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.


Posted in 2015-c DUBLIN, 2015-c DUBLIN et al, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

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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Well, it should have been 135 miles (more on that later). And, why do I seem to always be in The Republic of Vermont you ask? Because there are always things to do there that I like to do.

Last year BLACK BEAUTY and I stumbled into Norman’s Attic in Arlington, Vermont sponsored by St. James Episcopal Church. It was fun, so I thought I would venture over again, and when I found out that the Weston Walking Tour was the same day (did not make it over the last time it was held), it made sense to combine the trips for an outing.

So, off BLUE BELLE and I went for the 30 short miles to Weston (traveling up and over Andover). A friend recently asked, “how do you decide which car to drive?” Well, LADY RAB has has some hiccups with her radiator, BLACK BEAUTY currently initially runs rough, but BLUE BELLE is a charm to drive, and runs nicely.”

WA-1We (BB2 and I) arrived in Weston at 9:30, and the tour started at 10 from the Gazebo on the common. Early, too bad, have to go visit the Vermont Country Story. As you know, I first stopped there one evening in 1962 in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster and was fortunate to be able to meet and visit with the store’s founder Vrest Orton. Today the store had just opened, and I had it to myself (no pesky out of staters yet). It is always fun to visit because not only the merchandise, but the room arrangement and displays are always changing, and you know I love old country store stuff. (remember you can click to enlarge)

I saw a hat, looked at it twice, took it to the counter. “Would you like to wear it out?” the clerk asked. The perfect topping off to keep the sun’s rays off Ray as he strolls around. The labels even said UV protection (what caught my eye originally along with the style). Check out Dorfman Pacific Company.


Not a bad “selfie” – I have long arms. Gary said this was the best one I took.

The tour started at 10:00 with 30 people in attendance. The tour director said that the 11th person who walked up was the 600th guest on the tour. The hour and a quarter tour (which lasted one and 3/4 hours) took us to 25 spots though out the village. The tour, instead of architecture, focused on stories of the people who built the houses, lived there, what they did, and contributed to making Weston what it is today. At one point there were a number of mills (we found the cellar holes), and when concluding at the Weston Playhouse we learned how that all came about.

The tour started on the common. The common was created in 1886 by nine women residents who wanted to fill in the smelly frog pond in front of their homes. They received a charter to do so from the state, and the park is still maintained by nine women Trustees.

Beginning the tour heading off the common.

Beginning the tour heading off the common.

I enjoyed the walking tour, and have to go again. When I checked the Weston Historical Society’s website I discovered that I had no idea of all they have to offer in various museums. Another trip very soon. And, I plan to send a donation check in thanks.

RAY RECOMMENDS (Strongly) – that you take the walking tour of Weston, Vermont, and tour their museums.


I headed out of town picking up Landgrove Road knowing that eventually I would end up back on VT Route 11 to continue to Manchester and Arlington. A nice circuitous dirt route that eventually took me past the Landgrove Inn. The inn has been “on my list” for a special dinner, so I did not go in to peek, because I want to experience it all at once.

Once back on Route 11, it was up over Bromley Mountain, down into Manchester Center, and south on US 7A (you know I love US7) to Arlington.


I got a parking spot right in front on the street, and headed to the church’s food tent where I had pulled pork sandwiches.


I sat down, and struck up a conversation with the couple across from me, and married for 62 years. His life sounded familiar, and his name came up. “Wait, are you Bob Alden? I met your son about four years ago.” In fact, I bought van loads of books from his son. Well, fantastic conversation followed including learning more of his work  as News Editor at The Washington Post and direct connection to the Mayflower. Small world, but it got smaller. I took part of my lunch back to BLUE BELLE, and from somewhere I heard, “Ray, hey Ray.”



Looking across US7A and waving frantically was my sports car friend (and repairer) Butch (he had spotted BLUE BELLE). They were traveling up from Dover over to NY State, and finding the festival he stopped for his wife. We had a grand time catching up, and exchanging details, promised to stay in touch.

The festival was alright, not as exciting as when I serendipitously found it last year – but made special with the friends I visited with.

