Cat Alley (Manchester, NH)

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Date Of Visit: January 12, 2019

Location: Dean Ave (off Elm St), Manchester, NH (about 20 minutes south of Concord, NH and 1 hour northwest of Boston MA)

Hours: Accessible 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Parking: There is plentiful parking on Elm St.  Just don’t forget to feed the meter.

Summary: Images of cats painted on the walls of an alley in Manchester, NH.

Highlights: graffiti, family friendly, historical

Tips:

  • cat alley is located on Dean Avenue between The Bookery, (844 Elm St) and Lala’s Hungarian Pastry (836 Elm St)
  • parking meter timers are enforced strictly
  • The street sign for Dean Avenue can be found on the shingle of LaLa’s Pastry Shop

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New Hampshire is known for being a dog friendly state.  It turns out it’s also cat friendly.

 

The artists involved in this artistic display include Peg Lipin, Bill Earnshaw, Brian Lapree, Noonan, Cindy O’Rourke, Del Christensen, Aimee Cozza, 11-year-old Kaitlin Gould, Brianna Gould, Caroline Chavette, Emily Drouin, Alex Mathieu and Anita Huddlestun.

Painted in 2009, Cat Alley has an assortment of cats in different poses and situations and professions.  Paintings of cat burglars, copy cat editors and cat barbers line the walls of the alley.  I never knew cats were such barbers.  Whenever I go anywhere near my cat with a of scissors, she freaks out.  They’re also pretty good in the kitchen too.  Maybe they should open a deli-cat-essen.

 

 

The alley is a little hard to find.  But, if you set your GPS to 844 or 836 Elm St you will be able to see it.  Unless you get there early, you may have to park some distance from the alley.  But, once you see the sign for Dean Avenue that can be found on the shingle of LaLa’s Pastry Shop you will know you’re there.

 

A plaque at the end of the alley gives a historical background about the alley.

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If you want to ride your bicycle to Cat Alley, you’ll be pleased to find these cat shaped structures to lock your bicycle.

 

Someone took an interest in my photography.  So, of course, I photographed him as well.  He did approach me and when he noticed what I was photographing we both went on our separate ways amicably.  Just something you may want to keep in mind if you do go for a visit.

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Below are a  few similar places I have visited and blogged about on my New England Nomad blog.  Please check them out and follow me at https://www.facebook.com/newenglandnomad/

Legal Graffiti Wall (Beverly, MA)

Murals (The Point, Salem, MA)

Nearby Attractions:

The Amoskeag Fishways

Currier Museum Of Art

 

 

Founders Park(Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: January 12, 2019

Location: intersection of South Street and North Street, Hingham, MA (about 30 mins southeast of Boston, MA and about 1 hour northeast of Providence, RI)

Hours: Accessible 24 hours a day

Cost: Free

Parking: There is parking available at on the streets and a parking area near the park

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: benches to sit on, sculpture, plants and flowers

Summary: Founders Park in Hingham, MA, is a small sitting area with flowers and a sculpture

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Sometimes “hidden gems” are in plain sight.

While driving to Hull (more from that visit to be posted later), I almost drove right past this little park. But, eventually, I found it.

What the park lacks in size it makes up for in charm. With its benches and trees, plants and flowers this park is a wonderful place to sit and rest or contemplate.

Dedicated in 2008, Founder’s Park, Founder’s Park was constructed without the use of tax payer funds. After the MBTA Commuter Rail Tunnel that runs behind the area where the park is located, the the Garden Club of Hingham raised funds for the creation of the park. The Garden Club continues to care for the park.

The highlight of the park is the sculpture “A Bale of Turtles, a Croak of Frogs” by David Phillips. One of the details I noticed is that some turtles are bronze colored while others are green. I also like the little turtle trying to climb up the side of the rock.

Born on January 8, 1944 in Flint, Michigan, Phillips relocated to Cambridge MA in 1970. He has been an active participant in the New England art scene ever since. According to Phillips’s website, he has 13 sculptures dedicated to different parks and spaces in New England including this one. He has several more sculptures displayed throughout the states and abroad.

