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I Left My Heart in Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

Ok, maybe I should be less dramatic and rephrase: I left *part* of my heart in western Massachusetts.

It’s not often I feel inspired to write about America on here. Either because whenever I spend any significant amount of time in my home country it’s usually with the thought of leaving, I’m just never there, or I am caught up in the thrill of exotic lands far far away from Virginia, who knows.

With the holidays slipping past me in a blur while I was in the South Island, any thought of homesickness was quickly dissipated and replaced with the excitement of travel adventures. How can you be sad in a place that looks like this?

Western Massachusetts

But I would be lying if I said that I never got homesick, or I was so wrapped up in my travel life that it was easy to forget home. It didn’t take long this last year to realize that I’m not a global nomad. I’m not one of those people who can live for years and years out of a suitcase without a return ticket home always looking ahead to the next adventure. I’m a homebody, a nester through and through. I need stability and a place to call home, even if it’s just for a little while.

For some reason now that I am back in Wellington, Christmas is over and done and while I wish I could focus on all the great adventures that lay before me, somehow my mind keeps ticking back to the US, and the life I’ve left behind for New Zealand.

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

While I spent the good majority of my adolescence in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area, perhaps the place that had the biggest impact on me was Massachusetts, where I went to college. While I consider myself a southern girl through and through, I absolutely adore New England.

This is the part of America where I could see myself settling.

The humid summers spent hiking the hills and swimming in the lakes. The stunning autumns that are unparalleled in the rest of the world. The harsh winters filled with snow and ice. The happiness that comes when spring finally FINALLY arrives and everything blooms green again.

Western Massachusetts

This is where I have both great and horrible memories. Western Massachusetts was transformative for me. These might have been the most important years of my life, the years that changed me, shaped me, helped me get to this point in my life.

While a degree in Medieval Studies hasn’t outwardly helped me so far in New Zealand, once I began to scratch beneath the surface,  I realized that it did, in fact, change me considerably. Maybe I say this to justify my massive student loan debt to myself, maybe not, but if anything my 4 years in South Hadley, Massachusetts taught me to think. They taught me to have an opinion. They taught me to be brave in my choices and have the courage to face hard decisions and challenge myself.

And there’s something to be said for that, am I right?

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

While I share so much of myself on this blog in terms of my hopes, fears and classic travel fuck-ups, I thought I would take the opportunity to share a side of myself that I tend to keep hush hush, though I’m guessing it’s a side that more of you can relate to, rather than the globe-hopping adventuress.

No skydiving. No hitch-hiking. No epic road trips.

Here is a glimpse into what really matters to me. Here are the simple things that I miss the most. Here is what’s on my mind when I get homesick. Let me take the chance to share with you an area of the US that means so much to me, that I think about all the time.

Western Massachusetts.

Western Massachusetts

1. The Bookmill

Ok guys, are you ready? I’m about to give away one of my biggest secrets. Here’s one of my favorite places in the entire world. Not some cozy cafe in Scotland or an amazing town in Italy or even one of the glorious hikes in New Zealand.

Nope. My favorite spot in America, and quite possibly the entire world, the Montague Bookmill in Massachusetts.

With the slogan “Books you don’t need in a place you can’t find,” it couldn’t be more fitting. This was my kind of place.

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

I first heard about the Bookmill way back in my university days, but didn’t start spending hours and hours of my time there studying, reading and/or napping tucked away in one of the many hidden alcoves and corners til I was almost done with school.

The Bookmill became my retreat, my hideaway when I needed to escape the crowded, stressful crowds of South Hadley, Amherst, and Northampton.

Old books? A cafe? Historic mill? Green trees? Roaring river? What more could a girl ask for in a quiet country escape?

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

Housed in a mid-nineteenth century old mill, it was eventually restored and turned into a cafe and used bookshop absolutely LOVED by locals in western Mass.

You have to pull directions from their site; the Bookmill isn’t easy to find, tucked away in the woods far from the main towns. Even a GPS will give you wrong directions to get there, making it quite the adventure to find the place, hence the slogan.

Part of me doesn’t even want to write about this place because it’s so special to me, and because I have so much history there. But I love the Bookmill so much, I feel like I have to share it with you all, if you ever make it out to Massachusetts.

