Our Summer Excursion: Days 17-20 North Adams, Boston

Welcome everyone! Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recaps our experiences from June 3-?? by time and location, and should follow up with more detailed topics about finances, family and finesse. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally.

D17: On Tuesday June 19th, my birthday, we packed up our trusty HighSpeed van in Rochester and drove through New York state to North Adams, MA, to be the guest of Jay Walsh of the Northern Berkshire Transition and his family. We had only ever had contact through the (R)Evolutions Per Minute Facebook page, prior to us pulling in his driveway.

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There was a whole lot of looking through glass, but it was lovely in a quick, look now or you will miss it sort of way.

D18: Jay arranged a bicycle tour of North Adams for us all, along with interviews with two key contributors within their cycling community for the documentary. He treated us to an afternoon at MassMOCA and a wonderful break at the natural bridge. The hospitality of strangers has been overwhelming all along our journey, to which we shall always remember and be grateful.

North Adams had such a similar story to what was happening in Huntington. There were similar people powered groups and gatherings and attitudes. It was as if we had found our north-eastern sister city. I must look into this further, as I feel Huntington would benefit from a relationship with the NBT.

Jay led the way with his two girls in the trailer.
Downtown was a long stones throw from his house, but we took the bikes so we could go further faster. We used a parking space on the street, fed the meter, locked up to each other and walked away. The colored block building on the rear right was just installed the day before as a bus shelter. It acted as an installation art piece to introduce the new exhibit opening at MassMOCA's children space.
Down Street Arts had these painted on the sidewalks. I was taking notes to bring back to Huntington, as we just began having art walks monthly.
Public mural going up! Something, that according Jay, was discouraged under the former mayor, but embraced and encouraged by the current one. Fascinating how power and position work.
More public art! Creative crosswalks.
Logos for Down Street Art in business windows where artists are hosted. They also had clapboard like signs inside the stores that appear to come out to the sidewalk on art nights.
Riding single file through town. The children rode on their own, which worked out well most of the time. There were two moments to break the zen. First was Elliot slipping his foot through his pedal and falling from his saddle on a different busier street. Brent was holding up the rear and was able to get him up on the sidewalk. The rest of us pulled over too. The second was when Jay made a left, but I felt there was a car approaching too quickly for me to follow, but London was only watching Jay and began to turn left as the car approached. Some yelling ensued to keep everyone safe, and nothing but a few new grey hairs to show for it. This was our first time riding with our children independently, outside of Huntington. You can read about riding with our children on the Yuba in Columbus, in another post.
Our bike train was longer than a couple of trucks.
After had a look around downtown we rode to MassMOCA.
An art museum with a bicycle share program? Clever. Their gift shop also had bicycle accessories and inspired goods. Practical.
Mandatory Sol Lewitt photos of your children. Jay's girls with our crew. Handsome bunch?
Our first Airstream trailer experience was up three stories and remade into a crash landed space craft. It was a great first experience, despite the searing heat.
Pedal power was (is) the wave of the future.
The children had endured a lot of "look don't touch" for the day, so Jay showed us this underpass swing set. They also convinced maintence to turn on a sprinkler and they all enjoyed a bit of time in the mud.
The swings were still a part of MassMOCA by the way. Here is Brent, Jay and Katherine during another RPM interview. Everyone had given up a bit of their work day to make this happen, and we had the wonderful benefit of meeting so many amazing people.
We left the museum to check out the natural bridge. I noticed a lot of old warehouses in North Adams. I also took note that many of them were not what I would consider "eye-sores." This one had murals on the old bay doors.
I don't know what is in these now, if anything, but they were simple and beautiful to me. A bit fortressy. You can see we rode in the berm space here. A little tight for us and the cars, which were probably going about 40mph, but we carried on. I didn't mind it so much until we came up on a turn where I was never quite sure if we could be seen from behind with buildings and such so close to the road blocking a driver's view coming around a bend. Would you ride to the far right or take the lane when riding a turn as such described (berm or not)?
Views at the natural bridge park.
Water is incredibly powerful. I have seen the Grand Canyon, and yet it is these little works of art that feel more majestic. Perhaps because they are tangible and not infinite and life threatening?
Taking a swim in the creek. Wonderfully cool water after such an incredibly hot day.

D19: With 1447 miles on the odometer, we left North Adams, stopped at a co-op creamery/local market in Cummington, MA that Jay suggested, interviewed a couple of folks with the Pedal People in Northampton, MA, also from Jay’s suggestion, and settled ourselves on the doorstep of friends and strangers in Boston.

