Updated on May 12, 2019
Weekend Trip to Boston: Flights, Bunker Hill and Naval Yard
Roughly a month ago a few college friends of mine told me they would be renting a house in Boston for the weekend and hold a gathering of chats and games and exchanges of cooking skills. Well, that sounds like an exciting way to spend a weekend that’s sure to go down in memories, so of course I’m in.
It happened that I obtained some Iberia miles earlier this year in a promotion that’s almost too good to be true. And Iberia was probably the best airline program for redeeming short haul return flights in US, with roundtrip DC to Boston in coach at 12k points. The only downside was that since it’s a weekend trip, availability on AA’s part was pretty limited. The most feasible seat I could find was Business on a 7:30 am flight. But given those were promotion miles about to expire before end of year, who cares?
Flight AA2130 to Boston
This time, security lines at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport wasn’t as bad as my last holiday morning here. Everything else, the drowsiness on a morning DC metro ride mixed with anticipation of fond memories ahead was strikingly reminiscent.
Oh, this time I had visual feast of morning colors breaking over distant horizons as I waited to board the plane.
We encountered some delay in pushback, but our die-hard socks-fan capitan managed to keep us all cool and anticipant about a weekend in Boston.
And Boston Red Socks lost that night in the World Series.
After that, it was a clear day under we ascended into clouds outside Baltimore at 5500 meters.
One sad note was that, this time I opted to sit at the port side hoping to catch some glimpses of New York city from above. Whatever’s left of my hope after weather forecast was dashed by the thick clouds covering the empire city.
As for the onboard service, on the good side, I have this proper glass cup holding juices that I can make toast with. We were offered “premium” snacks (which I interpreted as “salt-free nuts”). On the other hand, that’s the entire cabin service. Since I don’t drink alcohol, the same drink menu was offered in coach but delivered in plastic cups. Much saltier snacks were also offered in coach on my return trip.
So, that left wider and more comfortable seats the good thing about flying in the front of the plane, pretty much.
On our approach to Boston, we flew right by capital of Rhode Island, Providence.
And over wonderful autumn colors of New England, where, unlike DC, leaves turned red first before falling off.
I sorted of understand why European carriers would block the center seat towards the front of the plane and market that as “short-haul first”. Yeah, 4-abrest business seats did feel cozy but blocked center seat wasn’t much behind except in “elbow room”, for short hauls that probably didn’t matter as much. Apart from that, there’s really not too much difference in essence on American Airlines between first and coach. The (non-alcoholic) drinks were the same, the snacks were similar, and the person was transported from A to B. And unlike European counterparts, which despite downgraded seating, would be offering meals and lounge access, they were missing on AA. This time due to AA’s limited award availability I ticketed myself in first on a short flight, and somehow I’m convinced I would be happier sitting in coach afterwards.
As for the people sitting in the front, I guess their ego was probably what kept such a product from extinction like in Europe. Oh, it did come with two free checked bags.
Bunker Hill Monument
Most of my friends would arrive late afternoon or early evening that day, so I still have time to tour the city of Boston. Well, last time here I tried to climb Bunker Hill Monument but it was closed due to snow. This time, it’s a lovely autumn morning. So I followed my footsteps ten months ago and made my way to Bunker Hill Monument.
At the foot of Bunker Hill Monument is King Solomon Lodge Memorial in memory of the original 18-foot (5.5 m) wooden column erected in 1794.
After that, there were 300 or so steps to the top of Monument, which was the right amount of workout to remind me I was still young before I puffed and panted like everybody else.
And the top of Monument provided great views of the city on hill on a lovely autumn morning.
Back to earth, a small room by the entrance exhibited some statues and paintings.
Click for official information board about Joseph Warren
A Harvard graduate and prominent local physician. Warren (1741-1775) became involved in the patriot cause in 1767 and soon rose to become one of its driving forces in Boston. In 1774, he drew up the Suffolk Resolves, a precursor to the Declaration of Independence. As chairman of the Boston Committee of Safety, Warren dispatched Paul Revere and William Dawes to send alarm to Lexington and Concord in April 1775. By the time of the Bunker Hill battle, Warren was president of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, and had just been appointed a Major General in the Massachusetts militia.
