Red Top Mountain State Park

One place I have a connection with is Georgia. I lived there for 4 years when I was in my twenties and some of my family are now there too. So I go there about once a year. I love exploring new natural settings and Georgia provides lots of opportunity for that.

One place I have been to several times is Red Top Mountain. The place is generally busy and the park sees a lot of visitors. This has several causes. One is its proximity to Atlanta. It is less than an hour away. Another is Allatoona Lake. The park is surrounded on three sides by this man made lake and it is very popular. Not as busy as Lake Lanier but still plenty of folks visit on a regular basis.

The park has lots of amenities – a swimming beach for the kiddies, a campground, cabins for rent, a lodge with rooms and restaurant, a privately run marina, picnic facilities, two party halls for rent, hiking trails, a bike trail, historic buildings and site and more.

One thing I really found unusual here is a gated campground. You have to have an entry code to get behind the gate and into the campsite. I have been to parks where you find your own spot if you arrive after hours, and drive through even if you don’t know where your way around the camp area. You then go pay in the morning. This is such an extreme opposite!

The hiking trails I have been on are nice. Like most places if you get more than a little ways away from a trailhead the crowds thin out. Even so, there can be more people hiking around the trails than many other places I have been.  I don’t mountain bike since I have hurt my back but one of the longest trails in the park is shared use – hiking and biking – and it does see a lot of traffic from the mountain biking crowd.

The lake is always either within site or not far away, where ever you go in the park. I like that a lot, and so do many other people. The south has a lot of recreational lakes and they can be funny places, in that there is not only people around in the park, but also lots of different boats going by. Sometimes people are hanging out right off shore and it is like you when you have a neighbor at a campground or large picnic area. You can hear their conversations and pretty much you know what they are up too, and they know the same about you. The oddity of the whole boating thing (me not being a boat person) is that it is nice to be around and see the water everywhere. There is something relaxing about it.

So that is my little blurb about Red Top. I will likely go there the next time I visit GA.

Jersey shore notes

In the middle of February there is nothing to do but dream about the beach in the summer. Yet I was down at the Jersey shore last month and spent time at Long Beach Island, Seaside Heights, Ortley Beach and Lavallette. It was cold! Of course the worst part is the cold biting wind. You feel like parts of you will just crack or shatter.

Besides that part of it, the Jersey shore is of course always lovely. In some ways things are just more pristine – cleaner, quieter, more memories bubbling up of summer at the beach and you just have more room to think.

Anyway I can’t wait until it gets warm and I get to go to the beach in my shorts – rather than wrapped up like the mummy!

Lavallette in winter

Lavallette in winter

Some Boston Science Museums

Here are some science museums in Boston

The MIT Museum 265 Massachusetts Avenue  Cambridge; 617-253-5927 $7.50 for adults, $3 for children.

The Museum of Science 1 Science Park  Boston  617-723-2500  ticket packages start at $23.50 for adults and $19.50 for children. Boston City Pass (888-330-5008; www.citypass.com) allows admission to the Museum of Science, the Harvard Natural History Museum and four other sites – $44 for adults and $24 for children.

The Ether Dome (Bulfinch Building, Massachusetts General Hospital, Grove and Cambridge Streets). Self guided tours  – ask for pamphlet at information desk –  whenever the amphitheater is not in use.

The Warren Anatomical Museum is situated on the fifth-floor mezzanine of the Countway Medical Library of Harvard Medical School (10 Shattuck Street, Boston; 617-432-6196). Admission is free.

The Collection of Scientific Instruments at the Putnam Gallery at Harvard (Science Center 136; 617-495-2779). Free. The Mark I computer is on the building’s first-floor lobby.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge; 617-495-3045 $9 for adults and $6 for children.

Miracle of Science 321 Massachusetts Avenue; 617-868-2866 casual fare

Toscanini’s 899 Main Street; 617-491-5877 serves homemade ice cream, coffee and baked goods, and weekend breakfast

The Catalyst Collaborative@MIT (866-811-4111) science-themed plays at the Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue

Fall is Here

Little news to report on the travel front.

While it has been fall for awhile, it seems the cool weather and more winter-drabness-like days are beginning to stick. There had been plenty of warmish, bright, and generally cheery fall days that hint more at summer past than winter approaching. Not so anymore. Many leaves have also fallen from the trees. It is interesting to see my neighborhood, stripped of its cloak. The bright colors have been shed revealing the dirt and grime of the tightly packed homes. Most are not new, and could use a coat of paint to cover their city-dirt covered look.

I do like the hunkering down of winter. Warming up with a nice cup of tea. Cuddling under the covers with my wife. Passing from the cold outdoors into a heated building. And the best winter prize of all – a nice new covering of snow that softens the edges and brightens up the world.

Fall Apples

Today was a picture perfect New England fall day.

My wife, two of our friends, and myself went to a place that offers apple picking. It was a hoot! There were a lot of children around as the place was set up to entertain them – and be a place where parents could bring their kids to let them run around.

There was a small barnyard that featured lots of small goats. A big area with stacked hay that kids could run around on. A large cleared dirt area that was full of picked pumpkins you could put on a cart, pull into the sales barn, and have your pumpkin weighed so you could pay for it.

Then there was the apple train. A tractor pulling a few carts with hay benches. You had to take it to the apple orchard. There were lots of apples to be had. We bought a bag that could hold 20 pounds and collected a few different varieties.

All in all, my first fall apple picking day was a blast. Good company, nice weather, and a lot of fun.

Cape Cod September 2008

The wife and I went to Cape Cod for an overnight on Friday the 20th. The wild lands of the cape and the cape-codbeautiful fall weather were just beautiful. Ptown was a little less than wonderful. A lot of shops, people, noise, and foul odors. I can vaguely remember how I used to get excited about a night out on the town but it is all a hazy memory. Give me a quiet sunset on the beach, an hour in the woods, or a walk down a nice nature trail anyday. I’ll leave the shopping to others.

An interesting fact that I did not know about before was that the pilgrims first made landfall on the Cape before going to Plymouth Rock. They stayed at the cape for about five weeks, getting water and a bit of food, before setting of for the rock.

A bit of a rant. I cannot believe the government is contemplating throwing 700 billion dollars at the Wall Street crisis. They do not even know if this plan will work but they are willing to bail the greedy and now failing businesses out. What a deceitful, hypocritical betrayal of the country. The government should be ashamed. End of rant.

Barnegat Bay 2

More news about the bay….some good and some bad…..

More news about pollution and the return of an abundance of stinging nettles this summer…

Stinging Nettles increasing in abundance
There are also numerous folks and organizations working to do positive things in the bay.

Cleaning up and trying to instill an attitude of keeping the bay cleaner

Very cool stuff involving efforts to restore healthy populations of clams in the bay……

Bringing back the bay.”

The organization behind trying to reclam the bay.

The clams are important because they are filter feeders. The pollution problems in the bay could be helped tremendously by restoring abundant populations of clams. They could effectively serve as a cleaning system for the bay, pulling a large amount of waste from the water. The problem right now is there is way to much pollution and way too few clams.

Time will tell if overdevelopment, and pollution, or the dedicated group of people that is trying to protect, preserve, and restore Barnegat Bay will win out.

We will have to stay tuned.