New England Blog Posts
Blue Hills Ski Area
Today I took my daughter skiing at Blue Hills in Canton Massachusetts. This was her first time on skies and I haven’t been on a mountain in 18 years.
We just decided to ski together without any formal lessons. I would just give her some tips and tricks on how to ski.
We had a fun time skiing and she actually wants to go back next weekend.
Blue Hills "Fenway" trail with the magic carpet taking skiers to the top of the trail.
Nine Things I Learned
Reservations Required. Due to COVID-19 state rules, we had to make reservations. We were able to secure a spot the night before we hit the slopes.
Time Constraint and Cost Also new this year is that you limited on how long you can ski. We had a 4-hour slot. Which was probably just enough for my daughter's first day on the slopes. However, it seemed expensive for 2 tickets and rentals for $170.
Confusing On Arrival. Prior to going to the ski resort, I checked the parking lots. I found that there were three lots and getting the first or second was ideal because I didn’t need to take a shuttle bus. We were lucky to get a spot in the second lot. When we got to the buildings it was a bit confusing where to get tickets. We had prepaid rental and there was a section for that - however it was for people that had been there before. We met other people that were also confused.
No Private Lessons. As were skiing we saw a Blue Hills official approach a guy with several children and asked him if he was giving paid lessons. Apparently, you can’t give private lessons that are not sponsored by the mountain. This could be a liability reason or they want people to use the mountain training.
Great Mountain to Learn. We found that Blue Hills is a great mountain to learn to ski. Its small size makes it easy to go up and down the mountain.
Limited Skiing. When we went, there wasn’t much natural snow on the ground. Many trains were closed because they don’t have 100% snowmaking coverage. Also once you become good at skiing, there’s a limited number of trails to ski on.
Food and Drinks. The cafe was open. When I walked in, someone asked me if we plan on using the bathroom. I told them no, then he asked for my name and phone number- which I assume was for COVID-19 contact tracing. A bottle of Poland Spring water is only $1 - that was nice.
Fenway Trail. We spent all day on the Fenway trail. It was busy because most people had lessons on that slope. One thing I noticed is that most people didn’t have any poles.
Magic Carpet Lift. The two green trails are served by two Magic Carpet lifts. The lift is a conveyor belt that gently moves you up the hill. I found it a bit tricky to use - I have been on a lot of lifts. Basically, you walk on the carpet and standstill as it moves you. I noticed some people lean forward to help keep their balance.
A picture of the trial map that hangs near the ticket window.
If you're going to Blue Hills, I would recommend getting there at least 45-mins early to get rental equipment and lift tickets. Your ski time is when you can get on a lift and not when you can get your equipment.
Best New England Blog Posts
During the Spring and Summer months, I blogged about various New England locations. It was fun thinking up all the various locations that I have visited over the years.
Here are 8 of those posts that are worth reading:
Best Blog Post
OceanEdge Beach at Sunset - Great Place to enjoy a sunset over the Cape Cod bay
Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary - Fun Facts about the popular Wildlife Sanctuary
Graveyard of Dearly Depinted - Fun Graveyard to visit at the Ben & Jerry's Headquarters
Bewitched Statue in Salem - Fun facts about the Bewitched statue in Salem, Massachusetts
Salem Witch Museum - Fun Facts about the Salem Witch Museum
Sturbridge Village - Old Sturbridge Village is a great place to learn about colonial New England
Minuteman Statue in Concord Massachusetts - Fun Facts about the Minuteman Statue in Concord
Our Lady of Fatima Shrine - Some fun facts about this popular shrine site
Will Be Back in 2021
I plan on revisiting this topic again sometime in 2021.
This past weekend we did the Magic Lights at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. We had a great time enjoying the lights and celebrating the Christmas season.
Here are some of my notes from that trip - hope it helps others have a great time! It's 2020, this is a safe way to enjoy the Christmas season.
Eight Things I Learned
We found out that most people arrive as soon as the gate opens, you might want to wait for at least 45-mins to avoid the long traffic line.
