Category Archives: connecticut

The Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 10, 2017

Location: 1 Old Bridge Rd, Simsbury, CT (about half an hour northwest of Hartford, CT)

Hours: Available 24 hours a day

Cost: Free (but donations are appreciated)

Parking: There is room for about a dozen or so cars in the parking lot off Old Bridge Rd

Handicapped Accessible: No, There are some poles at the entrance to the bridge to prevent vehicles from driving onto the bridge and I am not sure if wheelchairs could get past them (see photo below).

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Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: flowers strategically placed on a bridge, scenic, historical landmark

Website: Old Drake Hill Flower Bridge

Tips:

  • parking is located on located on Old Bridge Rd off Drake Hill Rd.  There’s no parking located at the entrance by Riverside Rd
  • popular place for weddings, engagements and portrait photography

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There’s more than one “bridge of flowers” in New England.

Inspired by the Bridge Of Flowers in Shelburne, MA, the Old Drake Bridge Of Flowers, is by no means as long or as flowery as the Bridge Of Flowers in Shelburne, MA.  Yet, what it lacks in length and variety of flowers it makes up for in charm.

Each section of the bridge is decorated with various flowers.  The bridge has 32 baskets and 48 boxes, some of which were built and added by an Eagle Scout, filled with flowers of an array of colors. The flowers bloom from late May to October.

During my visit, I met a woman who stops by every other day to water, trim and keep after the plants.  Clearly, she’s doing a wonderful job.

The bridge, originally built in 1892,  is an example of 19th century metal-truss bridge construction.  It spans 183 feet and includes a 12-foot roadway suspended 18 feet over Farmington River.  And it has been much traveled over the years.

The Old Drake Flower Bridge was originally built to be a one lane, one way bridge for vehicular traffic.  It was later replaced by a 2 lane bridge in 1992.  Finally, in 1995, it was restored as a pedestrian bridge.   It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984

There are also plants and flowers by the sides of  each entrance to the bridge.

At the entrance to the bridge, off to the left side, there is a memorial dedicated to the original bridge (the Weatogue Bridge) that was built there before it was replaced by the Old Drake Flower Bridge.

The inscription on the historical marker reads reads:

A toll bridge was built here 
in 1734 by order of 
the General Assembly 
it was the first 
highway bridge across 
the Farmington River

The Old Flower Bridge is a popular place for weddings, portrait photography shoots and engagements.  In fact, I turned around from the parking lot the first day I went there because there was a wedding or wedding shoot taking place and I didn’t want to disrupt them.  The second day I went I ran into a couple who had just gotten engaged.  The beaming couple asked me to take their photo and went on their merry way of future bliss.

The Old Flower Bridge is dog friendly.

Lisa (on the right) is a 5 year old Havanese.  I love seeing how happy and proud dog guardians are in their photos.

Tucker Jones is a 2 year old Corgi.

Leila is a 9 year old Bernese and Beagle mix.

Below is a link to The Flash Lady Photography.  The Flash Lady Photography conducted an engagement photo shoot on the bridge in 2015.  You may notice many of the flowers are not on the bridge when these photos were taken as it was the end of October when the photos were taken.  I hope they’re both very happy now!

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Granby D.O.G.G.S. Park (Salmon Brook Park, Granby, CT)

Plea

Date Of Visit: September 10, 2017

Location: Salmon Brook Park, 215 Salmon Brook Street Granby, CT (20 minutes northwest of Hartford, CT)

Cost: Free

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are several parking areas.  The best place to park for the dog park is behind the big soccer field at the end of the road at the main entrance.

Highlights: table, chairs and bench, 1 acre for the dogs to play in, water source, two entrances/exits, double gated entrance

Website: Granby D.O.G.G.S. Park

Tips:

  • each visitor is allowed to bring 3 dogs each visit
  • No children under 8 are allowed in the dog park
  • The dog park is located in Salmon Brook Park

IMG_2791The D.O.G.G.S. part of Granby D.O.G.G.S. Park may stand for Dog Owners of Granby Getting Social.  But, it seems like the dogs that tend to get social there!

The one acre park, which has been open since November of 2005, has tables, chairs and a bench for dog sitter and guardians to sit and lovingly watch their dogs.  The park also has toys and a water source.  While dogs are allowed off leach at the park, they must be able to follow voice commands.

The large park, which has mulch over most of the park, gives dogs of all shapes and sizes lots of room to roam and chase each other and trees to play hide and seek.

