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Learning From Memory

Le Havre, France.  Not a town most people would know or remember.  Probably it's only claim to fame is being a logistically decent place for cruise ships to stop and send their passengers off for day tours of Omaha Beach and other noteworthy WWII sites.  Give me a few paragraphs, though, to convince you of it's redeeming property.

Travel back in time with me to April 2008.  My husband and I, with our 1-yr-old son B, set off on a celebratory tour of the continent of Europe.  My husband had finally finished his bachelor's degree so we packed our bags, got on a plane, and flew away!  Not until we were halfway across the Atlantic Ocean did we realize we'd left behind an important piece of equipment.

This is B:

No, he isn't what we left behind. But, at age one, you can imagine that B was an incredibly mobile child-not yet walking, but more than willing to get himself somewhere in a high-speed crawl.  Even at his best, however, we could hardly expect him to make do on his own for 6 weeks of budget traveling.

Figured out what the missing equipment was yet?  We'd left our backpack carrier in the car at home.  All of a sudden the idea of carrying a squirming, wiggly baby in our arms for hours and hours and days and days seemed daunting.  It was the first time we'd considered that traveling with a child might not be fun.

Enter Le Havre.  We happened to be there at the beginning of our journey and an angel of a tourism official directed us to a second-hand store where we might be able to find redemption.  She seemed ashamed not to be able to send us to a fancy department store.  We gave prayers of gratitude that our first unexpected purchase with euros might not break the bank.

This is the store:



Neither my husband nor I speak French and the shopkeeper of this adorable store knew very little English.  After a lot of pointing at B and then at our backs, we found ourselves following this nice lady out of her store and up three flights of stairs next door.  She unlocked a door and offered up her entire store room for us to find what we were looking for.  We were inundated with choices and she let us try on everyone.  Grateful and overwhelmed we finally settled on the pack we liked and hoped we had enough money in our pockets.  Truth is, to this day I don't know how much we paid for that backpack carrier.  What I do know is that it was worth it's weight in gold!

This is the pack: 


Honestly, it was perfect!  B slept in it, ate in it, laughed in it, played in it.  He rode on our backs through  eight countries.  It was incredibly comfortable and I carried him on my back for six of the seven miles on the Cinque Terre Trail in Italy.  That accomplishment is still a feather in my cap!  We have searched high and low and haven't found this exact backpack anywhere.  They don't exist.  But we have one.  It's our little miracle, and we've carried P and the babies in it now as well.

Why, you're asking, am I taking you on this trip down memory lane? 

These are the lessons: 
     ~It's What We Do.  People get confused and think we're being irrational to travel with our kids, but kids travel and we wouldn't think of leaving them home.
    ~Things will most certainly not go completely as planned.  Sometimes we'll forget things and there may be setbacks and delays.  That makes journeying all the more exhilarating.
    ~I love my family.  I easily get bogged down in my day-to-day.  Life doesn't magically become perfect when I hatch a new vacation plan, pack my bags and sail away.  My husband and four cute boys are always going to be there along the way.  If I can learn to make the most of the time I have with them, they'll make sure we live life to the fullest when they're out there (wherever there may be) with me. And that is all I'm hoping for.

And lastly:

    ~Don't leave the backpack carrier in the car at home!

What are the great lessons you've learned when things weren't going perfectly?

Comments

  1. Kiera @EasytravelmomSeptember 9, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    Ha ha this is great. I have forgotten things all too many times that were "must have's" when traveling with our daughter... forgetfulness comes with being a parent! I loved Cinque Terre (went pre-kid) and cannot imagine carrying the little one on that last leg (or for us it was the first!). Good for you!

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  2. We went on a cruise with my son when he was two. It was wonderful. We used our back carrier a lot too. My husband actually climbed the small mountain in our back yard with James on his back.

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  3. I can't imagine being able to do it now, either. Maybe I need to make it a goal to do it again!

