ANCIENT ALIENS? AMERICAN ANCESTORS? HOAX? — A DAY WITH GARY – 24 MAY 2015

I am sitting on my porch, enjoying a breeze, while finally getting to write about my fun day with Number Two Son, Gary, this past Sunday.  A couple weeks ago he emailed saying, “let’s get together on May 24th.” “Perfect,” I replied,”only day on the long weekend that I do not have 3 events scheduled. But he and I were both so busy that we never had the time to plan what to do, and where to meet. The day approached, we threw ideas back and forth. At one point I suggested America’s Stonehenge in Salem, NH, but having stopped only at the gift shop and entrance last year, I was not impressed and did not want to waste the time. It was almost Sunday and I mentioned museums in Manchester and Merrimack, but it was going to be too nice a day to be inside. We decided on America’s Stonehenge – you need to at least say you were there. But, where to meet. It was going to be lunch time when we met, so as I was walking out the door, a quick Google search and I picked the COACH STOP in Londonderry, and emailed Gary. Built in 1810, then inn sounded just like what I like.

As I approached the inn I realized that Gary and I had dined there before prior to attending a concert. He got there first, and realized the same thing – much laughter followed. But we had loved it. The Coach Stop is great. We ate in the dining room before so decided to check out the tavern on the second floor – wonderful ambience. And then we saw the covered deck off the bar. That is where we settled in. Ironically we narrowed in on the same Coach Burger, and decided to have nachos as an appetizer. Here are our meals, with nachos partially eaten.

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I recently read that pictures of meals are second only to “selfies” on social media. But who knows? I just like to share my meal experiences.

We then headed off to America’s Stonehenge in North Salem.

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How else would you enter an ancient megalithic site but through a faux log cabin?

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Now, to be honest (I always am) I have become fascinated with the History Channel 2 series, ANCIENT ALIENS, and their AMERICA UNEARTHED. So much we did not learn in school, and so much has been discovered and analyzed since. There is something to the numerous similar sites around the globe of similar construction and astronomical alignment. And the precise structures are amazing, and defy understanding as to how they were constructed. But this site in New Hampshire does not seem to have the same stature, nor precision of construction. It leaves more questions than delivering answers. But we went in anyway.

Here is a model of the site in the somewhat poor and deficient visitor center.

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We paid our admission, watched the also poor introductory video (about 20 years old), and then entered the site.

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Briefly, the site does not show up in the histories until the early 19th century. The mid-19th century owner sold off stones, assembled his own structures – basically doing what he wanted. Before we went I assembled a list of websites to read, and let me just present these for your exploration in making up your own mind:

Mystery Hill – America’s Stonehenge
Curious Places – America’s Stonehenge
And, one last one

As we entered we first came across an area set up like an Indian camp for school group education. But how can you take something seriously when an old rug is used for a buffalo hide? And when seeing a chipmunk crossing sign as you enter an ancient site, come on. We were cracking up.  But, here are images of what we saw, and click on any one to open a slide show of larger images.

Alright, we can now say that we have been there. A nice walk in the woods ending at the Alpaca area (again, get serious). And if you wish, you can snowshoe in the winter.

You guessed it, I am still skeptical, only because I have been to “the” Stonehenge several times, and other early archeological sites of importance. There is no comparison to the quality of workmanship or site organization elsewhere. BUT, I have now been there, and got to share the time with Gary.

We headed out to catch a small bite to eat before heading our own ways home. But we cherish our day visits, and will do it again soon. And, the COACH STOP may even be the beginning or end of our next fun exploration.

Then it was Memorial Day, and I “played” in two different centuries. These pictures tell all.

At the Memorial Day parade in town, CORNELIA and I raised $107.32 in donations for the Fall Mountain Food Shelf, and Our Place Drop-In Center from popcorn customers.

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And in the evening I attended Benjamin Bellows’ 303rd birthday party at the Bellows-Walpole Inn. Tara and I were asked to add to the period touch.

Memorial-Day-2 So, more fun, more to share, and remember I write for myself, but enjoy sharing. Hope you had fun too, check out America’s Stonehenge (on-line) and see what you think. More coming soon, yours, RAY

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HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND – 22-25 May 2015

Hello Friends,

Hard to believe the beginning of summer is here – winter, and snow melt, just ended. I have plans this weekend, and in fact am “over-booked.”  But, as you know, I keep busy, and love to learn.  I am zeroing in on how I will present video tours of the area to you. And, that is in part thanks to the great course I took last week at Fact8TV in Bellows Falls. Thank you so much Alex and Brian.

So, as a result of that course, here is my first video attempt complete with editing, sound, and voice overs. But, most important, I want to support my young friend Joan, and her new business in town – Joanie Joan’s Baked Goods Company.  (click on arrow on image to start video)

Have a wonderful and safe holiday weekend, and watch for my further adventures, Yours, RAY

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16 MAY 2015 – BOUGHT 17 CARS, HAD GREAT LUNCH, and 103 MILES OF TOURING

But I am also going to need your help – read that at the end, hint to read through.

Today when I awoke it looked like an inside day, but the weather radar maps told a different story. By about noon I decided to head off – somewhere. I had no plans, but thought, “lunch in Chester and browse the antique shop there.” Never made it to either one.

I have been driving LADY RAB in town a great deal recently, but she sometimes, very unladylike, spits out her mouth. A new radiator cap arrived today, and I am hoping that will keep her under control. BLACK BEAUTY acts out strangely when cold, but BLUE BELLE recently had an expensive doctor’s visit, and she performs lovely (and she is my favorite drive – don’t tell BB1).  So, off we went. Arriving at the bridge to Bellows Falls, instead of crossing we continued north on Rt. 12. I decided to cross in Charlestown instead, but then?

I crossed the river and pulled into the combination bait shop and antique shop (only in Vermont), only to find that they were liquidating their stock. I need nothing, but am always looking, and bought 17 cars that I couldn’t afford not to buy. Either have or have had all of them, but original boxes, most assembled, and worth the price.  Remember last year when I packed over 200 books in BLACK BEAUTY?

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I now know I can get 17 cars in BLUE BELLE !!!

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You know I check out little food huts alongside the road whenever I can, and have never been disappointed. In the same spot as the antique shop is THE SILVER BULLET – now this was the best, and I encourage you to check their Facebook page, and take the short ride and enjoy. I got today’s special – CORNED BEEF REUBEN – and also their new  APPLE WOOD SMOKED POTATO SALAD (potatoes smoked only !! not boiled too – I asked). Total price $9 ($6 and $3).

THE SILVER BULLET Food Truck, 6 Connecticut River Road, Springfield, VT

THE SILVER BULLET Food Truck, 6 Connecticut River Road, Springfield, VT

A friendly enjoyable couple who purchased the business last fall, and stayed open all winter serving locals and ice fishermen. They use all local products and have the most interesting and tasty menu (yes if you have to, they have hamburgers). Check them out – they are close, and tell them Ray (the travel blogger) sent you. As I was leaving after another chat she gave me some wonderful potato wedges and sauce – just had them – yummy!

Then we (that is BLUE BELLE and I – plus 17 additional cars) went through Springfield picking up 106 and continuing on 10 to Gassetts (only a crossroad intersection) where we turned right on Route 103. Approaching the side road to Proctorsville, BLUE BELLE, in tears cried, “you always take BLACK BEAUTY’s picture at Crows. I want my picture there too.” I listen to the ladies, so here she is.

BLUE BELLE at Crows Bakery and Opera House Cafe at Proctorsville, VT

BLUE BELLE at Crows Bakery and Opera House Cafe at Proctorsville, VT

And, here is BLACK BEAUTY on our first “shunpiking” report on April 10, 2011.

Proctorsville, VT - Crows Bakery and Cafe - April 10, 2011

Proctorsville, VT – Crows Bakery and Cafe – April 10, 2011

It was then back onto Route 103 to Ludlow where we decided to head south on Route 100 to Weston. But after a couple miles there was a sign pointing left “To Andover.” Now, never having gone into Andover (just a few houses in an old village setting – not unique) from this direction — off we went on what ended up being East Hill Road. Miles (many miles) of dirt, but then the views, and it was overcast sadly – have to go back.

