Duxbury. August 13, 2022

Day/Date:  SATURDAY – 8/13/22
Town visited: Duxbury
Had you ever been to this town before? Yes, briefly one time
Drive to 1st town:   49 miles   Time spent in town:   nearly 6 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
Today was all about history. We were happily joined by Jo’s (my) mom, Emily, who was visiting from Maryland, and by Jo’s sister, Jan, who lives next door to us. Jan and mom (Emily) are well versed in history and interested in ancestry research. With ancestry.com and other sources, Jan recently made some pretty compelling discoveries about our family. These discoveries influenced our choice to visit Duxbury, MA.  

Once known as Mattakeesett (the place of many fish), the area now known as Duxbury had been the home of Native Americans for thousands of years.  European settlers, sailing on the Mayflower ship in 1620, would change the area’s trajectory when they somewhat mistakenly arrived and settled amongst the inhabitants, the Wampanoag tribe.

These Europeans, anxious for a new life that promised religious freedom, called themselves Pilgrims. And these Pilgrims hired Myles Standish, a military adviser, to accompany them. They also hired a cooper (aka barrel maker) named John Alden. And as it turns out, we are related to both of these men. John Alden met a young woman named Priscilla Mullins, who came on the ship with her family. And after a plague claimed the lives of many Pilgrims and Native Americans, including most of Priscilla’s family, Priscilla and John Alden married. This union is where our heritage begins. And in the next generation, one of their descendants married a descendant of Myles Standish’s, which is how he enters the picture of our family tree.

The Alden family site is a preserved historic landmark in Duxbury. Hence, we figured this would be a fitting place to visit with the two women in our family who just so happen to know a great deal about this history.

But before we get to that, we decided to start our day with our typical visit to the town hall, which happened to be adjacent to the first Parish Church and cemetery. There were a few trails behind this church for North Hill Marsh Conservation Area that takes you by cranberry bogs and an old Native American footpath, but mom’s legs weren’t quite up for that, so we took note of it and hope to go back someday and check it out. From here, we drove to the Myles Standish Burial Ground, which claims to be the oldest “maintained” cemetery in the colonial United States. We explored, took some pics, and attempted to read a few ancient gravestones in this small and historic memorial site known for several of our ancestors’ burials.

Duxbury is not only known for its historic landmarks and connection to the colonists. It also happens to be known for its oysters. The ‘Duxbury Oyster’ is cultivated in the cold, grassy, nutrient-rich waters of Duxbury Bay and is known for its brine flavor, clean taste, and sweet mossy finish. So, before heading to the Alden house, we decided to have some lunch and taste the oysters at the Island Creek Oysters Farm Outdoor Raw Bar. This outdoor establishment had picnic tables set up overlooking the Duxbury Bay and a small but delicious food and drink menu. You place your order at the food truck and then wait at your numbered picnic table for them to bring you your food and drink. In the meantime, you can just sit back and enjoy the vibe, the boats and gulls along the bay, and the lively music playing through speakers disguised as stones. We had a really nice and relaxed time there. And for the record, it ain’t cheap, but it is good.

With our bellies fed and happy, we moved on to the feature of the day: The Alden House historic site. This site features a preserved house built by one of John Alden’s descendants, as well as the foundation remnants of a house that John Alden constructed and lived in after moving from the original Plimoth Plantation. We did a tour of this home which included an interesting 11 minute video of the town and family history. I was fascinated by the historic coffee grinder and the spinning wheels and barrels as preserved artifacts in the house.

We also did the posted “outdoor scavenger hunt” (researched by my sister, Jan) and dragged mom through a wooded area (her legs were a little mad at us for that) in search of the foundation site of the very original John Alden House. At one point, mom found a bench to rest on and she gave Jo a little history lesson while Jan and Jenny finished the scavenger hunt which, eventually led them to the WELL SWEEP; an arrangement of wooden branches that work like a lever to draw water from a well. 

