“Been There, Done That” and had to do it again. This was the fifth time the Inndulgence Tour was held for the holidays in Vermont, COVID having caused postponements, and this was the third time I have enjoyed touring Inns and Bed and Breakfasts within an hour of my home, and on roads that I always enjoy exploring no matter the time of year. Providing background, here are links to my last two reports of this fun, fund-raising event for Vermont food shelves. At least come back to these past visits once done scrolling all the way through.


This year’s tour again had both some same and some new “stops” but less than in the past. Included were nine Inns, B&Bs, including:

Blue Gentian Lodge
Golden Stage Inn (Proctorsville Village in Cavendish)
Echo Lake Inn (Tyson Village in Plymouth)
The Governor’s Inn (Ludlow)
The Grafton Inn (Grafton)
Hartness House (Springfield)
Main & Mountain Bar & Motel (Ludlow)
Rowell’s Inn (Andover)
Stone Hearth Inn & Eatery (Chester)

Son Gary, arrived at 2:30 on Saturday the third, and off we went to Grafton on the back road through Saxtons River. “Wait what is this,” I exclaimed, “the front porch of the Saxtons River Inn is decorated and lights are on.” Closed for three years I pulled to the curb and “ran” up the steps to find out what was up. Opening the door into the cavernous empty rooms I was greeted by Susan learning that she and her husband, Caleb Saunders, along with their one year old son, recently purchased the Inn. With the plan to be open by July 4th (remember the famous parade in the village) they hope “… the Inn would be a gathering place for the village.” I wished them well, promised to spread the word, and to be back, and often.

First stop The Grafton Inn which is special to me. In May 2002, Cathy and I stayed there, and the next day made the decision to move to the area, ending up weeks later buying in Walpole. Rooms were all full so could not be seen, but cheese and cider was available in the Kipling Library. Yes, he visited from his home Naulakha just south a tad. Below is the Inn in an image I took in 2016, and the library and the Inn’s tree this year.

The Grafton Inn – 20 December 2016

From Grafton it was over the hill to Chester, and west on Route 11 to the Stone Hearth Inn. COVID closed many inns and B&Bs, and also saw changes in ownership, as is the case here. The new owners are doing renovations to the restaurant and bar area. While we were there the new owners were baking, but we visited with greeter, John Clark. A local Chester historian, I gave him copies of my history books, and hope to share stories at some time with him. Below is the Inn as I got out of the car, and the sitting room.

Originally I thought we would not have time to visit Blue Gentian Lodge on the access road to Magic Mountain in Londonderry, but we were able to.

Here our treat was a sampling of their famous cheesecakes. Also with the overall Scandinavian theme, Innkeeper Lisa demonstrated the Scandinavian craft of Scherenschnitte, intricate paper cutting into intricate ornaments.

It was then back east on Route 11 to Simonsville, and…

ROWELL’S INN — do you remember how thrilled I was to discover ROWELL’S INN in June 2011? My visits continued in 2011, and those visits would remind you of dropping in at CHEERS. But sadly Mike “went under” and lost the property to the bank. Sold, I learned the building was to become a bakery, and I would peek in the windows on occasional drives by. BUT reading the booklet for this tour I learned the Inn was not only open, but serving dinner – thus the plan for Gary and I. Christina greeted us (I had talked to her on the phone) and I gave her an original Rowell’s Inn Cookbook from years ago that I found on my scouting missions. I now have (along with the Saxtons River Inn) a place to go escape and be at home with “friends.”

two of the rooms on the second floor – and Christina opened up the third floor so we could see the original ballroom.

on the menu are burgers and the like, but our server did mention that there are special dinners at times. Gary and I both pinned for burgers, and I had homemade chips with mine. I cannot wait to get back – that is a “threat and a promise” and made possible only learning about the reopening for dining in the tour booklet.

Sunday the 4th the tour resumed from Noon to Five, and a friend joined Gary and I for the day. Planning a route to the five remaining stops, we were at the Harkness House at Noon for the start.

