Crescent Lake, Southington and Plainville Friendly’s

2 03 2018

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Fourth time’s the charm! Due to weather and health issues, we’ve had to postpone our FINAL visit to Friendly’s for weeks. Finally, today we are ready to head out. And it’s a nice day, in the 50s and sunny. Cherry arrives with Spring in her hands – a lovely bouquet for me!

IMG_4511Since our last meeting, Cherry has lost her cat to a rare heart condition and we acknowledge the loss of Willa. Then we take the half hour drive to Crescent Lake. A bit breezy when we arrive at 10:30, we choose the shortest trail around the lake, about two miles, which provides lovely views. I talk about recent experiences where I felt very centered and clear; Cherry says that happens to her when she’s in nature and realizes how interconnected we are with all living things.

Some of the path is water-logged but there are enough protruding roots and strategically placed logs to make it though. Cherry tests her waterproof boots at times, but I know mine won’t stay dry and balance myself along whatever rises above the water. Cherry says she is finally winding down some family financial responsibilities and will be relieved when they’re finished.

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Along the eastern edge of the pond, we find duck boxes with metal baffles to keep raccoons out (I assume). On the northern shore, facing the sun we spotted a turtle who quickly dove into the water when it heard our approach. A welcomed sign of Spring! I am pleased to report that I passed my wildlife rehab test and am working on the next step to become certified, which involves putting in 40 volunteer hours with mentors.

IMG_4517We return to the car around noon and drive the quick trip to the Plainville Friendly’s. Our last one! We splurge with the 1,260-calorie chicken BBQ with bacon, but substitute apple sauce for the fries. Our waitress Penny teases us due to almost identical orders. “I bet you two just met,” she quips.

As we enjoy our sandwiches (and I set aside half for later), I mention that I’ve been going to the exercise classes at the local community center for the past few months, when the weather had made it more difficult to get outside. Cherry is excited that the person she nominated for a local community award has been selected!

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When it’s time to order dessert, I ask about February’s special flavor, Cherry Jubilee, but Penny says it’s gone. Moments later, she returns. “I lied. I found some in the back of the freezer!” What a treat! It is probably the best ice cream flavor I’ve ever had: moist, sweet cherries, rich dark chocolate chunks… yum. We raise our sundaes to toast the end of our Friendly’s quest.

Cherry confides in Penny about our project; our waitress says she moved back to Connecticut to raise her son where there were cone-head sundaes! Penny’s image of childhood was incomplete without them!

On our way home, we stop at the Cromwell Friendly’s, where this whole project started almost three years ago. Cherry has been working with the manager, Sean, to set up a celebration date in April. It looks like that’s falling into place. He shared some sad news that the Milford Friendly’s had closed since we have been there. But so far, the rest seem to be going strong. And so are we; stay tuned for our next hiking project!

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Ragged Mountain and Friendly’s in Southington

10 09 2015

8 September 2015

Ragged Moutain 09.08.15 003So we thought it was hot last month when we hiked, but today, again, it was in the 90s and humid. A record. But fear not, Cherry and I forged ahead with our plans to hike at Ragged Mountain in Southington.

We met on Route 66 in Middletown and, after some confusion about our hike location, we piled into my car and headed off. We found the trailhead easily and were pleased to see a clear map posted there. Less exciting was the notice that coyotes were defending their young in dens and people with dogs should be on alert.

We decided to take the woods road to the peak, catch the view, and then return to the car. Although it would be only two miles, we thought that would be sufficient in this weather. We started at 8:30AM on the upward adventure.

Gratefully, the entire trail was forested and the heat hadn’t invaded the understory at that point. Cherry was excited about the balance in her life, her ability to have enough quiet time and interactions. She was choosing how to spend her energy and was looking forward to getting a new bench on her property, so she could sit and watch her garden.

It wasn’t long before we reached the top. The overview was stunning, looking into Kensington, down on the reservoirs, and across to other ridges. Surprisingly there were white pine, not pitch, on the ridgeline here. Many plants, blueberries in particular, were wilted from the drought. We saw two other hikers along the ridge who also were trying to beat today’s heat by getting an early start.

On our return trip, I talked about upcoming hikes and workshops on ecotherapy I’d be leading. Always the cheerleader, Cherry was excited that Middletown Recreation Services was supporting my work.

By 10AM, we were back at our cars and headed to Southington’s Friendly’s. It was less friendly than most of the others, so far, and the ambience was neutral. No special effects or experiences. I had the $5 bacon burger; Cherry had soup and salad. We both topped it off with sundaes. Polite wait staff but not willing to make a special effort. Am I getting jaded?

We looked at our next location, which we decided will be Bristol. I wondered aloud how long we’d been hiking together. Four years, Cherry guessed. I thought we had been hiking when she’d taken her Holy Land trip, which was five years ago. We both remembered the impetus—a summer get-together when a former hiking friend came east to visit, which Cherry pursued that following March. When I looked it up later, I discovered we started in Spring 2010. Wow, time flies.