At the suggestion of the delightful young woman who gave us our tour of the Alden House, we ended our Duxbury town visit day with ice cream from Farfar’s ice cream, a Danish ice cream shop that has been in business for 43 years! I was so pleased that they had a couple of non-dairy ice cream options. Mom, Jenny, and Jan all enjoyed their ice cream delights as well. It was a perfect ending to the day. We were so lucky to have mom and Jan be our sidekicks today!

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Wampanoag, Massachusett, Pokanoket

Bolton. July 31, 2022

Day/Date:  SUNDAY -7/31/22
Town visited:  Bolton
Had you ever been to this town before? Not really
Drive to this town:  25 miles    Time spent in town:   3 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
Our first activity for the day today was a hike in some of Bolton’s Conservation lands. We parked off Rte 117 at the Lime Kiln Conservation area and did the 2-3 mile loop hike from Harris Farm to Rattlesnake Hill. We found this loop on our handy dandy ALL TRAILS APP and have to say that because there are many trails in this conservation lands area, we had to rely on the map in our hands to ensure that we didn’t get off track. The walk itself was nice and quiet. We saw one guy walking his dog and two men mountain biking, and other than that, it was mellow. The wooded area was cool on what was turning out to be a pretty hot day. The first part of the trail had information posts detailing the types of trees, and one even included information about an old mill that was in the area long ago. After that, it was simply an enjoyable trek in the woods with a few twists and turns and ups and downs.

After our hike, we headed towards the town’s common, where, per usual, we took note of the Town Hall and the library. The library, built in the English Tudor Revival style in 1903, was lovely. We also drove by the Nashoba Valley Regional High school, which had a pizza shop conveniently located right across the street. Ha!

Hoping to score some fresh peaches (’tis the season) and hungry for lunch, we headed to the Bolton Orchards Market, a farmstead market grocery store. They also had a deli with made-to-order sandwiches, which was just what we had wanted. Jenny was over the moon to be able to order a liverwurst sandwich. We also took home some fresh blueberries, corn, apples, and peaches. Yum! This time of year is so special when all of the fresh produce becomes ready. 

Bolton is a right-to-farm community, so we thought we’d see if there were other farms nearby. There are quite a few! We visited the Nicewicz Farm, a 3rd generation family farm currently run by four brothers. They grow and sell apples, peaches, nectarines, apricots, pears, plums, blueberries, corn, assorted vegetables, and flowers. We met Ken at the farmstand; such a friendly and kind man. We found out they come to our farmer’s market in Newton during the summer! We bought some cherry tomatoes, more corn, and a cucumber.

Not far from the farm is Nashoba Valley Winery. It is a beautiful spot on a hill, with many tables where you can sit out and enjoy a bottle of wine and some food from their restaurant. They have a store full of fruit wines (apple, plum, berry) and your typical grape wines. Because, in general, she is not thrilled with fruit wines (too sweet), Jenny picked up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. 

All in all, Bolton is a beautiful small town (of about 5000 people) with lots of farms, orchards, and a winery! We enjoyed our afternoon visit and all of our “town visit food.”

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Pawtucket, Nipmuc, Agawam

Truro. July 28, 2022

Day/Date:  THURSDAY -7/28/22
Town visitedTruro
Had you ever been to this town before? Yes
Drive to 1st town:  120 miles   Time spent in town:  6.5 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
TRURO – Truro is a beach town on the “outer cape” which is located in between the towns of Wellfleet and Provincetown, the northernmost tip of Cape Cod. (in the imagery of Cape Cod looking like an arm, think of Provincetown as the hand and Truro and Wellfleet as the forearm) It is pretty narrow, so it is easy to explore the bay side as well as the ocean side. Over half of the area of the town is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and there are a total of 11 beaches in Truro.

Today was a beautiful day to hit the Cape, and we were lucky to have an excuse to bop down there for the day. Our dear friends the Korfinweggers (well, that’s our nickname for them), from New York, are on vacation and, every year they come, we visit. So, we hit the road early and drove down to Truro. Our friend, Amy, who resides in Hingham, joined us too.

