Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Summer 2007 -- Late September in the USA


Boston, USA, in the October heat wave

Seeking out nearby islands and beaches for the hint of a cool breeze

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

The Harbor Islands

Almost desperate to escape the heat-shimmering brick and asphalt, we dash across several partially condemned bridges and head for a day of hiking out at the Harbor Islands, 4 October 2007.

Switzerland has been hovering blissfully at 65°-75°F (16-24°C) throughout August and September, but Boston in early October is holding at 85°F (30°C). The Republicans have been toying with the Gulf Stream again.

We're leaving heat-shimmering Boston's Long Wharf behind on the Harbor Islands Express, bound we know not nor care whither.

Boston wears enormous hegemonic flags like costume jewellry, but most of the biggest ones flap outside automobile dealerships in the suburbs. This one must be the size of a football field.

The Boston skyline.
In my semi-formed view as an untraveled country boy, if there is a US city that is tolerable at all, besides San Francisco, it's Boston.

That said . . . you still have to wonder what's holding all those Babel Towers upright!

"We are here". Spectacle Island (supposedly so named because the twin drumlins reminded someone of a pair of spectacles), just south of Logan airport and right under the flight paths. Part of a National Park, in fact, it's said to be good for hiking but isn't -- it has got, however, a marina and a lifeguarded beach, as well as the remains of an old horse-melting candle factory from former centuries, as well as an offshore red-light district in the 1850s, and, in fact, the city's offshore dump up until recently. The dump was closed down in 1959, it seems, when underground methane fires threatened to melt the whole edifice.

The excellent nature centre on Spectacle Island. The island, with a 150-foot lump on either end and a picnic table on top of each, used to be higher in the middle because of the garbage fill, and sheltered 13 families of horse-renderers in its heyday (a "close-knit community", according to the historical displays in the centre), but became neglected until it was taken in hand in 1992 and lovingly restored.

The Boston skyline, with an airplane taking off from Logan, seen from the "South Drumlin" (about 50m high). We owe the two "drumlin" hills on Spectacle Island to the Ted Williams Tunnel -- clay and sediment from Boston's "Big Dig" project were dumped out here throughout the 1990s.

There are good views of Boston here, and interesting tales of horse-corpse disposal and old families nostalgic about the garbage-dump days, but it's not easy to see why the island is described as good for hiking. It is intended, however, eventually to become a "'zero-emission park' that will serve as a learning laboratory on recycling and renewable energy". That can't be bad.

Spectacle Island, with the two little Ted Williams "drumlins" and the visitors' centre in the middle. We're off to Georges Island now.

And here we are. Hiking indeed. We understood that historical Fort Warren was on Georges Island, but in fact it IS Georges Island.

Nazis Not Welcome. Boston's WWII defenses, when diplomacy fails again. There was a French fort on Georges Island during the USA's Revolutionary War, evidently, and the basic outline still has a Vauban-style 17th century French structure to it. Most of the military architecture, however, seems to be mid-19th century, and indeed the place served as a military (and diplomatic) prison during the US Civil War.

Fort Warren was in use throughout World War Two as well and up to 1950, in fact.

It's not easy for some of us to imagine what life would have been like for soldiers stationed here, say, in the 1860s. The semi-circular artifacts along the ramparts are the swivel circles from the enormous Rodman cannons that lined these bastions in the Civil War era.

Kristin on the parade ground below.

Kristin viewing the kitchen area of Bastion C. Fort Warren is well displayed with informative signs all about.

Kristin in the courtyard of Bastion C, with Boston behind and seagulls aloft.

The remains of the Über-Kitchen. Pizzas for everyone.

People used to wander back and forth here, a century and a half ago, puffing on their pipes, reading letters from home, waiting for lunch or getting ready for guard duty up on the ramparts.

Military history is fun, in its own way, but let's get out of here.


Crane Beach

Crane Beach near Ipswich and Essex, north of Boston, is not bad for an afternoon's walk. It's part of the Massachusetts membership-funded "Reservations" system, and it's got what looks like a formidable visitors's centre, though it's all closed down now in the off-season (except for the porta-potties), 5 October 2007.

Horses pay their fees, too, so here they are, with their scoopers running along behind to keep the park neat and clean.

Coded ripples on the beach, obviously some kind of code

Exuberant horses outrunning their scoopers

The little girl in the back has got on knee-length pink riding boots

Beaches are okay, for a while, but after a few miles, enough's enough. Up into the dunes we go, then.

Except that this crap is really hard to walk in

Crane Beach dunes, extremely beautiful, as we're looking for a way out of here

Kristin running on ahead

All donated by another generous robber baron from the old days. Where on earth would the USA be today without its old-time guilt-ridden capitalists? There's nobody like that now, aside from George Soros.

Visit to North America, autumn 2007

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 17 October 2007, revised 16 October 2012.


The USA

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