Sights - and more vividly - sounds leaving Boston
Sitting in my hotel room in Baltimore tonight, after a much needed stiff drink, watching the CNN loops of the Marathon bombing is surreal - because I was just there.
Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, even Monday morning - either walking through or riding in a taxi through that exact area, staying in the hotel with the Rays team a couple blocks away, and now seeing it as the scene of such horrible chaos.
At the time of the explosions, I, along with several other reporters, was in the visiting clubhouse at Fenway Park, talking to Rays players about the game they had just lost, which obviously now seems so trivial. It wasn't until we got back up to the press box and settled in to start writing that we became aware of the first reports of the explosions.
From the press box, we couldn't see anything, though one of writers who was there at the time said, in retrospect, he may have heard one of the blasts without knowing what it was.
But what I could still hear, loud and clear, was the sad remnant, the horrifying wailing of the sirens from the steady stream of ambulances and emergency vehicles headed to the site.
And I'm sure it's a sound I will remember for a long time.
The Rays were still in the clubhouse watching the news reports on TV, then boarded their bus and made it to Logan Airport, and onto their charter flight to Baltimore before the airport was temporarily shut down, all flights in and out grounded. Though a few, such as New Hampshire native Sam Fuld, had family and friends in the area, none apparently were impacted.
Guessing that the airport would reopen, and my 8 p.m. Southwest flight to Baltimore might be able to leave on schedule, I decided to head out around 5 p.m. and try to get to the airport.
And, to be honest, I felt better about leaving Fenway Park. Not knowing who was behind the explosions and what their agenda was, the thought briefly crossed my mind that the landmark stadium could be an additional target.
Hearing the subway was shut down and that cabs were difficult/impossible to get, I wasn't sure how that was going to happen, but, accompanied by Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune, decided to try and headed down Yawkey Way, where there were hundreds, if not more, wandering in different directions and with assorted urgency.
And at this point, we have to thank Kevin Gregg and other members of the Red Sox staff. The Sox had an SUV pulled up near the stadium to take the wife and young child of one of their players - for sake of their privacy I won't say who - to the airport, as their apartment building was near the explosion site and had been evacuated.
When I said to Kevin we were trying to get to the airport, he checked with the staff and player's wife and said we could jump in and ride with them, which was a tremendous assist for which I shall always be grateful. The player's wife showed us a photo on her cell phone taken out their window that showed a stream of ambulances as far as one could see parked on their street.
Between the areas of the city being evacuated, the street closures, and thousands of race-related personnel either seeking to get to the airport or to arrange for lodging to stay over, I'm not sure what other options there would have been. Taking the train, which would have been an 8 hour trip, if the station was even open, or renting a car, if that was even possible, and driving were others.
The airport was still under a ground stop when we arrived, but it was lifted shortly. Security, at least at that point, seemed standard, which while a relief on one hand was also a little disturbing on another, The airport concourses was busy and it seemed to be business as usual. As I got through security, I heard from Rays VP Rick Vaughn that the team had landed safely in Baltimore, right around 6 p.m.
Around 3 1/2 hours later, I did the same.
The most similar experience I had gone through was being in San Francisco in 1989 during the earthquake that interrupted the World Series. I know this isn't necessarily logical, but since that was an act of nature, there wasn't anything that could be done and once that long night was over I was no longer worried. But since this was an act of man-made terror, I was concered that there could be additional incidents and, like Fenway earlier in the day, the airport was not the best place to be.
Watching the news reports for much of the night once I got to Baltimore, I could still see - and definitely hear - what was happening.
And that, of course, was tragic.