On our way to the beach where we were to meet our friends, we took a detour to visit the “downtown” area, which consists of the Town Hall, an old church, and a library nearby. 

Since Truro is mainly a beach town, being on the beach is pretty much how we spent our day. We met our friends at the Head of the Meadow beach in North Truro. Head of the Meadow beach is on the ocean side of cape cod. Parking costs a whopping $25 now, but for the day, it’s worth it. It was high tide when we arrived, which means the water was colder, so we had to get ourselves warmed up in the sun before getting in. But, eventually, we did get in, and it was super refreshing! 

We spent several hours with our friends soaking up this beautiful summer day. It was so wonderful and it truly felt like a respite from daily life.

When it came time to pack up and say goodbye, Jenny and I decided to head over to another town beach on the other side of Truro (the bay side) called Corn Hill Beach. We knew our HOTM pass would get us in (though it was free after 4 pm anyway), so we thought we’d check it out. Wow! This beach was beautiful, and the water was less cold and easier to swim in. We got in the water and floated around for about 30 minutes. It was awesome!

After that, we drove to a grocery store/sandwich shop called Jams Truro, hoping to get a snack or something for the ride home. This place is located by the Pamet River, which flows right into the ocean. We arrived at Jams Truro at 5:15 pm only to discover that they closed at 5 pm.(womp, womp) So we explored the area a bit and then moved on. There was a sweet little park across the street. Since we didn’t see any other restaurants from that point along Rte 6, we got a bite to eat in Wellfleet before heading home.

Hanging at the beach, in Truro, with friends, is an absolutely wonderful way to spend the day. We highly recommend it!

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Wampanoag, Nauset

Harvard. July 16, 2022

Day/Date:  SATURDAY -7/16/22
Town visited:  Harvard
Had you ever been to this town before? Yes  
Drive to this town: 35 miles   Time spent in town:  4.5 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
We were excited to go to Harvard, MA, for our town visit today. Truth be told, we have been to this town several times before. One of our favorite spots to walk in is The Fruitlands, a place with interesting history and great walking trails. For those who actually read these blogs, you may have already picked up on Jo’s fascination with the author Louisa May Alcott. So, it will make sense that some of our interest in the historical relevance of this place is because the Alcott once transformed this land into a transcendentalist experiment that included living off the land back in the 1840s. We also like the views.

But we did not visit the Fruitlands today. Instead, we chose to discover some new things about the town of Harvard (not to be mistaken with Harvard University, which is in Cambridge). 

Our first stop of the day was in the historic town center, where the Town Hall, the Congregational Church, and The Harvard General Store are situated. We stopped into the General Store for some lunch and an iced coffee. This store seems to be quite the popular spot for folks biking in and through the area, as there were a bunch of folks in clip shoes and spandex waiting to order their lunches too. As we walked up the green to grab some pics, we noticed a historic house near a sweet little road called Lovers Lane. And after our lunch, we drove down that road, admiring all the beautiful gardens and homes. We also drove by the Harvard Public Library. This time of year is so gorgeous here.

Historically, Harvard was a farming town, and there are still many small farms here. We learned about a farm called Doe Orchards, where we could pick our own blueberries and raspberries. So we headed over there. The blueberry bushes were ripe and ready for picking. It was so easy and fun. The raspberries, on the other hand, took a little more finesse. The staff mentioned that many were not ripe yet and that it may be slim pickings, but Jenny took to the task of getting on the ground and finding the best ones hiding low and inside. It took her a while, but she eventually filled a pint full of ’em. 

From Doe Orchards, we drove about 1 1/2 miles to another kind of farm, an ALPACA FARM! Yup, you heard that correctly. The Harvard Alpaca Ranch is owned by a couple (Amy & Matt) who moved to Harvard (from Holliston) to start this Alpaca Farm in 2015. 

