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yk + family annual Summer trip to Berkshires, MA Aug 2023

yk + family annual Summer trip to Berkshires, MA Aug 2023

Old Sep 5th, 2023, 10:38 AM
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yk
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yk + family annual Summer trip to Berkshires, MA Aug 2023

Hi all, me and my family (our son is now 10.5) take a vacation to the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts every summer. This year is our 9th consecutive year going, even during the pandemic year of 2020. You might think we would have exhausted all the things to do out there by now, but as our son gets older, we are finding new places to go, as well as revisiting some old favorites.

This year we stayed for 1 week, at our usual rental. This is a home in Richmond where we have been renting since 2020. It fits our needs perfectly and the owner is a delight to work with.

Weather-wise, it has been a very wet summer in New England, especially in the Berkshires, but at least it was cooler. (last year was hot and very dry).

Day 1 (Wednesday)
We were hoping for an early start but my son had a makeup swim lesson that morning, so we didn't depart until 11am. Traffic on MassPike was rather nightmarish; lots of 18-wheelers and people tailgating. This was one of the more stressful drives I've had. We drove straight to our son's favorite restaurant, Starving Artist Cafe in Lee, for lunch. We found out the hard way last year that apparently they close for summer vacation (they were closed the entire time we were there last summer). Luckily this year their vacation started a few days later, so we could still go. We really enjoy their crepes.

After lunch, we had a little time to kill so we drove over to Chesterwood. Every summer they hold an outdoor sculpture exhibition by a single artist. This year's work was (IMHO) less interesting that past years.

Then went to our rental to unload, plus grocery shopping at Stop n Shop in Pittsfield. There is also a very nice farmstand enroute that we stop for produce every summer. Dinner of fresh corn, Caprese salad, and chicken noodle soup was served on the lovely deck at our rental. That evening I went to Tanglewood by myself for a concert by my favorite classical music group Danish String Quartet.

Day 2 (Thursday)
Today was one of the cooler days during our weeklong stay, so we chose to hike up Monument Mountain in Great Barrington. We climbed it 2 summers ago and back then I was a bit worried if my son could keep up. This time, I was worried if *I* could keep up with him We were done by lunch time so we drove home and ate lunch at home. After a brief rest, we headed over to Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield. The last time we visited it was 2019 so it was nice to revisit and refresh our memories.

Once again we ate dinner at home. Our host had left us ingredients for s'mores so we fired up the fire pit outside and made some smores for dessert.

Day 3 (Friday)
It was supposed to be a rainy day, so I planned (mostly) indoor activities all new to us. We drove over the NY border to visit the Martin Van Buren National historic site in Kinderhook, NY. If you recall my other TRs with my son, you may remember that we usually go on historic trips. After this visit, we have visited the homes of 6 of the first 8 presidents of the US. Not too many people have heard of Martin Van Buren. He bought the house when he was in office, planning it to be a place to retire. You can only visit the interior by guided tour, and there is a limit of # of people per tour. The tour is informative of course. My son earned a junior ranger badge after completing the activities.

Our next stop is the Bronck House Museum in Coxsackie, NY. It is the oldest surviving house in upstate NY. On this Friday morning, we were the only 3 people in the tour group, and our docent, who has been working there for 50 years (!), is extremely knowledgable. It was a cool house to see, as you can see the subsequent additions built by later generations, so it's like walking through a time tunnel.

We stopped for lunch at a nearby Greek restaurant, Pegasus on Rt 9W, and the food was remarkably good.

Our final stop that day in NY was the Museum of Firefighting in Hudson, NY. It is far bigger than I had expected, with lots of artifacts. Not just historic firetrucks, but artifacts dating back to the very early days of arrival of colonialists. Lots of history on firefighting as well. One easily could spend hours there. FWIW, I think it probably rained more in MA but over in NY state, we stayed mostly dry save for a brief shower at the Bronck Museum.

We got home in time for quick dinner, then I once again went out to Tanglewood that evening, this time for the Boston symphony. A friend of mine from Boston area was also spending 10 days out there (work vacation) and she joined me at the concert.

Day 4 (Saturday)
This morning the sun was out and we met up with said friend for a morning hike at Mahanna Cobble in Pittsfield. The hike is fairly steep and you get a small glimpse of a view at the summit. For those who love hiking, Mahanna Cobble is the starting (or ending) point of the new10-mile High Road that links Pittsfield with Lenox. I'm not sure if we will ever go hike this (10 miles is a lot, and it's only 1-way). We saw quite a few red-spotted efts on this hike.

We invited my friend over to our place for sandwich lunch. This was followed by a much-needed rest and nap, as we geared up for Tanglewood's annual Film Night with John Williams. Our rental is a 12-minute drive to Tanglewood, and we left at 5pm. We were stuck in traffic for about 15 minutes. Our friend, who was staying in Great Barrington, got there 10 minutes after us, and she ended up stuck in traffic / parking hell for close to an hour! Even though the concert starts at 8pm, when we went through the gate at 5:30pm, half of the lawn was already full. Later on we heard stories that people were stuck in traffic for over 2 hours just to cover 1 mile. It was one of the rare beautiful summer evenings (for this summer).

