Returning to the origins of “The Side Trek”, sometimes we’ll take back roads to new and fun destinations: restaurants, hotels, hidden gems of New England and beyond. Read Carol’s TripAdvisor reviews where she is a Top Contributor.
All photos by the talented Dr.Husband. Click on them for full effect.
Farm Foliage, Pioneer Valley, Ma.
As pumpkins pop out on their vines, landscapes turn from red and green to orange and gold. Back roads with no numbers past Pioneer Valley barns and farm meadows. The calm before blustery snowstorms blow.
Whistle Stop, Gilbertville, Ma. August 2012. SideTrek East. Route32 through Ware to Gilbertville. Whizzed past Whistle Stop depot diner. Old Stone Church up on the hill. Is that a Star of David? Then, actually stopped at our destination, Rose32 Bakery for lunch. My Mom told me about a SanFran couple who transplanted pastry talent to this tiny town. Bread, cookies, cakes and croissants in an unlikely converted garage. Circled up to Barre, Petersham, back around to Quabbin Reservoir on a Lochnessy Day.
Side Trek Falls. May 2012. Off to our favorite SideTrek tableau, Shelburne Falls, a new way. Took a bucolic rural route from Conway past Bill Cosby’s rolling colonial acres. Off off the beaten trek. ”If you are not invited, Do Not Pass Through” signs on every gate sounded like Coz. His blue wood-framed Garrison is only a couple feet off the old post road. Didn’t take photos, respecting privacy. Mills, inns dot the meandering byway which must have seen its share of Indian skirmishes along the Mohawk trail.
Conjures Richard Russo’s Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs and Mohawk.
The Bridge of Flowers was in earlier than normal bloom. Town is abuzz. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin are coming. They will be filming Labor Day based on a novel by Joyce Maynard. It’s about a 13 year-old boy, his Mom, secrets. Set in fictional New England hamlet, Holton Mills. Juno director, Jason Reitman. Maynard was J.D. Salinger’s young paramour for years.
We made a stop at Wandering Moon jewelry boutique and hit pay dirt. For me. Silver bracelet by a Manitoba artisan. Owner Laura Roberson’a finely crafted earrings. As we headed out to Route 112, a metal sculpture guy bid us adieu.
Weekday Trek. April 2012. On a respite before the next rain, enjoyed a weekday side trek. Meandering up Route 5, we happened upon School Street in Hatfield, Massachusetts, where we found an Old Mill Inn and Pioneer Valley Vineyard. Little vineyards are cropping up along the Connecticut River. Will it be the next Napa? Not with our typical winter weather. Some varietals can do well here as in upper New York State.
We continued southeast past our Atkins Farm fave to Andrew’s Nurseries in South Amherst. Lots of garden goodies. In search of a sundial or artwork for our old oak stump as a pedestal. This photo in Hatfield, too. Not bad for a Monday.
William Cullen Bryant Homestead, Cummington, Ma- Heading west out Route 9, trek up to the Creamery with the cow on the roof and hang a left up 112 North to the Bryant home. This is where he retreated to think Thanatopsis thoughts and pen pastoral poetry.
Capitol Steps 2012: mAdBen’s commute from 11th Ave will often extend to a landmark headquarters in the insurance hub.
Connecticut’s capitol is at the heart of major fords. Congrats to Will, UConn Law School grad, moving on to Greener Skies. Colby will soon be creating huskie compositions at Storrs. Steps away from Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe abodes, Max’s Downtown gets a recent NYTimes restaurant nod. JeanJean&Co. rave about la cucina Italiana at Treva in West Hartford.Charter Oaks to all.
Early Spring 2011, Connecticut River, Pioneer Valley- Leaves will come out soon. Up the river through Hatfield, to Sunderland. Down Route 47 into North Hadley.
Wending Route 9 West to Winter in Williamsburg, MA:
Continuing to Wind North and West: West Hatfield Road towards Haydenville, just around the bend. Serene cemetery by the barns.
