Finally wrapping up a whirlwind of a weekend before heading back home tomorrow.
To recap, I traveled to the Berkshires to spend a night in Stockbridge at the Red Lion Inn, and then stayed at a roadside motel in Barrington for the last two nights and using that as a launchpad to return to Stockbridge for their Christmas festivities.
The way I had planned my trip allowed me to experience my time here in two distinct ways: firstly, what it was like to visit a tourist trap when it’s offseason, and secondly, what it was like to visit it when things were hopping mad crazy.
That’s when I realized something: people suck skanky beanie balls.
But more on that in a bit. :-D When I arrived Friday, I basically had the town to myself. I was able to walk down Main Street, enjoy the old buildings and shops, treat myself to hot chocolate, then return to the Red Lion and check out the restaurants there at my leisure. Honestly, it wasn’t half bad, and I really liked having an old fashioned room with a fireplace, and the option to get room service so I could have time to myself and relax. I could see myself coming back there again, but not for nearly $300 a night, good grief, no thank you.
Their rates do drop to just over $100 in the offseason though, so if I come back, I will make a point of returning during such a time and making sure I book during the middle of the week rather than on the weekend. In the meantime at least, I made the most of a one night stay here, and enjoyed it.
Sunday however, was a completely different story. That’s when Stockbridge would have its reenactment of Norman Rockwell’s famous Stockbridge painting, and today the place was a ZOO. There were shuttle buses and cars and dogs and old people and young people and skanky people and snobby people, and finally, horsey poo too.
Had it not been for my GPS helping me find a backroad to park on, I probably would have parked literally a mile away or more because of the massive number of people that were going there. It was ridiculous. And people were not friendly at all either. Most of them were with their own crowds and cliques that I felt out of place being there by myself, and feeling kind of stupid about it too. I felt unwelcome and unconnected, like I was crashing a party I hadn’t been invited to.
Ironically, there wasn’t much to the festivities either. They had carolers, a horse carriage and a group of classic cars to complete the ensemble as shown in Rockwell’s painting, but other than that, there wasn’t really much of a difference in the town today compared to Friday when I had first arrived. I would have enjoyed most of what the town offered anyway even if there had not been any festivities.
That experience taught me something. One, that towns tend to overhype events like these in order to attract visitors and tourists. By itself, these festivities were not worth the trip. The town however was, and certainly the historic Red Lion Inn, if for no other reason than just to say I got to stay the night at a place five Presidents and John Wayne (The Duke himself) once stayed at. :-D
Secondly, if I wanted to visit a new place, then the best time to do it is in the offseason, where it would not only be cheaper, but I would also avoid the evil, mean-faced crowds as well. Really, people have a way of seriously ruining things for me. It’s not that I hate humans and hope they all die (well not most of the time at least), but it just seems like they collectively have this innate ability to make me feel like a a stranger in a strange land. Nobody seems to travel by themselves. Somebody is always with somebody else, and honestly, it grates on my nerves. I’m starting to understand now what it must be like to be an orphan. To have that kind of disconnect with the world, knowing there is no place where you can truly feel at home and like you belong. That’s the experience I get when I’m utterly surrounded by a mass of humanity going about it’s business. The only connect I do feel is with the area itself. I actually felt more of a connection with the Red Lion itself than I did with the people inside of it. It was the history of it that did it, just the knowledge of being somewhere that had historical roots, offering me a chance to visit the past and imagine a simpler life. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy Rockwell’s paintings too.
Curiously enough, the most it ever felt like Christmas while I’ve been here was not by participating in the festivities in town, but by geocaching. Geocaching took me away from all the noise and got me to see the area from a perspective that never would have occurred to most of the out of towners. I saw a heavenly winter wonderland as if it were a gift from God Himself, and it brought me as near to the Christmas spirit than anything else the world could muster in its dark, cold and unfeeling way. Here, I felt at peace. Think about it, what picture would soothe you more: this one?
Or this one?
All in all, it was a worthwhile and fun getaway. Each trip is helping me to narrow my focus and discover things about myself, what I like, what I don’t like, and how I can get the most out of traveling as a single.
One thing’s for sure, I’m happiest when I’m not following the crowd, and going my own way instead. In fact that’s how I’ll be spending Christmas too, traveling back to Lancaster, Pennsylvania during one of their quietest times of year. I will probably have the entire hotel to myself, enjoying a Christmas day away from the darkness that is New York, with a possible second chance to see the hotel girl who had lifted my spirits and given me hope the last time I was there (in November).
I see good things ahead for me.