Sometimes I just have to share, and I thought I would share a few experiences from the past week that you could enjoy (mainly images) while waiting for that little thing to pop out on your Butterball Turkey telling you it is done. If you do not make it to the end of the post (but you had better), may I wish you a very safe and happy Thanksgiving Day.

On Tuesday the 17th, it was back to Concord, Massachusetts, to see a special exhibit at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House where she wrote LITTLE WOMEN. Remember the trip there with friends this July 30th?  Arriving in Concord with friend and neighbor Kathy, I turned down the side street looking to see what eateries may be there. We parked, and spent a great, unplanned next 1 1/2 hours in antique shops – Kathy is the premier antiques dealer in the state. We asked several people for lunch recommendations, and when I was feeding the parking meter, she asked a gentleman on the sidewalk, who looked like he enjoyed his meals, for a recommendation. We got in the car and headed to the COLONIAL INN on the square a few blocks away.


My lunch was so good – and filling, that I enjoyed the second half at home the next day. (remember to click on any image in my “galleries” to get the full image)

It was then onto Orchard House. It was terribly hot there in July, and crowded. This time we almost had the tour to ourselves, but another couple arrived at the last moment. We still had an extended tour and opportunity to look at the special displays in each room of objects, illustrations and photographs that were used in the new ANNOTATED LITTLE WOMEN by Pulitzer Prize winning author John Matteson.

Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts - November 2015

Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts – November 2015

It was time to head home since Kathy’s husband, Eno, was going to have dinner ready for us. Kathy had once stopped at what she called a fascinating farm stand with special antiques and gifts. I googled and searched, and finally narrowed in on it — Spring Brook Farm in Groton, Massachusetts.


Open daily from 9 AM to 7 PM, the farm began in 1713, and ten generations later, the original family still works this land. PLAN A VISIT – an easy few minutes north of the intersection of Massachusetts Route 2 and I-495. And here are a few reasons why to stop:

One display of fruits and vegetables.

One display of fruits and vegetables.

One of the displays of fascinating gifts, and very reasonably priced.

One of the displays of fascinating gifts, and very reasonably priced.

And, when I saw this pedestal and wire tree – it spoke to me, “take me home.” And, I did.


Now the fun will begin decorating.

The next day, Scott and Betty arrived for a visit. Over 20 years ago, Scott and my Cathy worked together, and when on Lotus Development Corporation sponsored trips, Betty and Cathy shopped together. The type of friends who, if you have not been in the same room for two years, when you get together it is like yesterday. Since retiring in their early 50s a few years back they have travelled the country in their Airstream, and are now volunteers in the National Parks. And, we always “play” hard!

Thursday was a dreary day, but the plan was to visit the Vermont Country Store in Weston, VT, and then meander on back roads to Brattleboro, and then over to see the CRUCIBLE performed in Keene following a Mexican dinner.  When I was in Weston on the walking tour on August 8th, I vowed to return soon to visit their museums. As we entered the village from the north I saw the door open on the Old Mill Museum. That necessitated a quick stop. What luck, we discovered that the tinsmith, Dave Claggett, was gathering some things in his shop for a show, but we explored before chatting with him.

As you enter the mill, you seen this sign about tinsmithing (Dave’s shop is to the rear)


Dave Claggett, resident tinsmith in Weston.

Dave Claggett, resident tinsmith in Weston.

The museum is worthy of a special visit. On exhibit are some of the most fascinating tools and early farm equipment. Please open up, and enjoy this gallery:

And, this view is looking off the porch of the mill south. The back of the Weston Playhouse is the white building on the left.


And, the next few hours were spent in the Vermont Country Store, which you know I visit many times a year.  It is always different, nostalgic on many levels, and great fun.

Yes, that spot is one of the “Holy Grail” points in my life, and what amazes me are the threads that have run though me since childhood. Everything I do and enjoy today (including shunpiking) I can trace back to my teens and pre-teens (even trying to print a newspaper on my 3×5 Kelsey Printing Press).

We then ate lunch (as we have done in the past) at the Bryant House next door. Fabulous atmosphere (you know I love an “old” ambience), but the food – WOW. Here is my VEGETABLE MELT (click to enlarge)

Grilled portabella mushrooms served open-faced with roasted red peppers, , and assorted seasonal veggies, topped with The Vermont Country Store Cheddar and organic pea greens, served on flatbread points with sun-dried tomato spread.

In their travels, Betty avidly collects stamps in her bulging National Parks Passport. But, on our last visit to Saint Gaudens she did not have her passport with her. And, most of their travel blog posts end with an image of the craft beers they are sampling. So on Friday we headed north — yes, to Cornish, NH, and to Windsor, VT.

On Route 12A, west of downtown Claremont, I have always passed a NH Historical Marker pointing to the east, but surprisingly never made the turn. This time we did.


We followed the little road heading to the UNION CHURCH, the oldest standing Episcopal Church in the state, built from 1771-1773.


And directly across the street on Old Church Road (what else should the road’s name be?) is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the state. I will have to get a photo when the sun is not directly behind the church


Heading back to Route 12A north, another historic spot is the birthplace of

CMA-32Salmon Chase. Years ago when this was a B&B, Cathy and I stopped for a tour inside, but also to walk around the outside of the building. It was this stop that convinced us to remove all the recent shrubbery from my 1806 colonial to make it more appropriate.





And, then we arrived at St. Gaudens. Only the grounds and visitor center were open, but Betty got her passport stamp. Then Gregory, the park’s head of interpretation came out to greet us. I always see him on my visits, he is amazingly friendly, everywhere, and as we learned extremely knowledgeable. We watched the introductory movie, but first he told us about this model of Standing Lincoln.


The original sculpture is in Lincoln Park in Chicago, and recently a new cast has been made and will be unveiled on the Park’s grounds during ceremonies on June 26, 2016, at 2 PM – mark your calendars, and join me. (I will have just returned from the Grand Prix)

Gregory told us the amazing story of the Shaw Memorial (on the Boston Common) that Augustus Saint-Gaudens took 14 years to complete. Well, he was pushed to “finish” it for installation at Boston, but was not pleased with it. He continued to rework it, and his final work was later cast in bronze to be exhibited on the grounds here. Betty and I were both trying to get the full moon in this shot.


And, heading down to the parking lot, here is their home, Aspet, built in 1817, and the “new” studio to the left rear. The sun was almost set.


Back down Route 12, right across the Connecticut River on the longest covered bridge in America, and north on US 5 to — HARPOON BREWERY. Tours are only given Friday evenings, and Saturday and Sundays when the brewery is not  in full operation (hey, the stuff in the tanks do their own thing 24 hours a day). You know my timing, we arrived moments before the first tour began.


What amazed me is that after the introduction we were toured throughout the facility. No marked pathways, no barriers, just the guide and us with glass in hand for sampling.


And, at the end it was time to have something to eat in the restaurant, and have some beer. Over 20 different varieties, and we learned (at least I did) that just with mixed drinks there are different style and shaped glasses to accentuate the taste and aroma of the brews.


And, here is Betty getting ready to take her image.  As I said, many of their travel blogs end with their topped off glasses. Their signature.



1] Explore all Weston, Vermont, has to offer. Their museums, the Vermont Country Store, and eat at the Bryant House.

2] I have said it before — ST. GAUDENS, but now you also have to explore Old Church Road in Claremont.

3] Even if not a beer drinker, enjoy the Harpoon Brewery tour, and grab a bite to eat there. Have enjoyed doing that twice this year.

4] And, have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING — As always, yours, RAY

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HELLO – I keep so busy that it has been 4 days since I got home, and not had the time to tell you what I experienced. But, the main thing for me is to write to remind myself, and sharing with you is an added benefit for me.  I was ready for a break. Sadly we will not be able to stage A CHRISTMAS CAROL this year because at the auditions we were short 3/4 of the needed cast. That gave me time to focus then on THE WALPOLE CLARION, which I am now the sole owner of, and publisher for. I am very pleased about that.

