After several days in New York, it was time to move on to the whole point of our trip to the US in the first place: the wedding of a good friend of mine. Lucky for us, she decided to get married in her parent’s gorgeous garden in Western Massachusetts (here’s a post and some photos from a couple of different visits there over the years). We were able to enjoy time with good friends in beautiful surroundings during an absolutely perfect sunny summer weekend.
After all the wedding weekend festivities were over, we drove west to the Berkshires, where we rented a charming cottage that used to be a one-room school house. In fact, the classroom (no longer in use, of course) is still maintained on the main floor of the cottage, while the living quarters are upstairs.
One of the best features of the cottage was it’s proximity to Mt. Greylock, which is the highest point in Massachusetts (3,941 feet). There are many, many miles of hiking trails in the area, including the Appalachian Trail which goes straight over Mt. Greylock’s summit. We took advantage of this and hiked a portion of the AT taking us to the top. It would have been an amazing hike, had we not gotten stuck in a pounding thunderstorm about halfway up. Instead, we were cold and soaked to the bone. That’ll be the last time I hike in my running gear without any proper rain protection, that’s for sure.
The Berkshires are also overflowing with all kinds of arts, music, history and culture. Like the Norman Rockwell Museum, near Stockridge, where he spent a good part of his later life. I enjoyed the museum (including his studio), much more than I anticipated and walked away with a much better appreciation of his work, life and artistic motivations.
Another touristy thing we checked out was the Hancock Shaker Village, which is a farm and village established by the Shakers in 1791. According to my good friend Wikipedia, the Shakers valued “pacifism, celibacy, communal living, and gender equality,” and were well-known for their craftsmanship in architecture and furniture. The village was in active use until 1960, and more or less has been preserved as a historic site since then. We spent an entire afternoon wandering the village and all its various building and gardens. The farm is still in use, following Shaker farming practices. If you live in the area, you can even join their CSA and have their fresh produce delivered to your home!
It was such a nice change of pace to spend time up in the Berkshires after an intense (but great!) few days in sweltering NYC. We didn’t do much planning ahead of time, but instead just wandered as we wished, based on recommendations from friends at the wedding. Normally I’m all about reading up on an area before I visit, but a lot of pre-planning just wasn’t in the cards, and I have to say I enjoyed the spontaneity. We mostly focused on relaxing and enjoying ourselves. Perfect!
And that wraps up my vacation update! I’m already back to the grind and wishing for another vacation, but that’ll have to wait awhile. In the meantime, many more photos from the Berkshires are over here, which you can check out at your leisure.