Category Archives: Massachussetts

Heritage State Park (Holyoke, MA)

 

Date Of Visit: March 31, 2017

Location: 221 Appleton St., Holyoke, MA

Cost: Free, although there is a fee to enter or use some of the attractions at the park such as the Children’s Museum, Volleyball Hall Of Fame and the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round

Hours:

Park hours

Sunrise to sunset

Visitors center hours

Sunday:
12:00 pm-4:00 pm

Tuesday – Saturday:
12:00 pm-4:00 pm

Parking: Free onsite parking for about 50 cars is available in Visitors Center lot

Park Size/Difficulty: 7 acres/Easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes, leashed dogs are allowed

Highlights: merry-go-round, canal, children’s museum, volleyball hall of fame, easy trail, statue, picnic area, play area, guided tours of the area

Website: Holyoke Heritage State Park

Tip: From May through mid-October, the park offers hour-long narrated train rides on a 1920s vintage railroad on Saturday and Sunday.

Fun Facts:

  • Holyoke is still known as the “paper city” because during the 19th century the city produced an estimated 80% of the writing paper used in the United States and was home to the largest paper and alpaca wool mills in the world
  • Between 85% and 90% of Holyoke’s energy which is powered by the municipally owned canals pictured below was carbon neutral as of 2016
  • Holyoke is also the birthplace of volleyball

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Among the abandoned and dilapidated buildings of a once thriving mill town there is a special park that preserves the history of the area while providing family friendly entertainment and honoring their heroes.

The first building you notice upon entering the park is the Holyoke Merry Go Round.  The affordable merry go round ($2 per ride) is very popular with children celebrating birthdays (perhaps I can have mine there).  The merry go round, which was once part of Mountain Park (an amusement park that used to be located in the area), has been around in one capacity or another since the early 1900s.

 

Railroad tracks remain at the park as a reminder of what was a staple of the area.  The railroad tracks are no longer in use.  Yet they remain a reminder of the railroad system that bisected the area.  The last photo shows the end of the tracks right next to the entrance of the Children’s Museum.

 

The Children’s Museum At Holyoke is located along the path of the canal (444 Dwight St).  Although we didn’t go in, I did take some photos of the some murals on the exterior of the building.

 

Located next to the children’s museum is the Volleyball Hall Of Fame.  Again, due to time constraints, we did not visit the museum.  But, it is certainly on my list!

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I loved walking along the canal.  The views of the old factories and the canal offered some nostalgia and pretty views.  I also appreciated the simple, yet historic, feel of the park.  It is, in a word, charming, despite the many abandoned buildings in disrepair that line the canal.  It felt like a refuge from the busy, crowded streets, although I am sure it is much more crowded during the summer season and when the temperatures rise (if that may ever come).

 

Along the walkway, which is handicapped accessible, there is a small picnic area and play area.  There are also some interesting exhibits.

One of the exhibits is a storm drain art display.  The artful displays encourage people to not pollute.

 

This flywheel stands near what was once the location of Skinner Mill.  The mill was sold in 1961 and burned in 1980.

 

The pearl of the park is the statue dedicated to all of the officers who have lost their lives while on duty as police officers.  The officer’s names are all engraved on the monument.

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There are three police officers’ names listed on the monument.  All three of these officers died while on duty working for the Holyoke police.

Officer John P. Driscoll lost his life on April 25, 1922 when he succumbed to injuries sustained when he fell from the running board of a car that he had commandeered after pursuing a vehicle that was being driven by a drunk driver.  Officer Driscoll had been with the agency for five years and was survived by his wife, five children and parents.

Officer James Gatzounas  died after being assaulted as he and other officers responded to a fight at a New Year’s Eve street party on January 1, 1977. During the altercation, Officer Gatzounas was kicked and punched as he attempted to place one of the suspects under arrest.  He later died after going into cardiac arrest.