The most magnificent view was across from the East Hill Cemetery.

EAST HILL CEMETERY - Andover, VT

EAST HILL CEMETERY – Andover, VT

And, hard to believe, behind me and across the road, the former residents have a view of Mount Monadnock.

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There was a fascinating history on the post there. The cemetery was established in 1791 with the earliest gravestone dated 1797 (and we are in nowhere). I found interesting that originally the graves were just marked with field stones, but later on there were traveling stone carvers who toured around selling and engraving stones. Since this could be many years after a death often the dates are wrong due to poor memories. Many of the families moved from Jaffrey, NH, thus looking off toward Monadnock they are looking back to their original homes. Read this history below by clicking on an image to open the slideshow.

Winding down the hill from Andover and back onto Route 100 you enter Weston, famous for its theater and the Vermont Country Store.  I was first at the Vermont Country Store in 1963 in my 1929 Model A Ford. There I met the founder, Vrest Orton, who founded the store in 1946 (a good year). He also founded VERMONT LIFE, and said he had met my great-grandfather – Franz Boas.  Oh, once a shunpiker, always a shunpiker.

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When we got to Londonderry I turned east on Route 11 with the intention of picking up a really back road to Grafton. I think I was on Route 121 before, but it did not look familiar at first – all woods. Nine miles of it are dirt, and I love it when there are no more telephone poles and power lines. Then you know you are really shunpiking.

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Eventually (well on rough dirt you do keep it under 2o MPH – boo-hoo) we rolled into “downtown” Grafton. In the center of this image you see The Grafton Inn, and some of you know its importance to me – the reason I am here today.

Arriving in Grafton, Vermont on Route 121.

Arriving in Grafton, Vermont on Route 121.

I still need to find Chevy Chase’s farm house from FUNNY FARM which was filmed in Grafton, so I decided to explore the other dirt roads fanning out behind this spot. Glad I did, and could not believe the serenity and beauty.  Doubling back on Middletown Road I found this plaque on a rock indicating where the original village was.

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I found the cemetery, but nothing else still exists. But heading back to the current village this is typical of some of the homes I saw.

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Well, from Grafton I headed home, getting back at about 5:30 – thus a good 5 1/2 hour adventure with 103 miles (165 kilometers for my British fans), but first I had to find these ruins for research I am doing for my next “Did you know that…” for my newspaper, THE WALPOLE CLARION.

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Well, hopefully you got this far, because I said I needed your help.  Awhile back I asked the director of FACT8-TV  (the public access TV station in Bellows Falls, Vermont) if he would be interested in televising my shunpiking adventures. The station for years has graciously filmed my Walpole Players productions and televised them, and assisted us with other projects. And, just this past week I took a beginning video and editing course at the station – now I am really hooked.

I am trying to figure out how to turn my words that you have read into a show with video, stills, and expanding my words on what I have seen and experienced. So, any thoughts and suggestions you may have on how I can approach this (hopefully award winning) show would be great. And, anyone who would like to assist as a cameraman (or hopefully lady) please let me know.  You know I love Plymouth Notch, Vermont, so I would like that to be my first show.  Guess where I will be filming on the Fourth of July?

Thanks for reading, as always, yours, RAY

PS – and let me know if you want to join me for lunch at The Silver Bullet.

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FAIRHAVEN – NEW BEDFORD – ROUND HILL, MASSACHUSETTS on the way home 28-29 April 2015

I get busy — and it has taken a week to get this post done, and posted on 7 May 2015 – sorry.

Plan on Tuesday (April 28th) was to spend more time in Oak Bluffs prior to queuing for the ferry at 11:30.  I followed the coast from Edgartown up, and first came to Ocean Park, and its surrounding homes on Ocean Avenue.  WOW. It was in the 40s, big wind off the ocean, and overcast. But, still images worth capturing, and by now you know what type of architecture and time period I enjoy.

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Architectural eye candy for sure, and I could not stop taking pictures. So, here is a gallery of them, and remember you can click on any of them to open up and see larger size.

And, then I got to see The Wesley Hotel built in 1879 – a “grand hotel” and my kind of establishment.

The Wesley Hotel, Oak Bluffs, Massachsetts

The Wesley Hotel, Oak Bluffs, Massachsetts

It was still closed for the season, but I was able to get some pictures through the windows. Then I saw a note on the door that said “office open in rear.” I walked around back, found a door unlocked and went in. Never found an office, but did get two interior shots from the inside. Here for my memory is what I saw (remember you can click to enlarge).

Upon arriving back on the mainland in Woods Hole, I toured through the small village and discovered that essentially every building is associated with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, or the Marine Biological Laboratory – all impressive. Crossing the Bourne Bridge, and now really back on the mainland, I opted (of course) to travel on the old US 6 instead of I-195 to Fairhaven and New Bedford. Now you do not have to take that route because I have discovered for you that there is nothing to see. I did detour down to Marion which is a lovely little former artist’s colony on Buzzards Bay, and I am sure that there are many little roads to remote spots on the bay.

Fairhaven is on the east side of the Acushnet River which empties into Buzzards Bay, and New Bedford is on the west side. My first stop (as usual) was the visitor’s center, and my good fortune lead me to spending about an hour with the director of tourism, Chris Richard. He has been “on the job” 19 years and was so knowledgeable. I learned a great deal, and what I must see.

It seems like everywhere I go is full of “firsts” and home to “someone important.” Born in Fairhaven in 1840, Henry Huttleston Rogers became one of John D. Rockefeller’s top men in Standard Oil. Rogers became quite a benefactor of Fairhaven building a number of impressive buildings.

The Town Hall (1894), which Chris encouraged me to see inside, has a fantastic interior.

Fairhaven, Massachusetts Town Hall

Fairhaven, Massachusetts Town Hall

Mark Twain was a close friend of Rogers, and was the keynote speaker on this stage for the dedication on February 22, 1894.

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Following the dedication they went across the street to The Millicent Library (1893) also donated by Rogers’ in memory of his daughter who died in 1890 at age 17.

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I was overwhelmed with the interior, and need to redecorate my bookshop along these lines.

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There are wonderful things all around the reading rooms:

Twain’s letter reads, in part: “It is an ideal library, I think.”

Then I went to Fort Phoenix. In the waters off the fort the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War took place May 13-14, 1775. The break wall you see is new, to protect the river and towns from hurricane flooding.

Fort Phoenix, Fairhaven, MA. Looking north up Acushnet River and New Bedford.

Fort Phoenix, Fairhaven, MA. Looking north up Acushnet River and New Bedford.

Click below to enlarge.

My next recommended stop was Poverty Point on the river. Again, so much history. The first Japanese person to live in America, Manjiro Nakahama, was brought here by a whaler in 1843. Charlie M. had recently told me the story, so it was a treat to see the area. You should read about him – he helped open Japan when Commodore Perry visited in 1854. There too, Capt. Joshua Slocum rebuilt an old oyster boat, the Spray, in which he became the first person to sail around the world alone, completing his three year voyage in 1895. And settling here in 1652, John Cooke is supposedly buried here. Arriving on the Mayflower at age 14, he was supposedly at his death in 1695, the last surviving male passenger on the Mayflower.

Just up the road is the Riverside Cemetery. Yes,  Rogers is there, but also the Delano Family Tomb, built in 1859 by an uncle of FDR. Most all of the family is there except FDR’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, who is with her son in Hyde Park.

But, it was time to cross the river and check into my B&B –  Captain Haskell’s Octagon House.

Captain Haskell's Octagon House, New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Captain Haskell’s Octagon House, New Bedford, Massachusetts.

O. S. Fowler’s design for octagon houses were very popular in the 1850s. “An octagon house was cheaper to build, allowed for additional living space, received more natural light, was easier to heat, and remained cooler in the summer. These benefits all derive from the geometry of an octagon: the shape encloses space efficiently, minimizing external surface area and consequently heat loss and gain, building costs etc.” I have always been fascinated by this style of architecture too, thus had to stay here. (I last toured an Octagon House (below) in October at the  Genesee County Village and Museum in Mumford, NY.

