Category Archives: Massachusetts

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.

 


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 #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…

 

 

 

 

 


Ye Olde Pepper Candie Companie (Salem, MA)

Dates Of Visit: October, 2017

Locations: 122 Derby Street, Salem, MA (about 30 minutes northeast of Boston, MA)

59 Main Street, North Andover, MA (about 30 minutes northwest of Boston, MA)

Hours:

July Thru October
Monday-Satuday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sundays: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

November Thru June
Monday-Satuday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sundays: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Parking: Street parking is available on Derby St and in the various garages throughout Salem

Highlights: Oldest candy shop in the country

Website: Ye Olde Pepper Candie Companie

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While driving along Derby St in historic Salem, MA, you might drive past the nondescript, white building with shuttered looking windows and think it”s just another building.  You would be wrong, though.

Two popular candies are said to have been popularized by people associated with the company.

The story of this historic company dates back to the early 1800’s when John Pepper, who is considered  by some to be responsible for creating “The Black Jack” candy according to the company’s web site, began selling his candies in Salem and the nearby communities.  Although there is some debate over who is responsible for creating this candy, it would go on to be considered the flagship candy of the store.

The other story holds that the Spencer family from North Salem were left destitute after a shipwreck.  In an effort to help the family, neighbors and friends donated supplies to help them in their time of need.  Mrs. Spencer used this sugar to create what would become known as “Salem Gilbratars” which are sold in the store to this day.

The company has come a long away from these simpler days.  The companie sells a variety of candies.  From the divisive candy corn, which people seem to hate or love but has become a staple of the Halloween season nonetheless, to the wide varieties of fudge and chocolate,

The companie remains one of the most popular spots to visit in Salem (MA) particularly during Halloween.  This photo was taken the weekend before Halloween (Oct. 28).

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The line would grow even longer during the day.  Good thing it wasn’t too cold out, not that it would have deterred the shoppers.

It’s funny how the exterior of the building seems to scream dull and boring but the inside of the store, particularly during the various holidays (they also hold candy cane making demonstrations during the Christmas season) and Halloween has so much character and decor.

This woman who was working at the shop during my visits even got dressed up for the season.  Rumor has it, she may be the original Mrs. Spencer.  And people say Salem doesn’t have ghosts.

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If you’re in the Salem area, or you just get a sweet tooth for some historic candy, stop by!  Ask for Mrs. Spencer.


The Devils Chase 6.66 Mile Run (Salem, MA)

Date Of Event: October 28, 2017 (annually, the last weekend of October)

Location: Fort Point St, Salem, MA

Highlights: over 1,000 costumed runners competing in a 6.66 mile race

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With the appropriate “Run Like Hell” tagline, the annual 6.66 mile race spooked up a wide variety of creepy racers.

Keeping with the Halloween theme, most of the runners dressed in their favorite Halloween-themed garb.

 

Over 1,200 runners, many in costumes, participated in the race.  Runners came from all over New England, New York region and even points farther.  The competitors had the option of running the 6.66 mile (roughly 10.7 k) race or the shorter 3.33 mile race (roughly 5.4 K) course.

A fog machine gave the finish line a eerie look and a d.j. from a local radio station kept the spectators entertained.  The finish line had some interesting items hanging from it. The spectators came dressed up for the event as well.

 

Don’t let the kids in the last two photos fool you.  They ran in the kids race and they are fast!

In fact, even though there weren’t as many kids running as there were in the adults and teens race and their race was shorter, I think I enjoyed watching them all cross the finish line and celebrate.

There were some competitive runners (the winner ran the 6.66 mile course at a 5:46 per mile average clip) and some who ran for fun and to challenge themselves.  Every runner received a well deserved “participation medal” when they finished the race.

I love the different expressions on the faces of the runners.  Some are determined.  Others are laughing and waving.  But, they all had a fun or a rewarding experience.   I  still can’t believe how hard it must have been to run the race in some of those costumes and still keep a smile on your face.

Some people ran with their dogs.  Others ran with their strollers in tow.

Watching all of the competitors pushing themselves or just enjoying their run with their friends (that is something I never understood – I never really ever enjoyed  any of my runs) in the mild October air, made my competitive juices flow and made me miss my competitive running days.  You know, before I picked up a camera.  But, after seeing everyone have so much fun during this run, I may have to try this race next year!

Rafa, a 1 year old Belgian Malinois, stopped by to watch the runners.

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Below is a video of some of the runners.

 


Halloween In Salem – Part II (Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 31, 2017

Location: Salem, MA

Welcome to Part II of my photo blog post from my Halloween in Salem series.  If you want to view part I you can find it here.

There were so many amazing costumes from my visit to Salem on Halloween.  But, I have to say this was my favorite.

