Friday, October 13, 2017

Three Mountains over Four Thousand Feet- Wildcat A, Wildcat D, and Mt. Carrigan

The weather forecast for the White Mountains was going to be crystal clear with a high temp of 60 degrees on my days off. I could have stayed home and went saltwater fishing, but  I figured that kind of weather is rare for mid-October. Last week when I went to New Hampshire with Laurie really got me thinking how much I missed it this year. I know it is a sentimental cliche' but the mountains were calling.

I drove up Wednesday night after the evening rush. I found a site roughly 9 pm. I set up camp and got in my sleeping bag. It was 45 degrees when I went to bed. I woke up the next morning pretty cold. The sky cleared and the sky lit up with stars. Waking up cold wasn't a bad thing, it got me out of bed and in my car. When I got out of my tent, it was stiff with frost.  I left for my first hike at 6 am, I had a two hour drive. One bonus of getting up so early, I saw two moose, a mother and a baby on the drive through Crawford Notch

Small Waterfall on 19 Mile Brook
The goal for the day were the two Wildcat peaks over 4000 feet. The Wildcat mountain is actually a ridge. There are five peaks, but only two qualify as official 4000 footers. My plan was to hike in from the north, go over the ridge and come down Wildcat D on the ski trail. The idea of using the ski trail was given to me by Steve Smith, the Mountain Wanderer. Besides being easier, much more importantly, I could look at views the whole way down instead of spending most of my time slogging through the woods.

I started on the 19 Mile Brook Trail to Carter Notch. This trail has a good uphill grade and I made it fairly quickly. At Carter Notch comes the hardest climb of the day. You rise 1100 feet in only .7 miles. I mentally prepared for the worst, but it wasn't that bad. Once on top, I was on the summit of Wildcat A. There is a view near the summit looking east. I didn't spend any time at the view because I assumed, being on a ridge, there would be multiple viewpoints.
A look back at Carter Dome and the Carters

From A, you go down then up (B) then down, then up (C) then there is a very long downhill of several hundred fairly steep feet. Once at the bottom, you climb back up to get to Wildcat D. This summit is where the gondola and one of the ski lifts end.  There had only been a couple spots from A-D that I could see much of anything. However, the view from the top of the ski slope is fantastic. I spent a half hour soaking in the view and the sun. The temperature warmed up to about 60 degrees and there wasn't any wind at all.
Big George with looks into Tuckerman and Hunnington Ravines

Adams and Madison

I took the ski trail back down to my car. It still took me almost two hours to drop 2000 feet out of the sky. The view of Washington, specifically its ravines (Tuckerman and Hunnington) was just amazing. There is also a terrific view of the Lionhead, a formation on Big George. It was really clear (although my camera didn't think so).
Some pretty foliage on the way down

The Lion Head

After I got down I had three miles of road to get back to my car. However, I thought ahead. I brought my bike. I stashed in the morning, locked to a tree. The ride back was almost entirely downhill. In the three miles, I pedaled for around 90 seconds. When I got back to the car, I drove to a sandwich shop because I craved a turkey sub all day. I got it to go. I then drove to Saco Lake and ate it there. From the lake I drove back to camp with 10 minutes to spare before dark.
Planning ahead

Mt Carrigan

When I was coming down the ski slope, I felt some pressure in an outside tendon in my knee. It really started to hurt the last 1/2 mile. Besides that, my foot is still hurting and it really tightened up when I got off of it. Because of these things, I thought I would be taking it easy Friday and planned a few shorter hikes if I woke up with pain.

I was actually hoping to have my knee or foot hurt in the morning. It would give me an excuse to not hike Carrigan. So, of course, when I woke up, everything was fine. The knee felt fine and my foot felt like it normally does when I didn't just hike 8 miles on it.
Easy flat part of Signal Ridge Trail

So I packed my tent (rainfly was frozen again) and drove off to Sawyer River Road. I packed my backpack and off I went to bag Carrigan.  Carrigan is 4680 feet high. It sits pretty much in the middle of all the other 4000 footers. Because of these two facts, it has one of the best views in the White Mountains. From the summit you can see 43 of the 48 4000 mountains over four thousand feet. This ties it with Washington with the most summits seen.  I had planned on doing this mountain as my last four thousand footer. However of the three that I have left it was the closest and probably the easiest ( definitely easier than the Adams/Madison hike). Also, being so clear today, I was guaranteed the beautiful views I was saving it for.
Emerging from the scrub, I still had the main summit in
front of me, but I had views

The hike is ten miles round trip. The elevation gain is about 3200 feet.The first two miles are almost completely flat. This of course, means the majority of the 3200 feet is done in the last three miles. Needless to say, I flew through the first two miles. You know immediately when you start climbing. Halfway up you see the giant mass of Carrigan through the trees a couple miles away and fifteen hundred feet above you. It is a long three mile slog up the mountain. The term is relentless.

