Thursday, December 30, 2010

Let's Go On A Sleigh Ride!

        Williamstown holds many surprizes, especially in Winter, when few but the ski fans dare make the journey to our mountains. Just a hop, skip and slide from The 1896 House at the foot of the hill that becomes route 43, is Green River Farms.
Dave Larabee and his daughter
give horse drawn Sleigh Rides
on snow-covered weekend days.

His company, aptly named SPECIALTY CARRIAGE & WAGON RIDES, is a year round service of hayrides, wagon rides and even funeral and wedding rides. I saw him at the Parade in North Adams this past Fall.

Was I ever tickled to spot a sleighride in progress. Many charmed motorists slowed or stopped to take in the quaint view along with me. The bright red sleigh filled with smiling people, clomping across the snowy orchard hills along Route 7 was reminiscent of Currier & Ives or a Grandma Moses painting.
I quickly took my place in line when the sleigh came to a stop at the hay bags attached to a small shed. The horses fed gratefully, while Dave prepared for the next 40 minute trip.
There are generally 4 trips per day. It cost only $12 per person and they provide blankets to crawl shivering under when the temp drops below comfortable.

The sleigh holds about 10-12 people depending on their size. Dave and his daughter sit up front to drive, but they do invite a young child to sit with them as a treat.

I climbed into the sleigh and quickly grabbed a blanket and my camera.

"Backing up is the hardest part", said Dave, as we eased slowly backwards to get positioned on the path.
Dave said he walks the whole trail path before he takes the sleigh on it each day. He clears any debri, checks for ice and bare spots, and notes how he will guide the horses around them.
The sleigh is built to work best on cold snow,  (and really cold temps), so slushy warm winter days make for a bumpy ride. Today was a little warm and slushy, but there were spots where the horses felt inspired to trot quite rapidly, giving some of us a gleeful whiplash startle.

As we trotted serenely around the hills and fields, Dave and his daughter gave a pleasant and interesting running commentary about the area. They also told us about the care, feeding and personality traits of our host horses, "Bob" and "Karen".
They weigh over 1000 lbs and they each eat 60 lbs of hay and a pound or so of grains per day. They love to run and play in the fields when they are not pulling the sleigh or a wagon.
Dave obviously loves and respects these animals and they are treated well.

Bob the horse was particularly "spritely" and Dave said Bob plays tricks on the handlers sometimes by trying to hide behind small trees when they come to get him from the field. He picks on the other horses as well.
His ears raise up and flop slightly and he bays (blurts?) out "raspberries" when he is content (which he did several times along our journey).

Karen, who is 18 years old, was in "work horse" mode and remained silent as she trudged along with purpose and power. She seemed to lead the team more than Bob, who found it amusing (I am sure) to leave "presents" in the path while I was filming the video of the ride.

We had breathtaking views of the mountain scenery and even saw Mount Greylock off in the distance. The farm fields themselves are beautiful enough. Adding in the mountains makes it a spectacular ride.

I felt pretty healthy and almost like a real outdoorsey type...except my eyes were teared up,
makeup smeared,
my face was beat red from the cold air,

hair hopelessly windblown out of any style, and my nose ran constantly.
I am sure glad I did not bring a romantic interest along!

Anytime we came upon a hill, the horses suddenly took to a gallop and while I am no motorhead, I appreciate what the term "more horsepower" means.

Thankfully, no rider felt inspired to sing a chorus of jingle bells or sleigh ride, but the jingle jangle of the horses was pleasant. Dave said it is a law that after sunset, the horses must have bells on. One of those old "Blue Laws" still in the books.

As we returned to the Farm starting gate, I marveled at the fact there is so much hidden fun you can find around here without going very far or spending a lot of money.

Dave's daughter opened up the small side barn for us to warm up in. While some of my co-sleigh riders enjoyed the animal pens,

I gulped down what was possibly the best tasting hot cocoa of winter... and it came free with the sleighride!

What a great way to top off a frosty afternoon in the country!


Here is the short video I took while on our journey...
Sleigh Ride

Hey...Dave also provides private sleigh rides if you want to impress someone special (without a crowd around...)

