The Nature Trail And Cranberry Bog (Foxboro, MA)

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Date Of Visit: May 18, 2019

Location: Patriot Place, behind Bass Pro Shops, 1 Bass Pro Dr, Foxborough, MA

Parking: there is parking available in front of Bass Pro Shop and additional parking usually reserved for visitors to the New England Patriot games across from the shop

Cost: Free

Hours: Open daily sunrise to sunset

Trail size/difficulty: .6 miles, easy

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic views, wildlife, easy trails

When one thinks of Patriot Place a cranberry bog and nature walk are probably not the first things that come to mind.  Yet, nestled right behind Bass Pro Shops at Patriot Place is a hidden trail with an array of wildlife and pretty views.

The trail, which can be easy to miss, is located right behind Bass Pro Shop at the end of the Patriot Place Plaza. But, before you begin the trail, there is a sitting area with a bench to rest on.

The .6 miles is an easy trail that has a pair of boardwalks and  dirt trails.

The boardwalk offers a great place to view birds and turtles.

But turtles aren’t the only aquatic critters at the trail.  I noticed a few snakes (Northern Water snakes) along the trail.  I thought it was funny this snake was on the side of the trail, yet nobody noticed as they walked along the trail.  While Northern Water Snakes are not venomous, they do have quite a nasty bite.  Fortunately, I do not speak from experience.  But I have read they can be dangerous if provoked.  They”re cute as a button though!

I also saw this animal there.  But, he or she didn’t move much, though.

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Leashed dogs are welcome to the trail.  Kobe, a 9 month old King Charles Cavalier, enjoyed the trail while I was visiting.

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Cutler Park Reservation (Needham, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 2, 2019

Location: 84 Kendrick St., Needham, MA

Hours: open daily dawn to dusk

Cost: Free

Parking: There is free parking for about 50 cars in the main lot and parking may be available at nearby lots.

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Park size/trail difficulty: 600 acres, easy to slightly moderate

Highlights: wildlife, hiking, pond, kayaking, cycling and running trails

Summary: This 600-acre park protects the largest freshwater marsh on the middle Charles River. This park is a great spot for birdwatchers, and it also features eskers, or riverbeds formed inside a glacier; drumlins, long hills formed by glaciers; and Kendrick pond.

Website: Cutler Park Reservation

Hiking Trails Map: Cutler Park Reservation Trail Map

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Named for the State legislator, Leslie B. Cutler, who helped the Department of Conservation and Recreation of Massachusetts acquire the land, Cutler Park has some hidden historical significance many visitors may not be aware of.

Soil was removed from what is now known as Kendrick Pond to fill in the area now known as the Back Bay of Boston.  And, if you look closely near the Kendrick St entrance of the park you can still see some of the old tracks of the railroad that was used to transport the soil to Boston.

Although I’m not sure, this tunnel may have been used to transport some of the soil, rocks or logs from the park.  But, now it is used to support the railroad that runs adjacent to the park.

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Mist was settling upon Kenrick Pond as I arrived at the park.  It created the perfect backdrop for photos of the landscape and swans at Kendrick Pond (aka Cutler Pond).

Cutler Park has a diverse assortment of wildlife and birds.  Although I did not see them during my visit, deer and fox are said to be present there. I did see a few other critters, though.

It was spring during my visit so there were a lot of babies at the park.  I got to see some goslings and cygnets with their parents.

You’ll hear a variety of birds tweeting (offline).

 

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or getting a quick bite

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or just chilling in the abundant trees at Cutler Park.

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The trails at Cutler Park are mainly easy with a few slight inclines.  The signature part of the trails is the boardwalk along the marshy area.

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But, there’s something about the tree lined dirt paths that gives the park a “country” feel despite the fact it is located deep within the suburbs.

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Cutler Park is popular with kayakers, runners, cyclists and people in some unusual water vessels.

What truly makes the park a hidden jewel are the beautiful views.

The wide paths and pond make Cutler Park a dog friendly park.

