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Friday, October 27, 2023

Horse Guard State Park - Avon

When you look at the list of Connecticut State Parks, it's a little confusing and definitely overwhelming. You have state parks and scenic reserves and state forests. You have large parks with hundreds of acres and tiny areas that are merely preserved open space. There will be well known popular parks and little spots on the map with barely an entrance sign marking its existence. I'll have to decide what my "State Park Tour"  looks like but for now, there are so many options and I just try to incorporate as many as I can. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

Hedgehog Trail - West Simsbury, Connecticut


Hedgehog Trail West Simsbury

As a "middle" child of four, and now a parent myself, I really understand how time is such a limited resource in the game of parenting. And also because of it, I'm overly aware of splitting my time, of making my two kids feel loved and seen and equal in my time and resources. I hope they look back at their equally completed baby books, email accounts with long winded letters to them both, and matching photos of solo adventures with mom and deeply feel that (at the cost of more time and energy than we have or feel most days). 

And so, on a beautiful fall day while Whitney was in school when I should have been finishing up work or completing 47 other tasks on my to do list, I took Piper on a fun solo adventure, very similar to the one I did with Whitney almost exactly two years ago.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Sherwood Island State Park - Westport

Sherwood Island State Park is one of the popular beachfront state parks in Coastal Connecticut and it also gets the ranking of Connecticut's first park. The Connecticut State Park Commission was born in 1913 and their first purchase was five acres of salt marsh in Westport, the beginning of Sherwood Island State Park (currently 238 acres). 

While there are 110 state parks in eight counties in Connecticut, Fairfield County has six parks, four of which are off the coast and to the north. As my Connecticut State Park guidebook "A Shared Land" points out, "the population here is so dense and the land so expensive that it's hard to acquire parkland and economically impractical to create forests". The shortage of public places in this dense and expensive county makes this state park an important resource to those who live there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Flume Gorge - Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire

There's a little saying that I have to repeat to myself as we head to some of the busier attractions that tend to be a bit more beginner (and in my case kid) friendly. When the crowds start to assemble and I have to use a bit more patience and a few more forced smiles I remind myself of this: 

"Popular places are popular for a reason". I also remind myself there are ways to get around the busiest times and that usually involves weekdays and early mornings, something my flexible schedule and early risers typically allow. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Millers Pond State Park - Durham

This is a story about another tucked away lesser known Connecticut State Park. It's also a story about how I genuinely think people are good, but there are some less than great ones too, and one of those less than great humans was also at Miller Pond State Park.

Harsh start to today's state park guide, I know, I know, but hear me out. It was a gorgeous fall day here in Connecticut. It was a Sunday, the first day of October, and temperatures were creeping into the upper 70s. My parents know about my State Park scheme and love spending time with their grandkids so they suggested we tackle a park in the afternoon. I love that my little plan is inspiring others and I was excited to set out on another adventure with the kids.

I looked at my map and my google doc of localish parks with varying hiking trails and mileage. Miller Pond State Park (another one I've never heard of) in Durham was about 25-30 minutes away and had a short 1.5-mile loop around the park - toddler and grandparent friendly. I loaded the kids and the dogs in their car seats, loaded up enough snacks and the kids hiking packs, and picked up my parents before heading to the State Park. 

Monday, October 2, 2023

Dinosaur State Park - Rocky Hill

Dinosaur State Park

On another soggy September day, a Friday where I am solely in charge of keeping both kids alive, I did some research to find a state park that could offer some kind of indoor adventure (if you are just tuning in, I set the goal of visiting all the Connecticut State Parks). I did a little bit of research and found a wildly unique state park that fit the bill. 

I'm embarrassed to admit I've lived in Connecticut for many years and I had never heard of the Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill. I soon discovered the Dinosaur State Park has a lengthy trail system and outdoor area, but also a geodesic dome built over the dinosaur tracks with various exhibits, perfect for a rainy day. 

Outdoor area at the Dinosaur State Park