To contact Dave about taking a Sleigh Ride
CALL: 413-884-4923 or 413-458-4283
Love and peace,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


In 2010, the theme is STORYBOOK FOREST and is sure to be as dazzling as last years' which is the topic of this post from 2009... Happy Holiday season to all. Kathy

While we await those first magical snowflakes to fall on our mountains, I find it hard to believe that we are within a month of Christmas and Yule. Hanukkah is nearly here!
Ready or not, the Holiday Season. has launched. Thank goodness the Berkshires is prepared to help straighten out the Scroogiest of locals and visitors, armed with events and attractions like FESTIVAL OF TREES.

We at The 1896 House in nearby neighboring Williamstown have 20% Off coupons to this event for our guests to use and enjoy...of course I had to pilfer one of them and see what all the fuss is about.

Housed in Pittsfield at the BERKSHIRE MUSEUM on the floor just above the fossils, across the hall from ancient civilizations, and a hop skip n jump from walls of classic paintings, are tons of decorated holiday trees!

 Like a little kid, I bounded in initially just to see the trees, but stopped in my tracks once inside... WAIT, is that a jawbone from a 30 foot prehistoric carnivore? A shovel in a sandpit for my own fossil excavation dig?

Interactive games to learn about dinosaurs? Too much fun! The darn trees had to take a backseat for a few minutes while I toured the museum stuff first. WOW, tree fest AND a museum visit in one!

The "Berkshire Backyard" room had a wall of insects...beautiful butterflies, icky beetles, hairy centipedes. The stuff of nightmares.
Wonderful large cases of birds, owls, a big ole turkey, turtles, and stuffed real creatures of the woods.
...I loved the audio center teaching bird calls.

A room with miniature scenes with animals from around the world...

Rocks and minerals and even a geiger counter to test for radiation in sample dust!

The Hall of Innovation has stations for creativity, as well as examples of folks inventing things under unusual circumstances, against the odds or after many failures. Coloring easels and lots of video and audio stuff to entertain even the most bored in your crowd.

YAY What a fun diversion all this educational stuff is!

My nerdy side enjoyed the Brainstorm Helmet...used in the Christopher Walken film of the same name (with Natalie Wood...remember when she died in real life during the filming of this and the rumors started spreading about him?)
Antique Pull Toys on display too! Fun and Funny!

Down on the lower (basement) floor is an oversized aquarium with a touch Tank!

Adults will smile browsing moldie oldie artifacts and the interesting mummy display in the Ancient Civilizations room.
Way cool methinks, cuz they have all 3 parts to the burial tomb, the ooky graphic body scan photos and even a reconstructed head of the pre-mummy person.
The beautiful greek statues so pure and flawless, and I loved the yummy discus thrower hot guy in the corner.

The paintings in the American Art room were lush and large, and the Native American room had a hut and campsite set up. There is a movie theater in the center of the museum for films and lectures too.

Why am I here? Oh ya...the HOLIDAY TREES! 3 rooms and a hall with interesting ornaments and interesting (and funny) ideas from local businesses. There were old black n white photos mounted on the walls around the trees for historical glimpses of Berkshire Life.
I wandered through the artificial trees, all glistening and pretty. Some were full size and some were small. All were great to view.

Some were just so cute, created by kids or featuring photos of children and babies.

Some kind of got me in the kleenex...thought provoking and emotional, like the mental illness awareness tree...

...the nursing home's "It's A Wonderful Life" tree...

...and the pet adoption tree which features photos on the ornaments of many 4 legged friends awaiting homes from the shelter.

What is this?! A bike that generates watts of electricity to run the lights on the tree!

Here is a pic of my brief ride... and it took about 15-20 seconds of fast pedalling to get the lights to go ON. Lots of satisfaction there, but short-lived I'm afraid. I barely made enough to keep the lights on more than a few seconds. What a lazy museum guest I am. Glad I don't have to do that for my house electricity!
Some trees were inventive and pretty.

Some were done in kindergartens, cub scout and brownie troops, high schools, institutions and businesses such as banks, farms and restaurants. Panera Bread had silver coffee cups and stirrers.
A custom window company housed their tree entry in a cool window,

...the Visiting Nurses had a tree of CDs and there was even an oddly shaped "green" tree made entirely of recycled materials.

The setting was a little different in each room, giving the trees a different backdrop.