The way Casey, a 10 year old Yellow Lab, fetched could give any of  the Sox outfielders a run for their money.

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Say goodbye to Teddy, a one and a half year old Golden Doodle mix, from Cutler Park!

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Hidden History – Home Of The Coast Guard (Newburyport, MA)

 

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When people think of the Coast Guard, they often conjure up images of episodes of The Deadliest Catch or clips of the Coast Guard seizing drug smuggling ships off the coast of Florida or some other coastal city.  But the origins of the Coast Guard is much closer to our New England roots and their primary role was much different than what we might expect.

As you can tell by the featured photo above, the first vessel was launched July 23, 1791. The USRC Massachusetts, which was built by William Searle, spanned 50 feet and weighed and over 70 tons (140,000 lbs).

Initially, the Coast Guard was primarily responsible for stopping smugglers and enforcing tariffs.  But, that didn’t mean their job was not without its risks.  The would routinely chase smugglers, pirates and engage their suspects. Now, the Coast Guard spends a lot of their time rescuing sailors and seamen in ships that are in distress.  They have saved countless lives along the New England coast and beyond.

The Coast Guard’s duties continue to expand.  For instance, the Coast Guard currently patrols the Middle East with the Navy. And one Coast Guard death has been reported during these patrols.

Along the boardwalk by the waterfront in Newburyport, MA, there is a memorial dedicated to the U.S. Coast Guard.

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The inscription on the marker, which was dedicated  August 4, 1989, states:

We the people of Newburyport, Massachusetts dedicate this plaque to the men and women of the United States Coast Guard who have courageously and faithfully served the nation for 200 years. For two centuries their labor has saved lives, buoyed our channels, insured safe operation of ports and vessels, protected our shoreline from invaders, and defended the nation in every major war. We honor the United States Coast Guard for exemplifying our highest National virtues of commitment to the common good, respect for the law and the responsible participation in fulfillment of duty

To this day, the city of Newburyport honors their veterans from all branches of the military each year on Memorial Day.  But, the city’s Memorial Day ceremonies includes a special memorial to the Coast Guard.  The marchers in the parade take a Memorial March to the Waterfront, where the Coast Guard monument stands,  while the Newburyport High School Marching Band plays the Coastal Guard Hymn (Semper Paratus).  After reaching the waterfront, the Newburyport Police Honor Guard render a rifle volley and a memorial wreath is thrown from the Coast Guard Cutter.

 

 

 

Daffodil Festival (Naumkeag, Stockbridge, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 10, 2019

Location: Naumkeag, 5 Prospect Hill Rd, Stockbridge, MA

Cost: Trustees Nonmembers: $20
Seniors and students 15 and up: $15
Trustees Members: FREE
Children 6 – 14: $5
Children under 6: FREE

Hours (the Daffodil Festival ended May 12,)

April 14 – May 27
Open weekends only, with tours 10AM – 5PM (last tour starts at 3:30PM)

May 28 – October 8
Open daily with tours 10AM – 5PM (last tour starts at 3:30PM) including holidays

Parking: Free parking for about 20 cars is available.  There may be a lot for overflow parking as well.

Trails: Easy

Handicapped Accessible: No.

  • Naumkeag is not ADA-compliant, due to the age of the site. There are many stairs, a steep hillside, uneven footing, etc.

Dog Friendly: Dogs are not allowed in the gardens.

Summary: The Daffodils Festival is an annual event that has daffodils and other flowers, trees and plants planted along their trails.

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Each year, the Trustees at Naumkeag in Stockbridge, MA bring some color and beauty to the drab rainy early spring season.  Their daffodil celebration begins in April and last until the second week of May.  Just in time for Mother’s Day!

As you begin your visit at the Naumkeag Estate, you will first enter a greenhouse with a diverse collection of flowers and plants.

While daffodils are the main attraction, they aren’t the only flowers showcased at the festival. An assortment of other flowers, such as tulips, complement the daffodils.

The trees at Naumkeag are just as impressive as the flowers even if they didn’t have many buds or leaves on them at that time.

