Monday, October 22, 2007

"By a rather circuitous route"

On Sunday, we went out for a drive after lunch, and headed north up through Sunderland, and on into Montague. Plenty of color along the way...

Going through South Hadley, I noticed the restaurant 'Woodbridges' appears to be empty and undergoing some changes. It is located just across from Mt. Holyoke College. I ate there once a long time ago. They had tables outside, real nice.

Also on the way, on a side road in Sunderland, is this cool waterfall. Unfortunately (for visitors), it is on private property. You can easily see it from the road though, and the property owners on either side didn't seem to mind when we stopped and gawked.

We continued on this nice country road. I saw an old Datsun 280Z sitting in a clearing by a house. I had one just like it years ago. It was an incredibly cool, fun car. A poor man's corvette. Half the car is engine. This one was begging for a restoration. It had been sitting here for a long, long time though. A LOT of work to be done.

Moving on, the road emptied out onto a main road, and at the corner was the famous 'Book Mill'. We stopped in, I hadn't been there in years.

It is what the name implies; an old mill converted to a book store, with a cafe next door. The lower floors have been converted (i think) into a dining hall. We couldn't go down to the lower levels as there was a wedding going on. A beautiful building, with a roaring brook behind it, and many decks and tables all around. Excellent book-browsing atmosphere.

These bikers had been shadowing us the whole time we were stopping and going on the back road. They caught up and stopped for a rest nearby.

From there we continued on up to Montague, and Turner's Falls. Took a left after the bridge, and parked in a lot along Rt. 2 where you have a great view of the dam there, next to the bridge.

Turner's Falls is named after a Captain Turner. In 1676 he led a group of soldiers here on a raid to recover stolen cattle from the natives. You can read the full story of the massacre and reprisals that ensued here:

The river was low today, a lot of the riverbed here was exposed. We climbed down the embankment, and onto the rock below.

There a lot of drift wood around the edge of the exposed rock, marking the maximum height of the river when it's full. The edges are all smoothed out and the wood is bleached from exposure to the sun and the tumbling along the water.

I'm no geologist, but I found the rock formations on the riverbed interesting. I could see that there was Basalt (lava) rock along the outer edges, and sedimentary rock jutting out diagonally from the bottom.

We walked right up close to the gates of the dam. Supposedly they sound an alarm before the gates are opened. (My escape plan involved little more than "RRUUNNN!!!")


Pock-marked Basalt. I guess the softer sediments in the lava were washed away over time...?

On our way back up this man appeared. He was on his way down to the dam, with some kids in tow and a miner-type chisel in his hand.

It turns out he is Jim Aronson, a Professor of geology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He had come down from New Hampshire "By a rather circuitous route", to Turners Falls to examine the rocks we were just on. He was pleased to see that the rock was exposed today, and that they had arrived with time to examine them.

He happily answered a couple quick questions I had about the rocks here, and went on his way, chipping off and showing the kids samples of Basalt.

We started heading back, and along the way saw some hot air balloons landing ahead of us. We saw several cars pulled over, and stopped to see a balloon being taken apart, with a crowd of spectators around watching.

The owner of the balloon, a self described 'Huckster', started recruiting the people around to help take the balloon apart and put it back on it's trailer. I was one of the recruitees.

The basket was kind of heavy, 7 of us struggled with it over the corn-rows. (maybe I should have used both hands).

Once the basket was on the trailer, we went back for the 'balloon' part. It had to be picked up bit by bit and stuffed into a giant duffel bag. Ever hear that saying about 20lbs of 'stuff' in a 10lb. bag? Multiply that by $30,000 worth of nylon fabric.

Unbelievably, like a magic trick, the whole balloon fit into this bag.

We all sat on it in a circle to squeeze the air out, then carried it back to the truck.

The whole kit and caboodle fit on the back of a small trailer.

In case anyone needs a reminder just how big these balloons are, here's a quick video of another balloon that was on the other side of the field, tethered to a truck. They were giving short up and down rides.

That was it for daylight. We stopped for a coffee in Northampton on the way back, and reflected on our afternoon.


Mary E.Carey said...

What a day! Ours paled beside it; we ending up driving up Route 9 to Pittsfield (my hometown) and back via 9 then 116 through Plainfield, Ashfield and Conway. Great foliage along the way but no geologists or balloons.

Tony said...

We were examining the geology, and a geologist arrives. What are the odds? Getting near a balloon landing, and then helping dissassemble one. Right places at the right times I guess...Maybe I should have gone to Foxwoods Sunday...

Anonymous said...

lol you video taped the balloons while everyother recruitee was working hard. why didnt your kelly videotape it for you?

Tony said...

I lept into the thick of it, camera in hand, before she could even say "ugh, not again"