Cape Porpoise, Maine

Cape Porpoise, Maine

But in the back of my mind was to explore more in depth lower seacoast Maine, even though it is “closed this time of year.” I tried booking at an Inn in Portsmouth, NH, but they did not get back to me (until I was already in Maine). Then I found an interesting Victorian B&B in Ogunquit, but before they replied I found a Colonial B&B in Ogunquit, The Black Boar Inn, the original part built circa 1674, and the addition in 1720. I booked there, “a meant to be due” due to the delightful 2 1/2 hour breakfast I had with a lovely lady and an hour plus the next. We had shared much of life’s experiences, and beliefs and philosophies. It was fun, and she and her husband live nearby, so hopefully we will visit again. But, stop “talking Ray,” and tell us where you explored.



Before leaving, I pulled many booklets of the Maine regions from my archives, and a great 1991 (yes 24 years old) book on country roads and byways in Maine. I like the author’s routes and philosophies; e.g., this is a road guide written in the form of an “old fashioned travel guide,” and go “on a drive – not a guided tour,” “take pleasures as you find them.”  I developed a route — BUT, take note vacation booklet makers — include a local map, and to be really helpful make it the centerfold.

Do I ever go a direct route? NO ! I made arrangements to deliver an item I sold on Craig’s List to Dover, NH. Not having been there, I was able to then cross the border to South Berwick, Maine, then Berwick, back across the river to see Somersworth, NH, and then let WAZE take me backroads to York Village to follow the coast up to Ogunquit.

York consists of York Harbor, York Village, and York Beach. I need to revisit York Village in the spring when the Old York Historical Society reopens its 7 historic buildings. In the early 1900s, celebrated people, including Mark Twain, discovered the underdevelopment of this area with its 18th century charm. To preserve that, they purchased the structures forming the core of the historic village.

Cutting over to the coast, I worked my way north along the beaches to Nubble Light, built in 1879, on Cape Neddick. The sun was setting, and now you know why artists flock to the Maine coast and this most popular spot. The colors change every moment.

Nubble Light - 1879 - Cape Neddick, Maine

Nubble Light – 1879 – Cape Neddick, Maine


and, then, not more than two minutes later (and the flashing light came on too)


With the sun setting quickly about 4:30, I headed up the coast to Ogunquit to The Black Boar Inn on US Route 1 in the village center. I had selected the King James II room on the first floor with original Indian Shutters.


But, I had the whole first floor to myself, and spent most of my time in the sitting room. The second night I had a fire.


I followed my host’s recommendation for dinner, and experienced the Five-O Shore Road Restaurant. My Sea Scallops ($32) with Delicata squash, braised pancetta, pomegranate, baby arugula was amazing.


At breakfast Tuesday morning, I was seated, and an exuberant and happy Heidi came in introducing herself. She too needed a break from a hectic few months, but her husband could not take the time.  In the next 2 1/2 hours we shared our life stories (so similar on many levels), and solved the world’s problems – wouldn’t that be nice. At least we shared, and agreed on, what would make the world a better place.

OG-7After 11AM, it was time to depart on my planned route continuing up the coast to Cape Porpoise before turning around. Of course, I was on the less travelled Shore Road, Route 9. I first past the Rachel Carson Refuge, and stopped to browse the visitor center to reacquaint myself with this fascinating woman, and original ecologist.

Before arriving in Kennebunkport I passed Antiques on Nine, but was fascinated, soOG-33 did a U-Turn. Not really antiques, but wonderful repurposed items, and European imports, I was very much impressed with the furnishings and decorator items. If I had another home to furnish, I would back up a truck, and fill it up. Worth the stop. And, eventually I need to make a unique fountain for my porch.

Arriving in Kennebunkport, I was glad it was “off season.” I have passed through before (also off season) and would never want to be here with crowds. Strictly a tourist stop, and traffic would also be at a stop, with no places to stop and park. STOP RAY, that is enough with the “stops.” But, RAY RECOMMENDS – don’t Stop at Kennebunkport, and circle around in summer.

Entering the "fray" at Kennebunkport, Maine

Entering the “fray” at Kennebunkport, Maine

Typical gift shop:


and, its interior


I left town on Route 1, but remembering I had forgotten to head to Walker Point, and I had WAZE route me back to the point. I love WAZE and end up on great back roads with scenery and architecture most people miss.  Download the WAZE App !!! What I had to get for you was the obligatory image of the Bush Family Compound (yes, as in Presidents)

Walker Point, Kennebunkport on a rainy day.

Walker Point, Kennebunkport on a rainy day.

I continued up along the shore, having it all to myself – just perfect. Arriving in Cape Porpoise, I got a wrap in the deli (only choice in “town” – and you have to stop to see their goodies and displays), and then took it down to a park bench in the harbor overlooking Goat Island and the Cape Porpoise lighthouse.

From my park bench at Cape Porpoise

From my park bench at Cape Porpoise

and, looking to the right at the pier where lobsters were being unloaded


the big companies have shanties out in the harbor where the local lobstermen bring their catch, sell it, and transfer the poor things into the plastic containers on these boats to be brought to shore, unloaded, put in a truck, and head off.


I then figured I would head north to cut west to Arundel to head back to Oqunquit on US Route 1 (it was soon to be dark). I turned a corner, and there was the Seashore Trolley Museum. Remember the afternoon I spent there 11 September 2012?



And, at the corner of Route 1 was the Arundel Antique center where I “scored with books” in 2012, and did so again. Darn, I am good at what I do !

Relax back at the B&B, another couple was now upstairs, but I still had the sitting room for myself. I decided to walk the two blocks “downtown” and glance at menus. My second look at the menu at The Old Village Inn, and I went in. Again, so nice to be off season. I enjoy salmon, and love the many ways it can be prepared and experienced. And this entree was only $19 !!! And, wonderful !!!


Wednesday morning Heidi and I visited for about an hour and a half before she headed home to the Woodstock, Vermont, area. It was badly overcast and rainy, but I headed to the southern section of Ogunquit to see Perkins Cove.


There is a lovely shore walk – Marginal Way (land along the margins of the land owners), but weather did not permit my exploration. I soon cut back over to Route 1 to quickly get back to York Village, to head back along the shore to Kittery Point. I stopped at The York Antiques Gallery.  I recommend you stop. Nice to again see nice quality items and not what is passed off as antiques nowadays which is basically cast-off yard sale junk. Sadly, nothing tempted my checkbook.

I turned left off US 1 to York Village, headed out of town on 1A turning south at the start of 103 to Kittery Point and Kittery. But at the corner where I turned was Stonewall Kitchens headquarters. I stopped and looked, and “grazed.”



I had to see the Frisbee General Story (you know me and country stores) established in 1828, and still in the original family – but currently almost empty and for sale.


the interior still had many original, or at least early features.


and, looking across the street to the Post Office – closed for Veteran’s Day


And, Kittery Point has to be explored again and again after more research on the history and especially the colonial architecture. In fanning out toward US 1 before coming back to cross Memorial Bridge to Portsmouth I suddenly saw a small sign pointing to the right – “Kittery Historical & Naval Museum.”  I knew nothing about the museum. I stopped (of course), and RAY RECOMMENDS — go visit to learn about this area and its amazing history. I will be going again. Here is the view upon entering.


Here was an interesting display of Navy dinner ware.


and, turning left, above a doorway was this plaque:

Capt. David F. Purinton

Capt. David F. Purinton

I could not believe it, my heart skipped a beat. Capt. Purinton was my first Commanding Officer on the USS Bushnell AS-15 in Key West, Florida. This was my first duty station after graduating from Navy Supply Corps School. I was on board from 1969-1971, and he retired during that time period. He must have moved back to the Kittery, Maine, area because the museum was established in 1976.

The history video was well done, and worth seeing again, all the displays supporting the area history, equally well done, but the most amazing thing there (I thought) was —


Capt. Purinton was also instrumental in getting this structure preserved here. Essentially like a partial blockhouse, the walls are hewn timbers 6-8 inches thick, and wide. My images cannot give it full justice.



With many additions over the years, the original Garrison House was uncovered during the dismantling of the home.


