A wise customer and friend told me two things almost 25 years ago. “You will go broke buying a bargain; but, you will never go broke making a profit.”  Those words resonant in my mind, and guide my actions. On “cyber-Monday” last November I received many offers in emails, but took advantage of only two. If you are going anyway to a restaurant, or The Red Lion Inn, and you can purchase a gift card and get 20% more – that is a “no-brainer.” For my $250 expenditure at The Red Lion Inn, I got a $250 gift card and a “free” second one for $50. Then, on Leap Day 2016 an email arrived from The Red Lion Inn, “book a new reservation by the 29th of March by 11:29 PM, and get 29% off on your room. “Duh!! Another ‘no-brainer,’ I am going anyway.” I called, booked, and using my gift cards with the 29% Leap Year offer, I am getting 49% off on my room (in fact, two nights, two $50 plus dinners, wine, etc – cost me $18.95 – I paid cash! They still accept it.). For the last several years I have been treating myself at birthday time at the Inn, and have now been staying here for over twenty years.

My late-bride and I had a number of rooms before we settled in on 340 on the corner turret. Once I came back after losing her, I have moved to different rooms, but my room for years now has been 424 – a B&B room. My room is comfortable and to my liking, but with sink only, no bathroom, and I get breakfast. Cathy would never have had a bath “down the hall”, but since I spend all my time in the lobby, and no one else is on the fourth floor with me usually, I cannot beat the price – and the savings enables additional visits. Hey, you only sleep in the room. Here is my room (remember, with any of my “galleries” below, click on an image to open a larger slide show:

And, this is my spot in the lobby – woe be to anyone trying to sit here.  And, that is because I still hear her footsteps coming down the stairs.


I was settled into the lobby at 4PM Sunday night, dinner at 7PM, back to the lobby to read. Following sleep, back to my spot by 8:30 AM with coffee, and breakfast at 9:30.

I have spent many of my visits here exploring back roads between here and the Hudson River. Last holiday here I explored new areas in Dutchess County, and this time I decided to spend Monday in the hills of Columbia County seeing towns I had not seen. So (get out your map) first it was down my favorite US Route 7 to Great Barrington to see what has changed (hardly anything in 50+ years), and a stop at an antique shop. Then crossing into Connecticut, I followed US 44 from Canaan west to Millerton, NY, for another antique center. Both spots have provided birthday presents in the past – but not his time. Hey, I need to get rid of stuff, but I do still need to “spoil myself.”  Next came climbs over the hills in farm county with what must be wonderful views when it is not overcast and drizzling I did see enough to know that.

Heading north on NY 22, I turned left onto backroads to Ancramdale and Ancram, both off the “beaten path” and not previously been visited. Here is the old general store in Ancramdale – now a lunch stop.


and, then I turned around and saw an Octagon House. Popularized in the 1850s by Orson Fowler, they were efficient with more light and space utilization. You may recall I stayed in one last year in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and in October 2014 toured a fantastic one at the Genesee County Village and Museum in Mumford, NY .


BD-9It was then on to Ancram via Route 82.  In my on-line research I saw a fantastic general store in the center of town – and FOR SALE for a palty $135,000. Ancram, named for the ancestral Scotland home of the noted Livingston family, had an early iron works. There is a “new” paper mill now on that site, and sadly I will not buy the general store, as I would never make enough money — but it would be a bucolic life. (HEY – don’t I have that here in Walpole!!!) Here is the perfect general store – SIMONS GENERAL STORE built 1873-4.


and some more images – I know you want them, and click on any for a larger slide show !!!

It was then north on County Road 7 to Copake, and what would I see in the little village?


yes (mark your card if you guessed correctly) another Octagon House.

Back onto NY 22 (which I really enjoy), Route 344 to Copake Falls was off to the right. I BD-16almost did not turn thinking I had been there, but I turned around and headed to the east. Guess what?  Never before had I been there to see the state park, the COPAKE IRONWORKS, and then Bash Bish Falls high in the hills on the border with Massachusetts. Worth another visit someday when “open.” You probably realize there is a thread here since I have reported on Saugus Iron Works in Massachusetts in 2013, and on the Kent Iron Furnace in October 2014. So, I will not go into much detail, but here is a flavor of the Ironworks in Copake Falls, NY

Copake Ironworks Furnace and Blower House

Copake Ironworks Furnace and Blower House

Continuing north on NY 22, I crossed NY 23 which heads east to Great Barrington, and west to Hudson, NY. Been on 23 before, but did not recall continuing north on 22. The plan, looking at the map, was to turn left on County Road 21 to see Harlemville, then Philmont, before turning north on County Road 9 to Ghent and Chatham. Interesting territory, not much, and fortunately I missed the sign for Route 9 — BECAUSE – Wouldn’t you stop when the sign reads ANTIQUE AUTO MUSEUM?


