Saturday, November 7, 2009

Apple Sour

It was getting pretty late in the afternoon when we finally managed to set out for a visit to one of the farms participating in the annual, Franklin County-wide, Cider Days event. We tried the Clarkdale Fruit Farm last year during the Cider Days and had a good time, and thought we'd try the New Salem Orchards this year. This one is located up in the northeastern reaches of the valley, nestled against the northwestern side of the mighty Quabbin reservoir. From our end of the valley, New Salem is reached via a drive up a long, relatively isolated and heavily forested stretch of route 202. You want to make sure there's gas in the tank.

We, did not.

So it was that Kelly shook me from my cat-nap in the passenger seat; somewhat excited that she hadn't seen a gas station for many miles. A glance over at the dash and I was suddenly wide awake and sitting straight up.

Apparently we'd been riding on 'E' almost since we left home, 25+ miles ago. (An animated exchange immediately ensued about who did and did not recommend fueling up before the trip...). Her car is pretty good on gas, and she was totally expecting to be able to make most of the trip on 'E', saving time by fueling up closer to our destination. Now as mile after mile of cold, lonely pine tree rolled by, she was having some doubts about her logistical decisions...

And it wasn't getting any brighter -or warmer, outside.

But I remembered there was once a gas station at far northern intersection of route 202 and route 122. With luck, it's was still there, and we just might make it. Tapping the locale into the GPS, we saw that it was still about 9 or so miles away...

We steeled our nerves and stared grimly ahead, and I dug around in my wallet for my AAA card.
It was now a more quiet drive, and we silently passed by the turn-off to our original farm destination, anxiously counting down the miles to the much hoped for gas station; ears perked up for any engine stumble and the inevitable stall out...

But huzzah, the road gods took pity; and with huge relief we finally saw a big glowing gas station sign appear through the tree limbs, around a wooded corner. The gas station was not only still in business, but there was a bigger, newer one right across the street, replete with a Dunkin Donuts and conveience store.

We topped the tank right off and grabbed a couple of hot coffees to soothe our nerves, and decided we'd still try the cider farm on the way back, hoping they'd still be open.

A detour off of busy route 202 and we passed straight through the quiet, charming old village of New Salem. It's tucked away in a clearing, with some sturdy old colonial era houses, churches and community buildings still laid out around a wide common; looking as it probably has since the beginning.

The scene felt very authentically New England. Definitely no tourist trap here, but there definitely could be, if the townsfolk wanted. Luckily, they don't.

A little further, and we had arrived. The peace and quiet of the secluded farm seemed to envelope as we got out of the car, and walked across a narrow bumpy road to the farm.

It's a beautiful farm, with old sheds and barns, rustically fenced off gardens, and the land sloping off to a grand view of the Quabbin, off in the distance.

There were still a smattering of visitors there and a small bonfire smoldering, but it definitely looked post-event, and we had a feeling we were way too late for the cider festivities.

A glance at the last lonely caramel apple on the table hinted we were right,

...and our suspicions were further increased by the apple leavin's being picked up and the whole cider operation being hosed down, over in the cider making cabin.

And finally, the farm's owner came rambling by, hands full of trays and tablecloths and containers to be put away for the night. She apologetically confirmed that they were indeed winding down for the night, but insisted we come back tommorrow.

Well, we missed it.

We strolled around a little bit and snapped off a couple more blog pics of the great farm...

...driving back as night fell.

Next time, we make sure to head out earlier, as night comes quickly now.

Next time, we get gas.


Mary E.Carey said...

I thought we just missed you, but we were there today from about 3 p.m. till 4. D'oh!

Tony said...

We thought about going back Sunday, but were short on time, again...curse this standard time change...