Chester Sunday Market in Chester, CT

Yes folks, another post about Chester, CT. I’ll tell you that this is the last post for a few weeks – at least. We are going to be heading to the Halloween Pumpkin Festival and Parade, but that’s not until October 29, so we have some time.

Okay, let’s go. A few weeks ago, Laura and I decided to head down to Chester, CT to see what their Sunday Market was all about. Now, by this point, you know I like Chester. You can read my other posts if you don’t. Knowing there was a Sunday Market was just too much for us to handle.

I think we picked a good day. It was sunny and warm. Of course Chester had the music going and people milling about. It’s so nice to see a town like this so alive. I am telling you…even though it seems like it’s no big deal, people just don’t do this anymore. Perhaps they did it thirty years ago, but they don’t anymore. It’s rare at the very least. That’s why we are so thrilled with the whole thing. And to think, it’s simply living.

There were goodies from all over. As you can see in the photos below, there were quite a few tents set up selling all sorts of stuff. Mainly produce and fruit from local farms. Many of Chester’s shops were open for business as well. It was a good chance to pop in and then pop back out of each one with not much of a commitment.

In the pictures below, you’ll also notice a few dogs. Yes, the Chester Sunday Market is open for dogs too. We stopped to pet a really nice Rhodesian Ridgeback. This dog was very friendly and had a funny habit of nibbling on the fingers that were petting him. He wasn’t biting, just nibbling. I thought it was the funniest thing and kept telling him that I was going to nibble back. Okay, let’s move off the dog subject.

Here are some photos of the market. They are pretty random, but I think they will give you a decent idea of what it’s about.

Cool Backyard

Cool Backyard

Sidewalk With Shops in Stone Building Off of Water Street

Sidewalk With Shops in Stone Building Off of Water Street

In Back of South Main Street

In Back of South Main Street

Nice Window in Stone Building, Water Street

Nice Window in Stone Building, Water Street

Shop Signs Along Sidewalk

Shop Signs Along Sidewalk

Looking Up Spring Street

Looking Up Spring Street

Further Up Spring Street

Further Up Spring Street

Bottom of Spring Street

Bottom of Spring Street

Flag Pole

Flag Pole

Nice White House

Nice White House

Tents at Sunday Market

Tents at Sunday Market

Buildings Near Wheatmarket – 4 Water Street

Buildings Near Wheatmarket – 4 Water Street

Looking Down South Main Street Towards White Building

Looking Down South Main Street Towards White Building

Maple & Main Gallery

Maple & Main Gallery

From Spring Street, Looking Towards South Main Street

From Spring Street, Looking Towards South Main Street

Tents In Front of Simon’s Marketplace – 17 Main Street

Tents In Front of Simon’s Marketplace – 17 Main Street

Restaurant L&E and the French 75 Bar – 59 South Main Street

Restaurant L&E and the French 75 Bar – 59 South Main Street

Under a Building

Under a Building

Different Angle of Restaurant L&E and French 75 Bar

Different Angle of Restaurant L&E and French 75 Bar

Patio of Restaurant L&E

Patio of Restaurant L&E

More Tents Lined Up On West Main Street

More Tents Lined Up On West Main Street

Oktoberfest at Mount Snow, VT

Last weekend, we decided to head up to Vermont for Mount Snow’s annual Oktoberfest. We have had very good times at Hunter Mountain’s Oktoberfest in the past, but since we are now closer to Mount Snow, we decided to give theirs a try.

The ride up was okay. Once we were past Hartford and Springfield, things got much smoother. Trying to drive through those two cities would make anyone want to move far away from people. It’s not fun. Again, once we were past all the traffic and crazy drivers, the ride was actually nice.

I never quite took notice, but the mountains of northern Massachusetts are quite beautiful. Driving North on 91 looked a lot like driving north on the Thruway in New York. Like Connecticut and Massachusetts, once you get past Albany, things start to look good. As you can see, I am not a big fan of cities. I actually don’t enjoy them at all.

To get to Mount Snow from Interstate 91, we took the Greenfield, MA exit. This brought us on a bunch of back roads and through a few small towns. It was a slower drive, but much nicer than taking any highway. We passed two apple orchards and a whole lot of rivers and streams. Since I don’t spend a lot of time up in these mountains, I looked like an eager tourist. Hey, we’re all tourists at some point, right?

