Summer brings with it many possibilities. For starters, you’re not trapped inside of your house staring at four walls begging to run outside and scream out for attention. During the summer, you can be a free spirit as you go where you want and do as you please without the worry of getting trapped in a sudden blizzard, which we all know happens rather often here in New England. What was that famous quote? If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a minute?
Well, if it’s any indication that that line was true, today was surely the day. I started my day wicked early as usual, around the crack of dawn, and decided on a day trip up to the northern Berkshires of Massachusetts. It’s a fun area in terms of the outdoor world, and is filled with marvelous little shops and unique eateries. Roughly about an hour from the Litchfield Hills, the northern Berkshires are the gateway to the Green Mountains of Vermont, a rather mountainous area that is my winter playground once winter rolls around.
Today, I decided to take my mountain bike out for a spin. I hooked up my bike to my on board car rack that rests comfortably on the trunk of my car, and away to the north I went. The best way to reach the area are through routes 7 and 8 from Litchfield County which continue north all the way up to Vermont. It’s a pretty direct route, but coming from the Torrington area, Route 8 is by far my path of choice. On the way, I was stuck in hillbilly heaven by rolling through an old chicken farm and even seeing signs welcoming me to a square dance. I can assure you I wont be partaking in that anytime soon.
Continuing north, I finally made my way to the only city in Berkshire County, Pittsfield. Pittsfield is a delightful city located in the central Berkshires. Its culturally connected with the surrounding communities and has a delightful selection of art galleries and museums. It also hosts the only Walmart in all of western Massachusetts. Feeling out in the country yet?
After driving about 10 minutes through Pittsfield, I finally reached my destination to a small parking lot near the Berkshire Mall which was the entrance to the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail. If you’re trying to pronounce the name of it, good luck! I raised the white flag the moment I read the sign, though I welcome you to email me if you ever do pronounce it. Just make sure you say it three times fast.
The rail trail is one of the only rail trails in Berkshire County and is a 10 mile paved route to the small town of South Adams, which borders the Vermont border. Along the way, you’ll see plenty of amazing sights, even some wicked good views of the surrounding mountains. By far the best part of the journey is the lake that you travel by as you’re viewing those mountains. It’s like glass as the mountains around it cast their shadow. It’s a stunning view and I for one could practically sit there all day just to take it all in.
As I reached the ten mile marker in South Adams, I took in even more stunning views. Mount Greylock, the tallest mountain in Massachusetts coming in at 3,489 feet, overlooks South Adams at it’s western border. The towering peak seems to be the main attraction for the town as visitors from all walks of life come here to photograph the giant with a war memorial that sits atop it. It’s an amazing view and certainly one that I would recommend. You can’t go wrong with a beauty like that overlooking an old mill town.
I have been to South Adams before by car, but never by bike. My first stop was at the Berkshire Tourism Bureau to seek out where the best dining would be located for someone on bike. I was reccommended to CJ’s Pub which sits right along the rail trail. What looks rather quaint from the outside as it was a former rail facility, was anything but on the inside. This place had funk, and it certainly reminded you of a classic New England bar with it’s wooden interior and old metal signs. I chose to sit outside on the patio overlooking the rail trail, and as I did, I started to notice an ominous sky coming over the hillsides. Uh oh. Here I am a little over 10 miles away from my car on bike and the heavens were going to open up on me. This was the indication I was referring to when I was talking about the whole “Just wait a minute” thing. The weather in New England is anything but predictable, and a sunny day can turn into one filled with thunderstorms almost instantly.
I quickly chowed down my meal then hopped right back on my bike. As I did, the skies began to get darker. I jumped to my Twitter feed on my phone to take in what was happening, and it was no surprise to me to see that a Severe Thunderstorm Warning had been issued for the area. Fantastic. I tweeted out to my followers and local mets pictures of what the area looked like as well as current conditions, which were becoming quite windy. I got the heads up to seek shelter as soon as I could as the storm had a history of wind damage and hail. I immediately did just that as I made my way back to my car in Pittsfield.
When getting back into my car and turning on the local radio station, warnings were going out to everyone to stay indoors as the storm was fast approaching, and the skies certainly showed that as it became as dark as night. As a New Englander, I’m used to the sudden change of weather conditions, but this was anything but normal. As the skies darkened, the winds picked up blowing debri all over the streets of downtown Pittsfield. It was my cue to escape, and about a half hour later I heard that there were trapped cars in Pittsfield due to flooded roads. I had my exit at the right time, and as I took to my Twitter feed once more, I had seen that they were indicating a possible tornado may come about of that very storm cell. Excellent. Not only did I bring the rain to the Berkshires, I also brought some wicked extreme weather.
All and all, it was a fantastic day out in the Berkshires. You can’t get excitement like this from a telivision set or from some computer screen at home. You have to live life through experience, and experience it I did. Lightning bolts and all.