A Trip Last Summer - Part 4

By Corey Nicolaides - June 08, 2019

Market street slopes into a little valley protected on one end by a bank and a train station, and on the other end, atop the hill, is an old church and library. Ipswich has that historically preserved appeal. You can wander in and out of different centuries as you follow along what's left of the cobblestone streets.

I was hoping to go for a run but I’d injured my foot the day before we left home, so I just took a long walk instead. Maybe God meant to slow me down a bit.

I admired the individuality and charm of the houses along a few side roads. In New England they really embrace a variety of colors and finishes for their homes. The shiplap is either painted in one of many tertiary colors, or it’s stained in a dark wood color, presumably to mimic the look of the home as it would have been when it was built, which in many cases is 200+ years ago. Some houses are quilted together, having been upgraded or modified over the years. You can spot them by the odd shapes and slightly different shades of paint. You’re less likely to see a row of rectangular white houses with vinyl siding like you would back in the Midwest.

Yellow: Simon Adams House (1700) -- Wood: Jacob Pickard House (1812) -- Blue: Eliza Perley House (1840)

I walked down to the Ipswich River and stood on an old bridge for a moment. It wasn’t all that scenic where I was, but I enjoyed watching the fishermen gearing up for a day on the water.

Train to Boston

At dinner the night before we’d formed a plan to have Gumpy meet us at the house in Ipswich, and the four of us would take the train into Boston and go to the New England Aquarium. Nana needed to stay at home because she was wrapped-up dealing with the city on those electricity problems, and she needed to go pick-up Aaron and Lindsay from the airport in the afternoon.

Ayla and Gumpy waiting for the train.

This was the first time Ayla would ride on a real train. You might remember from Part 1 that public transportation is in the Level 1 “Dirty” category, so as we boarded the train I held Ayla while Alaina started a proper decontamination of the seats we chose. The Clorox wipes went from clean white to “Oh my word what is this?” with the flip of a wrist.

Ayla was squeaking with excitement as the train started to move, and she loved it, but she quickly became mesmerized.

It was about a 30 minute ride to Boston. We walked a couple miles through the city to the Faneuil Hall, which was painful (my injured foot), but I wasn’t going to let a little pain slow this vacation down. Someone pass the Ibuprofen!

Faneuil Hall is a fun place to get some lunch. It was really a perfect day for sitting outside under an umbrella, watching the passersby and listening to some live music.

The Aquarium didn’t seem too busy from the outside, but as we walked in we found that the entire Boys and Girls Club of Boston had descended on the place earlier that morning.

“This is fine. This is fine.” I convinced myself.

“Is it fine? Because it’s clear all these kids have illnesses to spread to Ayla.” Anxiety whispered.

Fortunately, the crowd was leaving as we were arriving. I considered the smorgasbord of bacteria they left in their wake, but I tried not to let that drain our excitement.

The Aquarium is a multi-story building that you can walk up the center of. The ramp/path spirals around this massive cylindrical tank and you get to see it from the deepest part, all the way to the very top where you can view it from above. The outer areas of the Aquarium are lined with rectangular tanks housing thousands of exotic fish and aquatic creatures.

Alaina’s feedback was that the Aquarium isn't as good as it was when she was a little girl. Some of the magic of a place like that is lost on adults. That’s part of why it’s important, I think, to go there as a kid before you’re jaded, and cynical, and easily annoyed by inconvenience.

Back to the train, and back to Ipswich. We took a little break at the house and just relaxed for a bit. Then we headed up to Nana and Gumpy’s.

Nana had just picked-up Aaron, Lindsay, Lilly, and Mason from the airport, so we didn’t dare go in the house for fear of Hand Foot and Mouth. Instead, we decided to take Ayla for a quick introduction to the beach.

The Beach Test

We’ve been saying it for months: “She’s going to hate the sand.”

Ayla is highly sensitive to textures, among other things. Sand, grass, dirt … these things are a major source of discomfort to her. This is common with NICU kiddo’s, especially those that were hospitalized or home-bound for a long time, and Ayla was both. It’s something we work on everyday.

Gumpy, Alaina, Ayla, and I walked over to the beach. We knew this would just be a quick test to see how she would react, but we wanted to plan additional visits to the beach based on how tolerant she was (or wasn’t) of the sand.

Yeahhh, so, she didn’t like it. Not a surprise but definitely a bit disappointing, especially for Alaina. There was a glimmer of hope that Ayla would love it the way Alaina does, but no. We sat there for a minute or two, encouraged Ayla to stand in the sand briefly, and then we walked over to the nearby carousel.

The sun was setting and Ayla was looking tired. We said bye to Gumpy and drove back to Ipswich. We gave Ayla a bath, brushed teeth, and hooked her up to her ventilator.

Next: Trying another beach.

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