Monthly Archives: April 2012

Beverly Conservation Area

On Sunday afternoon, we took a hike with some friends from Dane Street. We wanted an easy, family-friendly hike, so we headed to the Beverly Conservation Area. The hike ended up taking about two and a half hours, a bit longer than we had planned, but everyone powered through until the end. The kids had a great time exploring the woods, playing with sticks, rocks, leaves and water.

Our girls

Our girls

There was an especially exciting spot towards the middle of the hike. There was a bridge across a small stream, but high up above the bridge (right at about my shoulder level), there was a log that had fallen across the stream. It had platforms built onto either end of it, and the top of the log had been leveled into a flat, but skinny walkway. You can see it here in this shot from Appu’s camera:

Esme boldly walks across

Esme boldly walks across

Catherine went across first, a bit skittish, on her hands and knees. Esme and I followed behind, and though I tried to keep a hand on Esme to steady her, she would have none of it, and strode boldly across the log on her own, then came back, then went over again! “Papa, I don’t want you to hold me!” she said. In the photo above, you can see her coming back across. Check out the far end in the photo… the nice big drop didn’t scare her at all!

Everyone was exhausted by the end of the hike, but it was worth it to get lots of great exercise and spend time with friends! You can see all of the photos from our hike here.

Castle Hill

One of the places that I wanted to visit during my week of vacation was Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich.

Though we had previously been to nearby Crane Beach (one of the best/most expensive beaches to visit in MA, if you have a chance), none of us had been to Castle Hill. I had seen photos of its beauty, and was quite excited to visit. It didn’t disappoint me.

We hiked up a steep hill, and explored the remains of a once-grand vegetable garden.

Gorgeous

Gorgeous

We continued hiking, up to the main house. It looked like something out of Downton Abbey, and indeed was designed after an English country house.

Front of the house

Front of the house

After admiring the front, we hiked through the woods to the back of the house, where we came to my favorite part of the visit. While the entire grounds of Castle Hill are beautiful, the centerpiece in my opinion is the Grand Allee, a beautifully landscaped hill rolling down toward the ocean. It blows my mind. Just think: at one time, this was somebody’s backyard. I walk out onto my back deck and see a swingset, some trees, some grass. These people could take a morning stroll out to their back porch and see THIS.

Esme stands on the Grand Allée

Esme stands on the Grand Allée

Nice. Here’s a Photosynth embedded Panorama I created, showing the view from the top (let me know if it doesn’t work for you):

I highly recommend a visit to Castle Hill if you can make it there. You can see all of our photos from this beautiful place here.

“Two if by train…,” to the Museum of Science

Since Catherine and I had a chance to take a train ride in to Boston earlier in the week, we decided that Esme should have a chance, too. We also wanted to go to the Museum of Science as a family. So we decided that Esme and I would take the train in, and Rebecca and Catherine would drive in.

Rebecca dropped Esme and I off at the Beverly Depot commuter rail station to catch an 8:15am train.

Esme at Beverly Depot

Esme at Beverly Depot

Esme and I had an extremely smooth trip in, unlike the trip Catherine and I took earlier. We even ran into our friends Chris and Kylie, who commute together to their jobs in the city. It was fun to chat with them as we all rode in to the city.

Chris and Kylie

Chris and Kylie

After arriving at North Station, Esme and I got breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts, and then we took a pleasant stroll along the Esplanade (or at least the Nashua Street Park section of it) to the MoS.

Rawr.

Rawr.

Even though we’ve been to the MoS many times, it seems that we see or learn something new almost every time we visit. For example, Objet was demonstrating their 3-D printing technology, with which they had created a scale model of Fenway Park to commemorate its 100th anniversary. This company’s printers are used by companies such as Speck, to make prototypes of their cases, and Specialized, to model parts for their bikes. Also, I think they have a very clever name.

Objet

Objet

But the highlight of the MoS visit was the Butterfly Garden. We all loved looking around at the flowers and the colorful butterflies and moths flitting back and forth. I even had a butterfly land on me… but it was on my back, so I didn’t get to see it. The girls had a great time in this room. Catherine had hoped that a butterfly would land on her since she was wearing a flowered dress, but it was not to be.

The butterfly garden

The butterfly garden

When we were finished at the museum, we all drove back together, but stopped for lunch at Kowloon, a Chinese restaurant in Saugus. The girls and I had never been there, but Catherine had seen it on her favorite TV show, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, as one of the locations where the contestants go to perform a task. The food was nothing to write home about, but the girls did enjoy the fountains throughout.

