Thursday, June 21, 2012

Just Chillin'...

Here we are, the second day of summer, and Connecticut is experiencing its first heat wave of the season. The temperature was 97 degrees yesterday (about 15 degrees above normal!), and they are predicting a high of 100 degrees today.

So where do the residents of Glastonbury find relief? Well, that depends. If you are so inclined, and have the means, you can join one the the private swim clubs in town. Minnechaug, Pinebrook and Orchard Hill all offer swimming facilities as well as tennis courts. Glastonbury Hills has the added advantage of offering an 18 hole golf course.

The town has four official recreational swimming areas open to the public. These include Glastonbury High School Pool (indoor), the Grange Pool, Addison Pool, and Eastbury Pond.

If you are like me, and over-chlorinated cement ponds do not appeal to you, then you will want to check out Cotton Hollow Nature Preserve. This is, by far, my favorite place in town to find relief from the summer heat. This 80 acre parcel of land was once home to numerous mills and factories during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some remnants of the past still remain. As a kid, my dad and I would scout for slag from the old iron works.

Cotton Hollow is now home to unspoiled woodlands, lots of wildlife, and of course, Roaring Brook. This fresh water body of water runs through the preserve. As you make your way down the trail, you will hear the water before you see it. Most of the trail is flat, but be prepared to walk over some roots and rocks.

The trail will follow along the banks of the brook. There are numerous opportunities to climb out on the large rocks and dangle your feet in the water. If you want to swim, there is a naturally formed swimming hole and beach area located at the bottom of the main falls. I can't think of a better place to chill...

Click here for more information about Cotton Hollow!

Friday, March 30, 2012

They Run This Town!

Take a drive down Main Street on any given Saturday morning, and you will see them - the dedicated and curiously happy members of the Glastonbury River Runners Club. No matter the weather, this group is out in force - rain, snow, extreme cold, oppressive heat - nothing interferes with their Saturday morning ritual.

The "hard cores" start their runs at the crack of dawn, and will log some serious miles before the rest of us get out of bed. Twenty miles is a considered a fun run to this group of well trained athletes.

Then there are the more casual runners. Breaking into teams of various sizes and abilities, they spread throughout the town, prepared to conquer any of the challenges that the streets throw their way.

And finally, there are the training groups. These groups vary in intensity and time commitment, so it is best to check their website to determine what group is best for you.

I am currently in their nine week, couch-to-5K training program, with our first race coming up in mid-April. My ultimate goal is to run the Hartford Half Marathon in October, but I figure it will help to get a few 5K's under my belt before I tackle the big one.

When I first started telling people that I planned on running the Hartford Half Marathon, let's just say the response was less than encouraging. Some people laughed, most didn't believe I was serious. Even my own mother thought I was joking.

And in all fairness, I really can't blame them. I, um, don't exactly have what you would think of as a "runner's physique". In reality, I am a middle-aged, overweight, out-of-shape woman. There, I said it...

But when I am running through the streets of Glastonbury on Saturday morning, there is not one member of this club that doubts that I will do it. It doesn't matter who you run in to (pardon the pun) - a hard core, a walker, or someone in between - they always take a moment to offer you a high-five or some words of encouragement. Nothing like getting to the top of a steep hill, thinking you can't take another step, and hearing a fellow runner say "good job!".

The club welcomes walkers and runners of all ages and abilities. Their passion is to create a supportive environment for everyone to achieve their personal best. So whether you are new to running, or a seasoned vet, their is a group for you. Check out their website at for more information.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Glastonbury had a Coal Dock?

Horton's Farm
If you follow the river upstream from the ferry landing, through the pastures of the Horton and Packard Farms, you will stumble upon the site of Glastonbury's 19th century coal dock.

Coal Dock Site
While it is currently a peaceful jetty in the river, back in the day it was a bustling wharf. Glastonbury was a shipbuilding town. There were three major shipbuilders, and many supporting industries such as saw mills and foundries.
Old Well
The coal used to power the factories was brought by boat from the Connecticut River. Once unloaded onto the dock, horses were used to haul the coal to factories throughout the town. Just north of the dock are the remnants of a well that was used to water the animals.

The Great Meadows Conservation Trust periodically hosts walks out to the site. A schedule is available on their website at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Still chuggin' after all these years...

Just off Main Street, past the acres of broad leaf tobacco and grazing horses is the town’s most idyllic icon – The Glastonbury Ferry.  Operating since 1655, it holds the distinction of being the longest operating ferry in the country.

With a three car capacity, and a four minute cross time, the ferry ushers cars and passengers across the Connecticut River between Glastonbury and Rocky Hill.  This might not be the fastest way to cross the river, but in my opinion, it is the best.

Riding the ferry is a special treat.  Approaching the ferry slip, you find yourself hoping that you are the forth car in line, thus having to wait for the next trip.  This gives you the extra time to fully enjoy the experience.   There is nothing like observing the operation from the riverbank; hearing the clang of the gate after the last car has boarded, watching the captain expertly reposition the tug boat, and listening to the moaning sounds of the pillions as the barge is pulled away from the slip – pure heaven.

Once on board, get out of your car, take a seat on the side of the boat, and be amazed by the raw beauty of the river.

As a kid, every ferry ride started with my dad reminding us that “you don’t have to go to Europe to have a good time”.  He was teaching us the importance of recognizing and appreciating all of the simple pleasures that life has to offer.

Because of the state’s economic crisis, the ferry is in danger of shutting down. While discussing this with a friend, she was embarrassed to admit that she has never been on the ferry. I was not only shocked, but sad. It just might be too late for her to experience this pure and simple pleasure.