I'm back! It turns out that Andy really did pleasantly surprise me on my birthday. He told me that he was going to take me some place, but he wouldn't tell me where. Of course I knew it couldn't be too far, since Andy has to be back to work on Monday. That pretty much confined it to an overnighter, and there are only so many places where you can go for an overnight trip leaving by car from the Pioneer Valley.
When I tried to guess beforehand what Andy had up his sleeve, I considered two main possibilities. One was that we might head out to one of the nude beaches on Cape Cod. There is nothing like swimming naked in the ocean to make you feel totally at one with nature. Another possibility was cruisin' the "meat market" section of New York City, and I aint talkin' about steaks!
In the end Andy successfully managed to surprise me without us having to go very far at all, in fact we went no furthur than across the Calvin Coolidge bridge: We stayed last night at the Hotel Northampton!
In an uncharacteristic display of sensitivity, Andy remembered me saying almost a year ago that I always wanted to stay at the historic Hotel Northampton. While most of the current hotel was built in the 1920's, the part known as Wiggin's Tavern dates back to 1786. Andy asked me at the time why I didn't just check in some night, because although it's pricey it certainly is not prohibitively so. I told him that I wanted a real reason to go there, partly because of my old yankee frugality which balked at spending money on a hotel just for the sake of it, but also because it just plain felt weird to go to a hotel for no purpose. Andy however has no such hesitation, as demonstrated a few months ago when we took a vacation at a cheap Route Nine hotel.
So we slept at the Northampton, and it was really nice. There's lots of history behind the place, and lots of famous people have stayed there. According to the hotel's website:
Through its 200 year history, Wiggins Tavern has been host to visitors from all over the world. Among the many travelers who have stopped here for a relaxing meal have been Eleanor Roosevelt, Jenny Lind, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.
We were more interested in more recent visitors such as Bob Dylan. We asked what suite Dylan had slept in, but got two different answers from two different employees, and so concluded that no one really knew. Here is a picture of Dylan giving an interview to the TV show 60 Minutes at the Hotel Northampton.
I remembered that Pine Pointer Joe Moss and his late wife Kendra spent their honeymoon at the Hotel Northampton, but 60 Minutes never showed any interest in that. I was hoping that the ghosts of great Northamptoners like President Silent Cal or freedom crusader Sojouner Truth or even the mad minister Jonathan Edwards, author of the frightening "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" might whisper in my ear as I slept. Instead the only dream I can remember was an old re-run about sitting in a classroom and realizing that I forgot my pants. Damn.
Alas, I have no pictures to show you. In deference to Andy I left my camera behind, since he always complains that he doesn't want to be made "a prop in The Tom Devine Show." However, here are two pictures I stole off the internet of the hotel and its sign.
For those of you following my soap opera like life, no, this does not mean Andy and I are getting back together. Despite this really cool weekend, the same age difference issues and so forth are still there. I'm getting old and weird and he's still young and studly and that isn't going to change. But as we gradually drift our seperate ways, I'll always be glad we had this memorable birthday adventure.