Admiring the fountains at Kowloon

Admiring the fountains at Kowloon

See all of our photos from the day here.

Day with the girls

On Thursday, I spent much of my day with Catherine and Esme. From roughly 9:30am until 4:00pm, here’s what we did.

We started off the day by heading in to work. What? I’m on vacation, right? Well, as it turns out, CBD‘s Bring Your Child To Work day was on Thursday. This is one of the girls’ favorite days ever, and to miss it would be like missing Christmas. So we went in just for an hour to get some company-provided goodies, take a walk around the building, play in the games/crafts room, and say hi to my co-workers. I think it actually worked out better this way, as my job isn’t one that the girls can really grasp at the moment, and usually if they do come in, they end up being more of a distraction to my co-workers than anything else. So this way, everyone got what they wanted.

The games/crafts room

The games/crafts room

Watching packages

Watching packages

After visiting work, we walked across the street to get lunch at the Subway I frequently visit.

Subway lunch

Subway lunch

After lunch, we drove up to Cherry Farm Creamery for some ice cream, and then drove into downtown Beverly for an afternoon of storytime and activities at the library. Esme has a 3-year-olds storytime at 1pm on Thursdays, and Catherine has a science club at 3pm on Thursdays, so Rebecca generally makes an afternoon of it when she does it with the girls, so I did the same.

I played Checkers with Esme while Catherine was in science club

I played Checkers with Esme while Catherine was in science club

At the end of the day, I was exhausted, and I told Rebecca that she could keep her job. 🙂 But overall I did have a good time with the girls. It is good for me to have a chance to spend a lot of time around them during the daily routine, and learn more about what they’re like outside of my usual evenings-and-weekends window.

Wright’s Tower

Our outing of choice for today was a hike to Wright’s Tower in Medford, MA. This tower is in the southern part of the Middlesex Fells Reservation. The Fells were one of my go-to places for hikes when I lived in Woburn, as it was pretty easy to get to. I’d never hiked to Wright’s Tower, however.

I picked this hike for today because it is a fairly short hike, and the view from the top is pretty rewarding. The hike starts next to Bellvue Pond, where we saw some ducks and geese.

Bellvue Pond

Bellvue Pond

We walked along a fire road for a bit before turning off onto the Skyline Trail. This makes a fairly steep cut up Pine Hill towards Wright’s Tower.

Esme points the way up the hill

Esme points the way up the hill

Once at the top, you’re treated to some amazing views – both from the top of the hill itself, and from the top of Wright’s Tower.

 

View of Boston from the top of the hill

View of Boston from the top of the hill

 

View of Boston from Wright's Tower

View of Boston from Wright's Tower

As an added bonus, at the top of the hill, we also met another family with two kids who were relatively close to Catherine and Esme’s age. Catherine was her usual outgoing self, walked right up and introduced herself to the kids, and before long they were all playing together and building a fairy house up at the top of the tower. I stayed up at the top of the tower while Rebecca was at the bottom with the kids’ mom, and the kids showed enormous resolve in trudging up and down the stairs carrying sticks, stones, grass, and other things to build the house.

Catherine, Esme and friends building their fairy house

Catherine, Esme and friends building their fairy house

Catherine got some scraped knees when she tripped on the way back down (later tonight, she took off the band-aid and declared: “It’s healed!”), which soured her mood, but other than that, everyone had a terrific time!

I’d highly recommend this easy hike for anybody who lives near Boston and wants some great views of the Boston skyline!

You can see all of my photos here.

The great outdoors

We are fortunate to have such a great variety of natural beauty here in our area, most of it just a short drive away.

Yesterday, we took a walk at Strawberry Hill in Ipswich. This is a great country walk that takes you up and down a hill, across a causeway, and up onto an island. The island has some great rocky beaches and a big grassy clearing. Our girls love the rocks, sticks, and straw that you can find all over the place.

The girls at Strawberry Hill

The girls at Strawberry Hill

More photos from Strawberry Hill.

Today we spent the afternoon at Wingaersheek Beach in Ipswich. It’s one of our favorite  beaches – when we can get to it! During the summer we only go after 5pm, when they stop collecting a parking fee, but off-season they don’t charge for parking. The parking lots were understandably full today, given that it’s Patriot’s Day and the start of the local school vacation week. Many people were out enjoying the vast expanses of shallow water and sandy beaches, and terrific collections of rocks for climbing and hopping. Our girls love digging in the sand, climbing the rocks, and splashing in the tidal pools. I love it for the wide open space in which we can walk around, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.

