Images of Boston: 2013 Edition

After Ironman, we went to Boston for a few days. Brandon’s team, the University of North Dakota was playing mine, Boston University, in hockey. Since we couldn’t go to Grand Forks last year when BU played up there, we decided to take a few extra days after Arizona and head to Boston.

It was a simple trip – not too much touristy stuff – we mainly walked around a bit on a clam chowder tour of the city – four cups of chowder in two days. But it’s Boston, and we both love the city, so it was worth it.

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Thai fried rice at Brown Sugar Café.

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All my time in Boston and I somehow never noticed this in Copley Square. All the names of the marathon winners (male and female, able-bodied and wheelchair) are engraved around it.

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Brandon in the Public Gardens.

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Awesome knotted tree.

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Bobby Orr “Goal” sculpture outside of the new Garden.

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Chowder stop number one: Warren Tavern, in Charlestown.

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Hey look, Paul Revere!

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North End. Right before pastries at Modern.

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Chowder stop number two: Union Oyster House. Cornbread was fantastic alongside it. This was probably ultimately our favorite of the four.

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Outside Union Oyster House.

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BU dino Gustave at Agganis Arena for the first time (for a hockey game).

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Hockey people will know why this scoreboard is a fail.

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Marsh Plaza.

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Gustave in a BU cycling jersey.

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Dinosaur story time.

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Chowder stop number four: Boston Chowda Co. Not pictured: Legal Sea Foods.

Order of preference?
1. Union Oyster House
2. Legal Sea Foods
3. Warren Tavern
4. Boston Chowda Co.

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Lone remaining Boston Marathon bombing memorial in Copley Square.

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On Jack Parker …

… and a bit on my own hockey background.

With Boston University coach Jack Parker coaching his last game last night (a 1-0 loss to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell), I wanted to write a few words, but I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s just due to my journalistic training.

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I was an NHL fan and had just started learning how to play hockey when I started my college search and I knew that the school had to have hockey (or be very near a team) and, preferably, a way that I could keep playing.

The search came down to the University of Denver and Boston University. A school that gave me some money or a school that gave me none. Staying at home or going far away. Going to school with a friend (and a few acquaintances) and being near my family or going to a place starting completely fresh, knowing only my brother (who also attended BU). I ultimately chose the fresh start.

Being the hockey nerd that I was (I’m arguably more of a tri nerd now, though the hockey nerdiness still lingers), I soon started learning about the men’s varsity program. Signing up for WTBU, the student radio station (ideally for future career experience) and working a few games in studio helped a lot with that as well.  I signed up for the women’s club team* and thus hung out a lot in Walter Brown Arena, at that time, home to both the men’s and women’s teams. Our practices were right after the men’s a few days a week. At that point, I knew who Jack Parker was.

I first truly interacted with him in the Spring of 2002, my freshman year. I was in COM201 (communication writing) and chose, perhaps poorly, given that particular professor, to do a profile on him. When I first called to set up the interview, I was scared shitless. A former smoker, Parker has that gravelly smoker’s voice and combined with a thick Boston accent, was extremely intimidating over the phone. I dreaded doing the interview, but once I was there, it went well (besides my recorder dying on me without my knowledge and me not taking many notes. learning experience, that whole situation, for good and bad). That was when I first learned how much he cared for his players and how his favorite moments in (then) 20-some years of coaching were when Travis Roy’s parents made their first return to WBA after their son’s accident and when J.P. McKersie played in his first game back after a horrific car accident – not the BC games, not the Beanpots, not the National Championships (although I’m sure those are up there).

I forgot about those relationships until he made his retirement announcement late this season, his 40th of coaching at BU (almost his 50th at the university, between playing and being an assistant). Twitter came alive with scores of former players singing his praises, saying how vital Parker was in their development, how many of them still keep in touch. Parker himself said that he had two daughters and then 300+ sons, all from coaching.

