I have not taken an overnight, or more, since early March when I stayed at the Red Lion Inn for my birthday, but had to leave early due to an incoming bad snow storm. I have gotten out of practice, and to be truthful, become afraid to plan anything. Part of the reason as some of you know (besides lack of time and windows of opportunity) has been developing hip problems (since April 15th), and most recently a neck muscle (or new arthritis) problem. But I couldn’t take it anymore — I love being home, but I love exploring.
While BLACK BEAUTY was being refurbished in 2010, I discovered (on-line) Bascom Lodge atop Mount Greylock in Massachusetts. I thought I had camped there in my Model A in 1963. I promised BLACK BEAUTY that when she was done we would head there for an overnight. But with seasonal hours, it did not happen, and for whatever reasons, has not happened the last almost 7 years. I have been struggling to get back in “travel mode” – Finally, I just picked up the phone, and booked a room and dinner at Bascom Lodge.
I left on Tuesday the first about 11, took Route 63 to Chesterfield to cross the river to Brattleboro. Hopped on I-91 for one exit to Route 9, exiting to head to Wilmington. While there had lunch, wandered around, then stopped at Austin’s Antiquarian Books. Long time bookseller friend, Gary, was there chatting with a customer who I also knew from decades ago. We had fun.
Continuing west on Route 9, I turned south on VT 8 which becomes Mass. 8 once crossing the border. West on the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) in North Adams before getting Notch Road to go up the forested north approach of Mount Greylock to Bascom Lodge and the granite War Memorial atop the highest point in Massachusetts.
The original part of Bascom Lodge (on the right below – where I slept) was expanded by the CCC in the early 1930s, and is nicely maintained in its original Arts and Crafts style complete with a complement of Mission Oak furniture.
Once I checked in, it was time to explore and climb the 90 foot War Memorial which recently was reopened after restoration. Remember, you can open the gallery below (just click) to see larger images.
And, this to give you the view from the lodge back to the memorial
And, here is where I planned to read and work.
HELP – with 43 unique candlesticks on my porch and in my kitchen, I thought I had enough. BUT NO — HELP, I love these Mission style candlesticks — reward offered for a source.
The plan to read and write in the lobby did not materialize. On the Appalachian Trail, the lodge is a great place to stop, eat, shower, and have a bed maybe for the first time in weeks for the trail’s hikers. I started listening to 5 hikers chatting (one couple and 3 singles) and then chimed in asking questions to learn. They had started in April in Georgia and planned to finish in 6-8 weeks in Maine. Did I enjoy this – totally unexpected, and a learning experience (hey, is that not why I do this?)
Dinner is served at 7 – reservations made in advance for a fixed price three courses (salad, entree, desert). I brought my book in thinking I would be alone, but everyone was seated together filling tables. So, the conversation continued, and my learning of hiking experiences broadened. Hikers have “trail names” (people do not know their real names Blue Deer told me – and he also told me – as did another – how they got their names); there are “angels” along the way to assist, often with caches of useful items left; most hikers have boxes of supplies shipped to various places to save carrying; and many lodging and food facilities (and individuals) will pick up hikers and bring them into towns for doing laundry, etc. Many of these “hints” are in a small guide the hikers carry.
And, the view from the dinner table, where I thought I would be seeing the sun set.
but, I assumed wrong, since the website said “enjoy a glass of wine while watching the sun set over the Catskills.” I asked, and was told, “no, sun sets the other way.” Well you do get turned around as the road circles the apex, and after thinking about it I realized that the lodge was sited away from the cold westerly winds. So, I headed out (before desert) and saw many local youngsters up for the evening to see the sun set.
and (looking west) this is what we all saw:
The War Memorial lights at the observation level were on as the sun set, but later turned off and the light on the beacon turned on – but alas, it is so bright that I could not get an image to share.
And, then I walked back to the lodge for desert, and more conversation until after 10PM.
In the morning when I awoke, I looked out my window to see BLACK BEAUTY with dew on her windscreen.
I am usually in the Berkshires “off season” because I “don’t do crowds” – but the downside of having everything to yourself is that many places I wish to experience are only seasonal. Such is the case with Arrowhead – Herman Melville’s home from 1850 to 1862. The plan was to visit first thing Wednesday before meandering home. I arrived 5 minutes before the first tour was to begin at 10. A few moments later a couple joined me and my great docent, Tom. I really never knew anything about Melville, but now I do.
