Thursday, July 5, 2007 ;
5:42 AM
July 4
Independence Day

Morning, we all set off for Charlestown. Dh set off for more bowmaking business with his French guru, while me and kids walked around Charlestown Naval Harbor. Permanently at the harbor is the USS Constitution, a US Naval frigate, also named "Old Ironsides". There is a USS constitution museum there too.

It was free, so the kids and I had a lesson on the US and British war in 1812. I wouldn't know what the British museum would say about this war, but we learnt that the British frigate that fired at the USS Constitution were no match at all, and all the shots rebounded from the US frigate's sides, thus earning her the nickname of "Old Ironsides". The film and the exhibits showed how badly the British side was defeated and how little damage the USS Constitution sustained, and they sailed back victoriously. Later on, there were 8-9 more victories against the British too, and British frigates were left badly damaged and even burnt up, so this USS Constitution was the pride of the Americans and boosted their morale greatly.

After that, the war ended, and the frigate remained at the Boston Harbor.

There was a ceremony going on at the frigate that day too, since it was 4th of July. Apparently, every 4th of July, she will set sail from the Naval Harbor to the south harbor and along the way, cannons will fire, there would be patriotic songs being played on board, and people will be dressed up as what those in the early days would be like.

I also learnt that to be on board, it was free, but there would be balloting conducted some months ago. Oooh, those fortunate ones who were selected! It sounds like our NDP ballot. :-)

The boys and I enjoyed watching the whole procedure from the side too. The guard looked so stern.

The whole frigate was decorated with a huge USA flag and then many other smaller flags from other countries. Couldn't spot the Spore one, although there were Japan and China ones.

Then we walked part of the Freedom trail (the Charlestown area). The whole trail is 2.5 miles long, and links 16 significant historic sites.

Then it got really hot and we stopped by Cold Stone Creamery for some ice cream. ds2 was napping by then so ds1 got a good deal. haha.

Below left: the Naval horbor linking up to Charles River.
Below right: Bunker Hill Monument.

Inside the USS Constitution museum, we also learnt about the lives of sailors and naval officers.
This one below is interesting. What is the most disagreeable duty a sailor has to do? Scrubbing the decks!

Kids had the chance to try a lot of hands-on exhibits, from firing a cannon to scrubbing the decks. Basically to experience life on the high seas.

Left: Sleeping on hammocks, as all these girls are trying... :-)

Right: And then both ds at each end of a cannon. One trying to blow the unsuspecting one up.

Below: teaching us how a cannon works. it fires and sounds too.

Then it was almost 1pm, so we walked to the French bowmaker's house. His house is where the Bunker Hill Monument is. Dh says a famous bowmaker like him earns tons of money because each bow he sells is at least $5000, and he doesn't just sell one a week. His house is maybe 4 storeys high? And it is beautiful. The artwork and sculpture around the house must be priceless. I was constantly holding on to both ds, just in case. I know I would never be able to replace any of the decorative pieces lying around.

Lunch wasn't ready yet and both dh and Mr hasn't arrived from the factory, so Mrs invited me and ds in. She suggested me and ds1 play in the backyard. She provided us with some balls. ds2 was napping in the stroller.

Mrs was very beautiful! A classic French lady. She's an artist, and I am really impressed at how well she cooks too.

Lunch was typical European style too. Bread (but really good one), cheeses, some spreads, a salad, fruits.... Dessert was vanilla ice cream with fresh blueberries.

Let me start from the Salad first. Dh has never really liked salads. He hate raw veggies esp lettuce. But this one he ate with a relish. First, the dressing wasn't creamy Thousand Island kind, which dh hates. It was probably a vinaigrette or something. Very light and tangy. Then the olives were divine. Simply heavenly. The ones we buy from Walmart and Smiths never taste like that! They say they buy theirs at Wild Oats, ok, we did come back to SLC's Wild Oats to check it out. It was really good, but.... very expensive, so we only bought it once.

The cheeses were really good too. Very healthy eating indeed. The kids liked the ice cream so much, and the blueberries were very sweet, like they were freshly picked!

Everything was perfect, but for ds1 knocking over his glass of juice and spilling it onto the tablecloth. Sigh.

We at once mopped it off and apologised profusely (including ds1, who was genuinely remorseful) but we knew she was not happy, because she said 2 things which let us know that. She told her hubby that she put the napkins beside the kids for a purpose, and she placed even more beside ds1 as she said that. And she told me, the glass was placed so near ds1, she was already wondering at the start of the meal, whether Sporeans had a habit of placing glasses so near the kids. I was mortified.

Seriously I hadn't noticed the glass being near ds1 at all. I was busy with ds2, because they don't have kids at all, and had no high chairs, so ds2 was sitting on my lap. I was trying to feed him some bread, because he doesn't eat salad. He was fussy because he didn't like the spread nor the cheese. These kids haven't known how to appreciate fine cheeses and bread yet. I wasn't at all observing ds1. So... I was caught totally by surprise when ds1 knocked over his glass. Dh was busy talking to Mr of course, and did not pay any attention to ds1.

After that we continued chatting about other stuff, but I was so totally uptight about the kids from then. I ate very little, of course, having my eagle eyes glaring at both ds all the time.

After that, Mrs had to leave to meet a client, so Mr gave her a ride. They apparently trusted us a lot, because they told us to make ourselves at home while they went out for a while.

However, I kept both boys confined to a small corner and did not let them move at all. Very stressful.

Mr came back and offered, so kindly to give us a ride to the airport. We had brought our luggage to his place in the morning, because we had to check out anyway.

So we loaded up into his car.

They were a really hospitable couple. Inviting us for a meal, giving us a ride, and Mr really helped dh a lot. According to dh, he taught him a lot of techniques selflessly, and shared a lot of advice and tips about the profession. Dh was very inspired by his work ethics too. He was very very hardworking, and that's how they became successful after arriving in USA from France several years back.

At the airport, we had an early dinner, and this time I tucked in heartily. haha. We had it at the Legal Seafood (a famous seafood restaurant chain) within the airport transit lounge. Ooh, the clam chowder is really good. No wonder it is so famous in New England.

On board, initially we viewed the beautiful sunset, and were glad the skies are so clear. Later on, we were even happier for that. We were able to join in the festivities of so many states all across USA! It was the Fourth of July and the plane was flying low enough, the skies were clear enough, for us to see all the fireworks taking place over all the states from Boston all the way to Utah. Wow, amazing. I did take some videos too, but it didn't look good through the window. Using the naked eye, the sights went way beyond.

The good thing is that ds2 fell asleep very soon after taking off, which gave me uninterrupted viewing of the beautiful and magnificent fireworks displays. Besides the really big and colorful ones with different patterns, there were smaller ones all over the place too, and dh said those were individual families' celebrations. Upon closer look, it did seem so!

Texas seemed to have the most number of individual celebrations, because there were just so many fireworks popping all over the place. This pic below is just not able to capture what we saw. Anyway, these are mostly lights. Some flares can be seen, but they're all blurry here.

When we arrived in Las Vegas, we had to walk down onto the tarmac then climb up into the boarding gates again. It was about 2am then? We had to carry both ds, and the carry on bags. Arrrgh.

Left: can see Mandalay, MGM Grand etc from the airport.

Then dh lost his PDA, as everyone knows, on the way back to SLC. For which we got the Chicago vacation free. But... dh bought another PDA now. So...

rainbows every day, do not worry for the morrow

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