Yes, considering circumstances with COVID, long distance trips are just a memory, and a distant hope. But, today BLUE BELLE and I got itchy, and off we headed to local great places we enjoy, and are safe without crowds refusing to wear masks. You do not have to go far to have fun. And, if you are itchy, jump below to SANTA’S LAND which opened today.

I have always enjoyed adventures and activities at the Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, and for a number of years had been a member. This week I wrote my August CLARION “Did You Know That…” history article partially on the Fort. Not having visited in a long while, and knowing there probably have not been many visitors I decided it was time to visit, and “vote with my dollars” and again become a member. I entered, greeted Wendy, and she remembered me saying, “well it would have been easier if you parked one of your little cars in front.” “BLUE BELLE is off in the shade,” I replied. We visited, I wrote my check, and I headed back to the mid-18th century.

Wendy told me to make sure to see the new diorama of the fort – I did, and it is great.

Below is inside the sutler’s, and some great log exterior lines (click to enlarge).

and you know I like shots looking in or out windows. This view is from the guard tower through the gun port looking over the doctor’s garden, and over the field towards the Connecticut River.

Wendy and I chatted some more, and she reminded me of the event next weekend – Saturday and Sunday 25 and 26 July, 10 AM to 4:30 PM — OUT OF TIME: THE COMPANY OF WOLF ARGENT AND GUESTS — it is going to be something different. So do attend, take your checkbook, and tell Wendy that I told you to become a member and support the Fort.

Then north a tad, and across the old toll bridge across the river and heading west another tad to pick up US Route 5 South — you know both my BB ladies and I love US 5 — the old “main road” north and south along the river. Scenery, little change, and a few good spots to “blow out some carbon.” Passing Herrick Cove Road I turned around and headed into the park. If I have been there it was over 15 years ago. I was pleasantly surprised what is there – you can click the below aerial view for a larger version.

Not just the boat launch area to the Connecticut River, but lots of picnic and play places. Picnic tables currently “closed,” I guess to stop any COVID spread, but on a day I want to get out, I will pack my lunch and go just over nine miles and relax with food, beverage and a book. Back to US 5, and fifteen miles south to Santa’s Land.

Authentic vintage Roadside Americana, you should know I have written often about David’s efforts to save this National Treasure. And, he is succeeding. I get to be known, well, at least my ladies. I had barely turned BB2’s key off, and Santa (aka Tom) came out to greet me. “Great to see you again,” he said. And as we started to head inside, on this opening day for 2020, he began telling me all the new things David was adding to this classic and special park. (Santa is off this time of year, so coming in from Hawaii for the weekend, still had on his Hawaiian shirt.)


to get you in the mood.

Santa began sharing with me the new additions David has brought to Santa’s Land for the enjoyment of all ages. We soon bumped into David. It was great to see again this fine young man, and Roadside Americana hero. We headed up to the maintenance barn to see the cars for the new Model T Ford old car ride. Here are some of the cars in the barn, and you can click to enlarge.


David just obtained these cars that were formerly at Dogpatch USA in Arkansas , a theme park which was open from 1968 to its closure in 1993. Unlike the kiddie rides that David has traded off, adults can share the thrills while their youngsters drive these gas powered cars. Work on the ride’s road began yesterday, and winds from the carousel through the woods and over a bridge. The ride will be ready by the fall.

Road for the Model T ride, looking back at the carousel.

And, over the bridge on the Model T ride’s road.

walking up to the train station, these new critters come from a water park at Lake George.

how can you not love this place?

Another new plus is the last car on the train ride. An extra car was refurbished and added to the end allowing access for two wheel chairs for handicap visitors.

Continuing along the upper path, the miniature golf course was added last season. Once you pay your admission, all activities are included at no additional charge.

See what is in the background where the kiddie rides used to be? Paint still wet, but opening on 19 July is the new FUN HOUSE.

Another classic amusement park or traveling show attraction, you enter and work your way across moving floors, stairs, to eventually come out the rolling tumbler.

David is working very, very hard to provide the very best family entertainment in the area. First opened in 1957, many area families have three generations of memories visiting the park on US 5 in Putney, Vermont. Next to be added is a massive model train layout. And, you know that kids of all ages (especially the older ones) love trains and model trains. Once I get an image from David, I will include it here.