Before crossing the Memorial Bridge to Portsmouth I needed to explore the Foreside Neighborhood.  Kittery is a village of neighborhoods, and I had read about Foreside in one of my 15,000 plus books. The business area sits outside Gate 1 to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Sitting at the window of Lil’s enjoying soup and salad, I felt as though I was experiencing the area during World War II.

Getting close to 4PM, so I went through Portsmouth, NH, without stopping to pick up US 4 towards Concord and home. Once you pass Durham, you enter what is known as “Antique Alley”, and I made several stops, and bought two books.

Arriving home, and reflecting back, I did so very much, saw so much more than I have shared here. And look forward to re-exploring the area. May I recommend you explore and experience the lower coast of Maine – but if not a beach person (as I am not) do so when it is mainly closed.


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Everyone one I have talked with has agreed that this has been the most colorful fall in our memories. The last two weekends I was away, so could not explore my favorite VT and NH spots, but today I did. Vermont and New Hampshire are past peak, and I missed that since I was away earlier, but remember I write for myself to reinforce my memory of what I have done. In selecting images to share, maybe I did not get any popping reds and other colors, but it was a great day, and I just have to share my favorite images.

On Friday, October 2nd, I crossed Vermont on VT Route 9 to cut over to New York State to head down to my daughter Julie’s home for three nights. The high elevations on Route 9 were starting to POP.


And, then last Saturday I headed to see my sons David and Gary, and spend time with grandson Alex while David flew to Korea before Mari got back from Italy. New Hampshire Route 101 was amazing. Here is a lake in Dublin looking off to Mount Monadnock.


Driving back from north of Boston on Wednesday the 14th was even more amazing. But it was a hectic week for me, and I could not escape again until today (but who wants to escape the perfect home?).  You know me, and you know where I headed.

Leaving town, I circled up on the hill to look back at the village. You can see the steeple on the Town Hall.  The two orange trees furthest left of the steeple are mine.


Crossing the Connecticut River I first stopped at one of my favorite antique centers in Chester, Vermont. Got two treasures, and one you will see at the end of this post. I left Chester on Route 103 towards Ludlow and soon saw car after car (out of staters, of course) covered with snow. Approaching Ludlow, Okemo’s runs had a light cover of snow – real snow, they have not started making it yet.


Kinda of hard to get an image of a car covered in snow while driving, but I figured I could find a car covered in snow in “downtown” Ludlow, and I did. Of course, Connecticut license plates, and from the town next to my hometown. Remember – October 18th — SNOW.


Leaving Ludlow, and heading north, I turned north on VT 100. Know where I am going yet?

I call this image a Vermont Juxtaposition Oxymoron – note the satellite dish.


And, then I arrived in “heaven” — well, after Walpole.


I parked, and started my explorations. Well, I know what is where – only my 5th or 6th visit this calendar year.


Yes, that is Calvin’s homestead where his Dad swore him in as our 30th President. His Dad was a Justice of the Peace, and when asked what made you think you could swear in the President, he replied, “No one told me I couldn’t.” Below is looking back at the cheese factory and school house.



I timed my arrival just right to have lunch at the Wilber House


I had a bowl of Beef Barley soup, and a grilled cheese and tuna salad sandwich. Both fantastic, and I am now searching for Beef Barley Soup recipes — please send me your best.


You noted the clouds (I am sure) in the earlier images. Well, a fierce snow squall came up when I started to eat.


But, it soon cleared up, and off I went enjoying the early 20th century in Vermont, which as I tell others is really mid 19th century anywhere else.



Calvin’s front porch.


And the 1920’s gift shop with tourist cabins to the rear. The Secret Service stayed in those cabins during Calvin’s Summer White House time in Plymouth Notch.


I headed back south on Route 100, and at the Echo Lake Inn in Tyson turned east on a back road over the hills to South Reading and then Felchville (yes that is right). Turning left on Route 106, and soon a right heading east on VT 44 toward Windsor. I crossed the longest Covered Bridge back into New Hampshire, and yes, you are correct, headed to St. Gaudens to see if there were any great colors.

There weren’t. “But, wait Ray. You have always left St. Gaudens and headed back to Route 12. Why not continue straight up the hill past the park.”  And, I did.


I circled up and up, turned left climbing higher with great views in all directions.


And, eventually I got back to Route 12.  Well, I will take this route again, and probably in the reverse.  You know that there is always different scenery when going in the opposite direction.  I had hoped that when last crossing on the Queen Mary 2 from east to west.  I was sure the views would be different than my crossing from west to east — NOT.

I stopped a short distance at the Trinity Church in Cornish built 1803-1808.


And, you know I love images through windows and other openings.


Well, for the most part it was a dreary day, and once I looked at my images, when I got home, I was surprised how nice they came out.

I have decided that the best world would be if I could move The Red Lion Inn to “downtown” Plymouth Notch. Now, that would really be perfect. I already have a “date” to experience The Calvin Coolidge Historic Site when it is open on December 5th for a Christmas Celebration (we went last year). Hopefully, two other ladies I took there this year will come too, and we can make it a fantastic party — hope there are many feet of snow on the ground. The sleigh ride will be just perfect.

One of the treasures purchased in Chester – a vintage 1950s Brexton Picnic Hamper from London. Always searching for the best one (I now own three) for a picnic under the apple trees in Plymouth Notch. Perfect thing to travel in BLACK BEAUTY, BLUE BELLE, or the back seat of LADY RAB.


Hope you enjoyed these images and tour. By sometime tomorrow there will have been over 51,000 page visitors to SHUNPIKING WITH RAY. If you like what I do, please share with others.

More news to come soon, thank you for visiting, as always, yours, RAY

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This past weekend I had a great time visiting my daughter, her husband and three children in New Jersey. You know I never drive a direct route anywhere – no fun. But I cheated on the way down and took the pikes. But in compensation, stopping at the best New York visitor center ever, I needed a hand truck (almost) to get the literature I selected back to the car. All for planning future explorations. But, on the way home Monday, it was an all day trip.

To get to the pikes on Friday I cut across Vermont from Brattleboro to Bennington on Vermont 9. One of my favorite routes. And, in the mountains the colors were just about peak, even in overcast light rain.


It was a great weekend, albeit cold and rainy. Swim lessons for all three, Devi dressing as a princess for a birthday party, soccer for Nikhil. And, playtime with all three. I arrived to pick the kids up at school with Julie Friday, and left after taking them to school on Monday – a full cycle. Dave, my son-in-law, knowing my love of classic diners suggested I stop at the Summit Diner on the way out of town for breakfast with Julie. But she had a dentist appointment, and I did not ask. But, I decided that when I left I would stop if there was a parking space. There was.


And, my breakfast of choice for diner evaluation is a Western. It was simply “passing.” And, I was overcharged $1.25 when at the register. Sometimes not worth arguing, especially when the “gentleman” there was telling others that they had not seen him since he had been incarcerated – for not paying alimony. Only in America!


I really had no plans for the way home, but it “hit me” on Sunday to continue with my Hyde Park, NY, explorations. Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill it would be. You maybe aware of Eleanor’s tenuous relationship with her mother-in-law, and her relationship with her husband (FDR) after his infidelities were discovered. If not, read what you can. Val-Kill came to be the only home that the First Lady ever had for herself, and the only National Historical Site/Park to be dedicated to a First Lady. On one trip home from Julie’s I visited the FDR site and Springwood, and in June (still owe you that trip) with a Road Scholar week, I spent time in the Presidential Library and museum. I did not finish the museum, so more trips are in order.

The Stone Cottage was the first structure built on this Roosevelt picnic spot. It was built for Eleanor’s good friends, Nancy Cook and Marion Dickerman. There was a room for Eleanor to stay in when FDR was away. Here is the Stone Cottage (built 1924-26) as you enter the site.


With concern for farmers’ lack of winter income, and trend leaving the farms, Eleanor, Nancy, and Marion established Val-Kill Furniture (named for Valley Stream – Kill is Dutch for stream) to employ local farmers in slack time. This experiment provided learning for FDR’s depression programs. The building below was built (1927-29) for the building of furniture. The business lasted from 1926 to 1936, and Eleanor then converted this building for her own retreat.


