Archive for April, 2012

Middlesex Fells Reservation, Medford – 4/21/12

Another great state “People’s Forest Park” – Middlesex Fells Reservation, in Medford, Melrose, Stoneham, Winchester, Malden. 2500 acres split by I-93. Lots of ponds, lakes, trails, rocky hills, dog walkers, mountain bikers. We south-of-boston folks had no idea. There’s even a Skyline Trail, like at the Blue Hills Reservation, with views of the Boston skyline. So many areas to explore, and the old stone visitor center was only a 35 minute drive.

We parked at Bellevue Pond, and hiked a few trails (Mud, Red Cross, Silver Mine) and finally ended up on the Skyline Trail to reach Wright’s Tower, an old stone observation tower built 1937. Skyline Trail may be a straight line on the map, but it’s an up and down over rocky ledges, summits, hills – probably twice the number of steps as a comparable flat trail. Quite a workout, but the views are the payoff. And the woods, and the fragrance – pine, dogwood, crabapple. Many of the trails are nicely marked – but some are not and that’s where we get a little confused.


Followed the hike with dinner at Masa in nearby Woburn with Ann & Tim.


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Moyles Quarry, 4-15-12

Hiked with the Sharon Friends of Conservation to Moyles Quarry in Borderland State Park. We parked on the unpaved section of Mountain St., and hiked with about 20 folks on a section of Borderland trails we’ve never done before. Many thanks to Richard for guiding and sharing some history of the site, which was the source of granite for the Canton Viaduct, built in 1835 – and still used by the commuter rail.

Nice hike of about 2 hours, including our loop around the Quarry. Some up and down, but not steep.

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St. Martin, Saturday, 4/1/12

Just a few hours left in St. Martin – hit the beach early, hiked up that strange lava rock hill with all those rare “Turk’s Head” cacti. Then loaded the car and headed to Princess Juliana International Airport.

Great little island. Wish we’d stayed longer – 2 more days and we might have hit every paved road and every beach, but we came close!

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Friday in St. Martin – 3/31/12

Went back to the Butterfly Farm for the early morning activity – as great as the afternoon visit was, the morning was way more fluttery.

From there, it was on to Loterie Farm with the zip lines, ropes course, and hiking trails part-way up Pic Paradis, the highest point on the island. No, we didn’t do the heights, or the zip. Bob & Bonnie relaxed with a beverage at the stylish open air lounge, while the Halperns hit a shorter trail to a view. Found sticks! and dogs! Some stretches were so steep that they’ve built rope railings along the trail so you can pull yourself up. Reached a big rocky ledge (with a neat name for the rock) and a great view out to Marigot. Hiked back down and drove to Marigot – took a tour through the St. Martin Museum – 3 rooms in the old jail, with exhibits on the geology, history, industry (salt!), and native peoples of the island. Then back to Orient Bay for dinner at Little Italie.


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Thursday in St. Martin

Headed out for a morning hike, looking for a trail near Coralita Bay. Stopped at a roadside observation deck, with great views of a sail-boarder. Met a fellow who introduced us to some creatures – live black and white sea anemones! Continued driving down towards Oyster Bay – accosted by a young woman offering scratch tickets with prizes – we won the top prize of the day (maybe $1,000 and she would get a $200 bonus and could quit work early), BUT we’d have to sit through an hour time share pitch. We declined, so she was going to give the winning ticket to the next car she could stop!

After the excitement, we found our trail and hiked up through mud, goats, thorns to a nice view of Coralita Bay. Back to le Grand Blue for lunch, then went to the Butterfly Farm for a late afternoon visit. Followed that up with a stop at Le Galion Beach – nice bay protected by a coral reef, so very calm water, and you can walk out into the bay on a sandbar.

French dinner back in the village at Cote Plages – with a sample of pineapple gazpacho, ending with a shot of strawberry pureed rum (and the waiter left the bottle – silly garcon!)

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St. Martin Wednesday 3-28-12

Day 2 – walked to the bakery in the Village for croisants for breakfast and “American” coffee, about twice the size of a little espresso. Enjoyed the beach for a while, then drove about as far north as we could to the village of Cul de Sac. That’s where you can take a 5-minute ferry or rent kayaks to go to Islet Pinel. Drove from there up and down steep hills to Anse Marcel, a beach with a fancy resort. We weren’t fancy enough, so we drove on and up the hills to get great views. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the US Market (supermarket) to buy sandwich and breakfast supplies, fruit, coffee, rum – the essentials.

Ate lunch on the patio alongside the pool. more beach, naps. Then dressed for dinner and drove all the way to Grand Case (10 minutes?) to find “Restaurant Row” – the gourmet capital of the Carribbean. Walked the Row reading menus. Settled on L’Auberge Gourmande in one of the oldest buildings in the town. Great food, with interesting side dishes – I had Sautéed Chilean sea bass filet & shrimp, served with coconut sauce on a bed of sweet potatoes, with a large potato-latke-ish thing made of cauliflower – yum!

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St. Martin – March 27, 2012

After 2 hours sleep (with sore feet, sore throats, sore hands, and happy hearts from a nearly 3-hour Springsteen Wrecking Ball show), we loaded up the van with luggage and Basemans and headed to Logan. Uneventful JetBlue flight, that flew in just a few hundred feet over a beach in Sint Maartin to touch down. Got the rental car, and drove through some questionable areas before reaching our hotel – Le Grand Bleu – in Orient Bay on the northeast side of St. Martin. Spent the afternoon on the beach, then drove 2 minutes to the Village, with 7 or 8 open air restaurants, for dinner. Lots of cats wandering around. Still learning the roads, so the bright sign over our hotel was a welcome sight on the way back.

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