Near the top, you come out to a beautiful view on Signal Ridge. The view towards the Presidentials is to the right. In front of you likes the big rounded summit of Carrigan. It is still a few hundred feet above. From Signal Ridge you can see the firetower on the summit. This gave me a second wind and I pushed pretty quickly.
Lunch wouldn't have tasted better if it were lobster and
shrimp cocktail

Firetower from below. Tough to get a good close up

The Giant Stairs. One of my favorite places

From the summit, the view is 360 degrees. I counted many of the mountains I had climbed. I could look deep into the Pemi Wilderness. Unlike Thursday, it was much windier. The firetower was completely exposed so I only stayed on it for a few minutes. I had lunch and headed back to Signal Ridge. The view from the ridge was awesome, but Carrigan blocked the wind. So I sat there for 20 minutes soaking it in.
The sky was bright blue. I think I might need a new camera

The hike down was brutal. It took a full two hours to get to the flat last two miles. I honestly couldn't believe I had hiked it going up. Just like the climb, the downhill steps were relentless. I made it out of the woods at 4:45. Leaving me only two more hikes to complete the New Hampshire 4000 footers.

I drove down Bear Notch Road to the Kanc. I picked up a chocolate milk and headed home. If the weather is as nice next week on my days off, I can't promise I won't be heading back to the hills!

18 miles hiking
3 of my last six four thousand footers
Animals seen- 2 moose, yellow rumped warblers, juncos, yellow crowned kinglets

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hunting down Single Blues

Bluefish caught from the kayak on Friday
Over the past week I have been out fishing a few times. I'll gladly catch anything willing to bite but given the choice, I'd rather catch big blues than the much more common schoolie stripers.  By far one of the best days I've ever had was this spring catching trophy blues from the kayak. I don't know if I've ever had more fun.

I've caught big blues from shore and from the kayak this week. Unlike the huge blitzes of blues in the past, the bluefish do not seem to be concentrating in Narragansett Bay. When I find them I see them in very loose schools feeding as indivduals and not in ravenous blitzes.

 From shore on the east side of the bay and from my kayak on the western side, I've seen plenty of very small peanut bunker.  The bluefish seem to be feeding on it at random. They are not massing their efforts as a coordinated team. Because of this, I  am not picking up huge numbers of fish. It is "fishing" and not "catching". This is just fine with me.

I've been using light tackle to catch the blues. From shore I've been using my seven foot schoolie rod with 10# test line. The reason for this is, there are many more schoolies than bluefish, and it's no fun getting an 18 inch striper on my 8 foot surf rod. On the other hand, gettting a ten pound bluefish on that rod is a hell of a good time.

From the kayak I'm going slightly heavier. Once hooked a big bluefish will take me on a Nantucket Sleigh Ride if given the chance. Also, handling a big blue from the kayak is a bit risky, I want to tire it out. For that reason I use my seven foot inshore medium heavy rod and 30 pound braid. This set up casts a mile and has the streghth to let a bluefish pull me around the bay.

If I get calm weather over the next few weeks, I'm going to spend a lot more time in the kayak chasing down big blues. It is too much fun not to.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

In the Presence of Greatness- Brian Wilson presents Pet Sounds

Yesterday I was just checking and deleting random emails. I noticed one for discounted tickets for Brian Wilson at Foxwoods. The tickets which ranged from $40-55 were discounted to $26. How can you beat that? I called Laurie and asked if she would go.

I had never been to Foxwoods and I don't gamble. Laurie had to work, so our trip would just to see the concert. I really didn't explore the casinos and restaurants. I sure as hell didn't explore the shopping! One thing I was shocked at, there wasn't any traffic and finding a parking spot was a breeze.

We got to the Grand Theater with only five minutes to spare. The show started at exactly at 7:30. The tour celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Pet Sounds album. Pet Sounds is considered one of the greatest albums of  all time. It was to be played in its entirety.   This was the first time going to a concert at Foxwoods. Let me tell you, the theater is awesome. The seats were by far the most comfortable cushiest seats I have ever sat in. I could have fallen asleep if not for the music.

Brian plays with two other Beach Boys (Al Jardine and Blondie Chapman) and a back up band. Al's son is also part of the band. He sings the higher notes that Brian used to play along with playing guitar. The music sounded great.