Two suspects, ages 19 and 17, were charged with first degree murder. When Officer Gatzounas’ autopsy revealed he died of cardiac arrest instead of injuries from the beating, the charges were reduced to manslaughter.  Officer Gatzounas had been with the agency for 18 months and had previously served with the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He was survived by his wife and child.

The Man displayed in the statue, flanked by two children, is John A. DiNapoli.  Officer DiNapoli was shot and killed i his vehicle while he was following a suspect.  Officer DiNapoli had served for 21 years.  DiNapoli was known for his service to the community.  he and a few other officers started a Christmas tradition of giving toys to the children of Holyoke who lived in high crime neighborhoods. He was survived by two grown children.  His son also became a police officer.

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Below is a short video from the Holyoke Merry Go Round

 


The Mount (Lenox,MA)

Date Of Visit: June 4, 2017

Location: 2 Plunkett St, Lenox,  MA (about 2 hours west of Boston and 1 hour northwest of Springfield, MA)

Hours: The Mount is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm through October 31st, except on early closing days (please see below). The Mount is open from 10:30 am – 3:00 pm most weekends in November through February. Please call 413-551-5100 to confirm hours.

Cost: $18 for adults, $17 for seniors (65 and older), $13 for students with id, $10 for members of the military, free for teens and children (18 and younger)

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Service pets may be allowed

Highlights: home of author Edith Wharton, trails, fountains, flowers

Website: The Mount

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Once the home to one of Massachusetts’ more prominent authors, The Mount is more than just a beautiful mansion.  The Mount, once the home of Edith Wharton, has colorful gardens, fountains, art, spectacular views and history around every corner.

The Mount, which was recently restored, is an elegant house that has kept much of its original charm.  What is great about the mansion is that you can see the entire home in half an hour or so.  Yet, it isn’t so much the quantity of time and space the tour (I took a self guided tour but there may also be guided tours as well) would take.  But, rather, it is the quality of time and space the tour takes.  Around each corner is one beautiful piece of furniture and architecture.  Yeah, I think I could live here.

I couldn’t use my flash when I took photos inside of the mansion.  But, I did my best.  Sometimes the lack of lighting gives the home a mysterious feel.  Sometimes it just makes the photos look crappy.  You decide.

The two floor building has about a dozen rooms and there is a handicapped accessible entry and elevator.

Some of my favorite rooms had the old, antiquated tools and appliances we used to use.

The grounds of the Mount is as beautiful as the inside of the building.

The Beaver Loop Trail, a gentle, short trail (about half a mile) that runs along the grounds of The Mount, offers some very pretty views.

Edith Wharton was fond of animals (well, mostly she was fond of dogs not so much cats – oh well she wasn’t purrfect I guess).  Along the trail around the mansion, a side trail leads too a pet cemetery.

There are also little critters along the trail outside of the home.

The Mount is also hosting a special art exhibit called SculptureNow on its trail.  If you missed it, you can view the blog post I posted a few weeks ago bout the art exhibit here.

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Ordinary Matter (Boston Convention Center, South Boston, MA)

Date Of Visit: January 12, 2017

Location: Boston Convention Center (415 Summer St, Boston, MA)

Hours: Reception was January 21, 2017, 6-8.

Cost: Free

Parking: If you choose to park in their garage:

