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Quabbin Gate 40

A few weekends ago we decided to head over to the eastern side of the Quabbin to Gate 40.  We had been there once before.  It’s probably the most historically interesting gate, because it goes to the center of what used to be Dana, MA.  The buildings are gone, of course, but the town common is still there, and there are several cellar holes to explore.  When we got to the common, we saw that they have added some information about several of the sites.  There are photographs of what used to be there, mounted on wooden posts in the aspect that the photo was taken.  It turns out (I googled later!) that this was a Girl Scout Gold Award project (like the Eagle Scout Award, but for girls) for a local teenager whose great-grandfather lived in the center of Dana.

The pictures are apparently engraved on aluminum plates, and then encased in a glass frame.  It was really hard to take pictures of the pictures, but I tried.  This is the best one – it’s of the Eagle House Hotel which was on the Northwest corner of the common:

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Here is the same site today.  You can see the same trees on either side, just like in the picture.  And that’s Nate and the kids looking at where the front door used to be, and down into the cellar hole.

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This is the road leading to the common, as seen from the front lawn of what used to be the town hall.

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Sidewalk leading up to the Dana Town Hall.

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Dana Town Common with memorial marker.

There are a lot of interesting trees there.  They are very old, and they haven’t been maintained.  You can tell that many of them were planted to line the streets, and there they remain.

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There was a mowed path through a field leading to what looked like a trail in the woods.  We decided to check it out.

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We didn’t realize we were so close to the water there.  Just on the other side of those trees was a steep path down to the shore.

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No trip to the common would be complete without the requisite picnic lunch.  Since Aaron is on his own bike now, we loaded up the bike trailer with more food that we could possibly have eaten at one sitting.  Why do I always over pack for picnics?

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Goodbye, town of Dana – we’ll catch you next time!

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Biking is Fun!

A couple of weekends ago we set off on another Quabbin adventure.  This summer we decided to broaden our horizons and find some new paths in the Quabbin.  There are a limited number of paths for biking (most are reserved for hiking only).  We had never been to the far eastern edge, so we set out for Gate 43.  We didn’t realize that Gate 43 is actually one of the few boating gates, so there was some car traffic, but we went anyway.

The first part was paved – it’s about a mile-long ride to the water, where we found a lovely picnic bench to eat our lunch away from the boat dock.  The day was a little chilly, but the kids ran around and we enjoyed a leisurely picnic.  This was the view:

From there, we crossed a little bridge and continued on to the part of the trail that’s closed to cars.  The hills went up and down and up and down. This is what it looked like:

We went on for another mile, maybe a mile and a half, and stopped at the top of a big hill.  We decided to turn around at that point – I really didn’t relish the idea of pulling Aaron back up that hill in the trailer.  But Lydia, little Miss Lydia wanted to go down that super long hill soooooo bad.  We explained that any hill we go down, we have to go back up.  She said she understood that, but she really wanted to go down the hill.  “Well,” we said, “OK, go ahead.  We’ll wait here.”  So down she went, shrieking with glee all the way.  And then she got to the bottom and looked back up at us.  Her little face fell, and wouldn’t you know it she cried all the way back up.  We had little to no sympathy.

On the way back, we made a couple of good finds.  First, Jake spotted a stand of wild-growing concord grapes.  We all stopped and ate heartily.  They were very ripe, juicy, and delicious.  I’m sure they are left over from someone’s garden in the the 1930s – why else would they be there in the middle of the woods?

The other fun find was a little snake.  Jake suddenly screeched to a halt, almost causing a four bike pile-up.  He said, “SNAKE!”  We all looked in front of his bike, and there was a tiny little snake, probably eight inches if it stretched out.  It had red, black, and tan markings on its back, and it was coiled up and on the defensive.  We all gathered around to look at it and it tried to strike at our sneakers.  This little snake was fierce!  Nate had the brilliant idea to get a stick and move it off the road before one of the boaters came along and flattened the poor thing.  I got a not great picture, because honestly I was a teeny bit scared of it.  That’s how fierce this tiny snake was.

All in all, we had a great time at this gate, and will do it again sometime.  It’s about an hour’s drive to get over there, but it was beautiful and quite the adventure.

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Adventures in Nature

The weather was picture-perfect today, so we decided to load up our bikes and head for the Quabbin Reservoir.  We thought we’d be extra-adventurous and try a new gate.  There are only a few gates that allow bicycle traffic, so we pulled out the map and chose one a little to the east and south of our regular gate.  It turned out to be a fantastic choice.  The trail goes right along the water for several miles.

On the other side of the trail were the woods, in which there were many stone walls left over from the days when the Quabbin Reservoir wasn’t a reservoir at all, but the Swift River Valley, full of towns and farms.

It was absolutely beautiful.  We found a little spot where we could get to a beach and had our picnic lunch there.  We spent just as much time goofing around as we did eating:

After our picnic and bike ride, we decided to swing by one of our favorite haunts, Bear’s Den, in New Salem.  We hiked around on the rocks, and then waded in the stream.  The kids had a great time with Nate building a rock bridge over the stream.

By the time they were done, our bug spray was starting to wear off, we were in need of snacks, and we were all getting a little cranky.  Time to load ’em back up and head home.  Tired, of course, but already planning next weekend’s adventure.

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