It has been over 30 years since I was in the Bay Area – 10 May 1986 to be exact – when the USS MISSOURI (BB-63) was recommissioned. I was among the 10,000 invited guests, but that is another old “war story.” You may recall (from history) that on the MISSOURI the Instrument of Surrender with Japan was signed 2 September 1945. She was decommission in 1955, and years after the re-commissioning, she was struck in 1995, and is now a museum in Pearl Harbor. I explored San Francisco when here then, and now I am visiting with family (and some shunpiking too).

My daughter, Julie, and her husband and three children arrived here about a year ago. David and Mari have an annual conference in San Francisco this week, so Alex and I came along with them to visit (Alex and Mari headed home on the 30th). Saturday, after David and Mari headed downtown, we got the four kids going, and they agreed to see the “big trees.”  I love studying real maps, and do so both before an adventure, and after to solidify the map images in my mind. Do look at a Bay Area map, and you can see the circle route we took from Orinda, up over the San Rafael Bridge, to Mill Valley to the adventure, then back across the Golden Gate Bridge, through downtown on US 101, and back home. The “tall” adventure (which you can click for a taller version):


Heading down Muir Woods Road – the scariest “white knuckle” road I have ever been on. The “white” area you see on the left is the glistening water of San Francisco Bay.


you come to Muir Woods National Monument, and its Redwoods.


Twelve miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the park has over 1,000,000 visitors a year. We arrived around 3PM, and it was no bad. To preserve the ancient Redwoods, the land was purchased in 1905, and donated to the government. You may click on image below for a larger image to read.


This beauty was one of the first to greet us.


The bay area, and particularly along the water, is not forested at all, but the unique microenvironment on the ocean side with the fog and moisture has created this dense forest which may only see sunlight 5% of the day. The plants, lichen, etc. have adapted for survival. Below, very spiritual, reaching for the sky.


We took a number of trails, and the grandkids posed in this tree for us.


You may be wrinkled too at this age.


Sun was beginning to set:


Fast Redwood facts: Height to 379.1 feet, age to 2,000 years, diameter to 22 feet at breast height, bark to 12 inches thick. The tree below fell in 1930. Counting back the rings, it was a seedling in 909 AD – 1,021 years before it fell.


With more hiking than we thought we may do, it was night when we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. A bad image of this iconic structure (painted red to stand out in fog), but here it is.


I am now back to working on this post, Monday, 6 February. So much to do, but with the passing of time it is fun to go back and work on a post because it further kindles my memory of experiences. Sunday (January 29) was a “day home” in preparations for Julie’s youngest son’s fourth birthday party. What fun to see 5 little ones from his nursery school class.

Shortly after everyone left for school on Monday, Alex and I boarded BART for a 35 minute ride into San Francisco. We exited at Market and Powell Streets, and pulled our bags a few blocks up the hill to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. I was hoping to take Alex to Alcatraz, but since he wanted to met Mari at noon for lunch, the time was too tight, So, off we went to the Cable Car Museum. I have decided that the rest of this post will be mainly images – about 75 – sorry, but then you do not have to “listen” to me as much.



In this building the continuous cables are powered by electric motors for the three cable car lines.

Motive Power Source for San Francisco's Cable Cars

Motive Power Source for San Francisco’s Cable Cars

The museum is fascinating with nice exhibits and equipment.

We then went to the corner, and caught this car.


Alex and I sat on the side, and off we went.

Alex and I sat on the side, and off we went.

Great views of the city


and this “classic view” of Alcatraz


we passed


and later walked back up the hill – no small feat – to walk down the Crookedest Street in the World – Lombard Street.


We met Mari for lunch on Pier 39, and afterwards they went to pick up their bags and head to the airport. I decided to walk down to Pier 33 to see if I could get to Alcatraz. For over a week I had been checking the Alcatraz Tours website that came up on Google.  But do not be taken in by the website that says sells out early – BUY NOW. I could not narrow down the time and day I could go, and each time I checked the site that comes up on Google, the tickets were gone. Now — I have posted my revelation on Trip Advisor (I am a Senior Contributor, for whatever that is worth)  — when I walked up to the ticket window, I was on the boat 7 minutes later – AND, The TICKET WAS $10 LESS THAN ON the site that comes up – and, it is the same boat line . Seems as though that reseller buys tickets to the boat and gets top search engine billing (Alcatraz is free as a National Park) adds a hefty surcharge, and scares you into buying. I was scared, but glad I waited.

On the boat to Alcatraz Island

On the boat to Alcatraz Island

Back at the pier is this model of the island showing many of the buildings that are no longer there.


A volunteer ranger meets you as you disembark to advise what to expect. You can see remnants of the Native American occupation of the island in many spots on the buildings.


Following are some selected views of “my time in Alcatraz”. In the cell block you get a free audio tour – and it is GREAT! Remember, you can click an image in my “galleries” to see larger images.

And, the view back to San Francisco from the tip of the island. Treasure Island to the left, then the Bay Bridge — and make sure to click on the image below to fill your screen with this panorama.


The nearest cable line was “down” with a cable problem, so I took a trolley part way back and then a bus. Have I ever told you I have loved trolleys since the 7th grade? I have loved trolleys since the 7th grade (don’t ask when that was).


here is the back end of the trolley I caught


and, the inside


so I could enter back into the Sir Francis Drake Hotel where I was going to stay with David the next two nights.

Lobby and bar in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco

Lobby and bar in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco

Remember I like giving you the view out my window?


Tuesday my plan was to start touring on a “Hop on – Hop off” bus, so I headed a few blocks down Powell Street to Union Square to one of the main stops. I was attacked by the sales person for the “Deluxe Hop On – Hop Off” and soon accosted by the Big Bus representative. I had gotten on-line information about the Big Bus tours, and even downloaded their app. I put myself “up for auction” when a salesman for another came up. The tours for $45 became $35, and then the “deluxe” salesman cut to $25 – for a two-day, three tour pass. I turned over my greenbacks. You get what you pay for. The “deluxe” bus was probably a castoff from another company, the tour was delayed, but in the long run served my purposes just fine – and for less green. I headed off for the full two plus hour route, and then continued back to Pier 39. Here are some “views from the bus.”

San Francisco National Historical Park

San Francisco National Historical Park

approaching the Golden Gate Bridge


no explanation needed:


Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

and, then — not much has changed at:


If you do not know what I am referring to you are way younger than I am. Following is a gallery as we headed down Haight.


I continued back past “go” to get back to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. My plan was to have lunch at the famous Boudin Bakery, famous for their sourdough bread, and many sculptures with their bread.


I had chile in a sourdough bread bowl.


Now, in my preliminary research I found MUSEE MECHANIQUE – A Coin Operated Arcade on Pier 45. And, it was my plan to visit – WOW. I often say I was born in the wrong century, and you may know that I enjoy Victorian and early 20th century amusements and resorts. I visited, and this is probably the LARGEST COLLECTION IN THE WORLD of the old amusement park machines. Amazingly in an old pier warehouse, no attendant or admission, and all operating – mostly for 25 cents. EYE CANDY, and worth the trip to San Francisco alone.


as I said, no attendant, but many of the machines had their eyes on you, as she did:


below a gallery of what I drooled over – remember to click to enlarge:

I could have spent two days in this exhibit playing everything and making movies, but here is a short one.

Over the door to the pier it said – see our submarine USS PAMPANITO SS-383. I headed out on the pier, but, sorry, I have been on WWII submarines (I was on the USS Bushnell AS-15 – a submarine tender – in the late 60s, and tied up alongside were remaining WWII subs that I inspected and toured) so I did not have to take the tour.


BUT – to her aft was the S.S. JEREMIAH O’BRIEN, one of two remaining WWII Liberty ships of the over 2,700 built. Now – that is a must do. With the war production effort, each was built in 60 days. What has happened to American since?


As a child I remember crossing the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River and looking down at the cove full of Liberty Ships, but they are all gone now. The Jeremiah O’Brien was one of the over 5,000 ships that was at Normandy for the D-Day Invasion, and of those almost 5,200 ships, she was the only ship that was there for the 50th anniversary.


In Hold #1 is the museum, and the vehicle on the left was at Normandy, and given to the ship by France.


France has given many items to the museum including this model of the beaches showing how material was landed after the beachheads were secured.


the close-up below shows how the S.S. JEREMIAH O’BRIEN was offloaded to barges that were then towed to the floating bridges. Ships were sunk to create break walls protecting shore operations from the tides and waves. Not having gotten to go to Normandy when I was in France in October, now I really have to go.


Well, getting late, and trolley time to head back to the hotel, get cleaned up, and meet David at his conference to visit, have wine, and then head off to dinner.



Did I tell you I like (love) trolleys? I absolutely cannot believe how well taken care of the trolleys are — the appear brand new inside and out. I joined David at the convention, then dinner.

