Touring the Berkshires, Vermont and New Hampshire

Published: August 27th 2012
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June 16
Leaving Maryland, our next destination: the Berkshires in Massachusetts, about an eight hour relaxing drive from Maryland if you are not traveling with Destination Dave. After leaving the congestion of routes I-95, the Garden State Parkway and 84 we took route 7 north of Danbury, CT and began what I had hoped was a lovely drive along one of my favorite New England roads. Destination Dave needed decompressing from his big city driving experience to morph into It's The Journey Dave but I enjoyed my portion of this peaceful trip when I was behind the wheel“up” memory lane in spite of my occasional white knuckles.
The Thaddeus Clapp House Bed and Breakfast in Pittsfield, MA was a comfortable, well appointed old mansion convenient to Stockbridge and Lenox, where we planned to explore the many wonderful historic sites for the next three days. Our hostess informed us that we had arrived in time for “Third Thursday” a street fair and farmer's market just blocks from the inn. We had a light supper at Patrick's Pub, a local favorite, and were entertained by Rakish Paddy, an authentic sounding Irish band complete with Irish drumming, penny whistle and an amazing violinist, a great way to begin our tour of the Berkshires.
June 17
The Mount, Edith Wharton's turn of the century estate was on our next day's agenda. Her “cottage” and gardens overlook beautiful views of the nearby woods and the Berkshire hills. Wharton was not only a talented writer and intellect, she also showed her skills in architecture, landscape and interior design at a time when women were not respected for their talents. Her niece Beatrix Farrand oversaw the design of the walled gardens but what impressed me above all was the wooded landscape surrounding the estate. Fern, myrtle and native ground covers carpeted the forest floor and the rich deciduous canopy provided habitat for the migrating song birds that summer in this region. The combination of a beautifully maintained woodland surrounding formal gardens and a gorgeous “cottage” is pure heaven.
June 18
Birthday Day! I am already in “garden heaven” and enjoying the refreshingly cool New England days. The Norman Rockwell Museum in Lenox was a short drive from our Bed and Breakfast and our first stop. Rockwell's art is a feel good trip down memory lane and the docents provide a window into the lovely soul of this great American artist. A visit to Chesterwood, home of Daniel Chester French, the sculptor most famous for the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, gave us a look into his creative world of sculpture and whimsy. Extensive woodland paths surrounding the home and studios are punctuated with his aforementioned lighter side including a wooden chair that would have made Edith Ann feel right at home. For a special trip down memory lane we went into Stockbridge for lunch at the iconic Alice’s Restaurant (now Theresa’s Stockbridge Cafe) and paid homage to Arlo Gutherie’s historic “Garbage Trail.” Last but not least, we toured the magnificent gardens and home of Naumkeag with its famous Fletcher Steele designed terraced Blue Steps flanked by a descending grove of white birches, fulfilled a long-time desire to study the gardens of one of my mentors. My wonderful birthday ended with a fantastic dinner (including an amazing appetizer of sweet fresh anchovies atop organic roasted red pepper) at the romantic Trattoria Rustica, an authentic Italian gem in Pittsfield.
June 19, Father's Day
Next morning we left our B&B early to explore Mount Greylock in northern Massachusetts. On the drive up the mountain we decided to hike part of the Appalachian trail. It was so beautiful and tempting to continue but we had planned to see the Clark Museum in Williamstown, MA so we decided to return next year to commit some time to hiking the A.T. In all the years I lived in New England I never got around to visiting The Clark. After my visit I realized what a mistake I had made and will definitely put this wonderful museum on my itinerary for future trips north. Williams College has their own art museum with a fine reputation of its more thing to look forward to when we return. We left The Clark as it was closing then drove into Bennington, VT looking for a place to have dinner ending up eating on the river in Willmington closer to the Inn at Mt Snow where we had reservations for that evening. We were extremely delighted with our well appointed room at the inn that had a gas fireplace and a huge picture window overlooking the mountain. Glenda, our hostess couldn't have been more delightful and if we are ever near here again we will be sure to return.
June 20
In the morning we drove to Manchester, Vermont to tour Hildene, the former home of Robert Todd Lincoln. This lovely 22 room Georgian Revival mansion is perched on top of 412 acres overlooking formal gardens, pastureland and the Green Mountains beyond. We drove back into Manchester Center for lunch at the Equinox Golf Club, where Dave spent most of his time focusing on the golfers rather than his lunch. After an uneventful shopping trip through Manchester we headed towards New Hampshire but I had to take a trip down memory lane in Newfane where I remember going to a wonderful bluegrass festival many years ago. This quaint little village with its white steepled court house and charming town green is like a step back in time, not much has changed in 35 years.
Week Three:
June 21-25
We began our third week in Nelson, NH visiting grandbabies, family and friends, touring gardens and keeping the home fires burning (the weather dipped into the 40s at night, not comfortable for Florida skin). In the middle of our week-long NH stay I took a trip to the coast with some friends to view three very special private gardens in and around York Harbor. The gardens were outstanding perched over coves and the Atlantic and once again the combination of roses and salt water spray took my breath away.
Later in the week while walking little Phoebe around Granite Lake we were thrilled to see and later hear the call of a lone loon. We concluded our stay with a memorable family dinner at Luca's in Keene, where I had sauteed scallops on a delicious bed of mashed rutabagas. (I still can't help recalling wonderful meals). It was so nice to share good times with little Phoebe, Mandy, Doug and all my good friends up north.
June 26 - 27
Leaving Nelson, we drove north to Laconia, NH to visit with our friends who had tickets for us for a special luncheon in Meredith at the Inns and Spa at Mill Falls to benefit the Loon Preservation Society. Meredith is a lovely little New England town on beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee, my old stomping grounds. The following day we enjoyed boating on Lake Winnisquam with a special aim to see the loon nesting habitat at the far end of the lake. We were in luck for the nesting pair of loons provided quite a show. One loon even followed us home! In the evening we enjoyed the company of baby Rhys and Stephanie who joined us as we ate overlooking the lake.


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