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  4. I appreciate the way you are honoring your family. Our kids learn to appreciate the gift of experiencing new things with us. It's great bonding time, and will fill both of your lives with great memories.

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  5. I love memories and the making of them. And I enjoyed your story. My hubs and I love to travel and we've learned over the years that everything is not going to be perfect, but those are usually the things we remember the most.

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  6. I love this article! My husband and I love to travel and we are trying to start a family. So nice to know that it IS possible to continue our traveling adventures once we start a family :)

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  7. Sounds like a great trip! How fun for your kids to be able to look back on their travels with you! Traveling as a family is a great blessing!

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  8. Sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to start traveling with my girls and making new memories.

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  9. Breathe. When things are going horribly, I stop, breathe and then move on. It's so easy to get rattled! Rock on with your traveling self!

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  10. Jennifer @ Little Silly GooseSeptember 11, 2013 at 5:25 PM

    How wonderful that you have done REAL travel with kids. We have done a number of trips with kids, but only one by plane (the rest by car). I'd like to try more adventurous trips with kids someday. Our carrier is absolutely a staple item though-- even for an afternoon at the local zoo-- use it a lot!

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  11. I am still so afraid to go traveling abroad with my kids. Bravo!! My kids love to travel and what I have learned...we could be in a hotel in our local town and the kids will still deem it fun and have a great time. LOL new place, new adventure. Reminds me of the movie "bedtime stories" with adam sandler

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  12. Lora @ Imperfect SupermomSeptember 11, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    I find this post very thought-provoking! We do road trips with our kids, but never out of the country. We briefly considered taking our kids to Italy next year (they are 6,4, and 1 now) but were told by several people that we would hate it if we brought the kids, and that we shouldn't even think about bringing them to Europe until they were in their teen years. I'm going to have to poke around further on your blog and read about your other traveling adventures and maybe get a new perspective!

    I totally understand your dismay at forgetting your baby backpack too. I babywear nearly every day and wouldn't know what to do if I didn't have access to my baby carrier!

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  13. I 100% do not subscribe to the ideology that children can't travel until their teenagers. It's hogwash. By that time you've lost them-why not start when they're young and instill in them that sense of adventure right from the beginning? We loved having him in Europe with us! Of course, you might have to adjust your itinerary a little to accomodate them (maybe not visit every single cathedral on the continent), but we met so many people just because they wanted to say hi to the little one.


    Something we learned in Europe that we never would have without kids there? There are still way old school playgrounds in almost every town and village. Stuff we would never see over here anymore and a ton of fun for parents and kids alike!


    Let me know if I can do anything to encourage you more to take them with you!

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  14. That is such a great movie! Kids are so versatile and can usually have fun just about anywhere. Glad to hear you take yours out with you, even if it's close to home.

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  15. My kids have flown quite a few times, but I guess not recently. They beg me almost every single day, "MOM, aren't we EVER going to go on a plane again?!"

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  16. It's a huge fear, isn't it? When our twins came last year I had an honest-to-goodness meltdown thinking we could never go anywhere again. It didn't take more than a few months, though, before I'd thrown all caution to the wind and drove off with them for a 9-hour roadtrip. They did fine and we had a ton of fun!

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  17. What a fantastic trip you had - and good for you taking your kids with you travelling, it might not always be easy and convenient to travel with kids - but the joy of seeing the world through their eyes makes it all worthwhile!

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  18. Love it! We've learned a few things during our times traveling with our kids. Most notable is that the cadillac baby strollers we have in the states don't "go" well when you travel (especially internationally). Also, getting kids used to traveling at a young age really helps them grow into great travelers as when they're older!

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  19. My kids are 12 and 10 and unfortunately, we have not had the option to travel very much. We've taken a couple of road trips and we play the common road trip games. I love your carefree attitude and how you and your husband will just "get up and go" on a vacation with little ones. It is important for kids to learn to adapt outside their comfort zone.


