The Wall That Heals (West Springfield, MA)

Dates Of Exhibit: August 18 – 21, 2016 (the exhibit will be making another appearance in New England October 20 when it arrives in West Haven, CT and will then go to New Milford, CT, Leominster, MA and the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT)

Location: Eastern States Exposition (Gate 9) , 1305 Memorial Ave, West Springfield, MA

Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Parking: Parking was free for viewing the memorial (it is usually $5 to park there).  There were about 70 parking spots.

Dog Friendly: No

Highlights: Replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Mobile Educational Center, military memorabilia and vehicles, helicopter liftoff

Website: The Wall That Heals

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The traveling replica of the Wall That Heals spent the weekend of August 18-21 at the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Massachusetts before continuing its tour.  It is presently in Princetown, New York until August 28.  Click below to see the entire 2016 schedule for the wall

The Wall That Heals 2016 Tour Schedule

A half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Wall That Heals has been to more than 400 cities throughout the United States.  It was dedicated on Veteran’s Day (November 11), 1996.

The Wall That Heals is meant to not only act as a reminder of all those who died in the service of their country during the Vietnam Conflict it also is meant to help veterans cope and heal from the pain they still harbor and hopefully help them heal.

There is also a mobile Education Center which has educational information on the walls of the truck.  In one section of the exterior of the truck there was a list and photos of the people from Massachusetts lost in Vietnam.  Another section showed the names and photos from the area where the truck was parked (Western MA) and a final video screen displayed all of the victims of the war.  There is also timelines of the war and additional background information of the war.

You can’t help but to be moved by seeing all of the names on the wall.  All of those names had dreams, hopes, futures that were snuffed out much too early.  I kept thinking how much more they were meant to accomplish.  They were supposed to fall in love and have children and outlive their parents.  What really got to me was seeing the photos, notes, flowers and flags that were left behind.  Even decades later, the wounds are still fresh for so many.

The 250 foot long wall has over 58,000 names.

 

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On a lighter note, one thing I have always respected and admired about people in the service and veterans is their sense of humor and ability to turn just about anything into a joke.  This signpost, presumably a replica of a sign at one of the American camps in Vietnam details the distances (from West Springfield, MA) to Camp Pendleton (2,494 mi), Ia Drang (8,599 mi), Vietnam Wall (371 mi) and, of course, Disney World (1,236 mi).  Home is wherever you are so that shows 0 miles.

There were also tables with military gear from the Vietnam War era and military vehicles also from that era.

We were also treated to a helicopter liftoff (video of the liftoff follows below) by an Army Black Hawk Medevac.  The things on the side are either gun pods or for launching torpedoes. Watching them prep for the liftoff showed me just how much care and preparation goes into every flight and just how meticulous they are about checking their flight gear.

Below are videos of a walking tour of The Wall That Heals (I only walked half of the wall with the video recording because it was a high traffic area) and the Blackhawk helicopter liftoff.

Places With Similar Monuments I Have Visited In New England:

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Fort Taber/Rodman Park

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Veteran Greens Memorial Park

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Odiorne Point State Park (Rye, NH)

Date Visited: August 6, 2016

Location: 570 Ocean Blvd, Rye, NH 603-436-7406

Hours: Open everyday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (I got there well before 8 and the gates were already open).  Open but unstaffed after 10/11

Cost: $4 for adults $2 for children (ages 6-11), NH residents who are seniors (over 65) or younger than 6 get in free

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots in the main parking area.  There are additional parking lots along the beach

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 to 2 hours

Trails: Easy

Dog Friendly: No

Highlights: abundant wildlife (mostly birds), pretty flowers and trees, lighthouse (Whaleback Light), scenic views, play area for children, “sunken forest”, science center, historical site

Lowlights: Parking can be tough (especially during the summer), since it is considered a beach dogs are not allowed at the park

Odiorne Point State Park Trail Map

Odiorne Point State Park Website

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The location of the first English settlement in New Hampshire, Odiorne Point has a very storied past.

Named after the Odiorne family who settled there during the 1660’s, Odiorne Point is probably best known for being a military installation during World War 2.  Known as Fort Dearborn at the time, Odiorne Point was part of the military’s attempt to modernize the U.S. coast defenses.  Part of the military installation served as a radar station by the United States Air Force beginning in 1949, and in 1955 this became the Rye Air Force Station.  None of the Air Force’s installation remains there.  Looking at the historical remnants of the fort it is obvious how far we have come as a military power.  Real shells, a bunker entrance, a battery and other historical structures are scattered throughout the entrance to the park.

