Today is Labor Day in the US, a final summer holiday to relax and have some fun. Today’s adventure bought us to The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut. For the second summer (at least), the aquarium has hosted an outdoor butterfly exhibit known as the Flutter Zone. Step inside and spend some time with our fluttery friends. Here is a handful that gave me a chance to work with the fine manual focus control on my Lumix DMC-FZ1000. I’m starting to get the hang of it.
I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures. My kids and I had a great time and will look forward to the exhibit returning next summer.
Sometimes you have a gem sitting in plain sight and you don’t realize it. This was the case with setting sail for an afternoon of assisted fishing on the Long Island Sound from Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
For those unfamiliar with the area, the Sound is the body of water between Connecticut and the north shore of Long Island, New York. It is such a popular recreational boating and fishing area that Bass Pro Shop opened a store in Bridgeport that allows access from the rear of the store to the water. Buy your new boat and pilot it home, I guess.
We didn’t do that. Instead, we paid our way onto the Middlebank II, a private fishing boat that leaves from Captain’s Cove. With the crew’s help, we were pulling in fish all afternoon.
I’m not a fisherman, but my wife and kids like it, so I went along and, of course, bought my camera. We were treated to perfect weather and a spectacular sunset on the way back to port. If you want to try your hand at salt water fishing, give it a try. I’m sure we will be back.
I’m keeping it simple for Saturday. Behold the Least Sandpiper. Has there ever been a less inspiring name? Where is the Most Sandpiper? The Biggest Baddest Sandpiper. I captured this little bird hanging out in Stratford, Connecticut this morning. Identifying it took a bit because there are many species of Sandpipers. Enjoy!
The Appalachian Trail zigs and zags its way from Georgia to Maine (for the north-bounders), or from Maine to Georgia for the rare SOBOs, and a little piece makes it through Connecticut. Cutting a path through the northwest corner of the state, it includes the two high points – literally, the highest points in the state – just south of the Massachusetts border.
If you want to see both, and it is well worth the trip, try this path. Park on Bunker Hill Road in Salisbury, CT. There is a small parking lot just past a large house on the right side of the road. The trail head is in the parking lot. Take the blue blaze route up the hill until you catch the iconic white-blazed AT. From there it is a short walk to the first overlook: Lion’s Head. It is a wonderful place to take a break and survey the landscape below.
This cell-phone snap does not do the view justice. Still, you might get the hint of what you will experience for yourself.
After some time enjoying that view, head north to Bear Mountain. It’s a bit more than two miles away, but well worth the effort. I am not going to spoil the moment by sharing too much, but here is another cell phone snap shot.
As you can see, it was a bit more gray as the day got later. That’s why the real camera stayed home and we have to settle for phone pics. The rain came, and in a big way.
Here is something else you should know. Should you decide to cross into Massachusetts as we did, you will be facing a treacherous descent down the north side of Bear Mountain. It requires careful maneuvering on the way down and some hands-and-feet scramble on the way back up. If you see the below sign, you made it down alive. Now you just have to climb back up and walk the 5+ miles back to your car.
All told, our walk from the car, about 1/2 mile into Massachusetts, and back was about 10.5 miles. Turn around at the Bear Mountain summit and you will be at about 9.
PS: Happy trails to Music Box and Snorlax, a NOBO couple on their way to Maine. Maybe we will see you at Katahdin in October.
Ospreys in flight over Ellisville Harbor State Park in Plymouth
Bug Light off Plymouth
The Mayflower II
One of MANY whales spotted during our Captain John’s Whale Watching cruise
Plymouth Light getting a fly-by
Working lobster boat off Plymouth
One of the chickens running aroung the English village at Plimoth Plantation
The English village seen from atop the meetinghouse at Plimoth Plantation
Golden sunset off Manomet Beach
Plymouth, Massachusetts offers more than enough to keep one busy for a week or more. We visited Plimouth Plantation, the Mayflower II, and, of course, Plymouth Rock. The highlight of our week was the four-hour Captain John’s Whale Watch. If you even thinking about it, go! We saw so many whales exhibiting every feeding behavior of the humpback species. Everywhere we looked off of Provincetown, there where whales feeding and sleeping and, it appeared, showing off for their visitors. Pictures don’t suffice; you must see it for yourself.
Plimouth Plantation is also worth at least two hours. The Wampanoag Native Americans where so knowledgeable and eager to share their culture. Engage in conversation to learn how they lived in harmony with the land and in sync with the seasons over the past 10,000+ years. The English village actors are equally engaging, though in a different way. I won’t spoil it for you. Explore and discover it for yourself.
Wampanoag dugouts require weeks of burning and scraping
There was a wicked storm to the north on Saturday evening, but it was still sunny here.
Manomet Beach is on Cape Cod Bay, located just above Cape Cod in Massachusetts. We started off with a windy night on Saturday (24 July 2016). The storms ripped through to the north, but we got in on the action with intense winds and a near 30 degree drop in temperature. It went from hot and humid to, “Where is the blanket?” Sunday morning was gorgeous.
A butterfly working that last of the summer flowers.
Draggonfly. There were plenty.
Walk slowly and you will see the frogs.
The granite boulder that looks improbable.
Burr Pond State Park in Connecticut offers an opportunity to spend a full day of swimming, hiking, and firing up the grill. During our walk on July 16, 2016 we took it slow; it was more of a nature walk than a hike.
The loop around the pond is under three miles, but there is plenty to see. Fauna is abundant. Flora (or flowers, at least), in mid-July…not so much.
If you visiting during the summer month, pack a lunch or a cooler (no alcohol) for a BBQ. Hike. Kyack. Swim. Enjoy the respite from the daily grind and find your own frog!
Looking up at Stone Mountain from the Hutchinson Homestead
The home is gone, but the chimnet remains near Cedar Ridge
Part of the Hutchinson Homestead below Stone Mountain
Erosion on Cedar Ridge
Wolf Rock Vista
Nearly every day over the past weeks, we have all been inundated with horrible news. Dozens dead in Orlando. A maniac with a truck wipes out scores of lives in Nice. Cops shot. It’s enough to make one want to give up, or at least head to the woods for a while.
Yesterday’s Time magazine arrived on schedule. (Yes, we are still old-school paper in the mailbox for this and a few other mags.) In it was a wonderful article called “The Healing Power of Nature.” If you are like me, you spend a lot of time in the woods. I try to get out there at least once a week; it is restorative and peaceful and makes me feel like I have had time off. Maybe this Time piece explains it. Maybe it’s the majesty of creation. Whatever it is, I like being there, discovering new jaw-dropping vistas, and looking back on my photos.
This brings me to my motivation for this and future blogs. I am simply going to share my pictures and a few comments on the walk. My goal, as humble as it might be, is to inspire you to get out there. If you can’t – maybe you are a city dweller or are physically limited or have some other good reason – the pictures can still help you decompress.
Enjoy. Breathe. Be.
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Stone Mountain State Park in North Carolina is a place one can spend days enjoying. We had just a few hours, enough to make the ride worthwhile, and also enough to make us want to go back for more. The three most interesting features we saw were Wolf Rock, Cedar Ridge, and the Hutchinson Homestead. If you see nothing else, go to these areas of the park. The climbs are moderate, and the Homestead, which also gives you a great view of Stone Mountain, is accessible to those using wheelchairs. You can (though we didn’t) drive right up.