Tag Archives: Manchester

Wickham Park (Manchester, CT)

Date Of Visit: May 30, 2017

Location: 1814 Tolland St, Manchester, CT

The address on the website is for the back entrance which is locked   Do not enter this address into your GPS.  The best way to go is to follow the instructions on their website or try using the address listed above.  I had to pull into a Dunkin’ Donuts to get directions.

There is also limited free parking on a side street (Vernon Rd)

Cost: $5 per car

Hours: open daily, sunrise to sunset

Park Size/Trail Difficulty: 250 acres/easy trails with some gentle inclines

Handicapped Accessible: Yes.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic views, ponds, wetlands, wildlife, art, well maintained grounds, disc-golf field, bird sanctuary, nature center, gardens, flowers,hiking trails, picnic areas, ample parking

Website: Wickham Park

Map of Wickham Park: Map Of Wickham Park

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Wickham Park has a little a bit of everything for everyone.  There are gardens, wetlands and hiking trails for the nature lover.  There is a nature center and bird sanctuary for animal lovers to learn more about the inhabitants of the grounds.  There is also a play area for children and a beautiful scenic outlook for people to sit and enjoys beautiful views of the Hartford area.  There’s even tennis courts, pavilions and a disc golf field.  It is also one of the most beautiful parks I have visited (I know – I say that about all of the parks I visit).

If you have limited time or you don’t want to walk around too much, I would suggest going to Lot B first.  But, you can drive from lot to lot so tall of the areas of he park are very accessible.

Lot B is across from the Japanese themed Lotus Gardens, Irish Garden and other natural beauties.

There are also pretty structures and statues along the paths.

Knot Garden has a maze (it’s not as easy as it looks), statues and beautiful flowers.

There is a wide variety of birds, mammals and other animals at Wickham Park.

I caught this bird taking a dust bath.

These frogs were busy.  So I left them to their privacy, as much as there is at a park.

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There is also a bird sanctuary at Wickham.  All of the birds at the sanctuary were either injured or unable to survive in the wild on their own.  And, it looks like more are on their way.

Not all of the animals at the sanctuary were birds.  This sneaky fella found a way to score some choice feed.

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There is also a fun and educational nature next to a playground.  The animals are the nature center were much easier to photograph.

Wickham Park also offers stunning views of the Hartford and surrounding area.

There is also a disc golf field and easy to moderate hiking trails.

Wickham is worth the visit just for the art and architecture and nature alone.  The trails and gardens are just an added bonus.

Dogs are allowed at Wickham Park.  I was able to click a few photos of Holly as she hunted for a rabbit.

The only bad thing about my trip to Wickham Park was getting there.  The website has the address listed as 1329 Middle Turnpike West, Manchester, CT.  This is the back entrance and there was a gate preventing entry this way.  The main entrance is actually on Tolland St.

If you do use the address on their website (1329 Middle Turnpike West, Manchester, CT), to get to Wickham, drive west onto Burnside Ave and take a right onto Long Hill Drive (at a set of lights after about a mile (a Dunkin’ Donuts and strip mall will be on your left).  Then, take the next right onto Tolland St. or Tolland Turnpike.  The main entrance to Tolland Park will be on the right after about a mile.

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Grieving Gold Star Mother Statue (Manchester, NH)

 

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Date Visited: August 7, 2016

Location: Charles R. Stanton Plaza, in front of the JD’s Tavern and Radisson hotel, 700 Elm St # 1, Manchester, NH

Hours:  Open daily, 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: You can usually find metered off street parking

Dog Friendly: Yes

I found this statue to be timely considering some of the discourse these days. The Grieving Gold Star Mother statue located, appropriately, across the street from the Veterans Memorial Park at Charles R. Stanton Plaza in front of the Radisson and JD’s Tavern at 700 Elm St, Manchester, NH, is a tribute to all mothers and families who have lost a loved one at war.

The Grieving Gold Star Mother shows the teary eyed mom clutching a telegram, presumably with the notice of her son’s death. A potted planted lies knocked over in front of a photo of her son.

