Well, actually I had help, and it did not take too much convincing.  Rob asked me to join him in visiting his parents grave at West Point, “and we could stop at the Red Lion Inn on the way home,” he added.  Sorry Mimsy, again there last night, but no time to get your invitation in the mail.

We met at 7AM for breakfast at Murray’s along with his wife Barbara and sister-in-law Lynne.  When done he said, “go home and pack a bag, who knows we may not make it home.”  So, I did. Guess he has been reading too much SHUNPIKING WITH RAY, and understands what it is all about.

Well, almost. When heading to your furthest point to then head home it is forgivable to cheat and take the Pike(s). So, down I-91 to I-84, cross the Hudson River, and then pick up 9W south.  Crossing over Storm Mountain we entered a back gate close to the cemetery (we are both card carrying members).

A view of part of the West Point Military Academy Cemetery.

A view of part of the West Point Military Academy Cemetery.

After touring the cemetery, Rob gave me a great tour of West Point.  I had only been to the military academy three times before (early 50s as a Cub Scout, 1970s with my grandmother and boys, and to get a ID card renewal in the late 90s) but never had seen so much of the grounds.

We spent the most time touring Trophy Point which was the original site of the West Point Hotel, but more importantly the strategic bend in the Hudson River.  It was this spot that the chain was placed across the river to prevent the British from sailing up the Hudson to cut off New England from the rest of the country during the American Revolution.  The chain never had to be tested.

Part of the chain that protected the Hudson River during the American Revolution

Part of the chain that protected the Hudson River during the American Revolution

This wall along Trophy Point along with many historical plaques was Rob’s Dad’s, Class of 1938, 40th anniversary gift to the Academy.

Trophy Point - West Point Military Academy

Trophy Point – West Point Military Academy


Somehow when I converted this video to a smaller file size to upload it lost some clarity. But you will get the point of the majesty of this area.

Adjoining is the monument to (note) The War of the Rebellion.


Lobby of the Thayer Hotel

Lobby of the Thayer Hotel

We then had lunch at the Thayer Hotel overlooking the Hudson. Management and renovations have been taken over by a private concern in the past five years.  Fifteen years ago when thinking of staying there I heard bad things, but believe that is no longer the case.  Access to the public has been made easier without having to enter the post — so give it a try (enter from the south)

Rob wanted to share the chapel because of its beauty, and the campaign flags.  There was a wedding going on, and the anxious “wedding planner” shooed us out as the bride was about to go down the aisle.

The Chapel at West Point with campaign flags

The Chapel at West Point with campaign flags

Next on Rob’s list (yes I can be a willing, compliant companion) was his traditional stop WP-9at the Millbrook Winery in Millbrook, New York.   He yelled out, “look at this on my phone!”  Again, I had been at the winery about 15 years ago; but, Remember in February of this year (you had better) that I stumbled upon Shunpike Road – check my February post for more images? Well, here we were at the other end with the winery just off Shunpike Road.




You have seen wineries, but not this light before.


Upon leaving, at the stop sign I jumped out to get a picture.


No, not the Mustang. I told you I am out of my Mustang phase. Enjoyed my 1966 Hardtop and 1965 Convertible in the 1980s.  Remember, I am now on a quest for a 1964 Corvette (leads to a purchase rewarded).  Rob said he saw the driver turn around frightened when I jumped out running up.  Hey, anything for the right photo – of the sign, silly.

We then followed US 44 over to Lakeville, Connecticut, passing though another favorite – Millerton, New York. And from the Lakeville / Salisbury area we continued north on Route 41 towards Great Barrington.  Upon crossing the Massachusetts border into Sheffield, Rob and I simultaneously exclaimed, “Wow, look at that!”  We got a few hundred yards past, and agreed – stop and go back.

STAGECOACH TAVERN, Sheffield, Massachusetts

STAGECOACH TAVERN, Sheffield, Massachusetts

Heading south in the past on Route 41 I have missed this, but going north the STAGECOACH TAVERN just jumps out at you.  We went to the door, “still setting up, open in 20 minutes,” we were told.  We saw the menu posted outside – a fascinating selection of specialty drinks. We looked at each other – The Red Lion Inn was the next planned stop.  “But we are here, and it looks great,” we agreed, and walked around the WP-13grounds and into the adjoining lodge.  And, of course I made some selections from the Tourist Information booth outside.  Once we got in we were thrilled.  We sat at the bar, had yummy specialty drinks (I would tell you, but you know my memory, and they did not list the drinks on their website) and also the Curry Dusted Fried Chickpeas (that was on website – not in my memory).

RAY RECOMMENDS —- make a stop at, and have dinner at the STAGECOACH TAVERN on Rt. 41 in Sheffield, Massachusetts.




And then we arrived at The Red Lion Inn.  Packed – hey, a weekend.  And I told Rob I was pleased to see young families – have to get the young ones hooked and appreciating a finer way of life.  Dining Room host recognized me and we chatted. We could not get a table in the Tavern until 9PM (it was now about 6PM) and were too full still to try to get into the Dining Room.  So, we headed downstairs to the the Lion’s Den.  I had only been there once before in 18 years. Very enjoyable, a nice reasonable pub menu, and a different crowd enjoying the Den from the separate entrance.  But from inside the Inn you can take the stairs down from the Tavern.


Enjoying our selections, I then toured Rob around the Inn, and said good bye to the host. We then shot home on the “pikes” – a full day – but a great day.  Been home now for about 13 hours. Itchy – what is next?

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The RLI feels as much like home for me as home does. I had two nights in a row before A CHRISTMAS CAROL begins negating three day adventures.  I struggled, and struggled with where to go, and what to do.  Maine was a contender, but this time of year most small museums and attractions are closed.  Then it struck me – just go to The Red Lion Inn.  So, off I headed Tuesday shortly after voting with basically no plans. But you know that if I simply follow the front of the car, adventures unfold.  And, as my time evolved these two days I still cannot believe that after almost 20 years of serious exploring in the Berkshires (and over 50 since I first camped here) I am still uncovering new sights, things to do, and fantastic back roads and scenery.

I left with only one thought in mind.  There are two routes crossing Massachusetts west of the Connecticut River that I am not familiar with.  So, head west on Route 23, and back east on Route 57 when heading home. Tuesday I exited I-91 to pick up US 202 to head to Westfield (not been there). Then west on US 20 out of Westfield until MA 23 begins.  Only been on the western most part of 23, so now was the time. And, it is now imperative to “shun the Mass. Pike” since they recently (well 1-2 years ago) began charging a toll from I-91 to the NY border.

Westfield is worth a drive through with its well-kept early 20th century commercial

You never know who you will see on a back road.

You never know who you will see on a back road.

architecture.  US Route 20 always a joy (love it in NY state – have traveled most of it in the past two years, hopefully you read about). In the literature that I just picked up (you know that I collect all travel literature, file it in categories, and actually read it) I learned that US Route 20 is America’s Longest Highway at 3,365 miles from Boston to Newport, Oregon, and there is a Historic US Route 20 Association.  Another – very long – trip that now must be accomplished.

Beginning at the eastern terminus of Route 23 I found it scenic, hilly, and enjoyable as it basically paralleled the Mass Pike (easy to see often with leaves off).  Not much along the way, Otis being the main town. I was getting a tad hungry, and often will find nice deli eats in small old general stores. As I entered Monterey, there was the Monterey General Store.


A quick turn to park, and to my pleasant surprise it was a delight inside — and a salmon,

Lunch !!!

Lunch !!!

capers, cream cheese sandwich worth driving back for.

Arriving in Great Barrington I turned north on my favorite US Route 7 and got my room key a tad after 3PM.  Then my routine of hanging clothes, assembling reading material and planting myself in my spots on the porch and then in the lobby in front of the fireplace.  Change to coat and tie for 7PM dinner, followed by reclaiming my spot in front of the fire. And with heavy eyelids, eventually retreat upstairs enjoying ancient antique filled hallways along the way.

Wednesday – no plans other than a Levi’s jeans and Jockey underwear run at the Lee (MA)

Details on Santarrella - click to enlarge

Details on Santarrella – click to enlarge

Premium Outlets Mall at Exit 2 of the Mass Pike. On the way to the shopping however I sidetracked to Tyringham. About 18 years ago Cathy and I stumbled into this architectural oddity – Santarrella.


Around the bend is Tyringham Cobble, a fascinating geological spot with hiking etc.  The properties owned by the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations are worth learning about and exploring.


I then followed a road over the mountain (more fantastic views into the valley with leaves gone), and am thrilled that my GPS system in WAZE has learned my type of road.

My Kind of Road - no matter what wheels I am in.

My Kind of Road – no matter what wheels I am in.

My shopping was focused (only necessities) and I got two pairs of jeans, and loaded up on underwear (do so about every 3 years).  Had just gotten a coupon book in mail with an additional 20% off starting the 5th, and if you buy two packages of same item it is 40% off outlet price.  So, 6 changes of each, plus some flannel PJs, and what I “saved” was more than what I spent.

After the rare Ray shopping experience. I followed US20 through Lee and cut over to Lenox.  Never having explored the residential streets in Lenox, I did so – and, HIGHLY RECOMMEND you do also – Amazing.  Continuing out past homes I worked my way back to Tanglewood, and then headed up into the hills for the back roads to Hancock Shaker Village.  Even though open, there was no one there, so I decided to wait for a visit, and turned back to MA 41 to head back to West Stockbridge and then Stockbridge.  But in a short distance was a right turn back to Chatham and New Lebanon, NY.  I turned, and when arriving at NY 22 I turned north towards New Lebanon not recalling being on that stretch of NY 22, and not recalling New Lebanon.

The Lebanon Spring House covering the original structure c1756.

The Lebanon Spring House covering the original structure c1756.

But when I arrived in New Lebanon I did remember the decaying strip where NY 22 and US 20 join. There had been nice antique shops there, but now most all is vacant – only 1970s strip stores remain.  But then I remembered that I had with me the best travel brochure I have ever had, and had just found for the first time on the rack at the Inn (I always scan travel racks and acquire brochures I have not seen before).

