It used to be the thing that everyone did when I was a kid. You went with your family for a Sunday drive. Sometimes you had a specific destination – other family members’ homes or picnic spots or amusement parks. But sometimes you set out not completely sure where you were headed – especially if you were one of the kids in the back seat. Dad usually drove and he didn’t always tell you where you were headed. It didn’t matter. You were on the road, the scenery was going by and it was interesting. Those were the days when kids didn’t get bored as easily as they seem to today. Mom & Dad would put the radio on – sometimes the baseball game, sometimes music. The kids always hoped for music because then Mom and the kids would sing along to all the songs they knew. At some point, if it was summer, there was an ice cream cone waiting for you at the end of a long wait in line at one of the local dairies – there were a lot of dairy farms in this area 40 to 50 years ago. Many had their own ice cream for sale.
I always liked the drives with no particular place to be best of all! I loved watching the fields and farm animals, the trees and water (ponds, rivers, puddles). I still love that. It was usually the back roads. There weren’t as many highways back then either, but we mostly took the low road anyway. There also weren’t as many people on the road. Population out here in the smaller suburbs and rural areas was far smaller than it is today. So traffic wasn’t a serious problem. Gas was under half a dollar and almost everyone could afford that Sunday drive. I really loved those Sunday drives. I still do!!
I am so grateful that my husband has a love of driving (Sunday or not) that matches mine. We never have arguments because it very easy to decide what to do – go for a ride, no particular destination necessary. And I am doubly blessed that this man who loves what I love also has a true gift for reading maps and plotting routes. He has a near photographic memory for maps. The night before a drive, he “studies” the map so the next day he will have to refer to it minimally, e.g., if we decide to make a route change on the fly.
We are responsible people and we have cut back on our pleasure driving quite a bit. It used to be at least 3 days a week we would go for a long drive. Now it’s usually one. We’ve seen the gas prices and we understand the need to curb emissions due to global warming. But we have some “compensatory factors” that allow us this simple pleasure. My husband’s daily commute is 1 mile in each direction. My errands my take up a total of 20 miles most weeks. Not really excessive on the part of either of us. So the Sunday drive stays.
Today was Sunday and miracle of miracles, the fibromyalgia was pretty quiet. The weather was exquisite – dry air, mostly sunny with some fair weather clouds. We decided to start out heading north and see what we would find.
There was a brief stop at Dunkin Donuts in Oxford, MA for an iced decaf and an omelet supreme with bacon on a blueberry bagel (not my first choice; I like the cinnamon raisin) and a quicker stop at Walmart in N Oxford to pick up a gift card. Then we were off. We took MA Rt 56 north from Rt 12. In Holden, MA we picked up MA Rt 31 to continue north toward NH. There was a “shortcut” that took us from Rt 31 to Rt 31 farther along, near Mt Wauchusett. Of course, there was no skiing to watch today. Gratefully we’ve gotten rid of all our snow for now.
We picked up MA Rt 140 into Winchendon, MA, where we made a couple of stops. The first was “Brian’s Place”, a gas station, convenience store with rest rooms (required for a stop), Dunkin Donuts and Subway. Time to refill that iced decaf. A short distance up the road, we stopped at a local farm stand to buy some fresh veggies. We then connected with MA Rt 12 and drive it into Keene, NH, where it became NH Rt 12, of course. Since this was the most “civilization” we would be likely to pass, we dropped in to Applebee’s for dinner. It was quite good! So was the service.
When we left Applebee’s after dinner, we headed west on NH Rt 9 toward Chesterfield, NH. We found a “Wayside Area” run by the state with a trail and restroom, as well as picnic tables. It was nice and shady, so we got out our canvas chairs and the bug spray and settled in for an hour or so. We read books, listened to birds and sipped our beverages. Then we were off again, heading toward home. Rt 9 took us to Rt 63 South, through Hinsdale, NH where they have a horse racing track and into Northfield, MA and Miller’s Falls, MA. From there we wook Rt 2 East to Rt 2A into Orange, MA, where they do a lot of skydiving from their small airport. We picked up MA Rt 122, driving through Petersham, Barre and Rutland, MA before reaching Rt 31 in Spencer, MA. We followed back roads from Spencer and arrived home by 6 PM, about 7 hours after leaving the house.
It was quite a pleasant drive! Before we got to Keene, NH, we passes through mostly small suburbs. When we left Keene, we passed through mostly very rural or very, very small town. These are towns where there are several original colonial era homes still standing near to town center. Some are extremely well kept. There were small town commons with gazebos. It was about as small time New England as you can get and we loved it that way. So do the people who live there. It shows in the attention they pay to their homes and streets. Clean and well cared for.
There were things we could have done along the way, had be been in the mood. More farm stands; yard sales; antique shops; other shops; diners and restaurants; fishing spots along rivers and lakes; car washes held by local groups; this list could go on a while. But we always try to let our mood dictate our adventure and this week it was a quiet drive we both wanted. With some varied music along for the ride: Culture Club w/Boy George; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; The Bee Gee’s; The Righteous Brothers
Can’t wait to see where our next Sunday drive takes us – geographically and musically. Better get a move on now. Groceries shopping (the joy of every Monday) tomorrow, so I’d better get some sleep.