Category Archives: Adventures

Spring Bicycle Ride on the Columbia Trail by Barbara Dexter

Spring Bicycle Ride on the Columbia Trail by Barbara Dexter

Well I set out for my inaugural bicycle ride down the Columbia Trail from Long Valley to Highbridge.  I wanted to test out my new bicycle seat. It was said to be very comfortable and not hit the backs of my legs when I stand up. Yes there is a split down the middle, which does seem unnerving to me. I assure you not part of me was trapped inside. It is surprisingly comfortable. I was able to go for about ten miles before my soup bones let me know it was there. This is not bad since I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. That means I had no additional padding from special spandex shorts for comfort. I will see how long it takes for me to become completely used to it.

New ergonomic bicycle seat
A view from the trail

This is one of the first views on the trail. I thought it to be very picturesque. It shows the beautiful and rural nature of living in the area.

The first bridge spanning the Raritan River , as you proceed from Long Valley to Highbridge.

The first bridge spanning the Raritan River is not very dramatic, but it is fully functional.

The clydesdale farm as seen from the trail.

While biking on the trail don’t be surprised if you encounter an extra large horse or two. They have use of the trail as well. They generally ride to one side and allow you to pass. They are very grand and beautiful creatures.

The second bridge on the trail.

The second bridge spans a section of Ken Lockwood Gorge. There are beautiful views of the river. Do pull your bicycle off to the side when you stop so that others may pass. This trail is wonderful because every so often there are benches to rest or simply enjoy your snack.

A view of the river from the trail.
Is it haunted or not?

This old building looks like it should be in a scene from a movie. At first glance it looks like there is a ghost inhabiting the vacant structure. I will let you be the judge of that.

A view of Ken Lockwood Gorge.

I took the long way and enjoyed the day. I took pictures as I traveled. I bicycled about 25 miles. You don’t need to do the whole trail at once. there are different parking areas along the route or simply start at one end of the Columbia Trail in Highbridge one day and maybe the other end on the next visit. Many people walk, run, or bicycle on this trail. If you bicycle it is best to have wide tires because it is mostly a crushed, compacted rock surface that is typical of a converted rail road bed. The Columbia trail is also open for cross country skiing in the winter time.

Ringwood Botanical Gardens Revisited by Barbara Dexter

Ringwood Botanical Gardens Revisited by Barbara Dexter

It was a cold day today.  In fact the radio host on lite FM announced that everyone should stay inside unless they absolutely had to go out. Well I guess I had to go out. Call it a get away from home emergency, if you will. It was my appointed time to spend with mother nature and was there and grateful.

The field

The wind was whipping through my hair and my face was cold. But not for long.

The carriage road

As I skied down the gentle incline, my blood began to pump and I felt the heat throughout my body.


Breaking the trail

I was warmly dressed including long underwear and ski pants. My many layers helped me to warm up faster and to maintain my heat.


The snow angel in progress.

What would the day be without a little fun. Getting all snowy, even better.


The Snow Angel


The Oakland Diner

Down the road a bit, sits the Oakland Diner where we sat and had pleasant conversation, hot cocoa, and warm soup.




The artwork at the Oakland Diner was a fabulous touch after skiing at Ringwood Botanical Gardens.

Dr. Seuss Memorial Garden, a Short Visit by Barbara Dexter

Dr. Seuss Memorial Garden, a Short Visit by Barbara Dexter

The Dr. Seuss Memorial Garden is located in Springfield, MA in the courtyard behind the Springfield library. If you did not know it was there it would be easy enough to miss since it is not seen from the street. For all of you that remember reading Dr. Seuss books as a child, this is a must see. The  garden, although not massive has bronze statues that seem bring back the joyful times of reading “Green Eggs and Ham” or “Sam I am.”


The Springfield Library


Dr. Seuss Memorial plaque




Horton the elephant.

Who can for Horton, especially when” he hears a who?”


“Oh the places you will go.”


“The cat in the hat.”


“Thing 1 and Thing 2”




I would wait until the snow melts before visiting the Dr. Seuss Memorial Garden. It will give you something to look forward to doing. The garden is also free. Access is through the library or I believe you may be able to walk around the building.

Lapland Lake Cross Country Skiing by Barbara Dexter

Lapland Lake Cross Country Skiing by Barbara Dexter

I ventured out to the Lapland Lake Cross Country Ski trails courtesy of Sue and Fred. It was a four hour drive from home that was filled with lively conversation. The cross country ski center has trails for all abilities. We started out on the green trails, or the easiest trails, because I wanted to ski on the lake and wanted to see a reindeer for the first time. Well we were also testing out my abilities after my recent biking accident, to be fair.  I was the slow one in the group, but it was perfectly ok since we were able to take in the scenery.

The green trail that runs on the lake.

For those of you that have never been to Lapland Lake, it is absolutely gorgeous. It is very quiet, with only the sound of your skis in the snow. The trails are well groomed, which makes it easier to navigate especially if you are not used to cutting your own trails or so called back country skiing. I found this to be a lovely feature. As I gain more skills, I think I will still appreciate the easier routes.

