Sunday, August 30, 2015

An Interview with my friend Matt Craig- Concert Guru Part 1

Matt Craig in the middle with Ronnie James Dio and
his band
The people that I have the most respect for are those that have passion and hobbies. These are the people I find to be the most interesting. Obviously, I am fanatical about fishing and hiking. If I meet someone that knows more about fishing than me, or hiked places  I haven't hiked, I'm most likely going to ask a million questions and learn what I can from them. However, I find people interesting when I do not have the same hobbies as them. Sometimes, I enjoy talking to them more, because I can learn so much or have my eyes opened up to something I know nothing about.

The people that I just do not understand are those that spend their life as workaholics and those that spend it in misery. Those people that stay in bad marriages and those that don't do anything to make their life happier, I do not comprehend. It's as if they think we get a "do over" if this life doesn't work out. As I said, the people that I most respect, live life to the fullest. They are passionate about something. It doesn't matter to me if that something is building ships in a bottle or extreme sports. Matt Craig is passionate about live music. He is also a huge sports fan. He loves the Celtics, and Providence College Men's basketball team and goes to many of their games. As I said, he lives life to the fullest. Although I love sports and go to some Friars games also, his love of live music is what most interested me.

That is why I asked Matt Craig if I could interview him for my blog. Matt has been to around 800 concerts! He is a lover of music, it is safe to say going to concerts is something he lives for. I met Matt in seventh grade. He was the first person I became friends with in Junior High that was not in my elementary school. Even back then, he was writing all over his book covers in the "font" of the bands he liked. I remember it clear as day his covers would covered in band names. Matt knew the names of members of many of his favorite bands. To this day about the only band I can name all the
members of is Motley Crue. 
Matt and two friends with Kings X

I asked Matt if I could interview him because, if someone goes to that many shows, they are bound to have gained a lot of knowledge. As I said, I enjoy learning about things I know nothing about. I'm sure Matt knows the  best venues, best acts, and has loads of personal stories to tell . I assume that if I find it interesting other people might as well.  

Doing this post was a fun "project." Usually, I do a day trip or go fishing  and write about it. This post took a little thought. I sent Matt  a series of questions, he would answer them in a day or two and I'd send him a few more. Then I asked him for some pictures. I didn't want to overwhelm him with hundreds of questions in case he was only agreeing to answer them as a favor to me. I have to say, it was refreshing to do this post. Instead of writing about myself or telling "my story" I get to hear about someone else's experiences and write about it. So a big thank you to Matt Craig for taking the time out his day (more than once) to answer my questions. 

Before I begin, I have to apologize about one thing, a lot of the questions I asked him required only one word answers (such as how many concerts have you gone to this year, or favorite venue) I am hoping to get more "stories" in Part 2 of the interview

1.Do you keep track of how many concerts you have been  to? If so do you know how many? I keep a journal of many lists such as daytrips, movies, books I have read, I thought there was a good chance Matt keeps track of concerts for the same reason, to help keep the memories organized.

I do keep track. I have giant notebooks binders with all the info including dates,venues,bands,setlists.

 My 1st show was 11/19/88 to most recent one last Saturday. How many not sure rough estimate probably @800

2. How many shows have you been to this year?
25 so far this year but have many more scheduled

3. What's your favorite large venue?
.Dunkin Donuts Center. Its local and easy to get in and out of

4. What's you favorite small venue?
Twin River Event Center and Showcase Live

5. What's your least favorite venue and why?
TD Garden

As far as TD Garden Its too big and getting in and out of that building can be frustrating. Plus I'm not a fan of going into Boston unless I have to

6. Who have you seen the most times?
Dream Theater 21 times

7. When we were growing up Matt was taunted by his best friends for being Stryper's biggest fan. Stryper is a Christian rock band. Is Stryper still your favorite band?
Dream Theater #1 but Stryper is a close #2

8. Who is your favorite that came out since 2000?

Did you see Nirvana? 
Never saw Nirvana but have seen Foo Fighters 3 times and did Krist Novoselic once

10. Did you see any other iconic people that died?
Unfortunately a lot. Ronnie James Dio, Dimebag Darrell, Peter Steele, Chris Squire, Jon Lord, Kevin DuBrow, Jeff Hanneman, Billy Powell, Leon Wilkinson, John Entwistle, Davy Jones, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, Paul Baloff. There may be more but that's all I could think of.