I started at the Octagon House in the Victorian village area.

I started at the Octagon House in the Victorian village area.

My host, Chuck, was pleasant and informative. Modifications to his home have been made over the years obscuring some of the typical Octagon House features, but the ambience and decoration was wonderful. Why do I show you my rooms? Because of the uniqueness of B&Bs, and to encourage you to travel from one to another whenever possible.

I asked Chuck for dinner suggestions, and in the course of discussion learned that the majority of New Bedford’s population is Portuguese, and has been for centuries (more on that later). It made sense to go to a Portuguese restaurant, and his favorite was Inner Bay on Cove Road.

Soon I was off, but drove around town to get a feel for the next day’s trek. I stopped at Fort Taber, and then swung back up along Clarks Cove off Buzzards Bay to the northernmost part, and there was Inner Bay Cafe & Grill Restaurant. Situated since 1995 in an old brick coffee syrup factory, I entered and was seated. My server, Cathy, told me the specials – there were more specials than entrees on the menu – and most were a “fresh catch.”  I selected grilled tuna. She told me it came with a soup or salad, and a choose the kale soup – WOW.

My grilled tuna at INNER BAY in New Bedford, MA

My grilled tuna at INNER BAY in New Bedford, MA

When I was leaving, a gentleman asked me how I enjoyed my meal – I raved. Ended up he was the owner, Tony Soares. He toured me on the second floor where there was another dining room, party room, and roof top eating (closed that weeknight), and when we got downstairs he said, “join me for a drink.” We had some lovely port, and he introduced me to a number of patrons. I chatted and learned from them all. It could not have been a better more memorable experience. RAY RECOMMENDS: Get a local recommendation for a restaurant, and partake in the local nationality’s food; and, if you have a chance to visit with local strangers, do so and enjoy every moment. And, do take in the INNER BAY in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Visitor Center - New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

Visitor Center – New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.

Wednesday, April 29th, I was at the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park  when it opened. The whaling capital of the world in the mid-19th century, a number of blocks in New Bedford have been preserved close to what they would have been at that time. The whale oil brought back following 2-3 year voyages “lit the world” and made New Bedford one of the wealthiest of towns. It was the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania in 1859 that lead to its demise as refined kerosine took the place of whale oil.

Around the corner is the renowned New Bedford Whaling Museum.

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RAY RECOMMENDS – Plan to spend a half a day at the museum. Its preeminent collection will give you an understanding of this bygone industry.

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I had the museum to myself, except for a few school groups. I will always “hang to the rear” of those groups to learn from the docents. I even asked this gentleman a few questions – think he appreciated it. When a whale is spotted, the crew heads off in the whale boat. The harpoon is not to kill the whale, but to “capture” the whale and stay “attached” until the whale begins to tire and the boat can get close to hurl additional projectiles (sorry, forget the terminology – I am good on concepts, not details) to puncture the whale’s lungs thus killing it.

Docent explaining how the whale boat is used.

Docent explaining how the whale boat is used.

One of the original galleries at the museum is the Bourne Building built in 1915-16, with funds donated by Emily Bourne in memory of her father, whaling merchant Jonathan Bourne, Jr. Inside is the LAGODA, an 89-foot, half-scale model of the original ship, and the largest ship model in existence.

The Bark Lagoda

The Bark Lagoda

Exact in every detail. Here are the “trying tanks” where the blubber was reduced to the oil then placed in barrels. Hard to believe the small size of these whaling ships – even in full size – circumnavigating the world.

Trying tanks on the half-scale Bark Lagoda

Trying tanks on the half-scale Bark Lagoda

I mentioned before that the majority of the population of New Bedford is Portuguese. This is because of the sailing route of the whaling ships. The currents would carry them into the Azores and Cape Verde islands. The ships would pick up supplies, and add to their crews. Those crew members would then settle in New Bedford, and later bring their families over on “packet ships.”  So much to learn, here is some information on the museum’s panels if you wish to click and open them up to learn more.

Next I walked around the historic area. This is the Double Bank Building – two banks, two entrances, one for rich, and the other for the not so rich.

Double Bank Building - New Bedford, Massachusetts

Double Bank Building – New Bedford, Massachusetts

The Seamen’s Bethel has served Mariners since 1832 as a house of worship. In 1841, Herman Melville worshipped here, and later mentioned the chapel’s memorials in MOBY DICK.

Seaman's Bethel - New Bedford, Massachusetts

Seaman’s Bethel – New Bedford, Massachusetts

I then had a late lunch in a little soup and sandwich place. Fantastic vegetarian chile, and I had some cucumber salad – now on my list to make.  Meal prices are what I consider a bargain in New Bedford, and worth a side-stop from I-195 if cruising by.

Built in 1836, this is the oldest continuously operating US Custom House.

US CUSTOM HOUSE - New Bedford, Massachusetts

US CUSTOM HOUSE – New Bedford, Massachusetts

You know me, I looked in the door, and it was dark – but the door was unlocked. In I go

Inside US Customs House, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Inside US Customs House, New Bedford, Massachusetts

down the marbled floor to read the history panels in the back. Soon I hear footsteps coming down the stairs, and it is a customs agent who heard the door. “Of course you can look around,” he told me. I later went upstairs to their offices and looked at the original measuring device for helping in describing sailors, and the fine woodwork mainly covered up. GSA has the building for sale. Hum?

 

There is still more to see and do in New Bedford, but I also wanted to see Round Hill in South Dartmouth. At the whaling museum I found, and purchased, a self-punished book on Colonel “Ned” Green’s mansion. His mother, Hetty Green, was known as the “wicked witch of Wall Street,” and when she died in 1916, Ned and his sister inherited somewhere between 100 and 200 million dollars. I recently read two books on Hetty Green that have been in my library over 15 years, and wrote an article on her connection (and burial) in Bellows Falls, across the river. At the museum I also found a wonderful Historical Map of Dartmouth, Massachusetts with details on all the little villages. Off I went.

Not quite a peninsula, but remote on Buzzards Bay, I recommend a drive through Padanaram down to the point, and back up through Russell’s Mill. I got to the gate of the estate, which is now condominiums with other homes on the grounds.  But the guard just refused to let me in, “but I am a historian writing on Hetty Green,” I told him. “But I will get in trouble,” he said. Sadly I headed down to the beach road and thence to the water’s edge on property that had originally been part of the estate. Very historical, and the property ownership goes back to the 1600s in Hetty’s family. Here is a view of the estate from the main road.

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Currently there is a two bedroom condo for sale in the mansion for only $899,000. But remember you get a diligent gate guard with it.

In Russell’s Mills I stumbled into Davoll’s General Store which has been there since 1793, and is currently for sale.

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And, then I shot home via Providence, Rhode Island.

If you survived to this point, THANK YOU. Not sure if I write too much, or do too much. There is so much history I stumble onto, I wish I could share more, but hopefully my words will entice you to do some further research and reading – or better yet ROAD TRIP!

And talking about road trips, may I suggest that you read my friends, Scott and Betty’s, wonderful travel blog for some fascinating history. Betty does a great job – AIRSTREAM TOURING WITH SCOTT AND BETTY

 

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ISLAND HOPPING DOWN SOUTH — MARTHA’S VINEYARD – 26 – 27 April 2015

Would you believe I have only been to Cape Cod a couple times, and the islands never?  In the early 1970s I camped at Otis Air Force Base and explored the Cape, and in the early 90s spent several days with high school friends, one of whom has owned Ridgewood Motel and Cottages in Orleans for decades. That is changing now. A fantastic TravelZoo bargain (75% off) prompted me to book two nights at the 1891 Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown. About the only planning I did was to book the ferry from Woods Hole for 2:30 on Sunday the 26th to explore all of Martha’s Vineyard.

ARRIVING BY FERRY IN VINEYARD HAVEN

ARRIVING BY FERRY IN VINEYARD HAVEN

You can see the “grey ghost” on the left. this is an open ferry, I saw two others with enclosed vehicle spaces. The ferries are always on the go “ferrying.”

