Monday, April 7, 2014

Some Old and Interesting Tombstones

I recently revisited  an old cemetery located off Route 47 near Sunderland.  As you can see there were several old tombstones and some unique ones as well.  Note the markings on the back of the left one in the grouping of three old ones.  You can see scoring on the back where the tools apparently gouged while it was being "mined".  What stories do these tell?

Perhaps the front views will tell. 


The individual close-up views below reveal the artistic details as well as details of their lives.

This man was a Revolutionary War veteran.

This one is made from a rock.  It is also part of a double tombstone as shown below.

Note the personalized inscription, "She did it her way."

Another made from a large piece of rock, perhaps granite

This one appears to be made from a millstone.

Note the ornate artwork on this one.
For more pictures from Riverside Cemetery in Sunderland, please check this link: Riverside Cemetery Photos.  If you do visit this beautiful place please be respectful and treat it with dignity.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Discovering Another Local Mill

Took my first scooter ride of the year today and enjoyed the mid-50's temperatures.  In addition to my trip to Atkins for cider donuts, I visited this nearby old mill location.

I'm not sure if this was originally part of the mill or not.  Perhaps it was the residence of the mill keeper.  You can see that the water is roaring over the spillway. What a lot of power this represents!

This is the mill building across the street from the above picture.  It is a large building so it must have contained an impressive mill operation.

The size of this spillpipe would have carried a large volume of water which then got diverted back into the stream.  To the right of the picture, at the corner of the building it looks like the remnants of a waterwheel.

The spillpipe leading back to the stream.

Side views of the mill building.

It looks like a wagon or truck could have loaded here.

How many people have gone through this door?

Another view of the falls.

 For those of you who are local, this building is located near the Granby-South Hadley line off Aldrich Street.  It is a private residence so please respect their privacy.  I did ask permission to take the pictures today.  You can see it all from your car if you drive slowly by and I'm sure the owners are used to that.  If anyone knows more specific information about this mill, I would be interested in it.

This link will take you to a video showing a typical type of millwork, grinding corn to make cornmeal and flour.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Is Spring Really Here?

As you can tell, I have been keeping a low profile this winter.  It is Spring now isn't it?  It is hard to tell especially waking up this morning with a dusting of snow on the ground. 

Since this blog is supposed to be about my adventures, discoveries, trips, and exploring things, I haven't done much worth reporting--- except our trip to Kenya, maple sugaring, visiting the Old Mill Bookstore, viewing some unique tombstones in an old cemetery, and taking pictures of a house that always fascinates me.  Although it is a private residence now, it certainly looks like it used to be a water-powered mill.  I want to see inside it so badly that I am thinking of knocking on their door and offering them $5.00 to let me take a quick look around.

Perhaps my first "Spring" report will be about that house.  It is located on Rt 47 in North Hadley.

Here's the view from the bridge heading toward the house.
Close-up of where the waterwheel must have been.

  Can't you just imagine this water running through a chute that turned a waterwheel which provided power to a mill?  Can you also imagine what sleeping must be like here with the constant sound of that water running?  What a great location for a bed and breakfast!  I would be there in a flash!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Making Apple Cider in Granville

Fall Festivals are popular over the Columbus Day weekend so today my wife and I visited the one in Granville.  She was more interested in the product booths while I concentrated on the food vendors.  There were a lot of them and between my wife and me, we sampled: apple crisp with ice cream, maple cotton candy, beef brisket sandwich, strawberry ice cream, popcorn, apple cider and a cider donut.  We also brought home a bag of Macoun apples and a piece of the famous cheddar cheese from the Granville Country Store.

Taking the school bus to the top of the hill to visit the vendors there, we spotted a demonstration at the Harvest Hill Farm showing how apple cider was made "by hand" the old way,  so we stopped to check it out. Thought you might be interested too.


These young spectators were allowed to assist by putting apples into the grinding chute.

The power to grind the apples is supplied by this old one cylinder engine.  The engine is set to fire very slowly with the double flywheels supplying the continuing power until the cylinder fires again.

You can see the water for cooling the engine in the rectangular hopper at the top of the engine.This type of engine fires so infrequently they are very fuel efficient and were popular for farm work tasks like this and for pumping water which did not require a lot of power.  Each year the Cummington Fair displays a large collection of these machines.

Closeup of the apples being ground up before the juice is pressed from them.

Some young spectators try their hand at the press.

The apple juice is really flowing here.  This was not the kids at the press but the owner.

The finished product ends up in this small barrel to be served to waiting customers.  It doesn't get any fresher than this!

Fresh apples for sale.  We brought home a bag of sweet, juicy Macouns.   

 Since the return trip was downhill, we decided to walk the 1 1/2 miles back to our car enjoying the foliage, historic homes, and beautiful fall day.  We'll probably  be back to this area next week as we share the beauty of New England's foliage season with our out-of-state guest.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Upcoming Fall Festivals

There are some fun small town fall festivals coming up in the next few weeks.  These are like little county fairs without the animals and rides.  Head up Route 57 into the picturesque town of Granville over the Columbus Day weekend and in addition to the historic homes of this National Register of Historic Places, you will encounter a wide variety of craft and food vendors over this three day Granville Harvest Fair event.  Begin the day by parking at the village school where items are displayed both inside and outside.  After visiting there you can either walk to the next grouping of vendors or you can take the free school bus that will shuttle you to the next location which is the Town Greens near the library and the historic Granville Country Store.  If you choose to walk, the short pleasant walk to the next area will bring you by additional vendors and tag sales.  The greens area is where most of the food vendors are located as well as the historic Granville Country Store which offers a variety of food items for sale including their famous cheeses.