There is a wheel chair ramp in the porch on the right for FDR to enter. On the left, second story, is Eleanor’s sleeping porch. You only get to view three rooms on the first floor. Fire regulations, I bet.

The Roosevelt family owned the property until 1970. When it was sold to investors, the community was upset, and eventually were successful in the government buying the property. All the contents of Eleanor’s home were sold at auction in 1970, but historic images were taken of all that was there. Once the park service took ownership they began tracing auction records to recover the property. Even as late as this spring, items are still being found and returned. Sixty percent of what you see is original to the house.

Eleanor’s study/office was her secretary’s apartment until her death. Here is her original desk. The Val-Kill furniture is essentially colonial revival, and reminded me of Wallace Nutting’s reproductions.


and, the view to the right


study of the photographs taken after Eleanor’s death enabled the recreation of the books on this shelf, and placed in the same location. I have owned so many of these over the years.


The dining room is set as Eleanor would have had friends over for a picnic. This view replicates what was shown in a 1952 McCall’s article. Meals were simple “comfort food.”


And, the living room would be set with tables and what we would call TV tables for guests to sit with their meal, and eat and converse. In the alcove in the rear, around the circular table, is where JFK met with Eleanor to seek her endorsement for his run for the Presidency.


Inside the Stone Cottage is an exhibit of Val-Kill industries. Here is the original “office” with original furnishing in the corner of the main room of the initial studio.


It is unbelievable walking in history’s footsteps. This is the barbecue where so many functions were hosted. It is low in scope so the wheel-chair bound President could flip the burgers. The Playhouse was moved from Springwood when it was passed to the government following FDR’s death.


I do not think these words need be described further – just adhere to them.


Well, after a very enjoyable and educational 2 1/2 hours at Val-Kill it was time to head toward Stockbridge, MA (guess where). After I browsed an antique center in Hyde Park that my bride and I frequented, WAZE provided me with some great small backroads to US 44 so I could then travel up to Millerton to another favorite antique center there. I absolutely love the drive along NY 22 and US 44, and highly recommend it. From Salisbury, CT, I have a back route which is beyond description in beauty to then cut over to  Great Barrington, and my favorite US Route 7. And then to….


A glass of wine on the porch, and then dinner, and then an easy 100 miles home.


Tour Val-Kill, and all the FDR historic sites in Hyde Park, New York. Visit often, as you cannot do it all in one trip.


You need to watch where you are going




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Many of you may know my affinity for the old world’s fairs. I have researched and collected books and souvenirs from the major US fairs for decades including: 1876 Centennial, 1892 Columbian Exposition; 1933 Chicago, and 1939 and 1964 New York World’s Fairs just to name a few.


One of the top ten Vermont events is the annual agricultural fair in Tunbridge which has always been billed as the Tunbridge World’s Fair. The fair was not held in 1918 because of the Flu Epidemic. Begun in 1867, I do not get their math for the “144th annual”, but so be it. Held ten days after Labor Day the fair grounds are packed with demonstrations of farming and agricultural traditions culture, working antique displays, horse and ox pulling, horse racing, cattle and horse shows, junior exhibits, floral and 4-H exhibits. But most of the grounds are now filled with amusement rides, foods of all types, and vendors hustling stuff I do not need or want.

I was at the fairgrounds in 2007 and again June 22, 2014 for the Vermont History Fair with fantastic history exhibits. In wanting to compare the grounds for you I discovered that I had not posted last year’s experience. So, here is the approach to the “world’s fair” as compared to the “history fair” last year.

Approaching the 144th Tunbridge World's Fair.

Approaching the 144th Tunbridge World’s Fair.

Entering the Tunbridge World's Fair grounds for the 2014 Vermont History Fair.

Entering the Tunbridge World’s Fair grounds for the 2014 Vermont History Fair.

The open field inside the horse track for this weekend is packed with amusement rides and food vendors as is all open space.

To give you a flavor of this event, I decided to break down my images into three groups: Animals, Judging of other items, and the Midway and history village (let me live in that area and museum).  And, they are presented so you can click on an image in a group to open larger sizes. ENJOY and EXPERIENCE.

Besides the buildings for the judging of the farm animals, a couple buildings were devoted to foods, vegetables, crafts, and the like to be judged. Here is a sampling of what I saw:

And then there was the Midway and concessions. Well, probably more exciting with the lights at night.

I arrived shortly after noon, and was ready to leave by 4PM. I can now say that I have been to the Tunbridge World’s Fair. But wait, there is still time to explore. Checking the map before I left home I had planned to see Strafford for the first time, but even modified that idea. So, I headed past the 1830 Tunbridge General Store (should have stopped) and turned right on Stafford Road climbing, and climbing past great farms. My route is in pink.


I arrived in Strafford. Check out this unique steeple on the Meeting House built in 1799.


Another view (which you can click to enlarge)


Below is the current town office.


But the best reason to go back (it was 20 minutes before closing time) is to tour the Gothic Revival home and grounds of Senator Justin S. Morrill, a State Historic Site.

Vermont State Historic Site of Senator Justin S. Morrill

Vermont State Historic Site of Senator Justin S. Morrill

Justin S. Morrill (1810-1898) was the chief sponsor of the 1862 and 1890 Land-Grant Acts. The 1890 act allocated the funds from the sale of federal lands to support new Land-Grant colleges and universities that taught agriculture, business, engineering, mechanics and home economics. If I remember correctly, he built this home beginning in the 1850s.


From here I continued south to South Strafford. WOW the busiest little crossroads I have seen, but it was 5PM and everyone was stopping at the General Store on the way home. I went in. What a great store complete with the current post office and bank branch (both open when I was there).  And the check out counters (I bought a SNAPPLE) date from the 40s and 50s with the wooden pull device to move your order up to the clerk.  A must see!

Prosperous South Strafford, Vermont

Prosperous South Strafford, Vermont

I then followed VT 132 east turning left on a back road to cut over to Route 113 to see Thetford Center and Thetford Hill. Both worth a visit. I turned right on Academy road which I figured was the road to Union Village. I was correct, but Union Village is simply a cluster of homes.  I then picked up Route 5 and got back onto I-91 (sorry) at Norwich.

I wanted to make this one short (as if I can ever) to post so that you may decide to experience the fair this weekend, or someone searching on-line will see my take.


1] Experience the Tunbridge World’s Fair once.
2] Take in the Vermont History Expo when held at the Tunbridge Fair Grounds
3] STRAFFORD, Vermont and SOUTH STRAFFORD, Vermont are must visits.
4] as is the Justin S. Morrill State Historic Site – an easy side trip from Exit 2 on I-89 (Sharon exit) – just head north on Route 132

AND ENJOY !!!  — Postscript – hope you got this far, because here is an update 3 hours later.  Lil just reminded me that I forgot to mention she is from Tunbridge. WORLD, LIL IS FROM TUNBRIDGE, and her husband, Dave, is from just down the road. And, I also forgot to mention to you the very important (to me) sign just before you arrive in Tunbridge.


And, below is the farmhouse itself. Edward Hooper stayed here and painted in the area, and Eleanor Roosevelt overnighted while visiting a nearby CCC camp. I consider my production a couple years ago of TOURISTS ACCOMMODATED by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (besides A CHRISTMAS CAROL with Tara) to be one of my greatest achievements. Fisher’s play, written after her experiences in Arlington, Vermont, is a wonderful portrayal of Vermont folks tying to make a living in Depression Vermont catering to the new-fangled motorists. Ask me about it anytime.


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I was back home almost 19 hours, and it was time to get out again for some serious driving and exploring. BLUE BELLE you may recall had to get a piggy-back ride home just before I ran overseas, and BLACK BEAUTY has been temperamental, but she deserved a chance. Ends up she behaved very well for 58 miles in 5 plus hours. In a reply email from someone I met on QM2, “… 58 miles is not a long distance- it must have been a very slow drive!” But, you all know that I never know what I will find along the way to do in between those 96+ Km/H open runs between “need to sees”.

