Klondike’s season runs from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Some folks started closing up their summer camps shortly after the holiday weekend. What a crowd, though, over the holiday. Record numbers attended the spaghetti dinner on Saturday evening. We volunteered to help and reported for ‘duty’ early, chopping veggies, setting up the serving lines, and whatever else needed to be done. Chuck and Sally have been doing this for so many years, the food was quickly served - we even got to eat with everyone else.
That Sunday was the last of the famous Klondike breakfasts and again, a record number of people participated. We’ll miss having someone else fix breakfast on Sundays…Lucille got spoiled!
One of the local attractions we’ve wanted to visit is the Civil War Monument in Winsted (Connecticut), only open on a few holidays from 2-4 pm. On Labor Day Monday, Klondike friend Shirley joined us. The monument is high on a hill overlooking Winsted. Our breath was taken away not just from the view, at ground level and again after climbing to the third story of the monument, but watching a bald eagle circle quietly overhead, gliding on the air currents - pretty spectacular.
Completed in 1890, the “Winchester Soldiers' Monument, built with granite rock supplied from a quarry near the town's Highland Lake, is fashioned in the style of an old world feudal tower with a watch tower projecting above the battlements of the structure on which stands a bronze cast figure of a Civil War Soldier. The Monument is 20 feet square at the base and 15 feet square at the top and stands nearly 44 feet high from the ground to the top of the battlements and rises another 20 feet to the top of the soldier's color staff. The bronze cast soldier stands on a tourelle (a tower jumping out of a wall) at one corner of the structure. “
The walls on the second floor are covered with tablets containing the names of local Civil War veterans. How cool to have recognized family names related to Klondike residents Bob and his sister-in-law Diana.
Factoid: Ralph Nader and his family owned the house almost across the street from the monument.
Our Habitat skills were kept current during the month by helping local volunteers at a house in Pittsfield. Crews work on Wednesdays and Saturdays – we chose Wednesdays because our weekends always seemed to fill up so quickly. That first Wednesday, we met site supervisor Bob, one of about eight regulars who call themselves the Lincoln Street Irregulars.
This new home on Lincoln Street is being built for a family of eleven – Mom, Dad and nine children. Helping on a house this size was a first for us as it also was for the local Habitat affiliate. The two-and-a-half story house with a full basement and an attic will have nine bedrooms. It was still in the framing stage when we first got there, our favorite part of new construction. Once Bob was comfortable with our building skills, he set us loose in the basement. By the end of the month and our fourth Wednesday helping, we had framed the interior walls for two bedrooms, utility room, bathroom, service room and several closets. It was slow going because of the house’s unusual design – some of what we did had to be designed and built on the fly. No two Habitat builds are alike but they all share the same sense of accomplishment when finished.
The Klondike season may have wound down but our appetites certainly didn’t. We made several trips out to our favorite pizza place, the Russell Inn. We decided after trying their grinders and calzones, their pizza is our first choice. The portions are so large, you are guaranteed to bring home leftovers for several meals – wotta deal! Larry celebrated a significant birthday during the month and chose to have his birthday dinner there, enjoying a birthday ‘pie’ instead of cake.
But the “piece de résistance” during the month was Klondike’s grand finale of their Saturday dinners – the Surf or Turf. Picture a crowd of folks enjoying a leisurely meal over the course of three hours, with buckets of food. We started off around the pool area with a variety of hors d’oeuvres and for those who wanted them, raw cherry stone clams. Then we moved inside to the seated dining area and had a choice of either clam chowder or cream of broccoli soup – hard to choose because they both looked scrumptious. Next up were large bowls full of steamers (steamed little neck clams) and some very tender and tasty mussels, followed by shrimp cocktail. We had already stuffed ourselves and still had the main course coming up – lobster (at least two pounds each) or steak, a baked potato, coleslaw and can you believe there was even dessert! What a feast! To say we waddled away from there is an understatement.
