Have Twins, Will Travel

Birthday in the Berkshires

Great Barrington, Mass – Sweet Daddio planned a getaway so we could celebrate my birthday in the Berkshires. Daddio knows how much I have enjoyed our pandemic field trips during this year of no travel. Our hiking and beach outings have kept me healthy and happy. While travel is still extremely limited, we can go to Western Massachusetts to admire the fall foliage and hike in some actual mountains.

Monument Mountain

Our Saturday outing was to Monument Mountain, a wonderful reservation managed by The Trustees. The claim to fame here is that Nathanial Hawthorne and Herman Melville met here one day in 1850 for a hike and picnic. A sudden thunderstrom drove them to seek shelter in a cave. While waiting out the storm, they discussed Melville’s writing project, which would become the novel Moby Dick. What’s good for Hawthorne and Melville is good for Daddio and me, we figured; perhaps we too might find some inspiration on this mountain.

The hike to the 1642-foot summit is short but steep. It was about 1.5 miles up, with a few rock scrambling spots and a few glorious panoramas. Twin S is in his element on the hiking trail. He led the way (as he does). Twin V also enjoyed it, though he does not love the steep climbs. He did fine and he was glad when we finished.

Monument Mountain

Beartown State Forest

On Sunday, Twin V was pretty sure he did not want to go hiking again. I was pretty sure I did. I won him over by promising a shorter hike with no mountain, and so we found our way to Beartown State Forest. The idea was that we would do the 1.7-mile loop around Benedict Pond, which seemed to fit the bill. Or we could expand the loop slightly to include The Ledges, “an amphitheater of exposed rock” with spectacular views. This would become a 3-mile loop with a 400-foot elevation gain (thus, the view). But I couldn’t help it. I tricked my family into following me up to the The Ledges, where we sat and ate our snack and gawked at the panorama. Everybody agreed it was worth it.

The Ledges at Beartown State Forest

Travel During Covid

We stayed at a Fairfield Inn on the outskirts of Great Barrington. It all felt very safe. Daddio chose this hotel because it had a swimming pool and hot tub, which we used on both days. We had to reserve a time slot so we had the facility to ourselves, which was perfect. We also had fun exploring the hotel grounds, which included a short walking trail leading down to a river. Somebody even spotted a bear in the parking lot, but we were not so lucky.

I insisted that we eat out, since our room was too cramped to dine in and cleaning services were limted. We ate breakfast in the hotel dining area, which was not ideal; but the tables were well spaced and it was never crowded. We ate lunches and dinners at restaurants with outdoor seating, which was chilly but safe. Barrington Brewery – with plenty of space and a location very convenient to our hotel – was a hit.

Overall it was a wonderful weekend. Such a treat to get away on an extended pandemic field trip and a perfect way to celebrate my birthday in the Berkshires.

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