Since Kevin and I were on our way to Danbury, I mentioned the new Sandy Hooks Memorial to him. “Well, it’s not raining. Let’s get off Interstate 84 and check it out!” Arriving at the parking lot, we were not the only people visiting the Sandy Hooks Permanent Memorial. Several visitors came to look at the new place on Black Friday, since it was recently opened on November 13th. Kevin and I walked around the Reflecting Pool to read the engraved names of the victims of the school shooting, which happened almost a decade ago.
The Sandy Hooks Memorial has a Visitor Plaque at the entrance, which includes a quote from former U.S. President Barack Obama when he spoke at an interfaith vigil at Newtown High School on December 16, 2012.
Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world, too, has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you.
Encased within the stone is soil created from items left in impromptu memorials throughout Newtown in the days following the tragedy.
The Reflection Pool is the main feature which sits at the center of a circling network of gravel paths. In the very center of the basin is a young sycamore tree, symboling the young ages of the victims
The memorial is perfectly designed for what it sadly represents. I can only imagine how beautiful it will look in Spring and Summer when all the flowers bloom and the ornamental grasses will complement them.
Today we drove to the Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston. From there Kevin, Sara, and I took the train to the Campville Summit, about four miles north of Thomaston along the Naugatuck River. Meanwhile, we had cold apple cider on this beautiful Autumn afternoon. Once we reached the summit, we rode back through Thomaston and made our way down to Watertown, just past Echo Lake Road. Kevin jokingly said: “If we jump off the train, we have to walk only a mile to be home.” Back towards Thomaston, we made a stop at a small pumpkin patch. Kids and adults could take pictures and bring a small pumpkin on the train. After 15 minutes the train loaded up again. And we rode back to the train station. The excursion took about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a nice little ride through the Litchfield Hills. We also had the chance to see the Thomaston Dam and look down into the Naugatuck River Valley. Sadly, the peak season of leaf peeping is over. Most trees are almost bare.
This afternoon we went to Fayerweather Island in Bridgeport to see another lighthouse. Once at the park, we had to climb across the barrier stones between Long Island Sound and Black Rock Harbor to get to the island. This was quite a puzzle. But I also watched other people on which stones they stepped to make the walk easier on the way back. It was a beautiful, sunny day. And a lot of anglers were out to catch fish. One guy caught a bluefish that was over a foot and a half long.
Arriving at the Fayerweather Island Lighthouse, Kevin, Sara, and I took a short break and looked up its history. We found out, that this lighthouse is not the original building. The original wooden lighthouse was built in 1808 and was destroyed in the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane on September 3, 1821. In 1823 it was replaced with an octagonal stone tower, which we visited today. Same as the original lighthouse, this building is 40 feet (12.1 meters) tall.
As mentioned before, the walk back was much easier and faster since we knew on which stones to step. Sara was so far ahead, I told Kevin to catch up with her and pick me up in the car. Meanwhile, I sat on a bench and watched the gull on Seaside Beach.
The same morning, but in a different part of Watertown: Kevin and I took a short trip to Black Rock State Park. While we were driving further down into the valley, the fog became denser. Actually, I wanted to capture some Autumn photos across the lake. Instead, I’ve got some fantastic fog photos of some golden maple trees. When we drove home, we got back out of the fog. On top of the hill, we had a nice view of the Naugatuck River Valley. The mist lay there like a blanket. The scenic view was stunning.
Kevin and I waited until sunrise before we drove to Veteran’s Memorial Park for a nice walk on this crisp morning. We both warmed up quickly once we walked our first round. Since it was so nice, we decided to go for another round. While Kevin and I were at the park, we saw all these beautiful October Autumn colors. An Eastern Gray Squirrel munched on an acorn and built a bed after breakfast. Our critters prepare for the cold weather.
Another wonderful month is almost over. Now, we’ll get from the vacation season into the harvest season. The school will be back in session, soon. Everything will be back to normal and on schedule. It’s time to say goodbye to July and welcome the new month of August.
