And then there were bugs…..

Day 5.

(Only 2 more Berkshire vacation days to go. There will be an end… eventually. I promise.)

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Destination? An indoor conservation garden filled with wonderful (and sometimes creepy crawling) things.

But first we had to get there.

We passed beautiful stone churches…

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The ever present windmills…

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And a very strange breed of Berkshire deer.

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If you use Apple maps navigation like we do, you know that SIRI can put you on some very out of the way routes to cut 35 seconds off your arrival time. This trip was no exception.

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If that bitch directs you to take the Quarry Road up and over the mountain?

Do. Not. Go.

Calling it a road is a stretch, as it got narrower and narrower until it was nothing but a dirt trail. I stopped photographing shortly after that pic was taken because it was rutted, slippery with mud and about 4 inches wide. My fingernails were too busy digging ruts into the dashboard to operate the camera.

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But we survived and made it to…

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I wasn’t sure what to expect, as there were mixed reviews of this small family run operation.

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But the cafe looked alright.

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(No, we didn’t eat. Food lovers will have to wait for dinner.)

We purchased tickets and walked through the first door to….

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A veritable insect Disneyland!

Warning – if you don’t love bugs and reptiles? Come back for Part 2. There were a lot of both.

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Personally? I love me some bugs! The bigger and creepier the better.

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I mean, look at them!

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A mass of writhing Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches.

What’s not to love?

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Yeah…

Thanks for that.

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This one was hungry.

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These lived their lives upside down.

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But these?

These fellows from New Guinea looked like dead leaves walking, and were just plain amazing!

There were brightly colored poisonous dart frogs…

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Who were hard to photograph as they kept jumping around at will.

Very rude…

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Don’t they know I have to blog to write?

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As well as weird and wonderful lizards.

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How cute is that?

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I could easily have spent all day in just that one room….

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But the butterflies were waiting….

Shaker village barn part 2…. in which I converse with my people.

 

We spent a lot of time in that beautiful barn.

 

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And if you were paying attention during that riveting pig video in the previous post, you noticed some rather strange background noise…

 

 

Not what you expect to hear while trying to tiptoe through the cow pies, but it was fascinating all the same.

“An installation that offers visitors an immersive musical experience featuring some of the Shakers’ oldest melodies or, as they called them, ‘solemn songs’. (Solemn songs are textless melodies – without harmony or counterpoint – used in early Shaker worship from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.)”

“An integral part of the rural landscape, the two wooden silos, erected in 1908, stored feed corn for livestock. While many wooden silos across America have succumbed to disrepair or suburban sprawl (they haven’t been built since 1942, when fiberglass silos were introduced), the two at Hancock Shaker Village stand tall as ‘silent sentinels,’ beautiful icons of the culture of rural preservation and farming in America.”

 

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Moving on, we headed outside.

 

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Where the husband found an old implement he had to play with….

 

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And I found my people next to the manure spreader.

 

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Some were sunbathing…

 

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Others were hanging out with turkeys.  (No, I’m not talking about the husband.)

And we’re walking…

 

 

Clearly I missed my calling, and could have been a poultry manager in an earlier life.

 

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The next barn wasn’t nearly as impressive….

 

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But the husband still managed to ignore the do not touch signs and get into trouble.

 

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There was an old car…

 

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An an old sign.

 

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An old building…

 

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Which housed the old store…

 

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As well as an old living room…

 

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With an old television.

 

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I can’t imagine watching Game Of Thrones on that. Heck, the dragons would only be an inch and a half tall.

 

 

Where’s the fun in that?

 

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Entering another workshop building we found….

 

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A giant cider press.

 

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The weaving room.

 

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The broom room.

 

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And the basket room.

If they used it, they made it.

A society of Friends, remember? No sex. They had plenty of time on their hands.

And as we were leaving?

 

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We met an employee who’s sole job was to care for chickens.

Sit on a bench, in the sun, and pet a chicken all day.

I am totally qualified for that position.

Sign me up!

 

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Chicken duly met and petted, we left Hancock Shaker village with a finer appreciation of the simple things in life.

 

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Community…

Hard work…

Fresh air….

Chickens!

But not celibacy.

I don’t need that much simplicity….

 

Barn envy.

 

It’s a terrible thing, but we had it…. because this was a very special barn.

 

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It was massive, beautiful and pretty much dominated the Hancock Shaker Village landscape.

 

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The original structure was a calf barn built in 1880, but it burnt to the ground in 1910 and this was the glorious replacement.

 

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Structurally, it’s a wonder.

 

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And if I had been a cow back then,  (opposed to the cow I am now)  I’d have considered myself fortunate to live there.

 

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Hell, throw in a few scatter rugs and a frozen margarita blender….  I’d live there now.

 

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Those Shaker builders knew their stuff.

 

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5 stories of wonderful is what it was.

 

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The husband may have been walking around with his mouth open, I’m not sure.

 

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But when we heard that the sanitary commission of the 1930’s forbade the farmers to actively use and house cows there due to the wooden floors, we almost wept.

 

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What a waste.

 

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So an ell was added on… with concrete floors, and I made some new friends.

 

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Including a chicken who clearly ignores signs.

 

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And to continue my tradition of riveting video clips…

I give you Pig Washing Beets.