The concert opens with Beach Boys anthems California Girls, Dance,Dance, Dance, and I Get Around. They play a few more songs then they play the entire Pet Sounds album. After Pet Sounds, Brian walks off stage. One of the band members comes back out and introduced the band.

After that Brian comes back and asks "Did you come here for bad vibrations? Did you come here for shitty vibrations? Of course, we all yell no both times. Then he says, did you come here for Good Vibrations? Then they play Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Surfin USA, Barbara Ann, Fun, Fun,Fun. If you find a better five song encore, by all means let me know. The last song was Love and Mercy. They played 30 songs in all.

The band was full of energy. It is amazing that Al Jardine sounds exactly the same as forty years ago. His son can really sing. The band members were all extremely talented. The songs certainly let them showcase their skills.

Brian is a musical genius that has been through a lot. He sits at the piano the whole night singing his parts and introducing the songs.You can clearly see he has a tough time singing the songs. Still, I am so happy to have seen his genius.  It is amazing to think he had a part in writing all of them. I don't know much about music, but even I can see the structure and layering of the instruments.

If interested in seeing Brian Wilson, he is playing the Orpheum in Boston Friday Sept 22. He is also playing Sept 29 at the Zeiterion in New Bedford Sept 29.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Missing out

This is one of those posts to explain why I haven't wrote any posts.

The past few days has seen some lights out fishing. The Canal as been red hot and despite rough water, the albie fishing has been off the charts. I have missed it.

Last week, the canal was great one day. I was working. So of course, the next day I went down. It was dead. I rode my bike 13 miles. Tried multiple spots, sometimes more than once. Didn't see a thing. To put salt on the very fresh raw wound. My friend Dave went to 'gansett that day and caught multiple albies. Ouch

This Sunday and Monday saw hundreds of false albacore caught. I was, yup, working. I got out of work early both days and drove down. Both days the action stopped cold an hour before I got there. Very frustrating.

Apparently the Canal was on fire again yesterday. Fish were on mackerel for most of the afternoon. I had friends call and send pictures via phone. I was working. I couldn't get out of work early enough to justify the hour drive. Getting burned on both Sunday and Monday added to the decision to stay home after work. Oh well. Is it time to retire yet?

The good news is the fall fishing really hasn't started in Rhode Island. Maybe the albies will still be around after the tropical storms finally disperse. I'm not hopeful but we will see. The striper fishing should continue to improve over the coming weeks. So all is not lost (how is that for putting a positive spin on a sad situation?)

The other thing I did was go to the McCoy Stadium Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival on Saturday. I was looking forward to it and planned on writing a blog post. Usually when I try something new I am pleasantly surprised at how fun it is (going to polo, RI Philharmonic, Waterfire).

Not so with the Food Truck Festival. I didn't really like any of the food I tried. I bought a pulled pork sandwich and cornbread and they were both very dry. Also, prices were in the $9-12 range. How much money can you realistically spend on small portions until you get full?

As for the craft beers, I was even more disappointed. I very rarely drink. At the festival, we were given vouchers to try eight craft beers. You get 2 ounce sample cups to try. This was perfect and I was looking forward to try beers that I heard of but never tried. I was looking forward to Wachusett Blueberry, Dogfish, Shipyard and others. It turns out that I was wrong that I don't really like most beer. Instead, I hate most beer! I thought all of the ones except Wachusett Blueberry was disgusting. How anyone can drink an IPA is beyond me. One beer was supposed to have a touch of peanut butter in the after taste. I thought I might like it. WRONG!!! Just gross. Make fun of me all you want but I'll stick to lemonade. Thank you very much.

All in all, not my best week of the year. But it makes those great weeks that much more special :)

Monday, September 11, 2017

They're Back

I got my first two albies of the year today. I had to work late so I didn't get to the ocean until 4:45. I heard they were around in big numbers everywhere. Here's to hoping they stick around for a while.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Rhode Island Philharmonic at Slater Park

A few weeks ago I was fishing at Roger Williams Park. On my way out I noticed a sign on a telephone pole announcing a free concert by the Rhode Island Philharmonic that evening. I was intrigued, but obviously, finding out about it only hours before meant I couldn't go. However, I did what I always do, and researched them. I found out they were going to play four free summer concerts. The one at the park was the second. The third concert was in Bristol the day I left for Philly. The last concert was tonight at Slater Park in Pawtucket only fifteen minutes from my house. I circled the date on the calendar and found out that this was my Saturday off from work.

 I saw the concert set list and knew most of the songs. I don't know diddly about classical music. But I do know I like the Patriotic songs like the Washington Post March and the 1812 Overture. They also had on the set list a couple of scores from movies including Star Trek and Pirates of the Caribbean.