The most attractive and historic building — and a must see. We would have concluded here, but as yet reopening with new owners they have yet to find a chef to be able to open the kitchen. Just one more COVID casualty. Also in talking with the hostess, there is no longer a reception desk, everything is done on-line: booking, code for access, QR code inside for information. I am “too old” for all these new changes, and just love to “talk to someone” – but will have to learn. My Cathy and I spent a New Year’s celebration here years ago. and my most fun visit was in 2018 for “Twas The Night Before Christmas” throughout the Inn. Do click on this link to enjoy those festivities. Also you may wish to look at our last Inndulgence Tour visit in 2019 for images of the tunnel to the telescope museum and telescope. We toured there again, but I did not take as many images. Below is the entryway.

it would be hard to choose a room – they are all bright, large, and well appointed.

the tree in the comfortable sitting room, and the image below that our “snack” at this stop.

The Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville was the next stop where I chatted awhile with Julie, the Innkeeper, who is the organizer of the event. Their snacks – everything chocolate.

and a room, and the mural at the top of the stairs – remind you of anyone’s dining room?

Heading a tad west on Route 103 in Ludlow (home of Okemo Mountain skiing, thus all the area lodging) is the Governor’s Inn, built in 1890 by William Wallace Stickney, who was Governor of Vermont  from October 4, 1900, to October 3, 1902 The new proud owners have done a wonderful job in their painstaking preservation – the woodwork is amazing, as were their snacks of mini quiches and stollen bites.

a welcoming entrance – and well balanced heavy doors.

and, a tour around the Inn, and a look out a third floor window to Okemo. Remember you can click my galleries for larger views.

Almost in the center of Ludlow was the next stop – Main and Mountain Bar and Motel.

First time in my memory on the tour, we were in and out. The “motel” rooms we were told extend back on both sides of the building. You enter in the front door to a bar, and small eating area. The real “hook” I would guess for skiers are the outdoor fire pits for drinks and food after a day on the slopes. Nice, but “not Ray.”

But, wait – look right. How about that holiday chair cover? I may have to place an order with my local seamstress.

One of the reasons you enjoy tours like this – IDEAS. And, Gary too got some ideas along the way.

Our planned last stop was the Echo Lake Inn, on Route 100 on the way to Plymouth Notch. Unfortunately dinner was not being served on Sunday nights, otherwise that would have been the plan. Cathy and I stayed here well over 20 years ago before our move to NH, I have had many dinners on the porch following BB1 and BB2 exploits, and my late “pre-kindergarten” friend, Mimsy, and I stopped after a visit with President Coolidge, we both exclaiming “best meal ever.” So, remember that and visit.

and two of their rooms for you…

Well, this concludes my report “to remember and to share.” I am busy arranging over 80 Christmas trees in my home, and that holiday report will be coming. I also have some additional holiday events to attend, and will write about those experiences, again, “to remember and to share.” Back to you soon, as always, luv, RAY

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  1. George Lush says:

    Hi Ray, Christmas in New England, a special time indeed. What charming places you “innvestigated.” (Couldn’t resist that pun.) A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours. Looking forward to your 2023 Shunpiking adventures. George

  2. Carol Crolle says:

    Merry Christmas, Ray! Thanks for another delight tour. I always enjoy “traveling” with you. Lucky Gary! ❄️⭐

  3. Betty says:

    You were like Santa Claus on your tour – dropping off books to the innkeepers!
    You had me a tad confused when you said you were transplanting 80 trees. I was wondering where you found the energy to do that kind of work outdoors. And then I read they were your Christmas trees.
    We’ll done on the delivery of that tidbit!

    Those old inns certainly represent the quintessential New England, don’t they?

    • Ray Boas says:

      maybe next year you and Scott can join me on this tour – it is fun. One more outing to write about – Strawbery Banke, and then my “tree tale.” As it is said, “stay tuned” – RAY


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