 

 

 

Never let it be said we don’t know how to have a good time on vacation.

 

 

 

 

More Hancock Shakers….

 

The second building we toured was the living quarters of the Brothers, Sisters and Elders.

 

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Everything was segregated by sex…. even the stairways were separate.

Everyone was busy, and everyone had a job.

 

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The women sewed clothing.

 

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The men made shoes.

 

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The women grew herbs and mixed their own medicines….

 

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As well as ran a simple hospital.

 

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The men made traditional boxes…

 

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And furniture.

I’m pretty sure everyone did this:

 

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The beds didn’t look very comfortable…

 

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And there was a lot of praying.

 

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Probably for a queen size Serta pillow soft, but that might just have been me.

 

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It’s hard for me to believe 300 people in the prime of their lives lived and worked together without ever being more than Friends.

But I could sure use a Shaker woman or two to come clean my house.

I certainly don’t have all that pent up energy to waste.

 

Hancock Shaker Village

 

After the frigid air on top of Mt. Greylock, we were happy to spend the rest of day 4 of the Berkshire vacation down on the valley floor. Having heard wonderful things about the authentic and fully restored village of the Shakers… we headed there.

We were also starving, so we were glad to find they had a cafe on site.

 

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It was a cute little place called Seeds, with all the food being organic and locally sourced. Many of the fruits and vegetables from the farm itself.

 

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The seats were handmade, traditionally Shaker in style and surprisingly comfortable.

 

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The menu was a little kale and quinoa heavy for my taste…

 

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But the sandwiches were tasty and the salads crisp and fresh.

 

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Thus fortified, we entered the village.

 

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It’s a large lovely place, full of history and tours we didn’t have the time to take.

 

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A little background:

Hancock was the third among the nineteen major Shaker communities established between 1783 and 1836 in New York, New England, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

The Shaker population reached its peak in the mid-19th century, with an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 members. More than 300 Shakers lived at Hancock during it’s peak. Today, the Shakers only remain active at Sabbathday Lake in Maine, with two Believers.

The Shakers are a religion of friends, and do not engage in sex.

Not too hard to imagine why the idea died out.

 

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This was a beautiful place to tour….

 

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With the dominant feature being the amazing circular stone barn.

 

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The community was entirely self sufficient, and the first building we entered was the big red one in the back.

 

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Laundry was a bit more labor intensive in those days….

 

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And the husband was all for getting me one of these.

 

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That contraption was for heating the irons, with the table behind being the board.

 

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The entire community took meals together, so the kitchen was impressive.

 

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And like most of the village, the pieces are an antique collector’s dream.

 

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Yes, the husband was drooling.

 

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There was a room for everything.

 

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And it was all efficiently laid out.

 

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Simple, quality workmanship.

 

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The buildings were well crafted, filled with natural light and beyond solid.

Apparently the Shaker women were fanatical house cleaners, sweeping and scrubbing nonstop.

But hey, they were celibate.

What else were they gonna do?

 

 

 

Mount Greylock… last part.

 

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Bascom Lodge, haven for hikers and climbers on top of the mountain..

 

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I could have cared less…. but the husband wanted to check it out.

 

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I was hoping for a warm respite from the wind inside.

 

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But to be honest it was pretty damned cold even in the building. Notice everyone is having coffee with their coats still on.

 

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There’s a fireplace, people! Light the damned thing.

We could have stayed and ordered a $17 grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, but elected to move on.

That is, I elected to move on…. and jogged halfway to the car through the biting wind only to realize that the husband hadn’t moved an inch and was standing outside the lodge jaw jacking with other tourists with the the car keys in his pocket.

 

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Grrr.

Not to mention Brrr!

 

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Jog back to the lodge, grab the husband mid sentence…. and pull.

You know all those people who say women talk too much? They’ve never met my husband.

The man would talk to a tree stump. And probably has.

 

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Seriously…. conversation in -10 wind chill is over rated.

 

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Nestled in the warm car, the ride down the mountain was as pretty as up.

 

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We passed a lake…

 

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And some nice farm land.

 

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On our way to the next destination.

 

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It’s only day 4 remember?

We were gone a week.

 

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Mount Greylock… Part 2.

 

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So we reached the top and found the tower.

 

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It was a tower.

 

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It was big.

 

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Thinking it would be warmer,  I ran inside.

 

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It was impressive, but still freezing cold and the sound of the wind whipping around the structure was eerie as hell.

 

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There were stairs.

 

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Lots and lots of stairs….

 

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Which I climbed halfway, lost my breath, said to hell with it and let the husband reach the top alone.

 

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The following are a few of the hundred shots he took that actually resembled something other than a giant blur. Photography is not his strong point.

 

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Bascom Lodge, more on that later.

 

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Windmills.

 

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North Adams again.

 

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Ranger station with bus loads of tourists.

 

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And before you say “Hey, stop picking on your husband those shots are great!”

 

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He literally took 106 pictures and those are the result. The other 101 look like this one of me:

 

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Jazz hands? Who can say…

Not the worst picture of me ever taken, but still.

 

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Goodbye tower…

 

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It’s been real.

Windy. It’s been real windy….

 

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So ends the soldier’s memorial tower post.

 

 

Well, if you insist…..