My adventure began early today first stop the amazing Naumkeag Estate and Gardens in Stockbridge, MA.
I was delighted to visit and tour such an amazing property! The Blue Steps is a pretty famous image which I was previously unaware was located on this property.
My only previous experience with this property was about 18 years ago when I wandered down this dirt road and tripped over the back of the house which was under some construction at the time ~ not knowing what it was ~ only sensing that I should not be on that road, I turned around and went back to West Stockbridge where I lived at the time.
Another time I was driving around and found the front of the house ~ which was even more beautiful as the back of the house ~ this beautiful mansion which was also undergoing renovations in the front ~ still in the dark about the history.
It wasn't until we parked and walked up those amazing back steps (I have had a postcard in my old dining room of these beautiful stairs) with an awesome water system which feeds down each level which is an amazing design and concept. I was blown away to realized these stairs resided here.
I enjoyed the Garden Tours and the layout of the gardens immensely! I never did get into the house as our day was jam packed with tours all day long ~ this being the first. It was when I took my camera out to capture my own picture of the stairs when I realized the batteries were in the charger on my bathroom counter and not in the camera!!! Talk about bummed out!
I loved the guided tour with the history provided, listening with one ear I as was drawn away to look more closely at the details and the objects which filled this amazing place, transported back into time envisioning the 1930's and the lawn parties or casual afternoons enjoying the views which were amazing from any direction.
Mabel Choate and I have similar taste is style as far as the Oriental Art which had placed about ~ I do not have the words to describe the wonders that delighted my senses at this place alone! I swear ~ it was easy to transport myself back to an earlier time ~ the elegance and tranquility despite the large crowd of fellow tourists.
There was even a Pet Cemetery on a side trail which my friend knew about, and it even had engraved markers for each of the pets, although the last one did not have the year put in ~ that dog outlived it's owner and got to stay on the property with one of the farmers ~ I guess it was the last remaining family member in residence in a way, if you think like I do about pets.
I really need to go back there with my camera and capture these treasures of beauty to share and to have to glance upon whenever I choose and get a look at the inside of the house. One of our fellow attendants was at the next tour arriving late because they had stayed and checked out the house ~ she said it was amazing so I am going to kill two birds with one stone ~ bucket listing it for sure! It was spectacular and well worth the time from anywhere to experience for oneself, I highly recommend it!
I am including a link with the information ~ please feel free to take a look. http:/www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/berkshires/naumkeag.html
It was also fun to encounter a couple of people whom I know ~ including a long lost friend Penny whom I have not seen in about 10 years, but did not really get a chance to catch up with as she was working and I was touring. The second such experience today ~ as when I woke up one of my best friends when I was a teenager had "friended" me on Facebook and we got to catch up a little. He holds the record I think, for the person I have not seen or spoken to for the longest time of my lifetime.
So I began my day not even awake totally awesomely, and my first tour of the day was not to be topped, and on top of that Third Thursday was so packed with people that I spent the better part of two hours saying hello to people.
I also saw another neighborhood friend there whom I had not seen in about the same length of time as my old best friend that I connected to today and coincidentally we are all from the same neighborhood and time period.
Positive people interactions and experiences refuel me. Large crowds and small groups in amazing surroundings interested, learning and enjoying the experience also refuels me. So to be sure I am supercharged right now. My cup runneth over, as the saying goes.
Back to my tale ~ We got in the car consulted the map for our next stop ~ The Bidwell House, Tyringham, MA. We mapped out the route from where we were and headed down the road, stopping in McDonalds drive through to grab a burger and water, which was the quickest fast food experience I have ever had in my life ~ the service and speed and enthusiasm of the employees was surprising.
We were, as I said, quickly back on route and headed down to Tyringham to make it to our second tour of the day. The leaves are beginning to change so it was pretty. I was manning the map, as this was a new experience for my friend as well.
