Category Archives: Blog posts–Easy Walks

Taking books outdoors with StoryWalk®s

I met Nicole Vachon recently and we quickly “got” each other. She wanted to get out the word about the StoryWalk®s she had created locally. I wanted her to share “lessons learned”. So here we have a Guest Post from Nicole, with lots of links to more information. Here’s hoping this will encourage you to go out to create your own StoryWalk®! (Marjorie)

By Nicole Vachon

“Endangered Species: Fish, Birds, and Reading”

When I saw a StoryWalk® at the Burrell Elementary School in Foxborough, MA, where my children attended school, I loved the innovative and delightful way children—and adults!—could enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. Igo and Taylor elementary schools in Foxborough also have Story Walk®s, newly installed this summer! Laminated pages from a children’s book are attached to wooden stakes, which are installed along an outdoor path. Continue reading

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Summer flowers and other such–the Fish Hatchery, N. Attleboro


Nicole points out one of the stops on the new story walk, newly installed at the N. Attleboro Fish Hatchery

I met Nicole at the Fish Hatchery to see the Story Walk she put together with her husband Shane, the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s N. Attleboro Fish Hatchery, just off Rt 152. What a joy to not only learn about what Nicole had done, but to hear the “back story” behind how she and her husband planned the walk, and even about how they chose the book to use. Continue reading


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Progress on the SNETT Lake Street to Prospect Street, Bellingham-Franklin


Lake Street Entrance to the SNETT-older, town-made sign on the right, and newer, DR sign at trailhead on the left

The SNETT is within walking distance of where I live in Bellingham, and thus I’ve been able to keep a pretty close eye on any progress, or lack thereof, in making this section of trail more useable. Continue reading


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Heading outdoors in hot weather

1Marjorie Cooling vest, cooling scarf

Along the Mass Central Railtrail in Rutland, wearing cooling scarf, cooling vest, with water mister on hand nearby

In summer, sweat is an important body function, part of keeping us safe from overheating. Inconvenient, for sure; unattractive, perhaps, but there you have it–our body’s way of helping us cool off on these hot, July days mid-summer. Continue reading


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End of first leg of the Massachusetts Walking Tour

group photo blackstone 2017

Saying goodbye for now…

After nearly a year in the planning, the ten days of the Massachusetts Walking Tour’s visit to the Blackstone Valley and the Upper Charles River watershed is done. Now I’m hearing from those who missed the concerts in their towns, who had hoped to participate but were prevented for various reasons. Continue reading

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Too much to say–The Walking Tour’s visit to Bellingham


The Walking Tour hanging out at High Street Fields in the shade

I’ve been hoping the Massachusetts Walking Tour would come to Bellingham for over three years now. The past year has been an intense time of planning, working together with Mark Mandeville and Raianne Richards. And the reality has been as fun as I could have hoped. Continue reading


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Just another day on the Massachusetts Walking Tour-Milford


Each concert starts with an accapella number by the Massachusetts Walking tour

We’re at the mid-point of this year’s Easy Walks, Massachusetts Walking Tour,  which has brought the tour from the Blackstone Valley to a sojourn in the Upper Charles River watershed. It was a relatively short walk for the troupe from Hopedale into Milford, so they stopped for supplies, had lunch in downtown Milford, then headed to the home of their hosts Beth and Skip Farwell, where they set up tents for the night.


Beth Farwell, hostess for the Walking tour for the night, with Raianne, just prior to the concert

Part of the work of planning the tour is arranging for the musicians to have a place to stay each night. Mostly they camp. One night a friend put them up in real beds! It’s been fun for me to share my local friends with the musicians, and wonderful for these friends to open their yards for one night of camping, to provide a place to stay, showers, and sometimes even a hot meal.

The recent storm occurred the evening they performed at the Hopedale Unitarian Church, and thankfully there was ample room for the travelers to set up their beds indoors, high and dry, with a kitchen to cook breakfast in, to boot.


MacLeod and Ladd

Milford’s concert took place at the Milford Senior Center on North Bow Street, right at the terminus of one portion of the Upper Charles Trail. Each concert is unique, as different community musicians appear during the first half of the shows, which are all from 6-8PM. Milford’s concert was no exception–we were treated to “MacLeod and Ladd” fiddle and guitar music, a mix of Irish, jazz, and other tunes.