This tree fest started in 1984 and has been done annually since. This being their 25th year ("Silver"), their theme is Silver Bells. There are display cases with silver coffeepots and silver items, the entrances and halls are decorated for the holidays. There is definitely a feeling of holiday spirit here.

My favorite tree was the old fashioned one with toys underneath and big old fashioned ornaments and lights. I had a crush on the teddy bear tree up on the stairwell landing near the statue as well.

It took about 30 minutes for me to zip through them all, but take your time and enjoy the choirs or bands that are playing on the weekends, read the trees' paperwork, look at the ornaments closely...really good work in some cases... and you may just get a jump start on the spirit of the season.
"Steg" knows best!

FESTIVAL of TREES  (until January 3rd)
Berkshire Museum
39 South Street (Route 7)
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Open :
Monday thru Saturday 10-5pm
Sunday 12-5pm
Full price is $12 weekdays and $15 for events on the weekends (concerts, choirs, etc). Parking is free and easy to find in the area tho it is a busy street (route 7).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


 Oh my the leaves are EARLY this year! It's been a year since I posted this, but the info still holds true. Have fun and be careful! KC
HURRY HURRY HURRY!!! Only DAYS left of the spectacular Fall Foliage season!
Here is a tour route that is pleasant all year long...
Crapola...a combination of a very rainy summer and a sharp cold early fall, has caused an early turn of the foliage this year. Time is running out for the best views!
Take a RIGHT out of 1896 HOUSE Driveway (Route 7 NORTH) and stay on this road until you get to the Williamstown rotary. Take 7 NORTH which is a left turn at the end of the rotary.
Follow this road into Vermont, which is only a few minutes away. The Racetrack in Pownal has beautiful mountain ranges around it. There are County Fairs, Car Shows and other events held here during the rest of the year.There are fun little shops to browse in, like the Pownal View Barn and Vermont Furniture Shop.
Artworks Gallery has a lot of interesting (neato!) art pieces and original works, many created from recycled trash! Check out their record album clocks and bowls and those really funny metal statues of cartoonish demons. I love their ice cream stand too. Only a handful of flavors, but so 'delish! Their fab ice cream is made in small batches in someone's house, so is really rich! There's a great farm up a little further on the left. Get that pumpkin or Indian Corn bunch for the front door.
Really cool inexpensive ghords ...some very nobby-creepy ones too! I love the stacked pumpkins in their patch across the street. You have to stop at The APPLE BARN...
They have oodles of cool apple products, pumpkins, homemade breads, fudge, candy,
maple and honey products, wine ...and bags of apples of course. Homemade-Canned vegetables and jams too.
Gosh what a bakery! I always get 2 apple cider donuts (perfect food!) when I stop in. If you are there when there's a FRESH batch straight from the oven still warm, it is REALLY heavenly!
I love their funny assortment of refrigerator magnets and mugs, and they have t-shirts and stuffed toys too.
Get your pic taken over at the funny face bear cart, or hang with a scarecrow.
Look for the ROBO-MOOSE Statue in front of the car repair garage on the right as you get into Bennington.

