Featured

It’s about the Journey. Not the Destination

Why my son Alex and I are riding the “T” (MBTA Boston subways) in alphabetical order

Advertisements

How far would you go for a child? Would you get up at 4:30AM on a dark, frigid morning and bring him or her to hockey practice? Stand in the cold rain for hours during a soccer tournament? Drive a hundred miles to a dance competition? How about volunteer countless hours as a band parent? Little league coach?

Then don’t judge me.

My kid’s ‘thing’ is public transportation. Prior to having him, there is no way I would have ever dreamed of taking subway trips ‘for fun.’ Subways and buses were a necessity to get to work and most of time, I cursed them for being too crowded, too late, or too dirty, just like everyone else I know.

But now, the best way of spending quality one-on-one time with my son is by riding the ‘T.’ The T is Boston’s MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority), and my son Alex is obsessed. He loves the schedules. And the maps. And the trains. And buses. He loves planning how to get from A to B. He loves the announcements calling off each station and connection. (Check the ‘About’ section for more about Alex.)

Seeing and experiencing his excitement while planning these trips is worth the hours that a big part of me would still rather spend anywhere else. We plan together. We connect. That’s not always easy with him, so I cherish every moment. I love it because he loves it. What parent could ask for more than that?

Join us as we embark on a crazy journey to visit every subway stop within the MBTA system in alphabetical order. He’s a smart kid (a real smart-Alex), and he tricked me into it. (Find out how on A day!) But I’m committed now.

If we average about 6-8 stations a day it will take us 15- 20 days total. If we average 8-10 of such days per year, it will take us 2-3 years to complete this list:
wikipedia.org/List_of_MBTA_subway_stations

He might be in high school when we reach the last subway stop: World Trade Center.

Is it too much to start dreaming about that last stop now? Maybe we’ll be met with cheers and balloons and I’ll get a mom-of-the year award. Or maybe I’ll get a high-five and a big smile by an exceptional kid.

wp-1490462940686.jpg

Keepin’ it Lit on K’s & L’s*

Alhough this blog is tragically behind our actual excursions, we’ll try and update as best we can!

We had a few exciting things happen last spring. The first was on Tuesday, April 4th. It was a regular school and work day for both of us but I decided to surprise Alex with a unplanned excursion to Boston after school. He had no idea where we were going, or why. I had read in the news that morning that a mock up of the new Orange Line train would be on display for 3 days only at Government Center. He hates surprises but I kept re-assuring him that this would be a good one.

His eyes lit up when we walked inside the shiny new Orange Line car and he got to meet some of the engineers from CRRC MA and the MBTA and speak to them about the new cars. And the best part about this excursion is that one of Alex’s blog followers recognized us and introduced himself! Very cool.

The other fun thing that happened is that Alex got to explore another train and subway system in Munich, Germany! We were visiting friends and their 17 year old son was nice enough to take Alex out for a day riding trolleys, buses and subways on the Munich U-Bahn. He was impressed, but said he still likes the MBTA better. He’s very loyal to Boston, but they even have trains named named after him in Germany!

FB_IMG_1516064715605.jpg

But here we were back in Salem on the first gorgeous spring day in May with the intention of getting the all the “K” stations visited. Even though there are not very many “K” stations, it was so beautiful outside that I honestly wasn’t too thrilled at the thought of spending it riding public transportation.

We caught the 11:20 AM train to North Station after Alex’s mixed martial arts class. At North Station, we boarded the Orange Line train and Alex decided to take the Winter St. concourse at Downtown Crossing to switch to the Red Line. Alex likes the Winter Street Concourse which connects the Red, Orange and Blue Lines at Downtown Crossing. Personally, I think it’s in desperate need of a face lift. It’s horribly neglected and dreary.

