Purgatory Chasm State Reservation (Sutton, MA)

Date Visited: September 4, 2016

Location: 198 Purgatory Rd., Sutton, MA

Hours: Open everyday, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are about 50 parking spots in the main lot and several additional parking areas farther down the road in the park.

Cost:  $5 MA Vehicle, $6 non-MA Vehicle

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 hour to 3 hours

Trail Difficulty: Ranges from Difficult (The Chasm) to easy (The Charley Loop)

Highlights: interesting rock structures, jagged, rocky trails and wildlife

Lowlights: some of the trails can be dangerous, especially if there has been rain or snow in the area or if you do not wear proper footwear (hiking shoes are recommended)

Web Site: Purgatory Chasm State Reservation

Trail Map: Purgatory Chasm Trail Map

dsc_0261

Purgatory Chasm might evoke images of the afterlife or the apocalypse.  But, no, it’s actually in Sutton, MA.

The trail of jagged stones is only .25 miles but they are difficult to cross in some parts and particularly dangerous when you’re carrying a camera.

The Chasm is believed to have originated because of the sudden release of dammed-up glacial meltwater near the end of the last Ice Age, approximately 14,000 years ago.

Almost as difficult is the incline next to the Chasm with such areas as as The Corn Crib, The Coffin, The Pulpit, Lovers’ Leap and Fat Man’s Misery.  The inclines are very steep in some areas on this route.  There are areas that have a smoother, less sharp incline (look for the rocks on the right side of the incline for these smoother declines).  I had to take the more steeper inclines and declines, of course.  Some of the views from the ledges are a little scary if you don’t like heights.  Some of the heights are as high as 70 feet in some areas and the rocky terrain below would not make for a very safe landing.

There are several trails you can take after tackling the Chasm.  We took the Charley Loop – an easy, mostly smooth trail with pretty flowers and rocky structures that is just over a mile long.

While walking along the Charley Loop, we found a rock with a strange crystal-like powder on it.

These crystals are Granite Pegmatite which is made up of clusters or clumps of minerals.  They generally contain mica, feldspar, beryl and quartz.

Beyond the chasm there is a pond with frogs, birds, possibly some turtles, flowers, and, of course, rocks.

There is also a large rock with a steep decline that has a slippery surface.  We found some children (and a few adults) sliding down it.

Purgatory Chasm is a great place to bring dogs for a walk (I would avoid taking them on the Chasm trail).  We saw a few dogs during our visit.

Gisele (not Tom’s Gisele, at least I don’t think so) is a 8 year old Yorkie.

Sawyer is a friendly 3 and a half year old Golden Retriever.

Charlie is a rescue dog who was being fostered.  Since he was a rescue, his foster family didn’t know his exact breed or his age.  He was taken in from the Lighthouse Animal Shelter in New Bedford, MA. Hopefully, he has a happy new permanent home now.

Below is a video looking over one of the many edges of the rocky incline next to the Chasm.

Please check out my facebook page and like it to see videos, photos and other content not posted on my blog.  Thank you!

Facebook


South Natick Dam Park (Natick, MA)

Date Visited: August 13, 2016

Location: 9 Pleasant Street South

Hours: Open daily, dawn til dusk

Cost: Free

Parking:  There is free unmetered off street parking available but only a dozen or so cars can fit on the side street.  You may be able to park somewhere else nearby and walk to the dam.

Time To Allot For Visit: half an hour to an hour

Dog Friendly: Yes

Web Site: South Natick Dam Park

Highlights: pretty waterfall, birds, pretty architecture, family friendly

dsc_0197

Established in 1933 on the site of a former grist mill, the South Natick Dam Park attracts people far and wide for its pretty waterfall and scenic views.  Construction of the South Natick Dam was completed on September 2, 1933.  It replaced a timber dam that had been built at the site since 1760 by Matthew Hastings.

dsc_0192

Millstones from the grist mill, which had served the area since colonial times, are embedded in the paved area of the area surrounding the dam.

There is also an island in the middle of the river, that you can see in some of the photos, which is named for Horace Holyoke, one of the characters from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Old Town Folks.” This character is based on her husband Calvin Stowe who was a South Natick native.

Since the water was at such a low level, I was able to walk down to the base of the dam and take some photos from where the water would normally be.

The South Natick Dam Park is adjacent to the Charles River’s dam, and is a popular spot for visitors, both human and animal.

 

A fun and unexpected stop on my way home from Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary, the South Natick Dam is a great place to take your dog for a walk, photograph or just sit at one of the benches and take in the beauty of the area.

