Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

Visit to Northampton, MA

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?


  1. Nice to see a bit of the ‘hood, Liesbet, and I like the look of the Beau Bridges Trail. I think you’ll be happy enough there for a while. 🙂 Have a good week!

    • Thanks, Jo! So much to do and explore, wherever we go. Looking forward to some sunny weekends. 🙂 Enjoy your week as well. Hopefully it will be a bit less damp than the weekend.

  2. We live right next to a man made lake. It is 1/4 mile from our home. Walking around it can be as short as 3 miles or as long as 5, depending on which path you take. At night, it offers amazing sunsets, with geese, ducks, and other birds flying in and out of the skyline. The sunsets are epic, as are the sunrises. It is one of my favorite places.

    • Wow, Ryan, that sounds pretty amazing and so close. Another thing to be happy and grateful about… 🙂 Places in nature where you don’t need a car to get to – just a walk outside the door brings you there – are my favorites as well. It is one of the reasons why we prefer house sits on properties with, or close to, trails and why I enjoy visiting my parents in Belgium.

  3. That looks like a lovely town. My nearest supermarket is about 3 minutes drive and there are several more within a couple of miles radius. City life!

    • Didn’t we just talk about that? All those conveniences and perks of living in a city? 🙂 We are hoping to be “centrally” located during one of our future sits…

  4. Beautiful country! You two have yourself a pretty great gig!

    • Yes, it is pretty nice here. A lot of nature around and our house is in the middle of the woods: peaceful and quiet. After these five months, we might be ready for some city life “action”, though. 🙂

  5. I’m always amazed how things can get preserved for so long – like dinosaur footprints. The smell of dead fish would get me to leave too 🙂

    • Yes. I guess it is a bit like fossils. For some reason, I never thought those dinosaur skeletons in museums were real, but the footprints left no doubt. They were discovered when workers were building the road.

  6. I laughed out loud, and actually snorted my coffee at your description of the industrious meter attendant. I could imagine her notebook in one hand and tire marking chalk in the other.
    We live 45 minutes form the Canadian Rockies so this is of course our fave excursion. Living in a city of 1.2 million people the grocery store is nearby. Perhaps I would be a more efficient shopper if it was not so handy.

    • I think I’d take ease over efficiency, Sue, after living pretty far from a grocery store for over six months now. 🙂 But, we love being in the peaceful setting of the woods, and, efficient we try to be. The hope is to last two weeks, but so far, we have not been successful. Trying hard this week. It’s just that, while we are out, we might as well stop again and buy enough to last us two weeks, again, and… you get where I am going! I’d love to live close to the Canadian Rockies!! We will look for a house sit there next summer.

  7. I love that area. Spent some time there myself in 2000 but didn’t take photos at the time so it is nice to have your lovely images to remember it by. As for your question, the length of time taken and mode of transportation used to get to the grocery depends upon which port we are in. Currently here in Townsville, it is a 15 minute walk to The Woolworths in town.

    • Being moored near towns makes grocery shopping so much easier when living on a boat. Enjoy the ability to get things done (I am sure you are) and good luck marking that last stubborn item off your boat repair list! I want to see photos of the underwater life again. 🙂

  8. Hee hee I popped crossed from Jo’s Monday walks fully expecting Northampton, UK and instead of course it is Northampton, MA. What a lovely town the MA one and great walk.

    • It never seizes to boggle my mind how many towns in New England, USA are named after British ones. And, how many towns with the same name exist! We just went to Woodstock, Vermont this weekend, after visiting Woodstock, New York a few months ago. 🙂 I am liking your Portugal posts, Becky!

      • They clearly were an unimaginative lot those who founded the cities or perhaps they were just homesick! I wonder if the Portuguese did the same in Brazil?!!

        • Good question! I have no idea, since I have not been to Brazil… Or Portugal. 🙁 Maybe you should go and check it out, Becky! 🙂 I know the Spanish named a lot of “discovered” islands and founded cities after their explorers and ships.

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