Happy Thanksgiving 2017 (Robinson Park, Agawam, MA)

Date Of Visit: November 23, 2017

Location: 428 North St, Feeding Hills (Agawam), MA

Hours: gates close at the park at 44 p.m. in the fall and winter.  During the late spring and during the summer, the gates and trails are open from sunrise until sunset

Cost: $8 for MA vehicle, $10 for non-MA vehicle

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots in the park itself at various designated parking areas.  There are also several entrances besides the actual entrance to the park (on North St and Feeding Hills Rd) where you can park for free but there are gates at these entrances and you have to walk rather than drive to the beach and fields in the park.

Time To Allot For Visit: 3 to 4 hours to hike the entire park

Size of the park: 800 acres, 5 miles of frontage on the Westfield River

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: walking trails, stream, beach, picnic area, fields, lots of wildlife, great for bikers, joggers, walkers and dogs

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Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

There’s something about fall, especially in New England.  The hot sun and fresh crisp air is invigorating.  And what better place to spend such a seasonable fall day than Robinson Park in Agawam, MA?

Going to Robinson Park on Thanksgiving has become a tradition for me.  Since it is so close to my relatives and it is such a big park with so much to photograph, it’s a wonderful place for me to take my camera and get close to nature.  It’s also a great way to work up an appetite for the big feast later.

If there’s one word I would use to describe Robinson Park it would be peaceful.  Especially today when many of us are reflecting on what we’re thankful for and spending some quality down time with loved ones.  Walking around and the park I felt as though I was the only there, partly because I probably was.  At least I didn’t see anyone during most of my time there

Except for the occasional dog walker, cyclist or fishing enthusiast, it was pretty quiet at Robinson Park today.

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There was a lot of bird and chipmunk activity as they get ready for winter.

There was also a sign of more life to come at the park.

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It’s rare to not see someone walking their dog at Robinson Park and today was no exception.  With it’s wide trails, plentiful bushes and trees and numerous side trails, it is a great place to take your pooch.

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Cabo is a 2 year old Black Lab.

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Papi is a 1 year old Pitt Bull Terrier mix.

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Sophie is a 12 year old Mini-Datsun.

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I have posted about this park previously.  To view my original, in depth post about this park from last year click here.

I hope everyone has a happy, peaceful and safe holiday weekend.

 


Barker Character, Comic And Cartoon Museum (Cheshire, CT)

 

Date Of Visit: August 12, 2017

Location: 1188 Highland Avenue, Cheshire, CT

Cost:

  • Toddlers (3 & Under): Free
  • Children (4 – 17):  $3.00
  • Adults (18+):  $5.00

Hours:

Sunday CLOSED
Monday CLOSED
Tuesday CLOSED
Wednesday 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Thursday 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Friday 12:00pm – 4:00pm
Saturday 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Parking: The main parking area has room for only about half a dozen cars.  But, there is a parking area behind the museum you can park at.

Website: Barker Museum

Highlights: collection of toys, dolls, figurines, lunch boxes and many other memorabilia and collectibles.

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Memories and nostalgia fill the aisles of Barker Character, Comic an Cartoon Museum in Cheshire, CT.

You’re bound to find something among the nearly 80,000 items in the two floors at Barker museum. Whether it is an action figure (and there are tons of them there to view)

dolls

or board games (you know before they had video games)

you’re bound to find something that catches your eye or reminds you of your youth.

There are even old Wheaties and other types of cereal boxes, Pez candy and dispensers and other candy.

The oldest item at the museum is a cast iron elephant ramp walker manufactured by the Ives Company in 1873.  The value of this toy is estimated between $225 and $250.

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There were some other unusual toys and collectibles at Barker.

I had a ton of these while I was growing up.  I remember saving up my allowance each week and saving so I could buy the new figures. It was quite a smurfy collection.

I also recognized this lunch box from my younger days.

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There are many other lunch boxes on display at the museum.