 

 

 

 


Boswell’s Books (Shelburne Falls, MA)

Date Visited: September 6, 2016

Location: 10 Bridge St, Shelburne Falls, MA

Hours:

Mon – Wed: 11:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.

Thu & Fri : 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Sun:   10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

(hours may vary depending on the time of the year)

Parking:  There is unmetered  off street parking available (2 hour limit) and a free parking area off Baker Ave with about 30 -40 free spots (take care not to park in the spots reserved for businesses and other tenants in the area) and additional off street parking.  Parking is difficult during peak times

Dog Friendly: Probably Not

Web Site: Boswell’s Books

 

dsc_1021

Few things go better than cats and books.  And Boswell’s Books is proof of this.

Formerly named the Bridge Street Bookshop until 1991, Boswell’s Books was originally named after one of the previous owners’ cats, Boswell.  Since then, the book store has gone through some changes, including changes in location and changes in ownership.  But, the one mainstay has been Boswell.

The current feline resident of the bookstore, a 7 year old female tuxedo cat, is the fifth Boswell.

We found her resting in the front window taking a much deserved cat nap.

dsc_1001

Boswell’s books has cute decor and, even though they may not be as big as some of the other bookstores, they make good use of the space they do have.

They even have acommodations for everyone, people and felines.

dsc_1009dsc_1007

Boswell’s also holds special events such as book signings and book readings.  It’s a must-see if you’re in the Shelburne Falls area!

There are so many fun places to visit in Shelburne Falls.  In fact, one need only to walk along Bridge Street to find some wonderful places to shop.  I have always found these smaller, independtly owned businesses to have  such friendly and great service. Plus, it’s always good to support locally owned businesses.

Mocha Maya’s Coffee House (47 Bridge St) is a cozy little coffee shop where you can bring your recently purchased book to read and have a coffee, sandwich or blended drink.  They also host musical events.

Unfortunately, the Trolley Stop Antiques and Collectibles shop was not open during our visit.  As you can see, the shop has some very unusual products.

Even if you don’t want to stop in at any of the shops or diners, Shelburne Falls is a great place to walk around and appreciate the views and the atmosphere.

Boswell wasn’t the only pet I saw at Shelburne Falls.  Catfish (named after legendary New York Yankee pitcher Catfish Hunter) is a 4 year old (he will be turning 5 in November) Leonberger.  Leonberger’s are a large breed dog that were popular in Germany.  They were originally bred to be a symbolic dog that would mimic the lion in the town crest of Leonberg in Baden-Wurttemberg in Germany.  He’s truly a gentle giant.

dsc_1000dsc_0996

 


Bridge Of Flowers (Shelburne Falls, MA)

Date Visited: September 6, 2016

Location: 22 Water St, Shelburne Falls, MA (1 hour west of Springfield, MA, 1.5 hours east of Hartford, CT and about 2 hours west of Boston)

Hours: Open April 1 – October 30, 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: There is available off street parking (the 2 hour unmetered parking limit on Bridge St is strictly enforced) and a free parking area off Baker Ave with about 30 -40 free spots (take care not to park in the spots reserved for businesses and other tenants in the area) and additional off street parking.  Parking is difficult during peak times.

Size: 400 feet long, 18 feet wide

Time To Allot For Visit: 30 minutes an hour.

Dog Friendly: No

Highlights: pretty flowers, scenic views, memorials, works of art, a master gardener is available on the bridge during peak weekends to ask questions about your own plants and gardens

Lowlights: bridge can get congested since it is narrow

Website: Bridge Of Flowers

dsc_0524

Built in 1908 for a measley $20,000 (roughly $500,000 in current day’s money) by the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway, the Bridge of Flowers is now home to a wide variety of flowers, trees and even some works of art.

Originally, the bridge was used as the main mode of transportation for the community.  However, once cars became more popular, the train was used less and the company went out of business.   Since the bridge could not be destroyed because it carried a water main between the towns of Colrain and Shelburne Falls, it was decided to do something with the bridge. Then, in 1929, the Shelburne Women’s Club sponsored Antoinette Burnham’s idea to transform the bridge into a garden.

More than 35,000 people visit the bridge ever year.  Yet, it is still something of an unknown attraction, even in New England.

Much to the consternation of my company, I can be very particular about my photos (although my guest on this day didn’t complain).  I tried my best to take photographs of the bridge without any visitors on the bridge or with as few people as possible on it and wow did it take a while to get those shots which just goes to show how much foot traffic it can get.  But, I did eventually get my shots of an empty or close to empty bridge.

This post is photo-heavy.  As much as I tried, it was very hard to choose flowers to include and which ones to not include.

