Author Archives: Marjorie

Transforming trash to treasure

Our family has a story that has been passed down through the generations. The tale, detailed in My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places, tells of an encounter my grandfather had with a farmer in Quebec. The farmer had a chicken coop. My grandfather visited the farm, and realized that one side of the chicken coop was constructed from a cherrywood table. As you might expect, the table was in rough shape, sharing company with a number of chickens.

The story goes that my grandfather asked if he could purchase the table. “No, I need a chicken coop,” was the farmer’s reply. My grandfather then offered to build him another chicken coop. Could he then buy the table? Of course, the farmer agreed.

Grampie brought the table back to his workshop and cleaned, then polished the table he had retrieved from the farm. Instead of being a dirt-covered portion of a chicken coop, it soon stood in a place of honor in his home, used to bring our family together for both daily and celebratory meals. After he died, the table passed to his daughter, my aunt, who continued honoring the transformation of the restored cherry wood table, where it became a gathering place for family and friends at her home.

Aunt Em and Liam at the cherry wood table

When my aunt had to move to a smaller place, my son said his family would be glad to have the table at their home, Solace Farm Homestead. But this time, rather than returning to its long ago role as part of a chicken coop, the table has become an important part of their daily life.

The great grandson, Caleb, and his wife Amy, welcomed the cherry wood table to their farm

Here’s an excerpt from my book:

My grandchildren will now grow up hearing the story of the grandfather from years past, who had eyes to see beyond the grime of the chicken yard and understood the potential that lay underneath the grit and muck. The table was transported once again, to another generation, and back to the farm. It and the stories that lie behind the glowing cherry wood had found their way home.

Marjorie

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.

2 Comments

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks, Blog Posts-Personal Histories

Heading North to Lubec

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse

Our family has been heading to Maine for a number of years, but the pandemic shifted our focus. We have spent a lot of time exploring Acadia National Park and have found Easy Walks at various locations throughout the island. The park’s popularity became a real drawback when we were doing our best to avoid crowds in the worst of the pandemic. We looked toward the northern section of Acadia National Park and discovered that the Schoodic peninsula, and on farther east offered a wide variety of places to explore.

Here’s one post I shared about our Schoodic Peninsula explorations. Our most recent trip reached farther east, in fact, to the Canadian border in Lubec, Maine. We walked portions of the Downeast Sunset Trail, which starts in Ellsworth Maine and travels up to Perry, Maine. A separate section continues into Lubec, almost within sight of the West Quoddy Point light house state park.

One portion of the Downeast Sunset Trail

The Downeast trail is an wide relatively flat stone dust path. We found views of rivers and the spring melt that creates rapids in some sections. Other portions of the trail crossed rivers that are directly affected by tidal flow. Mudflats and saltmarsh hay fields offer great opportunities to spot birds and other wild animals in the area.

Lubec rail trail right along the shoreline

The trail in Lubec brings visitors right next to the Gulf of Maine and quite near the Bay of Fundy. Rocky headlands offer great spots to view the area. The walking path is quite near to some of these view points, making it pretty easy to get out to the shoreline from these rocky perches. We had a quiet picnic lunch along the shore and listened to the gentle waves washing up on the beach right next to the path.

Short rail trail alongside the Mt. Desert Narrows in Hancock. Railroad history is preserved as part of the trail.

Hancock, Maine offers some great views of the Mount Desert Narrows, the Tidal Falls Preserve, and a small park at the bridge between Hancock and Machias. We found a very small true rail trail, the Waukeag Train Station, with portions of the tracks, track switches (with explanatory placards) and a narrow path alongside the shoreline.

Bad Little Falls, right in the center of Machias, Maine

On the other side of the river in Machias is a stunning natural waterfall. Bad Little Falls Park offers access dirctly over the falls that flow right through this small city. The falls have been altered over the years to facilitate obtaining waterpower from the river. Much of that has been removed or torn down to allow the river to flow more freely.