Do you have a favorite place like this?

Western Massachusetts

2. Cozy B&B’s

I’ve hinted here and there that I am pretty much an old lady in a 25 year old’s body, which is none so evident as in my love for B&B’s and historical hotels and properties.

Ever since high school, when my dad was living in Boston, and throughout college when my parents would visit me, we would always stay in some of the cozy B&B’s around New England. I have amazing memories growing up and becoming adult staying in places like this.

Nowadays I make a point of staying in charming, character-oozing B&B’s whenever I can.

Western Massachusetts

While there are plenty of cute places to stay in western Mass, quirky, hippy Northampton is usually my favorite town. Near downtown there is a wonderful B&B that’s my personal fave, the Sugar Maple Trailside Inn.

A mid-18th century restored farmhouse turned cozy bed and breakfast, I couldn’t have been happier to rest my head here last spring for a few days. It was the embodiment of my college years, bring back great memories of charming New England with old friends and family.

After a hectic trip, it was exactly what I needed to rewind and explore my old stomping grounds. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the breakfasts.

Western Massachusetts

But maybe what I loved the most about the Sugar Maple Trailside Inn were the owners, Craig and Kathy. For me, when people really care about a project, about their work, it’s obvious. You can tell in every inch of the Inn that they’ve put in so much love and care into it. Welcoming you with open arms, walking through the front door feels like coming home.

Passionate cyclists, the house sits near an old railway line that’s been converted into a bike trail, and there’s hints of bike culture around the house if you look hard enough. The house also has ties with Sojourner Truth and with plenty of abolitionist history surrounding it, giving the B&B even more depth and culture than you might initially realize.

New England has a fascinating rail history, and now that so many of the trains are long gone, it’s nice to see the old rail lines being put to good use and being converted into bike trails.

Are you a fan of bed and breakfasts?

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

3. Classic coffeeshops

While America isn’t exactly known for fabulous independent cafes among my international friends. Helllloooo Starbucks francise! I’ve found that if you search hard enough, you do find pockets of great cafe culture around the country, and in western Mass that’s no exception.

Thanks to the prevalent universities and thriving intellectual scene, there are tons and tons of fabulous cafes and coffeeshops sprinkled throughout the valley.

There are few things I love more than a nice steaming cup of coffee with a fine layer of frothy milk on top. Yum.

Western Massachusetts

When I went to Mount Holyoke College, I often would escape the hustle and bustle of campus in favor of some of the cafes in Northampton and Amherst nearby.

My go-to place to work was Amherst Coffee or Northampton Coffee. Simple, clean spaces, with high ceilings, great lighting, and most importantly, amazing coffee, I could (and did) spend hours tucked away in a corner typing my thesis or even just reading a book for fun.

While there are many fab cafes in the area, all with distinct ambiances, I have no reservations saying that this small cafe chain has the best bean.

And the best part about returning after a few years abroad? They expanded into a bakery! Tart Baking Co. opened in Northampton while I was gone (shame) but holy crap did I take advantage on my last trip up there. I definitely had some of the best fresh pastries I’ve had outside of Europe there. I hope the rest of New England steps up to the plate soon!

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

4. Historic Deerfield 

I discovered adorable Deerfield by happy accident the summer after I graduated from Mount Holyoke. I was working for a nonprofit, canvassing doors all summer attempting to raise money for the environment (and my god was that hard!) when one day the town I got to canvas was Deerfield.

Reminding me of colonial Williamsburg and many similar historical towns back home in Virginia, I immediately fell in love with this little slice of Massachusetts.

I’ve been back a few times, but I’ve always been in a bit of a rush, and haven’t gotten the chance to spend longer than a day in Deerfield, something I hope to change soon.

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

5. My Alma Mater, Mount Holyoke College

Ok, I have a confession. Well, I’ve already confessed this before when I moaned on about travel and the issue of nostalgia. This confession of course is that I have problems going back to places that I’ve lived for any significant amount of time.

I didn’t realize this about myself until last spring when I was visiting western Massachusetts for a few days. After touring around my favorite haunts outside of South Hadley and Mount Holyoke, where I lived for 4 years, the time finally arrived for me to head over for a visit.

Sitting in my car in a parking lot in Amherst, it started pouring rain. And in typical me fashion, I completely lost my shit and started sobbing.

