Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Independence Day

The 4th of July, or Independence Day is big business in Boston. As the cradle of liberty, the birthplace of the revolution - and quite a few smaller revolutions post-1776 - Boston takes the Fourth of July seriously. Millions of dollars in fireworks displays. Reading the declaration of Independence from the same State House window as it was back in 1773, marching bands, musket rallies, battle reenactments, we've got something for everyone. History buff? Family with small children? Chowder lover? Check, check, check.
Harborfest is a week-long celebration of early American history and the American spirit of independence resplendent with Revolutionary battle reenactments  walking tours, open houses, and a clam chowder tasting contest, which unfortunately fell on one of the hottest days of the year this month. We decided to try something new this year and sojourned seaward.

One of the hidden gems of the city is the Boston Harbor Islands, a collection of tiny land dots scattered through the outer harbor of Boston and Massachusetts Bay. Amongst these 34 islands there is a Civil War fort, the oldest continually operating lighthouse in the U.S., and a surprisingly collection of history and wildlife. The immersion experience is camping on an one of the islands. We took it a step further and ended up on a very southerly island with no running water; Grape Island.

The trek from home was a T ride, two different ferries, and a short hike through the newest version of New England weather: muggy tropical jungle hot not dissimilar to the surface of the sun. We managed to set up the tent before we threw ourselves in the ocean which seemed remarkably warm for July. We feasted on nutella and peanut butter sandwiches and cheese and crackers before hiking every walking path on the island.

As the day worn thin we ventured to the coast to see the sunset and scope out a firework viewing spot. The bugs chased us to the beach, where we took up residence on a rock; as high tide crashed at our feet we watched over a half dozen firework displays from around the harbor light up the night sky. To cap off the night we made a fire on the beach and roasted marshmallows. After a night of sleeping on the ground (which I last did in the aftermath of my 22nd birthday and would like to continue avoiding, thank you very much) we trudged back home in dire need of a shower.

It was a great trip filled with all the adventure of camping in the wildness right in downtown Boston's front yard. I think next time we’ll aim to get a place with running water though.

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