I adore Boston, Massachusetts. I have a Top 5 favorite cities in the U.S. list that I keep in my mind, and Boston has been on this list for a number of years. I’ve had a number of wonderful life experiences in this city. In 2004, I visited Fenway Park for the first time, the same year the Red Sox won their first title in many, many years. In 2010, I had the opportunity to run the Boston Marathon as charity runner and proudly finished in the bottom fifth percentile. Tillie and I have spent time in Boston and both love it. History, great sports, a running culture like no other, within a big city that feels very manageable. I love it!
Our alarm clock woke us in Provincetown at 5am, and we hit the road by 5:45am. Our goal was to get to Boston as early as possible, as we knew that this would be one of our longest days. Getting from Provincetown to Boston in commuter traffic is not the easiest of things, but we actually made great time, arriving in Boston at 8:30.
We parked our car close to Harvard University where we began our run. In the Harvard Yard, I thanked my wonderful sister. Anne made four donations this year, one for each of her family members, and they are always some of my favorite thank you’s. I’m very lucky to have her as my only sibling, and I love watching our kids spend time with each other.
Harvard Square is the commercial hub just outside of Harvard in Cambridge. It is always full of activity and is amazing for people watching. I thanked my pal Scar once again, a proud graduate of the Harvard Business School. Ross and I ran past the business school later in the day.
Just off Harvard Square sits Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers, home to some of the best burgers in the country. Not only is the food amazing, but the names of the burgers will give you a good laugh. I thanked Russell Carman and his gal Kate at the stop. Russell is also a fan of Boston, and I led him to Bartley’s last time he was in town.
We ran across the Charles River to one of the more unique college sporting venues in the land – Harvard Stadium. The stadium feels like it’s straight out of a history book, and it is open to the public for viewing and complementary stair workouts.
We made our way back to the Charles River and ran towards Downtown. If you’re ever looking for a run in Boston, I highly encourage hugging the Charles River on the north side. The views of Downtown Boston are incredible, and you can always see rowing teams on the water. Another beautiful day today had the river jam packed.
We ran to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), home to some of the country’s smartest and most entrepreneurial students. At MIT I thanked Stephen Bloomer, my newest colleague at Phi Delta Theta. Stephen is one of those guys who brings great energy whenever you are around him. A military man turned fundraiser, it’s been fun to watch him in action.
We ran across the Charles River again into Downtown Boston. We headed west for a short mile in Back Bay to get to the storied Fenway Park. Along the way, we admired the great Boston architecture.
If you like baseball one bit, a trip to Fenway Park is a must. What I love about Fenway the most is how it is situated in the land that it occupies. Fenway is a funky-shaped stadium. During one of my visits to Fenway years ago, Sean Wagner and I were able to be in the crowd for the filming of the final scene of the movie Fever Pitch. If you know the movie, Sean and I were in the scene when Drew Barrymore jumps onto the field to get to Jimmy Fallon in the stands behind home plate. Sean and I just missed being in view during the scene, but it was a fun experience nonetheless.
At Fenway Park, I thanked Jason & Jadee Purdy once again for their donation. Ross is a huge sports guy, so it was fun to watch him in awe at Fenway.
From Fenway, we ran to Copley Square, home of one of my favorite Boston landmarks – The Boston Public Library. As the son of a librarian, I’ve been raised to appreciate libraries greatly. Tillie and I (and the kids) love our local library in Ames. The Boston Public Library is an amazing building, and I thanked Andrew McGuire once again for his donation.
One of my favorite scenes in Boston…
A stairway within the library….
Ross and I grabbed a quick lunch near Copley Square and got a back on the treads to Boston’s Pubic Garden. This area of town is beautiful and meticulously groomed. It’s always filled with locals and tourists alike. I thanked Russell Carman again at the bridge in the Public Garden. Later in the day I realized that Russell had asked for his thank you sign to be taken by the famous duck statues. Totally forgot!
We ventured to Beacon Hill, one of the most prominent areas of the city, flush with high-end stores and beautiful topography. Ross and I had our first sighting of somebody famous today in Beacon Hill. We arrived at one of the more recognizable blocks at the top of the hill, and I was about to tell Ross that John Kerry lives in the neighborhood. No joke, I suddenly felt Ross hit me to tell me that John Kerry was a few feet away exiting his property and getting into a car. What are the odds?
In Beacon Hill I thanked my Fort Dodge friend Tiffany Conrad for her donation. Tiff and I grew up around the block from each other in Fort Dodge and remain friends today. I can always count on great laughs when around her.
Also in Beacon Hill is the Massachusetts State House, an impressive structure with a shiny dome. It always seems brighter around the State House as the sun reflects off the dome. I thanked Jon Hernandez again for his donation.