I strongly encourage you to click on and view and read all my previous posts of Santa’s Land. One more project in the works for David is to establish a museum of old Santa’s Land memories, photographs and souvenirs. I have a large collection of souvenirs, brochures and souvenirs I have promised David when he is ready. If you have anything you would like to share, let me know, and I will let David know, or bring them to the park. David has a picture his family took of him as a young visitor maybe in the 80s (yes, David is a young star), what do you have?

Remember, VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS — visit Santa’s Land, and visit Fort at No. 4. Thank you, yours, RAY





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BLUE BELLE has been crying, “we have not taken a long ride in over a year.” I checked, and she was correct. Short hops, but in 2019 long train trips and Lakes-Locks-Long River prevented us from “having a long date” on the road. Last Sunday I got an email from “Happy Vermont” which told about, and provided a link to the Quin-Town 4th of July Reverse Parade. We decided to go. A three day event, I figured they would be set up on Friday the third, we could take a look, and report to you in case you wanted to attend on the 4th or 5th. We left this morning at 10AM arriving home at 4PM after 185 BLUE BELLE miles. Here is the flyer on the event, which you can click to enlarge.

Route 100 is the “backbone of Vermont,” running from the Massachusetts border to almost into Canada. Weather today was predicted to be overcast, with some showers. I headed up to Ludlow, VT, to pick up Route 100. And, on Route 103 encountered some rain, but at highway speed BLUE BELLE is aerodynamic, and I received barely a drop.  At the end of this post I have a map you can enlarge to see today’s route. Sadly, I have not been to Plymouth Notch for about two years. You know I have often spent the Fourth of July there celebrating with Calvin Coolidge. I could not pass the notch without heading up. Other than the cheese factory it was vacant (and overcast).

Approaching the southernmost stop, Pittsfield, greeting us was this holiday well-wisher.

Then into the village

the village green and band stand

and, general store

Have you started to ask yourself yet, “what is a Reverse Parade?” Think COVID-19 and avoiding crowds. Instead of grouping together on the side of the road and watching floats, bands, marchers etc., the idea here was for the viewers to traverse the route and take in the holiday sights safe in their own vehicles.

Now, continuing north, the next stop is Stockbridge (Vermont, not Massachusetts with my most favorite Red Lion Inn). Cathy and I often traveled here, even before living in New Hampshire. Located here (in nowhere) is Ted Green Ford, the oldest Ford dealership in New England, and one of the oldest in the country. It was founded in 1913. I last traveled through in 2018, and shared many pictures of Stockbridge. Across from the Ford dealership is this colonial home. There was an antique shop here over 20 years ago that we enjoyed visiting – a real classic.

but, there were no decorations for the 4th to be seen.

The flyer shows much activity in Rochester, but coming into town I spotted this flock.

could explain where Walpole’s flamingoes have migrated to.

Rochester is a nice small village with a green. There are activities planned for the weekend, and the most decorations I saw today were in Rochester.

I drove next to the northernmost point, Granville. Total disappointment, nothing decorated except this extensive effort at the Granville County Store.

heading back south, I stopped at the Old Hotel Hancock at the junction of 100 and 25. I stopped here when I went to visit Bob Newhart in 2018, so stopped again for a sandwich. Serving take-out only from a side door, they let me eat on the porch since I was the only one in sight.

and if you are “into signs” to place you.

I headed west on Route 25 as you were supposed to do to see more, but there was no more. Circling back to head south on Route 100, here is the Hancock Town Common.


What can I say? I had hoped I would see more decorations. Maybe they will be coming on the 4th and 5th. I wanted to be able to encourage my readers to visit, but don’t bother. But BLUE BELLE and I got out, and in territory I enjoy, and we endured 185 miles, one shower, and with but three shorts stops in six hours. First to walk a tad in Rochester, second to have lunch in Hancock, and finally to drink some water in South Woodstock.

