In which Mom goes on a wild tear

We’ve all had that moment (or at least those of us who are the “fun,” read “irresponsible,” part of the couple), where our responsible half, they who keep roofs over our heads, food on our plates, and everyone mostly on task, sighs a sigh of wistful desire. Well, mine happened today. Dad’s mountain bike is 25 years old, and in need of so much TLC at this point, it would be cheaper to replace it. This offends his sensibilities, so he’s been effectively without a mountain bike for years. Until today.

Bones3 truck-mount bike rack on an 2011 Hyundai Elantra Touring
Bike, rack, and helmet #3.

I give you his new bike. Its another Specialized Rockhopper, and he loves it. The rack was pretty simple to put on, as far as trunk-mounted bike racks go. That means the swearing was kept to a minimum, and there was no blood spilt.

Keeping an eye on the bikes, because who needs a bike lock?

We took it out for a dry run with Beta. A traditional trip to the Panera downtown to grab some lunch and have some fun. Their kitchen sink cookies are not for the faint of heart, but oh so good if you share.

We hung out for a while, until the whinging from certain parties about going home became too much, got back on our (lovely, new) bikes and headed home. The ride is surprisingly flat (yay floodplain), which made testing out and finding gears so much easier.

After we got home, the statement was made: I want to go to the beach (guess who). After some digging to find a beach with other things to do. Apparently we were not doing bathing suits today. Some pretty slick Googling came up with Castle Island. Beach, walking trail, dog beach, perfect!

After some finagling, browbeating, and the promise to play Minecraft when we got back, we piled everyone (including the dog) into the car and took off for South Boston.

Handful of periwinkles, all still alive. One is poking its head out.

The place is surprisingly pretty. It is right next to the docks for the really big ships, so we got to watch a cruise ship put out to sea. Beta and I walked the beach, while Dad and Alpha walked the dog around the causeway. Beta turned out to be the periwinkle whisperer. We didn’t count how many she found, but they were all still alive. We put them someplace safe to wait for the tide to come back in.

Safe place for periwinkles (we hope)

We had a great walk, and found a couple of live oysters, too. After a while, we started down the causeway towards the open ocean. Beta walked back on the outside of the fence, only having to jump across about half way back (no more asphalt to walk on, and I lost my nerve). We met up with Dad, Alpha and the dog a little while later, and packed up to head home.

Not too shabby a day!

Beta and her oysers

Hiking @ Goldsmith

We found a new place for a nature walk: Goldsmith Woodlands in Andover.  We covered about half of the trails in a two-hour walk.

The town provides a rough map.

Just a random bush. I think they’re rhododendrons?
All three kids, two human and one dog, heading down the trail
Looking down the trail. Most of the trails are about as well-groomed as this.
bessie's point
Looking out from the end of the trail at Bessie’s Point (click to expand)


First Snow of the Year

These trees normally stand straight. They did not last night.

This winter has been kind of a bust as far as snow goes. Thursday I was wandering around in a t-shirt because it was 60 degrees! And then The Snow Came. The kids had a snow day, I worked from home, and Dad decided to go into the office. He was sad that he missed the traditional breakfast of all snow days, french toast. I explained that you only get french toast if you stay home. Its in the rules. Really.

The snow is that heavy, wet kind that takes out trees. We only lost the one branchOops (at the front of the stairs, just for the extra drama), so it could have been much worse. After Dad got home (I made him send me a Glympse so I could watch him drive home), we decided to go out and brave the roads to honor our family tradition of Friday Night at the Mall (don’t ask. I don’t know how it started). We got dinner and toddled off to Newbury Comics to see what they had.

Dad and Alpha settling in to wait for Beta and I to finish. It was a while.
Dad and Alpha settling in to wait for Beta and I to finish. It was a while.

We had a grand time. Beta found some quidditch goggles, and had enough money for them, so now she is their proud owner. I found so much stuff I would love to own, but I don’t want to actually pay for/store somewhere in my house. Alpha swears she loves comics, but she never seems to find the one that sings to her. I’m waiting for her to discover Sandman.

The drive home was beautiful, because the trees were all spangled with snow. They glowed in the headlights. There were a few new branches on the ground, which was a little nerve-wracking, but it looks if it was going to fall, it has.

This afternoon, Dad had to go down to Willimantic to help out one of his old clients. Of course, we stopped by Panera first for lunch (because Panera). He left from there, and I wandered down to a display of snow pants on clearance. On the day after a snow storm. I love how this works.

