One of the big advantages of a house and pet sitting lifestyle is that you have the chance to live in different places with every assignment. While we primarily prefer longer term sits for our own comfort, sense of settling in and being able to concentrate on work projects without having to move constantly, we also enjoy being immersed in a new area and having plenty of opportunity and time to explore its surroundings during the weekends.
Recently, our temporary dog Jenny needed new food from a pet food store quite a drive from here. Dave’s Soda and Pet City (interesting name for a pet food store) has a location in the city of Northampton, where other chores could be accomplished, and where neither of us had been before. We decided to combine the necessary with the pleasant and explored the college town around noon on a Saturday.
Mark and I were surprised to find a vibrant and attractive town center with interesting architecture and an open-minded atmosphere. The all-girl Smith College offered an oasis of peace and inspiration, and the 11-mile Rail Trail provided another walking (and biking) option. We wished we had more time to stroll the extensive college grounds (there is also a museum and botanic garden), but our parking limit was only one hour, and we had crossed paths with the industrious meter attendant on our walk towards the school. A diverse selection of eateries beckoned us for lunch, but we had brought sandwiches to stay on budget.
Five miles south of Northampton, along US-5, there is a pull-off to visit the Dinosaur Footprints. After observing multiple big prints into the slabs of rock underneath our feet, we intended to eat lunch by the river. The smell and sight of dead fish all along the shore quickly deterred us from that plan.
We waited a bit longer to eat, until we reached Mt. Tom State Reservation on the way back to Northampton. For a $5 per car fee, we could explore the park and use its facilities. The picnic tables were located in the sun, so the three of us enjoyed lunch break on the green grass, shaded by trees. The heat of the day (it was 82°F – about 28°C in the shade) made us sleepy. While we preferred to take a nap, the promise of a viewpoint overlooking the area had us hiking up a mountain, following the Beau Bridge Trail to the M-M trail and climbing the observation tower.
While there are many other trails in the park, the two-hour loop hike satisfied our needs for exercise and discovery. There is another lookout tower near the visitor center, but the view is not worth the ascent, if you did the hike to Goat Peak. With a slight headache and a desire for air conditioning, we entered our trusty Prius and drove home via Greenfield for the obligatory stop at the grocery store. When you live 30 minutes away from the closest supermarket, you take any chance you get to stock-up and avoid a separate trip. 🙂
What is a favorite excursion from where you live? How long do you drive/walk/bike to get to the grocery store?