The following day, we hit the ground running, first by attending the Sunday service at First Congregational Church/United Church of Christ in Lee – the church we’d been attending since we got here in May. We then stopped at the grocery store to pick up salad items for a spinach salad we were bringing to a dinner at Ray’s house that evening. Then we returned to Lee and church to attend Pastor Bill’s installation – he’s only been with this church for a few months but was officially installed that afternoon. We then headed down to Ray’s house in Plymouth, Connecticut for dinner. You’d think after all that we’d eaten the night before, we’d be all set for the next week but we managed to make a dent in the steel-head trout, chicken and great side dishes and even left room for some of Tracy’s birthday cake. Yvette had come up from Georgia for the weekend to attend her high school reunion, staying at Ray’s one night and coming back with us Sunday night to hang out with us Monday before we brought her to the airport late that afternoon. With all the running around we did, we all slept well that night.
On Monday, Lucille gave Yvette a quick tour of Klondike before we headed over to the Normal Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. It’s been several years since we visited the museum – it is still a joy to see his artwork and hear tidbits about the individual paintings. We learned that some of his models work at the museum – how cool!
Okay, so we ate well Saturday evening and Sunday evening – let’s not break the pattern here – Monday evening was great, for the meal and the company. Now that niece Cindy was back on her feet after the birth of their second child, Nathan, she and her husband Steve invited us for dinner at their place in Derby, Connecticut. We got to see the young parents in action, balancing their time between an active toddler, Rachel, and newborn Nathan. You gotta be young to have all the energy needed for a growing family!
One weekday, Klondike friend Shirley and the two of us visited the Clark Museum in Williamstown, about an hour’s drive from Otis. Shirley knows the area quite well – we went up and back on different routes, with Shirley giving us a running commentary on what we were seeing.
The Clark Museum is both an art museum and a research center with outstanding collections of American and European art. Opened in 1955 by Singer sewing machine heir Robert Sterling Clark and his wife Francine, it includes exceptional examples of painting, sculpture, master prints, drawings, silver, porcelain and early photographs. We had just missed the Picasso exhibit but did see some Monets, Gainsboroughs, Remingtons, and Latrecs.
One day during the month, longtime friends George and Ann came up for a quick visit to Klondike to see why we are so enthralled with the place – it didn’t take long for them to see why. They were quite impressed with our seasonal home. We then went to lunch with them to the Tributary in Winsted – we talked for hours, catching up on our goings-on since we all saw each other last. George was the volunteer coordinator when we worked at Lone Oak Campsites in 2006 and Ann works in the store/snack bar.
Our time at Klondike was growing short. Brian and Bonnie joined us for the last weekend in September, a final get-together before we left the area. We started off Saturday with a visit to the historic Becket Quarry with Shirley and Mozart joining us (Mozart is a Yorkshire terrier with tons of personality who smiles at you but we couldn’t catch that smile on camera.) Known as the Chester-Hudson quarry during its operating days, it played a key role in the development of Becket and surrounding areas. Granite from the quarry was used for monuments in many states. Last month, we saw the huge saw blade in Chester used to cut the granite into blocks. The quarry was operational for about a hundred years, with production stopping in the 1960s. A self-guided hiking trail gradually climbs through the forest with stops to see the old machinery and equipment, ending at the quarry itself. We saw a drill, two very old trucks, a derrick and winch, piles of grout (by-products of the quarrying process), drill marks, and granite, of course. The weather was ideal for this moderate hike.
That evening, Louie and Anne joined us for dinner, and then we burned the last of our seasoned firewood with the year’s last campfire. Family, friends and a campfire – what more can you ask for? Life is good.
The month quickly drew to a close. On our way back from a final follow-up medical visit in Westfield, we met some of the Klondike gang for a last pizza meal at the Russell Inn, saying our goodbyes to some of the friends we’d met this past season. A fitting end to a wonderful spring and summer.
Coming up: We leave Klondike early October for the Scranton, Pennsylvania area; a quick stop to visit friends Rich and Linda in Fairlawn, Ohio; a stop in the Elkhart, Indiana area for routine maintenance and repairs on our home on wheels; a short stay in Huntsville, Alabama to catch up with friends and take care of a couple of annual medical appointments, before ending the month at Camp Carr in Rincon, Georgia. We’re going to try something new (to us) this year – selling Christmas trees somewhere in the Savannah area. We’ll report on our experiences in future updates.