"Grey Ghost" lower left.

“Grey Ghost” lower left.

With almost 60 images to share, many are in “galleries” that if you wish to see larger images, just click on any image in that group to open the “slideshow.” And, you can “click” on single small images to see a larger version.

I first wandered around “downtown” Vineyard Haven and got a bite to eat prior to heading off to Edgartown.

Downtown Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

Downtown Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts

But, on the way I decided to first stop at Oak Bluffs, which has been a curiosity since high school because of the cottage style architecture. Originally begun as a Methodist Camp Meeting Ground in 1835, it was camps such as this that lead to the development of the summer resort and summer vacation experience. I was shocked when I arrived, because unlike other camp meeting grounds that I have visited around the country this was not gated, it is huge, and encompasses fantastic Victorian architecture extending well beyond the grounds of the camp association.

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But first almost on the ocean I discovered The Flying Horses. This Flying Carousel is the nation’s oldest platform carousel. Constructed in 1876 by Charles Dare, it is one of only two Dare carousels still in existence. It originally operated at Coney Island, New York, and was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884.

 

The Flying Horses, Oak Bluff, Massachusetts.

The Flying Horses, Oak Bluff, Massachusetts.

And, enjoy this “moving” experience.

The Methodists first camped in tents surrounding the park where services were held. A tabernacle seating more than 3,000 was built of iron in 1879.

MV-6In time, tents were replaced by cottages leading to the original name of the town – Cottage City. These Gothic revival “gingerbread cottages” number about 300 around the tabernacle on the church grounds. Cottage City in 1907 became Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, and within the town is Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association.

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Here is a collection of more of these wonderful structures.

I arrived at the Harbor View Hotel (built in 1891) in Edgartown at 4:30.  Thank you TravelZoo. Rooms “in season” in the main hotel are $400 to $500 plus – a night. I am enjoying the experience for a quarter of that.

Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown, Massachusetts

Harbor View Hotel, Edgartown, Massachusetts

The original part of the hotel is where the entrance is up to the gable end. Additions went to the left, then right, and to the rear.  Behind the 1891 hotel and additions are newer units with multiple rooms and suites. Of course, I needed to stay in the original part and enjoy the lobby. Here are some selected images.

On Monday morning I enjoyed the lobby planning to leave to get to the Martha’s

From the "gate" leading to the museum's grounds

From the “gate” leading to the museum’s ground

Vineyard Museum when it opened up. I spent about an hour there on the small well-kept grounds. The brief history of the island was good, but too short leaving me wanting more. A temporary exhibit on ladies’ undergarments I found fascinating with lots of information I have never before seen, so I have included much of it if you wish to open up the slide show and read along.

At this point I must interject that Edgartown is about the most pristine town I have seen with fabulous homes and grounds, and all immaculately restored and groomed. However, I would be scared to come here in season as the streets are narrow, there is no parking, and it must be gridlock.

I next headed to the far western end of the island (one main east/west road through the center of the island). I am impressed with the farmland, impressive stonewalls everywhere, and the low trees and vegetation. Even without leaves, it was hard to believe I was in New England.

The Gay Head Lighthouse was my destination at the far western end of the island. But first I swung into Menemsha, a working fishing village. Everywhere food spots are still closed as it is still off-season, but I always find unique places to eat. Where did you eat today?

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And, my crab-cake sandwich and clam chowder in a unique setting.

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Of course, you know all about Menemsha. It is where Quint’s workshop was — JAWS – remember.  In fact, I found a website listing filming locations for JAWS, and I was at most all of them shown today.  Compare this link with some of my views.

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Some color and texture

Some color and texture

Arriving at the Gay Head Lighthouse, work has now begun to move it. The first lighthouse was built in 1799, and the current one in 1854-6. Erosion (look at my images) has encroached, and last week the light shut off. Crews were at work today beginning the task of moving the lighthouse 135 feet

Gay Head Lighthouse - April 27, 2015, being readied for moving.

Gay Head Lighthouse – April 27, 2015, being readied for moving.

The eroding banks encroaching on the lighthouse.

The eroding banks encroaching on the lighthouse.

You know I can find fantastic roads or paths no matter what vehicle I may be in.

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And, I sidetracked to the Town of West Tisbury which is so typical of a small New England village, but also has Alley’s General Store, which opened in 1858. You know old country stores are another weakness of mine (as is the sound of pounding rain on the roof which I hear outside at this moment – 10:15 PM).

Alley's General Store - 1858 - West Tisbury, Massachusetts

Alley’s General Store – 1858 – West Tisbury, Massachusetts

And, just a fraction of the colorful and packed interior. Note post office on far wall and some old display cases.

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You may recall I have titled this post, “Island Hopping” – well, I would be remiss if I did not take the ferry across to Chappaquiddick Island – a sea voyage of 527 feet!  And, you would not be happy with me if I did not seek out the unmarked, un-mentionable scene of the infamous July 18, 1969 crime.  Most of you probably are too young to remember the event that killed a presidential run.

Here is Chappy Ferry starting in downtown Edgartown crossing to Chappaquiddick Island. The ferry can accommodate three cars, or equivalent.

I toured the island, but my destination was the bridge on Dike Bridge Road crossing tidal Poucha Pond to the shoreline.  It took some on-line research (I am the best) to get the spot identified.

Chappaquiddick Bridge on Dike Bridge Road

Chappaquiddick Bridge on Dike Bridge Road

Note above the bridge turns to the left. You can see below that coming down the road, if you do not turn you would be in the water. The guard rails are a recent, albeit too late, addition. Having read the detailed account on WikiPedia, I am amazed that the Senator was not charged with negligence if not murder.

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The sign says that only vehicles for use on the sand beaches may cross. I wisely choose to heed the warning that I would get stuck, and below you can see why.

Here is a panorama of Edgartown from Chappaquiddick Island.

Time to head back to the ferry. This time I was the first car in line, and am glad the brakes held. The operator has you pull up to within feet of the end of the deck. It looks as though I am truly driving on water.

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But a safe return.

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And then time to read and write, and have the best salmon dinner that I have ever had.

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I better post this before I go on with more.  But heading back to the mainland tomorrow, and more explorations to come on the journey home.  Good night, as always, RAY

 

 

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THE ART OF GETTING LOST

Today, 18 April 2015, is just one of those days packed with projects. In the middle of three writing projects, I needed a break and decided to go for a walk. My timing is always amazing. Just coming down the street was Shunpiking Pal Tara walking Flurry. We continued together for about 45 minutes “catching up.” Well, we had not seen each other since Wednesday, and had not shunpiked since Sunday last.

She stopped at her home, and I continued on, eventually arriving home. About 10 minutes later she emailed with a link to the New York Times article copied below.  I was enthralled on my “speed read” and have read it 5 times since.

I have to share these well crafted 1054 words, and their wisdom.  Pour a glass of wine (or two) and spend some “down-time” reading and contemplating. It may change your life.

Reclaiming the Age-Old Art of Getting Lost
By Stephanie Rosenbloom – APRIL 16, 2015
NEW YORK TIMES Travel Section

Lost in the Latin Quarter, I ended up, literally, at the foot of Michel de Montaigne.

A bronze statue of this French Renaissance philosopher — balding, with a beatific smile, cape draped over his shoulders, slender legs crossed — sits on the Rue des Ecoles in Paris, opposite the Sorbonne.

He was blackish green with the exception of the tip of his right shoe, which gleamed from having been inadvertently polished by the touch of countless hands. Why? I didn’t know. But assuming his foot was a kind of community talisman, I gave it a rub before continuing on my way.

It is a tradition among students, I would later learn, to touch the shoe of Montaigne with the hope that doing so brings them luck on their exams.

I was already lucky: I didn’t have a map. If I did I wouldn’t have seen the philosopher (by the sculptor Paul Landowski) or benefited from any additional good fortune that may have been transmitted through his foot. I wouldn’t have lingered before bookstore windows or passed Square Paul Langevin, where the blossoming branches of cherry trees reached over the fence, spilling petals like pink confetti.

The ubiquity of map and navigation apps these days can be a boon, but it also means that pedestrians can easily choose efficiency at the expense of discovery.