And, then it was Wednesday. San Francisco has the largest Chinatown in the US — when in San Francisco, you have “to do” Chinatown, but I bet most tourists go through this archway, and down the couple blocks of imported gift items thinking they have “experienced” Chinatown.



WRONG — And, I was lucky. I mentioned to a fellow I have been buying books from for almost 20 years that I was heading to SF, and he said, “take Linda Lee’s tour.” And he gave me her company’s name – ALL ABOUT CHINATOWN. I was able to contact Linda for the Wednesday tour (at 10AM only), and David, who was worn out at the convention, was ready to leave and join me, including a Chinese lunch. All I can say is, buy your ticket to SF, and take Linda’s tour — not your usual tour, she really gave us history, insight, and sights in the back alleys with an understanding you would get in no other way. There were 7 of us, David, me, a young lady, and a lovely family of four.

After providing introductory history while in the community park, Linda took us into a Temple and explained everything we saw there.


HELP, I’M HELD CAPTIVE IN A FORTUNE COOKIE FACTORY – I know, old joke, but possible, since Linda lead us really “off the beaten path”. I wish I had take a video of the operation.


See where the batter is being poured out? Then the wheel goes through the oven coming out in baked disks. This woman (chains hidden) would decide if the disk was to be used for a fortune cookie, or separated to be sold as a disk (the locals prefer them this way – they know the fortunes are phony). The operator places the slip of paper (you can see the pile) on a rod, and then folds the disk over, and voila – a fortune cookie. Again, sorry I goofed, and no video.

If you were fortunate enough to walk by this shop, you would have no idea what was for sale.


But, Linda told us, and toured us through. Looks like a lot of gift items or toys – WRONG. All items for Ancestor Worship, and made of paper that when lit goes puff and disappears. The customer comes in, and wishing to provide something to a departed loved one buys something they should have, and then takes it to the cemetery where it is lit and consumed to join the deceased ancestor. Here are a few samples.

Of course we stopped at a grocery story. I maybe recognized 5% of the items, but would not buy any.

And, the herb and medicine store. Hey, these items have worked for over 3,000 years, who am I to argue.


And, that was it — lunch followed with a wonderful assortment, and then David and I got our bags and then the BART to the airport. Home to Boston at 1 AM, a few hours rest, and I drove home.

A GREAT TRIP — a good start for the year with the benefit of visiting Julie and her family.

I have a horrendous and broken up schedule of commitments from now until the end of June which will impact on me taking some serious trips. BUT, I will be taking some trip. So, “stay tuned.”  thank you for getting this far:


1- Take Linda Lee’s ALL ABOUT CHINATOWN tour
2 – Visit Alcatraz
3 – Tour the S.S. JEREMIAH O’BRIEN
4- Spend a day at MUSEE MECANIQUE


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If you get no further

If you have followed my travel posts, you should have noticed patterns to my travels, thus some traditions. If you enjoy something, or some place, what is wrong with repeating? Especially if you can experience at different times of year.

One such place I enjoy heading to is Fairlee, Vermont and Chapman’s General Store. Cathy and I discovered the old general store here a dozen years ago, and visited often.

Village Green in Fairlee, Vermont - adjoining Chapman's to the south.

Village Green in Fairlee, Vermont – adjoining Chapman’s to the south.

I now make sure I stop a couple times a year with BLACK BEAUTY, BLUE BELLE, or sadly (like today) in the “new” GREY GHOST.  One of the oldest country stores in Vermont, Chapman’s began in 1897 as a drug store, and remains in the family. I recall a display on one of my early visits that the store had a special salve that went to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd’s expeditions, and some of of you may know I made two trips to Antarctica, including the remote Byrd Station, and the South Pole (twice).


As you enter the store, you still feel as though you are entering the early 20th century with period displays, and “antique” merchandise, toys, and displays on the top shelves.


And, just like at my favorite inns and restaurants, when Rachel (the owner’s daughter) saw me she said, “Hi Mr. Boas.” “No, please just Ray,” I replied. Yes, one of the reasons you go back. But even without the greeting, I go back to see the amazing selection of unique toys, crafts, local gifts, and selection of wine they stock.

Looking at the old window above a stock of wine.

Looking out the old window above a stock of wine.

I went today to help “get in the holiday spirit” and select a few gifts. I tell everyone in the family “no gifts for me” – hey, I need nothing material, but if I do want something I just go get it – but I enjoy getting a few things here for the kids.


Upon leaving, part of my “tradition” is lunch at the Fairlee Diner


Classic, and filling. I had corn chowder and an open faced pot roast sandwich. I could have survived easily with just one of those choices.

Now, question to Ray. Cross the bridge to Orford, NH to travel south on Route 12?


or, head down US 5 in Vermont (the old road prior to I-91). If you know me, you know I love US 5, as do my ladies, cruising often faster than recommended (but I am turning a new leaf). Today, I choose to stay on 5 back to Norwich. Amazingly, I had never before seen Butternut Lane B&B in Norwich. Remote? Yes! But, minutes to Dartmouth College.


It was then grocery shopping in West Leb before continuing down NH 12, and a stop at Saint Gaudens. Never before been there with snow.


And, a tad further down the road past the covered bridge is Trinity Church in Cornish, completed in 1808.




The plan for the 20th was an evening at The Phelps Barn at The Grafton Inn – yes in amazing Grafton, Vermont. You may know the significance The Grafton Inn has for me being here, and that story is on my bookseller website. I have been back many times since with friends for dinner, or a pub experience. Last year on the way home from Christmas in Plymouth Notch, my lady friends and I enjoyed time in the barn in front of the fire, and that was the plan again to continue that tradition. Tara, Carolyn, and Joanie joined me tonight.


The Grafton Inn - 20 December 2016

The Grafton Inn – 20 December 2016

I called earlier to confirm the barn would be open, and learned it was “trivia night.” But, “timing is everything” and we arrived to capture the couch and armchairs in front of the roaring fire before others showed up.


Tara had in mind a wine she wished to order…


and we continued with three courses of appetizers…


Once “trivia night” began, we had a great deal of fun listening in and realizing we knew more than anyone else in the room. In fact, we may go back to show our prowess, and partake for real – price of admission is a donation to the evening’s selected local charity.

But, we really wanted to see the fabulous Christmas decorations around the inn. Here is a sampling, and you can “click” to enlarge.

Yes, I had to find out the answer to the “ball and chain”


Researching convex mirrors with eagle with a ball and chain from its beak I learned there was no significance to the ball and chain. Huh?? The convex mirror is to capture light at angles to allow a wider field of vision, surrounding ornamentations vary, BUT I found that this device is purely decorative. Oh, I am not satisfied, there has to be a good reason.

Well, in closing:

VISIT THE CHAPMAN GENERAL STORE in Fairlee, Vermont; and start a tradition of visiting peaceful Grafton, Vermont, and THE GRAFTON INN.


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Do I repeat doing what brings me pleasure? Do I want to share what brings me pleasure? Yes, so my son, Gary, and friends Tara and Carolyn journeyed off with me to enjoy the annual Christmas Open House at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, VT. So, in case you have missed my other Plymouth Notch posts, please enter the “notch” with us for a bucolic time.


How can you resist this scenery and snowscape?




We arrived to have lunch in the Wilder House. Each year for this event The Tyson Ladies’ Aid Association serves lunch as a fund raiser. This year there was a folder on the table providing the story of the association. Founded in 1880, it operated until 1887, but was revived in 1910 and been active ever since. They help support a number of organizations in the Tyson (Vermont) and Ludlow area. Our server two years ago moved to the area full time to the condo she had for years.


We then walked up to the cheese factory, but I captured this panorama of the fields along the way — you can click on this image to open (recommended) for full screen.

pn-pano-fieldI had missed seeing these great wooden boxes before. You can buy them with cheese, or empty for $25.  Could not decide where I would put one, so did not buy. But maybe an excuse (like I need one) to go back to make a purchase.
















Then we walked back down the “hill” to visit the country store.

pnd6-6Not much different (except less snow) than our visit on December 15, 2013.


I have enjoyed 19th century General Stores most of my life, and collected and decorated with those items. The Florence Cilley General Store is no exception to bringing me smiles. Sadly, Plymouth Notch is an hour away from home, otherwise I would love to volunteer at the site. Hey, maybe I could stay in one of the historic Top of the Notch tourist cabins on the grounds. Maybe I better start hinting around.

Below is a short gallery of views (that you can open up) inside the store.



