Trekking Poles

A friend of mine sent me a list of easy hikes in Massachusetts.

Several of them really piqued my interest but after reading the descriptions I felt it would be wise to get another pair of trekking poles. I haven’t done serious hiking since I got hurt several years ago and although I’m feeling much better these days, I’m still not sure of my endurance or balance.

I had an inexpensive pair but I was never able to lock the length of the shaft. It always slipped. Those poles had the external twist lock. Eventually I gave them away. I used my monopod as a walking stick after that.

So having reviewed the type of terrain I’d need to maneuver to do these hikes I decided a pair of trekking poles would be better than the monopod but I wanted to be sure I could adjust them.

I decided to start at Dick’s sporting goods because it was the closest sporting goods store to me.  When I got to the store I asked what department I needed and the clerk began to tell me they probably didn’t have any but if the did they would be with the camping equipment.

I headed toward the camping department with him hot on my heels and talking into his collar like a CIA agent. We were met by the employee assigned to camping.


The first set of poles I was offered had the twist lock. I asked the two clerks if they could show me how they worked. I explained that I was never able to get them to actually lock. Thus started a comical few minutes while they tried to lock the poles only to put  pressure on them and have them collapse. While they fussed over those poles I spotted another set that had an external lever lock.


I picked those out and gave them a flip. They worked perfectly. I interrupted the twist lock testing to tell them I was all set and would take the lever lock set. A got a couple of blank looks and then the clerk from the camping department seemed to recover his wits. He asked some very good questions about my hiking needs and confirmed that these poles were probably better than the twist locks.

I have a feeling that at least one of the clerks is going to be looking into the locking mechanisms closer. The problem with the twist lock caught them both by surprise but Mr. Camping department clerk is also a hiker and before I left with my new poles, he and I exchanged information about local hikes in Massachusetts and the White Mountains of NH.

I hope the weather is nice next weekend. I want to take a hike with my camera and break in these trekking poles.  Maybe Bash Bish Falls would be a good first hike of the season.

Seafood Shanty

Most people choose their restaurants for the food and the ambiance. There’s one roadside clam shack that I choose for the wildlife.

Butterflies cape Cod Canal 058 copy

Don’t get me wrong the food is delish…the usual seafood fare but I have as much fun with the birds and chipmunks when I’m there as I do  enjoying the food. I typically order the fried scallop plate. It comes with plenty of fries to share.

Butterflies cape Cod Canal 056 copy

At first I only had the little birds for company but eventually my friend “Chip” showed up.

Butterflies cape Cod Canal 049 copy

Chip snatched up a French fry and it was going ….

Butterflies cape Cod Canal 051 copy


Butterflies cape Cod Canal 052 copy


Butterflies cape Cod Canal 053 copy

Just like a French Fry eating contest!

Butterflies cape Cod Canal 050 copy

If you can tear yourself away from the antics of the birds and chipmunks, you can watch the boats cruise up and down the Cape Cod Canal.

Butterflies cape Cod Canal 057 copy

The folks who work here during the season are great.

Butterflies cape Cod Canal 055 copy

During this visit I saw a cruise ship on the canal that I’d never seen before. Turns out one of the people that works at the Seafood Shanty has a brother that works on the boat so I got all of the inside scoop! Networking is a wonderful thing, 🙂

Perishing Puffins

Ah Puffins, those cute, colorful and comical sea birds , full of character and playfully known as “sea parrots” or even “clowns of the sea”.


I chased them last year in Maine on 2 different occasions. It was an educational experience. Before Maine my exposure to these funny little birds had been National Geographic photos, close ups of the colorful beaks loaded with herring or eels.

acadia 160 copy

With their bright colored beak, white breast and black back, these birds look like a cross between a parrot and a penguin. They are a major tourist attraction since being brought back to the northern Maine Islands about 40 years ago.


I was surprised about how small they are. It makes getting an iconic photo like Nat Geo’s almost impossible. You need access to the islands, not a rolling deck on a tour boat. You need a large telephoto lens and a tripod but I don’t think you need a lot of luck. I saw many puffins and many had the fish hanging from their beaks but they were tiny and distance made capturing that “money shot” a long shot.


