In 1957 I was a star of GIANT STEP, a TV Quiz program hosted by Bert Parks.  One of my prizes was a trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan with my Dad.  Soon to be re-explored.

A younger me and my Dad in the Museum (I could touch anything)


The letter which sent me the picture above. I cannot find the professional picture of me driving Ford’s 999 Racer, but I have a Polaroid. Note what they thought of me. (click to enlarge)


The Newsletter announcing my upcoming visit


And, the detail.  Note the “z” by mistake, and Larry should be Bert


A snap of me on TV in 1957


And, following my visit with Julie and grandchildren to Grand Central Station last month, I cannot wait to get back to explore the terminal and the city.  Here I am on a visit a few years ago, and my interview on the upper level for the evening news (TV studios were in GCT).  You know I am not shy, and love an audience, even if unseen



Above is the note I typed at that time and affixed to the back of the photo.

So…..stayed tuned for great adventures to come in 2015.

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A 21 HOUR RESPITE – 16-17 February 2015

For school break, David, Mari and Alex rented a condo at Killington for several days skiing. They usually stay with me and take day trips to the various ski areas nearby, but they wanted an extended stay to hit the slopes early each day.  “Come up and visit,” David had asked, and I did. But the snow and cold delayed their arrival, and I was behind in work due to my delay returning from New Orleans (still owe you a detailed report on that).

On Monday I had gotten enough things checked off my list to feel comfortable to head up. I left about 2 PM.  And, if you know the Vermont landscape you realize that I had to pass Plymouth Notch, Calvin Coolidge’s homestead, and as you may know, one of my favorite spots to drive to.  Two miles off the route — but you know I went, and here is what I saw.

“Downtown” – note the old gas pump is covered up in front of the general store.


Calvin’s homestead and where he was sworn in as our 30th President.


Union Christian Church (1840) – click to enlarge – too bad that pole was in the way


Another view of the church looking back to the general store. Calvin was born in the brown building adjoining the store. (this image can also be enlarged, as may all those below)


The old “tea room” (now offices) opposite the country store and small post office.


And below are the early tourist cabins.  Secret Service stayed in them when Plymouth Notch served as the summer White House.


And, then I got to Killington and the warmth of this fire. We headed to the lodge for drinks, David and Alex swam while Mari made dinner (David forget to tell me to bring a suit). And then we visited before the fire and turned in.  I headed home at about 9:20 this morning as they were preparing for skiing.  A perfect visit with “the kids.”


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


And to make matters worse, I have been “snowed in” in New Orleans.  Yes, snowed in having to endure 70 degree temperatures because the northeast is again “closed.”  But there are stories to tell, and hopefully within a week my life will be back to normal (never – ha, ha) and I can fill you in.  Let me just say that a quick trip with friends has been extended due to snow miles away, and we have to suffer the heat and sun.  More to come, but to tempt you to “stay tuned:”


Costume Convention - the "excuse" for being here

Costume Convention – the “excuse” for being here

And, then there were parades a week before we thought they were (they extend for weeks we learned)




And, there were museums (throw me in those buildings)


And the food !!!!  COMMANDER’S PALACE – A must before you die !!!


Just my appetizer:

Foie Gras “Du Monde”
Black skillet seared Hudson Valley foie gras over a Ponchatoula strawberry beignet with toasted hazelnuts, warm sugarcane syrup and foie gras infused café au lait


And, then tonight at Irene’s in the French Quarter (recommended by a book email customer) — one of my best meals ever, just after the Commander’s Palace and Chesterfield Inn last month.


More to come, but give me time — having too much fun to sit back and write.

Bye, catch you soon, love, RAY


Posted in 2015-a NEW ORLEANS | Tagged | 2 Comments


Yesterday I planned to go to the Amherst Railway Society Railroad Hobby Show at the Big-E in Springfield, Massachusetts, but the weather was iffy, so I stayed home and researched and wrote various articles all day instead. At one point I emailed Rob and said, “if I go to the show on Sunday, what time do I have to be back to meet you for dinner?”  “I’ll go with you to the show tomorrow,” he replied.  And that is what we did.

