I love to travel. I caught the bug early on, and ever since I could travel alone, I have. Nothing excites me more than packing a bag, holding a boarding pass in my hand, and getting ready to embark on an adventure in a new place, to meet different people and make memories to take with me. It’s no wonder I entered into a career where travel is so prevalent. Mostly recently, I have been going on a nationwide book tour with author Stephanie Tourles to promote Raw Energy, a 124-snack recipe book that promotes healthy eating.
The first leg of our tour took me to the West Coast, where I learned more about myself than I had bargained for. We had a great event at the Port Townsend Library in Washington, just a ferry crossing and an hour's car ride north of Seattle. There I learned about my “vata” characteristics, which include making friends easily.
author Stephanie Tourles for her nationwide book tour
Being true to my “vataness,” when I first moved to Western Massachusetts, I was naturally making friends, which included being asked out on dates to go hiking. Having come of age in Manhattan, I had come to believe that a first date included a cocktail and a rundown of each other's résumés. So, for the first six months in my new home of Western Mass, I repeatedly turned down these offers to walk outdoors with a relative stranger. Recently, though, I’ve become much more of an outdoor girl and finally accepted an offer to go hiking — and loved it.
Starting out at 10 a.m. on a Saturday, we made a pit stop at the A-Frame Bakery on Route 7 in Williamstown, where we got fresh-brewed coffee, chocolate pastries, and almond and pistachio biscotti. They were so delicious that I am referring to The Baking Answer Book by Lauren Chattman to help me recreate the recipes.
I will admit, my hiking partner already had the trail picked out, so I had very little to do but dress in layers and be prepared to walk in the snow. The location: behind the Clark museum in Williamstown, where there are 140 acres of scenic meadows and hiking trails. That day the open fields were covered in snow, but the barbed wire fence was evidence that cows graze there in warmer months. The grounds are open to the public and free of charge.
The Stone Bench Loop was mostly a flat path; at its entrance lie two small, ancient headstones, marking the graves of family pets. In typically quirky New England fashion, a landowner buried his cherished dogs there.
the unreadable name on the Stone Bench.
Beyond that, there really is a stone bench, placed there by local citizens in memory of a resident as an apology for treating him badly during World War I because he was of German ancestry. It's atop Stone Hill, with a spectacular view of Williamstown and the Green Mountains of Vermont to the north.
View of Williamstown, Massachusetts, from Stone Hill
As we walked the 1.5 miles, we were able to identify animal prints. We also saw snowshoe tracks and discovered old U.S. Route 7.
After the hour-long hike that morning, the wider and paved current U.S. Route 7 was how I got to the Remington Lodge in Cummington, Massachusetts, for dinner that night, where the dishes on the preset menu are prepared with fresh ingredients from local farms.
Overall, a perfect Berkshire County day with new friends!— Michelle Blackley, Senior Publicist