Dover. September 16, 2022

Day/Date:  THURSDAY -9/16/22
Towns visited:  Dover
Had you ever been to any of this towns before?  No 
Drive to the town:  11 miles    Time spent in town:   6 hours

What did we do in the town of Dover? 
We must have entered the town center of Dover five times today when all was said and done.  It turns out eight other towns surround this town, and there is a little bit of something in every direction! The first thing we did here, in the town center, was checked out the town hall and library, of course.

Then we headed off for a hike in the Trustee’s Noanet Woodlands. We chose the Peabody Loop to Noanet Peak, which had a few rocky and steep parts. But it was worth it as it led us to a large flat rock at the top with a pretty sweet view that included a glimpse of the Boston skyline nestled within the treetops. 

Next, we headed to some of the town’s historic sites like Fisher Barn, a reconstructed building from 1777 representing Dover’s agricultural history. The barn is right next to the Caryl Farm Museum, a Georgian-style, 18th-century home once owned by the area’s first minister. The museum was closed, so all we managed to get here was a picture.

Since Dover is one of the wealthiest towns in MA, we drove around a bit just checking out the homes, the farms (several horse farms) and the landscape. 

Hungry from our hike and explorations, we decided to head back to the town center and eat in one of the only lunch spots we could find, The Dover Cafe Deli & Pizza. They had little tables outside, so we ordered some sandwiches and sat outside, right across from Town Hall. While waiting for our sandwiches (they were yummy by the way), we chatted with two men who had been out cycling together. They were super friendly and told us about some other rail trails they knew about in the state.

After our lunch, we headed to Powisset Farm, a Trustee’s farm with a CSA, trails, barnyard animals, a barn with a farm store, an area for cooking classes, and even some little play structures for kids. We were so pleased with the products they sold from many local businesses, so we purchased a few Pigeon Cove kombuchas, some homemade vegetable soup made on the farm, some POP ZUP popcorn, and some coffee from Dean’s Beans. This place was so lovely. We walked the 1.5-mile Meadow loop trail. It was a flat walk around the community CSA gardens into the grassy hayfield with picturesque views of the barn silo and one lone tree with a mighty presence.

After our walk, we visited the barnyard area with pigs, goats, and sheep. We sat in Adirondack chairs, snacked on some Maple Cinnamon Toast Popcorn, and took in the beauty. We really enjoyed our late-Summer day in this beautiful town.

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

Brimfield and Warren. September 10, 2022

Day/Date:  SATURDAY -9/10/22
Towns visited:  Brimfield & Warren
Had we ever been to any of these towns before?   No
Drive to 1st town53 miles    Time spent in town(s):   7 hours

What did we do in the town(s)/area?  
The big adventure of the day was taking part in the Brimfield Flea Market. The market happens three times yearly and is the largest flea market in New England. It was bustling in the small (population of 3694) town of Brimfield on this sunny Saturday, the final flea market of the year. We went with our friends, Jaclyn and Colin, and spent a few hours wandering through many booths of goods for sale. Some of the booths looked like pure junk, but there were some priceless grabs for sure, and a little bit of something for everyone; vintage clothing, antiques, jewelry, memorabilia, and oh, so much more. We found a bucket of scrabble pieces and were able to replace a few of our missing ones! We were in awe at some giant copper pots, one so big that Jenny could barely lift it! 

We picked up some surprisingly satisfying lunch from a busy food truck and found some picnic tables outside the Brimfield Winery to eat and rest. 

Then, after visiting a few more booths, we had one of the day’s best moments. Jaclyn found a beloved 1970s toy she recognized from her childhood with some cherished memories in a booth she almost didn’t walk in. Her face was that of shock and joy. She exclaimed that she had just had a conversation mentioning this toy last week. So, in a moment of true genuine inspiration, she haggled a price and bought it! It was a fun and heartwarming flea market moment.  

Afterward, we were ready to move on to our next town of the day, Warren. 

 We were lucky enough to have our own personal tour guide of Warren, as our friend, Colin, lived there from 5th grade until he graduated from high school (yeah, we planned it this way).

It was quite a treat to be driven around and not worry about getting lost or making sure we saw all the sights! (Thanks Colin!)

The first thing we learned is that Warren is comprised of two Villages, Warren and West Warren. The next thing we learned is that Warren has exactly one traffic light.

Our first stop was a visit to Lucy Stone Park, right along the Quaboag River. This park was recently revitalized by the Town of Warren and a group of volunteers. It is a perfect little spot to fish, have a picnic, go for a walk, and stick your feet in the river. Ms. Stone was a suffragist, abolitionist, and the first woman to earn a college degree (from Oberlin College in Ohio). 

Quaboag is an indigenous name meaning “red water.” The Quaboag River was used to power many of the industrial mills that were once operational in Warren. Warren Pumps, Inc. is still operating and has been since 1897.

Colin drove us through the two villages, and it seemed like we would pass a building or two followed by a long stretch of land before seeing another building, farm, or maintenance area. We did notice quite a few Tag sales in Warren, most likely inspired by so many people passing through to or from the nearby Brimfield Flea Mkt.