    Great post!

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  20. My husband and I are looking forward to starting a family, and we have said that we will not stop traveling or doing things when we have kids. Thank you for this reminder that life is an adventure, and sharing it with your family is the best part! I look forward to kayaking with a baby snuggled up to me :)

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  21. Very cute! I am glad I am not the only one who forgets things. My one year old is incredibly active too!!

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  22. the lessons are so true! I would love a trip to france! thanx for sharing!

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  23. My husband and I are big travellers and it has certainly changed since having our daughter. We do still try to travel as much as we can, but the concept is somewhat different. We have to be planned now, and don't quite get to as much as we used to, but she certainly makes us see things we would never had done before!

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  24. This is hysterical! I've done some extensive solo-traveling, but couldn't imagine bringing a one year old along...must have been an amazing adventure.

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  25. I enjoyed reading your story! I haven't traveled with children, but even as an adult I've had to really learn that it's okay when things don't go as planned...there's always some way to make things work. And sometimes it turns out even better than the original plan!

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  26. I loved reading your story. it never fails; something always gets forgotten or left behind.

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  27. That is all so true, Catherine! I have to say that even though we're going slower these days, and not getting to all the attractions, I feel a lot of times like we actually see so much more.

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  28. I bet at least the important words will come back to you. :)

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  29. Oh, it is good for me to hear there are other people out there like us, too! Our 4 kids are definitely adventurers and I'm so glad every day that we didn't let them change who we are.

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  30. It's a good point about getting out of our comfort zone. This summer we did exactly that and I learned things about each of my boys I'd never paid attention to before.

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  31. I'm there with you on the gigantic strollers! Leave them home.

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  32. I can't even begin to imagine traveling to another country with small children...I'ma weenie! Now that our children are all grown, I have to remember to pack everything that my Service Dog needs. Not the biggest deal, but can often be a bit tricky.

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  33. I imagine the things your dog needs are not that readily available in some places so that really could be a challenge! Kids and pets keep us busy :)

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  34. I can relate! Not to international travel, but to travel with children in general! There's always something that gets left behind it seems -- what I have learned though is not to stress out to bad about because as long as your destination is not a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, you can probably pick up what your missing or at least something similar enough to make do!

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  35. I'm so impressed, Europe with a one year old! We are about to have our first, and I will FOR SURE need advice on travel!

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  36. We never take trips without our kids! My stepson lives out-of-state, so when he comes home for the summer, we always want to spend time with him and include him. Now that we have a 2-year-old, I feel the same way with her. Summer is my time off as a teacher, and I want to make sure I spend it with my whole family. I would love to take the whole family to Europe, but I have been nervous about taking a two-year-old! I will definitely be following your blog!

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  37. I enjoyed reading your post. I haven't been to France, but would like to visit there some day. I would say with the lessons learned would be; take your time, be practical, learn from your mistakes, step up and apologize vs. waiting for the other person to do it, stay positive and focused.

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  38. I wonder how heavy carrying the kid in "backpack" for quite long walking is. Do you bring a lot of kid equipments on traveling? We brought plenty of equipment so people thought that we moved our house. Thank you for sharing.

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  39. I've learned how to step back, stay calm and look at the whole situation. Great post! Thanks so much for sharing!

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  40. LOL! Love this! The greatest lesson I have learned when things aren't going right is that my right, may not be the real right. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason so when things aren't going "right" for me, I try to take a step back and let what should be, be.

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  41. Good job to you for finding a compromise & not letting it ruin your whole trip. This sounds like it could have gone horribly, but you found a solution & kept going.

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  42. Leila, I really love this! This is so true in my world and if I can remember that I might be getting worked up when I don't need to be, things would probably be a lot less stressful. Thanks.

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  43. Let go of the idea of perfection! It's hard and I'm still working on it! Sounds like your kids are exposed to a lot, that's awesome! What an amazing childhood you're giving them!