I was pretty pumped to go. Even as I was coming home from Philly, very sad vacation was over, my first happy thought was knowing I would soon be going to see the Philharmonic Summer Pops. I found out yesterday that besides the Pops, there was also going to be a fair with crafts and food vendors. Even more surprisingly, at 8 pm, there would be fireworks. I couldn't believe my luck. I quickly  realized the day would be more than just a quick 90 minute concert but an all afternoon fun event.

We got to Slater Park around 4:15, there were way more cars and people than I imagined. Still, we found a parking spot right away and walked over to the stage and put down a blanket and chair to save our spot. Next we went to the craft fair tents where Laurie could look at that stuff. Happily, I got some food at the vendors. There were multiple food trucks. I ended up with pulled pork sandwich and Lau got mac and cheese with BBQ pulled chicken on top. We had a few minutes to eat, but the concert started shortly thereafter.

The band started with the Star Spangled Banner. They stood while playing it. Then they went into the concert with songs like William Tell Overture (Lone Ranger Theme) and Pomp and Circumstance (the song we all walked up to the stage during graduation ceremonies).

They played a few more songs including the Star Trek and Pirates scores. They played without an intermission because it was going to be a cool night. At the end they played "America the Beautiful". The conductor said before the 1812 Overture it would be the last song.
Francisco Noya

I'm not normally one to complain when I go to anything free,'s free. However the last song on the set list was Stars and Stripes Forever. I really wanted to hear it and I sat through 1812 a little annoyed. If you are going to put out a set list, it seemed to me they should stick to it.  When it was over the orchestra bowed to a crowd standing ovation. Then the conductor Francisco Noya said "How about one more?! I'll see what I can stir up" Then they started playing Stars and Stripes Forever. It made my night.

The Philharmonic played about 90 minutes. I was smiling the whole time. Like I said, I know jack about classical music, but I liked the music and could clearly tell how talented they were.

After the concert, it was about an hour until the fireworks went off. They were awesome. I don't normally say nice things about Pawtucket in general, but I can say they sure as hell know how to put on a community gathering. Great food, great free concert and fireworks. I had myself pretty pumped up for today and it could easily have been a letdown, but it wasn't. I had a great day.

If you have any interest in seeing the Rhode Island Philharmonic, their home base is the Veterans Memorial Auditorium. They have shows listed on the website. If you would like to  see a free summer concert next year, do as I did at Roger Williams Park, store it away to memory and make a point to try to go next year. They played Narraganset Beach, Roger Williams Park, Independence Park in Bristol and Slater Park. I'm sure all the places have other activities and/or some food.

Before I went to Slater Park I went carp fishing
catching a couple carp and my first white catfish of the year. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Philadelphia Logistics and the famous food

Philly Skyline on  a hazy day.
Riverlink Ferry in foreground
I'm going to do a few posts on Philadelphia. I'm going to consolidate what I can to do as few as possible. There is so much to see whether you are a fan of history, art, or attractions, you can't see it all in  a week.

First off, logistics

Philly is a little less than five hours from North Attleboro, MA. We stayed in Cherry Hill, NJ about 7 miles from downtown. This way we spent $70/night instead of $250. We stayed at a Days Inn. The motel was fairly inexpensive, had free breakfast, a small pool and free internet. On the downside, it wasn't the cleanest Days Inn ever. I did leave a note after the first night asking the maid to change the bedspread that had stains on it, which she did.

Of course, being outside the city meant we had to drive in. We had to cross the Delaware River on the Ben Franklin Bridge everyday. There was a five dollar toll on the way in, but free on the way out. To my shock every morning, there wasn't any traffic. I thought for sure there would be back up at the toll, but there never was. After going over the bridge, you are only a mile or so from Independence Hall. We parked every day at Independence Hall Garage. Cost was $22 a day. There was an early bird fair of $14 if you left by 6 pm, but we only left early once. I despise paying for parking, however, leaving the car in the garage all day was convenient, and we knew downtown is a bitch to park in anyway.

As I said, we parked at the garage at Independence Hall Vistor Center. It is directly under the V.C. This is a great place to start a trip. You can get pamphlets of all the attractions. There are tours that start from there including bus tours, Segway tours, carriage rides and walking tours. There are many types of walking tours from Ranger walks, ghost tours, pub crawls, etc...

To get around the city you have a ton of options. You could use public buses. There is also a public bus system called the Philly Phlash. This drops you at the major sites in Philly. An inexpensive option, all day passes where you jump on and off are five dollars, or two dollars for a single ride. There are also many companies that run narrated tours. These buses aren't cheap, but they will tell you a lot. The narrators are extremely knowledgeable. They never stop telling you about the city. Of course, other options are taxi and Uber, and subway.