The park also has a science center located at the end of one of the main paths where people can learn about nature and the various wildlife that inhabit the park.

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The trails at the park were easy to negotiate.  However, if you do go off trail to get a closer view of the surroundings and wildlife you have to be careful and be mindful of the water level.  I will touch on this later in the post.

As you can see from the photos above, the plants and trees at Odiorne are beautiful even if they are directly next to a dumpster.

Only about an hour’s drive north of Boston, Odiorne Point has something for people of all ages to enjoy. There is a play area for children as well as picnic tables and benches for people to sit and eat while they take in all of the beautiful views.

This particular family had a hungry visitor eyeing them as they ate lunch.

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The birds are one of the main attractions of the park.  A wide variety of gulls, egrets and other birds frequent the park.

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The views at Odiorne State Park are pretty all year round.  The lighthouse, Whaleback Light, provides a majestic backdrop for any photo.  The weather was very erratic when I made my visit.  It was rainy and raw when I first arrived at the park in the early morning hours.  After waiting out the rain, the clouds gave way to the sun.  Then, the wind picked up and drove the waves against the rocks.  Basically, I experienced just about all the weather New England has in one day.  In other words, it was a typical New England day.

Perhaps the biggest attraction of Odiorne Point State Park is the “sunken forest”.  If you arrive during low tide, you can see what used to be a forest or some other land.  What appears to be tree stumps, rocks and other land based structures appear on the floor of what will rapidly become the bottom of the body of water.

So, during low tide you can easily traverse these rocks (make sure to not try this with sandals on or barefoot) and get closer to the birds, ocean and other rocks.  One important thing to keep in mind is the tide comes in pretty quickly.  I made it out to the rocky area where the birds were all hanging out.  Then, suddenly, I realized just how much water had accumulated around me.  I quickly ran/sloshed through ankle deep water along the pebbles to make it back to land before it got too late.  If I waited half an hour longer I would have been swimming back to shore.  Below are some side side examples of just how quickly the water rises.  The time lapse is only about an hour.

Below are two videos of the waves and scenery at Odiorne Point.

Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:

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Colt State Park (Bristol, RI)

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Moswetuset Hummock (Quincy, MA)

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Hammonasset Beach State Park (Madison, CT)

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Breakheart Reservation (Saugus, MA)

Date Of Visit: August 14, 2016

Location: 177 Forest St, Saugus, MA 781-223-0834

Parking:  There are about 30 parking spots at the entrance to the park.  There is also off street parking and parking available down the street at Kasabuski Arena (201 Forest St).

Cost: Free

Hours: Open everyday sunrise to sunset

Size: 640 acres

Time To Allot For Visit: At least 1 to 3 hours

Trail difficulty: Easy to Moderate in some areas

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fun For One: Yes

Highlights: scenic views – especially from Eagle Rock, beach, play area for children, trails for cycling and running, fishing is allowed

Lowlights: side trails end without warning, some rocky terrain

Trail Map: Breakheart Reservation Trail Map

Website: Breakheart Reservation

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Once a hunting ground and camp area for Paleo Indians as far back as the Archaic and Woodland eras (roughly 1000 – 2000 BCE),  Breakheart Reservation boasts two grand lakes, scenic vistas, a beach, a play area for children and miles of trails.

The trails are mostly easy with some moderately difficult trails and inclines.  The side trails can be challenging more because of the rocky and narrow terrain rather than the inclines.  The one downside to taking the side trails is that some of the side trails end without warning, such was the case with the Saugus River Trail which is one of the first side trails you will see when you enter the park.  The Cedar Glen Golf Course abuts the park.  So, you’ll hear and see golfers whacking their golf balls around.  Also, one side trail leads to the children’s camping site which you’re not supposed to access and yet another trail just ends near a store’s parking lot.  So, you end up walking long distances only to have to turn around.  If you want to avoid walking on trails that end suddenly, it’s best to stay on the main trail and the trails that loop around the lake.

The two lakes at Breakheart Reservation, Pearce Lake and Silver Lake, have trails that loop around the bodies of water.

Pearce Lake (considered the lower pond) has a beach and some very pretty views.  It runs along the main trail and along some of the side trails.  It is the larger of the two lakes and it is where the beach is loacted.

Although Lake Pearce is the larger of the two lakes, I found Lake Silver (the upper pond) to be more intriguing than Lake Pearce.