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  44. Are you from Utah?!

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  45. We went on our honeymoon and forget the camera in the car on the way to the airport so we ended up having to buy a bunch of disposable cameras. I have learned not just in traveling but in all of life to try not to go into panic at the first sign of a potential crisis. I try to think things through carefully and most of the time a solution to my problem can be found.

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  46. Jesi of Minivan Maverick.comSeptember 15, 2013 at 10:56 PM

    Oh my goodness. Loved this. I'm an avid baby-wearer and panic crept into my heart when you got to the part about leaving the backpack in the car. It's a constant fear of mine. I've carried babies all over on my back in several countries and about 7, 000 miles around Disney World.

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  47. That is so true! Things do not go always as how you wanted it to be! :) haha!

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  48. I've always found that things never go to plan! But everything usually turns out ok in the end. xx

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  49. What a wonderful fresh perspective to read!!! I love your enthusiasm for traveling and experiencing life to the fullest... WITH child!!! That is just awesome. :)

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  50. Homegrown & HealthySeptember 16, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    Kudos to you! I'm terrified to travel with my kids, mostly because I had them so young that I never had a chance to learn to travel at all, and finding out with 3 kids doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

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  51. I understand and sympathize and appreciate your compromise. Traveling with young kids is always going to mean flexibility. Great job.

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  52. Nice vacation memory. That's one you'll remember. I love recalling the off things about a trip. It adds to the touristy stuff you see.

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  53. Isn't it funny that the things that go wrong are often the ones that make the trip the most memorable in one way or another. In this case it was the amazing service you had at the store and being able to have something that probably worked out better than the original one that was forgotten. Great reminder to not sweat the small stuff, it can work out.

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  54. What a wonderful adventure! I can't believe I complained about forgetting my baby carrier at home when we went to the fair for the day. :-P

    I've learned that things generally work out in the end. When push comes to shove, we make it work or make do. Thanks for sharing!

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  55. One of my dear friends backpacked all over the country will her daughter on her back. It always amazed me. I am sure it will be something you will always remember and it will probably be a great bond since B was so close to you.

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  56. That's awesome that you travel with your kids! I don't have kids yet, but I'm looking forward to the day of traveling with them.

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  57. We travel with our wee ones all the time, and everyone thinks we are crazy. I've learned that our family and our marriage are at their best when we are working together as a team even when it is hard. The adventures are what make us.

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  58. What an adventure! Parenting sure has a way of doing that to you :) Some of mine have included setting up a makeshift laundry station in random restrooms and using one of my under shirts to make my daughter a temporary dress (for some reason I only pack extra clothes when I don't need it, lol!


    ~adAstra

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  59. What a great post. I can learn a lot here. Fabulous photos BTW.

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  60. My husband and I traveled to Europe for 5 days without our son and decided we would never do that again. We were miserable without him. After our road trip this summer I learned to plan more down time. We planned some to make up for when we were running late but we didn't plan enough. Thanks for your comments.

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  61. My husband and I are right now in the middle of that discussion whether traveling without the kids sometimes is worth it. We pretty much never have, but I think after 10 years we're ready for a little bit more adult-focused adventures every once in awhile!

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  62. I'm with you on always having the wrong thing packed for the wrong situation! For some reason over and over again I pack too much for short trips and nowhere close enough for long trips.

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  63. We are the same way, Becca. It's reassuring to know there are other parents out there that see the same way we do!

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  64. Mishaps completely define us, don't they? It's all in your perspective.

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  65. Thanks, Candi! I've carried each of my kids in some out of the way places and hope it was worth something to them one day.

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  66. Oh, I think there's plenty of room for complaining about that! Fairs are some of the hottest places-I would have put up a little bit of a stink, too!

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  67. Thanks for recognizing the store owner's role in this adventure. She went way beyond and my memories of being in that completely unorganized behind-the-scenes room are some of my favorite memories.