Towards the end of the trip up to Vermont, we approached the small town of Wilmington. I have visited this town quite a bit and it has always been a madhouse. There’s one way in and one way out of the Mount Snow area. Well, unless you want to drive North and then South again, but that’s going to add a lot of time to your trip. Anyway, when we entered Wilmington, VT…BAM…there it was. About 15 minutes worth of traffic, just to get through one light. It wasn’t terrible because it’s not like it was 90 degrees out or anything. We just sat and waited. Eventually we got through.

Along Rt. 100, there is a restaurant called the Silo. Since it had been a long trip, we decided to stop and quickly sneak into their bathrooms. After that, and since I was extremely hungry, we decided to have a quick meal. I had a pretty good portobello mushroom burger, but unfortunately Laura was a bit disappointed there wasn’t much of a veggie menu. Hey, we were in ski country in a restaurant that had to feed the masses. I am guessing their menu is appealing to the majority of people. I did like that burger though.

We finally got to Mount Snow for their Oktoberfest. I had really high hopes, but it was an uphill battle for this event since my expectations were so lofty. Everything that happened was going to be compared to Hunter Mountain’s Oktoberfest.

I gotta tell you guys, I am going to give this thing a 3 out of 5. It was okay. The pros of the event were it’s pretty setting at the base of Mount Snow. There was a nice wide variety of beer to choose from. I really liked that. We both had a nice dark one that tasted like coffee and chocolate. That was right after we got there. From there on…

Well, let me get to the cons. First, this Oktoberfest charged $20 for each person entering. Other Oktoberfests I have been to have been free. With the $20, each person got a pretty decent little stein and a token for a free beer. That was nice. It took some of the bite out of paying a total of $40 to get through the gates.

From there on, there wasn’t much to do. For some reason, the entire event was surrounded by metal gates. We tried to leave once with beers in hand…just to walk around the base of the mountain and enjoy the Autumn air, but were stopped with a “Hey, you can’t leave the gated area with those beers!!!” It felt like were were in some odd corral. No wait, were WERE in a corral. You’ll see in the photos below.

Now, let me tell you what I really like about Hunter Mountain’s Oktoberfest. It’s free to get in. The beers are like $4. While they don’t have the nice variety Mount Snow had, we always liked what we got. After you get your beer at Hunter Mountain, you can walk outside and wander around to your heart’s content. One of the most enjoyable things is to sit up on one of the slopes, beer in hand, looking down the mountain. It’s nice to sit there and chat with your friends. After we do that for a while, we hop on the ski lift and take a trip to the top of the mountain. Up there, we take pictures, walk around and really, really enjoy the Autumn air. I have experienced some of my life’s best Autumn air on top of that mountain.

At Mount Snow, we didn’t even bother asking about the ski lift because I just figured they would charge too much. That’s the feeling I got. Plus…man, I just can’t seem to shake that corral out of my mind. Disappointing to be pent up like that, especially when there are thousand of acres of beautiful wilderness to enjoy, but not with a beer in your hand. I must be missing something.

Oh well. I think I’m kind of done with Vermont anyway. Every time I go there I get the feeling like it’s getting more and more abused by people from New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Let me add just a side note here. I want to tell you that we once went to an Irish Festival at Hunter Mountain and were charged $20 each, just like this festival. This “admission based” event was no where near as good as their Oktoberfest. I am starting to think that events that charge admission aren’t as fun as the free ones.

Here are some pictures of the event.

Large White Tent

Large White Tent

Chair Lift and Other Condos

Chair Lift and Other Condos

Further View of Red Condos

Further View of Red Condos

Condos and Chair Lift

Condos and Chair Lift

Bouncy Bounce

Bouncy Bounce

Red Condos

Red Condos

Chair Lift and Other Condos

Chair Lift and Other Condos

Base of Mount Snow

Base of Mount Snow

People at Mount Snow Oktoberfest

People at Mount Snow Oktoberfest

Visiting Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT

I have to tell you, every time we visit Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT, we are impressed. I think it’s partly because of the park’s beauty and partly because we keep arriving at the perfect time of day.

