Category Archives: Travel

Historic Deerfield

When we had our friends from upstate NY over for a visit a couple of weeks ago, we were fortunate to  get a warm sunny day.   We decided to make use of this rare opportunity to go visit Historic Deerfield.  It was a particularly pretty November day, the trees had not shed all their leaves, it was cool but not cold and it was sunny.   Historic Deerfield is a living history museum.  It includes 11 period homes interspersed between  residences  and the  Deerfield Academy,  along the tree lined Old Main Street.  The houses are meticulously preserved with period details and furniture.  There are many self guided and directed tours.  Some of the treasures include silverware made by Paul Revere and a gun that was used in the battle of Bunker Hill.   We  managed to tour 5 of the houses. If you are in a hurry at least check out the Wells-Thorne House.  Each room in the house depicts a different period, you start the tour in a thread bare room from the Colonial period, when the town of Deerfield was new and struggling,  and end with a well appointed mid to late 19th century room with the best furnishings of the day.

Old Deerfield

 

 

Mohawk Trail IV

On our final day of the mini camping trip before saying bye to the little cabin in the woods we took the Mahican-Mohawk Trail, which runs parallel to the Cold River.  We followed the trail until we hit the forest boundary.   Our time in the picturesque Mohawk woods was drawing to a close.   With a heavy heart we bid adieu to the little cabin in the woods that had been home for two nights.  We were on the road a little after 11am, the only wildlife I had spotted was some frogs and mosquitoes.  On the way back home we stopped at the little Village of Shelburne Falls known for its artists co-ops, bridge of flowers and glacial potholes.  The weather was perfect and there wasn’t a single cloud on the horizon but alas it was time to go home.

Links to the previous parts

Part I, Part II and Part III

cabin

Little cabin in the woods

  Village of Shelburne Falls

Glacial Potholes

Roses on the Bridge of Flowers

Mohawk Trail III, In Search of the Tall Pines

IMG_4389

Pines on the Thumper Mountain Trail

IMG_4410

The meadow surrounded by tall pines

IMG_4422

Red Pine Plantation

Read parts I and II here and here

Having survived the night without any encounters with black bears, the next morning Mr. Kitteh and I went out in search of the tallest pines in New England. On our hikes we saw a lot of  the thinner and the taller than average pines,  the supermodels of pines, if you will.  However since the arborists who measure the length of the pines keep the exact location of the tallest pines  a secret, I am not quite sure  whether we saw the tallest pines in New England.

First we climbed the Thumper Mountain which was a short and a pleasant hike.  Then we took the Nature trail which goes from the campground to the Deerfield river and then runs parallel to  it.   There are many river look outs throughout the trail.  On the other side is a meadow of tall grass bordered by tall pines.  The Nature trail continues through a  red pine plantation.   Throughout the day the sky overcast, thankfully for us it did not rain.

We had worked up quite an appetite by the time we got back, late in the afternoon.  Dinner was chipotle chicken hotdogs with a dash of green chutney,  grilled corn on the cob,  green salad with tomatoes and s’mores over the campfire for desert.  Perfect, except for the swarm of mosquitoes that decided to join us as it got darker. 

The next day we had planned to walk along the Mahican-Mohawk trail and stop at the Village of Shelburne Falls before heading back home. (to be continued)

Note: For more details on the hikes in the Mohawk Trail State forest, click here.

Mohawk Trail II

Here comes the second installment of my camping trip to the Mohawk Trail State Forest, you will find the first part here.

So why Mohawk Trail State Forest, you may ask. Well, two reasons, it is nearby and  for me the name evoked the romance of James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans.   The Mahicans, who eventually lost out to the Mohawks, are said to be the  inspiration behind the Mohicans.  Mahican-Mohawk Trail runs through the forest.  It  is also home to some of the tallest pines in New England

The  Mohawk Trail  follows an old Indian trade route.  Along the way to Charlemont,   we passed many small towns on the winding road, that hugged the Deerfield river.  It was easy to imagine Hawkeye walking through these paths. Dashing Daniel Day Lewis with long hair, so hot! The sudden jolt I received when Mr. Schroedinger’s cat  had to slow down  brought me back to reality, from my day dreams.  Instead of handsome Hawkeye  there was road work to greet us as we entered Charlemont.  The rain had already tapered as we entered the State Forest.

