Sunday, January 29, 2012

Strategic Book Depository

I thought I would take a walk around the old military bunker near Amherst/Hadley that belonged to the Strategic Air Command back in the 50s and 60s. When my Dad was in the Navy in the 60s he once gave a fellow serviceman a ride up to the Notch. Although Dad was in the Navy, he could only go as far as the gate, where he bid adieu to his fellow serviceman. This area was supposedly classified (although everyone in the area knew about it.) Left, Dad in his Navy photo from the early 60s.

I parked at the Notch Visitor Center on Rt. 116 and crossed the street and walked north a bit to Military Rd.

A fence restricts access to the site, but there is a well blazed path around the perimeter.

From the Center of Land Use Interpretation: This 44,000 square-foot underground bunker, in the rolling hills next to Hampshire College, was built in 1956 as a regional control center by the Strategic Air Command (SAC), which operated a bomber base nearby in Westover. The three story building features a self-contained water supply and electrical generation system, a cavernous "war room" with a glassed-in balcony, and accommodations for up to 300 people. In 1973, as SAC centralized its command centers in Nebraska and Colorado.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston moved in and used it as an emergency back-up facility, and for records storage, along with New England Telephone and the New York Federal Reserve. The bunker was put up for sale for $250,000 in 1992, and was bought by nearby Amherst College, which uses it as a book depository and for archival storage.

Close by, there are concrete access areas that I assume are tunnels leading to the bunker.

There are several of these concrete structures nearby.

Waking north, there are several paths that lead away from the bunker.

The paths lead to what I believe to be Amherst Reservoir, which appears to be offline.

Hornets know how to build.

Looks like some ice fisherman left their marks.

As we've had some rain lately, this small brook was making some noise.

This is another pond a bit further north.

Author takes notes. "Good place for a hot summer dip."

Path eventually leads out to W. Bay Road.

Not much ice. Yay!

A trailer next to the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation building. We like Smokey. Gotta light?

I'm sure this "Big Boy" has seem some action.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Surviving to tell the tale

A nice mild winter day had me thinking of walking up a mountain. Mount Holyoke is close by. Let's go!

Started out on Mountain Road and Rt. 47 in Hockanum, Hadley.

This house on Mountain Road is certainly a "fixer upper." Doesn't look like there is any electricity connected. That's a plus for me.

One room schoolhouse across the street.

Got to this point from the road. Hmm. Should I take the trail or continue up the road?

How bad can it be?
Well, turned out pretty bad. I was able to get past a pretty icy stretch only to turn the corner on a very precarious situation. Solid ice with water flowing over, a pretty steep grade and no footing on the left or right for about 50 ft. There was no turning back. Yikes! Take it slow, I kept telling myself.

Finally arrive on the south side, where the ice and snow were pretty much gone.

Author thankful to be able to tell the tale.

Not a big climb, but with that icy stretch, it took me a long time.

Views are still closed from the deck.

Deck and the structure beneath seem to be getting worse.

Isn't there some kind of grant the DCR can turn to for restoration help?

Skinner park.

In memory of those who fell here. On May 27, 1944 a U.S. Army Air Force B24-J from Westover crashed on Mount Holyoke. This memorial is dedicated to the crew who died.

View north east toward UMass.

A nice place to have a snack.

Looking north toward Northampton.

Time to go back. I think I'll take the road down.

Mini snowman on a post. He looks to be praying for colder weather.

Back to the bottom to check out items at the lost and found. Scarf, hat and lip gloss.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Missed Exit

Not sure of the model. Found in a patch of woods around Holyoke/Northampton between I-91 and Rt. 5.

Know Your Town: South Hadley Falls

Here are a few things we like about South Hadley Falls:

Stop & Go Convenience Store, Bardwell St.
I've never bought a sandwich here but I'm sure they're good. A good place to buy cigarettes. And they have the spiciest Slim Jims in town, I've heard.

Stoney's Pub, 1 Bridge St.
Good location for me to walk home. Thursday night is Steak and Bake night. Review from Josh on Foursquare: Paper City beer is delish :)

South Hadley Public Library, Bardwell St.
Great movie selection. This weeks picks: The Trials of Henry Kissinger; Freakonomics and Who Killed the Electric Car.

El Guanaco, Bridge St.
Great Mexican and El Salvadorian food. Be sure to stop in on Tuesdays for $5 chicken burritos.

South Hadley Falls Canal Park.
Great view of the Connecticut River and Mt. Tom. And there is some history here.

View from the platform overlooking the Connecticut River. It's certainly getting colder!

Beachgrounds Park, Main St.
Very nice spray park for the kids. Also swings, baseball fields and a basketball court.

Author enjoying the wading pool at the Beachgrounds in 1970. Lifeguards used to hand out red rubber balls. Which was awesome!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

On the Town: Easthampton, Mass.

Peter Pan Cafe on Pleasant St.

Here is a review from
Great for a collegiate sociological study of depressive group behavior...Awful for anything else...

And from a story last year by my friend brian steele:
That morning, officers were called to Peter Pan at 2 a.m. and found a man on the sidewalk with a stab wound to his arm. He had been assaulted elsewhere and called police from the bar, the only open business on the street at the time, McMahon said.

Searle Ave.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A visit to Noble View Outdoor Center

Taking the advice of friends I set out to Russell to visit Noble View, which is part of the Appalachian Mountain Club. The mountaintop, around 1,100 ft., boasts great views of the Pioneer Valley east to Mount Wachusett. The trails are very well marked and pass through several abandoned farm fields. There are also gurgling brooks, old cellar holes and stonewalls along the way. Camping is available and there are also modernized cottages for rent.

There are several cottages available. All with great views of the Valley.

Have a rest on an old tractor seat.

Hazy view of downtown Springfield.

North cottage.

Bath house.

Water pump outside Albert Noble house.

Looks like some old stove parts.

I started out down Laurel Lane on the way down to Pitcher Brook.

Trails are nicely marked. Maps are available.

Ashley Cellar Hole.

Decided to take a left, cross the brook and head around Border trail.

Vernal pool.

Lots of leaves made the trail hard to see. But the route was easy to navigate by following the yellow marks.

By checking the map I could see Spring Trail would take me right back up to Noble View. It was only 1/3 of a mile, but a challenging climb.

Finally! Made it to the top.

Entrance to Spring Trail.

Gowdy Cellar Hole.

View to the east toward Springfield.

The cottages.

Albert Noble House built in 1831.

A tired, hungry hiker! Maybe I'll come to snowshoe later this winter. And camp in the spring.