When you look at the photos I posted below, you’ll see what I am talking about. There is something that makes this area very special when the sun hits the beach a certain way. I think we usually arrive at the park around 4pm, so the sun is on its way to set. The reflection of the water combined with the glow of the beach and plant life makes it just perfect.

I really think Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, CT is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever been to. It’s strange to say that because it’s so close by. When I think of beautiful beaches, I think of far away and exotic places – I definitely don’t think of something that’s right at our back door.

What really separates Hammonasset Beach State Park from others I have visited is the soft sand mixed with the large rocks. In the area we like to visit, Meigs Point, the rocks are all about exploring. If you visit this park, it’s a must that you spend a little time walking though and checking out what you can find. After that, climb to the top of Meigs Point and get a real view of what the area is all about. You’ll see Faulkner Island, Goose Island, Stone Island, Duck Island, Clinton, CT and Long Island, NY. It’s really a marvelous place.

As I wrote directly above, you can see Long Island, NY from Meigs Point in Hammonasset State Park. When you first get there, you kind of don’t know which was is up, but after a while it becomes clear that the land in the distance is in fact Long Island. I had to use my Droid to help me out with that one.

I am posting a bunch of photos below. I can’t believe how well they came out. Again, it was the lighting that did it. I managed to capture some quintessential Connecticut scenes…a fisherman, a sailboat, A jetty, etc… Take a look and let me know what you think.

Climbing Meigs Point

Climbing Meigs Point

Binoculars At Meigs Point

Binoculars At Meigs Point

Between Two Rocks At Meigs Point

Between Two Rocks At Meigs Point

Water Between Rocks At Beach

Water Between Rocks At Beach

Sea Grass On Beach

Sea Grass On Beach

Looking Into Sun Over Long Island Sound

Looking Into Sun Over Long Island Sound

Looking West On Hammonasset Beach State Park

Looking West On Hammonasset Beach State Park

Marsh Toward Shelter

Marsh Toward Shelter

Seagulls

Seagulls

Beach And Rocks Towards Meigs Point

Beach And Rocks Towards Meigs Point

Parking Lot At Meigs Point

Parking Lot At Meigs Point

Jetty At Meigs Point

Jetty At Meigs Point

Stone Island, Duck Island and Clinton, CT

Stone Island, Duck Island and Clinton, CT

Looking West On Hammonasset Beach State Park – Again

Looking West On Hammonasset Beach State Park – Again

Meigs Point Rocks

Meigs Point Rocks

Sea Gull And Jetty At Meigs Point

Sea Gull And Jetty At Meigs Point

Fisherman And Sailboat In Long Island Sound

Fisherman And Sailboat In Long Island Sound

Jetty and Long Island Sound From Meigs Point

Jetty and Long Island Sound From Meigs Point

Rock With Shells Stuck To It

Rock With Shells Stuck To It

Looking Out Over Water

Looking Out Over Water

Looking East On Hammonasset Beach State Park

Looking East On Hammonasset Beach State Park

Shelter At Meigs Point

Shelter At Meigs Point

Fisherman Fishing At Meigs Point In Long Island Sound

Fisherman Fishing At Meigs Point In Long Island Sound

Sailboat In Long Island Sound

Sailboat In Long Island Sound

Apple Picking at Belltown Hill Orchards, South Glastonbury

This is probably the fastest I have ever written a blog post after an event. It’s because I have been getting kind of lazy and they get piled up on me. This is the last one of the pile. After this, I have nothing to write about.

Today was the day to go apple picking at Belltown Hill Orchards in South Glastonbury. It was a good thing we went today because October is a very unpredictable month when it comes to weather. I remember saying last year, “Next year, we have to take it when we can get it. If the weather is good we jump in the car to go pick apples.” That’s what we did.

This was so much better than last year too. As I have mentioned in some of my older posts, we usually go up to Stockbridge, MA for our apple picking. Well, as I get older, I don’t enjoy driving as much as I used to. From our location to theirs, you have to navigate through some cities and highways. It’s not fun. I would much rather stay kind of local and drive as little as possible.

