Tag Archives: road trip

Salem Willows (Salem, MA)

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Date Visited: July 23, 2016

Location: 167 Fort Ave, Salem, MA

Hours: The website for Salem Willows shows their hours as being daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. but you can get in to the park before 11.  We got their just before 10 and there was already some people there.  I think the hours are the hours of operation for the restaurants and other businesses in that area.

Cost: Free

Parking:  There are about 60 metered parking spots.  The meters cost 25 cents an hour.  There is also about 50 additional free parking spots in a nearby lot and off street parking is available.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: Family friendly, arcades, restaurants, willow trees, harbor, scenic walking path, grassy areas to grill, relax and for kids to play, jetty, place to rent surfboards and other aquatic sporting goods

As I entered Salem Willows I couldn’t help but think of my childhood of carnivals and traveling shows.  My friends and I would be so excited when the fair came to town.  Now, the fair is always in town.  In these days of sit down eateries and chain restaurants, it was refreshing.  If you d go, try the slushies or get a cone at Cappy’s!

Salem Willows has changed so much since its original opening in 1880.  Willows Pavilion which featured a skating rink and restaurant dominated the landscape.    Now, the area where the takeout food vendors are located still keeps the name of “on the line”.  But, the restaurants are much different.  In place of the sit down, grand restaurants stand take out vendors and ice cream shops.

There is also a stage for bands and other entertainers to perform.  Named after former  Salem resident and veteran, the Robert F Hayes Band Stand holds a summer concert series every year as well as holding other events.

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But, there is so much more to Salem Willows than nostalgic stroll past the smell of flour dough and the buzzing and ringing from the vendors and arcades.  Salem Willows is also, as the name would suggest, known for all of the willow trees planted to offer shade and beauty to the area.

The mostly shady loop around the bay and back too the parking area is an easy half mile walk.  Along the way there are benches to sit on and a jetty to fish off or just enjoy the views. The views from the bay were very pretty.  A variety of flowers and scenic views frame the busy blue waterway.

There was a lot of activity on and in the water at Salem Willows.  That is a man swimming in the last photos

There is also a place to rent surf/paddle/body boards and other watercraft and flotation devices.

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Salem’s love of art is evident even in the most unlikely places.  These trash cans and rocks displayed some of the street art of Salem.  I especially like the art on the rocks.  Each block has a different symbol of the area painted on them.

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Salem Willows is a great place to bring your dog for a short walk.  Dixie, a 4 year old Maltese, was enjoying the seasonal weather and cool breeze when she stopped to pose for photos for me.

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Video of “on the line” from Salem Willows

 

 


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).

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Witch Trial Memorial (Danvers, MA)

When most people think of the witch hysteria that gripped the New England colonies in 1692 and 1693, they are likely to think it began and took place exclusively in Salem.  However, although they are known as the Salem Witch Trials and Salem largely takes the infamy of the witch hunt, Salem does not hold that infamous title.

Salem Village, now known as Danvers, has the infamous distinction of being the beginning of the Salem witch hysteria.  It is here in Danvers, Massachusetts, where a somber memorial stands as a constant reminder to remember this past and to never let something like this happen again.

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Erected in May, 1992, the monuments lists the 20 people who were executed during the witch trials.

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Each slab lists a quote of innocence from each victim.

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The rays spilling in from the top of the memorial was a nice touch.

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Some of the more poignant quotes listed on the wall are:

“Well!  burn me or hang me.  I will stand in the truth of Christ…” – George Jacobs, Sr

“Amen. Amen.  A false tongue will never make a guilty person.” – Susannah Martin

The memorial also has a sculpture of “The Book Of Life” on top of a table that has a tribute etched in the base.

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Attached to each side of the book are chains.  Stark reminders of the pain they endured.

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Someone left a flower at the memorial, a common occurrence at this memorial, particularly during this time of the year.

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The memorial site has many pretty views to photograph from a variety of angles and the foliage added a nice touch.  The foliage gave a serene feeling in contrast to the moving memorial.

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In front of the memorial, there is monument that lists the generous donors who made the memorial possible.  You may notice the red door on the house in the background.  This is not unusual for the area.  The houses in Danvers and the surrounding area were beautiful in their understated uniqueness and pretty yet rustic nature.

