Our 77 passengers awakened to a crisp and sunny October morning with just past peak foliage colors. Everybody seemed pleased at our good fortune as each picked the best seats on our motor coaches. As always, our destination wasn’t revealed until the engines were started and we were on our way. Squeals of delight were heard over the selection of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge and the Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield for this year’s Mystery Trip.
Arrival at the museum was expected at 10:15 AM where docents boarded each coach for a short talk. The quintessential observer of the quirks and foibles of rural America, Norman Rockwell is a national icon. We had the opportunity to see all of his covers for The Saturday Evening Post, a large selection of paintings and drawings that most will remember, and a special exhibit of drawings and cells from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We also encouraged everybody to take the time to look at Rockwell’s studio, now situated on the hillside above the museum. Most also visited the museum’s fine gift shop, a shopper’s paradise.
We re-boarded our buses and headed for our next stop, the Cork & Hearth restaurant in Lee, Massachusetts, an old-time roadside carriage stop that has been around for years. We had the lakeside dining room all to ourselves and enjoyed a choice of Baked Scrod, Chicken Parmesan, or Petite NY Sirloin. Salads were served as a first course with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce for dessert. The décor at the restaurant was rustic and had lots of charm. Everybody had a good time and marveled at the quality.
Our final stop was Hancock Shaker Village for a walk into New England’s past. The village no longer has any Shaker residents, but everything has been left exactly as it was when hundreds of people lived, worked, and prayed here. We each picked up a map and enjoyed a self-guided tour of this living heritage museum. We saw the famous round barn with heritage breeds of farm animals and the large brick residence where the dormitories look as if residents could return at any moment and the kitchens where a huge yellow ware batter bowl that could accommodate hundreds of pancakes was still on one of the work tables. We saw the root cellars, the rooms where preserves and pickles were made, broom workshops, and furniture making areas. The visit was enriching and illuminating and everybody remarked that this was one of the best mystery trips we’ve done in years.