Western Massachusetts

Mount Holyoke holds so many memories for me, both good and bad. It’s a place that changed me. It’s a place that challenged me. It’s a place that helped me grow up.

But I wasn’t ready to face it again.

If there was one place I could see myself living in the US, it was western Massachusetts. But in May, with the impending move to New Zealand in a few months and then a summer in Europe traveling around, I knew I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to such a place.

Yeah yeah yeah, I’m an emotional mess, I get it.

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

But the hardest part of all would be going back without all of my friends that helped make those 4 years so special. I think that’s what scared me the most.

I like to think of myself as someone who can face her fears head on, learn from mistakes and move forward. But this time I was defeated by memories.

With so much ahead of me, I just couldn’t bring myself to look backwards, especially any further than I already had on that trip. It was all I could to stay focused on my big move, and I knew going back to Mount Holyoke at that particular time would have done me in.

So I stayed in my car, and spent the rest of the trip exploring more of the other towns in the area.

I know I’ll go back soon, but not yet.

Has a place ever had a hold on you like this? Do you struggle going back to somewhere you’ve spent a lot of time and loved? Or am I just crazy?

Western Massachusetts

Western Massachusetts

Many thanks to the Sugar Maple Trailside Inn for hosting me in Northampton. Like always, I’m keeping it real – all opinions are my own, like you could expect anything less from me. 

81 Responses to I Left My Heart in Western Massachusetts

  1. Debbi January 20, 2014 at 6:49 am #

    The feeling is mutual; you’re not alone! Perhaps it means that we’re just old (wise) homebodies stuck in young traveler’s bodies who thirst for adventure every so often. Beautifully written piece.

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

      Thank you! I am glad to hear I’m not alone in feeling this way 🙂

      • Tamara March 5, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

        I’ve lived in western Massachusetts my entire life and I’ve always taken it for granted. It was great to read how much you enjoyed it and it reminded me of all the great things that are here. Inspiring to know you left here to travel the world, I love following your adventure, can’t wait to see where else your travels take you 🙂

  2. Brenna January 20, 2014 at 8:23 am #

    You’re definitely not alone – even though I have spent years as a nomad, I still get the all-too-familiar pangs of homesickness a lot. I’ve recently settled in London and I’m loving creating habits and routines, and being able to revisit places. Even though it’s probably not a permanent move (this damn wanderlust), my favourite thing about being in one place for a while is making friends and actually being able to see them again and again.

    That bookshop looks amazing, by the way… I can certainly see why you spent so much time there!

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      It’s the most amazing bookstore that ever existed! Glad to hear other nomads feel the same way. It’s frustrating but I’m happy I can now travel and base myself in specific spots

  3. Rachel of Hippie in Heels January 20, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    This just reminds me how much of the states I need to see. I was doing travel nursing before I moved to India and Massachusetts was somewhere I really wanted to go. Now that I’m not nursing, I don’t know if I’ll get to see all the U.S. that I wanted to. Only time will tell! It looks like a great place to go to uni!

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      I’m sure you’ll go back! MA is amazing, I really love it there!

    • Kevin Hart December 12, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      Ya Rachel you are right. In one life span we cant see all the places. But still we try our best to see the wonderful places.

  4. Bridget @ A Traveling B January 20, 2014 at 10:08 am #

    As a Massachusetts girl, I am particularly in love with this piece. Western Massachsetts is a hidden gem that many people never see if they do not venture outside of Boston. I’m heading to Lenox in the summer for my annual trip to Tanglewood and also hope to make it to Stockbridge in the fall to finally visit the Norman Rockwell Museum. I may have to see if I can find the Bookmill!

    I feel the same way when I return to Washington DC, where I went to college. Without the right people there, I get sad that it doesn’t feel like it used to (or like it should). And to be perfectly honest, there is a part of me that is afraid of returning to Barcelona, where I studied abroad, because there are so many happy memories wrapped up in that one place that I’m petrified a return trip will erase all of them and change the city for me!

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

      Yes! Stop at the bookmill on your way to the berkshires, it is near Montague north of Amherst. It’s amazing!

