If you get no further
MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR
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.
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.
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.
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.
ENJOY — MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR – as always, yours, RAY