Northampton

From our stay at Gifford Pinchot State Park, we drove east on the PA Turnpike, headed north a bit and ended up at my family's house for a week long stay. We soaked up some long-needed family time, particularly with my younger (but 21 year old (!!)) sister Sophie, took luxuriously long, hot showers and indulged in some delicious home cooked food. (My mom knows her way around a bubbling, cheesy, gooey dish of potatoes au gratin. I'd say it's her "thing".)

Our goal for the remaining weeks of fall was to spend it in New England to hike amidst the rainbow of changing leaf colors and eat our body weight in lobster. First stop (technically second, as we overnighted at a Walmart in Fishkill, NY) was Northampton, MA. I went to Smith College for my first and second years of undergrad and I hadn't been back in 15 years!

I transferred from Smith to Vanderbilt for their high-ranked teacher education program, but I certainly miss a lot of what Smith offered to students. There is something about a community of intelligent, diverse and passionate young women living with each other. The campus is beautiful, the traditions (like Mountain DayFriday tea and others) are truly unique. The dining room in the house I lived in for both years and its endless supply of Lucky Charms didn't hurt, either.

We stayed at the Northampton/Springfield KOA. Located about ten minute's drive from Smith, this KOA had several seasonal and long-term campers occupying most of the wooded spots.  For those of us only staying a few nights, the spots were in an open field towards the front of camp with very little privacy.  The shared facilities were  on the rustic side, though in fairness we were arriving close to end of season for this campground.  Our site had electric and water hookups, and several of the other short-timer sites had both full hookups and pull-through lots accommodating larger coaches.  In our opinion, we would probably look for a Harvest Host or wild-camping opportunity in the area during our next visit.

The view behind our site at the Northampton/Springfield KOA.

The view behind our site at the Northampton/Springfield KOA.

We spent our first afternoon and evening exploring the Smith College campus and downtown Northampton. Walking Main Street felt so familiar thanks to favorite spots like Faces and Thornes Marketplace that are still going strong.

John M. Greene Hall. Home to Rally Day celebrations and Smiffenpoof performances, among other events.

John M. Greene Hall. Home to Rally Day celebrations and Smiffenpoof performances, among other events.

Cutter Ziskind. One of my favorite dorms on campus due to its stark contrast in style to the more traditional buildings found at Smith College.

Cutter Ziskind. One of my favorite dorms on campus due to its stark contrast in style to the more traditional buildings found at Smith College.

Parsons House. My home for my first year at Smith College. Second year I lived in a tiny house, Parsons Annex, which is technically part of Parsons House, right behind this building.

Parsons House. My home for my first year at Smith College. Second year I lived in a tiny house, Parsons Annex, which is technically part of Parsons House, right behind this building.

Dinner was at the Toasted Owl.  The menu had standard pub fare, and the on-tap selection was strong.  However, I wish we had chosen to eat at one of the many Asian restaurants in town instead. There's such variety - Thai, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese - and each one comes highly recommended.

Street art, Northampton.

Street art, Northampton.

Painted crosswalk, Northampton.

Painted crosswalk, Northampton.

We made up for my mediocre choice the following night, though, as we celebrated our 8th Anniversary at Viva Fresh Pasta Co. One of my Smithie friends (hi, Eileen!) remembered Viva Fresh as one of her favorite places from her years at Smith and suggested we visit. Jeremy and I always love some good fresh pasta. The restaurant is cozy and intimate, and we were lucky to have a table for two in one of the bay windows so we could watch Northampton bustle by as we twirled perfectly al dente noodles around our forks and reminisced late into the night. We will absolutely return when we're back in the area. 

Dessert at the restaurant sounded wonderful, but we decided to skip it and instead have ice cream at Herrell's. Herrell's is most well known for its Burnt Sugar & Brown Butter Toffee flavor, of which I am a devoted (some might say rabid) fan. I have fond memories of loving Herrell's so much while I was at Smith I would beg friends to layer up, put on their boots and traipse down there in the middle of winter for a cone of the good stuff.

Burnt Sugar & Brown Butter Toffee.

Burnt Sugar & Brown Butter Toffee.

Being in western Massachusetts during peak apple season, we also stopped by Outlook Farm.  In addition to their year-round farmer's market, Outlook Farm also offers pick-your-own opportunites in their beautiful apple orchards, runs a country store with a counter serving up homestyle breakfasts and lunches, and even offers whole pig roasts with options to either roast at the farm or in your own backyard.  Jeremy was disappointed the KOA did not qualify as his own backyard, so he settled on a sandwich for lunch.

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We browsed the aisles at Outlook Farm and settled in for a belly-filling lunch while we watched a handful regulars come through to chat with the staff and to stock up on fresh produce and local goodies alike.

It was while we were in Northampton that we decided to finally stock the refrigerator. Yes, that means we were living in our motorhome for a couple weeks without a fully-stocked refrigerator. We made do with shelf stable eats like nut butter and crackers, fruit and microwaveable things like soup and macaroni and cheese. We delayed turning on our refrigerator for so long because we kept hearing different advice when it comes to driving with the RV fridge running on propane.  Although it is not officially recommended, many RV-ers will simply switch over from electric once they're unplugged and run the unit on propane even while they're driving. To be on the safe side, we decided to limit our driving to 3-4 hours at a time and move reusable ice packs, similar to these, from the freezer to different shelves in the fridge.  If we are smart about limiting our access to the fridge during this time, we can easily go several hours with only a 1 degree drop in temperature before we are plugged back in to shore power or parked and running off propane.

Now that we've got a fully functioning kitchen, you can expect to see some recipe-related blog posts popping up here and there.  I've already got a delicious dessert post lined up for next week. Stay tuned for some ridiculously good apple crisp!