FREE – Maine, New Hampshire & Maine – At-Hand Guides – Let yourself go!

Get the top New England user-rated travel content for free.  Thanks for everyone’s amazing contributions and support since 2009.  You have inspired us to be continuing to expand and improve these highly rated guides.

In return, we are now initiating a program to bring At-Hand Guides to thousands of new users.

blog post - FREETo start we’ve made three of our editions free:  Maine At-Hand, New Hampshire At-Hand and Vermont are now free to download.  Every base listing of each app, every feature is free.

Spread the word and enjoy more discoveries and explorations in northern New England.

Beautiful Amarllis Telegraphs The Spring To Come In New England

Beautiful Amarllis Telegraphs The Spring To Come In New England

Learn more at the At-Hand Guides web site.

Inside ICA Is At-Hand

Once again, our long-Winters-night is upon us, increasing our needs for compensatory bright and fun discoveries and experiences.

One such possibility is Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).  Most of the gallery space is currently devoted to “One Lump or Two” sketches and finished pieces by Amy Stillman.  The show traces a quarter of a century of work out of her Brooklyn studio and is her first major retrospective exhibit.

See Hundreds Of Amy Stillman's Creativity From 25 Years - Source: At-Hand Guides

See Hundreds Of Amy Stillman’s Creativity From 25 Years – Source: At-Hand Guides

The abstractions draw you in trying to create meaning where perhaps there was none.

Enjoy the assemblage, the colors and the other exhibit goers. Bring the family.

One Lump or Two - A Family Event

One Lump or Two – A Family Event      Source: At-Hand Guides

What is fastest growing adult beverage category?

Move over grapes and wheat. Apples are in a major come-back as a base for alcoholic beverages.

The days of “cider-apples” meaning lowest priced, drops may well be ending.  Hard cideries are combing old orchards, planting heritage varieties, shipping juice in from Europe in a multi-pronged effort to keep up with the unexpected demand for hard cider.  Boston-based Sam Adams fastest growing brews are their Angry Orchard brand of hard ciders.

Most fresh eating varieties are out.  Macintosh, Delicious, Granny Smith, and Fuji just don’t make it.  “In” are old Baldwins, Newtown pippins and other flavorful varieties.  Cider makers are typically blending varieties before and after fermentation. Sugar is routinely added.  For the most part hard cider makers are unwilling to disclose the core variety in a particular brand, lest they give way trade secrets.

Massachusetts Baldwins - Flickr: Elizabeth Thompson

Massachusetts Baldwins – Flickr: Elizabeth Thompson

Hard ciders in the USA are kept below 7% alcohol and with limited bubbles.  Both production strategies keep per-bottle taxes at lower levels and the limited carbonation keeps the cider out of the Champagne tax category.

Learn more by participating in Cider Days, Nov 2-3rd in Shelburne Falls, MA. There are two rounds of hard cider tasting (Sat Nov 2 at 3PM and 5:15PM), a workshop on cider making, apple pie demos, amateur cider competition, and lots more. Much of this occurs at the Buckland Community. Over a dozen near-by orchards and cideries are also participating.

Check out West County Cider for hard-cider in Colrain.

Full details at the CiderDays web site.

Check out Cider Days this weekend in Shelburne Falls, MA - Cider tastings at Buckland Community

Check out Cider Days this weekend in Shelburne Falls, MA – Cider tastings at Buckland Community

Here is an New England overview from Yankee Magazine.

How do you make home brew hard cider?  Cornell University’s formula.

How about it?  Check out hard cider this weekend with At-Hand Guides: Let yourself go!

 

Having the Head of the Charles At-Hand

You have experienced races on the Charles, and the reunion tents of schools and their alumni associations.  Again in 2013 most spectators will be gathered from the races starting line to the mid-point near the Harvard Bridge.

Want to have an alternative exciting up-close family experience?  Then you want to get to the Head of The Charles staging area (FALS – Finish And Launch Site) on Soldiers Field Road, across from the WBZ/Channel 4 studios.

Head of the Charles - FALS Area Map. Source: OpenStreetMap

Head of the Charles – FALS Area Map. Source: OpenStreetMap

It is quite a show in its own right, with the logistics of many hundreds of shells and thousands of rowers all trying to be at the right place at the right time. Here is where the equipment, the trailers, boats and oars are crammed row after row.  Here where the crews hoist their shells over head and command them to the Charles edge and in perfect synchronization flip them into the water.  Here is where the emotions of victory and defeat are close and intense.