Weekday Rates:
0 – 1 Hour: $12
1 – 2 Hours: $18
2 -3 Hours: $24
3 – 10 Hours: $28
10 – 24 Hours: $32
Weeknight Rates:
Evenings: Enter Mon-Fri, 4 p.m. – 6 a.m., Exit before 8 a.m.
0 – 1 Hour: $10
1 – 3 Hours: $14
Over 3 Hours (until 8 a.m.): $18
Weekend Rates:
Sat, Sun & Holidays – Enter after 6 a.m., Exit before 8 a.m. the next day. 
0 – 1 Hour: $10
1 – 3 Hours: $14
Over 3 Hours (until 8 a.m.): $18
Monthly Passes:
Monthly – Reserved (limited availability): $500
Monthly – 24/7: $375
Monthly – Weekday Only: $350
Monthly – Nights/Weekends: $150
(Mon-Fri, in after 4 p.m., out by 10 a.m.; Weekends & Holidays, all day)
There is sometimes metered street parking available or other parking garges in the area.
Also, the Boston Convention Center is within walking distance ( 1 mile) from the South Station MBTA stop on the Red line and about half a milr from the World Trade Center  Green Line stop)
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Web Site: Ordinary Matter
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It’s amazing how the ordinary things in life can bring us so much joy and make us content.  But, such is the art exhibit now being displayed at the Boston Convention Center in South Boston, MA.

During my visit to the New England International Auto Show, I noticed some striking art work in the lobby of the Boston Convention Center.

Ordinary Matter is an art exhibit that celebrates the history of still life.  Still life art is said to have began in  ancient Egypt and later became popularized by Dutch still life painters.  Now, it is a big hit in Boston.

The exhibit featured 9 the works of nine Massachusetts artists whose works were hung in the lobby area of the Boston “Convention Center.

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“Still Life” (2011) by Patricia Busso is an acrylic on wood painting.  According to the placard next to the painting, Patricia says that painting reminds her to take time to absorb the natural world.  She hopes her work is evocative of the unassuming beauty she seeks in the natural world.

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Brett X Gamache’s “Fish On A Yellow Plate” (2010) is a photographic reproduction of oil on canvas.  Brett, who lives and works in Salem (MA), has a MFA from the University of New Hampshire and a BFA from Mass Art.

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“Britton Gyre” (2012) by Nicole Duennebier is a photographic reproduction of acrylic on wood panel.  A Hartford, CT  native, Nicole received her Bachelor in Fine Arts at Maine College of Art with a major in painting.  She says she saw a natural connection between the darkness and the intricacy of undersea regions and the aesthetic of 16th century Dutch still life painting.

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From a distance, this looked like a real shelf with mugs and other beverageware.  But, “Still Life With Seven Objects” (2010) is a photographic reproduction of oil on canvas painted by David Harrison.  He received his BFA in fine arts/painting from Maryland Institute College of Art.

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“Hidden Window” (2015) by Michael Zachary is a photographic reproduction of hand-drawn marks.  He holds a BA from Bowdoin College and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art.  His work has been featured in many exhibitions such as the Lux Eros Gallery in Los Angeles.

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Why am I hungry all of a sudden?  “Checkout” (2015) is an ink and digital work of art by Corey Corcoran.  Corey earned a BA at Massachusetts College of Art and he completed a residency at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT.  His work has been displayed at a variety of venues nation wide.

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“Wherever You Rest Your Head” (2015) is a photographic reproduction of crayon, ink, gouache, oil pastel and acrylic on paper by Elisa H. Hamilton.  Elisa is a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design where she earned a BFA in Painting.  Her work has been shown in a varieety of exhibitions.

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“Sunflowers In Mason Jar” (2005) by Maureen O’Connor is a photographic reproduction of oil on wood panel.  She earned a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art And Design.  Her work has been shown extensively throughout the country.

 

 

 

 

 

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This reminds me, where did I leave my keys?  I know they’re somewhere around here.  Anyways,  “Clink” (2008) by J.B. Jones is an oil on canvas painting.  An architect by profession, J.B.’s works can be found in private and corpofrate collections throughout New England.  He says his goal is to “create paintings from which the viewer might bring back one small pearl of real feeling.”

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Cascading Waters (Worcester, MA)

Date Visited: March 19, 2016

Location: 135 Olean St, Worcester, Massachusetts

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are several parking lots at the Greater Worcester Land Trust which the Cascading Waters is part of.  The closest lot to the Cascading Waters is small with only room for about half a dozen cars.  You can also drive up to Cascading Waters via Cataract St and park on the dirt road there.

