Kailua-Kona historic sites – January 2018

Welcome to the Big Island of Hawaii! Protestant missionaries (from Boston, of course) first reached Hawaii in 1820. They arrived with Henry Obookiah, an orphaned native Hawaiian, who had attended a missionary school in Connecticut while living with Yale’s president. Read Sarah Vowell’s book “Unfamiliar Fishes” for a fun history.

The missionaries created Hawaii’s first church in Kailua-Kona, the Mokuaikaua Church.  In 1835, the little thatched-roof church was replaced by this structure:

It’s built of black lava rocks, held together by mortar made from coral. The white clapboard steeple adds a touch of New England. Right across the street – Ali’i Drive – is Hulihe’e Palace which became a royal family retreat.

You can see the palace through the church’s gate:

The church has a display about its history, including this plaque honoring Obookiah:

and this one honoring his fellow Hawaiian missionary Thomas Hopu:

We crossed the street and walked around the palace, which has a lot of artifacts inside (no photos):

Can you tell from the signs that the Hawaiian alphabet has only 13 letters? Henry Obookiah created the first written alphabet of this previously oral language, and translated the Book of Genesis into Hawaiian.


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Eustis Estate, Milton, MA – 11/24/17

The Eustis Estate is a Gilded Age mansion on 80 acres at the foot of the Blue Hills in Milton, MA. Now managed by Historic New England, it was designed by architect William Ralph Emerson (cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson). It’s an 1878 work of art in stone, wood, and glass, part of the Aesthetic Movement which favored art and beauty for their own sake. The home was built for Edith Hemenway and her husband W.E.C. Eustis. It stayed in the family until their descendants sold it to Historic New England in 2012.


I grew up nearby, and we’d occasionally drive by this carriage house which is right on the main road. I remember thinking of it as my princess castle. And that was before I ever saw the mansion on the hill:

The back of the mansion has a large round balcony wrapping around a corner room – must have been a lovely spot to sit in the afternoon:

You can take a guided tour, or visit the estate on your own. We missed the tour, but there were docents on each floor who were thrilled to answer questions and provide more details.

And there are so many details, from this gnarly old tree, a seedling when the house was built, to the intricate tiles around each fireplace:

Stained glass door panel:


to the 2nd story alcove with the Moon window:


Edith had this chair custom made for story-time. She’d sit in the high seat in the middle, and the twins Frederic and Augustus would sit in the lower seats on either side. The wood carving on the back reads “Once upon a Time:”


The Great Hall is 3 stories, open to this trussed peaked ceiling with a half-moon stained glass window, and an intricately carved fireplace with gold leaf:

I especially loved the staircase, which has a double-decker bench – the lower bench faces the room, while the one above it faces the stairs:


One of the surprises in a home like this is they let you sit on the furniture. At most historic homes, the seats are roped off. The parlor has a moon fireplace…


… and a stuffed peacock:


There’s a jewelry exhibit upstairs, including this tiger-claw necklace:

IMG_0812The grounds are lovely, too, for a short stroll. Not a big enough property for a significant hike. The estate was over 200 acres originally, but is only about 80 now – most of the land was taken by eminent domain to create the Blue Hills Reservation. The corner room on the 2nd floor, with that circular balcony, has an exhibit on the history of the Reservation.

This stone powerhouse with an “eyebrow roof” has the year 1902 embedded in the facade with white stones:

IMG_0824Down the hill on your way out, The carriage house/princess castle now houses the administrative offices, with a great view up to the mansion:

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Moose Hill Farm – 9/16/17

A quick stroll at Moose Hill Farm, and a visit with the chickens and stone walls in the woods.


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Rhythm & Roots Music Festival, Labor Day weekend 2017

Rhythm & Roots is a favorite music festival, on the grounds of Ninigret State Park in Charlestown, RI, over Labor Day weekend. The festival has 4 stages – the main Rhythm stage, a Roots music tent, the zydeco dance tent, and a family music tent. Plus lots of food trucks, arts & crafts vendors and activities for kids, a pond for swimming. And fantastic music –  check out this schedule: http://www.rhythmandroots.com/schedule.