Bill Jenney relating much history in the homestead

Bill Jenney relating much history in the homestead

Bill Jenney, site administrator, was scheduled to give a tour of the Coolidge homestead at 1PM and 2PM. Not having heard him give a tour of this historic building, 2PM was my plan. Bill has served in his position since 1988 and was able to learn much from people in the notch who had known the late President and First Lady. Talk about bringing history alive, and I hope, Bill, that you have written down all you know. Maybe a book is in you?


pnd6-12For example, the summer after his inauguration in the homestead at 2:47AM August 3, 1923, the hall above the store served as the “summer whitehouse.” Eighteen secret servicemen (the greatest number up to that time) were there to protect the President, worried about Coolidge facing off against the KKK in the upcoming election of 1924. The hills around the notch provide way too many vantage points for a marksman. As a result, no other President has ever visited here, only Lady Bird Johnson visited when the site was designated a National Historic Landmark, June 12, 1967. That summer of ’24 one news report said there were 4,000 to 5,000 cars in the fields one day when the President was there. With at least two people per car, it was estimated that 10,000 people were in the village of 29 full-time residents.

Accounting for the homestead appearing as it was that night in 1923 is Aurora Pierce. Serving as housekeeper first for Calvin’s father, and then the President, she was there for 50 years. Not approving of indoor plumbing, or electricity, she would not let either be installed. The addition Calvin was building was hooked up, but this addition was moved in 1956 (by the same firm that moved the Ticonderoga from Lake Champlain onto the grounds of the Shelburne Musuem) when the State was given the homestead. Here are two interior views, as the house was in 1923, which (and Bill agreed with me) is really an 1880s look at America.

By now you also know I like to “look out windows,” particularly with wavy glass. Click to open for full effect.

It was almost 3PM, and we headed back to the Visitor’s Center for the antique hat fashion show presented by the Black River Academy Museum. But more important (for us) was the hat contest for visitors. Last year, the first time of the event, we were the only ones who had read the “fine print” and came appropriately attired. This year others had somehow gotten the word. BUT, never fear as we still maintained our winning positions. Winners again this year !!! NOT YOUR NORMAL ELF – Second Place (again) — THE RED LIGHT LADY – First Again — but, beat out by a little kid — OUR YOUNG KID.

Heading back to the east of the river, where would you guess we would stop?


Yes at the Castle to claim our seats in the library for wine in front of the fire. It had been a week since the last visit. Here are a few more images of this special place.

Arriving home, David and family pulled into the drive right behind Gary and me. The plan was for dinner here, Gary and Mari head back to Boston area, and then Alex and David were out at 7:30 this morning for Okemo.

I realized as I was categorizing this post as Day Trips that with 234 posts since April 2011, that I really should have a separate category just for Plymouth Notch. Did I say I like Plymouth Notch? Here are three more “parting shots” from my 10 December visit that I like.





Yours, RAY


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There is so much going on in preparation for the holidays – I cannot do it all. This weekend was the Norman Rockwell Christmas Festivities in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but when I finally thought about going, the Red Lion Inn was already booked solid.  But, then I remembered that “I do not do crowds” anyway. About ten days ago a friend and I both got emails from the Castle Hill Resort in Proctorsville, Vermont, about a promotion, and buried in one line was — Inn-Dulgence Tour. In checking the link – that was it. Ten Inns and B&Bs, all close by, with decorations and goodies at each. I have experienced five of the ten locations, but how can you pass up Inn-Dulging and gorging yourself for five hours for ten bucks? Plans were hatched and made.


I planned the route (always best to start furthest away and work yourself home) with our first stop the Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville, Vermont at the noon hour when the tour began. I have enjoyed many a dinner here, and cannot give it a higher recommendation. When I called to reserve our Passports for the tour, Marilee said, “oh, I remember you Ray.”  Yes, a couple years ago I had shared with her a visit that BLUE BELLE and I made. Every time I walk into the Red Lion Inn I am greeted personally by several staff members, and the same happens at the Castle Hill Resort when I enter with my friends. HINT TO INN OWNERS – it makes a difference. Thank you Marilee (and Richard).

The Inn at Weathersfield, Perkinsville, VT on a December afternoon.

The Inn at Weathersfield, Perkinsville, VT on a December afternoon.

Richard showed us around downstairs, and gave us some history. We toured many rooms, each exquisite! And, below is a gallery of some of what we saw. Remember, with my galleries, you can click on an image and open up to larger views. You will see more galleries on this day’s tour.

We then drove north on Route 106 towards Woodstock, but turned left on Tyson Road in Felchville. I have only driven west to east on this road (in BB1 or BB2, of course) so this was the first time east to west – but scenery is always different every day, every season, and in different directions. The next stop Echo Lake Inn on Route 100.


My dear Cathy and I stayed here maybe 17 years ago before we moved to NH. I have had several meals here, and enjoy passing by on the way to my favorite Plymouth Notch. Need I tell you that is Calvin Coolidge’s home? On the menu here were two soups: Maple Butternut Squash Bisque and Stonewood Farms Turkey and Wild Rice — both worth the trip.

Next was heading south on Route 100, through Ludlow to the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, before working ourselves back to 100.

Entrance to the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, VT

Entrance to the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, VT

I had never stopped here before, but have passed many times. I enjoy Crow’s Bakery and Cafe just down the road. In fact, at the bakery I made my first ever travel blog post in April 2011.  On the menu today for us to enjoy at the Golden Stage Inn (yes an original old stage stop) was “Saturday Night Chocolate Cake.”


PN-22Next stop was our “briar patch” — the Castle Hill Resort and Spa. First discovered and experienced 15 December 2013 (yes on the way back from Christmas at Plymouth Notch). I do not miss anything when driving, but one person is a tad better than I am. Coming home that day, Tara said, “what is that? turn around!” And we went in and discovered the most fantastic place. To the right is a favorite image I took that evening.

Up the hill we drove, and in we went. “Hi, nice to see you again,” we were greeted. Yes, I visit often with my lady friends. We cannot afford not to go to the three course dinners for $25 (we all carry half home there is so much, and so good. But we start with wine (and wine) in the library – oh such a life.

Today it was overcast and snowy as we drove up the hill.

Castle Hill Resort & Spa

Castle Hill Resort & Spa

On the menu here was Mini Beef Wellington and/or Creme Brûlée. We had both — fantastic. The decorations were amazing – enjoy these images.

It was then back into Ludlow to the Andrie Rose Inn. We learned that the Inn goes back to about 1950 — about 6 years before the Okemo Ski area was developed.


Large and very comfortable with lots of fun spaces, on the menu was braised pork butt over polenta – yummy!

Time to head south on Route 100 (the backbone of Vermont) to Weston (no I will not tell you again that I was first there in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster in 1963 spending an evening with Vrest Orton, the founder of the “original” Vermont Country Store). There was the Inn at Weston – another “first” for me.

Entrance to the Inn at Weston

Entrance to the Inn at Weston

On writing this, I realize we never got to see any rooms. Our hostess, Linda, was cordial and immediately said, “let me tell the chef to get your food ready.” Shortly we sat down to mini crab cakes with a roasted red pepper coulis and wild mushroom and ricotta on crostini.


Wow — the inn has a full restaurant, and hours vary with the season and the performances at the famous Weston Playhouse. Here are two more images here:

Back down Route 100 to Londonderry, and left on Route 11. Then right onto Magic Mountain Access Road. Magic Mountain was a failed ski resort, but I read this past week that new owners are opening the mountain this coming weekend. The facilities and surrounding properties are dated and have seen better days. A short way up the access road was our next stop Blue Gentian Lodge. Lisa and Ken have been here since 1994, and are a lovely couple. Lisa’s cut paper ornaments are amazing, and you should turn up the few hundred yards off Route 11 and see her work.


Here are samples of her amazing craft – worth seeing.


This tree represents the Twelve Days of Christmas – wish I could have captured it better for you.


And, one of Lisa’s tree ornaments


Our next stop – number 8 – was the Stone Hearth Inn and Tavern in Chester.


Again, I just realized that we did not see any rooms, but we were getting “inned out.” After a short walk around the first floor we settled into the tavern with wine, and soon Tara’s husband joined us . His horse and donkey are boarded for the winter on the adjoining property.

There was no time left for Inn Victoria in Chester, or The Grafton Inn in Grafton. Some of you may know the special place the Grafton Inn holds in my heart – I would not be in the wonderful place I am in, if it were not for an overnight my late-bride and I had there. But, my friends and I will get back in the next week or so to see the fabulous decorations there. In fact, here we are in the Phelps Barn Pub just a year ago (after Christmas at Plymouth Notch).


Well, I got home a tad after 6PM tonight, and now it is almost 11:36.  I have fun reliving my adventures and experiences while preparing this posts — for myself — but to share. This was the first year for the Inn-Dulgence Tour, Okemo Valley, Vermont. It was fun, and I hope it was successful for the Inns involved, and they continue again next year.

RAY RECOMMENDS – Experience what our local Vermont Inns have to offer – just follow the list here.