20170521_121534.jpg

Our first stop was Kendall M.I.T. on the Red line. Kendall is a really interesting station because of the amazing Kendall Band which is a three-part musical sculpture and public art installation located between the tracks. It was created and installed in the late 1980’s by Paul Matisse, grandson of the artist Henri Matisse. Levers from the platforms were once able to activate the musical sculptures but, sadly, they no longer function and have fallen into disrepair in spite of efforts to restore them as recent as 2011. There are a few YouTube videos of the chimes while they were still working. Here’s one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnt7QuNzvnw

After leaving Kendall, we took the Red Line back to Park St. and changed to the Green Line while heading to Kenmore Square. We were on Green Line D, so we got out and took a photo and waited 3 minutes for the Green Line C which took us 3 stops to Kent St. We exited at Kent where we witnessed a large biking event that passed us.

Although our original plan was to make this day a short one and head back to Salem, I could tell that Alex was eager to continue and do the “L” stations as well. So I gave in, and decided to enjoy the nice weather as much as possible while exploring the “L’s.” My spring gardening could wait. We got out at N. Station and waited 16 minutes for the Lechmere train just two stops away.

After a photo at Lechmere station, (talk about a very dated looking station!) we boarded the train as it turned around and headed towards the opposite direction of Heath St. We got off at Boylston to get on the SL5 Silver Line. The bus came right away. We then headed down Washington St. through the South End to Lenox St. Alex used my phone to look up the next best route. We walked a few minutes to the Menela Cass Boulevard bus stop and boarded Bus 47 to Central Square. What an interesting area of Boston! I enjoyed reading some of the history of this neighborhood while waiting at the stop and admiring some of the historical architecture around us – like this beautiful church.

20170521_143836-EFFECTS.jpg

Our last two “L” stops were Longwood and Longwood Medical Center. Longwood was on the Green Line D which we got to by walking through the River Walk Park. We had never been here before, and now I was really enjoying the fact we had such gorgeous weather to walk through this beautiful park! Peppered with wonderful public arts pieces and historical structures along the way it was absolutely gorgeous:

After walking back through the park to the same bus stop and getting on Bus 47 again towards Broadway, we disembarked at MFA station and walked to Longwood Medical Center.

We finished at 3:30 and discovered we could catch the 4:30 train back to Salem. Unfortunately, no time to eat on this day but we rewarded ourselves with a big ice cream on the way back home.

*Keepin’ it Lit is a K & L reference to life with two middle-schoolers. Everything that was once “cool” (old people) is now “lit.”

How to get into Harvard 

Getting smarter as we rode the H’s and J’s.

How do you get into Harvard? It’s pretty easy if you ask Alex. Just take the Red Line.

Harvard is, of course, the subway stop in Cambridge on the Red Line which will bring you directly into Harvard Square and Harvard University.  And if you take the “T” to Harvard, you have the additional advantage of not having anyone ask you where you “pahked yah cah when at Hahvahd Yahd”  in a Boston dialect.

Here we both are at “Hahvahd.”

wp-1490454701936.jpg

We were definitely smarter this excursion as we headed in to Harvard. Alex decided that although Haymarket wasn’t yet exactly in alphabetical order for “H” day, we’d still count it so we took an early morning bus from Salem directly to Haymarket. 

I was also able to purchase a one day “Link Pass” for the first time which significantly helped on costs for these excursion days. The link pass let’s you ride any T transportation (bus, subway or commuter rail) within Zone One for $12 all day long.

Did you know there are actually two Harvard MBTA stops? After Harvard on the Red Line, we headed to Harvard Ave on Green Line B.  Alex decided the fastest way to get there would be by taking the 66 bus towards Dudley from Harvard bus station.

H Stops on the MBTA: 

Alex likes buses, so we took the 66 bus and then got on the Harvard Ave Green Line B. From there, we boarded Green Line B again and got out at Boston University  so we could walk over to Hawes St. on Green Line C.  This was my favorite part of the excursion because although it was raining and a bit chilly, we got to take a nice long walk along Amory St. I marveled at the gorgeous architecture of the mansions that lined this street before it crosses Beacon St. Here is my collage of the “Doors of Amory St” for a taste of the amazing architecture we passed:


Hawes doesn’t have a T sign, so we had to take a picture of the closest street sign which crosses Beacon St.

