Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Things I am Thankful for

Me, thankful my bike ride was over
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!
Every year at Thanksgiving I do a post of things I am thankful for that are outdoors related. Honestly, I love doing this post. It is a way to look back relive fun memories. I get to think about the past ten months and be thankful of things I might have taken for granted. So without further ado...

1. I am thankful of the best carp month I have ever seen. During a week in May, I heard of over twenty carp over twenty pounds caught by seven or eight guys. I got quite a few myself including a personal best 28 pounder.

2. I am thankful for the relaxing weekend Laurie and I spent in western MA. We hit four museums in Springfield, the Norman Rockwell Museum and Golden Corral.

3. The single most fun day of the year was going to the Baseball Hall of Fame with DJ in March. We had a terrific day.

4. I am thankful for ridge hikes above timberline. There is nothing like walking two miles and being on top of the world. There is no place in the world I am happier.

5. I am thankful my friend Eric took me on his boat. We had a fun time. He asked me to go many times more, but our schedule never quite seemed to match up again. None the less, it was awesome.

6. I am probably most thankful that for most of the summer I was in shape enough to enjoy my hikes. Hiking is so much more fun when you are not sucking wind. My hikes were awesome. I completely fell in love with hiking for the first time in years.

7. I am thankful I found outdoor hobbies for the winter. Between ice fishing and striper fishing, I still get to be at the water. Throw in hiking in "pocket wildernesses" near home, and a couple museums I want to visit winters fly by.

8. I am thankful for my fishing buddy Dave. I can't stress enough how
 much he has taught me and how much fun I have fishing with him.

9. Albies, plain and simple, the greatest fish I have ever caught.

10. New Hampshire, all of it above Concord.

11. Speaking of Concord, I am thankful to visit the site the Revolutionary War's first battle.  There are so many things to do in Concord. My favorite town in Massachusetts

12. I am always thankful and never take for granted I live in the greatest country in the world. A country that I not only have the freedom to do what I want, but also public access to some truly great places for all of us to discover.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Art of Lunch

Up until two or three years ago, I never realized how much more enjoyable my outdoor adventures could be if I brought a lunch with me. Usually I would fish a few hours then eat something when I got home. Quite often I'd forget I was even hungry for most of the day.

When I would climb a mountain, we would bring a lunch with us and eat it at the summit. Trust me when I tell you food tastes amazing after a four hour hike uphill. I looked forward to eating as much as I looked forward to the view.

I never had this cross over to other outdoor pursuits. Just over the last couple years, I bring lunch on fishing trips and daytrips. I think bringing a lunch enhances the experience. Bringing a lunch opens up options. First off, you don't need to leave whatever you are doing when you get hungry. You can stay as long as you want without worry of your stomach growling. Second, by bringing a lunch, you can eat anything you want instead of being dependent on whatever is in the area. Also, by bringing a lunch, your more likely to eat healthier than if you stop at a fast food joint.

In general, I bring a couple sandwiches with me and some fruit. I started eating healthier over the last six months than I used to.  I love fruit, so I snack on it all day. I'm pretty cheap, so I usually but bananas and apples. If strawberries are on sale in the spring, I may spring for them.

For sandwiches, I usually bring one with sandwich meat like roast beef and turkey. They hold up pretty well. Sometimes I am the mood for tuna. If I make tuna, I make the sandwiches on site. I'll bring the tuna in a container and wrap the bread. Soggy bread is a pet peeve of mine.  Other food I have brought for lunch include leftovers from the night  before and Chef Boyardee.

As I mentioned, I usually bring fruit as a "side dish" Other sides I have brought with me include candy bars, cookies, cans of fruit such as mandarin oranges, and pudding cups. Bring whatever you like.

Just the other day, I bought a thermos. I do not have much experience bringing hot foods with me. However on these winter hiking trips, a nice hot chocolate when I get back to the car is welcome warmth. I may but another thermos so I can have one for hot drinks and another for hot meals. Options there include soup, hot dogs in hot water ( a friend of mine did this for a fishing trip this spring and they were great). If I put my mind to it, I'm going to come up with other hot food ideas that I can store in a thermos.

When I go on a hike and bring lunch on my back, I usually bring foods that hold up pretty well fruit such as apples are less likely to turn soft than bananas. Cans of spaghetti-o's although heavy come with me a lot. I have no problem eating them cold, but some people think that is disgusting.  Remember to either bring cans with pop off lids or bring a can opener.

