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Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Hildene - the front of the house.
We took the one hour drive north to Manchester on a beautiful afternoon to visit Hildene, the Georgian revival 24-room summer home of Abe's son, Robert Lincoln. While stately, I didn't find the house all that liveable. I felt just the opposite about Naumkeag, the Choate house in Stockbridge we had visited several days before. Yet, the grounds -- all 412 acres -- of Hildene are the most beautiful of any home like this I've ever seen, with mountains to the east and west and spectacular landscaping. It's certainly a visit worth taking.

The Library at Hildene -- always my favorite room.
Every Renaissance Man has their own observatory.

The Pullman car exhibit. In addition to serving as Secretary of War under two Presidents, Robert Lincoln served as President of the Pullman Corporation -- the largest manufacturing company in the country at the time.

Hildene - the back of the house.
Robert Lincoln died at the home in 1926 and his granddaughter Peggy was the last family member to live there up to 1975.

Friday, September 22, 2017


On one of this week's beautiful afternoons, we took the hour drive to Naumkeag in Stockbridge, Massachusetts -- fabulous 1885 house and gardens. Tours are provided on the half hour and are quite good.

Naumkeag was the summer retreat for New York City lawyer and diplomat Joseph Hodges Choate (1832-1917) .

The mansion has 44 rooms. My favorite, as usual, is the library. The interiors were left intact giving visitors the opportunity to experience the house as the Choates and their guests did.

Gardens everywhere on the property.

A masterpiece designed by McKim, Mead & White, one of the most prominent architectural firms of the time.

Naumkeag recently joined the North America Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association, so if you have a membership through your local museum, there is no admission charge. Click here for directions.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Hopkins Forest

Dirt road leading to Hopkins Forest from Williamstown

It had been about ten years since we last visited this section of the 2,600 acre Hopkins Forest owned and managed by Williams College. We had forgetten how beautiful it is, and how well-groomed the trails are. Now retired, we'll be visiting this section more often and -- as we did yesterday -- combining it with an after hike stop-off at Papa Charlie's Deli, my favorite luncheon spot in Williamstown for lunch.

The parking lot is just to the left of this sign on Northwest Hill Road.

Informational board with map brochures in the box at the center.

Buxton Garden just behind the informational board.

Plants at Buxten Garden are labeled.

Maple sugar shack 

There are informational plaques throughout the well-groomed trails.

Williams College has wisely not opted to "fix" the forest -- it is what it is, just beautiful.


Exiting the forest, you pass this barn, which had been owned by Alfred Moon, one of the last subsistence farmers in the area. He grew corn, oats, hay and rye, had a vegetable garden and grazed cattle on the steeper slopes. Alfred married his aunt, Adelia, in the 1880s and was known to sell homemade cider, cut his hay late and drink straight from the bung (a hole in the 50 gallon barrel).

We'll be back!

To get to this area of trails, cross over the Petersburgh Pass. Turn left at T-intersection where Route 2 east joins Route 7 north. Proceed up 7 for 2-1/2 miles to the rotary. Go around the rotary staying on Route 7 north for 0.3 miles to Bulkley Street which obliquely intersects on the left. Take Bulkley Street 0.75 miles to its junction with Northwest Hill Road. Turn right on Northwest Hill Road for 100 yards to the entrance of the Hopkins Forest on the left. You will see a parking area there, and a short walk to the start of the trails where there's a board describing the forest with a box containing maps of the trails.

Other Hikes
Fitch Trail Hike
Grafton Lakes State Park Hiking Trails
Grafton Lakes State Park Trails