Saturday, December 3, 2016

Catching Up

So it has been over a month since I last posted..we have been walking most Sundays, only missing one but I have been under the weather and maybe just a bit lazy as well so the posting of the blog has fallen behind.. so here goes

October 30, 2016 - Miller Brook Conservation Area

Kathy's Coffee Shop, Westport
Our morning started at Kathy's Coffee Shop in Westport, breakfast was great, good toast, and friendly service. A good start to the day. After a ten minute drive we arrived at a parking area on Copicut Road and started our hike off into the woods. This is a highly recommended place for an easy walk and you can determine the length. This day we walked about two and a half miles..although there was some disagreement about this as our apps that record our movement seemed to bot be confused.. I think about 2 and  a half miles.
Lots of stone walls.
We hiked through wonderful old growth trees and areas of stone walls that boggle the imagination. Once we made our way back to the car we crossed over the road and went and explored the reservoir, which to our eyes seemed very low with lots of exposed rocks. A great place to explore. Back to the can and home in time to watch the Patriots.
A short Movie is below

November 6, 2016 - Caratunk, Seekonk

Carol and Kathy at Caratunk
Our dear friend Kathy joined us this morning and after a great breakfast at a local diner we headed to Seekonk, MA (10 minuted from our house) and had a  very pleasant 2 mile walk. This is our favorite 'close by' walk. It is not too long, and since we were all feeling a bit under the weather it fit the bill just nicely.
We seemed to have the place to our selves and hikes several of the trail making a large loop around the perimeter of the preserve. There were a variety of plants and although the area is know for the birdwatching... I don't think we ever saw a single bird on this trip. In the final mile of the walk we came upon a stand of Hickory trees and the nuts were easy picking. I thin this was the first time Kathy had seen a Hickory nut so of course I had to mess with them with my knife and I stained just about everything. . .
Hickory Nuts
When I was a kid growing up we had a huge Hickory tree in our back yard and we always gathered several bushels of nuts and let them dry out so we could feed the squirrels all winter long. When we returned to the parking lot it was completely full. It seems that we were not the only ones to go hiking that day.

November 13, 2016 - Parker Woodland

At the Seaplane Diner
 This day we started off at one of my favorite actual Diners in Rhode Island, the Seaplane Diner on Allen's Avenue in Providence. This is a typical spot for my friend Kathy and I to go sketching when the weather is too cold or too dark because of the early hours we keep, but this time it is where we started our hiking day. Being Sunday it was not the same crowd that I normally see there. This time the service and the food only qualified as adequate..maybe weekdays are better. From Providence we drove out to Coventry and the George B. Parker Woodlands. Another fantastic spot in Rhode Island that we had never heard of.
Along the trail
The trail here varied from narrow and un even with some climbing to dead flat wide walking trails, and it seemed a very popular place as we met quite a few folks along the trail. I am always impressed with the amount of stone here in New England. Being raised in Illinois we had neither many hills and almost no stone in the ground..this landscape is a treat for me.. 
A split rock.
The weather has been very cooperative this fall, as we have had almost no rainy Sundays and yet we have been having rain during the weeks.  Well into the woods we came upon the Vaughn Farm. A homestead site that dated back to 1750 when the Vaughn family first settled here.  Carol and I explored the site which was well 
Carol explores the foundation
marked and well documented. It was also in these woods that we came across an area where there was over 120 cairns that one one could explain. These large stacks of rock were scattered across the hillside and some were quite large in the 4 to 6 foot high range. A lot of speculation surrounds the apparently..some think the Phoenicians built them, some think native Americans..and of it could have been those pesky little green aliens that we hear about and never see.  There was a couple of beautiful streams and some wooden raised platforms and bridges.. a variety of things along this trail. Another two and a half mile walk. Lovely.
The final past back
Another of those unknown spots that could become a favorite. Such a wide variety of terrain. 
Cairn Field - so strange

The photo on the right is the area where the cairns were. It is such a strange place to stumble upon way out in the woods.

