Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Walk - Turner Reservoir - 3/27/16

Nana always sets a beautiful table - click image for larger view
Our breakfast today was with family to celebrate Easter, right here at home. Our daughter, her husband and our two wonderful grandkids came over just after 10 this morning and the festivities began with snacks and a hunt in the house for baskets. Grace was so excited and I think that even Ben felt some excitement when the search for baskets began, but he had the role to play, that of the wiser, big brother, and he did it well. Soon after, we all headed out to the back yard to search for the eggs that the Bunny had left. We all had a good time. I cooked home fries, eggs, bacon and Nana put kielbasa on the stove. After saying grace, the Polish tradition of cracking eggs began. The way this works is you take your egg and bash it against your neighbor's egg and see which survives...after going all around the table there is always one egg with at lease one end intact, and that person receives good luck for the year (or so the tradition goes). Breakfast was great fun with lively entertainment and we even had a raw egg slipped into the competition. Once it was announced that dishes were to be washed, our company slipped out and Nana and I were up to our elbows in suds and dish towels and everything was back to normal in about an hour's time... and we had time for a good walk still left in the day.

We found a place right here in East Providence to walk, around Turner's Pond, a reservoir just a few miles from home. The walk is a relative flat walk and is about three and a half miles long. and it seemed like a good walk to try. We parked in the lot on Pleasant street and set off along the wooded trail where we soon came to the dam and met up with one of Ben's classmates who was also enjoying the outdoors on Easter afternoon. 
Nana on the east side of the dam
We hiked along the water's edge and our son in San Francisco called and we chatted as we walked along. On the East side of the pond there are a great many trees down, across the path. It is amazing just how much it feels that you are in 'the wild' yet you can hear cars on the nearby road and houses are visible from time to time. The weather is beautiful today with temperatures in the mid fifties and little wind. and clear beautiful blue sky.  A great day for a walk in the woods...but then the woods ended and we found ourselves walking along the road. I would guess we were on the road for about a half mile before we came to and crossed the bridge and made our way back down the path on the West side of the pond. Here the path butts right up against backyards of some rather impressive houses and we traveled an area that was littered with what I dubbed 'stumble roots' which made walking miserable.
Stumble roots
But like I said this was only for about a quarter of a mile or so. We both said that it is easier to walk on rocks than these roots, and Nana had a good stumble and thanked her lucky stars that she walks with a hiking stick. Soon we were walking back on a grassy area and the dam was insight again. 

The walk was drawing to an end but we have had a great walk today even if it was short and flat, it was a good time spent in conversation and enjoying the out of doors, and the bonus that we were just a stone's throw from our door a - there are times when you have to take your adventures as they come, and even the tiny adventures are fulfilling. So we ended up just about at the point where we started except on the other side of the dam. 
Yes this is East Providence

Nana talking with Jason

Back at the dam, but on the West side now.

We made our way to the trail end back on Pleasant street, crossed the bridge back to our parking area and checked our electronics.. Mine said the we had walked 4.5 miles. I was impressed, but then it changed it's mind and downgraded the miles to 3.5 -- this app sometimes confounds me as it can't seem to make up it's mind, and is always in conflict with Nana's app. Back at home we sat in the back yard, Nana with a healing glass of wine and me with my knife carving out another walking stick.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sutton State Forest and Purgatory Chasm - 3/20/16

Lil & Gene's, Manville - Click image for larger view
 Well it's Sunday morning once again, so it's coffee and a look at the news, the coffee is much more satisfying. We got a few chores done before we headed out today. I worked on my computer and Nana did some Easter things. We were using up our morning because we needed to be at the North Central Airport at 10:30 where our 15 year old grandson, Ben, is taking flight lessons. I always stick a camera in the cockpit and record the event. You can watch one here. He has been flying for over two years now, we are very proud Grandparents. 

So once I installed the camera in the plane, Nana and I took to the road and ended up at Lil & Gene's restaurant in Manville. This is a very cool little neighborhood restaurant that 'serves breakfast all day' yet closes at 1:00 PM. . . . The food was great and the service was just fine. Extra good home fries. . . 

Once the bellies were full and the bladders empty we took the 20 minute ride north to the Sutton State Forest and Purgatory Chasm State Park. We have been up here a few times in the past but today we planned a different route and started out through the forest rather than straight into the chasm, which is the main attraction.

