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!

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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It’s about the Journey. Not the Destination

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

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.

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