In my planning, I saw on the map a road from Rochester to Bethel – a road in black on the map (sadly not broken black indicating dirt). I found it – Bethel Mountain Road, and it was indeed a mountain. Climbing, BB2 held her blood pressure, but her temperature went up, but on the downside (which seemed much more of a drop than the climb we had), the exhilaration of speed caused her temperature to drop to normal. Arriving at Route 12, we headed south to Bethel, through Barnard, and onto Woodstock. Now, while on Route 100, the road was unusually  packed. And it was a good thing I knew I was in Vermont, because the license plates said otherwise. Route 12 was empty, but then Woodstock was packed and festive. Circling around the Common we picked up Route 106, and had the world to ourselves again.

I have always found South Woodstock charming, and arriving there I felt I had better share it with you:

Maybe a tad longer drive PWs, but we need to check out dining at the Kedron Valley Inn. I also need to get into the country store, as it was closed, but is on the Inn’s website. South Woodstock is amazing, here is a sampling, and you can click for an enlarged gallery:

I drank a bottle of water while sitting on the porch of the country story. BLUE BELLE had to watch because “no cars allowed.” But you can see from here the Inn and church.

From here, down 106, left on 44 through Brownsville (always a treat), 44A to US5 – cross the Connecticut River to head south on 12A to 12 and home – watching bad clouds all the way.

So, bottom line (well almost at the bottom here): REVERSE PARADE is a great idea, hopefully will get some traffic to the couple country stores along the route, but unless you want to get out for a scenic drive, you do not need to go. BUT, most important, BLUE BELLE and RAB can still perform and enjoy a 185 mile trek.

Here is today’s route map, which you can enlarge by clicking if you wish. I sure hope I can travel and share more the rest of this year – doubtful with COVID, but maybe. As always, yours, RAY

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I do not have to tell you 2020 is different and horrific for us all – pandemic, loss of life (by both virus and knee), loss of jobs and security, students without needed routine and graduation traditions, lack of equality, and the absolute failure of “supposed leadership” to exhibit understanding, compassion, empathy and leadership. I usually do not share my deepest thoughts or opinions, but on my last point above, I must tell you that when in Paris in October, 2016, just prior to our national election, I felt embarrassed to be an American. Now, I am ashamed, and through no fault of my own.

The day before I left the hospital, following my second back operation on 25 February, the first New Hampshire case of Covid-19 was recognized in a staff member at the hospital. Everyone’s plans changed. You know I have enjoyed exploring the past several years, and shared those explorations here. My May, 2020, cruise of the Chesapeake was cancelled. My various road trips for this year remain in piles of brochures and notes. BLUE BELLE and BLACK BEAUTY will not see miles this year simply exploring locally – there are no places open to eat at, nor venues or attractions to “play” at.

But, those who know me, know that I stay positive and “accept and adjust.” There is always someone worse off to pray for. I can still plan my journeys following Benedict Arnold’s route through Maine to capture Quebec City. I can still plan to explore the Great Lakes Seaway Trail through New York State. I can be ready to head on the road again.

It occurred to me, however. I have trips I never got to finish sharing, or share at all with you. So, to relive those adventures myself, and to share as I like to do, I am hopefully going to finally bring you at least the following:

Voyage to Antiquity – Around the Aegean September, 2010
Amazing adventure; and,
a year before I began writing Shunpiking with Ray


More Maine Explorations – August 2016

Drifting Continents, Dinosaurs, and a Glacial Lake
July, 2018

City of Pittsburgh – October 2018


Coast to Coast to Coast, June 2019
I have to finish and get you back to the East Coast by Train


Lakes Locks and Long River, September 2019
I left you stuck on the Hudson River, and we need to get to NYC

Now that I have said I want to share these adventures, I have to do it. Stay well, and stay safe – as always, yours, RAY

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25 YEARS — 18 MAY 1995 to 18 MAY 2020

Some Dates You Remember,
and Today is the Date for Me
Twenty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Ray and Cathy (22 March 1956 – 13 May 2008)

Some things you save for the memories — but most important are the memories in your mind. These saved bottles (below) are memories. In the center we had this wine on one of our first dates at the restaurant next to my shop in Haddonfield, NJ – Swanson – Napa Valley Merlot – 1992. We later served it at our wedding dinner party, saving this one bottle. On the left is The Red Lion Inn – Cabernet Sauvignon saved from the four day Millennium Celebration we attended over 31 December 1999 at the Inn. And, the folk art girl adorns Ballet of Angels from Pomfret, CT, which we discovered at dinner in the late 90s while scouting books in Pomfret.

