of a boat, by himself, sucking in diesel fumes.  Sure.  Again, cool dads conquered all and found a way to get Will and his chair safely onto the upper deck so he could enjoy the boat ride with the rest of our party.  I guess that is what they meant by "no issues" in getting a kid in a wheelchair on the boat.

We set off through the Harbor and were excited that the 2012 Tall Ships Boston OpSail Festival was going on that week.  The tour guide on our boat showed us tall ships from Germany, Denmark, Singapore... it was pretty cool to see those beautiful big boats with their large white sails.  Such a contrast from the (also super cool) tankers and air craft carriers that were docked in the Harbor!

The kids all seemed to enjoy the boat ride, though none of them seemed enthralled like I thought they would be. They were more interested in eating Goldfish than enjoying the rocking of the boat.  But thankfully no one got sea sick!

When the kids were stuffing their faces with Goldfish, the adults were entertained by little tidbits of neat information provided by our tour guide. Some of the highlights:

  • There are 27 islands that belong to the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.  There is one last private land owner holding onto island #28.  They are waiting for him to die so that the Recreation Area can take over his land.  But we shouldn't worry, because he will be fairly compensated for his land.
  • Boston Harbor used to be considered very dirty.  Boston built a consolidated sewage treatment plant (we rode past it) to help alleviate the problem.  Now Boston Harbor is decidedly cleaner.  Instead of being dumped directly into the Harbor, the sewage is pumped 17 miles out to sea where no one has to see it anymore.
  • There is a lot of tanker traffic in the Harbor.  Tractor trailer sized shipping containers are lifted off of ships and onto land via a very large crane.  There was a crane operator who dropped a shipping container into the Harbor and lost his job. 


We arrived at Spectacle Island after a 30 minute boat ride.  There were some issues getting off the boat (the boat's engine cut out and the wind started carrying the boat out to sea with half of our party on land and half of our party still on board)... but eventually we all made it off the boat safely.  We had lunch by the water, and started on a hike.

If you're familiar with the Boston Harbor Islands from decades ago, you may not have heard of Spectacle Island.  That is because Spectacle Island used to be the Boston dump.  And then when the Big Dig unearthed millions of cubic yards of earth and other material, it needed a place to go.  And so, Spectacle Island was formed.  Then it was cleaned up a bit and covered with natural grasses.

I am trying to be a bit sarcastic and make you chuckle... but we really did have a great trip on the boat and the island is very beautiful. 

The day we went out was a little warm, but gorgeous and sunny with some puffy white clouds in the sky.  There are two peaks on the island, and we hiked up one of them for a lovely view of the Boston skyline.  We 6 adults were a little tired after reaching the top.  We sat down and hung out in the shade while the kids ran around the grassy hills.  As we recovered, we took a whole bunch of photos of their fun (all while imagining how well they would all sleep that night).  Shocked?

I took all the photos above. Our friend Jason took all the lovely photos below (except the one of his family - the other family with 3 young boys!). What a gorgeous setting for some family portraits!

After our photo session, we walked back down the hill (definitely easier) with a gaggle of very tired kids. We got some ice cream as we waited for our boat to take us back to Boston. Between the sun of the day, the running around, and the rocking of the boat, several of the kids fell asleep.   I was close behind.  What a great adventure we had on our second day in Boston!  And how wonderfully we all slept that night!

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