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What better day to get married than Halloween?  This couple got dressed up for their big day!  Congrats and best wishes to this lovely couple!

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During my day in Salem, the people continued to arrive in a variety of costumes from the cute to the scary to the down right bizarre.  But, it was Chucky that really put a scare into me.   He always scared the heck out of me!

Even though there were some duplicates in terms of the costumes (such as the Hocu Pocus costumes), they all had their own flair and style.

While it’s great photographing all of the people in their costumes during the daytime, things really get going during the evening.

Salem really does come alive at night during Halloween.  As people get out of work and begin to celebrate, the city comes to life.  Besides, Halloween really is best celebrated in the evening. Even the costumes seem to look cooler and more scary as the sun sets and the evening descends upon the city.

The city closes down many of the side streets at 4 p.m. and they close the garages from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. So, if you don’t leave by 7, you’re stuck there for a while!  It’s strange seeing the sity streets so desolate and walking down the usually busy streets.

There are bands that play well into the evening (the residents must love that) and the evening culminates with fireworks at 11:15.  I was long gone by then.

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So, it was another spooky and fun day full of surprises.  Until next year…maybe I’ll see you there then!

Lest I forget, there were so many beautiful dogs in Salem during Halloween.

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Freddy, a 7 year old Himalayan therapy dog, was tired from visiting patients earlier in the day.

Bubba is a 6 year old Mastiff and Doberman mix.

Romeo is a 14 week old Bernese Mountain dog.  He may look small now.  But, trust me, he’s not going to stay that size for long!

Galaxy is a 10 month old Pit Bull and American Bulldog mix

Bear is a 6 year old Siberian Husky and Border Collie mix.  His guardian said he is known as “The Dog Of Salem!”

Sophie is a 7 year old Black Russian Terrier.

Wilby is a 6 year old Sato dog from Puerto Rico.

 


Halloween In Salem – Part I (Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 31, 2017

Location: Salem, MA

 

There’s no better place to be on Halloween than Salem, MA.  You might think I don’t have any second thoughts about the celebrations that celebrate a dark time in our history.  However, I have a different take on it.

I do actually have some mixed feelings about it, though, given the history of the witch trials in Salem so many years ago. It’s a quaint, pretty seaside city with a rich history and things to do all year round that transforms into a party town for 31 days.

But, I love the city for so many more reasons than just the pageantry and fun of their Halloween celebrations although I do find some of the novelty items to be a  bit distasteful.

My take on the whole commercialization and atmosphere of the season, though, is that we have taken a dark time and, despite that awful time, we’ve been able to turn a negative mark on the city into a time of fun and revelry.  I do think it’s important to remember the tragedy.  But I am also glad people are able to have fun and bring commerce and happy times to the area.

I thought I would begin this photo blog of my day in Salem with some couples and friends who have dressed up as a duo.

I think it’s funny how people walk by these, at times, bizarre outfits and act like it’s just another October day in Salem.  Definitely nothing out of the ordinary to see here.

I am always surprised by the creativity of the costumed visitors in Salem.  The “Cereal Killer” gave me a good chuckle.  And the Joker below was the best version  of him I saw during my visits, not just because of his look but his personality and the way he acted like him.

One of the more popular things to do in Salem, especially on Halloween, is have a psychic reading.  Each year, psychics flock to Salem to offer their services at the Psychic Fair.  There are also psychics who give readings all year round.

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The past few years I have arrived in Salem early in the morning on Halloween so that I can see as many people in their costumes as I possibly can.  And, this year, it paid off.  I saw these cute little trick or treaters walking through Essex St.  I think they trick or treat at some of the local businesses in the area.

And, yes, there were plenty of dogs in Salem for Halloween.

Alfie is a 1 year old Schnauzer mix.

Luna (on the left) is a 3 year old rescue Terrier mix.  On the right is Dobby, a 4 year old Golden Doodle.

Adele, dressed up as Beetlejuice, is a 10 month old Great Pyrenees.

Omid, Persian for “hope”, is a German Shepherd  rescue from Iran.  Omid was abused while he was in Iran and, after being hit by a car, he was left for dead.  But, a man saved her and brought him to a shelter.  Eventually, Omid was adopted by a family in the United States.  Omid is an inspirational example of how we should never give up and how things can change for the better, even in the darkest of times.  You can read more about him and like him on his Facebook Page.

You can also learn more about his story and see videos of him as a pup at the following YouTube videos:

Omid Video 1

Omid Video 2

These cuties got to see Salem in comfort and style.

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Thank you for stopping by and reading Part I of my photos of my day in Salem.  I may have to post 3 parts to include all of the photos from my trip.  Stay tuned for part II!

Please check out my Facebook page here.