Across the street from is the Boston Common. Dating back to 1634, it is the oldest city park in the United States. The Common was used as a camp by the British before the American Revolutionary War. Boston Common is also the beginning of the amazing Freedom Trail in Boston, a brick pathway that leads visitors to many of the main historical sites. I thanked David and April Etler again before we hopped onto the Freedom Trail for a few hours of amazing sight seeing.
We stopped through Granary Burying Ground to check out the old grave sites. It is the final resting place for many notable Revolutionary War-era patriots, including Paul Revere, the five victims of the Boston Massacre, and three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. It’s spooky and breathtaking all-in-one.
The next stop was the Old South Meeting House where I thanked Stephen Bloomer again. It gained fame as the organizing point for the Boston Tea Party. Five thousand or more colonists gathered at the Meeting House, the largest building in Boston at the time. Many of Boston’s historical sites are nestled amongst its newest buildings. It provides a really neat contrast of old and new.
Built in 1713, the Old State House is one of the oldest public buildings in the United States and the oldest surviving public building in Boston. It is my absolute favorite Boston landmark. The picture below does not do it justice, but it is the ultimate old building surrounded by new. I thanked Roger & Paula Griffith at the stop. As mentioned many times throughout my running trips, Roger & Paula were basically my second parents growing up, as I lived across the street and was inseparable from their son Travis. These days, the Griffiths stay busy with their ever-increasing crew of granddaughters.
Faneuil Hall has been a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1743. It was the site of several speeches by Samuel Adams, James Otis, and others encouraging independence from Great Britain. It is a bustling area filled with street artists, shops and eateries. I stopped to thank Kerrie Herren for his donation. Kerrie is a former colleague and now a principal in the Kansas City area. I get to see Kerrie a few times a year at Phi Delt events.
We ran to the North End of Boston, a magical place. One of the best places in Boston to grab dinner, it is home to many restaurants and eateries, with the majority of them being Italian. It has the distinction of being the city’s oldest residential community, where people have continuously inhabited since it was settled in the 1630s.
It is also filled with historic landmarks. When you think of Boston, one of the individuals who comes to mind is Paul Revere. Paul Revere is best known for his midnight ride to alert the colonial militia to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord.
The Paul Revere House is where he lived at the time of the American Revolution, and I thanked Joe Dan Beavers again for his donation.
Old North Church is the location from which the famous “One if by land, two if by sea” signal is said to have been sent, a phrase is related to Paul Revere’s midnight ride. I definitely took a thank-you sign picture for Joe Dan Beavers in front of the wrong church and then threw away the sign. So, below is simply a picture of Old North Church without me, probably a nice little break from me smiling at you anyways!
Thinking about the blunder now makes sense. Ross and I had just stopped at the world-famous Mike’s Pastry, Home of the Cannoli. Walking around the North End, it seems like everyone has a small white box filled with Mike’s cannolis. We joined that crowd in purchasing a peanut butter and pistachio versions. With cannolis in hand, I was rushed and obviously didn’t have my mind right.
Ross told me that he and his wife Megan wanted to sponsor a stop that wasn’t on the list, so this was it. We then devoured our sweet Italian treats, and then we ran our final mile (which I don’t suggest).
Our final stop of the day would be Bunker Hill in Charles Town. I generally end days in Boston at Bunker Hill, because it always feels like a great accomplishment to get to it. You can then take a water shuttle back to Downtown Boston for a great view of the city. At Bunker Hill I thanked Tyler Cronk a fellow Iowa State Phi Delt and Cyclone fan. Tyler is a great supporter of my trips and a new father. He will be a phenomenal dad!
On the water shuttle back, the sun was shining directly into our eyes, so a good picture of the skyline was tough. Just as we were about to arrive, a building shielded the sun a bit, and I caught a cool picture of Ross. Ross thinks he looks mad, but I think it’s a great shot.
We jumped on the subway and made our way back to Harvard Square and our car. Our evening was filled with fun at Casa di Poppe, friends from Iowa. There are a number of great aspects of the annual running trip, but I truly love seeing friends along the way. BJ Poppe used to work with my friends Brad Carlson and Ryan Galles in Des Moines, so I have had the opportunity to get to know him over the years through them. He and his wife Erin, their 3-year-old Elliot, newborn Vivian, and dog Bowie live in Waltham, MA, a Boston suburb. Before Boston, they were in Manhattan. Erin cooked a wonderful home-cooked meal (a great change for us on this trip), and we enjoyed playing with Elliott, Vivian and Bowie. Uncle Steve and Uncle Ross were in the house! Thanks Poppes, you guys are awesome!
On to Portland, Maine, our final destination.