Tag Archives: Boston

Have Seniors? Will Travel.

Back in the Mighty Midwest again! I survived vacationing with my parents in Boston for a week.

DSCN0259This is them.

They did me a solid by dressing alike so I told them they didn’t have to wear the leash backpacks. This time.

You know the ones.

The week went fast touring Beantown and we did it triumphantly – with senior discounts and 90° weather!

Traveling with my parents was so fun. Every day we spent together was like deja vu memory making.

Boston Harbor

*Note to Readers Who May Be Thinking of Traveling With Their Senior Citizen Parents*

Bedtime is at 9 o’clock. If you thought you were going to get some writing done or read that book you brought with you, think again. By 9:15 the snoring will become so loud you will pray that a masked stranger will break into your room and club you to death. At least then there will be silence.

Conversely, you will never have to set an alarm because your father will wake you up between 5 and 6 every morning. (And let’s just remember that Boston’s an hour AHEAD).


What does one do exactly with senior citizens on vacation?

Trolley Rides!

Trolley Ride

Admire Other Old People’s Clothes!

John Hancock's Suit

Help Them Meet New People!


Take Them to Places That Serve Soft Foods

Dinner Out

Major Successes of the Trip:

  • Did not lose one or both parent(s) in airport/airplane/subway system/trolley ride/hotel elevator/commuter rail/taxi cab despite their being prone to wandering off. (Especially the old man – keep your eye on that one.)
  • Mom completed her first ever subway ride, and said she will “NOT miss it when she’s home.”
  • No one lost any teeth, glass eyes, or hearing aids.
  • Drank some Sam Adams lager with my Pops.
  • Tried fried clams for the first time – Taste good, look disgusting…like fried snot.
  • No one fell overboard on any of the boats we went on.
  • I only thought about leaving my parents to fend for themselves once. In the airport on the way home. And let me tell you, Dad would have never made it out of Philadelphia.
  • All said and done, we’re still talking to one another!

That was my week! How was yours?

What tips do you have for traveling with seniors?

Holy Cannoli, I’m Back from Boston


Hello Everyone! I’m back! I survived a week long vacation with my parents!

Boston was wonderful! It was great to be back in the city and visiting so many historical sites. Despite the 90 degree weather we had all week, you’ll be happy to know not a one of us pooped our pants! We did, however, enjoy parts of the Freedom Trail, touring the U.S.S. Constitution – “Old Ironsides”, a whale watch, Plimoth Plantation, our ancestor’s home the Howland House, the J.F.K. Library and Museum, and the New England Aquarium.

I also got a great fill of seafood and made sure we visited Little Italy for some Italian food and cannoli! Boy do I wish I could’ve packed some of that to take home!

There’s lots more to share, and I promise to do so, but I’ve got some writing to do and a suitcase to unpack! Be back real soon! In the meantime, have a very Happy 4th of July!!!

Wish you were here,


Hello from sunny…Boston!

Boston Postcard

Hello from sunny Boston!

I’m just sending a quick little “postcard” to all my blogger friends! This week I’m on hiatus in Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts! Taking a vacation with my parents (hope Dad packed his butt soap) touring the sites and visiting the land and home of our pilgrim ancestors! Joe and I went 2 years ago, but the ‘rents have never been, so I’m playing tour guide this time. We’ll be visiting Plimoth Plantation and the Jabez Howland House, one of two surviving homes in the country where a Mayflower pilgrim lived, one who just happens to be our ancestor! We’re descendants of John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley who made the treacherous voyage across the Atlantic in 1620.

Knowing my family, I’m sure I’ll return with lots of stories. Here’s hoping no one gets lost on the subway, breaks their nose at the aquarium, or poops their pants in a native wigwam.

Wish you were here!


What’s Your #GuiltyPleasure #Travel Destination?

In just 3 days I’ll be on my way to Seoul, South Korea!  All this packing and planning has me anxious and excited and strolling down memory lane of my other travels.  Allow me to share a few of my favorite travel spots.  And then please share with me your favorite places in the comments!  I’m always looking for more travel ideas!

1.  Gurnee, Illinois – Six Flags Great America

Waiting in line to ride The Viper, my favorite wooden roller coaster.

Before I’d ever left the country, or boarded a plane, I rode roller coasters.  This was the all day summer trip my dad would take us kids on, following along as we made him ride every roller coaster with us and checking out the shows.  My favorite time of year to go is in October during Fright Fest, when Six Flags turns into a full fledged ghost town!  There’s spooky music, haunted cities, and the whole park is decorated for Halloween.

2.  The Rainforest of Guadaloupe

Chutes du Carbet (source: arras-france.com)

I was incredibly lucky to be able to go on a Caribbean Cruise with a friend’s family in High School.  One of the most amazing things I did was swim under the Chutes du Carbet waterfall on the french island Guadaloupe.  And in true Jess form, I immediately injured myself climbing the shore back  up yelling at my friend he couldn’t get up the way he was going!  Wouldn’t you know it, I was the one who fell down in the mud and had some french stranger start brushing me off and chatting profusely fast.  *face palm*  Still a worthwhile experience!