This morning Kevin and I went on another hike at the White Memorial Conservation Center. The Apple Hill Trail has an elevation gain of nearly 500 feet and is 3.3 miles roundtrip. Along this trail, there are quite a few tree roots and stones and a marsh boardwalk to get to the observation deck. The Observation deck is a wooden platform with a staircase. From there we had a good view over a field, Bantam Lake, and the surrounding mountains. The wind was very refreshing in this humidity. It got warmer, and we made our way back to the car across the Marsh Point Road entrance.
Kevin, Sara, and I made use of this beautiful morning. It was only 59℉ (15℃) when we drove for a hike to the White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield. At the center, we parked the car by the Sawmill Field and walked along the Bantam River. In the swamps, we’ve heard a lot of frogs croaking, but couldn’t find one. They were camouflaged in the water. Close to the Mattatuck Trail, Kevin pointed out a snake. I was lucky enough to photograph the Garter Snake from head to tail before it disappeared under a rock. There were also plenty of wildflowers like chicory, purple loosestrife, swamp weed, and water lilies. A lot of people were also hiking and biking on those trails or kayaking down the Bantam River towards Bantam Lake. When we walked back to our car, we noticed it wasn’t even 9 am, yet.
This is a nice rain relief; we have been getting it since last night. The temperatures have been much cooler for the last couple of days. We turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows. This is a nice little break, before the Summer’s heat turns on again. The weather is supposed to be in the upper 70s to mid 80s (25℃ – 30℃) for the rest of the week.
Kevin and I went for a small hike at Echo Lake Park after dinner. He’s still recovering from last week’s trip to Dallas. The jetlag is real. The best way to get rid of it is moving around and staying hydrated. We did our little walk behind the lake. Back there we’ve met the King/Queen of Echo Lake, a nice big beaver. He/she was working on its beautiful water mansion, getting small tree branches from the lake dam. It was quite interesting watching the beaver swimming with the branch across the lake. A family across the lake was fishing. Once they saw the beaver, they were quite fascinated by the strength of the beaver as well.
Kevin and I visited the Little Pond Boardwalk Trail at the White Memorial Conservation Center back in March. Since it is not far from our house and an easy hike, we decided to take the girls and Christian there for a walk, last Sunday. Instead of snow and ice, everything is green and in bloom now. We walked by a lot of wildflowers. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a lot of wildlife. It was a nice 1.7-mile hike around the loop and back to the car.
Last Friday, Kevin and I decided to take the girls and Christian to Kent Falls State Park. We wanted to make sure, while Christian is here, he had the chance to see a few places in Connecticut. While Kevin, Sara, Katelynn and Chris hiked for a little bit, I stayed down and captured some photos at the bottom of the falls.
Exactly one year ago was a bittersweet day. We finalized everything by signing the Texas house over to the new owner. It was our home for nearly 16 years. And we’ve raised our girls in this place. The Colony is a great community to raise children. It has great schools with an awesome ISD (Independent School District). The shops are close to home. But our street is still quiet. We will miss our good old home and community. At the same time, we are very grateful for still having a job during this pandemic. Even when it brings us to a completely different area in this country.
Before we signed the papers for purchasing the home in Watertown, we got a chance to look at the house inside. I saw it only in photos and on a live camera, when Kevin and the Real Estate Agent walked through the place. Finally, I’ve got a visible dimension of the house and the property. We saw what needs to be changed and how we have to approach it. In the afternoon, we signed the papers at the title company in Oakville, which is still a part of Watertown.