Map time – I pulled mine out to decide what to do. LEMPSTER and UNITY – I had not been to either. Close by, but not on the way to anywhere, you have to specifically go there. We took Rt 123A out of Alstead past Acworth. Still a horrible road surface, most dirt roads are far better. I knew I had to make a left turn at some point, and was pretty sure I found the right spot. Still a rough road, but deserted along the Cold River (did not know it went that far). I was right, I soon dead ended in Lempster on the Second New Hampshire Turnpike.

Downtown Lempster, NH, from the attic of the 1794 Country Store. (more on that shortly)

Downtown Lempster, NH, from the attic of the 1794 Country Store. (more on that shortly)



Lempster’s meeting house was built in 1794 and is currently under restoration. In addition, at this intersection is the old county store, the old stage coach stop, and the brick home. BLACK BEAUTY is the tiny black dot on the right. And just to the further right was this fascinating sign. Rural electrification in NH began here in 1939. You know my affinity for old country stores, so I crossed back across the “old turnpike” to take some shots.



You know I also have an affinity for pictures with reflections or through windows or framed in other ways. I began crawling around on the grass to frame the correct reflection in the store’s window.


As I crossed back across the road a gentleman on an ATV came up along side of me. “You lost,” he queried. I explained my love of exploration and old country stores and attempt to get the right picture. “My neighbor was concerned about your strange actions crawling around on the ground.”

First pole in NH for Rural Electrification.

First pole in NH for Rural Electrification.



I then commented about the Rural Electrification State of NH Marker, and he said,”do you want to see the original pole?’ No need to wonder, you know my reply, and he had me hop on the passenger trailer he made for his ATV. The pole was just across the road on the side of the country store. (remember you can click on my smaller images to see them in a larger size.




Next, my host Richard, invited me into the barns attached to the country store. Ends up he owned the property. He has lived across the street since the early 1970s saving his barns through his own ingenuity. Originally built also in 1794, the country store closed in 1988 and he purchased the property in 1994. Stabilization of the building has been a love in process since then. I love architecture, I love old stores, and I love a good story-teller. Explaining all his techniques, Richard was fascinating.


I loved the early and unusual beam construction in the roof area. And, you know that I like images with texture and unique composition. Here is the bowing side of the barn.


When we finally went outside, three horses were coming up the road. “Ray, is that you?” one rider called out. It was Terry, my doctor’s nurse — still a small world. Richard then showed me the restoration work he had done on his barns at home. But after maybe close to two hours, I had to let him go. Here is Richard, and the trailer I got to ride behind his ATV.  Oh, and if you would like to buy the store, I can put you in touch with him.


I then when through Unity, and can now say I have been there also. Ending up in Claremont the road from Unity comes in close to Stevens High School. It was late afternoon, and I just assumed I could find a deli sandwich in Lempster or Unity – WRONG – headed into Bellows Falls for a late lunch / early dinner. But on the way discovered a plaque on a stone on Route 103 that I have missed for 13 years. Now another story to write about.


From the title of this post, my intention was to include adventures from the 12th and 13th. But between weather and BLACK BEAUTY getting sick, I did all on Saturday the 12th instead. And, before you think all my adventures are picture perfect and phenomenal – sometimes you make the best of things. Even lesser experiences are still good experiences.

Below is a map of Labor Day’s 58 miles (in pink), and yesterday’s combined jaunt in yellow. Xs mark spots I have commented on.



SEP-28The plan was to take in the 240th anniversary celebration of the Westminster (VT) Massacre on Saturday, and on Sunday head east to the 44th Dublin Gas Engine Meet. And, there was a sign I needed to see in Sharon – more on that a tad later. I strongly encourage you to read my August 2013 “Did You Know That…” article on the Massacre (click on the article image to open a full size PDF). Yes, the first shots of the American Revolution, and the first American deaths were just across the river from me. The incident occurred just over four weeks prior to the “shots heard ’round the world” at Lexington and Concord. This “fast fact” is guaranteed to win you drinks at bar bets.

Saturday did not start off well. I promised BLACK BEAUTY a bubble bath, but she came down sick, and would not start. I isolated her malady to an ignition problem, and let her rest. I headed across the river for the Tory Lunch prior to the Massacre reenactment. A tad disappointing, but thus had time to run over to visit Sports Car David to get some hints on BB1’s problem. He closed his repair business earlier this year, but it is still fun to visit him and his dairy barns of cars. I returned for the reenactment, which was hokey fun, but I could have gone without going it ends up.

Now fueled with rum, the “Yorker Tories” fired on the soon to be Americans.


Two were killed in the courthouse, the first deaths of the American Revolution – four weeks before Lexington and Concord.


And, when war is over, you go home.


Prior to heading to bathe BB1 I checked the weather and thought it may be best to include Sunday’s adventures to Saturday’s list assuming the Massacre was completed early – it was. The trip to Lempster on the Second New Hampshire Turnpike got me back to wanting to finally understand the colonial turnpikes in New Hampshire, and specifically in Walpole which had two. Thus, I decided that for my next “Did you know that…” article I had to learn more about the Third New Hampshire Turnpike. I discovered that NH Historical Marker Number 68 in Sharon honored the turnpike. I had not been to Sharon, or neighboring New Ipswich, so now would do so following the 44th Dublin Gas Engine Meet.

I headed out of Westminster and back across the Connecticut River at 2PM to pick up 101 in Keene to head east. The gas engine meet was in a field just east of 101 and 137. You may recall that Alex and I attended a similar show in Orange, Massachusetts in June. That was great, and this one was also but different. I have always wanted a “hit and miss” engine, and here I had never seen so many uses for the engines in actual operation. Remember you can click an image and see them larger.

I love cars in original condition. I talked with the owner of this early 1928 model A Ford Touring Car about LADY RAB’s radiator frothing affinity. He offered some suggestions that I will try soon. He recently found this original car that had been sitting since 1950.


And, this was an amazing tractor.  Not steam driven, but powered by a large hit and miss engine with an interesting cooling system.


And, for your viewing (and listening) pleasure (the movie speed gives a stop motion effect on the flywheels):


One room school, Sharon, New Hampshire.

One room school, Sharon, New Hampshire.


So, then it was off to find the sign, and click off two more NH towns that you have to go to to get to, because they are not on the way anywhere. I turned south on Route 123 out of Peterborough to Sharon. With a population of about 340, Sharon was first settled in 1738 as part of Peterborough Slip. It was called Sliptown until 1791 when renamed after Sharon, Connecticut. I knew from preliminary research that this brick school, used from 1833 to 1920, would be all I would see.



Continuing south, I turned west on Route 124 coming upon my quest in short notice.


Turning around on 124 I needed to see New Ipswich. Route 124 is named appropriately Turnpike Road. But arriving in New Ipswich, it did not look like the wonderful 19th century photographs I had checked in one of my turnpike and tavern books. When I turned south on Route 123A (Main Street) I did come upon some great colonial architecture. Maybe that was the original route of the turnpike and not 124 east from its junction with 123A. New Ipswich I learned was an early textile area, and The Barrett House, was built for the son of the mill owner.

Barrett House, New Ipswich, NH

Barrett House, New Ipswich, NH

Time to head home. I meandered back roads into Massachusetts to pick up Route 119 west. Turned north on US 202 to Jaffrey planning to turn left on 124 around Mt. Monadnock and maybe stop at one of the old inns for a drink, but seeing Route 137 straight ahead, I decided to take that back to 101 not having been on that stretch. I can say you don’t have to travel that route to see the nothing I saw, unless you need to shortcut to/from Jaffrey.

So, it is a rainy Sunday and I am glad that I did today’s list yesterday. Today I have been remembering and writing, even though not terribly “over the top” exciting for you to read. I have lots of articles I need to write, so now onto that, and I still have my documentation of a Trans-Atlantic Crossing on the Queen Mary 2 to share with the world.

My daughter-in-law just arrived in Africa to conduct some research, but she posted a link on Facebook to an award my son, David, just received. I always have a hard time describing what he unassumingly does, but this article finally made it clearer for me. Just a proud father copying this down – no need to read, but you may and might.