Getting out of the car, the building to the left housed (using the term loosely) a 1957 Ford Fairlane sedan, and a 1956 Ford Convertible.


Continuing to walk along the road to the left I gazed upon relics and more relics – nothing really too old, and nothing at this point salvageable. Henry, the owner’s son, saw me and wandered out to chat. We began to share stories as I gazed about the yard.


He said, “we have a rare Model A Town Car in the basement, would you like to see it?” Why yes – I know that rare body style, but what I saw, his Dad had made with a hack saw, and wood panels.  Not sure if anything was salvageable on that wreck. I told Henry that I was looking for a 1928-29 Model A Touring Car to add to my stable. “Why, we have one upstairs, would you like to see it?”  Yes, and here it is:


The rear was chopped off, replaced with a wooden homemade truck body, but the skin for the rear was folded in. Henry said he moved it there from downstairs about 6 months ago, but from the look of the dust and dirt I would say 12 years and 6 months. Henry did not make sense on a number of things, but was fun. Needless to say, I am still looking for my Touring Car “driver” to add to my harem.

We said goodbye, and then I saw the sign for Route 9 a few hundred feet back from the direction I had come from. It was off to Ghent (now been there) and into Chatham which I have visited before on RLI journeys. I looped over NY 295 to NY 22, and headed south to West Stockbridge, and thence “back home.”  It was lobby time for me.

I have a routine which by now you know, so I will not repeat. The plan for Tuesday was to head to the NY State Museum in Albany. The problem with touring in March is that most of what I want to see is not open until sometime in April, or after Memorial Day. I found the museum was only closed on Mondays. But, when I awoke I did not feel up to a museum, and with my coffee (yes, mark your card again – back in my spot in the lobby) I read my Albany related literature. One brochure I had brought was about all there is to do on US Route 4 from Troy to Whitehall — and, yes not open until April or Memorial Day. So, I decided to postpose Albany and the museum, and plan a sojourn in a great B&B in the Troy or Saratoga area to explore there for a couple days once all is open.

Leaving The Red Lion Inn I went north to Lenox, then backroads over to NY Route 22 and north to NY 2 east to Williamstown, Massachusetts. Then I checked out Bennington spots, and headed across VT 9 towards home. I found longtime friend, Gary Austin, in his book shop in Wilmington, and spent an hour or so catching up with him.

Another great time – plans made for another in the area, and “stay tuned.”  As always, yours, RAY

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


One sixth gone is the year – hard to believe, particularly since I have not yet experienced page-1-march-2016winter. Blame me for the lack of snow and cold – I bought a new winter coat in November, and it is hanging still in the closet with new tags attached. Time goes fast, particularly working on The Walpole Clarion, and on Thursday I mailed what I consider our best looking issue, and with the  best content. I invite you to take a look by clicking hereand do subscribe to the on-line edition to keep up with our town events, and some of my writing.

Still no exotic trips in the works for 2016 as I am hesitating until I resolve a nerve issue which is impacting on my stamina and strength walking. Fixable I am told, and a second opinion coming on Friday. But, on the list for some time was my staying with Alex for awhile. You know that he and I are fortunate to have time and adventures together. This time David and Mari were both making presentations at a conference in Japan, and it only makes sense to tack on a holiday, particularly when someone else is paying the airfare. So here I have been the last week, getting him to school, making meals, etc. Usually when he is in school I can explore, do museums, etc. but this time of the year much of what I want to do is closed, so I brought cartons of work along. I have no idea where the time has gone as usual. But on Saturday, 27 February, we went out running.



“On my list” for ages has been to attend an Automotive Lawn Event at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts in the summer, and to see the museum housing the oldest car collection in America. We left at 11 AM, had lunch in Brookline, and entered the Anderson’s Carriage House, built in in 1888, and inspired by the Chateau de Chaumont-Sur-Loire in France – See more at the museum’s website, where I encourage you to learn about the Andersons.

Prominent, wealthy families in America since the outset, the museum is on the 65 acre grounds now forming the Larz Anderson Park. It was left to Brookline following  Isabel Anderson’s death in 1948. The family were benefactors in many ways over the years including building the Weld Boat House, and Anderson Bridge over the Charles River. Sadly the vacant mansion was torn down in 1955, and the gardens are not where they were, but what an asset to area residents — and automobile enthusiasts for the events held in good weather.

There are rotating exhibits in the main area as you enter, and this year motorcycles are featured.


both old (above), and new below.