One pair of snow pants for Alpha later, I dragged the girls and Beta’s friend Lambda out to sled. First at the Senior Center here in town (which seems to be frequented by the little kids), and then Woburn Street School. They had the whole place to themselves, and spent about an hour blazing trails, building jumps, and sledding.


Much fun was had.


Hiking the Fells

Beta and Butter leading the way
Beta and Butter leading the way

Beta and I seem to be the more adventuresome side of the family.  Today we went hiking in the Middlesex Fells Reservation because we’d never been.

For our first look-around, I chose to start near the off-leash area at the Sheepfold, thinking we might be able to let Butter off her leash for a bit.  Sadly, the area is not fenced in at all, and she won’t come on command when there are any distractions.  (Butter will come when called at home, she’s not totally devoid of training, but the possibilities of squirrels and other dogs and dead things to roll around in are just too much for her to resist.)

From the Sheepfold parking area, there’s a straight shot up to the Bear Hill observation tower (about a mile) so we headed up.  The view from the top is impressive.

Beta brought along a book to identify animal tracks, and we found some animal tracks that were neither human nor dog — we think they were bobcat.

Unbeknownst to me Beta did NOT bring socks, however, and her waterproof boots quickly gave her a blister.  We discovered this at the tower, so we turned around and headed home a bit earlier than I had planned.  She promised me that she would bring socks next time, and she was so miserable by the end of the hike that I kind of believe her this time.  I think she enjoyed the hike otherwise, though.

Patriots Days in Concord (Day 1)

The morning dawned bright and clear, and the weather prediction called for a warm and gorgeous day. We decided that today was the day to take off and go learn some history! We packed the kids and the dog into the car, and off we went.

The first stop was the North Bridge. We missed the excitement at Miriam’s Corner, but had fun walking around the bridge and seeing just how full the river is. I can see why going around the bridge wasn’t really an option back in the day!

The flooding at the North Bridge was extensive!
The flooding at the North Bridge was extensive!
Butter is on the alert!

On our way up to the Visitor’s Center we ran into a very friendly dog. “Mort” was out without a leash, and apparently without an owner! Butter thought he was great fun, and they had a good time playing. We managed to catch him, and I leashed him with the strap from my bag (army map cases rock, and I highly recommend them). Fortunately, Mort’s family put their phone number on his collar,  so we were able to call them. Their first comment, “We thought he was inside!” We met them up at the Visitor’s Center, and Mort the Houdini Dog went on home like a  good boy.

There was one event I really wanted to see today, and that was the ceremony that commemorated the end of Paul Revere‘s ride (but not the end of the ride of William Dawes or of Dr. Samuel Prescott). The drive from Concord to Lincoln takes you past The Old Manse, Orchard House, and The Wayside. Once we got into Lincoln, the site of the ceremony was easy to find. Revere was caught on the road to Concord, after all.

The Minute Men arrive.
The Minute Men arrive.

There was a dramatic reading of “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere” by “Mr. Longfellow,” along with “Mr. Revere” and a “British Captain” calling him out when he got fast and loose with the facts (he called it “poetic license”). All in all, it was fun.

We got home in plenty of time to make dinner, and we were all tired. It was a fantastic day, and there is more to do next weekend! I can’t wait!

Alpha and Beta sitting at the base of the monument marking the position of the British. There is an insane amount of water behind them. If it gets much higher, the bridge will be an island.



Sledding in Wilmington

Wilmington sits in region of Massachusetts that is sadly bereft of protrusive terrain.  Coming from hilly Connecticut, I quickly noticed the lack of sledding opportunities.

It’s not all sad flatness, however.  We have a great prominence left by the glaciers at the south end of town, by a local ball field.  I’m not sure if the hill or the field have a name – Google Maps is currently mum.  It appears to be about 100′ high.

From the road, you would never know a sledding track is there, except for the number of cars in the parking lot that appear immediately after a snowfall.

There are two sledding tracks, one steeper than the other.  The flatter one is a favorite of the little kids, but the “ruts” tend to be better defined on the steeper track (ironically, making that one the safer track as you’re less likely to drift off-course).

Hiking @ HP

Meghan, Alpha, and I have started hiking the Harold Parker State Forest today.  It’s pretty big, it should tide us over for the spring.

Our first leg was beautiful.


Apparently there are beaver in that pond:


This tree has seen a little more beaver-love:


The trails in the HP connect with a ring of trails around metro Boston, the Bay Circuit.  It’s 200 miles from end to end, so we’ll be hiking it for a few years to come.

Its a nice replacement for our old hiking project, along the Hop River Trail.  The four of us hiked from Willimantic to Manchester over the course of a year, the Bay Circuit should take a bit longer.