  5. Caitlyn January 20, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Oh, how timely! I’ve just come back (to Holland) after being home (in Melbourne, Australia) for the past month, the first time I’d been home in a few years. Before that, my mind’s always been elsewhere; in Europe, Asia, everywhere else. This time was different, and I looked at my hometown in a completely different way. It’s the little places – for me it’s the Vietnamese bakeries, the old-school movie theatres and just like your Bookmill (which looks like what I imagine heaven to be like) I have a bookstore too, the twee-named Hill of Content. Though it’s in a normal store on a busy street and not quite in… well, a mill 🙂

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:48 pm #

      It’s funny how travel really changes our perspective on home, I definitely saw MA and DC in a whole new light after living abroad

  6. Shannon January 20, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    I was born and raised in Connecticut and am a New England girl through and through. Absolutely adore this area of the country and could not imagine settling down anywhere else. It’s home, ya know? I’ll probably settle in CT because it has the highest teacher salaries, however, I LOVE MA, especially Western Mass! I have quite a few friends who went to Amherst, so I spent a good amount of time in that area. I’ve been applying for jobs up there….no luck yet, but I would love to live there for a little while!

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

      Me too, I’d move back in a heartbeat, except well, I love New Zealand haha

  7. Vicky January 20, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

    This was one of my favorite posts!!! I love hearing you be so candid about your fears and experiences–it’s so incredibly relatable and it’s one of the reasons Young Adventuress is the only travel blog I read. I find that most travel bloggers come off as smug about their awesome lives and have this sort of boastful, self-congragulatory prose.. but even when you’re doing the COOLEST STUFF EVER your writing has this amazing colloquial candor and you are ALWAYS 100% honest about the ups and downs of traveling as a young woman.

    As someone in their early 20s I feel truly connected to & invested in your stories and adventures. You have a loyal reader/fan for life!!

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

      YAY best comment ever, thank you! And btw, I totally feel the same way haha, I basically treat this blog like my best friend who I talk to (if you didn’t think I was crazy before haha)

  8. Quinn January 20, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    What a beautiful post!! So honest and well written. Love these photos too, keep up the awesome work girly 🙂

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      thank you!

  9. Megan January 20, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Beautiful piece! Thanks for sharing!

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      Thanks Megan, glad you liked it 🙂

  10. Wendy Fairie Robinson January 20, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    wow… i just wrote a blog post a few days ago and it was called… homesick! loved reading your post, thanks for sharing so much. x

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

      oh no way! Send me the link?

  11. amelie88 January 20, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Love Massachusetts, especially Boston. Considering my last post was about fall in Boston, I was nodding my head at pretty much everything in this post. I am not familiar with Western Mass as much, though I remember visiting Amherst when I was looking at colleges. My college roommate is from Williamstown, MA and her dad is actually a professor at Williams and to this day I have yet to go visit her over there. I could totally see myself settling down in Boston, every time I am there, I feel so happy. All of the places you mentioned are so cute.

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      Williams is beautiful, I love every part of western mass. such a great area!

  12. Kaelene @Unlocking Kiki January 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    What an adorable area to grow up in. I think I see myself only settling down in Oregon where I grew up as well. Probably the only place in America that I would move back to, must be something in our roots that holds us to these places.

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

      I know what you mean. I actually really liked oregon, my BFF lives out there, and I went for her wedding, such a great area!

  13. Megan January 20, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    Awww, now you’ve made *me* homesick. The Bookmill. Yessssss……There is something about New England.

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

      uh oh, but now I’m not alone 😛 JK yes, New England is amazing!

  14. Helen January 20, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Lovely images Liz! I am the most nostalgic person in the world I swear so I definitely get where you’re coming from!

    I think it’s only natural to leave little pieces of your heart everywhere. 🙂
    x

    • Liz January 20, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

      agreed xx

  15. Kathy January 20, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    Hi LIz,

    It’s the 60 year old commenting again. Loved your post, and I could relate to it so much. I love nothing better than finding a quaint, unique, creaky wooden floor bookshop that serves a great cup of coffee while I peruse the stacks of books and find that special one that I must take home from my travels.