Published by the Lebanon Valley Heritage Center, the map (taking up most of one side, and very well done) and historical guide introduced the once-famous Lebanon Spring Spa Resort and the Mt. Lebanon Shaker Village – the first in the country.  HOW HAD I MISSED THESE BEFORE?  I shunpike, but the spa and village are just off the main route.  It was this fantastic brochure that introduced me.  Of course I explored, and have to return.

Spring Water flows at 500 gallons a minutes. You can fill your bottles from this pipe.

Spring Water flows at 500 gallons a minutes. You can fill your bottles from this pipe.

The Indians knew of the healing waters of the spring, but shortly after French and Indian War concluded in 1756 the spa was born, eventually becoming one of the most fashionable spas in the US. I love the old summer resorts and spas, and cannot believe I did not know about this one.

The Spring House, now enclosed, was built over a log-lined pool.  72 degree spring water flows at 500 gallons per minute and when I arrived a lady was filling her water jugs – I later filled my empty water bottles.  The giant sycamore is said to have been planted about 1760.

Cellar hole of the 1794 Columbia Hall spa resort hotel

Cellar hole of the 1794 Columbia Hall spa resort hotel

Columbia Hall was built in 1794, but demolished in 1914.  One of the first and most opulent of the spring’s hotels it had 300 bedrooms for 400 guests and ornate ballrooms. In 1825 the Marquis de Lafayette stayed at the hotel.  Other visitors included: Henry Longfellow, Daniel Webster, Charles, Dickens, and John Quincy Adams.

This building was begun about 1756.  Originally serving as a hotel, it is now an apartment building.  (remember you can click on my images to enlarge them)

The Elm Tree House (circa 1756) now apartments.

The Elm Tree House (circa 1756) now apartments.


I then explored the Cemetery of the Evergreens and this monument to Samuel J. Tilden. A native son, Tilden was a noted crime-busting DA in NYC, then Governor, and lost the Presidency in 1876 by one vote in the electoral college even though he received an overwhelming margin of the popular vote.

The Samuel J. Tilden Monument of the National Register of Historic Places.

The Samuel J. Tilden Monument of the National Register of Historic Places.

NRLI-14But my biggest surprise on the other side of US 20 and NY 22 that I have missed all these years is the Mount Lebanon Shaker community – the first in this country.  Unlike the “restored” Canterbury Shaker Village that I visited in September, and the Hancock Shaker Village that I almost visited on Wednesday, this first in the country is essentially original and unrestored, but in three sections.  Part is a museum, part is now the Darrow School, and another section now is  the Abode of the Message, a Sufi Community.  Lots to explore on a future trip to report to you.



Great Stone Barn - 196 feet by 50 feet - largest in America. Wood destroyed by fie in 1972, now being restored.

Great Stone Barn – 196 feet by 50 feet – largest in America. Wood destroyed by fie in 1972, now being restored.


The unrestored "wash house."

The unrestored “wash house.”

I then headed back to enjoy The Red Lion Inn, settled into my routine in the lobby, change for dinner, and retreat back to the fireplace before turning in.

On my check-out day I stayed laid back – yes, in the lobby in front of the fire.  Late breakfast, then buy a RLI coffee mug in the gift shop, and in tears check out around 11AM.

A rainy day – no problem, I am alive and happy.  The plan, back down US 7 and take Route 23 east out of Great Barrington to pick up Route 57.  At New Marlborough I did jog south to Southfield to see the old Buggy Whip Factory.  For a number of years in the late 1990s when I lived in New Preston, CT, I had several thousand books in the antique mall there — making several thousands of dollars in the process.  Hard to believe it was almost 20 years ago.  Back to Route 57 I can report that there is nothing to get excited about until reaching Route 8 and New Boston.  Route 8 (both in Connecticut and Massachusetts) heads as I recall all the way south in Connecticut, and I have travelled much of it, but need to explore from New Boston to Colebrook, CT.

But I really enjoyed Route 57 from New Boston to I-91 (the eastern terminus).  The road, the views, and the hill towns of New Boston, Tolland, West Granville, and Granville must be experienced for their bucolic village settings and exceptional colonial architecture.


Unique (I think) village green in West Granville, MA.

Unique (I think) village green in West Granville, MA.

But arriving at I-91 I can say I have traversed all of Route 57, and took off north home to begin preparations for A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Yes, it is time for ACC, which may impact my ramblings here, but who knows.

RAY RECOMMENDS – Explore the Berkshires — I am spent the last almost 20 years, and have yet scratched the surface.

Thank you for continuing to follow along, as always, yours, RAY

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URBAN DICTIONARY  “Hopeless Romantic” – “This person is in love with love. They believe in fairy tales and love. … All hopeless romantics are idealists, the sentimental dreamers, the imaginative and the fanciful when you get to know them. … Hopeless Romantics are NOT Hopeless per-say, but very true, caring, and loving people. They are “NOT MADE FOR TODAYS STANDARDS”, sadly. They believe in passion, chivalry, and true love. They have loved sincerely at one point in their life, discovered what love feels like …”

Having been affectionately called a “hopeless romantic” I had to find the definition.  This is a good fit, and descriptive of me.  Having had 13 years of loving love, a believer in chivalry and treating ladies as ladies, and caring deeply for my friends (not to mention enjoying candlelight dinners even by myself) about all I can say is Ray is Ray.

But also you know that I love to write and play with words.  This past week I played some with words on Facebook posts.  But my Facebook “friends” do not necessarily get “Shunpiking with Ray.”  “Hey,” Ray thought, “I can share those writings here.” So, here are some of those other thoughts, but first I will start at the Fort at Number 4 Halloween Eve – a study in candlelight (not on Facebook) — and then backwards through the week to a conclusion.

Of course as Halloween approached, I wandered around town appropriately attired, but changed into a fuller costume when the school children were parading through town.  I passed out candy to the youngsters when they passed COSTUME LADIES. Sorry no images – I was very busy.


HAPPY HALLOWEEN — Not everyone can pull this off with class and style (but I can – and then it becomes elf time). – FACEBOOK CAPTION

HALLOWEEN – not fun “on the common”  Maybe a dozen kids trick or treating age live within a half mile of me, but by 5 PM 300 or 400 kids can be seen around the common, and close to 800 or more will materialize during the evening.  I gave up giving out candy about 8 years ago – would need a second or third job to pay for it all – Halloween is not what it was when I grew up. I got back from Keene Halloween evening about 5:45 as it was getting dark.  All my lights were out, but as I was getting out of the car over 20 kids started running down the drive to the rear door.  “I am only here for two minutes,” I called out.  They retreated. I brought groceries in and started to unpack – lights still all out.  There was pounding at the rear door – never before at the rear.  I decided I had to go to Rogues, Pickpockets and Thieves at the Fort at Number Four before I planned to, just to escape.

Candle-1One of my favorite places to visit since I have lived here, the fort is a replica of the 1752 fortification for the town of Charlestown – Number Four. I have enjoyed many French and Indian War reenactments and Thanksgiving Harvest Dinners, and several of the All Hallows Eve events. But last evening only a dozen or so folks attended, and there was not as much going on as in the past.  The “Doctor” explained that volunteerism is off due to the 18 month closing a few years ago, and many volunteers got involved elsewhere.  But having said that, the fort is always worth a visit, especially for events, and I did enjoy my time there last night.

I attended the witch trial – amazingly the witch was acquitted.


These unsavory characters were in the “store”


The doctor’s tools in candlelight (what did you expect, LCDs?)


and two final candlelight studies (you can always click on them to enlarge you know)



I saw this on Facebook posted by The Red Lion Inn, and had to share. — “Throwback Thursday-1986 Norman Rockwell’s studio was split in two and moved to the Norman Rockwell Museum grounds. RLI on the left.”


You know this is my favorite place, and today they posted this neat image. Of course I recommend visits to The Norman Rockwell Museum, and need I say to The Red Lion Inn. (my suite was on the top floor in the front corner in this image). FACEBOOK CAPTION

October 25th was our cemetery tour, but also The Village School’s SPOOKTACULAR fundraiser.  All day there are hayrides around town, and residents are encouraged to display scarecrows. I helped Barbara (THE Costume Lady – people hesitate when I answer her phone, but I quickly say, “I am the costume guy”) set this fellow in my front yard.


Never know what I am going to do each day, but decided when I got up that I would read Walpole’s best selling book to Alex. Don’t forget the Cemetery Tour today at 3PM.. Come wish the Rev. Henry W. Bellows a happy 200th birthday. FACEBOOK CAPTION

This was my Facebook post on 24 October:

Another romantic evening on my porch (albeit alone). Reading about England’s canals, and preparing for my alter-ego reappearance at the cemetery tomorrow. Almost “too much fun.”




Also on 31 October I teased folks about a big announcement coming on 1 November, and when yesterday came I posted:

This is the day – SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT – I MADE IT!  Yes, it is 1 November and I have yet to turn the heat on.  House is a comfortable 52 degrees.  If I ever turn the heat on, I can turn thermostat down from 61 to 59 without pain.  Hey, we welcome 50s and 60s in the summer.  Ulterior motive?  YES, I am on a quest. I am moving into my Corvette mode – need a classic 60s/70s Vette.  WHY?  Why not. Have not bought a “toy car” in 11 months. Never had a Corvette (been through my Mustang stage). Be fun to see if I can get a fourth car in my two car garage (new junque sits outside).  Or, a friend bought a house this week and said I could have her garage for my toys.  SO – every farthing I save on heat is another farthing for a “new toy car.”  Will let you know if I ever turn the heat on (snow coming tonight), and WHEN I GET MY VETTE! – FACEBOOK CAPTION


And, sadly followed this morning (hard to work my fingers on keyboard) – “I gave in. 48 degrees inside the house. Turned heat on, set thermostat down to 60. And winds really stirring outside.” – FACEBOOK CAPTION

A CHRISTMAS CAROL auditions are the end of this week, and I will be very, very busy through 13 December.  Been struggling about where to take a break after voting Tuesday morning.  Really been struggling about what to do – hard to believe.  Maine came on the radar, but this time of year most small museums, etc. are closed.  I just want to “veg” out and read and write.   And what makes the most sense?  In front of the fire in the lobby of The Red Lion Inn?  Gee, have not been there for two weeks. Will someone please “throw me in that briar patch.”