“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost,” the writer Ray Bradbury said in a 1990 interview with Rob Couteau. “There’s nothing better than to walk around Paris and not know where in hell you are.”

This is true of not only Paris, but also most any city in Europe if one hopes to have the kind of chance encounters that make a vacation more than a game of hopscotch among landmarks.

My iPhone finds the most direct route to anything I wish to see, which is why I turn it off. Keeping it on would mean missing out on countless small streets and dead-ends, all those quiet, beautiful lanes and impasses with names I don’t remember.

Paper maps, which are rarer these days, can also get in the way.

“There are map people whose joy is to lavish more attention on the sheets of colored paper than on the colored land rolling by,” Steinbeck wrote in “Travels With Charley: In Search of America.”

“Another kind of traveler requires to know in terms of maps exactly where he is pinpointed every moment, as though there were some kind of safety in black and red lines, in dotted indications and squirming blue of lakes and the shadings that indicate mountains. It is not so with me. I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found.”

It is by being a wanderer, and not, to borrow a term from Steinbeck, a “mapifier,” that one is most likely to stumble upon less-frequented haunts.

Off Dublin’s Dame Street, through a stone arch near City Hall, past the Treasury Block building and a parking lot, around a corner and onto what looks like a service road, there is a wall of stones. On and on this gray wall goes with stones that are fat, wide, narrow and tall, and then — a gate.

There, through decorative whorls of black iron, one sees a vast, green oblong field ringed with benches and crisscrossed with paving stones in a ribbony Celtic-inspired design. On the wall that leads to the field, which dates to 1680, are the words: “Dubh Linn Garden.” Step inside, as I did one June afternoon, and you’ll be on the site of the former black pool, or “dubhlinn,” from which Dublin gets its name.

On that same trip, again mapless, I wandered by centuries-old Georgian houses with Crayola-color doors and, by chance, wound up at No. 1 Merrion Square, where Oscar Wilde lived as a child, from 1855 to 1878, and where his mother held salons attended by the likes of Bram Stoker. Yeats lived nearby, at No. 82.

Other aimless walks through Dublin were less historical but no less enjoyable: With little regard for time or where I would go next, I strolled through the Victorian park St. Stephen’s Green one morning, stopping to watch a man at the lip of a lake feed two white swans and a flock of fuzzy cygnets.

Freedom is being guided by a mood, not a map. One winter, in Italy, I arrived in Bologna for the day without a plan, having driven from Florence with a friend.

Overhead, garland arches were wrapped with gold ribbons in anticipation of Christmas and, on the streets below, a chocolate festival with edible wrenches, bolts and other tools jumbled amid stalls of marshmallow rabbits and owls.

In the spring, in the Netherlands, a bus ride to Keukenhof from Amsterdam allowed me to spend an afternoon lost beside snaky rivers of grape hyacinth and tulip fields that blanketed the land like red and yellow quilts.

In the summer, in Spain, I got disoriented in Barcelona trying to find my way back to my hotel from Barceloneta Beach and was instead swept up into some sort of flag-waving celebration.

Even a trip to the most touristy spot can feel personal and spontaneous if you forgo turn-by-turn navigation. I advise glancing at a map to determine the general direction you wish to walk, then winging it.

By doing just that in Paris, I didn’t see the Eiffel Tower grow closer from a cool distance. Rather, I was instantly dwarfed by it when I happened to glance skyward from a street in the shadow of the tower’s lattice belly.

Similarly, my inability to figure out how to get beyond the roundabout to the Arc de Triomphe made my (eventual) arrival there that much sweeter. I walked the last of more than 250 steps to the terrace and sat on the cool limestone to watch the sun disappear, with the avenues of Paris fanned out around me like pleats of a skirt frozen in mid-twirl: east toward Sacré-Coeur, west toward the woods of Bois de Boulogne, north to the Levallois-Perret cemetery, south to the Sorbonne and the lucky foot of Montaigne.

MY FAVORITE PASSAGES (so far):

“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost,” the writer Ray Bradbury said in a 1990 interview with Rob Couteau. “There’s nothing better than to walk around Paris and not know where in hell you are.” — I look forward to being lost in Paris with grandson Alex in summer 2016.

My iPhone finds the most direct route to anything I wish to see, which is why I turn it off.

Paper maps, which are rarer these days, can also get in the way. (but I do love them so I know how things are “wired together”)

It is by being a wanderer … that one is most likely to stumble upon less-frequented haunts.

Freedom is being guided by a mood, not a map.

ENJOY and SHUNPIKE — As always, yours, RAY

OXYMORON in Walpole – 18 April 2015

OXYMORON---April-18,-2015

 

 

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WEATHER FINALLY HAS BROKEN, WHICH MEANS — ROAD TRIP – 12 APRIL 2015

Actually there was no need to document today, but one thing leads to another. The weather is finally in a spring like mode, and yesterday I cleaned out the stable and all the ladies got some exercise. Today had to be a road trip.  But earlier in the week Rob posted on Facebook that he was going to be at the Flavors of the Valley 2015 –  I clicked that I would attend.  Tara emailed me, “can I go with you?” An adventure was formulated – but going to a food festival does not justify a post.

Now, Tara as you may know is my partner with A CHRISTMAS CAROL.  And we have done some road trips (she has given permission for this mention and publicity). What is great about her is that as we are cruising down a road she will say, “did you see that sign?”  I hit the brakes, we do a u-turn, and stumble into adventures.  That is why you are getting today’s post.

I picked her up at 11AM, and her husband ran out to get pictures – of course, I arrived in BLUE BELLE.  “Move up a little,” Eric said, “so you are not in the shade.”  I complied, and then off we sped. The plan was to head north on US5 in Vermont to the fair at Hartford High School in White River Junction (next to a school she had attended), and return on Route 12 on the New Hampshire side of the river.

As we were leaving Hartland, Vermont, she yelled out, “did you see that sign? Sumner Mansion it reads.” Brakes, U-Turn, dirt drive, and WOW.

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BLUE BELLE wants to move – sorry, not happening. But the door was open, and before I could get my seat belt unbuckled, Tara was inside.

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To the left of the entranceway was the reception/dining area for events, but then she (not me) opened a door, and we explored the first floor. We “chickened out” and did not go upstairs – no one was there.

Continuing up US5, I sidetracked to show Tara a double covered bridge side route that you can see from I-91, but have to search out while shunpiking.

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We then got to the Food Fair and paid our $10 admission.  Essentially, in return you get to eat and eat. But also to learn of new restaurants, farming techniques, etc. I have a couple ideas to pitch to my “Wednesday at 44″ friends.

Tara is a NH State Representative, and very influential on the Environment and Agricultural Committee (one time we were out together and chatted with the governor of NH). The food fair was right up her alley so to speak, and she was learning from Vermont exhibitors, and sharing with them, and New Hampshire residents.  Here she is detailing to NH farmers and restaurant owners of Ariana’s Restaurant in Orford, NH, the bill she sponsored, and was passed, allowing local farmers to process and sell their poultry and rabbits directly to restaurants. They were thrilled to hear of the passage.

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This exhibitor, a caterer, has a fantastic five course meal coming up in May at The Shaker Inn in Enfield, NH (very strong hint to my local friends). Their scallops were amazing.

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And, at this event Rob served over 1,000 people a sample of WALPOLE CREAMERY ice cream.  The favorites today were UDDER JOY and STRAWBERRY  LEMON. He scooped constantly for four hours. Glad I saw him bending and serving – now I know to say no when he asks for help.

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But it was after 2PM and we were stuffed. Time to head home. So, backroad to cut back over the Connecticut River to New Hampshire and down Route 12.  We passed all the strip malls in West Leb and started cruising south.

Tara yelled out, “did you see that sign – Meriden, New Hampshire – have you been there? “and another one saying Kimball Union Academy.”  “Never heard of either,” I replied.  Brakes, U-turn, and off we went, and went. We had to have gotten there (was only supposed to be three miles), but still in the wilderness there was a covered bridge, farm and sugar house.  “I know them,” says Tara. “Just tell me who you do not know,” I replied.