    Of course I will lie that night in some amazing B&B, that is warm and welcoming and shares the local culture with me and then feeds me in the morning (and it doesn’t have to be crack of dawn either:)

    It is even better if I can rock on the porch, observe the birds while sipping hot strong dark coffee and think about my next adventure…

    New England is one of my favorites, Love MA and New Hampshire & Vermont and Maine – there are amazing spots tucked all over those states.

    Keep traveling and sharing, you take me back in time but I can tell you that even at 60 – I’m still right there with you.

    Have a wonderful day, no matter where you are.

    I’ll think of you the next time I’m in one of those great cafe’s!

    • Liz January 21, 2014 at 4:54 am #

      Thank you Kathy! Glad you can relate to my stories, that makes me real happy to hear!

  16. Kristina @ Three Little Birds Travel January 20, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Loved this post! It’s really nice to come home from a trip or a long stay away. It really makes you remember what’s important and appreciate the little things you love. Next time I’m out on the east coast, I’ll have to check out some of these places! Thanks for the post!

    • Liz January 21, 2014 at 4:55 am #

      Thanks! I definitely agree, it’s so wonderful coming home to a place you love like this. I think that’s what makes it so hard for me to leave

  17. Silvia January 20, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    Oh man, this post hit home, hard. I went to Williams College and looking through your photos made me physically hurt with nostalgia, ha. But I also don’t feel like I can really visit now without all my friends there. Students I don’t know, maybe some new professors I haven’t met, it just wouldn’t be my home anymore. Still, hopefully I’ll suck it up and visit someday!

    • Liz January 21, 2014 at 4:52 am #

      Someday, I know what you mean, I’ll go back when I’m ready but not yet!

  18. Daniel January 20, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

    Although I have never felt nostalgia for living in just one place, because I’ve spent my life living in so many different places, but I know what you mean by going back to a place you’ve been to before and having great memories from it. I just experienced this in Seattle and Canada a few weeks ago! Feel free to check out my story!

    Daniel

    • Liz January 21, 2014 at 4:52 am #

      Thanks Daniel! It’s so hard going back, at least for me, glad you can relate

  19. Erica January 21, 2014 at 1:59 am #

    Great blog and great post on Western Mass! I grew up in Northampton, and I miss it too! I love going back for the occasional visit.

    • Liz January 21, 2014 at 4:51 am #

      Woah that’s awesome, Noho is great, one of my favorite spots in the valley!

  20. Meg January 21, 2014 at 4:56 am #

    Hi Liz, I love this post! I always try to stay in B&B’s while traveling, and this one looks perfect! I’ll add it to my list! Thanks for this

    • Liz January 22, 2014 at 4:08 am #

      Me too Meg!

  21. Hannah January 21, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Hi Liz! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, but never realized you’re an MHC alum, like me! It’s a truly special place. I graduated five years ago (class of ’09!) and am now back living in Northampton — right down the street from Northampton Coffee actually. Anyway, it was so nice to see the valley I love so much featured here. You did it great justice!

    • Liz January 22, 2014 at 4:10 am #

      Yay! That’s awesome, I had no idea! I graduated in 2010! What are you doing in Noho? I miss the valley so much! Have a coffee for me at Northampton Coffee next time you’re there

      • Hannah January 23, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

        I will for sure 🙂 I’m living in Noho and working at a prep school 30 minutes north…but I kind of always have had Mt. Holyoke on my “dream places to work” list…

  22. Jeff Rutherford January 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Great story! Of course, I’m biased since I live in a house built in 1850 in Conway, MA. I didn’t grow up in Western Mass, but I got here as quickly as I could!

    • Liz January 22, 2014 at 4:12 am #

      that’s awesome! I love MA 😀

  23. Megan January 21, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    I’ll admit, I’m a bit jealous (in a good way, if that’s possible) that you feel so much nostalgia toward your university. I visited my college town in December and it was just…meh. Maybe it’s because I only spent 3 years there (most of it working way too many jobs.) Maybe it’s because it’s a massive university and I just couldn’t crack it. It’s probably a lot of things, but I’ve always wished that I had more of a connection to my alma mater. It’s a great school and a great town, and I do miss it, but not in the same way I miss other places.

    Sadly, I’ve spent basically zero time in the Northeast. An impending move to NC could change that, though. Your photos alone make me want to plan a trip. And…nerdy side note…I adore the font you used on the images 😉

    • Liz January 22, 2014 at 4:20 am #

      I LOVE ALL THE FONTS!

