Tag Archives: Western Massachusetts

Museum Of Dog (North Adams, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 5, 2018

Location: 55 Union Street, North Adams, MA (about an hour and a half northwest of Springfield, MA, and hour and 15 minutes northeast of Albany, NY)

Hours: Mon – Sat : 10am to 7pm, Sun : 12pm – 6pm

Cost: $5 for adults, $1 for children

Parking: There is parking available both across the street from the museum and next to the museum (look for the stretch limos with the long dog painted on its side)

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Of course

Website: Museum Of Dog

Highlights: Art, collectibles and other memorabilia; all dog related!


  • The Museum Of Dog offers a “Dancing Dog Evening Tour” performed by “in house talent” with some tours
  • Admission includes an optional guided tour of the museum by a knowledgeable staff member
  • If you have the time, make sure to stop by MASS MOCA which is only a mile or two away from the Museum Of Dog

Fun Facts:

  • Daisy, the dog of the founder and owner of the Museum Of Dog David York, has a exhibit dedicated to her
  • The Museum Of Dog holds the distinction of being the first of its kind in The Bay State



As summer approaches, what better place too whittle away the long dog days of summer than the Museum Of Dog?

The brainchild of dog lover and frequent Massachusetts vacationer David York, The Museum Of Dog has all things dog related that any dog aficionado is sure to appreciate.

The museum, which occupies what was formerly the Quinn’s Paint & Wallpaper Co, has works of art, collectibles and an assortment of other canine related items.

Statues of dogs line the shelves and floor of the museum.

This statue is a replica of Nipper, the dog used for the old logo for RCA.


But, the museum does not just limit itself to statues of dogs.  There are also  books, paintings,

The prized piece of art must be the portrait of Sophie; David York’s dog who he rescued many years ago.


In keeping with their roots to the area, there is an exhibit dedicated tot eh former tenants of the building, Quinn’s Paint and Wallpaper Co.


There is also an annex to the museum.  The Daisy Exhibit features some of Daisy’s “art work.”

Daisy’s work is comically best described as “totale en doge.”  She certainly puts all of herself into her art!


You can see her work for yourself in the”Sophie Annex.”

The annex houses many items associated with dogs such as tennis balls.  There are also flowers and other types of decor in the rooms.

There are also ads for people looking to adopt dogs and art work from some of the visitors to the museum.

The rest of the annex includes an area for visitors to contribute to an exhibit of their own.  Each visitor is encouraged to write their dog’s name and his or her biggest talent.  The forms are then posted on a wall in the annex.  Eating, sleeping, kissing, snuggling and sleeping are some of the more popular talents posted on the forms.  Hey, I’m pretty good at those things too!

Parking is plentiful at the lot across from the museum, next to the museum and at the lots on Union St.  There are limos located at the two main parking areas.


Somewhat ironically, there were no dogs present at the Museum Of Dog during my visit.  But, they are welcome at the museum.  So, make sure to take pooch along with you when you do visit!

Retro Pop Shop (Lee, MA)

Date Of Visit: July 2, 2017

Location: 395 Laurel St, Lee, MA (2 hours west of Boston and 45 minutes northwest of Springfield, MA)

Hours:  call for hours (413-243-0025)

Parking: there is room for about 10-15 cars in the parking lot

Handicapped Accessible:

Dog Friendly: No

Highlights: sale of vintage and hard to find items, ice cream shop

Website: Retro Pop Shop – Facebook


Are you looking to relive old memories and go back to an easier, simpler time?  While it’s not literally possible to go back in time, Pop’s Retro Shop can make you feel as though you’ve gone back in time, or that you’re living in your parent’s hey day.  Odds and ends older than many of you reading this post are scattered throughout this vintage shop in Lee, MA.

Coke and McDonald’s memorabilia take up much of the space at the Retro Pop Shop.  In fact, Ronald is there to greet you when you walk in the front door.

Old coke bottles, lobsters, Simpson dolls and toy trucks lie scattered around the shop. Walking around the store was much like walking around my childhood room (or present day apartment).

Vending machines, refrigerators and even old gas station filling tanks are stored inthe garage of the shop.

Just walking past the old lunch boxes and lava lamps brought back so many memories and happy thoughts.

But, be aware.  There are lots of creepy statues, dolls and other items that seem more suited for Halloween.  Of course, it only made me like the store all that much more.

