Last year was a strange one — it was a roller coaster of highs and lows.

I wrote a post entitled Beach Bubble last January about how I passed time during lock-down. Looking back at that post,  I can see that I expected the pandemic and that mode of living to end last spring.

Nope, as we all know, that didn’t happen!

I never really felt safe enough to leave my “beach bubble,” so when I sat down to archive my 2021 pictures and post some shots, I started to call it (this post) Beach Bubble 2.1. However, after I put some of my favorite pictures together, then reflected on the year, the title didn’t seem quite so apt. Like in 2020, my “beach bubble” wasn’t tough to take, but it also changed in a significant way, and the title of this post reflects that change.

Last year did start out about the same as 2020. I continued to be an urban hermit working on digital projects almost every day and night. The New Media Museum continued to be “mostly” on ice due to COVID, so I focused on creating a new version of the Virtual Museum in SecondLife and maintaining the physical hardware and software collections. I also decided it was time to do a total overhaul of Cosma. That took quite a LOT more time than I expected, but I finished and released Version 2.1 in December.

Other than that, things in the first half of 2021 were about the same as they were in 2020. There were also almost daily walks at Revere Beach, but I didn’t see much that inspired me to take a lot of pictures.

Then by mid-summer it was clear that a move was in order, and the search for a new place to live began. My daily walking routine at Revere Beach made it the obvious choice as a place to look.

Around that same time, other “Revere Beach” related things started to happen.

For example, the movie Free Guy finally came out. That was fun to watch because quite a bit of it was filmed at Revere Beach, and I was even able to watch them work during my walks in the summer of 2019. Here are a couple of links about the filming that were posted at the time.
Ryan Reynolds films movie scenes at Revere Beach (Mary Saladna, WCVB5)
Revere Beach Boulevard (Sceen it)

They even shut down most of Revere Beach Parkway during filming, so there were only vehicles related to the film allowed on the street. Here are pictures that I took of the closed street and one of the vehicles. I expected to see that S.W.A.T. mobile in the film, but I guess it didn’t make the final cut.

One thing that made the cut was the iconic clock on the beach at the entrance to Wonderland Station. Some movie scenes were also shot on the stairs next to it. Since the movie’s release, the clock has become a bit of a tourist trap, and I confess to taking a few new pictures of it myself.

Revere Beach Clock © MEHopper

This wasn’t the first time Wonderland Station was in a movie — it was also the namesake for Next Stop Wonderland.

Early August also brought the welcome return of the Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival. I love the event, and I even got obsessed with taking pictures of the sculptures in 2019 (From Sand to Sand). Unfortunately, the festival was canceled in 2020 due to COVID, and it was also scaled back in 2020. Still, it did happen, and the sculptures were lovely.

This time there was a theme, and it was Revere Beach’s History. I didn’t get as carried away as I did in 2019, but I did take pictures of some of the sculptures.

I developed a special fondness for a sculpture at the entrance to the Wonderland Station sponsored by the apartment complex called 500 Ocean located next to the station. That’s because I found out that I would be moving into an apartment there around the same time that I took this picture.
2021-08-500Ocean-SandSculpture © MEHopper

So, I was living at Wonderland by mid-September. Now, to be clear, this isn’t the same thing as living in Wonderland. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. However, there is sunshine, and it turns out that there are rainbows! Here’s a picture that I took about a week after moving in.
2021-500Ocean-Wonderland-Rainbows © MEHopper

Revamping Cosma and the move kept me pretty busy for the first few months at Wonderland, so I didn’t take many pictures. However, there were a few irresistible sights like these Kiteboarders in October.
2021-10-16-KiteSurfers © MEHopper

I’m also still a sucker for trying to capture rays of sunlight. As a throwback, here is a series of pictures taken during my walks on Revere Beach in 2020. I called this series Sunbeams@Revere Beach.

By late October, I was trying to suck up as much sun as I could on the last warm days of the year, and one of my favorite places to do that was at the outdoor tables at a pub called Fineline that’s next to the entrance to the Wonderland Station. What started out as harmless pictures to remember moments gradually evolved into a month long obsession with capturing late afternoon sun hitting beverage glasses with the station in the background. Thus, here is a series of pictures I call Sunbeams@Wonderland.

The last picture of the series was taken right before both the warm weather and outdoor tables went away for the year. Now the days are short, there have been more dreary days than not lately, and it is yet again time to face long winter months of surviving the latest COVID surge. My “beach bubble” will continue on as it has been since early 2020.

Except, it’s not the same. Things just don’t seem quite so daunting as they did last year at this time. Life@Wonderland is different, the view of the beach out the window is mesmerizing in any weather, there is a roof deck with a view, beach walks are a few steps away, days are getting longer, Spring will come, outdoor dining will return, and the pandemic will (hopefully) end …

Happy New Year & Cheers to 2022 from Wonderland!