Friday, October 2, 2009

THEY''RE BAAACK !!! (Autumn Leaves)

"Hello, my name is Kathy and I'm a Leaf Peeper"...the group of like-minded, similarly afflicted people, eating stale donuts and drinking bad coffee at this Leaf-Peeper Anonymous meeting, will acknowledge me with a mumbled and unified "Hi Kathy". While I know leaf-peeping is a disease with no known cure, I crave a FIX every October when I "go back out", (as they say) to get my piece of Autumn for the year.

I LOVE AUTUMN LEAVES. There I said it. I am not ashamed. Vermonters hate me. Massachusetts drivers want me off the road. Even other Leaf Peepers are confused by my driving-parking-snapping habits and shy away from me.
I am the person who parks on a dangerous curve so I can trapse through knee-high field grass, tripping over snakes and logs, just to get a better angle on that double trunked red Maple against the spindly white birch branches over by the babbling brook.
I am the car you are angrily driving behind, going 20 mph in a 50 mph zone, who sticks her camera out the window clicking away to capture a mountain scene because she cannot park anywhere on the only road in town that gets workers from point A to B. Yes, no one loves to celebrate October more than I.
I will share with you a journey I took around Vermont and Massachusetts Friday. This route will take about 7 hours, and it is a perfect Autumn "Day Trip", covering all the New Englandy things you would want...covered bridges, small quaint towns, farms, mountains, barns, animals, trees, quilts, maple syrup stands, lakes, dams, waterfalls, brooks, ice cream, fudge, cheese shops, hayrides, antiques, pumpkins, apples,'s all here on this wonderful ride.

I stopped often to take photos, browse through country stores, get my ice cream and/or fudge, make restroom visits, and eat lunch and 7-8 hours is pretty accurate, even with a lot of stops.
The leaves are at 80% "peak" in some parts of VT (as of October 2) and some areas need one more week or two for the trees to get ripe...such as the upper Mohawk Trail. I like the red and orange trees which seem to come out last in the season.
HURRY HURRY! Autumn leaves turn so FAST! Book one of our rooms now 'n get yourselves up to Williamstown! In three weeks the leaves will fall and it will be OVER until next year! Be spontaneous! Don't miss out on the Berkshire Autumn experience!

Start your trip at 8:30am, just after breakfast. Take a right out of Brookside/Barnside, (left out of Pondside) and drive up rt 7 N towards Williamstown center. (2 miles)
At the rotary, follow signs for 2 East (Mohawk Trail) and stay on 2 East for about 4 miles, (passing through North Adams),
...until you see the left turn for Rte 8 N (Clarksburg)
Just as you start to climb the hill. Go 3/10 of a mile on Rte 8 N and you will see a sign on the right pointing to take a LEFT into McCauley Road for THE NATURAL BRIDGE STATE PARK. (Please read my earlier blog about this park before going.)
If you don't want to take 30 minutes to go thru the whole park, just drive up the dirt road, go up turn around the park visitor center lot and come back. You want to see the horseshoe of marble, then the mountain view on the way down.
If you only want a 5 minute peek, park your vehicle and just walk down the footpath across from the visitors center (a couple hundred feet or so) and look to the right at the only marble dam in the United States. Then jump back in your car and proceed back to rt 8 N to Clarksburg.
Cool blue-green color bridge on the left means you have entered Clarksburg.
There are great fields and mountain views in the distance. There is even Clarksburg State Park if you want to make a drive through.
Entering Vermont, Stamford has some scenic hidden beauties.
I enjoyed this field of horses. Made a friend along the journey.
I loved this red barn, then passed by it and took a photo from another angle.
Heartwellville is the next town. This is where we will connect to the infamous Rte 100 going North. One of the joys of traveling in Vermont is that there is usually a stream or brook that follows the road. Trees always look fabulous near water, and the water edge trees turn quicker than hill/dry land trees.
Here is a road in Heartwellville.
Readsboro welcomes you with a bridge and a flag over a babbling rocky brook. You pass by Atherton Meadows for a scenic ride.
Signs crop up that boast our next town, Whitingham, is the birthplace of Mormon leader Brigham Young. There is a monument for him in town, but I missed it this trip... darn...
I did like the hidden brook I found there, however.
I made a short side trip up CORSE ROAD, where there is a cow haven and numerous photo ops.
The wondercar entertained the cows, blasting hiphop music from the speakers.
One cow was following me, even down to the end of the fenced gate. I felt bad I had nothing to offer it but I pet it's nose.

