I wanted to stop at Santa’s Land in Putney and wish them a happy 57th birthday, and BLACK BEAUTY wanted to visit her favorite Arlington, Vermont — those were the only agenda items for the day. But here I am home, eleven hours later having explored and discovered new areas, and having had a great time talking with lots of wonderful folks. I normally make these day trips during the week avoiding crowds. But maybe I need to shunpike on the weekends – what a difference – and I found Vermont crowds are not big, not to be scared of, just fun to visit with.
I arrived at Santa’s Land at 10:00 AM and visited with the owner Lillian. They have had some difficulties reopening this year, and are waiting for total electrical rewiring to be inspected. First agenda item done.
There are many (well only a couple) routes to then head towards Arlington. Now get your maps out to follow, and plan your trip. From US 5 I crossed west through Dummerston to Route 30 and headed north through Newfane to Townsend. Heading down the hill out of Townsend I passed an antique shop that has always intrigued me, and realized, “dummy, you just passed it, why?” A U-turn, and back I went to TWITCHELL HOUSE ANTIQUES.
Remember you can click on my images to enlarge them.
I explored the barns and went inside. And to my pleasant surprise, there in the room to the left were original RUFUS PORTER style wall murals – WOW. Owner Chris was very gracious and said that I could go get my camera. Recently a muralist scholar had visited and identified the artist, but he could not remember the name. That artist had not previously been seen this far west, and the grapes in one panel was a clue. As you may know, it was my following Rufus Porter’s work that brought me to New Hampshire, and my dining room walls have been painted in the Rufus Porter style.
HOW INVITING IS THIS ENTRANCE?
I was fascinated by this volcano. Chris told me he was told it was the volcano that caused the cold summer of 1816. Ironically, I am currently reading THE YEAR WITHOUT SUMMER: 1816, and the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia in 1815.
Sorry, I just have to share these walls with you – they are so special.
RAY RECOMMENDS – Visit TWITCHELL HOUSE ANTIQUES – savor the murals, and make some great purchases – Chris is ready to “deal.”
Continuing north on Route 30 I arrived at THE STUFFED BUN. My second enjoyable visit. I had a nicely done and tasty tuna melt. Had a chat with a nice couple who have owned a 1969 MGB since new, and yes, David maintains it. Unfortunately, I thought today was tomorrow, but it seems as though since it was today I will have to wait until tomorrow for my free lunch. Hope the sign changes to FREE LUNCH TODAY.
Continued on Route 30 to Bromley, left at the stop following Route 30 and now with Route 11 to Manchester Center. The outlets have ruined this area, especially since they are largely vacant now. Headed south on my favorite US Route 7 and was disheartened to see demolished and vanished an old hotel that proudly stood just north of the Equinox House. South of Hildene pulled into an antique/artisan shop. Owner was from Chester, and we had lots of conversation to share about familiar spots. He filled me in on all the controversy in Manchester over the now vacant land where the old hotel had been.
Soon entered Arlington. I camped there in the 1970s, and Cathy and I spent a night at the Arlington Inn while we still lived in Connecticut.
To my surprise a festival was underway along with a town wide yard sale. I parked and walked around. Normally I have the park area to myself, get a sandwich at the deli and relax on the bench with it. It was fun, and I bought some books which will end up (when sold) paying for the day out.
Then I headed over to the antique center in the old movie house in East Arlington. Been visiting there for 20 years, having made trips from New Jersey, Connecticut, and now New Hampshire. Amazingly the same owner always recognizes me, and we chat and catch up.
BLACK BEAUTY then wanted to head west on VT313 to West Arlington to cross the covered bridge to Norman Rockwell’s home – few people know it is there. You pass through the bridge, a church is to the right, and up on the hill is his home when he lived in the area. He lost his studio in a fire one night, along with innumerable paintings and drawings.
Below, looking back north from his home towards the covered bridge
All the cars parked there are people taking advantage of the entranceway to the Battenkill River. It is also a pickup point for an outfitter. On the right, out of the image, was an enterprising young lady (8 or 9 years old) selling Snapple drinks. I was thirsty, and had to reward her efforts. I parked near the bridge, and yes, joined in conversation with folks enjoying the river, and then a couple from Missouri on holiday. “Did you know that is Norman Rockwell’s home back there?” I said. “No, we have to get a picture, thank you.”
So, what to do next? Head west to NY State, and head north on NY22 and cut back to Vermont at some point. But once across the border I turned right on County Road 61 and then County Road 64 traveling through some lovely farm country towards Salem, NY. Figured I should hook back up with NY22, and I did. Turned north into Salem, which I realized I had not been to before, nor this section of NY22 (Gary and I call it “filling in the map”).
But it was miles north on NY22, and more miles. At worst I would bump into Lake Champlain and turn right to Rutland, but all of a sudden a little sign was on the right – “West Pawlet.” Perfect, a turn back to Vermont, but the road was closed. No problem, turn right at the next unmarked road, and voila, 1/2 mile and I am in West Pawlet, VT facing an abandoned building with 1920 GARAGE spelled out on the slate roof tiles. A left turn and around the bend are the untouched vacant storefronts – circa 1900. I was now on VT153 heading south toward Rupert. Saw a small sign for that, and knew it was the right way to head even though I had never been to Rupert either.
Coming down a hill I see what appears to be a fairground off to the right with another festival underway. I get to a stop sign, people are everywhere sitting and waiting. I call out, “what is going on.” We are waiting for the parade I was told, it starts at 5:30. “What time is it now?” I ask. About 10 to 5 was the reply. I turn left on Route 315 towards Dorset (first time there was 1964 in my 1929 Model A Ford), but decide to pull over and park. I ask a lady where the parade starts. Just a short ways ahead she replied. I decide to wait, I finish my Snapple and soon learn that it is the Old Home Days parade with the theme – “Old Haunted Homes Day.”
Soon the parade begins, and I could not believe how many towns contributed fire and emergency equipment to the parade. And, just about every parade participant while in the waiting queue asked about BLACK BEAUTY and said, why aren’t you in the parade. “Well, I was just traveling back roads and stumbled into the parade. I get to see more from the side than if in a parade.” It was fun. One woman told me there are about 702 residents in town. I would say that they were all in the parade, and there were twice as many (or more) watching.
Here is a gallery of some of the parade. Click on any image to open a slide show:
As the last fire truck passed I pulled out and travelled over the mountain to Dorset – great views. I decided I would end my day on the porch at the Fullerton Inn in Chester, VT, for dinner not having done it for awhile. Some interesting folks sat down after I did including two very fashionable ladies. As I was leaving one of them jumped up and flagged BLACK BEAUTY down. Fascinated by the car she came down and again I found myself chatting away. Ironically she lives next to my home town in Connecticut, and has a weekend place in Andover. I mentioned BLUE BELLE, and she wants a ride when she comes to town for chocolates. She asked for my card.
Now dark, I had a nippy ride back across the river. I am sure I have forgotten some of today’s experiences, but if I can share anything it is: 1) have an idea of something to do, but do not worry if you don’t get to it, 2) stop whenever you feel like it, 3) engage in conversation to fill out the experience, and share with others. JUST GO WITH THE FLOW, and SHUNPIKE and ENJOY.