Some days I love my van more than others, today was one of those days! As predicted it started raining around 5:30/6 this morning. It was pouring when I finally woke up. The campground was tucked down in the valley and even at 7 am it was still dark as night. I had no motivation to get out of bed. So I didn't. I got up and made the coffee, then curled up in the "living room" section of my bed and ate breakfast and read my book and enjoyed the rain and cool air! There were even gentle rumbles of thunder to add to the atmosphere! I enjoyed it so much I finished my book and didn't get dressed until after 9! It was still pouring when I decided it was time to go. This was just fine though because I wasn't plugged in or anything, I just started the engine and drove off! If you are going to camp in the rain a van is the way to go! I was able to do everything I needed to do and enjoy the rain without getting wet!
I can't remember when I found out about The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, but as soon as I did I knew I had to go there. It was on the agenda two years ago, but got pushed off when Mike died and I headed home. Today was finally my day to go! I was very excited!
I had it in my head that the museum was in downtown Amherst. It wasn't. It was at Hampshire College in the middle corn fields and dairy farms! It was easy to find and easy to locate parking for the van! It was just about lunch time so I grabbed a snack and headed in!
The lady was nice enough to believe me that I was a teacher, even though I couldn't produce instant proof, we have to turn in our badges over the summer so I don't have it, I told her I could email my principal, but she said that wasn't necessary, and gave me the teacher admission price!
The galleries were actually quite small. There were just three. One had an exhibit about Simms Taback, who has written several books I own so that was fun getting to know more about him and his art. Another exhibit was all about Harriet the Spy and the artwork in that book! Now I need to re-read that one! And the final area was devoted to Eric Carle himself. Part of the exhibit was about the new book "What's your favorite animal" and the rest was about Eric. Very interesting stuff!
In addition to the galleries they also have a small library where kids can read books and do paper/pencil reading response projects as well as an art studio where kids can have a go at trying some of the art techniques the illustrators use. And of course, there's a gift shop!
I would LOVE to work at The Carle, as it's called! Spending all day thinking about children's books and helping kids make art? Sign me up! When I quit teaching and move up here I guess I'll have to live close enough to MA to get to work at the museum!
Somewhere in the past few weeks I mentioned to someone that I was going to Amherst and they said that there was a very nice Rail to Trail right in Amherst. I looked it up and found that yes, in fact the Norwottck Rail Trail was right here! I looked up the trail on the Rails to Trails app and figured out a spot where I could pick up the trail - it was right by where I was and very easy to find!
The trail was lovely! Flat and paved - smooth pavement, almost no bumps at all! I started out going over a very long, and very cool bridge! I have no idea what river I was crossing, but it was a neat bridge! The trail went through many farms and most of the views were the Berkshires in the distance and big flat farms up close. I never would have thought of Massachusetts as farm country! Unfortunately, there was a bridge that was closed near Amherst so I had to turn around. When I got back to the parking area I rode the trail the other direction, the sign said it was a 1.5 miles to Northampton, and I thought the trail continued past there. There were signs pointing me to continue, but eventually I ended up on US5 in a not so good looking part of town so I gave up and turned around.
When I got back to the parking lot I wasn't done riding, I almost rode it again, but it looked like the storm clouds were brewing and severe storms were in the forecast so I decided not to risk it. I had attempted to use MapMyRide to tell me how far I'd ridden, but when I took my phone out to snap a picture my workout got paused so it didn't record the ride! From the mileage markers, I'm sure I rode at least 12 miles, probably 13 or even 14, however it took me less than an hour, so I doubtful it was much more than 12 miles.
By now I had nothing else to do but head to the campground. I'd found a KOA out MA66. It was only 9 miles away and I assumed it would be 9 miles of suburban sprawl. I was wrong. After about a mile of small college town it was 8 miles of cornfields and dairy farms! The campground is out in the middle of nowhere! The people are nice and I've got full signal on my phone and I was able to get my propane tank filled up!
Since I had a plug I ended up taking the bike off again to get my cord out so I went for another bike ride, this time on the country road right in front of the campground. There was a wide shoulder and few cars. It was a nice ride but I didn't go very far. I could tell it was going to storm soon and I didn't want to get caught in it. When I got back to the campground I rode around here - it's a huge campground! After I went for a walk, trying to get to the magical 10k! A storm was rapidly approaching and I made it back to the van just in time! While it was raining I ate dinner and planned my route for tomorrow. The storm blew through quickly and I was able to go back out and enjoy the crisp post storm air and get all 10k steps in!