19 Weekends To Go

It turns out that by writing about what we do every weekend, we end up doing more on the weekends.

We’re back from the below mentioned locale and it was an action-packed trip. Shopping in Hanover, harvesting and eating the fruits of Grandpa’s farm, and the unexpectedly fun pit stop in Putney, Vermont. More to come on video this week.

For now, let that big No. 19 inspire you to plan something fun to do next weekend.

 

ORIGINAL POST: August 15

We leave you with this image of Nina and SuperMaddie

We leave you with this image of Nina and SuperMaddie

It’s off to the land of fresh, ripe blueberries and fishing off the pier at Grandpa Ed’s lake.  Enjoy the weekend!

Wine From Connecticut?

A visit from uncle Russell and his friend Dana this weekend was reason enough to head over to the McLaughlin Vineyards to enjoy a picnic and some live music as part of the winery’s summertime jazz concert series.

It’s hard to believe you can find grape vines growing deep in the woods here, but we’ve got the photos to prove it. The family-run winery is actually part of the Connecticut wine trail, which includes 19 vineyards across the state.

Set on 160 acres of scenic landscape along the Housatonic river, the McLaughlin family (we met one of them at a party this weekend, by the way) produces a few thousand cases of wine each year from the grapes grown here. They also bottle their own maple syrup from tapped maple trees on the property, which means year-round good times.

Aside from the homemade potions, the vineyard is also known for its hiking trails that maze through a 50-acre wildlife area home to a bald eagle sanctuary. Every year in mid-December, the majestic birds stop over on their annual pilgrimage south and park themselves along the river to take advantage of the local fish population. The winery hosts sight seeing tours that promise a glimpse of the eagles, although we’ve been lucky enough to see them flying up the river valley from our back deck.

For a less blurry version of the above photo, click here.

Thanks to Connecticut’s outdated Blue Laws, you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays (or evenings and holidays, for that matter), but the vineyard isn’t prohibited from selling wine and it’s one loophole that’s worth taking advantage of.

So we packed up the beach chairs and the picnic blanket, stopped by Subway for a few footlongs, and set up camp on the vineyard’s grassy meadow to enjoy a bottle of Chardonnay. 

  

Grapes before and after.

It’s no Napa Valley, but for being only 10 minutes away, it will do just fine for us Yankees.

Cheers.

Crazy for Fairfield Hills

One of a dozen abandoned buildings at the former Fairfield Hills state mental hospital.

Last weekend was relatively uneventful despite having an extra day off and pleasant weather as far as August in Connecticut goes. When not puttering around the house or watching The Daily Show and movies on Hulu.com, one notable event was our afternoon stroll through the grounds of Fairfield Hills, an abandoned state mental hospital that covers nearly 800 acres of meadow and wooded landscape in the center of town.

After years of decay from lack of upkeep since its closure in 1996, the buildings have become creepy reminders of what this place once was: a respite for as many as 4,000 patients with various mental ailments. Yet the chipped paint and boarded up buildings do nothing to keep away dog walkers and town soccer leagues who make use of the college-campus-like setting for recreation.

Our favorite activities include riding longboards down the perfectly paved roads (no cars to dodge) and hiking on the trails that snake through the place.

It’s haunting appeal has made a great set for scary movies, most famously the Kevin Bacon flick Sleepers, and some b-grade horror films. It’s also a regular stop for ghost hunters and druken teenagers thanks to its 1920s-era architecture and underground tunnel systems. After MTV filmed an episode of its show MTV Fear the town started cracking down on trespassers by boarding up all of the windows and doors.

In 2001 the town purchased the land for a steal but it has recently brought in the bulldozers to begin revitalizing the place. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed that they don’t put in speed bumps.

Ringo earns his keep pulling the longboard. circa 2005

VIDEO: Blueberry Picking

Postcards From The Weekend: Blueberry Picking
video produced by Weekndr on Vimeo.

In this first video from our series Postcards From the Weekend we take a trip to Jones Family Farm, a fifth-generation organic farm in Shelton, Conn., that is famous for its pick-your-own seasonal crops including strawberries, Christmas trees, and our favorite: BLUEBERRIES!

Last weekend we made the 15 minute drive for a fun day of blueberry picking. The whole family got into it, especially Nina who ate as many berries as she put in the basket.

Mary, Maddie and Nina showing off a few pounds of blues.

We’re going back again this weekend to stock up for the winter. There’s nothing better than frozen blueberries to bring back summer memories during the cold dark days of December.

 

Matt and Nina get busy on another blueberry bush.

Matt and Nina get busy on another blueberry bush.