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I needed a break; well after all, I have been home three weeks !!! And it was this time last year I felt the same way and spent 9-11 November 2015 in MAINLY MAINE. I planned an exploration of Providence, RI, but the downtown B&B I wanted to stay in was booked. I then realized I had never explored Manchester, NH — yes the downtown B&B there was also full. But hey, I can still explore there, but stay elsewhere – and that is what I did. I booked a B&B in Portsmouth, NH, that I tried to stay in last year. But it was closed last year, and I end up MAINLY MAINE instead. Still with me?

The plan was on Wednesday to stop first at the antique mall in Concord, and then stop at the shops along “antique alley” on the way to Portsmouth.  “Pickins” on the road for books have not been good for years, but from noon to 4:30 PM things were different. I wrote a check every place I stopped – five in all. And when (if) the three cartons of books I bought sell, many more trips are paid for. But I love to buy, and have a nice excuse – it is for resale, and I am constantly challenging my knowledge — well, iPhone helps nowadays price checking.

Inn at Strawbery Banke

Inn at Strawbery Banke


I arrived shortly after 5 PM at the Inn at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth. It adjoins the Strawbery Banke Museum, which I visited shortly after Cathy died when I decided to get out and explore. Also, as my hostess told me, “don’t drive downtown to eat, we are a three minute walk to Market Square.” And, that is what I did. I walked, explored, window shopped, and then had dinner. I have always enjoyed my walks around Portsmouth, NH.



And, here is a panorama of Market Square.  I am trying to learn how to do these – click on the image to get a full screen view.


Thursday, 10 November, I left Portsmouth shortly after 9AM to be at the Millyard Museum in Manchester when it opened. Arriving in the city, I did not recall ever driving through, and I was impressed with the architecture and cleanliness. The mile long brick mill complexes along the Merrimack River are amazing, and defy proper image capturing to share. I thought there would be a parking lot – wrong. It took me about 20 minutes to find a space within a mile of the beautifully restored and occupied mill buildings. Now, remember this. Street parking, but no meters – pay stations every once in awhile to get your paid display ticket. First pay station was not operating – I started to worry my credit card was skimmed.  Not seeing another pay station, I began driving closer to downtown, and parked right in front of a pay station – but its readout displayed “not working, go to another station.”  I saw one around the corner, and dumped all my change in it – got about 1 1/2 hours. Now to hike back to the museum.

The Millyard Museum concisely details the history of the “Queen City” (the state’s largest metropolis beginning in the 1830s) and the textile mills’ histories – which created the city’s history. On this 19th century map you can see the mill complexes along the Merrimack River at the bottom, and the canals created for additional water power.


Originally called Derryville, when the canals were built in 1810 for the textile mills, the city was renamed Manchester after the great manufacturing city in England. In the museum is the model below, typical of the elegant restored brick mill structures.


The city was totally planned out, even before the first building built. The industrialists wanted to create a community.


Above is another view of the city’s layout (looking west – the canals are now filled in). Following the Lowell, Massachusetts, mills’ methods, rural farm girls were hired and joined in the 1840s with Irish immigrants. Immigrants poured in from many European countries, and by 1900 the majority of the immigrants were French Canadians.

Besides documenting the history of the area’s development, the museum has wonderful exhibits on the textile industry itself, and its changes.


Many other industries developed in Manchester, including foundries, machine making, and the Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine company. Below is the Ashland No. 1 (the 369th of 853 steam fire engines built between 1859-1913). This particular engine from Ashland, Massachusetts helped quell the Boston fire in 1872.


and, I felt it important to share how this engine works (you can click to enlarge to read more easily):


And, hailing from Derryville was General John Stark. The museum had a nice presentation on this American Hero who at the Battle of Bennington said, “…They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!”


General Stark, at age 81, could not in 1809 join a group of Bennington veterans gathered to commemorate the battle.  He sent, instead, a letter to his comrades, which closed “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” Live Free or Die became the New Hampshire state motto in 1945. And, now you know.

Fascinating too was this display, including a swatch of Molly Stark’s wedding dress.


Well, I was watching the clock since the time on my “park and display” slip was approaching, but I was pretty well done. Getting back to the car I started looking at the Manchester Guide I got at the museum.

nov-13Question for you. If in a guide you saw, America’s Credit Union Museum, would you want to see it? If the booklet said “closed Thursday” would you still call?  I did call, and the young lady answering the phone said, “come on over, I will be here until 3PM.” About a mile away I went — and was amazed at what I learned.

Below (in a panorama experiment – thus you can click to full screen) is the home office of Joseph Boivin, where he took in the funds of thousands of mill investors, who worked down the hill and across the river from his home. This first “credit union” in the US was organized November 24, 1908, with the help of Canadian, Alphonse Desjardins of Levis, Quebec.


A credit union is a cooperative financial institution owned and run by its members. They pool their funds to make affordable loans to each other. Run to provide a service, and not a profit, members could get small loans that banks would not make. Getting a small loan to pay a bill, such as a doctor’s bill, they often would get a discount for the full payment.

I thought these two panels say it better than I can.


And, children would go to the new credit union and deposit their nickels. This panel really gives you perspective.


My step-mother’s family came from Quebec to work in the mills in Manchester. I bet they deposited their nickels right here in this first credit union.

It was then off to the Currier Museum of ArtRAY RECOMMENDS — NO HIGHLY RECOMMENDS – HURRY TO VISIT THE CURRIER – Particularly the current special exhibit – MOUNT WASHINGTON: THE CROWN OF NEW ENGLAND.

I always need to know why something is, and why it is where it is.

The Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH

The Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH

Hannah Slade Currier, who died in 1915,  married Hon. Moody Currier, a distinguished banker in Manchester, New Hampshire. 1885-6 he was governor of New Hampshire. When she died, she was one of the wealthiest women in the State of New Hampshire.  She left her estate to establish the Currier Gallery of Art. I first had lunch in the cafe, passing through the older section and this entranceway.


I was so fortunate (not planned) to be here for the special exhibit – MOUNT WASHINGTON: THE CROWN OF NEW ENGLAND. As you may know, I love the history of the development of the summer vacation in the US, and travelers to Mount Washington were the beginning of that phenomena. Here is Thomas Cole’s VIEW IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS. I visited Cole’s home in Catskill, NY, ages ago, but still have to report on that.


The title for the exhibit comes from this painting. George Loring Brown created a monumental painting, THE CROWN OF MOUNT WASHINGTON, which was sent to London for exhibition. The Prince of Wales (Edward VII) purchased it, and it remains in the Royal Collection. This is a smaller version painted in 1858.


Did I say that I loved the Mount Washington exhibit? On the second level are American art exhibits – again great. I have always been fascinated with John Rodgers statues since first being introduced to them in 1963 by Vrest Orton, founder of The Vermont Country Store. Finally (now that the prices have plummeted) I now own two of these late 19th century popular parlor statues.  Cast in plaster, I never knew there were bronze versions. Here is his photographer piece.


and, a few last views in the Currier:

But, I completed all, and it was time to get out of the busy world before the 5PM rush, and I headed home.


1 – Visit the Millyard Museum in Manchester
2 – HURRY to the CURRIER MUSEUM OF ART, and make sure you see the Mount Washington exhibit before it closes on January 12, 2017.  The day I got back I learned that our library has free 
passes for patrons.  HINT – HINT.
3 – Don’t hesitate to explore — if I had not made a phone call, I would not have had the great experience at AMERICA’S CREDIT UNION MUSEUM

ENJOY — As always, yours, RAY




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Part II of this adventure, as promised, but later than I had planned to give it to you. But, there is a reason — “The Power of the Internet.” I had an invitation to Connecticut for Saturday the 29th, and I spent the better part of two days in preparation. Why? Thank you for asking, I will tell you why. Bear with me — PARIS PART II Follows below.

np-9 Remember the story of my move to New Hampshire in 2002? Cathy and I sold our unique property on a waterfall in days, and started our new life. The celebrity, power couple that purchased my home and shop divorced in 2011, and the property came back on the market. Then one day I noticed “hit after hit” on my shunpiking post, following my return to the States on Queen Mary 2, detailing my wanderings through Connecticut and past my former shop. That was followed by emails and finally phone conversations with Anne who was thinking of buying the place. As always, the truthful me with nothing to hide, I shared everything I could by phone and email, answering sufficient questions for her to purchase the former home and shop of Ray Boas, Bookseller.

I had been given information on the old barns and mill back to its first restoration into a residence from ruins in 1953/4, and much subsequent material. Cathy also saved (in multiple copies) anything ever printed about our shop, including the Sunday New York Times from January 19, 1997, when I was featured on the front page (well, front page of the weekend Connecticut section — but that still counts — copies available, of course, upon application). Living in the city, Anne was afraid of my mailing all the materials to her, including a book published in 1954 on the original restoration. Over the past several years we could not coordinate a date during her renovations. But, “timing is everything” you hear me say, and last week she emailed saying, “would you like to come visit Rich and me on the 29th.”  Only hesitation I had was, what else would I do on the trip, but then decided to devote the day to that mission. Off I left, arriving shortly after noon, realizing I could always leave if not comfortable, but the day was great, and Anne and Rich the perfect custodians of the property. We hit it off well, it was perfect that Cathy and I had kept all the materials (instead of passing them to the divorced luminaries) I have now turned everything over to the right people to conserve with their home on the waterfall.