They give free farm tours, taking you to the area where the alpacas roam. This up close and personal experience was wonderful! We learned the names of many of their over 30 Alpaca pack and some fun details about them. Summer Rain was one of them; she was super chill and friendly. We learned about Sir Eric, who works as a therapy animal, who was happy to take some “alone time” away from the group when he was not working. With their farm, Amy and Matt are providing a happy place for both people and animals as well as educating and helping people. They also have a beautiful barn from which they sell all kinds of earth-friendly Alpaca-related products, so we bought some socks because, um, they were so soft!

When we asked the  owner, Amy, if she had any suggestions for where else to go, she suggested we go and enjoy a drink at The Cider Barn at Carlson Orchards where they have tables and a barn that serves their apple cider products (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). There were many apple trees and peach trees on the land currently in the process of ripening.

We each ordered an apple cider slushie,  and then went to the store and purchased some apple cider, some Muddy Water Roasters Coffe (roasted in Harvard), and Jenny got a 4-pack of Carlson’s hard cider.

All in all, A pretty great day!

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Pawtucket, Nipmuc, Agawam

Haverhill. July 9, 2022

Day/Date:  SATURDAY -7/9/22
Town visited:  Haverhill 
Had you ever been to any of these towns before? No 
Drive to 1st town:  45 miles    Time spent in town:    6 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
HAVERHILL:  (Queen Slipper City: A place with Sole)

It was the perfect day for a town visit. When we decided that we were going to go to Haverhill, two things immediately came to our minds – visiting the Museum of Printing and visiting our friends Kara and Stephen. They recently bought a home in Haverhill.

Of course, we researched a few other places of interest in the town and learned about a brand new coffee shop called The Roasted Coffee Bar, so we decided that it would be our first stop of the day.

This cute place, which a group of friends started, not only offers delicious coffee they also have some fun sandwich items on their menu like ‘The Land of Milk & Honey,’ which consists of buttermilk fried chicken on a biscuit with locally made honey, stone ground mustard, and pickles. I mean, Yum.

After stuffing our faces, we headed to the midtown area for a glance at the City Hall (yeah, Haverhill is one of the fifty cities in MA). Along the way, we noticed a few statues of slipper-style shoes. It turns out that some of these sculptures were designed to be whimsical benches and are known as the “Soles of Haverhill.” Their purpose is to celebrate Haverhill’s shoe manufacturing and design history! In there early 1900s, 1/10 of the shoes made in the US were made here. Pretty cool. We saw at least 4 of these fun statues while driving through the city throughout the day, and we managed to capture pictures of some of them.

Next, we were off to the Museum of Printing. This place is located in a warehouse in a residential neighborhood. The museum is unique. Exhibits that display many types of printing presses, typecast molds, wood block engraving tools, old typewriters, letterpresses, and computers reveal so much about the history of printing. There is also a library with thousands of books that are printing-themed. This place was created with a true passion for preserving the history of graphic arts and typesetting technology, and you can feel that from beginning to end.

After we explored the museum, we called Kara and Stephen and said we were on our way. They greeted us with open arms, and we sat on the porch of their lovely new house, recounting stories of the past year. It was so, so nice to catch up. Their neighborhood was sweet and close to the Bradford Common/Historic District, which has the classic New England green, gazebo, and church. This town Common, established in 1649 in the town known then as “Bradford”, was designed as a way to bring people together in the center of town. 

Once we said our goodbyes to Stephen and Kara, we headed to a park called Winnekenni Park- a large 700-acre conservation area and park with a castle built on it. Much of that acreage is taken up by Kenoza Lake- a pretty large body of water with lots of walking trails nearby. 

We parked our car and walked up to the castle, where an event was wrapping up. We walked a bit on a trail but found ourselves tired and hungry, so we decided to pick up some food to take home for dinner. At the suggestion of our friends, we went to the Chicken Connection. We were hoping for a rotisserie chicken, but, alas, they had sold out a bit earlier, and there was a 45-minute wait for more. So, we ordered a chicken pot pie and a pulled pork sandwich and headed home. We gobbled up our town visit goodies at home and recounted our lovely day. (Cue Bill Withers)

Fun Facts: Haverhill is where the very first Macy’s store opened.
The Archie Comic characters were based on the Haverhill High School friends of the comic creator Bob Montana.