11.What is the farthest you have ever gone to a concert?
Farthest ever was new Yankee Stadium in 2011 for Big 4 show (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax

( I have to give Matt big props for this, Can you imagine being surrounded by 50,000 Yankee fans. Sounds awful)

12.Have you ever flown specifically to go to a concert?
2)Never flown to a show

13/14 I know you have met a lot of famous people, who spent the most time talking and caring about their fans?
Do you recall any conversations with any rockers that got to the point of "getting to know you" talk?

As far as musicians I've met some of the nicer more fan friendly ones were Michael Sweet (Stryper), Dug Pinnick (Kings X), Jerry Only (Misfits), Scott Ian (Anthrax) and Chris Jericho.

Matt sent this a few days later-
 I failed to mention that the absolute nicest guy I met is the late great Ronnie James Dio in 2004

15. I hesitate to ask if anyone was a dick because anyone can have a bad day. You never know if someone just found out their girlfriend cheated on them right before a Meet and Greet, but did anyone leave a bad taste?

 I can't say anyone was a dick or a jerk.Most of my experiences were positive.

16. I'm curious about Davy Jones
I saw Davy Jones when he and Mickey Dolenzwere performing as The Monkees featuring Mickey & Davy. Fun show btw 

17. I'm thinking about going to see Meatloaf at Twin River. I'm guessing you have seen him. Give me a concert review before I go. How long does he play? Is he passionate or just go through the motions? Does the crowd get into it? Does he include the crowd.. I'll take anything you got

Answer_ I'm not a fan of Meatloaf. I like a few songs but would never pay to see him so I cant help with any additional info on him

Matt is right. I looked up tickets. He is playing at Twin River in November. The cheap seats are $80. I am not paying that to hear "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" and "Two outta Three Ain't Bad"

I know that many of you reading this clicked on it because you are friends with Matt and never have been to my outdoor blog. However, I have a request, if you have any questions for Matt such as a review of an artist, or any other question, could you put that question in my comments section instead of asking him personally or on Facebook? Chances are if it is of interest to you, it probably would to me and his other friends also. I will include it in the questions for Part 2. 

Thank you for reading.

Doyle Wolfgang Von Frankenstein from Misfits
I'm guessing you can figure which one he is

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Outer Cape- This should be on your bucket list!!!

For the last three days Laurie and I have been at the ocean. I wasn't getting much time off this summer, so we planned a quick three day vacation. We left early Wednesday morning and came home Friday afternoon. We started our trip off with a whale watch and ended it with some birding with a whole lot of fun thrown in.

The whale watch was out of Plymouth but the rest of the time was spent out on the Outer Cape. I have to admit, I am surprised by how pretty the scenery was. I knew and expected miles of beaches. I didn't expect the diversity of other habitats like beech forests and miles of vegetated sand dunes. I completely misjudged how incredible it is out there. I would highly recommend everyone take a trip to the outer Cape. You don't have to do the things I did, but there is is much to do I think you would find a trip with a little research highly rewarding.

Whale Watch

The whale's fin is white but because of all
the plants in the water it glows a bright green
We took our whale watch out of Plymouth at Captain John's boat. Whale Watch's can also be taken from Boston and Provincetown that go to the same place, Stellwagon Bank. Our trip departed Plymouth Harbor at 9 am. It cost 45 dollars (plus tax) for an adult. The trip out to the bank lasts about an hour. I have been on whale watches before, but not for a few years. All summer, I have been hearing reports of amazing whale activity. I was hoping to see some breaching. We didn't see any breaches, but he were really close to some humpbacks. They came right next to the boat, sometimes within a few feet. We had some really good looks at about five whales (including a mother and a calf). On our way back to the dock, the ocean exploded with whales and we could see blow holes everywhere, but we couldn't stop to see them. I really had a good time.

Nickerson State Park Camping

We stayed at Nickerson State Park in Brewster on Wednesday and Thursday nights. After we left the whale watch we headed over the Sagamore Bridge en route to Brewster. From the bridge, it's 40 minutes to the campground. We had reservations at Area 7 (there are actually seven camping areas
We had the beach to ourselves at Cliff Pond
spread out in this huge park). Area 7 is near Higgins Pond, a trout pond I haven't fished yet. Our site was flat and near the bathroom. All was quiet Wednesday night. Since it is dark around 8 pm, there isn't a lot to do. Happily everyone was quiet sans a few car doors slamming. Thursday, not so much, one camper had a radio blaring until almost 10:30.  After that, all was quiet.

