Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Massachusetts - Day 9 - Holyoke

Village Green Campground, Brimfield
Sunday, 9 September 2018
today's route
Okay, does anybody remember Tom Terrific (and Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog) from the old Captain Kangaroo days?  When Tom wanted to express surprise, he'd use the names of towns:  SHEE-kah-go Illinois!  he'd say.  Or Hole-y-oke Massachusetts!  Occasionally I've wished I could remember these exclamations for my own personal use.

Well, it's now impossible for me to even think the word Holyoke without hearing Tom Terrific say it.  So I can now tell you that I spent a very pleasant half-day in HOLE-y-oke Massachusetts!

As you drive into town, a sign tells you that Holyoke is the birthplace of volleyball (presumably no famous person was born here, but volleyball's pretty famous).  It was invented in 1895 at the local YMCA.  I decided against the Volleyball Hall of Fame.

Dinosaur Footprints
I stopped first at the Dinosaur Footprints Park, just north of town.  There's no warning that it's coming up - just suddenly there it is, with a small parking area mere feet from US Rt. 5.  I missed it when I was going north to the campground the other day so took note of landmarks I could use on the way back - and it was still a surprise.

And so were the footprints.  Even though I'd read about them and seen photos online, it's still enough to give anyone pause to see them - actual footprints of actual dinosaurs.  And they're just right there - not fenced off or anything - anyone can walk on them and, in fact, you almost have to while you're trying to see them.

At first the whole rock area just looks like rock - not a smooth face but pockmarked with time and water.  And, for me anyway, it wasn't until I saw the first one - and suddenly realized what I was looking at - and stood there stunned for a bit - that I started to be able to see more.

This is what they think these critters looked like.  And that drawing helped me see more footprints, once I knew what to look for.
I wear a women's size 9, which gives you some idea of how big these prints are, though some are much smaller.

It was a somewhat emotional experience, actually.

Mt. Holyoke College
I drove out next to the college, which isn't actually in Holyoke but South Hadley.  It was the first, I think, of the sister schools and is still a highly regarded college.

It has the usual red brick buildings, but they've got more style than the standard New England 4-square sort of thing.
their gargoyles are literate (you have to blow this up)

Holyoke Merry-Go-Round

There were signs all over telling me they're celebrating their 25th anniversary this year, but it was clear that carousel was much older than that.  And it is.  Here's a link to its history. www.holyokemerrygoround.org/explore/history  I was so excited to be riding the merry-go-round that it didn't occur to me to take my camera inside; this is the outside of the pavilion.  A ride now costs $2 and it made me feel so happy, I definitely got my money's worth.

The merry-go-round is part of Holyoke Heritage Park, which still seems to be a work in progress.  It's on the site where a silk mill used to be, along the canal which was the source of hydropower the mill used.  The system of canals that's still used in Holyoke has an interesting history, in case you find that sort of thing interesting.   https://friendsofthecanalwalk

Along the road to the campground I passed a sign pointing out MacDuffie School.  It sounded familiar for some reason, so I wrote down the name and looked it up.  It's a prep school - apparently very expensive and very highly regarded - and I finally realized what was familiar.  I was thinking of the McGuffey Reader, which I think is what my parents used in school.  Doubt if they're using those readers in that school.

As I came into Brimfield (pop. 3600) I got way slowed down by the Antiques & Collectibles Show that's spread along US Rt. 20.  It happens only 3 times a year, and this weekend was one of those times.  It's apparently a big deal because there were stalls along both sides of the road for several miles, and they stretched back from the road a ways, and massive numbers of people, all wanting to cross the road from one side to the other. 

And then there were the emergency vehicles - several of them - so I'm guessing maybe somebody had a heart attack or something, because nobody was acting like there'd been a fire or anything like that.  Maybe he couldn't believe the good deal he was getting, or maybe somebody snatched what he wanted out from in front of him.

One of the stalls had a sign advertising Ye Olde New England Boiled Potatoes.  If it hadn't been so crowded, I'd have stopped to check them out - they get points for humor, for sure.

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