Best way to get there is via Route 1 South. As the northbound traffic to the Magic Lights has to loop around to the event, this caused a longer backup than the northbound traffic.
The Christmas Music for Magic Lights is on 88.7 - but they don’t sync to the presentation of the light, you can play your own Christmas Music.
Many kids were were enjoying the lights by standing up and looking through the sunroof.
The show was great! Drive slow to appreciate the decorations and selection. For example, we saw some lights that represented the 12-days of Christmas - I am sure they are all there.
There are two lanes that go through the whole light show. Both lanes appear to offer the same viewing experience. (We did see some lights out on various sides.)
Don’t forget to turn off the headlights when driving around!
When you leave the exhibit you end up going south on Route 1.
This isn’t a Disney ride, there are no gift shops at the end of Magic Lights.
Walking around Salem's historic "The Burying Point" graveyard, you'll encounter some fascinating colonial gravestones. One of the gravestones that stands out is Simon Bradstreet. He was buried here in 1697, 323 years ago.
He was born in Horbling, England on March 18, 1603.
He came to America in 1630 with John Winthrop
Simon Bradstreet was one of the original founders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Simon Bradstreet was the 20th (from 1679-1686) and 21st (from 1689-1692) Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He was the last Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
He lived in Cambridge, Ipswich, and Andover, Massachusetts.
He lived to be 93 years old and was called the "Nestor of New England" by Cotton Mather because of his old age.
Died in Salem on March 27, 1697.
His son, John Bradstreet, was accused of being witchcraft. He left Salem for New York. He returned to Massachusetts when the Witch hysteria died down.
If you look carefully at the writing on the gravestone, at the bottom right, you'll see "Woodland Bronze Works -Newburyport Mass." It was a company in Newburyport that created bronze tablets. The company was founded by George. P. Tilton. Tablets were created by the Cire-Perdue process.
The text on the left side of the tomb is written in Latin.
Text on the Tomb
Esquire in the Senate of the Massachusetts Colony from the year 1630 to the year 1673. Then Lieutenant Governor to the year 1679 and at last, Until the year 1680. Governor of the same colony by the general and determined vote of the people. He was a man endowed with keen judgment whom neither threats nor honors could sway. He weighed the authority of the king and the liberty of the people in even scales. In religion devout and upright in his ways, he vanquished the world and relinquished it on the XXVIIth Day of March in the year our lord MDCXCVII. and in the IXth year of King William third and of his life the XCIVTH.
The Last two-line reads: In religion devout and upright in his ways, he vanquished the world and relinquished it on the is 27th (XXVIIth) Day of March in the year our lord 1697 (DCXCVII). and in the (9th) IXth year of King William third and of his life the 94 (XCIVTH)
Thompsons Clam Bar
In the 1980s, One of our favorite Cape Cod restaurants was Thompson’s Clam Bar. It was a family tradition to get some seafood and watch the boats come into Wychmere Harbor.
Remember that jingle: “Hey Where Are You Going...”
Things I Remembered About Thompson’s
The restaurant closed in December 1995.
People would wait for hours to get into the 450 seat restaurant.
You could arrive by boat and tie it to the dock. I remember people helping boaters dock their boats.
They offered valet parking and on a busy summer night the car line would back up to the main road. We used to go around and park at the club.
In the late 1980s they put in an outside bar. People could order drinks and appetizers while they waited. They had some kind of bar rice snack in baskets on the tables. They were so good.
In the Summertime in the late 1980s, I worked on the other side of the river at HarwichPort Boat works. I can remember smelling the clam chowder just before the restaurant would open.
I also remembered getting a steam lobster that smelled like bleach. I asked the waitress to take it back as there was something wrong. I got a new lobster a few minutes later. I enjoy the baked stuff lobster and always treated it as my summertime treat.
Quabbin Park Cemetery
The Quabbin Park Cemetery is located in Ware, Massachusetts. It’s most famous for being the resting spot for those buried in towns that were eliminated for the Quabbin Reservoir.
Quabbin Park Cemetery was developed in 1931-32 to house 7,613 graves from the disincorporated towns of Greenwich, Dana, Prescott, and Enfield, after taking 81.,000 acres of land to create an enormous reservoir for Boston.
