Tag Archives: easy walks

Fossils and mushrooms oh, my

We started in the southwest of Newfoundland near the ferry landing in Port aux Basques, and after a week moved about two hours north along the Trans Canada highway to the Port au Port area.

On our way to our next campground we visited the Blanche Brook fossil beds in Stephenville, Newfoundland. The packed dirt path in the sunshine along the brook near a parking area offered solid footing for me. Once we entered the woods the trail continued alongside the water, and for the most part was still an Easy Walk. However, to actually see the fossils, visitors need to get down the banks of the stream and wade into the water.

We had just had some heavy rains, filling the brook and making for very tricky footing. I stayed on shore while my husband rock-hopped out to the small island in the brook where he took his shoes off and waded in for a closer look. He got some great views of the fossils, preserved trees turned to rock. We were the only visitors when we stopped on a July morning. Like many other places while in Newfoundland, we often found these outdoor sites to be surprisingly uncrowded.

Doing my part…

A private campground was our home base for several days while we explored several areas that offered some great Easy Walks. After leaving the fossil beds we moved on to a private campground in Stephenville, our home base for several days while we explored several areas that offered some great Easy Walks. Power and water hookups at provincial campgrounds are limited. Since we needed some power to recharge our camper batteries, rather than stay at another provincial park, we chose to stay a night or two at a campground that had “hookups.”

Both national and provincial parks are great places to visit in Newfoundland. Besides these government sponsored outdoor spaces, we were surprised to discover stunning outdoor places that local communities oversee. Even more surprising is that a number of them that offer Easy Walks in areas that are otherwise very difficult to access. Once we were settled in the campground we headed back out to explore nearby Sheaves Cove.

Sheaves Cove offers not just one, but two Easy Walks. The creating an maintaining of these trails has been a labor of love, and I really appreciated the care that went into making these trails accessible for many of us. The first trail we explored took us down to the Hidden Waterfall. Quite obvious once you have driven down the dirt road leading to the parking, this waterfall is not visible from the road unless you know where to look.

Stream near the parking area flows from the waterfall through the marsh into the sea

The water from the falls flows out through a marsh and empties into the sea right next to where we parked. The path down to the falls is a maintenance access type road, quite broad, packed gravel, with a gentle incline that takes you to the bottom of the falls.

On the opposite side of the parking lot is a trail that invites visitors to stroll along the cliffs overlooking the ocean. This path is quite wide, packed gravel and offers amazing views of limestone formations right along the shoreline.

Viewing platforms long the way present opportunities to get even better views of the area than you can see by walking along the top of the cliffs. Some limestone formations reminded me of mushrooms, though certainly not very tasty.

Water cascades down the limestone cliff into the sea

Yet another waterfall in this spot tumbles down the cliff, crossing the trail, cascading directly into the sea from the rocks just above the waterline. A bridge allows visitors easy access to the other side of the water. We spent hours taking in the views, resting at the viewing platforms and looking for whales. No luck with whales on this outing, but we spotted them on other visits during our trip.

Humor on the trail

We found more Easy Walks in the Port au Port area that I will leave for our next post. On our next outing, we encountered a provincial park that offers more Easy Walks, and clearly has a great sense of humor. Till then, 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 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 written for numerous local, regional, and national publications over the past 20+ years, has helped many families save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.

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Easy Walks goes to Newfoundland–Puffins!!

At last…puffins!!!

Many years ago our family headed to Cape Breton for a driving tour. I decided that puffins would be the best part of our travels. A place in Rockland Maine offered a way we could see puffins. A minor (four hour round trip) detour, some of us were more excited about than others. When we arrived in Rockland we learned that the puffins were quite a distance off shore, but we could watch by video what the puffins were up to. (We could have watched from home, I suspected.) Clearly I had not done enough reading before insisting we take this side trip.

We visited Newfoundland in September of 2018 when it would have been too late to see puffins. They are pelagic and thus are visible from land only when they are nesting–April to August. On our most recent, 2022 trip, we first thought we’d missed the puffins, but soon learned we were not too late! Our 2022 trip to Newfoundland began in the southwest corner of the island, after a ferry ride from Sydney, on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to Port aux Basques, Newfoundland. Puffins nest on the eastern coast. It was a long ride from one point to the other.

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Wilson Park N. Kingstown, RI beach walk

Long Point, North Kingstown, RI

Beaches get so crowded in summer that it is tough to find a quiet spot to take in the water, the horizon, and the sounds and smells of the ocean. We normally avoid going to the beach in warmer weather for these, and other reasons.

We ventured to Wickford, RI on an errand, and on our way back north encountered Wilson Park, on Roosevelt Ave., North Kingstown, RI just off Rt. 1A. The main portion of the park was jammed with summer visitors. Children climbed on playground equipment, while others picnicked, played basketball, baseball, soccer, or simply lay out in the sun. We hurried past the noisy main park and found ourselves at the Long Point boat ramp, part of Wilson Park. As opposed to most places with shoreline access, this area was surprisingly uncrowded.

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Our own type of fun at Jellystone in Virginia

Fun with Yogi!

Lots of us grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons. But not so many get to really hug Yogi Bear. A series of cimcumstances brought us to Jellystone Park near Natural Bridge, Virginia. We feared the place would be filled with noisy campers, but instead, we arrived early in the season and had the place to ourselves.

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Letting Go

So simple–Just let go

Advice is often handed out like candy–“Just let go, and have a nice day.” Why some think it’s simple is beyond me. Letting go has never been that easy in my own life, for sure! One day I finally began to grasp what was wrong with this advice, or at least, what was missing. Here’s the story: (an excerpt from My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.

Well-intentioned people offer varied strategies intended to short-circuit the difficult process of “letting go,” whether it be of worries, pain, hurt, relationships, the past in general, or even prolonged grieving. The list of life challenges is endless, and suggestions for how to cope are endless too, yet have been useless in my own experience. I have learned that letting go is something that happens on its own time schedule, not because of trying harder.

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New (to us) rail trail section Airline Trail, CT

Along the Airline Trail near Hampton, Connecticut. Difficult to see here, but this pond must have been flooded by beavers. Stone walls from the shoreline lead all the way down past the water’s edge

In our travels with our camper, we have found state forests to be a great resource, often providing camp grounds where we had great experiences. Many have trail networks, one state forest we stayed at had a handicapped accessible overlook, and others were simply great spots to stop and enjoy the scenery.

One access point along the Airline Trail

On our way to a rail trail in Connecticut, we stopped by a state forest we spotted along the way and discovered a gem (and access to yet another portion of the same rail trail we had been headed toward). The James L. Goodwin State Forest in Hampton, CT offers multiple options for enjoying the outdoors. The boat ramp allows small craft to enjoy the pond. The Conservation Center, located inside the State Forest, offers education programs. When we looked at Google maps we realized that the Airline Trail passes directly through this same state forest.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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