It has been awhile since I have been out. As you know I will head out on a whim, and sometimes have a reason. The past two weekends I had reasons. First to spend two nights in a tent with my son David and grandson Alex while they raced at Canaan, NH, and then I spent two nights in Waterbury, Vermont, to catch a few hours visit with my daughter and her family while dropping their daughter off at camp. So, here are my explorations in Vermont from July 22-24.

On Thursday, 22 July, I headed up I-91 exiting at Fairlee to visit the Chapman General Store which I had always enjoyed. Operative word here, “had.” New owners, different stock, and sadly no need to stop again. Just one more past enjoyment gone. I continued up US 5 to Wells River to head west on US 302, not having been on that route before. Now that I have, no need to do so again. In Montpelier I continued on US 2 to Waterbury where I was again staying at the Old Stagecoach Inn.

Waterbury is an interesting and vibrant town on both VT 100 (the State’s backbone) and US 2, just south of Stowe. I talked with locals who were visiting friends staying at the Inn and learned this is a town sandwiched between ski areas, and near a 1930s CCC constructed reservoir and mountains for enormous outdoor opportunities for hikers, boaters and mountain bikers. A large group staying at the Inn was up from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania biking each day.

on an early rail route, what a great station.

Richmond is a small and interesting village, and I need to stop next time to go back and take the several turn of the century blocks in, but what was amazing (and the only one in the country) is what I discovered south of the Town (where the original settlement was) that I did not know about at all. You may click on the sign for a larger view to read.

Following you will see why I truly love back roading and discoveries on those paths.

The Old Round Church in Richmond, Vermont

here is the story on the plaque outside

The windows were high up, and I do not know why. But conveniently there were a couple granite stones placed making a step so you could peer inside – and I did so I could share.

The exterior is sixteen sides, but as you read above, the interior was constructed to appear more round. Four years ago I told you about another round building in Brookline, Vermont – A Round Schoolhouse, and the only one in the US. Further below I will share details on round barns. Can it get much better than living in New England? The image below shows a close up of the exterior.

I then arrived at the Shelburne Museum. I have made many visits, and did not have to do it all. Also making it easier to not feel pressure to “do it all” is getting in for “free.” You see, I have a membership level at Old Sturbridge Village that gives me the benefits of the North American Reciprocal Museum Association – NARM. The association is network of 1,166 art museums and galleries, historical museums and societies, botanical gardens, children’s museums, zoos and more. Just about anywhere I would want to visit, is a member. Do join your favorite organization at the ARM level — more than worth it, just with this visit here.

The Shelburne Museum is always a nice place to visit, with great art and buildings (some closed due to COVID restrictions) do plan a visit. And, just inside the entrance to the left is the Round Barn.

There are many round barns still in existence, often at Shaker villages. Here is what you want to know about them.

Inside the barn are some horse drawn vehicles. This is an early Popcorn Wagon, and you know about CORNELIA, my popcorn wagon. But I want you to note the “pan” hanging on the front side on the right with the piping coming down.

Now for your history lesson of not so useful information. I would not have known what that was until I found one in 1974 under the eaves of a Victorian cottage I purchased in a Camp Meeting Ground – it is a pan lamp.

Here is mine (right), and below an image I found decades ago showing a group of them being prepared for a show or carnival. Mine was probably used for illumination in the Tabernacle at the camp meeting ground.

The museum began as founder Electra Havemeyer Webb described it, a “collection of collections.” Her husband was in the Vanderbilt family, thus they had houses, and a lovely life style. She must be praised for her preservation efforts and collections. But, traveling to the city, etc. their private train cars stopped at this elaborate station that Webb built, and was moved to the museum.

and here is the station master’s office – so nicely original and preserved.

The real prize at the museum is the Ticonderoga – a restored 220-foot steamboat and the last walking beam side-wheel passenger steamer in existence. In was moved in 1955 two miles overland from Lake Champlain.

I again enjoyed touring around the vessel taking in this enchanting old mode of travel. The video of the overland move is also special. Here are some views of the vessel you may enjoy. First is the forward deck, then a side promenade, a luxury cabin, and the dining room aft.

This panel I found interesting. Just like Old Sturbridge Village being interpreted in the 1830s, The Ticonderoga has been interpreted to present life in 1923.

I find the souvenir stand at the entrance to the dining area fascinating with vintage items of the period.