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That 2002 interview was not my only interaction with JackPa, though. In either my junior or senior year (I think senior), we decided to try and do the 50/50 raffle at the men’s games as a way to fundraise. For whatever reason, we had to set that up through Parker and as team secretary, that was my job. He had no problems in letting us do it – in part because we held the most successful 50/50 raffle they’d ever seen, which aided his decision to let us do it again once the team made the switch to Agganis Arena. He also knew me by sight  since I basically lived at Walter Brown – not only by being a part of the women’s team, but by being there in a lot of my spare time, too. I lived either on top of the arena or just up the street my four years, and I used WBA as one of my favorite study spots (no internet meant no easy distractions). We then were reintroduced in December 2008, when I covered BU in Denver at the annual Denver Cup tournament and I had to interview him for a game recap.

Given the fact that he knew who I was led me to my favorite Jack Parker moment/memory. I worked as the WCHA columnist for USCHO.com for several years which meant that I got the opportunity to work several Frozen Fours … including 2009, when BU last made it. Thanks to going out to D.C. mostly on my own dime, I didn’t have to work much during the tourney, which meant that I could attempt to be a fan and sit next to my then-boyfriend (now husband) during the games. Working hockey had made it hard for me to be a fan (still is, if I’m being honest with myself), but BU helped change that, if only for a weekend. Watching that title game against Miami University made me a nervous wreck and sitting two sections over from the BU students (led by veteran Section 8ers) brought everything back – all the cheers, all the emotion … everything.

(it also helped Brandon realize that the Dog Pound, the BU student section is AWESOME and one of the best, if not THE best, student sections in the country.)

When BU won in overtime – which, if you know hockey,  you know they probably shouldn’t have; Parker was triple-shifting his top line, but Enrico Blasi just wasn’t pressing as much as he should have and simply got out-coached by a veteran – off a play that made me truly feel for the Miami defenseman (I am a defenseman; I have that empathy), I … I don’t even remember my emotion right now. Stunned, shocked, ecstatic. I hugged Brandon, probably kissed him, tossed my jersey in my bag and high-tailed it down to the basement. I had my media credential and though I didn’t have to write a piece on game, I wanted to congratulate both SID Brian Kelley and Parker himself.

I was able to run down Parker in the hallway after the press conference on his way back to the locker room. I got his attention, he saw me, gave me a huge hug and asked how I was doing (he, predictably, was doing quite well).

I would say that he may have hugged me regardless because he was so happy, but I know that to be false. I also congratulated University of Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin (with whom I had a working relationship) after his team won the 2011 Frozen Four, my last game as a reporter, and I got no hug.

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There are probably still a few people out there who don’t like Jack Parker (fellow Hockey East fans) and are probably glad he’s gone, given his “reputation” of having the officials in his pocket, but, and this may be my bias talking, I don’t think you can’t not respect him and what he’s done. A few friends on Facebook said that he put BU on the map and I agree with them. Parker was considering retirement last year, but given the rape scandals, decided to stay on – partially because he knew it would have looked bad if he left, but mostly because he knew that’s when his team needed him the most. I admire that decision.

So thanks, Coach. I’m proud to have known you and I hope you show your face at a few games – the husband would like to meet you in November when his team, the University of North Dakota, plays at BU. Otherwise, enjoy retirement and may you always have smooth sailing on your likely new home, your boat.

* The women’s club team is now the women’s varsity team and playing the ridiculously undefeated University of Minnesota for the championship in the women’s Frozen Four today. I am so proud of how far that team has come in the few short years it’s been D-I. Go BU!

On April’s Boston Trip

Ooooh boy did I get behind in writing this damn blog.

I did have a good reason for a while; mainly, I crashed my bike (link takes you to the triathlon blog I share with my hubby and includes the gory photos). This put me out of commission the week before we went to Boston and then … well, the boring parts of life get in the way and not happens in terms of fun exploration.

Ha. That was cheesy, I know. I’m sorry.

In any case, back in mid-April, we went to Boston to watch our friend Kris run the marathon. For me, it was also a homecoming of sorts, as that’s where I went to school and spent four years of my life. I also got the chance to show Brandon my version of Boston, much like he showed me his Grand Forks in April 2011.