You know the Red Lion Inn is special to me, and I cherish my nostalgic overnights. Part of the “package” during the Millennium Celebration were portraits on the staircase. No, Cathy was not that short, she is on a lower step than I am. You may recall, that even today as I sit in the lobby, in front of the fireplace, I can hear Cathy’s footsteps coming down the stairs from “our room” Number 340.


I am where I am, and who I am because of Cathy,
I have been blessed,
                                thank you God.

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We have a problem in town, and I told you about that in my last post (sadly I may not be able to have a travel post until Maine opens in July, hopefully). The problem may have stemmed from a report in the April issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION on page 10, or from our follow-up article in the May issue on page 21. But, they are here bringing smiles and hope to residents from valley to hills. It occurred to me, I need to document images of the pink invasion for posterity. So, I sent the below out this evening around town, BUT, if you can help, do so and send me your images (and location). And, to follow the progress you can visit THE WALPOLE CLARION website, for updates (I will post the findings on the sidebar as they occur). And, you may even wish to “sign-up” to follow and receive posts from my newspaper. Stay safe, yours, RAY

To View Images and Details of Sightings to Date


The invasion continues, and continues to bring hopes and smiles to residents from one end of town to the other. South to North, and East to West. I received an email earlier today from Charles Caserta, saying, “HI Ray…..they’re playing in the pond at entrance to Walpole Valley Farms !!” I had to see them.

So, I “broke the rules” and left my home with BLUE BELLE (1960 MGA for those of you who don’t know), and toured the hills and back roads to Surry and back, circling down Wentworth Road to see the “new” pink feathered friends. And, here they are enjoying the pond life. You can click the image to enlarge if you wish.


And, then it occurred to me. Many people have said these “pink things” have flocked their way also. “Why not set up a page on the CLARION website, and share everyone’s pink visitors,” Ray said to Ray. So, I am asking, no pleading, that you share your Flamingo images, and I will begin sharing them with the world on-line.

Take a nice shot, and email it to me at  — I am sure there are many out there, lets capture (in picture) as many as we can to share with the world. I look forward to receiving your precious pink portraits soon. Thank you, and stay safe, yours, RAY

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A story in the April issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION, that I publish, attracted a great deal of attention, and foretold a possible local problem resulting from Global Warming, or something else. A sort of “unique virus” has hit our area. Here is that April First story:

Invasive Species?
Flamingos Spotted in Walpole

Even with global warming affecting our planet, it was a real shocker to see a flock of flamingos at the Mill Pond in Walpole this past week. Said Tilly Wilfert from Old Drewsville Road, ‘I can’t believe my eyes. These are such beautiful creatures, and I’m so surprised that they don’t mind standing on the ice and in such cold, cold water. I hope they stay all summer.’ Bradley Mange from Cold River Road in Drewsville commented, ‘We’d better contact Fish and Game real fast. It could be a bad problem if they keep showing up and start wiping out all the fish.’ If you see these wonderful creatures in your area, please take a few photos and send them to the Clarion, and perhaps the Walpole Historical Society. – Eric Merklein

Now three weeks later, these pesky, pink, non-passerine, genus Phoenicopterus birds are flocking to Walpole in great numbers. In fact, today I received an email from a friend who, driving past my home, and taking note, advised me that I too “Had been Flocked.”

Working already on the May issue of the CLARION, a follow-up story (below) had been prepared, but now must be rewritten and updated.


Since the flamingos were spotted on the frozen Mill Pond in March, global warming seems to be bringing more of these pinkers to the north country and into Walpole. They’re nesting at the Lennon property on the Common, at the corner of Main and Prospect Streets, and the Palmiotto home just off the Common. Said Fred Nobbils, a farmer from Alstead, ‘Now I’m getting a bit scared of these things. If these pink birds are nesting all over Walpole, who’s to say they won’t be tearing up my fields and taking all the fish from my pond? We gotta do something fast’ And recently we’ve gotten reports that these birds from the deep south are getting feisty and scaring the town’s children.

