DEEP #12: Sunny Brook State Park/Vientiane Thai Restaurant, Torrington CT

9 08 2018

IMG_5785

We just finished DEEP site #12, and it’s our twelfth hike of the 14–only two more to go!!!

IMG_5796

Interesting cairns along the creek

IMG_5792

Fungus among us

IMG_5794

Crossing the creek

Lunch at Vientiane Thai Restaurant — yummy

IMG_5798

Advertisements




River Highlands State Park, Cromwell CT

25 07 2018

IMG_5651

(Text from DEEP website) Where once there were farm fields and pastures, today there is a totally wooded, wonderfully situated, twenty-first century state park. Dedicated in 2001, this recent addition to the park system preserves 177 acres of ecologically important Connecticut River frontage. Tucked into a growing suburban landscape, River Highlands has escaped development to provide a quiet refuge with a wonderful view.

IMG_5659Lush with mixed woodlands dominated by oak, beech, and white pine, the hilly topography ranges in elevation from about 15 feet above sea level by the river to over 150 feet at the northern and southern high spots on the bluffs.

The most level area, or at least the most gently sloping, is at the park entrance on Field Road. It was here, and to the north, that pasture and field once flourished. Today the woodlands have taken over and the wetland systems have rebuilt themselves offering the visitor a true glimpse of the tranquility of the Eastern Forests.

IMG_5664But the real asset of the park is the view from the bluffs it protects. The Connecticut River, beautiful from so many locations, is at its best here. The bluffs are highest at the northern end of the park rising 130 feet above the water, and the view is ample reward for the hike to get there.

The are many trails in the park to lead the hiker across wooden bridges, over streams, along the 150 foot high bluff, or down to the water’s edge past a unique geologic feature known as the blowhole. Here one can hear the wind as it whistles past the bluffs. The Native Americans came to listen to the “wind being caught by the spirit of the earth.” When the colonists arrived they called it Devil’s Blowhole, believing it was an act of Satan. Sailors knew it as an area of quick winds as the park is just upstream of one of the tightest bends on the lower river.

 

Lunch at Ambrosia, Cromwell

IMG_5667

 

 

 





Moosup Valley State Park, Plainville and Roseland Cottage, Woodstock, CT

12 07 2018

IMG_5547(Text from DEEP website): The Moosup Valley State Park Trail (MVSPT) is a 5.8 mile rail trail in eastern Connecticut. It passes through the towns of Sterling and Plainfield on the rail bed of the former New Haven Railroad. It is a link in the ongoing assemblage of the East Coast Greenway. The former New Haven Railroad operated along this rail bed from 1898 to 1968.

In Plainfield, the trail is about 2.2 miles long with its western terminus at the River Street parking area.  Heading east, the trail skirts the edge of the Moosup River Valley and offers occasional scenic vistas.

IMG_5572

We had a fun lunch at Deary Brothers Mike’s Stand

(Text from Deary Brothers website): As we celebrate our 81st anniversary, we are honored to highlight the fine heritage of the Deary family and that of the outstanding employees who are the foundation of our success.

IMG_5574

(Old) Tom and (Old) Jim Deary (of Dudley, MA.) founded Deary Bros. Inc. in 1913.  They processed milk and other dairy products and distributed their goods from house to house.  They expanded their business into other areas and eventually opened this ice cream stand in 1937.  They found a  perfect location, however the house that stood at the desired location had to be moved around the corner to make room for the new business.  The original house would eventually become the home of (Young) Tom and Teddy Deary and their thirteen children.  Each of the thirteen children worked countless hours at The Stand.

Mr. Jones and Bill Moyer initially ran the family owned business.  The Stand featured the best ice cream in the area.  Five and ten cent cones were served for hours at a time from each of the ten windows at The Stand.

IMG_5584

Next was the Roseland Cottage!