Naumkeag has many events and programs for children.  We saw these butterflies which were part of a children’s scavenger hunt.

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The stairs and trails are well kept.

There are many statues and other decorative items along the trails.

The estate at Naumkeag is much more extensive.  But, unfortunately, the rain prevented us from exploring it more.  I am sure I will make another trip to see more of this beautiful hidden gem!

If you missed the Daffodil Festival, fear not!  The festival is help every year in Mid April to early May.

Spring Bunny Quest (Francis William Bird Park, East Walpole, MA)

Date Of Event: April 27, 2019

Location: Francis William Bird Park, Polley Lane, Walpole, MA

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Cost: Free

Parking: There are multiple parking lots located on Polley Lane, Pleasant Street and Rhoades Avenue.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 89 acres (3 miles of walking trails), easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: wooden cutout bunnies hidden on the trails, trees, play areas, tennis and basketball courts, trees, ponds

Web Site: Francis William Bird Park

Trail Map: Francis William Bird Trail Map

Summary: 6 cutout bunnies were hidden along the various trails at Francis William Bird park

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While bunnies are not uncommon at William Francis Bird Park (more commonly known as “Bird Park”), there were a very different type of bunny there earlier this spring.  To mark the arrival of the spring cotton tail bunnies to the park, Bird Park hid 6 wooden cutout bunnies for visitors to look for.

While there was a map located at the visitor center board near the center of the park showing where the bunnies were located, the Trustees, who operate the park, encouraged visitors to find them on their own.  So, I tried.  I tried for 3 hours.  I was also taking photographs of the wide variety of beautiful trees and other treasures of the park.  I did find 5 of the bunnies on my own.  Then, I gave in and found the last bunny after looking at the map.

The bunnies really weren’t too hard to find.  Even the “hidden bunnies” were in open view, even if they were located next to a rock or tree.

The bunnies also had a small notepad for visitors to write messages.  One popular message written on the notepads can be seen below.

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The park has been a hidden attraction for many years.  In fact, it has existed in one form or another for almost 100 years.  Francis William Park was endowed and created by Charles Sumner Bird, Sr and his wife Anna in 1925.  The park was created in memory of their eldest son, Francis William Bird who died in 1918 at the age of 37.  The Trustees, who operate the park currently, gained ownership of the park in 2002.

Bird Park has so many great features,  The trails are easy to navigate and there are many toys and playthings for children to use in the “tot lot”.  There are also basketball courts and tennis courts.

The main attraction of the park, though, must be the trees.  There are a variety of trees at the park with the names of their particular species.

I wonder what species of tree this is.

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One particular tree at the park stands out among the rest.  A plaque dedicated to Charles Sumner Jr is located at the base of this majestic tree.

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There are many stunning views at the park.

And, of course, what would Bird Park be without birds?

There are lots of benches to sit on and admire the views.  Some of these benches look pretty old!

In addition to an extensive play area, there is a cute little library in the children’s playground.

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The music court, built in 1931, was designed for performers to use to entertain the community.  There are changing rooms and restrooms (which I’m pretty sure are no longer in use) attached to the stage for performers to make costume changes before or during their performances.

Your dog will love the long trails and spacious field at the park.  The appropriately names Achilles, a 10 year old American Eskimo and Cocker Spaniel mix, didn’t let his injury stop him from roaming the park.

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Ruh roh!  It’s like Scooby, a 5 year old American Pitbull mix.  Zoinks!

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Hidden History – Bewitched Statue (Lappin Park, Salem, MA)

Date Of Visit: Countless times (photo provided was taken Oct. 14, 2018)

Location: Lappin Park, 235 Essex St (corner of Essex and Washington St), Salem, MA

Summary: One of the most popular attractions in Salem, MA was once a divisive topic of debate.  The Bewitched statue in Salem, MA, a seemingly innocuous statue, has a hidden history you may not be aware of.

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When one thinks of the most controversial witch in the history of Salem, the name that comes to mind, or at least used to come to mind, may not be the one you think of.

