Saturday, August 20, 2011

Boston 2011 - Day 3, Part 2: Duck Boats

Previously: Boston 2011 - Day 3, Part 1: Freedom Trail, Part 1

After finishing the first part of the Freedom Trail, we headed back towards the hotel to pick up the Boston Duck Tour at Prudential. We didn't have Duck Boat tickets yet, since we didn't know exactly what time we would be finishing up with the post-lunch activities. As we were waiting for our tour to start, they asked to take our photo for purchase later. It turned out really great!

After taking our photo, we chatted with the photographer, discovering it was her first day at work. We asked how it was going, and she said not bad, though she wasn't looking forward to the warmer weather later in the week. She kept glancing at my husband's t-shirt, giving it a funny look. "Does your shirt say 'Browncoat'?" Yes it does.

(Image from, though his shirt came from ThinkGeek.)

"Shiny! You just totally made my day!!" I'm pretty sure Shiny is the Browncoat password! LOL We all had a good laugh about it, including my parents (also fans). I wish I'd thought to get a photo of her with my husband, but we started boarding about that time and she had to take everyone else's picture. Still, it was a nice little moment in our day. But as far as Luke was concerned, it was time for the main event!

Duck Boats, for anyone who may not know, are amphibious vehicles. They were originally designed for WWII, though most of the ones in use today are replicas. We did not do the Boston Duck tour in 2003 when we visited, and we were always sorry. They looked like great fun as you watched them drive around the city! Missing out actually promted us to take Luke to ride the Duck boats at Stone Mountain in 2009, and made it a must do for this Boston trip. Our boat in Boston was called Old Gloria, considered one of the most beautiful Ducks in the Boston fleet. (I actually took this photo myself later in the tour.)

Our conDUCKtor (that's their term!) was MacInQuack, and boy, was he a character! His bio from says:
MacInQuack’ s Scottish ancestors invented the game of golf and his parents were great golfers. MacInQuack just had to play golf. Unfortunately he was a horrible driver. One time he drove the ball into a tree, it bounced back and hit him in the head knocking him unconscious. When he finally woke up in the hospital his parents told him he better learn how to Drive the ball and to Duck! When MacInQuack finally came to his senses (this is questionable) he thought they said he better learn how to DRIVE a DUCK! So here he is loving beautiful Boston driving for Boston Duck Tours!

Most of the items on the tour were ones that we had just seen or would do later, so there actually aren't a zillion photos, believe it or not. We circled Beacon Hill, Boston Common, and the Public Gardens. We intended to go back later ourselves and get closer to Cheers, but we never did.

Note the statue of Washington in the Public Gardens is wearing his Bruins jersey. After the victory, both the jersey and Washington's sword were stolen! We also traveled most of the Freedom Trail, which allowed us to actually get some better shots of some destinations from earlier in the day, due to the sun finally shining and the height of the vehicle. These are the Massachusetts State House, King's Chapel, King's Chapel Burying Ground, and the Parker House (where we had eaten lunch earlier that day).

We also got some great shots of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. I think my husband (the bridge engineer) was more fascinated by it than everything else on the tour!

I posted that third picture because those were all the vehicles and news vans parked in the median near Boston Garden, preparing for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup playoffs later that night. Now, remember that Game 6 was in Vancouver, not Boston! The city was going absolutely nuts, and it was only to get worse.

But enough about land:

Let's get to the fun part, the water!

It doesn't really matter that I've done it twice now, it is still slightly frightening taking a wheeled vehicle and just driving it right into the water. Super cool, but a little scary. Anyway, we got some nice skyline shots.

You'll see that Citgo sign again later, though from a different angle. Anyone who watches baseball probably recognizes it, though. And here a couple of other landmarks. This is as close as we would get to either the Hatch Shell (where the Boston Pops perform for July 4) or the Bunker Hill Monument.

Again, we intended to hit the Hatch Shell (and Cheers) when we went to the Public Gardens, but it was not meant to be. I know it doesn't look like much from the back, but the inside is beautiful. Our intention was to recreate this photo from 2003 with Luke in it with us, but we never made it. It is my only regret about this trip, but we were just too dog tired that day!

(July 4, 2003, our 5th wedding anniversary)

But we did get a zillion photos of this bridge. This is the Longfellow Bridge, formerly known as the Cambridge Bridge. According to Wikipedia
Construction began in July 1900, the bridge opened on August 3, 1906, and was formally dedicated on July 31, 1907. The Cambridge Bridge was renamed as the Longfellow Bridge in 1927 by the Massachusetts General Court for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote about the West Boston Bridge in the poem "The Bridge", in 1845.

It is known locally as the "salt and pepper bridge" for the towers' obvious resemblance to table shakers. The seals above each ship are different, depending on which side of the river they are closer to: Boston or Cambridge.

The details on those ships are amazing, though. This first shot makes them look really flat.

But they're not, they are extremely dimensional. They are intended to look like Viking ships, honoring the supposed trip up the Charles River by Leif Ericson (a theory first proposed by a Harvard professor, according to our driver).

Here are some close up details.

The bridge is undergoing a ton of maintenance right now. There were these special metal plates hanging beneath the bridge to keep rust and debris from falling down on the Duck Boats. I took this shot just as we were coming out from under the bridge. Nice of the sailboat to add atmosphere!

Hey, anyone want to drive this thing? He thought you'd never ask! LOL (Luke had actually commented when we boarded, "maybe I can drive it!" But when we just nodded and said "maybe," he gave us the "yeah, right" look. Perhaps you should believe your parents sometimes, young padawan!)

The tour is about 90 minutes long (no stops, no getting on or off, though we did give Luke a snack). By the time we were back on land, Luke was really starting to fade. It had been a long day, expending lots of energy, and he'd been sitting for too long. At least we were dropped off less than two blocks from our hotel!

There was also an Uno's about another block up, so we popped in there for dinner before tucking in for the night. Dad got the Turkey Bacon Swiss, Mom had the Shrimp & Crab Fundoo, DH decided on the Personal Numero Uno, and I enjoyed the Mac & Three Cheese. We got Luke the kids thin cheese pizza, but he he didn't eat it at all. Not sure if he was just too tired or what. After that, we had to get him into bed, so we headed back to the hotel, while Mom and Dad went to the Public Library just around the corner. There would be a second excursion to the library later, so I'll save those pictures for then.

Currently feeling: just ducky

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