As we got on I-91 we realized that with the Robbie Burns dinner at 6PM, if we waited to

I love this stairwell at the entrance to the Springfield Armory

I love this stairwell at the entrance to the Springfield Armory

have lunch after the train show we would not be hungry.  Rob suggested several places to eat downtown Springfield, but settling on Student Prince in Springfield, we had about an hour to do something else.  “We can stop at a few antique shops on US 5,” I said. “Wait, have you seen the Springfield Armory?”  The Armory it was, so off we continued to Exit 7.  You may remember my “Day Off” last April when I first visited the Springfield Armory.  We arrived and entered, and Rob was impressed.  We got to see the introductory video and quickly looked at the Daniel Shay Rebellion exhibit (his protest stormed the Armory on this date, January 25, 1787).  I realized that I need to visit again a third time, and learn more about Daniel Shay.



It was then time to get to the Student Prince Restaurant so we would still have time at the train show. Serving German Food and Beer since 1935, the Student Prince is on the site of the original fort in Springfield erected in 1660, and where the settlers took refuge during an Indian attack October 5, 1675.  Worth a stop!

The Student Prince is said to have the largest Stein collection in the world - ROAD TRIP SCOTT

The Student Prince is said to have the largest Stein collection in the world – ROAD TRIP SCOTT


And, my “Wurst” meal:


We got to the Big E for the train show about 1 PM.  I had never been to the grounds before — and was shocked!  We both were overwhelmed by the crowds.  And, upon entering the first building we found out that there were four buildings with over 500 exhibitors.  Thus we quickly became “train dead” (a form of “brain dead”) in a very short time, and realized that it is good to do some things once, but then “some things you don’t have to repeat.”  Of course, that is unless you can take grandchildren to see such an extravaganza (hint, Julie, David).  At any rate, here is the view of what we faced as we walked in, and then a slide show to tempt Nikhil and Alex at some future date.


But my day was made complete at the Central Massachusetts Steam, Gas & Machinery Association exhibit.  “My grandson and I were watching a movie about Penn Station last week,” I started, “and in talking about steam locomotives they mentioned a Sand Dome.  What is that?” They told me, and you can see it in the “toy” locomotive below (that is what prompted my question).  The dome holds sand on top of the boiler to keep it dry, and high for gravity. A lever is pulled and the sand is released down tubes to the rails to improve traction in wet or icy conditions.  Hope that fast fact made your day too.

Small "toy" steam engine from an early amusement park. Note SAND DOME.

Small “toy” steam engine from an early amusement park. Note SAND DOME.

Cutting the HAGGIS

Cutting the HAGGIS


We arrived back in town before 5PM, time to get ready for the Robert Burns Dinner at Burdick’s. Such dinners are held around the world on this date, his birthday.  Five courses, each with an appropriate Scotch — and, fortunately I have but a short walk home.




And, here are the courses following the Scotch Broth above:

So, I consider this day’s outing worthy of a short post with lots of images to share.  And now it is onto the next adventure(s).  Night, as always, yours, RAY

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments


My goodness, it has been over two months since I have reported some “shunpiking” and adventures.  But, as you know, November and December I devote to my production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, and now I am happy to report that in seven seasons we have raised over $24,000 for local area food shelves.

I have some aggressive international travel ideas for 2015, but the best way to start the year is to visit my daughter, Julie, her husband, Dave, but most importantly grandchildren, Nikhil (6), Devi (4), and Vijay (going on 2).  I think this will be more images than words, and remember I write for myself, but also I want to preserve the images to look at in my old age in another 20 or 30 years.

Now, it is about a four hour trip to my daughter’s home in New Jersey, but why would I ever want to drive directly somewhere? On this excursion I took 6 1/2 hours to get to her home, and 8 hours to get home.  Actually, that is really fast time for my “shunpiking.”

Heading out on Friday, 16 January, my destination (en route) was Cold Spring, New York.

Parked on the street in Cold Spring, NY

Parked on the street in Cold Spring, NY

I cheated heading down I-91 to I-84 and then US 9 to NY 301 into Cold Spring. Often, when my shop was in Connecticut, Cathy and I would head there to search for books, jewelry and antiques and enjoy lunch out.  It had been awhile since I had last visited, and I wanted to see what was up.  This visit I found the way to get across the railroad tracks down to the Hudson River.




This view is across the Hudson River towards Storm Mountain, and West Point would be a tad to the south (left in image).