We stopped and chatted (forgot to take a picture), and  found out that the town of FF-10Meriden was just up the hill, and from there we could take Route 120 south to Claremont. Ends up that Meriden is part of Plainfield, and a hill town (elevation 928 feet) with commanding views, including a unique view back to Mt. Ascutney.  And, all that is there is the Kimball Union Academy, founded in 1813 and the 22nd oldest boarding school in the country (tuition currently just under $48,000 a year – for college prep!).

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Tara and I both were overwhelmed with the beauty and architecture, and solitude. Note she is wearing a sweater color coordinated with BLUE BELLE.

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And, I trust you have noted how wonderful the skies were today.

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We then headed down the hill to pick up Route 120, but never, never make a turn without first crossing an intersection to see what is on the other side.  So, we got to see the few houses there, and off to the left an old school which is now the Aidron Duckworth Art Museum. Closed until 25 April, but intriguing.

Back then to head south on Route 120 to Claremont. Again, no reason for you to ever be on this road, but we both recommend that next time you are at Saint-Gaudens that you jog over to this route to head south instead of the parallel and to the west Route 12A. And you have to see the Academy’s campus.

FF-13Entering Claremont Tara suggested we find The Common Man restaurant and have a glass of wine. What a lovely surprise, and I will have to get back.

Great restoration and use of the old mill buildings along the river, and when the weather is nice, the manager told us they open hatches in the floor so you can see the water sluice under the building. The sound of falling water on the patio is worth the trip back.

The Common Man in Claremont, New Hampshire

The Common Man in Claremont, New Hampshire

The sluiceway going under the dining room

The sluiceway going under the dining room

Great surrounds for dinner.

Great surrounds for dinner.

So, for a day I was not planning to write a post, RAY RECOMMENDS:

1) Plan to attend next year’s FLAVORS OF THE VALLEY
2) Visit Meriden, New Hampshire
3) Plan on dinner with friends at Ariana’s Restaurant in Orford, NH
4) Experience The Common Man in Claremont, NH
5) Shunpike with Tara – she knows what is is all about !!!

 

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EXPLORING THE GOLDEN SQUARE MILE – 31 March and 1 April 2015

But first you have to get there. Five months ago I bought a TravelZoo deal for a boutique hotel in downtown Montreal – a deal at $209 for two nights with parking and breakfast. But I never had time to book, or time to plan. A couple weeks ago with the voucher expiring 31 March I called to book 26 and 27 March. “Sorry we are full,” I was told. But then given the option for these two nights, one past the expiration date – now that was nice.

Other than digging out my Montreal travel collection, I still did not get to planning (do shunpikers really plan? – sounds like an oxymoron). On Monday night the 30th I did start screen saving maps to my Ipad, and realized that I could pickup backroads before Burlington to the border. I have been to Montreal maybe 10 times, but I had to “fill in the map” in one area of town. Montreal you may not know is a large island, and its preeminent feature is Mont Royal.

I departed a tad after 9:30 AM, and whenever heading north on I-91 I always stop at the Vermont Welcome Center and Veterans Memorial which is about an hour from home.  Always need to check the brochures to see what I may not have for planning purposes.

Sharon Welcome Center and Vermont Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Sharon Welcome Center and Vermont Vietnam Veterans Memorial

There had been some fresh snow coating high elevation trees and making some wonderful mountain vistas once in the hills. This image does not even come close to the beauty today.

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Taking exit 11 I picked up Route 117 for Essex Junction in 8 miles.  Appropriately named for all the converging and crossing train tracks, sadly there was no old train station, just a small modern Amtrak whistle stop. I followed 2A out of town north to Colchester (nothing there), and soon turned onto US 2 and US7 north (you know my favorite road, at least along the Housatonic River). I continued through Milton (still nothing) and got back onto I-89 for Canada. Once you cross the Green Mountains and head north, it is amazing how flat the land is, simply farming land well into Canada and continuing until almost in downtown Montreal.

I have driven a number of times to Montreal, and it is easy. And there is no traffic in downtown Montreal to speak of.  I arrived at my destination – Chateau Versailles Montreal on rue Sherbrooke within the Golden Square Mile just before my 3PM check in time.

Château Versailles Montreal. One of the former residences in the area. My room is second floor bay window on left.

Château Versailles Montreal. One of the former residences in the area. My room is second floor bay window on left.

and my room, not bad at all:

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Originally the richest district in Canada (in 1900, 25,000 residents here controlled 70 percent of Canada’s wealth), this square mile is just below Mont Royal and includes McGill University. Sadly most of the early homes have been demolished. I got settled, and in moments “hit the streets” for almost four hours. In one of my guide books there are four suggested walks, so I headed off west on the longest walk touring this residential area reaching Greene Street before heading back towards the more built up downtown.

All along Sherbrooke there are signs explaining the historical buildings. This sign:

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explained the current College Dawson which was built in 1904-08 as a nunnery. It is an imposing Beaux-Arts building, and the second in the world to be entirely constructed of reinforced concrete:

Built originally as a Nunnery in 1904-8.

Built originally as a Nunnery in 1904-8.

Back in central downtown I dropped into the renowned underground which consists of maybe 40 kilometers of subterranean walkways to protect folks from the weather changes.

COMPLEXE DESJARINS - just one "mall" sandwiched between buildings unobtrusively and connected underground to everywhere else.

COMPLEXE DESJARINS – just one “mall” sandwiched between buildings unobtrusively and connected underground to everywhere else.

With the walkways connecting metro stations and major buildings, I wanted to get to my favorite train station via underground.

GARE CENTRALE - VIA RAIL

GARE CENTRALE – VIA RAIL

I just wanted to wait in the special waiting area for my next sleeper train to depart — well again someday. I then discovered an adjoining area I had missed before, Les Halles de la Gare with exquisite food booths, restaurants, bakeries, liquor store, and flowers.

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Anything you would want to pick up for your train ride home.

And when I came back out I found some great reflections.  Remember when I first became enamored with reflective windows in Vancouver in 2011?

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And, I could not resist, here is a slide show of more – if you wish to open.

On the streets there were many fun things to see. Some great architecture: (remember you can “click” my images to enlarge.

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Various statues:

Even a statue can get cold, and a kind soul add a shawl to warm it.

Even a statue can get cold, and a kind soul add a shawl to warm it.

A McGill student hard at work.

A McGill student hard at work.

And, this poor cow is just waiting to be allowed into The Museum of Fine Arts on rue Sherbrooke.

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Wednesday’s route as I planned out took me west from my hotel to McGill University (founded in 1821 as an English speaking college), around the more central part of downtown, south back through Gare Centrale, and I had to see the older Gare Windsor.

On the way to McGill I popped into the Ritz Carlton which opened to a New Year’s Eve party on December 31, 1912, and essentially is unchanged in all its elegance. I had to sneak at least one image.

As you enter the Ritz Carlton, Montreal. A great lounge area.

As you enter the Ritz Carlton, Montreal. A great lounge area.

Next came McGill University taking up most of the area from rue Sherbrooke to Mont Royal and environs.

McGill University from the entrance on rue Sherbrooke

McGill University from the entrance on rue Sherbrooke

I read about the Redpath Museum and wanted to see it (admission free). A museum of natural history, it was built in 1882 as a gift from the sugar baron Peter Redpath. The museum itself is a museum, however the exhibits (which are excellent – that coming from a museum aficionado) are not as large as they originally were because the side spaces have been changed into office space. Old images show case after case of mounted specimens – the old way done in natural history museums.

The main floor of the Redpath Museum and upper floor balcony.

The main floor of the Redpath Museum and upper floor balcony.

On a couple of these panels (if you open them up) you can read about Sir William Dawson and Peter Redpath.

 

London has Harrods and Canada has The Bay – The Hudson Bay Company’s store, an outgrowth from its history. So, I had to see it.

THE BAY - Hudson's Bay Company store in Montreal.

THE BAY – Hudson’s Bay Company store in Montreal.