(Text from the Roseland Cottage website): Built in 1846 in the newly fashionable Gothic Revival style, Roseland Cottage was the summer home of Henry and Lucy Bowen and their young family. While the house is instantly recognizable for its pink exterior, Roseland Cottage has an equally colorful interior, featuring elaborate wall coverings, heavily patterned carpets, and stained glass, much of which survives unchanged from the Victorian era. The house is a National Historic Landmark.

Woodstock native Henry Bowen returned to his hometown after establishing a successful business in New York City. He used Roseland Cottage as a place to entertain friends and political connections, including four U.S. presidents. The picturesque landscape includes original boxwood-edged parterre gardens planted in the 1850s. The estate includes an icehouse, aviary, carriage barn, and the nation’s oldest surviving indoor bowling alley. It reflects the principles of Andrew Jackson Downing, a leading nineteenth-century tastemaker.

 





George D Seymour State Park

28 03 2018

Seymour SP 1

From the DEEP site: George Dudley Seymour was a man of vision. In 1883, at the age of 24, he began his law career in New Haven. His great success as a patent attorney provided him with the wealth necessary to fulfill his desire of land preservation in many areas of the state. In addition to the acquisition of this 334 acre park which bears his name, Seymour and his foundation acquired all or part of seven other state parks: Beaver Brook, Becket Hill, Bigelow Hollow, Hurd, Millers Pond, Platt Hill, and Stoddard Hill state parks and the Nathan Hale State Forest.

This park location in Seymour’s name was once the estate of George, Henry and Thomas Clark. Their Clark Cutaway Harrow Company in Higganum successfully produced cider presses, disk harrows, hay spreaders, plows, carriage jacks and other necessities of the day in the late 1800s and into the early 1900s. Their wealth enabled them to purchase the land and build their family estate at this location along the Connecticut River. The estate was called Clarkhurst for their own surname, and -hurst, meaning a wooded piece of rising ground.  Here along the floodplain their comfortable lives played out and their agricultural tools were tested.

Over the years Henry purchased the property from his brothers, but with his passing in 1914 the mansion and many buildings began their decline.  Deeded to his daughter in 1921, she attempted the maintenance of the property through the development of a golf course and other recreational facilities. But by the depression years of the 1930s, overgrowth and structural collapse had sealed its fate.  In 1942 the land was acquired by Mrs. Marion Guthrie who, though she attempted its quick sale ultimately held it until 1960.  Gladly the George Dudley Seymour Foundation provided the $60,000 necessary and the Connecticut Forest and Park Association was able to purchase the land for the state.

It is interesting to note that native grasses across the state have been altered or replaced over time as a result of various land uses. But here on these floodplain soils, grass species that date from the 1600s or earlier can be found. These grasses predate European colonization and represent a time only the Native peoples were witness to. These and other grasslands within the park provide an excellent location for bird watching. In the spring of some years the DEEP manages this habitat with mowing and through controlled burns.

Wrasslin Cats 1

We lunched at Two Wrasslin’ Cats, East Haddam. Good food, great ethics, home to Saturday vigils and various marches.





Middletown Hero: Major General Maurice Rose

19 02 2018

Maurice Rose signA year or so ago, a sign went up on Route 9 as it passed north through my town, Middletown, CT. A section of the road was dedicated to the memory of Major General Maurice Rose. I decided to find out more.

Maurice Rose birthplace plaqueMaurice Rose was born in Middletown in 1899; a plaque marks the location on Main Street. When he was four, his family moved to Denver. Rose was determined to join the military and served in both World War I and II.

MauriceRose wiki

It was in 1944 in Germany, after multiple medals and heroic accomplishments, that Rose was shot by the Germans. His initial grave was later moved to the Netherlands.

In his memory, the following are named after him: a school in the Netherlands, a hospital in Denver, a Jewish War Veterans Post 51 in Middletown, and the Middletown Armed Forces Reserve Center.

Maurice Rose colleague Bob SwirskyThe most remarkable occurrence at a recent presentation about Rose by Post 51’s Karen Uberti was the arrival of a WWII colleague. Almost ninety-eight year old Bob Swarsky arrived by wheelchair, maneuvered by his friend Glenn, to tell of his personal recollections of the day that Rose was killed. With hearing and mental agility that surpassed most of us in the room, Swarsky spoke about many efforts of the 3rd Armored Division, First Army.