The trail started out paved..we were wondering just how much would be paved, but the pavement ended shortly and we crossed the main road onto a nice, wide, leaf and needle covered path. The path wandered through a beautiful stand of tall pines and the sounds of the world left

Nice wide paths
us completely and we were alone with the world. This trail winds up and down through the trees and over a rock strewn landscape. It always amazes me jus how much wilderness is so close to civilization. It is also always a genuine pleasure to meet others on the trail. Everyone greets each other and is always to share information about the trail. We encountered a couple of young men who helped us select the best route to the chasm from our long way around through the woods. As usual I started to heat up and was hiking without a jacket while Nana stayed bundled up. after about a mile and a half along the trail I came to the realization that the trail was looping around back toward the road, so Nana and I made our own trail in what we suspected was the direction of the chasm. After only a few minutes of hiking where there was no trail, we could hear the voices of many people and soon the trail was ahead of us and it appeared almost as though we were to breakout onto a highway...there were people everywhere. And within minutes we were standing on the edge of Purgatory Chasm. Not exactly the South Rim of the Grand Canyon but a pretty good place to be on the first day of Spring with your sweetie.

Not exactly the Grand Canyon 

We took a few pictures and marveled at our mountaineering skills and proceeded along the rim of the chasm. As we traveled along the rim we started the decent and ended at the floor of the chasm at the intersection of several trails. We elected to hike along the floor of the chasm which rapidly turned into a huge jumble of boulders where we had to pick our way along and do a bit of climbing. It wasn't too rugged but enough so that I was proud of Nana, as she has a terminal fear of heights and this was testing her will. And it was beautiful, even with all the people and all of my wheezing, the sheer weight of the presence of these huge boulders, this jumble of rocks was enough to leave you in awe. This is truly a special place.

I would recommend this place to anyone, and will likely return here with both of our grand kids in the very near future. It will be even more spectacular once the rest of Spring arrives..can't wait for the trees and flowers bust out.
Nana climbing the jumble of boulder

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A few photos - 3/17/16

Roaring Brook - Click image for larger view
Today I was walking a bit without Nana. I try to get out early before work and make images, today I was making them with my camera. I discovered this place yesterday morning when I was sketching and thought I would return with my camera to catch the beauty of the falls and the stream through the woods before the foliage gets too dense.
Toward the bridge - Click image for larger view
I didn't really walk very far, but it was good just to be out in the woods so early in the morning, it was like everything around me was waking up too.  The sound of the water, hushed by the woods and the morning fog, was like a distant song somewhere far away, accented here and there with bird chirps and little noises of the day coming to life.
Under the bridge - Click image for larger view
On the technical side, I was playing around with exposure to get the motion of the water. I had my camera set up on a tripod and stopped way down and I was shooting around 3 second exposures. All of these images were shot with a 50mm f1.4 lens.
Forest floor - Click image for larger view
I wish Nana was with me this morning as I know she would love this place and the quietness of it all. Hopefully we will get in a good hike this coming Sunday and find a place as interesting. . .

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lincoln Woods - a busy Sunday - 3/13/16

Nana at Shanna's Country Kitchen 10:40 am
Today started off like most Sunday mornings, I was up first while Nana slept in making up for the lost hour last night (the daylight savings thing). Soon, though, Nana was up and she always takes her coffee and sits outside to reflect and read some meditations. I on the other hand was reading news on my phone and just as I was just starting my second cup of coffee my older brother called. We chatted for quite come time covering hobbies, politics (a very confusing subject these days) family and speculated about the future... a lot of 'what ifs'.

We got a few chores done after we both had our fill of coffee, as today was to be action packed and time was getting compressed rapidly. We new our hike today had to be nearby because in the afternoon we had an art opening to attend, and today is my daughters birthday. Even knowing all of that, we got a late start. I had chosen a diner called Shanna's Country Kitchen in Lincoln, Rhode Island, solely on it proximity to Lincoln Woods, our chosen spot to hide today. It's near by and always a fun place to hike.

As we were approaching the diner, my younger brother called and we ended up sitting in the parking lot for 20 minutes chatting before entering the diner. Nana and I both agree that it best feature is the proximity to Lincoln Woods... service was slow and we finally had to flag down a passing server to inquire on the status of our breakfast. It shouldn't take a half an hour to cook an egg no matter how busy you are. Once the food arrived, it was pretty obvious that it had been sitting for a while.

