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Green Travel

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Trustees of Reservations Week, Sampling Southeast Massachusetts Properties

Turkey Hill Lane is an apt name for the road that leads to Weir River Farm in Hingham. On the drive there yesterday morning, I spotted at least a half-dozen wild turkeys. It would prove to be an auspicious start to a glorious day of seeing a small sample of TTOR’s reserves and farms in the southeastern part of the state. Hingham is best known as home to one of the Trustees’ most popular sites, World’s End, a drumlin that juts out onto a peninsula rewarding walkers and bikers with wonderful views of Boston Harbor. Weir River Farm is best known by local school kids for its community farm and 4-H programs. Everyone else will want to take the Thayer Trail, a narrow path on fallen pine needles that leads far away from the South Shore traffic into a tranquil forest full of flowering bushes. 

 
Continuing south, within 5 miles of the Sagamore Bridge to Cape Cod is the Lyman Reserve in Bourne. Like Weir River Farm, it would be wise to download the Google Map to get here or you’ll never find the place. From the parking lot, you have the choice of two trails—one that leads to the shores of Buttermilk Bay and the Cape Cod Canal, the second meanders near a marsh through a thicket of pine to Red Brook. I took the latter trail and was rewarded with views of yellow warblers, great blue herons, and green winged teals.
 
Heading to Westport Town Farm on one of the most bucolic stretches of road in the state, I passed kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders cruising down the Westport River. The wooden clapboard 1824 house at Westport Town Farm is a welcoming introduction to this pastoral property perched on a hill overlooking the river. Still a working farm, the Trustees donate produce to area hunger relief agencies and hold a weekly Farmers Market on Saturdays in summer. I took a grassy trail past the barnyard onto pasture that slopes down to the edge of the water. All I could hear was the cacophony of birdsong.
 
My final stop of the day, Slocum’s River Reserve in Dartmouth, was formerly known as Island View Farm. Tall silos stand across Horseneck Road from the parking lot and you still walk through a farmer’s backyard along centuries-old stone walls to get to the pasture and woods that lead to Slocum’s River. As I made my way close to the shores, I could smell the salty air and see the canoe launch. Next time, I’ll make a note to return with a kayak. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/19/14 at 10:00 AM
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Friday, May 16, 2014

Spending All Next Week with The Trustees of Reservations

While Crane Beach is still the best-known Trustees of Reservations site in Massachusetts, the group maintains more than 112 locales in the state, from Field Farm in Williamstown to the recently acquired Dunes Edge Campground in Provincetown. The William Cullen Bryant Homestead in Cummington is a pastoral landscape of pastures and fields of wildflowers, largely unchanged for more than 150 years. Slocum’s River Reserve in Dartmouth is a 47-acre coastal farm on the shores of Buzzards Bay, an ideal place to view warblers during the spring and fall migration. All next week, I’ll be traveling around the state introducing readers to at least 20 Trustees sites—research for a story I’m writing for The Boston Globe on my personal favorites. So please check back! 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/16/14 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Put Yonder on Your Smart Phone

Employed as a travel and outdoors writer these past 23 years, my main goal has always been to direct people to locales that have inspired me. That’s why I love the new technology, because it makes it even easier to find gems in the rough. Take the app, Yonder, designed by a Vermont-based company, Green Mountain Digital, which just received a fresh influx of cash from Monster Worldwide. The photo/video sharing app helps you to locate nearby natural wonders. So if I’m hanging out in Burlington for the day and want to work off that growler of Switchback Ale, I can find a nearby hike to a waterfall or sea kayak to a lonely Lake Champlain isle, all recommended by locals who know the region well. What Yelp did for food, Yonder will do for nature. 

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/22/13 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, August 09, 2013

Adventures in Ecuador: Biking, Snorkeling, and Relaxing on Isabela

Isabela is the largest of all the Galapagos Islands and is blessed with the longest stretch of white sand beach, where we spent two nights at La Casita de La Playa. Within walking distance are restaurants, beachfront bars, a good bakery, and several souvenir shops in a sleepy town about 6 dirt blocks long. 

 
On Isabela, we walked on an island covered with hardened black lava and black iguanas, saw white-tipped sharks sleeping in a channel, those famous blue-footed boobies and Galapagos penguins standing on the rocks, and swam once again with massive sea turtles. Our favorite outing was renting bikes to visit a lagoon filled with flamingoes, a giant tortoise breeding center, and then riding on a road along the long beach to a former fort, the Wall of Tears, used by the American during World War II. It was a special treat to bike past large tortoises on the side of the road. 
 
Make sure to bring $100 in US dollars for each person upon arrival at the Galapagos Airport (they don’t take credit cards) and give yourself at least two hours at the Quito Airport to figure out the three lines you’ll have to navigate. Once in the Galapagos, we’re happy to suggest a land-based itinerary or cruises that come highly recommended. 
 
