Have you ever worked on a project for a long time and finally see it all coming together? If so, you can imagine our excitement as the beginning of the Massachusetts Walking Tour nears. http://masswalkingtour.org/ I met with the founders, Mark and Raianne, last summer at Booklover’s Gourmet Café in Webster http://www.er3.com/book/ to talk about how this year’s tour might work, how they might use the Easy Walks in Massachusetts book series to help them plan out their route, and how best we could work together. Very soon, they will hit the road, and I’ll join them as often as I can manage. Continue reading
Category Archives: Blog posts–Easy Walks
My grandson was available to join me today as we headed to Milford to hand out posters and postcards, encouraging folks to join us for the upcoming Massachusetts Walking Tour http://masswalkingtour.org/ David climbed aboard and off we went to let the folks in Milford know of the fun event that is about to happen in their town. Continue reading
It’s amazing how earlier morning light encourages me to get up in the morning. I wish I were a morning person, but on the whole, it simply isn’t going to happen. But as spring turns to summer the cool morning air provides respite from the heat of the rest of the day and great motivation to get out earlier! Continue reading
It’s been almost a year in preparation, but the Massachusetts Walking Tour is nearly ready to come to town. Over 11 days in June, this group of musicians will be backpacking their instruments and camping gear from one town to the next, offering free concerts each evening in a different town. Now that the tour is all planned out, the grants written and granted by wonderful folks such as the Franklin Cultural Council, venues are booked, and places for the touring musicians to camp have been arranged, it’s time to get the word out. Continue reading
Spring in New England is a strange time–we have sometimes experienced snow in May. I’ve seen folks out in bathing suits in 80 degree weather in April. Usually it’s pretty wet (like this year, thankfully) while other years the spring rains simply fail to arrive. Continue reading
Cooperating and working together with like-minded folks is so satisfying on so many levels. After learning about the Massachusetts Walking Tour, I knew this group of hiking musicians needed to come to the Blackstone Valley. I cheered them on for a couple of years through social media, encouraging their efforts virtually. But it was when we met up in person that the relationship began to change.
I let Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards know I wanted to work with them to help bring the tour to the Valley. In fact, I hoped they would also come to Bellingham, as well. After a few more conversations, we agreed last summer to start working on this year’s 2017 tour. They used my book, Easy Walks in Massachusetts as the basis for planning their tour of the Blackstone Valley, and soon the tour will be a reality.
But in the meantime, there are so many details still to consider. Mark and Raianne wrote up the grants that would provide funding for the two week project. Thanks to the many local Cultural Councils who approved funding for this project. Concert venues, and camping sites needed to be confirmed. Routes from one town to the next were chosen. The search for local musicians to come join in the fun has begun.
The couple, Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards, along with several other skilled musicians, backpack from town to town, offering free community concerts in each town they visit. The first part of the concert is open to area musicians, storytellers, and others to share their gifts with the community. Interested? Let us know! The second half of the concert is provided by the backpacking musicians. After the concert, the crew camps out, and in the morning picks up their packs and heads off on foot to the next, neighboring town.
Lately we’ve been reviewing routes, and today Raianne and I met up at Lookout Rock, leaving my car there, and drove to Riverbend Farm in Uxbridge to walk back to the lookout. We wanted to make sure the proposed route for their walk in this area was workable.
The sun was out, the weather this morning was cool, and the trail offered, for the most part, easy walking. The most challenging part of the walk was crossing the stone bridges on Hartford Avenue to get from the Riverbend Farm tow path over to Rice City Pond. Traffic slowed down for us, gave us room on the narrow stretch of road, and soon we were back off the road and on our way to travel along the east bank of the Blackstone River, from Hartford Avenue up to Northbridge-Quaker Street. Our destination–Lookout Rock, and views of the Blackstone Valley!
It had been years since I walked this trail, and I was pleased to see how pretty it was in so many sections. Piney woodlands gave way to more open trail with views of the floodplain.
It was a little cool for turtles, evidently, but one rather large snake sprawled across the top of a large sunny rock just offshore, unfazed by our presence.
The rolling terrain alternately took us quite close to the river, and then up higher for better views. The dirt path made for easy walking and Raianne and I had the time to get much better acquainted, one of the true “fringe benefits” of spending time with others on the trail.
Several sections of trail had roots, and a very few somewhat steep slopes, and Raianne proved to be a solid hiking partner. At each section of more challenging trail she offered her shoulder to support me through the uncertain footing, then stepped back and allowed me to proceed independently once we reached more level ground.
I was tickled to discover a small waterfall, with the sweet sound of cascading water burbling downhill over rocks and through lots of lush skunk cabbage. Recalling a previous walk taken long ago, I hoped to avoid ending up underneath Lookout Rock. That long ago hike required the help of an energetic dog to pull me up the steep slope, with friends pushing me from behind to get up to the view. I planned to avoid that route this time!
We found our way up the more gentle incline, confirmed that my car was still in the parking lot where we’d left it, then strolled over to the lookout. The water is still high in the Blackstone River, the leaves are not fully out, so the river was in plain view. In no rush to leave, we pulled out some snacks and enjoyed the sunshine and cool breezes, taking in the views.
There is still much to do in the coming month. Now comes getting the word out, inviting folks to the multiple events, and hoping people will understand what a special opportunity this is for the towns that will be part of this year’s Massachusetts Walking tour. Check out the entire schedule here http://masswalkingtour.org/
Marjorie Turner Hollman
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and has completed two guides to Easy Walking trails in Massachusetts, “Easy Walks in Massachusetts 2nd edition,” and “More Easy Walks in Massachusetts.” A native Floridian, she came north for college and snow! On the board of directors of the Association of Personal Historians, she is a Certified Legacy Planner with LegacyStories.org, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project. http://www.marjorieturner.com
It all started because of a rain delay–volunteers for the Blackstone Heritage Corridor had been invited to get a private tour of Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, but the bad weather pushed the event into May. I had planned to bring along my oldest grandgirl, but then I realized her birthday was the day after this rescheduled fun event. Continue reading
We ventured to New York state this past weekend, north of New York City, but close enough that we felt the impact of that huge metropolis throughout our travels. As we crossed the Tappan Zee bridge in the dark to get to the west side of the Hudson river, my husband mentioned that he knew of a viewing platform somewhere nearby, which would offer a better opportunity to see the construction that is ongoing at the bridge. Continue reading
It was unseasonably hot recently and we decided to head north, to where the temperatures were only in the 70’s and spring has just started. The trees still lacked any hint of green, but change is in the air.
For several reasons we chose not to bring our tandem bicycle and planned on spending our time walking the trails of Acadia, on Mt. Desert Island, where we stayed. But we wanted to explore the Schoodic Peninsula, also part of Acadia National Park, but much less visited. Continue reading
After a whole lot of rain, we were ready to get out to stretch our legs so we headed to the Cape Cod Canal. It’s early spring and we were curious to see if the herring were heading up the fish ladder that is near the visitor center on the north side of the canal.
We headed down the stairs to the bikeway that travels alongside the canal, and saw people gathered all along the path, staring out at the canal. No, there was no large ship passing through right then. Instead, we spied a parade of eider ducks, several hundred birds, male and female, paddling within feet of the shoreline, against the current. Continue reading