The state park has evening programs at the Amphitheater almost every night . Wednesday the program was about mammals but we were out (see below) Thursday it was about African drumming and we did not go.

Nickerson has many "beaches" in the Kettle Ponds. We went for a swim on Thursday night. We went to Big Cliff Pond about 5 pm. To my surprise, no one was swimming at all ( a guy and his grand daughter came for a swim after we got into the water). The water was warm and clear. I could see about six feet down with my snorkel and mask.

I believe camping cost MA residents $22 a night. I think it's pretty good deal. It comes with use of a huge state park that has swimming, biking, hiking, campfire programs and fishing. Also its location is second to none being close to beaches, Chatham and very well centered in the middle of the Cape.

First Encounter Beach sunset

One thing I was hoping to do, was squeeze in a sunset looking west over Cape Cod Bay. Happily, we had some free time on Wednesday night after we set up camp. I had scouted my map book for a west facing beach. First Encounter is named because it was where Pilgrims and Nauset Indians met. It was easy to get to off of Route 6. We were not the only people with this idea. A few others set up lawn chairs, some with a glass of wine to take in the view. It was well worth sitting around a few minutes. The setting sun put on a spectacular show. We watched it light up the sky as it sunk behind the horizon.

Provincelands Bike Trail

The view from the top of a hill on the bike trail faces
Race Point Light
I had read before how awesome the Provincelands bike trail was. I had read it is challenging going up and over dunes and that it was very pretty. I was still not prepared for the splendor of this trail. The trail goes through a beech forest and up and over dunes. It also has spur trails to a freshwater pond, Herring Cove Beach and Race Point Beach. This is now officially my favorite bike trail. It is hard, there are some very long uphills. However the tight turns, huge sand dunes, and the views from the top of some of the dunes make it all worth it. If you like bike riding, DO THIS TRAIL!!!It's only 5.4 miles to do the loop, but you can add on a couple more doing the spurs to the beaches. We went to Herring Cove Beach but not Race Point Beach. It is a nice beach facing west. There is a food shack and restrooms. Do this path!!!

Turns can be sharp and steep adding to the fun


Dogs were everywhere in Provincetown
Although this isn't my favorite kind of dog
it was the first dog I saw after I realized
I should get a picture of one
I don't care what your views are about gay marriage (For those of you that don't know P-town has a very large gay population), I am telling you right now, Commercial Street is one of the most fun streets in America. There is a lot of places to get food. P-town also has a large population of artists.. Many of which have galleries in shops on the street. I was more than happy to get a burger since we were hungry after doing our bike ride. I then got talked into a cupcake from Scott's Cupcakes, that is supposedly one of the best cupcakes in the country.

After that we walked around a bit looking at the art and the harbor. Commercial Street runs right along P-town harbor. Then we went to one place where we got a pina colada and a
Commercial Street is colorful.
Hope you like rainbows
Key Lime tart and ate it on the deck overlooking the harbor. Yeah, it was a Jimmy Buffett moment. We hung out in town for about four hours, bellies full we left (and went for the
swim mentioned above at Big Cliff)

A view of Provincetown Harbor

Friday morning birding

The Salt Pond Visitor Center had a bird walk scheduled for Friday morning.Since I like birds and
 Laurie wanted to keep the trip as low cost as possible, it was an easy decision to go birding. The walk started at the VC, but we quickly drove to a place called Doanes Rock. There is some upland habitat, a marsh, and finally the path comes out to Coast Guard Beach at the ocean. There wasn't much to see in the woods (nesting is over and songbirds migrate about a month from now)

However, shorebirds are migrating right now. There was quite a few in the marsh. We saw laughing gulls, Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Bellied Plovers, Dowitcher, Snowy and Graet Egrets, Great Blue Heron, and common sandpipers. We didn't see anything out of the ordinary, but good numbers of the more common shorebirds.