And this looks past the gazebo across the tracks to the village.


Then I discovered the historic Foundry Dock with history dating way back.

Nest I headed south on 9D first passing Boscobel in Garrison, NY, which we visited maybe 15 years ago – definitely worth a revisit.  But what was amazing was heading south on this route with the leaves off the trees giving great views of the Hudson River (Rob, take note of this route for future West Point visits). Fortunately, I took a quick right turn into the river village of Garrison – amazing and worthy of the turn to see.

Garrison, NY looking across the Hudson River to West Point

Garrison, NY looking across the Hudson River to West Point

Bear Mountain Bridge heading west.

Bear Mountain Bridge heading west.

Continuing along I crossed the Bear Mountain Bridge (now 90 years old).  Every passing I remember in the early 1950s when my Dad would tell me to look to the cove to the south of the bridge at the Liberty Ships mothballed there. It was an impressive sight.  At the traffic circle I decided to head south aJAB-9 short distance to the Bear Mountain Inn, which was recently restored for its 100th birthday this year. We visited there once or twice to eat, and I remember picnicking there in the 1950s with my 5th grade teacher, Jim Burke, and his fiancé Miss Forney, who had been my 4th grade teacher) and Jeff Meyer when we were on our way to check out Museum Village in Monroe, NY.  I will have to go again – in fact, there is a ton of stuff I have to do along the Hudson River in this area.

Bear Mountain Inn

Bear Mountain Inn

An inviting dining room, albeit empty this time of year.

An inviting dining room, albeit empty this time of year.

I then headed across US 6 to I-87 then I-287 to get to my daughter’s home in northern New Jersey – I arrived at 4.  Friday night was just grand playing with the kids. Julie’s husband, Dave, got in from work after 8, we played some more, got the kids tucked in, and then discussed plans for the weekend.

I had no agenda other than to “hang-out” but I knew that they enjoy taking the kids out on weekends to various educational venues.  The weather did not sound good for Sunday (and in fact a bad ice storm did keep everyone in on Sunday).  Dave suggested going into the city (New York City that is) and head to the Children’s Museum of Manhattan on 83rd Street.  But we were also talking trains (Nikhil loves trains, and you know I do too), and I mentioned that having recently seen a documentary on the old Pennsylvania Station I was longing to again see Grand Central Station on 42nd Street.  I could not remember when I was last there – but it has been decades.  As a pre-teen and early teenager I would take the train from Wilton (by myself, and dressed in jacket and tie – those were the days) for a day in the city.  I would walk and explore. Favorite thing was to take the subway to the Staten Island Ferry, ride for a nickel to Staten Island, and sneak back onto the Ferry without paying for the return trip.  And, then I would walk back up Manhattan.  Don’t think youngsters can do the same thing these days at that age.

Well, I have stories about my time in Grand Central Station – interviewed for a TV news program, soup at the counter in the original Oyster Bar, etc.  It struck me that I have to start spending a couple nights a year in the city (taking the train there, of course) and explore Grand Central and traipse around (anyone want to join me?).  Dave suggested that

Julie and kids heading to Grand Central Terminal

Julie and kids heading to Grand Central Terminal

he drop us off at Grand Central and that he and Vijay head up to the children’s museum while Julie, Nikhil, Devi and I explore the terminal, the gallery museum there, eat, and then take the subway north.  A great plan.






A quick tour of the terminal,




then we went to the train exhibit before having lunch in the “new” food area. Here is Nikhil as he and I started exploring the exhibit.


Remember, you can click on any image to open a slideshow:



Taking the subway — entertainment all along the way – musical and then some:



And, at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan:

Nikhil and Devi inside the intestine watching the video of how we swallow

Nikhil and Devi inside the intestine watching the video of how we swallow

Future driver, Vijay.  Will he want BLACK BEAUTY or BLUE BELLE?

Future driver, Vijay. Will he want BLACK BEAUTY or BLUE BELLE?

DOLL Devi at play with the roller coaster experiment.

DOLL Devi at play with the roller coaster experiment.

A very full day was Saturday in the city.  Sunday as I mentioned was horrible outside with ice, but warm and comfy inside playing with and enjoying the kids.  Monday was more of the same, but the two older ones had a playdate at 10AM, so Dave and I headed out with Vijay to a play area at a mall.  Lunch followed at home with Julie, and sadly full of tears I left at 2PM on Monday, January 19th.