We hit the Quaboag Regional High School, pulling in to see the “painted rock,” which he said was an annual tradition for the graduating class to paint. There were also a bunch of colorful and personalized painted parking spaces. 

We carried on seeing the old Town Hall, his old neighborhood, the new Town Hall (which used to be his elementary school), and some shops in the town center. And yeah, we did get to pass that one stoplight exactly two times. It’s a sleepy or rather quiet town, that is for sure.

Our friends dropped us back off at our car, and we said our goodbyes reflecting upon a lovely day together. And on our way out of town, we stopped on the side of the road at Sandy Valley Farm and picked up some Farm Fresh Eggs for home. 

But, we weren’t quite done with town visiting, so after this detour to Warren, we returned to Brimfield for a short bike ride on the Great Trunk Trail. This trail was once part of the Southern New England Railway that was supposed to run from Palmer, MA, to Providence, RI. However, the man who spearheaded the project, Charles Melville Hays, went down on the Titanic in 1912. Since then, the project had been stopped and started until, ultimately, during the Great Depression, it was abandoned. It was woodsy and beautiful and passed by a few bodies of water. We rode until we could go no further, hitting a river crossing without a bridge.

After returning to the car, we drove along Five Bridge Road, which took us to a neighborhood with many farms and cows and beautiful views of rural MA. We also saw some unfortunate destruction left from a massive tornado that hit the town of Brimfield and nearby Monson and Springfield in 2011. Along the hillside, many trees were stripped bare from the massive winds of that epic storm. But the scenic greenery surrounding it dominated the scene with some beautiful views.

Tired and happy, we hopped on the Mass Pike and headed east, back home to Newton. 

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

Northbridge and Grafton. September 3, 2022

Day/Date:  SATURDAY – 9/3/22
Towns visited:  Northbridge and Grafton
Had we ever been to any of these towns before? No 
Drive to 1st town:   37 miles   Time spent in town(s):   4 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town(s)/area?  
NORTHBRIDGE:  
Trying to stay away from Labor Day Weekend traffic, we headed West and South to the town of Northbridge. This town and many around it are known for its significance in the Industrial Revolution. With many old mill buildings situated on the Blackstone River, it is part of the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Corridor. Northbridge is comprised of a few villages, many of which are “mill villages.” Whitinsville (pronounced White-ins-ville, after the Whitin family) was the first village we visited. There was an old textile mill building that used to be home to Whitin Machine Company, now restored and rented out to local businesses. There is even a large deck overlooking the river that hosts summer concerts.

Then, we visited Town Hall, located in the Whitinsville village, and looked at a row of shops in the downtown area, many of which were closed for Labor Day weekend. We did pick up a bit of “town visit food” and grabbed some bagels for tomorrow’s breakfast from Stephanie’s Daily Grind. Speaking of food, we were sad not to be able to grab something from Whitinsville’s The Green Plate: a woman owned, gluten-free restaurant with lots of vegetarian and vegan options too. They were closed for the entire holiday weekend. Ah well, there’s always next time.

The other mill villages were Rockdale and Riverdale. The old mill at Riverdale now manufactures wire mesh products for construction, security, and agricultural purposes. They also invented Aquamesh, an industry-standard product used in building lobster traps. It was great to see such a large manufacturing plant in the US and to repurpose an old mill building.

After our in-town adventures, we headed to the woods and explored a few hiking spots along the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park. Our stops included: Plummer’s Landing, Lookout Rock (the highest point in Northbridge), and the Stone Arch Bridge at the canal. The rocks at Lookout Point were fully decorated with graffiti and they featured a lovely view of the Blackstone River Valley. We saw people fishing, walking their dogs, kayaking, and hiking in Plummer’s Landing and Stone Arch Bridge. Since we are in a severe drought, the river level was very low and thus a little grimy.  (We need rain!)

Next, we headed north to Grafton and found some unexpected treasures.

GRAFTON:
Our first stop was for Ice cream at Swirls & Scoops. Jo ordered the orange/pineapple “Dole Whip,” a non-dairy soft-serve treat that she said was delicious! Jenny had some vanilla soft serve with sprinkles. We sat in the parking lot and chatted with a friendly man named Louie, a local who works in an auto body shop. He called himself a “body worker” which is funny because Jo does too (massage therapist)! He loves to ride his motorcycle and told us about some of his favorite spots in the region including some food trucks in West Boylston. 

We had not done much research on Grafton, so when we saw a sign that said “Clock Museum this way,” we decided to follow it. And we are so glad we did. The road in a quiet, more rural part of Grafton was windy, with many beautiful homes and small farms. We were blown away by the preserved Willard House, the birthplace of Benjamin Willard, a well-known clockmaker from the 1700s. He was the first of three generations of clockmakers in his family. Next to the Willard House is the Clock Museum. It was sadly closed for Labor Day weekend, but a spot that we would love to come back to. 

