Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of understanding.
Sunday we left approximately according to our plan and drove, with a minimum of lostness, on beautiful roads with sweeping views towards Easthampton. At one point I just had to have Ian stop so I could take a picture:
That view really wasn’t the best one. A few miles back we saw a view that made both of us go “ooooooooo!” simultaneously, and now I wish I’d stopped for it. Oh well, life is made for regrets.
I don’t regret the Manhan Rail Trail, though. First off, it has a name I can pronounce, which immediately makes a good impression. Second, as we drove through Easthampton we saw lots of bear statues, all the same shape but decorated differently, sitting in front of shops and at corners, including the corner where we found the Manhan Rail Trail sign. Turns out we arrived during the Easthampton Bear Fest, and having a bear right by the trail just made it extra-special for us. Third, the trail was, once again, smoothly paved and handily marked in both miles and kilometers. Since it was a beautiful sunny day, we had lots of company, mainly in the form of parents with kids or groups of sullen-looking teenagers.
Here we are before setting off, looking kind of dorky and disheveled — pretty much par for the course for us. I don’t look particularly happy because I’d just discovered that I had left my Garmin on all night so it had no batteries left, which meant that I wouldn’t have a GPS route of our actual ride. 🙁
Nevertheless, we set out and rode a short distance to one end of the trail, since the parking lot wasn’t at either extreme end. We then turned around and rode as far as we could the other way. I say “as far as we could” rather than “to the other end” because, like the Holden Rail Trail, the Manhan Rail Trail had washed out. Nobody blamed it on beavers, though. Here’s the view looking back down the way we came:
This was as far as we got. Unlike the Holden Rail Trail, it was really impassible, and neither of us even considered trying to get across. (Somebody had decided to emphasize the foolishness of trying to cross by spray-painting plywood with the message BIKE PATH CLOSED. You can just see the sign partway down the gully in the picture. We got a good chuckle out of that. Yeah, I’d say it’s closed, all right.) The sad thing about a washed out trail like this is that there’s no guarantee it will ever be repaired. The Manhan Trail, for example, took 10 years to get built in the first place — a 5-mile long trail! How long will it take to get funding to repair or bridge this kind of damage? I may be wrong, but I’m afraid that kind of wash out means the end of the trail’s full connectivity. It’s a very nice multiuse path, but the washed out section effectively kills its usefulness as a means to get from Town A to Town B.
Instead of pushing our luck bushwhacking with bikes, we rode back along the trail a ways and then followed signs to the Mass Audubon Arcadia park, where we found out we would have to pay $4 each to walk on trails and maybe see birds.
We opted instead to go back to the car and eat our fresh croissants (not challah bread, as I originally hoped — four separate grocery stores failed us in the challah bread department, to my surprise and disappointment), cheese, and defrosted turkey. On the way out and back we passed this amazing abandoned building, clearly once a factory, but now derelict. The windows had all been removed and you could see inside, and the light and shadows, bricks and plants, all made me desperately want to trespass over the fence to take pictures. Out of respect for Ian’s sensibilities, though, I stayed on my bike and restrained my photographic urges until the end of the ride, when I took our traditional Bike Trail Victory picture.
“What about the Kenworth truck grille and symbol?” you may be asking. Quite simply, there was a Kenworth cab parked in the parking lot where we left our car during the ride. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the symbol, since it played such a big role in my early life.