Woburn. May 29, 2023

Day/Date:  MONDAY -5/29/23
Town visited: Woburn (city)
Had we ever been to this town before?  Yes or No
Drive to town:  11 miles    Time spent in town:   3.75 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
It’s Memorial Day, and though we both worked a bit today, we decided to leave our jobs a little early and take the afternoon to explore the city of Woburn. The weather this weekend has been perfect, and today is no exception!

When we first arrived, we hoped to grab a decaf coffee from Boston King Coffee, but they were closed for the holiday. We could tell it was a popular spot because a few other folks arrived there around the same time and were also clearly bummed that they were closed. 

But it’s a good thing we stopped there because we noticed a signpost in a little median strip near a traffic light that had a drawing on it that seemed interesting. Turns out it was a sign depicting the Battle Road Historic Woodlands. The map on the sign indicated that it was really close by, so we walked around to see if we could find the entrance. And we did! We had a lovely walk in these woods, once a battle road in the revolutionary war, still outlined with some very old low, stoned walls. This is the same road that the Woburn militia took on April 19th, 1775, when they marched to Lexington to answer the “alarm” of the impending British invasion. (Lexington is approximately 5 miles away from Woburn)

Our historical walk in the woods was such a nice and unexpected find, not only for its historical nature but also for its nature: mossy pathways, low-lining purple flowers, and a small babbling brook. Ahh nature. 

Afterward, we headed to the downtown area of Woburn, where we walked around to see the city hall, the war memorial across the street from city hall, which had a lot of flags out for Memorial Day, and the library. There were also a couple of churches and many shops and restaurants. The restaurants that stood out to us were The Fox Den , an American take on a European bistro style restaurant which highlighted their Pierogi as a favorite menu item, and The Brickyard, a pub-style restaurant which had a lot of nice outdoor seating in front of a decorative fountain and near the city clock. We tried to go into the Woburn Bowl-a-drome, but they will be closed for the summer as they undergo renovations and new management.

At the library, we noticed a statue depicting Benjamin Thompson ‘Count Rumford’ (he was knighted and given a title in Bavaria), a scientist who was ahead of his time. There is no way we can summarize all of his work here- but he did a lot of work related to heat conduction and insulation and developed significant improvements to chimneys, furnaces, and other things. (interesting side note- he also invented the percolating coffeepot! Oh, thank you for that, Ben!) Anyway, there is also a historic house which is the birthplace of ‘Count Rumford’ in Woburn, so we also stopped by that place. From here, we were excited to drive to Horn Pond, which we heard was a really nice place for a walk.

On our way to Horn Pond, we saw another similarly illustrated sign depicting the Middlesex Canal Historical Walk. While much of the canal path has changed and been built upon since its heyday in the 1800s, the sign reflects the importance that this canal once had for the residents of Woburn. The Middlesex Canal was once a 27-mile path from Charlestown to Lowell. But the invention of the railroad eventually contributed to the waning need for the canal. This canal to railroad history is something that we learned a lot about in the Blackstone Valley region of MA- so it feels quite familiar.

Apparently, the canal once crossed over Horn Pond back in the day.

Our walk around Horn Pond was our final Woburn activity for the day, and it was so lovely! So many people utilize this beautiful recreational area. There were kayaks in the pond, some people fishing, and many walkers just like us! It was an easy, sometimes paved, 2.4-mile walk around the pond, with benches all along the path for sitting and relaxing by the water. We stopped into the nearby Woburn Whole Foods on the way home to pick up some essentials, and then headed home!

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

Sutton. May 21, 2023

Day/Date:  SUNDAY -5/21/23

Town visited: Sutton
Had we ever been to this town before?  Yes
Drive to town:   43 miles    Time spent in town:  3 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
Prepared & excited for an adventure day with our ‘nephs’, Toby & Ev, we hopped in our trusty steed and headed to Sutton for a little exploration, a bite to eat, and a fun and adventurous hike. We hit a small bit of traffic on the way down here so, we were happy when we arrived.

First stop: the town center. We pulled into a parking lot in front of a white building that said General Rufus Putnam Hall, which we thought might be the town hall, but it turns out that it is a historic building that has been almost everything but the town hall! It’s been a High school, a grammar school, Masonic Hall, D.A.R Hall, the town library, and its current identity, the Historical Society Museum. Rufus Putnam was a Revolutionary War fighter as well as a brigadier general. Later in life, he led war veterans to settle in western lands now known as Ohio establishing Marietta, OH, the first European-American permanent United States settlement in the Northwest Territory.