I was disappointed. Nowhere near the excitement of Harrod’s – just soft goods on the upper floors with some housewares. The first floor (as is Department store custom) was all cosmetics and women hawking fragrances. RAY RECOMMENDS – hop British Air for a day or two holiday at Harrods’ main store in London.

Next I had to see Gare Windsor – the commuter rail station. You know I like trains.

The main waiting room - Montreal's Gare Windsor.

The main waiting room – Montreal’s Gare Windsor.

and what it was during World War II.

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So sad, but fortunately saved from the wrecking ball. The station was relocated to the west (and is small) to make room for construction of Centre Bell –  a sports and entertainment center and home of the Montreal Canadiens. Centre Bell takes up the space where the tracks came into the old station. The old station is in nice repair and used for office space.

I next visited The Cathedral St. James the Greater, begun in 1894 and completed in 1904. The cathedral was designed to replicate St. Peter’s in the Vatican. The Baldacchino is even a reproduction of that in the Vatican, and was created in Rome in 1900.

Cathedral-Basilica - Mary Queen of the World and St. James the Greater

Cathedral-Basilica – Mary Queen of the World and St. James the Greater

Close up of The Baldacchino - just as you would see in Rome.

Close up of The Baldacchino – just as you would see in Rome.

And it was close to 5PM (after over 7 hours touring “downtown”) and time to go to the McCord Museum. I read that it was open on Wednesday nights, and free from 5 to 9 PM. Great, and that gives daytime for other adventures.  Actually, I am glad it was free because it would not have been worth paying for.  I am not into aboriginal history, so rushed through that floor. On the second floor was a very good overview of the city of Montreal and the history of its sections, but not something you could not read about. Glad I saw it, and glad I did not have to pay admission.  Here are the three most informative panels I saw:

Wednesday evening I had dinner at a Moroccan restaurant. Doing research for an upcoming adventure – wow, just wait!

But Thursday, April 2nd, came, and time to head south – not that far south! But you know I never go directly. There was a route back to the border I had not been on, so get out your maps.  I left Montreal on the expressway number 15, a tad to the west. I knew what route number I wanted to exit at, but guess what – the expressway signs only had town names (in French of course) and not route numbers.  Well, I exited where I thought I should be, and picked a route – no route number signs there either.  Soon came to a town with a Route sign that I wanted – Route 221 which I followed south until I found what I wanted – Route 219 to the border. No need for you to explore here -I did it for you. Nothing but flat rural farmland with nothing of interest.

At the border I provided the US Customs agent with some entertainment. He could not understand why I was on the little back road instead of Expressway 15 to I-87.  He now knows all about shunpiking and filling in the map. Plus I wanted to say I was at the beginning of NY Route 22.  Which I then followed to Plattsburgh where I had lunch.

Then it was time to cross Lake Champlain into Vermont. I posted this “maps” image on Facebook asking, “Where am I?”  That was either a quiz question, or a request for help to sort out my confusion, depending upon your perspective..

MAP

I picked up US Route 7 (you know my favorite) and headed south to pick up Route 103 to Chester thence home.  I stopped at some favorite antique shops – sadly no expenditures. It was fun to explore with leaves off, the views across the lake to the Adirondacks amazing, and the Green Mountains to the east. But the cities of Burlington and Rutland are wearing thin on me.

I stopped at Crows Bakery in Proctorsville, VT. On Tuesday night I got an email from a web designer working on a website for the bakery, and she wanted to use an image from my very first post “from away.” I love to share, and of course said yes.  Little did she know that Proctorsville is on the way home from Montreal.

5PM Thursday 2 April 2015

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and, 10 April 2011

Proctorsville, VT - Crows Bakery and Cafe - April 10, 2011

Proctorsville, VT – Crows Bakery and Cafe – April 10, 2011

More trips in the planning stage – catch you soon, HAPPY EASTER – as always, yours, RAY

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GEARING UP FOR 2015 TRAVELS – 15-17 MARCH 2015

Well, there were road trips in February, and then I had to stay put for a few weeks Radio-Follies-2015for our CABIN FEVER RADIO FOLLIES 2015 (view it on-line).  But to get the 2015 momentum really rolling, it was time to treat myself to The Red Lion Inn for my birthday.

In getting ready for this trip I perused my travel dutchess004literature collection for Dutchess County, New York, the Catskills, and Albany, not knowing what I would be able to take in. I packed a few brochures, including a lovely booklet “Dutchess County Scenic & Historic Drive Tours.”

As I was leaving the house on Sunday I checked a real paper map (I love maps) wanting to see if there was a route I had never been on. YES – there is Massachusetts Route 66 that I can take from Northampton through Westhampton (never been there) and then head south on 112 to Route 20 in Huntington. Thence, up over the hills west towards Lee and Stockbridge. I was dreaming of a hamburger, and all of a river-cafesudden on the right was Linda’s River Cafe in Huntington. I had remembered turning around there once looping back to US 20. This time I went in and had a Cowboy Burger – bacon, cheese, fried onion rings, and great sauce on the burger. Sadly no TRIP ADVISOR  page for me to give them a great review –

but RAY RECOMMENDS – SIT AT THE COUNTER AND HAVE ONE OF LINDA’S BURGERS.

Turning west in Huntington on Scenic US Route 20, I was traveling on a route I had traversed once, but now in the opposite direction with leaves gone, and snow on the ground. First I pulled into bucollic Chester, and visited the train station.

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When I first discovered the station years ago, a lovely young lady saw me looking in the windows, and came across the street and said she could open up the museum for me – what a treat. I am hoping to get back this year on May 16th for the “Chester on Track” celebration.

Shunpikers take note. US 20 is essentially the original road across Massachusetts that the Mass Turnpike replaced. In fact, known as the Jacob’s Ladder Trail,

Monument at the high point erected in 1910.

Monument at the high point erected in 1910.

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because of the high mountain elevations crossed, this was the first highway built in 1910 “specifically for the revolutionary new horseless carriages.”    The other great road I enjoy crossing Massachusetts is Mass. Route 2 – but particularly the western end from Greenfield to Williamstown. Know as the Mohawk Trail, the road was begin in 1912 and completed in 1914. In following my adventures, you know I am often in this section of territory.

Arriving at The Red Lion Inn at 3PM check-in time, I settled into my spot to read and write but soon engaged in hours of conversation with three couples. One young man is a senior editor and writer for Hemming’s Motor News, and he and his Dad and I talked cars, people we know, and the Hershey car show. But soon dinner time came.

By 8AM the next morning I was planted back in my spot with the travel brochures I had brought along with laptop and iPad (soon you will understand why it is important to have all your toys with you.) Delving into “Dutchess County Scenic & Historic Drive Tours,”  I saw several routes cutting across the county that I had not been on – no reason to unless you were exploring there. So, for more map detail I went to “maps” on my iPad, found the areas I wanted, and then did screen shots to iPhotos. RAY RECOMMENDS – SAVE MAP IMAGES TO YOU IPAD FOR USE WHILE DRIVING – you pull over to the side of the road and park before looking.

Next I saw a website address for Dutchess County Tourism, and when on the site saw the new brochure was available on-line in PDF format. When it opened up I saw that I could save it to the Ipad, and lo and behold, it opened up in Ibooks, and was there for traveling too for off-line use.  RAY AGAIN RECOMMENDS USE YOUR IPAD TO THE FULLEST (and get one if you do not have one)

Off I went down US Route 7 through Great Barrington to cut over to Massachusetts 41 WP-12south to Salisbury, CT.   This is a route I highly recommend, the views great and extensive without leaves (especially southbound). Even with leaves off the trees the STAGECOACH TAVERN is still hard to spot. With the leaves off I saw something strange in the distance, and homing in on it discovered the Salisbury Ski Jump – of all places.

 

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From Salisbury I cut over to the antique center in Millerton, NY, but sadly did not find any treasures to resell and pay for an outing.  Now it was time to start cutting across northern Dutchess county on “new roads” Actually great routes, because no reason to be on them unless exploring the area.

Up over great hills towards Route 199 and Pine Plains.

Downtown Pine Plains. Gives me an idea for my house, or better yet the east side of the Town Hall.