Mudville Madrigal Singers, from Holliston

The Mudville Madrigal Singers from Holliston brought accapella music, tight harmonies, from 16th century tunes to modern day music. Although I had nothing to do with their appearing, each group of community musicians turned out to include dear friends of mine, who I had not seen in a long time. What a sweet chance to catch up with them, and to enjoy their music as well.


Lots more great music, this time in a function room at the Milford Sr. Center–great acoustics!

And of course, the WAlking Tour played–their harmonies are getting sweeter with each evening’s performance, the “patter” that is a characteristic of these concerts seems to include more humor each night. The warmth and affection the musicians share for each other is fun to see and be part of.


Jennifer (far left) becomes part of the Massachusetts Walking Tour as they set out from the Milford Sr. Center

8AM the next morning the Massachusetts Walking Tour returned to the Sr. Center to meet up with folks who were interested in joining them on the trail. Jennifer, another friend of mine and ace trail finder, arrived bright and early and ready to walk. (A number of trails in Easy WAlks in Massachusetts are included because of Jennifer’s sharp eye in discovering small local trails, and her willingness to set out on trails at 7AM so I could beat the summer heat!)


Heading out on the trail

The Upper Charles Trail near the Sr. Center is actually a short dogleg portion of the Upper Charles trail, and the spot where you need to make the turn to head northeast toward Holliston, rather than Northwest toward Hopkinton is marked, but still easy to miss.

lost our way

Small signs point to Holliston leg or Hopkinton leg of the trail. Raianne attempts to text the wayward travelers who got ahead of us

Mark and Vito often get ahead of the rest of us when we walk,


Amy hangs out at the trail junction waiting for Mark and Vito to return

and this leg of the journey was no exception.


A friendly woman picking mulberries along the trail

They blew past the turn, but stopped shortly afterwards to chat with a woman picking fruit along the trail. Turns out the mulberries are ripening, and she kept picking while they chattted, letting the guys know the berries were good to eat. The”Other” Mark caught up with Mark and Vito and pointed them back in the right direction and we were soon on our way.


Hanging out at the bridge over the Upper Charles, taking in the view

After a quick view of the Upper Charles from a bridge that crosses the river,


The view–Upper Charles River


Jennifer uses her new walking stick to grab some branches with mulberries

and a stop to grab some mullberries,


Raianne grabs some mulberries

DSC00932.JPGwe headed on to the original trailhead of the Upper Charles Trail,


Note the walking tour poster at the trail kiosk–and the “Other Mark” gets into the picture

at a municipal parking lot at Rt. 16.


Mark with the original trailhead marker

To aid travelers, the Upper Charles Trail folks painted a bright yellow stripe from the original trailhead, through the parking lot, then to the crosswalk at Rt. 16.


Testing their balance on the yellow striped trail through the parking lot, headed toward Rt. 16

From there walkers and bikers must cross the road, travel down Beach Street and get back on to the paved trail that runs parallel to Rt. 16. While in the planning phase, this section of trail was called “the Missing Link” since there were two unlinked portions of trail, but no way to easily connect between them. With a lot of forethought, work, money and care, the two unlinked portions of trail are now connected.

After pointing out the “yellow brick road” as it were, to the walkers, and sending them on their way, Jennifer and I headed back to the Sr. Center, but we’ll see them again in Medway tonight for their concert at the Medway Library–6-8PM. Next stop–Bellingham!


Upper Charles Trail near Fino Field in downtown Milford

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! Marjorie is a Certified Legacy Planner with, and is the producer of numerous veterans interviews for the Bellingham/Mendon Veteran’s History Project.


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On the Road-MA Walking Tour visits Uxbridge


Riverbend Farm, from the tow path

The thing about the Massachusetts Walking Tour is that they, well, walk from town to town, kind of like those troubadours of old, only these talented musicians are not that old.  Continue reading


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Massachusetts Walking Tour is here! 1st night-Webster


The five–the “other” Mark, Amy, Raiane at Lake Chaubunagungamaug

We’ve been working for almost a year and it’s finally begun. We’ve brought the Massachusetts Walking Tour to the Blackstone Valley, so let the walking begin. Continue reading

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Searching for Mountain Laurel-Blackstone Gorge

DSC00531.JPGThe Blackstone Gorge was on my way home and it is just the right time to look for mountain laurel in this area. The past several years I’ve managed to visit at the right time. As I wandered along the river’s edge, it looked like I was too early. Continue reading

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