Foliage Flight Lower Res (High)

Foliage Flying

While many bemoan the end of summer (heck, I used to be one of “those people”), since moving to the Berkshires, autumn has become my favorite season. Cool mornings, crisp, juicy local apples, sunshine filled days, long hikes & dreamlike starlit nights – autumn really is the best. And, the fall foliage that surrounds you up here, with its brilliant hues of orange, yellow & red, is simply breathtaking.

Speaking of foliage, one my favorite Berkshires experiences is taking a fall foliage flight.  A great spot to do this is at the Great Barrington Airport located at 70 Egremont Plain Rd., in Great Barrington.  The cost for a half hour flight, for 3 passengers, is $90 for a half hour & $185 for an hour.  I took the kids for a flight last fall & it was a mind blowing experience.  So mind blowing, that not a week goes by without my son asking when he can start flight lessons at the Great Barrington Airport (lucky me!).

This is Your Pilot Speaking

This is Your Pilot Speaking

If you think the foliage looks great out of a car window, you can’t imagine what it looks like from up above.  And, as an added plus, if you happen to own a home in a Berkshires, your pilot will happily do a fly over for you.

Roger, Roger!

Roger, Roger!

 

So, what are you waiting for?  Get up here quick – before the leaves are gone & we’re all skiing in knee deep (I pray…) snow.

Foliage Flight - Alec Ava

The Eagle Has Landed

Happy fall & have a safe flight!

Bike-n-fly-plane

Berkshires Bike N’ Fly This Weekend

One of the highlights of the summer in Great Barrington is spending the afternoon at the annual Berkshires Bike-N-Fly held at the Great Barrington Airport, located at 79 Egremont Plain Rd. The Bike-N-Fly takes place this year on Saturday, August 16th from 10-4. I always love taking guests by to see the airport, After all, it’s not every day that you get to watch private planes take off right over your head while being surrounded by lush corn fields and spectacular mountains.

If you like bicycling, you can start the day with your choice of a 20, 35 or 50 mile ride over the rolling hills of the Berkshires. I regularly ride the race routes & trust me, the scenery all around you won’t disappoint! The rides finish at the airport where you’ll be cheered & welcomed to the Fly-In with loads of fun activities for the entire family.

 

The Kids Flying High

Our Kids – Flying High in The Berkshires

There will be live music starting at 10am with bands including local favorite Emily Mure, a car show with lots of classic cars, balloon rides, airplane rides & helicopter rides too. You can even try your hand flying a flight simulator with the expert guidance of a flight instructor.  For the kids, they’ll have kids bike races, face painting, balloons & a bouncy castle. And of course, no one goes hungry in the Berkshires. There will be a variety of local food vendors including the always awesome home made ice cream from The Scoop in nearby Lenox.

Have an awesome weekend & enjoy the Berkshires Bike-N-Fly!

 

Butterfly Large

Fly Like a Butterfly in Housatonic

I’ve driven past Project-Native Gardens in Housatonic countless times – always making a mental note to stop by the next time I go by. I’d recently read about Project Native’s Butterfly House & when we had NYC house guests over this past weekend, we decided to visit Project Native with the kids.

Project Native & its Butterfly House is a great destination for adults & kids alike. There’s no admission fee –  though as a not-for-profit, they accept donations. The Butterfly House is a screened-in 35-by-55-foot structure with lots of native plants &, you guessed it, native Berkshire butterflies! Project Native’s mission is to promote, restore & sustain native habitats in the Berkshires. It’s located at 342 North Plain Rd. (Rte 41), just 4 miles north of Great Barrington.

Butterfly House

The Butterfly House

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by cheery Dylan, a recent Oklahoma State University graduate who’s working at Project Native this summer as an Environmental Education Intern. The kids immediately took a shine to Dylan & she took us right to the Butterfly House. As the butterflies flitted around us, Dylan not only identified each one, but also enthralled the kids (& us) with colorful explanations about their life cycle, what they like to eat, the different breeds that are native to the Berkshires, etc. The kids peppered Dylan with questions & she patiently answered each one. The kids couldn’t get enough of the butterflies & it was so awesome hearing their giddy laughter each time a colorful butterfly landed on them. My daughter & her friend were lucky enough to have several butterflies land right into their waiting open hands.

butterfly group

In the Palms of Our Hands –  Just Where we Want Em’!

