Cohasset. May 22, 2022

Day/Date:  SUNDAY -5/22/22
Town visited:  Cohasset
Had you ever been to this town before? No
Drive to 1st town:   34 miles   Time spent in town:   3 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
COHASSET:  (a rocky shore town)
Today was hot, and we were excited to make Cohasset our town to visit for the day as it sits along the coast both East and South of Boston. 

We rolled into the cute downtown area and parked by the town green. We walked down Main St. toward the strip of shops that included a coffee roaster cafe that we had just learned about called SeaBird Coffee & Co. We popped in and ordered an oat milk cortado for Jo and a decaf latte for Jenny. The coffees were yummy. Unfortunately, they were out of bags of coffee beans, so we couldn’t take any home.

After exploring the downtown area a bit and seeing some historic buildings, shops and a Red Lion Inn that seemed similar to the one in Stockbridge, MA (it is NOT related), we walked back to the town green and found the Town Hall and two classic New England looking white churches. We noticed a street called Beach Street, so we decided to check it out. We walked along this newly paved road lined with beautiful homes, many with their backs privy to a beautiful water view. This area was part of Little Harbor. There were many large natural rock formations in this town that homes and other buildings in this town have craftily incorporated in their landscape.

Next, we drove to the entrance of the Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary and had some homemade lunch before spraying ourselves with sunscreen and bug spray for our walk. The 32-acre property that is owned by the Cohassett Conservation Trust, abuts a larger green area known as Wheelwright Park (a park with woodland trails and a skating pond). “The towering trees and glacial rock formations provide wildlife habitat and awe-inspiring scenic beauty…”. We got a little confused by the trails and never saw the pond, but it was a lovely walk (albeit a bit buggy).

Since we felt hot and wanted to cool off by maybe dipping our feet in some water, we drove along the scenic Jerusalem Road to Cohasset’s local beach known as Sandy Beach. But alas, we weren’t allowed to park our car and enjoy even a half-hour of beach and water time here because Sandy Beach is a “private beach” for residents of Cohasset (proof of resident sticker required). We did drive through the parking lot to grab some pics as it is a beautiful beach. While it is understandable to want the residents of this town to have access to the beaches in their own town, it can be frustrating to a visitor. To see so much beautiful shoreline and have no access to the water (or sand for that matter) unless you are affiliated or invited by a resident of this town was a bummer for us, especially on such a hot day. The laws in MA allow for property owners along the shoreline to take as their own the shoreline between their properties and the water, essentially making that beautiful stretch of nature “theirs to claim ownership of.” Because of these laws, towns like Cohasset succumb to exclusivity.

We then drove to another coastal area known as Cohasset Harbor and Minot Ledge, located just off of Border Street. There is some fascinating history here about the Minot Ledge Lighthouse.

Once again, due to residents-only parking restrictions, we were only able to quickly get out and take pictures of the area that also had a replica of the historic lighthouse. BUT, then we did see a little pass-through off of Lighthouse Lane that led us to another parking lot near a little trail called Beacon Trail, a short climb to where, in the mid-1800s, the original lighthouse once stood. We don’t really know if we were allowed to park there, but as there were not many cars there, we did park and walked the trail atop this rock for some fantastic views of Cohasset Harbor. It was beautiful but windy up there!

After driving around a bit more to the edge of Scituate (the next town over) and along many shorelines (so much water in Cohasset), we decided to make one more stop before heading home. Motivated by our desire to pick up some treats to bring to an outdoor potluck dinner with friends, we stopped at Mullaney’s Seafood Market on Chief Justice Cushing Hwy. and picked up some shrimp and potato salad. We were super pleased with our decision to stop here! Everything looked excellent, and the shrimp and potato salad tasted fresh and delicious.

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

Newburyport & Newbury. April 18 & 19, 2022

Day/Date:  MONDAY – 4/18/22 & Tue 4/19/22
Towns visited: The city of NEWBURYPORT & the town of Newbury
Had you ever been to any of these towns before? Yes
Drive to 1st town:  54 miles   Time spent in town(s):   12 + hours

What did we do in the town(s)/area?  
Our primary mission of this town visit was to spend time with our good friends Camie, Rhys, and Gracin (age 4.9) who were visiting from Utah. Rhys grew up here in MA, so they are on an epic cross-country adventure and rented a house in Newburyport near Rhys’ family for a few days. We were so excited they invited us up for an overnight!

THE CITY OF NEWBURYPORT:  
We drove to their AirBnB through an industrial part of Newbury. Jenny saw a fox in front of an office building on the drive, carrying its dinner (a bunny). More on Newbury later!

We then entered Newburyport and found the house they rented. It was in a neighborhood full of beautiful old 1700s-style homes, tightly packed together. It’s easy to imagine fishermen living in these parts many years ago. The house was near Cashman Park, a park with fields and play structures set along the Merrimac River. We explored the park a little bit (Gracin really likes the swings there) before heading inside to have some dinner (Rhys’ famous homemade pizza). Then, we had a glow-in-the-dark party with some glow sticks that Jo had brought.  

