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yk+family annual Summer trip to Berkshires, MA, Aug 2022

yk+family annual Summer trip to Berkshires, MA, Aug 2022

Old Aug 14th, 2022, 12:50 PM
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yk
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yk+family annual Summer trip to Berkshires, MA, Aug 2022

Hello, some of you may recall that our family take an annual trip to the Berkshire Hills in Western Massachusetts every summer. We have been going since 2015 when our son was 2.5. This summer was his 8th summer there. This time we stayed for 8 nights, our longest stay yet. Our son is now 9.5, so the activities we do now are evolved quite a bit since 8 years ago. Having said that, there are a number of old favorites which we revisit almost every year, while we also get to explore new places/experiences as his interests/abilites change.

We rented a house, a house we've rented since summer 2020. We love this home; the owner is super nice, and the house has everything we need. Especially since the pandemic, having a house where we can prepare meals is crucial, as we don't really want to deal with the stress of eating out. Restaurants are overwhelmed by the return of tourists; they are short staffed, outdoor seating is limited (and weather-dependent).

Day 1 (Saturday)
We arrived just after 1pm; I had packed enough food in the car so we could quickly make sandwiches without needing to stop at the supermarket first. Since my husband was going to Tanglewood for a concert that evening, we decided to go for a short hike that's nearby Canoe Meadows Wildlife Sanctuary in Pittsfield by MassAudubon. It's not very big with only 3 miles of trails. We covered everything in one hour. On the way home we stopped at Stop n Shop to stock up the pantry/fridge.

Day 2 (Sunday)
We started out day at Naumkeag joining their annual "Rocket Club." We happened to be around for Rocket Club last year and lucked out again this year. It's super fun a model rocket enthusiast brought his huge selection of rockets and launched them one after another; each has its very own characteristics. Afterwards we toured the gardens at Naumkeag, which this year hosted an exhibition of George Rickey's sculptures.

We swung by High Lawn Farm to get several of their ice cream pints (lines for ice cream window were always long), then went home for lunch and quick change before the whole family set off for Tanglewood's Sunday afternoon concert at 2:30pm. This particular afternoon featured Paul Lewis playing Beethoven's PC No.5. He played all 5 concertos in one weekend, and my husband went to one the night before. After the concert, we headed home for dinner, before I set off solo back to Tanglewood's Ozawa Hall, this time for a concert by the Tanglewood Music Center Orchestra.

Day 3 (Monday)
As the week was predicted to get progressively hot, today we drove all the way to NY State near Schenectady to explore its bike trails. This was partially inspired by a NYT article about the 750-mile Empire State Trail which goes both E-W (Buffalo - Albany) and N-S (NYC - Canada). With some help from fellow Fodorites, we parked at Lions Park in Niskayuna and started there. TBH, i didn't find the trail particularly interesting nor scenic, but we passed by one of the canal locks (Lock 7) and it was in operation when we arrived, so we got to see the lock opening and we chatted with the operator. We went 4 miles West of Lions Park and 2 miles east, for a total of 12 miles. We could have gone farther but it was much warmer on the west side of the Berkshire Hills.

We were hoping to hit up our favorite eatery, The Starving Artist Crepery in Lee, for a late lunch. When we arrived, we found out they were closed for summer break for 12 days, which meant we would not be able to eat there at all during our stay. That was a huge disappointment as we go there every year. We ended up getting pizza from Betty's Pizza in Lenox.

Day 4 (Tuesday)
We drove south to almost MACT border to hike Bartholomew's Cobble, which is managed by The Trustees. We ran across a barred owl, which was super cool as we've never seen an owl up close in the wild! One of the trails lead to top of Hurlburt's Hill, which is right on the border, and has a magnificent 180degree view. Well worth the climb.

We had packed sandwich lunch, so we drove to Berkshire Botanical Garden where we know they have picnic tables. I think we've gone to BBG every single year. They have an outdoor sculpture exhibition each summer which we enjoy seeing.

After a quick change back at home, we headed to Tanglewood around 4pm, as today is their Annual Tanglewood on Parade event. This is the first time we attended Tanglewood on Parade. They have numerous concerts featuring the students throughout the day, also face-painting for the kids. We found a spot on the Lawn that provides us with a good view of the screen outside the Shed, but also a good view opposite for fireworks viewing. We wandered around the campus for a while, and got food from the cafe (burgers). If you ask my son, the highlights were 1) seeing John Williams conduct excerpts from Harry Potter, and 2) fireworks after the concert. He asked to return for Tanglewood on Parade next year.

