U.S. Route 20 Across America: 1/2 (October 2016)

Day 1: Boston, Massachusetts to Marlborough, Massachusetts (~30 miles)

Our flights on Delta from home to Boston’s Logan Airport were utterly boring; that is, they were perfect.  No fellow passengers going crazy over seatbacks or armrests, no smoke in the cabin, no being bounced by weather, no flight delays, no screaming babies, nothing – just take-off, fly, eat small pretzels, land.  Ahhh.  We’d used some worklife accumulated reward points to take the edge off a one-way Hertz rental, which was waiting for us at the airport.  Boston’s aggressive traffic is infamous but, on a Saturday night, it wasn’t too bad (and there was no game at Fenway), so, after a little kerfluffle with I-90, we reached the start of US20 West in Kenmore Square as night fell, tagged it, and then pressed on west.

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And so it begins…in Kenmore Square

With the flight and all, it had been a long day, so we were looking forward to reaching our hotel in Marlborough, MA and kicking back. But, unbeknownst to us, our hotel was also a conference center – one hosting the New England Comic-Con. The hotel restaurants were jammed, as were most of those in the immediate vicinty. So we settled for an uncrowded Wendy’s. This being comics for adults, all the hotel and surrounding bars were busy too, so we scored some brews from the State Liquor store (you can’t get it anywhere else – the Spirit of the Puritans lives on in Massachusetts!) to be consumed in our room. Not to say we got a lot of sleep since about every two hours another tranch of exuberant Comic folks would exit a bar, rumble down our hallway, and bang their way into their rooms.  Ah, youth. But, the hotel took $20 off our room because of this noise, so no worries (and money for extra coffee in the morning to get us on the road…).

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Captain America apparently never sleeps

Day 2: Marlborough, Massachusetts to Tully, New York (~280 miles)

Our first full day on the road dawned bright and clear, which (along with caffeine) made getting on the road early pretty easy. We didn’t have too many preconceived ideas about what US20 would be like but, right out of the parking lot, we were quickly disabused of any idea that it would all be a nostalgic two-lane journey through the kitsch of a bygone era, with cute little mom-and-pop eateries, hotels, and attractions dotted here and there. It’s not. Between Marlborough and Springfield, there are many sections of four-lane highway, industrial areas, large shopping centers with national chains, and precious few mom-and-pops. Rest areas are almost non-existant, so a strong bladder is essential. Not until we were west of Springfield, and going up into the Birkshires, did US20 become a mostly two-lane affair rolling through the lovely Fall colors. We crossed the Appalachian Trail (our only hiking-related activity of the day) and made it to Pittsfield in time for lunch at the Marketplace Café (great!). Pittsfield was an island of prosperity compared to what we saw in many of the small towns and collections of houses that we’d passed on the way to it.  After lunch, we took a time-out from the road to visit the Hancock Shaker Village just west of Pittsfield, then crossed the state line, and headed into New York. The tall buildings that dominate Albany (the New York state capital) were a bit of a shock after our passage through the bucolic Berkshires.  With the great weather, light traffic (it being Sunday), and mix of good two- and four-lane road, we were having an easy day of it.  But past Albany, clouds started to appear, signalling an end to the great weather.  By the time we made it to our hotel in Tully, New York (south of Syracuse), the clouds had thickened and there were spits of rain.  The big plus of late season travel is that it’s much less crowded; the big negative is that you can’t count on having continuously nice weather.  After a delicious dinner at Sweet Basil (details) in Tully, we called it a day.

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Just west of Marlborough, Massachusetts

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Outside Oxford, Massachusetts

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West of Springfield, Massachusetts

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Chester, Massachusetts

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Crossing the Appalachian Trail just west of West Becket, Massachusetts

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Pittsfield, Massachusetts

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Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts

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Round Barn, Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts

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Dormatory, Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts (Women on the left, men on the right, ner the twain shall meet…)

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Crossing the line into New York

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Entering Albany, New York

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Fall colors and building clouds in eastern New York

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End of the day near Tully, New York

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