There is a Moose painting project in Bennington...(to be auctioned in late October). It is fun to see how creative people got with a plain white moose statue. There are males, females and babies, all painted quite uniquely and scattered all around town in front of various stores & businesses.
Downtown Bennington is a great "walk-about" place. Full of restaurants, artsy shops and is as close to a "city" as you get" 'round these parts " for those that need an urban "fix".
Love the street art bears and other creatures I discovered. Hey, gas is real cheap up here! Take a RIGHT here art the first stoplight, which is ROUTE 9 EAST.
Follow this road for 48 miles...Route 9 is also called THE MOLLY STARK BYWAY.
Who is Molly Stark? Well, she is actually Elizabeth Paige and was born and raised in New Hampshire in the 1700's. She married General John Stark who nicknamed her MOLLY. They had 11 children. (no wonder she looks so weary!). Molly never actually visited the byway area they named after her. She remained in New Hampshire her whole life. What is the Vermont connection then, and why is her name everywhere up here?...
Her husband, General John Stark (see what 11 children did to him?!) led an army of soldiers and farmers at the famous BATTLE OF BENNINGTON (VERMONT) during the Revolutionary War. His battle cry about making sure they destroy the Tories or his wife Molly will wind up a widow is one of his many inspiring rally speeches.
General Stark was one of the greatest American heroes of the Revolutionary War. ANOTHER famous speech included the term LIVE FREE OR DIE and was adopted as the New Hampshire State slogan in 1945. Why MOLLY is so celebrated is because wounded soldiers from that battle (and battles in other parts of Vermont and NH) needed a hospital. Molly turned her own house (with all those kids!) into a makeshift hospital and she helped care for the wounded soldiers.
She is much beloved in New Hampshire. Her face is shown on the signs you see for ROUTE 9.
Molly Stark never took up arms or fought in battle, even though there is a cannon monument in her honor and a statue depicts her with a baby and a rifle. She was just a kind hearted woman who helped soldiers. There are parks and places named for her all across Vermont and New Hampshire. (Why didn't they make a fuss over General Stark?!) Along Vermont's Route 9, there are 8 historical marker obleisks containing local town info. You will see signs for the markers on the road.
The roads are well maintained here. WOW!
Just past the town of Bennington, you follow a pleasant scenic road over a bridge
and you pass by brooks and streams,
and meadows, until you get to the GREEN MOUNTAIN NATIONAL FOREST.
There is a Green Bridge that connects Route 9 to Medburyville and I took a short side trip to check out an antique shop at the end of the road

and found these wonderous sites.
This house sat in interesting lighting. It rained all day! Yes, all of these photos were taken in the rain!
Vermonters have an odd sense of humor. "Real" locals are sure funny folks!
Heading back up ROUTE 9 EAST, we come to WILMINGTON, VT, one of the cutest towns on the road. The main street is lined with shops and snack places, or have a nice lunch.

Stop and shop at the outlets nearby.
One of the great highlights of this road is HOGBACK MOUNTAIN OVERLOOK (and STORE). It also houses and ajoins THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM.
Outstanding views from their porch, even in the rain! Sensational foods, gifts and tourist stuff in their store.
Stop inside for a really pleasant shopping experience. Cheese,(in all the Cabot colors!), all kinds of maple stuff,(including maple tea!)
funny cards, and enough candy and fudge to create future Type II diabetics of all of us.
Great T-Shirts (I got one!) and a million fridge magnets and mugs.
There was a huge assortment of jigsaw puzzles. Really interesting games and mind teasers. Wine too! The owner is super friendly and the staff will be glad to give you directions,even if only to the bathroom!
If you have some time, go see the MUSEUM which starts downstairs with cases of stuffed real animals and travels all the way outside and into a neighboring building that houses live critters. Lordy sakes, Taxidermy is sure alive and well in Vermont! MARLBORO VT is sure a pretty place!
Back on the road, the scenery is heady. This farmer parked his tractor so I could photograph him.
Watch out for rock ledge chips falling down onto the edge of the street.
There are some more super little stop n shop places, like THE VERMONT MAPLE MUSEUM & STORE. I did not see a "museum", and there was not a door leading to one inside, but the store is pretty cool.
Homemade jams and canned goods, and candy. Baskets and yard flags too. Knick-knacky things like a kazillion VERY retro dog statues (of every breed). The lady who runs it knows her dogs and will speak up if you say a dog fact incorrectly. She has rare Euro and Russian statues (in a glass case) as well as USA ones (priced from $5to $40). There are tons of maple syrup and by-products in various vessels, and loads of tourist items.
I got some of this maple popcorn. Yummy! Back on to Route 9, I passed some gorgeous hillsides and views.
Came upon this covered bridge called THE CREAMERY BRIDGE. Construction going on all over the place around it, but I managed to walk inside and take photos from the windows.

It started geting dark at this point, so I missed getting you photos of Cortland Hills Orchards, which is a great family place to go for picking and for goodies in the farm shop.
Now into Brattleboro the town, there are a bunch of options for you. Dining, Shopping, Museums, Theater...
Stopped at the Chelsea Royal Diner for dinner, which is always a pleasant experience. Great food and super locale. Ice cream outside at the attached Creamery. YUM!
A short ride down route 91 SOUTH brought me to Route 2 WEST and back home to the 1896 House (see my blog on Route 2 West- THE MOHAWK TRAIL).
Happy Traveling!
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