Next up was Heath St. which was the end of the Green Line E.  We got there by taking the Green Line C to Coolidge Corner and then the 66 bus again to Huntington Ave and walking to Heath St. We got out, took a quick picture, and then right back on the 66 bus to Dudley Station where we were able to board The Silver Line SL4/5 which took us to Herald St.  We then boarded the Silver Line again to Mass Ave. and got on Bus 1 to Hynes Convention Center.  The H stops were painlessly completed before noon.

At this point we decided to reward ourselves with a big juicy burger at Boston Burger Co. followed by one of their humongous frappes.  This day happened back in March (I know, we’re way behind on the blog…) so they had the “Shamrock Special” which was a mint ice cream frappe covered in lucky charms and whipped cream with an entire slice of bailey’s cream pie on top.  I had a few bites but somehow my growing boy managed to eat a good portion of it.

 

Boston Burger Co. Reward
Shamrock Frappe

While sitting in Boston Burger Co. getting way too full, we realized that we would have plenty enough time that day to complete the J’s as well as the H’s. There were only two J stops so it seemed manageable – Jackson Square on the Orange Line and the JFK/UMass stop on the Red Line.

(What happened to the stops that start with I?  Well, it turns out there is no “I” on the “T!”)

Alex was very excited to discover the existence of  Bus 41 which had the perfect bus connection as it could take us directly from Jackson Square to JFK/UMass.  Only problem was that we only had exactly 12 minutes to get from our restaurant to Mass Ave Station where we’d be able to board an Orange Line train to Jackson Square JUST in time to catch that 41 Bus.  If we missed it, we’d have to wait another hour before the next bus.

Running for about a mile with my belly full of burger and frappe down Mass Ave as fast as possible to catch that next Orange Line train is not one of my favorite T excursion moments.  Although I understood his deep desire to catch that 41 Bus connection, I cursed myself  more than once for agreeing to this latest plan.  As we breathlessly arrived at Jackson Square it turned out the bus was delayed a good 15 minutes anyway, so I had plenty of time to recover (and figured at least I burned some of the calories I had just ate.)

Jackson Square is right in the middle of Roxbury.  I loved this colorful mural across the street depicting the diversity of the neighborhood:

wp-1490806103122.jpg

The station is interesting too with lots of  large murals and artwork. A bit dated and worn looking, but still interesting:

When Bus 41 did arrive, it really was the most direct connection to JFK/UMass.  I had to give Alex credit once again for coming up the perfect plan as the bus was a much better option than if we had taken the Orange Line all the way back into downtown Boston and out again to JFK /UMass.

It was easy trip home after JFK/UMass back home to N. Station and the commuter rail.  As I rode home I realized I was starting to feel grateful for these crazy excursions.  I was really enjoying the time spent one-on-one with Alex.  My Mr. T.

H & J day

 

 

 

 

 

‘G’ is for Grandma

Grandma’s got it going on; riding the G’s at age 81

Grandma was a really good sport about taking an excursion day with Alex.  There are only 3 G’s, so we thought this excursion might not be too much for Grandma to handle.  First stop for Alex and Grandma was Government Center.

wp-1490484924653.jpg

Government Center holds a special sort of place in Alex’s heart.  He was very excited when the new Government Center opened in March of 2016.  He begged me to go opening day but we just couldn’t get there that day as it was a busy school day.  So we made an excursion 3 days later from Salem to Boston just so he could see Government Center.  It was very shiny and new and exciting.  Completely worth the trip.  This is him in 2016 on that March day with a smile as bright as the new station:

Alex Government Center

After Alex and Grandma stopped there in March almosr exactly a year later, next up was Green Station  (which is ironically not on the Green Line but rather the Orange).

wp-1490484936896.jpg

The 3rd and final stop on the G’s was Grigg’s Street. There is no station sign for Grigg’s on the Green Line and they felt like they wouldn’t have enough time to get out so Alex quickly snapped this shot (which isn’t much to look at):

We decided to do a re-take of the street sign a month later when we travelled the H’s and we were close by:

Here are Grandma’s short notes from her ‘G’ excursion day:

Bus arrives 8:16. Such diversity on the bus! A few are on their way to work. Our bus ride was free! Traffic slow.  Dirty windows on bus observing green street lights. Row apartments painted pastel colors. Took green line train C branch to Cleveland Circle one stop to Government Center. Just about everyone on cell phones! Then took blue line one stop to state street. Orange line at State Street standing room only!  Cute baby by me! On our way 10 stops to Green St. Somalian man and I exchanged smiles! Very slippery underfoot when we got off train. Alex helped me walk. Orange line back to Oakgrove. We have 3 stops to Roxbury Crossing. Stopped at Butterfly Falafel restaurant for coffee and baklava. 