      Bummer, but it sounds like you might find a new place to feel nostalgia for – NC is great! Def. visit New England why you’re on the easat coast 🙂 OCtober is perfect!

  24. Ian January 22, 2014 at 12:56 am #

    I haven’t been to USA, but if will be given the chance to go, I’ll visit MA because of this post! I love it so much!

    • Liz January 22, 2014 at 4:20 am #

      Awesome Ian! That’s what I like to hear!

  25. xomisa January 22, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Funny…I just moved back to Western MA after 28 years and various homes all over the place. I grew up in Amherst and it really is the best area to live…especially now that I’m middle-aged. I appreciate the quick access to NYC, Boston and all the other great cultural treats nearby, Williamstown, MASS MoCA, Northhampton, Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost and the colleges and yes, Historic Deerfield, where my mother worked for 30 years! Nice piece.

    • Liz January 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm #

      Thank you! I miss western mass so much!

  26. Erin January 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    Serendipitous! Your post came at the same time that I’ve started planning my trip to Boston in April. Great recommendations — thank you!

    • Liz January 22, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

      Yay! Have fun! Get out of Boston and head west!

  27. Lauren @ Roamingtheworld January 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    AH yes, I can relate. When I’m abroad I miss a lot of things from home and then when I have them I wonder why I missed them. It’s a weird thing. But yes, I do love book shops and missed them while in Spain. It’s just not the same.

    • Liz January 23, 2014 at 3:28 am #

      It’s not the same, I know what you mean

  28. Cindy January 22, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

    Hi Liz! I’m a Mount Holyoke alumna (2008), and this blog post just made my day! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on Western MA in such a bare-all, riveting way. I’m especially glad you didn’t hold back on telling us about the Montague Bookmill. If I can save up enough money this year, I’m planning a solo trip to Mount Holyoke and Western Mass. this fall, and one of my first stops will be that bookstore. I didn’t have a car in college, so I missed out of much of the local haunts during my MHC years. You write so lovingly of a region that I long to go back to. The only thing fonder than my bittersweet memories are being able to see it through a new pair of eyes — yours!

    • Liz January 23, 2014 at 3:30 am #

      yay that makes me happy to hear! I hope you enjoy going back and renting a car 🙂 makes a big difference 🙂

      • Cindy January 23, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

        Thanks! I will probably be driving up there. Let me know if you are in the area this fall!

  29. Jaclyn January 23, 2014 at 12:54 am #

    I grew up in Montague and I went to the book mill all the time! It took me awhile to appreciate Western Mass since growing up there all I wanted to do was get out. But now I love it and get so excited to go back and visit!

    • Liz January 23, 2014 at 3:33 am #

      That’s so true for so many places, you never appreciate them until you leave 🙂

  30. Christine January 24, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Hi Liz,

    I loved this post because I have also left a big chunk of my heart in western Massachusetts. I had the good fortune of living in downtown Northampton for a little over a year and was also lucky enough to work across the street from Tart. Their olive bread is to die for! I am considering staying at Sugar Maple Trailside Inn for a few nights if I decide to make an impromptu trip up there this weekend.

    • Liz January 24, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

      awesome! Say hi for me if you do! And eat some tart pastries for me 🙂

  31. Val January 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Hi there! A friend shared your fabulous post on kiwi phraseology, which is how I found your blog. Love this post as well — I’m a Smithie now in Wellington, and relate to this post so much – I’m coming up on 3 years in NZ and still miss cider donuts from Atkins farm and proper autumn weather! But I absolutely adore New Zealand and can’t see myself anywhere else.

    Warm regards, Val

    • Liz January 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

      OMG I miss Atkins!

  32. Heather January 26, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    Aw, this made me all wistful and stuff! I lived in and loved NYC but left it for a new adventure (marriage). At first I missed it so much at first I couldn’t bear to go back. Even now, years later, I get giddy as I approach the city and teary-eyed when I leave. It was my first love and as such will always have a special hold over me. So no, you aren’t crazy. At least, not about this 😉

    • Liz January 27, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

      Glad you can relate and I’m not the only one!