I am familiar with most of the county, loving in the past to jump into my car and drive for hours on back country roads which are ample in each of the towns around. I however, am not familiar with Tyringham and so I was in charge of keeping track of the streets before the one we needed just in case it was not clearly marked.
We did okay and were soon at our destination. Traveling back to the 1750's to the Ministers home and taking a hike around to the various barns, Meeting House Site, Cellar Site, Old Boston Albany Post Road ~ a path through the woods now long unused.
Stone walls marked buildings bordered the road that is no longer there. There were a lot of stones. One could only imagine moving and placing those stones out of the way to clear the fields for plowing and planting. Cutting the trees and making the boards to build your houses and developing homes up in the middle of basically nowhere to begin a town is more difficult to imagine yet easier to imagine than to do!
Walking through the woods gathering the history again was amazing. I gave up taking notes to enjoy the surroundings and be transported back so far in time. The Meeting House didn't have heat and they held their meetings in January and February as every season has it's job and that was the slow time ~ it was also used for Church every Sunday ~ some people had to travel quite a distance over a mountain to come to meeting and sit in the cold and then go home the same way ~ can you imagine?
History is also one of my favorite things. I am constantly blown away by all of the history which surrounds me which I am amazed they do not teach us in school. I am happy to have the opportunity to discover more and more which leads me to want to learn more and more.
There is also a museum along with the hiking tour for future reference I am also including a link to that as well. If you would like to be transported back in time and learn some amazing things then this one of the places to be.
The staff was amazing and at the end of the tour the Director reminded me that we had both been on that first canoe trip from Stockbridge to Glendale. I am glad that she said something, I had been wondering where I knew her from throughout the tour.
We had yet another tour planned after Bidwell House also in Tyringham, so we headed back to the car and found our next destination on the map and pin pointing our route. We got it locked down and I was yet again on map duty as we made our way to Ashintully Gardens, Tyringham, MA.
We arrived a few minutes late so we hurried through the Hemlock Hedges, past the barn and the small house over to yet another large group of people, already in one of the gardens before the bridge which crossed the brook. A fountain shooting a blast of water 20 feet high seemed small compared to the vastness of the area surrounding me, yet the lines and the landscaping sectioned it off in an interesting way.
I was amazed at the size of the grounds, a small portion of the original 1000 acre estate, looking around as we walked to catch up, pausing to absorb the layout surrounding me. Noting a set of marble steps placed in the middle of a hill ~ a huge hill ~ for effect.
We crossed the bridge walking past an apple tree to another section of garden. I did not really catch too much of what the girl was saying as I was too busy absorbing the nature of the grounds ~ which have a feeling unlike any place I have ever been in retrospect.
There was a path up to a sundial which was not on the actual tour and another really cool statue which, by where it was placed next to this tree ~ which had gotten struck by lightening and looked like a giant monster eating the statue of the head of what appeared to be a goats head in black stone ~
The second bridge was adorned on both ends on each side with some interesting heads as well ~ I am curious to do some research and see what they are in reference to. There were also some nice pieces in the garden (kicking myself because I did not get pictures!) and you will just have to go see for yourself!
We walked up a path near the gate which leads to the ruins of the house and walked over into the field where there is an amazing view of the mountains on two sides. We were not even to the top of the hill where the house was and I was grateful to pause and enjoy the view which was breathtaking!
Some of the group declined the hike up to the ruins of the Marble Place, which was built between 1910 and 1912. It was steep walking up to say the least and I was in no way prepared for what I saw when I laid eyes upon the 4 Doric Columns are all that remain today, intact in front (which was actually the back of the house) which adorned the 13 bay windows and I think 14 French doors which led out onto the terrace and the amazing view.
I walked to the edge of the building and looked down ~ the pillars were above the cellars, and there were arched openings leading inside below us. It was really tricky to fathom how big the house must have been just because it does not seem possible to have such a huge house there ~ the library was built the same size as King Tut's Grandfather's Tomb which was 70 feet by 40 feet if I recall correctly ~ the library!!!!!