The above image is for Scott. It was difficult stopping to read all the information panels with a 10 year old, but I will be back (hint, Scott)

The Andersons bought their first car in 1899 – an 1899 Winton. In the following decades they bought at least 32 new automobiles, retiring the old ones to the Carriage House. In 1927, they opened the Carriage House for public tours of their “ancient” vehicles. When Isabel died, her will stipulated that the motorcar collection be known as the “Larz Anderson Collection,” and a non-profit be established to oversee the collection. In 1949 the Veteran Motor Car Club of American (VMCCA) assumed stewardship. Fourteen of their cars remain, and in original condition (my favorite way to see cars – sadly some people “over-restore”)

Entrance to the Larz Anderson Collection

Entrance to the Larz Anderson Collection

And, the Anderson’s first car, an 1899 Winton Phaeton



Most interesting radiator cap I have ever seen. Red and Green – Port and Starboard


and, a 1907 Fiat


Along with writing books of her travels, Isabel was the first woman licensed to drive in Massachusetts.


Driving along the road on the estate up the hill to where the mansion was, this is the view looking north east to Boston (you can just make out the Prudential Center Building behind some trees).


What next Alex?  A look at “what’s near” on Trip-Advisor. How about the zoo? And, off we went to the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts – just minutes from Alex’s home on the other side of the Fells and I-93. Many animals were not out since it was winter, but this is a nicely done 26 acre zoo.


I have never seen a Bald Eagle up close – they are big!!!


Nor have I been this close to a bear – a cage does make it easier


And, Flamingos – in Massachusetts and in winter?  Don’t let the painted backdrop confuse you.


And, some “fast facts” — MONKEY vs APE


We have FaceTimed at least once a day – usually Alex and I say good night to his parents, and they say good morning – or visa versa. I made great progress with the projects I brought: historical society bookkeeping, CLARION invoicing, Ebay listings, and reading, research, and starting writing a booklet I have in the works – WALPOLE’S LOUISA MAY ALCOTT.

And, then there was the evening “binge watching” of MODERN FAMILY. David had bought all the seasons, and what a way to end your day, splitting open your sides. But I also read some travel literature I brought, so who knows?  As always, yours, RAY

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


12552904_10153399534386274_6649184834396343568_n-217x300It is Presidents Day 2015 – and if you know me, where would I be? Plymouth Notch, Vermont, of course. Especially when it is Presidents’ Day Open House sponsored by the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation with a talk by Rushad Thomas – KEEP COOL AND KEEP COOLIDGE – THE STORY OF THE 1924 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN. You have probably heard me say before, “vote with your dollars,” and on my list for ages has been to support the Foundation. As I walked in the door and greeted Rushad, I told him of my desire, and he took me right away to the office to meet Kelley. I have now supported their great work as a Contributing Member. In a wonderful relationship, the Foundation is on the State of Vermont’s Calvin Coolidge Historic Site, and about four years ago built new offices and educational center attached to the State’s Welcome Center and Museum. A visit is an absolute must — did you hear me?

When I came back up from the offices, I saw the site’s administrator, Bill Jenney, and visited with him. The State of Vermont is so fortunate, as he is an amazing man, and passionate with his job and the history and importance of this site. Bill told me that my entourage was a hit at the Holiday Open House (read through to the end), and he hopes to have a repeat performance hat fashion show (did you read that my lady friends?). Bill also told me that he has begun work on 2016’s special exhibit – gifts that President Coolidge received. He was the last President who was allowed to keep what was given to him, and the family turned over to the state those items. Bill said we will be amazed at what he is selecting from the archives – hint !! hint !!

Just inside the lecture room, Rushad had selected a number of campaign items from the vaults for display.


Every time I am at this wonderful historic and bucolic spot I always try to share new images and history for you to absorb. Here is a gallery of a few more things to entice you to visit. Just remember, click on any image to open up the gallery of larger images.


Rushad Thomas

Rushad Thomas

May I say, that Rushad’s 45 minute talk was outstanding (he is the Program and Editorial Associate at the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation). It put in persecutive for me the politics of the country from Wilson through Harding to Coolidge in an overall world perspective. I never can remember everything, and following his talk, I asked him if he could post his talk so I could read it again. Once I have a link, I will provide it here. And, now Wednesday the 18th, and his talk is on-line on the Coolidge Foundation’s blog. Click this link, it is worth reading for fantastic history. Rushad did a wonderful job compiling and presenting it.