Downtown Pine Plains. Gives me an idea for my house, or better yet the east side of the Town Hall.

Then west to pick up the Taconic State Parkway one exit to cut back east on Country Road 19 towards the small village of Stanford. I did some looping around in this expansive horse country, stumbled into Bangall, Stanfordville, and finally got a sandwich at the deli in a country store (a favorite thing to do).

Heading west on CR 19 I turned north on 9G for Rhinebeck which I have always enjoyed. Again, finding no money-making treasures in the antique center I decided to revisit the Beekman Arms where we would often have lunch.

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Operating continuously since 1766, and retaining much of its colonial charm, the inn is said to be the oldest continuously operating inn. A perfect location, I need to stay there sometime to intensely explore the area that I have been touring for 20 years. Then a quick turn down to the Hudson and Rhinecliff (never had stopped there), and then back to Route 9 to NY 23 to cut back to US 7 in Great Barrington.

A full day on new trails and retracing steps to refresh my memory.  And, then realizing much more time needs to be spent in this area.  I will never run out of things to do in this area. RAY RECOMMENDS – Tour there too.

Time to head home on Tuesday, but it had been awhile since I had been on US 44 from Canaan, CT to Winsted. Even longer since I had been to Riverton, and I had never gone around the Barkhamsted Reservoir (over 8 miles long) and through West and East Hartland. So take a look at your maps.

Arriving in Winsted I turned north on Route 8 then back roads to Riverton – home of the Hitchcock Chair Co., which someone told me had closed.

Original 1818 Hitchcock Chair Company Factory

Original 1818 Hitchcock Chair Company Factory

I bought some furniture here in 1967.  After seeing this building, and this potential overnight on the other side of the river …

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I turned around to check out a building proclaiming The Hitchcock Chair Co., Ltd. Yes, the original company did close in 2006, I learned.  But a gentleman who restored original Hitchcock furniture purchased the brand in 2010 along with the original drawings and patterns, and re-opened the company, albeit on a smaller scale in 2011. I enjoyed my visit with co-owner Nancy Swensen, and recommend you make a side trip to peaceful Riverton, and see the fine craftsmanship in the shop.

My final spot to explore (curiosity because of expensive books I have owned on Suffield furniture) was Suffield, Connecticut, known for its colonial homes.  Easy to get to from I-91, but again no reason to do so — but now you must go to see the vast architectural eye-candy. I look forward to returning when the museums are open.

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A collection of Suffield, Connecticut architecture:

From Suffield I was going to jog over to I-91, but that is cheating. So, I headed north on Route 159, and crossing into Massachusetts I now know where Six Flags New England is. Just a tad north is the BIG E exposition grounds, and then a right turn to jog over to I-91 and home.

This post has been two weeks in the making, and I am wondering why. My Detroit posts were delayed because we were running hard, and the fantastic New Orleans experience has yet to come – again because of running hard. And, with this post I wanted to add my May, 2014 adventures at The Red Lion Inn, but this is now getting too long.  I need to improve. I love to write, but am getting verbose and philosophize too much.

I also need to figure out what I really want to do – there is just so much.  Using the Dutchess County tour book as an incentive, I think I am going to develop some day trips – step by historical step – in the area and post them as PDFs here that can then be added to everyone’s iPads as travel aids — so watch for that. But, in the meantime, go back and look at the RAY RECOMMENDS in this post, and HIT THE ROAD !!!

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

THE HENRY FORD – 22 FEBRUARY 2015

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As I told you on 19 February in “Coming Soon,” a revisit to Dearborn, Michigan, after almost 58 years was on the horizon. In the last post on Detroit I told you I had to devote a page to The Henry Ford (formerly the Henry Ford Museum and originally the Edison Institute). Here it is, mostly images, and not even a fraction of what I saw from 9:30 AM to 5 PM at the museum.

I was surprised upon entering the museum to see such open space. When my Dad and I were there the museum was packed with transportation artifacts.

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A typical scene in 1957. My Dad in the bicycle exhibit with a “bone shaker.”

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The museum was begun in 1929 with Thomas A. Edison signing his name in concrete. When last here, this was right inside the door as you entered. There is now a video showing the ceremony.

FORD-9Much of what I remember is not there – but then, museums change to meet the times, and I discovered that the museum is more interpretive now, as most museums are.  And that is good (but I do enjoy just seeing collections).

Henry Ford’s Highland Park Plant office had been moved into the office, and I was allowed during my previous visit to sit at his desk on his phone.

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Just to the right upon entering is a collection of Presidential vehicles.

Car in which Kennedy was riding when shot

Car in which Kennedy was riding when shot

DRIVING AMERICA was my favorite part. The romance of the road, backroad traveling before the big slab roadways – “shunpiking” before there were pikes to shun.  I love this history, love to attempt to re-experience it, and love to share. I captured images of much of the exhibit – for my memory mainly, but do open the slide show if you wish to read along.

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Above is the “map” of this exhibit – click to open to large size.

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And, here are the interpretive panels and some exhibits (remember that you can click on any image to enlarge and open a slide show – easier to read the words).

As I mentioned, when a guest of the museum in 1957 I was allowed to touch anything. Here I am at the “wheel” of Ford’s 1902 racer 999 which Barney Oldfield drove. Racing was the way then to get recognition for your autos.

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Today I stayed behind the railing.

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In the 1950s at our antique car meets, this famous Locomobile racer Number 16 was often there. It won the first Vanderbilt Cup Race in 1908. It was purchased in 1941 by the famous automobile artist Peter Helck.

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Part of the “road experience” was the diner.  When on GIANT STEP in 1957, Bert Parks asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up. “Own a diner,” I replied. Well, there is still time. I remember our Friday night shopping journeys from Wilton going either south to Norwalk or north to Danbury. First was a stop at either the MARSAM Diner in Norwalk, or then Ridgefield Diner when going north.  I always had a Western Omelet sandwich.

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This was the greatest exhibit – an exploded Model T Ford showing all the parts.  My Dad restored a 1919 Touring Car just like this. I know every piece in a Model T, and in Model As.

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Here are a few views from the aviation area:

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Replica of the Wright's plane

Replica of the Wright’s plane

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So much to show you, but here are a few final high points to hopefully entice you to make your own visit:

Henry Ford's 1896 Quadricycle

Henry Ford’s 1896 Quadricycle

Here is a link to learn more about this vehicle (which on my last visit was in a glass case on the second floor of the entryway).

The actual bus the Rosa Parks was riding when she refused to move to the “rear of the bus.”

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And, the view she probably had.

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I have a similar Polaroid of these trains. On the left is the 1825 De Witt Clinton, actually a replica (with some original remaining parts) made to exhibit at the 1893 Chicago Columbian World’s Exposition.

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My Dad always loved the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.  I have a couple of his toy ones. This image is for him.

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Here is General George Washington’s camp cot and equipment.

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And the chair President Lincoln was sitting in at Ford’s Theater when he was shot:

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When I visited in 1957, the chair was in the Courthouse in the adjoining Greenfield Village in this glass case.  I was not allowed to sit in it!!! How did the chair get here you ask? I did, so googled. The government took the chair from the theater following the assassination. The family that bought the chair for the theater petitioned to get it back and it was finally returned in the 1920s. They sent it to auction, and in 1929 Henry Ford bought it for $2400.

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After 8 1/2 hours at the museum, we had to leave. It was closing. I know I could have spent more time really delving into history.  We next stopped to see the DEARBORN INN were I was a guest in 1957. I had to replicate another image.

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And, around the corner is Henry Ford’s home FAIR LANE, now owned by the University of Michigan, and being restored.

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Click to read the history plaque.

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Lots here, and I hope you got this far.

RAY RECOMMENDS – Visit The Henry Ford, and also Greenfield Village

And, refound in my archives 4 hours after posting this page, and now added for your (really my) enjoyment, are these real tintypes taken in the Photo Studio in Greenfield Village in April of 1957. Tintype images come out in reverse, so the background (lettering) had to be done in reverse. As I recall the home is Henry Ford’s birthplace.

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Posted in 2015-b DETROIT, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments