Japan/USA diary, day 12

Friday, 12 June, 2015. 24:00

We have had a full day and evening, having just got back from the Boston Red Sox vs Toronto Blue Jays game at Fenway Park.

The day began getting up in a slightly more leisurely manner, not having to get to the conference venue early for breakfast. Instead, M. and I left the hotel together about 07:30 to get some bagels for breakfast Bruegger’s near Coolidge Corner, a short walk away. M. got a whole wheat bagel with a scraping of cream cheese, while I got a pumpernickel bagel with the smoked salmon cream cheese. We ate these at a table inside the shop, then left to get a coffee for M. at the Starbucks nearby on Harvard Street. While at Starbucks I used the WiFi to check messages and found Elena confirming they could make the meeting at 09:00 as planned.

We caught the train to Park St station and exited at the corner of Park and Tremont Streets, on the corner of Boston Common. We were a few minutes early, so wandered a short distance to have a look at the Common before moving back and spotting Elena and her daughter just arriving. The girl hopped out of her stroller and remained on her own feet for the entire day, leaving Elena to lug the stroller around, though it provided a useful platform for bags of stuff. She got a coffee in a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as some jam donuts for the girl.

We decided to go to the Museum of Science, as I wanted something that wouldn’t bore the girl, and M. and I were both keen on science museums. It was maybe a twenty minute walk away, but Elena didn’t know the directions from where we were, so I navigated using the map on my phone. It took us a bit longer because of dealing with distractions and walking speed of the girl, but we eventually arrived a bit before 10:00.

Cliff, the Triceratops
Cliff, the Triceratops.

There were a lot of rather loud school groups there, being quite boisterous and excited. We paid our entries and went inside, exploring the multiple levels of displays and interactive exhibits. We saw Cliff, a full Triceratops skeleton owned by the museum, one of only six in the world. We also went through exhibits themed on animals, the human body, and some other things. We sat to watch a 20 minute show with a live animal, which turned out to be a black rat snake when the presenter – a Jane-Goodall-like woman with long grey hair – finally got around to producing it after a long introduction about phobias and warnings that she had a snake to show us. Most of the kids were pretty into it though, including Elena’s girl, who wrote a thank you note and gave it to the presenter after the show.

Bed of nails!
Me on a bed of nails at the Museum of Science.

At 12:00 we decided to walk out to a nearby shopping mall to get food for lunch, rather than risk the low choice junk food in the museum cafeteria. So we walked out in the warm weather to the CambridgeSide Galleria. In the food court there I got a lobster croissant sandwich, which I thought rather odd, but was intrigued enough by that I tried it. I also got a Granny Smith apple. M. found another bagel with cream cheese. Elena had a spinach Danish thing, while she got her girl some chicken nuggets and fries. We sat outside in the pleasant shade of the mall and chatted as we ate. This was much more relaxing and conducive to conversation than the noisy and hectic museum.

After eating, the adults engaged in chatting, while the girl turned a nearby railing next to the garden into improvised playground equipment by climbing all over it. She expressed a desire to go back to the science museum, so we decided to head back there for a bit of the afternoon. It was a lot quieter and less busy, as all the school groups seemed to be gone. We’d had our hands stamped with an automatic hand stamper on the way out, with green Saturn symbols, so we could re-enter. The stamper was so much fun that the girl had four or five of the stamps.

Naughty monkey!
Monkey defying instructions at the Museum of Science.

We looked at various exhibits on forces and motion, science on the home, and optical illusions. There was a demo of what happened when you microwave various interesting objects such as a DVD, lightbulb, bar of soap, and aluminium foil, and another demo of various foods rotting over several days. The girl loved this one, repeatedly playing the clips of the watermelon, tomatoes, and banana rotting and exclaiming how gross they were.

M. and I had to be ready for the baseball game starting at 19:00, and wanted to go to our hotel room to change and then have some dinner first, so we decided to leave the museum about 15:30 to give us plenty of time. Elena was staying at the museum as it was a good chance to spend time there with her daughter, so we said bye and parted, having made arrangements to have dinner together on Sunday.

Paris Creperie
Paris Creperie.

M. and I headed back on the train from Science Park station, having to change to switch from one branch of the green line to the Cleveland Circle branch which ran past our hotel. The train ran very slowly because of a problem with the preceding train. Our plan had been to go straight to the Paris Creperie at Coolidge Corner for a Nutella crepe to take the edge of our hunger, then walk back to our room to change and refresh before walking back for savoury crepe for dinner. But with the delay we thought it best to go to the hotel and change first, then head out just once for food.

Nutella crepe
Nutella crepe from Paris Creperie.

While in the hotel room, I quickly booked tickets online for the Provincetown ferry tomorrow. We decided to get the outbound ferry at 08:30, and the return trip departing Provincetown at 19:30, giving us the maximum time there. The web page said we could pick up tickets at the ferry terminal in the morning, having to collect them by 08:20 or they would release the tickets to other buyers, with no refund.