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A sign, inconspicuously posted by the side of the road explains the origins and history of the site and surrounding area as well as the meaning behind the memorial.

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Waterfront Park (Woods Hole, MA)

The last leg of our summer’s swan song at Cape Cod was spent at Waterfront Park in Woods Hole.  Waterfront Park has several statues and sculptures.  The most recent statue is a memorial to environmentalist Rachel Carson, the author of Silent Spring and the Sea Around Us.  Both books are considered influential books in the environmentalist movement.  Carson had worked with Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) which is located in Woods Hole.

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The waterfront also has a shaded sitting area for the weary traveler to rest their bones.

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There is also a sun dial statue dedicated to Robert Crane, one of the original financial supporters of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.  The sun dial was constructed so that you could tell what time it is from any direction.  And, yes, it is accurate. A somewhat elaborate explanation is included on the ground in front of the sun dial.

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The “Flukes” is a bronze sculpture by Gordon Gund.  Gund, a successful businessman, was inspired to sculpt The Flukes after seeing pilot whales off the coast.  It looks like more of a slide or play thing which explains the sign in front of the sculpture.  I suspect it is not much of a deterrent.

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The Waterfront is also the main point of embarkment for the ferry to the islands of Cape Cod, mainly Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

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The waterfront also has some pretty views of the water and pretty flowers.

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The waterfront park is also known for its friendly visitors.  I met this friendly guy named Charlie as I was leaving.

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Goodbye summer!  See you again in 2016.


Nobska Beach (Woods Hole, MA)

After a short stay at Scraggy Neck, it was time for our next stop on our Cape Cod Farewell Summer trip.

Our next destination was the Nobska Beach in the quaint village of Woods Hole in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  The Nobska area is so pretty and there are so many attractions because of its sheer beauty, I decided cover the Nobska area in two separate blogs.

The first thing that stands out at Nobska beach are the array of flowers and the makeshift trails at the beach (that and the lack of parking).  The only parking available is on the side of the road along the beach and a scant few spots in front of the light house (I’ll be posting photos of the light house in the second part of the Nobska photo blogs).

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Nobska Beach offers views of both Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Island.

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Boats and the ferry make frequent trips to the islands

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If you hadn’t noticed, one of the treasures of Nobska Beach are the rocks and the rock formations.       DSC_0561 DSC_0573     DSC_0658

But, to capture the real beauty of the views from the beach, it was necessary to walk down a narrow trail down to this modest rocky ledge.

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But, the ledge was wide enough for me and my camera.  And the views were well worth the extra effort.

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Nobska Beach is also home to a variety of wildlife.

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At the base of the beach there are two memorials. A memorial for Dennis Jeff Sabo lies under some plants, almost unnoticed.  The memorial does not give any more information than his date of birth, date of death and name.  A Google search yielded no results.  The lack of details about Dennis adds to the memorials’ mystique.

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The other memorial is dedicated to Neilie Anne Heffernan Casey.  Neilie was a passenger on Flight 11 on September 11, 2001. A memorial and bench bearing her name lay in the area now dubbed “Neilie Point”.  A beautiful reminder of an awful day.

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Scraggy Neck (Cataumet, MA)

After a brief but rewarding stay at Amrita Island, it was on the next destination on my Farewell Summer Cape Cod trip.  Scraggy Neck is a private beach in Cataumet, a village in Bourne, Massachusetts.

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The beach is usually monitored by guards during the summer season.  But, since summer was basically over, there were no guards when I arrived at the beach.

The entrance to the beach is grassy.  But, there is a makeshift trail you can follow.  The occasional flower stand in the grass

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The beach is long and it was high tide when I visited.  But, there wasn’t much of a beach head when I was visited.  The water did look clean and clear.

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Seaweed and shells littered the beach.

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Scraggy Neck is divided into two sides by a road that is frequented by joggers, bikers and cars.  It was on the other side of the road that showed off Scraggy Neck’s more scenic views.

A narrow path leads to the water.

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The fish is visible through the transparent water.

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This part of Scraggy Neck is mostly grassy.  So, it would not be the ideal area to lie out for a tan.

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Scraggy Neck is also a popular spot for boaters to launch from.

