Readuponit: Travel and voracious reading

Max Hartshorne, travel website editor, sharing some of the stuff I read, hear and see with you. Updated every day. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

A Great Day for a Flight Over the Valley

by Max Hartshorne on August 29, 2014

Bruce's plane in his hangar, doing the pre-check before take-off.

Bruce’s plane in his hangar, doing the pre-check before take-off.

pilot view

We taxied down the runway behind a Piper Brave, and after it took off we were ready to do the same.

My friend Bruce, who I play music with, promised to take me up for a spin in his plane, so today, with perfect blue skies and light winds, we made it happen.

I met him at  his hangar where he keeps his 300 horsepower experimental tw0-seater sport plane at Northampton airport.

The plane gleamed showroom new, its fiberglass fuselage and wings bright white.  Compared to the wrecks of planes that are tied up near the runway, out in the elements, Bruce’s plane looked great, though it was built out of a kit a decade earlier–it took six years to complete!

This experimental plane doesn't have a lot of extra room, but the view is fantastic!

This experimental plane doesn’t have a lot of extra room, but the view is fantastic!

Bruce carefully went through the detailed list of his pre-flight inspection, and then he hooked a motorized device to the plane’s front wheel and rolled it out of the hangar into the sun.

He positioned a little cushion on one of the wings and motioned for me to climb in, and I noted the DO NOT STEP sign and made sure to avoid stepping on the flap.  Soon we were revving up the engine with the brake on, following the items on his checklist and testing guages, knobs and fuel levels. Then it was time to line up and take off.

The powerful engine quickly got us airborne after we were only on the runway less than a minute. Our cruising altitude would be about 3000 feet, and below us the towers of UMass quickly fell away to the vast Quabbin reservoir. My job was to keep a continual visual out the windows above me to search for any other planes..but on this gorgeous day, there were none to be seen.

Our excursion took us up to Mt Snow and then we circled back and in no time at all we were above my South Deerfield house.  After a few minutes we lined up to the number 14 on the runway and Bruce made a nice easy touch down.

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Dr Gale Potee, A Rich and Full Life, Well-Lived

by Max Hartshorne on August 27, 2014

Dr Gale Potee

Dr Gale Potee

Obituaries  hold a special interest to me. I read them every day in the Recorder, and I’m always fascinated by how people are remembered and what gets included.  These days, any long obituary that’s not written about a famous person or someone in public life is paid for. So then I think about how much the very long ones must have cost–I wanted to publish an obit for my friend Joe Obeng when he passed away in 2012, but the cost was more than $500, so instead, I wrote a tribute to him on this blog.

Today’s paper had an obit for Dr Gale Potee, and from what I read, he sounded like an extraordinary fellow. His daughter Ruth Potee followed her father’s footsteps and practices medicine in Greenfield. Here is some of what was written about this doctor, who lived a very long life, born to Christian missionaries in India in 1924.

“He had many passions including building stone walls, collecting over 20,000 Massachusetts vanity license plates, and traveling to 42 states as well as 24 countries. He returned to his beloved India three times. He prided himself as a bibliophile and surrounded himself with shelves holding more than 2000 books.

Summers he spent at the Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York, where he began writing sonnets in 2000. A poet at heart, he had written more than 15,000 sonnets!  Most important, Gale Potee was the most loving, understanding and supportive father imaginable. “

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The Summer’s Best Trip

by Max Hartshorne on August 23, 2014

Block island beach day.

Block Island beach day.

It’s the wind down season and every year I think about how fleeting the summer has been. I was with my granddaughter Sofie last week, enjoying dinner on their deck, and I asked her what her favorite part of the summer was. Was it the visit to the Maine beach? Was it the horseback riding camp?  Or was it the family reunion at Eagles Mere with all of your cousins?

She was stumped. Never did give me an answer. But it got me to thinking about my own summer highlights and what I enjoyed doing this summer.  I was lucky to travel quite a bit.

I began even before summer with a trip in late May to Midi Pyrenees, France and to central Portugal.  In France I spent the whole trip with a young guide who showed her native province with pride. Jeanne was honest, though, it’s kinda boring living in some of these historic towns, and she takes off for Toulouse and the seashore as often as she can.

The highlight of that trip was a dinner on a night with a beautiful twilight with a family who grow grapes to make Armagnac--a retired former clothing executive, his lively second wife and his rascal son who lives nearby in Auch. I was a member of the family sitting there with my guide Jeanne, and they told me all about their lives and how they take care of their 85 and 89 year old inlaws who live right across the lane. I slept that night in a watchtower that was converted into a luxurious B&B.

Then I met Paul Shoul in Portugal and started a whole new adventure. That was filled with lots of visits with chefs, which are always fun since they always end up cooking for us. These two trips were great but I have to cede the top highlight of the summer to another trip. My sea voyage up the New England coast with Mary on the Grande Caribe added up to a series of the summer’s best moments. Every day we’d wake up and be at another island–from Cuttyhunk to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island. And the fast friends we made and the moments of absolute bliss while in the harbor, cruising at night and walking down the gangplank made this the summer’s best.

What was your summer highlight, now that we’re facing that oh so sad bitter end?

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Building the New Railroad Crossing on Elm Street

by Max Hartshorne on August 21, 2014

fixing the elm street crossingI was told that instead of laying down a bed of gravel when they’re building railroad tracks, they put the track down first. Then they dump this load of stones over top and lift up the track, so the gravel settles where it’s needed in a uniform grade.
track repairtracks2

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Caro Heller Was a Caring, Loving and Beloved Mother Who Will Be Missed

August 18, 2014

Tweet Caro Watkins Heller passed away last night. She was my god mother and she was a big part of my childhood growing up in Blawenburg, New Jersey.  Caro and then-husband John Heller used to come down and visit us in the New Jersey countryside, and we would go and visit them often in Brooklyn [...]

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The Big Wedding Weekend of 2014

August 14, 2014

Tweet Today I had to put down the duties of publishing for far more important work, with a much stricter task master. We are getting ready for a wedding. A big one. The daughter!  And thus was there a list created and on that list were many things that would not  wait just one more [...]

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