Category Archives: 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 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 north, 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.

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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.

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Women’s work-sign your work Anonymous needlepoint

I had meant to clean my dusty needlepoint doorstop and finally got around to pulling out the lint remover, which allowed the intricate needlework to be on display once more on our small doorstop. (I have a very uneven house–doorstops are essential or the door won’t stay open!) Once I started handling the doorstop to clean it, I wondered if there might be any initials on it. I knew the doorstop had come from my grandmother Marjorie’s (my namesake) house, and was brought to my parent’s house after my grandmother’s death, then moved to my house after my grandmother’s death. Once all dusted off, I looked closely, but found no initials.

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My backstory

Whenever I meet someone new, perhaps meeting them to write an article about something they have done, I like to understand their backstory. How did they get to where they are today? What are the choices they have made, or the events, the influences that pushed, pulled or drew them in the direction they now find themselves in?

Over the years I have referred to various parts of my own backstory. There’s a reason I only take Easy Walks. This article, an interview with the “Brenda After Sixty” website, offers a clear summary of my backstory, including important events that influenced who I am, and choices I have made along the way.

Marjorie, how did you get the idea to publish your Easy Walks books?

I have written for local newspapers for the past 20+ years. Ten years ago I wrote a short series of articles on local places to walk, which my editor titled “Naturally New England.” After publication, I had a sense the information was of continuing value so I created a blog on my writing website, MarjorieTurner.com for “Local Walks.” Pretty soon people found their way to my blog, and the most common search term was “where is Joe’s Rock?” (It’s in Wrentham, MA and offers a nice view).

After about the 500th “hit” on my website, I recognized a need, researched available sources, (found none) and realized I could fill this void. This was 2013. What began as idea for a newspaper column has grown into the “Easy Walks” brand because of the multiple Easy Walks in Massachusetts books I have written. The first three are trail guides to over 130 trails in 37 contiguous towns in south central Massachusetts. The latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, offers a broad overview of methods I used to find these (and other trails in our travels throughout the country), strategies that others can put to use, and basic “outdoor” tips for how to dress to keep warm, stay safe on the trail, find walking partners, and more.

Why Do You Focus on Easy Walks?

Well, I only take Easy Walks. Twenty-seven years ago I found myself unable to even walk across a room. Surgery to save my life left my right size paralyzed.  To read more, here’s the entire articleBrenda after Sixty Easy Walks article

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.

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Birds draw me outside

A bluebird perches near our feeder at the edge of the yard

I have a confession–I am not walking outside much right now. The pandemic has worn me down, shredded my sense of connection with others, and made me reluctant to leave the supposed safety of the walls of my home. Getting outside alone has felt more difficult than in the past. How much easier to simply move back and forth from upstairs to back down, from the living room to the kitchen then back again (we have a very small house).

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Story Magic in the Everglades

Roseate spoonbills feed while an alligator waits for fish in the incoming tide, Ding Darling Swamp, Sanibel Island, Florida

It had been a while since I had experienced “story magic.” The pandemic has precluded in-person gatherings. Our meetings over Zoom and other venues are limited, demanding a different level of attention, with little room for leisurely storytelling. It took an eerie photo of alligator eyes lit by the moonlight on a Florida waterway to light the spark of story magic.

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College lessons persist to this day

On the trail at Hop Brook Preserve, Blackstone

College was a long time ago for me, but in some ways, feels like yesterday. In a recent conversation with Brian Benson from Bridgewater State University, where I graduated oh so many years ago, we had a chance to talk about my current work encouraging folks to get out safely on trails to enjoy the outdoors. We also talked about the influence my college education has had on my life. What a sweet walk down memory lane, as well as a chance to let folks know about what I’m up to right now. Thanks Brian, for a great writeup.

“Hiking is so popular during the COVID-19 pandemic that many parks are inundated with visitors. A Bridgewater State alumna has a timely strategy for slipping on those walking shoes, exercising and discovering something new, all the while practicing physical distancing. Marjorie Turner Hollman’s new book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, is a guide for exploring hidden gems in one’s own town or neighborhood. The class of 1977 graduate began writing it before the pandemic, but it is more important now.” Read more: https://www.bridgew.edu/stories/2020/walk-way

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 editionEasy 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.

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Overcoming fears…

Friends and family make the impossible, possible

An imagination is a terrible thing to waste; I practice using mine every day. At times well-intentioned people have advised me to “just relax.” If it were so easy, I would have become calm and serene long ago, unruffled as I anticipate life’s challenges.

For the most part, I’ve been surrounded by caring people who have been patient with my timidity, encouraging me, while staying nearby throughout the process of coping with change. Always alert to instances of “creative hand-holding,” I store these memories away, never knowing when they might be of use. Perhaps because of this, I’ve been drawn to beginners, fascinated by the transition from “I can’t” to “Hey, look at me!”

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Reflections on cooking while quarantined

happy birthday girl

A happy birthday, regardless of a pandemic. And yes, liver and onions really are my favorite.

In the midst of the pandemic that is Covid-19 we like many others, I suspect, have been working to reduce the number of times we go out, especially for food shopping. While we have not altered our meals radically, we have focused on different ways of extending meals, and using what we have, rather than making one more list and heading back out yet again, as we often have in the past. I do more of the cleanup than the cooking duties, so these suggestions are mostly my husband’s. And yes, we have managed to have some special treats along the way, even a celebratory birthday dinner for me last month, as we remained apart from our loved ones in other households.

The following is a list, not comprehensive, of ways we cook that might offer some ideas to others. Will we continue with these habits when life has opened back up? That remains to be seen. Wishing the best to all and praying for safekeeping as we muddle our way through. Continue reading

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Bringing liberal arts study and life together

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Sharing stories between generations is magic, no matter the form those stories take

I was invited to comment on the benefits of obtaining a liberal arts education. Perhaps you are asking yourself this question right now. Below is my response, with the link to the article, which offers numerous other amazing responses to the same question. Enjoy!

I received my BA in History many years ago, and for quite a while wondered if I would ever put my studies to use. It was only ten years ago, when I came across the world of Personal Historians, that I realized my studies, my passions and my work were finally all coming together. Continue reading

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