I am forcing myself to learn how to travel again – it has been so long, and things are different. People are getting out, thus lodging harder to find. And, in the last two years it has become harder to talk to a real person to ask about room availability, details, and make a reservation. Labor shortages? Possibly, or just the proliferation of reservation “plug-ins” for Inn, B&B and Hotel websites. One night, when playing with LandmarkTrustUSA’s availability page, I was shocked to see their change. Harder to navigate, at least for me – easier for them – but for me? I guess you have to be younger and grow up with these “improvements.” Last week I started playing with different B&B and Inn website reservation pages. You can tell from the URL that these are outsourced. One vendor’s calendar shows all days open, but when clicking on a date the response is “no availability.” The best system I found was at The Old Stagecoach Inn in Waterbury, Vermont. I have stayed there twice For my second trip last year, when I called all my information was in their computer. But clicking on “Check Availability” their vendor – rezstream.com – has a user friendly system – well, at least to this “old user.”
But – let’s get to this overnight. I have often done one day book scouting trips along Antique Alley or Route 101A in New Hampshire. So, I thought why not an overnight going out to the coast, overnight, and back the next day. Yes, hours searching for the right lodging, but then I found the Silver Fountain Inn in Dover, NH, and their reservation system was workable for me. I did not really know that area, so plan and booking made.
From Concord I headed east on Route 4 and Antique Alley. I opted not to stay in Portsmouth, but a tad to the northwest in Dover not having been there (remember I need to know all, and how things fit together). Dover (population under 33,000 – “big city” near me is Keene at about a scary 23,000). Pulling into town I drove around and was thrilled to find a visitor center. Hostess was helpful, and in the main booklet I got I learned that Dover, settled in 1623, is the seventh oldest settlement in the United States and the oldest continuous settlement in New Hampshire. Called the Garrison City, its connection to the Atlantic ocean through adjoining rivers played a major role in its development as a successful shipbuilding community. The river powered its many mills, and for a time Dover was the leading national producer of textiles. Much more to learn and explore.
I highly recommend you consider a stay at the Silver Fountain Inn. Below is my second floor room, stairway outside my door, and the doorway vestibule where I spent some time reading.
For dinner the hostess at the visitor center recommended Ember Wood Fired Grill, and Pam at the Inn agreed. It was a walk, something harder for me recently, but I wanted to see the area architecture and downtown close up, so off my feet went for well over an almost two mile round trip. Not having a reservation, they were booked, but I slid into a space at the end of the bar and had a great Ricotta Gnocchi with roasted cipollini – snap peas – haricot vert – mushroom – radicchio – grana padano – romesco.
When I returned, several guests were assembled talking about the Murder Mystery event the next evening. I was invited to sit in and listen. Years ago I wanted to attend such an event so was intrigued, and now the quest is on to find such a weekend in rural Vermont.
One of the reasons I enjoy staying at B&Bs and old Inns is for the possibility of meeting people and sharing ideas and experiences. I overheard Bill talking about hoping to do a book for a museum where he volunteered. I interrupted saying, “I can offer advice.” And so started conversation for the evening, and at breakfast the next morning. Ironically the museum he is a docent at is new, and just the other month I discovered it on-line — The American Heritage Museum in Stow, Massachusetts. Absolutely amazing military equipment, aviation, and automobile collection, and so close with many activities. I will attend their events including the October Battle for the Airfield WWII Re-Enactment Weekend — but there is so much more. I just signed up for their newsletter. I showed Bill on my lap-top the 300 page book I am currently completing, and offered to help him get started. As I say, “I know enough to be dangerous.”
Breakfast – no words, just an image to entice you…
Originally I thought I would head Saturday to the Museum of Printing at its new location in Haverhill, Massachusetts, but playing with the map thought I would take back roads instead to York, Maine, to some antique shops I had not been to in many years. Yes, I bought.
And then, it was south on US Route 1 (no need to do it again – just junky urban sprawl in NH) to Route 111 towards Exeter. A great town. I stayed at the Inn at the Bandstand 13 years ago but forgot how quaint and busy the town is around Phillips Exeter Academy. Then Route 111A to Brentwood and eventually to Danville – both places you have to specifically go to since not on the main routes. What a treat to see this historical marker. I do hope you know that trees greater than 24 inches in diameter were property of the King for ship’s masts.
Danville is also interesting as an old community on the stage route as well.
And, I continued buying my way west on 101A, the plan being to arrive in Temple and have dinner at the Birchwood Inn. I arrived shortly after 5PM – and was pleased for them that all tables were reserved. But at the bar there was space for me. Hey, I am easy.
The Birchwood Inn is a special place to me. Cathy and I would stay here when we came up from Connecticut book scouting. Why? A book I would always sell immediately was about the itinerant painter, Rufus Porter, and his murals. The Birchwood has his original work, thus we had to stay here. And, we were staying here with Bill and Judy on the trip up to NH when we bought our home in Walpole, thus changing life’s direction – most assuredly for the best. Here is that room with Rufus’s work, and you probably know that we did our dining room at “44” the same way. Remember you can click an image in my galleries to enlarge them.
My spot at the bar (again) and great wrapped meatloaf dinner.
So besides a break and experiment in getting back out, what did I accomplish?
1-I met Bill, and besides hoping to talk book making with him, he filled me in on the American Heritage Museum where I will have some fun – about two hours away.
2-I have a renewed desire to find the perfect Murder Mystery weekend and share that with friends.
3-I bought 38 books, and have since getting home catalogued them on-line for sale at a tad over $1200 – I am good at what I do.
Stay safe and well, as always, luv, RAY