The graves were moved from 34 cemeteries in the four towns.
One Indian gravesite was not moved as the locals couldn’t properly remove the graves as many sites were unmarked.
7,613 graves were moved from 34 cemeteries scattered throughout eight towns.
Various war memories that use to be in town centers of Greenwich, Dana, Prescott, and Enfield are now located in the cemetery. The cemetery has become a memorial to those towns.
One of the Ware locals told me - years ago - that the bodies were not placed at the gravesites. Instead, all the bodies were placed in a crypt that you see as you drive into the cemetery.
Nauset Beach at Sunrise
In August we woke up early to catch the summer sunrise at Nauset Beach in Orleans Massachusetts.
Five Things We Learned
- We arrived just as the sun was coming up. We should have planned it better and arrived at about 10-mins before the sunrise to get the best effect.
- There were a few people at the beach but a lot less than it was at the sunset at Ocean Edge the night before.
- There was plenty of open beach for pictures. Most people were on the northern side of the beach - near the parking lot entrance. We parked all the way on the other side giving us plenty of beaches to take family photos.
- We saw a few people leave moments after the sunrise. There were a few people who were sitting on benches enjoying coffee.
- After leaving the beach we stopped at the Chocolate Sparrow for a post sunrise treat. We couldn’t go earlier as they don’t open until 6:39 am. It was a nice way to treat all those who were crazy enough to get up early.
OceanEdge Beach at Sunset
One of the advances of the some of the towns on Cape Cod is that you can get gorgeous sunset views. Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans and Brewster offer great sunset views from various beaches.
Recently we stopped at OceanEdge in Brewster and took some fantastic photos of the summer sunset.
Things we Learned
You have to have an OceanEdge beach membership to get on the beach.
You can try some of the nearby public beaches, Ellis Landing Beach, but the beach at OceanEdge seems perfect for photos.
Check the tides before you go. If it’s going to be high tides it means that there won’t be much of a beach - get there early.
We saw a family that had a fire with S’mores. This is a package deal that you can buy from your waiter.
If you don’t want to sit on the sand, you can always sit and watch the sunset from the bar.
There were a lot of people taking pictures. Best to keep walking along the beach so people don’t get in your pictures.
Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the fun educational places that we like to visit is the Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln, Massachusetts. It's a great place to spend a day learning all about the local area of wild life.
One of the nice things about this place is that it's open all year. In the winter months, you can learn about how wildlife survives the harsh New England Winters.
This is also a great place to take school field trips and scouts trips.
Five Things I Learned About Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary
Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary sits on 220-acres of farmland which was given to the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1955 by Louise Ayen Hathaway - a long time society member. The intent of the gift was to use it as a wildlife sanctuary.
The sanctuary first open to the public in the summer of 1956.
On November 12, 1980, a fire broke out in the Drumlin Farm barn killing a cow and causing $500,000 in damages.
The Wildlife Sanctuary is open during the pandemic. Guests have to purchase tickets in advance. All the buildings are closed. Full details are available on the Mass Audubon new site.
There is a working farm at the sanctuary. Children can watch and learn all about the chores and responsibilities that are required every day to keep the farm going.
Finding Drumlin Farm
Drumlin Farm is located on Route 117 at 208 South Great Road, Lincoln, MA 01773.
Intervale Scenic Vista
About miles north of North Conway is a scenic view of the White Mountains, including a picturesque view of Mount Washington. This is a great spot to take family pictures and enjoy the White Mountains.
Five Things to Know
- The Intervale Scenic Vista os 15.79 miles (25.42 km) from the top of Mount Washington. (As the Crow flys)
- Best time to visit the Intervale Scenic Vista is in late September and October during the peak foliage season. The busiest time is usually 1 pm to 3 pm.
- White Mountain School of Art - There is a sign at the Intervale Scenic Vista that reads, “ Since Thomas Cole’s visit in 1828, New Hampshire’s splendid scenery has been an enduring inspiration to countless landscape artists. From 1850 to 1890 this region was particularly favored for their easels. Benjamin Champney (1817-1907), New Hampshire~born painter, described the glorious era in ‘ Sixty Years of Art and Artists.’”