Enjoy your day, as always, yours, RAY


PS – How do you like my “new” lamp I got Friday?  Receiver is off hook to turn lamp on!

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One shot "selfie" at the rock. With camera and not iPhone.

One shot “selfie” at the rock. With camera and not iPhone.

Yes – in Connecticut for my 50th reunion – kindergarten that is (and if you believe that, I still have a few choice bridges in my inventory for sale).  As I have groused to a few of you, reunions are not my thing, but friend from before kindergarten, Mimsy, talked me into coming.  And I have joyfully said I am going because: 1) I am alive; and, 2) I look great.  Now that I am home and writing, may I say it was a perfect weekend – both in Ray’s timing and the fun and pleasure I had.

By the numbers:  My graduating class was 142.  About 10% of my classmates are deceased, and another 10% have not been located in the intervening 50 years.  But, of the remaining tad over 100 – 60 plus classmates assembled for the weekend – an amazing percentage. And even more amazing, a good number or us were together from kindergarten through graduation. And, everyone looked great, shared stories, life experiences, and philosophies and thoughts on what made our generation different from previous ones. In a review of bios submitted it was noted that as a group we have volunteered more than previous generations, travel more, and for the most part show no sign of slowing down.  I relate to that!

I left shortly after noon on Friday the 17th for a leisurely drive to Wilton, picking up US Route 7 in Danbury to head south.  I have sadly seen the changes over the years.  In Branchville I cut over to Nod Hill Road to work myself down and past my home. Upon entering Wilton I passed the Weir Farm National Historic Site where I played as a youngster.  Remember one time in the barn one of the Gullys (caretakers at the time) just missed me with a pitchfork, and another time when fishing at the pond (site of many of J. Alden Weir’s impressionistic paintings) I did a good job at catching my finger only.

I first stopped at my home that my Dad built on family land in 1949 at 15 Partrick Lane – well, the house is to the left and the garage to the right. Both overshadowed by the additions in the middle.  Hard to see with the growth of trees. I was here until graduation.


As I came back down to the end of Partrick Lane to take a picture of my first bus stop, a bus pulled up (Nod Hill has had many spots in the roads – including this – cut down and leveled out, or straightened a tad – Mimsy agreed).


My Dad built this house when I left for college.  Now enveloped too by additions and growth in the past 50 years.


And a tenth of a mile south at 523 Nod Hill Road is my grandmother’s house.  When I came through two years ago this month (click on this link for a great read and images of that Nod Hill Road, Wilton, CT trip) the lovely young new owner saw me and invited me in.  Complete rip-out had just begun for renovation and additions.  Would you believe she recognized me as I pulled up to get this image, and she invited me in to see the completed work.  FABULOUS and I thanked them and wished them many joyous years there.


I need to write this story down that I have told many over the years.  When my grandfather found the Nod Hill farm in the mid-1920s for a weekend and summer home it was a costly $3,000 for the farmhouse, barn across the street, and over 200 acres. (you cannot get much for under $1,000,000 nowadays in Wilton).  “But I just want the house,” my grandfather stated.  ($3,000 was alot of money, even for him as Chief of Staff at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx).  “You do not understand,” replied the farmer. “the $3,000 is for the house, I am giving you the barn and acreage.”

Mimsy and me

Mimsy and me

By 5 PM I arrived at The Norwalk Inn where out of towners were staying. We visited and chatted at the bar, and then Mimsy, Aggie, Doug, Dusty and her husband and I had dinner at the inn before heading to the new Orem’s Diner in Wilton where others were gathering.  We all of course remember the original diner built in 1921.  The new diner building is huge, and the group took many tables around the room.  I meandered around, and then talked with Leland, with whom I have been friendly since high school.  Do you have those friends that if you have not seen each other in years that you pick up like it was yesterday?  I am fortunate to have three – Leland (since early 1960s); Mimsy (since early 1950s); and Scott

Lee and me.

Lee and me.

and Betty (since 1995).  Leland asked what I had planned for Saturday before the 3:30 homecoming football game.  “Well, nothing yet,” I replied.  “Great, call me if you would like to go out on my wooden boat.”  “About 85% for sure,” I replied.

Saturday I joined several folks for breakfast at the Norwalk Inn, and at 9 AM I turned around and there was Leland. “Ready to go,” he asked.  And off we went to his small marina in Rowayton on the Five Mile River.

Lee said, “let’s go have lunch in Centerport (Long Island).”  But as we entered Long Island

Leaving the Five Mile River looking south to Darien, CT

Leaving the Five Mile River looking south to Darien, CT

Sound he was carefully listening to the nautical weather channel and said, “no, we will get beat up and wet coming back.”  So instead we cruised up to Compo Beach in Westport, back along the shore fueling in Norwalk, and returned to Rowayton.

Leland when we were at the dock at Compo Beach in Westport.

Leland when we were at the dock at Compo Beach in Westport.

I was fascinated by Roton Point where Lee’s mother had gone to the Roton Point Amusement Park in the 1920s traveling by train from Georgetown to Norwalk, and then trolley to the park.

Roton Point from the Long Island Sound. Pavilion in center, roller coaster building to left.

Roton Point from the Long Island Sound. Pavilion in center, roller coaster building to left.

1914 Roller Coast entrance platform.

1914 Roller Coast entrance platform.

One of the best amusement parks in the area, steamers would travel from New York City.  In the 30s all the big bands played at the pavilion which still remains along with the entrance platform/building for the roller coaster built in 1914.  Leland knows of my affinity for the old amusement parks and summer resorts.


We then had lunch at The Restaurant at Rowayton Seafood which Zagat has rated “Excellent” and voted as “Best Seafood” for years running.  You know I often share my meals with you.  One special for lunch (which we both had) was the Grilled Calamari.

Grilled Calamari.

Grilled Calamari.

During the course of our conversations Leland mentioned taking his boat down the Rideau Canal (follow this link for my history learning adventure there) and mentioned he wants to travel in Europe, but his wife has no interest.  Fast flash in Ray’s mind, “Lee, have you heard about narrow boats in the UK that you can rent and travel the canals?” I explained and suggested we do it.  (when we saw each other Sunday afternoon at Paul’s gathering he had already started researching and learning).  So, finally in 2015 there will be narrow boat posts.

After heading back to Wilton I attended the homecoming game, and was amazed at the crowds – nothing like it was in the 60s.  And cars were everywhere with tailgate parties set up.  But, it makes sense because the 175 member band is larger than our graduating class was.

175 member Wilton High School marching band.

175 member Wilton High School marching band.

Leaving after half-time I traveled past all my schools (all with additions and changed uses) but the image possibilities were not great, so are just documented in the “slide-show” below.  Remember to click on any one to open up to larger sizes.

I visited my Dad in Hillside Cemetery before heading back to the inn to shower and changeWilton-19 for dinner at Cobb’s Mill Inn in Weston.  The food was wonderful, conversation fun, and Dick related some stories from the bios he coordinated. Dancing to 60s and 70s songs followed, and both Aggie and Judy and Mimsy said I danced well – they were being nice.

Dick speaking to the class

Dick speaking to the class


Hard to get every into one picture in a small area.

Hard to get every into one picture in a small area.

Sunday morning I visited with a few remaining folks having breakfast at the inn for several hours before it was time to give Aggie and Mimsy hugs before I turned away with tears.  I had never gone before, but Paul after each reunion has had people over to his home in Wilton, and I arrived there at 11 AM.  It was an enjoyable couple of hours I had visiting with some other folks before leaving about 1:30.

But before recounting my journey home, I must confess that (although I mainly watched and listened to others) I really enjoyed the time I had with the Class of ’64.  The group was physically fit, well versed with varied and interesting backgrounds and stories. But there was the common history.  The sharing of thoughts as to where we got to where we are, and what lies ahead was insightful.  I believe that most everyone I talked with share my feelings that what has been is just that – nothing to get upset about – nothing to change – just experiences and lives to accept and cherish and learn from as the next day approaches.  Maybe I am interjecting more of my philosophy into this statement, but I believe that at least those I talked with feel the same way I do – Life has been, and is great.

Well, let’s get heading north back to New Hampshire.  My plan was to head up my favorite US Route 7 arriving in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, for dinner.  At The Red Lion Inn! Did you have to ask?

US Route 7 from New Milford to Stockbridge is probably the road that was the genesis for my “shunpiking” but ironically it has been about 20 years since I was on the stretch from New Milford to Kent.  When I lived off Route 202 north of New Milford in New Preston there was just no need or reason to traverse that stretch.  It was time to do so, and I am glad that I did.  I stopped at several antique shops (sadly nothing tempted my wallet), but I was so pleased to see that basically nothing, I repeat NOTHING, has changed on US 7 from New Milford, not just to Kent, but basically all the way to Stockbridge.

Gaylordsville, CT - POL's monument

Gaylordsville, CT – POL’s monument

I first stopped in Gaylordsville which I discovered in 1962 (have fantastic old car pictures from one early garage there).  This strange monument was built in the early 20th century as a “spite house” when the State took away the builder’s children.  There are a number of nefarious reasons why the State did.  Across the street, the building on the right I bought (in 1962) a cast iron fire truck for $4.50, and still have it.  It just served as an illustration in my book.



Antique shop was in the house on the right in 1962.

Antique shop was in the house on the right in 1962.

Kent is a precious town, but is popular and was crowded, so I passed on through when I remembered the Sloane-Stanley Museum which adjoins the Kent Iron Furnace (1826 – 1892).  Only lived minutes away for 6 years and never stopped.  But, quick left turn and I entered even though close to closing time.  Eric Sloane died in 1985 and, along with his fascinating tool collection, his studio (with painting he was working on at the time) was donated and reassembled there.

Eric Sloane's studio as it was when he died in 1985

Eric Sloane’s studio as it was when he died in 1985

When my bookshop was in New Preston I was able to buy many Sloane signed and inscribed books from families and estates there, and I still have an original drawing from BARNS – the evolution of the New Hampshire farmhouse.

