Tuesday, May 3, 2016

MA Trip

Last week my family went on vacation to Massachusetts to visit friends and relatives and see some things in Concord and Boston. We'd just finished reading Little Women together and learning about the transcendentalists, so it was perfect timing! Being homeschooled really helps us to go places off season when there aren't any school crowds, too. ;)

The drive was a good 7+ hours, but it mostly passed quickly for me thanks to a combination of listening to the "Hamilton" soundtrack over and over (and over and over and over . . .) again (you'll be getting a blog post about the music soon enough) and writing in my notebook.

We were greeted by my grandma and plenty of delicious Portuguese food. The next day we traveled all over Concord. We saw so many things: Orchard House (the old home of the Alcott family), the Old Manse (the home to many transcendentalists over the years), Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Walden Pond, Old North Bridge, and the Minute Man Statue.

Orchard House https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchard_House
Obviously it was all really cool to see just because of the history, but we also heard a lot of interesting stories. For example, Little Women is almost entirely autobiographical. Louisa patterned Jo after herself, and all of the other March women after her sisters. The oldest, Anna, was Meg; the youngest, May, was Amy (notice her name is just rearranged); and the second youngest, Elizabeth, was Beth. But there were a few key differences, including that Louisa's father never went to help in the war (but Louisa did as a nurse!), Louisa never married, and there was never one true Laurie in her life. Instead, she created Laurie using bits of different boys she was friends with when she was younger. (Spoilers for Little Women ahead!) Louisa never intended to have Jo married, but after the first part of Little Women was published, she got so many fans from letters begging to have her married (specifically to Laurie) that she decided to compromise. She would have Jo get married, just to somebody else, Bhaer.

Louisa's sister May was really an artist, just like Amy. As a kid she would draw all over the walls to practice her sketching since paper was expensive and usually Louisa or her father would get to it first. You can still see the drawings on the walls if you visit the house! And the Alcott parents were totally okay with her doing this. Another fun fact, May went on to be the first art teacher of a boy, Daniel Chester French. who later became a famous sculptor. He's the one who sculpted the Minute Man Statue and the Lincoln Memorial.

So yeah, Orchard House was a favorite as far as that day went.

The next day we went to Boston to see the Harvard campus, Harvard Bookstore (an indie bookstore!), Boston Commons, the public gardens (where we got to take a ride on the swan boats), and the Isabella Steward Gardner Art Museum. The museum was gigantic, with three different floors filled with sculptures and paintings and tapestries. The second floor was closed for renovations and restorations when we went, but they still had the most famous pieces out in another exhibit for everyone to see. In the nineties, a bunch of famous paintings were stolen from the museum and to this day are still lost, so they have some spots talking about that on empty spaces on the wall.

"Isabella Stewart Gardner" by John Singer Sargent https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isabella_Stewart_Gardner
Isabella also had a lot of John Singer Sargent pieces, which made my mom spin a whole tale where she wondered if Isabella had a thing for John, especially after we realized she posed for one of his portraits. For a large portion of their friendship (or was it just?), Isabella was married. My mom kept saying it'd make a great historical romance, but we didn't know that there was actually a lot of gossip about the two of them back when they were alive! Apparently after Isabella received the portrait John painted of her, she loved it, but her husband did not . . . hmm . . .

We went to the Boston Museum of Science on our last day there. We spent the whole afternoon there exploring it and we didn't even see it all! It's that huge. My favorite parts were easily the optical illusions gallery and the Hall of Human Life. There were a lot of social science surveys and interactive stations you could use, which were fun. After we were done there, we went to the planetarium attached to it to see a Michael Jackson laser show. It was kinda cheesy, but still cool to have done. The more abstract patterns were really awesome, but there were a few songs were they displayed these terrible laser cartoons that told the story along with the music that had both my brother Max and me giggling in our seats. At one point after the first of the songs in this style ("ABC"), Max was laughing and said loud enough for everyone to hear, "What the heck are we watching?" I'm pretty sure our parents lost it.

So after walking close to fifteen miles in three days, eating tons of seafood, riding the T all over, and seeing as much as we possibly could during our stay, we got to come home and get our little dog back. Scout was very happy to see us after being apart for so long, and vice versa.

Have you ever been to Boston or Concord? What was your favorite thing you saw? Leave a comment!


Lara Liz said...

Is it bad that most of what I took from this post was "ooh you visited an indie bookstore"? I literally stopped reading and started imagining all the piles of books, smelling like old paper, and comfy chairs and maybe even beanbags and . . .

Woah, got a bit carried away there! Anyway, thanks for the post, and it was really interesting to read about the real Little Women.

Grace Robinson said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip! I want to make it up there someday. I love Louisa May Alcott, and while "Little Women" is my fav book of hers, I read all her stuff when I was a teenager. How cool that you got to see the real Orchard House!

The Magic Violinist said...

@Lara Liz Ha ha, nope, not at all! It was huge inside. I could've spent hours there if we'd had the time. They had an entire downstairs just for used books, and there were tons of them there.

I'm glad you liked it! :)

@Grace Robinson My mom loved all of her books, too. :) You would definitely like the tour, so I highly recommend that if you ever go up to Concord.

Dr. Mark said...

Great recap of the trip. It's always fun to see what stood out most for you. The Orchard House was a favorite of mine, too. Honestly, the whole trip was great. Capped by that fantastic laser show. Yes, I loved it.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Dr. Mark Thanks! :) I had no idea what to expect from a lot of it, which usually made it so I ended up with a lot of pleasant surprises. Although the laser show was just about as whacked out as I thought it'd be, thanks to "Freaks and Geeks."

Boquinha said...

Love hearing all about your view of the trip!! And that's hilarious about Isabella Gardner. Who knew?!?

The Magic Violinist said...

@Boquinha Right?! We should definitely write something about that.