The town hall/library was next door to that building, with the cutest miniature gnome house at its library door entrance. We left our “town visit” card there for the gnomes to read. 🙂 Across the way was the town green with a cute gazebo and a church. And just on the corner was a store called Polly’s Antiques. We walked around the green, taking it all in, reading the signs, and generally goofing around. 

As we needed to eat lunch before heading off to our chosen hike destination, we drove to Tony’s Sutton Pizza Restaurant, which seemed like the local place to go. It’s a pretty large and unassuming place with framed pictures all over the walls of athletes, performers, families, and local sports teams. There were plenty of booths to grab once you ordered your food. Jenny got a Stromboli, Toby & I got subs, and Everett had some American Chopped Suey. The food was good, and there was a steady stream of locals coming and going.

Next, it was off to Purgatory Chasm State Reservation.

When a torrent of glacial water melt burst (thousands of years ago), it tore up pieces of bedrock and created this 70-foot-deep chasm, which is now part of a hiking trail in Sutton. Jenny & I have been here before and remembered it being pretty cool.

There is a sign in the park that says:
“Purgatory Chasm is bold & unique landscape. Hikers beware of the dangers of this trail: slippery & deceiving rocks. This part of the trail is 1/2 mile long and hikers should be physically fit. Help keep the chasm in a natural state. Do not cary in food or beverage.” 

Ok then.  

We headed off on the hike, which was fun and challenging, with boulders to climb up and slide down and giant rocks piled upon one another with nooks and crannies everywhere. We came upon a crevice in the rock just wide enough for some humans to crawl through. That was an adventure. Once through the chasm half-mile, we continued on the trail through the woods which follows a small brook. Everett spotted a beautiful scarlet tanager over the water, and Jenny found her first lady’s slipper orchid of the year. We also saw a toad climbing up a rock and came upon the bottom side of a tree that had fallen over, but all its strong roots were visible, with no dirt between them. It looked like an intricate web.

Many folks were out today enjoying the beautiful spring day and this really cool hike, a stand-out feature of this small town.  

To ensure his spot in the front seat, Toby called out “shotgun” as we headed to the car to drive home.

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

Stoughton. May 14, 2023.

Day/DateSUNDAY -5/14/23
Town visited: Stoughton
Had we ever been to this town before?  Yes
Drive to town:  27 miles    Time spent in town: 6 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
Our need for new cabinets led us to the only IKEA store in MA which, is in Stoughton! We were actually pretty pleased with how easy this store made it to figure out what we needed to replace our kitchen counter and cabinets. Almost 80 and a long time resident of Stoughton, our design planner, Phylis, was a gem. She walked us through the options and used a really cool design tool to help us ensure that the measurements would all work.

Walking around the showroom in this place is fun. And so is eating in the cafeteria! Though they are famous for their Swedish meatballs, we opted to split a salad and a sandwich- BUT we did bring a bag of frozen meatballs home with us! 

After several hours in the store, we needed some fresh air, so we decided to head to the Bird Street Conservation area for a nice, woodsy, and meadowy walk. We heard so many birds chirping away. It was lovely and a much-needed reset from having been in a store for so many hours.

After our walk, we took a tour of the downtown area, noting the old train station, which is the only train station in MA with a clock tower (and it also happened to be featured in a scene in the most recent Little Women movie). We walked around a bit and captured our usual pic of the town hall.

We ended our visit with a trip to Miranda Bread, a Brazilian bakery, not far away. We took home some coffee, fresh rolls and some yummy treats!

Fun fact: One of Jo’s favorite musicians, Lori McKenna (with whom I also happen to share the exact same birthday and year!), is from Stoughton. She is a singer/songwriter, and many of her songs include depictions of life growing up in Stoughton.

(We look forward to receiving our new IKEA cabinets!😁). 

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

Amherst. May 4, 2023

Day/Date:  THURSDAY- 5/4/23
Town visited: Amherst (city)
Had we ever been to this town before?  Yes
Drive to town:   87 miles    Time spent in town:   9 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town/area? 