I awoke Tuesday 16 February remembering a few fast facts I thought you would enjoy and I forget to tell you. Men who had voted for Abraham Lincoln voted for Calvin Coolidge 60 years later; this was the second Presidential election women could vote in; Coolidge had only been in office for 8 months when the 1924 election process began; his youngest son died in July 1924 from blood poisoning; on September 9, 1924 a 56 day cross-county road rally began in Plymouth Notch. The idea of the tour came from the Home Town Coolidge Club, and followed the Lincoln Highway, but covered over 6,500 miles. You need to learn more.

And, when I left, I had to drive through my favorite place.

Sad without mounds of snow. Sad when closed.

Sad without mounds of snow. Sad when closed.

And, I drove up the hill (mountain) and then back into the village for this view I have not before shared. School House, Cheese Factory to the left, Calvin’s homestead ahead, and church to the right.


And, on the way out of town.


NOW — HERE IS AN OVERDUE POST FROM 5 December 2015. Read, view, and enjoy.


Back on December 5th I was lucky to share the Christmas Open House in Plymouth Notch with Tara, Mimsy, and Carolyn. Sadly, there was not the snow that Tara and I experienced in 2013 for the holiday open house – that was the perfect snowy day. Nor was there a snow squall as I experienced in October of this year. But we had a fantastic time traveling up for lunch, the storyteller, hat show, and the finale – THE HAT CONTEST.

I write so much about this favorite spot of mine, that I will be brief. ME?

I showed the ladies the Summer White House of 1924. Climbing the stairs to the second floor above the general store, here is a view through a window back to the Notch Tea House and the summer cabins that would be rented out (but the Secret Service stayed there when the President was home)


See the lack of snow? So sad in December. Here is a gallery of images upstairs in the dance hall that served as the summer White House. Do visit, there is so much more to see and learn, but here is a sampling, and just click on any image to open up the “gallery” with larger images.

I could not resist this window in the living area of the Coolidge’s birthplace.


One of the highlights of the day was story teller Willem Lange’s reading of his wonderful holiday tale, “Favor Johnson: A Christmas Story.”  A well-known Vermont author and storyteller, he is also a popular public radio and television personality. Following his reading Carolyn scurried to purchase one of his books while Mimsy looked on.


Finally it was time for the Main Event – the hat fashion show put on by the Black River Academy Historical Society from Ludlow. But, we had read the “fine print” that there was going to be prizes for folks coming in their own hats. Partying the night before, we prepared our entries.


So we were ready…


And we walked away with all the prizes — didn’t matter that we were the only ones who entered.


And, on the way home from a perfect day, wouldn’t you stop with all your ladies for wine, cheese, nachos, and wine at the Phelps Barn Pub at the Grafton Inn in Grafton, Vermont?


Hey, a two-month old story, is better than no documented story at all !!! Till next time, yours, RAY

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


I know, I know, you thought I had vanished (or worse) since it has been 2 1/2 months (since 25 November 2015) that you have heard from me. I have no idea where my time goes. Most of it to my publication, THE WALPOLE CLARION, but time just goes away. Business is good, my projects are good, and LIFE IS GOOD (all things considered).

But, I have a friend with whom “I click.” Actually, I click with a couple wonderful folks, and ironically those folks are lovely married ladies (well, I do have a couple grand single lady friends – no, not that way, sorry – but who knows?).  Kathy and I did go “antiquing” in Laconia last month, and were overdue for another outing. Heading east towards Goffstown was talked about, but potential snow stopped that last week. Today we decided to do something, and trek north to Quechee, Vermont to visit antique centers there, and lunch at Simon Pearce. But crossing the Connecticut River, we instead turned south on US 5 instead of north due to the snowfall. No real plans other than lunch at the Farm Table in Bernardston. It became another grand day out.

SANTA’S LAND – Putney, Vermont. You know my love of the place, and the fun Alex has had there. FOR SALE sign in front for the first time, I just checked $450,000 – who is in with me? Entering Brattleboro on US 5 I mentioned Rudyard Kipling’s home there. Kathy did not know of it – so a U-Turn, and up into the hills. You may remember that BLUE BELLE and I visited there in June last year. Kathy was impressed, and the views and road were totally different without leaves and a covering of snow.

Driving through Brattleboro I asked, “so did you know the Estey Organs were made here?” I thought she knew everything old. “No, she replied.” Right turn, and there we were.


What amazes me is the number of factory buildings sided with slate. Kathy had never seen this either – amazing. Make sure you visit the Estey Organ Museum.

Heading out of Brattleboro on US 5 the next village is Guilford. Well, someone had told me I had to explore there, but on US 5 is only the old mill area. A right turn heading east changed all that. And with the spark of snow enhancing the scenery and views, it was magical.


Built in 1817, the CHRIST CHURCH has a commanding view looking east to the river and New Hampshire.

