The Plot Thickens...
Kelly had heard that there was a rail trail in Southwick. We set out in search of it. On the way we passed the old Pioneer Dairy plant. Someone out front said the building is under new ownership, and they've opened a small ice cream stand, out in front.
I was a big, big consumer of Pioneer Dairy milk.
Entering Southwick, we passed several businesses of local fame, like the Summer House, a popular eatery.
And Mrs. Murphy's Donuts, acclaimed by radio talk show host Howie Carr...
I was impressed by the size and scope of this outdoor outfitter store. Unfortunately they were closed at the time. But apparently, judging by the signage out front, it looks like they dabble in everything outdoors...
There were loads of kayaks out front, and in the back parking lot there appeared to be some sort of wilderness day-camp thing going on, with a nice trail that slips into the woods behind...
I'll have to come back to check this place out at some point...
This looked like a welcoming spot for some odd New Englandy gifts...
The Southwick Inn dominates a corner of Rte. 202. I thought the huge porches wrapped around it kind of give the building a southern, Key-Westy look.
On closer inspection, Kelly's keen eyes picked up on this odd sign out front:
Welllll, I would think so..!
On we searched for the trail. We passed the Southwick Tolland Regional High School, and saw that they were setting up for some fireworks. We stopped a couple times to ask passing locals if they knew where the bike path was. Everyone seemed to have heard of it, but no one seemed to know exactly where it was. Oh, and what time do the fireworks start, I also asked..?
"When it's dark", was the reply. Wellll, I would think so..!
We finally got something of a half-sure answer, about where the trail was, from a couple at a gas station. We zipped down a couple streets, got a little lost, then finally arrived at the 'trail'.
Hmmm. Apparently a work in progress. When it's completed, it will stretch all the way over the state line into Granby, Connecticut. But it's not quite ready. It was a little too late in the afternoon to go exploring the job site; We'll be back though, when some pavement has been laid.
In the meantime, we decided to give nearby Lake Congamond a look.
Down by the public boat ramps, is a neat little pier. It juts out into the lake, and was populated by anglers and sight-seers alike.
A couple kids were reeling in Punkinseeds like there was no tomorrow. They already had half a dozen fish in a water filled bag, and this young lady pulled another one in, just as they were telling us about their good luck...
Lake Congamond is actually three interconnected lakes. The middle lake is by far the most popular. Fishing boats, jet skiers, and pontoons zoomed in and out of the launch areas, or docked in front of the famed restaurant and bar Louie B's, right nearby.
We got the feeling we were being watched, and we were. There are security cameras all over the pier and docking areas.
Having decided to stick around Southwick for the fireworks, we passed the rest of the daylight on the pier, until sunset. We met an interesting fellow there, a contractor from Pittsfield named Billy, and his Beagle. He chatted with us the whole time, and it was getting dark before we knew it. We headed off, and headed for the Summer House restaurant, for a quick cone before the fireworks show. Others had the same idea.
Waiting in line, I asked another person what time the fireworks started. Sure enough, he said "When it's dark."
We parked the car well away from the fireworks site, and despite the failure of the plan at the Amherst fireworks last weekend, we gave the bikes a second attempt, and pedalled in. The viewing area was all around the massive fields of the Southwick Tolland high school. A perfect set up, with great, unobstructed views from all angles, and even bleachers to sit on. Nearby was a row of vendors, very much like the Amherst show.
The Glow-in-the-Dark devices market has blossomed at these events over the years. There's everything from whistles to magic wands to light sabres. Remember when it all started, with those little green and purple glow-sticks, back in the day?
We found great seats on the bleachers, and the music DJ was right nearby.
You need a music DJ at these things...because after all, what are fireworks without Neil Diamond?
They ran the whole gamut from Neil, to Bruce Springstein' Born in the USA, to John Mellencamp's Little Pink Houses and R.O.C.K. in the USA, to that "Proud to be an American" song that grew in popularity after 9-11. The fireworks were fantastic start to finish, and they were so close and low, they filled the whole field of vision. Here's the finale:
This time, the pedalling in, pedalling out plan went off without a hitch. We were quickly off the field, and raced down the as-yet uncongested main road. We flew by the mobs of slow moving pedestrians on the sidewalks, and had to dodge only a few baby carriage pushing moms that had crept onto the road. A little well-timed and judicious ringing of the bell on my bike, and whatever road blocking people there were parted like the Red Sea before us. We made it back to the car, and were loaded up and driving off, faster than you can say traffic jam...
As they used to say on the A-Team; I love it when a plan comes together...