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Archive for October, 2012

One of the most scenic drives and tranquil places to visit is Acadia National Park in the Bar Harbor area of Maine’s rocky coast.
Each time we travel there, about five hours north of Boston, I feel rewarded by what is there to greet me. Bar Harbor is quaint and beautiful and it abounds with great places to stay and shops to enchant. But the scenery is remarkable. I could write about the area’s individual attributes, but this place needs to be seen, felt, tasted.
Within the park, which consists of twisting, turning oceanside drives, there are places to hike and to picnic. It is welcoming.
A ferry to Canada is also available out of Bar Harbor, that is if you really want to leave :>)

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From Boston, traveling on route 95 south, Mystic, Connecticut is about a two and a half hour drive. The town is filled with scenic delights and history – a maritime museum offers ships to view and walk about at the waterfront, and the museum itself has an array of historical artifacts as well as a high quality gift shop and book store.
The town, with a charming old draw bridge, is also filled with nice shops and little cafes – there’s something for everyone. Next to the draw bridge, there’s a fantastic toy shop with everything imaginable for kids of all ages.
Mystic Village is probably my favorite spot. Settled just off the highway, it is much like wandering around a quaint colonial village with little shops which look like they were designed with Sturbridge Village in mind – and there’s a duck pond and area, where in the summer months, live music is offered as visitors munch on a hot dog or an ice cream cone.
On a great weather day, Mystic is a good choice for a day trip. Visitors will find wonderful opportunities to get in a good walk, and spirits will fly with all there is to see. I like the town so much, my second novel, The Birthday Gift, was set there amidst actual and fictional places. My web site, southshorewriter, offers some information on that novel as well as others. My latest novel, I Call Your Name, will be released through Mainly Murder Press in August of 2013 – it’s a tale of suspense.
While visiting Mystic, a restaurant we enjoy is The Steak House – they have a menu with great choices. If you’re not interested in dining at Mystic, another good choice is at Foxwoods just a few miles north. The buffet there is incredible, but prepare to indulge, you’ll be tempted by the variety of meals and devilish desserts :>)

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For some, this may seem like a strange time of year to enjoy the beach. I love it at this time of year – it’s a great place to take a walk without having your toes nipped by skateboards, bikes and some very short people. It’s a moody time at the sea, with forgotten gulls and ever rolling waves sliding onto the sandy shores. While I enjoy Nantasket for the scenery and a walk, all beaches are so much more available at this time of year. No dodging of bodies, no issue with a parking space. It seems more refreshing and certainly more serene.
New England’s offering of beach area is incredibly generous. All along the shorelines of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, there are gems to be found. Because I live close to Nantasket, I find early evening solace there, where summer has worn itself out with sun-worshipers and a kind of lovable honky-tonk atmosphere.
Before the cold sets in, treat yourself to a stroll along the coast and fill your lungs with the fresh, salty mist – free :>)

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Apology

I am horrified at the mistakes I made in the Norfolk piece. I managed to spell at least two words incorrectly – typing too fast – thinking too slow. I’ll be more vigilant in the future. Also, forgot to mention that since I wrote about Norfolk being my grandparents’ home town, I should have mentioned that the cover of my latest book, A Family of Strangers, depicts the front path and gate to their wonderful home. It truly was a passage to warmth, magic and a tiny bit of mystery :>).

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Nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires, in the north-west section of Connecticut, the quaint town of Norfolk is one of my childhood haunts. My grandparents lived there – they met and married there, two immigrants finding and creating a life and family together. My grandmother was an Irish beauty from Cavan, Ireland, while my grandfather was a dashing young man from Brittany, France. Their simple way of life added to their individual cultures, made them an interesting and lovable pair to spend time with. My grandmother began her life there, having moved from Ireland, when she was in her early twenties. Her livlihood was dressmaking for the wealthy residents in Norfolk, and there were many. My grandfather tended to the gardens of those wealthy summer residents, while taking care of his own farm.

My grandparents’ home was a custom built structure consisting of eight interesting rooms, and tucked an acre away over a dirt path and a tiny brook, was the most fascinating place for me, the barn. It was a magical place to visit and we did that often.

Norfolk is a lucsious town nestled on hills and mingled with fields, forests, ponds and culture. It was, and remains, a playground for the rich and famous. I recall that in winters while visiting there, my grandfather, who also served as winter caretaker for many of the large homes, would often take me with him as he made his rounds to summer mansions, checking to make certain that all was well in the ghostly quiet homes with marble staircases and even elevators to the third floor.

Settled in 1744, Norfolk has for many years been the home of the Yale Summer School of Music and Art. The town’s center is picturesque, like something out of a 1940s film – pretty architecture and classy shops. The art world is comfortable in Norfolk. My uncle, a published poet and professor of English, lived on Ashpotag Road in Norfolk, my grandparents’ old homestead, until he died in the 1990s. He was delightedly at home in a very artistic environment.

If you’re into hiking, Haystack Mountain is in Norfolk, directly across the street from my grandparents’ old home. There’s a stone fire tower there which affords a view of the state that is well worth the climb. And Campbell Falls State Park was a favorite place for us to picnic – the hiking and falls are worth every moment of getting there – you are removed from the stresses life can often toss into our paths.

As a child and teen, I knew a man for whom my grandfather worked. The vast gardens were tended to and the interior was monitored in the winter. The man was Henry Luce. I knew he was a New York publisher, and thought of books. What I have learned recently is that Henry Luce was the publisher of Life Magazine. His son wanted to teach me to play golf on their Norfolk property when I was seventeen – I had eyes for a race car driver and mechanic :>)

Norfolk is a serenely beautiful destination. If you just want a drive through to see the gorgeous homes and landscapes, or if you’re an energetic hiker or photographer, or if you have an interest in antiques or hand-crafted wares, this little town in the northern corner of Connecticut is a worthy place to visit.

I’m prejudiced from having spent many wonderful weekends there on the farm with a noisy rooster waking me from sleep, but the town is a beauty and completely worth the journey.

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