At the Battle
Arriving in the early afternoon, Warren was offered overall command by both Colonel Prescott and Brigadier General Putnam but declined on the grounds that his commission as major general had not yet been officially approved. Warren took up a musket to fight alongside the other men in the redoubt. As The British troops stormed the redoubt, Warren was one of the last to leave. Just outside the redoubt, he was struck down by a bullet to his head and probably died instantly.
About the Portrait
The Bunker Hill Monument Association selected prominent local sculptor Henry Dexter of Cambridgeport to carve the statue in 1855. The statue was funded by over $5000 in private donations and took two years to complete. A building was constructed to house the statue on this site and the dedication took place on June 17, 1857. The statue is 7’ high, cut from a 7-ton block of Italian marble, and rests on a pedestal of Verd Antique marble from Roxbury, Vermont.
Across the street, NPS operated a bigger museum with more exhibits, including vivid recreation of the Battle of Bunker Hill.
To me, this is definitely the most interesting exhibit piece. Arguably to this day, Liberty Bell had much more culture influence than the Bunker Hill Monument which was nearly forgotten in a residential community. Perhaps that’s why it’s the attractive female part.
After that, I found in Boston’s Navy Yard and not far from USS Constitution that I visited last winter, there’s USS Cassin Young open to visitors. Since I already followed my footstep last winter to Bunker Hill, why not continue to Navy Yard?
USS Cassin Young
A Fletcher-class destroyer launched in 1943 and served in World War II and Korean War in the Pacific’s, USS Cassin Young was a peephole into the US navy half a century back. Interestingly, 14 of the 175 Fletcher-class destroyers that US made during World War II were built in Charlestown Navy Yard, but USS Cassin Young wasn’t one of those.
Not like USS Constitution which was still an active ship on the Navy where tours were escorted, the decommissioned USS Cassin Young offered a self-guided exploration experience. The downside was that only deck level was accessible.
Click for official information board about Ammunition Handling Room
Here in the handling room, nine men stood by ready to move projectiles and powder cases up the electric hoist to the 5” 38-caliber gun mount
directly above on the next deck. Each of the five 5” gun mounts on the ship has a handling room beneath it. In battle, this crew moved 24 to 30 shells and powder casing a minute up to the gun mount.
Click for official information board about Combat Information Center
C.l.C. was the information center on board ship. Information collected by visual means and by radar, sonar, and radio was assembled and evaluated here and then relayed to the appropriate combat stations on the ship or to neighboring vessels. Ten to twelve crewmen worked in C.I.C., including the ship’s Executive Officer.
“During battle, as far as we were concerned as radar pickets, the most important job of the ship was C.I.C. There was a serious debate during the end of the war as to whether the Captain should be in C.I.C. and the exec on the bridge. Because everything happened in CI.C…..”
Paul M. lanes
Executive Officer, 1944-45
USS CASSIN YOUNG
After that, I got word from one of the local party organizers saying he could use an extra pair of hands buying supplies. So I met up with him and spent a busy afternoon preparing for a weekend-ful of fun.
Since this is a public post, I will skip how we enjoyed our weekend and jump to the return flight on Monday.
Flight AA2143 to Washington DC
It was drizzling when I stepped out of my overnight lodge, and by the time I reached metro station in central Cambridge, spires of churches were piercing through clouds as the sun poured down. The skies were colorful again.
Even though the flight’s full, A319’s superior performance combined with little fuel load for a short distance flight (and maybe some audacity from the flight deck), the flaps were retracted literally right after we were airborne, which was something I’d never seen before.
After that, it was a rather bumpy climb / joyful ride into the clouds. Despite that, seatbelt signs were turned off at exactly 3000 meters in elevation. Another gallant act from the flight deck.
There wasn’t much to talk about for this flight, same drink and snacks service as business class that I took only three days ago, in a cost-effective way though.
That is, until I looked out of window and found buildings that I recognized. Oh, I was flying by my home.
The grids and diagonals of Washington DC streets looked rather impressive from above. I picked a port side seat on the flight to Boston hoping to catch sights of New York City and got spoiled by the clouds, but this unexpected magnificence of Washington DC (and my home in its suburb) did make that up.
So this concludes a weekend-ful of memories.