We had shed tickets and great view of the screen. The audience member next to us showed up at intermission after being stuck in traffic for 2 hours. He had come all the way from Indiana to see John Williams. The 3 of us left at the end of the announced program, in order to beat the crowd. My son was getting tired and I didn't want to get stuck in traffic. We were able to get out fairly quickly, while listening to the encores via radio broadcast in the car. My friend who stayed until the end, said it took her 30 minutes to get out of the parking lot.

Day 5 (Sunday)
Beautiful weather today (which has been very rare this summer), and we drove over to Pittsfield for a bike ride on theAshuwillticook rail trail. We have rode the rail trail the past 2 summers, but in sections only. The entire trail is 13.7 miles, with a new 1-mile segment in Pittsfield that opened last summer. This time we rode the entire trail out-and-back in one setting (27.4 miles). Since the trail is fairly flat, it was doable for me. We had packed sandwich lunch with us and we ate it at the Adams end by the Adams Visitors center. We like stopping there for lunch because the visitors center has bathroom facilities, water-filling station, as well as picnic tables outside.

Needless to say, we didn't do much the rest of the day. With rainy forecast predicted for the next 2 days, I dragged the family over to Laurel Lake for sunset after dinner. It was okay.

to be continued...
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Old Sep 5th, 2023, 05:28 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to share this, yk. Wonderful that you have found a great house. More soon please!
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Old Sep 7th, 2023, 05:28 AM
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Day 6 (Monday)
One of the new-to-us activities we tried last summer was the Aerial Adventure Park at Catamount Ski Resort. Our son loved it and was looking forward to returning this year. Since catamount is only open Thursday Monday, today was our only day we could go (as we were departing on Wednesday). I pre-booked our tickets online the night before for Monday morning.

Well, we woke up to somewhat drizzly skies; the website did say they are open rain or shine, so off we went. When we arrived 40 minutes later, we found out they decided to close for the day due to weather. Turns out they had tried to call me and left a VM, but there is zero cell service at our rental house so I didn't get the VM until half-way there. Since I was driving, I didn't listen to the VM right away. Our son was so disappointed that he started to cry. Luckily I found out that the other Aerial Park at Jiminy Peak is open 7 days a week, so I promised him we would go to that one the following day.

Since we drove all the way to Catamount, we decided to make a quick stop at nearby Bash Bish Falls. We've been there twice in the last 2 summers, but since we had much more rain this summer I suggested it's worth checking out. After a quick hike there, we drove home for lunch.

The rain mostly held off for the rest of the day, so we went to Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary in nearby Lenox for an easy hike. This is another place we've been a number of times; the last time we visited was October 2021. A microburst went through the sanctuary last summer, causing a lot of damage and closure. This year we saw some newly re-built trails, accessible broad walks, and were able to witness all the downed trees from last year.

That evening we went out for a rare dinner out at a newish restaurant in Lenox, Cello. We don't normally go out esp for dinner because I often find places booked up months in advance, and of course in the early years of the pandemic, we were less inclined to do indoor dining.

Day 7 (Tuesday)
The weather forecast was still calling for showers but we went ahead to Jiminy Peak for the aerial park. We arrived around 10:40am, and despite the park being open at 10am, we were the first customers of the day. My guess is being a Tuesday with iffy weather deterred a lot of people from going. We had a lot of fun doing the courses; the ticket is good for 2 hours and I think that was plenty enough for us. More people came after 11am. For us novice, being there with few people around is more fun and less stressful. Because only 1 person is allowed on each activity, if there are lots of people behind you waiting for their turn, it gets stressful!

We lucked out with the weather as it started raining steadily when we were heading home. We spent the afternoon relaxing at home and watching the weather, before all of us heading to Tanglewood for our final concert there of the week Tanglewood-on-Parade. Tanglewood-on-Parade starts at 2pm with lots of events throughout the day, but we didn't want to get rained on. We got there around 5pm, and it had some light shower on-and-off for a bit (we brought umbrellas) though it stayed dried for most of the concert. My friend also joined us. The fun part of the parade is fireworks at the end of the concert and the rain did hold off for that.

Day 8 (Wednesday)
It was time to head home, and of course the sun came out and a glorious day. We didn't want to do more hiking, and my son reluctantly agreed to go to Clark Art Museum for the Munch exhibition (he has very little interest in art museums). We didn't get there until noon so we first ate lunch at the cafe, then to the exhibition. Afterwards, we took a short hike up the hill (Clark has a number of hiking trails on its property) before driving home the long way on Route 2. Normally we would stop at Bridge of Flowers at Sherburne Falls but we were pretty tired and I got vetoed.

That's it folks. Thanks for reading!
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Old Sep 7th, 2023, 05:37 AM
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i'm glad you had another good Berkshire vacation and that your son got his aerial park tour and crepes meal.

We visited the Bronck museum last fall and agree that the history is very interesting.

What are the early presidential homes you haven't visited yet?
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Old Sep 7th, 2023, 05:56 AM
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And how was the Munch exhibit? It's on our try-to-do-this-fall list
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Old Sep 7th, 2023, 06:34 AM
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Great trip report! Love the Berkshires and Tanglewood and the Clark and have spent much time there. Maybe next time you can take in a show at Barrington Stage in Pittsfield or at Shakes & Co in Lenox. Other favorite things to do are Mass Moca in North Adams and the Wiliams College Museum of Art, the Edith Wharton home and gardens, the Norman Rockwell Museum. We once rented a place in Jiminy Peak for a week but it was in late June and they were slowly gearing up for their summer season.
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