Friday, December 30, 2011

Westport: Day 4

One thing that I love about Sourthern New England is that open space is valued and protected. While there are few large undeveloped areas, many towns have established trust funds to preserve historic farms and protect remaining forests and streams. The Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, for example, has over 50 properties in the town of Dartmouth. Most of these places are accessible to the public and many have trails.

Today I drove to North Dartmouth to explore the Ridge Hill Reserve, which is part of a fairly mature pine forest. There's nothing quite like the open, airy feel of the pine woods, with the sunlight filering down to the soft needle carpet. There was only enough time for a short walk, but I relished every minute of it.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Westport: Day 3

Despite a severe cutback in mileage over the past two weeks, my knee was acting up again this morning. Not that it stopped me from getting outside. There are some trails that I have always wanted to explore behind the remnants of Fort Barton in Tiverton Rhode Island, so I headed out with my brother Carlin for a hike on what turned out to be fairly rugged terrain.

Fort Barton was the troop staging area for the invasion of the British occupied Aquidneck Island and Newport and the eventual Battle of Rhode Island. Located at the summit of a granite outcrop, the site commands magnificent views of Southern Rhode Island.

The majestic Sakonnet River bridge.

Very little remains of the actual fort, though, except for this depression in the ground.

The trails behind the fort go on for miles through fairly steep and technical terrain.

This mutant growth would mark the perfect setting for a Lovecraftian tale.

All this hiking makes one thirsty, and Berkshire Brewing's Coffeehouse Porter was waiting in the fridge upon our return. Berkshire uses Dean's Beans organic, fair trade, coffee.  It pours a near pitch black and smells like, well, fresh coffee. On the taste you get dark roast coffee beans and roasted malt, with enough hop flavor to balance things out. The coffee lingers in a good way. A very drinkable porter.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Westport: Day 2

There would be no run on the beach this morning. I should have checked the tide charts before leaving, for the water was well above the hard- packed sand. We're probably close to a full moon, with the waves rolling up to the dunes in places. In addition, the wind was up and the sea was in a tumult. Before moving on, I took some time to revel in the raw power of the ocean.

From here I drove to Allen's Pond Wildlife Sanctuary for a run on the trails. The remnants of Irene could still be seen on East Beach.

Allens pond is a sactuary run by the Massachusetts Audobon Society and is popular with birders and other seekers of wildlife.

The refuge is a mixture of farmland, swamp and tidal estuary, with glacial age granite boulders peppered throughout. Several miles of trails make this a great place for running.

Trails are fairly flat in this part of New England, but the slippery, moss and lichen covered granite can be trecherous.

Wait... is that a face emerging from the tree?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Westport: Day 1

On the first full day in Westport with the fam., I enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast and headed out to the southern end of town for a run along the coast.

Westport Harbor from the Fontaine Bridge.

The estuary.

A causeway leads you to Gooseberry Island, one of my favorite places. 

At the Gooseberry parking lot there is a gravel/sand trial that leads out to the isolated southern end of the island.

Close to the southern tip of the island there are a couple of abandoned buildings. Apparently these were World War II submarine watch- towers. I don't think they saw much action. Somewhere in the nearby bushes there is an underground bunker, but I didn't have the time to look for it today.

The graffiti has improved a bit over the years.

They try really hard to keep the stoners and lovebirds out of here, but inevitably, the barriers are broken down.

This trail takes you to the southern tip, where seals are often sighted.

Heading back North along the shore.

Found the Smuttynose IPA (Portsmouth, NH) at the local liquor store. Just look at those big chunks of yeast swimming around!  The smell is inviting and the taste doesn't disappoint. Bam! Fresh grapefruit, orange with a bit of earthiness in there too . The malt is subdued but still holds the beer together. The high level of carbonation provides a check to the lingering bitterness. This is a hop bomb that doesn't bomb. The only thing that could make this better is the summertime. Only one and this is easily one of my favorite IPAs ever.