Back Roads to the BlueBar: A beautiful way to go to our favorite restaurant, north on Route 5 and take a right to Hatfield Center. Passing by the colonial gems along Main Street and the Connecticut River, it becomes aptly named River Road. Winding into North Hatfield with open fields and tobacco barns, Mount Sugarloaf is in the distance on a clear wintry day. Bearing right at 116, we cross the friendly bridge into Sunderland Center where Blue Heron Restaurant is in the original Town Hall on the left. One has a martini, the other drives.
NewYork State of Mind: Madison Park on a hot day in March, my birthday 2012. Just steps away from our “home away from home”, Hotel Giraffe.
Best restaurants in the Flatiron: Gramercy Tavern, Ciano, La Mar, ABC Kitchen. Skip The Black Duck, and Hurricane Club.
NYU London 2009: With Dr.Husband, mAdBen, MadMan and Pithy V.
Chelsea Arts Club, Bibendum, Charlotte Street Hotel, Roka, and Moody Goose Priory in Midsomer Norton, outside of Bath, above. Photo below taken from our room at Charlotte Street Hotel, the Fitzroy on the corner of Windmill.
The Good Time Stove Company: You have got to stop and look at this place. It’s a quirky cacophony of twisted metal and hidden gardens in Goshen to Ashfield on Route 112N before you get to Shelburne Falls. A larger than Oz Tin Woodsman greets you. Go through the store, see the stoves & sculptures from spokes to caps to the botanical maze. Unique. Click on photo to get full effect!
To the Ocean House, Watch Hill, Rhode Island: For the big 60, March 2011. Take Route 32 to 2 to Westerly. It’s even gorgeous in late Winter. Room with a View.
San Francisco Side Treks-
While the restaurant industry languishes during the downturn, it’s amazing to know that old standards of the City by the Bay endure. Not on our radar while living in SanFran, these oldies get enthusiastic new nods from Anne and JeanJean: Tommy Toy’s (’85), North Beach Restaurant (’70), Caffe Sport (’69). The original Trader Vic’s (’39) now houses Le Colonial, a formal Vietnamese find in the same financial district cul de sac space. It’s a more retro slant than our fave the ‘Door’. JJ loved Brindisi on Belden Place, an alley filled with outside eateries; my daily lunch haunt during ABN days at 555 Cal.
View from our Hotel Vitale stays across from Ferry building which houses our favorite restaurant Slanted Door, and another fave next door, Boulevard. We loved Nancy Oakes’ boite, L’Avenue, too.
More SanFran Eatz: Benu, SOMA, chef from French Laundry. Frances, Perello in the Castro. Quince, not sure how it translates to new locale, was favorite of ours in Pacific Heights. Spruce love it, trendy spot in Presidio Heights. Down the Embarcadero from Hotel Vitale to Four, Dane Boryta, local Hilltown grown, original of ertswhile Circa in Northampton, is Executive Chef at Sens, soon to open Bottle Cap, home of Ed Moose’s former Washington Square Bar & Grill.
Side Trek Sonoma- Wine Country day trips trigger fond memories. On freezing foggy summer weekends in Pacific Heights, we’d high tail it over GGB north to Sonoma, a quick afternoon jaunt to guaranteed hot sun. We’d take little Ben to Viansa Winery, site of his 4th birthday party, for Italian picnics, then visit vintage airplanes at the airport below. Train Town was a must stop, not anymore. Into Somoma Square, site of 2nd birthday cake. Buena Vista, Ravenswood nestled up the hill. When we had more time, we’d meander from Sonoma Mission Inn’s Soda Fountain up Route 12 into Valley of the Moon to Kenwood, and Chateau St. Jean. Outdoor theater was fun in Glen Ellen, home of Jack London. Then, we’d wind over the Oakville Grade, into Napa Valley.
Napa Valley Treks- Once in Napa, Route 29 is the main drag from Yountville, to Oakville, Rutherford, St. Helena (Hel-EE-na), Calistoga. Old haunts still there. Behind Tra Vigne in St. Helena, the Olive Oil Company a must stop. Diamond Mountain north is gorgeous, take the tram to Sterling Vineyards. Silverado Trail has sprouted wineries everywhere, it parallels 29, used to be less congested. Meadowood Resort was a funky getaway. Now, it’s $900 for a room. Oh, well.
China, Mongolia, Tibet- March 1982. Miss Ma, our Mongolia minder.