November 20, 2016 - Rehoboth State Forest

At the KP Grille
The KP Diner as we have always known it is a great stop on Route 44 in Rehoboth Massachusetts - our old hometown. Carol and I lived in Rehoboth for over 25 years and it is the town that Carol grew up as a child. In all that time we had never heard of the Rehoboth State Forest. After finishing up at the diner -- which we both recommend - we headed to the forest to explore. This was another of those Sundays that we felt a little pressure because of outside forces like, say, the Patriots. We found the parking area just fine and headed down the path.
We never knew...
The map on the signpost only shows a very short path but I think we could have walked much farther as the were many unmarked paths through the woods. We hiked both the Cedar swamp trail and the Pine Loop and even found a freshly blazed (yellow) trail that wasn't on any map but it brought us back to our parking area. The trail is wide and easy walking in most places. The cedar swamp is beautiful with tall straight cedars and a good mix of rock walls and even a bridge across a brook. The Pine Loop is nice as well and although the marked trails aren't too long it is still a very pretty walk.
Our cairn
In one area of tall pines Nana and I decided to make our own cairn. This is something we first did when we were cruising the North Channel in Canada during our Great Loop in 1999. That area had lots of cairns on the little islands we stopped at. So now the Rehoboth Forest has a new cairn, at least until something knocks it down.
Rehoboth Forest

So I think we are all caught up. We did no hiking last weekend, November 27,  as Nana was out of town with the grandkids, but as I write this we are planning a hike for tomorrow and we will see what that brings.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Weetamoo Woods, Tiverton - October 23, 2016

Patriot Fan
Closer to home this weekend. Up early and out of the house without even one cup of coffee...busy day ahead. We decided to go back to Weetamoo Woods in Tiverton this Sunday, it's close by and it is very pretty. I chose a restaurant in Island Park (Portsmouth), Rhode Island which is right on the beach. . . a perfect place to start the morning. It turned out to be a great choice. The food was fantastic, great eggs, spuds with chourico hash and perfect toast. Nana said her veggie omelet was also made to perfection. We will come back here. As it turned out it was also only about ten minutes form the woods. When we arrived there was only one other car parked in the lot - we have it to our selves. I have made another video  of our hike and since I didn't get any complaints from the last video I will stick it in here.

I have fun making videos so let me know what I am doing right or what I am doing wrong or what kinds of information you would like to include in the videos. Saturday was a wet day with torrents of rain and Sunday morning (hiking day) started off with a roaring west wind which continued to build
Lots of stone walls
 as the day progressed.  Once we stepped onto the trail there was no sound or any effect from the wind at all..these are nice dense woods. There is a great variety of trees and bushes and mushrooms and all sorts of plants. The trail is easy walking and well marked. Highly recommended. We are always amazed at the number of stone walls there are deep in the woods. You might ask "Why would they take the time to build all of these walls in the woods?" Well they didn't of course. These were all fields and the walls were made from the stones they removed from the fields. Coming from Illinois where the soil is rich and black and virtually without a stone, I cannot fathom the hardships of farming in New England back in the 'olden days'. What is also surprising is that the ground is still filled with stone!
Pappa and his silly hat
It must have been back breaking work to dig the stone and transport it to the fence. During todays's walk we met several people and a few dogs and people on their mountain bikes. There are Holly trees here that are the size of Oaks and an area filled with Rhododendrons. Way back in the woods we came upon the foundations of something which was very large at one time. It was built along side of a very small stream which we guessed must have been used either as a power supply or to cool the building somehow. All in all a great walk today. Nana and I figured that the total distance was 3.8 miles on the route that we took, and there is lots more to explore here.
Little white mushroom