We kept the plan of having a Nutella crepe first though, splitting one of these, then ordering savoury crepes ten minutes later. M. had a “Garden of Eden” crepe, which had apple, walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, and cranberries, while I had a “John Gouda-Man”, which had turkey, smoked Gouda cheese, spinach, and chipotle aioli. All the crepes were good, and we were suitably stuffed as we headed to the train stop to catch a train in to Kenmore.

Approaching Fenway
Approaching Fenway Park.

At Kenmore we simply followed the crowds to Fenway Park. Along the way were several vendors selling programs, yelling that they cost “just a buck!” and were five dollars inside the stadium. Then when we got to the street just outside the stadium it was an amazing sight, with thousands of people milling about in a street lined with hot dog stands, souvenir shops, bars, and other relevant diversions. The atmosphere was wonderful, with lots of excited people and children everywhere. We stopped in at a shop and M. bought a grey Red Sox t-shirt for me, which I changed into immediately and put my own shirt into the bag instead. M. was already wearing her own dark red Red Sox shirt.

Fenway Park statues
Ball player statues at Gate B.

We were supposed to enter at Gate D, and I could see Gate E, and then Gate C a bit further down, but no sign of a Gate D. So I asked a shirt seller and he said to go down to Gate C. At C I had no idea what to do next, so I asked a woman working security and she said to keep walking around the park, as the gates were not labelled in order. So we kept walking, passing Gates K and A before reaching D. This was actually a temporary gate set up to give access to what is normally a street running along the west end of the park. The whole street was now inside the gated area, and it was thronging with people. There were various pre-game activities in progress, including a brass band playing, a pitching speed measuring cage, and a guy dressed in baseball uniform on stilts, tossing balls to kids and catching their throws back to him. People were consuming hot dogs and beers and just enjoying the vibe.

Pre game
Pre-game crowd outside Fenway Park.

We went into an official merchandise shop, which was doing great business, with long queues at the checkouts. After browsing a bit, we left to find our seats, in Loge Box 117, row AA. It turned out this was a lot closer to the field and the action than we had guessed. We were within 20 metres of the first base line and had a fantastic view of the batter and pitcher. Various pre-game activities were in progress as we settled in, with a few ceremonial first pitches and TV presentations on the field. An army of yellow-shirted guys roamed around selling food and drink, yelling in loud voices, “peanuts!”, “ice cold beer!”, “hot dogs!”, “water!”, “pizza!”, “cheeseburgers!”, and so on. The peanut guy was particularly entertaining, as when someone raised a hand, he tossed a fist sized bag of peanuts to them, often across dozens of rows of seats, and then a minute later went over to collect money off them.

First pitch
First pitch of the game.

Eventually there were renditions of the Canadian and U.S. national anthems, by a choral group of about 30 people. And then the game got underway. The Red Sox opened with 5 runs in the bottom of the first inning, and added 3 more in the third, to take an 8-1 lead. However the Blue Jays scored 3 runs and then another massive 9 runs to leap ahead. From there Boston struggled from behind and unfortunately couldn’t pull off a miracle win at the end, losing the game 13-10. Still, it was definitely an exciting game, better than the one we’d seen in Sydney last year.

Swing and hit.

At one point I wandered around the back of home plate to the other side of the stadium to get some photos. As I was walking, a foul ball was hit high into the air, and came down almost right where I was standing. A security guy right in front of me tried to catch it, but it bounced to a guy seated literally within touching distance of me and after fumbling it a bit he held on to it. Unfortunately as he fumbled around desperately he bumped his partner next to him, and she ended up with drinks spilled all over her front and pants, and not just a little bit either, pretty much the whole cup. If I’d reacted quicker myself, I could possibly have stepped forward to where the security guy ended up and tried to catch the ball directly myself.

Home Run Red Sox
Red Sox home run!

It was a very warm evening and we got hot. We bought a bottle of water from the water selling guy. These vendors all vanished around the 7th inning, and the game proceeded to a conclusion in relative quiet as people began drifting out of the stadium. We stayed to the end and then left in the human tide sweeping out and along the road back to Kenmore T station.

At the station, we joined a queue of people waiting to go through the ticket gates. I thought we might be stuck in this queue while trains carried off part of the crowd ahead of us I increments as we shuffled slowly forward. But it wasn’t that bad. We got through the gates and down onto the outbound platform, where there were actually not that many people waiting. The next train was our Cleveland Circle line one, and we got on with no problem at all.

After the fairly quick ride back to our hotel, we showered and set an alarm for 06:30 in the morning to give us time to get to our ferry to Provincetown. We got into bed about midnight, so it would be a short sleep.

One Response to “Japan/USA diary, day 12”

  1. Chuk says:

    Wow, nice seats.

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