Wednesday, August 31, 2016

With the kids - Washington Management Area - 8/28/16

Ben and Nana
This Sunday we had both Grandkids..always a pleasure, Ben and little Sweetie Pie Grace. Off we went to high adventure in northwestern Rhode Island, stopping first at the Village Bean Cafe in Chepatchet for a great breakfast. Everything was cooked just right and the waitress (sorry, the server...gotta be PC) was very friendly and helpful. Ben had a burrito and Grace had scrambled, Nana and I had our usuals and as we were leaving, Grace realized that she needed one of those special M&M muffins. .  So, all fed and rested we went off to the George Washington State Campground and Management Area right along Route 44 just before you enter Connecticut. What a great spot. We parked at the end of the road and headed off down the blue and orange trail. Mushrooms were plentiful today and
A pretty red mushroom
they apparently come in every color. We spotted red and yellow and white and purple and just about every shade in between. Grace seemed especially excited every time we came across a mushroom and especially when there were many along the trail. The trail here is strewn with boulders and rock, and ferns and great views of the pond. The kids had a great time climbing all over the rocks.
On the rocks along the shore
Grace proved to be quite a trooper as we hiked longer than her liking but she kept up with a minimal of complaints. Ben just kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Unfortunately the trail took a turn to the right when we needed to head left to continue our way around the pond and back to our car. Intrepid as we are we decided to head out off the trail into the wilderness (I should mention that there were several campers in sight toward the area which we were heading) and our high adventure began. We dumped out in the 'back yard' of a family camping there and had a good chat and got some bad directions but after a few fits and starts in different directions and consulting my app frequently we ended up at a dead end. Now I knew that the car was less than 100 yards away but no clear path presented itself in the direction we were heading. Grace did not want to head through the briars and up the hill but with a bit of encouragement we made it through the rough
Back at the car
stuff and landed right on the trail and the car was in sight. Less than 50 yards from where we felt stuck. All's well that ends well. Here is a photo of our champion hiker, back safe and sound at Pappa's car. By the way Grace and Pappa made that hiking staff, Pappa did most of the work and Grace directed the project so it was just right. After we got back to the car, it was a hot day, we drank our fill of water and Ben took my keys and got he air conditioning running. I then told him to drive us out of there. Now Ben is not of driving age and has little experience with cars, but I figured that he has spent the summer driving a boat and in well on his way to getting a pilot's license (flying for over two years now) he should be able to get us down the road safely. I think he was just a little bit intimidated but he did just fine. He took us about a mile down the road (a dirt road with no traffic) all without incident. Well done Ben. And Now, a few pictures to round out the post.

Nana and Grace

Usain Ben - or Ben Bolt?