Neighbor of the kids in the photo right, Gretta Ziff, said, “I’m nervous as all heck. The kids are locked in most of the day because of COVID, and now they’re afraid to go out and play when their Zoom classes are done for the day. Why don’t the selectmen do something?” If you want to help, let the Clarion know if you spot any more of these pink invasives, and we’ll pass the information on to the Zoning and Select Boards. – Snead Baudelaire

The “new norm” in Walpole?

For additional extra, educational, elevating, edification, explaining these beasties, click on the link below, and be enlightened:

What is the Meaning of the
Pink Flamingo in the Yard?



Flamingo, like a flame in the sky
Flying over the island
To my lover nearby

Flamingo, with your tropical hue
For it’s you I rely on
And the love that is true

The wind sings a song to you as you go
The song that I hear below
The murmuring heart

Flamingo, when the sun meets the sea
Say farewell to my lover
And hasten to me

Aah-ooh, aah-ooh, ooh-ooh

Flamingo, when the sun meets the sea
Say farewell to my lover
And hasten to me

Aah-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-aah

Duke Ellington & His Orch. (vocal: Herb Jeffries) – 1941

HOPE YOU GOT HERE FOR THIS WARNING ABOUT THIS PINK PLAGUE — There is now (at least in our area) another reason to stay inside and be safe. Stay well, and watch out where you step. I can attest that the droppings in my yard are also pink (some round, some squished) — RAY

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7 April 2020 — REDUX of 7 April 2019 — ALL GOOD THINGS

For my recent travels the past six months I have been touring “Shunpiking with Ray” where I have enjoyed re-exploring, albeit verbally and with two dimensions instead of three. If you have followed me for any length of time you know I repeat adventures, but each does have a different twist or take. Remember what I did exactly a year ago today? Well, that post is below this short introduction.

LADY RAB and BLUE BELLE have not been out, nor started up, in over six months. Once I reread how special today is for LADY RAB, I knew today she would want to get out. Need your special car fixed? Doctor Dewey, in Weston, Vermont, is the premier choice to have your machines tuned to perfection. I first got in LADY RAB, opened the gas petcock, turned the key, adjusted the spark and gas levers, and pulled the choke while simultaneously pushing the foot starter. NOT EVEN A FULL CRANK – she fired, we backed out, and off we went to a friend’s almost to the hour as done a year ago when LADY RAB made it home for the first time from Massachusetts. It was then a tour around town, and back to “fire up” BLUE BELLE.

I gave BLUE BELLE a shot of some special juice, and again NOT EVEN A FULL CRANK. She fired, we backed out, and off we went. And, again up to “T’s” as she wanted to ride in BLUE BELLE also. Up into the hills of town and around. How can you not love it here? Yes, that is Okemo in the distance on the right. You can click the panorama to open to a full screen view.

and, back home to bask in the sun, and glory, and dream about upcoming road trips while shunpiking away. Let us hope — real soon!!!

REDUX — Actually, this post (from 7 April 2019) could have several appropriate titles – so here as sub-titles:


Remember, I write for myself, and for my memories – but do enjoy sharing. Today truly began over 57 years ago – and as I reflect, there are threads that have run through my life since my pre-teens. And, in a simple way, that is what I am made of, and what brings me pleasure.

Remember, I introduced BELZEBUTH II aka LADY RAB II on 19 March?  Well, an attempt was made on a projected beautiful day, 29 March. But after unpredicted pouring rain from Exit 5 to Exit 3 on I-91, that retrieval mission was scrubbed with tears. Watching the weather, today, 7 April, was another potentially clear target of opportunity – some sun, 50 degrees plus, and no rain projected – hey, I was driving a 90 year old convertible home (top down always) 85 miles.  And, this time it did not rain. Carolyn graciously picked me up at 8, and we arrived in Charlton, Massachusetts about 10:15 – backroading, of course.

Attached my plates (from my last Model A, sold in September, but I renewed them anyway, something – somebody – told me to do so), chatted with previous owner (know from experience it was hard), and off I went. To put things into perspective, Charlton, Massachusetts is just east of Sturbridge (and OSV that I love) and about 9 miles north of the Connecticut border.