Belltown had the tractors and the trailers. It is so much fun to hop on the trailer and get towed around to the picking areas. Today, there were about three stops…each one offered different types of apples. Even though the season is almost over and some of the trees were picked clean, we still managed to find very full trees to fill our 30 pound bucket up. That’s right, 30 pounds of apples. Geesh.

I took a bunch of pictures. Take a look at them and try to tell me that the weather could have been better. Nope.

Come Home to Chester Days

This has been on my mind for some time now. I kept meaning to write about it, but then I got busy…etc, etc… I’m sure you have heard it all before.

Anyway. Remember the post I wrote about The Brushmill by the Waterfall in Chester, CT? Well, as I mentioned in that post, a few things happened that day. Not only did we go to the shore and then enjoy dinner at the Brushmill, we also were delighted to discover the town of Chester, CT bustling with people the night of September 17.

That’s right…a small town like Chester was full of people after dark. Amazing.

After we left the Brushmill, we drove towards Chester. As we passed the library, I said to my lady, “Boy, there sure are quite a few cars in the parking lot tonight. Hmmm, maybe they are showing a movie or something.” Then, as we got closer to town, we saw people walking around. As we pulled up to the stop sign right in town, we saw tons of action. The place was full. I found this completely exhilarating. I couldn’t believe my eyes. A town actually doing something instead of just talking about doing something.

So, what did we see that night? We saw the annual “Come Home to Chester Days.” Here is a blurb from the Visit Chester website:

“Every September, we keep our doors open late on the Friday night closest to the Autumnal Equinox to celebrate the beginning of fall. We have receptions in our galleries, shops, studios, and restaurants,” says Leif Nilsson, artist and owner of the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery. “It is a festive evening when townspeople and visitors are invited to stroll the streets of an antique New England village; to see the latest paintings, photographs, sculptures, fashion and jewelry; to sample baked goods and fine food; and to discover handcrafted decorative accessories and furnishings.” Most everything is within walking distance from the Maple Street and Water Street parking lots.

When I saw this, I immediately looked toward the passenger seat and said, “We’re parking.”

We got out of the car and began our trek through town. Mind you, this was our first real visit…the first time we actually got out of the car to walk around.

First, we visited a few galleries. We accepted the red wine they poured for us and began to smile a lot. There were so many people out that night. All the stores and art galleries were open and showing off their fine items. I had such a warm feeling inside knowing that people had put this whole event together not only for their own benefit, but for the benefit of the population at large. It’s not every night one gets to engage in something so New Englandy and down home. It really was amazing.

As we continued to walk around and visit small shops, we started noticing a few houses that were galleries as well. One of our favorites was the Al Malpa Photography Gallery. We met the person who owned the house that Al displayed his photography in and met the man himself. We great stuff. It was so cool to chat with people we never met before in such a comfortable setting.

As we further enjoyed the night, I began to realize that I am truly out of the loop. So many times I said, “Where in the world have I been? People all over the face of this earth get together so often and I feel so sheltered.” That night, I vowed to get out more. To smile more. To shake more hands. Seriously, life is too short. That’s why people build restaurants and bars, paint and sing, have get-togethers and party.

We picked up a few brochures that described all the annual events in Chester, CT. I have slowly been reading though them and figure that we will attend a few. We actually did make it to the market last Sunday, but I will leave that for another post. At least then, I got some photos.

Till next time…

Nice White Chrysanthemum Pictures

Ya know, I have been writing blog posts about the White Chrysanthemum for years and everything seemed fine. The flower I was taking pictures of and writing about lined up perfectly with what I found in Google images. Well, I just did a quick search for “White Chrysanthemum” in Google and I found a bunch of white flowers that don’t really look like a White Chrysanthemum. Strange. I know this is what I have. I guess I’ll just ignore it and keep writing. At least they look like they are all from the same family.

I couldn’t help but take a few pictures of some of out White Chrysanthemums this evening. We have a few fairly large bushes in the front yard and now that it’s October, they are pretty much in full bloom. I got some decent shots. Some aren’t as crisp as I would like, but that’s probably just because I have a strong desire for a new camera. I really nice one. Of course, that is making everything that my current camera produces sub-par. In my mind anyway.

Here are those photos.