I looked up a picture of the house in its glory and it is unreal! I had to look it up, after seeing the shell of what was left, bricks and stone and walls, it was more than I could imagine! We walked to the back of the great hill and through the gate ~ (front of the house) and down a road with a very high stone wall on either side.
It was interesting to note that the stonewalls at Bidwell House which were free standing were in excellent order. This stonework had been laid in cement between the rocks and the erosion not to the rocks but the cement due to the harsh cold and change of weather had not held up as well, with sections of rock having fallen to the ground, their impressions still held in what was left of the compound which had held them for so many long years.
The cold was a problem in the winter with the house as well. The family only stayed there one winter ~ unable to heat the house above 50 degrees with 5 coal furnaces going around the clock! The house got destroyed when a fire began near the bottom of the hill and burned to the ground leaving these amazing ruins.
We were almost back down to the car when it began to rain a bit more than a sprinkle to a sudden heavy downpour. We were prepared as we had brought an umbrella so it did not dampen our spirits one bit. We thanked our guide and were back into my friends bag of tricks once again.
For more history I am also including a link and would also highly recommend this to anyone anywhere ~ a once in a lifetime experience! http://www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/berkshires/ashintully-gardens.html#t5
At this point I was happy to sit down ~ we had been on the go since 10 a.m. and I was beginning to get tired, but I am not a quitter and willingly agreed to stop in Lee to check out the celebration which was happening in their town, as it was on the way back to Pittsfield.
There was Festival Latino ~ music and dancing under the tent and the smell of Mexican morsels which were tempting despite my not being hungry. We were in a 15 minute parking spot so we walked up Main Street to take in the lay of the land.
We popped into the Good Purpose Gallery ~ I can never resist an Art Gallery ~ where the coolest thing I saw was an upright wooden piano done over in a mosaic of Mardi Gras Beads ~ very cool to be sure! The paintings were nice ~ bright and colorful but the piano was the diggity!
We made it back down and around to the tent again where the women in their colorful yellow dresses were just finishing their dance and headed back to the car where I was resisting the urge to yawn having had one of the fullest days in a while.
We passed Arrowhead and on a whim decided to stop ~ my friend had heard of some hiking trails there so we decided to find them. One of the unscheduled opportunities ~ the rain was holding off and it was on the way...
There was a clearly marked Trail sign so we headed up it through the field and found a patch of wild spearmint which I recognized right off the bat and confirmed by picking a leaf and squeezing it and breathing in that yummy aroma.
We walked up to the edge of the woods beyond the field and sat on a bench that was placed there and there was another spectacular Berkshire view of the mountains. We do have some pretty landscape. We decided to investigate the "Trails" which were marked with a combination of arrows and orange paint.
Not the clearest to comprehend, as we did not end up back where we started by the same trail and I got a little worried for a half a second ~ but we are both good navigators and found the bench at the edge of the forest and a few cool trees with trees growing around them ~ (another photo op lost!)
My sons both phoned me while we were exploring ~ the second one asking me the same things the first son did and trying to pretend his brother was not right there with him trying to put a panic in me ~ except I know the way he operates so I was not fooled one bit.
It is my middle son's 24th birthday tomorrow and he is trying to tell me he requested both Beef Stew and Shepherds Pie when in reality he had switched the Shepherds Pie for the Beef Stew and I bought for the Shepherds Pie so he is not getting both this birthday as I have another day of adventures tomorrow on top of a celebration!
The batteries are in the camera ~ first thing I did before I made a much needed cup of tea when I got home. All ready for morning and it is going to be an early one as the first hike is at 10 ~ providing the weather is nice and this one is going to be rough!
The boys came by and harassed me for a while and I have been writing for two hours. This has been such an awesome day, I wanted to share it with you before I got information overload. Do check out the links and read the history. They are amazing and beautiful places.
If you live in the area be sure to go if you can and if you are not in the area I recommend a trip. There are so many diverse and fun things to do in the Berkshires ~ stop by and see us sometime!