The 407 pound bronze statue, sculpted by Andrew Chernak, was said to depict a mother from World War II because that is the war that had the most fatalities. However, the Gold Star Mothers group was formed by Grace Darling Seibold during World War I when her son, George Vaughn Seibold, was lost (his body was never identified). In an effort to console herself and other mothers who had lost a child during the war, Grace created the group. The group not only consoled each grieving mother. They also dedicated themselves to doing community service and visiting wounded service members.

There are two Grieving Gold Star Mother statues in the U.S. The first Grieving Gold Star Mother statue is located in Carmel, New York. There is also a Gold Star Mother and a Gold Star Father memorial with statues of each Gold Star parent in Clinton, Ohio.

Bricks with the names of all of the wars the United States have been involved in (Colonial and post Colonial times) have been placed in front of the statue. The list of conflicts and wars and the loss of lives involved in those actions are staggering.

The memorial in New Hampshire was erected in April 15, 2011.

 


Stark Park (Manchester, NH)

Date Visited: February 27, 2016

Location: North River Rd, Manchester, NH

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Parking:  There was not a designated parking area per se but there are many places to park on the side of the paved road leading from the entrance.

Stark Park

 

 

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New Hampshire isn’t known as the “Live Free Or Die” state for no reason.  The quote, which is said to have French origins and adorns license plates and other kitschy souvenirs, is directly attributed to General, and former New Hampshire resident, John Stark.  It was at John Stark Park in Manchester, NH, that I found this historical tribute to the revolutionary warrior.

The remaining of the “live free or die…”quote is lesser known, yet just as poignant.

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For someone who is so heroic and brave, General Stark is not someone who many of us are familiar with.  But, heroic he is.  As the plaque in front of his statue explains, after being kidnapped by a Native American tribe and eventually ransomed, Stark joined the American Revolution and became a general.  His most notable achievement was in 1777 when he commanded his troops to prevent British troops and supplies from connecting with the main army in Saratoga, New York, which was considered a key point which led to the American victory in the war.

Crisp blue skies awaited me at the park.  It almost felt fall-like.  What struck me most about the park was how peaceful it was.  The gazebo is a nice touch also.  The statue of General Stark was sculpted by Richard Recchia in 1948.  The park is one of the older parks in New Hampshire, dating back to 1893 (it is the second oldest park in Manchester).

 

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General Stark his, wife and a few of their children are buried at the bottom of the hill from the entrance.

One of the interesting things about Stark Park is the loop behind the park.  It’s only about a quarter of mile and it is a great place to take your dog for a walk.  But, there is a trail that branches off to a bridge and some other trails which eventually lead to the Heritage Trail.  But, apart from some interesting trees and some wildlife, there isn’t much on the trails.  Most of them lead to residential areas.  I walked most of the narrow trails as far as I could go before they ended, rather disappointingly, at roadways and residential areas.

The big payoff to walking the loop behind the park was meeting Bennie.  Bennie is a Chinook which is the state dog of New Hampshire.

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Cat Alley (Manchester, NH)

Date Visited: February 27, 2016

Cost: Free

Parking: Off street parking and parking lots are available throughout the area

Location: Dean Ave., Manchester, NH

Dean Avenue, also known as the hardest place to find in Manchester, is home to Cat Alley – an alley full of cats.

I must have asked a dozen people for directions to this alley way until one older gentleman chuckled and sent me in the right direction.  A lot of people got it confused with the “Alley Cat” (a popular pizza joint in the area).  Don’t go there as it is not even close to the “Cat Alley.” The hidden alleyway is easy to miss.  It is located between Lala’s Hungarian Pastry (mmmm) at 836 Elm St and Alpha Loft at 844 Elm St.  There is a sign on the shingle of Lala’s indicating Dean Ave.

There are cats everywhere in Cat Alley.