 Now a days, plastic containers to protect sandwiches are all the rage. They work well, but I find bread will still get stale if I don't wrap them in a sandwich baggie anyway. I also use deli meat containers for the same protection for my sandwiches.I am not a huge fan of flattened sandwiches so I make sure to keep them protected in my backpack.

I really enjoy eating lunch on an all day fishing trip or even when I am driving between spots hiking. Although lunch is not the highlight of the day when fishing is great, but it does make all trips that much better. If food is an after thought to you or you usually end up up at McDonalds, it might be worth a few minutes at the grocery store buying and planning a meal you will actually enjoy. Your meal will most likely be cheaper than if you ate out. It could be as healthy or as bad for you as you want it to be. Either way, it will be food you like

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA

The Post cover Rockwell did of JFK
Over the summer my good buddy Laurie and I went on a quick getaway to western Massachusetts. We hit a couple museums in Springfield, the Golden Corral and the Norman Rockwell Museum. The day we went to the Rockwell Museum, admission was free because they participated in the free museum Friday over the summer. As you can imagine, it was pretty crowded. Normal admission is $17.50 for an adult

The museum sits on a really nice property. There are two main buildings. One is the main museum. The other is a short walk to his studio. The studio that Rockwell worked at was in downtown Stockbridge. It was moved to this property when the museum bought it.

 The main museum has two floors. The bottom is a collection of all the covers he did for the Post, there are hundreds. The top floor is a collection of his works. This was one place that I knew I was in the presence of greatness. I really admired all the paintings. Of special note were the famous "Four Freedoms" they are the Freedom of Speech, Religion, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. They are in a central room. There are many other paintings, too many to count, some are quite funny as Rockwell really had a sense of humor.

I spent quite a few minutes taking pictures of the Post  that Rockwell did of my hero JFK. I wanted to get a perfect shot of it. This is tougher than it would seem because of glares, reflection and the dimensions. I took at least twenty pictures of it, but when my phone crapped out, I lost them all.

If you are into art, I highly suggest you take some time to visit this museum. Not only was Rockwell one of the best and most famous artists in American, he was also one of the most prolific. 

Mini Post- Little Things #1

I decided the other day, that I am going to do some mini posts on the blog. They are going to be about "little " pleasures in life. They won't be long. Most probably won't have pictures. I will write them whenever I have a cool experience not really worth writing about but cool to me. I might write about them five days in a row or not for five weeks. I am going to number them as I go, for no other reason than to go back and relive them. If you are a frequent visitor to this blog, you must be interested in fishing, hiking or history so hopefully you enjoy them. Feel free to share any of your favorite "little things" in the comments section.

#1 Thursday night I ate a little too much supper. I ate enough where I couldn't go for a run about 7 pm because it wasn't digested. It didn't mind because it was really cold, windy and I was being lazy. As the night went on, feeling lazy turned into feeling like a fat ass. The later it got the guiltier I felt about overeating. So at 9:45 almost roboticly I put on my sneakers and started stretching. I went outside and started my run. The air was cold and dry. The northwest wind blowing 26 degree air into my lungs made it tough to catch my breath.

After a short time, I warmed up of course. I was sweating under my winter hat but my nose was freezing. In short at 10:30 at night, I was not having fun and could not wait for my four mile run to be over.

With about ten minutes left into my run, I jogged into one of the darker areas of my neighborhood. I looked up into the sky and for the first time this winter I saw an old friend. High up in my southeast was Orion. He was bright. His belt shined bright as did the star in his front foot Betelgeuse. I was so mesmerized by the constillation, I forgot I was simutaniously hot and cold. I forgot I was sucking wind and my knees were hurting. I forgot all that and was happy to be outside with my old friend. For the rest of the run, I just staired into the sky looking at the sword, shield and belt in the bright stars. It was that little thing, a constilation that has been in the heavens for millions of yesrs that made my night worth it.. the little things

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Noanet Woodlands

Iceciles on the dam

DJ standing over Noanet Brook
This is the stream that ran the Iron Mill

After a lunch and some hot chocolate, DJ went across the street from Powisset Farm to Noanet Woodlands. This forest is also owned by the Trustees of Reservations. It is a large area covering 595 acres. There are 17 miles of trails. We knew that here, we could finally stretch our legs and get some hiking in. There are a couple of really cool things to see in these woods.