Bring your camera. You will find many great photo opportunities.

Oars, By The Dozen: Source: At-Hand Guides

Oars, By The Dozen: Source: At-Hand Guides

Main Street In The Staging Area: Source: At-Hand Guides

Main Street In The Staging Area: Source: At-Hand Guides

Oars Against Fall Sky:  Source:  At-Hand Guides

Oars Against Fall Sky: Source: At-Hand Guides

Ready - Source: At-Hand Guides

Ready – Source: At-Hand Guides

Best Vantage Point - Source: At-Hand Guides

Best Vantage Point – Source: At-Hand Guides

Nearby and downstream, at the Finish Line, is an exhibition and vendor area:  rowing & fitness consultants and products, boat builders, and numerous food vendors.

Come by on Friday, a day of practice. Racing is 8AM-5PM on both Saturday and Sunday.

Be vigilant and stay out of the way of crews, and coaches with critical timing issues and serious purposes.  The eight shells at FALS are very large and heavy. Be aware of a shell or crew moving toward you and give way.

Shell - On The Move - Source: At-Hand Guides

Shell – On The Move – Source: At-Hand Guides

Check the web site for additional detail. Harvard’s WELD boathouse – houses race sponsor exhibits.

We suggest parking to the South of Western Avenue.  The Brighton Mills shopping center is a possibility. Also consider biking along the Charles to the area from upstream , or of walking.

Beat it to the bog this weekend…Cranberry, that is! (October 12-13)

While the roads “north” may be jammed with stop-and-go leaf peepers, this and the remaining October weekends, you can be smugly headed in the opposite direction of the Massachusetts south shore and the Cape for the 2013 cranberry harvest. We suggest, specifically the 10th Annual Cranberry Harvest  Celebration at A D Makepeace in Wareham, MA.

wet harvest

Flickr: Photographer: Maggie Kulbokas – Cranberry Harvest Festival at AD Makepeace

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors, kids under 7 are free.  Juried craft fair, kids activities, boat rides on the bog.  Great family time.  10AM-4PM each day.

Massachusetts largest cash crop is not apples or any of fruits and vegetables you see at the weekly farmers’ markets – it is cranberries.  Cranberries exist below your eye level and below our personal RADARs in general.  They are native and are the official Massachusetts state fruit.

It is a government regulated agricultural crop, whose planting and marketing is tightly regulated by the Federal Government.  All cranberry bogs are registered and limited by “marketing orders” designed to limit competition and maintain prices and profits for growers.

Cranberries also support one of the countries largest and most successful farmer-owned co-ops, Mass-based Ocean Spray, producing products under the Ocean Spray brand. Wareham-based A.D.Makepeace was a co-founder and according to Wikipedia the world’s largest cranberry grower. There are actually multiple varieties of cranberries, much like apples and oranges, with NJ’s Rutger’s University a leading developer.

Flickr:  Marie Frei

Flickr: Marie Frei

You may think that all cranberries are wet-harvested, their built-in air pockets causing them to float, but that is for juice berries only. The boxes of whole berries are usually dry-harvested.

Other growers are also offering tours during the harvest season and on additional dates.  Use Google Search to locate them.

With your At-Hand Guides: Let yourself go!

#shutdown – Still experiencing the revolution that was not televised!

While other media is filling their spaces and seconds with woe-is-me stories of disappointed prospective visitors to Boston’s federally owned/managed properties, we bring you the half-full story.

 

View From Harborwalk, Boston (At-Hand Guides)

View From Harborwalk, Boston (At-Hand Guides)

Most of At-Hand Guides 5-Star rated Boston attractions are open for business:  Boston Tea Party Ships, Paul Revere House, Quincy Market, ICA and MFA, The Harborwalk, the Kennedy Greenway, Museum of Science, Eddy Mapparium, Gardner Museum, Harvard Museums, etc.

IMG_8590

You can still walk the Freedom Trail.  You can get up close to the Bunker Hill Monument (you just can’t get in).  Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the Boston Massacre Site, and Faneuil are all there. Park Street, Old North, and South Meeting House churches are open.

