Hey, I found another cool place for you to check out! It's in Hadley and called the Alexandra Dawson Conservation Area. While it isn't very big, it covers some absolutely gorgeous land by the banks of the Connecticut River. I guess the easiest way to get to it would be to go to the Hadley Common (the part the rail trail goes through) and then go to the end until you see these four posts. Then just walk right in. I've taken this picture from already inside, looking towards the common.
That is not however how I went there, having stumbled upon it out of boredom with the rail trail. I haven't been very good with my walking these days, in part because I've become bored with the rail trail. That may be hard to believe, considering the incredible beauty of the trail, but the fact is anything can come to seem commonplace through repetition.
So I started searching for new places to detour off the rail trail's well paved path to look for something new and unexplored. Coaxing Andy off the coach one evening after supper with the promise of new adventures on this long summer day, we took such a detour near the Calvin Coolidge Bridge, on the road where all that maddening construction has been going on.
It is a wonderful stroll under wide open skies, and the expansive sense of freedom it creates may inspire you to do things like strike silly poses amidst the fields of crops.
Keep on walking past the rows upon rows of evolving vegetables, until eventually you come to this breathtaking vista of the Connecticut River!
At one point we came upon two women and a dog by the riverbank and I made this video.
A giant hot-air balloon slowly rose above the horizon and then headed in our direction, that is to say, towards the river. The two dots beside the balloon in this picture are hang-gliders, which swooped around the balloon like insects around a streetlight.
It was a magical sight such as one only sees in our magic Valley. When the giant orb got closer, it became apparent that it was the UMass Weather Balloon!
Perhaps there was a university scientist on board that balloon, but I preferred to think not. I wanted to imagine that it was two lovers, perhaps undergrad meteorology majors who had gone aloft without their professor's knowledge, and that as the balloon floated blissfully over the Connecticut, in the face of what must have been a mind blowing view of the setting sun, that in that perfect moment someone stole a kiss.
I leaned over and gave Andy a big smooch. He laughed and said that if I hadn't done that, he would have. We stood and watched the sun set, just the four of us, we two on the ground and the two hovering in the air.
Visit the Alexandra Dawson Conservation Area soon, and bring a friend.
Speaking of Hadley, I never realized that there is a stone commemorating the Hadley King-Killers on the common.
The stone has been placed at what is supposed to be the exact spot where the Angel of Hadley is alleged to have first appeared.
If you've forgotten the details of the legend, click here.