What a view!

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Several times last year I had the pleasure of hiking the trails of Talcott Mountain State Park. It is in Simsbury, CT and it has a beautiful view no matter where you look. The park is open to hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, picnicking and other fun things.

On top of the mountain sits the 165 ft high Heublein Tower. It was built as a Summer home in 1914 for Gilbert Heublein.

 

The tower trail is 1.25 miles and depending on your fitness level it takes about 30-45 minutes to get to the top. The first leg of the hike up is a vertical climb so take your time going up. After that the trail levels out so once you pass the first bit you all should be fine.  Also, the trail is littered with these little annoying black rocks so be careful especially going back down.

Once you get to the first look out areas you will totally forget about that first leg you just hiked. The views are amazing.

It really is a fantastic view and this isn’t even the view from the top at the tower. That one is even better!

***A Safety Note-When you park your car you will notice a helicopter pad. The reason for that is because some hikers like to go out a little too far on one of the small look out areas to get a better look at the view or a better shot with their camera…and slip and fall down the mountain. Trust me when I say I have looked down the mountain and it is a very steep drop down with lots of trees to break your fall should you slip. Please do not be one of those people they have to air lift out to the hospital.

Now after you continue on the hike to the top after taking in the view at the little look out areas you will come across a very nice looking rock wall.

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It doesn’t have a name (I looked online and couldn’t find anything) but this picture does not do it justice. It is massive and beautiful. Every time I pass it I have to take its picture and I am not the only one! I have seen people climb it. I personally do not recommend that. The middle part protrudes out and has jagged edges to it that I imagine will cut you if you are not careful. Plus, if you fall you will not have a nice landing.

The surrounding forest is really nice and the sounds of all the wildlife fill the air as you walk by.

You can find a great deal of wildlife here including birds, squirrels, deer, foxes and rabbits. There is also the occasional sightings of the turkey vulture, bald eagle and pileated woodpecker. My second time visiting I did see a gorgeous red tailed hawk flying by at one of the look out areas but was not fast enough with my camera to get a picture. I also did hear a woodpecker but couldn’t find him or her. Next time maybe.

After you pass the giant rock wall you are just a stones throw away from the tower.

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The tower was built for Gilbert F. Heublein in 1914 as a Summer retreat and home and interestingly was designed to withstand winds of 100 mph. I can attest to this. The third time I went up there it was a windy day and I felt nothing up there.

Ownership of the tower has changed hands a couple of times over the years and in 1965 became part of Talcott Mountain State Park. The tower has been renovated as a museum with period artifacts and beautiful furnishings.

They museum is fantastic! It is at the bottom part of the tower.  They have a wealth of information of the history of the tower and the furnishings are lovely. My favorite part was the living room. Must have been nice to have had dinner in such a pretty room. I also enjoyed the sitting room. Can you imagine how great it would have been to sit down  there in the morning with your coffee and read the morning paper while staring out at that view? Definitely better than the view I have from my apartment!

Now to the top of the tower. My advice is to take your time looking at the museum so that you can catch your breath because there are several flights up a winding stairwell to get to the top of the tower. I especially advise this in the Summer time because there is no air conditioning in the tower and it gets really hot up there. Can you tell I found out the hard way?

Time for the view!

You really are up in the clouds while on the top of the tower! You can see 365 degrees up there. To the northwest, the Berkshires dominate the horizon. The south is where you can make out the the Long Island Sound in a thin blue streak. You can also make out Mount Monadnock, which is 80 miles away in New Hampshire. There really isn’t much you can’t see in the area from the tower.

There is a gift shop there, too. It has all the things a gift shop would have. Post cards, key chains and to my sheer delight walking stick medallions. I had never heard of them before and just had to buy one for my trusty walking stick. What a nice way to commemorate such a lovely hike! Will definitely be looking for more of those walking stick medallions!

If you are looking for a hike with a terrific view and some history to go along with it I recommend Talcott Mountain State Park!

For more info check out:

www.ct.gov

A Delightful Hike Through the Woods

 

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This past Summer I discovered one of the best hiking spots. It is called Bartholomew’s Cobble and it is in a nice little town called Sheffield in Massachusetts.

A customer at work told me about this little gem and I am glad they did. I will have to go back in the Spring time.

Bartholomew’s Cobble gets its name from the Cobble of rocks (limestone and marble) that bulge out to form a couple of small hills surrounded by farmland and a winding river (the Housatonic River).

