Saturday, September 8, 2012

Running & Visiting in Beantown

"Think How stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that" - George Carlin

, another trip up to Boston to see my family (son Michael, D-I-L Joanie, and our 2 grandkids, 3 yr old Adam and 1yr old Emma). This is a trip my wife & I make about every other month for a long 4 day weekend. Being called Grandpa (in any context at all), is a wonderful experience. Since we last saw Emma in June, she has grown her first eight teeth and can now walk anywhere independently, although a sudden loss of top-heavy balance, followed by an equally sudden over-compensation, causes a well-padded butt crash.Everytime we go up, I gain a renewed appreciation for families that EVERY DAY have to juggle/balance/deal with a brood of infants/toddlers. After just 4 days, I'm whooped and ready for a 2 month rest period.

I volunteered for the early morning shift to get the kids up (well, they did that themselves), get 'em fed, diapers changed - ok, not one of my favorite Grandpa duties - and then play and read them stories - yes, one of my favorite Grandpa duties. This alone would have been plenty for our visit, but our trip had a couple of gold stars. One was that Sunday was Emma's first birthday, and although she had no idea what was going on, she did enjoy it as she got to literally dive into her first birthday cake. What a holy mess! Her & Adam's parents try to point their nutrition in a healthy direction, but you can almost read Emma's mind while she was devouring the cake..."Wait, this a WHOLE lot better than green beans!". Reminds me of the old Bill Cosby skit where he had to watch the kids for the weekend and all the kids dancing around the breakfast table singing "Dad is great...he gave us chocolate cake!".

The other Gold Star was that one of my sisters (Lin) and her husband, who live in New Jersey, were in Boston with 2 of my nieces for a soccer tournament, so we all got together for a great visit. Always good to see family that you don't see nearly often enough.

Now, this is RUNNING WITH AL, not FAMILY VISITING WITH AL, but I can't just ignore it, now can I? But, I'll try not to completely bore you, and I won't post any cute grandchildren pictures. So, what about my running while in Boston?

I pretty much had to fit my runs during the afternoon when both kids were down for naps at the same time. It wasn't that I HAD to be there when they were awake, but I sure WANTED to be. Usually, I run on the Boston Marathon course because I know it so well, and I just feel the energy of the course itself, and I have so many memories of doing that marathon. But, on Saturday, I ran along a bike trail along the Riverway section of what's known as the Emerald Necklace. The Emerald Necklace consists of an 1100-acre chain of parks linked by parkways and waterways in Boston and Brookline. It is approximately 7 miles of bike or footpaths that weave their way, mostly through traffic-free, wooded, shaded parks. The run is beautiful, but unfortunately, my legs didn't want to float through this bliss and instead felt like two anchors on the USS Constitution floating in Boston Harbor. I trudged back home after an hour feeling like I had just run a marathon. I hate that feeling, but once again I have to be thankful that I am healthy enough to have a bad run.

On Monday, Labor Day Holiday here in the USA, Michael & I got to get out. Running with my son is always a treat for me. He travels a lot for work, but always carries his running shoes and tries to get in a couple of runs/week. Consequently, whenever we run together, I always accuse him of trying to kill me and collecting his inheritance (which I'm spending on airline tickets), but also consequently, I usually put in a well-paced-better-than-usual run. Anyway, we ran down the Riverway to Boston and circumnavigated Fenway Park, the home of the Red Sox. I am a huge baseball fan, and although my allegiance used to be with the NY Mets, for the past 15 years or so, the Sox are my team - though this year is kind of washout in enthusiasm as they scrape the bottom of the table. Their is a postcard on my refrigerator of a mural painted in 1934 on one Fenway's walls, so we tried to find it. Turned out it is actually on one of the inner walls so we couldn't see it, but we still stopped and read the numerous plaques around the stadium. Also, their is a bar (I think called The Bleacher Bar) that is open all year 'round, so we went in briefly because one side of the bar actually opens to the playing field. On game days, you can go in, grab a brew and watch some of the game for free (I think you're limited to 20 minutes or so at the window side of the bar). It was pretty neat. We then retraced our steps home, showered, gathered up the family, and went out for some great pizza and beer. Excellent day!

The next day it was back to Birmingham. We have this routine of flying from Boston through Charlotte for our connection pretty down pat - always land at the same gate at Terminal C and always catch the flight to Bham from the same gate in Terminal E. The Charlotte Airport is pretty unique in that they have Rocking Chairs all through the airport. Only danger there is falling asleep and missing your connection. Another nice touch is that next to all the drinking fountains, there are water fountains made to fill up your water bottles so you don't have to tilt your bottle and actually spill half the water out. Pretty simple, but well-appreciated idea. Also, as is important to nerds like me, there is FREE WiFi. I love it, even if I have to sit some stupid advertisement before it will allow me to connect. One other we were sitting waiting for our flight home, we actually surprisingly got to see what I think was Michelle Obama's plane landing in Charlotte. No matter what party you support, you have to get a thrill to see one of these jets with UNITED STATES OF AMERICA plastered along the side.

So that wraps up our latest trip to Beantown. Always a good time that we manage to fill most of the hours. Got back on the Oak Mountain Trails this morning and will return to the Lakeshore Greenway tomorrow morning. Looks like we're shifting into cooler weather with the low tonight at 57 degrees. Almost time to begin complaining about the cold! Well, I'll try to keep it to a minimum, but I can't promise. I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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