Nana on the trail

Nana & Pappa

Nice fungus

Back on th eRed Dot trail

New Hampshire - October 15-16 2016

Nana in Nashua
A bit different this weekend, as Nana and I went off to New Hampshire to visit with a long lost cousin. However, on the way we stopped in Nashua at Bud's Restaurant for breakfast (which was great) before we went on to the Airstream dealer. Yes, we are still thinking of traveling this great country of ours by the blue highways and back roads.
Our dream Airstream 25'FB
And we are thinking about traveling in style, an Airstream. Whether or not this comes to pass is yet to be seen but the dream is alive and all we really have to do is workout the finer points and then commit to it. We did this once before and ended up cruising for about four years which you can read about here. So the search has begun and the dilemmas mount... all feedback is welcome.  The Airstream seems to be the best trailer we have found so far...a bit pricey but they seem to hold their value and are very solidly built. wouldn't you know that right near by was an electric bike shop, so we also stopped there and tried out electric these are the height of laziness, but would make a fine dinghy for a trailer. After our morning of daydreams we made our way of to our cousins house for a good reunion and out to dinner. Sunday morning we arrived at
View from Mount Kearsage
Mount Kearsage and did a bit of a climb there although not a long climb we had a great time and the foliage was spectacular. The walking got a bit tough and although we did not make the summit we got a good feel for the mountain. We also had lunch on the mountainside.
View from our lunch site.
From Mount Kearsage we headed to the farm where the great poet and author, Robert Frost lived. His farm is in Derry, New Hampshire and although the home was closed up for the season there was some great hiking on the farm's grounds. We got in another two and a half miles in the forest around the farm and spent some time exploring the grounds and had a good walk around the house. I even got in a bit of time sketching. And the a long drive home with the New England Patriots keeping up excited on the radio. This was the third consecutive weekend of listening to the game rather than watching it --- and even though we won the game, it would have been better on tv.

Some pix
on the farm trail

Robert Frost's home

This says it all

Robert Frost Farm, Derry, New Hampshire

My sketch of the barn

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Conners Farm, Smithfield, RI - October 10, 2016

Mug Shot Again!
Today started off at Laura's Pleasant View Diner in Smithfield. We think this is our third time at Laura's and we still like the food and the service, and will likely return again. We have been here that many times because the hiking is very good in this part of Rhode Island and today we returning to a place we hiked last winter when the leaves were gone, Conners Farm. This spot is a good easy hike about two and a half miles long, not too strenuous but yet not flat by any means. Breakfast for Nana and Pappa today was omelets, Nana with a veggie and Pappa with a western..and they got the toast just right.. and lots of good hot coffee. We arrived at the parking area at Conners Farm about ten minutes after we left the diner and donned our packs and started off to the trail. The scenery here is fantastic even without wide expansive views, the rock strewn trail provides a wonderful visual and the variety of plants is just fantastic. Lots of mushrooms along the trail today. There has been a lot of rain here the
Rocks along the trail
past couple of days so the ground is ripe for mushrooms to pop up, and they have.  I know I have said it before but we are so fortunate to have so many places like this within reach of home, this place is about 20 minutes from our house. To to try something new I recorded the hike today and have edited a short piece to share the walk with you. I hope you enjoy, and please let me know if you would like me to post more like this. I have fun putting it together, The music is by an artist named Shaun Paul, a cello instructor in Washington State, I love his mellow sound. So take a few minutes, sit back and come along for a hike with Nana and Pappa.

Conners Farm Hike - with Nana and Pappa from Edward Huff on Vimeo.
Best to watch this full screen.

Conners Farm Trail - 30 Second Guide

A couple more photos:
Nana along the trail

The trails are well marked and well maintained.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Swansea MA - October 2, 2016

