Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day - Mashamoquet Brook State Park

Mug Shot
Happy Father's Day to everyone out there where it is appropriate, the rest of you. . . never mind. We headed out a bit later today than planned but had a relaxing morning at the house before getting underway. I found a place in Connecticut that looked interesting and was only an hour away. So with that place in mind I searched the web and came up with three likely candidates for breakfast. We settled for a place on Route 6, west of Providence, called Cindy's. As we were driving west on Route 6 my older brother called and we had a great conversation in the car but drove right past Cindy's and made it a few miles down the road before recognizing my incompetent inattention. So, with Siri really mad at me, we made a u-turn and found our our way back to the diner. A delay of nearly 8 minutes. . . . but who is counting. We had to wait just a couple of minutes before being seated, never thinking that it might be crowded on Fathers Day.

Everyone in the restaurant was very happy and chipper and full of kindness and smiles. Coffee came straight away and I had the Fathers Day Special -- 2 eggs, home fries and toast, with a steak. Nana had Eggs Benedict and we split a half a Belgian Waffle with apples as an added Father's Day bonus treat. Mmmmmm. Food and service was excellent, and they even got my toast right, always the sign of a great place. Once done and paid, we plugged in the directions to Mashamoquet Brook State Park in Pomfret, Connecticut about a half our further down the road. We found it easily and were just a little surprised that they had an entrance fee of $15 which seems a little steep but as it turns out it was worth it and we have since learned of another parking area that is free. See the map below.
Nana and Pappa
We decided to walk the blue dot trail which seems to circumnavigate the perimeter of the park and my app said that it was about four and a half miles long. From where we parked we immediately started to climb and soon came to the Blue Dot trail which would be our trail around the park. This trail is very well marked and a relatively easy trail despite the nearly 700 feet of elevation gain and loss long the way. I, of course, did a lot of huffing and puffing along these steeper slopes but that has a lot more to do with my condition than it does with the trail. And let me comment here on what a good job the state of CT has done on maintaining these trails, they are wide and very well marked with signage and maps at every intersection. There are several features marked out on the trail map that we enjoyed along the way. The Wolf's Den was a great out cropping of stone and the Indian chair was a naturally broken rock that was the exact size and shape so it could be used to overlook a high bluff.
Nana in Indian Chair
Nana started to take my picture and didn't realize immediately that there was a sheer drop off behind her..she doesn't have a good appreciation for heights and sheer drop offs. She discovered he error in time and we had a good laugh. An amazing natural stone. These features were about half way through our walk and as we continued on the trail we met a few people - another couple our age who were walking their dog and a father and his two sons (who didn't look like they wanted to be hiking) and a young lady walking her dog. It is always nice to meet people along a trail as most everyone seems open and friendly, at least that has been our experience so far. It was some time after this that I realized that this walk was going to be a bit farther that was advertised but it was a beautiful day and we did not have a schedule so it didn't matter but I was beginning to get tired, but we had plenty of water and I slowed the pace, especially on those uphill slogs and it turned out just fine. We met up with the young lady and her dog once again and chatted for a while,she was very friendly and commented on my hiking stick. She was walking with two nordic sticks. The chat was just long enough for me to get fully recovered from the last uphill. Thanks unknown lady. It was only about a mile back to the car from there and as we neared the end of the Blue Dot trail it got wide and flattened out until the final downhill back to the brook and to the parking area. My app said it was 6.6 miles, which was wrong as other (smarter?) apps told us -- it was really just about six miles. More pictures below. . .
The Brook

