Filed under: Historic Places & Landmarks, The Road Less Traveled, Traveling Tips
Taking the Train
Most often when traveling we are visiting areas with which we are unfamiliar. If we are camping in an area outside a larger city or sprawling metropolitan area, negotiating traffic patterns and just finding your way around can add a considerable amount of stress to your journey, for everyone involved: the driver who must make decisions on the spur of the moment, the navigator who can be expected to give direction with a minimal amount of information and the passengers who are witnessing the event.
After years of struggling to make sense of unfamiliar roads in the midst of heavy traffic we have begun to explore the public transportation systems when camping near urban areas. One system we have now used several times is that in Boston, run by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, affectionately known as the “T.” You may recall posts several months back about both our camping experience in the Boston area and our tour into the city. We have recently visited the area again and made more extensive use of the T system which greatly enhanced our enjoyment of the experience.
With lines running in every direction and close to every possible destination you could want to visit, the T is truly the only way to travel in Boston. Having made the mistake many years ago of attempting to drive myself through the city when my husband was running the Boston Marathon (we were staying out on the Cape and I naively thought I could drop him off at the start and meet him at the finish—what a nightmare!), I have personally experienced the misery of getting caught in one of the mile long tunnels, heading in the wrong direction, only to emerge in a less than desirable part of town with the need to ask for directions.
Heading back to the city to show our children the foundations of Democracy and the Freedom Trail as part of one of our summer family RV trips, we were determined to take a different approach. We learned it is possible to park 20-25 miles outside the city and ride a commuter train, known as the “Purple Line”, into Boston from which you can pick up a “T” to anywhere you want to go. One such station is located in Brockton, MA, 22 miles south of Boston, where we paid $3.00 to park all day and another $6.75 each for a very relaxing 20+ mile train ride into the city. We de-boarded at South Station and rode the “Red Line” into the city to investigate Boston Common. From there, we could choose to walk around the historic sites or to take one of the other lines to more distant locations, such as Harvard and Cambridge.
Being novices, we were quite ignorant of the workings of the trains when first we hopped on board. Confessing our ignorance, everyone we encountered could not have been kinder or more helpful. From the driver of the first train we were on to the conductor/ticket collector on the commuter train, these public servants truly do provide a great service to the public. If you have never experienced a public transportation system in a large city, I strongly urge you the next time you are traveling into a location where this service is available to give it a try. I doubt you will be disappointed—and you can feel good that you are doing something to help the environment by minimizing emissions at the same time! Happy travels!
For more information about traveling and camping in Massachusetts, check out Massachusetts campgrounds and things to do in Massachusetts.