This is a little late in coming, but we got up early Saturday morning and hopped on a plane and are back east after a two hour layover in Philly. I got to have a cheesesteak from Geno’s at the airport which wasn’t very spectacular, but it was from an airport so I won’t hold it against them. The first leg of the flight was pretty awesome since it was real first class with an entertainment system, lie flat seats and decent food. The flight attendants were really, really nice. Especially when you’ve got an autistic daughter on her first flight and leaving home.
We’ve been running around while trying to get ourselves settled and adjust to weather that’s about 26° in the morning or “feels like..ARE YOU NUTS!!!!” Oddly enough I was just outside and it’s about 32°, but while it’s cold it’s not freezing.
So far I’ve noticed a few things like, you have to drive to get places, but there’s lots of freeways and less traffic so you get there faster. We’re staying in Holyoke, MA which is about 9 miles south of Northampton, MA where we’re looking to live and it takes maybe 15 minutes to drive there. Just as a comparison, when I was driving for Uber it could take me 30-45 minutes to drive 4 miles to get to downtown San Francisco.
Then there are the stores. We got Walmart here and it’s so big along with grocery stores like Big Y and Stop and Shop that my feet started to hurt after walking so much. Seriously, after growing up in San Francisco we’re talking grocery stores that are the size of Costco and just groceries. The other upside of being here is that the groceries are cheap. We’re staying in a suite with a kitchen so we stocked up last night and have a weeks worth of food for about $20. I think I rarely got out of a grocery store in SF for under $60.
Today we’re going to try and go a little north of Northampton, MA to Deerfield to visit the Yankee Candle Factory because our daughter has been really, really good throughout the transition and that should be a fun place for her to visit. Posts will be short and sporadic unlike my usual feature length articles, but it’ll be fun to share my experiences quickly.
Incidentally, I got up this morning to a snow flurry. While it’s been about 15 years since I’ve been in snow it wasn’t falling snow so this was a weird experience for a San Francisco Native to have. I probably looked like a goober doing this, but I shot a little video outside as I was experience falling snow for the first time since I was about 17. Enjoy!
When I was a young teenager I had a mentor, Mark who was working on a degree in Geochemistry. This meant he had to do a lot of field work and I was lucky enough to be asked to accompany him on a tree up north to Lassen Volcanic Park. He was studying hot springs and what better time to study them than in winter. You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen hot springs in winter.
We traveled up to the Lassen ski resort and had to snow shoe about a mile to the Sulphur Works. As we pulled into the parking lot I saw wall of freshly ploughed snow and I got an idea. While we were staying in a hotel we still had a lot of stuff you would need when hiking up to the outback wilderness areas of Lassen. I have an idea I said because this wasn’t going to be a work only trip and i pull a saw out of the trunk and started cutting blocks of snow and piling them up. I can’t find a picture of it, but it looks a bit like the picture I included with this article. Being from San Francisco and not being a skier snow is a fascinating thing to me because I don’t see it. I haven’t seen snow in over 15 years and people look at be funny when I pick it up in my hand.
It was cold and a bit windy out, but we proceeded on and soon had a 10’x10′ igloo built. We crawled inside and found that without the wind hitting you we suddenly felt warmer. A few passers by stopped to take a look and we invited them in. People were surprised at how nice it felt inside a hand built tent of snow. Granted it wasn’t as nice as the ski lodge, but still it was better than standing out in the cold winter air.
We left the igloo and traveled up to the Sulphur Works. The heat of the hot springs had melted the snow all around it and air was surprisingly warm and humid. The strange part of the humid sulphur filled air is that it would freeze on your hair and create little icicles. The water in these springs has an almost unbearable stench and we spent a few hours testing the pH and temperature of the waters there. The smell of rotting eggs was heavy in the air, but when we finished we made our trek back and stopped at the lodge for some hot chocolate. As we walked back to the car we noticed that our abandoned igloo had remained untouched and that there was a beer cooler sitting out side. When we poked our heads in there were a couple of squatters who had taken over my igloo. I told them that I had built it a few hours ago and they were welcome to it.