Overlooking Wilbur Pond

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

On the Rocks - Fort Wetherill 8-21-16

Suzie Q's 
Again we decided to explore our own backyard. Conanicut Island in southern Narragansett bay is home to a single town, Jamestown, as quaint a New England town as can be found. Today this was our destination. But first, off to breakfast. We stopped along Route 1A just south of Wickford at a great little diner called Suzie Q's. Great food, Great service and as always a
Nana and a cuppa joe
 good time chatting with Nana. We got the window seat, right up front, and right in front of the air conditioner. Now Nana is cold even on the warmest of days and to perch her in front of the air conditioner is likely not the best seating solution. However I don't think that there was any real complaints and Nana and I had a great breakfast. To my surprise Nana had a breakfast sandwich (she is not known as a sandwich kind of Nana) but said it was quite tasty and enjoyed her breakfast. Me, I had my usual, with the slight deviation of 'Raisin Bread' for toast. Ordered it toasted dark and dry.. got buttered and only slightly toasted..also it must have come off of a raisin baguette because they were the tiniest slices of raisin bread I ever saw. I could have dropped one into my coffee cup, flat side down. . . oh well. I am guessing that you have realized that I am particular about my toast, so if you ever have the occasion to toast up some bread for me, make it almost burnt, smoking just a little and keep the butter away.
We made our way back to the trusty Ford and fifteen minutes later we were parking at a lot in
Overlooking the sea at Ft Wetherill
Fort Wetherill State Park on Conanicut Island. The whole island is referred to as just, Jamestown, for all the locals, but for those of us who have plied the waters of Narragansett Bay for so long we know it as Conanicut Island which happens to have the town of Jamestown located on its eastern shore. Fort Wetherill was the guardian fort of Narragansett Bay, keeping 'Germans and Japs' out of the area during WW2, and other raiding hordes of earlier history. Must have worked as the only raiding hordes we encountered had on sneakers or dive gear.  Nana and I have been entertaining the idea of traveling by camper as I retire as as we were getting out of the car in the parking lot, a Class C camper pulled up and soon we were making introductions and touring their camper. It was just about exactly what we have been talking about. Very nice way to travel and maybe someday this blog will evolve into an RV Travel Blog... who knows?
Up on the rocks
We hiked from the parking lot East and explored the point that overlooked Newport harbor and parts of the old fort there that guarded the entrance to the bay. We chatted with a fisherman who wasn't catching anything but was having a good time. I hope he caught many fish after we moved on. The hiking here is quite varied, wide paths, narrow paths, flat trails and some climbing. What sets this place apart is the view. Everywhere you look is prettier than the last place. This has got to be one of the best kept secrets in Rhode Island, amazing beauty and such easy access. We were amazed that it was not mobbed on a beautiful summer's Sunday afternoon. In all Nana and I hiked just about three miles. Again our apps that measure our progress were in conflict. My app (AllTrails) said we had walked 3.1 miles and Nana's app (Cyclemeter - set on hiking mode) says that we only walked 2.5 miles. Maybe next time I will try to run multiple apps on my phone simultaneously and see if there is a conflict between the apps or if it is a discrepancy between the phones. When we popped out of the woods we arrived in the middle of an antique car meet. There were lots of stunningly restored cars and trucks scattered around a wide expanse of lawn. One of our favorites and I know a favorite
I want one!
of our  son, was an old VW bus...ooooohhhh... the restoration was absolutely flawless. Maybe Nana and I should get something like this for our camping travels.  After our hike here at Fort Wetherill we moved on to Beavertail, the southern tip of Conanicut Island where the lighthouse is. We took our chairs and sat on the rocks, chatting, sketching and watching people, sea and boats. It was a perfect afternoon. We even found an ice cream stand on the ride home. A great day and we only traveled a half an hour from the house. If you get the opportunity, take a drive down to Jamestown and explore the area. You can't go wrong. More pix below.

Suzie Q's

Toward the point

Marina at the fort

Hidden cove

A badly grafittied fort

MY app says 3.1 miles

Shooting time lapse at Beavertail

Monday, August 15, 2016

Not much - Hyannis, MA - 8-13-16

Percy's Place, Hyannis
Not much of an entry this week as we did not get out for our traditional Sunday walk. Instead we went to the Cape (Cape Cod) and visited with friends. We did, however, stop for breakfast in Hyannis at Percy's Place, a great family run 'chain' (maybe 5 locations) of diners in New England. Great food always and they have initiated "Endless Eggs" when you order an egg breakfast you can have as many eggs as you would like. I was a glutton this week and had three... could have had ten, but I practiced restraint. Good service and good food, and toast cooked right made for a good breakfast. Nana and I then went for a walk around town. We walked from the diner down to the waterfront. We are always drawn to any waterfront to check out the boats as our past is filled with many fond memories of life at sea. Hyannis is a busy port with lots of fishing and pleasure boats and of course the ferries that run from the mainland to the islands. After a mile or so of walking I found a place to settle in with my sketch pad and Nana continued to explore the town. As I sat on a park bench and sketched the town was coming to life and more and more people passed by pulling luggage heading for the ferries and several stopped by to look over my shoulder and ask questions. I never mind chatting and sketching. Nana would stop by from time to time to check my progress and the sun was climbing higher into the sky. Soon I was sitting in full sunlight when the heat of the day marched right in and I began my typical projectile sweating. I am 67 years old and no longer have to prove my manhood so I decided to retreat to the air conditioning of my car. I wrapped up my sketching and discovered Nana relaxing in the shade of tree chatting with a local fisherman. We made our way back to the comfort of our car and began a great weekend visiting with friends. . . total hike for me was about a mile and a half.. Nana must have walked well over 50 miles.  . . just guessing. . .
Hyannis House

