Fine Art - 02/23/00
Took a vacation day today and went up to Boston to the Museum of Fine Art.

Sean declined to make the trip. As far as he's concerned, he visited the MFA with us several years ago and that's all the fine art he needs. *sigh* Fourteen year old male mentality. Jennifer invited a friend to join us. (Hmmm, her friend has a very distinctive non-American name so I can't use her real name. How about I just call her Anne... just so I don't have to keep calling her "Jennifer's friend."

Nancy really had a thing about taking the train to Boston. Specifically, she wanted to take the new Acela -- the new high speed all electric train that AmTrak has just begun running -- but it is currently just running two trips a day that stop at our station. Besides which, the fare is $25 each way, times four people times round trip equals two hundred dollars. (Yeah, okay, so by using our AAA membership or the right credit card we could get ten percent or so knocked off that, but even so...) MBTA commuter rail (which also runs much more often than AmTrak) comes down to just across the border in Massachusetts -- actually, it may come into Providence as well, but there would be no place to park without spending a lot of money. Nancy goes online, finally finds the right web page (It may have been the MTA in the old Kingston Trio song, but that won't get you there these days) and finds schedules and fares, etc. It's only $3.75 each way from South Attleboro. So we printed directions to both the South Attleboro and Attleboro stations last night and thought we were all set this morning.

South Attleboro is right on the Massachusetts/Rhode Island border. The station less than half a mile from I-95, should be simple to find and the directions seemed clear, just go down the road and make a right turn into the station. See a large parking area down on the right and the road we are on bridges over the railroad tracks, make the next right into a maze of narrow streets, small trailer parks and single story delapidated industrial buildings. Okay, back onto the main road, retrace step, bridge over the tracks... there's a parking area on one side but no visible entrance and a shopping center on the other but no sign for a train station. Well, we had been pushing close to the scheduled time for a train from that station anyway and although there was no sign of a train passing through, we decided to go to the next station, Attleboro, which has more frequently scheduled trains anyway, and is only a short distance away.

Back onto I-95 and then off at the Attleboro exit... This station, based on the directions posted on the Internet, had seemed to be more difficult to find but, in fact, although it was further from I-95, it was easy to find. Unfortunately, what we could not find, was a place to park. There was a large parking lot that was completely filled, not a single empty space. That made sense, lots of commuters to Boston must use this station. And they must also fill up every legal parking spot for many blocks around the station. At which point I propose that we just drive the rest of the way.

I did pull into a tourist information stop on I-95 because, although I have been to the MFA three times in the past year or so, driving there twice, I was not sure that I recalled the correct exit numbers, etc. The printed directions they gave me suggested taking I-95 to 128 and then going in route 9. Thank you, tourist info people, this is a good way to get there; however, please note that your directions place the museum about four miles further on route 9 than it really is. Oh yeah, and the street you say to turn left on is marked No Left Turn.

So, there we were, four people who think looking at paintings by Monet and Turner and Homer, etc. is a very pleasant way to spend a few hours... Jennifer always likes to go through the Egyptian and Greek and Roman areas as well to look at the statues and pottery and jewelery. Lunch in the cafeteria (where they custom-build sandwiches that are much tastier than what one might usually think of museum snack bar fare and are not over-priced) and then, later in the afternoon, capuccinos in their coffee shop.

It was nearly four o'clock when we left and I feared we would get stuck in some of Boston's infamous traffic snarls, but although traffic was heavy on 128, it moved fairly steadily and we made good time getting out of Boston and back down towards Rhode Island.

We detoured onto I-295 to stop at the Emerald Mall so that Nancy could shop in a teacher supply store there, picking up almost twenty bucks worth of math-related posters for her classroom. (A visit to that store back in August ran well over a hundred dollars.)

This was the second of two vacation days I carved out of this week. Yesterday I spent most of the day around house doing various odds and ends of chores, but in the afternoon Nancy and I went for a very pleasant long walk together on the beach at East Matunik. I brought two cameras with me, one using film and the other a little digital camera I had bought several weeks ago and hadn't gotten around to using. I took a number of pictures with both cameras and when I got home I had planned on downloading the digital pictures to the computer, but I can't find the manual for the camera. I had actually bought two of these cameras, giving one to my elder son for Christmas, so maybe I should just ask him to fax me copies of the relevant pages....

Even though I am going to be pressed for time at work on Thursday and Friday, I'm glad to have have taken these two days off.

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