Meeting by Accident,
We hovered by design—
As often as a Century
An error so divine
Is ratified by Destiny,
But Destiny is old
And economical of Bliss
As Midas is of Gold—     

-Emily Dickinson

In mid-March, we put in motion a plan to visit the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst with my sister, Jan. Jan lives next door to us in Newton, but she was to be in Amherst for a couple of days on a work-related trip in early May. So we decided that it would be a good idea to get tickets to the Emily Dickinson Museum and plan to meet up with her after we explore the town of Amherst.

We got up and on the road early. When we arrived in Amherst, we immediately headed over to the Share Roasters Cafe on Pleasant St. Share is a coffee roaster out of the neighboring town of Hadley, but they now have a cafe in Amherst. With yummy coffees in hand and our car parked in downtown Amherst, we decided to walk around and explore Amherst College. This is one beautiful campus. A yellow round building called the Octagon (circa 1848), originally built as an observatory and natural history museum, sits on a grassy hilltop not far from the main street in town. Deeper into the 1,000-acre campus is a vast, new science building (built in 2018) called the Science Center, which, at 255,000 square feet, is the largest building the college has ever had. Among these buildings were grassy knolls, beautiful trees, students congregating on the green, classic New England- style brick buildings, and a sea of purple Amherst College pole signs commemorating the college’s 200th anniversary (1821-2021). 

After over an hour of exploring the campus, we headed back towards the car, passing the City Hall near the corner of Pleasant and Main Streets. One interesting fact that we learned about this city government is that there is no mayor. Instead, the governing body is made up of its 13 council members. 

Through the Dark Sod — as Education —
The Lily passes sure —
Feels her white foot — no trepidation —
Her faith — no fear —

Afterward — in the Meadow —
Swinging her Beryl Bell —
The Mold-life — all forgotten — now —
In Extasy — and Dell —  

-Emily Dickinson

The next stop in our day’s exploration was the wonder that is the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Have you ever read The Hungry Caterpillar? Eric Carle wrote and illustrated that incredibly unique and wondrous book. An exhibit there now called “Eric Carle Loves Japan” reveals Mr. Carle’s love and appreciation for the people of Japan and their celebration of art and illustrations. We learned that, because of the unique concept of The Hungry Caterpillar with its shortened layered pages and small circular cut-outs, no one in the U.S. would print the book when Carle was searching for a printer. It was a printing press in Japan that eventually committed to the job, and that is where the now-famous book first came out. Japan also has several museums dedicated to the art of picture books, which inspired Eric and Barbara Carle and their mission to create this museum in Amherst.

Outside the Carle museum is a meadow with apple trees (from an old orchard that used to be there) which just happened to be in bloom. It was a beautiful and sweet-smelling delight.

Not far from the museum is a store called Atkins Farms Country Market. This place had everything you could imagine: fruits, vegetables, plants, local products, bakery items, a deli, baskets, and more. After passing by several farms throughout the day, including ones with “Fresh Asparagus” signs, we couldn’t pass up the section in the store with the in-season fresh and local asparagus. Hampshire County is apparently deemed the “Asparagus Capital of the World,” something we did not know before this visit. It grows prolifically here. Every year in early June, there is an actual Asparagus Festival in Hadley, the town just west of Amherst. So, we got ourselves some deli sandwiches and a couple of asparagus bunches to go. Yum.

“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse—the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity.” 

– Emily Dickinson

Since we love nature and love finding a walk/hike in every town we visit, Amherst was no exception. There are a lot of bigger hikes in Amherst’s Mount Holyoke Range State Park. However, the weather was in and out of the rain, and we only had a little time before our 3 pm tour of the Emily Dickinson house. So, we found a sweet and small 1-mile walk around Puffer’s Pond and along the Mill River. 

We saw a few folks fishing, a couple relaxing in a hammock, and a few other hikers enjoying the area. But, the most exciting part was coming upon some beautiful Trillium along with some Jack in the Pulpit along the path beside the river (see photos). The sitings of these two flowers mean Spring is in full force. Wanting to soak up the area, we sat for some time in 2 chairs on the bank of the Mill River that feeds into Puffer’s Pond to listen to the water flowing by.   

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ‘t is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.   

-Emily Dickinson

Just after 2 o’clock, we got a text from Jan saying she was finished with her conference and asking where we should meet up. We decided to visit West Cemetery, where Emily and the entire Dickinson family are buried. West Cemetery is a historic site with gravestones from as early as 1737. A beautifully painted mural on a brick wall nearby depicts Emily Dickinson in the center emerging from a daisy. Other notable Amherst residents, Sanford Jackson, Robert Frost, Noah Webster, and many others, are also represented in the mural.