White Chrysanthemum - Focus On The Leaves

White Chrysanthemum – Focus On The Leaves

Two White Chrysanthemum Flowers and a Bud

Two White Chrysanthemum Flowers and a Bud

Up Close White Chrysanthemum

Up Close White Chrysanthemum

White Chrysanthemum Bud

White Chrysanthemum Bud

White Chrysanthemum Flower

White Chrysanthemum Flower

Cleaning the Chimney and Pellet Stove

Ah, it’s October 3 and the chill is in the air. The temperature was in the 40s last night and I couldn’t get enough of the covers. What a change from the humid 90s we were feeling just a month ago.

There are a few things that need to get done in the Autumn. They creep up on you and become less and less pleasurable the colder it gets. Among others, the two chores I am talking about today are cleaning out the fireplace chimney and also cleaning out the pellet stove in the basement.

Now, everyone knows that when spring arrives, you basically close up the damper in the fireplace and call it a season. I mean, the last thing on your mind is to actually clean the fireplace and chimney to prepare it for the next season. That would make too much sense and why do today what you can put off until tomorrow, right?

Well, today was the day I decided to clean the chimney. I pulled out my chimney brush and those fiberglass rods I bought from the pellet stove place last year and went to work. I think I bought five six foot rods. That length of rods pushes the brush all the way to the top of this colonial that we live in and pops it out of the top of the chimney. It took less than ten minutes to get the whole thing brushed.

There are a few things you need to concern yourself with when cleaning out a chimney. First, you will need to remove the damper and take it down. You won’t be able to get the brush up into the chimney flue without removing the damper. Second, after pushing and pulling the brush up and down the flue for a while, you will need to remove the brush and vacuum out the area up in back of the fireplace. Basically, this is the area behind the damper. This is very important. The guy at the fireplace store told me that serious problems occur when people fail to clean that area properly. It can get very hot back there and with all that buildup, well, you get the idea.

Overall, the job of cleaning a chimney isn’t very difficult, but not something to look forward to. If you have a relatively new home and a chimney in good condition, I highly recommend you go to a fireplace shop and buy the equipment to clean your chimney yourself. Have the pros only come out for an inspection every few years. You will save a lot of money by doing this.

Oh yeah, when I clean the chimney of the house we are currently living in, I do it from the bottom. This house’s roof is very steep and cleaning the chimney from the bottom is quite simple. As long as the house is warmer than the air outside, most of the dust is vented right out the chimney.

Now, regarding that pellet stove. I haven’t exactly cleaned this yet today, but by tonight, I hope to get it all finished. I really want to try out those new soft wood pellets I got a while back.

For my yearly cleaning of the pellet stove, I simply disassemble as much as I can and use my shop vac with a HEPA filter to vacuum everything I see. About every other year, I disassemble the fan area and the exhaust piping in the back to do a real thorough cleaning. The stove burns fairly clean, so this is all it’s needed through the years. I am excited to try these new pellets because they are supposed to offer a hotter burn with less ash. We’ll see.

When To Plant Grass Seed In The Fall

I wrote a post a while back talking about the best cool season grass seed for heat and drought. At the end of the post, I gave a few recommendations on when to plant grass in the fall. Basically, I said to start planting on October 1, instead of the September 1 that many people recommend.

I am writing this post to reaffirm what I said in my earlier post. We had a hot September here in the Northeast and any grass that was planted probably would not have made it without ample irrigation. If you had enough water, good, but if you didn’t then you may as well have planted the grass in the middle of the Summer.

Today is October 1. It’s been raining for a few days, which means the rains have returned in this area. This is perfect for planting grass. The soil is moist and able to be properly aerated which will allow the seed to germinate faster. Of course, there is always the change of some freak early Winter, but I have seen people around here start their grass planting in November with good results.

We are located in central Connecticut by the way. Of course, New England is a pretty big area and the climate changes dramatically from place to place, but I would rather plant grass in cooler weather as opposed to warmer weather.

The Rivers Are Filling Back Up

I always say that we are living in some weird micro climate here in central Connecticut. I have watched so many thunderstorms pass to the South of us. Of course, we have had our fair share of storms and showers, but not as many as other parts of this state.

Well, I am happy to report that we finally got some rain. These past few days have given us quite a bit of welcome hydration. It feels good. I have had my fingers crossed ever since I planted all those evergreen trees.