The first is Noanet Hill itself. It is not real big but there is an east facing view towards the Boston skyline. Besides looking towards Bosron, there is commanding view of the area. It is all hardwoods so the leaves are all brown now, but what it must have looked like a month ago!

A view from my perch on the summit
Even more interesting are the ruins of an old iron mill. All that is left is the water storing dam and the foundation. Apparently, there used to be a water wheel that powered the mill that was the largest in New England and maybe the country. There is signage with info about the mill. I thought it was fascinating. Behind the dam are four or five water storing ponds. I liked the area very much. We didn't see any deer, but being close to Boston the scenery made up for it.

A Cedar Tree at the Summit

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two Parks not Really worth it this time of Year

Thursday, DJ and I set off for another day of hiking. We went to three places we had never been to
One of the big white pines at Elm Bank

before.DJ worked the night before so he didn't get much sleep. He was willing to go anyway so I hoped it would be worth it to him to get up early.

 The first that we went to was the Elm Bank Reservation off Route 16 in Wellesley. Of the three, this was the one I was most looking forward too. I am a member of "Massbird" an email club that members post about bird watching. Elm Bank is mentioned a  lot. The park is 182 acres. Unfortunately some of that land is soccer fields, parking lots and the MA Horticultural Society has their headquarters there. So there is not a lot of trails to hike. We did find one nice trail that ran along the banks of the Charles River for about 1/2 mile. Along the trail were some huge oaks and white pines. I liked the trail a lot. It just wasn't very long. There is a lot of paths and paved roads making it a great place to jog or walk a dog. But for a hike, it was a little disappointing. Though in spring, with migrating birds, the fishing in the river and warm weather, I can see it being very popular. The weirdest thing we saw was a canoe going down river without anyone in it. There wasn't any sign of anyone following it or trying to capture it.

The second place we went was even more disappointing. We went to Powisset Farm in Dover. The farm is owned by the Trustees of Reservations. A private group that protects open land, sort of like the Audubon Society. The farm is a "working farm" over 100 acres. They have livestock, hayfields and vegetables gardens. I obviously did not expect to see the garden in all its glory this time of year. I did think there would be trails through meadows and hayfields. Maybe there are, but all we saw was the main area and some chickens. This would be a fun place to go in spring and summer with little baby animals and a huge garden. It is open to the public, but again, for hiking it was lacking.
Charles River

Exploring new places, I expect to find places that disappoint. I except this as part of the game. Later in the day we found Noanet Woodlands that was really nice. Last week I hit it two for two with Cutler Park and Wilson Mountain, but I want to share places with you guys that might not be worth the time also.

Lonely canoe going downstream

Chickens at Powisset Farm

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cutler Park, Needham/ Dedham/ Boston

The biggest cat tail marsh I have ever seen
My second destination last Saturday was so close to my first I didn't even get up to speed on the
highway. I went to Cutler Park. Directions are as easy as Wilson Mountain. Get off Route 128 at Exit 18 (Great Plain Ave) towards Dedham. The small parking area will be a couple hundred yards down on the left. This park is large (600 acres) and can also be accessed from other points including Kendrick Street.

As stated above, this park is large. I did the big loop trail called the Heron Trail which has to be near 8 miles. I misjudged the length of it. I started my walk just past 1 pm, I didn't get back to my car until it was almost dark at 4:30. I really didn't stop and walked at a fairly quick pace. If you decide to do this loop, give yourself ample time.

Also of note, the trail is hard to follow when you come to Millenium Park. I guessed right, but for a time, I did not know if I was going the right way. Also there was some road walking on the VFW Parkway, Route 135 and Needham Street. I knew I would have to road walk doing this loop. There are plenty of shorter trails that did not require road walking in Boston.

My highlight here was seeing three deer, however none of them wanted their picture taken and I saw the big white flag flying in the air as they bounded away. a large part of the park is cat tail marsh, so I would bet during spring and summer, it is loaded with birds.

Just doing a Google search will quickly get for Cutler Park will easily get you to the website of Cutler Park. From there you can download a trail map and read other important info, I suggest you have a charged battery on your phone if you use it to read the trail map. I started my hike at 42% battery life and reached my car just before dark with only 8%, and I needed the map to negotiate the side roads  I was walking on. It was a little hairy.

Tunnel under the commuter rail
The rail line cuts the park in half

The Charles River
I lover that dirty water!

Kendrick Pond, I bet those hardwoods in the background were
beautiful a month ago