Melville did not start as a writer, but a sailor, jumping from one ship to another. It was finally writing those experiences that brought him acclaim. After getting some introductory history in the el at the back of the house we entered the dining room.
There are panels above the fireplace and writings on the fireplace coming from Melville’s “I and My Chimney.”
The final room you visit upstairs is his study on the north front corner of the house facing Mount Greylock. It is here that Melville wrote MOBY DICK during the winter of 1850-51. His original desk is in the Melville Memorial Room at the Pittsfield Library, but the study is still set much the same.
and looking out the window at Mount Greylock said to look like a whale from this viewpoint, but the debate is whether the whale’s head is to the left or right.
There is a walking tour around the grounds. Melville could not conceive a house without a piazza, so he added this one. Here he is reading, facing the mountain, with a few of the fairies that currently are in residence.
RAY RECOMMENDS that you visit Arrowhead, and here is some more detail (click to enlarge) from a sign on the grounds.
Almost 11:30, and my plan was to head to the Pittsfield State Forest, and then towards the NY State border and follow roads I had not been on north to Vermont. I wanted to see where I had camped in 1963, thinking it was Mount Greylock, but before I left home I dug out my photos from that trip, and there I found my $1.50 receipt for a tent site at the Pittsfield State Forest, August 5, 1963 – 54 years ago tomorrow (posting this the 4th).
A friend from High School, Roger Ahrens, was with me, and we stopped at Berry Pond where I took his, and BELZEBUTH’s picture.
So BLACK BEAUTY could have her picture taken next to the same sign, she and I headed back through downtown Pittsfield, and towards the park. But BB1 had a different plan. She cut off her power, restarting roaring with backfire, and sporadically repeat the process. If she totally died, I could restart her, but soon she faded totally. Fortunately I was close to a residential corner and coasted off under a tree – it was about 11:30. I checked under her bonnet, seeing nothing obvious I called Dr. Dewey. I recounted the various motions, hiccups and sounds, and he diagnosed the Pertronix Ignition System had failed – nothing I could rig to limp home.
I got off the phone with AAA at 12:19 with the promise help would be there within an hour. I have the plan with 100 free miles of towing – and that can be to home. I now will make a long a tedious story as short as possible – if you wish to skip the next five hour saga, that is fine.
I called after an hour asking when the truck would arrive, “well, it reports it is on location now,” was the reply. Sorry, not so. “Well give them another 5 minutes.” “What then,” I asked. I called back after another 20 minutes, and got bounced around from state to state – seems as though Massachusetts is not in the New England Region – and they make maps? I was then told that a truck had just been sent from Lee. “Alright,” I said, “Lee is just about 20-25 minutes south.” I waited, and called again after almost another hour.
After the couple referrals, someone told me to hang on for awhile – it seemed like I was on hold 15 minutes. “We found a truck in the Pioneer Valley to send to you,” I was told. Mind you, this was the third promise of someone on the way. “Pioneer Valley, ” I exclaimed. You see, that is the region surrounding the Connecticut River, and I am on the NY State Line almost. Then the tow company dispatcher calls me from South Hadley – now that is a good sign. “Our truck is heading your way, and GPS says about 60 minute trip, but it is raining real bad, and he could be slowed.” Now, I too had been watching clouds build, thunder clap, and the occasional lightening display around me for a couple hours. I called the dispatcher after about 90 minutes. “The rain was real bad, and he is just exiting the Pike at Lee now.” The rain had finally hit me too – no need for a shower that night – I finally slid under the porch at the rest home down the street. Twenty minutes later I got another call, “My GPS shows he is two miles away.” And, at 5:20 — five hours after I originally got off the phone with AAA — a nice young 22 year old shows up, and it is now BB1’s turn for a piggy-back ride.
Yes – another 2 plus hours to get home – nice ride, nice company – and 97 miles on the truck’s odometer (back roads home will do it) and within my 100 mile allowance. The young man said, “you want her in the garage? Just watch.”
I did not get to Pittsfield State Forest, or the back roads between there and Williamstown that I have not yet been on – but they should still be there because this trip is now only “half done.”
I have not been scared away from traveling, and as my friends know, even something like this (put into perspective) is nothing to get upset about. I just roll with it, and that is me. Thanks for traveling again with me, yours, RAY
Wow, what a day! Leave it to you to make lemonade when handed a lemon. You did get to enjoy Greylock and Heran’s home.
Great fun Ray. That was a lot of stairs. Did you climb them all?
Sorry Black Beauty had to be hauled home but she needed the help and rest.
Take good care of her.
Loved your article.
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