Thanks for all, as always, yours, RAY

David Boas to receive SPIE Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award for neuroimaging advances

Research in imaging oxygen, blood flow has improved study of human brain activity, physiology

11 September 2015

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA, and CARDIFF, UK — Brain researcher David Boas has been named as winner of the 2015 Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award, the Awards Committee for SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, has announced.

Boas is Director of the Optics Division of the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and a professor in radiology at Harvard Medical School, and is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Neurophotonics, published by SPIE.

His contributions have significantly impacted the development and application of optical spectroscopic and correlation methods to measure oxygen and blood flow respectively, both macroscopically in humans as well as microscopically in animal models, the Awards Committee said in issuing the award. The citation commended Boas for developing novel, high-impact biomedical optical technologies, as well as following through with impactful application studies, and fostering the widespread adoption of these technologies.

Boas’ long expertise in utilizing microscopic measurements of brain activity to form a microscopic model of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has proven to have predictive power, and will help to improve the quantitative interpretation of measurements of human brain activity and physiology, the award citation said.

Following the example of his mentor Britton Chance, Boas is strengthening the community through fostering open discussions and sharing of tools, and by organizing educational workshops and conferences to bridge between biomedical optics and the clinical and health science fields.

Among Boas’ accomplishments, the Awards Committee also listed:

  • development and translation of one of the first commercial systems to image human brain activity with functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS)
  • invention of diffuse correlation spectroscopy to measure blood flow
  • obtaining the first multi-spectral optical images of cerebral hemoglobin changes to complement laser speckle contrast images of blood flow.

The Britton Chance Biomedical Optics Award is presented annually by SPIE in recognition of outstanding lifetime contributions to the field of biomedical optics through the development of innovative, high impact technologies. Boas will receive his award at SPIE Photonics West in February.

About SPIE

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics, an educational not-for-profit organization founded in 1955 to advance light-based science and technology. The Society serves nearly 264,000 constituents from approximately 166 countries, offering conferences and their published proceedings, continuing education, books, journals, and the SPIE Digital Library in support of interdisciplinary information exchange, professional networking, and patent precedent. SPIE provided more than $4 million in support of education and outreach programs in 2014. SPIE is a Founding Partner of the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies and a Founding Sponsor of the U.S. National Photonics Initiative. www.spie.org



Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
+1 360 685 5478

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I arrived back in NYC about 6:30 AM on Friday, 4 September. My post for the voyage will be forthcoming within a week. I want to create a resource for search engines when people are wanting to learn what a Trans-Atlantic crossing is like on the Queen Mary 2. So, in time, just bear with me.

My plan was to head to Boston from NYC (my car was there, and the boys are there – not to mention number 1 grandson). I had bought a bus ticket for 1 PM (preferred train was cost prohibitive), but I arrived at the Port Authority Building about 9:30 (remember I like to build in contingencies).  I checked at the Greyhound counter and I could change my departure time to 10:30 for $20 – worth it to leave the Port Authority building early and its “whatever.” I headed to gate 84, and in time found I could have gotten on the earlier bus without paying the $20 – no big deal.

Gary (number 2 son) and Alex (number 1 grandson – David’s son) met me at South Station about 3;30, and we headed to David’s house. Mari made dinner, and I said, “Alex, want to go to Gary’s house with us?”  The first time a few years back he did not want to (never having been from home alone, except at my house), and as we walked out the door then he yelled, “wait for me,” and he had fun. This time when asked he immediately said “yes”, and when asked why, he replied, “Gary and Grandpa Ray equal FUN!”  Arriving in Gloucester we played a game until midnight.

Saturday morning Alex wanted to repeat his pancake and bacon experience at THE TWO SISTERS, and we finished up about noon. Then we headed to Stage Fort Park where we had a great time on our first visit (Alex did not want to get out of the car that time, but once convinced and engaged in an acorn fight on the big rock, he was hooked – Gary and Grandpa Ray equal FUN). But the parking fee was in effect, so after 20 minutes of free parking we headed to Rocky Neck in East Gloucester, just a walk from Gary’s house.

Gloucester was packed – Rocky Neck was not. We had ice cream on the inlet, with this view.


Alex and Gary:


Rocky Neck is just one short street of galleries and bars and restaurants, and then the marina and “shipyard.”

Typical Rocky Neck Art Colony shop in East Gloucester, Mass.

Typical Rocky Neck Art Colony shop in East Gloucester, Mass.

But, at the parking lot was this vintage trailer and Jeep Wagoneer, you know I love the off-beat. So, check out the Mobile Museum of American Artifacts. Maybe this is how I can tell the world about my Tent of Wonders. Oh, that is something I still have to expand !!!


At the end of the street is the “oldest working shipyard in America” the Gloucester Marine Railways Corporation established in the 1850s.


And, this engine since the original days (now powered by diesel instead of steam) pulls the chains to pull vessels out of the water on the two aged ramps.


This tug was recently pulled up on one of the tracks.


The shipyard area and its couple docks just have to be experienced. Remember to click an image to get the larger size.

We then drove over to Rockport, the famous art colony on Cape Ann.


The famous street on Bear Skin Neck is what people visit. Alex had been there on a school trip, and was anxious to repeat his experiences.

Gary and Alex heading down the "main" street.

Gary and Alex heading down the “main” street.

And looking out of the harbor to the lighthouse.


But, then we headed back to the “big rock” in the park to play hide and seek. The parking fee was no longer in effect.

Alex and Gary. Often, it does not matter who won !!!

Alex and Gary. Often, it does not matter who won !!!

So, Saturday night Gary had a function to go to, and I took Alex back home. I wanted to see David who had been sailing for 10 days, and once he arrived home we ate, and then watched JAWS – appropriate after 10 days sailing including visiting Martha’s Vineyard – the real Amity. I decided to spend the night, and headed home Sunday morning, arriving (after buying books – natch!) home at 3 PM.

So, coming soon will be that final post of the Queen Mary 2 Trans-Atlantic crossing experience for the world to read. My goal on this crossing was to ascertain what I wanted to do for the next twenty years. I may not have cast that in concrete, but did develop two writing scenarios that should keep me “out of trouble” for awhile.  So, thanks for visiting, thanks for reading, and “stay tuned.” As always, yours, RAY

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QM2-10On board QUEEN MARY 2 for the third time. This Trans-Atlantic crossing I am heading from Southampton, England to New York City. I had to see the different scenery heading west as compared to my voyage in 2012 heading east from NYC to England.

I documented my first crossing in 2012 in five posts from the “high-seas” (see below), but that was difficult and time consuming due to the satellite internet connections. For this voyage I decided I would be brief while crossing providing a post half way through the voyage. Then, upon return, provide you a daily routine including PDFs of the ship’s daily bulletin, along with more images around the ship. Then you can get a flavor for all that is going on. And, hopefully schedule your own crossing soon.

You may recall that I arrived at my B&B in Southampton about 9PM Wednesday night. My hostess needed my room at 11AM, and arranged for a taxi to pick me up then. Thus, no half-day of exploration, but I did go out for a walk at 9:15 AM for an hour heading to the Central Train Station and part of the newer business district.  In the taxi I got to see the pier areas, and fortunately the medieval wall around the original part of the city. Next crossing I will plan time for 2-3 days exploration in the Southampton area.

Arriving at the terminal about 11:20, my bags were checked aboard and I settled in the lounge people watching. Boarding in-processing commenced at noon.

Passengers are greeted upon boarding by crew in original style uniforms for “costly” photos by the ship’s photographers.


Turning around from this spot is this impressive view of the Grand Court. A string quartet was playing away.


I arrived in my room, and completed unpacking by 12:30.  It was nice to be welcomed back, just as I am at the Red Lion Inn.


I then started wandering, reacquainting myself with the “Queen.” I had lunch on Deck 7 in the buffet area.

Looking back at Southampton. You can see the original medieval wall in the center of this image.


Shortly after 6PM it was sail-away time with band playing. This is looking back at Southampton as we pulled away from the pier. The Titanic departed from the pier to the right in 1912.