I enjoyed also touring the Kent Iron Furnace site:


But then I saw adjoining the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association’s museum on the 8 acres to the north. For some reason I missed this totally in the past.  Old steam engines, hit and miss engines, and much more.  All the things I have been fascinated by.  I drove around the property, but there was no time to explore.  Leland – we have a date to meet there next year.

Wilton-36A tad further just off US 7 on a steep hill in Cornwall is this house.  Owned by my Dad’s uncle and then cousins, it may still be in the family, but everytime I have stopped in the last decade it appeared unused, but looking in the windows with furniture where I remembered it.  I remember being there on a visit when about 7 or 8, and with my Dad we stopped and saw relatives maybe 15 years ago.

Franz Boas when visiting his family would work in the study under this barn.

Well, next comes my most favorite section of road along the Housatonic River and the Housatonic Meadows State Park.  Then comes the covered bridge in West Cornwall, and eventually you cross the border to Sheffield, MA.  There I visited another antique shop and reminisced with the talkative owner how antique selling used to be. When I left it was after 5PM but heading into Great Barrington one of my usual antique stops was still open – but no treasures this time (got an antique peanut warmer there for my birthday in 2013).

And my final destination to top off the perfect weekend?  Of course, The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge for dinner.  I finished my wine in front of the fire enjoying watching the people enjoying the inn before I headed home.  But under two hours away, I can easily head back (and have) anytime for dinner.




You know I love this front porch





and also the dining room


So, my timing for the weekend from departure to return was perfect filling every waking moment.  In conclusion I have added, if you wish to click on this link the bio I submitted for the reunion (with my philosophies), and there is a link to the “miracle story” of my move to New Hampshire.  I don’t know what comes next, but my travels the last several months have been great, and it shall continue.  Thank you for reading, as always, yours, RAY

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Yes, Betty, the answer is below — but the answer has prompted another question. Sadly I departed the program at the Roycroft Inn at 1PM on Friday, 10 October.  At the “graduation lunch” I was asked to read Elbert Hubbard’s CREDO.  Kitty asked me the night before, so I had practiced, and she said afterwards that my reading had been the best ever – of course.

Goodbye ROYCROFT INN, East Aurora, NY

Goodbye ROYCROFT INN, East Aurora, NY

This afternoon my destination was the the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda, NY and then Niagara Falls — but I got to experience even more. Audrey at the Sassafras B&B in Lancaster said I could drop my things early and get the keys.   Have you ever wondered why I stay at B&Bs?  Should be no question from here on.





By 1:45 I was off on new adventures arriving shortly at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. I have been fascinated by late 19th and early 20th century Amusement Parks for ages (collecting postcards of them) and in awe of the rides and carousels.


There are other carrousel museums, BUT, this is the only one still in the original factory.  Lots to see, and I decided to share many images (remember you can click on one to open the slide show) and a video with you.



Finishing up this small but exceptional place in about an hour I found that I had time still to rush up to Old Fort Niagara on Lake Ontario at the end of the Niagara River.  I had decided the day before that I could just not accomplish all, but I did. My fascination continues with learning more about the War of 1812, and this fort was taken by the British and not returned to the US until May, 1815.  I made images of much of the information in the museum, but decided not to replicate these here, but I encourage you to check their very good website for great details on the area.

1726 French Castle at Old Fort Niagara

1726 French Castle at Old Fort Niagara



But next, RAY VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDS you follow this shunpike from Lake Ontario along the Niagara River to Niagara Falls.  I bet 99% of people do not even know what is north of the falls. Leaving Fort Niagara State Park (a wonderful large park converted from the original army post) follow NY 18F south along the river. Great homes and views, and Lewiston, NY is amazing.  From Lewiston you climb up the escarpment heading south to the Lewiston Queenston Bridge to Canada ($3.50 US toll or $3.75 CA).  And from there I looped back to follow Niagara River Parkway south to the falls.  It is a fabulous Canadian park all the way to the Falls – just beautiful. Here are some (I bet seldom seen by US tourists) views along the way.

Looking south from under the Lewiston/Queenston Bridge to the NY power generation plant

Looking south from under the Lewiston/Queenston Bridge to the NY power generation plant

Looking north to the bridge from Canada.

Looking north to the bridge from Canada.

And, looking to the US from the same vantage point.

And, looking to the US from the same vantage point.

And then I got to the falls, and here are some obligatory images along with a video so you may also experience my evening.



Looking back to the American Falls and Rainbow Bridge

Looking back to the American Falls and Rainbow Bridge

And a video for you to enjoy the full experience.

I will be honest (always am).  I was not impressed with the falls on this trip (last visit was 49 years ago).  It was not crowded, but the “honky tonk” was there in Canada, and when I crossed back to the US I could not escape Niagara Falls, NY, fast enough. Having been studying fantastic sites around the world for potential adventures, the falls are nice, but not great.  Sorry if I have offended anyone.  Mentioned it to my B&B hostess and she was a tad offended.

Saturday, 11 October I had no plans at all other than heading across NY state on US 20.  But while reading some of my accumulated literature before breakfast, I had noted in my booklet on Syracuse the Erie Canal Museum & Syracuse Heritage Area Visitor Center – are you starting to notice a pattern here?

Syracuse, NH Erie Canal Museum in the original 1850s Weighlock Building.

Syracuse, NH Erie Canal Museum in the original 1850s Weighlock Building.

Model of where the boats were pulled in to weigh. Canal has now been filled in for roadway.

Model of where the boats were pulled in to weigh. Canal has now been filled in for roadway.

Replica Canal Boat on weighing platform giving an idea what canal looked like here.

Replica Canal Boat on weighing platform giving an idea what canal looked like here.

On this trip I have been able to experience Buffalo, Rochester, and now Syracuse – all of which I was unfamiliar with.  Did you know that adjoining Syracuse is Lake Onondaga where salt was produced for generations from brine pumped from below the surface and not mined?  And that the south stated once that it was the salt from Lake Onondaga that enabled the north to win the Civil War?  I even had time to get to the Salt Museum (the WAZE app on my Iphone is great – thank you David).




But heading to Syracuse took me away from US 20, and it was getting dark.  What to do?  Quick look at map – head to NY 5 towards Utica – still unexplored territory.  Well, I first stumbled into Chittenango (say that fast) which is the birthplace of L. Frank Baum – author of the OZ books.


SEH-8And then I started coming upon more Erie Canal signs (hey, the “Wedding of the Waters” is flowing in my blood).  On a side street I found Chittenango Landing and its new museum at the site of an original Erie Canal repair facility.


Chittenango Landing Museum

Chittenango Landing Museum

And, then I found another original canal town, Canastota.



Before it got dark I even got to see Oneida (home of Noyes social experiment and Oneida Silver).  If you know me (and you should) you also know that I have always been fascinated with roadside Americana, and early diners.  Could not figure out if this was abandoned or still functioning.



Well, I hit Utica at 7PM and it was now dark.  Acceptable then to hop on the (curses) thruway and head to Albany, jog up to Troy, and then cross VT on Route 9 to I-91 and home.

Another great time – what can I say.  Alright, at least Betty has gotten this far.  Originally in the Town of Aurora there was a West and East Aurora.  At some point in time West Aurora became another village (now forget the name) but East Aurora remained as part of the Town of Aurora. BUT, that now leaves the question – why is there a Town of Aurora in Erie County, and also Aurora, NY, in Cayuga County.  The Betty Challenge – Find Out!

And, I was going to post this upon my return Saturday night, then postponed to Sunday, but about noon on Sunday I heard BLUE BELLE crying.  Off we went for four hours.  An absolutely perfect cruising day.  Up Rt 12 we headed and crossed the Connecticut River at Charlestown.  At the intersection with US 5 (I love this road along the river) we made our first stop. I had not stopped at this “new” antique shop before. BLUE BELLE saw a treasure and wanted to get it for me (I wanted it too).  What a sweet dear (but I loaned her the cash).  Fits, yes?  A cup of Mead anyone?


I turned left on VT 143 never having been on it before, and headed back towards Springfield.  Great views, and now part of my local “get out and drive routes.”  In Springfield I headed up VT 106 and turned onto VT 10 back to VT 103 where I turned south back to Chester Depot and Chester.

At Chester Depot (was first there in 1963 getting provisions at Lisais while camping in Belzebuth – my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster) I stumbled into the Green Mountain Railway excursion train, and got into the station for the first time.



A stop at The Stone House Antique Center (ask me sometime about its significance to me), and then back down VT 103 where I picked up I-91 for one exit.  BLUE BELLE was excited and wanted to “blow out some carbon.”  We will not confess that she topped out (well could do more) at around eighty, and feels real good now.

So, back home.  A CHRISTMAS CAROL time is approaching, and I have so much to accomplish it is hard to believe. But thanks for traveling with me and reading along.  As always, Love, RAY


PS – did you know that I am approaching 34,000 page views on my “silly travel blog?”

Posted in 2014-d - ROYCROFT EXPERIENCE (and more) - 4-12 October 2014, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


As I am keyboarding this on Thursday night, I must say that this has been one of the most educational and fascinating “group” trips I have experienced, and it will be leading to much more exploration and learning. Hey, keeping those brain electrons moving I will never, never get older – but you know that!

Wednesday morning October 8th we first toured the Elbert Hubbard Roycroft Museum in an original craftsman bungalow home that was gifted to the Aurora Historical Society in 1985 when the owner, Gladys ScheideMantel, at age 100, decided it was time.  We had a private extended tour, and it was not until the end that I saw “no pictures please.”  But it was a private tour, no one said anything.  And if you open up this slide show gallery you can get a taste of the simplicity and beauty, and richness of color and wood in the Arts and Crafts items.

Here is the richness of Roycroft Mission Style Arts and Crafts

Here is the richness of Roycroft Mission Style Arts and Crafts

Some more images from the Elbert Hubbard Museum.

We then walked over to see the Tiffany Windows at the Baker United Methodist Church.  I could not resist this image below.