Getting "Mooned" Vermont style!
Visited a small cemetary (Davidsons) on my way back down to rte 100. The graves have a spectacular view of the mountains. Most of them were from the early 1800s.
Back on Rte 100, I entered Jacksonville, VT.
Quaint Butcher Shop and General Store. A plumber was working on them when I passed by. Make a left in this town to stay on Rte 100.
Leaves were starting to fall off the early turners like dancing yellow feathers in the air. My science friend says the leaves turn first on the sick, weak and thirsty trees, but others can change too fast depending on soil and weather conditions.
On to our next town, Wilmington. This is where we will add Rte 9 West with Rte 100. It's a right turn in the middle of town.
Bought some maple syrup from a sweet little old lady at this farm stand.
The prices were a bit steep, but not as bad as the tourist traps charge.
This cow farm was set up along a hillside. Beautiful, but a photo would not do it justice. Here are the cows hanging out by the farmhouse. I passed a quaint meadow, brook and mountain scene.
Adams Family Farm is a theme park of sorts. There is a theater, hayride, cow milking, and petting zoo. There is a bulk entertainment price of $14.95 that covers a lot of the interactive stuff.
Nice picturesque red barn with horses.
Cute farm store with goat milk soap (even a picture of the critter that contributed), all the usual tourist items (priced HIGH).
I roamed through the quilts, yarns and needles, fudge (got me a piece of chocolate walnut), magnets and postcards, among other things.
These fancy grade maple syrups lined the windows. Fancy is Grade A and is very mild. Most folks prefer the Grade "B" syrup which is the 2nd boil of production and slightly darker caramel colored, more mapley tasting.
Next town was West Dover, where pretty woods and streams dotted the roadside.
Mount Snow is a ski resort area. Quite taller than Jiminy Peak, this compound spreads over many scenic acres.
The next town is Wardsboro.
I walked all over this meadow with tin statues of animals. There was a moose, deer, cat, squirrel and a fox (I think). Some more anatomical than others...
Stop in for a browse at the Wardsboro General Store ...after reading their bulletin board.
I got some bread, a cuppa java... and a delicious cookie. The homemade pies looked great too.
Be careful to check for the sign to turn left at the next street to stay on rte 100. Follow the road a short way, cross a bridge, then you will see a sign to get on Rte 30 South which in the East Jamaica area that goes down through a scenic group of towns in Vermont.
Some whimsical characters along the way mark the beginning of the Halloween season.
The first scenic town you find is West Townshend.
Stop at the Townshend Lake and Dam overlook.
It's a pullover made for stopping, but after a quick snap, take the drive over the thin see-thru floor bridge and get the REAL View on the left, a dazzling mountain passage.
On the right, the dam in it's glory.
Park and WALK (if you dare) over the see thru metal bridge.
Here is the view I saw beneath my designer hiking shoes... yes, I walked across that thin scary high bridge!
Further down the bridge road is a recreation area. Hike in there if you want, but hunters are in there, so wear some orange or red!
Still shaking from my walk over the thin metal see thru bridge, (It's wicked HIGH!), I got back into the Wondercar and drove down 30 S just a short ways until I came upon the first of two covered bridges.
The Scott Bridge is the longest single span covered bridge in VT. It spans 277 feet.
You cannot drive across this one, (it is blocked from car travel) so park and get out and walk inside. There is a certain "feeling" inside a bridge like this. You can sense the history there.
Just a short drive down the road, have a looksee in the Mary Meyer Stuffed Animal Store. Delightful creatures. Soft and fluffy.
Mary Meyer passed away in 1999, but the company is still in business after 75 years!
On the Green at Townshend, I stumbled upon a church group setting up their tag sale items for the weekend. Scored some cool handmade pottery, an English coffee cup & saucer and a 7 DVD set of "24" season 3! Ya never know what you will find in one of these places. There is always something going on in the Townshend Green!
NOTE: Cross the roads up here with's not like Williamstown, where cars stop for peds...Vermonters will be happy to run you over, especially if they know you are a dreaded Leaf Peeper!
Newfane is the next town. Famously photographed,The NEWFANE COUNTRY STORE is a MUST on your trip.
I go everytime I am in town.
The prices are a tad on the high side, but the penny candy is a treat,
The quilts and handmade goods are beautiful, and I love the T-Shirts and jewelry.
The candles are artfully displayed and there is a room for baby and children's clothes and gifts.
Entering Dummerston, you will come upon the 2nd of the covered bridges. This one is called Dummerston Bridge and you can drive your car over it!
Please do so and park on the other side (there is a pull-over to the left) and walk inside this bridge (on the edges).
Have a look out the windows. Whole new perspective!
Isn't this cool?
Back on 30South, Brattleboro is upon you and so is TOM & SALLY'S CANDY SHOP.
Inside, the aroma is wonderful chocolate. The prices, a bit of a wallet crunch, but the selection cannot be beat! I got some leaf slices (like orange pectin slices), a few buttercrunch and a gummy rat.
They had some unusual items...larve worms! Cricket Pops, and other insect treats. Yes, these are REAL insects!
Back in the car, I passed by the Grafton Cheese Farm in a hurry to get home before dark. I normally would stop in.
Brattleboro is a bustling town of arty and interesting folks. Wonderful art galleries, odd shops and diners to die for, coffee houses, yummy specialty restaurants and bars with real visiting music groups and artists. College kids love it here and there is a distinct youthful rebellious feeling to the place. Stop and have a looksee around town if you are feeling up to it.

Follow the signs are going to get on Rte 91 South from here. It means a turn in town and following a suburban road that seems wrong, but it will get you to the Rte 91 South exit ramp. You come out on Exit 2 in VT. You need to drive on 91 South until you get to Exit 26 which is for North Adams-Pittsfield 2 West.
2 West will bring you all the way through the Mohawk Trail back to Williamstown and the 1896 House. I will talk in detail about The Mohawk Trail in it's own blog within the next few days. It definitely deserves it's own blog. An amazing road that will be a pleasure to drive for you.

To nutshell today's trip: Rte 7N to Rte 2E to Rte 8N to Rte 100N to Rte 30S to Rte 91 S to Rte 2W to Rte 7S to 1896 House.
Total time:
7 Hours Total Miles: 147

I hope you take the risk of trying this Day Trip. It will take the whole day, but mighty worth it!

Happy Trails...
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