The city was both the same and different, much as I expected it to be. 95% of the food I remembered was outstanding with very little of it disappointing. It’s really funny to see how much campus has changed and how much of it hasn’t. Of course, things changed drastically over the four years I was there; colleges and universities are constantly evolving. Brandon thought it hysterical how the both the evening and morning staff at one of my local college haunts, T. Anthony’s, still remembered me even though I hadn’t been back on campus in five years. Granted, I spent enough money in the place for them to remember me, but y’know.

Going back was also nice in that it reminded me that, as much as I love Boston and I loved my time there, I really have no desire to move back. I am a Colorado girl, born and bred, and there isn’t anything that’s going to change that. The lack of humidity out here doesn’t hurt, either, though.

Watching the marathon was a whole new experience from when I was in college. I truly didn’t get into the Marathon Monday experience until my senior year (and the year after when I came back for it), what with all the drinking and partying in South Campus (marathon comes right through south). The only running I did back then was when the hockey team forced me to for dryland or I had some crazy urge to go knock out a mile or two.

Now, I’m a part of that community. I’m nowhere near fast enough to Boston-qual, but I’m a triathlete. I run regularly and have completed two half-marathons. I now know what work it takes to get into a marathon like that, the dedication in either training to be fast enough or raising the amount of money you need to for charity to earn one of those spots. It’s something that I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do. The Ironman World Championships in Kona are similar, and yet I feel like that’s more in reach than Boston is. Of course, that’s part of the Boston mystique.

But this trip wasn’t about running (we had hoped to run a 5K, but me literally breaking my face the week before nipped that thought in the bud). It was about cheering Kris (and Mark, in the BAA 5K) on. It was about seeing old friends. It was about food. It was about reconnecting with a place I had fallen in love with in September 2001 and sharing that love (and food) with my husband.

I’m going to share the rest of my experience through pictures, but I’ll mention the foooood first.

Friday night: nothing. Got in too late to enjoy anything
Saturday: Breakfast: Some little place in Allston with my best friend from college, Brian. I honestly forget the name of it. Lunch: Boston Chowda Co., in the Prudential Center. Dinner: T. Anthony’s. Still the best chicken parm on the planet. Followed by frozen yogurt at Angora Cafe, which is not replicated ANYWHERE out here and it makes us both very sad.
Sunday: Breakfast: Hotel. Mmm, free crappy breakfast sammich. Lunch: Brown Sugar Cafe and that Thai fried rice I’ve been trying to replicate. Followed by ice cream at J.P. Licks with Brian and his fiancee, Phelan. Preceded by cannolis from Mike’s Pastry. Dinner: Fire and Ice. The one truly disappointing meal. Fire and Ice has gone way downhill the past few years.
Monday: Breakfast: Dunkin’ Donuts/T. Anthony’s. The latter was definitely better. Lunch: T’s Pub on campus after our Agganis Arena tour. Dinner: Legal Harborside. Not as good as one of the regular Legal Sea Foods’ restaurants (in my opinion), but it’s one of their more concept-type restaurants.
Tuesday: Breakfast: Free hotel food. Lunch: UBurger. A new burger joint that’s popped up on campus and around the city, and came highly recommended by Brian. Also had poodle fries with cheese from Spike’s Hot Dogs, which are some of the best cheese fries out there. Dinner: Sunset Grill and Tap. Mark wanted a place with lots of beer and this fit the bill. It also served as a great trip culmination, with Brian and Phelan as well as my old roommate (and bridesmaid) Courtney joining Brandon, Kris, Mark and myself. Followed by more Angora. Mmm.

Now, photos:

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Boston Public Garden.

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Swan boats in action.

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Paramount Theater in the theatre district.

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Granary Burying Ground.

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One of the many food cases in Quincy Market.

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Cannoli from Mike’s Pastry.

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Runners in the Boston Common waiting for the buses to take them to Hopkinton, Mass., to start the marathon.

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Paradise Rock Lounge, a Boston fixture (located handily on the BU campus).

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The best part of Agganis Arena, hands down. BU/Hockey East people know why.

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Kris with a mile to go, running through Kenmore Square.

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Brown Sugar Cafe. Favorite Thai place ever.

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Playing with a lobster at Union Oyster House.

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The “Make Way for Ducklings” statue (with dinosaurs).

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Swan boats.

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More swan boats.