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The name “Cat Alley” precedes the art on the walls.  According to legend, the name was derived from a business man witnessed two stray cats duking it out.  I sure wish he had broken it up.  At any rate, after noticing the alley way, which I might not recommend walking down too late at night, a business man decided to raise funds and hire street artists to give the alley the look it deserves.  Below is a slideshow of all of the art as well as a video of a walk through of the alley.

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Cat Alley isn’t the only place I found graffiti, much to the chagrin of many Manchester residents I am sure.  I found this mural on Manhattan Lane, a side street parallel to Elm St.  This mural is spot on, minus the recycling bins.  From left to right is the “Man In The Mountain” (which, as a child, I used to call the “Old Man In The Mountain”) – a rock formative created by wind, erosion and other weather factors on the side of a mountain and which collapsed on May 3, 2003.The state flower is represented as purple lilac.  The rest of the mural is also emblematic of New Hampshire; a purple finch (which does have a reddish look) and a covered bridge which is a staple of New Hampshire.

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This is another piece of graffiti I found on Manhattan Lane.

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I saw a lot of photo-worthy things during my visit.  I will be posting more from my trip soon.  Don’t forget to “like” me on Facebook here to see photos and videos I don’t post in my blog posts.  Thank you!

 


Massabesic Lake (Manchester, NH)

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Date visited: January 30, 2016

Hours 8 a.m. – 8 p..m. (during the regular season, open without staff during the off season)

There are about 10-20 parking spots by the main entrance but there is a parking lot across the street for overflow traffic (watch out for the holes and bumps in the lot)

Cost: Free but it may cost to put a boat or other watercraft in the lake

“Massabesic” (pronounced Mass-A-Bee-Sick) is a Native American word for “place of much water” or “near the great brook”.  True to its translation, Massabesic Lake Watershed is definitely a place where you will find much water, albeit frozen.  Manchester Airport is nearby so it is not uncommon to see a plane fly by as is evident in one of the photos in the slideshow below.

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Normally, I would consider visiting a lake, pond or any body of water during the winter something of a waste.  Little did I realize though, lakes can be as much fun in the winter as they are during the summer.

A sign on the trail in Massabesic Lake warns you to stay on the trail.  This is partly because the houses are so close to the trail.  Also, you have to cross busy roadways at some points to continue on the trail.

There were people ice fishing (the orange flags on the poles in the water stick up when they get a bite).   Since Lake Massabesic is used as a watershed, people are not allowed to swim or put their bodies in the water.  But, you can fish, sail and canoe on the lake.

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There were people sailing on their ice boats.  You can hear the gentleman talking to me in the video below.  Are there any friendlier people on this planet than the people of New Hampshire?

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or relaxing in their favorite chair

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The Massabesic Lake is home to a trail that leads to Portsmouth, NH as part of the Rockingham Recreational Trail.  As much as I love Portsmouth, I wasn’t up for hiking that far (The Rockingham Recreational Trail is 26 miles total).  It is called a “Rail Trail” because it used to be part of the railway system and was converted over to a trail.  It is very popular with cyclists.  The cyclist pictured below had wide tires, presumably to deal with all off the ice as it was very icy.  He is a braver man than I.  There is also a 4 mile loop at the lake.

Overall, I would rate the trails I hiked easy to moderate in some parts.  The only hard part was dealing with the ice on the trails.  It went from being very easy to manage to downright dangerous due to the icy conditions.  As the snow melted in the morning it turned to mud, then iced over again.  During the morning hours, the ice was melting at a rapid pace.  Then, a few hours later, you could walk on the lake again because the temperatures dropped so much.  While the weather was warmish (by New Hampshire standards), you could hear the ice making noises as it melted.  You may be able to hear the “groaning” noises in the video below.

I did manage to walk out on the ice myself, after seeing everyone else out there first of course.

Meet Jackson, a Siberian husky.  Jackson has one blue eye and one brown eye.  I tried to photograph his eyes but he was blinking when the photo was taken.  You may be able to see his different colored eyes if you zoom in on the first photo. He was very playful  and friendly and what about that smile in the second photo!

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New England Nomad