Out at the beach we didn't see any birds, but we saw plenty of seals. The ranger told me the Cape Cod
seal population has exploded to 15,000! We saw a few of them swimming right in the surf line at Coast Guard beach.

After that walk we went to the Welfleet Bay Audubon Sanctuary. I had never been there. There is a
five dollar fee for non-members. Laurie's feet hurt so we did the shortest trails to the ocean. This still resulted in a couple miles of walking. There is a large marsh that empties into the sea. We saw a couple good birds. We had a Whimbrel, a Dunlin, and I'm almost positive a Stilt Sandpiper. We had almost all the other shorebirds I named above also.

Bike Trails and the National Seashore

This area of the Cape has some of the best biking around. Besides the Provincelands trail there are miles of bike trails in the area. Nickerson State Park has miles of paved bike trails. The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs for 22 miles through the center of the Cape (you can pick it up at Nickerson among other places). There are shorter trails that leave the Salt Pond Visitor Center. Many trails lead to beaches that would otherwise have full parking lots.

As for the National Seashore, the best advice I can give you is to get a park newspaper. These can be
picked up at Vistor Centers. There is so much to do and see and it is all in the park newspaper. You could just spend every day at the beach, but you would be missing out on a lot of fun stuff. A list of ranger led activities and programs is in the paper. IT TAKES UP FOUR PAGES. Anything you could hope to do outdoors is available. From kayaking quiet marshes, to ranger led bike rides and hikes, there's something for everyone. Many programs are free ( like our bird walk) others cost money, but are very reasonable. It would be worth a few minutes  to pick up a park paper and see what programs are going on the days you are there.

So as you can see, I loved my time on the outer Cape. We got lucky with the weather, it was absolutely perfect. There was so much to do, I could have easily stayed the week. I plan on going back many times. My eyes were opened to an amazing area only ninety minutes from home. More pictures below.

A lighthouse on our whale watch

Protected Diamondback Terrapin (a sea turtle)
nest at Welfleet
Bay Sanctuary

The middle bird with a black smudge
on its chest is a Dunlin

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Having a lot of hobbies was a blessing yesterday

There is no question that I have a lot of interests. I love history, hiking, birding, fishing, sports, going to the movies, photography, and day tripping. I also like to snorkel in the summer, ice fish and snowshoe in the winter. I enjoy sporting events although I do not like paying the price of a ticket. So I mainly stick to Pawtucket Red Sox games, Wareham Gatemen (of the Cape Cod League) and Providence College basketball and hockey.

To make matters more complicated, as any fisherman can tell you, there are many types of fishing. A non fisher thinks fishing is fishing. However we all have our favorite species and methods. A guy with a bass boat may fish exclusively for largemouth and smallmouth. Some guys just chase the saltwater bass with seven lines. Some of those guys just use bait on the bottom, while others might be lure and eel fishermen I  enjoy chasing trout, carp and stripers. Those are my main interests. However, I also fish for freshwater bass, albies, catfish, hickory shad at some point throughout the year.

The point of all of this is...I keep busy having fun. That said at some points throughout the year, it just feels like there isn't enough time to do everything I want to do. Two examples would be May and September.

As I state every year, I love May. Although my definition of May" is roughly April 20- May 25, that six week time period is so much fun. That said, it goes by so quickly and I feel there just isn't enough time to do everything I want to get done. If I go fishing, it is usually for my big three ( carp, stripers, and trout) However, when I go fishing after getting out of work for one of those species, if I find out another species of fish were really biting I feel like I missed out and made a bad decision. I also love birding in May since it is migration. Birding is better in the a.m. than in the afternoon, and I work mornings. So I give up a lot of fishing trips on my day off to go birding.

I know it sounds like I'm complaining but it is a good problem to have. Like having too many starting pitchers or two really good quarterbacks, having too many things to do isn't a bad thing. I just wish I had more time in the spring to do them.

As for September, it's really about albies for me. Birding is really good in September and the weather can be perfect in New Hampshire. However, if the albies show up, I'll probably blow off the birds. I'd like to get to Wachusett Mountain where hawks can be seen by the hundreds, but I know I'll probably be on the West Wall. I'll probably go to NH at least once, but I know it won't be the second week of the month when albies seem to peak.