Rocks at Wingaersheek

Rocks at Wingaersheek

See more photos from Wingaersheek.

Catherine and Papa PhotoDay

To kick off my vacation week, on Saturday Catherine and I took the commuter rail into Boston for a day of photographic adventure together. Catherine was taking photos using Rebecca’s Canon PowerShot SD750 compact camera, while I was taking photos on both my iPhone 4s and my Nikon D80 DSLR.

We started off at Beverly Depot, where we watched for our train to come and practiced taking some pictures. One of my suggestions was that we try taking pictures of the same things and seeing how they compared. Here is one example:

Catherine's photo of the commuter rail map

Catherine's photo of the commuter rail map

 

Papa's photo of the map

Next, we enjoyed a short ride on the commuter rail from Beverly to Lynn.

Catherine on the train

Catherine on the train

In Lynn, we had to get off the train and get onto a bus into Boston, as they are doing bridge work on the weekends.

Catherine's hair blowin' on the bus

Catherine's hair blowin' on the bus

The route through Lynn was, as one might expect, quite slow and filled with traffic. At one point, the bus was caught in traffic behind what was apparently a massive traffic accident that had happened earlier. We waited for about half an hour as emergency vehicles squeezed around us on all sides and the bus tried to get around the traffic. Finally the bus had to do a u-turn and backtrack to Route 1 in Revere, and take that into the city. Here’s a photo of the commotion.

Accident scene

Accident scene

We did finally get into the city, about 45 minutes later than intended. We got onto the Orange line at North Station and took it to State Street, where we got out to have lunch at Chipotle.

Catherine on the Orange line platform at North Station

Catherine on the Orange line platform at North Station

Chipotle in Downtown Crossing

Chipotle in Downtown Crossing

Catherine took this picture of the truck that delivers her "favorite fruit snacks"

Catherine took this picture of the truck that delivers her "favorite fruit snacks"

Catherine enjoys her Chipotle

Catherine enjoys her Chipotle

Next, we took a walk through Downtown Crossing on our way to the Common. Catherine saw this funny sign for a Mexican restaurant and thought she should take a picture of it. So I did, too.

Catherine's photo

Catherine's photo

Papa's photo

Papa's photo

We made our way to the Common, where Catherine got a balloon flower from a vendor near the playground. She later told me this was her favorite part of the day.

Catherine and her balloon

Catherine and her balloon

Next we headed over to the Make Way For Ducklings sculpture, which for some reason had the ducklings dressed up as superheroes.

Catherine and the ducklings

Catherine and the ducklings

At this point, Catherine was ready to head home, so we headed back to North Station where Catherine got a little treat.

Catherine and the Yummy Donut

Catherine and the Yummy Donut

Thankfully, the trip home was much less eventful. We both had a great time on our little adventure.

A good day

A good day

Honeymoon Photos, Revisited

Those of you who have been around our blog for a while may recall that we switched photo gallery software a number of years ago. When we made the switch, we started from scratch with the new gallery, without any of the old pictures. We have often missed having many of the galleries, since they’re linked in some of our older posts, but the process of re-uploading them and editing each post to include links to the new galleries is quite time-consuming.

That being said, there are some galleries that I miss more than others, and one of those is the gallery of photos from our honeymoon. For those who are counting, that was almost ten years ago!

We traveled to the Andalucia region of Spain and visited Marbella, Malaga, Granada, Italica, Seville, Ronda, and also crossed the border into Gibraltar. It was one of my favorite trips and I’m looking forward to having the gallery back online for easy access. We haven’t traveled quite so far abroad since we’ve had kids. I hope that we’ll be able to again some day, but for now it’s nice to have these photos to look back on.

Rock of Gibraltar

Rock of Gibraltar

The galleries are:

  1. Day 1, Charles de Gaulle airport (yes, we were there for a while)
  2. Day 2, Marbella and Malaga
  3. Day 3, Italica and Seville
  4. Day 4, Sevilla and Ronda
  5. Day 5, Gibraltar
  6. Day 6, Granada, the Alhambra and the Generalife
  7. Day 7, Benalmadena and heading home

I know we’ll enjoy looking at these photos again, and maybe you will too!