During my visit to the dog park, there was a “Canine Swim” fund raiser at the pond in Salmon Brook Park, just a short walk from the dog park.

A $10 fee was charged for each dog that wanted to play in the water at the pond.  The funds were being raised to put toward maintenance of the dog park.

The dogs loved running around and into the pond.

Some of the many beautiful dogs I met at the dog park and fundraiser are shown below:

Roxy is a 12 year old mixed breed.  She is a therapy dog who likes to visit children, the elderly and anyone else who needs a little “dog therapy.”

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Cooper is a 7 month old Boston Terrier.  Cooper has complete heterochromia; he has two different colored eyes (his left eye is blue, his right eye is brown).

Gabe is a Great Pyrenees.  His guardian wasn’t sure what his age was exactly.  He and his parents found him on the side of the road and decided to take him in.

Heidi is an 8 year old Golden Retriever.  She loves to “retrieve”.  Get it!?

Molly the is a 5 year old Collie.

The aptly named Bear is a one and half year old Newfoundland.

From left to right, Ruby (named after Ruby Tuesday) is a 3 year old Saint Bernard.  Her brother, Ollie (named after Olive Garden) is a 2 year old Saint Bernard.  Anybody else getting hungry for lunch?

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Today’s featured link is a blog post by Out And About Mom about Salmon Brook Park, where the dog park is located.  I have featured Out And About Mom on my blog before.  She tends to blog about Connecticut attractions exclusively  and she does a great job in her posts.  Her post about the playground area at the park can be found here.


Amy Toyen Sculpture (Avon, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: parking lot of Avon Free Public Library, 281 Country Club Road, Avon, CT

Highlights: A life size sculpture of Amy reading a book and clutching a teddy bear

Tips:

  • The sculpture is located in the parking lot next to the left side of the library

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Sixteen years.  Who could imagine so much time has passed?

One hundred and fifty six people with ties to Connecticut died on that tragic day.  A memorial rests on the grounds of the Avon Free Public Library to memorialize one of these, and indeed all of the victims of this day.

Amy Toyen, a resident of Connecticut and employee of Thomson Financial in Newton, Connecticut.  As a side note, when I researched this memorial and Amy, I never knew she worked at the very same corporation I used to work at.  It’s amazing how we all seem to be connected in some way.

Amy, a 1995 Avon High graduate, was killed Sept. 11 while she set up her company’s display booth for a trade show on the 106th floor of the World Trade Center’s north tower.

Dedicated by the 2001-2002 Avon High School Student Government and the Avon community, the 22″ bronze statue depicts a young child, Amy Toyen, on a granite bench reading a book, a teddy bear resting in the crook of her elbow.

To help create the sculpture, Amy’s parents selected a group of photos that portray their daughter as they remember her.

The sculpture shows Amy in daisy print dress, her favorite sneakers and ponytails tied with pompom rubber bands

 

A scholarship was also started in Amy’s name. The first recipient of the annual Amy E. Toyen Memorial Scholarship went to Christine Bialaski, an Avon High senior and honors student who is active in community service, music and field hockey.

Coincidentally, the Bialaski family lives down the street from the Toyens. As a young child, Amy Toyen often waited for the morning school bus at the Bialaskis’ home after her mother left for her teaching job at Renbrook School.

The sculptor, Marilyn Parkinson Thrall of Canton, Connecticut, stops by every once in a while to polish and clean up the sculpture.

The statue, a reminder of all that was lost that day, remembers Amy in a younger, more carefree time.

Amy’s obituary can be found here.


Hermann’s Royal Lipizzan Stallions (Woodstock, CT)

Date Of Event: August 19, 2017

Location Roseland Cottage, 556 Route 169, Woodstock, CT

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Website: Hermanns Royal Lipizzan Stallions

Highlights: stallions performing tricks and ridden by their trainers

Tips:

  • bring your own chair or a towel as they do not provide them at the venue.
  • visitors are allowed to enter one hour before the scheduled event
  • be sure to take in a tour of Roseland Cottage if you have the time

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There was a lot of horsing around going on at the Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, Connecticut last month.

The Lipizzan Stallions galloped into the Roseland Cottage for a day of professional horse riding and horse tricks.

The Lipizzan Stallions traveled all the way from Myaka, Florida to entertain the one hundred or so visitors at Roseland Cottage.

Not all of the horses and animals kept at the Lipizzan Stallions shelter are Royal Lipizzan Stallions. For instance, Willie The Rescue Pony, seen here getting ready for the show, is one of the horses they have taken in.  He even performs at the show.  They also take in dogs, cats and any other animal that finds its way to their shelter.