Only scheduled stop (and fortunately no unscheduled stops were required) was the Country Store in Petersham for lunch. We arrived on schedule a few minutes before noon.

You know I love old county/general stores. Make sure you plan to stop when in the Quabbin area for a bite to eat. RAY RECOMMENDS – A Visit to the Petersham Country Store.

The Common in Petersham is worth a visit.

We continued north, leaving about 12:30 following Route 32 crossing the border, through Swanzey, and into Keene, and then north to home. Arriving back home just before two, the first stop was to “show off” at a friend’s house – having just adopted a new dog, she could not travel on this trip – priorities!

Note above that I was “bundled” but I was comfortable the entire ride and never put on my gloves or earmuffs. And then it was back to “44.”

and, then tucked in with her new “siblings” – never, never to leave again !!!

Trivia History Lesson. First stop in town to “show off,” T asked, “why is it called a rumble seat?” Sadly, I have never questioned the derivation. I do know that if you wanted the optional rumble seat in a 1928 or 1929 Model A Ford Roadster (instead of simply a trunk) it cost $35. A single seat in the rear of a vehicle in the early days was called the “mother-in-law” seat. My Dad had two such vehicles, a 1908 Buick and a 1909 Model T Ford, with the single seat in the rear. Well, continue below for some possible explanations. But, first an image of glee and approval, from a rumble seat.

There is no definitive reason for the nomenclature – rumble seat. But “playing on-line,” here are some ideas:

1 –  Sir Hubert Malcolm Rhumble, a prominent carriage designer of England’s late 1800s., designed a coachman’s seat that stuck in the car lexicon, according to the Automobilist Magazine in August 1958. In early vintage automobiles the trunk lid folded back to form a seat area, sometimes called a “mother-in-law” seat.

2 – Early use of “Rumble Seat” referred to the seat behind the body of a carriage on which the servants rode, well before cars existed. The application to cars evolved from the fact that the seat was indeed behind the enclosed portion of the ‘coach’ of the car. With regards to the expression rumble seat itself, perhaps it was due to the ‘rumble’ the carriage made as it travelled, and the open nature of the seat making the occupants more susceptible to the sounds of the rumble?

3 -The rumble seat (or auxiliary seat or ”mother-in-law`s seat”) first appeared on several models at the 1925 auto show in New York. Like the convertible, it swept the country. Everyone was talking about rumble seats.

4 – and, a simple definition – An uncovered passenger seat that opens out from the rear of an automobile. 

Did I tell you there are “threads through my life?” Printing, stamps, history, shunpiking in my special cars, 19th century general stores, photography, and places that bring me pleasure?

Well, in the summer of 1963,  high school friends and I painted a barn in Charlton, Massachusetts. One friend’s Dad owned the place as a weekend retreat/investment. We ate breakfast at the HoJos on the Mass Pike, entering from the back entrance off US 20. In the evenings we visited the now gone car museum in Sturbridge, and I visited antique shops (see the pattern). Well as I am writing this, to my right on the radiator is the view below. The two toy cars on the left I bought in Charlton, Mass. in 1963, just miles from where my “new” roadster came from. And, see the cast iron fire truck? Cost me $4 at an antique shop in Gaylordsville, Connecticut on a Belzebuth I excursion in 1963.

Too much fun. Thank you for getting this far, love, RAY


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SMILES and HOPE – 4 APRIL 2020

With such concerns around the world, it is nice to see that hope still abounds. Earlier today, while out for a walk in from of my home, I discovered a number of decorated stones appearing in various places. I thought it appropriate to share with my WALPOLE CLARION readers in a post, and then I shared that post on three Facebook pages. Probably an unknown young person in the area – there are some good and caring people. Just realized I must share here also – ENJOY the below.

Wonderfully painted stones, by “someone,” with thoughtful, uplifting and insightful sayings have been appearing around the Town of Walpole Common. Thank you “someone.”  And, bless you for bringing smiles and hope into the world. With love, yours, RAY

and, here are four more placed around the Common. You can click on any image below to open the gallery for larger views. Be well.