I was able to ski on an intermediate trail that had a nice gentle sloped downhill section and a gentle incline section. I also learned to corner better when going downhill, thanks to Sue. Tough I did not fall, I expect the occasional fall and dress for getting wet in the snow.

Like all good ski trails, there was a shop that offered trinkets, food, warm beverages, and you could sign up for some skiing lessons. Of course I learned of the lessons, well officially that is since I expected they would offer lessons, through a sign in the rest room. When I read it, I had to laugh.


I was a beautiful day, but as it can get cold since you are in the Adirondacks of New York State when you visit Lapland Lake, I caution you to dress appropriately.

Ringwood Botanical Gardens Cross Country Skiing by Barbara Dexter

Ringwood Botanical Gardens Cross Country Skiing by Barbara Dexter It started out as a questionable day, well weather wise. At home it was icy from our last bout of freezing rain. Though the road surface was clear and salted, I feared there would be a layer of ice on the snow. If you have ever fallen on ice, you know it is not pleasant. I said to myself, just go and see how it is. The botanical gardens are over a half hour away from home. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived to pillow soft snow that was perfect for skiing.

Greeter 1


Greeter 2


Lots soft snow.


The sun peaking through the trees.


A view from behind me after a short incline.


Look real hard and you will see a cottage through the trees.


The trail leads through the woods.


Beautiful creek

After skiing for some time, I was able to wander around the grounds and view the manor and grounds.

Manor as seen from the road.
Front of the manor.
A gorgeous tree rowing on the grounds.
Check out the stone work and leaded glass windows.

Here are additional views of the manor and grounds. 20150207_142237 20150207_142248 20150207_142327 20150207_142442 20150207_142450 20150207_142615 20150207_142608 20150207_142954 20150207_143026 20150207_142748

The carriage house.
Another view of the carriage house.
The road leading around the estate.

It was a lovely day for skiing today. The snow was perfect. The only sound that you hear when out on the trail is the sound of your skis on the snow. With the exception of your own voice, that is. If you are thinking of going out to Ringwood Botanical Gardens for a cross country ski visit, I would go soon to take advantage of the great conditions.

My Brother’s Ten Speed Bicycle by Barbara Dexter

Yellow Ten Speed Bicycle from
Yellow Ten Speed Bicycle from

My Brother’s Ten Speed Bicycle by Barbara Dexter

It was nice day. The sun was shining. The temperature was in the nineties. There I was stuck in the house. I thought this just could not be. I must get out. I ventured onto the front porch and there it was, the scratched up, yellow, ten speed bicycle. I know it was supposed to have ten speeds, but you could not prove it by me. Half the speeds I attempted to shift into never made it into gear. It was there. I wanted out. My decision was made. I would take the bike to the local swimming hole, “Sunburn Beach.” As I mounted the bike, I had to lean it on its side so my short leg could swing over the frame. As long as I didn’t have to stop too fast, I would be all right.

I was off, riding down the sidewalk to Water Street. I continued to Main Street and followed it down until it turned into Colrain Road. Colrain Road was narrow. I did not concern myself about that. In one place the road was even narrower because it passed under a stone railroad bridge. I had no problem with that and did not even think about it. I passed by some small houses and a couple of farms. Then I arrived at my destination. It was just at an intersection of another road, through the cattle fencing, and down an embankment. Here the Deerfield River passed over many boulders that created rapids. The rapids were cold and soothing on a hot day. The water was only a couple of feet deep on most days. It became deeper slightly upstream, but only for a small section. It was perfect to float around and bask in the sun. When my skin finally turned prune-like, I could climb up the embankment and lay on my favorite boulder.

The only challenge with leaving the swimming hole was drying off enough for the trip home. My legs would rub against the seat and frame of the bike. It would be worse if they were wet. This day I did not manage to dry off enough. My legs were chafed by the time I arrived back home, but it was so worth it. I arrived home just before my brother noticed his bike had been “borrowed” and before my mother arrived home to tell me that I could not go. I was so relaxed that I had no trouble sleeping in the hot bedroom I shared with my two sisters.

Drawing at Max’s on Main Street in Boonton by Barbara Dexter

Drawing at Max’s on Main Street in Boonton by Barbara Dexter

It was a rainy day that started out with my wondering how to occupy myself. I went to the gym to continue my stretches and exercises that were issued at physical therapy. Then I remembered I could join up with a group of people and draw. I had never been to Max’s but I must have driven past it at one time of another. The thought of an old brick firehouse that was converted to a restaurant and pub. They have live music and an awesome food specials. Of course, the first thing I wanted to know was where the pole went. I was told the firehouse was too old for a pole to be original to the building. Upstairs is and old jail and courthouse. Main Street has some beautiful shops that were decorated for the holiday season. Boonton has the look of a small town, but is still relatively close to the city.

Max’s on Main St.
A beautiful building in Christmas colors.
Check out the statue of the Mexican man that welcomes patrons in front of the Mexican restaurant.
Check out this artistic version of a holiday tree.