T0 be continued...
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Old Aug 15th, 2022, 02:17 AM
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It's wonderful to have found a perfect house to rent in an area you love.
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 07:13 AM
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George Rickey installation at Naumkeag

Lock No.7 on Erie Canal

View from Bartholomew's Cobble

This view from Tanglewood never gets old
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 07:47 AM
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Day 5 (Wednesday)
My son has been asking to go to one of those Zipline adventure parks for almost a year now, and I promised we will check one out this summer in the Berkshires. There are a handful of places but turns out the hours are quite limited, so we ended up going to Catamount Resort right on the border of MA/NY. But because tickets are limited, I could only reserve afternoon spots.

Therefore, in the morning, we went to the Copake Iron Works at the Taconic State Park in NY. We actually were in the vicinity the year before when we hiked at Bash Bish Falls, but at that time I didn't know about the Iron Works. It's not a very big area, and it's self-guided (they do have guided tours on weekends). The visitors center has a video on history of the Iron Works. The biggest attraction is the giant furnace. They also have a printed brochure with a historic walking trail, but we didn't do it. Instead, we went back for a hike to Bash Bish Falls. With this year's drought, the Falls is much less impressive than last.

From there, it was a short drive over to Catamount Resort. We arrived slightly early, so we ate our picnic lunch at one of the many outdoor picnic tables they have at the base lodge. Our tickets were for their Aerial Adventure Park. which is a "tree-top" adventure where they have aerial courses which consists of ropes, chains, narrow wooden platforms, ladders, and ziplines. We got a quick tutorial on how the harness and carabineers (interlocking links) work. It seemed rather overwhelming at first but after using them a few times you get a hang of it. The good thing is the place is not crowded; there's hardly anyone waiting behind us so we didn't feel rushed. We only did the easiest courses (yellow) which we found challenging enough for first-timers. Although they said any reasonably-fit person can go on this, it does require good upper body strength (which I lack). I probably should do some upper body weight training next year before we return. It was certainly fun (once I got over my fear of jumping off the zip line platform)!

That evening I returned to Tanglewood's Ozawa Hall to hear one of my favorite artists to perform the Danish String Quartet.

Day 5 (Thursday)
As the week progresses, it got hotter and hotter. We started our day at Chesterwood, one of the places we return every year. We really enjoy their annual contemporary sculpture exhibition. This year the artist uses mostly COR-TEN steel, but cut into it with very polished surface. The afternoon was so hot that we went to a nearby pond to swim.

That evening, we went out to dinner, except that a big rain storm opened up about an hour before our reservation (for the outdoor patio). Luckily the rain stopped just as we were arriving. After waiting about 10 minutes for the staff to dry off the tables and chairs, we had quite a lovely outdoor dinner. We ate at Jae's which is located inside the Hilton Garden Inn in Pittsfield.

Day 6 (Friday)
I reserved tickets at the Mass MOCA for the evening viewing of James Turrell's C.A.V.U. therefore the plan was to spend our day up near North Adams. But obviously we don't need to spend the entire day at the museum, so we loaded our bikes on the car and drove up to the Adams Visitors Center to ride the northern half of the Ashuwillticook rail Trail. We rode the entire trail last year (on 2 separate days). The trail is really nice though TBH the southern half is more scenic than the northern half.

The northern half (our definition) is from the Adams Visitors Center down to the northern tip of Cheshire reservoir. That half is 5.5 miles/11 miles r/t. One can go further north from Adams Visitors Center to the very end of the trail but that part isn't particularly interesting. The nice thing about parking at the Adams Visitors Center is they have bathroom facilities, plenty of parking, as well as picnic tables. We ate our packed sandwich lunch there after we finished our biking.

We arrived at Mass MOCA around 1:30pm. We also reserved tickets for James Turrell's Hind Sight as well as Perfectly Clear, even though we have done these before. The museum closes at 6pm while our C.A.V.U. dusk tickets are for 7:45pm. That gave us plenty of time to rest and got dinner at Door Prize, which is located right in the Mass MOCA entrance complex.

My son and I visited C.A.V.U. last Fall (October 2021) but my husband didn't that time, so that's the reason why we returned this time so he could see it. It was a bit of a let down this time because the oculus closed half-way during our visit. IMHO the experience is to view the changing lights in contrast to the open sky (via the oculus) as the sky gets dark. When we went in the Fall, the sky was still light when we started, but was quite dark when we left. This time, the sky was still light and then the oculus closed. At the end of our visit I asked the museum staff about this; he didn't seem very sure why but only said the oculus was preset at a certain time to close on its own.