Fast forward to this year and a cruise to Alaska. On the maps showing our cruise route were places marked with Puffins. I was hoping that I’d get to see some of the little birds here, maybe sitting on an iceberg or two but if any were in the area they got by without fanfare and I missed them.

Maine2 523a

Puffins have been on my mind lately. I still want to find a way to get that special photo. The Mass Audubon Society (of which I am a member) had an overnight excursion with special access to the Puffin Colony but the cost was too rich for me at the moment so I let the idea pass so it was with some concern that I watched a news clip today on the state of the Puffins in Maine.

Maine2 536 copy

According to the release young puffins died at an alarming rate last season because of a shortage of herring, leaving adults to try to feed them another type of fish that was too big to swallow. Some chicks died surrounded by piles of uneaten fish.

Parent Puffin feeding baby puffin chick. (have a look at my other puffin photos, click on my name). Image shot 07/2008. Exact date unknown.

I  didn’t hear any of this last year. Maybe it wasn’t shared with the tourists as we tried to line up the perfect shot.

This summer, the chicks are getting plenty of hake and herring, said Steve Kress, director of the National Audubon Society’s seabird restoration program and professor at Cornell University but the report went on to say that researchers are still concerned because occupancy rates in the nest burrows are down this year. Puffins were nearly wiped out in Maine about a century ago. Reintroduction was begun only about 40 years ago.

Puffins raise only 1 chick, known as a Puffling, in an underground burrow. Puffins are less adaptable than many other seabirds so the health of a puffin colony is a good indication of the health of the sea and certain fish stocks.

I hope the colonies recover fully and continue to grow. After all, like so many tourists to Maine, I haven’t got my perfect photo yet!

(The wonderful close ups came from the web. I can’t offer credit for them as the photographer wasn’t Identified nor were the photos watermarked. But these are exactly what I want to take!)

Norris Reservation

I love learning about little hidden gems of protected areas. Green spaces in the heart of urban Massachusetts, always a surprise, always a treasure.

Norris Recreation Area 001 copy

I guess it’s true that you can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl. I grew up in the Adirondacks exploring the woods and fields and then I became “urbanized” , exploring the concrete jungle, museums, aquariums, zoos.  As I’ve grown older I’ve been increasingly draw back toward my roots. I’ve tired of traffic and gas fumes and crowds. I look for quiet places, woods and steams. I thrill to the sight of a hawk or osprey, a great blue heron or an egret; the flick of a white tail’s flag , a parade of baby geese.

olivermill 016 copy

I follow the news of great white sharks off Cape Cod or the rescue of a baby harbor seal.

great white

So I was thrilled to learn of a little place called Norris Reservation in Norwell, MA.

Norris Recreation Area 008 copy

The day I was introduced to this little island of green was one of the hottest, most humid days we have had in this  summer of hot, humid days. But even with the uncomfortable conditions I met plenty of other walkers.

Norris Recreation Area 005 copy

Norris Reservation is  small, only about 2 miles of easy trails, but it wasn’t crowded. There are board walks and well groomed trails covered in pine needles.

scan0007Lovely stone benches along the way let you pause and contemplate the quiet beauty of the natural surroundings.

Norris Recreation Area 002 copy

I only explored about 1/2 of the trails on this, my first visit. I didn’t get to the tidal marsh or the bend in the North River.

Norris Recreation Area 007 copy

The literature speaks of a boat house and picnic areas that I still need to discover.

Norris Recreation Area 015 copy

My direction took me over a little bridge to a boardwalk around a pond. I heard something splashing in the water but I couldn’t see what it was. I sat on a bench and watched the fish rise and dragon flies zoom from flower to flower.

Norris Recreation Area 012a copy

In the distance I could hear children laughing and splashing…maybe a back yard pool?

Norris Recreation Area 014 copy

All in all not a bad way to spend a hot , summer afternoon.