Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter in Southern New England

A couple of weekends ago, we decided to journey over to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts. I had read about a few places to go hiking and play in the snow so we thought we'd go check them out. Gavin is always looking for a reason to wear his snow boots!

The Berkshires are very close to us and you can get to most of the towns within 40 to 90 minutes. I think the last time I wrote about a trip there was last winter, when we went to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. This time we started out in Pittsfield, MA. Apparently, this used to be a very happening town- GE used to employ thousands of people there. Now, it seems like a very small town and I had commented to Adam that it seemed strange to see so many big homes and wondered where people worked. I still don't know the answer to that but whatever. This is not a blog post about the demographics of Pittsfield, MA, now is it?

Anyhow, I love driving through the Berkshires. It's very New England. There are lots of country roads that wander over hills. There are little farming communities and really cute houses. Our first stop was to Balance Rock State Park. This was not much of a hike, just a really great park to go for a winter walk. There were a few people out cross country skiing and lots of people on snowmobiles. Balance Rock is a 165-ton boulder that was left by a retreating ice sheet thousands of years ago. Over time, soil and loose rock have eroded, leaving the boulder in a balanced position. It's actually crazy to see- does not seem like physics should allow it to stay.

We spent some time wandering through the Pittsfield State Forest and then headed out for another destination. This time, we just plugged 'parks' into our GPS and were directed to Mt. Greylock. Mt. Greylock is the tallest mountain in the state of Massachusetts. It's actually where the Appalachian Trail begins, although we did not enter the park from that side. The park has over 70 miles worth of hiking trails and the mountain inspired some of the writings of Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathanial Hawthorne. I was a big American Lit fan growing up so I thought this was pretty cool. There is an "Inspiration Trail" that has stones with random quotations from some of these writers and others. I plan on finding that trail next weekend, weather permitting. We're expecting Melissa and Earl Ardales for a visit up from DC. Can't wait to show them around!

It's been a fun winter of exploring. I recently rediscovered libraries and have been checking out lots of books on the area. I am still writing my column so this has been a good way to get ideas on where to go. By the time we move back to Seattle, I just might be a bit of an Albany Day Trips expert... who woulda thunk it?

Anyhow- here are some pics:
Gavin and me cuddled up under Balance Rock
Someone took the liberty of welcoming little Gavin before we arrived, isn't that nice?

Yes, we are that cheeseball family that pretends to push the rock over...
King of the mountain!
Adam and Gavin hiking at Mt. Greylock
We ran into Frosty, complete with pine mohawk! (Meg, this pic was for you so you can see my bump!)
Gavin was afraid of Frosty at first but then decided he wanted to say hi. For the rest of the hike back to the car he kept saying, "I touched Frosty!" Oh boy!


Emily said...

I didn't know you were writing a day trip column for!!??? Did I miss that in a previous post? That's really cool! That balancing rock is pretty sweet.

Meg said...

AWE! I love your bump! I feel like I learn so much from you blog. Thanks Jen

Randy in Cashmere said...

Wow. Looks like great fun. The photo of you and Gavin under Balance Rock really give us a sense of how big it is. Glad things are going well with the de Mars'family in New York. I will be coming east in April for a conference with Dept of Defense. Maybe I will be able to work out a trip to Albany on the side to visit our grandson and his great family!

MBbbfish said...

So wonderul!! If we ever get to the East Coast in our life... we know who we can talk to to plan our adventures. And your "Bump" is cute. :-)