Ahead is the Isle of Wight


The library opens 40 minutes after getting underway.  In my earlier reacquainting rounds I checked the locked glass cases and zeroed in on what I wanted. This trip, to save weight, I did not carry any reading material with me. The Queen Mary 2 has the largest library afloat advertising over 10,000 volumes, and I was sure I could find something.  In the beginning of July I found a mystery writer, Janet Evanovich, and since discovering her have read the first 12 titles in her Stephanie Plum series. When you find a author you like, off you go.  I am basically  a non-fiction reader and collector, but can get hooked otherwise. I hoped I would find her aboard. In the QM2 library I discovered her Fox and O’Hare (get it?) series. An FBI agent and a con man. By today, Monday, I have completed the first two books of the three written. RAY RECOMMENDS: Find and Read Kate O’Hare and Nick Fox, and also laugh through the Stephanie Plum series.

And on our way to the English Channel, before dinner I settled into my other “home away from home” – the Commodore’s Club.


Wine, a good book, and watching nothing on the horizon. And, several rounds of appetizers brought. Cannot get much better. Well…


So, now you will have to wait almost a week for my next posting with daily routine, images around the ship, and PDFs of the daily packed schedules. But, if you cannot wait, here are my posts from my 2012 Trans-Atlantic posting. Click, and read away.  Catch you soon, and thank you so much for following. Maybe next time you will join me. Yours, RAY

ON THE QUEEN MARY 2 – 29 and 30 May 2012



PEACEFULLY AT SEA – Sunday 3 June 2012


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6:15 – up to get ready to leave for airport

7:30 – Check-in at airport for 8:40 flight to Southampton. Looking forward to touring Southampton, and another Titanic museum. B&B allowing me to check-in early by noon

8:30 – Announcement from agent – “Your flight has been diverted, we will provide an update at 9:00”

9:00 – “Your flight is cancelled. Go retrieve your baggage at carousel 8 and get in line to re-book.”

9:30 – Bags finally returned – never left terminal, so why delay?

9:40 – Find long queue for rebooking.  One passenger comes up and says there had been a big fire, and all equipment was at a hanger, thus shutting down runways.

10:45 – News media all over the place filming and interviewing. Ends up a hanger caught fire at 7:15 and all equipment sent to fight the fire. Incoming planes diverted and flights grounded since no fire-fighting equipment for runways. Learned nothing moved for 90 minutes at least while fighting fire. Our plane had been diverted to Belfast. We were never “officially” told what happened. Word only spread on social media I learned, and later when I asked why we weren’t told the reply I got, “in case it is a terrorist attack we want to keep things quiet.” (that from a young non-official agent)

11:15 – Interviewed by IRISH TIMES, and later by BBC News. Irish Times article unfortunately did not quote me.  But you know me, I roll with whatever hiccup comes my way. ACCEPT and ADJUST – just get me to my ship on-time !!!

Dublin Fire

11:45 – Finally my turn at the counter – only almost three hours since cancellation. I was told I could get on the 8:15  PM flight to Southampton, the 4:25 is full.  Could you please double check.  Click, click, click, and more clicks on the keyboard. “A seat just came open on the 4:25, would you like it?”  “Yes please.”  Dot-matrix printout given to me and a 10 Euro voucher for food. I was told I could check in at 2:25.

NOON – Emailed B&B in Southampton of the delay – kept bouncing back. Recently I reactivated SKYPE, but why is it not on my laptop? I must have deleted it?  Guess what, it was working on my seldom used IPOD (only use the IPOD overseas), and I was able to call my B&B hostess who was expecting me at that moment.

12:30 – Got a meal, sat down, and then saw a couple from Atlanta who I met in the queue. They were also headed to QM2.  I joined them, and we enjoyed lunch together.

2:00 – Went to recheck in. Was told not sure when flight would take off since they were still trying to get a plane in. Got boarding pass, but did not check bag (again) until they got word there would be a plane. Word came shortly, but not leaving now until 5:15 – an hour plus flight, so now not arriving in Southampton until 7PM.

2:45 – Went through security for a second time, and SKYPE’d my B&B hostess again concerning delay.

3:00 – Sat down to write this. Hesitate posting until safely in Southampton however.  My adventures are always fun.  Well, long walk to gate – guess I will head off there again. What else am I going to do? At least I have, and enjoy, my writing.

4:19 – Just noticed departure time rolled to 5:30 PM. QM2 will be leaving at this time in 24 hours — see why you plan an extra day when there is a drop dead date/time.

5:30 – Plane just arrives

5:45 – We get to board

6:06 – Pilot says they cannot close rear door – 6:12 Pilot leaves plane

6:34 – We are all told to get off the plane. The company’s engineers are not in Dublin, but another group of engineers is “borrowed.”

7:12 — I an SKYPEing again with my B&B hostess saying, “obviously I did not make it at 7PM.”  As she was giving me instructions on how to get in if I were ever to make it I hear the door was fixed.  And, we get to reboard.

7:30 – Ready to take off

8:40 – Arrive in Southampton – get taxi – arrive at B&B a tad after 9PM

10:00 – Trying to finish this up to get some sleep. Forget an English dinner, and touring Southampton. As my luck would have it I learned they had the worst rain ever today, so I would not have been able to tour after all.  My hostess needs my room by 11AM, so she has arranged a taxi for me, and I will just head over to the docks. Tour of Southampton will have to come next time

So I head to the QM2 in the late morning for an 8 day crossing. My second crossing and third voyage on her. Posting is hard from the Atlantic, and I am thinking of compiling my blogs in diary fashion with slide shows for posting when I return.  My desire is to recreate the experience to entice you to also experience the gentile way of Trans-Atlantic Crossings as they were done in the Golden Age of Ocean Liners.  Good night, I am ready.


1] ALLOW TIME FOR TRAVEL DELAYS AND CANCELLATIONS so you can still make your main objective.  Of course, I had no idea I would have one flight cancelled, and 9 hours before I get on second plane, only to have to get off again.

2] Make sure to have SKYPE ACTIVE and INSTALLED on all your devices for those emergency calls.

3] All credit card processing is done in Europe now with CHIP Technology. MAKE SURE ALL YOUR CARDS ARE UPDATED – David told me to do this years ago.

4] Enjoy FREE WI-FI EVERYWHERE IN IRELAND. Not the case in London and elsewhere. Another reason to go to Ireland

5] ACCEPT and ADJUST – You have heard me say that before. Do not let hiccups bother you – it usually works out.


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WHERE’S RAY ??? — 21 to 25 AUGUST 2015 — “WHEN IRISH EYES…”

Travel plans with friends did not fall in line, and I was getting itchy. This year I have also been getting two to three mailings a week from CUNARD. I tried to book a crossing on the QM2 in early August when friends were on board. “Sorry, Mr. Boas, no single supplement, you have to pay for two.” Not what I wanted to do, even at $900 per person. Getting more restless. I called on 26 July on an $800 fare for 27 August. “What can you do for me?” I asked. “How about $1162, which includes all port fees, and I can hold that for 24 hours?” I was tempted, and in about 23 hours convinced. I booked on 27 July for an 8 day passage from Southampton to NYC. Now what do I do about getting there. Well, I still have not been to the city of Dublin itself, so now was the time. A timetable was falling into place. But somehow, exact planning did not take place, but not always my style.

I positioned myself at David’s on the 21st to be close to the airport for Saturday’s departure. The cheapest fare I got (still not the ideal time to fly to Europe price wise) was via Philadelphia, which ended up not being bad because I arrived in Dublin at 8:45 AM instead of my usual 6AM from Boston. More civilized.

I decided to stay at a hotel at the airport since I had an early morning flight out to Southampton, thus I was in my room and settled by 9:30, cleaned up and out by 10:30 and waited only about 2 minutes for the airport express bus to the city – a half hour ride. But it was a very rainy day. I did not want to start the clock on my two-day hop-on/hop-off bus ticket, so I began walking in town first stopping to see Trinity College. It was packed – Sunday – still school holidays – no wonder I “do not do cities.”

Trinity College Dublin Courtyard in the rain.

Trinity College Dublin Courtyard in the rain.

Figured I should see the Book of Kells – queue was around the block – I also “do not do lines.”


I decided to walk to the Guinness-Storehouse, exploring along the way. Temple Bar is a lively shopping and eating area.