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The highlight of the show were the Royal Lipizzan Stallions. The horses performed tricks and trotted in formations.

The horses are such beautiful animals.  The way they moved and the way the horse trainers and riders controlled their every movement was a joy to watch.

The Lipizzan breed is considered the rarest and most aristocratic breed of horses in the world.  They were first established by Archduke Charles at Lipizza which is now part of Yugoslavia.

Since only a few hundred Lipizzan Stallions have ever existed at any one time, their future lineage is somewhat in question.  But, they may have General Patton to credit for their continued bloodline.

During World War II General George Patton authorized a secret plan to save the Lipizzans.  The stallions, who would surely have been killed if the Russians arrived before their rescuers, were saved during this secret mission. Two of the people involved who played a key role in their rescue were Colonel Herrmann and his father, Colonel Ottomar Herrmann,  A movie by Disney titled, Miracle Of The White Stallions depicts their rescue.

The Lipizzan horse show was held at the Roseland Cottage.  We didn’t have time for a tour.  But, the grounds are very pretty.

While dogs are not allowed at the show, I did see Yog,i, a 3 and a half year old Cavanese (part Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and part Havanes), and his dad watching from the sidewalk.  Yogi also barked out his approval from time to time.

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Below are some videos of the Royal Lipizzan Stallions event

 


Castle Craig (Hubbard Park, Meriden, CT)

 

Date Of Visit: August 12, 2017

Location: Hubbard Park, 843 W Main St, Meriden, CT

Hours: open daily to hikers 7 a.m. until 4:45 p.m.

Cost: Free

Parking: There are about a dozen parking spaces in the front of the Hubbard Park and ample parking in the back of the park.  There is also ample parking in the parking lot at the tower.

Highlights: 32 foot tower at Hubbard Park that offers views of the Hartford, CT skyline and Mount Tom in Massachusetts as well as the Meriden, CT area

Website: Castle Craig – Wikipedia

Tips:

  • The gate to drive up to the tower opens at 10 a.m.
  • You can hike up to the tower when the park opens at 7 a.m.
  • The trail to the tower is open to vehicles only from May 1 – Oct 31
  • If you decide to hike to the castle, parking in the back of Hubbard Park is a better spot to park than in front of the park because it is closer to the trail to the castle
  • When hiking or driving to the tower, you will encounter two forks in the road – take a left both times

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As if the wide trails, beautiful scenery, assortment of birds and Mirror Lake at Hubbard Park wasn’t wonderful enough, there’s one more jewel of the park that takes a little bit more effort to get to.  But, it’s worth the trek.

Located atop Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT, Castle Craig offers expansive views of the Hartford skyline, the Meriden, CT, area as well as views of Mount Tom in Massachusetts.  And, on a clear, day Long Island Sound is said to be visible.

The 32 foot tower stands on a 976 foot East Peak.  It also has the distinction of being the highest point 25 miles of the east coast from Maine to Florida, according to the plaque (although this claim has been challenged – in any event it’s pretty high up there!).  To be more precise, it would be fair to say East Peak is the highest peak closest to the Atlantic between Maine and Key West

You can either hike to the tower (the trail is open to hikers year round) or drive to the tower on Reservoir Rd (the road is open to vehicles from the beginning of May until the end of October).  We decided to drive to the top.  The road is a two way road.  So it can be narrow in some spots.  There are some nice spots to stop and look around but it’s hard to find spots wide enough to pull over.  I was able to take a photo of this body of water on the way up.

The origin of the name and design of the tower are in dispute.  Some claim it is named after a similar castle in Scotland called Craigellachie.  Others claim Hubbard was inspired by a Norman French Tower.  Still others argue that it is modeled after a 12th Century Turkish tower on the Danube.   As you can see it’s a hotly contested point of interest.

The paved trail to the tower is 3 miles each way, although there may be some nature trails you can seek out.  The trail difficulty is medium with a few steep inclines.  But, I did see people of all age groups and apparent fitness levels (I even saw one person with a knee brace and other people with other injuries) make their way up.  We would have hiked it if we had the time to do so.  So, pretty much anyone can make it to the tower.  Just be prepared if you do as it can be challenging in some areas.

The parking lot at the tower is pretty big (there is room for about 40-50 vehicles).  But, it seems most people choose to hike or even jog to the top.  In fact, we saw dozens of walkers on our drive to the top and only half a dozen cars in the lot at the tower.  Kudos to Connecticut for being such health nuts!

