Introducing SCOUT!


Scout is our Prairie Dog Mascot. If you’re new to the site he got his name in a poll of the names suggested by our readers. Scout has a function of more than being a “pretty face”. Scout reviews travel magazines, newspaper articles, travel emails and attends travel conventions like AAA Travel Marketplace coming up this Friday in Foxboro.

He also talks to fellow travelers and compiles their recommendations for reference.

Scout asks questions

If you have travel questions you can put them in the comment sections and Scout will do his best to get an answer for you. Once he has it, you’ll see a Scout’s Tips column with what he finds out.

Scout keeps alert and when he runs across a good travel tip, he will report it right here!

Scout is Alert

So stay tuned for “Scout’s Tips”. I know he’s got some coming up.


The Herring Run Middleboro MA

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The Herring Run in Middleboro is on the Nemasket River right off RT 44. It’s location makes it a convenient spot for me to stop to grab a quick photo on my way to work. On my days off I also head down here as it has picturesque ruins and a stone bridge as well as mini waterfalls and abundant wildlife and birds.

This is the spot where I first started taking pictures after I got my DSLR last spring because this area was hit hard by the flooding we had in 2010. Until then I had driven by daily to work but never bothered to stop.

The Herring run in Middleboro is one of the largest in the state allowing herring to migrate from the ocean to the Assawompset Pond Complex. The little steps in the river that are so pretty to photograph are a fish ladder allowing the herring to “run”.

The Herring travel more than 40 miles from Mount Hope Bay, through the Taunton River to the Nemasket River and finally end up in the pond complex to spawn in their natal waters.

One of the other things that makes this an interesting spot are the ruins. I’ll have to do some research on them and write another post with what I find out about the history of the area. I’ve been told that the ruins are from an old mill. Apparently there are quite a few ruins of mills along the Nemasket.

You always see a lot of people here. Some are walking dogs, some are enjoying the picinic tables that are set around the area. Still others are fishing or just watching the herring. When the run is in full swing the fish cram the river and are easy to see. Last year when the road flooded, the herring swam right over the road as well.


Well that’s about all I have time for today. Off to work. I’ll be back with more posts on Monday.

Gertrude M Boyden Wildlife Refuge, Taunton Ma

I know I’ve mentioned the Gertrude M. Boyden Wildlife Refuge before in these pages but I’d like to tell you a little more about it.

I’ve been spending more time there since I started taking part in the Photo- a- Day challenge because The Refuge is also known as the “Bird Sanctuary”. Right by the visitor center there are 2-3 bird feeders that are always busy. You can see many of the pictures I have taken there on my blog: or on my flickr photostream.

But enough “self promotion” . I want to tell you about the Refuge.

I have not even begun to scratch the surface on the trails. I first started going to the sanctuary about 2 years ago when my neighbor told me about it. I wanted to find someplace to take walks and maybe lose some weight. Walking around the block on the sidewalk just wasn’t cutting it for me and being fairly new to the neighborhood, I didn’t know many places at that time.

My neighbor and I were talking and he suggested I give the sanctuary a try. That year I only went a couple of times but it is a beautiful, peaceful place. I have been back many times since and can’t wait for spring to get here so I can explore more of the trails.

Although I often see a lot of cars in the parking lot and folks walking their dogs, the grounds have always been clean and the trails are never crowded.

So far I have walked the Floral Garden trail many times and the River Walk several times as well. When I first started walking on the River Walk trail there was an option to either take to “high road” or the “low road” as I liked to think of it. Since that first hike heavy rains and spring run-off have forced the sanctuary to close the “low” trail. That’s too bad as I liked it both for its proximity to the river and the log stairs at the end which always got my heart pumping by the time I reached the top and the meadow that marked the end of that trail.

I tried a new trail this winter but the snow made it hard to follow and I ended up circling back into the Floral Garden Trail.

The refuge consists of over 50 acres bordered by the 3 Mile River. The trails meander through forests, meadows and riverbank. They tell me there is even a covered bridge, a boardwalk and Osprey nests. That must be on one of the trails that I haven’t walked yet. The grounds include a picnic area with tables and fireplaces.

You can get maps and information at the visitor center .

There now I really want to go check out the remaining trails…with my camera of course.

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Conversation with a Seasoned “Cruiser”

I been doing all this talking about our May trip to Arizona but there are other things to do on Vacation. I went on a cruise to the Bahamas once. It was nice. I had nothing to do with the planning so I am definitely not one to ask about cruising. I remember my favorite part was the day we spent at the private island. From talking with other vacationers who have gone on cruises, I think the “private island” is pretty standard. So I was chatting with a co-worker who also happens to be a dedicated cruise vacationer and I thought I’d ask her about her experiences.

Meet Julie, my friend and co-worker. Julie is in her 20’s and has a number of cruises under her belt. We’re hoping to meet her father in Scottsdale when we take the trolley. Her father is “Boston Jim” who I have mentioned a couple of times. But I am getting off track.

DR: Hey Julie. You like to cruise don’t you? How many times have you gone?

Julie: I love taking cruises. I’ve been 5 times so far.

DR: Do you always go the same time of year?

Julie: No but I like to go in February. I like to get away from the cold here in the Northeast.