Nana and Pappa
We had breakfast in a railcar today. We ate at the Railway Cafe in Somerset, MA on this dank and gray morning. The rail car is a narrow affair, and a bit noisy but still maintains the old time railroad charm. It is narrow enough that I decided (being a rather sizable chap) to sit on the same side of the table as Nana, as otherwise I would have clogged up the passageway impeding the progress of the servers and patrons. I had my usual breakfast and have grown to accept that very few people are actually capable of toasting bread darker than they like it. Again, I got very lightly toasted bread, even after joking with the waitress asking, "please run it through the toaster at least twice, very dark please". Warm bread again. I think I should change the name of this blog to 'Pappa whines about toast' - pretty catchy I think. As a review of the diner, I give it a solid three stars, nothing exceptional and still nothing to complain about. If you are traveling along Route 6 in Somerset, stop by and have an egg.
A split in the rock
From the Railway Cafe we drove to the town offices of Swansea, Massachusetts and parked in the lot behind town hall. This area is called Village Park and is riddled with paths and is a great place for mountain bikes. We met a young couple along a path and exchanged favorite places, us on foot and them on mountain bikes. We met a lady jogger that seemed to be jogging every path and up the large boulders, and met a guy (twice) with a Weimaraner, what a beautiful dog and managed to walk
Pappa on top!
completely out of the park where we hiked along the power lines before finding our way back into the woods. Much of the stone formations here are what is called puddingstone likely left here by some Alluvial deposit or glacial flow of times gone by. Geology aside, they are fun to scramble over, as best we can scramble. We found plants that neither we or my apps could identify and along one path there was a sign point to 'Rusty Car' - looked like a good thing to go see so we took that path and felt disappointed when it didn't materialize immediately but in while later as
Rusty Car
we were coming around a bend, there it was, a rusty car, or what was once a car. It lay broken in a shallow ditch, and we figured someone was out driving through the woods, and we are guessing it was at a fairly good clip, and the ditch came as a surprise. The frame was quite snapped in half, and the car fit snuggly in the bottom of the ditch. It looked to be an '80's small import of some ilk, no markings of manufacture remain for identification and it looks as though anything salvageable has long since been taken.  Also to our surprise we came upon a small lake that was quite scenic and more rocks and wildflowers and strange berries that we could not identify.  As it turns out we have found yet another place within 15 minutes of our house that is a great place to go and explore. The path we took today was just three miles but in this park it could have been much longer or much shorter. Life is so accessible, and it is what you make it, so fill your time with new sights and sounds, say hello to those you meet along the trail and keep up the search for good toast.  More photos. . .

Nana 'on the rocks'

Nice orange tree fungus

Easy way across the mud

the small lake we found

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Uxbridge - September 25, 2016

The Mug Shot
Out in good time today and off to Uxbridge Massachusetts for breakfast at Mom's Restaurant on Main Street. When we arrived there was no line (we got in ahead of the church crowd I think) and a table was being cleaned..the prior patron had left one penny on the table, so I made some wisecracks to the waitress and she took them in good nature. Breakfast was served in an expedient manner and we both had omelets this morning along with our coffee.
Main Street - Uxbridge MA
Clean, friendly and not at all expensive..our kind of place. So when the waitress came to pick up the table, the tip she found was generous, and it had an extra penny on top. We got a goos smile and were on our way. Five minutes later we were pulling into the parking lot of the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage Trail at the River Bend Farm. We saw a car with some cool inflatable kayaks - I took a pic to research later. The visitor center was nice and as with all Massachusetts State Parks a map is available, and nicely done too. I chatted with a ranger and she gave us some good information for a 3 mile walk. This is not a challenging walk, but nice and flat, but pretty and tranquil with few people along the trail. The trail is the old towpath along the Blackstone Canal and it passes several interesting spots. We hiked from the farm down to a mill complex which look as though it is being converted to commercial and residential use. I would love to have a studio there.
It looked as though the exterior was completely done and the interior was gutted and waiting to be finished. Nana and I walked all around the place and imagines what it must have been like in it's hay day of manufacturing with water power and moving goods along the canal..a different time indeed.  Along the tow path there was a flood/control gate that maintained the level of the canal.
Flood gate
It is no longer operable and the water beyond the gate was all green with algae. As we were leaving the mill making our way back to the tow path there was three steps of granite and I
Green scum stuff
managed to tip my foot on one of the steps which triggered a great slow motion fall. It is curious how the mind works at a moment like this. I knew instantly that I was going to fall, and knew that I WAS falling and it was all in slow motion, yet I had absolutely no capacity to catch myself or avert the fall or change direction. But I had plenty of time to think about what I should be doing. Luckily I was able to break my fall with my face into a nice soft bush. Of course no one had a video camera running, drat - I would have liked to see what Nana saw. . . must have been awesome. Back on the trail I lamented that no one was around to cheer and Nana didn't have the foresight to videotape my misadventure, oh well. We walked to the far end of the trail where there was a small waterfall and a pond-ish area with stone bridges and such. Pretty cool spot with promise of more trails across the road, next time.  More pix,
Entrance to the tow path

Pond and stone bridge

Flattest 3 miles ever