[Grandma loves butterflies. Her passion is studying them, raising them and educating others about them

At Roxbury Crossing we are on our way to Harvard Station. We got off at Harvard Ave and walked to Grigg’s Street. Boarded a green line B train 15 stops to Park Street. We boarded a D train to Government Center, then an E train to Haymarket. Haymarket bus home.

The “G day” excursion took them about 6 hours on a cold and brisk March day.

Conclusion: Gosh, Golly, Gee. Grandma is pretty great.

E & F is for Exceptional Father; Riding the E’s & F’s as a father/son team (photos by Dad, story by Alex)

Written by the Extraordinary and Fantastic “T” boy himself

During this excursion, my dad and I decided to give my mom a break, and so I let my dad experience what it is like to do an MTBA excursion with me. We were on a weekday schedule, so we went to our bus stop in Salem, to take a 450 bus to Haymarket on a sunny March day.

Image may contain: 2 people, sunglasses and outdoor

After about a 1 and a half hour ride, we arrived at Haymarket. Now from here we could get to our first stop, East Berkeley Street on the Silver Line.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

My dad doesn’t like the Green Line too much, even though we took it later. We took the Orange Line from Haymarket to Tufts Medical Center, 4 stops away. It is the only station on the Orange Line that serves the southern Silver Line, which was required to get to East Berkeley.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and indoor

Chinatown, 1 stop away, only serves the Northern Silver Line, so we couldn’t take it. Another way we could’ve gotten to East Berkeley is by taking the Green Line to Boylston, 3 stops away, or stop prematurely on the Orange Line, at Downtown Crossing, 2 stops away. Both stations are not recommended because only one of the lines, SL5 stops there. But at Tufts, SL4 and SL5 both stop, so we had more time to catch a bus. If I didn’t say so already, the Silver Line is bus rapid transit, while the colored lines are train rapid transit. In the following picture, the bus is arriving in a silver color, but sometimes silver line buses are the normal yellow colors.

Image may contain: outdoor

We were lucky to catch the newest type of bus, that is crisp and clean. Even though the bus is new, me and my mom found them more on our later excursions.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

It was a very short ride to East Berkeley Street, as it’s only 2 stops away. The station is just a normal bus stop at an intersection, named by the street.

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and outdoor

To get to our next stop, Eliot, we would have to travel by Green Line. So, we found a bus stop nearby. This time, Bus 9 to Copley wasn’t the newest bus, but was still okay.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, sky and outdoor

Even though it was 8 stops to Copley, bus stops are close together, so the trip wasn’t long. We took the elevator down to the platform. Now I like elevators more than stairs, but unfortunately most MBTA elevators are very dirty, so be careful.

Image may contain: 1 person, indoor

We took pictures with the map where we were heading. Here is a picture of where East Berkeley Street was on the map.

No automatic alt text available.

And here is our next station, Eliot. As you can see, it is close to Riverside, the terminus of the D. It is one of the longest lines in the subway system, the same size as the Braintree branch on the Red Line.

No automatic alt text available.

After 12 stops of riding, or 33 minutes, we arrived at Eliot. The Green Line isn’t a streetcar, and acts more like a subway line. Most Green Line D stations look like this. The third picture is me waiting at the stop which is located in the Inbound platform of most Green Line D stations.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, car and outdoorImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, outdoorImage may contain: people sitting, plant and outdoor

Now we needed to get to Englewood Avenue. The easiest was is to ride to Reservoir, 4 stops away, that is very close to Englewood. Reservoir is a big Green Line storage garage. Once we arrived, we were wondering if we should do the F’s, so we ended up doing them anyway.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, bridge and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoor

 

We took the Green Line C inbound to Fairbanks Street, 4 stops away. That was kind of tricky, because we would have to get off and back on, or we would need to wait 10 minutes. Luckily, the train stopped for a minute, so we quickly took a picture and hopped back on.

