Tag Archives: walking

East Beach, Charlestown, RI…

A friend of Julie’s mentioned a place not far from Point Judith and Galilee, a place called Charlestown, and the friend said how lovely the beaches are. So with the boys firmly ensconced at their Dad’s, we decided to get up early and head on out. (One of these fine free mornings we will sleep in late. That would be wonderful!)

So after getting up at 5am, we made coffee, watched lame news and, while Julie showered, I packed stuff for our trip. We do have a master list for such excursions, but there always seems to be something missing. Usually we remember it en route. But I do believe this time we had everything. I think.

We drove down the Pike to 146, to 295, t0 95 and then route 4, and then found ourselves traveling along Route 1, awaiting instructions from our GPS navigator, Laura, a disembodied voice that definitely possesses an attitude. Especially when you ignore her commands to turn here or there and, if you do this too many times, she gets petulant and remains silent. Usually when you need her the most.

Finally we found East Beach Road and traveled along its length, passing quaint little beach houses, knowing soon the ocean would appear. We stopped at what we thought was East Beach but it was Blue Shutters Town Beach. The young lad directed us on further down the road, along a bumpy, dirt lane that passed for a road. Terrible road, but I suppose it dissuades drivers with heavy feet.

We paid our $20 entrance fee, which is rare for us, as we usually try to find a parking spot far removed from the beach proper. In retrospect, we should have parked at Blue Shutters, as it was five dollars cheaper, and it was joined to East Beach! Who knew?

We parked–perfectly*–and proceeded to check out the beach. It was already packed, with plenty of exposed skin lying about (sometimes too much skin…) and since the tide was too high, we decided to walk/run along a sandy lane, parallel to the beach. It is reserved for SUV’s, campers, or ATV’s but the kind woman who inhabited a claustrophobic shed informed us that it was ok for us to walk there.

It was extremely slow going and tough on the calves, but we managed a half-mile or so, slogging through the shifting hot sand before opting to run the remainder on the beach. We cut through the dunes, and here few people were about so we walked along the water’s edge.

Our only complaint about this lovely stretch of land is that it is not conducive for walking or running, as the slope at water’s edge is just too steep. The walk was quite beautiful, and we walked its length, all three miles of sand that was edged with sea grass and, beyond,  billowy clouds straight out of a Monet painting. Quite ethereal.

Our journey back to the parking lot proved arduous, as the distant colorful umbrellas never seemed to get any closer, much like a mirage in the desert. We did not bring enough water for our jaunt and slightly parched, we marched on. Even after a mile or so, the umbrellas appeared still as mere pinpoints. (I know; tough to complain when surrounded by such beauty.)

We made it, got our belongings, and found a semi-secluded stretch to set up our chairs. And for the next four hours we soaked in the ambiance of East Beach. All in all, despite our trying trek, it was a fine experience. So much so, we will definitely make a return here at some point.

But next time we’ll park at Blue Shutters.

*I mention that my parking effort was perfect because of a note we found on our windshield when we returned. It read, verbatim: “Dear Tourist: Don’t come to our tiny parking lot and take up TWO spaces with your hideous vehicle! -A Local-” Yeah, a local idiot! I can only fathom that this ‘local’ could not possibly entertain the idea that other people do come and go, and other drivers are not as courteous as us.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.

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Westville Walk…

Westville Dam Flooded

Believe it or not, that tree is in the middle of a field. At times, though, after heavy rains, this field becomes flooded, and it is a marvel to see.

I took this photo from atop a small knoll, having navigated through woods and treacherous footfalls to arrive there. When the Westville Dam is in this ravaged state, traversing the trails are nigh impossible.

But when the waters recede, there is a fine trail to be had, a 2.5 mile oval shaped path that one can walk, run, or bike on. We are quite fond of this place, especially during the late afternoon, when the slant of sun creates long shadows, and the interplay of light and dark is profound.

Sometimes we find ourselves totally alone, having walked the entire length with nary a soul in sight. But on Sundays, that all changes. It is Dog Day. Vast streams of folk gather in the limited parking lot, chatting away while the various dogs mingle, anxious for their owners to polish off the remnants of their tepid cups of joe.

Julie and I tend to avoid these congregations, preferring instead to stay quite a distance from wayward canines. But it never fails; eventually we will come across a gaggle of people, with dogs attached on long leashes, and invariably the pooch will come bounding toward you, tail and tongue wagging, wanting to jump up to paw your garments. The owner usually has the same reply: “Oh, don’t worry, he’s harmless!” Or “He just wants to play.”

But we do not.

We abhor getting accosted in this fashion, and on one memorable jaunt, a dog leapt up and placed its muddy paws all over Julie’s sweatpants. “Oh, I’m sorry”, the owner would say. ” He just wanted to play.” They never offer to pay for cleaning bills. Sometimes, one will encounter a fresh pile of dog poop along the trail, inconsiderately left by the dog’s owner. (At the beginning of each trail there are FREE bags for the sole purpose of disposing of your doggie’s doo-doo. But some people couldn’t be bothered by such trifling concerns.)

On the occasion when we have the place to ourselves, we sometimes manage to espy a magnificent blue heron in flight, its primordial wings gracefully swaying as it glides silently by. Or we’ll come across a lone heron standing in the shallows, a patient soul waiting interminably for a passing meal.

Other times we see turtles sunning on rocks or logs. There is one particular rock that juts out of the water, and we have seen up to six turtles all crowding around, valiantly attempting to get one last suntanning session in before sunset. It always reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s ‘Yertle the Turtle’, a great story, and one I love to read to 1st and 2nd graders. They never fail to laugh heartily and noisily when poor Mack burps, sending Yertle down into the mud.

Since my return to Sturbridge once again (christ, has it really been eight years already?), I had never heard of the Westville Dam area. I guess it was because I grew up in Walker Pond, right next to Wells State Park. There was no need to venture beyond my back door. We had a lake, a field, and many paths throughout the park. What a wonderful environment to grow up in.

But now, having come full circle to Sturbridge, it was a pleasant surprise to find this area of Southbridge/Sturbridge, where a meandering path leads you to the dam, and the many faces of nature abound. I high recommend this small stretch of trail to anyone.

Just watch out on Sundays, though.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2012, All Rights Reserved.