Lake Pearce has two smaller islands in the lake.  One of the islands is accessible via a makeshift walking bridge of branches, sticks and anything else that you can walk on to get to the island.  Except for some pretty views there wasn’t much on the island.

At an elevation of 206 feet, Eagle Rock offers scenic views of the Boston skyline and surrounding areas.  One suggestion I would make if you do try to climb up to Eagle Rock (it’s a moderate climb) is to use the “back” way to the vista (aptly names Eagle Rock Trail).  I went straight up along the rocky edge along the Pearce Lake Trail and it was more challenging than it would have been if I had gone up via the trail on Eagle Rock Trail.  There are other points of higher elevation on other trails such as Castle Rock and Crow Hill.

There are many other beautiful and interesting things along the trails at Breakheart Reservation.

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Breakheart has a paved main trail which is usually packed with runner, cyclists and people walking their dogs, especially at the Bark Place where dogs are allowed off leash for a section of the trail.

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Breakheart Reservation stopped allowing vehicles on the trails some time ago.  It was great not having to look over your shoulder or carefully turn a corner worrying if a car or other vehicle might be coming your way.  It also allows lots of room for all the walkers, runners and, of course, the dogs that frequent the park.

These dogs had a great time at Breakheart Reservation during my visit…

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Bailey is a 6 year old Black Mouth Cur

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Cooper is a 7 year old Golden Retriever.

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Free is an 8 year old Bichon and Shih Tzu mix.

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Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:

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Dorrs Pond, Manchester, NH

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Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary

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Rutland State Park

Below is a video of the view from Eagle Rock.


Forever Young Cruisers (Westfield, MA)

Date Of Event: July 30, 2016

Location: Zuber’s Ice Cream And Deli, 98 Southwick Rd, Westfield, MA

Hours: Saturdays, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m (until October 1)

Cost: Free (but make sure to stop in at Zuber’s for a cone or treat)

Parking: There are about 15-20 parking spots

Time To Allot For Visit: About 30 minutes to an hour

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fun For One: Yes

Highlights: Really cool antique cars, located in the parking lot of an ice cream shop/deli (Zuber’s)

Lowlights: Not a lot of cars

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Summer means road trips, long days at the beach and car shows.  Yes, car shows.  Muscle cars and other hot rods are a staple of any summer road trip.

It was great seeing cars with the old gauges and front seat bench seating as opposed to the bucket seats we’ve all become accustomed to.  It reminded me of the old Delta 88 I used to tool around in.  I still miss that car.

Whenever I see older cars, I wonder what memories are attached to them.  How many first dates were they driven on?  How many times did different families pile in her en route to the destinations?

We attach so many memories and emotions to our cars.  They’re more than just steel and iron to us (now they are more than just plastic and aluminum).  Old cars, even if we never owned them or rode in them, bring us back to our earlier, more carefree days.  I wonder how many special memories are attached to these cars.

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There were only about a dozen or so cars.  So, if you’re looking to see a wide variety of cars you might be out of luck.  But, what the event lacked in quantity it made up for in quality of cars like this 1970 Roadrunner, 440 engine.

 

One of the things I really liked was how the owners of the vehicles dressed up their vehicles and added decor and dolls from the era or that have something in common with their vehicle.  For instance, the owner of the Road Runner pictured above has a bunch of Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote dolls in the backseat of his car.

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The owner of this AMC 1973 Javelin dressed up his car with Bettie Boop collectibles.

This Buick Series 60 went with the traditional fuzzy dice motif

I have no idea what the motif of this decor is

This race car, which the owner still races, has a Chevrolet frame.  But, it is made of mostly custom parts.

It did the Kessel Run in 7.88.  Oh, sorry that was Han Solo I was thinking of.  This car actually did a quarter mile in 7.88 (the number light up in the back side back window of the car) for a not so shabby 137 miles per hour.

This ’32 Roadster was the oldest vehicle that I could confirm at the car show.  The owner was especially proud of the license plate.

A lot of the car owners are very proud of their vehicles and they have lots and lots of stories of their experiences in their cars (driving and otherwise).  Often times, just talking to these people can be as entertaining as looking at the cars.  It gives the cars some personality when you can talk to the people who drive them and hear about their driving experiences.

As an added bonus, you can stop by Zuber’s and get a cone or sandwich after looking over the cars!

