When our play was done on June 25th I figured “I’m out of here – and Shunpiking.” But lengthy sojourns and overnights have not materialized. Hip provided hiccups, and between threat of rain almost every other day, and other commitments almost every other day — an overnight break has not yet worked out. But I still have not driven the “new” 2008 Dodge van in a month – BLACK BEAUTY has seen some miles, and BLUE BELLE’s rebuilt engine had a checkup Thursday – and she has seen over 200 mile since. You know I enjoyed the 4th of July in Plymouth Notch, on Saturday the 8th, inspite of a threatening storm, I headed to Nelson’s 250th Anniversary Celebration. Oh, I may add a new feature – your new word – so read through to learn anadromous.

You can only get to Nelson from here (or anywhere) on back roads. Passing into Sullivan, “do you see what I see?”

If you are observant peripherally while sailing at 40 +/- MPH, as I am, you spotted a Model A Ford.

Yes, a 1930 AA truck (note larger wheels/tires and bumper), still in use on the farm, and as I passed the next barn, in the barnyard sat a matching Model AA Ford dump truck, and in use.

As the dark clouds were arriving in Nelson, so did I. So I secured the tonneau cover over BLACK BEAUTY’s cockpit. And, walked down the hill to Nelson’s green (where everyone – population about 600 – probably gets their mail.)

There was an exhibit of Things Made and Used in Early Nelson from clothespins to samplers at the Old Library.

I thought this original shipping container of clothespins fascinating (yes, I am strange with what catches my eye)

Did you see the dresser in the image above? I have an almost identical chest. My home is filled with period Colonial pieces and wonderful (I think) Mission Oak all purchased in the early 1990s when I went on house calls to buy books. Ironically, the homes with the worst books had the best furniture which I bought. In central New Jersey in about 1994 I bought my chest. Today thinking the provenance written on the back on my chest traced to NH, I thought I had better check to see if I had a matching Nelson chest. I do not, mine is from Vermont. But maybe someone in Nelson gave it to Eunice?

It was approaching noon and the ceremonies began (crowd numbering maybe in the dozens) with proclamations read from the Governor, Senators, etc. Very nice, perfect, and the downpour came minutes following the conclusion when I was walking over to see the Colonial kitchen garden. Fortunately, a tent was there, and I happily sat alone for 30 minutes enjoying the rain.

On the way home the day broke into a delightful one. Arriving in Stoddard, Old Home Days was fizzling out (don’t think I missed much), but the Historical Society was open. I had fun chatting with the docent, and looking around. You may know that I have liked country store post offices ever since seeing my first one in Greenfield Village in 1957 – I decided then I would someday be Post Master General. Here is the original Stoddard Post Office unit.

and, it always amazes me what I may see out a second story window.

On the way home I stopped at the Vilas Pool where it was Vilas Pool Days – I had another snack.

Finally on the 20th Dr. Dewey said he could make time to check BLUE BELLE’s power plant. He wanted to do it after 500 miles, somehow I got to 600 and he told me, “please drive BLACK BEAUTY until I can change the oil and re-torque everything. I am good, I complied. After she passed her checkup with flying colors we back roaded to Landgrove, VT and then over another hill to Hapgood Pond (think I camped there in 1963 in BELZEBUTH – 1929 Model A Ford Roadster). I stopped for lunch in Peru (population about 375). Then I crossed Route 11 to cover some unexplored territory to the back side of Magic Mountain, and back onto Route 11 towards Chester. Fun outing – sorry no images.

Saturday, 22 July — I had to get out, but where? I had a news clipping on a museum, and I needed to see where Route 32 ended up in Massachusetts. I made my check on my garden, and headed to Jaffrey. I have to look at these Black Eyed Susans constantly adjoining my porch – too bad. Always wanted some – bought a couple plants last year, and was told that with luck they would reseed themselves, well did they.

My lunch at Sunflowers in Jaffrey – also had a crock of French Onion Soup


I stopped at the library in town before leaving, and mentioning I was heading to Jaffrey. Carolyn said, “eat at Sunflowers.” Well I did. Service terrible, wait lengthy, roast beef had a strange taste — must have been a bad day, probably worth another try — food presentation was nice.



