Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tourists in our own city

We’ve had friends in town, which motivated us to get out and see some stuff we ordinarily take for granted. It turns out we live in a pretty great city.

My favorite of our tourist adventures was the day we rented a car and drove out to the Berkshires. Alla and I haven’t been there in two or three years, and we really enjoyed coming back. It’s the most mountainous part of Massachusetts, and the hills are peppered with small towns that haven’t changed much in a hundred years. OK, they’ve changed some. But they’re incredibly quaint.

We went out there on Friday, just before Columbus Day Weekend. We chose Friday in order to avoid the crowds, and we generally succeeded. We saw lots of tour buses in Stockbridge, but that’s the only place we overlapped the leaf peepers. (“Leaf peepers” is New England slang for the tourists who arrive every autumn to see the fall colors. I suppose we use the term just a bit sharply because they’re the ones who clog up the roads for the rest of us.)

We strolled through several small towns and crisscrossed the grounds of Tanglewood where the Boston Symphony takes up summer residence. Bryant and Sam don’t generally walk as much as we do, and were pleased to discover the joys of travel by foot. We’re happy that they took our preferences in stride.

We finally left the Berkshires at just before 5:30 p.m. and estimated that we’d be home for dinner by 7:30. Unfortunately, others apparently shared our desire. Cars choked the turnpike and we drove long stretches at pathetically low speeds. Oddly, occasionally we’d hit a patch where we could drive at normal highway speeds but never for very long. I don’t understand how those fast areas open up in a road that’s generally choked, but I’m grateful that we had them. Still, I felt pretty exhausted by the time we got home, and we scaled back our dinner plans dramatically as a result.

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