Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Get Out of Town... Now! (pt. 1)

Brooke and I finally took off for our long awaited Valentine's Day getaway to Porches Inn at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA. It couldn't have come soom enough as I was really losing it in the mental stability department... I was working on my sixth shift of cab driving in a row, had just been pummelled by a hefty car repair, beat up by threatening excise tax bills and really really really needed to get out of Worcester for a little escape to Western Mass. More and more, I'm finding that Western Mass has a real civility, serenity, calmness and creativity-inspiring kind of thing going on that I'm not finding all that much anymore in Worcester. But anyway...

We left Worcester early-ish on Sunday morning. First stop was to the Animal Rescue League to pick up a trio of feral kitties that Brooke & I were delivering to some eager adoptees out in West Stockbridge, just off the last exit of the Mass Pike. We flew down the pike, listening to reggae, Leonard Cohen and some New Order. The trip seemed to take no time at all. Made it to West Stockbridge and then headed up through New York towards Rt. 2...

Along the way, I spotted a red fox darting across the road way ahead of us. We pulled over and watched it run through the hills, the snow, stopping and turning to look back towards the road every now and then. I'd never seen a fox in the wild up relatively close like that before. A little further up the road, Brooke spotted a red tail hawk circling nearby.

Rt. 2, at its very beginning, is a real curvy, narrow, scary road. There are speed limit signs that say you can drive 50 MPH, but I'm not sure how you could do that without icewater in your veins and a complete working knowledge of every twist and turn to Rt. 2 so as not to drive right off the mountain into oblivion... It was really fun and a bit scary at the same time...

We made it to North Adams and our first stop was to Mass MoCA itself (the Massachusetts Museum of contemporary Art). I love driving in to its walled parking lot with ornate industrial overhead lights and the looming Mass MoCA metal sign atop one of the factory buildings. We stopped in the restaurant and got a late lunch: I had fish tacos and Brooke had banana french toast which we washed down with a 10% alc. content chocolate stout, which the waitress was semi-wary to serve us without warning us of its potency for some reason. My dear, we are not afraid of stronger ales!

(There were two weird little overheard situations that came up as we waited an inordinate time for our meals - not that it was a big deal, the restaurant was busy and we were in no rush for anything so waiting was not a problem... But there was a mom and son sitting next to us who seemed to have been seated, ordered food and then decided, after the food had already been made but not yet served, that they no longer wanted the food. The server asked them if they'd like to have their food wrapped up so they could have it later at their hotel room (the same hotel we were staying at), but they said no. They paid and left. The mom seemed rather snooty, rich and the boy seemed bored to be at the museum restaurant at all and then they both shuffled on off to god knows where...)

(The other situation involved another snooty designer-framed glasses older white-haired woman sitting a few tables away who was upset about how long it was taking to get their food. The server tried to console her, explain that the restaurant was busy, etc. And then I guess the host came over and did the same, but this old bird just wanted what she ordered immediately and how dare anyone make her wait any longer than what she felt was an adequate amount of time... God... I hate people like this... Brooke and I both agreed, though, that museums and resort type areas tend to bring out the "stodgies" - those rich, carefree, no sense of humour people who seem to glut the North Adams area...)

We ducked in to the main entry way of Mass MoCA, but decided to save the museum for all day Monday and its a good thing we did because... We checked in at Porches Inn, which was directly behind Mass MoCA, across the river and as part of the package that Brooke had bought for me for Christmas, we got two FREE tickets to the museum, a complimentary voucher for dinner at one of three local restaurants (we already ate lunch at one of them) and an awesome contemporary country rustic hotel room in the "pink" house...




Awesome hotel. Rustic. Cozy. Walking distance to lots of fun North Adams things to do. We had 24 hour access to a sauna, outdoor jacuzzi and heated swimming pool... One of the first things we did once we realized we could go swimming was to race down to Wal-Mart (ugh) and purchase whatever el cheapo bathing attire we could find which we used right away and I had my first sauna experience! I had no idea how hot that wooden enclosed room would get! And then we sat in the jacuzzi with other hotel guests under the stars of a cold February Western Mass night... sigh... We met a mom and her two kids who were staying at Porches as part of a ski package. There was another couple who were up visiting from Manhattan, NY.

Dinner was at 8pm at Gramercy Bistro right down the street from the hotel and museum. We walked down Marshall Street past Mass MoCA, under a highway overpass and we heard this strange crackling sound... It turns out that there's this weird concrete-sort of encrusted box with odd noises coming out of it. It's some sort of art sound installation thing that plays some sort of sounds caused by traffic or something... very eerie... but cool...


(click for even more info on this odd "Harmonic Bridge" sound device thing...)


North Adams is like that in that there are little art projects allover the place... Artificial fall colored leaves on a limp of a tree near Porches... a giant boulder split in half suspended in the air by metal cables and poles... magpies / crows / ravens painted in tiles atop a garage at Porches...



At Gramercy, I ordered paella and Brooke had seared Tuna and we drank glasses of Hoegaarden with lemon. Lots of street-art giant art creations. The restaurant softly played Herbie Hancock's album with "Rockitt" on it. Very classy, artsy place... For dessert we had an apple / date streudal thing with vanilla ice cream. We were so stuffed full of food...

We walked back to Porches Inn. Brooke took a shower as I lounged in the front room watching a little tv. The two of us cuddled in a too-small chair and watched "Idiocracy"" on Comedy Central and halfway through, I went to bed as I was totally falling asleep... Oh... before this... we had to call the front desk for the second time, to light the pilot light on the gas stove we had in the front room, under the painting that concealed the tv. Brooke was obsessed with getting this fireplace up and going and it was worth it... made everything all the more cozy...

(more on the trip next blog)

2 comments:

MASS MoCA said...

Glad you enjoyed MASS MoCA and North Adams. Just wanted to let you know that the work under the overpass is a sound art installation by Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger called Harmonic Bridge. There's more info here: http://www.massmoca.org/event_details.php?id=150

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