When I arrived and parked in my usual spot, the sun was not quite right.

np-2But, later in the day as Anne and I were walking the property, this came out better, showing her work and touches better.


But, first we headed off to Bantam for lunch at Arethusa, one of the most incredible dining experiences I have had, and worth the trip from home just to eat there. The presentation was the best ever, and Anne later wondered why I did not take my usual “food picture” (she faithfully follows my posts – in fact, remember awhile back I asked for hard to find Connecticut state maps? She gave me three she found for me). “Well, I just did not think it would be appropriate being there with others.” I replied.  Next time there I will take pictures of everyone’s meals, and not just at my table.

Returning, she and I toured the grounds. The “in-between owners” spent massive amounts on landscaping. Here are a few views, that you can click and enlarge.

I could not believe the extensive and beautiful workmanship both in the basement area with all the mechanicals, and the changes in the floor plans she made. Since this property was featured in House and Garden in 1954, I encouraged Anne to contact the magazine for a follow-up. Anne’s tastes in everything were amazing, I just kept gaping. Later when I was turning over the various materials and duplicate pictures I had from our stewardship we realized that she had some of the same style furnishings in the same place that my Cathy had things. They would have been great pals, I am convinced.

This picture will give you an idea of my shop looking down from the other end of the balcony seen above on the left. By the way, the proud person I am, you can click the next two images also for much larger sizes and details of my collections.

np-7And, from the front door as you entered my shop on the waterfall, here is my counter. I have decorated in early country store since the early 1970s.

np-8Well, we spent over three hours going through the materials I was transferring custodianship of. Even though I had an invitation to spend the night, I thought I should head back home, and let them enjoy their weekend in Connecticut “heaven” while I returned to my “heaven.” But, subsequent emails since my return, Anne and Rich will come visit with me “sooner than later.”

So, now at long last, onto A WALPOLEAN IN PARIS – 11-17 OCTOBER 2016 PART II. Part I was one of my most visited posts, with many nice emails complimenting the content. Maybe less words was part of the charm. So, posted back on October 24, a week ago, click on this link if you need to catch up on my Wednesday and Thursday in Paris.

Friday, Mari’s parents from Cortona and I had the day together with Alex while David and Mari were at the conference. Alex, thinking he should sleep in while on vacation (not this type of vacation, Alex) he did just that no matter what I tried (I had already realized an early morning departure for a long day in Normandy was not going to work). We caught up with his grandparents at Musee d’Orsay before noon. RAY RECOMMENDS – if you do nothing else in Paris, visit Musee d’Orsay. An architectural treat transformed in 1977 from an abandoned railway station built in 1900 for the World Fair, the building itself is a museum. In addition to the station it had grand reception halls and a hotel.

The grand entrance hall (former railroad shed) of Musee d'Orsay.

The grand entrance hall (former railroad shed) of Musee d’Orsay.



Covering all the decorative arts, the emphasis seems to be on the Impressionists. Here are some images (again you can click for larger images), just a smattering to whet your appetite.


And, concluding with some great architectural detail – first the massive clock
















And, then looking through a clock on the outside wall towards the Louvre.


After lunch, Alex, his grandmother and I walked back to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. When we walked there on our first day I noticed the Crypt – an archaeological discovery. With an affinity for ancient ruins, I wanted to experience what had been discovered during renovations begun in 1965, but underground of what was previously there.

These images provide an idea of what was discovered under the square in front of the cathedral. (remember you may click to enlarge)

And, then we went inside the cathedral and toured around.


Saturday morning, the 15th, Mari’s parents left very early to fly back to Italy. Alex wanted to see the Air and Space Museum, so I was able to get him out “earlier.” The plan was to first take the Metro to the The Paris Catacombs.  Rick Steves’ guidebook says, “find the lion in the big traffic circle; if he looked left rather than right, he’d stare right at the green entrance.” Don’t be confused — to “his left.”


We got there minutes after opening time, I figured, in and out and off for the hour Metro and Bus ride to the air and space museum. But, everyone else in Paris was already in line wrapping around the block. We opted not to wait, and left. I later learned only 250 people are allowed below ground at a time.

Located on the grounds of a lovely Art Deco airport built in the 30s, but now only used for business flights, not commercial flights, and Europe’s largest for that reason. The Museum of Air and Space was something Alex wanted to do and really enjoyed. We spent over three hours there, including lunch.

We started in the space exhibition hall.


I found most fascinating this cutaway-plexiglass mock-up of a Mirage jet fighter. Pushing the button (fortunately one for English) a series of lights and commentary tour you through the plane’s systems.


But, most important, how many CONCORDEs have you been in?  We got inside two at the museum.


Surprisingly small, I guess for the speed, the (expensive) seats and passenger accommodations were not luxurious looking.


But, hey, I have now been on a CONCORDE


Finally we were fascinated by this DAKOTA. Outfitted for paratroopers, this plane participated in the Normandy Invasion.


It was then travel back to The Catacombs. The line was now even longer, but we stayed. Eventually we arrived at the unassuming green entranceway to begin our journey down 130 steps “leading 20 meters underground.”

Unassuming entrance to The Catacombs in Paris.

Unassuming entrance to The Catacombs in Paris.

Easiest to share this panel with you for background.


You follow long tunnels before getting to the actual bones, one of the first to greet you is…


And, here are a few more views from this very popular (for centuries) place to visit.

Sunday was our last full day in Paris. David and Mari would be done at 5PM with the

The Conciergerie on The Seine

The Conciergerie on The Seine

conference, so Alex and I had until then to “play.”  Lots of discussion, and we came up with a plan to see where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, the Paris Sewer exhibit, and Napoleon’s Tomb.  We first walked over the Seine to The Conciergerie. Walking in, Alex, asked, “what’s the point?” It is the former French Palace (10th to 14th centuries), then a prison, but a masterpiece of Medieval architecture. Just take a look…

It was then onto the Metro, heading west, and exiting for the entrance of the Paris Sewer System Museum. Listed as a unique experience designed to document how Parisians got rid of their waste waters, I expected old abandoned cobblestone lined tunnels, eerily lit. I was fascinated, but…


Alex was not. “It smells, I am sick, I want out…” It was not that bad, I gave in, at least I have the brochure with some history.

Next was a visit to Napoleon’s Tomb and the Military Museum, but first came lunch. Alex choose a little cafe — and it was perfect, and worked. You see, particularly for an 11 year-old, it is hard understanding the foods of different cultures, and knowing what you are going to get (e.g. cheese comes automatically on a hamburger, and it is a liquid-like juice – does not work for an youngster wanting a simple hamburger).

Leaving the cafe, we continued our walk to Napoleon’s Tomb.  RAY RECOMMENDS – use Google Maps overseas, and even in cities here, to plan your walking or transit routes — Absolutely Amazing — of course, you need an overseas wireless plan (my kids have that for all their travels).  It was difficult to get you an overall view of this impressive place.


And, here are some images inside the tomb itself.

We then toured various galleries in the military museum and discussed World War I, World War II, the French Resistance Movement, and much more.  We allowed just enough time to get back to the apartment, arriving 10 minutes before David and Mari got back from the completed conference.

Shortly after 5PM we headed off for the Metro to Montmartre. This is a large hill to the north, and a popular night spot (well, probably all day long). The large Bascilica de Sacre-Coeur (built 1875-1914) is a focal point. Here is the view walking further up the hill from the Metro stop.


and, the crowds on the steps…


listening to a band, and waiting for the sunset over Paris…


As the sun set we walked up behind the Bascilica to the nightclub district for dinner.

We began walking back to the Left Bank and our apartment, and heading down the hill first passed…


and, then the Opera House that I had been fascinated with the model of at Musee d’Orsay.


through the court yard of the Louvre with the Pyramid entranceway…


and, across the fantastic iron footbridge to the Left Bank…


David told me we had just completed about 5 miles walking. Remember, Alex and I had already been out and about walking all day; and, it was six months ago that I could not walk, and friends loaded me into the car to get to my back surgery.  GOOD NIGHT PARIS, and thank you.


Posted in 2016-c Paris in October | 6 Comments


As my friends know, this has been a limited traveling year due to inability to walk, and back surgery. When my son, David, accompanied me to an appointment with my back surgeon earlier this year, he said, “my Dad is not ready to slow down.” Well, I am not, and back surgery went well, and I am beginning to get back on the road.  In fact, I just returned from Paris (France not Tennessee). David and Mari asked, “would you mind touring Alex around Paris while we are at a conference?”  Microsecond of thought, “HAPPY TO!” I had the same problem, and had to to go to London to help four years ago. So, off we flew on Tuesday, October 11.

