Spring Trip to the Boston Area—Days 1 and 2

May 2, 2016 10:07 – 10:07

I’m at the Homewood Suites in Billerica. The internet speed is okay—although I’m paying for “premium” speed. I don’t know what the regular speed is, but it must be awful if this is premium.

The ride up was a mixed bag. I hit traffic in DC and Baltimore—I took a couple of detours to avoid traffic on the Beltway through MD, and to avoid traffic on 895 in the Baltimore area. Surprisingly, NYC’s traffic was fine, but I hit slow-downs in Connecticut. The worst traffic however was when I hit Massachusetts. For some reason, traffic heading east on I90 was dreadful—and it continued awful on & off until just a few miles from the hotel.

Even so… until I hit Massachusetts, I averaged 43.1 mph. By the time I got to the hotel, it was down to 42.8.

Friday night, I went to a Seder at First Parish UU in Cambridge. I think there were about 50 people there. Getting there wasn’t fun. I was half an hour late, but setup took so long that I didn’t miss anything… except for meeting more people. In any case, the people at my table were very nice.

Saturday, I went hiking in Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, entering from the Concord unit. I blindly followed my GPS and was skeptical… until the last moment. There were no signs at all until I got to the entrance.

At the main parking lot, there’s an observation tower, from which you can see this overview of the wetland and trails.

I immediately saw a yellow warbler, but couldn’t get a picture. The NWR has the usual complement of Canada geese and mallards. I did see a few great blue herons fly overhead, but I didn’t see any along the water. I think the star of the day was probably this sleeping Canada gosling.

When it got up, it was very wobbly. I can’t tell gosling ages… but it’s probably just a couple of days old.

About five minutes later, I spotted this hooded merganser hen with about a dozen ducklings.

One of her ducklings was trapped on shore, and she kept trying to entice it into the water. I moved on before the show was over.

I also managed to catch this redwing blackbird in a rather unusual pose. Looks like he’s either taking a bow or inspecting his undercarriage.

Much of the refuge’s path abuts water—there was very little shade, even apart from the fact that the trees still haven’t leafed out very much. I’m glad I had a hat. There were some stretches of woods, however. There was a lot of skunkweed. I crowd-sourced the ID on Facebook, and confirmed it by breaking a leaf. It’s edible, I hear. I hope I’m never that hungry. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon comes to mind.

I’m not sure why they came this far north, but I also found a lot of Virginia wild strawberries.

And violets, of course.

I still need to identify this bird, which was gathering nesting materials from last year’s fading cattails.

I couldn’t get close enough for a detailed picture, but there were also several mute swans.

And the usual suspects were out sunning themselves on logs.

This black swallowtail posed long enough on the trail for me to get a picture with my small Canon pocket camera.

Here’s one of the interior canals that connects the larger pools.

Saturday night, I met my daughter-in-law Liz for dinner at Thai North, in Brighton. I had a seafood entrée and fried gyoza. The latter was the best gyoza I’ve ever had! The entrée was good, too. After dinner, we hiked around the hills of Brighton for an hour or so, pushing my step count above 20,000. Yay! Along the way, we saw lots of flowers—including these beautiful phlox.

Yesterday (Sunday), the forecast called for rain, so I decided to skip church and hike around the hotel’s neighborhood. I’ll post another entry, later.

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