Retro Pop Shop is truly a family run business.  While Pierre runs the store, his daughter owns and operates the Local Lee Homemade ice cream store attached to the Retro Pop Store.

Keeping with the decor of the inside of the shop, the outside of the store has some vintage and offbeat items lying around.  They must get some pretty big rats out in western MA based on the trap by the entrance.

Although dogs are not allowed in the store (Pierre said a customer had complained about dogs being in the shop in th past), they are welcome on the grounds outside.  I spotted this cute Samoyed in front of the shop.

Today’s featured site is a website for a store that is very similar to retro Pop Shop. While walking through the Retro Pop Shop, I couldn’t help but think of another store in New England that caters to the fans of vintage memorabilia.  But, Wild Bill’s Nostalgia hs so much more .  

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Pomeroy’s Maple Sugar House (Westfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 25, 2017

Location Pomeroy’s Sugar House, 491 Russelville Rd, Westfield, MA (about 2 hours west of Boston, MA, 20 minutes west of Springfield, MA)

Hours: Fri – Sun, 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Cost: Free tour of the maple sugar making house

Handicapped Accessible: The farm is but the restaurant might not be

Highlights: Maple sugar making, breakfast and bruch., cows and calfs

Website: Pomeroy’s Sugar House



It’s March and that can only mean one thing.  Well two things.  Your March Madness bracket sheets are probably as marked up as a fifth grader’s book report  and it’s maple sugar house season. Since this is the peak of maple sugar season, we decided to take a trip to Pomeroy’s Sugar House.  Pomeroy’s Sugar House is a third-generation restaurant and maple sugar making house in Westfield, MA.

Because of the weather conditions during this time of the year, March is considered “Maple Sugar Making Month” in Massachusetts and many of the other states in New England.  The best conditions for collecting and producing maple sugar syrup is when the temperatures are cold at night (below freezing) and mild during the day (in the 40’s and warmer typically).  The season is supposed to last about 5 weeks.

The process begins usually during the beginning of the month of March when the temperatures begin to warm during the days.  The freeze and thaw process alters the pressure in the trees and gets the sap flowing so it can be collected.  Holes are cut into the maple trees with drills and spigots jut out from the trees.  Buckets are then propped up against the trees to collect the sugar   During their growing season, the maple trees create starch.  As the temperature increases, enzymes in the tree transform the starch into sugar during the Spring thaw.  The trees then absorb water through their roots which mixes with the sap and voila you have the makings of a tasty treat that is  considered a emblematic of New England.

Some of the more modernized maple sugar plants use tubing rather buckets to collect the sap.  But,many of the sugar houses still use buckets.  It gives it a more traditional look and it also shows visitors just how the process works step by step.  Each tree can usually yield between 10 to 14 gallons of sap per bucket with some trees having 2 or 3 buckets attached to them.

Even after the sap is collected the process is not complete yet.  Not even close.  Sap is 97.5 % water and only 2.5% sugar.  So it needs to be boiled down to get to the tasty goodness to makw syrup.  Through a long and somewhat arduous process, the sap is processed and turned into syrup with the help of these machines.

The truck below is one of the trucks Pomeroy’s uses to transport their sap from trees at other locations.

Fun fact (unless you’re one of those making the maple sugar): it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make just one gallon of maple syrup.

Fun fact number two: the Native Americans introduced the process of making maple syrup to the European settlers.  It was all downhill from there.

The demand for these sugary treats is high.  In fact, the restaurant ran out of maple syrup during our visit.  But, the friendly staff at the sugar house were busy preparing more for later that day.  If you get the chance to go today, the staff at Pomeroy’s said they would have more by 5 p.m.  Or, stop by another day!

There is also a farm in back of Pomeroy’s Sugar House.  The cows were in their pens.

A baby calf was hiding in his or her hut but the calf eventually got out to say hi.

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Buttonball Tree (Sunderland, MA)

Date Of Visit: January 5, 2017

Location: 158 N. Main St, Sunderland, MA

Parking: You can park on the side of the road at or near the tree.  It’s a residential area so please be safe when viewing

Cost: Free

Hours: everyday, 24 hours a day

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: “widest tree this side of the Mississippi”, biggest sycamore tree in Massachusetts, 300 plus year old tree


On a nondescript road in Sunderland, MA, stands a tree.  A big tree.  But, no, this is no ordinary “big tree.”  This is the widest tree in the Eastern part of the United States.