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It always looks a bit different.
The Old Creamery in Cummington, MA. They recently turned into a co-op. I was excited to see they didn't offer a trash bin, only recycling and compost at the little cafe inside. Ironically I had two bags of garbage under my feet in the van that needed to be disposed of.
We completely bombarded these folks at work in the strongest heat of the day. We were all melting. Melting. These folks were towing hundreds of pounds of recycling all over Northampton, MA. Pedal People. Check out their story. This is Brent interviewing Mikey.
Mikey's full and last load of his shift. Be impressed. We drove through North Adams and I had my jar down the whole way through. There were people crawling the streets everywhere and bikes all over. It was a vibrant community and I hope to go back for a proper visit.
Boston! Not shown, the cars we were sandwiched between at rush hour, or maybe it was just every hour traffic.

We intended to drive to my aunts in Connecticut, but she made plans to be in NYC. With our detour to Rochester, neither of our schedules lined up for the best, but this snag in our itinerary was a treat in many other ways. Our hosts (Becca, my sister’s best friend and her two roommates, Marie and Laura) in Boston were extremely accommodating with short notice and an in flux of children.

Laura and Marie, walked us to the grocery and harbor our first night and gave us the lay of the land for parks, transit and entertainment.

Train drawbridges.
Tunnels. Hey, there's some of that traffic.

D20: Marie and Becca took us sailing in the harbor on June 22. Under the power of the water and wind, we spent three hours memorized by the skyline and skills of our captain and her skipper. We had all biked to the harbor from their place in East Boston, and afterward, we took the T to the children’s museum (admission included as members of the ASTC, another thrifty investment for traveling I would recommend). Marie and Laura left us to our own, Becca headed for work and we let the children wear themselves out before marching off into our second rain, trying to find a specific pizza joint in downtown Boston, The Upper Crust…I mean, check out their logo.

Riding through East Boston toward the bike path that would take us to the sailing center. I rode with the boys on the Yuba, Brent and London rode their own bikes. Marie and Becca led the way. Anytime we had to get on the side walk, like when the road was closed, or entering a park, we dismounted and walked our bicycles. Cars were incredibly generous with yielding the way to us and we even got a police officer to help us through a construction zone, closed to traffic. What a great first impression of riding in a "big" city.
The bike path that parallels and circumnavigates all that traffic above.
The signs designate pedestrian and bicycle lanes. Oh, and see (barely) the murals on the underpass? I love public art.
We made it! That's Becca on the left. She was a fabulous skipper and gracious host, even if we did sort of force our way in to staying with her (thank you Becca!!).
This wasn't our ship, but similar. Can you believe some people get to enjoy this view every day? While I am not keen on the water, I love the skyline.

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After sailing we took the three little boys on their first subway ride. Laura, with her Dahon folding bike, joined us for this momentous occasion. Destination, Boston Children's Museum.
We walked what Marie described as "not too far" to the museum from the T station. This is where i realized that people without children, who do this on a daily basis have a walking tolerance we have not built yet. We were child-caring-device-less and every block seemed to add a pound to Oliver's weight. However, no one complained. There was just so much to see and hear. After we arrived at the museum, the children spent a great deal of time climbing this three story high structure.
Because the museum was a part of a reciprocal relationship (thrifty tip if you travel, get one of these memberships) with a museum we have a family membership for, we didn't pay for admission, and thus didn't mind that we were only there for about an hour. When we felt our stomachs growl we set out into the rain for the pizza shop Marie and Laura recommended. Again, we took the, "it's only a couple of blocks" to mean it wasn't nearly three quarters of a mile away. Yet, we persevered for pizza, and either we were just extremely hungry, or the pizza was really "that great."

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After dinner we had a very short walk to the nearest T station. Boarded a train without ever having to look at a schedule. The trains run so frequently there is no question one will be along quickly. The stations were also the brightest and cleanest of any urban transit system I have encountered. Icing on the cake...they were also very ADA compliant and therefore easily accessed with a bicycle (although probably not the unusually shaped cargo bicycles).
Maverick Station bicycle parking. It was also a bus terminal point. Three wheeled bicycle parking? Is it that common to have a trike?
Goodnight Boston. May we see your sun set another day. We walked from the station to the sailing center, then rode our bicycles back to Becca's. Long day.

Later that night we heard from my aunt Darcy that she would be returning home to Connecticut, so we packed up once again and drove south-west on Saturday June 23.

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4 thoughts on “Our Summer Excursion: Days 17-20 North Adams, Boston”

  1. I went to school in Williamstown, MA, right next to North Adams and loved the shot of the natural bridge and MassMoCA! Also the underpass swingset- genius!

  2. Spent some time today looking through your posts. Gotta say, I love this one, especially the fact you think of how to improve things here in Huntington. I look forward to you sharing these ideas at chat n chew.
    Looks like a great vacation and life lessons for the kids. I really admire you and the chances you take to make things better for all!

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