We then headed out Guilford Center Road to the west. Guilford is big – land wise ! And was this worth the trip entering the small crossroads. How can you not enjoy seeing colonial architecture totally unspoiled?


And, here is the meeting house. As I recall, it was here I was invited to (but did not make it due to the last minute invitation) to see a performance of Tourists Accommodated – I produced and directed this play a number of years ago, and consider that one of my best accomplishments.


Built in 1837, the stone with the plaque in front of the Guilford Center Meeting House commemorates the first president of Tufts University. Note the staircases crossing the front windows. I cannot wait to get inside this structure.

Then, across the street, I flipped out, seeing this sign in front of the Historical Society.


Alright Ray, who the …. is Royall Tyler. Well, his novel, THE ALGERINE CAPTIVE, was first published in Walpole at Isaiah Thomas’ press here in 1797, and became the first American novel ever republished in England. Royall moved to Guilford in 1791. I should have taken a 360 degree video from this spot – the country setting is amazing.

Then, more country back roads – yes, dirt under the snow. Following along streams, I should have taken pictures for you, but if I stopped the car it may have slid over the edge into the brook (or river – we had a discussion as to the definition of brook vs. stream vs. river) Answers please !!!

Arriving back on US 5 and “civilization” we headed south to Bernardston and Kringle Candle and the Farm Table Restaurant. CLOSED until February 11th. “Hey, Kathy, you want to wait, or head to the Deerfield Inn.”


I have stopped before for dinner on the way home from sojourns. Lunch was fantastic. Our server, Nicole S., was tremendous, food divine, but as Kathy pointed out the decorating is not Colonial as we would like, but….

Last minute decision to go to a few antique shops in Northampton that Mimsy and I had discovered in December. I wanted to show Kathy an $850 doll (she is a premier doll dealer in the US).  It was not to her liking, but the shop owner (of about 45 years) was a hoot, and a challenge, and did end up with a good number of C notes following Kathy’s discoveries and purchases.

Deadhead home then on I-91.  I have to get into the swing of travel again. I have had a back problem impinging on some nerves that have impacted on my leg strength and stamina. Another doctor appointment soon, and maybe I can get it resolved. But, the planning is beginning, and I hope I will have a great deal to share with you in 2016.

GOD BLESS, as always, yours, RAY




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


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

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


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

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

Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts - November 2015

Orchard House, Concord, Massachusetts – November 2015

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


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

One display of fruits and vegetables.

One display of fruits and vegetables.

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

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

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


Now the fun will begin decorating.

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

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

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


Dave Claggett, resident tinsmith in Weston.

Dave Claggett, resident tinsmith in Weston.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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





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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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



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

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

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

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

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


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

Cape Porpoise, Maine

Cape Porpoise, Maine

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



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

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

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

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

Nubble Light - 1879 - Cape Neddick, Maine

Nubble Light – 1879 – Cape Neddick, Maine


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Entering the "fray" at Kennebunkport, Maine

Entering the “fray” at Kennebunkport, Maine

Typical gift shop:


and, its interior


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

Walker Point, Kennebunkport on a rainy day.

Walker Point, Kennebunkport on a rainy day.

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

From my park bench at Cape Porpoise

From my park bench at Cape Porpoise

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


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


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



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

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


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


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

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



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


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


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


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


Here was an interesting display of Navy dinner ware.


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

Capt. David F. Purinton

Capt. David F. Purinton

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

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


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



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


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

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

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


Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments


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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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



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


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


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


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



Calvin’s front porch.


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments


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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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


and, the view to the right


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


You need to watch where you are going




Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


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


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

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

Approaching the 144th Tunbridge World's Fair.

Approaching the 144th Tunbridge World’s Fair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Another view (which you can click to enlarge)


Below is the current town office.


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

Vermont State Historic Site of Senator Justin S. Morrill

Vermont State Historic Site of Senator Justin S. Morrill

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


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

Prosperous South Strafford, Vermont

Prosperous South Strafford, Vermont

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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



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



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


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

First pole in NH for Rural Electrification.

First pole in NH for Rural Electrification.



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




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


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


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


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


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

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



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

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

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


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


And, when war is over, you go home.


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

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

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


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


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


One room school, Sharon, New Hampshire.

One room school, Sharon, New Hampshire.


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



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


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

Barrett House, New Ipswich, NH

Barrett House, New Ipswich, NH

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

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

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

Thanks for all, as always, yours, RAY

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

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

11 September 2015

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

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

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

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

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

Among Boas’ accomplishments, the Awards Committee also listed:

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

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

About SPIE

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



Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
+1 360 685 5478

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