There are several secrets to quality New England travel. As you may have seen from my first article about Western Massachusetts travel, my husband, two zany cousins and I have been putting in the research so you can merely sit back and follow our suggestions. It’s been hard work, I tell you! (Burp.)
First, research bike paths in the region of New England that interests you. Triangulate a bike path close to a bicycle rental store that is also near a wonderful Bed and Breakfast. Sites like TrailLink.com provide nice, dorky methods to do this via zip code searches and star rating systems.
In our case, we zeroed in on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail (yes, that is a real name, I didn’t just sneeze) near Cheshire, Massachusetts. Other amazing New England trails that I’ve tried are the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island and the Minuteman Trail near Boston.
Colin and I rented bikes at a store near the mouth of the trail. My cousin Eric has a tiny folding bike (perfect for his Manhattan home) which he simply brought with him on the bus to the Berkshires. Andrew transported his bike by car from Connecticut… And off we rolled onto the trail! The crisp autumn air blew through the rainbow autumn leaves and the miles flew by. YIKES! I jammed on the brakes to avoid smushing the disgusting newt pictured, above!
Amid the sparkling glory of New England fall, we conquered all eleven miles of the rail trail with our trusty bikes. Our tummies growled with anticipation as we turned around our spinning steel steeds, because we knew we had passed a farm stand… and were headed right back towards it!
Eric stood guard at the bikes. Doesn’t he look intimidating in the photo, above? Colin, Andrew, and I charged into the farm stand. The sample table was piled high with heaven: pumpkin fudge, fresh mango salsa, cinnamon donuts, hummus and crisp chips… We stuffed our faces. Then we bought a vegetable pizza and ate some more, olive oil dripping down our arms.
The bottom line: You simply cannot have perfect New England travel without excessive eating at farm stands. Where else is there such a primal intersection of the great outdoors, pretty sights, fresh ingredients, and deep frying?
Back to the rail trail we whizzed, our bike wheels munching the golden leaves. Colin tried a few miles on Eric’s tiny folding bicycle and his six-foot-two frame towered precariously over it.
The bike trail hugged blue water and the purple Berkshire mountains. “I can see why this earned a five star rating on that biking website!” said Andrew. “This is crazy idyllic!”
We returned to the shop which rented our bikes, triumphant, and the owner’s dog was highly excited to see us. Then I accidentally locked Colin’s keys in the car and we sat in the parking lot for an hour until a leathery auto-mechanic chugged up and popped open the door. We recommend you do not lock your keys in your car during perfect New England travel.
The perfection was re-achieved once we hopped in the car and headed for an astoundingly eccentric and scrumptious meal at a place in Pittsfield called Elizabeth’s. Another perfect New England travel tip: There are GREAT restaurants out there. Consult your B&B host and/or Yelp to find them.
When we returned to our Bed and Breakfast– WHOA!– tea and freshly baked cookies greeted us! What more could you want? We went to bed full of fresh air and wholesome baked goods, eager to see the breakfast that would greet us in the morning. Ahh, New England travel… you treat us right!