Where am I going with this? Having too many fun hobbies and not enough time can be a problem during certain times of the year (as I said a good problem, but a problem none the less). But having a lot of hobbies is a blessing in other parts of the year specifically summer and winter. If you only have one outdoor pursuit, things can get really slow. For example if your a surf fisherman in Rhode Island, in most years fishing can suck for three months of the summer (not so this year). What do these guys do?

Yesterday, August 21, was one of those days that it worked out for me. My plan was to go back to Plum Island and bird. However  I didn't check the weather. It was raining really hard when I got up. So I nixed those plans. Birding isn't very good in the rain. More importantly, although I don't mind the rain, my expensive equipment does.

So I thought about going carp fishing. I know a spot that fishes well in the rain. But the forecast called for clearing skies. I have never done well in that spot when the barometer is rising.

So I went with a plan C. Since it was going to be clear in the afternoon and tide was low about 6:30, I decided to go to Prudence Island and do some snorkeling. I took the 3:30 ferry over with my bike. I rode my bike over to a little cove on the northwest side of the island and snorkeled. The water was warm and it was fun to swim with the fish for three and a half hours. I did get bit by one crab and it hurt like hell, but I had a really good time.
 The cove was loaded with little baitfish. I was surrounded by them. They kept nibbling on me. The real small ones felt like non-stop little tickles. The ones that went five or six inches felt like a soft pinch. It was no big deal, but it does startle you when you get bit behind the knee. Swimming with thousands of little fish was a really cool experience, even though I was "attacked". I found a few quahogs and basically relaxed in the water the whole time I was there.

I took the 8:30 ferry home. It was completely dark on the trip back. I enjoyed looking at the stars as we made the three mile trip back across the bay to Bristol. What started out as a wasted day, turned out to be one of my favorite days of the summer, all because I had a backup plan

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA

Monet was famous for his water lily paintings.
Two hang in the French Impressionist room
Wednesday I hung out with my son in the first time in a month. We made plans to do something since it was one of his day's off and I could get out of work by 3 pm. I wanted him to decide what we did, that way he was guaranteed to have fun. If whatever he chose turned out to be boring, at least it would be on him. I didn't care what we did, it was just nice to have some father-son time with my 20 year old. 

I thought for sure he would want to do something active outside. I figured he'd plan a hike and possibly some food. To my surprise he suggested the Museum of Fine Art in Boston. The museum is free on Wednesday's after 4 pm ($20/ person normally) however they ask for a donation, which we gladly handed over a few dollars. 

We drove into Quincy and took the Red Line from Quincy Adams parking garage. We switched over to the Orange Line and got off in Chinatown. DJ knew of a little corner store that had delicious cheap pork rolls. I don't know how to describe them. They were warm buns about softball sized stuffed with some kind of pork and a sweet gravy. They were very good and $1.20 each. For both of us we had a total bill of seven dollars including our two drinks. From Chinatown we had a long walk to the MFA. I think part of DJ's master plan was to walk through Boston. It was a solid 2-3 miles to the MFA. We arrived there sometime around 5 pm.

Once we paid our donation we made a beeline to the French Impressionist, most notably Claude
A sculpture of Homer the writer of
the Iliad and Odyssey. Homer was blind and the sculpture
portrays that
Monet. Then we walked around the other European Art. We blew right through the Contemporary Art. Call me an art snob all you want, but when an "artist" throws a bunch of colors together and gives the work a fancy name that my son could have made at five years old, it does nothing for me.

The really cool thing about the art museum, is it is more than just paintings, it is history. There is a lot of Egyptian artifacts from mummies, tombs, hieroglyphics, and pottery. There is a room dedicated to Roman coins. There are shields and helmets from Greek warriors. The list goes on and on. 

My favorite history, however, are the rooms with paintings from Colonial times. There is a special feeling you get from seeing a painting that was in your high school yearbook on a wall. Two of the most famous portrait artists in the world lived in New England. They would be John Singleton Copley and Gilbert Stuart. Between the two of them they probably painted more people in our history books than everyone else combined.

We spent about four hours in the museum. We used the map and went to everything of interest to us. In four hours we saw about 85% of the exhibits. We have been there a few times before so we "skipped" reading a lot of the descriptions. If it had been my first time, I could have easily spent two full days there without being bored. The MFA is my Number 1 place in New England to see "awe inspiring" things. To see a painting from the beginning of the Renaissance or a coin that has Nero's
We have all seen this portrait of Paul Revere in our
history books. The original is at the MFA
face on it blows me away. Seeing sculpture that is 2500 years old or a  page from "The Book of the Dead" placed in Egyptian coffins is something I will always remember. I'd say that my son made a hell of a good choice for the day,.   