We’re spending a week at one of our favorite New England resorts next week, the Basin Harbor Club on the shores of Vermont’s Lake Champlain. I’ll be back on August 19th. In the meantime, keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/09/13 at 10:00 AM
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Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Adventures in Ecuador: Hanging with the Huaorani

To reach the Huaorani Ecolodge, you must first drive four hours from Quito to Shell, where you switch to a 5-seat airplane for a 45-minute flight. Arriving on a grass runway, the Huaorani people greet you and escort you via motorized longboat down the Shiripuno River. Finally you arrive at your lodging for the next three nights, five wooden cabins and a dining room perched overlooking the river. On the edge of Yasuni National Park, the Huaorani Reserve is easily one of the most remote destinations in South America, deep in the Ecuadorean Amazon, at least 100 miles from the nearest signs of civilization.
 What you get in return for your effort is an incredibly authentic travel experience straight out of the pages of National Geographic. Bare-breasted grandmothers show you around their communities, picking the juiciest papaya off the tree for you to try. Led by our Huaorani guide, Emy, we swam under hidden waterfalls and against the current of the Shiripuno River, visited small communities along the river while spotting monkeys, toucans, macaws, caimans, and kingfishers. We also learned the important skills of living in the Amazon bush, how to climb trees and hunt with a 7-foot long poisonous blow dart. Emy hunts wild boar, monkeys, and toucan when hungry. When asked what toucan tastes like, he told me it was better than chicken. Don’t worry. Your menu back at the lodge consists of tilapia, fresh baked bread, green bananas, and fresh fruit juices. 
        Who knows how much longer this authentic travel experience will last. The Huaorani sit atop one of the largest petroleum preserves in the world. For the past 7 decades oil companies have tried to remove them from their land, but thankfully the Ecudorean government has always intervened. Let’s hope the oil companies can remain happy on the outskirts of Yasuni so that future generations of the Huaorani can live off the grid in this dense foliage. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/07/13 at 10:00 AM
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Thursday, November 03, 2011

New York’s High Line Park Receives $20 Million Gift to Expand

Since its debut the summer of 2009, High Line Park has become a huge success. Attracting more than 3 million annual visitors to the Chelsea section of Manhattan, the aboveground park built on a former elevated railroad line, has led to more than $2 billion in planned or new development in the neighborhood. All it takes is one stroll on the mile-long walkway to understand the magical allure of being above the streets of Manhattan. The pathway heads north from Gansevoort to 30th Streets. With the announcement last week that Barry Diller, chairman of IAC and Expedia, and his wife, designer, Diane von Furstenberg, have donated an additional $20 million to the park, Friends of the High Line hope to expand the park another half mile to 12th Avenue and 34th Street, close to the Hudson River. Diller and his wife are no strangers to the High Line, having donated close to $15 million prior to their latest gift, the single largest donation ever made to a New York City park. It’s exciting news that the park will finally curve its way to the railway’s rightful endpoint.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 11/03/11 at 12:59 PM
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Hot Springs of Pamukkale

Several hours south of Istanbul is Pamukkale (cotton castle in Turkish), appropriately named for the pearl white cliffs that cover the mountainside like huge balls of cotton. Hot springs rich in calcium gush forth from Pamukkale’s highest point, forming milky pools below. Since ancient times, this has been Turkey’s most popular spa area. Try the thermal pools at the Richmond, the best resort in town.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/25/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Visiting Kas and Kalkan, Turkey

One of the last unspoiled regions of the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey boasts aquamarine waters relatively free of boat traffic and mountainous shores that contain few posh hotels or high-rise condominiums. The coastal community of Kas is the gateway to Kekova, a sunken city where you can still see homes submerged under the water. You’ll also spot numerous sarcophagi, ancient tombs sitting mysteriously in the Mediterranean. Back in town, you can visit the ancient stone stage of the Hellenistic theater and barter with carpet shop owners over the price of a colorful kilim. You should also take the time to visit Kalkan, a charming seaside village, where tables surrounding the picturesque harbor are abuzz with fishermen discussing the day’s catch. Beach lovers soak up the sun at nearby Patara Beach. Spend the night at the lovely Meldi Hotel, where the $82 room rate includes a breakfast buffet for two.

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/24/11 at 01:00 PM
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

To Truly Relax on a Greek Island, Head to Tilos

This time of year, late August, and my mind starts to wander to the southern Mediterranean. September and October is the ideal time to visit Greece and Turkey. Temperatures start to cool down a bit and the summer crowds have departed, returning the Mediterranean coast and islands back to their rightful owners. This week, I’m going to delve into some of my favorite Turkish and Greek locales. First stop, Tilos.

Tilos is an island where the locals, still unaccustomed to tourists, greet you as if you lived there your whole life. A place where one picks fresh figs off the tree and finds deserted medieval castles that request no admission fee. Tilos lies approximately 65 kilometers due east of Rhodes and 40 kilometers due south of Kos in the Dodecanese Islands. With a population of only 300 people, the island has a surprising number of readily available accommodations and restaurants, one of which makes some of the best Greek food I’ve ever tasted. Most of the tourist facilities line the sleepy port of Livadia, a town where the lone baker knows you on a first-name basis shortly after you arrive and a restaurateur gives you a free bottle of his favorite wine when you depart. Stay at the aptly named Dream Island on the beach at Livadia. Spacious rooms and patios overlook the sea. A family-run restaurant named Sofia’s is the gourmet dining choice in town. The restaurant is named after Sofia Economou, the matriarch and gracious hostess. Her husband does the cooking and his specialties include fried pumpkin with potato garlic dip, aubergine with tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, and the leanest and juiciest souvlaki we tasted in Greece.  Ferries leave from Rhodes to Tilos every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, returning Wednesday and Friday.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 08/23/11 at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New App that Identifies Trees Makes Its Debut

Researching my first book, Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England, I would do my best to correctly identify the type of tree I was starting at. Soon after the book was published, however, I received letters from budding arborists telling me those trees on so-and-so trail in Vermont were white oaks, not red oaks. How I wish I had a new app unveiled last month that identifies all the trees in the northeast and soon all of America. Called Leafsnap, the app was developed by scientists at Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution and is currently available for free on iPhone and iPad. Simply take a picture of a leaf and within seconds a likely species appears with photographs of the tree and information on the tree’s flowers, seeds, and bark. Now I want the Audubon Society to create an app that identifies birds from the sound of its call.
 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/15/11 at 01:00 PM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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