3.  Italy

Trevi Fountain (source: freefoto.com)

There’s a legend about the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy.  If a visitor comes to Italy and throws a coin into the fountain from over their shoulder and never looks back at the fountain, than he or she will one day return to Italy.  The architecture, the food, the history, the food, the mythology,…the food!

4.  Aran Islands, Ireland

Aran Islands (source: aranislands.galway-ireland.ie)

When visiting the Aran Islands, you can crawl right up to the edge and overlook the water.  It’s one of the most peaceful and beautiful sites I’ve seen.  Plus it’s not far from Galway, which was my favorite city!  Walks along the boardwalk, pubs all around, and an ocean view most places you go!

5.  Voodoo Donuts, Portland, Oregon

These maple bacon bars made me want to move to Portland.  I still crave them.

6.  Seattle, Washington

Pike Place Market

The memorable skyline, the throwing fish, the Experience Music Project, and the city that brought you Grunge.  I love it!  Plus, you’ll get a workout in climbing those downtown streets!  Must do when visiting Seattle, an Underground Tour!  Learn the history of the city before it was built where it is now, on a guided tour just below the street.

7.  New Orleans, Louisiana

For those that love history and/or love the paranormal, New Orleans is the place to go.  Their tour guides are exceptional and they have plenty of tours to offer.  From Graveyard Tours to Garden Districts, Plantation homes to Voodoo Queens, Jazz Museums to Swamp Rides!  And don’t forget, Swamps are for Lovers!

8.  Boston, Massachusetts

Living History Held in Boston Common

More for the history buffs!  Take the Freedom Trail History Tour and visit places like Boston Common, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, and the cemetery where Ben Franklin and Paul Revere are buried.  And after putting on so many miles walking around the city, might I suggest a trip to Little Italy for some cannoli?

9.  Toronto, Canada

Casa Loma

For the hustle and bustle of a big city, visit megacity Toronto!  There’s the Eaton Centre, which is the largest shopping center ever!  And there’s a Distillery District for the beer connoisseur.  Plus the grounds of Casa Loma are incredible to daydream about.  Not to mention, Niagara Falls!

10.  La Crosse, Wisconsin

View of the bluffs in Hixon Forest

Sometimes the best vacations are right in your own neck of the woods.  I’m fortunate to live in a city that is bordered by bluffs and the Mississippi.  Never fails to set me right again after a long walk through the bluffs.  That is if you don’t do this.

Those have been my favorite places so far, what are yours?  

The Mayflower: A True Story, and One You May Not Know

Source: Google Images

The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

For those of you busy prepping for the Thanksgiving holiday, making mad dashes through the grocery store, stocking up on cans of pumpkin like it’ll never be back again, may I ask that you sit a moment and learn the true story about the people who sailed from England to the New World and how they came to know the natives who lived here before them.  If nothing else, you’ll have a great conversation starter for your Thanksgiving table and everyone will be so impressed by what you know.  😉
For starters, to say that Thanksgiving was a time where the pilgrims and Indians came together as friends for a feast, is severely underrated.  And, were I to try to recap for you the 50+ years of alliances and wars that occurred between these people in the historical retelling of The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, we’d both be here a long time!  So let me give me the basics, and encourage you with absolute sincerity that this book is a phenomenal read.
Now, our story starts in Leiden, Holland.  Before the pilgrims set sail for religious freedom to the New World, they attempted Holland.  Most of us thankfully will never know the hardships that these people underwent in their attempt to make a new life for themselves.  For the pilgrims who lived in Leiden, they were slaves.  All of them, including the women and children were forced to work long hours in the factories to earn their keep, and barely received any pay.  Their religion was persecuted and they had to gather in secret.  When enough was enough, plans started to be made about a voyage to the new world.
But these people were not rich, government officials, they were simple and poor puritans.  Several times the voyage seemed to make progress, only to have the business deal fizzle out from beneath them.  Even their first stretch of sailing was a complete disaster.  There were in fact two ships that left England, the Mayflower and the Speedwell, but the Speedwell’s captain had been sold faulty sails that were much too big for the vessel and when the Atlantic’s winds ripped through them, the support beam cracked and the boat began to leak.  Both ships headed back to shore.  Some of the Speedwell’s passengers clamored aboard the Mayflower, while others decided it a was sign not to risk their lives any further.

