Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lunenburg: Home of the Big Blue!

Lunenburg, MA.  Its a name that stuck out when looking over the list.  It just sounded very exotic and interesting and, as I soon discovered, is a very historic town.  It was first settled in 1718 and incorporated in 1728.  The comes from one of the titles of King George II of Great Britain, the Duke of Brunswick-Lunenburg.  The town once contained parts of Fitchburg that wound up breaking away because the walking distance to church and town meetings was too far.  Seriously, why else would a town be broken up?  Lunenburg was also the home of Whalom Park, a theme park that closed in 2000 due to the rise of Six Flags New England.  (also on the list)  It was home to the famous Flyer Comet.  (the orginal vomit comet perhaps?) 

Thats the history, now lets get to the list.  Lunenburg had two things included on the list: the Historic District and the Drawbridge Puppet Theater. 

Historic Districts are usually tough to figure out because you're never quite sure what is included in the historic district.  Lunenburg makes it easy.  The town has quite a few buildings in the center of town that are on the national historic registry, making it clear indications where the historic district is.  The Town Hall, with a legit church bell still working, sits directly across the street from the United Parish Methodist Church.  The historical society sits next to the library and the center of town has a sign indicating the years of its incorporation.  There were multiple markers celebrating the centenial and bicentenial of the town.  Talk about having pride in your town. 

United Parish Methodist Church

Town Hall

The Drawbridge Puppet Theater was a site that caught my interest.  I never been to a puppet theater before and honestly, I didnt think one existed.  Mostly an attraction for children and families, the theater puts on shows based on fairy tales, adding a little bit of humor to the storylines.  During the show, the theater elects a Theater King and Queen.  The theater itself is decorated as a castle and is definitely a sight to see.  On our arrival, the show was Rapunzel.  Trouble was on the day of our visit the homecoming parade was happening which caused us to be the only ones at the theater.  So, instead of feeling awkward and a little "too old for this" we didnt take in a show.  Its a shame because I really wanted to be King.

Lunenburg was a very nice visit.  The town was clean, everyone was friendly and seemed to know each other.  You could feel the town pride everywhere you looked.  I looked forward to visiting the town and am glad I did.

P.S.  Big Blue in the title is a reference to the Lunenburg High School mascot, the Blue Knight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ashburnham: Mt. Watatic

Fall is the perfect time to do a little hiking on some trails and even a mountain.  I had scheduled my visit to Mt. Watatic for early October, when it wasn't going to be too cold or too hot.  However, my visit had to be pushed back due to some scheduling conflicts, but when I saw an open weekend, I grabbed Harold and took advantage.

Mount Watatic sits along the New Hampshire border in Ashburnham, MA.  Standing at 1,831 feet, it is classified as a monadnock, or a small mountain.  It was the site of a ski area which was in operation from 1965 to 1984.  In 2000 a communications company bought the summit of the mountain and planned to develop a cell phone tower, however before the tower could be built it was purchased by the Ashby Land Trust, the Town of Ashby, the Ashburnham Conservation Trust, the Town of Ashburnham, Mass Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation, protecting it from any development. 

Now, I wouldnt call myself an experienced hiker.  As a kid, I was in the Boy Scouts and we did our fair share of hiking and I do quite a bit of running and working out.  So, hiking Mt. Watatic didn't seem like it would be a problem.  Well, it wasn't a problem but it wasn't easy. 

There are two trails that lead to the top, the Wapack Trail and the Midstate Trail.  The trail was marked off with yellow triangles that became a lifesaver when navigating.  The trail itself was rockier than I had anticipated.  Being the inexperienced hiker, I started off on the trail hard and full on which caused me to have to stop twice and catch my breath to rest.  The view halfway up the mountain was breathtaking and made us even more excited to reach the top.  Once we reached the summit, it was everything we had hoped it would be on a nice clear day.  The Boston skyline was a distant haze but still there.  All around were signs of the ski operation that had once existed and one marker with information on the mountain. 

Hiking to the top of a mountain such as this is a wonderful experience and a great workout.  As much as you appreciate the accomplishment of reaching the top, you appreciate going down the mountain more than you do going up.  But there was no greater feeling of accomplishment than crossing one more thing off the list.

If you squint, you'll be able to see Boston

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ashby: Trap Falls

And we're back! After a few weeks off, getting rejuvenated for a fall/winter's worth of sightseeing, I, along with my trusty road companion Harold, have hit the road again. With October comes fall and in my mind the perfect time of year for outdoor activities, which The List has a ton of. So Harold and I put our heads together to plot out our next great place to visit and decided on Trap Falls in Ashby, MA.

Trap Falls is located in Willard Brook State Forest, up near the Fitchburg area just below the New Hampshire state line. Driving to the falls was as scenic as one could imagine, passing through small New England towns on a road that began to have twisty roads, with trees showcasing their beautiful colors of foliage that New England is well known for. Its quite a nice drive but if you're not paying attention you could fly right by the falls.

It is marked off by a small, brown sign that appears right after a nice turn. There was a parking gate that claimed parking was $5 but no one was around to collect. The lot was only big enough for maybe (and I mean MMMAAAAAYYYYBEEEE) ten cars but luckily for us we hit the road early and were the only ones there to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the falls.
The source of the falls is Trapfall Brook and the falls themselves are not very big. One website describes it as something that would be the highlight of a miniature golf course. Once you see it for yourself you understand why that is a fair assessment. You can hear the falls as soon as you get out of your car in the parking lot.  There is a picnic area and a small wooden bridge crossing the creek where the falls empty out.  Being the only ones there, we had free reign of the place, hopping from rock to rock trying to get a good shot with my camera.  Harold enjoyed it as well.