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The Berkshires: Fall Beauty and Bargain

Author: Deanna Rowley (More Trip Reviews by Deanna Rowley)
Date of Trip: October 2007



My husband and I enjoy brief times away from home that are not too far away. This fall we chose to attend the Big E in Springfield, MA. It was a beautiful day for attending a fair. Our daughter and son-in-law and 3 grandchildren went also. We enjoyed seeing the fair through the eyes of a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a two year old. Besides watching baby chickens hatching, the favorite for the kids was the petting zoo where they didn't mind getting their hands slobbery from feeding the goats! My husband and I make sure to slowly walk through the five different New England state buildings taking in the many sights, smells, and tastes of kettle popcorn, Cape Cod chips, fried clams, Maine baked potatoes, maple sugar samples (which the kids loved!), VT cheddar cheese and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Storrowtown Village offers glimpses of what life might have been like in the early 1800s. The kids enjoyed watching the blacksmith work. Another place we like to walk through is the Better Living Center where all kinds of things from knives, cookware, crafts, gadgets, mops, pianos, toys, and clothing are displayed and for sale. Our favorite place to rest our feet is to sit down to watch and sample the Vita-Mix demonstration.

After a busy morning and afternoon, my husband I left the tired kids with their parents and headed to Cobble View Bed and Breakfast in rural Tyringham, MA located about an hour from Springfield. I like to stay in old houses decorated with antiques. Cobble View was built in 1800 and had been renovated but retains its heritage of a New England farmhouse. Because we reserved our room for a Monday night instead of a weekend and it was not the busy summer season, we got more of a bargain price for our night’s stay. Also because we went midweek, there were no other guests in the house. This gave us complete privacy and we were the sole users of an additional parlor where we could choose a DVD to watch after dark. Our hostess suggested several places in nearby Lee, MA where we might enjoy dining. After driving through town and enjoying the quaintness of a New England town, we chose a place of casual dining called ARIZONA PIZZA. The menu included quite a few other things than just pizza.

My husband and I like to casually ride bikes. We usually try to find a bed and breakfast that is near a Rails-to-Trails bike path. We like the rails to trails as they are not too difficult to ride yet offer wonderful views of the countryside. After a restful night at Cobble View and a wonderful breakfast, we loaded our bikes on the car and headed to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail around Cheshire, MA on RT 8. Along the way we decided to explore Tanglewood grounds in Lennox, MA. Tanglewood is the summer home for the Boston Symphony Orchestra which offers many outdoor concerts. The summer season of music was over but we had complete freedom to walk the grounds and imagine music floating through the air. It was a lot less expensive to imagine the music than to actually buy a ticket to the concerts. We then drove through Pittsfield, MA. We recognized the Bousquet Ski Area where our kids like to go skiing in the winter time. Hancock Shaker Village, Herman Melville’s home (author of MOBY DICK), and Oliver Wendell Holmes (an American poet) were nearby and would have interested us but bike riding was what we wanted to do.

The rail trail was easy to find just north of Pittsfield. There was plenty of parking for our car in a lot near Rt. 8 at the south end of Cheshire Reservoir. We rode our bikes for several hours along the paved bike path. The backdrop view of changing leaves on the mountains with the peaceful lake alongside the path was so relaxing. We stopped for lunch that we brought with us and then biked some more. We met others walking, rollerblading, jogging, and biking along the trail. It was not crowded, but not deserted either. There were several other places along the 11 miles of paved bike path that people could park and access the trail. The few roads we crossed were well marked for the biker and for cars to be aware of each other. In fact in crossing Rt. 8 a crosswalk light had been installed for the walkers and bikers. If we would have had more time, we would have liked to continue driving north on Rt. 8 toward North Adams. Mount Graylock State Reservation would be another place to do some biking or hiking. We really enjoy the outdoors especially in the fall. We finally returned to our car, loaded the bikes and headed through the curvy mountain back roads towards Hartford, CT and home. Just a short time away from home, but we came back with a closer relationship to each other and renewed energy for the work at home.

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