Posted by: rachelanne229 | August 26, 2010

Road Trip Extravaganza 2010 Day 5!

10 August 2010


Day 5: Onto the Berkshires

Dee and I left the Mitchells around 9:30 or so, after another hearty breakfast of Aunt Ellen’s granola, blueberry muffins, and multivitamins, of course.  The dear also packed us a lunch of turkey sandwiches and chopped carrots.  Our first stop after departure was to the post office; we needed postcard stamps.  Next we went to Wegman’s, where we purchased many delicious and healthy foods to sustain us for the day.

nom nom

Actually, the carrots are from Aunt Ellen and the blueberries were picked with Aunt Jane, so our only contribution was the Reese’s.  And if you know either Dee or me…duh.  We also picked up a bunch of s’mores and hotdog fixin’s for our impending evening camping in the Mohawk Trail State Forest.  Finally, we made a 10 am stop at a liquor store; I wanted a bottle of wine from NY, dammit!  My purchase was an $8 dessert wine, which was significantly more than I usually spend on wine, because wine is gross, so I was pleased.  Now: back to Massachusetts!

The road was long and arduous, but our spirits were bright and we trucked along.  Somewhere in New York, Grafton I believe, we took a screeching right turn, while Nigel (the insistent, yet lovable) Tom-Tom, sputtered mightily.  The words “Peace Pagoda” caught my eye and I would not be deterred.  The path to the Peace Pagoda took us on a winding road into the boonies, but Dee and I know exactly how to deal with the boonies, and it was a sunny day, so we didn’t care.  We were two explorers marking the uncharted territory of New England!  Actually, at this point we couldn’t have told you what state we were in, but that’s not the point.  Our windy road turned into a dirt road and Deidre pulled out the camera to take some video, because we have seen WAY too many horror flicks, and knew that for blockbuster purposes, we need to take some quality video of our last moments in case we were chainsaw massacred or the like.  Unfortunately, the Peace Pagoda turned out to be too peaceful, and we put the camera away.  We’d have to hike into it, and didn’t want to risk the ticks.  The exploration was fun while it lasted.

Now onto bigger and better things, like camping in the wilds of western Mass!  But first we had to survive more windy roads.  We got back on track and eventually found ourselves screaming around (OK, I was going 5 mph)  this hairpin turn somewhere near Florida, MA.

home of the death-defying hairpin turn

The grades of the roads were steep, the views were long, and we were really high up.  I needed a “break to view the scenery.”  Yeah, that’s what we’ll call it.  We pulled off onto this bumpy gravelly pull-out.  The next moments were tense, and went something like this:

Rachel: “Shit, I can smell brakes, I hope nothing’s wrong with the car.”

Deidre: “Shut up and stop worrying, there’s no brakes smell.”

Rachel: “You don’t know what I smell, and I smell friggin brakes!  Stop arguing with everything I say; actually, just don’t talk at all.  FRIGGIN A!  I am the elder sister, and therefore I am prettier and wiser and much funnier, and your opinion has no bearing in anything we do.”  (ok, maybe I just made up that last sentence, but I was surely thinking it.)

Deidre: “You’re crazy, can we go now?” (And I’m pretty sure she threw in other choice words, but I will leave them out for posterity’s sake :P)

bundle of joy

That is the G-rated version of it, anyhow.  Despite this exchange, we managed to take some pictures in which we look quite sisterly and affable.  After my feet had been on firm ground for a few minutes, I stopped being afraid of this death-defying drive, and we carried on.

"ok i posed, can we please get the heck out of here now?"


affable again

the faithful "Blueberry," brakes ok.

Next stop: FIREWOOD!  By now we had been driving pretty much all day and were getting a little antsy to find the Mohawk.  We saw a sign for cheap firewood and pulled into the driveway of this seemingly legit firewood place.  Something was eerie tho, something was off.  Our horror movie-driven minds were cranking again.  It was just too quiet.  This place had a big garden growing in the back that you could see from the road.  Stalks of corn?  This could easily be the locale of a horror movie.  I dropped Dee off by the piles of firewood, $2 for split logs, and free kindling and paper, while I scoped out the perimeter.  There was no general entrance to the building on site, and it in fact turned out to be a conglomeration of several apartments.  There was a handwritten sign scribbled on a piece of paper, telling us that if we needed assistance, to go to apartment such and such.  I grabbed Dee and we went in.  She thought it was a bad idea, but the allure of knocking on a stranger’s apartment door out in the sticks was too strong; we were in too deep now to turn around!