Image may contain: 1 person, textImage may contain: 1 person, outdoor

Next up, Fenway. Don’t be confused with Fenway Park, as it is a little bit further than that. To get there, we continued on the Green Line to Saint Mary’s Street, 7 stops away which was a short walk to Fenway. We did pass a restaurant that had pretty cool food. I ordered a grilled cheese, but it didn’t turned out how I like.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing and outdoor

Now at Fernwood Road, we needed to head far south on the Red Line, to Fields Corner. So we took an E train to Park Street, 10 stops away and then take the Red Line to Ashmont. Fields Corner was 7 stops away.

Image may contain: 1 person

Now our last stop, Forest Hills. This was a little hard, because Forest Hills is at the end of the Orange Line. So we took 2 buses. The first one went to Kenmore, a Green Line station. We stopped early though to take a 16 bus, straight to Forest Hills! This bus ride was cool because we went through the Franklin Park Zoo.

Image may contain: 1 person

The final stretch was very easy. All we did was take an Orange Line train to North Station and took the Newburyport/Rockport train back home to Salem.

Image may contain: 1 person, train and outdoor

There is a tracking map that we used, that showed how far we traveled. This is supposed to be a biking app, but we still used it anyway, as is shown below:

No automatic alt text available.

So that is our E and F excursion, told by me, Alex the T boy! I was so glad my dad did this excursion with me.  

Thank you for stopping by and reading this blog!

 

 

 

 

 

Dashing through the D’s

Who knew Dudley was a diamond in the rough?

Exploring the D subways on D-Day was a last minute decision. A dash out the door and we were off!

(Alex and I continue to do our alphabetical excursions but I’m a bit behind in posting them. I do plan on catching up the blog to our alphabetical travels this summer.)

President’s Day was designated “Riding The ‘D’s Day” at the last minute. My days off and work holidays are limited so I wasn’t sure I could spend another day riding around in buses and subways. But, laundry piles and grocery shopping were the boring alternative, so off we went on 7:40am commuter rail train from Salem to North Station.

Alex had everything all planned out again.  He knew that President’s Day had a modified schedule and that we needed to follow Saturday schedules that day. (I still can’t figure out how he just knows these things. It wouldn’t have even crossed my mind to check.)

Our first “D” stop was Davis Square in Sommerville which is the 2nd to last stop on the Red Line. His plan was to take the Green Line from North Station to Lechmere and then board Bus 88 to Davis Square.  (Personally, I would have headed straight up the Red Line, but what do I know?) I’m still not a huge of fan of buses but I’m starting to get used to them from these excursions. The thing I liked best about taking this route was going through the Sommerville neighborhoods. From the huge “Sanctuary City” banner proudly displayed on Sommerville High School, to the smorgasbord of ethic restaurants, cute shops and trendy coffee houses, it was a fun and interesting ride. Once again, I resolved to myself that I must get back to Sommerville soon to try out one of these fantastic looking places.

At Davis Square we took the Red Line down to Harvard and then boarded Bus 1 to the Hynes Convention Center. We entered a brand new bus with shiny plastic blue seats and bright yellow handles.  Alex’s face lit up. He was very excited about the new bus design. It was quiet, clean, and mostly empty at 9am so I enjoyed the ride too.

Bus 9 (brand new!)

When we reached Hynes Convention Center we headed up the Green Line D train to Dean’s Road. This ride up towards Brookline had one of the most diverse Boston demographics I’ve experienced yet.  People of all colors, incomes and ages seemed to get on and off that train.

After we arrived at Beaconsfield, we walked to Dean’s Road, which is another one of those stops without a sign. We got a picture of him standing by a road sign instead of a subway sign.