I fondly remember the old faux asphalt shingle brick appearance siding on the house my grandmother was born in in the Bronx.  I love color and texture in my images, and that is captured here with the deterioration of this probably now 80 plus year old “home improvement.”

Not even trying to show you the church windows, here is just a colorful portion of one.


Two more churches were to be visited before the free afternoon, but I “ducked out” to take some more pictures of a table I saw on Tuesday in an antique shop that I thought son, Gary, would like, and had emailed him about.  But the main thing was my need to head north to Lockport, NY, to see the flight of five locks in a row with a change in elevation of 60 feet.

I arrived in Lockport, got an email from Gary saying, “awesome, get it!,” so I called back to reserve the table and will load it up on Friday to make the trek east and eventually to Gloucester, MA.

My Goal - the Lockport, NY, Flight of Locks.

My Goal – the Lockport, NY, Flight of Locks.

The biggest challenge in building the Erie Canal was probably the elevation and rock formations at Lockport.  I asked the right questions when I walked into the little museum.  How dumb can someone be I have reminded myself.  From Lake Erie to the Hudson River there is a drop in elevation of over 500 feet – thus the locks – but there is 60 feet in Lockport.  Now, looking at a map with Lake Ontario north of Lake Erie (and connecting at Buffalo) one would intuitively think that water would flow “down hill” (south) into Lake Erie.  Dumb Ray!!!  You forgot!!! The flow is north and out the St. Lawrence River eventually, thus when the water flows over Niagara Falls it is really going north.  There is a rock escarpment in the area causing a tough barrier heading east from Buffalo.  In Lockport this elevation problem was conquered with a double flight of five locks, and to the west the canal had to be cut through rock.

At first here are some images of the museum, followed by views of the locks themselves, and then a gallery of some information found around the locks.  Do open up the slide show and read if you wish – it is fascinating, and hopefully you will want to learn more.



The uppermost original lock.

The uppermost original lock.

"New" lock.  When the barge canal was built in 1918, two larger locks replace the second flight of five.

“New” lock. When the barge canal was built in 1918, two larger locks replace the second flight of five.


And, here are a few of the history panels around the lock area, if you would like to learn a little bit:

I arrived back in East Aurora with time to get ready for an evening reception and dinner at the Roycroft built residence of our guide and hostess Ellen.  A fantastic evening which included a tour of her husband’s studio where he explained to us how he designs toys.

Thursday’s agenda was focused on Buffalo and a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright houses.  Having gotten an overview of Buffalo architecture and its history I NEED TO COME BACK and learn and experience more!

Following our downtown tour, our first stop was at the Darwin Martin Complex for a two hour tour of the home FLW built for Martin.


Impressive, and I learned so much about Wright and his techniques in manipulating the eye and his purposes in blending with the landscape.

There was some time for the gift shop.  I am searching for some great hammered copper A&C candlesticks for my fine collection, but in the shop I saw a very reasonable pair of glass candlesticks in a simple Mission Style.  Being the “hopeless romantic” that I am, I now own them to include in my displays of flickering enjoyment.

Not on the schedule, but Ray had nicely asked, “could we stop at the small monument at the site of the Temple of Music (check out this link) at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition where President McKinley was shot?”  He died later of gangrene, and Teddy Roosevelt was sworn in shortly in Buffalo.  Unlike other world’s fair sites which have become parks in other cities, the Pan-American site was turned into a residential area (partially because of the black mark caused by the assassination).  A nice area (as were all the areas we saw in Buffalo – all well planned out with many parks, etc. designed by Frederick Law Olmstead).  Ellen directed our bus driver to the street, and I asked, “just 37 seconds please, that is all I need to get a picture.”


One of my bus mates said I made it back in 33 seconds.  Have to work on the list of all world’s fair sites I have been to throughout the world.

We then toured the Elmwood Village area, Millionaire’s Row, the Wilcox Mansion were TR was sworn in, and ended up at Canalside – the original terminus of the Erie Canal.

Original Terminus of the Erie Canal in Buffalo

Original Terminus of the Erie Canal in Buffalo


Click above to read.

It adjoins the Naval and Military Park, and there I saw tied up a submarine, the USS LITTLE ROCK (DDG-4) and the USS SULLIVANS DD-537.

USS SULLIVANS DD-537  with USS LITTLE ROCK to the rear.

USS SULLIVANS DD-537 with USS LITTLE ROCK to the rear.


To better my chance for an officer program in college I had enlisted in the US Naval Reserves in high school (it worked for the officer program), but had a two week summer cruise obligation.  After graduation, and before college, I was assigned to the USS SULLIVANS for two weeks (50 years, and 4 months ago).  The ship was heading to Prince Edward Island, Canada, to be the US ship in port for the 100th anniversary celebration of the Confederation of Canada.  There was a gala parade that I watched with another fellow (in enlisted uniform) and I got into conversation with a couple of performers from the Wayne and Schuster show that was to be held that evening.  Since I was heading to Northwestern initially majoring in radio, TV and film, they asked if I wanted to see the show.  Well, we went as invited guests, and then tagged along to the private party for Prime Minister Lester Pearson. There I met Wayne and Schuster and the Prime Minister (still a teenager remember).  We were the only US presence it seemed, and everyone was coming up to Bob Eck (I remember few names from the past) and I pushing drinks into our hands and thanking us for being good allies.  All of a sudden the Commanding Officer of the SULLIVANS saw us and came up exclaiming, “what are you doing here?”  My actor friend jumped in and said, “I invited them, and we are having an all night party, can they come there too?”  Well, it was “Cinderella Liberty” and you were supposed to be back on the ship by 10PM or BIG TROUBLE.  But shocked at being asked, the CO said, “yes.”  It was a fun night, but after a few hours sleep Bob and I headed back to the ship for muster at 8AM.  Walking down the pier everyone was THEH-11staring at us, and once crossing the Quarterdeck the Officer of the Watch had us escorted to the Executive Officer’s stateroom.  “And where have you been?  You have been AWOL.”  “But the CO said we could stay out,” I replied.  “Likely story – stay here.”  A few moments later he returned saying, “the next time the Commanding Officer says you can stay out, call the ship and tell us.”

Next we headed west along Lake Erie to Graycliff Estate, the summer home of the Martins.  Still under renovation it is a further superb example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius.



Water flowing from the front entrance south, giving the impression it is flowing through the house from Lake Erie.



Heading back to East Aurora we concluded the day’s tour at a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian home owned by Roycroft Renaissance potter Janice McDuffie.


and the back “deck”


The Usonian was an idea for an affordable home for “common people.”  The plans for this home were bought in 1953, but the home not built until 1966. Another reception with wine and goodies while folks toured the small but functional home, and saw Janice’s pottery works and purchased her wonderful items.

This last full day was fantastic with dinner followed by another talk on the Darwin Martin house.  I must say that having had an introduction to Buffalo, RAY RECOMMENDS that Buffalo needs to be experienced for its architecture and history.  At the time of the Pan American Exposition it was the 8th largest city in the country and the wealthiest because of its important geographical spot for commerce in the US.  I cannot wait to get back there for further study.

It is now Friday night, 10:33 PM as I am finishing this up.  The program was over at 1 PM, and I ran hard from then until 9 PM.  I am finishing this and posting it while in a B&B in front of a fire, and wait until you travel with me on today’s journey – WOW.  And, then there is tomorrow’s trip home, who knows???

Writing by the fireplace – more B&B images on the next post.


I cannot understand why some people refuse to experience B&Bs.  Good they don’t, then I have them to myself. And, this Queen Anne (the Sassafras B&B in Lancaster, NY) which is on the National Historic Register I have totally to myself.

Posted in 2014-d - ROYCROFT EXPERIENCE (and more) - 4-12 October 2014, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

ROYCROFT CAMPUS – EAST AURORA, NY – 6 and 7 October, 2014

The Road Scholar program I am attending is THE HISTORY OF EH-50THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT.  I choose this because of a developing interest in the time period as I became a full-time bookseller, and because as I review the Road Scholar programs I seek out adventures that include things that I cannot experience as a private tourist.  Again, I choose well, and after day one am ecstatic.

In reaction to the impact of the Industrial Revolution on society and artistic production, and based upon William Morris’ work in England, Elbert Hubbard founded his

Statue of Elbert Hubbard

Statue of Elbert Hubbard

Roycroft Campus in 1895 as a communal business and crafts colony.  It was one of the many utopian styled societies formed in response to the shoddy, mass-produced goods, and ills of factory life. It functioned like the old guild systems. Until it closed in 1938, the Roycroft Artisans (Roycrofters) became well-known for their hand-printed books, furniture, and metal work.  The campus grew from the original print shop (Hubbard’s original main interest).  People wanted to visit, and he had to tear down his home and build a hotel.  This connected with a peristyle to the original print shop building, and the “guest house” next door that he purchased prior to the

View leaving the second floor of the guest house.

View leaving the second floor of the guest house.

hotel being built.  I am staying in the guest house (sadly because I want to see the old hotel rooms – will ask to get access to one for pictures) BUT I am in good company in the guest house with spirits of Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford, Teddy Roosevelt and Susan B. Anthony who stayed there before me (not this century).

What is exceptional about this program, is that the key leader, Kitty Turgeon, is the individual responsible for renaissance of the Roycroft movement, the preservation of the Roycroft Inn, and the National Historic Landmark designation for the 13 buildings extant of the Roycroft Campus. Since 1991, she has been the executive director for the Foundation for the Study of the Arts and Crafts Movement at Roycroft – just google her.  And to top off the uniqueness of the program, on Monday we had an evening reception at her home (originally owned by the Roycroft artist Alexis Fournier)

Here are some more images around the Inn.

You need to learn about Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915 when lost on the Lusitania). Our Monday lectures introduced us to the Inn, Campus, and the History and Philosophy of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Roycrofters Prominence in It.  Although having a vague idea of the movement, it was the right time to attend because I have had discussions the past year with several people about the beauty of nature and the connections with a spiritual being – it ties in, I needed to understand better.  So much to share, so I have decided to give you some snipits from my notes, hoping you will want to delve further on your own.

