Having of necesssity driven the MassPike twice, as well as the complete NY thruway, I was not too keen to get back on a turnpike when I finally left Newton, to head for Alaska. I chose to take route 9 west and eventually picked up twenty, some miles east of Springfield.
Two hours into my journey it was time for a stop.... a drink, a stretch and a walk. Just then I chanced upon the annual Asparagus Festival in West Brookfield, central MA. It was 10am, and the action was about to start. All the stalls had been set up around the perimetre of the town common.
Taking a stroll around I sampled many of the goodies for sale and admired all the beautiful craftworik. Ever conscious of the luggage weight restrictions imposed by airlines these days, I restrained myself from buying. That is, untill I got to the bookstall......
America's Wonderlands, published by the National Geograhic Society in 1959, is a beautiful book of great historic pictures and stories featuring all the National Parks to that date. The photos are spectacular for the time, and show the parks as they were before all the development one sees today, took place. Not a paved path is evident, and most photos showing official parties, show them inspecting the parks on horseback. Many are in colour, some are in black and white or sepia. An absolute joy to behold, and probably a collectors item. And it weighs a ton!
It is in excellent condition, and previous prices marked in the book - $20 and $6.50 - indicate it is possible 4th or 5th hand.
But what really sold it to me is the map in the back, still in pristine condition, a road map of the USA, marking all the National Parks and published before the Eisenhower Interstate System.
And all that for the princely sum of $1.00!
To say I am elated is an understatement.
In that happy frame of mind, I realised that I would now not reach my intended destination driving through small town America, and hopped onto the MassPike at Springfield.
At Blandford Plaza I had to make a quick stop. There, as I entered, was a gentleman who was wearing a Relay for Life teashirt. Having taken part in my first Relay for Life only a few months ago, we got to chatting, and before you know it, his wife joins in. She is using a walking stick, and I complemented her on her courage, saying my doctor wanted me to use one, but no way will I be seen with a walking stick - at least, not now, not yet!
Turns out she has the same health issue as myself and lives not far from son in Boston. And like myself, she is refusing to allow it to control her life, and has even been to the Antarctic and Africa since she was diagnosed. Have been invited to visit next time I am in Boston.
You meet the nicest people on the road.
Took I-88 down to Pennsylvania. This road through the Catskill Mtns is only parcially designated on maps, and in my atlas, as a scenic route. Maybe because it was a Saturday, or maybe because it was a grey/wet day, or just maybe because by now I was in such a great mood, but I found it to be a magnificent drive with wonderful vistas everytime you topped another mountain. Not once did I see an 18 wheeler on the south bound side, and traffic in general was very light.
Two days later I came upon another rural gem. This time I was travelling west on 24 in OH. I passed by the barn, and it was not really till later that it dawned on me that it possibly had a story. After all, the advertisement painted on the front of the barn was of a product no longer in general use. I decided to do a quick U-turn. The property is right on the border of Medina county, near Sullivan OH.
One hour later I had met Grant Grundy, the owner of the property, learned the history of the barn, of the property and of the general area, as well as of his family. He brought out a folder with copies and clippings of articles about the old barn, and about Harley Warrick who re-painted the barn in the 1970s for the current owner's father. He showed me his old tractors and his priced possession, a fully restored very old tractor - now only used to show in parades. I do not know exactly what it was, but, when I get to post the pictures, someone here will enlighten me.
Further along 24 - between Tiffin and Findlay - I came across another barn with the same message on it. This time I did not have to enter the property to take a photo, so did not get the story behind that one.
Lifey in Dubuque IA