Jeffrey Broussard & the Creole Cowboys

Twister board on the lawn

Celia Woodsmith of Della Mae fronts Say Darling, rocking a Ruth Bader Ginsburg T-shirt.

Flora around the field:

Fiddle showcase on the Roots stage:

Swimming hole:

The Turtle Duhks

New favorite discovery, Shinyribs:

Old favorite discovery from Rhythm & Roots a few years ago – Raul Malo and The Mavericks, headlining Friday night:

Not my video, but a good feel for “All Night Long” with a tease: https://youtu.be/vNd8Iy2-Qqo

Next day, we’ve got this guy walking around playing the bones – changing from cowboy hat to alligator hat:

The festival isn’t far from the coast, so on a rainy morning, we explored the area:

Protecting a young fan from the rain:

The weather cleared, with a rainbow over the music:

We ended with Roseann Cash:


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High Rock Area, F. Gilbert Hills State Forest, Foxboro – 8/27/17

Here’s another great corner of F. Gilbert Hills State Forest in Foxboro, with hiking trails and an ATV trail:

Just beautiful woods, past a radio tower:

We’ve got most everything we look for in a hike – woods, walls, water. Some great stone formations, and old waterholes.

Trails are marked by signs, by blazes of paint, and by this cairn:

There are stone staircases up to a monument near the parking:


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New Gloucester & 2 Lights State Park, ME 7/29/17

New Gloucester, ME is the site of Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, the last active Shaker community, with 2 elderly Shakers remaining. We visited friends with a summer cottage on the lake, but didn’t actually tour the Village.

Took a short hike into the woods around the lake:

Sabbathday Lake:

Then headed to Bates College in nearby Lewiston for a dance performance, followed by drinks and snacks at restaurant overlooking the Androscoggin River. Nice little riverfront park has a bandstand with this decor:

Next morning, we headed home via Cape Elizabeth to check out Two Lights State Park. The park is named for two nearby lighthouses, which you can’t actually see from the park. But you hike along the rocky Maine coast, and climb down to the crashing waves. There’s a playground:

The park was part of the country’s WWII coastal defense system with bunkers and this cement observation tower:

Trails through woods lead to the rocky headlands overlooking Casco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

You can climb down the rocks to get pretty close to tidal pools and the waves. Folks do some fishing there too.

There are lots of benches, and picnic tables and grills, tucked into secluded alcoves off the trails. Dinner with a view:

We left the park to drive down Two Lights Road to actually see a lighthouse, and the sandy beach below it:



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Hardy Park, Mansfield, MA 7/23/17

Hardy Park is a nice local area of conservation land, off of Maple St.

It’s a typical New England woodland trail, except for the chain link fence and towers of rail-car shipping containers. But you pass that bit of civilization and you’re immersed in nature, with a trail marker or two. We took the yellow trail to the green one, which goes by the ponds.

You get peeks at a small pond through the trees:

then come to the larger pond which has more open access:

Hmmm… that looks like a cistern and chairs across the way…

We had the entire trail to ourselves, except for the wildlife – that’s a pretty big toad.

Lavender flowers growing out of the water:

And a couple of nice resting spots:

We kept walking around to the far side. Lovely stroll, perfect day…

and reached those chairs…

Don’t know what this cement tube is, but it’s not a cistern.

Past this spot, the trail forks and we headed out onto the red trail, hoping we’d get some good views of the Canoe River…

Well, it’s the red trail, but no skittles in sight.

A butterfly:

and the trail out… but it’s too high above and away from the River, or the river’s too small, to see it. But there was interesting graffiti on a tree.

Great spot for nature, solitude, and easy 1 1/2 hour outing, including the sitting and admiring time.


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