Yesterday, Saturday, I decided to go to Mass and then close out the weeks work so I could feel liberated to take Sunday off. As sad as is today’s anniversary, I knew I could not stay glued to the news all day. All right, before you say anything I have been home 4 whole days since I have last been “vacationing,” so it is “about time!” My plan was to have breakfast at one of my favorite spots, the bakery in Proctorsville, Vermont, and then head off to again enjoy Calvin Coolidges’s birthplace in Plymouth – in “Black Beauty” of course, she has been begging to get out. To be safe I checked (on-line, of course) and found that although Plymouth was safe, the historical site was closed because you cannot get there due to storm damage. So, what do to? Go to sleep, and something will occur to me when I get up. And, it did!
Last time I crossed Massachusetts Route 2 West to East in June 2010 – The Mohawk Trail – I stumbled onto a sign that is part of the genesis of the name of this site – SHUNPIKE. It has been my intention to use an image of that sign in the masthead to this site, so what is better than to deadhead (maybe an hour plus drive, remember I have no use for a timepiece) down to Charlemont, Massachusetts and get my images. Off I went shortly before 11 AM. Yes, even Route 2 is closed because of Irene, but I could get to Charlemont, and took many images which I will eventually work into a new masthead (Scott told me how I can make my own).
I turned around to head to Shelburne Falls to get a bite to eat. Now I must tell you that the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) is the first designated Scenic Road, a designation it received in 1914, and it became a very famous tourist route complete with the quintessential roadside Americana. My original plan with
my site was to focus on Shunpiking on the back roads, the “blue routes,” that still retain some of their original character, and to also provide history on many of these old enjoyable roads in New England, but that can always come as we “armchair shunpike” this winter. I know there is at least “one book in me” documenting these routes, so “stay tuned.”
Coming in from the West on Route 2 there is a back road (on the Buckland side of the Deerfield River) to get to Shelburne Falls which I took. Arriving in the village I found the bridge closed to vehicle traffic, and continued up the hill to turn around, and the spot I selected was the back path to the Trolley Museum. Famous, well signed, for whatever reason (probably for our shopping and eating instead in the village) I have never gone these few extra tenths of a mile to see the museum in the old rail yards. WOW – Worth the trip, not to mention the price. The little museum giving the history of the Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway is free, and for $3 you can ride the original restored 1910 trolley and work the hand truck down the tracks and
back. Now, you may have seen a railroad hand truck before, but I guarantee you, I have travelled extensively in my “short” life, and I have not seen a moving hand truck, let alone one that you can propel yourself. I had the chance, and you know me by now – here I am (volunteer saw my camera and said, “would you like me to take your picture?).
I really enjoyed this unplanned serendipitous stop, and will stop in again. Upon leaving it started to rain (not in the plan), and I toured along this side of the river looking at Irene damage before circling around back to the other side of the river into the main street area. Rain was getting heavier and I actually used my wind screen wiper blades three times (cockpit of “Black Beauty” does not get wet if you keep moving), but I soon pulled into a drive-in bank. I do not ever need one, but it is a good spot to park in the rain, at least in non-banking hours. Leaving “Black Beauty” under the bank canopy I walked
around a tad, and had a tuna salad grinder, after all it was 3:30 – time does get away from you while shunpiking. To be truthful, there were fewer people in town than I had ever seen before, and I have visited Shelburne Falls many times in the past 16 years, yes, and I even bought the contents of an out-of-print bookstore that was closing there in the late 1990s.
I headed East on Route 2 to pickup Route 63 North back towards New Hampshire. Shunpiking, of course, too bad I-91 is free – NOT. If there was a toll I would truly be shunpiking! Northfield, Massachusetts is a delightful village and worth the trip, but from there I followed Route 10 to Keene since from experience I have learned that Route 63 from Hinsdale, NH to Chesterfield, NH is not TR3 friendly. On my last trip down Route 63 the road made washboards look like pancakes – airborne is fun in a Triumph, but not when you face the next bump head on! I stopped in Winchester to take a few images to send to an old friend in California who will be going there for some genealogy research (is he in for a surprise), and my steady strong pace brought me back home at 6PM. A full enjoyable day, made even better by working with my images and writing about the day to “relive it!” I have also been working on documenting my learning adventures on Labor Day and the following Tuesday this past week at Eckley Miner’s Village, Steamtown USA, and the Anthracite Heritage Museum. So much to share, I will get it down in time. Thanks so much for spending some time with me again, as always, yours, RAY