The Charles River in Boston…

For those not familiar with this lovely body of water, the Charles River splits the difference between Boston and Cambridge in Massachusetts. Its 80 mile length begins in Hopkington (where the Boston Marathon also happens to begin) and empties into the Boston Harbor. The river was named by Charles I, who was King of England, King of Scotland, and King of Ireland, from 1625 until his execution in 1649. Poor chap, having his head chopped off. ‘Untidy’, as Rumsfeld was fond of saying about war.

Now that you know a smidge of history of this meandering river, the reason I even mention it at all is because my Beloved and I ventured there yesterday, to indulge our spirits along its inviting paths, and we were treated to spectacular visions of this beautiful parcel of both water and land.

The river is populated by many bridges, and we parked near the recently renovated B. U. bridge, where engineers did a remarkable job of transforming the bridge’s previously derelict and rusted hulk into a gleaming gray crossing of simple elegance. We crossed over the bridge and managed to avoid the mass of Boston University students as they streamed to their various classes. We ascended one of the myriad of pedestrian bridges, and engaged in a healing run along the river’s banks.

The Charles River, or The Charles, or The River Charles, provides an abundance of activities for those inclined to improve their health. You can learn how to sail at the the nation’s oldest and largest community sailing center at It’s located near the Hatch Shell, where every 4th of July hundreds of thousands of people descend to watch the Boston Pops perform, as well as to witness the spectacular fireworks display that illuminates the Boston skyline. You can also run or walk or ride your bike here, or plop your kayak into the waters and marvel at the magnificence of Beantown’s architecture from water’s edge.

We jogged along the Charles, passing the Harvard Bridge, better known as the Mass Ave Bridge (which just happens to be 364.4 smoots in length, plus or minus one ear. A ‘smoot’ was the height of one Oliver Smoot, who was 5’ 7”. For more info on this MIT prank, go here.) We then ran past the Hatch Shell, and arrived at the Longfellow Bridge, where the MBTA Red Line connects Beantown with Cambridge and beyond.

Julie and I then finished the loop by running along the river on the Memorial Drive side, and from there one has a stunning panorama of Boston and its varied trademark buildings, from the Hancock to the Prudential to the gargantuan Citgo sign in Kenmore Square, the latter right near Fenway Park.

We wanted to venture to the Museum of Fine Arts, but traffic was hideous, and we ended up driving around fruitlessly searching for a parking space. It certainly didn’t help that the Red Sox were playing at home.

Julie and I then headed home and, three hours later after our run along the Charles, we pulled into our driveway to our anxious and awaiting cats. Three hours. But still, the visions and memories of our jaunt around the Charles was healing in itself, and we both enthusiastically suggest to everyone to make the journey there.

The fall is soon upon us, and what better way to rejuvenate your soul (if the sea is not feasible), then to run or walk or simply sit and indulge your senses along this stretch of sumptuous scenery.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved. *

*except for photos.


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