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After visiting Scraggy Neck, it was on to our next adventure….


Cape Cod Canal (Buzzards Bay, MA)

One last summer weekend.  One last chance to soak up the dwindling magic of summer.  What better way to laze away the remaining summer bliss than at the iconic Cape Cod Canal?

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The canal stretches for 7 miles for Sandwich, MA, to Buzzards Bay.  There are several entrances to the canal.  We chose the entrance near the end of the canal at Buzzards Bay.

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The views at the canal are one of the main attractions.

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Fishermen and fisher women dot the rocky edges of the canal and it is a popular starting point for bikers, runners and walkers.  The canal also is a bustling point for ships carrying a variety of cargo, particularly since it is so close to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy.  I caught one as it passed under the railroad bridge.

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Ducks and seagulls also find the canal too be a fun place to enjoy the summer.

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This lady thought I was spying on her.

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Well, until next summer…I’ll meet you at the canal.

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Mittaneague Park (West Springfield, MA)

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Legend has it the Native Americans called Mittaneague (pronounced Mit-tin-aig) “the valley of falling water.”  The park more than lives up to this description.

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Mittineague Park was, without question, the park with the most difficult terrain to travel that I have visited while writing this blog.  The sharp inclines, fences furnished with barbed wire and “no trespassing” signs, overgrown brush, unkempt make shift trails and other obstacles made it difficult to photograph.

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It is a shame because Mittineague has some wonderful views.

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Mittineague also has a tunnel under the railroad tracks that run through the park.

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During my visit, the train passed by on the rickety rails.

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and kept going…

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and kept going…

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and going…

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and, well, you get the picture…

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But, the gem of the park must be its stone bridges and walkways.

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Mittineague also has an impressive assortment of trees.  They are majestic not just in their stature but also in their sheer beauty.

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There is also a variety of plant life and wild flowers.

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Mittineague is also teeming with birds

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frogs

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and, of course, dogs.

Lucy did a great job fetching her frisbee.

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Lincoln posed proudly with his mommy.

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And Annabelle smiled broadly for her photo.

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Mittineague also has well manicured soccer fields and baseball diamonds and its basketball and tennis courts as well as a play area for kids.

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Or, the kids can just go for a swim in the various brooks and waterfalls at Mittineague.

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Witch City (Salem, MA)

When people think of Salem (MA), they often conjure thoughts of the witch hysteria, ghosts or a litany of other things that may go bump in the night.  But, this isn’t fair nor accurate. No, Salem is more than “haunted houses” and stores that sell kitschy souvenirs. Nor is it only fun to visit during the Halloween season. Still, it did feel a little odd wandering around Salem without a Fall chill in the air or leaves crunching beneath my feet.  But, it wasn’t any less fun.

Salem, being an important port for trade in early colonial days, is rich with tradition and history.  One of the main ports of trade is at Pickering Wharf in Salem Harbor.

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Anchored in the wharf is The Friendship.  The Friendship is a reconstruction of a 1700’s trading ship.  Tours are available, except today as they were renovating the ship.

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Stately, rustic buildings dot the coast line. The ornate building with the dome atop it is the Custom House.  It is sandwiched in between the Salem Maritime National Historic Site (to the left) and the Simon Forrester House.

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There is also a lighthouse located at the end of the pier.

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Ducks and other birds frequent the harbor.

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Pickering Wharf has a variety of restaurants where you can enjoy fish, lobster and, well, fish.  It is also a hub for tour groups (whose favorite past time seems to be getting into my photos) and the occasional dog walker.  I found this dog who is all black, except for her front left paw.  DSC_0467

I could spend all day at Pickering Wharf.  But, in the interest of time, I began my journey to some of the other attractions in Salem.  The best part of visiting Salem is noticing the attractions and sites while you’re walking to each destination.

There was this house that caught my eye.

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There was this display outside the Salem Witch Museum.

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Irzyk Park, named after Brigadier General Albin F. Irzyk, has this retired Army tank in the park.

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I also bumped into Aida

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As well as Simba and Jasmin

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Eventually, I found my way to Winter Island.