Cool gingerbread house in the bakery window.
Upstairs at Max’s.
Awesome stained glass.
Jail that is located upstairs at Max’s.


Coffee on Main St.
My drawing.


I enjoyed myself, drawing and talking at Max’s on Main Street. I was able to finish the drawing I will feature on my Christmas card this year.  We were invited back to draw or hang out at any time.

My New Adventure at the YMCA by Barbara Dexter

My New Adventure at the YMCA by Barbara Dexter

My chronic pain in my right leg has limited my biking, hiking and kayaking. I am forced to attend physical therapy sessions in which my leg and ankle get a brisk rub down to decrease the swelling, followed by some twisting and pulling, then it’s time for the electrical stimulation along with ice therapy. When I have a completely frozen leg and ankle it is time for some simple rotational exercises and some simple weight bearing exercises.

I feel as if the rest of my body has or is in the process of going to pot. I am limited by both my leg and my cracked rib. I deem the only thing I can do is to go to the pool and start walking, stretching, and slowly swimming. I decide to join the YMCA, for obvious financial reasons, in other words it is the cheapest and closest to home. This is my story of my experiences at the local YMCA.

It is Friday afternoon when I finally joined the YMCA. They were on the last day of their new membership drive. I saved $69.00 on the joining fee. I have about 40 minutes left to swim in the adult swim session before the swim team takes over. I ask to join in with some older ladies that appear to be going rather slowly. I tell them that I hurt my leg and need to stretch and swim to help exercise it. I am welcomed and told I could join them anytime. It is odd that I am available in the early afternoon, so I told them I would join them on my next day off.  They seem to swim with flotation devices and some things that look like foam barbells. I let it go and just go around them, letting them have their space. In the locker room I was introduced to all the ladies. Then one of them said “you can swim.” I replied, “yes I can swim.” Up until that moment I hadn’t realized that they could not swim. Thought I guess the flotation devices should have given me a clue. One of them replied that they didn’t know how to swim and didn’t want to learn at their age. I suggested that if they did want to learn, the find a place that was shallow and calm so that if they needed to they could simply stand. This was met with deaf ears. I politely thanked them for allowing me to swim with them, while I was blow drying my hair. One of the ladies lagged behind the others and just kept talking. The only thing I remember her saying was that I should not use the machine to spin dry my swim suit because everybody uses it. I just thanked her and went about my business.

It was Saturday morning at 7am. I succeeded in changing into my suit and I was on my way to the pool when I encountered a pleasant young woman that was trying to strike up a conversation with me. I spoke for a few moments and found out she had once lived in Massachusetts. I am being bad and thinking “if I don’t get out to the pool I will not get a lane to swim in.” Since the pool is small this can be a challenge. I decide to politely excuse myself. By the time I make my way to the pool, I get the last available lane. The local YMCA has many swimming programs and a swim team. This is great for them but severely limits the adult lap time. Early morning is about the only time available.

Sunday morning there appears to be a chlorine issue with the pool. So the YMCA posted a sign at the entrance way. I ask when the issue will be resolved, and I was told the pool would be open later in time for the swim team. I think so much for getting out of bed at 6 am and driving over to the pool.

It is now Monday at 5:45 am. I am entering the pool to take a swim for a half-hour before I have to get ready and go to work. It is just the right time before the mayhem of the crowds come for the morning swim handicapped shower because it has a seat where I can sit to take off my swim suit. I grab my bag from my locker and proceed to the shower. On my way to the shower I could not help but notice the young woman I had a short but pleasant conversation with on Saturday, was using the hand dryer to blow dry her underwear. She had apparently just finished washing her laundry in the shower stall. I said hello and she balked. She obviously forgot I was nice to her on Saturday. I decided to go about my business and let it be.

It is Tuesday morning at 5:45 am, I arrive at the YMCA for my morning swim. It is surprising that it is not busy. I get a lane to swim and stretch. I take my time and let the warm water wash over my body. My leg is soothed by the warm water. The exercise in the pool takes the weight off it. I feel I can do more stretching. I am relaxed swimming on my back very slowly. Soon other swimmers join in and swim like machines. I admire the strength and swiftness of their strokes as I amble along in their wake. I am thinking I really need a pair of goggles if I am to deal with all the splashing. The crowd thins and I am able to just move along slowly without disturbance once again.

I mentioned this woman to the small group of women I meet with on Tuesday nights. We decide that the best approach to possibly help her would be to leave a religious journal that contains contact information, in case she wished help.

It has been a week since I have seen the young woman. The last I saw of her she was talking with a lady at the front desk. I think to myself, I hope she is not in trouble as she does need a place to remain warm for a few hours. Today she seemed to occupy the handicapped shower on purpose. That left me to use one of the smaller stalls. As I predicted, she was in there for some time. I believe she was washing her laundry but was trying to disguise it. I got myself dressed and pulled out the religious journal out of my bag. I limped over to her shower stall and left the journal on the stool just outside the door. Well I did it, I left a religious item for a total stranger. I feel like a Jehovah’s Witness.