Dedicated June 15, 2005, the Bewitched statue shows Samantha Stephens (played by Elizabeth Montgomery) riding a broom (did she ever do that on the show?) with a crescent moon behind her (not even a full moon, jeepers).  This statue would prove to be a hotly debated attraction that would create almost as much drama as the trials itself.

While the statue is not exactly hidden, in fact it is one of the most visited attractions in Salem, MA, the history behind the statue may be hidden to many.

Browsing old articles and viewing old videos, which I will attach at the bottom of this post, many people claimed the statue “trivialized” the witch trials.  Some protesters claimed it was a tacky kitschy tribute.  Clearly, they had never  been to Salem before.  In fairness, though, it was mostly Salem residents who protested.  What I did find to be interesting is that some of the stronger supporters of the statue in the videos I watched were witches.  Modern day witches.  But witches nevertheless.  As an aside, there is a store that has been in Salem for some time that does psychic readings.  What’s the name of the store you might ask?  Bewitched In Salem.  So, there already was a connection albeit loosely with the show.

The “kitschy” and trivialization arguments are specious at best.  During the Halloween season, or really all year long, you can go to a “haunted house”, buy a shirt with a tasteless phrase or get your photo taken with a ghost, goblin or, ahem, witch just steps away from the burial ground and memorial to victims of the witch hunt.  It almost seems out of left field to choose this one statue to target as being offensive or a device to promote the trivialization of the witch trials.  Trust me, there’s lots of things to complain about in this regard in the city of Salem.

It almost seems like people wanted something to vent about and it became a convenient target.  As I mentioned above, you can buy tshirts with such phrases as, “I got stoned in Salem.”  Besides being tasteless it is inaccurate (witches were never stoned, at least not as a form of punishment by the city).  This is just one of the many attempts at humor that you will find on any given day in Salem.  It also makes me think of and  even yearn for the “salad days” when a statue in a historic city was our biggest concern.

While I do appreciate that we shouldn’t trivialize the witch trials and it’s important to remember this tragedy, it would also be hypocritical of me to say I am in any way above the fray.  I love to visit Salem, as my posts probably indicate, and I visit every chance I get. Not just during Halloween.  So, this is by no means a “hit job piece” on the city of Salem itself.

I also think, in  weird way, it’s okay to offer some entertainment and distraction from the all too real tragedy.  And, the city does a good job of remembering and honoring the victims.  You could even argue those affected by the witch hunt would rather we celebrate in the city than wallow in the obvious sadness of the history attached it.

There are several misconceptions about the witch trials in Salem which are important to consider when thinking about Salem’s role in the witch trials and peripherally Elizabeth Montgomery and the TV show Bewitched.  For one, most of the witch trial drama occurred outside of Salem’s current city limits (a lot of it occurred it what is now known as Danvers).  There is actually a memorial dedicated to where the witch trials occurred in Danvers, MA.

Another little known fact that I wasn’t aware of either until after I posted this, Bewitched did film some episodes in Salem.  But, Elizabeth Montgomery herself never lived in the area.

Also, as an aside, there really isn’t any correlation in the timeline of events of the witch trials and Halloween chronologically.  While many people visit the memorials to the alleged witches during Halloween, the witch hysteria began when Abigail Williams and Betty Parris experienced fits of convulsions in February, 1692.  By Halloween the hysteria would have been in full swing and many people would have already been accused and even jailed.  It is off putting to think the only connection is that Halloween is considered a scary time, albeit a fake scary time.  The Salem witch trials were a very real scary time, though.  Before I get too far off track, what would drive the city to promote this pseudo holiday?  See paragraph below.

So, why was the statue erected in the city of Salem?  Hmmm, let’s think about this.  If the words “money grab” come to mind pat yourself on the back.  TV Land spent a cool $75,000 to install the 9 foot bronze statue.  While that may seem like a pretty big chunk of change to put down for a statue it was a bargain for their marketing purposes.  Also, some of the money was spent to revitalize and “spruce up” the Lappin Park area where the statue was installed.  “Spruced up” may be in the eye of the beholder.  I think they mowed the lawn.  They also very subtly (cough cough) put their stamp on the property.  This is only one example of how the city profits off the tragedy.

