in what was touted to be an indian summer day, there was just no way i'd be stuck at home. i didn't have time to do any research last night so i got up a bit early this morning and tried to decide where i'd be going today. maybe do a little leaf peeping, maybe go far enough to give the motorcycle a workout. noanet woods (dover), groton town forest, even mount watatic on the massachusetts-new hampshire border were all candidates. i finally decided on boxford state forest.

i'd never even heard of boxford before, a land-locked town in the north shore area. getting there was a simple matter of taking interstates 93 and 95, but i searched for an alternate route that involved less highways and more intermediate roads. i settled on route 1 north, which might've been 10-15 mph slower, but probably more dangerous because of increased traffic.

i still had to get onto I-95, but only for 6 additional miles. i'd never been on an interstate highway before on the motorcycle (up to this point, route 2 was the biggest highway i've traveled on two wheels). i was a little scared because of the high speed, but kept a good distance between myself and the car ahead of me. i kept seeing images in my head of mangled body parts, and it's this fear that i'd hoped would keep me cautious and alive. it was tense, to say the least, and i was relieved to finally exit.

i was riding with my gps - attached to the handlebar with a special mounting bracket. they make special gpses for motorcycles (bigger buttons, waterproofing, more expensive though), but the one i was using was the one i've had for almost a decade, my garmin vista. it's designed for trail walking, so it doesn't have the turn-by-turn directions found in driving gpses. nevertheless, it can do other things, like trip odometer and instant speedometer - all things i can also do with my built-in motorcycle gauges. the one thing it does do that driving gpses don't is the ability to bread crumb my trip, so i can see where i've been afterwards. i probably won't be using the gps too much with the motorcycle though; it's too much of a distraction. the gps would be better suited for the bicycle, where i don't have a odometer/speedometer.

half of naturing is getting there. maps are too bulky to bring along so i memorize all the directions before i leave the house or sometimes i write crib notes on my hand. even when i got to boxboro, i didn't exactly know where the entrance to the forest was so i rode up and down the road until i found it. there one other car in the parking lot, a DCR park service guy who was leaving just as soon i arrived. across the street was the entrance to lockwood forest, but i wanted bald hill, which is inside the state forest. the name of the property itself is not very clear. this is because various organizations own parts of the land, including the massachusetts department of conservation and recreation (DCR), the essex county greenbelt association, and the boxford trails assocation/open land trust. depending on which parcel you're on, there are also different rules, like whether or not hunting is allowed.

for whatever reason, i didn't do very much naturing this season. i don't have a good excuse (unlike last year, where a broken foot sidelined me for the entire summer) other than the fact that i've already been to most of the nearby naturing hot spots. as soon as i walked into boxford state forest, i felt a sense of nostalgia. this is where i should be all the time! outdoors with nature surrounded by all the sights and sounds and smells.

i didn't get very far, only about half a mile into the forest. i mainly hung around the perimeter of crooked up, climbing up a steep hill on it's southern side. i never made it to bald hill (highest point in boxford), which was another half mile. i tried to see how far i could get but beavers had flooded the trail and i didn't have the proper shoes.

there wasn't a lot of colorful foliage within the forest, since the predominant trees were mostly pines and oaks. along the sunnier bank of crooked pond were a few of the more ostentatious trees. however, if you come to boxford state forest hoping to find some quality leaf peeping, you'd have better luck elsewhere.

ferns was what i wanted to focus on this season, and i made some identifications earlier on, but much of that knowledge i've since forgot. i'll try again next year. they're a real challenge because many of them look similar to one another, but i like the fact that it's easier to find ferns than it is to find animals.

there were birds singing in the forest but none i could identify. never really got any good looks, but i think i might've seen an eastern towhee. there were also red squirrels and chipmunks, but i heard their angry chirping more than i saw them. dragonflies, just the late season red meadowhawks, although i did see some larger darners (but they never stop to be photographed). i ran into a pair of garter snakes, scared me off the trail, they slithered away before i could get snapshots. i did find some dried snake skin though.

i didn't see a single other person the whole time i was there until, i started to head back. i ran into a couple with a dog who wouldn't stop barking, even after i couldn't see them anymore. i saw an old man briskly hiking in the woods with a pair of walking sticks. two teenage boys walked by me, one of them arguing on the phone with a girlfriend.

a plumbing van had parked behind me. a woman driving by stopped to stare while i was getting on my motorcycle. turns out she wasn't looking at me, but rather the man in the van, who was putting on his camouflage hunting gear. coming back, i thought it'd be easier to just take 95 and 93 directly instead of having to navigate the smaller back roads. if i was scared before, i was more so riding the interstate all the way home. once again, i felt relieved when i finally exited in medford square.

the first thing i did when i got back was to play some more metroid.