Mari arranged to rent an apartment on the Left Bank near the site of the conference at Université Paris Descartes. We arrived the morning of the 12th, and the apartment was just south of River Seine at 9 rue Guenegaud.

View across to the Louvre from the end of our street.

View across to the Louvre from the end of our street.

You can “click” on the images below to see larger views (as with any of my image galleries).


As you can see on this map, it was a perfect location, with what you see below just minutes of walking, including Metro stops (click for much larger view).


Mari’s parents joined us for a few days, arriving about an hour after we did at Charles De Gaulle Airport. They flew in from Cortona, Italy, Mari’s home town. After getting something to eat before the apartment was ready, we rested a few hours before “hitting the pavement.” The plan for the first day was the Eiffel Tower – tickets are sold out weeks ahead, but Mari booked a “private tour” – a more expensive way to get in when you want. We crossed over the Seine first to Île de la Cité …


and then walked down to Notre-Dame Cathedral …


It was then onto the Metro for David, Alex, Mari, her parents, and me to head to the Eiffel Tower for our tour. We arrived in short order.


David and I reminisced about our visit here 30 years ago – but that was a fast partial day drive through the city, with the only real stop to go to the top of the tower. Built in 1889 for the “world’s fair” celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution, there are three levels to visit (each costing a tad more for entry). The first level (with exhibits) is at 200 feet, the next level is at 400 feet, and the top level at 900 feet. Each level, of course, is smaller than those lower. A few interesting facts: Three different shades of paint are used as you go higher, the tower is painted every seven years, by twenty-five men by hand, completing the job in 15 months.

Below is a gallery (click to enlarge) of “Everything Eiffel – with commentary”

And, now a few views from atop various levels of the Eiffel Tower. The first is a panorama that you can click for the larger image.


The above (remember to click to enlarge) is looking southeast over the Champ de Mars towards Ecole Militaire (straight ahead), and Napoleaon’s tomb a tad to the left. Note the large “skyscraper” in the distance. Our guide told us this is affectionately called “the middle finger of Paris.” The original plan was for six of these “fingers,” but Parisians, being Parisians, there was an outcry of complaint over the spoiling of the skyline, and zoning was passed to limit building height to seven stories within city limits.

Looking east along the Seine from the Eiffel Tower

Looking east along the Seine from the Eiffel Tower

And here is a comparison of two different levels on the Eiffel Tower looking to the northeast across the Seine to the Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadero (which I did not get to visit this trip).


From the middle level of the Eiffel Tower

From the middle level of the Eiffel Tower

Hopefully, you noticed the tall buildings in the distance, and if like me remembered that Paris buildings were limited to seven stories — yes, I asked. The city’s business district is actually outside the city limits, and building height not restricted.

And, from the top level - 900 feet.

And, from the top level – 900 feet.

And, timing was good as we were getting ready to leave.


Heading back to the Metro, and “home” and dinner on the way. Good night, first night.


Thursday, our second day in Paris, the conference began at 5PM, so our plan was to first get to the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre. We walked across Pont Neuf and the island to get to the Metro.

Crossing Pont St. Michel looking west "down" the Seine

Crossing Pont Neuf looking west “down” the Seine

And, then we arrived at the Arch of Triumph, 165 feet high and 130 feet wide, commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 .


You know I have great timing ….


Here are a view views from the top observation area.

We then began walking down the Champs-Elysees, and David and I checked out eating establishments while everyone else checked out the Disney store – go figure, in Paris. Following lunch, Mari and her Dad went back to the apartment so she could continue preparing for giving the conference key-note address, and we walked to the Louvre.


But, Alex wanted to see the Mona Lisa. Doesn’t everyone? The Jumbotron recorded that I was the 1,479,985,955th visitor — BUT, I knew better. On display was the larger size (and easier to see) reproduction — the rare national treasure is actually kept safe away somewhere in a secret place.


Yes, I was really there — I am not good enough with photoshop to combine images.



Back to apartment, get ready for opening of conference, and a short ten minute walk to the historic auditorium at Université Paris Descartes. I am still trying to totally understand the research son David, and my daughter-in-law, Mari have accomplished. In simple terms, they work with lasers in bio-medical research, and currently working with the flow of blood in the brain (hope I have it correct). David runs a research center for Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard, but Boston University has hired him away in July 2017 to establish a new research center for them. Among his other pf-35accomplishments (and Mari is right there with him along the way, working in his labs – google them separately – David Boas – Maria Angela Franceschini) he established The Society for functional near-infrared spectroscopy (SfNIRS), a professional organization of basic and clinical scientists seeking to understand the functional properties of biological tissues, especially the brain, using optical methods. David is now the past-president.

One of Mari’s accomplishments is the first movie of imaging of the brain using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as an effective technique for the non-invasive monitoring of cerebral hemodynamics and oxygenation (again I could have it wrong). She shared her paper on the work with me at this link. She mentioned this work during her keynote speech.

Quite a lot for two days.  Thus my decision to break this post into two parts, and Part II will cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Thank you for joining a Walpoleon in Paris — as always, yours, RAY


1 – Wear all black in Paris so you mix in — even better if you adorn yourself with a scarf. Regardless, even if in black, your shoes will give you away as a tourist.

2 – Do not believe predictions. It was colder than I thought it was going to be. Maybe why the Parisians were in black, with black jackets and scarfs.  Really not all necessary in 50s, but there was little sun.

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I was working on “A Walpolean in Paris – 11-17 October 2016” Part I and Part II, but could sense that BLUE BELLE was “blue.” She was pining, “there is all that color out there, but no blue. I can change that.” It was not supposed to rain until early evening, and you know I cannot say no to my ladies, so off we went “leaf peeping.” But our 73 kilometers were shortened after 45 — the building clouds opened up with rain. So, we headed back home. In sprite of the rain, I arrived totally dry. You see, the windscreen (now operating as a rain screen) is aerodynamically designed to keep the cockpit dry above 35MPH (56KPH). A wonderfully dry environment is created. Only a few errant drops that accumulated at the top of the screen splatted back onto my forehead. So, here are some colors – sadly somewhat muted due to the overcast.

We started overlooking the village from North Road. A favorite spot of mine to see the village in various seasons. HINT – you may wish to click on my panoramas to open a larger view. Below is the first panorama.


Below you can see the Town Hall’s cupola (next to my house) in this image looking from a slightly different angle. I have almost the exact image from last year on The Walpole Clarion website – once there, just scroll down a tad.


We then headed up to Barnett Hill. One of the most expansive views in town looking west. Vermont mountains, dozens of miles distant, are in the background. Here is the second panorama.


A tad further up Barnett Hill Road heading east.


You know we love back dirt roads, and here were mostly yellows.


And a tad further, we had to back up to share this panoramic view with you.


I wandered around Marlow, which is always pretty to visit, and captured this bucolic image, albeit with few leaves.


Left turn onto Route 10 heading to Newport, and possibly Lake Sunapee, there walking along the side of the road was Andrea. I was going to stop and see her at the Marlow Post Office (she used to be my clerk in town here). We waved, I u-turned, pulled over, and we visited for awhile — she was on her lunch break, and walks for an hour plus. Lovely chat catching up, but some rain drops began hitting me. “Route 123A has recently been repaved,” she told me. Hating to cut my journey short, at least here was an option. Previously on 123A it was easy for light-weight BLUE BELLE to go airborne over the bumps, even at 30 MPH.

By the time I got to 123A, it was obvious I had to head home through Acworth and Alstead. A two plus hour tour, arriving home to start writing and then lose power — yes, I am on a battery laptop.  So, if we can get out again with nice sun, and get some more images, I will let you know and add them here. Power has been out over an hour or more, hopefully I will be able to get this to you today.  Bye — as always, yours, RAY

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Two weeks later, but I still need to share this Road Scholar program with you. This was a great learning experience for me — we just do not learn in school the extensive contribution (and lasting impact) of the Dutch in the 17th century to our country, particularly in the Hudson River Valley.

I have a difficult time remembering details, but as I tell my friends, “I am good with concepts.” May I recommend that you learn the details of this fascinating time period by reading about the places I visited, and pick up two books. First, read Russell Shorto’s THE ISLAND AT THE CENTRE OF THE WORLD. Start with the epilogue, and you will find out how this history was preserved and hidden away. This book may appear scholarly (and it is) but it well written and easily read. I have yet to read my copy of NEW NETHERLAND IN A NUTSHELL, by Firth Haring Fabend, but in glancing through this will be a detailed chronicle. I posted my trip to and from this program on September 30th.  With the passage of time, I have concepts for you, with just enough detail, hopefully, to encourage you to learn more on your own.