View from our campground of the Pleasant River, Addison, Maine

We camped in Addison, Maine at a campground abutting the Pleasant River. This is a tidal river, and from our campsite we were able to enjoy the ebb and flow of the tides. The sloping hay field offered a somewhat Easy Walk (hiking poles really helped!) and provided views of local waterfowl swimming in the shallows next to the shoreline.

Cliffs loom alongside the trail from the West Quoddy Point state park

Since we visited in April, the weather was brisk! We brought all our winter clothing and were glad we did. The heater in our camper worked great. The only challenge was the below freezing temperatures at night, which kept us from enjoying the luxury of running water in our camper. Lucky for us, our hosts got their water faucets running, and offered a bathroom and shower for us to use. We feel sure this will be a busy place come the warmer weather.

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

Winter at Chase Farm, Lincoln, RI

Blue skies in winter can be deceptively cold. A clear, calm day with no wind is a joy, while a stiff wind can be a real challenge for any outing in these darker months. Our visit to Chase Farm in Lincoln Rhode Island offered a mix of weather. Windy on the wide open fields of this historic town-owned property, and Easy Walking in the sheltered spots tucked here and there along the service roads and mown paths that cut through the fields of this former pasture land.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

Carlsbad, New Mexico and Easy Walks along the way there and back north

On our way back north from Carlsbad, at the Surgarite State Park, Lake Alice Campground, near the Colorado line

In our western travels, a secondary goal to our spending time in Glenwood Canyon on the bike trail that wends its way through the canyon was to explore Carlsbad Caverns while we were in the west. For many reasons, including keeping crowds down through the pandemic, a visit to this National Park for the self-guided tour through the cavern requires reservations. Thus, our relaxed itenerary for this trip suddenly became a push to meet deadlines, dates, and specific times reserved to reach Carlsbad, New Mexico. This not only required excessive amounts of driving, It meant places we would have otherwise enjoyed stopping to explore were mostly by passed because we were pressed for time.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

On our way to New Mexico, via Mesa Verde National park, and other local stops

View of one of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde–see those impressions in the rock, center of photo? Those were steps to climb up the rock face. Not an Easy Walk at all!

We had another goal on our travel beside bicycling in Glenwood Canyons, and that was to allow me to take the self-guided tour of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in Carlsbad, New Mexico. From Utah, that’s a long drive, so we took our time and stopped a few places in between. Not on our schedule, but too good to pass up, was Mesa Verde National Park, which ended up being on our way. We spent two days quite nearby, allowing for more relaxed visiting of the park. We stopped near the end of October, when the park was essentially closing down for the winter, so some aspects of the park we had hoped to enjoy were unavailable to us. What we did see still made the visit worthwhile.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

Easy Walks in and around Moab, Utah

Just one of the multiple “arches” at Arches National Park

Traveling out west in the fall is a balancing act when you have a camper. The scenery is even more stunning than at other times of the year, and the risk of freezing weather is increased. Freezing means no running water (I know–a modern luxury of camping in a camper with wheels.) We had been in Colorado and weather reports promised freezing temperatures, yet a few hours west of us in Moab, Utah, the weather was warmer. Thus, an unplanned, but welcome diversion west to Arches National Park was our next stop on our western tour.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

Ellisville Harbor and seals!

One reclining harbor seal, hanging out on a rock outcrop quite near shore, while another waits its turn…

This was our second visit to Ellisville Harbor State Park in Plymouth, MA. On our first visit in August, we were led to believe the path to the shoreline was at least a mile. Since my “on foot” range is about two miles, this would leave no energy for actually walking on the beach, plus it was warmer than I could risk in August. We chose to head on, and ended up at Shifting Lots Preserve, another open space quite nearby. We returned to the state park on a cool day in December, and decided to try reaching the beach. Turns out, the trail is closer to a half mile out, well within my capabilities when the weather is cool outside.

What we didn’t know was that this relatively quiet state park is a favorite spot for seals to hang out in at low tide, just off shore. What I at first mistook for a large sea gull about fifty yards off shore on a rock turned out to be a reclining seal, lolling about as the tides rolled under him (or her). Nearby, presumably jealous seals hung out, perhaps hoping the resting seal would give them a turn on the rock. Not a chance. Our seal persisted in staying on the rock for the hour or so we spent walking the beach near sundown.

