It is hard to believe that a week ago I was enjoying a mini vacation in the Berkshires!
On our last full day in Great Barrington we hiked up Monument Mountain.
We we made our way back to the parking lot we decided we needed a hamburger for lunch. We had read that the burgers at the Meat Market in Great Barrington were pretty amazing so we headed there.
Yup. That was a good burger. Nancy didn't love hers - but then again, if you take real meat with no additives and good the shit out of it I bet you wouldn't like it either. People who order burgers well done do not deserve burgers . . . well, unless they go to McDonalds.
When we got back to the house it was time to shower and think about what we wanted to do with the rest of the day.
Nancy and Joanne decided to take it easy in the house.
I hopped into the car and headed to Rawson Brook Farms - our favourite goat cheese producers. This was my third visit to the farm. While I was there I had a lovely chat with a guy from Boston who, like me, made a point of always stopping by when he was in the area and loading up on goat cheese. I visited with the goats (the babies as cute as ever) and bought 10 tubs of goat cheese (it freezes well).
My next stop was Berkshire Mountain Distillery. I enjoyed their products when I was in the area in 2013 but in the interim period they had opened a tasting room in Sheffield - a town south of Great Barrington. The GPS took me on an interesting trek through the hills (where I saw the only Donald Trump on my entire sojourn to MA).
I stocked up on a case of rum and headed back to the house.
The rest of the day was relaxing - wandering around the town and napping.
Joanne an I cooked a feast for dinner and we ended the meal with cake to celebrate Nancy's birthday.
My friends Nancy, Joanne, and I have a tradition - for our 50th birthdays we engage in some sort of physical activity design to prove that we are not dead yet. When Nancy turned 50 we climbed a mountain in Stowe, Vermont. When I turned 50 we climbed the campanile in Florence, Italy. This year it was Joanne's turn.
We decided to hike up Monument Mountain which is just outside Great Barrington. Paul and I climbed it when we were in the area in 2013 and I looked forward to climbing it again.
There are more than 3 miles of trails which were well maintained and appropriate ages and abilities. The trail system is a large loop that starts out at the parking lot and goes up to the rocky peaks.
We took the 1.51-mile Indian Monument Trail which took us past more than 300 years of history – the remains of ancient Native American trails, stone walls of former sheep pastures, woods roads, cart paths that brought hemlock bark to tanneries, hearths of charcoal makers, horse-and-carriage pleasure roads, recreational foot paths, and roads traveled by Ford Model T’s.
The trail was steep and rugged - climbing through beautiful forest, past surprising rocky outcrops, up natural and human-assisted rock stairs.
Along the way we reached the point where the trail split - you could continue on the Indian Mountain Trail or go up the shorter Squaw Peak Trail. We decided on the shorter trail. What followed was proof that shorter is NOT always better. Oh no - this trail, while short, was steep and had you climbing all sorts of rocky outcrops and walking along cliff faces. It was a work out!
When we got to the top we pretty well had the place to ourselves. We rested, enjoyed the views, and took the obligatory 'we're not dead yet' selfie.
On the way down we found a large rock with an inscription:
This ridge and the cliffs of Monument Mountain were conveyed to the Trustees of Public Reservations by deed bearing date October 19 AD 1899 in fulfillment of a wish of Rosalie Butler that such portions of this mountain might be preserved to the people of Berkshire as a place of free enjoyment for all time.
Well, it may only be 117 years later, and thus short of 'all time', but I can confirm that we enjoyed it immensely.
The Annual Meeting is such a long week of work that by the end of it I confess to not being much good for anything. For the past few years I have hopped into a car with my friends Nancy and Joanne and headed off somewhere to decompress. We generally have a weekend of relaxation - eating, drinking, shopping, giggles, and maybe, just maybe, a hike thrown in for good measure (anything to say we were not slugs for the entire time).
This year we ended up in Great Barrington in the heart of the Berkshires.
It is about a 6 hour drive from home but we extended it . . . inadvertently by me choosing a bad line at the border and by plan when we pulled off at Syracuse for what was are billed to be the best chicken wings in the world. Those wings were pretty yummy but more research is needed prior to my being able to support that claim.
We found the house we had rented with no difficulty and everything was as expected.
Once we were settled in we popped into town for provisions - largely wine, bread, cheese, meats, chips, cookies, ice cream, coffee, and coffee cream.
We did buy that bag of lettuce but really that is just so we feel better about our poor food choices.
Rather than go out we sat around drinking, nibbling, and watching TV. I think the theme for the weekend is sipping and grazing.
Yesterday started with good intentions. We were going to go to the outlet mall nearby and then climb monument mountain.
I did pop out to the bakery early in the morning.
When I got back into the town I visited the Farmer's Market.
Of course, rather than stop up on vegetables and fruits I bought a pie, bagels, and scones. LOL
When I got back to the house everyone was ready to head out. We wandered around the outlet all for a few hours (and I hopefully . . . or in a delusional state . . . bought some clothing a few sizes smaller . . . :-) particularly given the provisions we had purchased so far this weekend).
On the way back we stopped in Stockbridge where there was an outdoor art show. Parking was a nightmare and we parked a million miles away but on the flip side, I made my FitBit step goal. The art show had some nice stuff, some crap, some stuff that just wasn't 'me', and some stuff that was 'what were they thinking?'. I bought a large piece of garden art which barely fit in the car - getting that home should be a treat.
Stockbridge had some gorgeous old homes from the late 1770s and early 180os. I'd certainly go bakc and wander about on a NON art show weekend.
We passed monument mountain on the way home - without stopping. In our defense it was quite hot. We were tired. We were hungry. I needed a nap. We decided it might be better to slay the mountain Sunday morning. We figured we'd head back to Great Barrington, have some lunch, have a nap, and spend the rest of the day wandering the town.
Well, we had lunch.
(do not judge, I only ate half of my grinder - what they call submarine sandwiches here in the NE)
I napped . . . boy did I nap! I woke up at 5:30 and most of the shops closed at 6:00.
We changed our plans again - in full grazing mode, we hung around the house reading, watching TV, eating and drinking.
It means a BUSY Sunday but surely we are up to that challenge?
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.