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Pawtucket, Pennacook, Wabanaki, Pentucket, Abinaki

Lenox. June 11, 2022

Day/Date:  SATURDAY – 6/11/22
Town visited:  Lenox
Had you ever been to any of these towns before?
Drive to 1st town:  122 miles    Time spent in town:   4 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
LENOX:   We were on our way to our nephew’s graduation from Union College in Schenectady, NY (yay, Jeremy!), so we took the opportunity to check off another town, (#132) in the Berkshire’s town of Lenox. We were excited to be joined by our youngest nephew, Toby. Lenox is most famous for being the home of Tanglewood, an outdoor music venue that hosts the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the summer. Lenox is also home to Shakespeare and Company, a well-known theatre company, and many artists and galleries. (For dance, you must go to the next town over, Becket, the home of the world-renowned Jacob’s Pillow).  

We arrived in town around lunchtime, so we ate some yummy sandwiches and salads at a small cafe called Shots (ok, ok, we shared a vegan choc. chip cookie too!). Many people were roaming about an outdoor fair called Spring Art Walk, with artists exhibiting their work and music in the background. It was a nice vibe.

Walking around downtown, we noticed lots of beautiful art, some ornate old buildings, and the historic library. The library building used to be the old courthouse in the early 1800s but has been a library building since 1874. We decided to go in and take a peek inside. One area now used for talks and public events at the library used to be the courtroom. The room was surrounded by books all around the perimeter. In the library was a dictionary on a stand. Jokingly, we showed it to Toby and told him what a “dictionary” was (he’s 15). Then, we looked up all three of our names (Jo, Jenny, and Toby), all of which have definitions in the dictionary. Toby’s was the funniest; see the photo!  

We also walked by the town hall and saw that it was getting a Spring Cleaning with some power washers!

One of the stand-out buildings in town was Ventfort Hall, a substantial home built during the Gilded Age (in the late 1800s). This home was built for the sister and brother-in-law of J.P. Morgan, a well-known financier, and investment banker. Having always heard about the Gilded Age, we did a little digging and found out that it was a time of huge economic growth in the US, coinciding with the rapid expansion of industrialization. So, a few quickly became very wealthy (think the Vanderbilts, J.P. Morgan, and the Rockefellers). Along with this expansion came the need for vast amounts of unskilled labor. Thus, huge waves of immigrants, mainly from European and Eastern European countries, made their way to the US. Poor conditions and low wages were widespread during this time, thus creating a massive chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots.”  Being a bit more associated with the “have nots”, (and also not having a lot of time) we decided against paying the fee to tour the house. We did have some fun playing in the trees and with the statues behind the building though.

After our town exploration, we headed for a hiking adventure at the Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Mass Audubon. It was a lush forest hike with lots of beaver activity (we didn’t see any beavers, though) and many ponds, ferns, and birds in the trees. It was a beautiful short hike but in such a pretty place. Plus, there were the best bathrooms for an outdoor hiking area we have ever seen! We regretted not having more time here, so we vowed to come back another day to do more hiking in this area.

Our last stop was at “The Mount,” once the home of writer Edith Wharton. This was a very large home, so we suspected that Ms. Wharton had family money as women writers did not earn that much in the early 1900s. It turns out that her father’s family name was “Jones.” – a family with a legacy in banking and real estate. Some say that the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” refers to them. In addition to being a prolific writer, Ms. Wharton was a humanitarian, philanthropist, decorator, and garden designer. She designed the house in Lenox, and it was here that she wrote some of her best-known works. As a side note, Ms. Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize. She won this prize for her novel, “The Age of Innocence.”

We couldn’t tour the home on this visit because they were setting up for a wedding (sad face), but we got a chance to drive in and snap a few pictures.

Thanks Lenox!