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One of the great things about Worcester (pronounced “Woo-stah”) is its diversity of people and  places.  One moment you could be in the heart of the city and only ten minutes later you could be at a grand waterfall.  It remind me a lot of Boston in this regard.

I found myself at one of the natural wonders of Worcester, Cascading Falls, Saturday.

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Located about an hour west of Boston, Cascading Falls is known for its beauty and trails.  There are both hiking and biking trails at the main parking area.  I chose the most direct hiking route to the falls.  The trail is pretty flat and straight with some pretty views.  I also noticed some greenery sprouting on the eve of the first day of Spring.  it’s about half a mile to the Cascading Waters from the parking area.

There is a trail to the right of the falls with a fairly steep incline.  The trail leads to the top of the falls.  You can go to the top of the waters.  The views are pretty sweet.

 

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There are also interesting rocks, pools of water and streams at the top of Cascading Waters.

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Although the sun was out and the temperatures did increase, it was still relatively cold as this branch shows.

The waterfall leads to a stream just under and behind the trail.

Cascading Waters is a great place to take your dog for a walk.  I met two golden retrievers; Wilson (on the left ) and Tucker, while I was there.

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Below are two videos of Cascading Waters from the trail view and view from the top of the falls.

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Coolidge Reservation (Manchester-By-The-Sea, MA)

Date visited: February 20, 2016

Cost: Free

Hours: 8 a.m. to sunset

Address: 15 Coolidge Point, Manchester By-The-Sea, MA

Coolidge Reservation

Parking: about 8-10 parking spaces, small lot.

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How could you not want to visit an area with the name “by the sea” in its name?  It sounds like the name of an idyllic setting from a novel.  And the town lives up to that description.  I passed by several fruit, vegetable and flower stands as well as signs to watch out for people riding horses.  The houses and town also had a very Norman Rockwell feel.

I wasn’t sure how the footing and appearance of the park would be given the recent snowy weather and icy conditions on many of the trails at other parks.  As it turned out, most of the ice and snow on the trails had melted and I only had to manage some small patches of ice and mud from the melted snow.

The trails are clearly marked and easy to walk.  There are no steep inclines and the paths are wide enough to accommodate the throng of visitors.

There are a few trails that meander slightly off the trail.  But one trail simply leads to the street and is behind a bunch of cattails so you really can’t view much of the pond.  The other stupid trail goes to a thorny, rocky dead end.

As you walk on the main trail, you will pass Clarke Pond on your left.  It was partially frozen and there were some ducks and geese milling around.  I also got a few shots off them dunking for lunch.  The gulls in the first photo looked like big blocks of snow at first glance.  I especially like how the mom and dad duck kept the baby duckling close to them.

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There were many breath taking views of the pond.  I especially like how the frozen parts of the pond break with the unfrozen sections.

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To the right of the main trail, I found a side road with a pond that channels into Clarke Pond. There were a variety of ducks and geese in this pond.

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I met a lot of friendly and cool people at Coolidge.  Shapoo was one of the cool and friendly folks I met (the name is a mix of shih tzu and poodle) .

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Much to my consternation, I was unable to find the Ocean Lawn which offers views of the Boston skyline and Cape Cod as well as scenic views of the water.  I totally missed the boat on that one as there are some great views and opportunities for some great shots from there.  But, to the left of the trail, Magnolia Beach more than made up for it which I will post about very soon…click here to read about my visit to Magnolia Beach.

 


Winter Wildlife Cruise (Boston Harbor, MA)

Date visited: January 23, 20016

Price: $20 for adults, $10 for children (ages 3-11) and seniors (over 65)

This was a special cruise and is not something they do regularly in the winter.  During the spring, summer and fall they have cruises scheduled regularly.

Twenty degree weather and an impending winter storm; what better conditions for a harbor cruise.  Ironically, that statement could not be more accurate.

