Westbound Day 3 – 158 miles – Concord to Stockbridge

Monday, 20 June 1994

Maureen at the Caddy wheelProvincetown on Cape Cod was our real  furthermost east starting point but since we finished trip 1 at Concord this feels like the start of trip 2. Buying a cooler (trip 2 is shaping up to be much warmer than trip 1) is the first order of the day and that is followed by the usual ritual of slaking the monster’s thirst. It really is hard to believe the lousy fuel consumption people put up with in the 50s and 60s.

It’s not as if 11 mpg was obscene enough, it’s the fact that it comes combined with such a small fuel tank, small compared to the fuel consumption at least. The brute’s other prime drawback also comes to the fore in the first half hour out of Concord when we twice take wrong turns and have to retrace our steps. Maneuverability is not this car’s forte, three point turns and U-turns are no fun at all.

Once we’re heading in the right direction and on the open highway it starts to regain its equilibrium and we’re soon in Springfield. If Phoenix, where we caught an NBA game, was homage to my son’s basketball mania for the eastbound trip then this is going to be the westbound equivalent for this is where basketball was invented. The whole story from its YMCA foundation to its current big star status is recounted in the Basketball Hall of Fame and we soon overdosed on basketball trivia before continuing west.

Our relatively short day ended at Stockbridge, a strong contender for the title of  Middle Americaville because this is also Norman Rockwellville. His studio was on the town’s main street and the town and many of its inhabitants appear in numerous classic Rockwell pictures. Just outside the town, the Norman Rockwell Museum is well worth a visit. The magazine The Economist has recently been campaigning for greater recognition of  Rockwell’s talents, pointing out that the American art mafia’s stoney faced distaste for his painting is in large part due to the fact that he was never a part of the New York dominated art scene. Furthermore for all his saccharine vision of middle America Rockwell was never afraid of confronting America’s downside, as his classic paintings of the integration battles of the ‘60s revealed. And finally if any single artist can be said to sum up America in the 20th century then Rockwell is your man.

So we finished day 3 of this second across America trip by spending the night in Rockwell’s archetypal American town. Our pleasantly genteel, but not overdone, bed & breakfast had a scruffily disreputable dog which would have been quite at home in a Rockwell picture and the restaurant we had dinner at provided the first disappointing capuccino of trip 2. Never mind, in Concord on the previous night we had a good one.