I had booked the cabin online and filled a pre-check-in form, so it took all of two minutes to register.  As the pretty blond forest ranger handed us over key, I casually asked her about whether there were any black bears around, since we were officially in black bear country. I expected her to say, don’t worry about it.  Instead she recounted a story of how she had encountered a black bear on a walk in the town with her mother.  By the way, she said the bear can outrun  you. To make it go away you have to  yell in your most authoritative voice.   She also cheerfully volunteered that her mother had Lyme disease and could not run, nevertheless the bear had disappeared after a stern scolding.  Lyme disease brought up concerns about ticks, and added that she was bitten by ticks umpteen times before, and that it was no big deal. This was not good.  We finally got a bundle of firewood from her and proceeded to drive to our cabin, with me fervently wishing that I would never encounter either a bear or a tick.

The cabin was tiny but picturesque, though a bit dark and musty on the inside. There was a bunk bed and a table and some chairs. There was also  a tiny kitchen counter and dark cabinets above and below.  For cooler months there was a woodstove. The restroom and the showers were about a five minute walk from the cabin. Thankfully I had packed food for us that did not need heating.  I survived the night without an encounter with a bear.  As a safety precaution I had Mr. Schrodinger’s cat accompany me to the rest room so I had something to offer the bear besides myself, just in case the bear stopped by to say hello. (to be continued)

 

IMG_4449

Deerfield River

On the Mohawk Trail

I didn’t quite attain Purrvana, but came pretty close during my three day camping trip at the Mohawk Trail State Forest in Charlemont, MA.  My only prior experience camping was with a big group,  in a house on a deserted island off the coast of Maine. This was the first time I had to plan all the logistics,  a daunting task for a novice camper who likes the luxuries of civilization and has a tiny car.  Many frantic calls were made to a friend who is a veteran of many camping trips.  Mind you, this was camping for dummies, since we were going to be in a cabin with a proper bed, electricity and some basic furniture.  As is my wont, I packed everything including the kitchen sink, by that I mean my Dutch oven, which I was going to use as a makeshift sink.  I also took my trusty little electric kettle, since I run on tea.  Mr. Schrodinger’s cat  on the other hand is a man of few needs and a limited wardrobe, so his contribution to the luggage was minimal. He also loves doing outdoorsy stuff.  He has climbed both Kalsubai and Mt Katahdin.   My attitude on the other hand is exemplified by the kitteh in the picture below.

After loading up the boot and the backseat of the car and saying a final good bye to kittehs,  Mr. Schroedinger’s cat and I set on a drive to Charlemont but not before a quick stop to the grocery store for some ice, raw materials to make s’mores and gas.

When we finally hit I-91, we were caught in a  massive downpour,  a harbinger of things to come ? (To be continued)

I prefers to watch it on TV instead

nature_is_touching_me

LoL by: two_kittehs

Sailing to Philadelphia III- Give Me Liberty

I saved the best for the last.  You can read parts I and II, here  and here.  Visiting the Independence Hall was the highlight of our trip. Best of all since it is a National Park, the admission was free. You do have to get tickets, though.  We bought our tickets and stood in the line to get into the Independence Hall. Despite the fact, that it was a Saturday our wait was pretty short. After going through the security we joined the a group people sitting in a mid sized room.  We were soon joined by a Park Service ranger, who was to be our guide. In his interactive presentation, he tried to get us, his audience in the mindset of the people who had gathered in the Philadelphia State House to sign the Declaration of Independence.  What would one require for a successful revolution, he asked. The answers in no particular order, were reliable means of communication, arms, ammunition, an army  to use the arms and ammunition and money to fund all of the above. To our list he added enlisting help of other governments for the cause.

The Independence Hall which had served as the State House for Pennsylvania was also used as a court house as well as a prison during the Revolutionary War. What struck me was the size of the room where the Declaration was signed. Compared to the magnificent Government buildings in Washington DC, this room seemed so humble, so small. I wonder what the signers would think of the country if they saw it now. Did they imagine that the original thirteen colonies would span the continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific? Their concerns were probably more immediate. Pondering about the consequences of putting a finger in the eye of the powerful British Empire of which they were citizens.  Most were likely thinking of what of Benjamin Franklin put in words so eloquently,

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.

I asked the ranger the question that had been on my mind all along. Why Philadelphia? His answer, because the other two major cities, namely New York and Boston were under British control. I had no idea that things were that dire for the revolutionaries at the time of signing the Declaration. Must read more history.