We counted in all about a dozen other seals along the shoreline, only fifty yards or so off shore. The more we looked, the more we saw. We usually get excited seeing one or two seals. This was more at one time that we’ve seen on our walks, except perhaps on the California Coast (and those were sea lions).

Unlike some beaches, even at low tide, we found the sand there to be quite soft. Closer to the water the beach was rocky and more difficult for me to manage. Since it had been a relatively Easy Walk out to the shore from where we parked, I was able to enjoy my time near the water without too much pain. My hiking poles were really helpful in keeping me upright in the soft sand.

We walked south on the beach toward the outgoing stream flowing from the wetlands that are part of the state park.

The same stream, from the Shifting Lots Preserve, at high tide

On our August visit we had walked on the opposite side of the stream, at the Shifting Lots Preserve. That visit had been at high tide, and we were not tempted to try to cross the stream over to the Ellisville Harbor beach side of the stream. Low tide still offered a steady stream, more than we were prepared to cross without waders.

This visit, we got a chance to see the other side, and low tide revealed a very different complexion of the path the water takes to get to the sea. Many streams on the east coast that reach the ocean are encumbered by development, so this was a treat to walk along and see the water flowing toward the ocean.

If we had spent enough time there, we could have watched the tide shift the flow of the water, pushing it back into the wetlands. Another visit, perhaps.

All but the last section of trail to reach the beach counted as an Easy Walk for me–a few rocks, some tree roots, a very firm clear path, with lots of views of the ocean. In warmer weather there will be fewer views as the hardwoods in the area will leaf out, obscuring the view in all but a few spots.

Erosion has made access to this stretch of beach pretty challenging

That last section to reach the beach is a doozy. Beach erosion has left substantial cliffs along the shoreline. We went to the end of the trail and found a very steep, rocky path down to the shore (which I declined to try to attempt). We had noticed several side paths on our way out to the end, so backtracked to the path closest to the end and found an easier path. This path is still quite steep, especially at first, with tree roots that act as steps–sort of. I required assistance navigating this section of trail, even with my hiking poles. Thankfully, I brought along a willing helper who provided the needed support to get me safely to the shoreline.

View from the trail, overlooking the marsh

Ellisville Harbor State Park is open dawn to dusk. There is no charge, the beach is unattended, and dogs are unwelcome May to September on the beach. Even when we visited in August the parking area was not full. The longer walk to the beach may discourage summer beach goers, but this destination is pretty high up on my list, regardless of the challenges, for the hope of seeing seals at low tide. Happy trails!

Marjorie

Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.

She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.

Leave a comment

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

More rail trails and wonders in the Glenwood Springs, CO area

Red Dirt Creek, yet another Easy Walk we found along the Colorado River. We found wild asparagus there too!

We could have spent an entire month exploring the Glenwood Springs area, in addiiton to the Glenwood Canyon rail trail. As it was, we found two additional well maintained rail trails within a few miles of where we stayed in the area. Glenwood Springs offers amazing walking opportunities throughout the town. The downtown has trailheads for both the Glenwood Canyon trail, as well as the Rio Grande Trail, that follows the Roaring Fork River.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

Glenwood Canyon, CO, our destination

Along the trail in Glenwood Canyon. To the right is a landslide that narrowed the river measurably. On the left, retaining walls for I-70

When we first built our adaptive tandem bicycle (thanks to Roulez Cycles of Lynn, MA) that comes apart into three pieces (thanks to the S&S couplings that are built into the bike), my huband started dreaming of getting me (and the bike) out to the Glenwood Canyon rail trail. He hoped we could ride on the rail trail that traverses the canyon alongside the Colorado River. It took three years, but we finally made it out to the canyon, and set out on the trail.

Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

The Royal Gorge, east of the Rocky mountains, CO

We stopped at the area of the Royal Gorge, near Canon City, CO and spent several days there. Lucky for us, a beautifully maintained rail trail wends its way right through the town of Canon City, right next to the Arkansas River. The river flows directly through the town after making its way through the Royal Gorge.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks, Blog Posts-Personal Histories