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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cruising Down the Connecticut

The Quinnetukut II is a 44-seat African Queen-style riverboat that makes a 12-mile round-trip cruise along the Connecticut River starting in Northfield.  The cruise is narrated and full of history, geology, biology, and ecology -- plus, there's a lovely view the whole way. The cruise is run by FirstLight Power Resources as part of the recreation programs offered out of the Northfield Mountain location.

Mr. Madley and I made the cruise on Saturday for the first time, though we had tried, unsuccessfully, to get tickets a few years ago.  The cruises run July-mid-October, three times a day on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  As we witnessed, it is important to call ahead for reservations: (800) 859-2960, and to arrive early at the Northfield Mountain Visitor Center to pick up tickets (sometimes you can find discount coupons here:; tickets run $6-12 depending on age.

I was in love from first sight.  The Connecticut River is beautiful, and I always love riding on a boat.  Being out on the water makes me unreasonably happy, and to be on such lovely waters on such a lovely day was wonderful.  Along the way, the guide discussed the history of the rocks on the shore, the European and native histories of the location, and some of the wildlife we did and didn't see (we saw swans and a juvenile bald eagle -- which shows up in one of the pictures -- and some dead fish).  We passed under the French King Bridge and made our way down to Barton's Cove then made the return.  Pictures included below.

The trip takes about 1.5 hours from start to finish, and I definitely recommend it for nice low-key excursion.  Just make sure you make reservations!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Scenes of Summer

(I should probably repost this in January or February to remind us just how beautiful and warm Hadley can really be!)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Chesterfield Gorge & Gilbert A Bliss State Forest

If you like spectacular views of granite cliffs...
If you like the roar of water tumbling over rocks and boulders...
If you like to walk paths in the woods...
If you like catch & release fly fishing...
If you like sunning on rocks...
If you like not-terribly-difficult (mostly flat) mountain biking...
If you like to picnic...
If you just like to get out in nature...

you need to visit Chesterfield Gorge and the East Branch Trail along the Westfield River and the Gilbert A. Bliss State Forest.  Check out the photos below for more reasons why.

You can walk for miles along the East Branch Trail, or find a nice rock next to the river the relax on.  Dogs are welcome, and it is likely that you will run into one or more along the trails. There is parking with a small fee (~$2) at both the gorge entrance (Trustees of Reservations) and the state park entrance.  There is also a place to get food near the state park entrance and off the trail a little ways.

It's a fabulous place to be; I've been twice and already am looking forward to going back!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Saturdays: Amherst: Wheelhouse Farm Truck

This post is about two months overdue -- apologies to the reader and to the Wheelhouse gang.  It's late enough that perhaps you read the article featuring the new farm truck in the Amherst Bulletin at the end of May, and perhaps you have already made a special visit to the Amherst Farmers Market.  I know that article interested me, and the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend found Mr. Madley and me waiting in line for a farm-fresh breakfast arepa.  And then I had to go back again.

The Wheelhouse Farm Truck delivers hot, fresh, locally sourced gluten-free arepas for breakfast and lunch at the Amherst Farmers Marker -- an arepa being a cornmeal pocket sandwich.  Take a look at the photo below for a listing of some of their amazing offerings.

In case you couldn't yet tell, I am a fan.  My go-to arepa happens to be the spinach pesto and braised greens (no sausage) -- delicious!  Hot and melty and gooey on the inside, hot and crispy on the outside, full of local goodness throughout.

If you haven't gone to the AFM to get your arepa already, what are you waiting for?  There's another Saturday coming up in just a few days, so there's no need to delay any further!

The Wheelhouse truck was funded through a Kickstarter -- and I'd like to thank those who contributed -- you did a good thing!