At 3 pm, our tour at the Emily Dickinson Museum/House began. Our tour guide, Lucy, was amazing. Lucy led our 50-minute tour with so much knowledge and insight, interspersing Dickinson’s poems throughout. The house was a mix of renovations very true to the time and genuine Dickinson family-owned furniture pieces or art giving us a realistic sense of what it was like to be in the home back in the mid-1800s.  

Dickinson’s tiny desk was a standout. It is incredible to think that she wrote almost 1800 poems here.  

The recent show ‘Dickinson,’ on Apple TV (which, if you haven’t seen, you should, because it is so good), had donated a few items to the house and has sparked some increased interest in the museum, in general.

After asking a woman who worked at the museum for a recommendation for an early dinner, we ended up at Johnny’s Tavern, just a walk down the road from the museum. It was really delicious!  

Lastly, we said goodbye to Jan and made our way to the U Mass Amherst College campus. This campus was very large, like its own little city. We drove around, snapped some photos, and saw many students walking and taking shuttle buses around campus. Spring (and the recent rains) made this campus beaming with green and blooming trees.  

We had a wonderful day in this three college town with notable history and a definite commitment to education and the arts, and, of course, good coffee!!!!

I dwell in Possibility –
A fairer House than Prose –
More numerous of Windows –
Superior – for Doors –

Of Chambers as the Cedars –
Impregnable of eye –
And for an everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky –

Of Visitors – the fairest –
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise – 

-Emily Dickinson

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: 

Nipmuc, Pocumtuc, Nonotuck

Hopkinton. April 22, 2023

Day/Date:  SATURDAY -4/22/23
Town visited: Hopkinton
Had we ever been to this town before? Yes
Drive to town:   27 miles    Time spent in town:   6 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
Wanting to do our part to give back on Earth Day, we decided to participate in one of the many park clean-up days the Massachusetts Department of Recreation and Conservation (DCR) was sponsoring. We chose Hopkinton, a town we had yet to visit, which was not so far away. We checked in for the cleanup at Whitehall State Park. This beautiful park, which surrounds Whitehall Lake, has an 8-mile hiking trail all the way around. This lake used to be a water source for the Greater Boston area, but with the building of the Quabbin reservoir, Lake Whitehall was turned into a state park. We got our assignment for a cleaning area, drove to it, and headed off on the trail. The trail and surroundings were pretty clean, although we did find some beer cans, orange peels, TP, etc. We pickup up trash in about a 1-mile stretch, then returned to the parking lot, where we talked to a few of the DCR employees and volunteers from the Friends of Whitehall non-profit and told them about our project. One of them said, “We know. We found your card.” So, whoops, one of our cards flew out of the car or Jo’s pocket at the Earth Day cleanup: Ironic. We even talked with a reporter from the Hopkinton Independent, who took our photo for a potential story. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

We would love to come back to Whitehall to hike more of the trail and even bring our kayak. A few small islands in the lake area would be fun to explore.

The locals at the park suggested that we have lunch at The Spoon, so we did. Jo had an awesome chorizo omelet, and Jenny had a “sweet potato falafel” breakfast sandwich with egg, spicy aioli, spinach, and red onion. Delish! And they served local coffee from Red Barn Coffee Roasters.  The people who own the Spoon also have a place called the Spoonery which is an ice cream shop located just behind the building.

With our bellies happy, we headed to the town hall. But, on our way there, we saw a small building near a pond that looked like an old train depot. So, we pulled over and got out to check it out. Interestingly, it WAS an old train depot that had been moved to this location, once the site of an old ice house. There was a business of pulling blocks of ice out of the pond and storing it for a short time in the “ice house.” This definitely shows that global warming is real! What do you want to bet that this small pond never even froze over this winter?  

We moved on from our unscheduled detour and found our way to the town center, home to a few churches, businesses, an old cemetery, the public library (which is nice!), and the town hall. 