Since it opened in 2006, Zuber”s has been serving up sandwiches, ice cream and a variety of other items to people from Westfield and surrounding areas.  What makes the shop so cool is that it doesn’t just sell sandwiches and a variety of sweets.  You can get your food to go or you can eat it in their outdoor dining area.  They also sell everything from birdhouses to toys in their bargain section.  You never know what you’ll find when you visit.  And, if you’re like me and you like to collect things, you never know what you’ll end up going home with.

Similar Events In New England To Visit:

marks

Mark’s Classic Cruise Night

 

 


Dorrs Pond (Manchester, NH)

Date Visited: August 7, 2016

Location: Dorrs Pond is part of Livingston Park which is located at 244 Hookset Rd, Manchester, NH (off Daniel Webster Highway)

Hours: Open 24 hours (use your best judgment if you go at nighttime)

Cost: Free

Parking:  There are about 70 or so parking spots by Dorrs Pond.  There is also additional parking by the play area and field by Livingston Park.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Size: 1.2 mile loop with some short side trails.

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 or 2 hours

Fun For One: Yes

Highlights: abundant wildlife, popular trails for runner, cyclists and walkers, pretty views, very well maintained, benches for sitting, skating on the pond during the winter

Lowlights: short loop (only 1.2 mile) so many runners have to complete the loop several times to get a good workout, some side trails end abruptly at parking lots or just stop without going anywhere

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Once an artificial pond to serve the people of Manchester, Dorrs Pond now serves a scenic retreat for cyclists, runners, nature lovers and dogs.

“hidden gem” is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot.  But, the photos below will show how this description is apt for Dorrs Pond.  In fact, I, and many people I talked to about it, had never been to this pond or ever even heard about before I went there.

One of the great things about Dorrs Pond is it is not a particularly difficult trail.  The trails are Dorrs Pond are pretty level with a few small inclines

The views at Dorrs Pond are beautiful.  Vivid greens and a variety of green, purple and other vibrant colors dot the landscape.

One of the best parts of Dorrs Pond is the wildlife.  There is a variety of birds, amphibians and other animals at the pond.

I also found this interesting shelter.  Unfortunately, no one was home.

During the winter, skating is allowed on the pond.  Also, there is a play area, playing field, restrooms and pool for children (and some adults) in addition to Dorrs Pond at Livingston Park.

Doors Pond is a great place to bring your dog.  The trail is not too long and the inclines are not very steep.  And it was a perfect day for taking your pooch out for a stroll.  I saw lots of dogs at Dorrs Pond.  Here are a few of the cute dogs at the park Sunday:

Katie, a 9 month old German Shepherd.

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Finley, a Cavachon who will be 2 in September

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Reagan, a 4 month old Golden Retriever

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and Jackson, a 2 year old Basenji Greyhound.

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Similar Places In New England I Have Visited:

ames

Ames Nowell State Park

cutler1

Cutler Park

 

 


New England Morgan Horse Show (Northampton, MA)

Dates Of Event: July 26-30, 2016

Location: Three County Fairgrounds, 54 Fair St, Northampton, MA

Hours:  The day I went there was an all day event, climaxing in a celebratory event in the evening at he fairgrounds.  The events began at 10.

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a free parking lot across the way from the fairgrounds which holds about 40-50 cars.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Fun For One: Not so much, unless you really love horses

Highlights: horses, competitions, skilled riders of all ages

Lowlights: lack of concession stands, seating for most spectators is not close to the riding area (you can stand at the fence to watch though)

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Every year, the New England Morgan Horse Association holds a special event to display the best riders in their organization (some come as far as Idaho and even farther away).  The 5 day event displays riders of every age group and skill set.  While the youngest riders stick to walking and a light trot, some of the more experienced riders showed off their advanced skill sets like this harness rider.

The poise and skills of all of the riders in every age group was remarkable.  Just watching children smiling and having a fun time while riding such powerful and majestic animals was impressive.  I felt a surge of pride for these kids I didn’t even know!

One class of riders was as young as 11 and under.  But, they were great.  At their ages, I was riding the coin operated horses outside of the department stores at the mall.  Something I was not aware of is the riders will often make “clicking” or “kissing”sounds to communicate with the horse.

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We could not stay for the all day event.  But, the two hours we spent was jam packed with competitions, shows and riders trotting with their horses.

I didn’t see much along the lines of concession stands, except for a lemonade truck.  But, since it is a free event, you could leave to get lunch at one of the many fine dining establishments in the Northampton area (try Jake’s or Sylvester’s) and re-enter at your leisure.

One of the great things about the event was the attire of the riders.  From the glitzy too the more traditional, they all looked great.

