Friday, July 9, 2010

The 413

Wednesday night, we had our first campsite meal. Finally, after five days on the road, back and forth to and from Boston, we were able to settle down with a drink and a plate of bacon and asparagus pasta without a worry or care about furntiure, vans, movers, or anything of the like. Of course, cooking them over a hot stove in 95 degree weather was less than appealing, but I digress.

Just to catch you up, we took VT. 100 on the way back to Boston on Tuesday. We whistled past Green Mountain scenery and then hopped back on the interstate to hurry back to finish off our move. We picked up the U-Haul van in Somerville, and after having spent five hours in the car, stepping out into 100 degree heat was just oppressive. We headed back to 10 Landers and circled back to the rear porch to begin our task moving the armoire and chest of drawers. I find it hard to hazard a guess as to how much these things weigh, so I'll fall back upon Alyssa's penchant for exaggeration and just say "a ton". We wriggled the first piece down a flight of concrete steps, at which point the both of us were nearly soaked through with sweat. Wheeling it around to the front was the easy part, and luckily, we chose the heavier piece first, so getting the second done was easy. After a harrowing trip to Billerica in an uninsured U-Haul van (what can I say, we live life on the edge!), we went back to Somerville, dropped off the van, and hit the road... To Boston.

Alyssa's car needed some brake work done, and since Sylvia has a warrantee for said brake work, we spent a couple of hours on Comm Ave, including an ill-advised stop at Qdoba for lunch. To think, now our last meal in Boston was at Qdoba... Ew...

Finally, we got on the road again at 5:30pm and decided to take Route 2 as far as we could get, and pick a campground accordingly. Alyssa pored over the RV edition atlas (which has already paid off), picking out campgrounds while the scenery of Central Mass blew past us. Alyssa got a little nostalgic of having done the drive so many times to get to UMass, so we put on Alanis Morrisette to complete the picture. We made it as far as Charlemont, home of Berkshire East - where I had my first skiing accident - before settling in at Country Aire campground. We set up camp, and settled down for the evening. Still full from our burrito lunch, we passed on dinner.

The next morning, we woke early and made the decision to stay put for a second night, rather than take an incremental step closer to our next destination on Long Island. So we took a morning swim in the campground pool, then headed into Shelburne Falls, a town my parents had dragged Bree and I to as children, and walked around town. We crossed the Bridge of Flowers and Alyssa lamented the decline of the rural small town as we walked past shuttered storefronts and run-down buildings. Our planned swim in the Glacial Potholes was cancelled due to a locked gate and reported police presence. But we grabbed lunch at the West End Pub, and did some quick camping shopping before taking the advice of some locals and heading to Sunburn Beach.

At the intersection of the Cold and Deerfield Rivers, Sunburn Beach is one of those idyllic swimming holes you think only exist in Mark Twain books. After a short walk down a overgrown path, we stepped out onto a rock beach and stepped into the frigid waters of the appropriately named Cold River. I let the current carry me downstream and looked up at the steel and concrete bridge that rose up over the Deerfield. At the rivers' junction, the Deerfield's waters ran warm, and we sat for a while, watching kids jump from fifteen feet up into water that seemed far too shallow for their hijinks, but they survived each time. This was one of those times where we wished we had the camera, but the mental pictures will just have to suffice.

Back at camp, we cooled off in the pool again, then made a gourmet dinner over a propane stove and had a nightcap while listening to the stream as it passed by our site. We retired early, knowing Thursday would be a long day of driving.

We woke the next day and packed up camp. Frustrated that her bathing suit was still  not dry, twelve hours after having last taken a dip, Alyssa made the executive decision to drop it in the trash and shop for one along the way. Knowing we would be rafting on Saturday, this put us on a tight timeline to acquire her another. We headed through North Adams and Williamstown before turning south on Rt. 7 through the Berkshires. Alyssa remarked at the beauty of a part of Massachusetts she had never taken the time to see, and I wondered why I had never spent more time there myself, being only an hour away in the 413 area code. We stopped briefly to stretch our legs on Monument Mountain, but kept going through Great Barrington into Connecticut.

The rural decline that Alyssa had lamented in Shelburne Falls was in full effect in Northwestern Connecticut. It seemed that every house we passed had a "for sale" sign in front, and some looked in less than sellable condition. It's sad to see the once prosperous mill towns struggling to survive on Walmart wages now. We made a couple of stops in Kent, a bit of a colonial oasis, including lunch at the Fife and Drum, where Dolph is still playing piano even though Peggy Lee told him he was nuts nearly 40 years ago. It makes sense if you go there...

After a couple of nature stops (no, not that kind of nature stop), we crossed the border into New York. Now I was reminiscing of having done that drive in my college days, so we had to have a representative soundtrack: Megadeth's Youthanasia serenaded Alyssa to sleep.

Finally on Long Island, we made an ill-advised trip to Target via GPS directions for bathing suit shopping. I got to point out the Nassau Colisseum to Alyssa ("I saw Rush there in college"), but no Target was found. Finally, after an hour of driving, we found Target, but no bathing suits. And none at Kohl's or Old Navy either. Apparently, by July, every woman has her bathing suit... Except those who throw them in the trash at their campsite. But Alyssa finally hit paydirt at Marshall's, and a couple of blocks later, we pulled into the driveway of Chris and Caroline Lomot and family for dinner and a night's stay.

Today we head to New Brunswick for some college cuisine at Stuff Yer Face before meeting up with a man named Cabbage for a rafting expedition in the land of Dirty Dancing. Can't wait!


  1. threw away your bathing suit because it was wet!?!? I believe wet is a normal state for a bathing suit.

  2. Andrew, I swear you should write a book based on this...we get very clear pictures of the Travels and hope you guys are doing well!!