Projectile Sweating - hot Pappa

Nana on an uphill

Steep stuff around here

Wolf Den
Map with free parking marked

Sunday, June 12, 2016

All to ourselves - Douglas State Forest

The Picket Fence
Back to our Sunday routine, well, almost. We were up and out of the house early today as our grandson had an eight thirty flight lesson and we always show up for that. After we got him situated and I took some pictures, Siri told us the directions to 'The Picket Fence', a great breakfast house in Douglas Massachusetts. See the picture to the right. It was a great old building and seemed a very popular place but we were seated immediately and although all of the wait staff were really busy we were served in very good time by a very friendly waitress, the coffee was good and hot and they had a sheet filled with specials and we are almost always a sucker for specials. This time we both decided to have an omelet special, the taco omelet, filled with chili, cheese onion and lettuce.
Mug shot, yes again
Our waitress told us she had never had it but was planning on trying it at the end of her shift.We were both amazed at the fast service and everything was done with great efficiency. Our breakfast arrived so quickly is was as though they had it sitting on a shelf in the back just waiting for us. And it was good. I normally stick to the two eggs, home fries and toast special, the number one in just about every breakfast place in North America, but this taco omelet was very good and if I see it on a menu again, I'll order it up. Nana and I had a good time chatting and people watching - we saw a woman with camo patches glued to her back and a man with no ears - we like Douglas Mass. Once done and paid we walked out of the restaurant and into a Norman Rockwell painting. The view across the street, which apparently we missed walking in, was just so much Americana that you could almost weep. It is Main Street USA!
Here is a picture.
Douglas, Massachusetts
How's that for a slice of American Pie! Siri took us West for about three miles to the Douglas State Forest where the ranger on duty didn't charge us the $11 he should have because we were 'just hiking', nice guy! We found a place to park and walked down to Wallum Lake and searched out the trailhead. We actually ended up hiking on two different trails.The first loop we did was called the Cedar Swamp trail.
Cedar Swamp
This trail had a nice boardwalk through all the mucky spots, and was dubbed a 'healthy trail' why it is called that we don't know, but I AM feeling much healthier and I know Nana must be too. Some where along this trail we missed the markers and strayed for a bit but that is no matter, we found our way back to the main trail and looped out back to the main road to discover that we were walking on the 'Coffee House Trail'. Excellent we though, there must be a Coffee House along here. This proved to be in error. For the first mile or so the Coffee House Trail shared the path with the 'Mid State Trail' which cuts across Massachusetts North to South, South to North, from Rhode Island across Massachusetts to New Hampshire. Now that would be a fun walk in the woods. This area is strewn with boulders and rock outcroppings and is a little bit hilly in spots but I barely worked up a good puff and grunt. Nana just keeps moving along like she is walking on pavement and I don't think she ever even began to sweat.. I was a bit wet. . .
Stone wall along stream
We came across a huge stone structure, a wall of some sort and Nana scrambled to the top to see what it was. Turns out to be a dam of sorts keeping back a bit of water which was covered in lily pads and cattails.  There was a spot in the dam where the water tumbled down a series of little falls and under a bridge. At this point we were about 3 miles into our walk and realized we had not seen another person since we started on the trail. Not one. And as it turns out it wasn't until we got back to the car that we saw people again. Everyone had gone down to the beach and there was not a single other hiker in the woods but us, and this is a truly beautiful forest. So if you want to have a forest to yourself try the Douglas State Forest. And now for some more pictures.
The beginning by the lake

Nana on a bridge

Lots of mosses and ferns

And beautiful flowers

Midstate Trail Marker

Urban Walk - Boston

Boardwalk, Boston
Today (Sunday June 5th - I posted this a week late) started a little differently, we were off to Boston early, stopping at Dunkin Donuts for coffee for the trip and arrived at the Harbor Walk at Carson Beach near the Joe Mokely Park. We got our walk in early before meeting up with a friend who's husband and one of our dearest friends is recovering from surgery in the hospital. Even though he is not up for company it was good to get close. But, back to the walk...we found good parking right behind the boardwalk (well done Siri) and began our walk around this large crescent of a beach. the day was a bit overcast but still a pleasant day even though we had expected to be walking in the rain. We passed many other walkers and lots of folks walking dogs. We walked along the sidewalk toward the north east which had lots of visual nourishment for the eyes. The Water was calm and a couple of kayakers were beginning an adventure out into Boston harbor and a soccer match was beginning to form up in the park across the road.
Harbor walk
The grounds around the walkway were well kept and there were lots of things in place for those who come to the beach. We found gaming tables with inlaid checker/chess boards, picnic tables and a bocci court, and very nicely maintained bath houses. When we had walked almost all the way to the end of the beach we came upon several buildings. One of which was the 'Men's Bath House' at the Curley Community Center which had a very curious sign, in stone above the door. This is actually a thought I have never had before. . . .

Curious. . .
I wonder if the thinking is still the same as it was when this stone work was done and if the current members of the community center live up to this stirring motto. Once past the community center and a couple of yacht clubs we made our turn and headed back toward the car. I was working up a good sweat, almost a lather, and we left the sidewalk and ambled down to the sandy beach for the stroll back. As we walked the beach we could see tented structures on the opposite side of this wide crescent and curiosity got the best of us. We had a new destination and headed around the shore making our way toward the tents to see what was going on. A crowd was gathering there as well. After a quick biology stop at the bath house near the car we made our way toward the tent and the crowd. It was the beginning of a 5K foot race, sponsored by the Pug Rescue of New England. Lots of people were walking their Pugs and other breeds around and apparent expecting them to participate int he 5K. The question that kept coming into my mind was, why would anyone want to rescue a Pug? As it turns out (I checked later) their race course was exactly the path we took. So we did a 5K and without a Pug!
Nana and Kathy at trendy breakfast bar
Once back in the car we struck out to the hospital and met up with our friend Kathy and took her to breakfast at a local, trendy, bar, breakfast place and ate $9 eggs with a single slice of toast.. We all started off with a coffee, like you do when your are at breakfast, and reading the menu I discovered that the price of coffee on the front of the menu was $3 a cup and on the back of the menu it was $2.50 a cup. Of course I told the waitress that I wanted to order from the back of the menu...she had no sense of humor at all. . . go figure, snooty big city breakfast bar trendy waitress. . . . humph. However having whined about that, it was very good to catch up on all the news about our healing friend and be able to spend a little bit of time with Kathy. Bad service and cold toast can't dampen our friendship. Love these guys. . .
Some Pictures


Panorama of the beach

Near the Pugs. . .

Incase you wanted to know