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It isn’t a very large place but it is a great place to spend a afternoon.

After parking our car I was met by a fantastic view.

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If that isn’t a inviting and beautiful view I don’t know what is. This is the view from across the parking lot. Basically the trails all lead in a circle. The path my friend and I went on lead us straight back to the parking lot.

We went into the visitor center to pay for our tickets and were met by this sign.

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Yes, a birdhouse. This is where you put your money when the park rangers are not in the office.

The park rangers were fantastic. Very friendly and knowledgeable.

The trails were very well maintained and properly marked. Each trail marker had a map attached to it which was very easy to read. It was nice knowing where we were at all times. Made the hike a little less stressful. I don’t know about you but I have been to places where the trail markers are old and worn out and have gotten lost because of it. Good to know this is not one of those places.

While at Bartholomew’s Cobble I hiked through fields with plenty of beautiful flowers and butterflies (not ashamed to say I chased a couple to get their photo), through thick forest (with great looking trees), climbed over some rocks and walked along the Housatonic River.

I really enjoyed this place. It had this very calming effect over me. The terrain is not as hard as other places I have visited. Any age group can enjoy this place. It is a pretty relaxing walk. The parts that are a little hard have some pretty interesting bridges.

I especially liked the wildflowers. There were so many, especially in the fields.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see much wildlife. I saw some birds and squirrels but not much more than that. I was a little disappointed because there is a lot of animals that roam the area. Owls, hawks, bobcats, turkeys, deer, and the occasional black bear all call Bartholomew’s Cobble home. Hopefully the next time I go there I will see some of those critters.

****A word to the wise- bring strong bug spray with you if you decide to visit this beautiful place during the hot Summer months. Why? Deer flies. They reside there and are evil, nasty little things. I didn’t notice them until the end of my hike and holy crap did they eat me alive! I joked with my hiking companion that if we ever come back during the Summer I would be wearing a hat with a bug zapper attached to it! Just a warning to you!******

I hope that if you are in the area that you will take a hike in this little gem. You will not be disappointed!

For more info visit:

thetrustees.org

 

 

 

 

Looking for Inspiration

 

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I went for a ride today to Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown, MA (another place I plan to write about). Just a little ride to get out of the house.

Unfortunately, it was a short visit because it was about 30° outside and the wind was blowing. Brrr!

As I was driving around I realized something rather sad. I have visited many places around New England the last year or so taking many pictures and meeting really wonderful people. However, all this traveling has been happening in only three out of the four seasons.

During Winter I have a habit of hibernating like a bear, hiding under a blanket and drinking as much hot tea as humanly possible hoping the warm weather will return soon. I don’t really go out that much during these cold months.

Well, I have decided I would really like that to change this year. I want to get out and explore the area while it is covered in that white fluffy stuff and not be cooped in.

This is the part, dear reader, where you come in. Since I don’t go out much during Winter I am in need of some suggestions on great places to visit and explore that are not closed for the season or isn’t too dangerous to hike.

Now, if you know me then you know I am a horrible klutz, so this means skiing resorts are out. Seriously, strapping long poles (or a board) to my feet and telling me to slide down a hill or mountain is a safety hazard for everyone involved!

I am, however, very interested in snowshoeing. It looks like a safer activity for me to do and I have heard great things about it from some friends.

So everyone, where should I go? Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

 

Food, animals, rides and more food!

 

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Early September in New England means several things. The end of Summer is coming (boooo!), school starts back up for the kids and pumpkin flavored everything starts to show up in every store and restaurant imaginable.

My favorite thing about early September, however, is something called The Big E. The Big E is the largest agricultural event on the eastern seaboard and the 5th largest fair in the nation.

It takes place in Springfield, MA and is the best way to end the Summer. It has everything you could possibly want at a fair and more.

One of the big attractions is The Avenue of States. This is a street that has a building that represents each state in New England. They feature exhibits and vendors that best exemplify the heritage, food and traditions of each state.

The Maine building has lobster (of course), blueberries (which are delicious) and the biggest attraction baked potatoes. Holy crap the potatoes! These aren’t just regular potatoes. These are huge potatoes covered in melted butter, sour cream, chives etc. The line at times for these magical potatoes has been known to go out of the building. I am not joking!

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My favorite building is the Vermont building. It has Ben & Jerry’s (which has a sorbet selection which is great because I am lactose intolerant), maple syrup and Cabot cheese. The maple syrup is heavenly! I would go broke buying it. And the cheese. I can eat Cabot cheese because of the zero amount of lactose in it so I usually overdose on the free samples! If you knew my love of cheese you would understand!