We also saw the chambers where Washington resigned after his two terms were over, thus setting the precedent of peaceful transfer of power. After our tour of the Independence Hall, we crossed the road to see the Liberty Bell.  The Bell  has been a symbol of liberty not only to the rebels who took on the British Empire but also to the Abolitionists, the Suffragettes and later the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century.  I wonder if Bob Dylan’s Chimes of Freedom, is inspired by the Liberty Bell?

Sailing to Philadelphia II–To the Market

On the second day of my trip we (husband and I) decided to go see the Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, both a few blocks away from the hotel. Before heading to the place where the United States was born, we decided to grab a bite at the Reading Terminal Market.   The Reading Terminal Market (RTM) reminded me a lot of The Eastern Market near Capitol Hill in DC. The Eastern Market was one of my favorite places hangout when we lived in the area.  It was also a stop on my DC  tour for any out of town visitors.  The crab cakes and the home made root beer  at Market Lunch alone make the visit worthwhile.  The hustle bustle and  the energy of these older market places is infectious.  RTM was crowded that Saturday, lots of tourists, couples and families with small children, just hanging out, enjoying  a leisurely morning, shopping and eating.

Speaking of food, there were many food choices, almost too many to choose from.   We took a brisk tour of the place, and had a  brunch at Beck’s Cajun Café.  I wanted to spend some more time at the market, so we planned to return at the end of the day.  After our trip to the Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.  On our second visit to the market that day, we got some homemade cheese and cured meats from at the Hatville Deli, one of the many Pennsylvania Dutch  shops at the Market. We also picked up some bread, cookies and  grainy mustard at the market, to eat later on the train ride back home.  We also stopped by a the Tubby Olive, you can sample the olive oil here, a bit like wine tasting but not as much fun.  We wanted eat a  sandwich at  DiNic’s , but it was too crowded and I was tired from walking all day.  Both its roast pork and roast beef sandwiches are famous and had come highly recommended by friends who had been to Philly. Definitely, something to do on my next trip.  Coming up next, the highlight of the tour, a visit to the place where the US was birthed.

Sailing to Philadelphia I

Not exactly, but I did take a train to Philly. I was there for a short trip, just two days and three nights to be exact.  I had a lot of good suggestions about what to do when I got there.  I had driven through Philly once before on the way to Washington DC but had never really spent any time in the city, itself.  Since it was the week before Christmas, the train was crowded but not overly so. The on board Wi-Fi connection was adequate. This was my second trip on Amtrak. I would say that the experience is much better than either flying or driving on  I-95. I have no complaints about Amtrak except for the lack of good options in the dining car. Not much choice, and everything was overpriced.

By the time I reached my hotel there was time only to go to bed. The first day I was there I decided to spend most of the day at Penn Museum of Archaeology.  I was interested in the special exhibition about Maya that they had.  I arrived there early before the museum was open, I decided to eat breakfast at a Potbelly Sandwiches opposite the Penn Medical Center.

The Mayan exhibition was wonderful and informative but it was the Iraqi Special exhibition that I found fascinating. It had artifacts from Ur’s Royal Cemetery. Agatha Christie  wrote the Murder in Mesopotamia, based on her experiences in Ur. She was married to Max Mallowan, one of the archaeologists working on the dig.  In the book, Louise Leidner, was modeled after Katherine Woolley, the wife of the  of Sir Leonard Woolley, the head of Ur expedition, who was also Mallowan’s boss.  Though I can’t say that MIM is among my top Christie favorites. I do have to say that the she creates the atmosphere of an archaeological dig remarkably well. She takes you there, you feel like you are in this dusty, hot place, a bit bored and fascinated by everything around you.

Among the permanent exhibits, the Egyptian exhibit in basement, with a gigantic Sphinx was impressive. Size does matter! The other interesting section was the one on Buddhist Asia. Many of the exhibits were from China. I wonder what the status of Buddhism is in China today and what exactly caused the decline of Buddhism in India. This exhibit also reminded me of the Sackler and Freer Galleries of art in Washington DC.

I did break for lunch at the museum itself  and had ha salmon and cream cheese sandwich with salad and coffee. I especially liked the fact that they let me substitute coffee for the soda in my combo. I wish more places did that. By mid afternoon, my feet were getting tired and I was ready to head back to the hotel.

On day two in Philadelphia, my plan was to visit the Liberty Bell and the Independence Hall where the Declaration of Independence was signed but not before stopping for breakfast at the Reading Terminal Market. (To be continued)

One of the pillars in the Sphinx Exhibit at the Penn Museum.