Hubbard began as a salesman for the Larkin Soap Company in Buffalo, NY, and excelled as a marketer.   An exceptional marketer, he invented the idea of premiums from box tops, and coupons. But at 36 he became bored, and wanting to be a writer sold his interest in the firm for about $75,000.  He tried Harvard, but after a few months took a Grand Tour.  In England he met William Morris, and became fascinated with Morris’ Kelmscott Press, and the Arts and Crafts Movement. He returned to East Aurora buying land and printing presses.  Changing his life was the publication of A MESSAGE TO GARCIA in 1899.   A best seller, only behind the Bible and Dictionary, the message of his essay was a solid work ethic to always do your best, and do what was right.  His popularity with his publication, THE PHILISTINE, A PERIODICAL OF PROTEST, grew exponentially, and he had to build a 27,000 square foot printing facility.  Eventually over 500 people worked on the campus and the farms to support the campus.

The community philosophy was to make beautiful things to last.  His movement was not a style, but a way of life – a spiritual path.  There is a creative urge in man to have expression to fulfill his reason to grow – learn – and, express. You need to get your soul into your work – the spiritual way of looking at it.

Hubbard was a marketing genius, and promoted his movement with the incorporation of nature and beauty.  By surrounding yourself with beauty it promotes the good chemicals in your brain and body.  Some key features of Hubbard’s philosophies included: taking care of the planet (e.g Teddy Roosevelt and the establishment of national parks); gender equality which he promoted in East Aurora; the need to take personal responsibility to exercise and take care of your health.  The symbols balance body, mind, and spirit.  The roots of the movement include honesty, truth, and spirituality – which also are signified with the medieval origins of the Roycroft symbol.

I am afraid looking at my dozen pages of notes that I am not expressing not conveying all that I wish, but there is so much to learn from this experience.  You may wish to check out the PBS website on Hubbard for a start.  I will continue to review my notes from Kitty’s talk.

We then walked around the neighboring streets, and I was struck by the architecture.  More on that tomorrow.  In some free time I had a chance to run downtown on my own to the “main attraction” – Vidler’s 5&10.


When have you last seen gondolas in a store?


At 5:30 we had a reception and tour of Kitty’s home, originally owned by Alexis Fournier.

Reception at Kitty's. Her home is amazing with its Roycroft items everywhere.

Reception at Kitty’s. Her home is amazing with its Roycroft items everywhere.

A veritable treasure trove of A&C items, including a unique settee valued at $40,000.  Just fun things to have around to enjoy and share.

(December 2, 2014 – a sad update – when I left this great conference, I was told quietly that Kitty was going to have heart surgery in a couple weeks.  Recently I have seen search engine “hits” on this page, and was afraid to think why.  I received an email from Jill and learned of Kitty’s passing. What a treat to have known her and spent some time with this vivacious lady who will be missed by all.  At the bottom of this post I have copy/pasted her obituary from The Buffalo News.)

Tuesday started with a demonstration by a master Roycroft Renaissance silversmith


TEH-2which was followed by a printing demonstration in the Roycroft Chapel (I know more about letterpress than that young lady).  Next we could try our hand at hand-illuminating a printed work.  Lunch was then at the Elm St. Bakery.

After lunch with the group on Tuesday, I spent an hour back walking and observing East Aurora, New York architecture around the Roycroft Campus that we had toured on Monday. Here are some of the homes that struck me in this idyllic looking New England Village, which has its roots back to the New England Adams family. (Remember to click on any image to open up the slide show gallery)

Kitty then gave another presentation in the Chapel – Hubbard’s

Kitty explaining stairs in the Chapel. Note Roycroft symbol on post.

Kitty explaining stairs in the Chapel. Note Roycroft symbol on post.

chapel, is not a chapel as you would expect it. In ancient times, chapel was the “guild hall of the printers” where the word comes from – or its editorial content.  (December 2, 2014 – this may have been one of the last photos of this gracious lady)






Outside Chapel doorway.

Outside Chapel doorway.

And, when in East Aurora, NY, you have to stop at the birthplace and world headquarters of Fisher-Price Toys.  So, here are a few images for David, Gary, and Julie – and you other kids out there.






After dinner we had a “show and tell” of Roycroft items.  I brought a pair of bookends and three bound volumes of Hubbard’s PHILISTINE that I have had for years.  Kitty dated my bookends at pre-1915 based on the mark (value had been $500) and everyone enjoyed my bound PHILISTINEs.  I would have included a picture, but I already repacked them in the car.

Well, this got verbose, but actually re-looking at my notes there is so much more I want to share.  There may have to be a “Roycroft evening at 44” sometime to continue.  I will try to shorten my writing about Wednesday and Thursday.  Yours, RAY

Kitty Turgeon, 81, dies; preservationist was devoted to Roycroft
Passionate preservationist worked to save historic site

BY: Michelle Kearns – Published: November 4, 2014, 07:22 PM

Kitty Turgeon, a preservationist credited with saving East Aurora’s Roycroft Campus and winning it National Historic Landmark status before preservation was fashionable, died Monday in Buffalo. She was 81.

She was known for her warmth, kindness and passion for the Arts and Crafts movement’s local roots.

The former Edythe Smith, an elegant, imposing woman with striking red hair, moved to Buffalo after she married restaurateur Frank Turgeon. The couple, who had two children, eventually divorced, but the restaurant he introduced her to in East Aurora became part of her life’s work.

Ms. Turgeon was nicknamed Kitty because her big, bright eyes were compared to a cat’s.

After her first tour of the Roycroft Inn, which would become one of the 21 restaurants in a collection owned by her former husband and his brother Ralph, she asked of the Roycroft founder, “Who the hell is Elbert Hubbard?” That was the beginning of her shift from interior decoration to historic preservation and her championing of the Roycroft movement, the eclectic turn-of-the-last-century community with printing press, farms and artisans making furniture and pottery, where 500 were once employed.

“I’m devastated” by Ms. Turgeon’s death, said Sandy Starks, a longtime friend. Reflecting on the Roycroft, she said, “If it wasn’t for her, it wouldn’t have landmark status … She really started the renaissance back in 1976.”

Ms. Turgeon, author of cookbooks and histories, was in the midst of writing about the Roycroft’s current renaissance. She lived in a Roycroft artists’ house at the edge of the historic South Grove Street campus and was at the inn as recently as last month giving tours and attending about at the Roycroft arts and crafts conference.

She grew up in Chicago, earned an undergraduate degree at Cornell University and returned to her alma mater in 1975, commuting from Buffalo to Ithaca to study for a master’s in historic preservation, the first of its kind at the time. “By then, I was already in love with the Roycroft,” Ms. Turgeon said in a recording from a recent talk at the Central Library in downtown Buffalo. “It was because it fit my philosophy of life. My way of thinking and Elbert Hubbard’s way of thinking were just alike.”

Hubbard, a former salesman at Buffalo’s Larkin Soap Co., left his job and moved to East Aurora in the late 1800s to found a community of artisans whose goods were sold nationwide. It was part of the Arts and Crafts movement, in the United States and Europe, which celebrated handmade things in opposition to the profusion of the industrial age’s factory-made goods.

“Arts and Crafts is not a style,” she said in her library talk. “It’s a philosophy.” Ms. Turgeon was known to friends for her heart-to-heart hugs, an embodiment of a Roycroft theme. The words “head,” “heart” and “hand” were carved on the door to Hubbard’s wife Alice’s office, which is now at the entry to guest rooms at the inn. They were a nod to a John Ruskin quote and fundamental Roycroft creed: “A belief in working with the head, hand and heart and mixing enough play with the work so that every task is pleasurable and makes for health and happiness.”

The inn is now owned by the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation, which paid $9 million to help restore and reopen it in 1995. It is a centerpiece of the campus, with assorted buildings that have been undergoing gradual restoration by the inn’s nonprofit neighbor, Roycroft Campus Corp.

After Ms. Turgeon arrived at the aging inn in the 1970s, she struggled with its expensive needs. It closed in 1987 and reopened after the Wendt Foundation took over. Her Cornell studies, and an enthusiastic professor, led her to decide that landmark status could lead to grants and support to cover the high price of restoration. When the landmark office lost her application for the Roycroft, then-Rep. Jack Kemp stepped in, Starks said. He was having a Republican fundraising party at the inn, and Ms. Turgeon mentioned her difficulties. The next day, an aide called and began to shepherd the process: Kemp, a former Buffalo Bills quarterback, had stayed at the inn with teammates while the fledgling team practiced on the polo fields of what is now Knox Farm State Park.

Now the campus has the nation’s highest historic distinction, like the White House and the Empire State Building.

With its vaulted ceilings and lobby murals of world landmarks such as Egypt’s pyramids, the Roycroft is the kind of place that families go for special occasions. “What it means to the community is invaluable, and Kitty always recognized that,” said Martha Augat, innkeeper who oversees the 26-room hotel and the restaurant.

Ms. Turgeon was a founder of the Roycrofters at Large Association, the Foundation for the Study of the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Preservation Coalition of Erie County. She designed the “Road Scholar” program to bring guests to East Aurora to learn about the Arts and Crafts movement. She served on many boards and committees at institutions such as the Burchfield Penney Art Center, the Buffalo History Museum, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Historic Preservation Commission of East Aurora. She was given an Arts and Crafts Lifetime Achievement Award at a national Arts and Crafts conference in North Carolina.

Survivors include her former husband, Frank Turgeon; two sisters, Josepha “Rusty” Kunz and Lynn Mousseau; a son, Mark Turgeon; a daughter, Gillian Turgeon; a grandson; and a great-grandson. A memorial service is being planned for later this month at St. Matthias Episcopal Church in East Aurora.

Posted in 2014-d - ROYCROFT EXPERIENCE (and more) - 4-12 October 2014 | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments


Saturday, October 4th was half a re-positioning day.  Remember I call a day a re-positioning day when I “lose a day” and maybe transit a horrid turnpike setting myself into position for some serious shunpiking?  Well, today I left a tad before 8AM to cut across Vermont, scoot over to Troy, NY, and cross the Hudson to pick up I-87 (sorry) to get onto (really sorry) the New York Thruway — but only to Exit 39 where I was going to pick up NY 31.