Maurice Rose display at JWV51As those who served during that time get fewer and fewer, it becomes even more important and poignant to hear their stories and honor their memories.





A Place Called Hope

18 12 2017

17 December 2017

APCH aviary

When I heard about this place for the third time, I decided I should listen. My first encounter with A Place Called Hope involved their release of a rehabilitated Turkey Vulture at a memorial service for a local naturalist. Shortly after that, I found them while searching for a mentor wildlife rehabilitator, when I began exploring how I might become one. Finally, I saw that the local Audubon society was hosting a trip to visit this rehab facility and I signed up.

APCH field trip

It was the day after our very first snowstorm. Thirty of us, fortified by hot cocoa and pastries, huddled in the welcoming sunlight. Co-Founder and Director Christine Cummings and Vice President Grace Krick introduced us to the organization, while Co-Founder Todd Secki assisted with logistics. Christine described their focus: Hawks, Falcons, Harriers, Osprey, Kites, Eagles, Owls, Ravens, Crows, Bluejays, and Vultures.

Christine and Grace knowledgeably introduced us to the residents (unreleasable birds) of the aviaries. Inspirational and dedicated folks!





Vernon Rails-to-Trails and Friendly’s

23 08 2017

18 August 2017

Vernon trail view

The weather isn’t promising; in fact, my phone indicated rain most of the morning and thunderstorms at 9:15. But Cherry and I decide to hike anyway. As she quips, “The worst thing that could happen is we have a short hike and a long time to enjoy the food and ice cream at Friendly’s!”

We meet and head to Vernon around 9AM, just after rush hour traffic. Cherry’s had some family time with her half-sister, visiting from England with hubby and two kids. They all spent a day, along with her step-mom and other family members, at Look Park in Northampton, MA. Cherry describes the fun they had on the train, picnicking, and being together, which is special when some live across the pond.

Vernon rocks and plantsThrough my intuitive sense of direction (strongly lacking in Cherry, she always says), we find the Vernon Rails-to-Trails crossing on Taylor Street. We park on a nearby side street and head north. We both are surprised by the beauty of the surroundings. And the weather is holding; “I won’t say the “R” word,” Cherry declares.

Excellent signs describe the rail history of the area. We see remnants of track and talk about the Essex Steam Train, now able to travel northward into Haddam. I am disappointed the line won’t be converted into a hiking trail at this point.

Vernon Reading TrailWe see families with bicycle and other walkers, especially near the parking area. Here, we encounter a Reading Trail, something I’d not heard of but Cherry knew. For National Trails Day, the Vernon Park & Rec Department partnered with a local bookstore to establish a mile-long Reading Trail, where Curious George Makes Pancakes is parsed out, page by page. I think of my grandson’s love of George and how this would inspire children to walk!

After an hour, we decide to return to the car. We refuse to say the “R” word, but it’s starting to look ominous. We talk about friends and the difference between activities companions and true friends. Cherry’s thought a lot about this, and suggests that being friends with herself is most important, although a bit more challenging.

And then to Friendly’s, a brief six-minute drive! Well, actually I pull in too soon and we park at the neighboring fast food place and climb a small embankment to enter Friendly’s. Our waitress, Abby, can’t me more than 16; she must be at least that to work, right? Cherry notices an enlarged photo on the wall of three young women in the 1950s and tells Abby she had a dress like the one on the left and used to come to Friendly’s in Holyoke when she was young. “I used to come when I was a kid, too,” says Abby. Could that have been more than ten years ago, Cherry and I laugh, after Abby leaves our table.

Vernon Friendlys queen for a dayI try to convince Cherry to be Queen of Friendly’s for a day, but she leaves the crown at the register. And as we drive home, we laugh about the silent “R” word – it was perfect weather! We are chugging through the remaining Connecticut options; according to my notes, we only have six more to go!