All four of us had fun reading Gracin a bedtime story. Then, afterwards, we had a good long talk with our friend, Camie, before retiring to bed. A big wind and rain storm came through that night, so we didn’t get the best sleep. But, it was sunny by morning. After Gracin had a quick trip to urgent care (tick bite!), we all headed into the downtown area of Newburyport.

We started at the Tannery Marketplace, which has taken some old buildings (that were once a tannery) and turned them into local shops. We visited a great bookstore called Jabberwocky and a toy store as well. (Rhys’ uncle wrote a book about being a spy in the CIA, and they carried it in the local author’s section of the store.) There were restaurants, a home goods store, a dance studio, a bike shop, and many more! It was nice to see so many thriving small businesses. And, it’s really cool when old, interesting buildings get repurposed.  

We moved on, deciding to take the car to park a bit closer to the heart of downtown. We walked along Waterfront Park from the parking lot, where the Merrimac River begins to empty out into the ocean.  

Next, we searched for, you guessed it, coffee!!!! There were many great coffee shops in this city. Rhys took us toward where he had remembered Plum Island Coffee Roasters being; near the water. But, we found out they had closed. Then, later we found them again in a different location. It turns out, they merged with a cafe called “Souffle” and are now roasting beans again! We were delighted to see this as we had read about their closure (due to a greedy developer – and we know all about that 😦 ). It sounds like the town really rallied and fought to keep them open on the waterfront, but they did not win. So, when we found them in a shop located on Market Square, Jo grabbed some of their beans to go. Between these times, we stopped at another coffee shop called Battlegrounds Coffee (a veteran-owned coffee shop and roaster) for an actual cup of coffee. Their coffee was quite good!!!  

Next, we searched for, you guessed it, coffee!!!! There were many great coffee shops in this city. Rhys took us toward where he had remembered Plum Island Coffee Roasters being; near the water. But, we found out they had closed. Then, later we found them again in a different location. It turns out, they merged with a cafe called “Souffle” and are now roasting beans again! We were delighted to see this as we had read about their closure (due to a greedy developer – and we know all about that 😦 ). It sounds like the town really rallied and fought to keep them open on the waterfront, but they did not win. So, when we found them in a shop located on Market Square, Jo grabbed some of their beans to go. Between these times, we stopped at another coffee shop called Battlegrounds Coffee (a veteran-owned coffee shop and roaster) for an actual cup of coffee. Their coffee was quite good!!! 

Right in the center of town is a playground for kids! Rhys said that when he was young, it was a bit dangerous. There was a rolling log that kids would try to stand upon but would inevitably fall off. But, now it is safer, and Gracin enjoyed some time on the structure.  

Then, we hopped back in the car, and Rhys drove us to Plum Island, an 11-mile barrier island that is part of Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, and Ipswich. It was a very windy day, and we hopped out of the car to see some pretty intense waves! These were the biggest waves that we have ever seen in MA!  

The Town of Newbury:

After a late lunch back at the Airbnb, we said goodbye to our friends 😥 and headed back to Plum Island to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge to walk the Hellcat Boardwalk Trail. It was a well-marked and well-maintained boardwalk that let you see all the features of this amazing place – the ocean, forested wetlands, and marsh. We would love to come back when all the beach plums bloom. (After all this is how Plum Island got its name!)

Then we drove the entire stretch of land to the end at Sandy Point. Along the way, we saw a bit of wildlife. We saw a beautiful great egret. Notice its black legs! We also saw a turkey and a turtle crossing the road. 

We parked at Sandy Point and walked on the beach for a bit. It was beautiful, with late-afternoon light, smooth rocks, and soft sand. The part of the beach to our left was temporarily closed for the nesting season of the piping plover. We can’t wait to see those little ones emerge soon!

We then headed into the town of Newbury. Our GPS took us to the wrong town hall, so a local pointed us in the right direction in the village of Byfield. Byfield? That isn’t on our map! Newbury is comprised of three distinct villages – Old Town (or Newbury Center, Byfield, and Plum Island). In the Old Town, we saw Old Town Church and the historic Coffin House built around 1678.  

We headed into Byfield to find the Town Hall and found out that it was located in a business park with a storage center and a fertility clinic! Some of the neighborhoods in Byfield were very rural and beautiful, with windy roads.

We also passed the “The Governor’s Academy” in Byfield, the oldest continuous boarding school in the United States. It was founded in 1763 by a grant in the will of William Dummer, an early governor of MA. In 2005, the school decided to change its name from the “Dummer Academy” so as not to deter students from enrolling! 

As the daylight was waning, we decided to call it a day. Today’s town visit was quite memorable, complete with friends, coffee, the ocean, blue skies, and much history!

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

Map Update- Quarter 3! (June 21-September 23)

2021 MA Town Visits 3rd Quarter Update: September 23, 2021.

LOOK HOW MUCH OUR MAP HAS CHANGED!

