Sunday, August 8, 2010

Time to Smell the Flowers

We open our eyes to a morning of clear skies and low humidity, and all thought of Saturday chores fly from our minds. Blaze and the Vulcan can almost be heard as live beasts pawing at the floor of the stable impatient for their escape. We don’t let them wait long. I scroll up the bucket list to review our options and put a target on the GPS for Shelburne Falls Massachusetts. It’s here that “the only one of its kind in the world” can be found; the Bridge of Flowers.

We make our way to route 2 and Pioneer Valley, a stretch of road that is a personal favorite of mine, and doesn’t need a destination to travel and enjoy. As in all travels, it’s not always about the destination; it really is all about the journey. This day does not disappoint, and at our first stop for rest, I meet Joe (Easy Spider Rider) and his brand new 2010 touring model Spider. The color is what attracts my attention and I can’t help but introduce myself so I can inspect his ride more closely. Joe is just back to riding after the kids have flown the coop, and as with many of us, “the knees are not what they used to be.” In order to enjoy wind therapy again, Joe and his wife have selected the Spider. When the touring model came out this season, he knew the time was right to invest. With Garmin Zumo factory installed, surround sound and luggage at the back, I’m sure Joe is indeed riding “easy.”

Eventually we arrive in Shelburne Falls after an unscheduled northerly ride up interstate 91 because of construction to the south bound on-ramp. It seems odd that there isn’t a better alternate the state could have come up with then send a million cars north considerably out of the way, to turn around and head south again. This is a reminder that even well planned journeys often encounter pleasant and not so pleasant detours.

We ride slowly through Shelburne Falls, looking for parking. Andy, as is his way, loves to explore, and takes us down a street the other side of the bridge, that (you guessed it) turns into a dirt track. However, this is no ordinary dirt track, but the entrance to the Trolley Museum. It’s an unexpected pleasure to learn that the beautifully restored trolley car on the track before us is the very one that once traveled across the bridge now home to the world’s only Bridge of Flowers. We linger here a bit exploring the cars on site, and visiting the small museum. The volunteers we notice are about the same age as the artifacts we examine. We feel it fitting.

Done with the museum we ride back to the bridge and find parking. The view from the distance does not do justice to the beauty we encounter on the bridge. True, those who love architecture will admire the five arched style bridge, but for me, the beauty lies in the path along its length. What insight the ladies of the Shelburne Falls Woman’s Club had in 1929 to convert this bridge, closed just the year before into what it is today. In doing so, they transformed what could easily have become an eye sore, to a thing of beauty.

We continue to investigate the town, and with a short walk down Deerfield Street we are overlooking the glacial pot holes. Here is another boast for the town, the largest glacial pot hole on record. We read the placards that explain exactly how the pot holes were formed and the one about the Penobscot and Mohawk Tribes Fishing treaty. Then we head for a mid afternoon lunch at the West End Pub, selected because the outside deck overlooks the river and is an arm’s reach to the Bridge of Flowers.

With the day getting toward evening and not wanting to backtrack, we take Shelburne Falls Road to route 116. Two excellent roads with smooth pavement, little traffic and plenty of twists to generate smiles. Andy has in mind to head home via route 63. Can this be so? Will another check be made on the bucket list? It seems so, and to end our day in a perfect 360 degree adventure, we find our way to Madame Sherri’s crumbling castle in the woods. This last has us thinking in meditative terms about our own moment here in time, and what impression we will leave behind.


davidheadley said...

Nice article Pat. Good photos as well. I wish I did not have so many outstanding chores to do so I could have gone along for the ride.

Willie aka NomadWillie said...

Way kewl tuck that back in my mind... been to Chesterfield and didnt realize it was there.