Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Weekend in Connecticut: Part 2

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The old toll house next to the covered bridge in West Cornwall.

I just wanted to touch again on how state boundaries are funny things. Here in New Jersey we live within a few miles of the New York border. We are constantly going back and forth between the two states. You wouldn’t even know when you were in New Jersey or New York.

The border between New York and Connecticut was palpable. Not only did the countryside change, but the architecture did too. As I mentioned before, houses suddenly sprouted elaborate weathervanes, and were covered in shingle siding and plenty of wood. Large horse properties bounded by white fences were everywhere we looked. Private schools with beautiful stately old buildings and immaculately tended grounds were numerous.

Like I said before, it all read money with a capital M.

Chatting with the piano player in our hotel bar was interesting. I started up a conversation with him after listening to his rendition of “Riders on the Storm.” I couldn’t remember the artist (The Doors). He told us that Michael J. Fox had a house right down the road from there in Sharon; Meryl Streep lived in Salisbury; and Kevin Bacon had a place right around there too. Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

Now at odds with all that was the whole casual atmosphere. Maybe it was all those people from New York City playing at being “in the country” but we were over dressed compared to everyone else. I would not even think of going to a restaurant in my bathing suit and cover-up, I don’t care if it was outside patio dining! Yet we saw many people doing just that. Even in our fancier hotel restaurant people had on shorts or ratty jeans. Very strange. Maybe we were just seeing the “tourists” but I don’t think so because people seemed to know one another like they lived in the area.

The border between Connecticut and Massachusetts was also unmistakeable. Road signs changed immediately. Signs pointing to “Joey’s Auto Repair” and “Country Furniture Store” appeared on corners. These weren’t just signs that someone had put up, but actual street signs. We wondered if people living in Massachusetts were directionally challenged.

The best sign we saw in Massachusetts was before the town of Great Barrington. I wish I had snapped a photo of it, but the first time we were already past it, and the second time I missed it completely. It read “Thickly Settled.” Hmmm … thickly settled. We knew what they meant, but still we couldn’t help but get a visual image of a town with a muffin top around its middle!

The architecture changed again and now we saw many salt-box style houses that we didn’t see in Connecticut. It all looked more New England-y.

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Rick really enjoyed his two day course. It wasn’t about driving fast around a race track, but a course to achieve better and safer driving habits. They made them spin out on a wet track and learn how to recover from it, how to swerve to avoid hitting something and still maintain control. Practical things like that.

Another reason he took the course was to learn how to drive Ms Mia better.

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I tried my hand at panning and failed miserably at getting a truly clean image! But after my photo class yesterday I now know what I did wrong. No follow-through!!

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When class was over the instructors gave rides to the students on the autocross track to show them how a pro would do it. If you want to see the video, go to Rick’s blog here. It’s worth watching! The students drove the same course but at a much reduced speed. Rick later told me that they were also giving rides to the guests as well as the students and if I had come over I could have gotten a ride too. Since Rick thought it was a white-knuckle ride I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it!

On Saturday, I tried again to amuse myself. I had to check out of the hotel by noon so hanging out by the pool was out. Plus it was just too darned hot to do much of anything outside.

I drove back to Sheffield and Great Barrington again. I went in several antique shops (Sheffield seems to be the Queen city of antiquing!) and visited yet another covered bridge. This one is in Sheffield. Here is the Upper Sheffield Bridge.

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This one was rebuilt in 1998. Worth preserving!

I drove on up to Stockbridge (home of Norman Rockwell) but the town was so crowded, there was no place to park, and it was HOT and HUMID. I ended up just driving around in a circle and headed out of there.

I ended up back at the race track around 2:30 with lots of time on my hands until Rick was finished at four. I mostly just sat in the blissful air conditioned track house and read (oblivious of my opportunity to be scared silly). Maybe you think it was a waste of time, but honestly I had had enough driving around and heat for one day.

We drove home on a road I was hoping was the roller coaster road, but it wasn’t, so I can scratch that one off my list. I was disappointed. Next time we are in that area we’ll try a different one. It’s there somewhere. Trouble is, if I manage to find it will it really be the same as I remember?


Was going to ask if you had gotten to Stockbridge since you were so close at Great Barrington.  My ancestors came from Stockbridge!  The Sedgwicks - as in Kyra Sedgwick!  She’s my 8th cousin or something like that.  The Sedgwick family home is in Stockbridge.  My sister visited it once.  Called ahead to see if she could, was told to come on.  Who should answer the door but YoYo Ma!  Don’t know how he ended up there, but there he was. As you said, maybe just as well that you didn’t find the road.  I remember really wanting a pork sandwich (not a vegetarian yet) from a certain restaurant back in Iowa that I finally got one time I visited.  Was not at ALL like I remembered and couldn’t figure out why I liked it to begin with!

Carolyn, cool that your ancestors came from Stockbridge! It looked really quaint and cute from what I could see through all the people and cars. But I don’t know who the Sedgwicks are, nor do I know who Kyra Sedgwick is.  tongue rolleye Should I?

Sounds like a fun adventure. I spent a weekend in that area about ten years ago and loved it. I definitely remember Stockbridge.

As for the roller-coaster road, maybe it’s better that it lives only in your mind, and that you didn’t find it. As you indicated, there’s a good chance it wouldn’t live up to your memory!

I would definitely love to live there! I could move right into that train station from your previous post!

I know who Kyra Sedwick is, but who is YoYo Ma?

Bigsis, Yo Yo Ma is a famous musician. He plays the cello. At least you knew who Kyra Sedgwick was!

Steve, it’s a cool area. The Berkshires are really popular. And yes, I’m afraid the road would not live up to memory. Those kinds of things rarely do.

Such beautiful buildings - I love the timber clad toll house.  Shame you couldn’t find the roller coaster road but memories are sometimes better left as memories then you don’t feel disappointment.

Joyce, it’s just as well I couldn’t find the road. And the building are beautiful and old as things in America are “old.”

Kyra Sedgwick is an actress - also Kevin Bacon’s wife!  She’s done a whole lot of movies and TV - currently on The Closer on TNT, although only a few more episodes left for the show.  Probably her most well known movie is Born on the Fourth of July.  You might know her if you saw her.  Here’s her bio:

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