Yesterday evening Kevin, Zoey and I took a little stroll in Echo Lake Park. Because there is a sign to walk in twos or bigger groups due to wildlife activity, I’ve never been on the backside of the lake. The weather was beautiful and we had to stretch our legs from driving back and forth to New York City. The Echo Lake Park Trail is approximately half a mile one way. While on the trail, we saw a turkey hiking up the hill, trying to get away from our curious dog. There are several benches to sit and relax by the water’s edge. On the backside of a boulder there are a couple of artwork drawings. A beaver left its own work close by the lake. Kevin wondered how long it would take a beaver to chew through a tree that size in the photo above. Since it gets warmer, more Canada Geese come back to Echo Lake, again. Zoey really wanted to chase them. But Kevin had a good grip on her, even when she jumped right off the bench. This girl is crazy, when it involves chasing wildlife. After all, she’s part Labrador and part Pity.
On Saturday, Kevin and I decided to take a spontaneous hike at Castle Craig. Katelynn came with us to get rid of her jetlag faster. When we arrived at Hubbard Park, it seemed like there was an event going on. Later, I found out it was the weekend before the Daffodil Festival. The tents went up, and vendors prepared for the event. Unfortunately, Peak Drive was closed off. And so we had to walk along the Merimere Reservoir towards the castle. On the walk, we saw wildflowers, and a millipede and had a good view of the castle’s tower. Since we didn’t bring enough water, we turned around after approximately two miles. Roundtrip, we did about four miles. Even when Kevin, Katelynn, and I didn’t make it all the way to Castle Craig, we had a nice hike at the park.
1) Watertown Green Gazebo; 2) A little bit of Watertown’s history …; 3) The Soldier’s Monument is located at the Manon A. Munson Memorial Park across from the Green Gazebo; 4) This Soldier’s Monument is located next to the Green Gazebo; 5) The bell tower of the Watertown Methodist Church; 6) The bells of the Watertown Methodist Church
After dropping off Sara in school, I drove over to Echo Lake Park. Echo Lake Park is my favorite spot in Watertown. And it is only half a mile from our house. Usually, when I go there, I get greeted by a lot of Canada Geese. Today, there was a lonely goose paddling on the lake. My guess is that the other geese arrived at the park, later. I’m still waiting for the trees to bud and turn green. However, this could take until the end of April into the beginning of May. Connecticut teaches me a lot of patience in nature, for sure.
This morning I found Skunk Cabbage in the swamps in the northern part of Echo Lake and Echo Lake Brook. Since the Skunk Cabbage is a Harbinger of Spring, I was very exited to see most of them open to show off their Spadix, which is the seedball inside of the plant. I really like their Bourdeaux speckled with green colored Spathe. When I touched the spade to find out about the texture of the Skunk Cabbage, I definitely knew where they’ve got their name. My fingers had a very light smell of skunk spray. I can’t wait to explore more new plants in the area this Spring.
Mt. Tom is one of the oldest parks in the state park system; it is named for the mountain within its boundaries. In 1915 it was established as a state park. There is a stone tower on top of the mountain that is a favored destination among hikers. The summit of Mt. Tom is 1325 feet above sea level, 125 feet higher than its Massachusetts counterpart. The tower trail is less than one mile long and rises some 500 feet.
Kevin, Katelynn and I rode to Washington Depot to take a hike in Mount Tom State Park. The hiking trail was pretty steep in some areas. But as a reward, we could go up Mount Tom Tower and have a nice scenic view over Mount Tom Pond and the surrounding area. It was very windy at the summit. So, we decided not to stay up there for too long. On our way back, we saw some cool plants. One was a tree, which grew its roots around some big rocks, while at another spot of the trail a Striped Wintergreen plant poked its head out of the brown foliage. Since we were at the park, we visited Mount Tom Pond Beach. The wind made little ripples in the water. But the water is still ice cold.
Built in 1894, this classic structure is nothing short of a historic treasure. Throughout the first half of its life in particular, it was the very center of Watertown life for many generations. Hundreds of town meetings held here resulted in decisions that affected everyday life in our community. Court hearings were held here, marriage licenses were issued, and this is where everyone gathered to celebrate the end of WWI. In Summer 2020, the town has moved on to a new Town Hall. The fate of this landmark is unclear. Its history remains our common legacy.