One thing to note almost everything you want to see in the city is open from 10-5. This isn't a lot of time. Most of the tourist buses leave Independence Hall for their last run of the day at 5 pm. They will pick you up on that last run but they don't keep coming every 20 minutes like they do throughout the day. There are obvious exceptions such as ghost walks don't start until 7-7:30 pm. The Museum of Art is open until 7 pm on Wednesdays. However, for the most part, you have to cram in most of your fun in those seven hours. This made planning a little difficult. Some things such as the zoo take a few hours. Starting the day at the zoo, doesn't leave many free hours in the afternoon.

Battleship New Jersey is part of
the Philly Pass
Philly Pass-

We bought a Philly Pass. This is a one time fee to go see attractions. You pay the fee for the pass (which looks like a credit card). This will get you into 40 different attractions.  You can get a 1,2,3, or 5 day pass. Prices start at $59. We chose to buy a three day pass. The normal price is $109 however, it always seems to be on sale for $89. As I said, there are 40 different attractions to choose. Almost every attraction in the city that is not free is an option. If you go to Philly, I strongly suggest getting a Philly Pass.

 Our three day pass cost us $89 each but we ended going to $235(each) worth of attractions. Although I'll write in detail more, the pass go us into the zoo, aquarium, three art museums, Museum of Science, a ferry ride, a battleship, two different ghost tours, a skyscraper observation deck,  and two days on the sightseeing Big Bus.  We did all of that for $89. It was one hell of a deal. Many of the things I just listed have a regualr ticket price of $20-25. The Big Bus Co costs thirty two, and with the pass we got to ride it two days in a row.


There is a lot to see. Even if you use transportation you will do a lot of walking. As I mentioned there are ranger lead walking tours, there are ghost tours. The museums are huge and the zoo is large. If you want to see the Battleship NJ, it is a half mile from the ferry landing. So just plan on doing a lot of walking. The bright side is, Philly is one of the best walking cities in America. It is easy to get around. William Penn designed the city. The numbered streets run north to south. The east west streets are named after nature, mostly trees. The areas where tourist want to go are safe. We did have to walk back to our car a couple nights without any issue.  The only real downside is there are a lot of homeless people begging for money. This is a big turnoff for a boy not used to the city. It took me a couple days before it stopped being aggravating. I also had one Buddhist come up to me to give me a prayer card and ask for money, which I promptly gave him his card right back. This happens in all cities, which is what I kept reminding myself


Philly is famous for food! It is probably a good thing that I don't live there. Before I get to cheesesteaks two paragraphs down, I want to talk about the Reading Terminal Market. This place is halfway between Independence Hall and City Hall. It is the oldest "farmers market" in the country. What it really is, is a giant food court. I expected it to look like Quincy Market in Boston, but it looked more like the shops in Tokyo that I've seen on tv. It is huge. It has any kind of food you'd want from typical burgers and cheesesteaks to ethnic food and bakeries.We went there for lunch once and for supper on two occasions. We only went for lunch the one time because it is so crowded. Everyone that works in the area must go there on their lunch break. It was too crowded for me. At supper time, some of the places close early, but there are still a ton of options. There is half the people there. My three meals were a quesadilla, BBQ pork, and a sandwich at a place called Dinics.

If you look up the Travel Channel best sandwich in America 2013, you will find the pork sandwich at Dinics is the winner. It is a flavored pork with a broccoli sauce on top. Choosing not to pass up the best sandwich in America I ordered it the way it won the award. Glad I tried it, but it was only okay.

Cheesesteak from Campo's with a bite taken out

Yes, Sportsfans, I did eat Philly Cheesesteaks for supper three nights. The two most famous places are Pat's King of Steak and Geno's. They are across the street from each other in South Philly. They are by far the most famous and we tried to go there. We went pretty late in the evening. We couldn't get a parking spot within a half mile because all the commuters were home. We finally gave up after 40 minutes. We never went back.

All is not lost, I researched best cheesesteaks in Philly before I left for vaca. No matter what list you find we went to three spots that all are in the top five best places. Jim's South Street consistently wins the top honor (my favorite of the three but Laurie thought it was too greasy). We also went to Sonny's and Campos. They are on the same block and they have a friendly competition with each other. The cheese that comes on  a Philly Cheesesteak is cheese whiz unless you order it with American.  I'm happy to say the locals I talked to love the three places we went and think Geno's and Pat's are over rated. It's not to say I'm happy I didn't go to those places, but I'm happy I got to eat where the locals eat.

More posts to come