Dean's Road

From Dean’s Road we took a Green Line C train and rode to Park Street. We walked the Winter St. Concourse tunnel to Downtown Crossing and snapped a few more pictures. It’s really amusing for me to see how much Alex enjoys things like the connecting tunnel between the Red/Orange and Green lines at Downtown Crossing. I see a neglected and dark tunnel that desperately needs updating. He sees an interesting concourse leading to more stations.

20170521_121446

At Downtown Crossing we rode the Red Line one stop to South Station and found the Silver Line platform.

We boarded Silver Line SL2 ( I had no idea there were 4 different Silver Line buses with different routes) but Alex knew exactly which one to take to get us to Design Center. I’ve never traveled in this area of South Boston before but it was really cool area to see, especially along the shipyard waterfront. I couldn’t get any good shots from my phone but we passed a lot of stacked shipping containers like this image I got off Google:

Ship yards Boston

We decided to get off the bus at Courthouse and get and an early lunch at Shake Shack. We had passed it on “C” day so both of us thought it would be fun to get burgers and shakes. Because it was early, we were practically the only customers at Shake Shack and it was the perfect reward for a day that was going very well. We only had one D stop left and it was only 11:30 am.  I guess I’d get home in time for laundry after all.

We re-boarded the SL2 and rode to South Station where we transferred to the SL4 after waiting at a bitterly cold bus stop, thankfully equipped with self-timed heaters.  We traveled the SL4 all the way to Dudley Station in the middle of Roxbury.  Dudley is a huge bus station that connects 17 MBTA bus lines, including 2 Silver Line buses. Alex gets just as excited about bus stations as subway stations so he couldn’t wait to get out at Dudley and explore.

Here, in the most unlikely of places, my jaw dropped.  I had ZERO expectations of liking a bus station in the middle of Roxbury. But, here I was, standing with my mouth open in awe and fascination at the incredible architecture of this historic building.

wp-1490449257766.jpg

While I walked around in wonder taking photos, Alex followed while excitedly rattling off bus routes numbers that left this station  We must have made quite a pair. We looked so strangely out of place that a police officer actually approached us and asked if everything was okay.

I had to look up the history of Dudley.  Per Wikapedia, Dudley Square MBTA station first opened in 1901 as part of the Boston Elevated Railway (BERy, a predecessor of the MBTA.) It is reportedly one of the best-preserved BERy stations remaining. The Beaux Arts/French Renaissance structure was designed by Alexander Wadsworth Longfellow and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1985.  They actually took the entire station and lowered it 12 feet in 1993. Here are some historic photos of it before it was lowered into it’s current spot.

 

I’m so pleased they saved the architecture of the station when re-designing.  And the fact that it was once a subway station but is now a bus station? Fascinating.

Dudley.  Who knew?  D Day did not disappoint.

 

Catch us if you Can

Cruising the C’s and Catching ‘T’ Fever

Our first C stop was Capen St., which is on the Mattapan Trolley line in Dorchester. Riding the Mattapan Trolley, which opened in 1929, is like stepping back in time and I found it historically fascinating.

The 10 trolleys that run this 2.6 mile “high-speed line” (named as such because its route is only intersected twice by city streets) were built in the mid 1940’s, and are said to provide more than 4,600 rides on weekdays, running about every five minutes during rush hour. Every time a breakdown occurs, the MBTA machinists reportedly have to either make their own replacement parts, or contact museums for spare parts. I actually love that they still exist, although I’m not sure I’d feel the same way if I had to ride them crammed like a sardine at rush hour, as the local residents probably have to do.

We also managed to get a ‘re-do’ shot of Butler, which had been a big disappointment on the night of our disastrous Bleeping B’s excursion (see Part Two post) when it was freezing cold and too dark to get a picture. That made us both very happy.

Riding the Mattapan trolley was interesting and fun and I was enjoying our excursion on this warm, sunny, early February morning. I had also decided before we left that I needed an attitude adjustment. It’s all in your attitude! I heard the voice inside my head say, just like I would say to my own kids.

Just 10 days after the very bad B’s, I received an email from Alex planning our ‘C’ excursion day. The careful plans he laid out and communicated were impressive (remember, he’s age 11) and I felt guilty. Here he was trying to share the joy of his favorite hobby with me, and although I had let him lead and had gone along, I wasn’t in the right mind-set during our B excursions. And I hadn’t made them very much fun.