DR: So you always go someplace warm?

Julie: I made the mistake once of taking a 5 day cruise out of New York on Carnival to some island in Canada. All I know is it was COLD!…and rainy. It rained , it poured and it was so rocky…I have never been so seasick in my life. We spent most days in the cabin!

DR: Do you have a favorite cruise experience?

Julie: I’d have to say my favorite cruise was my first one. We sailed on Princess Cruise Lines and it was a 7 day, 6 night cruise through the Caribbean. We went to St. Martaan and St. Thomas and made a stop at their private island, Princess Cay. It was so beautiful.

St Martaan was like the movies! The water was so clear. We snorkeled and swam. It was awesome. I was only 18 on that cruise and Princess Lines was the only cruise line that let you go without a parent or guardian if you were under 21. I don’t know if its still like that but it was then.

DR: You’ve mentioned Princess Cruises and Carnival. Have you been on any other cruise lines?

Julie: Yes one other. I went on a Royal Caribbean cruise. That one was more of an older crowd and everything pretty much shut down between 12 & 1 AM. The other cruises were more of a party time with something to do at all hours.

DR: Do you usually go with friends or your family.

Julie: I usually go with my friends. We like to do a girl’s trip. I’ve been on 2 of those. Then I went with my mom for one and the other 2 were with my boyfriend.

DR: Do you have another one coming up.

Julie: I hope so. I have to see if I can get the time off from work before I make it definite.

DR: What advise would you have for someone considering a cruise for the first time.

Julie: I’ve been on 3 day cruises and 7 day cruises and I like the 7 day cruises the best. The 3 day cruise is too short for me but with cruising you either love it or hate it so if its your first time, you might want to try the shorter 3 day cruise to get a taste of it.

If you like it then you could do a 5 day and work your way up to the longer cruises.

With the 3 day cruise they only stop at 1 port of call so you don’t get to see as much. There’s not enough time for excursions or a lot of shopping. We were only ashore for about 6 hours so it really limits your activities.

DR: Have you ever had a bad experience aside from the weather issues you mentioned.

Julie: Well, we went to the wrong port one time. My Mom and I flew into Fort Lauderdale because the plane fare was cheaper. When we went to meet the ship it wasn’t there and the Port Canaveral folks said there wasn’t any ship sailing out of Port Canaveral. We finally called the Cruise Line and they told us they were sailing out of Miami. We had an hour to get to the ship. I don’t know how the taxi driver did it but $100.00 later he got us there in time.

DR: Do you have a Dream Destination you’d like to cruise to?

Julie: Oh Yes! Hawaii! I would love to take a cruise to Hawaii. They only have 10 day cruises but you get to see all the islands. It would be awesome.

DR: I love Hawaii but I don’t think I’d want to cruise it. You wouldn’t get enough time on each island. There’s just so much to do and each island is so different.

Julie: I wouldn’t know what to do and I’m not one to do a lot of research. That’s what I like about cruising. You book your passage to where you want to go and let them worry about the rest. If you hate the planning part and figuring out what places to go and see, cruising is definitely the way to go. They have the shore excursions all planned out . You just sign up for what interests you.

DR: You hear a lot these days about cruises where everybody on board gets sick. Any experiences like that?

Julie: Other than that cruise where I was sea sick…no. The ships are spotless. They are cleaner than any land based hotel I’ve ever been in. They clean morning , noon and night. You come back to the room at night and a little towel animal and mint greets you. It’s just really nice.

DR: So do you have a favorite cruise line?

Julie: It’s hard. I would have to say it’s a toss up. Princess has awesome shows and the food is great. Carnival’s shows didn’t have the “wow” factor that the Princess shows did but there were more to choose from. The food wasn’t as good as the Princess food either.

DR: Was there open seating?

Julie: No every cruise I’ve been on has had assigned seats for dinner and I really don’t like that. I’ve only enjoyed my dinners partners on 1 cruise.

DR: Do you need a passport?

Julie: Yes it’s the law now.

DR: .Any last words for my readers?

Julie: Yes. Definitely try it.

DR: (Laughing) Try it you’ll like it?

Julie: Yes that’s it! Absolutely! I swear by it!

DR: Thank you Julie. I really appreciate you sharing your insights with me.


Little Colorado, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest

Rethinking Monument Valley Scenic Drive

I know that in yesterday’s post I listed a bunch of options but I was poking around online trying to get more information about the Painted Desert and ran across this link There’s a video on the bottom and it really makes me want to take that long drive to Monument Valley. Apparently you will pass through the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest on the way to Monument Valley.

I continued my search and found information on the Little Colorado. I drove by this on my last visit but didn’t stop. Now I’d like to see how we might be able to fit in a visit to this canyon as it was quite impressive too.

According to these links Cameron seems to be a “hub” for both the Painted Desert and The Little Colorado and Cameron is on the way to Monument Valley.

Once again the only drawback is the length of the drive but if Sandy is up for it, I think I am too. If it ends up taking too long with all the stops for sight-seeing we can always turn around.

I’ll see what my co-explorer has to say. At least we can change our minds since there wouldn’t be any tour guide or dinner appointment to worry about.