I then headed over to East Arlington. Twenty-three years ago (BC – before Cathy) when I traveled to this favorite area there were five antique shops in the little village, and I always bought very well.  Only one is left, and when I walked in (get there now maybe once a year), the owner said, “Hi Ray.” Boy do I have fun. We chatted about the over all state of the antique business and the changes to the area.

BLUE BELLE then reminded me that she had not been to West Arlington, through the covered bridge across the Battenkill to see Norman Rockwell’s second home and studio in Arlington. Two weeks ago I read a wonderful book on his life in Arlington prior to moving to Stockbridge, Massachusetts (surprisingly another favorite spot).

Looking through the West Arlington, Vermont, covered bridge to Norman Rockwell's home.

Looking through the West Arlington, Vermont, covered bridge to Norman Rockwell’s home.

Norman Rockwell’s home is now an inn, and looking at their website, the Inn on Covered Bridge Green is now high on my list to experience.

Inn on Covered Bridge Green, West Arlington, Vermont.

Inn on Covered Bridge Green, West Arlington, Vermont.

And, here are Rockwell’s studios to the rear.


And, looking back at the Covered Bridge off Route 313 from Arlington toward NY State.


Well, it was time to head home as I had done all I wanted to do (and a tad more). Thursday night I got a great email from Number 2 son, Gary, that he wanted to visit Saturday night and Sunday. He was joining friends on Saturday following a benefit bike race in Windsor, Vermont. He figured he would arrive sometime after 7 PM.

Back to US7A, north to Manchester Center, then east on Route 11 and start to climb Bromley Mountain. Putt, putt, lose power, die, pull to side of road. Well, BLUE BELLE has been a tad temperamental recently, but all I have had to do is tap her dashpots (no, that is not dirty talk, MGA talk), and off we go. Not this time. I call a friend who recently closed his repair business. “Tap the fuel pump,” he reminds me. And, it worked. Off I go — for about another mile. I coasted onto dirt, Lost Woods Road – ironically across Route 11 from where I had a car quit 40 years ago.  BLUE BELLES’ fuel pump had decided on taking a long holiday. Depending upon where I stood I was able to get cell service, and my car friend gave me a number to call. Several calls back and forth and that fellow said, “well I would have to charge you $250 to $300 to get you home, but your AAA card will do it for free.”  In January, when my extended warranty on my “new car” expired, I rejoined AAA after maybe 40 years.  I called them about 4:30, “yes, we can take you back home.” At 6PM —


And, about 7:45 BLUE BELLE and I were safely in my driveway. Gary arrived 45 minutes later, and we tucked BB2 in her berth.

No big deal. If you get upset over something like this you are only asking for heart problems. As I tell people, “after what I have experienced in my life, nothing bothers me. Getting upset is a wasted emotion.”

Gary and I had a great evening chatting on my porch. Breakfast at Cafe Loco on Sunday (RAY RECOMMENDS visit and support Mike at CAFE LOCO in Westminster, Vermont), and then we explored the area “filling in the map.” Yes, I found another connector dirt road in Alstead that I had not been on. Too much fun. Gary headed home to Cape Ann about 4:30, and I have been finishing this post as the band is warming up on the Common. Time to heat a casserole, pour a glass of wine, and read on the front stoop listening to the band.

So, another fun couple of days, and besides visiting Weston, Vermont, and all it has to offer, RAY RECOMMENDS – Don’t let anything (like a car breakdown) bother you – it is not worth it.

And, today’s 135 BLUE BELLE miles she had her rubber soles on the pavement for 90 miles, and rode piggyback for 45.

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LOUISA MAY ALCOTT and CALVIN COOLIDGE – 30 July and 1 August 2015

There are some things I never tire of doing, seeing, experiencing, and each time I repeat something it is always from a different light or perspective. And, as you know there are themes to my adventures – fun and learning.