After visiting the Avenue of States I always drag whomever is with me to my absolute favorite building – Farm- A- Rama. This building houses animals that I have adored ever since I first saw them years ago when I was little. Giant Hallamore Clydesdales. These gentle giants are a must see. They are so beautiful and patient. They come from Alesbury, England and they visit every year. They are even a part of the daily parade that runs through the fairgrounds.

I am always amazed at how big yet quiet these horses are. They seem to have a wonderful bond with their handlers. They follow commands without problem and never act up.

Other things to see in the Farm-A-Rama building are the giant pumpkin competition, farm animals like pigs and FFA floral and landscape designs. Those are always so pretty!

These two designs are from last year and are really nice. I made sure to keep the pictures of them.

There used to be a chick hatchery in the building but concerns about avian flu caused the hatchery to be removed and replaced with a interactive display that educated people about chickens.

I always end the day with the Mardi Gras parade that runs around the fairgrounds at night. There are beautiful floats filled with people throwing different colored beads. You can sign up to be on the floats but I found out you have to apply early because space is limited. I am gonna try to sign up and do it with a friend this year. It looks like fun!

If you are ever in the New England area in September I definitely suggest visiting the Big E. You will not be disappointed!

 

 

 

 

Rockport Revisited

Never been here before! Will have to visit one day! Lovely photos!

Bespoke Traveler

Rockport-harbor“This is such a charming town,” I say to Teddie. He snorts in derision. “You haven’t become a butterfly, have you?” he asks, eyeing me suspiciously. I cringe at my statement, though I made it in sincerity. “Charm,” however, is a word Teddie resents as much as he does what he calls the “butterflies”: summer tourists who flit to Rockport, Massachusetts for three to four weeks creating havoc among the locals. Teddie has spent years listening to their sentiments about his birthplace. “What enchanting views,” “You have such a quaint little store,” “It’s so quintessentially New England,” they will say, as if there were other unfortunate places which did not meet some unspoken regional standard. They would descend upon us every June, sip their lemonades, snap photos of the coastline, paddle around the promontory, then disappear leaving behind a few spare coins for tip and their detritus for…

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A Slow Climb to the Top

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In Mt. Washington, MA (the extreme southwest corner of the state) is Bash Bish Falls Park. It is named after Bash Bish Falls, which is the state’s highest single drop waterfall. In the beginning of this past Summer I had the pleasure of viewing this beauty.

It is on the state line of NY and MA and located next to New York’s Taconic State Park. A very nice forest to visit, hike and camp in.

The day I went it was very hot but sunny, which made the water in the river that flows along the trail up to the Falls sparkle. It was a very nice sight to see and I loved the sound of the water to accompany me up the trail.

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The trail up to the Fall is about a half a mile. It is at a incline so it ranges from easy for the more active and moderate for the older or less active person. I found it a little challenging but I believe it was because of the heat. If you go to visit this beautiful place in the Summer please remember to bring enough water with you.

The park is a very popular place and was full of happy families taking advantage of the wonderful weather. I thought it was great to see all those smiling faces!

The hike was a little hard but when you reach the top you are met with a view that was totally worth it!

Let me tell you, after seeing this view all thoughts of how hot, tired and thirsty I was seemed to vanish into thin air. All I wanted to do was get a closer look. I think I snapped about 30 pictures of just the Falls from the top of the trail.

*****A side note for the parents of little ones : There is NO swimming allowed at the Falls. The pools are shallow and some of the rocks are very slippery (I found this out the hard way!). Very easy to fall.  There have been 25 deaths there in the last 50 or so years. Some were due to drowning but most were due to rock climbing or rock jumping. There have been railings installed by The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. You are allowed to walk on the small rocks in front of the Falls to get some pictures but that is about it.  Just thought I would mention that to keep the kiddies safe. *********

I really liked this waterfalls. It has a secluded feeling what with all the trees (such as maple, oak and beech) surrounding it. All you heard was the water falling down the rock (about 60 feet or so) and the animals in the distance. It was really nice to go some where you are totally engulfed in nature. A beautiful  place to spend the afternoon. I highly suggest bringing a good camera with a full battery because I guarantee when you see that view you will be taking many, many pictures! How could you not!

You can find out more about Bash Bish Falls at:

https://www.mass.gov