To be continued...
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 08:29 AM
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Nice trip report. Glad you go to see Lock7 in operation... I can vividly recall the sound of the valves opening, then a clunk, then the gates start to open.

What was your impression of the Copake iron works? It was a 2nd half of the 19th century iron works that I've driven past countless times but never stopped.

The other iron works I've always wanted to see are the ones near the lower Hudson Valley - Fahnstock area on the east, and Sterling Forest on the west. Those were revolutionary war era mines and I don't think there are any structures left, but you can see remnants of the mines or other works hiking in those areas. Those were the source of the iron for the massive chains the Americans strung across the Hudson near West Point to prevent British ships from sailing up the Hudson.
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 09:34 AM
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As ever your level of organisation is impressive and puts me, if not the rest of us here, to shame yk.

And lovely to see m_yk looking so grown up!
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Old Aug 20th, 2022, 04:45 PM
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Did you see that small museum at Bartholomew's Cobble? They have some interesting Native American artifacts. From there you can see Bear Mountain, in CT, which is a good hike when m-yk is a little older.
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Old Aug 24th, 2022, 07:59 AM
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Copake iron works (with the blast furnace in the background)

Bash Bish falls with just a trickle of water due to drought

Chesterwood annual contemporary sculpture exhibition

On our way to view James Turrell's C.A.V.U. at Mass MOCA
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Old Aug 24th, 2022, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by J62 View Post
Nice trip report. Glad you go to see Lock7 in operation... I can vividly recall the sound of the valves opening, then a clunk, then the gates start to open.

What was your impression of the Copake iron works? It was a 2nd half of the 19th century iron works that I've driven past countless times but never stopped.

The other iron works I've always wanted to see are the ones near the lower Hudson Valley - Fahnstock area on the east, and Sterling Forest on the west. Those were revolutionary war era mines and I don't think there are any structures left, but you can see remnants of the mines or other works hiking in those areas. Those were the source of the iron for the massive chains the Americans strung across the Hudson near West Point to prevent British ships from sailing up the Hudson.
TBH, the Copake Iron Works was rather underwhelming. Maybe it will be more interesting to go during the weekends when there are guided tours. Around Boston area we have Saugus Iron Works which is from the 1600s and operated by the NPS, and they have demonstration of it at certain times of year. I find that more interesting. I'd say if one were in the area to visit Bash Bish Falls, then it's worth going around the corner to visit Copake Iron Works, but I wouldn't make a special trip out there just for this.

Originally Posted by Fra_Diavolo View Post
Did you see that small museum at Bartholomew's Cobble? They have some interesting Native American artifacts. From there you can see Bear Mountain, in CT, which is a good hike when m-yk is a little older.
Unfortunately we did not go visit the house (Ashley House, I think)? It was really quite hot and humid that day and we were ready to leave after 2 hours of hiking.
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Old Aug 25th, 2022, 06:36 AM
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Day 7 (Saturday)
Weather continues to be super hot and humid, so we only went out for a shaded hike in the morning at Basin Pond in Lee. It's a pretty easy 3-mile lollipop loop, completely shaded. Normally the trail passes over multiple streams (with big stepping stones for crossing), but with our drought, every single crossing was bone dry. We spent the afternoon back at the rental watching a movie, had dinner, then drove over to Laurel Lake in Lee for sunset. It wasn't the best sunset we've seen there but it was our last evening anyway.

Day 8 (Sunday)
I had bought Lawn Tickets for this afternoon's Tanglewood concert, however, I had forgotten this was also the "Redcoats and Rebels" weekend at Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge. My son and I have been visiting a lot of revolutionary war sites this past 6 months, so he really wanted to go to OSV to watch the re-enactment as well as the encampments. As a result, we packed up early and drove to OSV for it. It was a hot day and I felt so sorry for the re-enactors, not only they were wearing costumes, but also carrying heavy equipment and running back and forth on field for the re-enactment.

Thank you for reading and happy to answer any questions. We didn't get to as many places as I had hoped (eg explore more of the Hudson Valley area in NY; do more hiking) due to the heat, but hopefully we will be back next summer and can continue to look for new adventures.
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Old Sep 13th, 2022, 04:06 PM
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Enjoyed your TR, yk -- thanks for posting... I took notes. We'll be spending a long weekend in that area, mainly to see the Prenderghast works at Williams and also visiting Susan B Anthony's homestead. Maybe the creperie will be open when we are in the area!
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