  33. Katrina February 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    I discovered your blog about recently, and have been loving reading about your adventures. As I was scrolling through your posts, I was surprised to see Western Mass, which is also one of my favorite places. I went to school in the valley as well, and can’t get enough. Thank you for reminding me how wonderful it is. 🙂

  34. Abby February 12, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    I only managed to live away from MA for one year before I came running back, tail tucked between my legs. There’s something so special about this state (both sides) and even though right now I’m lamenting the fact we didn’t pick Florida or… I don’t know… Arizona to settle in, the thought of all the little flowers popping up in early spring is just enough to get me through the endless days of cold, snow, cold, sleet, cold cold cold! I can really relate to your post here 🙂

  35. Caylee February 22, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Hey! I’m a young lady traveler myself, and I came across your blog when I was searching for American experiences of living in New Zealand. I really enjoyed this post! I can feel your love for your college town. I can completely relate to your love of Western Mass, because that is exactly how I feel about the town I went to college in… Athens, Georgia. I’m originally from south Florida, but I decided to go to UGA on a whim and it was the best experience of my life. Athens is just a small college town located in the middle of rural Georgia, but it has so much vibrancy! I finally understood what having a home felt like and how amazing it feels to be part of a close, creative community. I graduated and moved to Vietnam and then back to FL a year and a half ago, and I haven’t felt at home again ever since. Just wanted you to know that your experience and your writing evoked great feelings in me! 🙂

  36. Nicole May 22, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    I’ve been researching female solo travel blogs for a few weeks now because I’m planning a small solo trip in North America, and I’m so glad that you mentioned Western Mass! I’m from Northampton (born and raised), and just seeing a well traveled female mention the happy valley is so wonderful! Thanks for making my day with this little tidbit of valley love!

  37. Jeff August 14, 2014 at 3:40 am #

    Not alone at all … It’s hard for me to visit places where I’ve lived for significant amounts of time – Wilmington, DE; Nashville, TN; Lewisburg, PA. Why? I think it’s because I know I can never go back. I can never go back in time and experience what that place was to me. Of course I can experience it now in the present, but it’s different. Places like these hold significance because of the past … and the past is gone … all you have is your memories. For me, the best way to cope with going back to a place is with friends and alcohol 🙂 Sit, drink, and laugh about stories from the old days. That way you’re kind of back there and it’s comforting.

  38. Debbie from White Bear Lake August 15, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    Just caught your episode on House Hunters and looked up your blog. My son graduated from UMass last year. I love the area…so beautiful. We visited The Bookmill, such a great place! Best of luck with your travels!

  39. MA DJ Kellogg May 8, 2015 at 10:16 am #

    Western Mass is perfect, THIS time of the year. Early spring. The temperatures are great, and the BIG bugs aren’t out yet. I love the walking trails and the outdoors too. Thanks for the blog!

  40. mary hood August 11, 2015 at 9:50 am #

    I loved this post, Liz. I have never been to Massachusetts, but after reading this I might have to take a special trip up there just for the scenery and the Bookmill (are you freaking kidding me? places like that exist?)
    My Massachusetts is Buenos Aires. That’s where I went when I escaped an abusive relationship. That was my first trip abroad alone. That’s where I met some of my bestfriends, where I rediscovered my independence, and where I met the love of my life, my now fiance.
    When so many incredible things happen in one place, it holds a special place in your heart.. but like you, i’m anxious about returning. What if its not as magical as i remember? Well, there’s only one way to find out.. 😛

    Love your blog!

  41. Tod November 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    That Bookmill is giving me goosebumps! Definitely going on my wanderlust list!

  42. Mark January 23, 2016 at 10:54 am #

    Can I just say I am the most jealous person ever for all of your travel experiences and joys abroad!

    Living the life of dreams!

  43. John Stringfellow May 25, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Great article Liz! Your perspective and your photos are outstanding. I would like to Storify this piece if that is OK with you.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. I Left My Heart in Western Massachusetts – Young Adventuress | Wysockiit - February 1, 2014

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  2. Travel Linkspiration: January 2014 | An Opportune Moment - February 3, 2014

    […] U.S. gets recognized on a travel blog, I get stupidly excited. Young Adventuress wrote a post about her love for Western Massachusetts and tucked it in on her blog between adventures in Iceland and New Zealand, and I was just over […]

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