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Hi there. I last said “hi” to you 19 January 2020, when I gave you a New Year’s update on my lack of travels. Remember in 2018 I was slowing down? So I bought a new right hip in December 2018, and got back out in 2019 running hard, including two great adventures posted as COAST TO COAST TO COAST BY TRAIN, and LAKES, LOCKS and LONG RIVER. But as the year progressed, walking again became a problem. I thought it was time to replace my left hip to solve the exhaustion walking.

Segue — I like to give you some images to tempt you to read further. So here is an image to entice you to the end for the details. This image was taken by local naturalist, Eric Merklein, of a looming local problem at the mill pond just down the road from me.

During my one year hip surgery follow-up in December I asked my surgeon for a new left hip. “Sorry, Ray, it is not time yet, you still have some cartilage there,“ he told me, “but looking at your x-rays, and checking your motion and symptoms I see your spine has closed up again pinching off nerves and their signals, thus impacting on your walking.”

Fast tracking ahead, on 25 February 2020 I had my second back surgery to fuse additional vertebra in my spine. You will be pleased to know that my back surgeon, when looking at my x-rays, said, “Ray, you have some screws loose.” It was great to get that professional opinion of what you have known for years. Actually, the screws of my original lumbar fusion had opened up (my bone problem, not his work), so now I have new metal bridging that earlier area, and now moving north up my spine. My excuse for setting off alarms is increasing. I wonder if I can get certification on my driver’s license or passport to that effect?

Back surgery can lead to three to four days in the hospital. My first back surgery in May 2016, was eight hospital days followed by ten days in rehab. You see, my body reacts to general anesthesia, and my bowels shut down. Not good resulting in tubes down to your stomach, and lots of invasive activity at the other end. Warning everyone of that problem going into this surgery, aggressive actions were taken, and my three day stay was only eight, and I got to come home then on 4 March. But while I was at Dartmouth-Hitchcock the first New Hampshire COVID-19 case broke out there – a hospital staff member, who had just returned from Italy. Life began to change for everyone.

I have always entertained myself and kept busy. I have so many hobbies, interests, things to learn, and one thing leads to another. I am fortunate to be comfortable while now somewhat isolated. You may be aware that I publish a monthly community newspaper – The Walpole Clarion – and I spend a good part of the month (off and on) preparing it for the community. I just finished up the April issue, and it went to the printer, and I posted it early on-line since there is much COVID-19 information to share. I invite you to read that information:


Click this link to the CLARION website, then Click to see the April issue

And, this is the April issue, and we sometimes have some fun with it along with the more serious stories. You may wish to read the issue and find a few things to chuckle over during this serious time while the world, as we have known it, is changing. Eric’s story of the new local threat is on page 10. Let me know what you think, and feel free to comment on this post.

Thank you for “listening.” Please stay safe, wash your hands, if you must go out practice “social distancing,” and with luck BLUE BELLE, BLACK BEAUTY, and LADY RAB and I will be out again soon to bring adventures to you. Love, RAY

Please all, stay home to stop the spread of the bad bugs
so it will be safe for us to get out.
We are waiting for you Ray

“To write about something is to live it twice.”

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It has almost been a month since I last said hi, so “hi.” The little cars have not been out, so they have no shunpiking stories to share, nor have I made any recent trips in GiGi – the “new” car. Remember last year I was slowing down so bought a new hip to get back moving fast? And, move fast I did. Some great trips including two that I have to finish the stories about – COAST TO COAST TO COAST BY TRAIN, and LAKES, LOCKS and LONG RIVER. But, they, and several book projects are “on the list.” And my lists are being developed for some down time I will have before I run hard again. You see, the potential “adjacent segmented degradation” that could happen after my back surgery four years ago happened – and moving about has become problematic. So I am pushing to get some more metal put in my back. I know what to expect.

If you have visited SHUNPIKING WITH RAY recently you may have seen on the right side “Coming Soon – Popcornman Ray.” Well soon was tonight, I posted the page, but have much more to add. I love having “works in progress” that I keep working on. So, here is the link for you to “pop to” – sorry, could not resist:

Catch you soon I hope with adventures, have a great 2020, yours, RAY

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