The Buttonball tree, located on N Main St,  is over 113′ high, with a girth of 24’7″ and has a spread of 140′.  Pretty big, huh?  The locals think so.  Because of its size and its legendary status, locals have dubbed the Buttonball Tree, “The widest tree this side of the Mississippi.” It is also considered, wrongly, to be the “biggest” this side of the Mississippi.

In fact, another tree in Massachusetts may hold this claim.  Or, at the least it may be the tallest this side of the Mississippi.  The Eastern White Pine in the Mohawk State Forest in Charlemont, Massachusetts, is listed at 174 feet in height.  And there are many others that are taller than the Buttonball.

For instance, the “Boogerman Pine” (186 feet tall) located in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, is considered by many as the tallest tree in the U.S. east of the Mississippi.

In addition to these trees, there could be some huge, crazy big tree in some forest or park somewhere that has yet to be recorded.  As you can see, it is a hotly contested claim!

So, the claim of “largest tree east of the Mississippi” is a title that has been debated.  But, the Buttonball still holds the title for widest tree this side of the Mississippi.  OK, enough fun tree facts.  For now.

Who knew it would be such a contentious subject!  Who knew there was so many details about these trees? But, there’s more to the tree than it’s girth and height.  Besides, it’s not the size…never mind.

While the title for largest tree east of the Mississippi may be up for debate, one thing is for: the Buttonball Tree is one big tree!  It is the largest sycamore tree in Massachusetts and one of the largest trees of any kind in Massachusetts.  Once part of the Sunderland forest, the tree now stands in a residential area.  I bet the neighbors just love all the attention.   (another) Fun fact: because of their longevity, during the 17th and 18th century sycamores were sometimes planted at the door of new house for newlyweds as “bride and groom” trees.  The trees lasted much longer the marriages I am sure.

Not only is the Buttonball Tree big, it is historically significant.  And old.  I mean really, really old.  The tree is estimated at being between 350 and 400 years old.  And you thought you were getting long in the tooth.

Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen…the Buttonball Tree….


In 1987, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of signing of the Constitution, a plaque was engraved in a stone and placed in front of the tree.  The plaque is engraved with the following:


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Great Barrington Kennel Club Dog Show (Eastern States Exposition Center, West Springfield, MA)

Dates Of Event: February 4 and 5 (the dates may vary but usually it is the first weekend in February)

Location: Better Living Center at the Eastern States Exposition Center (1305 Memorial Ave, West Springfield, MA)

Hours: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Cost: Free (there is a fee to park)

Parking: $5 to park at Gate 9 for the entire time you stay.  There is ample parking for the event

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly:  Of course!

Web Site: Great Barrington Kennel Club Dog Show

Great Barrington kennel Club Web Site: Great Barrington Kennel Club


The Eastern States Exposition Center in West Springfield, MA has gone to the dogs.  Literally.

The Exposition Center hosted the Great Barrington Kennel Club Dog Show this weekend and there were a wide variety of dogs to view, sometimes pat and of course photograph!  Every dog was beautiful in her or his way and there was dogs of all kinds for any dog lover to appreciate!  I tried to photograph dogs of a variety of breeds and sizes.  There were so many cute dogs so this wasn’t a problem.  I hope you enjoy the photos of these cute beasts!

There were large dogs like this 2 and a half year old Great Dane named Leo.

And small dogs like this 15 month old Pomeranian named Scarlett.

And there were dogs of all shapes in between!  As you can tell, there were dogs of all sizes and colors.

The dogs were judged in groups at different times throughout the day and the winning dogs received ribbons.  One of the things that stood out to me There were so many cute dogs to see at the event.  Below are some of the beautiful dogs I saw at the show.

Annie is a 1 year old Belgian Tervuren.

Albert is a 15 month old Lhasa Apso

Cooper is a 4 year old Irish Setter.

Charlie is a 6 month old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

This smiley 18 month old Siberian Husky is Squishy.

But, how does he see?  Jambo is a 2 and a half year old Briard.

Named after the hot and humid southeast to southwestwinds originating as hot, dry desert-air over Northern Africa, Sirocco is a 4 and a half year old Portuguese Water Dog.

As you may be able to tell the second photo, the Portuguese Water Dog is often groomed to show off his posterior.  In addition to their tails, which act as rudders, the short trimmed fur helps them swim.

What would a dog show be without a Golden Retriever? Sometimes you just gotta have Faith, a 4 year old Golden Retriever.

Jubi (short for Jubilee) is a 1 year old Samoyed.