Beirstadt Painting of Yosemite Valley

Washington crossing the Delaware


Although I am not religious, I like religious themed art.
Religion was such a part of early life. Here
is the Garden of Eden. Eve is about to eat the forbidden
fruit. The snake is slithering away to our left.
Georgia O'Keeffe lived a lot of her life in New Mexico
She painted many southwest themed landscapes. Although she is most famous for painting
flowers that may or may not resemble vaginas, no one would argue her southwest paintings such as
this are breath taking.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Back Birding Plum Island

I went up to Plum Island today to do some birding. I was invited to go on my friend Eric's boat, but I had these plans for a couple weeks. I had been reading the bird reports and was really looking forward to seeing shorebirds on the island.

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge is an excellent place to see migrating shorebirds in August. Large numbers of birds stop to refuel on the extensive mudflats and salt marsh. There is always a good chance of seeing a very rare bird also.

 By the time I got to the gate it was 9 am. The ranger told me that Sandy Point (an excellent place to see plovers) was full. There is a small lot and it fills up very early by beach goers. That was going to be my first stop, but I was glad for the heads up. I immediately noticed right away that there were hundreds of tree swallows flocking up and heading south. By the end of the day, I saw what was many thousands of swallows. Sometimes I'd see groups of five hundred or more.

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron
The shorebirds did not disappoint. I saw hundreds if not a couple thousand. Mostly I saw Greater Yellowlegs, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, andSemipalmated Plovers. There were also good numbers of Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Bellied Plovers, and Short Billed Dowitchers. There also many egrets including one concentration of over forty snowys. My shorebird highlight was that there were some Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs side by side and I could tell them apart. They are very tricky and experts usually can't tell them apart unless they are side by side (size and bill length).

At the Stage Island area I saw a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron. I was birding with a kid I
met up there. He spotted the Night Heron. It had the right marks for a black   Earlier in the day sixteen  Yellow Crowned Night Herons were reported by a couple of expert birders. They are not particularly common. The whole refuge was buzzing about the sixteen together. I thought my BCNH was a yellow, but it turns out it was not.

I birded for about five hours. I saw thousands of birds but none were considered rare. None the less, I got some really good looks at many species of shorebirds which are my favorite types of birds to see. If your into birding, Plum Island in August is an outstanding place to be.
Eastern Phoebe

Snowy Egrets

Greater Yellowlegs

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Rocky Woods

An overlook at Chickering Pond
Catch and Release fishing is allowed
Today Laurie and I went to Rocky Woods in Medfield, MA. Rocky Woods is another of those
properties owned by the Trustees of the Reservation. It is the place I wanted to go to on Friday but ran out of time. There is a five dollar parking fee to hike there. Directions can be found on the Trustees of the Reservation website. However they are simple. The parking area is on Hartford Ave, which is off Route 109 in Medfield.

There are many miles of trail in this over 600 acre property. It is a very pretty place with a lot to see. I would say of the eight or so places I've walked owned by the Trustees it was my favorite.We got to the lot about 3 pm, and pulled out after 6. We probably hiked about 4-5 miles. There are a couple of views, seven ponds, a quarry, and a rock in the shape of a whale. I wanted to see everything so he hiked the shortest amount of trails to see all of the highlights.

After parking, he hiked up the red trail to Cedar Hill where I was surprised to find a view that went on for miles. From there we hiked to another scenic viewpoint. There wasn't much to see, but we found some comfortable sitting stones and enjoyed the cool breeze.
View from Cedar Hill

After we came down from the ridge we walked over to Jane  Pond. You can not get close to the water, so we only stayed there a minute. From there we walked over to Echo Pond. There is a bridge that goes over the pond. It is a lily pad pond filled with tons of frogs. We looked at the frogs and pond lilies for twenty minutes. We were not far from the car at Echo Lake so we went over and got some Gatorade.

