Great Brook Farm State Park – Carlisle, Massachusetts

Great Brook Farm State Park is a public, day-use recreation area featuring an active dairy farm in the town of Carlisle, Massachusetts. The state park was established in 1967. The park has 19.5 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, dog-walking and equestrian use. Canoeing and fishing are offered on Meadow Pond. Tours of the dairy farm are available from May to October along with an ice cream stand which is open from April to October.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon – Fairfax County, Virginia

Mount Vernon is the plantation home of the first president of the United States George Washington. The Washington family acquired land in the area in 1674. Around 1734, the family embarked on an expansion of its estate that continued under George Washington, who began leasing the estate in 1754 before becoming its sole owner in 1761. The mansion was built of wood in a loose Palladian style; the original house was built by George Washington’s father Augustine, around 1734. George Washington expanded the house twice, once in the late 1750s and again in the 1770s. It remained Washington’s home for the rest of his life. Following his death in 1799, under the ownership of several successive generations of the family, the estate progressively declined as revenues were insufficient to maintain it adequately. In 1858, the house’s historical importance was recognized and it was saved from ruin by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association; this philanthropic organization acquired it together with part of the Washington property estate. Escaping the damage suffered by many plantation houses during the American Civil War, Mount Vernon was restored.

The estate is on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia

Visitor Center

Beautiful grounds leading up to the main house

Ample signage and information panels explaining every aspect of the house and grounds

Interiors of the main house



Beautiful view of the river

Out buildings

Working farm


Slavery is not glossed over

Grounds and surrounding woodlands with signage

Ponemah Bog – Amherst, New Hampshire

Ponemah Bog is a Kettle Hole Bog with a small pond at its center. A 0.8-mile boardwalk loop leads through the bog, providing a nice walk in all seasons. The boardwalk features three observation decks over the pond. There is a small parking area with ample signage explaining the bog and the flora within it, walk past this kiosk and begin your walk on the left fork of graded Bog Trail (you will return on the right fork). After 0.1 miles, bear right to stay on the trail as Bypass Trail diverges left. You will quickly come upon an observation deck, from which you can look into the bog. Just past the tower, Bypass Trail rejoins from the left. You will then arrive at the edge of the bog, where you will step out onto the boardwalk. Here, close to the forest, the bushes and plants in the bog grow taller than those in the middle. There are many blueberry bushes along the boardwalk. As you move into the bog, you will start to see some pitcher plants beside the boardwalk. As the boardwalk continues out, the plants get smaller, until finally, you emerge in the open bog. Here, you will see the pond in the center of the bog. In addition to the pitcher plants keep your eyes open for sundews along the trail.

Alex about to start his trek

Information kiosk is in depth

Information pamphlet also available

Achadas da Cruz – Madeira, Portugal

Achadas da Cruz on Madeira island is the ancestral home of my mother’s family. I grew up hearing stories of the tiny little parish town and the steep cliffs my grandparents had to hike up to bring produce back and forth from the even smaller village of Fajã da Quebrada Nova. It was like a pilgrimage for Alex and I to walk in the footsteps of my ancestors. When we came to the parish cemetery and I saw so many gravestones with my mother’s maiden name emblazoned across them it really hit home.

Local Parish Church – Nossa Senhora Livramento

Caldeira – My mothers family name

Local businesses include a post office and general store

At the top of the cable car terminal is the Calhau Snack Bar

The steepest cable car in Europe

Tiny village of Fajã da Quebrada Nova at the bottom of the cable car ride

Nearby are hikes along the levadas

Rhododendron State Park – Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire

Rhododendron State Park is a public recreation area and nature preserve occupying 2,723 acres on and around Little Monadnock Mountain in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. The state park contains a 16-acre stand of native Rhododendron maximum the largest of nineteen similar stands in central and northern New England, the northern limit of their growing range.

Make your way past this historic building to the parking area

The trailhead starts a loop through the Rhododendron forest

A log bench waits for you at the end of the trail