Monday, July 24, 2006

Over the Andes to Peru

I should have handed him the keys to the MINI. Instead, when Spooner suggested that we drive back to Northampton via a different route, I gave him the book of maps of western Mass.

The drive to the Berkshires had been normal -- a gentle uphill climb on the Mass Pike, exiting at Lee to hit the factory outlets, then an easy cruise through Stockbridge, ending up at Chesterwood where we saw the contemporary sculpture exhibit. We had fun pretending to be all artsy-fartsy with our cameras. There weren't many people on the sculpture walk in the woods, so no one looked at us like we were crackers.

It was the return trip that quickly got hairy. Spooner thought it would be good to go through Becket to Washington. He navigated, and I turned left onto Summit Hill Road and suddenly found myself driving up a very steep hill, like a 50 or 60 degree angle.

"You didn't tell me we were going over a fucking MOUNTAIN. How long are we on this road? The sign said 'Summit.' Are we at the summit yet?"

"Stop your bellyaching. Do you want me to drive?"

"No. That would mean I'd have to stop. I'm not stopping on this hill. No way."

We went through Washington, turned onto Washington Road and crossed the line into Peru.

"Is this the Andes? Where's the continental divide? When is it downhill to Northampton?"

"You're perseverating. It's the Berkshires -- you know, the Berkshire Mountains. Just keep driving."

We were on East Washington Road for a while and then turned onto Smith Road, for no good reason other than that Spooner's last name is Smith. It was a gravel road, the steepest road yet, wide enough for the MINI but that's about it.

"'Road Closed.' Did you see that sign? What are we going to do? I can't turn around."

"That's only in the winter. We're almost to Peru Center. Just keep driving."

In Peru Center, we got onto Route 143, a proper state road with lane lines. Next came Worthington, which looked like a real town, and Chesterfield with a traffic light! And at last we were going downhill.

"Where's the sandwich shop? You promised me a sandwich shop in Washington. I still haven't seen one."

"We're almost to Williamsburg. You'll know the way from there. Just keep driving."

We finally got to Burgy, and I did indeed know the way but there was still no sandwich shop. We stopped instead at Mad House Minis to look at all the old Astin and Morris Minis that they're restoring. My MINI had been very brave on this mad adventure, braver than I. From now on, I'm hiding the map book.

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