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Uphill - Wachusett Mountain - 8/7/16

122 Diner
Up and out of the house early-ish today and on the road by about 8:15 headed north - on our way to find Wachusett Mountain in the middle of Massachusetts. But first, a stop in Holden, MA at the 122 Diner, on route 122, duh. . . We were seated promptly by friendly happy people and coffee arrived very quickly and once we ordered it seemed as though only seconds passed when breakfast arrived. I had my eggs and toast, which by the way the toast was perfect and I added bacon this time too as I knew I would be putting out some energy on the mountain. Nana's breakfast did not live up to her expectations and she left a bit disappointed in the food, but no complaints about the service. The waitress had a strange accent and neither Nana nor I could place it, kind of a midwestern valley girl sound.. .  strange for New England. The price was good and the service was good but the home fries were a bit mushy. So, once we refreshed and paid we were off to find the mountain. A short 12 minute drive delivered us to the entrance to find the lot at the visitor center full, so we found the second lot and a friendly ranger took six bucks from us to allow us to park.
 We walked back to the visitors center and read all the good stuff and picked up a trail map. This trail was no slacker. It started up right from the trail head in the parking lot. I only took me a few minutes to start puffing and wheezing - Nana on the other hand didn't seem to crack a sweat. And neither did those young girls that passed us by, and did I mention the six year old and his father that just walked right past. . . damn but I gotta get back in shape. The trail was a jumble of rock and stone which had been arranged loosely into 'steps', kind of. I can only say that it was headed up the side of the mountain. I have to admit at this point,  that Wachusett Mountain is a weenie mountain, as mountains go. I know all the other mountains in Massachusetts laugh at Wachusett and New Hampshire and Maine mountains won't even talk to Wachusett, but it felt pretty large to me. Nana kind of left me in the dust a few times but was feeling sorry for me and would wait up as I came puffing along.
Nana on the climb
The steepness of the trail did not hold much appeal to Nana as she has a natural and understandable fear of falling down. Nana can sometimes be a bit unsure on steep rocky trails and this one made her a bit uncomfortable. Near the summit we crossed the road to the top and went separate ways..Nana took the road to the summit and I pushed on toward the summit on the trail, just because I wasn't completely wet yet, projectile sweating championships here I come. As it turned out we both arrived at the top of the mountain at the same time. Once out of the woods and on flatter ground my heart rate began to return to normal - It peaked at 124, normal for me is mid to low 50's - 53 - 54 is about what it normally is when resting. Nana and I walked around the open area at the top and were is the company of several hundred other people that had hiked, biked and drove up there.
Made it!
I would guess that there are at least eight trails that come to the summit and of course we took the steepest most direct trail. Looking to the East we could clearly make out Boston about 40 miles away and to the northwest we could see Mount Monadnock in Keene New Hampshire. The clouds were fantastic. We walked up to the observation tower and found a place to sit on a bench. I asked Nana to help me off with my backpack and she was shocked by how heavy it was. "What do you have in there" She asked. I told her that I had thought it would be a good place to shoot a time lapse so I packed my gear, tripod, camera lenses, filters and intervalometer.. you know the basics. I unpacked and sat up my tripod where I thought I had a good view of the clouds passing by to the North. The play of the shadows over the hills was fascinating to watch. I got the tripod stable and hung my backpack on the bottom hook to help stabilized the tripod, it was very
Time lapse gear
windy. We sat on the bench while my camera clicked away, eating trail mix and dried pineapple and I think I downed a large bottle of water. The fifteen minutes or so that we sat there yielded the time lapse below. It is only 10 seconds long but shows the motion of the clouds. We packed everything back into our packs and started the descent. We took a trail for a short distance but decided to return by the road which certainly was a beautiful walk down the mountain.
Harlow Lookout
We passed the Harlow Lookout shelter, what a beautiful place with a fantastic view. Nana and I both took many photos and panoramas. The walk back down was only about a mile and a half or so but it was still steep enough that I felt as though I was slipping into the toe of my boots. Today we walked a bit over three miles, maybe three and a half..going up it felt longer -- coming down it felt too short. It was good to get back to the car and get the air conditioning on -- it was a hot day. . .  Driving home we spotted a road sign that said Nana Trail..
Below are some pix and the time lapse I made at the summit

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."  Edmund Hillary

It is best to watch the time lapse full screen

Wachusett Mountain Time lapse from Edward Huff on Vimeo.