And yes, they even let dogs into the event.  In fact, I saw quite a few dogs at the horse show like Rylee, a 5 year old flat coated retriever.

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And Annie, a Jack Russell mix.  Annie’s mom saved her at a rescue shelter.

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Similar Events In New England I Have Been To:

None

Similar Events In New England I Have Not Been To Yet:

Arabian Horse Association Of New England

Equine Affair

 

 

 


Scott Tower (Holyoke, MA)

Date Visited: July 30, 2016

Location: 8 Scott Tower Rd, Holyoke, MA, behind the Community Field Park at 51 Community Field Park, Holyoke, MA

Hours: Open everyday, no hours listed but it can be dangerous at night

Cost: Free

Parking: Roughly a couple of dozen parking spots are available at Community Field

Dog Friendly: Yes

Time To Allot For Visit: Between half and hour and an hour

Highlights: the tower, pretty views of West Springfield and the surrounding area, wildlife, plant life, easy mile hike

Lowlights: Graffiti all over the tower (all. over), a lot of broken bottles and other litter on the premises, some stairs to the top of the tower have holes in them or are missing, tower not accessible by car

Fun For One: Yes

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The walk to the tower is an easy mile walk with a few moderate inclines.  An easy way to locate the trail to Scott Tower is to look for the overpass.  Walk directly under the overpass and stay on the asphalt trail.  There are a lot of side trails and trees, plants, graffiti and remnants of what looks like used to be a waterfall or wall.  Now, the party days are way behind the Nomad but zig zags and 4:20?  Well, I guess things don’t change that much after all.  You crazy Holyoke kids.

Below is a side by side comparison of what the tower reportedly looked like in its heyday (July 16, 1972), a photo of what it looked like in May 31, 2004 and what it looks like now (July 30, 2016).  Yes, it’s pretty cringe worthy.

As a footnote, the tower was originally built in 1942.  Also, there used to be a fence around the tower which you can see at the bottom of the second photo taken in 2004.  The fence seemed to work as there is very little if any graffiti on the tower in the second photo.  Of course, the fence was torn down (presumably by visitors) and the graffiti and vandalism escalated.

There was also a lot of rustling in the brush from squirrels, chipmunks and other types of wildlife.  The vulture on the pole we saw on the way to the tower seemed like a bad harbinger.

Once the main attraction of Craft Hill at Anniversary Hill Park, Scott Tower is now a shell of what it once was.  Graffiti and litter cover the tower and it appears to be in disrepair.  In fact, you can see some remnants of what look like what used to be tables or shelters.  Even with all of the graffiti and litter, the tower is still impressive.

Not all of the graffiti was just messy chicken scratch.  Whenever I go to a landmark in MA, especially Western MA, there is bound to be some artistic renderings.  There wasn’t anything too artsy there but these images did catch my eye.

 

Scott Tower has two areas for observation.  There is an observation deck on the second floor and there is an enclosed area at the top of the tower.  The tower offers views of nearby Mount Tom and the Holyoke area.  The views are pretty sweet.  Just be careful if you  do go to the top.  Some of the stairs are missing or have holes in them.

It’s pretty far down from the second floor of the tower.

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The tricky thing about accessing Scott Tower is you have to park at Community Field Park (use the entrance off Cherry St).  The entrance is behind the park.  There is usually a gate up that you can easily navigate around.  You will have to pass under an overpass on your way to the tower.  It is about a mile walk to the tower.  You will see many side trails on your way to the tower but stay on the main trail for the easiest, most direct route.

While I was at Community Field Park before we began the walk to Scott Tower, we saw this beautiful dog.  Remy is a 4 year old Black and Tan Coonhound

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Below are some videos of a walking tour of the tower.  I really had to watch my step in the first video.  So, it’s mostly a video of the stairs and me wheezing.

I had to stop the second video so I could take some photos of the openings in the tower and the walls.

Just as an aside, I am regularly updating my categories at the top and bottom of my posts.  The “fun for one” category at the top simply means it can be fun to do by yourself.  Being a single person, I often take this into account before I decide to photograph or visit places.  I went with my mom this time so it was a lot of fun but it was something you could do by yourself or, better yet, with a dog!

Similar places in New England I have visited:

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Poet’s Tower, Greenfield, MA

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Bancroft Tower, Worcester, MA

Similar places in New England I have not visited (yet):

scargo

Scargo Tower, Dennis (Cape Cod), MA

newport

Newport Tower, Newport, Rhode Island

 


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