We were greeted by gulls and rough seas when we arrived at the wharf.

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As we made our way on to the boat for and they announced the cruise would be a three hour tour (in retrospect, that Gilligan’s Island reference should have been a bad omen), I was surprised by how roomy, comfortable and modern it was.  The three story boat had booths on the sides of the cabin area and ample seating.

Even before we left the wharf I took some shots of the bay.  You can see Logan Airport in the distance in some of the photos.

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As the boat left the bay, I took some obligatory photos of the skyline.

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I had to bundle up (and hold on tight to the railing) for the shoot.  I was surprised at how well I handled the overly active ocean.  I’ve never been particularly fond of roller coasters, wavy oceans or anything that moves to and fro quickly.  But, I did fine.  The only time I felt a tinge of sickness was when a fellow traveler described his own feelings of sea sickness (gee, thanks random stranger).  But, that quickly passed.

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There was a variety of sea life, although the choppy waters made it difficult to photograph all of them.  DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) officials were on the boat with binoculars on the lookout for wildlife and other points of interest and announcements were made whenever a bird or other animal was sighted.

I did photograph this Eider as he swam with friends.

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and a few other elusive birds.

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Even though it was a cruise for wildlife viewing some of the best views were of the harbor and the islands.

This is Spectacle Island.  Spectacle Island was made entirely from the dirt from the huge construction project known as the “Big Dig”.   it is much prettier during the summer.

These are some photos of Boston Light.  Boston Light is the first Lighthouse in America.  It is still working today.

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The Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant began operations in 1995.  It is clearly the jewel of Boston Harbor.  Prior to the construction of the sewage plant, sewage from Boston’s treatment facilities had contaminated shellfish after the sewage had been released.  Lunch, anyone?

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These structures are what is left of the bridge to Long Island (not the one in NY – we didn’t go out that far).  It was dismantled recently.  Personally, I think they should keep them.  They make for a good background for photography.

Below is a slideshow of some of the other shots from my cruise.  It was very windy and the sea was pretty choppy.  I tried to capture this in the photos.

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Finally, I found a cute furry animal named Bailey to photograph when I disembarked from the boat.

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See below for videos of the cruise to get a better idea of just how windy it was.

Winter Wildlife Cruise – Long Wharf

Winter Wildlife Cruise

Winter Wildlife Cruise II

 

 

 


The Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog at Patriot Place (Foxborough, MA)

Date visited: January 9, 2016

Although the area is mostly known for being the home of the New England Patriots and its adjacent marketplace, Patriot Place has another impressive attraction – The Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog.  Admission to the trail and bog is free and the parking is ample evident by the photo below.  You can also park in the lots in front of the store and walk down to the trail.

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From the entrance the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog greets you with a charming sitting area and pretty trees.

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Although most of the vegetation is dead (save for a few stubborn blueberries and cranberries), a thin layer of ice covered most  of the pond and the trees are bare this time of the year, the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog at Patriot Place in Foxboro, MA, is just as beautiful in the winter as it is during the summertime.

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Located directly behind the expansive Bass Pro Shop, the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog is a .5 mile loop with a 3 percent grade and some inclines as much as 12 percent.

It is a mostly dirty trail with a few boardwalks and bridges.  There are two benches in the middle of the first walking bridge.  Overall, it is an easy to semi-moderate trail.  I saw people of all age groups handle the trail, inclines and all, with little difficulty.

I found this strange, creepy looking branch or alien arm protruding from the ice.

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An extra bonus for any Patriots fan is you can see Gillette Stadium (the stadium the Patriots play in) from the main road on the way to the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog.  You can also catch a quick glimpse of some of the stadium from the entrance to trail and bog.

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After finishing the loop, I met Chandler, a beautiful 6 year old tri-colored English Setter (thank you for the clarification, Adam).

DSC_0833 Thank you for reading and please like my Facebook page to view videos, photos and more that I do not post on this blog:

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