- Another sign reads, “ Grateful acknowledgment is extended to Mr. and Mrs. Raymond M Cannell of North Conway for the gift of this land and the Intervale Vista. The addition of this land from thr John Cannell family seeks to preserve the Intervale Vista.”“
- Raymond Moore Cannell owned the Intervale Inn and the Cannell’s Country Store. The Intervale Inn is now called the 1785 Inn. The Inn is currently closed, it was recently sold to Scott Kudrick and Bob Monahan.
Intervale Scenic Vista is 2-miles North from the North Conway Five and Ten Store on US-302.
Directions to put in Google Maps: 3654 White Mountain Hwy, North Conway, NH 03860.
Graveyard of Dearly Depinted
At the Ben & Jerry's head quarters in Waterbury, Vermont, there's all sorts of fun things to do for the family. The most notable is the factory tour with some free ice cream at the end of the tour.
One of the big attractions, is the famous flavor graveyard honoring all the retired flavors.
Graveyard of Dearly Depinted
In 2014, we visited the graveyard. I remember it being a fun and quick visit. Basically your look at all the various flavors and try to remember ones that you might have tried that are no longer available.
The graveyard is located in the back of the factory, a bit of a walk from the scoop shop. If you didn't know about it, you could easily miss it!
This is a quick visit, most people stayed for about 20-minutes. It's a fun place to say that you visited, especially if you like Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.
Some Fun Facts:
- There are 30 tombstones of flavors gone by.
- The oldest tomb is the Dastardly Mash 1979 - 1991.
- Each tombstone has the flavor name, a short story and then the year the flavor was offered.
- Some people leave flowers near the flavors they liked, or is it the ground crew playing a trick on the tourist?
- If there's enough interest in a particular flavor, Ben and Jerry's may bring it back!
- If you can't make it to the real graveyard? Ben & Jerry's made a virtual graveyard for you to enjoy. There's even a page on the most missed flavors.
Take the Factory Tour
Ben & Jerry's factory, Route 100, Waterbury, Vt., 802-846-1500, benjerry.com. Tours daily, adults $3, seniors $2, 12 and under free.
Note: The tour is closed to due COVID-19. Visit the website for updated details.
It's September, and for most people in Massachusetts, it's time to think about Fall. One of the popular Fall activity is apple picking.
Massachusetts has several places to pick Apples, Massachusetts own mass.gov site has a list of all the places where you can pick-your-own apples. There's even a map to show you what's close to you - or where you want to go.
One of the reasons we like Shelburne Farms is that it's less crowded and you don't have to walk forever to find apples.
Fun Facts About Shelburne Farm
- Located only 20-miles from Boston
- They have 20 varieties of Apples. (Not all apples are available at the same time.)
- Don't want to spend time picking apples, you can get pre-picked bags in the Apple Shop.
- In 2020, Shelburne Farms is open. Social Distancing is required. They are limiting the number of people that are allowed to pick apples. (Expect long lines on Weekends)
- Full information on how Pick-Your-Own farms are available on the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources PDF document.
- Several local amateur astronomer clubs like to look at the night sky from the farm during nights in October. The location away from city lights makes it a perfect location to view the night sky.
- McIntosh Apples make the best Apple Pie, but if they are not available, try Northern Spys, Baldwins, Gravensteins, Pippins, or Cortlands.
Boston Globe Ad
I found a classic Ad from the Boston Globe:
Shelburne Farms is located on 106 West Acton Road, 978-897-9287, shelburnefarm.com, They are open daily 9 a.m.-6 p.m., weekend attractions are available 10-5.
Yankee Candle Village
One of the places we like to shop at in central Massachusetts is Yankee Candle Village in South Deerfield. It's a fun place to spend an hour, or more, browsing around all the cool candle and accessories that they have,
The one downside is that the place is literally in the middle of nowhere. So usually if we are stopping here we are going to or coming back from a destination - such as Vermont or something in Western Massachusetts.