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Winter Island is a hidden jewel within the outskirts of Salem.  A mile from the downtown Salem area, it is used as a RV/trailer park as well as a place to launch boats and hold functions.  I walked the mile to Winter Island from downtown Salem. It is pretty much a straight walk or drive from tge downtown area.  But, if you choose to drive. there is ample parking outside of Winter Island.  There are an array of flowers and a pond (more like a reservoir) with a power plant adjacent which gives a nice touch.  Geese and ducks are abundant there.

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There is also a beach and an area for bird watching on Winter Island (it’s not really an “island” (it is more like a peninsula) but I will let it slide.  It was the beach, Waikiki Beach, that was most impressive.  Rocks are scattered along the beach and make shift trails on the hills behind the beach offer private views of the beach.  Since it was low tide, I was able to walk along the rocks for better views of the harbor.  A lighthouse gives a nice touch and birds and flowers are abundant.

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A closeup of one of the many flowers on Waikiki Beach.

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A bee pollinating.

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The rocks at Waikiki Beach give the beach a unique landscape and offer a chance to get better views.  It also attracts a variety of bird life.

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There is also an area for bird watching at Winter Island.  Although they are easily scared away, I did capture these images of a Robin and a Red Winged Black Bird.

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There is also an old ammunition bunker in the bird watching area at Fort Pickering on Winter Island.

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It’s a shame that Salem is only remembered for the more commercial aspects and urban legends.  It isn’t all about being scared in Salem.  In fact, this is the scariest thing I saw all day.

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Of course, no visit to Salem would be complete without a photo of Roger Conant, the founder of Salem, and a visit to the World War II Memorial at Salem Commons.

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You can keep yourself quite busy just visiting the parks, beaches and assortment of other attractions in Salem all year round, not just during Halloween.  But, of course, I’ll be back in October anyways.


Stanley Park (Westfield, MA)

As you enter the main parking entrance to the lush, well manicured 300 acre Stanley Park, you could easily take it for a playground or picnic area, at least at first glance. But, don’t be fooled.  There lies a bevy of trails, wildlife and plant life as well as an assortment of memorials nestled behind the soccer nets, basketball courts and play areas.

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Stanley Park has several walking bridges and elevated wooden walking paths to view the various wildlife.  The park also has a waterfall and mill.

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The critters are not shy either.  Being accustomed to the visitors, particularly those with food, chipmunks, ducks and squirrels (grey and black) will approach you within inches in the hopes of getting food, in this case peanuts, to store or eat. Aren’t they patient?

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Since the animals there are so used to seeing people and often being fed, Stanley Park is an ideal place to photograph all types of wildlife, especially the amateur photographer.  It’s pretty easy to get an otherwise skittish animal to get close enough to get a good shot of them, like these critters below.

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Unfortunately, during my most recent visit to the park, a park worker informed me you must pay a fee to take photos, a steep one at that.  I am still looking into this (the person in charge of the parks and recreational services was conveniently on vacation when I called Monday).  So, my trip was cut short.  I do have photos on my phone from a previous visit, though.  Posted below are the photos shot with my camera phone.  After looking into the matter with City Hall, an official told us the fee is only for weddings and other functions.  A person shooting photos on their own does not have to pay the fee.

The Connecticut River runs through Stanley Park which gives ample opportunity to get some pretty views.

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Yes, those are Koi fish in the river.

Stanley Park also has a well maintained garden that has a variety of plant life such as petunias and roses.

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There are also miles of trails that runs along the Connecticut River.  You could spend all day, or many hours following all of the trails.

Stanley Park also has many memorials and statues scattered around the flower and garden area.  The memorial below was erected in memory of Otto Bono Galegari who was killed in the Korean War.  Otto’s father constructed the monument in his son’s memory.  Just contemplating the emotional undertaking this must have been is inspiring.  In fact, it seems out of place in a park where people casually while away their summer days texting and playing catch.  It deserves a more reverent setting.

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And some religious guy:

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There is also the Angel of Independence statue which was set up as a tribute to the relationship between the United States and Mexico.

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There is also a visitor’s center that has a  a map of North America in front of the structure (not virtual size).

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Overall, Stanley Park is a great place to spend the day or just a few hours (you’ll quickly lose track of time when you’re there).  Just remember to bring lots of snacks for the squirrels, birds and ducks.