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A tour of my old haunts in Ridgefield

Have you ever taken your kids back to visit your old haunts?

I grew up in a small town in New England that was most recently in the news for being 100% without power for days after Hurricane Irene blew through. As a teenager I remember complaining that there wasn't much to do there. There was no movie theater, no skate park, no bike paths, and the closest shopping mall was 30 minutes away. Yet I have only wonderful memories!

The House Where I Grew Up

The homes where I grew up vary from historical colonial homes, to ultra modern works of art. Ours fell somewhere closer to the contemporary side.

My 'neighborhood' did not have sidewalks. My closest friend lived almost a 1/4 mile away. But we had woods, and streams, and...a lake.

Mamanasco Lake

Unlike my kids, I did not have the luxury of learning to swim in a nice, clean, chlorinated pool. "Luxury?" you ask. Why yes. Because the lake thing is only glamorous when it's spring-fed and crystal clear - which our lake, was not. This was where I learned to swim.

It was also the place where every Wednesday in the summer all the families would bring something to grill, and other picnic necessities for a communal dinner. It probably wasn't meant to be communcal but as a kid I remember running from table to table getting handfuls of Doritos, Cheetos, and more from all of my friends' families.

This is the photo I posted on Facebook and said, "One guess where I am right now."

Because this was the view you had JUST before jumping and free-falling for 2 seconds then landing in what hopefully was not a belly-flop! You can still barely see an outline of the white paint that once said NO JUMPING.

Turtle Pond

One thing you do have growing up in New England is real, outdoor ice skating. The kind where you have to ask your mom 1000 times if the pond is frozen enough to go skating. The kind where it's bumpy, weedy, bubbly, and makes a CRACK then BOOM! sound every now and then just to give you a little extra jump in your step. Turtle Pond, named after the snapping turtles that lived there, is where I learned to skate.

Now overgrown with lilly pads and weeds and algae (I'm guessing), this pond once had real snapping turtles (it may still have them) that would come after you, albeit .135 miles an hour.

Natural Oddities - The Balanced Rock

We may not have had sidewalks, (heck - if you continued on our road about a mile past our house the road wasn't even paved!) but we had 10-speeds and we knew how to use them. Driving the narrow, windy roads of my town recently I was shocked that my parents took us on these REALLY LONG bike rides. I'm guessing the roads had less traffic and at least some kind of shoulder back then.

One of my favorite places to ride was to see The Balanced Rock.


A great formation left by the powerful glaciers as they receeded, this natural oddity sits, unassuming, just off the side of the road as you head past the many horse farms into North Salem, NY.

At first I thought it was my imagination that the girls were actually enjoying this little tour, and then detour around town. I was enjoying it so much, I couldn't imagine they were too! Then I realized, my face must have shown what was going through my head. All my childhood and teenage memories swirling about. These little bits and pieces I had completely forgotten until I was right there: at my house, at the lake, at the rock.

It's no wonder the last time I treated myself to this tour was right after my dad passed away. I was in charge of driving my mom's car back from the hospital and before I knew it I found myself going 'the back way' on auto-pilot, and straight to my old house.

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