Five Things to Check out at Yankee Candle Village
200,000 candles! You certainly find the perfect candle here!
Did you know that you can make your own candle jar? You can pick out various colors and designs in the Wax Works section. Fun thing for kids to do. (The Wax Works Candle-Making section is closed due to COVID-19)
It's always Christmas time at the Yankee Candle Village. They have amazing Christmas displays throughout the store. Certainly a fun tradition! Stop by in July for Christmas in July festivities.
Look for the 25-foot Christmas Tree and 6-ft Tall Nutcracker Lots of great classic toys and stocking stuffers for Christmas.
Find the place where it snows every 4-mins!
Bewitched Statue in Salem
In the heart of downtown Salem, Massachusetts, in Lappin Park, is a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens - the popular TV character on Bewitched.
Eight Things to Know
- Installed on June 15, 2005 at a large ceremony by fans and a few protesters - some people weren't happy that a TV witch statue stands in the home of the 1692 Witch Trials.
- Statue was installed 35-years after the show did some filming in Salem, Massachusetts. The show was set in Westport, Conn.
- Before being installed in Salem, people were able to get a preview of the statue at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
- The statue and surrounding area is owned and maintained by TV Land - so if there's any damage done to the statue it will be fixed by TV Land.
- In the original agreement, the will remain at Lapping Park for 10 years. After that the city can request the statue to be removed
- Statue is 7 1/2 feet tall and weighs 3,000 pounds.
- According to bewitched.net, TV Land spent $75,00 to install the statue. The statue was sculpted by StudioEIS under the direction of brothers Elliott and Ivan Schwartz.
- The movie version of Bewitched by Nicole Kidman was released 9-days later. (Perfect timing?)
Small TV Land Mentioned on the pavement.
The Bewitched episode that was filmed in Salem was called "The Salem Saga." You can find it in Season 7, Episode 3 in the Bewitched collection. It first aired on October 8, 1970.
One grocery store that many New Englanders are familiar with is DeMoulas Market Basket. They are well known for having the best selection with the lowest prices of other regional chains.
As of January 2020, Market Basket operates 80 stores within three states - 49 locations in its home state of Massachusetts, 30 stores in New Hampshire, and a single store in Maine.
Five Things I Have Learned
The first DeMoulas Super Markets store with the Market Basket name store opened in 1975 in Salem New Hampshire.
For some reason, Market Basket doesn't allow photography within the store. When you enter the store, look at the glass door and you'll see a notification that photography is prohibited.
During the 2014 Protests, Market Basket was trying to lure in customers with a 4% reduction on everything you buy. This didn't help as people were loyal to the protest.
In 2010, the company purchased land in Bourne, Massachusetts at the site of the former Cape Cod Factory Outlet Mall. The company paid $20-million for the land where Arthur T. was a major investor. After the purchase, a prominent real estate investor appraised the property at $9 million. This was one of many financial family disputes.
You can download this week's flyer from their website.
In the summer of 2014, customers were boycotting shopping at Market Baskets. This was a direct result to have Arthur T. Demoulas return as CEO as he was outstate from the company by his cousin Arthur S Demoulas. In the media, they were referred to as Arthur T and Arthur S.
THe protest resulted in stores being empty from shoppers for about seven weeks. Some workers didn't want to work because they didn't want to cross the picket line and encourage shoppers to stay away.
The entire event ended on August 28th, 2014 when the Market Basket shareholders announced that Arthur T. Demoulas reached a deal to buy the company from rival relatives for more than $1.5 billion.
What's more amazing that customers returned back to Market Basket. Despite shopping at other supermarkets for several weeks, they still wanted to buy their groceries at Market Basket.
Six years later, shoppers are still doing their weekly shopping at Market Basket over Stop and Shop and Wegmans. In Framingham, on a recent Sunday morning, the Ashland Market Basket was packed while the Temple Street Stop and Shop was very quiet.
You can watch a 2016 Documentary about the protest: "We the people: The Market Basket Effect."