September 8, 2020

Can we go for a walk now? Huh, huh? Can we, can we, can we? Please, please, please?


There is nothing so powerful as truth, and often nothing so strange.

-Daniel Webster


Webster, MA, is just off of Interstate 395, some twenty miles south of Worcester, MA.  It was settled in 1713 and its primary founder was the industrialist Samuel Slater.  Slater named the town after his friend Daniel Webster, the noted lawyer and statesman.  Slater founded several textile mills in the area and is now home to MAPFRE Insurance and the Massachusetts division of Goya Foods.  It is also home to Indian Ranch, a summer concert venue that has hosted acts like Charlie Daniels, Thomas Rhett, the Barenaked Ladies, Scotty McCreery, Third Eye Blind, Huey Lewis & the News, Gavin DeGraw and many others.  It lies next to the largest natural lake in Massachusetts, that lake with the longest name in the world that is unpronounceable — Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaug.  Webster’s population is 17,027 as of 2018.

Today, we make our way along the streets and highways from Dudley to the east side of the lake.  The traffic isn’t too heavy and the temperature is warm, but not too hot.  Waldo is nervous as we trek along on the shoulder of the road and spends most of his time out front at the end of his leash.  I can tell he’s nervous because he isn’t sniffing about, looking for what the world is offering up to his attention.  His snoot is to the ground, pointing straight ahead, and he’s walking in a straight line, pulling at me as if he wants to get to someplace better, someplace more interesting.  Maybe he just wants to get the walk over with so he can get on to something more appealing like the Marlborough Rail-Trail.  I keep him well tanked-up with water and he keeps trucking along.

The area we’re walking through is suburban and urban.  Houses with large green lawns are everywhere with a few patches of forest and farmland.  Then, we make a right turn and we’re on a narrow country lane.  It’s paved, but lacks painted lines – just tarmac.  We pass no cars.  The trees on each side bend over us as if they were reaching out to give us a hug.  The shade and slight breeze are blissful.  Karen has, somehow, done it again and found us a cool byway to trek down.  I could imagine we were sauntering down a country lane like those you read about in English villages.  Waldo relaxes and pays more attention to his surroundings.  I can almost hear him say, “Ahhh!”  I know the rest of us are.

It doesn’t last, though.  We get into Webster and, in a few blocks are in downtown.  There, older buildings front the main streets with negligible space between their front doors and the sidewalks.  I have to shorten Waldo’s leash a bit because of the traffic, which he doesn’t like, but tolerates reasonably well.  Our route takes us next to the French River which is little more than a muddy trickle this time of year.  Before long, the temperature is in the mid-seventies and sweat is pouring from us, soaking our shirts.  We keep to the shade as best we can, but there’s not much to be found in the city.  After downtown Webster, we pass into suburban neighborhoods and can see the lake whose name is unpronounceable through the trees.  It’s not long and we pass a sign that reads, “Indian Park,” just off of Route 16.  The place is quiet, but I make a mental note to visit sometime when it’s happening.  We follow Route 16 for a piece, then go right down Lower Gore Road, followed by a left onto Upper Gore Road.  Before I know it, we’re turning left onto Mike’s Way, a cul de sac containing large homes with well-manicured lawns.  There, a total of about 7.5 miles from our starting point at the First Congregational Church of Dudley, is my car at the curb.  I worry about our cars being towed away if found randomly parked on the side of the road, and we usually use business parking lots.  For this leg, there weren’t any convenient businesses on our route, so, instead, we got permission from the owner of 7 Mike’s Way to park out front.  And there the car sat, a wonderfully comfortable, if a bit hot, place to sit and rest.

For most of the next leg of our journey, we follow another rail-trail, the Southern New England Trunk Line Trail.  This will be our path for the next three walks, a total of about 22 miles.

For now, though, it’s home, AC and a nice nap.


We do pass some beautiful country on our trek.

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