The one downside to the location of this park is the lack of parking. In fact, parking in general is fairly scarce in this area. Due to the narrow size of the road, there isn’t any street park allowed on South Street (the most direct route to the park) and, while there is parking allowed on some of the streets nearby it is sparse. There is a small parking area for patrons of a nearby shop (which is where I parked since I was only going to be there a short time). But, if you live nearby it would be a very good place to walk to and maybe take your pup.

Similar Places I’ve Visited:

911 Memorial Park (Westfield, MA)

Rotary Common Park (Nashua, NH)

Bear Hole Reservoir Trail (West Springfield, MA)

Dates Of Visits: December 26 & 27, 2018

Locations: Bear Hole Rd, West Springfield, MA and 175 Bridle Path Rd, West Springfield, MA

Hours: Open daily, dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is a parking area at the end of Bear Hole Rd for about 20 cars

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1,700 acres, 2.6 mile gravel and dirt loop, easy with a few average inclines

Handicapped Accessible: No, some of the trails are rocky, unpaved and steep

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: vernal pools, waterfall, running, hiking, cycling, dog friendly (leashed), waterfall, wildlife, scenic views

Map: Bear Hole Reservation Trail Map (myhikes.com)

Websites: Bear Hole Reservoir Trail (alltrails.com)

Bear Hole Reservior Trail (myhikes.com)

Nestled at the end of what may seem like any other side street off Dewey St in West Springfield, MA, Bear Hole Reservoir Trail is truly a hidden gem.  If not for a relative who clued me into this hidden treasure, I may not have known it existed.  In fact, the first time I drove to the reservoir, I wasn’t quite sure I was going the correct way.  I’m sure many people drive by the main road that leads to the reservoir without realizing it.

Once thought to be the home of the Woronocos, a sub-group of the
Pocumtucks, Bear Hole Reservoir Trail has many natural wonders.Bear Hole Reservoir, which was built in 1956, was meant to deliver drinking water to the residents of West Springfield.  However, according to a 2012 report states the Bear Hole Reservoir and Treatment Facility has been inactive since 2011 although the West Springfield Works Department do still monitor the water supply.  Reports of seepage, poor construction and spalling concrete are a few of the reasons the reservoir is not in use for the town’s water supply.  However, it seems like it could be used as a water supply if there were drought like conditions or the main source of water was compromised.

The first attraction at you will probably see at Bear Hole is the waterfall and stream that leads to the head of the reservoir.

A variety of wildlife, such as deer, bears and even the occasional beaver have been reported and photographed at Bear Hole.

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I found this beaver chewing on a piece of vegetation when I went off the main trail.  There is a worn trail off the main trail by the waterfall, which is part of the Paucatuck Brook, where you can walk closer to the stream of water.  Although I didn’t see any deer, I did find evidence of them.

The head of the reservoir, which was partially frozen due to the cold temperatures, and the views along the way are a sight worth seeing.  The short hike is definitely worth it.

The tree-lined dirt trail is easy.  The only steep part is the incline from the front part of the reservoir onto the second part of the loop.  It may be better for some people to backtrack from the way you came as this trail is easier.  But, it will be longer than taking the loop back.

There are lots of pretty views along the trails, especially this time of the year with the icy vernal ponds.  I suppose that’s kind of ironic to type that.  But, I have gained a deeper appreciation over time for the skeletal tree structures and the icy bodies of water.  Bear Hole is proof that beauty does not only exist during the warmer seasons.

Leashed pets, and maybe some well behaved dogs off leash, are allowed at Bear Hole.  One of the dogs I saw on the trail is Roxie, a 3 year old Basenji (Africa’s “barkless dog”).

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I look forward to bringing more of Hidden New England to you.  If you would like to learn more about the hidden gems of New England, please take a moment to check out my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hiddennewengland/ and like or follow me there.  I plan on posting links and other information on my Facebook page that may not be included in my blog posts.