Here’s the email he sent, exactly the way he wrote it, with no edits:

Hi Mommy,

This is an update since I will tell you the route I want us to take and why.

To get into Boston, I don’t care what way we take, as long as we don’t take a car. Again, the most likely stations will be North Station, Haymarket, and Wonderland. From Wonderland, I want us to take the blue line in to Bowdin (As Usual) But get off at STATE. The reason is so we can take the orange line. Since the orange line stops at North Station and Haymarket, it isn’t a big deal. Here is why:

1. The orange line is slightly faster than the green line.

2   We haven’t taken it barely in our other excursions, and this one too.

3   It is closer than Government Center on the blue line and is closer than park st to Ashmont.

Then we take the red line to Ashmont and hop on the Mattapan line. Ride to Capan St. We wait for a train going to Ashmont and ride to Central Ave. Repeat 1 more time to Cedar Grove. Next depends on weather.

We either walk if the weather is nice (If we feel like it)

Or we take another train to Ashmont (if the weather is not nice.)

Then we take the red line to Alewife. We get off at Central. Unfortunately, I looked into the station, and you can’t switch sides without paying. So we switch and ride to Charles MGH. While we wait for the next train to Park St, we go to the lobby and chat “Where could they make the Blue line entrance?” When the train comes, we ride it to Park St. Then we hop on a Green Line D train to Riverside. Here we pass by 4 Stations in a small amount of time. We ride it to Chestnut Hill. Then we switch sides and ride the train 1 Stop To Resevior. We walk up north on Central Ave, passing by Cleveland Circle. Once we get to Central Ave, we walk to Chiswick Road. Then we hop on a B train to Park St. We get off at Bolyston and get something to eat in Chinatown. Once we are done, we hop on an orange line train to Oak Grove and ride it to Community College. Then we switch directions and ride it to Forest Hills. We get off at Roxbury Crossing and take bus 66 To Coolidge Corner. Then we hop on a C train to North Station and ride it to Copley. Then we get out of the station and walk to Back Bay. Hop on a commuter rail train to South Station. Ride the train to South Station, and use the silver line to get to Courthouse. To get home, we walk to State, and take either the Blue Line or Orange Line.

My favorite part is when he planned out that we could “go to the lobby and chat ‘where could they make the Blue Line entrance?’”  at Charles MGH station.

wp-1490971348796.png

There is currently no Blue Line connection at this station, but Bowdoin station is very close by and a tunnel entrance could easily be created connecting the two underground. Personally, I had never thought of this before, but he was right. And so, when we changed platforms that day, we did stop at Charles MGH and we discussed where such an entrance might be. Maybe at the bottom of these stairs here?

We also had lunch in Chinatown. This was definitely a highlight and treat for me because I finally got to have dim sum again, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And I loved every minute with my handsome lunch date.

wp-1490446116202.jpg

Something else I was starting to really enjoy were the unexpected surprises we’d discover when entering some of these stations or neighborhoods. I had worked near the Courthouse Station when they were building it about 12 years ago, so I knew it was a newer station. But I had no idea when we disembarked the SilverLine bus here, at our last stop of the day, that we’d be transported into a future dimension. We arrived at the station at 3:44pm and it was empty and glowing so I snapped this shot from my phone:

wp-1490449238363.jpg

Our C excursions went exceptionally well due to Alex’s excellent planning and my new attitude. We cruised through them all and even managed to catch an unexpected new way back home to Salem. Bus 459, just a 2 minute walk from Courthouse, took us directly home to Salem at about 5pm.

We celebrated the C’s that night with popcorn and a couch viewing of “The American Experience; The Race Underground” on PBS, which had aired a few nights before. It was all about how the Boston subway system—the first in America— was built in the late 19th Century. I had finally caught Alex’s T fever because I found the documentary really fascinating too. It was the perfect ending to a great subway excursion day. We crushed the C’s.

Riding the C's

The *Bleeping* B’s; Part Two

Why are there so many B subway stops?