Monday, the 18th, was a day of lectures in preparation for our travels. Dr. Janny Venema from The New Netherland Researh Center in Albany was our speaker. Working with Dr. Charles Gehring, it is the center’s work that provided the resource for much of Shorto’s writing. Then, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were packed travel days to three Dutch sites each day, and as much as 6 hours bus travel time. But, even though not a bus or “group” person, this is the best way to get so much done and seen in this time frame. And, I have found I can read and study on a bus.

Monument and grave of George Clinton

Monument and grave of George Clinton


Tuesday, September 20th, we started driving north from the conference center to Kingston, NY, to visit the Old Dutch Church. organized in 1659. A very rich history and interesting cemetery surrounding the church, which is located in Kingston’s historic stockade district. Buried here, George Clinton was a Brig. Gen. in the Revolution; first Governor of NY 1777-95 and 1801-4; and Vice-President of the US from 1804-1812.


Back on the bus – one of many such evolutions – and off to Coxsackie, and The Bronck Museum, built in 1663. The Hudson Valley’s Oldest Home (the original part) it has been owned by The Greene County Historical Society since 1938. We had a picnic lunch on the grounds before beginning the tour. I must also add another important point to the advantage of taking a tour such as this. The places that were opened to us usually have limited hours, resulting in my not being near them to visit when open; and, many of the things included on a trip such as this are not offered to the public.

The Bronck Museum - original part of house on left dating to 1663.

The Bronck Museum – original part of house on left dating to 1663.

Here are some views during the tour:


Dutch Barns were designed with usually about five H supports in the center. The side walls are further out, and do not support the roof, nor are they supported by the main frame. Designed for the processing of wheat (I learned more about this later), the cut wheat dried in the overhead and then the wheat and chaff were separated on the main floor. Opposing doorways were opened to allow a cross breeze to aid in the separation.

Dutch Barn (with exhibits) at The Bronck Museum. Note massive H patter supporting beam structure.

Dutch Barn (with exhibits) at The Bronck Museum. Note massive H patter supporting beam structure.

You know I am fascinated with 19th century hotels, inns, and tourist destinations. The Catskills and Adirondacks rivaled the White Mountains in what was available for city escapes. In one of the exhibitions here I was thrilled to see what remains of the Catskill Mountain House  which opened in 1824, closing in 1941 with the beginning of the war. The state of NY took over the property, and with the “forever wild” philosophy, instead of restoration the hotel’s remains were burned January, 1963.

One of my now all-time favorite images.  What is it?


And, we ended the day heading north above Albany, but on the east side of the Hudson above Troy, to The Knickerbocker Mansion in Schaghticoke – something I could not do unless there on a Sunday between 11 and 3. Again, one of the advantages of an educational tour such as this. I never would have been here at the right time, or learned so much.

The Knickerbocker Mansion - 1780s - Schaghticoke, NY

The Knickerbocker Mansion – 1780s – Schaghticoke, NY

Saved from destruction, in the valley of the Hoosic River, this home has been undergoing years of restoration, and is far from done. A meeting point for Native Americans, following a treaty signed on the grounds between the Indians and Colonists, The Witenagemot Oak was planted in 1676 in commemoration. Its concrete filled remains lie on the ground to the rear. Here are some views showing the interior restoration:

This plaque piqued my interest in Washington Irving, and led to my purchase of 7 books on the writer in the past 10 days.


Yesterday I began WASHINGTON IRVING: AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by Brian Jay Jones. Well researched and written, Jones on page 108 questions whether Herman was the inspiration for the pseudonym. Does not matter — I am still “hooked on Irving.”

And then, something only done once a year for this tour — an authentic Dutch meal. And, immediately below is the ONLY WAY TO HAVE DINNER !!!


Served family style, we started with strawberry soup, and then I heaped my plate with chicken, special sweet potatoes, and more.

Back on the bus for three plus hours back to the conference center (actually I was closer to home) — but a very worthwhile day accomplishing and learning a great deal.

Wednesday, 21 September — back on the bus at 8:15 AM, and off for Hurley, NY (essentially the southern part of Kingston). You do have to visit the early Dutch Stone Homes here – we got to tour two – but otherwise, open only once a year during Stone House Day – next on July 8, 2017.

We first toured the Old Guard House (Spy House) built prior to 1685. After capture, a British spy was confined in the dungeon like cellar before being hanged across the street in an apple tree.

Old Guard House c1685 - Hurley, NY

Old Guard House c1685 – Hurley, NY

The 98 year old owner greeted us inside. The home is packed with wonderful treasures from around the world. His 77 year old son also toured us. Note the massive summer beam, so typical in these early homes we toured.


some additional things I saw inside, including the side wing which at one time served as the post office.

In October 1777 when the British attacked and burned Kingston, NY, then the capitol of New York, Hurley served as a refuge, and became the capitol for one month. George Washington was in Hurley and the surrounding area many times, and on his visit October 1783, at a reception in the stone tavern at the far end of the street, thanked the citizens for providing the wheat saving his troops during the winter at Valley Forge.

The other home we toured, packed with antique treasures of the 80+ year old antique dealer owners, was the 1723 Van Deusen House. This home housed the state government in October 1777.

Van Deusen House, 1723, Hurley, NY

Van Deusen House, 1723, Hurley, NY

You know I like texture and windows (and I think now subtle clotheslines). Seen behind one of the stone houses on the path to the town cemetery.


Back on the bus — next stop, Albany, and the Schuyler Mansion.

Model of the Albany Schuyler Mansion in its prime in the 1760s

Model of the Albany Schuyler Mansion in its prime in the 1760s

Good continued history, but starting to get “house brain-dead.” Wonderful history here, but you do not need to visit unless you are really into Colonial New York, its merchant development, and Alexander Hamilton. You see, Hamilton married Schuyler’s daughter Elizabeth here in 1780, twenty-four years before he lost his life in a duel with Aaron Burr (oh, I had fun reading about that as a result, and then the Burr Conspiracy — one thing leads to another – I get nothing done, learn lots, and keep the brain going to keep young – highly recommended by me – for me!!!).

In their mansion, the Schuylers hosted guests such as George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, the Marquis de Chastellux, James Madison, and the British General during the Battle of Saratoga, John Burgoyne, who stayed at the mansion as a “prisoner guest” in 1777.

It was then across the river to see Fort Crailo.

Fort Crailo - Rensselaer, New York - car, and our bus.

Fort Crailo – Rensselaer, New York – car, and our bus.

Built circa 1707,  but with a history going back to 1663, fortunately this property was saved. But, not properly restored, it serves solely as a museum with information panels. If you do not have the time – you can skip a visit. Sorry, State of New York for my honesty. Across the street you look across the Hudson River to Albany.

Albany looking across the Hudson River from Fort Crailo.

Albany looking across the Hudson River from Fort Crailo.

Yes, back on the bus – and about 3 hours back to Warwick Conference Center, but dinner first at the Hoffman House in Kingston – a Dutch stone tavern, circa 1711. I poked around, and chatted with the owners – of course.

Thursday, September 22, the last full day on this adventure. Actually had an extra 15 minutes sleep not having to board the bus until 8:30 for Tarrytown, NY. Only scary part (besides Sleepy Hollow) was crossing the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge.  I remember it being built well over 50 years ago (don’t do the math), and it was proudly advertised it was built to last 50 years.  Yes, falling down, I hate to cross it. A new bridge is being constructed, hopefully with a longer life expectancy. Our first stop — Sunnyside, home of Washington Irving – my new “hero.”

Sunnyside, Tarrytown, NY - Home of Washington Irving.

Sunnyside, Tarrytown, NY – Home of Washington Irving.

Thank you, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. If I recall correctly, he purchased this property in 1943 from the family, establishing Sleepy Hollow Restorations (now known as Historic Hudson Valley), which has expanded to a number of significant properties within a few miles. Did I tell you I have become hooked on Washington Irving? He purchased the small stone cottage here in 1835, and expanded it (not too much) into the Dutch looking cottage it is today – but added the tower to the right later. When the railroad came up the Hudson River’s bank, Irving was forced to sell land for the roadway, and the inlet in front of his home became “landlocked.” The funds he received, however, allowed some additional improvements to his property. Here are a few images I took here:

You will hear more about my new interest in Washington Irving this coming year. Our next stop was Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow. It is a colonial milling and trading complex owner over the years by the Dutch and then British.

Philipsburg Manor from the parking lot. I have seen the large green area under water, as it should be. This is a dry year.

Philipsburg Manor from the parking lot. I have seen the large green area under water, as it should be. This is a dry year.

We toured the complex, and the most fascinating part was the young docent who explained how wheat was processed in the Dutch Barn. I now know that wheat and hay are two different things – stop by and visit me for a 3 hour dissertation – (not a tour on the Minnow).