Hey friends and family! It has been just about 9 months since we began our mission of visiting every town in Massachusetts and we have rounded out this quarter with a sweet number: to date, we have visited 75 towns or cities plus… we have lived or worked in 10 towns or cities (those towns are colored in yellow on the map) so we really have 85 under our belts! Our secret goal is to make 100 visits by the end of 2021 and we think we are on par to attaining that goal.

This quarter started off a bit slower because, well, it was summer, and our schedules got a little busier with some other things. But we have had fun adventuring this quarter.

We’ve gone swimming, biking, gotten caught in the rain, hiked the highest peak in MA, reflected on some important US history, and picked some apples. All in all, we say it’s been a pretty good few months.

Please feel free to formally follow along by clicking the blue ‘follow us’ button on the site!

Keep exploring and discovering!

Dedham. June 12, 2021

Day/Date:  SATURDAY -6/12/21
Towns visited:  DEDHAM (next to Boston- settled in 1635)
Had you ever been to any of these towns before? Yes, briefly /No 
Drive to 1st town:  18 miles  (drive distance is calculated from Jo & Jenny’s home on the Watertown/Newton line)
Time spent in town(s):   3 1/2 hours

What did we do in the town/area?  
DEDHAM: 
As Jo had just received a phone call and set up a job interview at Fazenda Coffee (yay!), Jenny thought this would be a good day to visit the town of Dedham so that we could get an idea of where it is located (in prep for showing up for my interview next week!). 
It was a Saturday, so the Fazenda building was closed and the gate was locked up but we noted the locale and snapped a few pics of the industrial area. A very large industrial building right behind the Fazenda space had several Amazon trucks docked in the bays, so we assumed (and later confirmed), that the building was mostly used by Amazon.

As we proceeded toward the downtown area, we drove past both Dedham High School and Dedham Middle school which were actually, located on the same street. As we were turning off of that street, we noticed an old building that looked historic- so we pulled off to the side of the road and got out for a look. It turns out that this was ‘The Fairbanks House’.- “the oldest surviving timber-framed house in North America” (built between 1636-1641). This building is a nationally registered historic landmark.

Dedham is the ‘county seat’ for Norfolk county (a county that consists of 23 towns and 5 cities, including some of the towns that we have already “visited’ such as Sharon, Wellesley, Brookline, Needham, and Medfield). County seat just means that all of the administrative offices for county business-like things such as courts, and registry buildings are all located in the town.  When we rolled into the downtown area of Dedham, we noted a very large courthouse and other stately buildings that we had not yet seen in other MA town downtown areas so it did feel different. Also, there were weird-looking parking meters that we hadn’t seen before. They were kind of space-age-y looking. Anyway, as we walked along the downtown area, we saw some of the typical downtown churches amongst a small green. We also saw an old Community center called the Dedham Community house. Jenny noted that she thought they had a pool- which we poked around looking for but couldn’t see. According to the website, “the purpose in forming this charitable, nonprofit association was twofold: to preserve the historic mansion built in the Bulfinch design in 1795, and to provide a recreational center for the people of Dedham and the vicinity.”. That’s cool.

From here, we headed towards our outdoorsy destination of Wilson Mtn. Reservation for a short hike.  The Wilson Mountain Reservation is  the largest open space in the town of Dedham.  This was a nice 3 mile hike that offered a moderate climb (over many roots) up to the top of the “mountain,” a beautiful pine section, a lot of mountain laurel lining the path, and even a marshy part where the Boy Scouts had recently built a wooden foot bridge.  For being so close to Boston, this was a really nice hike. 

Our next destination was Mill Pond park- a site honoring Mother Brook- a man-made stream that flows between the Charles River and the Neponset River. It was originally built to try and divert water from the Charles River to the brook to help power a mill but, now it serves as part of a flood-control system. There seems to be a storied history to this place that includes towns fighting over how much water should flow and who gets to benefit from the water source. 

Anyway, while we were there at the brook, we saw these two young men (maybe high-school boys) fishing on the bridge. When we asked them if they’ve caught anything, they said, yeah, probably 10 or so, so far. Then, they offered to let us watch them catch one right now. “We catch ‘em quick”, one of the proclaimed. So, they baited up their hook with a worm. The first attempt was a failed one, due to some leaves clogging up the hook, so we told them that we were going to go see the fish statue while they dealt with that. “We’ll come up there and show you if we catch one before you get back” one yelled out. “Okay!” we replied, loving their spirit. We headed over to the fish sculpture and super small land area near the banks of the brook where many geese and ducks were gathered hoping for bread crumbs from kids. Not 5 minutes later, here come the two boys with a fish hanging off their rod. “Told ya, we’d get one quick!”, he said. We talked with them a little more and told them about our town visits. They said they were from  nearby Hyde Park (a Boston neighborhood) but liked to come down here to fish. 

So sweet.

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