A journey of 2,728 miles begins with a computer replacement (or Atlanta to Prague in 14 hours)


You always hear horror stories of people being stuck in the tarmac for hours, waiting to fly, clueless and uncomfortable.  Angry people who feel that they were practically kidnapped and held on a plane.  One wonders about the reality.  How much is perception, how much is overblown hype created by the news media and a few squeaky wheels?

The longest leg of our trip to Prague, the actual crossing the ocean part, was extended by hours due to a malfunctioning computer on our plane.  We taxied out to the runway, were two planes back from takeoff, and the Delta captain came on and told us that not all preflight checks checked out.

They tried turning it off and on again, brought techs out who tried turning it off and on again in some manner that they probably thought the captain didn’t do, then the plane was brought back to a gate for the computer to be replaced.

During our time sitting patiently, waiting for the repairs to be done the captain came on the p.a. multiple times to update us on the progress.  The flight attendants served drinks and even gave out an extra packet of lightly salted peanuts or mini pretzels.  My favorite announcement was, “there’s currently a technician upside down and sideways underneath my cockpit.”  It seems that the computer was in an awkward location.

For a time passengers were even given the option to deboard and wander around the airside while we were parked.  The deplaning option was with the condition that all carry on luggage be taken with you.  Remarkably few people chose this option.


Atlanta looking damp and dark for our late departure.

Once things were repaired, and the wandering passengers collected, the flight was promptly underway.  All went swimmingly and no one seemed too upset.

Delta handled everything nicely.  They even arranged a different flight for our connection in Frankfurt, which we had missed by hours.  The only real frustration during the ordeal was that due to the computers being rebooted the in-flight entertainment kept restarting.

Yes, there are redundant systems and the plane won’t drop out of the sky due to a single fault.  But I would still rather them fix the plane before we fly.

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The Cast of Travelers…


As a group, sub-groups and individuals, we prepare for our trip.  Now, it is your time, dear reader to prepare yourself by getting an insight to the cast of travelers




Chris in Cambridge: wi-fi and a milkshake ends a great day.

Chris in Cambridge: wi-fi and a milkshake ends a great day.

My wonderful husband is an intellect coupled with great know-how.  He is truly the jack-of-all trades; master of many (not ‘none’ as the saying goes).  He is our go-to guy for:

Strategic stacking of suit cases.

Pack-horse for day trips (bottles of water, travel books, maps, extra shoes all somehow fit into his coat)

Map analyzer; plotter of route

Gadget Guru; always equipped with the best equipment and tested apps.

In short, our MacGyver.


He is a fantastic, easy going, travel companion. His art of ‘passive observation’ always offers a new insight on our surroundings.   It truly is a delight to spend time with him exploring a new land and it is a comfort knowing he will happily just take care of all these things.






Gram Ruby loving on the newest grandson,  Spencer

Gram Ruby loving on the newest grandson, Spencer


My mother, Ruby,  is a true artist at heart. A woman who knows the perfect name for describing colors. One who can decorate a house into a home all the while putting plaids and florals together…and it looks great!  She paints with wild abandon; singing opera with improvised words.

A fun loving traveler who is up for walking the steep inclines of Italy or sitting back and enjoying the peaceful scenery of the Welsh countryside.




Aunt Virginia and the Harley

Aunt Virginia and the Harley

My favorite aunt, Virginia, is a classic.  Beautiful, elegant, eloquent, cultured and intelligent.  She has always been an inspiration of what a woman of the world should be.


As we narrowed down trip ideas to a river cruise in Europe, Virginia decided on the Danube.  No doubt because of the romantic fascination the Danube is portrayed to us through art and music.





Briget in a race car!

Briget in a race car!


I work on the big picture then hammer out the details.  I like to gather input on likes, preferences, and interests from the group and put that against possible locations.  Generally, the plan for trips is to place a few anchor activities/locations, then add details as needed.

Love to travel, hate to fly…A bit of a challenge for someone who lives in the U.S. but likes to vacation in Europe.


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The Dead of Boston


Briget and I like visiting cemeteries when we travel.  Often walking among the peaceful rows of stones in a quiet place can really get you thinking, kind of like one gets thinking in the shower, but with less water and with more people than usual around.  Normally wearing clothes.

When you see the time-line of an area scattered through the graves you can empathize with the region.  But without even considering history you get a vast collection of architectural elements.

Boston was no slouch in its offerings.  From the oldest ‘burying ground’ to the stunningly beautiful, and obsessively organized Mount Auburn cemetery we certainly were entertained.

The old burying grounds are full of historical figures.  All the people who I promptly forgot about after taking American History, and a great deal who I forgot while taking American History.  They have their stories and I kind of feel bad that I don’t get that lump in my throat with the “{historical figure} was actually here at {historic spot}” feeling.  For a history buff, or one prone to throat lumps, Boston is your place.

Boston is not lacking in monuments to just about every historical figure in your elementary history books.

Boston is not lacking in monuments to just about every historical figure in your elementary history books.

My favorite part was the examination of the old headstones, the styles, the copied styles, the badly copied styles.  Artistry designed to last through the ages to commemorate someone long forgotten.  (People discuss the ethics of opening Egyptian tombs from thousands of years ago.  What about the things done to the 200-300 year old burial sites?  They move head stones, open crypts, dig subway vents through the grounds, even show bones in some areas.  I have no problem with those things.)  That commemoration allows future generations to learn about how things were and to understand that nothing is forever, especially the sanctity of a burial.  (And isn’t the point that the deceased should have already gone somewhere else?)