Sadie is an 8 month old German Shepherd.

Tess, a 1 and a half year old Airedale Terrier, is a search and rescue dog in training.

This affectionate 2 year old Burnese Mountain Dog is Dylan.

Breanna is a 7 month Clumber Spaniel

Blaze is a Portuguese Waterdog.

Lucca, named after the Italian city by the same name, is a 3 year old Belgian Shepherd.  All of that posing makes you hungry!

Kensi, an adorable 6 month old English French Bulldog, barked at my camera while he posed for me.  Cameras can be scary things!

Tasha is a 2 year old Gordon Setter.

Believe it or not, even Saint Bernards are small at some point in their life.  Night Blu Sky is a 3 month old Saint.



That’s one way to get his attention!  Hampton is a 3 month old Skipper Key.

Harleigh, a 9 month old Great Pyranese, is a therapy dog for special needs people and seniors.

Dizzy is a 2 year old French Bulldog.

Clyde is a 1 year old German Short Haired Pointer.

Billy is an 11 month old Irish Setter.

Flair is a 19 month old Saint Bernard.

Maikai Maika is a 13 month old Saint Bernard.

Eliza is a 6 month old Smooth Collie.

Sophie (in the back and on the left in the photos from left to right) is a 5 year old Newfie.  Berg, her daughter , is 5 months old.

Titan is a 9 month old Great Pyranese.

Limerick, a 2 year old Brussels Griffin, looks like he’s saying, “What are you looking at?”  Just looking at a cute dog.

Leo is an 8 month old Cavalier King Chafrles Spaniel.

Peyton is a 1 year old Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier

Benjamin is a 3 year old Corgi

Mac, a 15 month old English Mastiff, is a gentle giant.

Maybelline is also an English Mastiff.

Tabitha is a 7 month old Chow.

Apollo, a 200 pound and 5 year old Saint Bernard, won “Best Of Breed.”

Timber is a 2 year old Rodesian Ridgeback.

Brie is a 4 year old Standard Poodle.

Capone is a 2 year old English Mastiff.

Juice, named after the acclaimed singer Juice Newton (yes I am being serious), is a one year old Chinese Shar-Pei.

No, that is not “Cousin It.”  Sorry for the decades old reference. Mirror is a Bergamasco Shepherd.

Jasper is a 4 year old English Sheep Dog.

Elda is a 2 year old English Setter.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get the name of this cute Colored Bull Terrier

Mica is a 2 year old Wire haired Pointing Griffon.

There were also vendors at the event who sold everything from clothing and jewelry to pet treats and toys.

While the dogs were judged and winners were selected, they’re all winners in my book!

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Amherst Society Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show (Eastern States Exposition Center, West Springfield, MA)


Dates Of Event: January 28 and January 29, 2017 (it’s usually held the last week of January or the first week of February each year at the Eastern States Exposition Center)

Location: Eastern States Exposition Center, 1305 Memorial Avenue
West Springfield MA, exhibits are in three buildings (the Mallory Building, the Stroh Building and The Better Living Center, they are all adjacent or connected to each other)

Hours: Saturday, January 28, 2017 – 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sunday January 29, 2017 – 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Cost: Adults: $14.00 per day
Children 15 and under: FREE Accompanied by an Adult

Tickets may be purchased online or at the site.  Tickets go on sale a the ticket booths one hour before the event

Parking: Parking is available for a $5 fee (not included in the ticket price) at the Gate 9 entrance.  Get there early as it does fill up

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Highlights: model trains and train sets, vintage model trains, elaborate train sets, family friendly



The annual Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show proved trains are not just for children.  The fact of the matter is the hobby show is fun for people of all ages.  In fact, watching some of the older men and women get into their train sets and even get dressed up as conductors is one of the best parts of the show.


But, the best part is watching the children get excited to play with and watch the trains.

There are many activities at the hobby show geared for children.  There is an instructional event where children can learn how to make their own model trees, a table which has buttons for the children to use to move the trains or turn the lights of the train set off and on.  There is also a tor train that kids can take, with their parents or guardians, that makes a short journey inside the exhibition hall and other fun activities for children as well as a clown.

There were dozens, if not hundreds, of train sets set up.

While the trains were cool, I actually liked looking at the little accessories that people used to dot the landscapes of their sets.

Some of the city and town layouts were pretty elaborate and detailed.

There was also a cool Lego display.  Everything on this display was made out of Lego pieces.