The deceivingly looking main building that looks like any other residency has art available for purchase from many of the most popular movies, cartoons and other types of entertainment.

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There are also sculptures of Dr. Seuss characters and other toys and figurines in the main building.

Outside of the buildings there are murals, statues and signs with drawings of famous cartoon characters on them.

As you can see, Barker’s is a fun for people of all ages!

Below is a video of some of the fun things to see at Barkers.


John F Kennedy Presidential Museum & Library (Boston, MA)

Date Of Visit: November 4, 2017

Location: 1109 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA

Hours:

The Museum is open seven (7) days per week, from 9:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m. The start time for the last introductory film of the day is at 3:55 p.m.

We are closed on the following holidays:

  • New Year’s Day (January 1)
  • Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

We close at 2:00 p.m. on the following days:

  • Day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday, November 22)
  • Christmas Eve (Sunday, December 24)
  • New Year’s Eve (Sunday, December 31)

Parking: There is free parking for about 50 cars in a lot in front of the museum

Cost:

Adults $14
Seniors 62+ $12
College Students with ID $12
Youth/Teens 13-17 $10
US Armed Forces Veterans $10

Free:

Handicapped Accessible:The museum is wheelchair accessible and guests may request a wheelchair at the front desk (a photo ID must be left). Wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Website: John F Kennedy Presidential Library And Museum

Highlights: historical items, photos and videos from John F Kennedy’s life.  There is also a special Kennedy 100 Milestones And Mementos exhibit which is scheduled to be on display until May, 2018.

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“What could have been?” is probably the most common phrase people come away with after their visit to the John F Kennedy Presidential Library And Museum

You can’t help but feel inspired while walking through the museum.  Even if you’re not an admirer of the man or his family, just looking at the historical items of the era and seeing how much he accomplished at such a young age is bound to make you feel motivated.  By the time he died at the age of 46, he had been a senator, war hero and President.  I’m  approaching that age and I’m not quite there in my career accomplishments.  Yet.

The first room you enter after paying your admission is a room with many of the items from JFK’s younger school days.  I actually used to use JFK’s less than stellar grades in his early education as an excuse when I didn’t always do well on my report card…it didn’t work out well for me, though.

 

There is also a photo of JFK with hsi favorite boat, the Victura, and his U.S. Navy dog tag.  During the summer, the Victura can be found on the lawn of the Kennedy Library.  However, during the winter months, and when I was visiting, it is kept at the Crosby Yacht yard in Osterville, Massachusetts where she was built.

 

Next to the first room of the museum is an auditorium where you can watch a quick film (about 20 minutes) about the life of President Kennedy.

After the film ends, visitors follow a stairwell into the heart of the museum where many of the historical items from Kennedy’s Presidency can be found.

The museum displays historical memorabilia and videos and photos in chronological order.  In the beginning of the museum you can view videos of the senator and presidential candidate Kennedy.

 

I especially liked the examples of shops and other memorabilia from that era.

 

Looking at the electoral map from the night of the election shows a sharp contrast to what it would look like these days.

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The states in red show states the Republican candidate (Richard Nixon) won.  The blue states are states Kennedy won.  The chief reason behind this, besides the changing political landscape, is that Nixon was the senator from California which would explain in part why he did so well on the west coast.  Kennedy’s running mate, Lyndon Baines Johnson (who was from Texas), helped Kennedy carry many of the southern states.  In fact, the whole Kennedy/Johnson relationship is full of dichotomy and complexities.  It has been believed, and essentially proven, the two men did not like each other very much before the election (and not the first time a president and vice president didn’t like each other).  But, Kennedy and his people thought they needed Baines on the ticket to help deliver the south.

The book shown below, an 1850 edition of the Douay English translation, is the Kennedy family bible that was brought over from Ireland by his forebears.  It is the bible JFK was sworn in on during his inauguration.