There are 19 ‘B’ subway stops on the Boston MBTA, which is double the average. Why so many? Is it a British thing from colonial days? I wonder if the Brits have lots of B stops on the London Underground?

These are the thoughts that ran through my head when I boarded the 450 bus with Alex to Haymarket from Salem on a very cold afternoon late December. I took a half day off work during his winter school break to complete part two of the B’s.

After Boylston on the Green Line, we traveled the orange line to Downtown Crossing and Red Line to South Station. Alex was excited to be able to ride the commuter rail and we bought a ticket and boarded the Kingston/Plymouth train that departed at 2:47pm. We arrived at Braintree at 3:07pm.

My log read as follows:

  • Walked over to Red Line platform and left Braintree at 3:12pm. Transferred to Green C line at Park St. Arrived at Brandon Hall at 4:30pm.
  • Walked 5 minutes in Brookline to bus 66 after stopping for a bathroom break at a Mobil station. Bought a snack and boarded Bus 66 for Brigham Circle at 4:42pm.
  • Arrived at Brigham Circle at 5pm and took the Green Line E to Copley Square where we took bus #9 to Broadway. Arrived at 5:40pm.

Surprise! Broadway station on the Red Line is Art Deco awesomeness. Who knew I’d see my son shining under the lights of Broadway tonight? For once, I was more excited than he was.

Broadway Station Redline

We entered the Red Line at Broadway station heading to Brookline Hills on the Green Line, after transferring at Park St. I was pleasantly surprised again as we walked to Brookline Village down Davis St. through a very charming neighborhood. I made a vow  to myself that I would come back some day.

We decided to eat at a Turkish Restaurant in Brookline Village. As soon as we sat down to eat at 6:35pm, we realized we had a problem. We knew we had to get from Brookline all the way to Butler station in Dorchester, and then back home to Salem, but we were running out of time. Alex started to get nervous, but he had a plan. We rushed through our kebabs and optimistically left the restaurant at 7pm knowing that if we timed everything just right, we’d be able to accomplish our goal of completing the B’s that same night.

Then everything went wrong. Alex tripped in the dark on our way to the bus station and he skinned both knees and his hand. Luckily he was only slightly bleeding because I didn’t have any band-aids. Then we discovered that the bus stop we were heading to was closed due to construction. I tried to convince him that we should take the T instead, but when we looked up times and route possibilities, they had us returning to Salem too late. Alex got upset and started crying. We checked Google maps one more time and found an alternative bus stop. We quickly sprinted to the stop, with Alex limping the whole way.

But we made it. We boarded bus 66 at 7:15pm and transferred at Malcom X bus stop to bus 28 towards Mattapan Station. I noticed the changing demographics in passengers as our bus traveled across Boston into Dorchester, and our faces gradually became the only white ones. Alex doesn’t even notice these things, as he’s too interested in the bus stops along the way.

We arrived in Mattapan at 8pm. The Mattapan trolley looks like something straight out of a 1940’s Depression movie. It’s amazing that these historic trolley’s still run so regularly. We waited 9 minutes in the cold, dark station. It felt like an hour. Finally, the trolley came and stopped at Butler. Our plan was to have Alex hop out for a second so we could take a picture, but the Butler station sign was on the other side of the tracks! It was pitch black outside, so we couldn’t see the sign anyway. We both felt a bit defeated. All that drama to get to Butler, and it was too dark to see or snap a photo. We ended up taking a picture of Alex on the dark trolley, pointing to Butler on the map.

We then boarded the Red Line at Ashmont to start our long trip home. It was 20 degrees on this chilly December night, and a guy got on wearing no shirt, while loudly and passionately arguing with himself about politics.

We had been so worried about running out of time, yet ended up 20 minutes earlier than the scheduled bus back to Salem anyway. We rode elevators at Haymarket station to kill time. Alex loves elevators, (I’m not a fan, especially in subway stations where I have to hold my nose). Neither of us wanted to wait outside, so it seemed like as good a plan as any. The bus finally came and brought us back home around 10pm.

I collapsed into bed that night, but fell asleep with a smile on my face.

All 19 *bleeping* B’s were done.