In discussions with friends for ideas to increase attendance at The Walpole Historical Society, one friend suggested that we explore the idea of having an annual Louisa May Alcott event(s). Louisa May Alcott lived in Walpole the summers of 1855, 56 and 57, performed in theatricals here, was inspired by a lilac hedge in town (UNDER THE LILACS) and, on and on. Great Idea, but where do you begin? Road Trip! I planned a route, places I had been, but needed to repeat. Fruitlands, Orchard House, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, finishing with dinner at The Wayside Inn. I had a fully open day on Thursday, so off Kathy, Tara, Carolyn and I went at 8:30 returning over 12 hours later.


The Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts, was the site of a Utopian experiment of Bronson Alcott in 1843. It failed in seven months, and the family moved on. The property was purchased by Clara Endicott Sears in 1914 and restoration on the original farmhouse begun as a museum to Alcotts. (click the image below to enlarge and read)

History Timeline of FRUITLANDS - Harvard, Massachusetts

History Timeline of FRUITLANDS – Harvard, Massachusetts


Sears’ interpretation of the site attempted to show the house as the Alcotts would have inhabited it, moving in after it had been vacant for five years. Some “license” was taken, but some original Alcott items were acquired, along with items of friends. (remember, click on any image to open gallery and read images easier)

A wonderful piece of original window glass. Well, wonderful for my purposes.


The Fruitlands has an identity problem, largely due to Sears’ collecting interests. The Alcott “hook” is there and small because the property she purchased had the house on it. Her interests included the Shakers (one house moved there) and Native Americans and American Art. Currently around the property are modern sculptures. There is a wonderful tea room for lunch, and concerts on the sloping fields. I need not go back for another visit, unless stopping for lunch or picnicking at a concert.

LMA-13But, although now having been at Orchard House in Concord twice, I am ready for another, and another visit. Amos Bronson Alcott purchased the home and property in 1858, after they left Walpole. It remained the family’s permanent home until 1877.  Bronson and Louisa died in 1888. Bronson died 4 March 1888, and Louisa passed on two days later on the 6th.

LITTLE WOMEN was written here.

Louisa died in Boston, but I need to find out where she and Bronson had lived subsequent to leaving Orchard House. But the fascinating thing about Orchard House is that it is as it was when the Alcotts lived there, including the furnishings. It has been a museum since 1911. And, is amazing.

My traveling co-conspirators anxious approaching ORCHARD HOUSE. Carolny, Kathy, and Tara.

My traveling co-conspirators anxiously approaching ORCHARD HOUSE. Carolyn, Kathy, and Tara


And, then it was onto Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord where they all currently reside.




The tradition of leaving a coin on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a mark that someone has visited the grave to pay respect. Thought to be a Jewish tradition, it goes back even further in time. Following the Vietnam conflict the tradition increased at veterans’ graves in honor of their service. Rocks were the other token of a visit, but as you can see, other objects are also left. I saw cigars on Mark Train’s grave – a tradition there, but here we saw pens and pencils. What a tribute for these icons of the word.


And, here is Louisa’s grave. More coins, stones, writing implements, and a US Veteran flag marking her service as a nurse during the Civil War.



And, in the Emerson plot, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s grave is marked with this rock and plaque.


The day concluded with dinner at The Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. WOW, were the ladies impressed. My fourth visit, and I am ready to return. Not on the menu posted on their website, but a separate page in the menu we were handed were 3-course dinner specials. $20.95 for soup or salad, the entree, and desert. Wow, great bargain, and probably will be smaller portions (but just right). WRONG – the portions were amazingly large and absolutely delicious. Great food, great setting in The Tap Room, and wonderful company and conversation.

1] Visit Orchard House in Concord often

2] Visit Authors’ Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
3] Partake in a meal at The Wayside Inn, and tour the inn

Then, on Friday I had so many things I had to accomplish, trip to Keene, then back to BF to pick up CLARION and mail it, deliver Meals on Wheels (I am a substitute), and then a lovely party in the evening on Lake Spofford.  Exhausting day, but worth it because the reward was Old Home Days on Saturday at Plymouth Notch, Vermont. (Did I ever tell you I like, no love, it there?)


LMA-25What caught my eye (other than just loving the drive, and the bucolic setting) was the lecture on Farm Tools and Implements and the reenactment of Calvin Coolidge’s inauguration by his father, Colonel John. That occurred at 2.47 AM on August 3, 1923, but they wisely had it at 2:47 PM instead.

Sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council, I have attended now about three of their programs. This from the council’s website –  Inventive Vermonters: A Sampling of Farm Tools and Implements. Vermonters have always been inventive, especially when it comes to agricultural innovations. Time- and labor-saving inventions that ease the hard work of farming have always been important in our rural, agricultural state. In this illustrated lecture, retired engineer Paul Wood presents a sampling of farm tools, implements, and artifacts invented or produced in Vermont, examining their use, uniqueness of design.

I found this lecture to be excellent. The presenter wove a story between the farm items used for milk processing, cheese, etc. into the actual processes themselves. Brought to my attention things I had not really thought about, e.g you have to keep cows pregnant to get milk.

Paul Wood presenting Inventive Vermonters.

Paul Wood presenting Inventive Vermonters.

This young man was training his team of oxen.


And here, the director of the site, William Jenny, is moving a faithful reproduction of the lamp used while Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as our 30th President

William Jenny,  site administrator for the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site.

William Jenny, site administrator for the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site.

And the inauguration reenactment is about to begin. The President was played by the President’s great-grandson, and Colonel John Coolidge was played by a gentleman who remembered the President and knew his wife Grace.


Here is the actual site in the homestead where the inauguration took place with all the original furnishings in the exact location.

Site of Calvin Coolidge's inauguration as our 30th President.

Site of Calvin Coolidge’s inauguration as our 30th President.

And then I got to see an interesting demonstration of sheep shearing. The demonstrator is quite a raconteur. He entertained me on 4 July on a wagon ride, and again today.


Need I say it?
RAY RECOMMENDS – Visit the Calvin Coolidge Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, Vermont

Well, all for now. Working on another excursion, and you will “read all about it.”

Thank you for visiting, yours, RAY

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What with Alex’s visit and our trips to Bromley, the 4th of July in Plymouth Notch, some planned adventures this coming week in Vermont, why would I be back in Vermont today you ask? Easy – the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Hubbardton fought on 7 July 1777. The only Revolutionary War battle fought in Vermont (of course you know the Battle of Bennington [VT] was really fought in New York!) this was the first event that eventually lead to the British defeat at Saratoga.



I was last at the battlefield 24 August 2013, and you may wish to reread that post but the battle reenactment seemed a good reason to exercise BLUE BELLE. Do we need a good reason? NO!

We  pulled out of town shortly after 9 AM. Traveling through Chester, this 1858 General Store was open (usually closed when I pass through). Of course I stopped.


and the interior. Original fixtures, but now mostly gift type items and a few select overpriced antiques.


We (that is BB2 and I – albeit alone) arrived in remote Hubbardton (west of Rutland) about an hour and a half later. There is a super slab stretch of US4 heading west out of Rutland, and BB2 likes it when she can legally travel at 65-70 MPH.

We parked (I answered questions about my “ride” to inquisitive folks) and headed to the battlefield (parking was north of where you usually park due to the festivities). We walked south towards the visitor center.



Note to self — check space on SD cards often. Along with my trusty Canon S95 I brought my Nikon D3100 for some close up (telephoto) uniform shots.  If your shutter will not work, you will discover that your SD card is full. Well, I put my D3100 back in BB2’s Boot – less to carry.

We first saw the Rebel troops mustering.


I chatted with this Rebel for awhile. He portrayed an individual from Attleboro who was in the battle. I learned from him that a musket does not have rifling. That is the terminology difference, and you know that you never know which way a musket ball will go (since there is no rifling to stabilize it), thus the close firing range (50-80 yards) and shooting in volleys throwing lots of lead out.


What is wrong with this camp fire?


Usually at encampments I see nice blocks of turf dug out and set aside, and the fire low in the ground. Thus it does not spread, and the heat is concentrated. The fires here were on metal plates.  Well, it seems as though this battlefield (basically unchanged in 238 years) is now hallowed ground. At this time in history, bodies were often just left on the battlefield – that happened here. The family that owned the land returned 7 years later and found bones everywhere on their farm land. They gathered them, and buried them. As a result the entire area is considered sacred ground even though no bones have been found as yet. The State of Vermont started acquiring this land in the 1950s.