Boston’s old burial grounds offer carvings of skulls, some heads with amazingly coiffed hair, baby heads with wings (the most disturbing in my estimation) as well as newer markers to commemorate those who were particularly instrumental in American history of who popped back into vogue for a time due to easily divisible anniversaries or public relations between various groups.

This style is copied in various forms throughout many of the older Boston graveyards.  Some quite good.  The creative interpretations are awfully nice.

This style is copied in various forms throughout many of the older Boston graveyards. Some quite good. The creative interpretations are awfully nice.

Mount Auburn Cemetery on the other hand is a stellar achievement of burial organization.  Beautiful; meticulously maintained with enough wilding around the (h)edges to make it comforting and less sterile.

Most impressive was the Mount Auburn map.  The most accurate map we encountered on our trip, topping even the MIT map, which was a close second.  The really stand out feature was that even the little side paths, often only dirt or grass, were marked perfectly.  Finding a marker was easy and a pleasure.

Skinner's final box.  Sadly not one of the fancier monuments to someone who is well known in science history.

Skinner’s final box. Sadly not one of the fancier monuments to someone who is well known in science history.

But one wouldn’t care about finding a boring head stone.  Mount Auburn really delivers on that front.  Being an old cemetery, but also being an active burial ground, keeps the styles mixed and varied.  Stones of many varieties throughout the grounds.  Some with stories, which Briget really likes.  One which looked like a puzzle to solve with various, almost random symbols, verses and shapes.  The deceased was either trying to make a statement or let their considerably large stone be used for carver training.

Mount Auburn is certainly worth the bus ride.  Kind of like Piere le Chaise in Paris, but for the obsessive compulsive cemetery visitor.

Although we did not go on a ghost tour this trip, we still enjoyed the dead of Boston.

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Daily Constitution


First day, first time in Boston.  We like to get our bearings in tourist cities by hopping on a trolley and doing a loop before we just start walking.  So the first thing we did was grab our “I’m a tourist” sticker.


Our trolley included a ride out into Boston Harbor where they show you the skyline, explain the difference between a wharf and a pier, and give you an opportunity to stop over at the Constitution.  The oldest still commissioned warship in the world.  Old Ironsides.

Surprisingly this was my highlight of the day.  The ship is simply amazing!  Not the most luxurious thing on the water, but efficient for its purpose and wonderfully kept.

Because the ship is in service the tour guides, casually speaking to groups, bit a formal tour situation, are active duty Naval officers. They are in their uniforms and you must show photo ID as well as go through a TSA-style screening before getting to the ship. But the beauty of the officers as guides is that these are some of the people who both take care of the ship and sail her when she goes out for her short stint every year. Their knowledge of the ship is refreshing.


One of the Naval officers explaining things about the ship.


Briget testing out the accommodations.


On board! Massive structure, and built over 200 years ago in under two years. Amazing.

If you are in Boston. Even if you are not into nautical history, the Constitution is worth it.

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Dinner and a Plan


We’re here.  Good free WiFi at the Holiday Inn Express and cookies.  Membership has its privileges, although I think the cookies are for everyone.


Great meal tonight, I mean seriously yummy, at the East Side Bar & Grille. (http://eastsidebarandgrille.com/)  Walking distance from our hotel, and the place the desk clerk seems to send everyone to, but great food.  Steak tips with smashed red potatoes for me and Briget had her first “real” clam chowder.  At least her first actually in New England.

Tomorrow we head for the trolley!  Get our bearings, learn our way around the city, pick out a ghost tour and have fun.  This is going to be great!

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What to Expect in Boston?


Good takeoff.  Briget is writing a post and I am screwing around with my phone.  Just remembered to turn off my morning work alarm, whew!


What did you expect? A photo of the wing and sky?

It has been nearly a year since our last (epic month in England) trip.  For Boston we have a purpose, the Ig Nobel Awards, but we look forward to the Freedom Trail, the Harbor and at least one ghost tour.  Nearly everyone has suggested the Trail.

Other places recommended are the Mount Auburn Cemetery, Brigham’s Ice Cream Parlor and Bunker Hill.  Can hardly wait!

In other news, while writing this, and soon after discussing “do Bostonians actually talk like that” referring to the stereotypical “paak the caa” accent that people joke about, the 57 year old self employed contractor* in the seat behind us on the plane started talking to his seat neighbor.  Wow!  Okay, at least some of them do.  Not only that but he was talking about how he wants to buy a little place to retire to Florida.

Stereotypes, fact or fiction?

* Mr. Passenger was an über stereotype.  Talking about his work, his house, his pets, his wife; and everything he mentioned had a dollar amount on it.  Really, every single thing.  From his $6,000 counter top to his wife’s $10,000 ring to his $700 hotel stay for four nights.  Most other things had additional stats.  He ran away from home at 15, his kitchen is 35 feet long and cuts himself every time he does construction and he has a ceiling fan in every room of his house.  I know nothing about his seat neighbor except that she is unmarried.  Maybe headphones will be useful on flights.

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