Just down the hill away from the center is the yellow and blue starting line of the Boston Marathon. The annual gathering for the start of the marathon each April is most definitely what Hopkinton is most known for. Every year, thousands of runners (over 30,000 runners in the current year) and spectators line up to start the race precisely 26.2 miles from the finish line in Boston. The race used to start in the neighboring town of Ashland, but in 1924, the start line moved a bit further out to Hopkinton to meet the Olympic standards for a marathon. The library had some archival photos and books about the marathon. Along the route of the marathon, and just outside the parking lot of garden center, Weston Nurseries, is an incredible bronze statue called the “Spirit of the Marathon”. This statue depicts Stylianos Kyriakides of Greece, the 1946 winner of the Boston Marathon who also happens to be known as the event’s first “charity runner”. He ran to raise awareness about food shortages in Greece at the time. Running in the marathon for charity is a big thing nowadays, demonstrating a true and giving underlying spirit of this special event.

Next, we went to Angel’s Cafe, where the local roaster’s Red Barn Coffee is the main feature. (Red Barn has a few cafes in this part of the state, and their roasting facility is in the neighboring town of Upton). Jenny got her signature decaf Americano. 

Just next door to the cafe is Angel’s Garden Center. Angel’s is a super nice shop! We looked around and ended up picking up some plants for one of our outdoor planters at home.

Jenny has a friend from tap dance class named Beth, who lives in Hopkinton with her husband, Dave. And since we were going to be in town, we wanted to drop off a baby gift for them. Beth was in the middle of Zoom school, and Dave was busy painting the baby’s room, but we headed over there for just a few minutes. Beth and Dave’s house was on a lovely windy road where the houses were pretty spread apart with lots of trees. 

When we asked them about interesting things in Hopkinton, they told us about the new excitement around the Snappy Dog food truck opening for the season in the CVS parking lot. As we were curious, we went to check it out. There was a bit of a line, and sadly, we had already just eaten because those hot dogs smelled damn good; it would have been great to have been able to try them! 

Our final stop was at Hopkinton’s other state park: Hopkinton State Park. The weather had gotten a bit chillier, but we did take a short walk along the water of the Upper Beach (the lower beach was closed off). We had been here many years ago and know it is a popular picnicking and swimming spot in the summer. We are sure that we’ll be back here again someday.

We really enjoyed our time here and are glad we don’t live that far away! This town had a lot to offer and a good feel; not too big or small, not too urban or too rural.

it is exactly 26. 2 miles to Boston from this start line in Hopkinton, MA!

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Nipmuc

Mattapoisett. April 16, 2023

Day/Date:  SUNDAY 4/16/23
Town visited: Mattapoisett
Had we ever been to this town before?  No
Drive to town:  70 miles    Time spent in town:   3 hours

What did we do in the town/area?
Our friends Angie & Dave came up from CT so that Dave could participate in a bike ride event in Lakeville- so, since we had to pick him up, we decided to take Angie with us on a town visit to Mattapoisett.

We walked around the super quaint neighborhood where the town hall, historical society & museum are all located. Nearby is the Harbor and a beautiful park called Shipyard Park. The view of the ocean meeting the horizon here is gorgeous, complete with a few anchored sailboats in the distance.

There are a couple of stores and restaurants nearby. Unfortunately, despite what it said online, the Town Wharf General Store was not yet open for the season. 

Just a short drive away was Ned’s Point- home to a 39 ft high lighthouse built in 1838 and a small town beach. Ned’s lighthouse is considered one of Buzzard Bay’s smaller lighthouses. We enjoyed hanging out here and catching up on life amidst this picturesque backdrop.

We headed to the Holly Woods part of the Mattapoisett Land Trust and took a nice 1-mile loop hike to Grace Reserve – a meadowy area with stone walls and a small bee farm! There were more paths to walk nearby, but we decided to move along to see that the giant Seahorse that we heard was at a different part of the Land Trust. 

Salty the Seahorse is a metal sculpture nearly as tall as the lighthouse (at 38 ft), and it has become the symbol for Mattapoisett. Its original purpose was to be a landmark attraction for a locally owned gift shop in the 1950s along Rte 6 before Interstate 195 (which now has an exit for Mattapoisett) existed. Many gift shops closed, but the landmark of Salty the Seahorse proved to be notable enough for the residents of Mattapoisett to be saved.

We got the call from Dave that he finished his 60-mile bike ride, and so it was time to pick him up. Since earlier we had promised him a coffee, we made one more Mattapoisett stop at Uncle Jon’s Coffee and got Dave his post-ride Americano.