We realized that we were pretty close to the Old Grafton State Hospital, which, for some family history reasons, we had wanted to see, so we headed up the road. To our surprise, we saw many cattle and sheep grazing in open pastures. (Baby cows too!)  Then, we realized that we had happened upon the Tuft’s University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. The Grafton State Hospital was in operation from 1901 to the early 1970s and was a home for the “chronically insane.” Much like Medfield State Hospital, which we visited in 2021, farming and gardening were used as therapeutic tools to help the patients. Those were some of the positives of this type of facility, but there were many negatives in how the patients were treated. There is some pretty gruesome history about Grafton State Hospital and places like it.

A few years after the hospital’s closure, Tuft’s University opened the veterinary school here, using the rolling hills and cleared pastures to study domesticated animals. There are a few animal hospitals here as well as research facilities. We also saw a few students playing tennis, so there must also be dormitories on campus. After taking a few photos and videos to capture the beauty of this place, we headed to Grafton Common for our final stop of our town visit.

The Grafton Common is a quintessential New England town center, with a gazebo (currently under construction), the Grafton Inn, beautiful churches, and an old town mercantile building. After a quick but fun exploration of this sweet area, we headed home.

Indigenous/ Native land info for this region: 

Northbridge: Nipmuc
Grafton: Nipmuc & Agawam – There is a 3.5 acre reservation in Grafton, called Hassanamisco.  This small land is what remains of a much larger reservation.  This is another area where Puritan leader, John Eliot worked to convert many Native American Indians to Christianity.

Salisbury. September 1, 2022

Day/Date:  THURSDAY -9/1/22
Town visited:  SALISBURY
Had we ever been to this town before? Yes, but briefly
Drive to town:  55 miles from our house but we drove from Portland, ME which was 70 miles  
Time spent in town:  4 hours
What did we do in the town/area?  
Summer’s end is approaching, and we are trying to make the most of it! 

Lucky to have scored tickets to the Brandi Carlisle concert in Portland, Maine (with the Indigo Girls opening!), we planned to spend the night up there and take our time returning home to visit the most northern coastal town of MA: Salisbury. We got the perfect day to do it!

First of all, the outdoor concert on Thompson’s Point in Maine was AMAZING for those wondering. We brought our beach chairs, settled on the lawn with dinner from some really good food trucks behind us, and enjoyed all of the vibes. Folks of all ages were brought together for an incredible night of music on a beautiful night. And there were many highlights, but Brandi’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Stardust” was one of the most rockin’ epic covers I have ever seen performed and most definitely, my highlight of the night.

After getting up in the morning and picking up some coffee from Tandem Coffee, one of Portland’s many independent coffee roasters (of course), we headed south to explore the town at the most northern tip of Massachusetts: Salisbury.

Upon arrival, we grabbed our token picture of the town hall and the usual nearby church, East Parish United. These buildings were adjacent to a neighborhood and a plaza of stores and not situated on a green like so many small towns in New England. 

As it was getting to be lunchtime, we quickly moved on to Lena’s Seafood, a classic New England seafood shack. The gigantic sign in the shape of a whale touting Lena’s Seafood “A Whale of a Meal” was hard to miss. This place is old-school: there is a picture of the founder, Lena, in a heavily shellacked frame on the wall from 1958, there are wood veneer booths and table tops, large paintings of boats, and wooden carvings of fish and lobsters hanging on the walls. They clearly serve a lot of people in the summer. They even have a drive-thru! We ordered inside but ate on one of the several available tables outside. We split a half plate of fried clams and a lobster roll and gobbled them up. Yum.

The biggest draw of Salisbury is the beach. And Salisbury Beach State Reservation is the perfect place to go, park, and find your spot on the sand. The beach reservation, run by DCR (Department of Conservation & Recreation), has several parking lots, restroom structures, a campground, and a playground. Lucky for us, we have an annual DCR parks pass, so it cost us nothing- but if you don’t have a pass, it costs $14/day. 

We found a nice spot to place our chairs and immediately walked up to the water to get our feet wet. Though not crazily busy, the beach was full of families and a posse of kids building some kind of sand tunnel for the water to go through (the tide was rising). We had a relaxing time soaking up the sun and water. We eventually walked to the Merrimac River side of the reservation and through the campground in order to see Ben Butler’s “Toothpick” (named after a civil war general), which is a pyramid-shaped navigational marker made in the late 1800s that sits at the mouth of the Merrimac River. 

We ended our town exploration with a visit to the Salisbury Beach Boardwalk. This old-fashioned strip of shops, arcades, restaurants, and public beach access has an old carousel in the center. There is a brand new ‘Welcome Center’ with public bathrooms and a big round building currently being constructed to be an eventual Carousel Pavilion.

We felt compelled to go into Joe’s Playland to play some classic Skee Ball. In a competition of best 2 out of 3 games, Jo won, but Jenny took the top spot for the highest score in a game.

Sunkissed and happy with our fireball candies that we scored with our tickets from playing skeeball, we headed home.

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

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?  
DUXBURY:  
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?  
BOLTON:  
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?  
HARVARD:  
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