After a half-hour or so in the Butterfly House, Dylan asked the kids if they wanted to go outside for a butterfly safari around Project Native’s grounds. Surprise, surprise – all of the kids responded in unison with a resounding YES!  Project Native’s grounds have glorious mountain views & 22 acres of meadow for butterflies, insects, ground nesting birds & hummingbirds. Dylan outfitted each of the kids with their “safari gear” –  butterfly nets & bug boxes – explaining that all of the butterflies the kids caught would be brought into the Butterfly House & then released by them for other visitors to enjoy. The kids ended up catching a bunch of butterflies & were so excited as they released each one into the Butterfly House. To say the kids (& we) had a blast would be a gross understatement. In fact, when lunch time arrived & our adult stomachs started grumbling, the kids begged to stay longer – in spite of our promises of ice cream for dessert at SoCo Creamery.

Butterfly Safari Girls

Shhh! Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet. I’m Hunting Butterfwies!

Needless to say, we’ll be back to Project Native very soon – especially since they’re expecting even more monarch butterflies in the coming weeks. So, next time your driving on Rte 41, stop by & visit Project Native. Have a blast with the butterflies!

 

 

 

 

 

Pink & White

Awesome Art & Dining in Columbia County

One of the great things about living & vacationing in the Massachussets Berkshires is that you get the triple benefit of not just the Massachusetts Berkshires, but also what’s often referred to as the neighboring New York Berkshires & Connecticut Berkshires. The NY Berkshires, in Columbia County, is chock full of arts & culture, outdoor activities & amazing food & restaurants. One of of our favorite Columbia County day trips from West Stockbridge is to the OMI International Arts Center in Ghent, with a dinner stop afterward in Philmont, NY.

OMI has a fantastic, fun & whimsical outdoor sculpture park & there’s nothing like walking around & exploring the the grounds on a nice day. While we enjoy all of the sculptures, our kids’ go-to favorite has been  “A Simple Network of Underground Wells & Tunnels” as they can actually climb down ladders into the sculpture & crawl through it. In addition to OMI’s sculpture park, they’ve got rotating indoor exhibits at the Visitors Center & Gallery  –  a stunning building that also features a great cafe.  And, if you’re up in the Berkshires this weekend, OMI is having its Season Opening Exhibition on June 13 & 14.

We're IN the sculpture!

Yes…we’re INSIDE the sculpture!

 

After you’re done strolling around the OMI grounds & have worked up an appetite, I suggest heading for dinner at one of our two favorite Columbia County restaurants  – both located in Philmont, NY.  Philmont is a short 15 minute or so drive from OMI.  The Main Street Public House Pub, located 12 Main Street (Route 217) has awesome pub style food with a great selection of microbrew beers on tap.  On the first Friday of each month, they serve a great fish & chips special. Their burgers, made with locally sourced beef from nearby Kinderhook Farm (another great place to visit – but I’ll cover that in a separate blog post) are also off the charts.  Note – the Pub takes cash only.

Main St. Public House

If you’re up for something a bit more upscale (yet not the least bit pretentious), I strongly recommend Local 111, which is at 111 Main Street, just up the hill from the Main Street Public House Pub. Josephine Proul, who’s been the super creative executive chef at Local 111 for the past six years just purchased the restaurant. The menu has something for everyone & covers the the rich bounty provided by the wealth of local farms in the surrounding Hudson Valley. Local 111 has a great wine selection & we just love the vibe & ambience there.

Local 111

Local 111

Enjoy your day in Columbia County & happy eating in Philmont!

 

Rawson Brook I

The Best Goat Cheese – Straight from the Farm, in Monterey

If you want a true Berkshires experience that’s fun for all ages & if you love goat cheese as much as we do, you owe it to yourself to visit Rawson Brook Farm, located at 185 New Marlborough Rd., in Monterey. The farm is tucked away, right off New Marlborough Road, which is the right hand turn just past the Monterey library. Rawson Brook Farms is where Monterey Chevre, the Berkshires’ fantastic award winning goat cheese is made.

 

Rawson Brook II

Hello kids!