Typical Temple Bar street scene in Dublin

Typical Temple Bar street scene in Dublin

And, a typical shop

And, a typical shop



Remember my Montreal images? I had to do a double look up close to make sure this was not a real person I should give some money to.



I passed the Dublin Castle, peaked inside, and noted a “must do”

Inside the courtyard at Dublin Castle

Inside the courtyard at Dublin Cast

But around back is the Chester Beatty Library which I had read about. Born in New York, Beatty was a fascinating, successful man. He built his fortune in mining and became a sophisticated collector. Moving to England, he was knighted for his contribution to supplies of raw materials for WWII. In 1950 he moved to Ireland and built a library for his art and book collection. He was made Ireland’s first honorary citizen in 1954. When he died he left his collections to the people of Ireland. The exhibit, Arts of the Book, has the most interesting and well preserved materials dating from c1160 BC (yes over 3,000 years old). This one exhibit is worth traveling to Dublin to see, it is that well done (and is better than Trinity’s exhibit on the Book of Kells – more on that later). Since there was no photography allowed, please visit their website – RAY RECOMMENDS.

In spite of heavier rain, and a badly bruised toe from falling and stubbing it at Trinity College, I finally completed over 3 kilometers to the Guinness Museum which is the most attended attraction in Ireland – and yes, everyone was there with an enormous queue (but I noticed machines for printing out your on-line purchases – note to self, buy ahead tonight). So, I walked to the train station to catch the bus back to my hotel. I was really questioning my decision of touring Dublin – probably due to the lacking of planning, lack of sleep, and lack of sunshine.

I had renewed vigor on Monday morning, and a plan: 1) tour on the hop-on buses routes to get the layout and overview of this Viking town, 2) tour the Dublin Castle, and 3) experience the Guinness-Storehouse museum. My timing again was perfect – out of my room at 9:15, bus pulled up as I reached the stop, exchanged my on-line voucher for the bus ticket, and got onto a bus with the bus guide and I had the best seat up top. I covered both routes in over two hours, and got off as we again approached the Dublin Castle.

I got my ticket for the 1:40 tour, and had lunch in the tea room at the back of the castle with this view.


The castle goes back to Viking times when their fortifications were built on this hill south of the River Liffey and a stream that was to the east of this spot. The open area you see above was at that juncture, and it was a black pool. The Gaelic for black pool is dubh linn – thus the name Dublin (fast fact for you). Part of the original Viking castle was discovered in the 1980s during repair work, and is the first stop on the tour.


Only one tower is left of the original castle works which burned, and the buildings are now stately Georgian affairs (I also learned that the Georgian Period was when there were four kings named George in succession – think I have that right). The seat of British government was here in the “State Apartments” until the end of the Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) when the castle was turned over to Michael Collins. Here is our wonderful tour guide in the reception hall.


And a view out of a window here.




It was then off to the seven level Guinness-Storehouse museum. I printed out my ticket and walked right in, and was overwhelmed.  Arthur Guinness obtained in 1759 a 9,000 year lease on the property, and the holdings on the site are impressive.

But also impressive is that vellum lease in the floor.


I could do a whole story just on the making of Guinness Stout, but I have already written too many words (and have deleted many images from the original plan – I want you to get through).


Your ticket entitles you to a pint, and you can get it at one of the restaurants, at the 360 degree Gravity Bar at the top of the building, or at the Guinness Academy where you learn to properly pull a pint. Below is the instructor giving one of my group a lesson.


And, here I am graduating:



I recommend that you take the course and pull your pint here rather than getting it in the packed Gravity Bar. But still go up to the highest point in Dublin for the 360 degree view. Here is looking back towards Trinity College.



When I went to bed Monday night I was totally unsure of my schedule, but before I left the city I had bought a ticket for the Malahide Castle and Coastal Tour, planning to take the 2PM tour, and then fill in the rest of the day.  Rick Steves recommends going to one of the fishing villages either north or south of Dublin when visiting. Not being a city person, when I saw a flyer for this tour (22 Euros – which included the 10 Euro castle admission) I thought it would be a good to experience the east coast.

When I checked the weather prediction at 7:30 AM, rain was due in the early afternoon, so change of plans, and run to catch the 9:30 tour instead. Timing was perfect and I arrived in the city by 8:45, time to get a bite to eat and be the first on the bus for the front window on the upper deck.

Malahide Castle has been owned by the same family for 8 centuries – 800 years. Not a castle as you would expect one to be, but if you update your home in 8 years, just imagine what could happen over 8 centuries.



Outer walls and moats gone, windows put in (well couple hundred years ago), and 17th and 18th century additions with appropriate interior decoration.

Front Entrance to Malahide Castle

Front Entrance to Malahide Castle

On 260 acres, the last heir could not afford the inheritance taxes, and sold the property to the government in 1975.   The gardens and impressive, and the grounds manicured for enjoyment by all. The only fees are for the house and gardens.

Looking over the front yard from the entrance

Looking over the front yard from the entrance

Some of the furnishings are original, and below is the drawing room from the 18th century. I wish I could remember everything I am told. Of note is that rich colors on walls were hard to achieve. Due to the difficult and expensive processes, rich wall colors are a symbol of wealth. Note the needlepoint screen to the left of the fireplace.


Fast facts — Ladies make-up was complicated, particularly to cover up small pox marks. Lots of compounds held into place by wax – wax which when on a hot night could melt. A lady would take a screen with her to “mind the bee’s wax” to “safe face” rather than “loose face.”

As we left the car park, the steady drizzle began. The bus drove through the village of Malahide, which began to develop as a seaside resort with the coming of the railroad in the 1840s.  The area is now home to wealthier Dubliners, including two members of the U2 (Gary, I also passed the school where the group formed). We drove along the coast to the fishing village of Howth, but now the haze blocked the views back to Dublin and the mountains – too bad.

We stopped in the busy fishing village of Howth – worth another visit on a nice day. Many fish shops, of course.

Shops on pier in Howth

Shops on pier in Howth

I did a double take when I saw this window. It took me a moment to “get-it.” This image is purposely at a slight angle to see if you “get-it.”


You know I like train stations, and then I stopped at a seafood shop that is over a 100 years old. I got more COD than I thought I was getting, thus left most of the chips. Remember you can click on any of my images to open a slide show of larger images.

It was a half hour drive back to town, this time along the bay inlet.

Back in town I hopped back onto a hop-on/hop-off bus to see what the queue would be to see the Book of Kells.  I knew it would be sacrilegious not to see what is considered the greatest treasure of Ireland.  No queue today, got right in, toured through the exhibit area ending up at the “treasury” to view two of the volumes (the original was rebound into four gospels in 1953). I asked, and the pages are changed every 3-4 months even though in special lighting conditions. Guess it would be blasphemy to say I WAS DISAPPOINTED. What they showed were discolored vellum pages, full page illustrations were not bright colors, and text pages shown also were lacking. I own a Manuscript Leaf from a 1453 Book of Hours which is as bright as the day a monk worked on it. But, I can say I saw it — and will say that The Art of the Book as displayed in the Chester Beatty Library far surpasses anything else I have seen in the world as far as book examples dating back to papyrus.

But upstairs was The Long Room of the library, and that was worth seeing.

I then thought I would finish the afternoon with a 4PM Pub Tour, but the rain was not much fun, and I thought it best to hop-on again and go to the Heuston Station (did I mention I like trains and train stations?) to catch the Airlink bus back to my hotel.

Train Shed in Heuston Station in Dublin

Train Shed in Heuston Station in Dublin

I am writing about Tuesday with a Guinness in the lounge at my hotel. Tomorrow is a repositioning day, and I leave Ireland. But it will also be a short exploring day as I prepare for the return stage of my journey.

I have purposely stayed away from giving you all the history I have learned, and not added lots of images of history plaques which I take for my own education, and then hope to share. I will say that I now have a better understanding of Ireland’s fight for independence starting with the Easter Rising in 1916 which accelerated things ending in the gaining of independence from England in 1922.  And, I am sure that I have forgotten a great deal that I wanted to share, but if you got this far — THANK YOU for reading.

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