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After viewing the historical items from his campaign and early days of his presidency, there is a larger area with memorabilia from his presidency can be found.  There are also letters, memorabilia and other items from the Kennedy’s and not just John Kennedy.  There are also historical items from Robert Kennedy and Sargent Shriver, John’s brother-in-law.  The historical displays include an exact replica of the Oval Office while Kennedy was president.

 

In the photo below are two whale teeth etched with portraits of King Christian VI of Norway and Frederick William, the Great Elector of Brandenburg.  These whale teeth were used as book ends in the Oval Office.

Next to the whale teeth, to the right, is a whale tooth scrimshaw inscribed with a full rigged ship.  This was a gift from his close friend and class mate at Choate School, Lem Billings.  Kennedy kept this on his desk.  So much for saving the whales.

 

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The section with Jacqueline’s personal items is wonderful also.

 

One of the more interesting things I found at the museum were gifts other world leaders had given Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy, the first lady.

This stucco head of Buddha (circa 2nd century A.D.) was given to the president and his wife by the king of Afghanistan, Mohammed Zaher Shah.

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This gilded metal kris and sheath, decorated with ivory and precious stones, was given to the president by President Achmed Sukarno of Indonesia on April 24, 1961.

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This congratulatory message was sent to President Kennedy on his inauguration in 1961 from the surviving crew and captain of the Amagiri.  What makes that so interesting?  The Amagiri was the Japanese destroyer that on August 2, 1943, rammed PT 109, the boat Kennedy and his men were on during World War II.

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This Carrickmacross lace napkin was presented to President Kennedy by Prime Minister Sean Lemass of the Irish Fianna Fail party.

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While President Kennedy’s assassination is acknowledged, there is not much on exhibit about the assassination.  Rather, they focus on how the world responded to the tragedy. Fittingly, a darkened hallway leads to an area with photos of memorials dedicated to the slain president from all over the world.

 

There is also an area dedicated to the Kennedy family after President Kennedy’s death.  There are books written about John Kennedy, mementos that were made in his honor (such as the half dollar piece that was issued after his death) and the rest of the Kennedy family.   There are also historical artifacts such as a piece of the Berlin Wall which signify way the world has changed and how John Kennedy and other members of his family, specifically Ted, had possibly helped shape these changes.

 

There are also short films that play in small cinemas throughout the day at various locations in the museum.

The biggest attraction at the museum, however, is a special exhibit called JFK 100 Milestones and Mementos.

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This exhibit is on display to celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday (his birthday was May 29, 1917).  Everything from the hat and gloves he wore on his inauguration day, his first baby photo to hiss iconic Rayban sunglasses that he popularized are on display in chronological order of his life.  The exhibit is planned to be on display until May, 2018.

 

There are far too many items to post photos of.  Below are a few of the items that stood out to me.

 

Pictured below is the Profile In Courage Award that has been awarded annually since 1990.  Past recipients include John McCain and Russell Feingold (co-winners in 1999), Gerald Ford and John Lewis (co-winners in 2001), Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords (2013) and former President Barack Obama (2017)

 

Behind the museum there is a path used by joggers and people just going for a walk.  There are some pretty views of the Boston skyline and the water.  There is also a pier you can walk out onto and look out at the bay.  It is a quiet place to ponder all that you have seen at the museum.

 

Sadly, we will be observing the death of this notable president later this month.  But, rather than focusing on his tragic death, it is much better to focus on his life and not his death.  This museum is a powerful reminder of his life and legacy.

 


Five Days Of Foliage Day #5 – Mine Falls Park (Nashua, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 22, 2017

Location: 9 Stadium Dr, Nashua, NH, Whipple St, Nashua, NH

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There is free parking available at both the Whipple St and Stadium Dr entrances.  But the Stadium Drive entrance has more parking spots

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some parts of the park are handicapped accessible but many of the trails are too steep and rocky

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Mine Falls Park

Original Post: Mine Falls Park (Nashua, NH)

Highlights: ball fields, fishing, boating, running and hiking trails

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The fifth and final day of my Five Days Of Foliage series.  I hope you have enjoyed looking at the photos as much as I enjoyed taking these photos!

For my last installment of my foliage photos I chose one of my favorite parks, Mine Falls Park in Manchester, NH.

I didn’t get to stay very long.  There is so much to see at Mine Falls and I missed the biggest attraction there; the dam.

The 325 acre park has a total of 6 miles of trails that follow the Nashua Canal Trail.  There are also ball fields, soccer fields and a football field is adjacent to the park.  When I got there at sunrise, the warm weather had mixed with the cold, damp weather from the evening creating some misty shots from the ball fields.

The name “Mine Falls” dates from the 18th century, when low-quality lead was supposedly mined from the island below the falls. It has come along since then.

There are two main entrances to the park.  I would suggest parking by the entrance at Stadium Drive because there is more parking spaces and it is easier to get to.  I parked at the entrance at Whipple St.  There were much less parking spaces (about a dozen) and I had a hard time finding the street.  In any event I did find the entrance eventually.  I hope you enjoy the photos I took there!

I had visited Mine Falls previously in March of 2016.  You can find the link to my original post above.

I enjoyed posting this series of photos and I think it is something I may do some other types of themed photo series in the future.

You can find additional photos from my visit here

 


Five Days Of Foliage Day #4 – Goddard Memorial State Park (Warwick, RI)

Date Of Visit: November 1, 2017

Location: 1095 Ives Road, Warwick, RI

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free (but there are fees to use fields, gazebos and other facilities)

Parking: There are several parking areas

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, some areas of the park are handicapped accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Goddard Memorial State Park

Highlights: 490 acre park with a 9 hole golf course, playing fields, beach, performance center and equestrian show area with bridle trails.  The foliage isn’t bad either.

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To borrow a term coined by my northern Vermont neighbors, “stick season” is fast approaching.  Stick season is the fall and winter transition that occurs after the leaves have fallen but also before snow has settled on the trees.  This season is not just common to Vermont though.

Indicative of “stick season, I noticed many of the trees at Goddard Memorial State Park had already lost most of their leaves.  Yet, there were still some decent foliage opportunities along the shore of the beach and park.  The densely wooded Goddard has 62 deciduous (trees that have leaves that change) and 19 evergreen species (a species of tree that does not change color throughout the year).  So, there were a variety of trees to find foliage on.

Considered one of the best parks in Rhode Island, Goddard Memorial State Park’s 490 acres of land along Greenwich Cove and Greenwich Bay in Warwick, RI.

Goddard Memorial State Park has an equestrian show area and 18 miles of bridle paths for horse riders to enjoy.  While I was there I did happen upon a few riders.

I had never been to Goddard before.  I only learned about the park the day before after a quick search for the best parks in Rhode Island.  And the reviewers didn’t miss their mark.  The best part of the park may be the variety of activities and Goddard Park also has a 9 hole golf course, 11 playing fields, a canoe launch, a beach that allows swimming and a performance center.  With its pretty waterscapes, extensive hiking trails and picnic areas, Goddard is definitely a great place to take the family.

Read more view more photos about my trip to Goddard Memorial State Park here…

 


Five Days Of Foliage Day #3 – Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary (Topsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 21, 2017

Location: 87 Perkins Row, Topsfield, MA

Hours:

November–April:
Tues-Sun & Mon holidays, 9 am-4 pm
Closed Mondays

May–October:
Tues-Fri, 9 am-4 pm
Sat, Sun, & Mon holidays, 9 am-5 pm
Closed Mondays

Trails:
Tues-Sun, & Mon holidays, dawn to dusk
Closed Mondays

Cost:

Members: Free
Nonmembers:
$4 Adults
$3 Children (2-12)
$3 Seniors (65+)

Parking: There is free parking for about 30 vehicles

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: No

Website: Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

Original Post: Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

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Located only half an hour north of Boston, MA, Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary offers 12 miles of trails, diverse wildlife and some pretty good foliage.

I visited Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in July, 2016 (the link to this post is posted above).  But, like many of the places I have visited more than once, I found some hidden gems that I missed the first time.  Specifically, during my initial visit I missed out a cute walkway cut out of rock which I found during my recent visit.  I have considered revisiting places I have already photographed in the upcoming year to make sure my posts are much more comprehensive than they have been in the past.  It’s very easy to miss things if you don’t do your research beforehand or if you have a difficult time with the conditions.  In any event, it’s an idea I’m tossing around.

Since I had already visited Ipswich River Sanctuary and I was focusing mostly on foliage photo opportunities, I walked along the Ipswich River along some boardwalks, fairly easy trails and a few side trails.  There are lots of birds to photograph and the wildlife seems to be pretty friendly.  In fact, a chipmunk greeted me and came within inches of me.  I think they are used to seeing people and people may often feed them.  Unfortunately for the little fella, I was all out of acorns and nuts.

I have also seem deer at Ipswich River Sanctuary during both of my visits.  Actually, I have seem them multiple times during both of my visits.  During my first visit, I spotted two bucks drinking from the river.  They got away before I could photograph them.  But, I saw a deer later during my visit which I was able to photograph.

During my most recent visit, I saw a few deer running off into the woods.  But, again, I saw them later.  Except not in the sanctuary.  This leads me to my next observation.  I took a wrong turn, more accurately I missed a turn, on my drive back from the sanctuary.  I ended up on Central St where I found a mom deer and two of her little ones grazing on the side of the road.  After stopping abruptly and making sure she didn’t charge, I quickly grabbed my camera from the back seat without leaving the vehicle and took some photos of the deer family.

It was both exciting and shocking to see the deer by the road.  I know this happens often but I had never been so close to any animal on the road.  Not for one second did the momma’s eyes look away from my car.  You can also see how she is shielding one of her babies in the photos I took.

There was a lot of color at Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary.  However, my issue was more with lighting and shadows.  The weather was nice and there are lots of places to explore at the sanctuary.  But, I couldn’t stay long as I was going to Salem to do some Halloween photography.  So, I couldn’t stay too long.  I had to work with what I had.

Read more about my visit to Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary here…


Five Days Of Foliage Day #2 – Cutler Park Reservation (Needham, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 29, 2017

Location: 84 Kendrick St., Needham, MA

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Parking: There is room for 30 to 40 cars in the free parking area

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Cutler Park Reservation

Original Post: Cutler Park Reservation (Needham, MA)

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One of my favorite spots because of its proximity to Boston and it’s pretty views, Cutler Park was a must-see on my foliage peeping tour.

I would consider the colors at Cutler Park to be moderate which is somewhat surprising since I traveled there the last Sunday of October.  I have noticed that, perhaps due to the erratic and dry weather (specifically the lack of rain in the area at the time) and other environmental factors, some of the foliage has been happening later than usual.  The lack of rain, which had been the case during October, can cause the leaves to drop before they change color.  Plus, it seems like a lot of the places I have photographed have trees that do not change colors, such as pine and other types of evergreen trees.

Although Cutler Park is a large park (600 to 739 acres depending on the web site you trust),  In fact, it one of the entrances is in Needham and it traverses many town and city limits until you reach Dedham, MA (some 3 miles each way).  I took the loop that circles along Kendrick Pond which is about one mile all around.  I have been looking forward to going back to Cutler Park and it was great walking along the trails, although I was hoping to see more colors on the trees.

Please take a look at my Facebook page at the link below to see the other photos I took during my visit at Cutler Park.  Please also consider following me on Facebook to view more photos, videos, posts and other content I do not include on my blog!  Thank you for reading, liking and  commenting.

Read more here…