When you visit, you’ll get to see all of the cute goats grazing & be sure to stop into the cheese kitchen/milking parlor to buy your super fresh goat cheese. They’ve got 3 delicious varieties –  plain, thyme & olive oil. My favorite is the olive oil. Just choose your bounty from the fridge & leave your money in the basket. Honors system here… Our kids love making the trip with us as they get to say hello to all of the goats. And, if you go late in the day, you might even get to watch the goats being milked. Have fun & happy eating!

Catamount Web

Swinging in the Berkshires!

Looking for a super fun activity to do with the kids this spring & summer in the Berkshires?  Then visit the Catamount Aerial Adventure Park located in Hillsdale, NY, 15 minutes from Great Barrington, right over the Massachusetts state line. You & the kids will have three or so hours of thrills & excitement, get a great workout & discover muscles you never knew existed!

 

Zip Line!

Cousins Zip Line Fun!

The beauty of the aerial adventure park is that it’s suitable for ages 7 & up and works much like a ski slope – with multiple courses for varying ages & difficulty levels. After being fitted for your harness & given a pair of safety gloves, you’ll receive a quick demo from the park staff on how the equipment works, proper safety, etc. And, then it’s off to the action. The best part is that each course ends with super fun zip lines that take you from the course area down to the Catamount base lodge.

We always go as a family & it never gets old. And, it’s one of the most requested destinations of our weekend guests. So.. what are you waiting for? Head over to Catamount Aerial Adventure Park & have fun swinging!

Ava Ramps Cover

The Family that Forages Together…

There’s been lots of talk and social media posting by our foody friends about spring ramp foraging here in the Berkshires. So… during a family walk in our neighborhood the other night, my 9 year old daughter shrieks with excitement “hey, mom & dad, I think those look like ramps!”. She then reaches down and pulls a couple of weed looking plants up from the ground & voilà –  we’ve got beautiful, pungent ramps folks – and plenty of them!

Ramps Carrie

My wife & her babies

As a newby to foraging, I must confess there’s something very exciting & wholesome about the experience. And, the kids had an absolute blast digging up and gathering the booty. As soon as we got home, we cleaned the ramps and my wife made a delicious ramp frittata that we devoured within minutes. (check out our friend & Berkshires based cookbook author Alana Chernila’s recipe for ramp, asparagus & ricotta frittata. )

So, next time you’re up in the Berkshires in the spring, give me a holler. You never know – I might just share our ramp treasure map with you. Til then, happy foraging!

Mud Day

Don’t Miss Mud Day!

This Saturday, May 17th is Mud Day! What on earth is Mud Day, you ask?  Mud Day is a spring festival celebrating the Berkshires landscape & the environment. The festival is held at Muddy Brook Elementary School – 318 Monument Valley Rd., in Great Barrington, from 11am – 3pm.  The event is open to the public.

We went last year with the kids & it was a blast. It’s such a wholesome family event – no cheesy game booths & prize tickets for junky plastic toys that linger around your house for years.  Each class exhibits a project they worked on during the school year related to the environment & conservation.  And, the highlight (for the kids, at least) are several mud pits that the kids get to play in.  Our kids’ favorite was the tug of war mud pit. They’ll also have lots of fun craft activities for the kids.  Last year my daughter spun her own colorful jump rope that she still uses.

My daughter creating her own jump rope

My daughter creating her own jump rope

To top it off, there will be great food (from Prairie Whale, ice cream from The Scoop & amazing doughnuts from Home Sweet Home Doughnut Shoppe ), musical entertainment & plenty of mud for the kids to romp around in.  Important tip: bring a spare change of clothes for your kids & bring them to the festivities in clothes that you don’t mind them getting dirty.  Enjoy!

Hancock Shaker

Baby Animals & More – Hancock Shaker Village

If you have never been, you owe it to yourself, your kids or your grandkids to go to Hancock Shaker Village for their annual Baby Animals event. The special tour price includes a hay ride, photo of your family holding some of the baby animals and a behind the scenes tour with a chance to hold bay chicks, ducklings, pigs and lambs! We take our kids every year & it never gets old. And when you’re their be sure to have a chat with Laura a/ka the “Chicken Lady” who can not only answer all of your questions about the baby animals but also share her passion for chickens with you.

Ava Pig

Cute little piggy – aye?

And, they’re holding a Backyard Beekeeping Workshop on May 17th.  How cool is that?

Have a blast at Hancock Shaker Village!