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Mohican

Bellingham. June 2, 2022

Day/Date:  THURSDAY -6/2/222
Town visited:  BELLINGHAM
Had you ever been to any of these towns before? No 
Drive to 1st town:  37 miles   Time spent in town:   2 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
This evening, we planned to go to a trivia night that our friend started hosting in an awesome brewery in Franklin called 67 degrees (you should check them out), so we thought we’d leave early and get in another town visit! Since we have already visited Franklin for this project (remember the ladybugs and the Franklin library?), we decided on a neighboring town called Bellingham.

Our first stop was to find out where the independent coffee store is (of course). The only shop we found that wasn’t a chain was “The Perfect Blend.” Come to find out, they aren’t a coffee shop, but they have protein shakes, interesting teas, and some coffee-infused drinks. The women who worked there (Maggie and Jen) were so nice and friendly, giving us a few suggestions of things to do in Bellingham. We tried some delicious teas, fruity blends with collagen. Also to note, the store was women-owned, as were most of the stores in the section of the strip mall (the Plaza at Bellingham Commons) nearby. Only one store was a big chain, which was nice to see.

In fact, there were A LOT of strip malls in Bellingham and many Dunkin’ Donuts. Plus, there was quite a bit of traffic for a town of only 17,000 people. We think this is because it is just off of highway 495.  

Upon their suggestion, we headed to find the SNETT – the ‘Southern New England Trunkline Trail’. This is a rail trail that runs 23 miles from Franklin to Douglas. We walked a bit of it and even found a parallel path in the woods. We even saw a few lady slippers along the path. We would love to return to explore more of this trail and see what it has to offer!

While driving, we saw signs for ‘Silver Lake’ and decided to take a detour and see what was there. This lovely little spot had a person-made lake which, we learned, was initially built by damming a nearby river to have water to power a family’s cotton mill. It later became a “go-to” destination with a carousel, dance hall, and a skating rink. But now, it has a simpler vibe with the lake, some brought-in sand, some swing sets, picnic tables, and a nice playground for kids that even includes a water splash section. We walked around and thought about how nice it was that this was here for the town residents.

Since we were near the Rhode Island border, we felt a strong need to find a marking for it, so we passed into Woonsocket, RI. Another border town! This means that thus far, we have hit all the bordering states – NH, VT, RI, CT, and NY!

Lastly, we backtracked a bit to take a picture of Town Hall, which was a nice one (part of the area was currently under construction) in an old area that used to be the town common. There were some other, newish buildings there as well as a really old, very small public library that is now home to the Bellingham Historical Society.  

From here, it was off to Franklin for some food, some beer (for Jenny), and some trivia! 

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Nipmuc, Pokanoket

Hampden, Wilbraham and Ludlow. May 29, 2022

Day/Date:  SUNDAY -5/29/22
Towns visited: Hampden, Wilbraham, Ludlow
Had you ever been to any of these towns before? No
Drive to 1st town:  77 miles   Time spent in town(s):   8 hours

What did we do in the town(s)/area?  
This seems like a good day to see three towns in the lower Pioneer Valley!

When we first arrived in Hampden, we visited the downtown area and took pictures of the town hall and the historical society just across the street where people were getting ready for a plant sale. We drove around little more passing a small plaza with a “Grog Shoppe”. We were like, ‘a grog shop?’ What the heck is that? Apparently in Hampden, they use this term to describe liquor stores. 

On our drive, we turned into Hampden Memorial Park, where we discovered a cute recreational area with a ball field, a water spray playground, and picnic areas. It also had the trailhead for Goat Rock Trail, which looks like a nice hike for next time (since we had already determined where we were going hiking today in Hampden)!