The hardest part of this photo shoot was selecting the best photos to post.  The flowers are so pretty and the view nothing short of jaw dropping.  The flowers are also beautifully arranged.  I especially liked how the flowers complimented the landscape.

 

Birds and bees like the flowers, too.

Flowers and trees aren’t the only attractions at the Bridge Of Flowers.  Memorials and art are scattered throughout the bridge.

One of the works of art at the Bridge of Flowers is a stained glass window designed by Nancy Katz and created by Mark Liebowitz at the Garden House.  It is illuminated during the evening.

 

This water fountain is also at the area past the bridge.

I noticed this in one of the flower beds.  What is it?  A coded message?  A plan for a secret rendezvous?

dsc_0897

Also, and not least, there are war memorials on the bridge.  This memorial honors the veterans of World War I and World War II of the Buckland and Shelburne areas.  While it honors all of the veterans of these wars, the names of those made the supreme sacrifice from these areas are engraved on the plaque on the stone.

This memorial honors the veterans of Korean and Vietnam wars.  The names of the peolpe from the community who lost their lives in these wars are engraved on the plaque on the stone.

dsc_0962

Another great thing about the bridge is they plant flowers each month and it is “peak season” for different flowers at different times (their planting schedule is on their web site).  So you’re sure to see something new and pretty any time you go.  However, I would suggest going during the summer or, preferably, the fall.

Similar Places I Have Visited In New England:

dsc_03441

Glacial Potholes And Salmon Falls (Shelburne Falls, MA)

dsc_03261

Eindsor-Cornish Bridge (Windsor, VT and Cornish, NH)

dsc_0146

Wiggly Bridge (York, ME)

 


Glacial Potholes & Salmon Falls (Shelburne Falls, MA)

Date Visited: September 6, 2016

Location: Deerfield Ave, Shelburne Falls, MA

Hours: Open everyday, 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: There is off street parking with a 2 hour limit and police do take notice

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: waterfall, glacial potholes, flowers, birds, shops, attractions

dsc_0344

The Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes attraction in Shelburne Falls, MA, is a beautiful “two-fer.”  “Three-fer” if we include the bowling alley adjacent to the Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes attractions.  IN fact, it is more accurately described as a “many-fer”s there are many attractions and beautiful attractions to the Salmon Falls area.

Although it may be best known for The Bridge Of Flowers (post to come shortly), beauty and grandeur abound Salmon Falls/Glacial Potholes area on Deerfield Ave.

The glacial potholes were ground out of granite during the high water of the Glacial Age.  The whirlpool action of the waves and the gyrating stones created the prominent holes in the stones.  It is said some of the grinding mills can still be seen in the smaller potholes.  Over 50 potholes exist in the confined area known as “Salmon Falls” when the the Native Americans resided here.  The potholes vary in size from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter.  The 39 inch diameter pothole is considered the largest pothole on record.  And you thought the potholes on our roads were bad.

 

Salmon Falls, as it was dubbed by the Native Americans, was a common area for hunting and fishing.  The waterfall still gives some pretty views against a once industrialized scenery as the backdrop.

dsc_0248

What makes the Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes area are the small shops and antiquated buildings that give the area a very old fashioned small town feel.  This is true for pretty much the entire community of Shelburne Falls.

There is a bench for sitting, feeding the birds and just taking in the beauty around you.

Almost as a prelude to the much heralded Bridge of Flowers (which is located only a short walk or drive from the Salmon Falls and Glacial Potholes area), flowers and trees bound the Salmon Falls area.

If you’re lucky you might even find a feathered friend to photograph.

dsc_0375

Deerfield Ave, the road that leads to Salmon Falls and the Glacial Potholes, still has the old town feel that adds tot he charm of the area.  In fact, the entire Shelburne Falls area still has many “mom and pop” shops and independent businesses rather than chain stores.  It was nice walking around without being bombarded by convenience stores and restaurant chains that seem to scar so many other towns.

The Shelburne Bowling Alley is one of the oldest bowling alleys in the country.  In operation since 1906 (and yes it is still open for business currently), the Shelburne Bowling Alley could easily be mistaken for a barn or some other structure from a different time.

dsc_0252

There is also a variety of art throughout the area.  Some of the art I noticed looked different from the art I have seen in previous visits.  So it appears they do change it up every so often.  The art honors the history of the area and gives information about the area.

Below is a video of the falls at Salmon Falls.  It was an overcast and somewhat windy day when we first arrived at the Falls so you may hear the wind in the video.  But, most of the sound is from the rushing waters of the Falls.