 

Old South Meeting House, Boston - Doors Open (At-Hand Guides)

Old South Meeting House, Boston – Doors Open (At-Hand Guides)

Massachusetts At-Hand lists all the Freedom Trail Stops and routes you in-between.  It is OK.  Let yourself go!

Making Leaf Peeping Fun With Kids: A Few Ideas.

  1. Combine leaf peeping with other attractions. Its a perfect time for farm visits.  Corn mazes, pick your own apples.  Savior farm made cider, donuts and pies.
    My Personal Pumpkin - Flickr:  Chris

    My Personal Pumpkin – Flickr: Chris

  2. Get out of the car.  Experience the leaves up-close.  Get to a trail-head and go off on a hike/ nature-walk.   Kick up some leaves as you walk.  Watch them fall before your eyes.
    Boy Will Be Boyz- Flickr: Joyce Andes

    Boy Will Be Boyz- Flickr: Joyce Andes

  3. Create some games and contests – find the most colors – red, orange, brown, green, etc.   Who spots then next “best tree ever”.
  4. Explore the science – of how and why the leaves turn color?  How do trees say alive in winter? How the dead leaves decay and become the soil and nutrients for other plants.
    Color and beauty is everywhere - At-hand Guides

    Color and beauty is everywhere – At-hand Guides

  5. Get the best leaf photographs with cameras and smart phone cameras.  Leaves on the ground.  Shrubs with berries, branches and turning leaves.  Leaves and pollen flowing in streams and pond edges.

Enjoy the family and change of season, but dial-in your getting-out, and let yourself go with At-Hand Guides.

Getting To Peak-Foliage & More

The miracle of Fall Foliage is here.  It’s time to re-route yourself today or plan for the family’s weekend out.  Yankee’s crowd-sourced, real-time Foliage Leaf Peepr app is a great way to choose your destination area.  Use New England At-Hand to identify all the other nearby attractions that make a complete day out.  

Early Morning Fog Lifts Over The Already Turning Swamp Maples Along Route 106 on September 22nd, In The Hamlet Of Coventry, NY.

Early Morning Fog Lifts Over The Already Turning Swamp Maples Along Route 106 on September 22nd, In The Hamlet Of Coventry, NY.

This looks like to top year for leaves.  The swamp-maples in the hollows are already turning.   Don’t delay.  The next couple of weeks is the season.  Combine some backroads and byways with stops at New England’s orchards and farms.  Corn Mazes are in top form.  Apples are practically falling off the trees and cider and donuts top it all off.  Bring some home along with a pumpkin and few decorative gourds.  At-HandGuides:  Let yourself go!

Sex in the City? Boston?

Stodgy old Boston is looking better and better.  How about a romantic night on the town and in town? It was inspiring to see so many people out along the Kennedy Greenway during Boston’s recent 90 degree temps.  

Does this inspire you or what?

Families, singles and couples were out "letting themselves go" on Boston's Kennedy Greenway fountain. (At-Hand Guides)

Families, singles and couples were out “letting themselves go” on Boston’s Kennedy Greenway fountain. (At-Hand Guides)

Great Getaway to Mashpee

The timing of this getaway is a bit narrow, limited to Thursdays through October, but Mashpee and environs offer many additional recreational possibilities in this transition season. Numerous are open daily and many are free. Discover and explore more around Mashpee with an At-Hand Guide. We have added a new routed recommended itinerary for you between Ellen Albanese’s suggestions for a getaway day in Mashpee (Lowell Holly is actually in Sandwich!).  It is titled: “Mashpee – Getaway – History & Shopping” You might be advised to select one of her nature hikes, for exploring the three reservations could easily occupy your entire day.

Itinerary: South Cape Beach State Park, Mashpee River Woodlands, Lowell Holly Reservation, Cape Cod Childrens Museum, Mashpee One Room Schoolhouse, Wampanoag Indian Meeting House, Wampanoag Indian Museum and Mashpee Commons.

Other nearby attractions we would suggest as substitutes:  Heritage Museums in Sandwich.  The East End Cape Cod Canal Visitor’s Center.  Both are open daily.

Click here for the Boston Globe article.

 

When You Have had Enough Nature & History

When You Have had Enough Nature & History