Inside Tip  If you are a reader you might want to plan to get there early on Monday and head for the library for their book sale.  The first time I went to this event, I bought a grocery bag full of books for $2.00.  I could probably have fit few more books into my bag but wasn't sure I could fit any more onto my scooter.  I think I ended up with about 20 books.

If you are a foodie, you will probably spend a lot of time in this area checking out all the choices.  Did I mention apple pie?  Don't forget to check the nearby church which always features reasonably priced home cooking.  Before you leave the Granville Harvest Fair, drive up to the top of the hill in the village to see more of the historic homes and to check out the two apple orchards.  The bag of Macouns that I took home last year were at the stage of perfection.  Some of the sweetest and juciest apples I have ever eaten and probably the freshest too.

Granville Harvest Fair

The  Ashfield Fall Festival will compete for your attention during this same weekend.  Their website says, "The 2013 Ashfield Fall Festival (Ashfield, Massachusetts) will take place up and down Ashfield’s Main Street on October 12-13, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days – rain or shine. The annual festival offers craft and art exhibits by more than 50 exhibitors, locally-grown and prepared foods, live music and dance, face-painting and other children’s activities, and book and tag sales. Admission is free. Parking is available in lots east of the town center on Route 116 (attendants collect donations for the Ashfield Citizens’ Scholarship Fund).  The festival also hosts the Ashfield Agriculture Commission’s annual Giant Pumpkin and Tallest Sunflower contest."

 There is a lot of community spirit at this event and a lot of good food.  The Historical Society is usually open for tours as are some of the town's churches which are historical in their own right. Many of the food booths are local organizations such as the Boy Scouts and the Fire Department.  Nan Parati, owner of Elmer's Store and local entrepreneur will be be offering New Orleans inspired food such as BBQ ribs, pulled pork, and crawfish pasta.  While there, check out their breakfast menu and make plans to come back for that as well as consider coming back for one of their evening in-store concerts and dinner.  I believe the next concert is October 26.

Inside Tip  Part of Ashfield's events includes a huge tag sale which is ongoing throughout the festival.  Last year towards the end of the last day I went over to check it out and was surprised to hear the announcement, "Everything is free."  Apparently at the end of the day everything is either given away or destroyed.  I saw the tables being quickly emptied into boxes which were thrown into the back of trash trucks and crushed.  If you can get to the stuff before they trash it, it is yours, free.

The foliage season is coming!  While recently on a scooter ride on Route 57 through Granville, coming out on Route 8, then up Route 20 through Lee to Pittsfield, I saw the colors starting to show up in a few places.  Not a lot, but enough to let you know that it won't be too long.  By the time of these two fall festivals, the colors should be pretty good so enjoy the foliage on your way to Granville, and Ashfield.  If you do stop at Elmer's, tell Nan that Joe T. sent you.  It is quite a place!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Here's The Tunnel

Here's the "tunnel" under the railroad tracks we paddled through last night.  This is not us but gives you a good picture of it.  It comes out in a backwater area but if you wanted to, you could take out and walk across the grassy area to Annie's Ice Cream Shop, when it is open, of course.  It is now closed for the year.

A "Cool" Evening Paddle

Paddle&Spoke (22 of 25)
Peak Expeditions Community Boat House, Orange MA

Took another grandson on an evening kayaking trip last night sponsored by Trail Head Outfitters at the Community Boat House in Orange, MA.  On the 15th of each month Trail Head conducts a workshop of "outdoor" things such as, geocaching, map reading, and camping cooking.  Last night's was a paddle on the Miller River from 6-8PM.  Some participants brought their own kayaks, and the rest of us were able to rent at a very reduced price, watercraft ranging from canoes, two-man kayaks, inflatable kayaks, to stand up paddle boards.

There was a little autumn nip to the air as we started up-river at our own pace, but it was a pleasant night to be out.  If you have ever kayaked before, you know that you almost have to get your feet wet getting into the kayak and you will get a little paddle drip in your lap, and so it was for us.

As we leisurely paddled along, I met a local gentleman who had also been stationed at Westover as I had.  Happening to look skyward from time to time to see if I could spot any skydivers, I was rewarded with the sight of 12-15 parachutists working their way down towards the Orange airport.  Both times I have paddled up there, I have seen skydivers, never at the moment of jumping out of the plane but with plenty of time to watch them float down.  I appreciate the thrill they must get, but have not gotten the urge to participate.

As we continued on we were met by a very long oncoming train along the left bank of the river.  If I had been closer to the "tunnel" that runs under the railroad tracks, I would be reporting to you that I got run over by a train last night side but I couldn't get there in time.  When we did paddle through the tunnel we were saddened by the nearby quietness which was a clue that Annie's Ice Cream shop was closed.  Afterwards we took a drive by just to confirm they were closed so alas I could not prove to David that Annie's serves the biggest small cone in the world!

Joining us on the paddle last night was the 80 year old mother of  Trail Head's co-owner.  It was her first time in a kayak and she did a great job.  I was thrilled to see her picture on Facebook this morning so I could share it with you.  So there were two first timers last night; this lady and my grandson.  Might as well show them both.  Unfortunately I did not get her picture in the boat, but here she is enjoying some of the tasty chili and hotdogs provided by the event hosts, Trail Head Outfitters.

Eighty year old lady who kayaked for the first time last night.

My grandson's first kayak experience, too.

Enjoying some Trail Head chili and hotdogs.

The sun was just about down as we returned to the boathouse and the nip in the air was a little stronger but we didn't mind.  We were exercised, well-fed, and had made some new friends----and even found an open ice cream shop on our ride home!