What made this display cool were the hidden characters and objects in the display such as the Beatles crossing Abbey Road (and about to be hit by a truck)


Batman (and friends)

Some famous vehicles

There were a lot more hidden surprises in the display,  Can you find more in these photos?

Not all of the trains were small, though.  These model trains were displayed at the show.  But, they did not have a track big enough for them!

And, of course, there was the steam locomotive displayed outside the event.  Children could goon the locomotive and, if they were lucky, they could hear the train toot and spray some steam into the air.  It’s a great way to end a day of looking at just model trains.

Video of a dinosaur train, you read that right,…and perhaps the most famous train

Williamsburg General Store (Williamsburg, MA)

Date Of Visit: January 14, 2017

Location: 12 Main St, Williamsburg, MA

Hours: Open daily, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Parking: There are about 5 parking spots in front of the store and room for about a dozen more cars in the rear parking lot.

Handicapped Accessible: There is a ramp on the side of thhe store but it may still be difficult getting through the entrance door.

Highlights: Daily baked bread and other baked goods, ice cream parlor, historical

Web Site: Williamsburg General Store


As a youngster, I used to love the family trips to New Hampshire and other far flung parts of Massachusetts.  One of the sharpest memories I have are visiting the local general store (I especially liked the old time “penny candy”, funny how  somethings never change).

A recent search on Google retrieved 3 general stores in the Western Mass area (basically west of Springfield, MA).  While their numbers are dwindling, these shops still exist and I was lucky enough to find one in my travels in Williamsburg, MA.

Since the weather has been cold and the trails icy, we nixed our plans to hike some of the trails in the area.  Luckily, the Williamsburg General Store was located near the center of town.

The general store has been a staple of the town for over 140 years.

The general store, built in 1876, still has the original furnace that was used with the fireplace that once stood in the front part of the store.  I couldn’t help to think of all of the famous, and not so famous, people who had walked through the store before me.  It’s also survived the Depression, recessions and, not least of all, New England winters.

The general store seems custom built for tourists.  Memories rushed over me as I walked past the stuffed animals, t shirts with quirky sayings and other tchotchkes you would only purchase when you’re on vacation for some reason.  It is deceivingly long inside.

The ice cream parlor area used to be a post office years ago.  There is a table and chairs to sit down at and enjoy your coffee, ice cream or other treats.  And the bread, pastry and other bake goods are baked fresh everyday by one of the employees who travels at least half an hour each way to work there.

It’s not dumb luck this store has lasted so long.  The nostalgia, homey feel and pleasant staff make this place a great shop to stop by on one of your journeys to Western Massachusetts.

Maple Brook Farm (Westfield, MA)

Dates visited: December 16, 2015 and December 21, 2015

Tucked away one of the many side roads of West Springfield, MA, is an unexpected place.


The Maple Brook Farm is home to a variety of alpacas.  It’s not everyday that you get to see alpacas grazing from the road so I thought I would stop by.

They tend to cluster together so it was hard to take photos of them alone.

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The driveway to the farm is usually open, at least during non holiday daylight hours.  When I went to visit, there was no staff or anyone else there but the public is welcome and there is no charge.  I just wish I knew what alpacas eat.  I would have brought them a treat.

The grounds of the farm are well groomed and there are many structures and statues that liven up the area.  It is definitely worth a visit.

October Mountain (Lee, MA)

Even though it’s only August, today was the perfect day for a trip to Mount October.


Roughly, a 45 minute drive west of Springfield, MA, Mount October is located in the majestic Berkshires. The wild flowers and plant life, which are a staple of the Berkshires, were in full bloom.

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The wildlife at Mount October was also abundant.

There were salamanders

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and dogs!


Olive posed during her walk with her dad


Emily stuck her head out for some fresh air.

While it serves as a campground, the hiking trails are perhaps the most notable part of the state forest.  But, the most challenging part of Mount October was the terrain of these hiking trails.  Dew and rain made for marshy, washed out paths which made it even more difficult when you had to cross rocky areas.  Some parts of the paths were also fairly steep.

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Interestingly, I visited Woods Pond earlier this year which is a section of Mount October.  The blog for which can be found here.  Even though I had already taken photos of Woods Pond previously, I took a few more during my visit at Mount October.

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Mount October is the largest state park in Massachusetts.  And, despite spending several hours there, we were only able to cover a fraction of the area.  Perhaps I’ll come back in the fall.

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.


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



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?



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.



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.


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.


And some religious guy:


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.