The tower and a rock with information about the tower are only a short walk from the lot.

Six flights of stairs takes you to the top of Craig Castle.

The views from Castle Craig are jaw dropping.

While I was walking to my car, I saw this grasshopper trying to blend into his or her surroundings.

Below is a video taken from the tower.

Today’s featured link is Hiking 101 who blogged about her Castle Craig Hike.

Hiking 101 posts about hikes in various locations in Connecticut and other areas as well as other mainly hiking related topics.

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Hubbard Park (Meriden, CT)

Date Of Visit: August 12, 2017

Location: 843 W. Main St, Meriden, CT (about 30 minutes southwest of Hartford, CT)

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a small parking lot for about a dozen cars at the front of the park.  There is additional parking along the side of the park and at the back of the park.

Park Size/Trails: 1,803 acres, easy trails

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Hubbard Park

Highlights: lake, birds, trails, pool, tennis courts, play area for children, dinosaur track, picnic spots

Tips:

  • There is ample parking allowed in the back of the park
  • You need a special pass to use the pool at the park and it’s not open during the weekends
  • A trail that you can hike or drive up takes you to Castle Craig

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Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT, is not your average park.  With its trails, bodies of water, recreation areas and a winding trail to Castle Craig, Hubbard Park is a great place to spend the entire day.

There are streams, bridges and trails to the right of the entrance to the park.

The lake at Hubbard Park, Mirror Lake, is the highlight of the park.  Turtles, birds and frogs inhabit the lake and fountains are placed throughout the lake.

Hubbard Park attracts a lot of birds, particularly Canadian Geese.

But, there are more than just Canadian Geese at the park.

The ducks, geese and other birds are so used to being around people, and being fed by people I suspect, that they seem to be waiting for people to feed them.

This goose was tired from all of the activity at the park.

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There are also dinosaur tracks at the park.  The origins of the tracks remain a mystery.  You can see the prints in the puddles from rain earlier in the day.

Walter Hubbard, president of the Bradley & Hubbard Manufacturing Company, donated most of the land at the park in 1901.  John Olmsted, the son of Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Central Park, helped design Lake Meriden.

From the park, you can see the jewel of the Hubbard Park area, Castle Craig.  In my next post, we will explore this beautiful tower.

Dogs are allowed at Castle Craig.  Because of its ample space and wide trails, Hubbard Park is a great place to take your dog.  Below are just two of the many dogs we saw there.

Mollie is a 9 and a half year old Dalmatian.

Beck is a 10 year old Border Collie mix.

Today’s featured link is Out And About Mom.   Out and About Mom explores the many family friendly spots in Connecticut.  A few years ago, she posted about the Festival Of Silver Lights, a family friendly light display at Hubbard Park.


Babbs Beach (West Suffield, CT)

Date Of Visit: July 4, 2017

Location: 435 Babbs Rd, West Suffield, CT

Cost: Free (but it may soon cost $20 for non residents – see below)

Hours: open daily from sunrise to sunset

Parking:  There is designated handicapped parking closer to the beach

Dog Friendly: No

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: beach, volleyball net, scenic, boating, concerts

Website: Babb’s Beach

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The former site of a small amusement park (Babb’s Beach Amusement Park), Babb’s Beach is a small, hidden beach located along the Congamond Lakes in Suffield, CT.

What Babb’s Beach lacks in size it makes up for in charm.

Parking was available on the grass in front of the beach when I went to visit.  But, only a week later, a sign was posted indicating it would cost non-Suffield residents $20 for the first vehicle and $5 for each additional vehicle  in each party to visit.  One of the reasons for this is the mess that was left behind by 4th of July visitors (present company excluded).  There are also about half a dozen handicapped parking spaces right along the entrance to the beach with handicapped accessible comfort stations.

There is a short, scenic walk from the main parking area to the beach head.

The beach is just as popular for the boating and other water activities as it is for the sunbathing and beach games (there is a volleyball net at the beach).

The beach is not very big (7 acres) and I could see how it may get overpopulated on busy summer days.  But, due to its somewhat hidden location and, surely, because of the additional fee they have just implemented, it will most likely remain the hidden treasure it was during my visit.

Today’s featured link is the Babb’s Rink Restoration Project.  Years ago, the Babb’s Roller Rink, located about a mile from the beach, was shut down.  They are now trying to raise money and awareness about the project to renovate and re-open the rink.