I arrived at my starting point at 1PM, Baldwinsville, NY, in the pouring rain, ready to travel the next 80 miles that ending up taking 4 1/2 hours – not bad.  One goal of this trip to East Aurora, NY, is to visit the western parts of the Erie Canal.  In Fall, 2008, I spent 3 days on a canal boat from the Hudson to Oneida Lake.  That was my first excursion after loosing Cathy, and learning about the Erie Canal has been on the list for decades.  It was fun, but now I have to follow the canal along the backroads to get the full flavor.

The New York State Thruway essentially follows Clinton’s “Big Ditch” completed in 1825, which was replaced in 1918 with the 525 mile NY State Barge Canal system.  The economics of opening up New York state and the west is fascinating as well as the rise and fall of canal’s port towns, a few of which I experienced today. The canal in the western part of NY follows NY Route 31 mainly (or visa versa).  In case you are not as enthralled with old modes of transportation as I am, some of today’s images will be in galleries, and you need not click to open larger sizes if you prefer.

So off I headed shunpiking on NY 31 coming first to a sign for Jordan which required shuning the shunpike to turn into the town.


(RAY RECOMMENDS — always turn at the sign that says “business district” or the like — a great “business district” can be but 5 or 6 Victorian buildings).  And, here I began to start finding old and new canal features, beginning with this former aqueduct through town.



Next I came to a pull-off for the Centreport Aqueduct:


This “private museum” (now abandoned?) used to be open Fridays from 6 to 8.


Another small sign led me south to the connector canals in Montezuma (no not Mexico) to the Finger Lakes.

In Clyde I followed the signs to Lock 26 heading way out through farmland and down a dirt road to a remote spot.  In case you have not seen a lock before, I wanted to share this series with you.

Lock 26 on the NY State Barge Canal

Lock 26 on the NY State Barge Canal



Lock 27 is in Lyons where I also found the 100 year old movie theater – The Ohmann Theatre

The Ohmann Theatre in Lyons, NY

The Ohmann Theatre in Lyons, NY

Lock 28 is just a tad further west and close by is the old Lock E-56 which at one time due to increased traffic and to be double up to alleviate the bottle necks.

The plan was to spend the night in Rochester, NY, to visit the George Eastman House in the morning (on the list about five decades).  I settled into Rene’s B&B. I usually share some B&B images:

Dining room, Rene's B&B in Rochester, NY

Dining room, Rene’s B&B in Rochester, NY


By 6PM I was out to explore the city. Fortunately, I turned the wrong way (odd for Ray) and did not realize I was headed north ending in the beach area on Lake Ontario. Fortunately I realized it before my front tires got wet.  I turned around and headed the other way on Lake Avenue, of course, towards downtown.  I needed to see the George Eastman House, which I did, but had already decided that since it did not open until 11AM Sunday that if I went I would get too late a start for East Aurora.


Above is the front of the George Eastman House.  Entrance to the museum is about 1/4 mile to the rear with museum building all along the way. Glad I made that decision — the footprint of the photography museum is overwhelming, and probably would take a day to do it justice.  I explored the university area, downtown, and ended up at the Taste of Ethiopia which I commented about on Trip Advisor. Below the image of my “sampler” is what I wrote:


I am spending the night in Rochester in a B&B, and my hostess said, “try the Taste of Ethiopia,” and I did.  I had no idea what to expect at all, and was I ever pleasantly pleased.  Where does one begin when you do not know the foods?  A sampler plate, of course.  So with my Ethoiopian server’s assistance I made 4 choices for the $15 sampler plate, which arrived in no time.  Placing it in front of me she asked, “do you know how to eat this?”  “No, but please tell me.”  “You pull apart this crepe like bread and scoop up the foods,” she told me.  I asked for napkins and a fork in case.  I never touched the fork!  Read the other reviews, they are great.  All I can say is try the experience, you will like it.

Sunday morning was a breakfast delight with my B&B mates.  One and a half hours over Rene’s baked oatmeal with pears, raisins and walnuts.  Satisfied me until dinner.  Two items on Sunday’s agenda – The Jello Museum in Le Roy and the Genesee County Village and Museum in Mumford, NY. For over a decade I have read and reread the book I have about this restored village, and now I was a half hour away — yes, of course!  And, Jello Museum?  How can you resist?

I stopped first at the Jello Museum (just minutes from Exit 47 of the NYS Thruway) but had misread the opening time (Ray is slipping).  Have to come back at 1PM.  So off I headed to the village.  Well — FORGET STURBRIDGE VILLAGE in Sturbridge, Mass.  Make the trek here.  I cannot wait to bring grandchildren.  Having been to many such museum villages this, I declare, to be the best for docent interaction and interpretive presentation of several time periods.  Buildings have been relocated here in appropriate and traditional settings. In some cases a building has been reconstructed based on historical evidence, or repurposed – interpreted differently from its original use (e.g. the print shop).  The village is set up in three sections that flow well together: Pioneer Settlement (1780s-1830s); Antebellum Village (1830s-1860s) on its common (I felt like home); and, Turn of the Century (1870s-1920s).

I will not go into further detail, but here is a “slide show” you can open up by clicking.  Just visit when you can.

But, most importantly I made career changing discovery there.  Here is what I excitedly posted on Facebook. “I am so, so, very, veryTW-1 excited.  Today I saw a vocation/avocation that I wish to pursue for the next twenty or so years.  It will combine my penchants for collecting, researching, and presenting with an exceptional flair of showmanship. The collecting possibilities will be broad, and may be limitless. I will need everyone’s help with suggestions for my worldwide hunt to bring historical, timeless wonders under one traveling tent show.  Details to come on ShunpikingwithRay. I will need you to think and contribute. Coming soon? — Prof. RAB’s WAGON of WONDERS — Lost Literary Treasures and Historical Artifacts of Note. In fact, upon cogitating some more, jelling in my mind (with some jiggle – remember I went to the Jello Museum) I see the spin-off book topping the New York Times Best Seller Non-Fiction list.”

And, then I got back to the Jello Museum as it was opening.  Ruth JELL-1starts you off, and she is a delight.  Allow about 45 minutes for this small museum which has a separate transportation collection on the ground floor.  So, if traveling on the NYS Thruway, make the stop at Exit 47.  And since you may never make it, enjoy the gallery below.


I arrived at the Roycroft Inn at 3:30 got settled and showered before the 4PM welcome started.  A fine dinner was followed by an 8 PM meet and greet and orientation prior to the activities commencing on Monday. As I like to do, here is my room and some of my surroundings (more on it all next post).

Entering my room in the "guest house."

Entering my room in the “guest house.”



The bad news is that this post has been hard to make due to slow and interrupted internet service.  The good news for you is that will limit what I write and number of images posted.  But tonight, Monday, I will try to get this off to you, and then begin sharing some background of the Roycroft Movement and its importance.  I am amazed at how small the Roycroft Campus is where 500 Roycrofters worked, and equally pleased at how lovely East Aurora is, and its interesting architecture.  But more on that soon.  As always, yours, RAY

Posted in 2014-d - ROYCROFT EXPERIENCE (and more) - 4-12 October 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Whenever number two son, Gary, and I day trip it is usually in an area where we have had “holes in the map” – places that we have not been, but surrounded by areas we have previously explored.  To connect the areas together in our minds, it is imperative that we shunpike into the unexplored in-between areas to “fill in the map”’ as we like to call it.

Today I needed such an adventure to rest up my right arm from all the work we have done at “73” the past two plus weeks. I know, shifting a sports car still requires use of the right arm, I have to make exceptions; and, I have some “holes in the map” in the lower south eastern portion of Vermont.  Areas that there is no reason to go there, other than to “fill in the map.”  So, having written this (after taking some photos for the CLARION) I am off late morning to explore.

Having now completed the day’s 8 1/2 hour exploration I must say — DO NOT DELAY – THE LEAVES ARE BEGINNING TO POP.

Leaving home, the north side of my sugar maple is always early (but maybe not).  Sadly, I believe that this tree is dying, and it is only about 46 years old.


Now get out your maps, because here is the route (but I ended up with deviations – isn’t that the point?).  I planned to head down 12 first and turn right onto Route 63 (which I did) and then head down River Road, past Maplewood, to get to Route 9 to Brattleboro. Well, I came up to the little red schoolhouse at a neat intersection, and never having been on Poocham Road, I turned left, where I first came upon Poocham Hill Winery.


I visited with Mame O’Dette, the owner. They bottle about 1,000 bottles a year, and are VT-3open for wine-tastings.  Not 15 minutes from home – road trip my friends.  But more so because I continued on Poocham Road to Route 9 and I now have this tour in my best scenic routes list RAY RECOMMENDS – FOLLOW THIS ROAD COMPLETELY.  The vistas cannot be adequately captured. There are some fantastic homes, and some history along this road as seen in the next few images.




Once on Route 9 I crossed into Vermont, and (sorry) got on I-91 south for one exit to continue on VT Route 9 to Wilmington.  I have visited Wilmington, Vermont, for 40 years but have never stopped at the Flea Market on the way into town.  Nowadays there is nothing of interest to me anyway – but I stopped, and it was mostly “newer stuff.”


But then I got to a large postcard dealer’s booth.  I looked at the Walpole section, but of course there was nothing I did not have.  At the end of the tables I spotted four banana boxes of automotive sports car and racing books.  I asked, “how much are your books?” as they were not marked.  “$5 each,” was the reply,”or 5 for $20.”  I began looking and pulled the 8 best ones ($50 or more value).  “What about a price for all?” I asked.  “You mean all the four boxes?” he was amazed.  “Yes.” “$125″ “SOLD”  I rapidly walked back to get BLACK BEAUTY and my business check book.  When I handed him my check he exclaimed (seeing the town on the check).  “Ken Burns bought a postcard from me two weeks ago.” he continued, “Thinking it was him, I asked, ‘are you Ken Burns?'”  Ken replied, “I get asked that all the time.”  Hey, someone tell Ken that I have over 300 duplicate Walpole cards I would happily sell, plus a book with over 350 postcard and stereo view images.