Ski Lift in summer - looks sad

Part of the Mid-State Trail

Panorama from Harlow Lookout
App says 3.7 miles..taken with a grain of salt
The road sign says Nana Trail!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Borderland State Park, MA

Today started off in Foxboro MA, home of the New England Patriots, Go Pats!,
At the Commons
at the Commons Restaurant and even though it was one of those Sunday mornings where we had to wait for a table we (I) maintained our humor and let the time and worries roll away. Nana and I were served coffee right away by a cheerful waitress, we ordered and the food seemed as though it had been waiting for us on the back shelf..good friendly fast service. (Once we got seated). Nana had the breakfast burrito and I broke from tradition and had a Western Omelet...hmmm... I see why people like these things. I have discovered that some other tiny traditions have crept into our breakfast outings.. I always take a bit of Grape Jam on my toast while Nana is an Orange Marmalade woman...seems to be consistent. I checked out the driving time to the Park I had selected and it was only about 12 minutes away. Once we paid and made one last tour of the restrooms we set off for Borderland State Park, somewhere new as is always the goal. It was an easy drive and SIRI gave us great directions so we arrived in the predicted 12 minutes. Technology is getting to be so good at thinking for us that we will soon forget how to use maps or the Dewey Decimal System -- and I know that anyone reading this has fewer than three phone numbers committed to memory.  To my surprise when, we arrived at the park, there was a fee of $6.00 to be paid and it was a fully automated system requiring 
$6 to Park!
me to exit the car and approach an unfamiliar bit of technology and have a conversation with this machine by pressing buttons, declaring statehood and inserting plastic money. It then spat out a receipt and I was instructed to place it on my dashboard in full view so the dashboard police and make sure I am not violating any rules.  All in all a good system, and I don't really begrudge the six bucks, as it turned out that this was a beautiful place for Nana and Pappa to walk. We found our way to the park headquarters and got a free map of the trails and grounds, and made use of the facilities one more time..too much coffee I guess.
At the trailhead.
We started off on the West Side Trail and wandered to the French Trail and by the time we made it to the Granite Rock Trail where we discovered a huge bolder field and the walking had more of an uphill, down hill personality. Not real huff and puffing walking but noticeable. At some point we wandered back toward the lake, then on and on until we made our way to some very large fields on the east side of the lake. Upon leaving the fields we met a couple of guys who were walking several very large dogs. Bothe the men and the dogs were very friendly. I wish I could retain the breed of dogs a couple of them were but I cannot recall what we were told but they were very large dogs - maybe black bear sized dogs - very friendly. We pressed on and the young men told us that it was just about a mile back to the parking area, but also said it was going to 'really rain in about 20 minutes' so we picked up the pace. It never rained. 
The big house
These grounds were made by the Ames's in around 1910-ish  - you can look it up. But the long and the short of it was that they made this place their home and later left it to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts - the name Borderland comes for the fact that it is on the border of a couple of towns - Easton and Sharon, MA. It is quite a beautiful place and they have a Frisbee Golf course and apparently hold public events frequently in the big house. Nice!
Nana and I hike around the whole grounds surrounding the house which is lush with gardens and sculptures and waterfalls. Very nice ending for a day on the trail.  As usual I was completely wet for the walk and Nana had the presence of mind to pack an extra shirt for me to change into so I wouldn't embarrass myself, or her, should we meet up with anyone. As it turned out we were near a Woodcraft Store, and I can't pass one of those, meaning we did stop on our way back thanks Nana for thinking of me. Now a few more pictures.

Bolders along the trail

Special birding spot

Near the big house

Our trek

Nana on the trail