We headed to Minnechaug Mountain for our 1.6-mile hike. This area is 274 acres of conservation land available for hiking and horseback riding. (We didn’t see any horses, though.) We parked on South Rd. (entrance looks like a driveway) and headed up “Kathy’s Trail” and stayed on that blue dotted trail until we hit a ridge and intersected with the red dotted “Billy Goat Trail.” We made a left on Billy Goat/Algonquin trails and headed straight up to the summit. We caught some pretty views of the Scantic River Valley and some skyscrapers in Springfield (we think) before hiking back down to the bottom. There are several trails that enable the possibility of hiking a longer loop; however, we had decided to reserve some of our hiking legs for another hike in Wilbraham (our next town for today). This hike was lush and green and full of ferns, and yes, there were several mushrooms for Jenny to check out. It rained last night, so there were a few spots at the beginning that were a little muddy but overall, it was just delightful. 

Next, we drove to the Mass Audubon’s “Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary”. We didn’t stay too long as we were headed to the next town, but we just wanted to check it out. We walked down to the pond and the bridge over the brook. It is a gorgeous place. We decided it would be the perfect halfway meeting spot to meet our friends from Connecticut on a future adventure. 

As we headed out of Hampden and into Wilbraham, the neighborhoods became a bit more densely populated. Wilbraham is situated just east of the 3rd largest city in MA, Springfield, so it makes sense. 

We wanted to check out the fairly new, women-owned cafe called Common Grounds Coffee in Wilbraham, but upon our arrival, they were closed 🙁. So, instead, we moved on to option #2: Pan’e Dolcetti (Italian pastries and coffee located along Rte 20 in a little shopping plaza). We got an iced tea and a macchiato. The pastries looked amazing, but we were hungry for a regular meal, so we avoided temptation and drove off to the Village Store & Cafe, sat outside, and had some lunch. Jenny needed soup because she had a tooth pulled a few days ago and they had a homemade loaded baked potato soup with bacon.  It really hit the spot!  And Jo enjoyed a yummy turkey wrap.  While we were there, we saw a few girls with purple shirts that said “Cookies against conflict.” Jenny talked to one of them and found out that they were selling cookies down by the church nearby as a fundraiser for a domestic violence safe house for women, called Safe Passage.  We decided to go down and buy a few cookies for the cause. It was nice to support these young folks in their quest to make a difference, and the cookies were good too! 

Then we drove to the nearby Wilbraham Monson Academy, a small college prep school where both abolitionist Lucy Stone and poet Emily Dickinson’s mother, Emily Norcross Dickinson are both notable alumni. This school is on the National Register of Historic places in Wilbraham. We walked around took some pictures of the buildings, one of them, Rich Hall, dons a bust of Atlas- a titan in greek mythology who is holding up the sky. 

We saw the town hall while driving to our next destination, Mt. Marcy, so we grabbed a pic.

When we arrived at the Mount Marcy Conservation area, we hiked another 1.6 miles and took in some gorgeous views. The south trail was a lovely switchback-style hike. It was so peaceful and full of fern meadows! We really loved this trail.

We finally reached our 3rd and the final town of the day, Ludlow. We started off touring the area with Ludlow Town Hall, which is right next to the Ludlow High School. 

Randall’s Farm and Greenhouse is just a mile from there, where we went next. This place reminded us a little of our once-favorite market in Waltham- Russo’s (which, sadly, is now gone). It has a garden center, a market with lots of fruits and veggies and groceries (many from local businesses), and beer & wine. We picked up a mini vegan strawberry rhubarb pie (to cook later) and some fresh veggies. Next door (and part of Randall’s) was Elsie’s Creamery– an ice cream stand that actually had some vegan options! So we each got ourselves a cone and sat for a bit to eat them.

We headed to the Ludlow/Springfield Reservoir, which seems like a place where people like to run or bike or walk. We had a short visit there and sat by the water for a bit.

Then we headed southeast to the Red Bridge/Chicopee River reservoir area for fishing and boating, which also has a hydropower dam. This area was short on parking, but locals were boating, fishing, and enjoying the water. We can imagine coming back to this area for kayaking. Here is a nice youtube video of the Red Bridge area (not taken by us). 

Ludlow is located right off Interstate 90, which made it easy to hit the ramp and head home after a lovely day of discovering.

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Nipmuc, Agawam, Pocumtuc (Algonquin)