And, last, we visited the Old Dutch Church circa 1685, and yes, of note from Washington Irving’s Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The bus parked on The Headless Horseman Bridge, and up the hill we went.

Old Dutch Church - Sleepy Hollow, NY

Old Dutch Church – Sleepy Hollow, NY

So much history, and between visiting here, the cemetery, Sunnyside, and Kinderhook on the way home — I experienced the paths that Ichabod Crane traversed.

And, you know I like windows, so here is looking out at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (if you look closely, you can see a horse with a mysterious rider).


And, on the way back to the conference center, I again held my breath and prayed crossing the old Tappan Zee Bridge while looking at the new construction through the bus’ windows.

Construction on the new spans of the Tappen Zee Bridge.

Construction on the new spans of the Tappen Zee Bridge.

Friday was a lecture on Dutch music, lunch, and then departure. End of story???  No, just the beginning for you, because —


Explore the Hudson River Valley to its fullest extent from the Dutch in the 17th century to the summer resorts in the 19th, and the museums and amusements in the 21st.  ENJOY

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TWO LOCAL THINGS YOU NEED TO DO – NOW !!! — 3 and 4 October 2016

This is not the conclusion of “Everything Dutch in the Hudson Valley” – I know that. But this will be a brief encouragement for some nearby explorations you need to do very soon. Scott and Betty arrived with their Airstream on Monday afternoon on their way to Maine. We planned a full day of play and exploration on Tuesday before they left today, Wednesday. Shortly after arrival on Monday Betty said, “I need to accomplish some sight seeing today in NH.”  Well, you see, they had to sleep in the Airstream even at my house, because they had not slept in it in NH, and now have just about done so in all states. Part of her “check-off” is to actually play tourist. Her desire – visit the old Steamtown yards since they live just about one hour south of Steamtown’s new Scranton home. The yards here are now the home of the Green Mountain Railroad.

I believe I am going to become a professional tour guide. Having just completed my Horse Thieves lecture on “The Development of a Village;” and, my Saturday tour for Louisa May Alcott aficionados around Alcott associated spots in town, I was motivated, and animated to tour my dear friends, and impressed myself with the knowledge I was able to impart. But we have explored before together, and learning one thing leads to at least two more questions to answer (and those answers usually begat more questions). It does not end.

We explored the yard in North Walpole examining the round table and rolling stock. I explained were the tracks came from and went. We looked at the old stone bridge, and then I needed to also show them the old yard in Rockingham, north of Bellows Falls. But on the way, we toured the “island,” and its rail facilities, old factories, and the Indian Petroglyphs. Heading back to the Village Square I proclaimed, “I need to show you the railroad tunnel under the village.” So I turned left down the alleyway, which I had only walked down a few dozen feet before. There were the tracks, the tunnel to the left, and I continued down the road to:

Bellows Falls Historical Society - Adams Grist Mill Museum

Bellows Falls Historical Society – Adams Grist Mill Museum

The door was open – on a Monday evening – we have done this before elsewhere, we just went in. “Bound to be someone inside I know,” I said, and yes, Chris said, “hi Ray, and welcome.”  My first visit ever, and to be repeated. Built in 1831, converted to electricity in the 1920s, and operated until 1961, the equipment is amazing, complete, and we all bet you could just turn the power back on and grind away. Here is a sample of the inside you have to explore:

Remember you can click on any image to open larger size images.

Chris before one of the original Steamtown signs

Chris before one of the original Steamtown signs

We departed, leaving a nice donation for the museum. I also asked Chris if we could meet sometime to develop an article for my Walpole Clarion readers, and we are going to do that.

My 1929 Model A Ford Roadster

My 1929 Model A Ford Roadster

Tuesday, our plan was to head to Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts, less than an hour away. I first drove through Deerfield in the pouring rain in the summer of 1963 in Belzebuth, my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster. Since living here, I drive through many times a year stopping at the giftshop/book store, and to have lunch or dinner at Champney’s Restaurant & Tavern. BUT – for some reason I have never toured the homes and museum buildings. It was “meant to be” to share with Scott and Betty.

The view as you enter Old Main Street from the south. I always enter this way because I first did in 1963.

The view as you enter Old Main Street from the south. I always enter this way because I first did in 1963.

Historic Deerfield Visitor Center

Historic Deerfield Visitor Center


We bought our tickets at the Visitor Center — $14 – a tremendous bargain — and were given an introduction to the day’s events. Four homes were open for guided tours, and others for self-guided tours to see the homes or collections inside. Our timing was perfect to start with the Frary House at 11AM.

Frary House - Historic Deerfield

Frary House – Historic Deerfield

Built c1750, Miss C. Alice Baker began restoration in the 1890s in the Colonial Revival style. She was an early saver of the village, and was instrumental also in the Arts and Crafts movement with cottage industries that developed here making items for tourists, developing the tourist trade early on. The guided tours of this home and two of the three others were absolutely fantastic with exceptional well-informed docents. The tours are planned to last about 35 minutes, but we were fortunate. We spent 45-50 minutes here (with two other guests), but (more later on these) at the Ashley House and later at Wells Thorn House we spent over an hour – ending only because the next tour was to start. We were alone on those tours, and the paid docents could tell we were knowledge thirsty, and knowledgeable visitors.  It makes a difference, as Scott and Betty can attest having now served two stints as National Park Service volunteer guides. We headed north up Old Main Street to the Williams House for the noon tour. Docent not the best, we had 11 people total on the tour, but glad we at least saw the house. Finishing up, we crossed the street to the Ashley House for the 1PM tour.

Ashley House - Historic Deerfield

Ashley House – Historic Deerfield

The docent met us outside and began visiting – it was only the 3 of us entranced and learning. He started with the geology and Native American background of the area. Old Deerfield is on a small extremely fertile plateau surrounded to the south, west and east by plains prone to flooding. Flooding resulting from the Deerfield River (to the west) which flows north from the west to empty into the Connecticut River in Greenfield. During freshets, the water flowing south down the Connecticut battles up against the water attempting to empty into it from the Deerfield River. The resulting flooding over millennium depositing exceptional soil and Native American settlements long before English settlers came in 1669. And, then there was the 1704 massacre and subsequent abandonments, but those are stories for you to find out on your own. For the next hour, we knew we were getting an exceptional insight into history, and answers to the questions we posed. And, always wondering why Old Deerfield was what I thought was a loop road off the newer US Route 5, I now know it was the fertile plateau and surrounding lowlands that cause the original road to curve in and out as it does.  I love learning why something is the way it is. Before I head to the last house, here is a gallery of images for you, and you can click any to get to the larger images.

At 3PM we arrived at the Wells Thorn House for a “walk through time.”

Wells-Thorn House at Historic Deerfield. Painted blue by the original owner, a lawyer, so everyone knew where he lived.

Wells-Thorn House at Historic Deerfield. Painted blue by the original owner, a lawyer, so everyone knew where he lived.

The rooms are set up to show a progression of furnishings from 1725 to the 1850s. Nicely done. At the conclusion, when chatting with our docent, he asked where we were from. For some reason, for the first time today, I mentioned the town too, and that opened up a whole new line of conversation. Ends up he plays in a band in front of my house each summer, and then he added, “I worked for the Green Mountain Railroad.”  Well, we bombarded him with questions left over from the previous day’s explorations. And we now have the answers.

But, at 4PM we were “housed out.” We had only gotten into one of the house exhibitions – the furniture. So, I have at least two more trips back to see everything else. We headed out, stopping in front of one more private house.


Scott, Betty, and friend at Yankee Candle

Scott, Betty, and friend at Yankee Candle



I suggested we head a tad south to Yankee Candle’s flagship store, and Betty said, “you have always told us we had to see that, let’s go.” Scott chimed in, “oh, no!”  It is always fun there, full of eye-candy, and worth a stop when there are no cars or buses out front. So, off we went.




You never know what you are going to see, I told Betty to take her camera in. She did, and I did. You know I like diners, and here are two that were in the room of villages (click to enlarge).



It is always a magical place here.


Betty just posted on their site all about our adventures together. Great images (which I did not include) of our visit to the Green Mountain Railroad — so, please visit what Betty just posted (about 10:10 PM Wednesday) — click on the on the link that follows —


1 – Plan a number of visits to Historic Deerfield in Old Deerfield, Massachusetts

2 – Plan to visit and experience the Adams Grist Mill in Bellows Falls, VT


A new addition (as long as I remember) of some of the fascinating things I learn

1 – MIND YOUR P’s AND Q’s — shouted out in a colonial tavern by the barkeep to patrons meaning “Mind your pints and quarts.” Time to come fill up for a final round.

2 – ROOM AND BOARD — In colonial homes/taverns, with your room for the night you could also get fed. With limited furniture a board could would be brought out, placed upon trestle or “saw horses” to serve as a table for your meal.

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