Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit Has Arrived in Essex

The wonderful Essex Shipbuilding Museum is currently hosting a portion the the traveling Smithsonian exhibit “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” and it’s well worth a ride over for a look-see. It’s the first time since its 1994 inception that the Museum on Main Street program has come to Massachusetts. It is open through Oct 22 and is spread out over 3 Essex locations: The Essex Shipbuilding Museum, the EHSSM Schoolhouse and Essex Town Hall. For additional information on hours and other details, click here.

The Smithsonian can be counted on for quality presentations and this is no exception. The exhibit presents various aspects of rural America over the last century. It’s well set up and contains a great deal of content and thought provoking materials. AND it’s free!

The day I visited, I was unable to go to the Schoolhouse portion of the exhibit as it had to unexpectedly close. But I did view the portions of the exhibit in the Essex Shipbuilding yard and at Town Hall (3rd floor). I had not realized the exhibit was set up in this manner, but I think you can get a great deal out of it even if you can’t get to all the locations. It can be a little confusing, but look for the well placed signage for guidance.

Photos taken at shipyard and Town Hall:

An Afternoon On The Water

When visitors arrive, we almost always take them on a whale watch and it never fails to amaze. Cape Ann Whale Watch took us north this week in search of marine wildlife so we passed Thacher Island and got to see the twin lighthouses “merge” in a way that is best appreciated from the water. Though there was plentiful sightings of dolphins, gannets and whales I did not get to take too many photos as our 2 year old grandson wasn’t as interested in that as his mother was. So I played “chase the toddler” while others watched the whales — they were close enough to the boat to smell their (awful) breaths in the blows.

Fall is a great time to go on a whale watch, especially since they tend to be less crowded. I believe the watches will sail into October, so it isn’t too late to book a trip!

Orchard Adventuring

It’s that time of year when it’s all about apples, pumpkins, cider and wine (of course) so it seems logical to make a stop at Russell Orchards in Ipswich. They are currently in full apple picking swing. Our daughter had never been apple picking (clearly there were gaps in her education) and Russell Orchards is a great spot to start! It’s very kid-friendly with farm animals and special treats inside the store. It’s also driver friendly as I noticed some outlets for electric vehicles. We took full advantage of the pumpkin displays, store treats and apple trees. I suggest you consider doing the same!

Fall Visit To Stone Zoo

Our daughter is visiting with our toddler grandson so it seemed like a good time for our first visit to Stone Zoo. It’s a relatively short ride (maybe 45 minutes) to this lovely little oasis in Stoneham. I’d had the impression that it was a smaller zoo than Franklin Park, so I guess I had lowered my expectations, but we were very charmed by the layout, the atmosphere and the animals. We recently visited the Seattle Zoo and this was much much better. I think the flamingos were my favorites!

Our daughter is a zoo educator in Erie PA so her insights come from deeper zoo knowledge than I have. She commented that she was especially impressed with how the well designed exhibits blend into and reflect the environment so seamlessly. There are Lego displays throughout the zoo which were partly built by children and they are VERY inspiring! It’s a great little way to spend part of a day so if you haven’t been, consider a visit.

Birdwatching At The Dock

We stopped down to the dock to check in with Joey a few days ago. While Jim and Joey were engaged in deep discussions of football pools and the like, my attention got drawn to these birds who stopped by to watch what’s going on. Both Joey and Jim were intrigued as well so I took a few shots. And then was later rewarded with the birding tweet you see here. Truth hurts sometimes.

Slo-Mo Disintegration at Lane’s Cove

My eye caught this abandoned boat at Lane’s Cove last January. Weathered objects exude so much character and history that I find it to be irresistible imagery. But I’m a little sad that I’ve kept my eye on it throughout the year because the slow disappearance of this boat is disconcerting. Still beautiful and full of character though. These pictures were taken in January, May, July and September. I’ll be going back despite the heartbreak.

Foggy Morning Greeting Visitors At Stage Fort Park

Persistent fog hung over Stage Fort Park last week but visitors were not deterred from stopping by the Welcome Center. It was actually one of the busier shifts I have experienced over the summer. The Welcome Center will be open until Indigenous People’s Day/Columbus Day.

Blue Guitar Yacht Visits Gloucester

My eye caught this beautiful yacht docked at Ocean Alliance. I noticed the British flag and the designation London and I wondered if they came all the way across the pond because London is so extra crowded this week. Maybe not. I did a little research and you can see some if it at this link. There are unsubstantiated rumors it belongs to Eric Clapton but no definitive ownership that I could find. Sure is pretty though! Welcome to Gloucester mates.

Northern Lights Farmstand Has Hidden Treasures

Something about September weekends makes me want to go to the local farmstands and look at the available harvest. We were riding up 133 and decided to stop at Northern Lights Farmstand in Ipswich (243 High St) as we had not been there in a while. Marshalls, of course, is also great but this is the area we happened to be in. Jim went straight inside but I was drawn to the “pick your own” flower beds. Then I wandered around the flowers and the back parts of the area and found all sorts of delightful surprises: chickens, donkeys, Francesca the pig! It’s a great little stop especially for curious children and senior citizens.

The store is packed with fresh fruits, vegetables, breads and even Virgilios sauce. Not surprisingly, we took home more than we had intended to. There doesn’t seem to be a website or updated Facebook page but additional information can be found at this link. You won’t be sorry you stopped at this fun farmstand.

Herons, Egrets and Ducks in a Row

A nearby pond has recently been serving as a kind of bird sanctuary for some pretty spectacular egrets, night herons and ducks. We watch the group feed and preen and resolve disputes. They share the space admirably (there’s a lesson for us in that) and it’s easy to find yourself sitting there for quite a while. They squawk more than you might expect and there’s constant shifting of position. I am no expert, so I am not quite certain which kinds of egrets these all are, but I am pretty certain we observed a pair of black crowned night herons with at least two juveniles. The juvenile night herons are very well camouflaged but maybe you can make them out in one of these photos.

For additional photos and details please go to Pat D’s Photos on Facebook.

Trails and Sails Starts Today Friday Sept 16

The Essex National Heritage Area Trails and Sails event begins today and last for 10 days. Free events throughout Essex are being offered in a wide range of interests and activities. Some require reservations but are still free, so check it out online. You can search by location or activity type. It’s a wonderful opportunity to experience our area! Here’s what’s going on in Gloucester:

Con-Duck-Tor At Niles Pond

Con-duck-ting for an audience at Niles Pond a few days ago. It has been mentioned that “the band is not paying attention” which gives us the opportunity to thank all the band and chorus teachers out there who keep trying regardless! This extends to all classroom teachers and school staff as well. Thank you for your leadership and perseverance.

Full Harvest Moon High Tide

The tides have been pretty high this week with the full harvest moon and Good Harbor Beach wears a high tide very well. The creekside rock was surrounded (that’s GMG Jim watching from the car) and someone is building their version of sand castles near the footbridge. Always an interesting stroll down on Good Harbor Beach!