Joe and I outside the Mayflower II Recreation

The Mayflower suddenly held more than its capacity of people and not all of them were getting along!  Amongst the pilgrims we all know and talk about, were other Englanders who had come from the Speedwell, a few militia men, and the ship’s crew.  It was crowded and smelly and there was little privacy to the whole journey, which lasted months.  Amazingly, only two lives were lost from those on the ship, and neither occurred until after they had docked.  One of the ship’s men died, and William Bradford’s wife, Alice, was found overboard and it can be speculated suicide was the cause, as the Bradford’s had to leave their only son with family in England until the new colony was established.

Cozy sleeping quarters aboard the Mayflower II

The pilgrims had depleted their supplies and were still huddled below deck of the Mayflower while roughly 10 men went out each day to find suitable land.  Before establishing the colony in Plymouth they came across several mounds in the earth which held inside them corn, dried meat and other housewares and weapons.  They also held bodies.  The pilgrims had unearthed several Native burial mounds.
Their first encounter with the natives was a shooting match with the Narragansett Natives shooting arrows at them and they shooting their muskets.  The Natives were wary of any white travelers since those who had come before them cheated the Indians out of land, and spread disease.  But the English’s fancy form of dress and iron kettles for cooking proved useful trading supplies.  With the aid of Squanto, a native man who spoke English, a trade alliance was made between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag tribe.
What spanned for the next 50+ years was an up and down relationship between native tribes and the English settlers.  Every chief was in battle with the other tribes for territory, and of course the English were expanding their settlements too.  The greatest alliance of the 17th century was probably that between Chief Massasoit and the pilgrims’ Governor William Bradford.  Through the assistance of Squanto, these men made an alliance against Massasoit’s enemies and assisted the natives in battle, giving them guns as weapons and other supplies.  Massasoit, in return, offered protection and additional furs/food to the pilgrims.  Without his people’s aid, the pilgrims would not have survived the first year.

English Colony in 1627, taken at Plimoth Plantation

One of the most significant acts of kindness that showed the alliance between the natives and pilgrims was Thanksgiving, more likely referred to by the attendees as a Harvest Celebration.  It lasted three days and was put together by about 6 women, two of them teenagers.  The pilgrims invited their Wampanoag friend, Massasoit who brought with him his wives and honored soldiers.  The natives taught the pilgrims games and shared some food from their hunts, but the reality is they nearly ate the pilgrims out of house and home.  Nonetheless, were it not for the stolen supplies from the burial mounds, the pilgrims wouldn’t have survived the first year.  Each owed the other greatly.

The John Howland House at Plimoth Plantation

A Kitchen Area inside the Pilgrim Houses

Hay stuffed Mattress for a Bed

Handmade Clay Watering Can

Thanksgiving and the story of the pilgrims is very dear to my heart because I am a descendant of two pilgrims who crossed over on the Mayflower.  John Howland came over as an indentured servant with the colony’s first governor, John Carver, but Carver and his wife perished that first year.  Howland became a respected member of Plymouth’s colony and helped begin a fur trade expedition further north.  After a year or so settled he married fellow Mayflower passenger, Elizabeth Tilley, who had lost both her parents that first year around the age of 14 or 15.  They raised 10 children and are the most prominent Mayflower ancestors known because they survived to old ages.  Most descendants today come from the Howland family, and John is my 15th great-Grandfather.  My family stems from the tree of his eldest child, a daughter, Desire.  Last summer, I made a trip to Boston, Massachusetts and took a day train into Plymouth and toured Plimoth Plantation, a living museum that recreates the historical houses and people of the Mayflower crossing.  It’s one of the most moving and fascinating history tours I’ve ever been on.  The plantation also includes boarding the Mayflower II, a replica ship actually sailed from England to Massachusetts in a symbolic journey.

The Navigator's Room aboard the Mayflower II

Chatting with Priscilla Mullins aboard the Mayflower II

I was also able to visit the Jabez Howland house, a home built by John Howland’s son that is one of two remaining homes built and inhabited by an original Mayflower pilgrim.  Entering the home of my ancestor was an indescribable experience.  I imagined the days he lived out with his family, the winters he survived, the memories he had of those early days, and most of all his courage.

Honestly, I barely touched the surface of the story of the pilgrims and those first 50 years after settling.  Philbrick does an exceptional job of telling a captivating story of “courage, community, and war.”  I encourage everyone to learn the real story of the people involved in creating a national holiday of thanksgiving through reading his book.  And if you’re ever out east in the Boston area, definitely take a trip into Plymouth and visit the Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II.  It’s a totally interactive site and historically acclaimed.  They are learning new information all the time.

For more info on John Howland or the first years of the pilgrim’s settlement, check out my guest post, A Thanksgiving to Remember, at David Walker’s blog.

What questions do you have?  Are you surprised by the reality of the first Thanksgiving?  Did you know at that time that eels were the dinner delicacy, and lobster was the throw away food?  What traditions does your family celebrate this time of year?  Have you ever traced your family tree and been surprised who’s shown up there? 

Happy Thanksgiving, Readers, from my family to yours! 

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