And, then I headed back to Jaffrey Center. The center is where the town started, but once the mills were built to the east, the “main town” moved a couple miles (the same thing happened in Stoddard). I drove around a tad, and when it opened at 2PM entered the Melville Academy Museum which is run by the Jeffrey Center Village Improvement Society which was organized in 1906. Do check out their great website.

The building is so similar, and the same age, as our “academy” and historical society, but one main room on each floor. Here is the first floor once you pass through the entry room.

Here is a gallery of some of the things I enjoyed at Melville Academy Museum. Remember you can click on any image to open up for larger views.

Then I headed over to the Meeting House. The walls of the Meeting House were raised by local citizens June 17, 1775. And, the cannon shots at the Battle of Bunker Hill, 75 miles away, were said to be heard as the walls were going up.

Nine of the original 12 horse sheds were saved from demolition by the Jeffrey Center Village Improvement Society which has owned the Melville Academy since 1920.

and just to the right in the cemetery and down the hill is the grave of one of Jaffrey’s famous summer residents – Willa Cather.

overall perspective from the common to the Meeting House, horse sheds, cemetery behind, relocated school house, and a blue speck under the trees. Yes, that is Mount Monadnock in the background above the sheds.

the New Hampshire history signs really tell it all, and give you an introduction for further study.

the rest of the plan for the day was to head west on Route 119, and head south on Route 32 from Richmond having not been on the road before. Perfect day for cruising with the overcast, and only caught one rain drop on my face and four on the windscreen while on 32. But, RAY RECOMMENDS, you do not have to explore this road – nothing of note. And, arriving at Route 2A in Athol, Massachusetts, I headed west towards I-91 for a high speed run back home. Passing through Orange, however, I saw Route 78 heading north to Winchester, NH. Remembering that road, off I went — better than a super slab with nothing on it — and I am glad that I did.

At the intersection of 78, 10 and 119 I headed straightish on 119 towards Hinsdale. Believe I have only been on that stretch once before. Worth the trip – packed with history, and would you believe, we have Covered Bridges in NH also? Here is the bridge in Ashuelot (an unincorporated village of Winchester), crossing the Ashuelot River which starts in Washington (NH not DC) dropping 1,000 feet and providing power for scores of mills.

Continuing on towards Hinsdale, I do not recall these signs before. Packed with history, and I encourage you to click and read. You may even get the answer to the question I posed earlier.

And, arriving in Hinsdale I revisited this historic building. Last time I drove through I got inside because it was a junk shop, and open. I vowed I had to write about what happened here.

and here are the details – thanks again to a NH Historical Marker.

A great deal happened in Hinsdale (now a sleepy village hanging on), but here is the answer to the next Jeopardy question:

hopefully you read the sign on the right – OLDEST CONTINUALLY OPERATING POST OFFICE BUILDING SINCE 1816.




And, crossing the river and going up the hill, I saw this mailbox, and remembered what was across the road. How could you not want to live here?



It was then north on Route 63 which eventually ends on Route 12 just south of the border of Walpole. Last time BLACK BEAUTY and I headed south on 63 through Chesterfield we vowed not to return. Seems as though without trying we went totally airborne – the road was that bad. Guess what? No improvement – good thing BLUE BELLE’s frame was rebuilt last year.

Couple adventures, lots of fun, and I wanted to share. Hope you learned something, and found something you may wish to experience also. If all goes well, I will be able to avoid the “new” car for another month – just as well too since the GREY GHOST is shy of 100,000 miles – not bad for nine years.

Thanks for reading my ramblings and rantings, as always, yours, RAY

This entry was posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips, ROADS and ROUTES and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Chris Burchstead says:

    Very interesting and informative, Ray. I love the old center of Jaffrey and did not realize Willa Cather was buried in the cemetery there. I’ll definitely look for her grave next time I’m there
    ( coming up soon). On another note, did you know there is a relatively new business in Peterborough that makes and sells replicas of Hannah Davis’ hat boxes?

  2. Carolyn says:

    Always interesting and informative, I had visited the Willa Cather grave years ago. She was my favorite author when I was in HS (many, many years ago). This makes me want to shunpike down there again. Thanks for sharing the shunpiking adventures.

  3. Betty says:

    Well I learned about Hannah Davis’ band boxes, Willa Cather’s books and the meaning of the word anadromous-what an educational post this was (as always). I’ve put Willa’s name into my “read list” and will be looking for some of her books to read.

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