Day 23 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways
Wow! I had an extremely active day sightseeing. I covered three different states, picked up a geocache, made several stops, and got soaked in the process. Yet another dreary day! After an excellent day on the Mohawk Trail of Massachusetts, I’m all alone in a campground blogging. It’s a little spooky by myself at this rustic spot. I’ll definitely be sleeping with my gun and bear mace tonight.
I wonder if no one is camping here due to the weather or due to its lacking facilities. I had hoped to find a campsite with electric now that I had left Vermont and was in Massachusetts. But no such luck! This is the most rural spot yet. Pit toilets only…no showers or electric. Regardless, the campground is beautiful. Hopefully I will arise to sunshine so I can capture some photos of the three ponds Pillsbury State Park.
Anyway, back to my day on the Mohawk Trail…
My first stop or perhaps I should say drive by was in Williamstown at Williams College. The campus buildings mixed with Gothic stone churches were picturesque. I arrived just as classes let out, so I got to check out the latest styles. Shorts with galoshes was the new look!
Mount Greylock State Reservation
I continued on the Mohawk Trail to Mount Greylock State Reservation. Ten miles of switch backs up a steep mountain road in the fog and rain was to lead me to the summit with magnificent views. I made it about half way and determined views were not an option. As such, the mutts and I pulled over for a hike. We trounced through the forest over wet rocks and leaves to Monkey Tree Falls for a 1.5 mile roundtrip.
Monkey Tree Falls
The trail descended down the hill first. I hoped the dogs wouldn’t be too tired for the return. Since no one was around and the trail was slick, I let them off the leash. For safety reasons related to both people and wildlife, I normally don’t do that. But I could tell Scout was going to drag me all the way, and it would be hard to keep my balance with a sprained ankle on slick rock. The dogs had a blast, and the falls were definitely worth the trip.
Highway 2 – Hairpin Turn
After maneuvering the road around Mount Greylock, I returned to the Mohawk Trail to face a hairpin turn…and hairpin turn it was…180 degrees. When the road first opened, cars ascending the mountain used to overheat and their radiators would boil over upon reaching this turn. The car owners would get water from the restaurant here, which is still in business today.
Normally, hang gliders use this area as a launching point and the views are magnificent, but today all I saw was fog and a geocache. I felt like I was sticking out like a sore thumb, walking around in the rain looking in the guard rail for a hidden container. Now I’m one state closer to my goal of caching in every state.
Continuing east on Mohawk Trail, I drove over several mountain passes. the next one being Whitcomb. As I descended into a gorge on the other side, I found Hoosac Tunnel. The Hoosac Tunnel was considered the engineering marvel of its day. A five-mile-long railroad route, the tunnel took 25 years to build and cost almost 200 lives to open travel between Boston and Albany.
Just on the east side of the Whitcomb summit, I spied a historical marker sign in the fog. I pulled off the road for the marker since it has been a week or two since my last historical marker roadside visit. Out of the fog came a golden elk! The statue was erected in 1928 and commemorates the brothers of the Massachusetts Elk Association who lost their lives in the World War.
Continuing eastward on the Mohawk Trail, I arrived at Charlemont which maintains a strong Mohawk presence. A statue of a Mohawk brave, “Hail to the Sunshine” can be found in a small park to the west of town, while to the east of town, Tribal Groups from all over the Northeast gather at Indian Plaza. While I didn’t anticipate seeing any Indians swapping stories and performing dances in the rain, I was still curious to see what the Plaza looked like. It was a little more commercialized than I expected!
Further to the east on the Mohawk Trail, I stopped in one of my favorite places of the day, Shelburne Falls. What a cute town…and much bigger than I expected. In fact, many times on this trip, when I have expected a town of three buildings, it has been quite large, and when I have expected a large, thriving town, it has been quite small. As a result, I have been constantly surprised.
Shelburne Falls’ main street is lined with restaurant featuring clam chowder. Some are award winning. The town also features two special attractions. The first is located at the base of Salmon Falls where the Indians used to fish for salmon. Swirling waters create potholes in Ice Age boulders. The potholes range in size from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter, the latter being the largest pothole in the world.
The other attraction is the 400 foot Bridge of Flowers that spans Deerfield River. It was originally built for trolley cars, but now displays flowers along its walls for a beautiful walking path across the river.
Shelburne Falls offered many geocaching opportunities as well, but my feet were soaked, so I went in search of a campground. I had hoped Northfield Mountain Recreational and Environmental Center would have a spot, but it was closed, so I turned north to New Hampshire.
The fall colors in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire glistened in the rain. I pulled over countless times to get some pictures, but I’m still not doing the foliage justice! The best photographic opportunities are the ones as I crest over the mountain top where pull outs aren’t available or by the telephone lines which I don’t want in my picture. Yes, my friend Kris could edit out the lines, but I wouldn’t have the patience. Oh, and if I were Bill right now, I’d have about 3,000 photos!
Each time I think of Kris and Bill, I’m reminded of our African Safari which triggers my thoughts on wildlife. Today, I saw some geese and two turkeys. I didn’t know turkeys could run so fast! It was kind of funny to watch. I also failed to mention three deer I saw the other day. Thankfully only one of the three jumped in front of VANilla…the other two waited until I passed. Since I began my trip across the USA a few weeks ago, I believe my count stands at 17 deer and one GIANT lobster on top of a restaurant!
Speaking of unique roadside attractions, a few days ago in Vermont, I passed by a cemetery honoring the soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. I believe a private individual created the site. There were two large stones displaying the number of deaths in each war, and every few inches a small white flag like ones used by surveyors marked the ground. I regret having not snapped a photo, but the site was both so surprising and moving, that it didn’t even occur to me at the time. I felt I should pay my respects to those who have fought for the freedom of our country.
Now at the campgrounds, I’m off to try to warm up…ETB.
Map of My Road Trip Across the USA
For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.
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