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

Boxborough. April 13, 2023

Day/Date:  THURSDAY -4/13/23
Town visited: Boxborough
Had we ever been to this town before?  Yes-ish (have biked through here before, it’s near Harvard and Acton)
Drive to town:  21 miles    Time spent in town:  4 hours

What did we do in the town/area?
We had a sweet visit in Boxborough, where several small patches of conservation land exist to explore. After perusing the small residential area where the town hall, community center, and church are, we checked out the nearby Flerra Meadows, which is 35 acres of land with a field, playgrounds, and a few short forested trails. We saw a few bluebirds there just on the parameters of the field and the wooded path, which was a treat.

From there, we traveled over to Flagg Hill – an area with 72 acres of land but very little parking, so we decided to drive up the road to Flagg Hill, where a gate at the top stood surrounding a 15,000 sq. foot estate. Jenny researched who owned the home and learned that it was someone who invented the boogie board, who mostly lived in California, 

Hungry for lunch, we decided to head to a place we looked up called Oscars Burritos Mexican Grill. The restaurant is tucked away off the parking lot of the Nashoba Valley Olympia Skating Rink (which offers public ice skating and hockey-related activities). Still, despite its obscure location, the place had a steady stream of customers rolling in. And we can see why. The food was fresh and delicious and truly hit the spot, and there were a few outdoor tables where we could sit and eat on this beautiful, unseasonably warm day.

After lunch, it was off to Patch Hill for a hike. Patch Hill is the largest of the conservation areas in Boxborough, with 246 acres of land and trails. We had a nice long quiet walk in these woods. Through one long stretch of our walk, there was an amazing dense pine scent that made you just want to take a deep breath and take in the awesomeness of nature. In addition to having some classic stone walls along the path, our hike in Patch Hill rewarded us with a patch of newly sprouting skunk cabbage, with which of course, Jenny had to get close up and personal in order to take a photo. 

All in all, we had a very pleasant and peaceful day in Boxborough (which is sometimes shortened to Boxboro).

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

Warwick. April 8, 2023

Day/Date:  SATURDAY -4/8/23
Town visited: Warwick (and a short re-visit to Orange)
Had we ever been to this town before?  No (and yes)
Drive to town:   85 miles    Time spent in town:   5 hours (between the 2)

What did we do in the town/area?  
On our way to Warwick, where we were heading for our town visit, we stopped in Orange, where the finish line for the Athol to Orange River Rat Race was taking place. Due to Covid, this local canoeing fundraising event was canceled the year we came to Orange for our town visit (late March 2021), so we were psyched to be able to see it. There were folks of all ages rowing their canoes to the finish line. There were a lot of local supporters and some fun hats and outfits worn by the participants. It was fun.

We also stopped at a store we missed the last time we were here, called Trail Head Outfitters, where we bought a couple of items and met the owner, Stephanie. A cafe in the back of the stores sells soup and sandwiches. Orange is a really welcoming place, and we enjoyed this little re-visit!

WARWICK: When looking for stuff to do in Warwick, the choices are a visit to the Warwick State Forest or Mt. Grace State Forest. This small town of not quite 800 residents sits on the Eastern border of Franklin County. We could find no stores in Warwick, only a few farms. We figured folks must shop in nearby Orange, MA.

We wandered around the town center that housed the Town Hall, library, and Historical Society. We even came upon an old telephone mounted to a tree across from Town Hall. Not sure what that was about. It wasn’t functional (Jenny tried it!), but it was funny.

We decided on Mt. Grace State Forest and headed there for a climb to the summit of Mt Grace. The 1.5-mile hike up the mountain was somewhat challenging but definitely worth it. Atop the summit, there is a fire tower to climb that offers a 360-degree view of the area. We could see a few ski resorts (Mt. Wachusett was one of them) and Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, which was easy to pick out because of its bald top! 

At the top, we met a guy named John who had been hiking for a couple of days on a section of the NET (aka New England Trail, a 215-mile path that goes from New Haven, CT on the Long Island Sound to the MA/NH border in the town of Royalston). He was heading from Erving to Royalston. We exchanged information about our projects. He had a YouTube Channel where he posts videos of his adventures (Outdoors with John), and of course, we shared our blog site and Instagram page with him.  

We headed back down the mountain and rode home.

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: Wabanaki (Dawnland Confederacy), N’DakIna (Abanaki) Pennacook