On the south side of the visitor center the British soldiers were camped for the weekend. They did remain, however, at the site for two days after the battle in 1777. Here arms are being inspected.


The same view you would have seen 238 years ago. The split rail fence you see surrounds the site of the original farmhouse from 1777 when this was farmed just before the battle as the Americans were retreating from Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Independence followed by the British and Germans. Remember, most of the uniforms and clothing were wool – great for those 70 and 80 degree days.


(Editorial Note (well this is all editorial notes) — how can you not be enamored by the views?) My video of the concert on July 5th has been my most watched video. Here is today’s Fife and Drum group:

And, I enjoy looking at the sutler’s wares:



Today’s military actions were just showing 18th century maneuvers. Tomorrow morning will be the actual battle reenactment starting at 8 AM with the troops assembling and marching at 7 AM.  To see that, BB2 and I would have to leave shortly after 6 AM — THERE IS A LIMIT TO SHUNPIKING !!!


I chatted with the owners of this brass cannon that was found in a house in Dorset 40-45 years ago. It is possible this is the 4th cannon (and the one “missing”) used at the Battle of Bennington. They are still researching it – what a treasure.


Well, we had no plans after Hubbardton Battlefield, but BLUE BELLE was whining that I had never taken her to New York State – she said, “are you afraid of the Mann Act?”  I reminded her that: 1) we had crossed state lines before; and, 2) she was of age (don’t remind a lady of that — as we left the parking field she choked, and we coasted this time to a shady spot. I now know where to tap her – so I popped the bonnet, rapped on the Dashpots, and off we went).

BLUE BELLE applied her brakes to get this shot (even though spelled wrong)

BLUE BELLE applied her brakes to get this shot (even though spelled wrong)



To save you having to get your maps out, I have marked one up for you below. Not having seen the west side of Lake Bomoseen before, off we went. I hoped it would be nicer than the eastern shore, and with Victorian cottages. Yes it was nicer and we saw some.



You can see my route (partially) into Rutland, out on Route 4 (65-70) up to the Battlefield, then around the lake down to Fair Haven, across the border to Whitehall, NY, and then back to Putney to pick up Route 140 (great road) back to VT 103 and home. Follow that?

Fairhaven I have to learn about – great 19th century brick buildings.


Then we arrived in Whitehall – the Birthplace of the US Navy


Lake Champlain ends here, and the Champlain Canal begins, connecting the lake to the Hudson River.


I chatted for awhile with a local resident, and then with the owner of these Clydsedales – I spent a half hour learning about these uncommon black Clydesdales (only about 255 in the states) and horse behavior, horse shoe replacement (nailed into what would be finger/toe nails) and the frequency, types of horses the Amish prefer, and on and on.  I love having no schedule and just visiting with strangers. He was here to later give rides before the fireworks.


Driving into town, for the first time I saw Skene Manor high up above town. The local resident said there were tours, so once all my conversations were done I headed up the mountain. I got there at 4:20, and should have gone there on the way into town first – it is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Noon to 4 – next time.

Skene Manor, Whitehall, NH

Skene Manor, Whitehall, NH

And, looking back from the front door to Whitehall and the Champlain Canal.


Well (back to the map above) back east on Route 4, south on 22A, cut over to Poultney, VT to pick up 140.  I love 140 (check out that last trip in 2013) and to 103 and home. Wanted to eat out, but nothing appealed to me, and I had one leftover meal waiting for me at home.

I arrived home having experienced 238 Years of History in 298 Kilometers (185 miles). Checking my garden I made my first harvest.


Let me see, $36 plus for plants divided by one summer squash and two cherry tomatoes. Average $12 each. A start, can’t wait to be down to 12 cents each.

RAY RECOMMENDS – A day trip to Hubbardton Battlefield and environs. So close, but so far back in time.

and, RAY RECOMMENDS – “like” Vermont State Historic Sites on Facebook. That way you can plan you next adventure at one of these great venues.

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