Follow the Narrow Dirt Road {over the hills of western MA}


Continuing my 2013 Road Trip from Bash Bish Falls.  Which, by the way, is in Washington, MA {the MA side at least}.  Which is where, I found out today, the singer James Taylor lives with his family.  Just a little trivia there, nothing to do with the trip.

It was well into the afternoon when I left Bash Bish Falls.  First on the list of places to find was the Christian summer camp I attended for four years, ages twelve through fifteen.  I have never been back.  I have photos.  I thought {big mistake} it would be easy to find.  Not so.

In the first place I was coming from the west, and my parents would have been coming from the north or east.  It’s all country, how hard can it be?  Just slightly different when you’re a kid riding in the back seat from driving on roads you haven’t seen in over forty years.

Without checking my notes, I’ll just tell you from memory.  It was a dirt road.  There were no signs.  I was following my gut.  The road was steep and kept getting narrower.  I almost turned back a couple of times.  The second time I would have had to back out {down}.  I didn’t know if I could make it.  {I did not take pictures of the road in.}

But I kept on, praying for God’s protection, not knowing what I would do if I met another vehicle.

All of a sudden, there it was.  Right beside the road.  Just as I remembered.  Exactly.  Unchanged.  The girls’ cabin.  The one I shared with Lynette from NYC, and Sandy, and her sister Robin from Norwalk.  The one where we got sprayed with the garden hose, straight in through the door.  And the chapel where we had Friday night concerts, with choir and band, and where we practiced our music every day.

And the other two cabins I was in the years before that.  Slessor was the name of the smallest one.  {I won’t tell you my memory of that one.  We were naughty girls.}

And the main house.  The one where my parents stood in front to have me take their picture.

And the dining hall, where we set the tables or helped in the kitchen.  The dining hall with the snack bar below, and the ping pong tables.

And the pool down the hill.  And the pond.  Where we built a raft, which didn’t float.  We christened it, but I don’t remember the name.  And there were canoes.  The pool was built because there were bloodsuckers in the pond, and someone’s child drowned there, so they gave money to build the pool.

And there were campers there, so I didn’t stop to take photos, because that is not what you do.  And I had so many miles ahead of me that I took very few, just from the car as I drove past.  All very much the same.  Just a different name.

So I kept on driving, down the dirt road hill.  To the street sign at the bottom, the same street name that my online map had given me, which I didn’t remember.  And the sign with the new name.

Where did Camp Hepzibah go, which in my memory was directly across the road?  Where were the gigantic hybrid blueberry bushes?  And the cemetery where we had a Snipe Hunt.  Some things change.  My camp did not.

As I drove out the other side, which would be the way in, the way my parents had come, which wasn’t any easier or closer or wider than the back side….I kept thinking

how amazing it was that my parents had driven

on these incredibly steep and unfinished and narrow roads,

so far out into nowhere,

to this camp they had never seen,

to leave their only child with people they had never met.

Just the drive was enough to overwhelm me

in thinking about what they had done for me.

 Incredible.

Here are the photos, with brief explanations of things not previously mentioned.  The camp, which used to be New England Keswick, is in Monterey, MA.

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Took a picture of this sign because our friends live on Tyringham Road in Lee, MA.

The Monterey General Store and Post Office.  I’m in the right town.

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The chapel in the background (above), the girls’ cabin on the right, and I am the one on the right, Sandy is on crutches, and Robin is to her left.  This cabin was brand new when I was a camper.  Looked exactly the same, with campers right there.  Exactly.

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These are the signs (above and below) we would have seen coming in as a child, from the east.

The church I don’t remember.  Just thought it looked New England-y and needed its picture taken.

We’ll take a pause in the trip.  Until next time…

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