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  68. Thanks, Elizabeth! You're totally right about flexibility and kids going hand in hand.

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  69. I will admit it can be intimidating, but what a fun thing for all of you to learn and experience together! I hope you can get out and do a little adventuring together.

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  70. If you've mastered Disney with baby on back, you have my utmost respect! :)

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  71. Oh, that would be so sad! I lost my camera this summer and felt naked without it. My kids wouldn't even know how to make a disposable one work :)

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  72. I have lived and written in Utah for the past 10 years, but just made a huge move to Iowa with my family.

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  73. I have never been to Boston, but hopefully one day I will get there. We were up that way a few years ago, but time got away from us. http://www.myjourneywithcandida.com/

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  74. I live in Boston, so I have done many of these things. People from out of town who ask me what to do when they come to Boston, I always tell them do a duck boat tour.

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  75. Oh wow sounds like there is lots to do - I've never been to Boston (or much of America) but I would love to come and see more of it one day x

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  76. I have always wanted to visit there, I used to work with a girl from there and the stories she would tell of the things to do made me want to go. Maybe one day soon.

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  77. I have always wanted to visit Boston but have not had the chance yet. It would be a great place to take my grandchildren.

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  78. When I was searching for colleges my senior year I applied to a few schools in Boston. I didn't end up picking any of them. I do hope to visit the city sometime though.

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  79. We spend several weeks there a few years back and absolutely loved it. The Freedom Trail was one my favorite things that we did. Would love to go back.

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  80. I have never been to Boston but it is on my must list to take the kids!

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  81. JadeLouise DesignsOctober 31, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    I have always wanted to travel to Boston! I hope I get the chance one day.

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  82. I've always wanted to go there someday!

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  83. I'm looking forward to when the kids are a little older to go to Boston, because I want to incorporate the visit into Home School

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  84. I haven't been, but I'd like to go. If your love of the city extends to their baseball team, big congrats on the recent big victory. :)

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  85. Gah, I shut my screen too fast, and I'm not sure if my comment posted. I just wanted to say congrats to Boston on the big baseball victory. I haven't been to the area, but I think it'd be nice. :)

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  86. I've never been to Boston although I have a few family/friends there. I've always wanted to visit so I guess whenever I do I'll have a few things to do.

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  87. We're in the UK, but my husband and I would love to visit Boston one day on a big American road trip vacation xx

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  88. Debi@The Spring Mount 6 PackNovember 1, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    We were in Mass. once and I have been wanting to go back because we didn't make it into Boston.

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  89. I love Boston there is so much to do and so much history. Also within a short driving distance around it there are so many sights!

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  90. I'd love to go there one day, seems like a great place!

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  91. Dawn Spatulas On ParadeNovember 1, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    I have never been but would love to. But it is a LONG drive for me ;)

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  92. I have never been there but I would love to go to Boston! Its on my bucketlist!

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  93. I've never been to Boston but would like to visit one day.

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  94. My favorite thing to do in Boston is eat! They have some of the most amazing restaurants there.

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  95. I've always wanted to visit Boston in the Fall.. one day I know I will.. thanks for a great post...

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  96. Boston is a fantastic city! I went there for the first time way back in 1998 to watch a Red Sox game with my Dad. We spent a lot of time walking around the historic areas of the city. I'm itching to get back again now as a mature adult

    http://nomadicsamuel.com

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  97. I hope you get to go soon! I'm sure the city will take on a whole new gleam as an adult.

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  98. I believe in online dating

    I have found my soulmate here

    http://www.angelreturn.com

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  99. My cousins live in Boston a few times and I have to say I'm a huge fan of the city. There are so many great things to do here if you take the time to explore.

    http://atravellersjourney.com

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  100. I have
    never been to Boston but the amount of good things I have heard of it made me
    want to visit it so bad! I hope I can visit it soon.

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