You know what’s strange, with as much rain as we got, we still didn’t get as much as the rest of the state. For days, I watched the whole line of rain on the radar slowly crawling up the East coast, right to the left of us. If it had just moved over a few miles, we probably would have gotten about ten times the amount of precipitation. I am thankful for what we got though.

One of the barometers I use to see if the ground is absorbing enough water is to check the small brook down the road. For a few months now, it’s been really dry. Even yesterday it was almost empty and that was after days of stormy weather. Well, this afternoon it looked like the river was actually flowing. I am hopeful that the rain is here to stay and that we will have a nice Autumn. The trees I planted depend on it.

Visiting Martha’s Vineyard

A few weeks back, my parents came up to visit. One of the few surprises I had for them was a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Visiting Martha’s Vineyard has been on my mother’s wish list for a while and since I had never been to the island either, both of us were excited.

Now, I would like to let you know that I have been to Block Island a few times, so I kind of knew what to expect. I understand that Martha’s Vineyard is a much busier place, but how different can they be? Well, as it turns out, they were different but the same.

To me, Block Island is a really nice place. I have never visited Block Island during peak months, so I always enjoyed a fairly thin crowd. There were never any waiting lines to eat and getting around was easy. During our last visit to Block Island, we rented a scooter and drove all around. It’s a pretty special place.

I was expecting something more of a party atmosphere when visiting Martha’s Vineyard. I think I was right on target. Martha’s Vineyard is more crowded and a bit more energetic. Now, I will tell you that we only visited Oak Bluffs while on the island because that’s where the ferry from Quonset Point brought us. If we visit Martha’s Vineyard again in the future, we will surely rent a scooter and visit Vineyard Haven and Edgartown. But for now, I guess it’s Oak Bluffs.

After we got off the ferry (that took 1:40 mins), we started walking around. We immediately found a small alley that we walked down. It was pretty cool because it was one of those alleys that looked like it had some interesting bars or restaurants. It set the theme for the trip. We did a lot of walking around that day. I mean a lot. So much that I took a long nap for the whole ferry ride back to Rhode Island. My feet hurt too.

So, what did we do? Well, we walked up Circuit Avenue and visited a few shops. Then, we had lunch in one of the eating establishments and then walked around the Gingerbread village. That’s a pretty cool place with something called the Camp Meeting Association Tabernacle at the center. I am not sure of the story of the place, but it sure looked interesting.

After that, we strolled over to Ocean Park and walked around a bit on the beach. We found some pretty cool rocks and shells.

So, that was about it. After a few hours of eating, discovering and walking around, we hopped back on the ferry and headed towards Rhode Island and Connecticut. Overall, it was a good, but tiring day. I guess any time you have to take a ferry somewhere for the day, it’s going to be long and tiring.

I took a few photos and have posted them below.

Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs

Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs

Parking Lot and Ferry at Quonset Point, Rhode Island

Parking Lot and Ferry at Quonset Point, Rhode Island

Ferry at Quonset Point, Rhode Island

Ferry at Quonset Point, Rhode Island

Big Tree

Big Tree

Fence and Road in Martha’s Vineyard Gingerbread Cottages

Fence and Road in Martha’s Vineyard Gingerbread Cottages

Row of Cottages

Row of Cottages

Camp Meeting Association Tabernacle

Camp Meeting Association Tabernacle

Blue Cottage in Martha’s Vineyard Gingerbread Cottages

Blue Cottage in Martha’s Vineyard Gingerbread Cottages

Purple Cottage

Purple Cottage

Gingerbread Cottages

Gingerbread Cottages

Martha’s Vineyard Gingerbread Cottages

Martha’s Vineyard Gingerbread Cottages

Small Alley at Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard

Small Alley at Oak Bluffs, Martha’s Vineyard

Gingerbread Cottage

Gingerbread Cottage

Another View of the Alley at Oak Bluffs

Another View of the Alley at Oak Bluffs

Camp Meeting Association Tabernacle Sign

Camp Meeting Association Tabernacle Sign

Beach Near Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs

Beach Near Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs

Norton House, Oak Bluffs

Norton House, Oak Bluffs