Let's get walking
The entrance to the woods was only 5 minutes from the diner and we were off on a walk on a wonderful early spring day with temps in the 60s. If you have never been to Lincoln Woods you are missing one of the easy to reach wonders of Rhode Island. This is one of those State Parks where you really cannot get lost and there are many many trails to follow. Having said that, the scenery here is pretty spectacular, not on the wide vista out west kind of way, but in a way that gives you pause about what it must have been like for the early colonists when they first saw the land. A land so full of rocks and hills that they likely wondered aloud how they would ever clear enough land to grow anything. The walking here is up and down with a great deal of topographical variety but can be done at an easy pace. The woods are mostly hardwoods, oak and maple with some pine stands. I can't wait to come back when things are starting to bloom.

Most of the trails are wide and easily navigated and we passed several spots where you can stop and eat at a picnic table. There are also may spots along side the trail that would do nicely for a lunch stop. We crossed a couple of streams and walked along the shore of Olney Pond, the main attraction in the summer. There is a great public beach here, and it has been utilized many times through the years as a summer destination for our kids and grandkids. It is a nice wide sandy freshwater beach, one of the few freshwater beached around, we are the Ocean State you know.

In total we only walked two miles today, in about an hour, as we really took our time. We saw lot of folks out enjoying the woods in their own way. There was a great number of dog walkers. We passed one group and that were being pulled along by golden retrievers, six golden retrievers. We saw lots of young folks on mountain bikes and many rock climbers either assaulting the rocks or hiking along with their huge pads on their backs.

It was a great walk, an easy walk, on a beautiful day with Nana, again taking the time to slow down and take a look at nature, the world and life. Lots of good conversation, some compelling and some mundane... even a bit of complaining about bad service at diners.

I would certainly recommend Lincoln Woods to anyone in the area to come and explore or rediscover this great spot that is so easy to get to, right off of Route 146 North... literally 10 minutes from Providence. You know you have no excuse. . .

Me and Walter
Later in the afternoon, after showers and a bit of clean-up, Nana and I went back into Providence to go to the opening of a show of my dear friend Walter Feldman's wonderful paintings. Walter became a very close friend when I was working at Brown University and remains so today. Walter is 91 and still paints for 5 hours a day. His show, 'Memorial' is a  visual representation of his emotions after returning from a trip to Normandy - Walter is a World War II veteran and his service has added meaning to his life as it does to all of us who have served. Thanks Walter for your service and thanks for years of friendship.

Friday, March 11, 2016

It's great to have a friend - Blue Hill - 3/6/16

Hiking Blue Hill near Boston
Nana and I have been together over 46 years. We married early, I was 20 and Nana was just 19. Like any marriage we have had our ups and downs, but here's the thing, I married my best friend. Over the years we have tried just about anything from building our own house, no really we hammered every nail, to sailing across the Atlantic to kayaking in Baja and doing stuff like getting college degrees, having kids and trying to be responsible adults. (that last part is the hardest)

So far it seems to be working out. This year finds us without a boat for the first time in about twenty years and to take it's place we have begun a weekly activity of finding new trail to hike here in New England. A routine has begun to develop. We agree on some place interesting, within an hour or so of the house, and then we immediately find a nearby restaurant so we can have a Sunday morning breakfast. The internet is our friend, and and get all the planning done well before we ever walk out of the house. So far we have hiked 24 consecutive weekends, excluding a few when we were in the Caribbean for a couple of weeks with friends. But we did plenty of walking there too.  So each Sunday morning starts off leisurely, packing up a few essentials (trail mix, water, cameras, maps and hiking sticks) and heading to a new restaurant. This is always a good time of the day. 
At the Sunny Side Cafe near Blue Hill

Nana and I actually have some time to sit and catch up on all that has happened in the past week. We also have something tasty. . . breakfast never disappoints. Nana tends to like omelets and I am a 2 egg and home fries guy and we always leave full and well caffeinated. Last Sunday we hiked Blue Hill near Boston for the first time. We took the blue dot trail from the Park Headquarters to the first summit which we thought was 1175 feet up but apparently it is only 635 feet up. The sign proclaiming 1175 was some sort of weird trail marker, denoting intersections of trails. You can imagine our disappointment. But the climb was rigorous enough to make me wheeze a bit and enough to make Nana's fear of heights show up. Nana was a good trooper thought and press on up right through her comfort zone to the very top. The views were worth it. We could look south well past the Patriots stadium and Boston harbor was visible to the north. We followed the trail back down the far side, meeting up with a very wide and well used trail back to the headquarters and the parking lot. We didn't walk all that far but we did have a good time. We both enjoyed our time together and had another small Sunday adventure. It is so good to be able to spend a fun day with your best friend.