My plan was to have dinner, of course, at The Red Lion Inn, but I decided that I had to “fill in the map” and explore US 202 from New Jersey to the Bear Mountain Bridge.  I got off Exit 66 on I-287, and before crossing into Suffern, New York, I gassed up for $1.89 — remember that – Jersey gas is cheap.

JAB-27I can report that you do not need to explore this slow way of getting back to the Hudson River.  Nothing to see, but I did enjoy stopping briefly at the Stony Point Battlefield a real treasure for the folks living nearby.  The last few miles along the Hudson were fantastic, again particularly with the leaves off, but you can always experience that driving south from Bear Mountain Park, and turn back around.  Crossing the bridge I went south to Peekskill which is much changed from when I drove over in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster in about 1964 to trade wheels with Walt Levino.  I felt I should have brought my passport and brushed up on my Spanish.

Looking north up the Hudson to the bridge and cove where the Liberty Ships were mothballed

Looking north up the Hudson to the bridge and cove where the Liberty Ships were mothballed

Heading east back across the Bear Mountain Bridge

Heading east back across the Bear Mountain Bridge

But it was getting dark, so back to US 9, I-84 exiting north on the Taconic State Parkway, and then to my home away from home – the RLI.  And here is another log of images from my favorite spot.

Entrance to The Red Lion Inn - 19 January 2015

Entrance to The Red Lion Inn – 19 January 2015


Just getting started for travels in 2015 – and this was a great start.  Thank you Dave and Julie.  And, you all “stay tuned.”  As always, yours, RAY

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trophy Point - West Point Military Academy

Trophy Point – West Point Military Academy


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

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


Lobby of the Thayer Hotel

Lobby of the Thayer Hotel

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

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

The Chapel at West Point with campaign flags

The Chapel at West Point with campaign flags

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




You have seen wineries, but not this light before.


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


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

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

STAGECOACH TAVERN, Sheffield, Massachusetts

STAGECOACH TAVERN, Sheffield, Massachusetts

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

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




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


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

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lunch !!!

Lunch !!!

capers, cream cheese sandwich worth driving back for.

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

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

Details on Santarrella - click to enlarge

Details on Santarrella – click to enlarge

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

The Lebanon Spring House covering the original structure c1756.

The Lebanon Spring House covering the original structure c1756.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cellar hole of the 1794 Columbia Hall spa resort hotel

Cellar hole of the 1794 Columbia Hall spa resort hotel

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

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

The Elm Tree House (circa 1756) now apartments.

The Elm Tree House (circa 1756) now apartments.


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

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

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

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



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

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


The unrestored "wash house."

The unrestored “wash house.”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


These unsavory characters were in the “store”


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


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



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


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

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


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

This was my Facebook post on 24 October:

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




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

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


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

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

Enjoy your day, as always, yours, RAY


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

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

Mimsy and me

Mimsy and me

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

Lee and me.

Lee and me.

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

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

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

Leaving the Five Mile River looking south to Darien, CT

Leaving the Five Mile River looking south to Darien, CT

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

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

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

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

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

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

1914 Roller Coast entrance platform.

1914 Roller Coast entrance platform.

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


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

Grilled Calamari.

Grilled Calamari.

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

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

175 member Wilton High School marching band.

175 member Wilton High School marching band.

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

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

Dick speaking to the class

Dick speaking to the class


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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaylordsville, CT - POL's monument

Gaylordsville, CT – POL’s monument

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

I enjoyed also touring the Kent Iron Furnace site:


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

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

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

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

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




You know I love this front porch





and also the dining room


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

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


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

Goodbye ROYCROFT INN, East Aurora, NY

Goodbye ROYCROFT INN, East Aurora, NY

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





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


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



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

1726 French Castle at Old Fort Niagara

1726 French Castle at Old Fort Niagara



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

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

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

Looking north to the bridge from Canada.

Looking north to the bridge from Canada.

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

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

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



Looking back to the American Falls and Rainbow Bridge

Looking back to the American Falls and Rainbow Bridge

And a video for you to enjoy the full experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


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


Chittenango Landing Museum

Chittenango Landing Museum

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



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



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

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

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


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

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



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

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


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

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