I strolled Wilmington a tad, and had a small bite to eat.  The image below has “my kind of sign.” The building in the background is the old Crafts Inn, a late shingle-style building from 1902 designed by the foremost architect of the time,  Stanford White.



At the main intersection in town, I turned south passing the Pette Memorial Library going up Castle Hill, following it to the end and seeing the Harriman Reservoir.

Looking across a narrow point of Harriman Reservoir.

Looking across a narrow point of Harriman Reservoir.

Turning around at the dead end, I came back and turned right onto Boyd Hill Road (I read this in the Mount Snow Valley guidebook).  Another – MUST TRAVEL ROAD!!!  No words will describe – RAY RECOMMENDS – JUST DO IT.  I jogged at dead end to Wards Cove on Lake Whitingham (wonderful picnic, swimming and boating), and then turned around heading back to Vt Route 100 South towards Jacksonville (Vermont, not Florida — but Florida, Vermont, is west on Route 9).

Arriving in Jacksonville, I continued on a section of VT 100 that I had never been on, and you probably never will be either unless you have a need to be on all of Vermont 100 – north to south (I do).  Approaching Whitingham DO NOT miss the small sign saying “Brigham Young Monument.”  Ends up that the original town was on the top of a hill (BEAUTIFUL) before being abandoned.  This sign tells it all, and hopefully tempts you to head there.


And, here is the Brigham Young Monument off in the field.


And one of the stone markers.


I walked around the old “town common” where a bike race was concluding and a calypso style band was playing.  Did I tell you that I have “too much fun?”

Heading back to Route 100 I came upon the “new” town’s center and the general store and post office.


And in a few more miles on Route 100 I arrived in Readsboro which was having a fall festival in this building.


The plan was to turn around here and head back to pick up Route 112 in Jacksonville and head south to Massachusetts and Shelburne Falls hoping to say hi to a book friend.  I had not been on Route 112 before through Colrain, and you do not have to bother either unless traversing from Wilmington to Shelburne Falls.  Heading south the leaves abruptly stopped changing color.

My friend was not in the bookshop in Shelburne Falls (it is a coop with shared time) so I walked around a bit.  I have shared the town before with you – particularly with my trolley visit which click on this link to visit again for sure.  But, I have not shown you the Bridge of Flowers before (below), which is built on the old trolley bridge as the route was heading north to Colrain.


Well, from here I headed east on the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) to the Greenfield circle and picked up (sorry again) I-91 for a couple exits  to Bernardston.  I thought I would sit on the porch at the Farm Table for a burger and beer, but there was nothing to my liking on the menu at the moment.  So, back to original plan to head over to Northfield and head north back to NH Route 63.

VT-18I crossed back over I-91, and suddenly saw a route I had not been on, and was not aware of. Route 142 to Vernon, VT and Brattleboro.  Isn’t this a “fill in the map” day I reminded myself. So, left turn I made.

Here is the first thing I saw.



I have now been on the route, and arrived in the center of Brattleboro.  You need not travel this route either, unless like me you have to travel a new route.  But I still wanted that burger, and did not want to park downtown.  Heading up US 5 past the Marina Restaurant (is it still open?) I saw on the left out of the corner of my eye an outside seating area (what I wanted) with food it appeared.  U-Turn, and back to just what I wanted.


Great meal while sitting looking over the river towards the Brattleboro Retreat. Upon completing my repast, instead of jogging over to NH 63 I continued north on US 5 and crossed back home.

Yes, I had to unpack the books upon arrival at 7PM and start sorting and pricing.  Two of them, so far, I have priced out at more than twice what I paid for the lot — and I have over 125 more to go.  Another QM2 crossing (and more) is in the offing.

So, I gave you two MUST TRAVEL ROADS, a TOWN HILL that you should see, and it is now getting time to SEE LEAVES.  Tomorrow will be another exploration heading north with a friend (cuts down on space to pack in books) in BLACK BEAUTY.  And from what I saw today, the leaves we see tomorrow should be something. Thanks for getting this far with me, yours, RAY

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A DATE with BLUE BELLE for 7 1/2 HOURS at 19 MPH – 7 September 2014

BLUE BELLE knew that I had just worked out a day’s jaunt and begged me to go out yesterday.  But I finally convinced her that “Tex the Weatherman” (she can relate to that time period) suggested that today, Sunday would be the perfect day for exploring — and it was.

The plan was simple, and I had highlighted it on the map.  Sullivan and Roxbury I had never seen, BLACK BEAUTY has had lunch in Harrisville, but not BLUE BELLE.  And, Franklin Pierce’s Homestead in Hillsborough has been “on the list.”  LADY RAB backed out to allow BLUE BELLE to exit (she is jealous), and off we headed at 10AM.  In case you did not get your map out, here is my marked up map (click to enlarge) but there were some diversions. You will want to take this trip — or join me for a redux.


I first headed over the hills of Walpole, then down 12A to Surry for the cutoff along a fantastic river (no guard rails, no speeding here) to Gilsum.  Knowing I like country stores, BLUE BELLE wanted to stop at the Gilsum store for a “selfie” (a pattern she demanded for the day).


We asked the folks at the table where the turn for Sullivan was. BB-2“Head south on Route 10,” I was told, “and turn left at the log cabin.”  Sullivan is one of those towns that you will never see unless you go there.  It is not on the way to anywhere, you can get there from here, but there is no need to.  So, since you have never been there, and probably never will, here is what we discovered.



Here is the Civil War monument in the “center” of town. The residents lost were engraved in the monument with the battle they were lost in and age and date.


The Congregational Church and the horse and buggy sheds that still exist.



I could not resist touring the cemetery.  A great picnic spot (hint).



As I mentioned, Roxbury (population about 220) was one goal, but hard to find on my maps believe it or not.  When I got to Route 9 I turned left to Concord, and took my first right towards the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music.  I had never been down that road, and hoped it would get me close to Roxbury Center.  Well, fantastic isolated dirt road requiring 2nd gear, and once 1st gear to get over a hill. Great views, and all of a sudden I ended up in Nelson.  Toured the cemetery – getting to be a habit – and once in the village (no country store) went back to Route 9 to head back towards Keene and the road (hopefully) to Roxbury Center.

Must confess, I turned on my iPhone to use the maps app to find out where I was and which road to take.  Alas, I arrived in Roxbury.



But I wanted to see Roxbury Center which I saw on the maps app, and I figured must be the center of Roxbury civilization (BLUE BELLE was hoping for another country store selfie).  Following the route we first came upon the marker for the old school house and its importance since Salmon Chase (check him out) taught there.


Then I came upon the site of the old church.


But, where is the village itself?  I did read that Roxbury was a ghost town – read this website – yes, click on this link I have for you.

The road sort of ended at the church site and was posted.  BLUE BELLE was worried about her low slung exhaust system, so she stayed back as I hiked along the path that the maps app indicated was a road.  Soon, according to the maps app on my iPhone coordinated with GPS  — I was at Roxbury Center at the junction of five “roads.”


Other than stone walls through the woods, here is the only remnants of a village that I saw.



Well, checking iPhone maps I found I was a short distance back to pick up Route 101 in Marlborough, so off I went to pick up 101 and head east to the western most turn towards Harrisville – the lunch destination.  Yes, BLUE BELLE demanded another “selfie.”


And, as planned, I had lunch on the porch.


Harrisville has been “on the list” for detailed exploration (with my cameras) of its old brick factories and buildings and ponds.  This is NOTHING — I need to spend hours to do Harrisville justice.



Heading out on the eastern entrance to Harrisville we got back to Route 101 in Dublin and headed east to turn north on Route 137.  Sadly never been on this road before towards Hancock and Bennington.  RAY RECOMMENDS – follow this route, in fact all of this day’s route.

In Hancock BLUE BELLE insisted on another “selfie” and turning around we could see the Hancock Inn.  The inn has original Rufus Porter murals, and Cathy and I visited there when Dutchie was painting Rufus Porter-esk murals in a renovated suite.  You cannot see on the sign that there is a Sunday buffet (another hint).


The Hancock Inn.  Who wants to go when?




Route 137 dead ends on US Route 202 where I headed north (been a long time since on this stretch of 202).  Bennington is just off 202, and of course we had to head into the village.  My “date” insisted on another “selfie” and a fellow asked what we were up to. He approved.


We headed north on 202 to Antrim to turn left on Route 31.  May I say (even without images) Antrim is a MUST VISIT for its charm and architecture.

The next stop on the day’s agenda was the Franklin Pierce Homestead, just off US 202 on Route 31.  I am not even going to begin to discuss this site – it was fantastic.  Brian, again age was a factor, and my admission was free, but this is not a case that you “get what you pay for.”  Given to the state in 1925 and restored at that time, just hope you get Sara for your guide as she is absolutely fantastic with history of an 1804 home and the Pierce family.  I learned so much, and could go again in a couple weeks and still be amazed.  RAY RECOMMENDS – take in Franklin Pierce’s Homestead.


No cameras inside, so I bought this postcard to scan.  The stenciling duplicates the original which is shown in many spots.


Alright, an hour and a half fantastic tour of this home, and it was 4 o’clock.  Time to sadly head home (but I do love home). And, I headed out Route 31, first getting to the high Hillsborough village and its “country store.”  BLUE BELLE again yelled, “stop!”


The entrance


And, we were greeted only by Moe, Larry, and Curley.


I continue on Route 31 to Route 10 passing through Washington – a most beautiful (but isolated) hill town.

Washington, NH meeting house.

Washington, NH meeting house.

but when I got to Route 10 I realized that I had highlighted on the map a back road that I had not taken – bummer – and had not found. So, I just continued south on Route 10 but decided not to cut over on Route 123A that you hopefully saw I had highlighted.  A couple years ago BLACK BEAUTY said, “never again, my bolts are hurting.” So, at Marlow I turned right on Route 123 (not much better, but not as far as wash-board) to head back home.

A very great day – 7 and 1/2 hours and 106 miles.  And, I would happily do it again next weekend.  So,


1) Follow the route I just outlined

2) Have lunch at the Harrisville, NH Country Store  and explore the village

3) Visit the Franklin Pierce Homestead – immediately

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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