Over this past weekend, my husband and I took the kids to visit some friends on the East Coast. Now that our youngest is eight, we figured that exploring another part of the country might mean something to all of them, so off to Boston and Cambridge we went.
The Freedom Trail was a fantastic experience, walking through some of America’s most meaningful and historic sites. Before that, I got the biggest kick out of watching the kids, born and raised in Evanston, poking around the streets surrounding Harvard University. Some of their more notable comments include:
“You know, I thought people might look more preppy here…but it just reminds me of Evanston,” and “This is the best [cheese] pizza I’ve ever tasted in my life,” and “I wish Evanston had a [see below]…”
…place like Newbury Comics. I have to agree. I purchased a refrigerator magnet that reads "DRINK COFFEE…Do stupid things faster with more energy." My teenager snagged a Beastie Boys t-shirt and a pair of headphones using his babysitting savings, while my daughter, ignoring everyone’s protestations, purchased a life-size, cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber, which she then carried along the entire Freedom Trail route…in the rain. I now have photographic evidence that Bieber has done Boston. And, while Evanston’s Urban Outfitters carries a somewhat similar selection of foul-language novelties and t-shirts, we definitely don’t have a place that combines junk like that with an eclectic CD selection, posters, comic books, lava lamps and handcuffs. Come on…I thought we were a real college town.
…Zinneken’s For Waffle Addicts. The waffles -- made with sugar-pearl dough rather than batter -- arrive with funky toppings. Naturally, the eight-year-old ordered Number 6: The Oreo Freakin' Party.
…restaurant stand like Otto's Pizza, a.k.a. a place where you can "grab and go”. Otto’s tiny, storefront includes 3 stools, a tiny plank of wood on which to rest your backpack as you dig out your wallet, and a display of pizzas sold whole or by the slice with wacked-out toppings like mashed potatoes, pulled pork and mango, and cranberries.
…way to show off our history like the Freedom Trail does. Somewhat of a low blow, especially since we’re graced with The Evanston History Center and historic sites like The Frances Willard House Museum and The Grosse Point Lighthouse. Evanston may not have historic burial grounds or a trail of red bricks guiding visitors through our town’s most important historic places, but I’d love to hear what readers think the most important ones are.
We also rode an Amtrak to Kingston, Rhode Island, to spend a few nights with old friends in Narragansett. On the train, two women shared a table with my daughter and me, introducing themselves as sophomores from Northeastern University in Boston. “A lot of people think we mean Northwestern University…” one woman said, not knowing we’re from Evanston.
“And to be honest,” the other one added, “sometimes we don’t even correct ‘em. We just let ‘em think we’re really smart.”
That’s WICKED smart.
Which reminds me, we also heard (and used) a lot of Boston-ease during the trip. We ate chowdah, pahked the rental cah, saw the Chahles Rivah, and debated whethah the Hahvahd kids ah as wicked-smaht as ah Noth-westehn kiddos.
The highlight of the trip for the 8-year-old? Finding a live starfish and sitting in the “big boxes” (rather than the pews) in the King’s Chapel in Boston (obviously not at the same time). For the 13-year-old? The food, Harvard Square and The Freedom Trail. The eleven-year-old loved everything…but if I know my daughter like I think I do, the highlight of her journey was returning to Evanston to put the well-traveled cutout of Justin Bieber right where he belongs. Even after a wonderful trip to such an interesting part of the country, there's no other place I'd rather be than home in Evanston.