We entered the building and walked down the hall.  We found apartment such and such.  We knocked.  A old man opened the door and lunged at my face.  He was only drunk tho, and a little uneasy on his feet.  The curtains were covered with blankets and the room was dark.  An old lady babbled at him from the background.  All I could think of was the Princess Bride scene with that old couple, but I managed to say, “We’re getting one bundle of firewood—can we pay you here?” “Yeah, OK….”

I asked him where the Mohawk Trail State Forest was, and he said he thought it was a little ways down the road.  Well, that was anticlimactic.  Yet again, we had no basis for a horror movie.  We loaded up the Blueberry’s trunk with firewood, that we later found out was illegal to bring into the state park, and tried not to knock over the old suitcase and flea-market-esque stuff he was selling on the side of the road as we made our way deeper into the woods.  We were getting hungry!

Before we knew it, we were pulling into the Mo, as I like to call it, and checking in.  We found our campsite, and set up the tent (that Dee had bought for her boyfriend’s birthday so we could “borrow” it on this trip) in 10 minutes flat.  We’re from MAINE, baby!


Dee is doing work


We then changed into our bathing suits and run/scrabbled down a steep embankment to the river we were promised in the online write-up of the Mo.  On our way, I found a little orange salamander.  I couldn’t resist and had to pick him up and examine.

who doesn't love an amphibian?

Soon, we found ourselves at the river, and were pleasantly surprised to find a deep pool, all to ourselves!  We stood on rocks and made Charlie’s Angels shadows.

we need practice

high five!

We waded up and downstream.  We jumped in the water and pretended to swim laps in our personal pool.  It was heavenly.  The cares of the day floated away on down that river, and we laughed and splashed and jumped.


jumper extraordinaire

plugging my nose

hey, this is fun

really fun

and peaceful

But then we were HUNGRY!  We walked back up to the campsite and Dee got busy making a fire while I got busy searching for and sharpening sticks with which to roast our supper.

fire pro

stick pro


Dee had the fire crackling in no time at all, and soon we were on our way to finishing off an entire package of hotdogs.  I realize how disgusting this feat is now, but at the time we were quite proud.  After so many hotdogs, we could only eat a single s’more each, but it sure was delicious.  Before it started to get dark, we had to pack away all our food/cosmetics/toiletries/and clothes worn while cooking into the trunk of the car so bears wouldn’t ravage our campsite in the middle of the nite.

The rest of the evening we sat at the picnic table next to the campfire.  We talked about everything under the sun, sang songs our mom used to sing all the time when we were kids, and fought a little over whether the correct lyrics were “moondust in your hair” or not, and generally cracked up.  We sang rounds and looked at the stars and reminisced,  got creeped out by the guy who walked by our site 25 times, and laughed about the drunk high schoolers next to us who were well on their way to starting a massive forest fire.

We saved a toad that had been in the road and almost jumped in the campfire from almost certain death, explored our scientific curiosity by examining a glowing slug creature, and cranked up my LED light and flashed it around, searching for bears that might ravage our campsite and provide footage for the next great horror movie.  We closed our eyes and prayed and reflected, and felt thankful for our lives and our opportunity to spend time with each other.  We each had a “moment” to ourselves in which we thought our thoughts and felt good and peaceful.  These moments may have been my favorite of the trip.

a cool shot, potential horror movie material

Before it got too late, we settled into our tent.  We didn’t have a pad to put under us, so we had nothing but our sleeping bags and a blanket between us and the rocky ground.  To ward off any bears that did decide to ravage our campsite, I had mace, my Swiss army knife, and a lighter handy.  Dee wished I had brought a Taser, and we both wished our dad was there to ward off bears, cougars, yetis, etc.  We slept for a couple hours, then didn’t sleep anymore after about 3 am.  I unzipped the window of the tent by my head and smelled the night air and looked at the blackness, and waited for dawn.

Next: the hike of doom (for Dee) and the 3-state day.


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