Saturday, July 30, 2016

Coastal Southern Maine + New Hampshire in Pictures

As small towns go, downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire is a favorite of mine, fitting all my criteria: waterfront location -- it’s on the Piscataqua River; numerous independent coffee shops, bookstores and wine bars; sense of history: the town dates to the early 17th century and numerous centuries-old buildings can still be found. But, most importantly, it’s got a walkable downtown. (The only downside: on Friday and Saturday nights in the summer, the town becomes party central.) While visiting a friend who lives nearby on the border with Maine, we decided to focus our daytime activities around little visited walking trails -- all a short drive from Portsmouth -- rather than joining the crowds flocking to the most popular sandy beaches. Here’s what we found:

The Urban Forestry Center, a two-mile walk from Downtown Portsmouth seems little used during the week when I spent a couple of hours on a web of shaded paths that weaved in and out of the forest and beside the tidal marsh of Sagamore Creek.

Despite all the tourist traffic in York, Maine, I strolled strolled first through Steedman Woods and then along first Fisherman's Walk and then the Cliff Walk in York Harbor.  My friend and I were the only ones on this trail that offered access to sandy bays and wide rocky surfaces, perfect for sunning.

Owned by the elite boarding school in Exeter, New Hampshire, the Phillips Exeter Academy Woods has several one-mile-plus loops through the woods that, at times, border the Exeter River.

Rogers Park is located in Kittery, Maine on land that was originally settled in the 17th century by a member of the Rogers family that came over on the Mayflower. It’s set along Spruce Creek with flat trails skirting the water only to head back into the sun-speckled woodland.

Bird watching opportunities abound in the Heron Point Sanctuary in downtown Newmarket, New Hampshire where great blue herons, cormorants and other water and wading birds can be spotted on trails that skirt the Lamprey River.

Trails parallel the Great Bay’s tidal coast in the Adams Point Wildlife Management Area, a property in Durham, New Hampshire once owned by the prominent Adams Family. Also in Durham, at Wagon Hill, a former family farm, trails now wander around community gardens, into dense woods and along a calm shoreline

In Rye, New Hampshire, Odiorne Point State Park has something for everyone, pebbly beaches, historic military bunkers, dense forestland cut by numerous paths and even a small aquarium at the Seacoast Science Center.

This short YouTube video slideshow provides a window into my coastal Maine/New Hampshire travels. 

continue reading "Coastal Southern Maine + New Hampshire in Pictures"

Friday, July 29, 2016

Art is Everywhere in Beacon, New York

A mere one-and-a-half hours from Manhattan via Metro North, the town of Beacon, New York is a bastion of creativity and calm, that is, if you visit during the weekday. (Weekends are ultra hectic.) I recently started the day perusing the contemporary paintings and sculptures at the Dia Art Foundation, a sun-streaked space that’s surrounded by placid gardens that change with the seasons. Downtown is within easy walking distance where, because of the sweltering weather, I made Zora Dora Paleteria my next stop. It’s a very informal space where you can find an array of inventive, handcrafted ice pops, including some that pack plenty of heat from chilies and flavor from mint and other herbs and spices.  You can sit inside, though it's much more atmospheric to sit and people watch at the single table right along the sidewalk out front. My favorite place for lunch not only for the the cuisine (including the scrumptious baked goods) often made with locally-sourced ingredients, but also the serene garden in the rear is Homespun Foods. You can’t go wrong with their cheddar and chutney sandwich on whole grain bread, or the vegetarian cheese and nut loaf served with tomato chutney. Then it was time to work off all the calories by walking lengthy Main Street all the way to -- would you believe -- a waterfall that’s at the end of downtown. In between, stop and look up and about and all around, dropping into the numerous galleries and emporia. You’ll find boldly hued art just about everywhere.

continue reading "Art is Everywhere in Beacon, New York"

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Portugal's Schist Villages in Pictures

After visiting Portugal almost a dozen times, I continue to find hidden lands, networked by a tangle of old trails that wander through cork forests, and beside threads of rushing water. Lands with once abandoned villages that rose from stone and are now seeing a new life as artist residences, contemporary inns, quaint restaurants, and shops displaying artisan crafts. These lands in the center of Portugal, referred to as the Centro region, are home to the charming Schist Villages or Aldeia do Xisto, such as Casal de Sao Simao, Ferraria de Sao Joao, and Candal. Check out my YouTube video slideshow of my magical journal.

continue reading "Portugal's Schist Villages in Pictures"