Similar Places In New England I have Visited:

dsc_0329

Wadsworth Falls State Park (Middletown, CT)

 

dsc_0913

Cascading Waters (Worcester, MA)

dsc_06561

Bash Bish Falls (Mount Washington, MA)


Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (Pittsfield, MA)

Date Visited: September 3, 2016

Location: Holmes Rd, Pittsfield, MA (it is not clearly marked – it is about 2 miles down the road on the right hand side if you coming from the east)

Cost: Free but donations are appreciated

Parking:  There is room for about a dozen cars (see photo below)

dsc_0975

Trail difficulty: Easy

Park Size: 253 acres, 3 miles of trails

Time To Allot For Visit: 1 to 2 hours

Dog Friendly: No, dogs aren’t allowed on MA Audubon trails.

Highlights: pretty plants and flowers, a lot of wildlife, ponds, home to a community garden

Lowlights: Park is a little hard to find, some trails may be inaccessible or difficult to hike particularlywhen it rains

Web Site: Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Canoe Meadows Trail Map

I am always surprised at how some of the more beautiful areas to visit seem to be tucked away in the most unlikely places.  It’s almost as though they are meant to be kept a secret for just the few people who are adventurous enough to find it.  Such is the case with Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary.  Tucked away on a busy side street in the otherwise sleepy town of Pittsfield, MA, Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary (ironically, you can’t launch a canoe or any watercraft there) is a haven for birds, the occasional water faring mammal or amphibian and beautiful flowers.

The paths at Canoe Meadows are clearly defined and there are benches, bridges and boardwalks along the trail.

What stood out most to me about Canoe Meadows are the colorful plants and flowers and the trees.  The colors of the plants are so vibrant and the trees are nothing short of majestic.  I love the mix of pink, purple, white and yellow flowers as you can probably tell by my photos.

There are also a lot of bees at Canoe Meadows pollinating this time of the year.  There is a bee inside this flower.  You may be able to barely see the bees sticking outside of the flower.

dsc_0864

 

There are plenty of birds at Canoe Meadows.  They do like to hide.  So it is hard to get good photos of them.

I spotted this heron as he was flying away.  I just wish I saw the bird earlier.

dsc_0868dsc_0869

I also saw this chipmunk, one of the more common residents of the meadow.

dsc_0777

There were also lots of frogs at the meadow.

dsc_0882dsc_0879dsc_0878

Unfortunately, I did not see any of the otters, beavers and other critters that are said to inhabit this meadow (although I did see evidence of their existence there).  If you go early in the day or are very quiet, you may have better luck.  Good luck if you do try!

Similar Places I Have Visited In New England:

dsc_0005

Dorrs Pond (Manchester, NH)

dsc_07681

The Nature Trail And Cranberry Bog At Patriot Place (Foxborough, MA)

Please connect with me on one of my other social media sites to see videos, photos, links and other cool stuff not included in this blog!  Thank you.

Facebook (New England Nomad)

Instagram (@new.england.nomad_)

Twitter (New England Nomad)

 


Agawam Fire Department’s September 11 Memorial (Agawam, MA)

Date Visited: September 9, 2016

Location: Agawam Fire Dept Headquarters, 800 Main St, Agawam, MA

Parking:  There is a parking area for 5 or 6 cars next to the memorial area and off street parking available nearby

Hours: Accessible everyday, 24 hours a day

dsc_0167

Dedicated on the first anniversary of the attacks, the Agawam Fire Department’s 9/11 memorial is constructed of two granite blocks.  It is evident that much care and attention to detail was taken in the construction of the memorial.  The towers are spaced accurately with 1 World Trade Center to the left and in front of 2 World Trade Center.  Two benches (one on each side of the towers), more like slabs of concrete, are positioned at the memorial.  it is a place for reflection and peaceful relaxation.  Like all memorials at all of the other fire departments, it is both tasteful and emotional.

A plaque lies at the base of the memorial.

 

Engraved on the plaque is:

TOWN OF AGAWAM

SEPTEMBER 11TH 2001 MEMORIAL

LET IT BE KNOWN TO THE WORLD

UNITED WE STAND

ONE NATION UNDER GOD

FOR LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL

GOD BLESS AMERICA

Being from the Boston area and having ties to New York, I know people who were affected on September 11 and I have a personal connection to this day as well.  It is bittersweet to see such beautiful remembrance for such a tragic day.

Normally, I would photograph a memorial closer to my hometown of Boston.  But, since my parents and sister moved to Western Mass it has been like a second home to me.  I’ve spent many holidays, birthdays, vacations and weekends here so it only seems fitting I would spend a special, yet somber, day here to be with my family.

A sign at the flower bed reminds us what is important to remember on this and all days.

dsc_0177