Now, it seems the victor is clear.  You’ll be hard pressed to be able to take a photograph at the statue at least during Halloween season.   Trust me.  I know this first hand.  Kids climb the statue.  Older folks look fondly on the statue as a tribute to their past.  And, perhaps most funny, very young people and tourists can be heard asking “Who is this a statue of?”  You’ll rarely, if ever, see anyone protesting the statue (they protest other things but not the statue).  It seems the city of Salem has indeed become bewitched.

Below is a video that shows some of the controversy  surrounding the statue

 

 

Bare Cove Park (Hingham, MA)

Date Of Visit: March 30, 2019

Location: Bare Cove Drive, Hingham, MA

Cost: Free

Hours: Daily, sunrise to sunset

Parking: There are 2 parking lots.  The larger parking lot located at Bare Cove Drive has room for about 100 cars.  There is also a smaller parking lot off Beal St

Trail Size/Difficulty: 484 acres, easy

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, there are paved trails but the side trails may not be accessible to all

Dog Friendly: Yes (see website for rules for taking dogs to the park)

Highlights: wildlife, birds, nature, lake, easy trails, cycling, running, scenic, museum

Website: Bare Cove Park

Map of Park: Bare Cove Park Map

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Once the site of a ammunition depot, Bare Cove Park is now a 484 acre park full of wildlife, scenic views and trails for running, cycling or just walking.

There is a variety of birds and other wildlife at the park.  Foxes, coyotes and even deer have been reportedly seen at the park.  So, do keep this in mind if you do bring your dog.  I didn’t see any aforementioned animals at the park.  But, I did see a diverse group of birds there.

Granted, I did have to go off the beaten paths to view some of these birds, particularly the hawks and kestrel.  But, you should see lots of cardinals, blue jays, sparrows and other smaller birds in your travels, even on the main trails.

The main trails are paved and wise in most parts.  So there is lots of room for cyclists, runners and people walking with their dogs.

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One of the many great things about Bare Cove is that it is beautiful all year.  You might think that it wouldn’t be very pretty during the early spring time.  You’d be wrong!  But, seriously, the natural colors and the trees are majestic.  Even the multi colored ones. Alt If you are looking to see plants and flowers and other colorful views I do recommend visiting in the mid to late spring, summer or, of course, fall.

One of the hidden historical aspects of the park is its military past.  The area was used to produce and distribute munitions and other military devices. Until 1971, military goods were produced here.

In an effort to commemorate the service of the people who worked at these depots, there is a small museum with exhibits, photos, military tools and other gadgets that were made at the depot.

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There is also a viewing area to watch videos and DVDs about the history of the depot and how Weymouth and Hingham, MA contributed to the war effort.

There are two monuments outside of the museum.

One of the monuments is dedicated to all of the workers who helped the war efforts.

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The next memorial is dedicated to the workers who lost their lives when a ship they were unloading, the USS FY 415, exploded and sank on May 11, 1944, when signal rockets caught fire.

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Another interesting part of the area near the museum is that the posts which the bots tied onto when they originally unloaded their munitions at the depot are located in front of the museum.

There is also a fire museum nearby.  During my visit, a fire truck from the museum was on display at the park.

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But, the hidden history doesn’t end there.  A sign posted on Bare Cove Path indicates that an Almshouse (called “Town Farm”) used to be there.

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In short, almshouses were a place for the indigent or those who could not care for themselves.  To find out more about Almshouse, you can refer to my previous blog post about Almshouses.

With its winding trails and access to water, Bare Cove Park is a great place to take your dog.

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Kevin, a 2 year old Boston Terrier, posed for me during his walk around the park.

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Cooper, a 9 year old Golden Retriever, played fetch in the water during his visit.