When we started back up on our journey we had two more places to go, the quarry and Whale Rock. We headed back up the Red Trail and walked by Chickering Pond. First we came up on the quarry. Rock used to be cut out of it and dragged by horse and oxen. Although cool, there are a lot of trees and vegetation so it is tough to see. Then we continued up the trail to Whale Rock. True to its name Whale Rock looks a breaching whale. It has to be a hundred feet long. It was really impressive. after we went to the rock we headed back to the car for the 45 minute ride home.

I was very impressed with the scenery. There was a lot to see from hillside view to frogs in swampy
No this is not New Hampshire or Maine
It is Echo Lake in Rocky Woods
ponds. I wanted to see everything all in one day and we did without too much effort. I would highly recommend this hike for anyone in the area. The Boston Globe featured Rocky Woods as one of the ten places to see fall foliage. I will probably take another walk there in the fall and if I don't, it's a sure bet I will snowshoe there.

Whale Rock goes on forever

Friday, August 7, 2015

Combining Two Day trips into the same day (then going for a hike)

It is a quarter of the way through August and there are still a few summer daytrips I want to do before
the albies show up and we move into autumn. The last two weeks I have been working six days. Truthfully, even if I was working a five day week, I still wouldn't have done any daytrips because I would have gone to New Hampshire.

I had today off so I made the most of it. I got up fairly early. My plan was to go birding in Ninigret Pond behind Charlestown  Breachway. There is a huge mudflat in the pond that shorebirds congregate on. Believe it or not, some shorebirds are already flying south for the winter. The birds feed here at low tide when the flat is exposed

 I wanted to be at the Breachway before 8 am. The beach is a Rhode Island State each, it would cost me as a nonresident twenty dollars to park there. I am too cheap to pay that much money to park for three hours to look at birds. Unfortunately, I got up a little late to make it there by 8 am. I started looking for any place I could launch a kayak into the pond. Surprisingly, I found a town run free boat ramp. I've been to the breachway fifty times, yet never knew this ramp existed. Even better, the distance from the ramp to the mudflat is about three minutes of paddling.

I dragged my kayak up on the mud and put my anchor out (in case the tide rose, I didn't want my
kayak drifting away. Right in front of me was a flock of gulls. I'm not very good with gulls other than the common Ringbill and Herring gulls. Best as I could tell I saw laughing gulls and young Bonaparte gulls. I walked around for a couple hours. I saw typical shorebirds, but no rare ones. I saw a bunch of semi-palmated plovers,  least sandpipers, and semi-palmated sandpipers. My best bird was a Ruddy Turnstone.

The tide started to rise and I paddled back to my car. I got back about 11 am. I realized that I could go fluke fishing at the East Wall since I had my kayak, saltwater box, and a rod in the car. I enjoy fishing for fluke since I rarely do it. Last year I fished for them a few times in my kayak.I caught a bunch of scup and fluke on squid. Today I decided I wasn't going to buy bait. I've caught a couple fluke on lures before, but always while targeting other species. I hadn't caught a fluke this year, so I was sort of taking a gamble going out without bait. I ended up catching five fluke and four sea robins. I got all the fish on a bucktail jig. None of the fish were very big. I got back to my car at exactly three o'clock. I didn't catch any fish in the last hour of fishing. I don't know if the fish shut off or moved, but none the less I fruitlessly tried for them in vain.

I was hoping to be home early enough to make a late lunch then go for a hike at Rocky Woods in Medfield. As usual, I fished longer than I should have. I still would have had time to go to Rocky Woods but I got stuck in beach traffic. Also I had to replace a headlight when I got home. By the time I got out of traffic, replaced the headlight and ate a couple sandwiches it was 5:30.I still could have gone to Rocky Woods. I chose not to for a few reasons. It costs five dollars to park (yes paying for parking is a pet peeve of mine) so it would have been a waste of money to pay and only have an hour or two. Second, I have never been there, so I didn't want to rush. The place is big and there is over six miles of trail and a lot to see. So I saved Rocky Woods for another day.

I went back to Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary. It is as large and has nine miles of trail. However, I have been there, so it didn't matter to me how much of it I saw. I wanted some exercise so I was hoping to walk at least four miles, but I wasn't going to rush. It was a perfect night. The air was cool and dry. I didn't see very much wildlife though. I saw the tail end of one deer and a few common birds and that was it. I left just before dark to finish up a long productive day.