I would love to add this image to my “Rocking Chair Studies” page. A great place to relax and enjoy the water, but alas, no rockers to save the aggressive rocker from going over the side.

and, you should know that I have loved old 19th and early 20th century country stores for many, many decades. I have my country store collections and my bookshop is decorated as a country store would have been. Here is the store at Shelburne, followed by a slide show of interior views. Knowing many of the items, the interpreted time period is mixed – but how many people know what I know?

The museum has created an “escape game” on-line for the country store. I have not yet tried it, but here is the link – give it a try, and let me know.

Emailing with my daughter, with traffic they were running late getting north. We planned to meet at a restaurant on Route 7, and upon their arrival had a nice couple hour visit over dinner on an outside patio. Then they had to run to shop for some missing camp items, and I headed back to my inn in Waterbury.

Last year for my trip meeting them when they checked out the camp, Dr. Dewey told me I had to see Waitsfield and Warren, Vermont, as well as cross the Lincoln Gap (closed in winter). I enjoyed that trip through those two towns, but did not cross the Gap – so that was the plan heading home Saturday morning. So down Vermont 100 I went, and you can follow my route highlighted in yellow – and can click on it for a larger image.

I can now say I crossed Lincoln Gap and then traveled south through the Green Mountain National Forest on forest dirt roads over five miles, but about 25 minutes. I am glad I was going west over the gap. No scenery since in the forest, but you could not have looked anyway since room for less than two cars on a twisty steep road, and no shoulder to the down hill side. Down Hill? No, mountain side, and a car would roll many times probably before being stopped by trees. Lots of cars for hikers parked all over the summit, and a less dangerous drive, albeit steep, going down the west side.

Finally arriving at Ripton, I headed west to my favorite US Route 7 to head south and home. It was fun passing Waybury Inn in East Middlebury where I stayed in April 2018 – this inn provided the exterior shots for The Bob Newhart show.

I have been traveling US Route 7 for decades, and know all the changes. Busier, towns with vacant buildings, Rutland congested. All the fun stops I have made over the years, gone or changed. I really do not like change. Is that a sign of age? And, change. WordPress made many, many changes for subscribers to write posts easier and better –NOT SO WordPress. It is taking me more time, mistakes made, not intuitive, but I love my writing to you. It will just take longer to compose and create.

Not sure what traveling I will be doing as much as I would like to get back out — tad afraid as the Delta variant is kicking its feet around. If you have gotten this far down in reading and looking at my images – thank you so much. More to come soon, I hope, love, RAY

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and, I had to be there, and first in line. June 8, 1946, my Dad was still in Germany. My mother was in the Bronx, and at just shy of three months old I was not able to convince her to take me to Sturbridge. But 81 visitors did attend that day, paying a dollar each for admission. Did I ever tell you I love spending time at OSV?

You may enjoy looking at (and I encourage you to look) at this email the Village sent with the early history leading to the opening of this wonderful place. Click on link below –

Not one to take chances I decided to position myself on Monday the 7th. With OSVs lodging at the Old Sturbridge Inn & Reeder Family Lodges still closed, I decided to stay at the Publick House on the original Sturbridge Common. I stayed there over 12 years ago, dined there many times, but booked a room in the original building – 1771. My room is above the front door.

The Publick House faces the Sturbridge Common which was laid out probably by 1738.

I have a “history” with the Common. In 1963, and maybe 1964, I traveled to neighboring Charlton, MA, with high school friends to paint Leland’s Dad’s Black Angus herd’s barn. I traveled back once on my own (sleeping in the barn) and went to an antique show on this Common (notice a budding pattern?). At that time I was already fascinated with early Country Stores, and at the show’s auction did not get the nickel plated curved country store showcase I wanted (think I only had $25 extra – a great deal then), but got a large wooden one. With help, and the top down on the 1960 VW convertible I drove up from Wilton, I loaded the case for the trip home. While loading I was parked in the spot this silver car is in looking through the gazebo. See why I needed to stay here, over 55 years later?

another view of the Sturbridge, Massachusetts, Common looking from the gazebo to the Inn. You can “click” for an almost full screen view.

and, then I had dinner in the Inn’s Tavern – very nice and enjoyable.

But, remember the plan was to be first at OSV for the 75th anniversary of its opening. Up early, pastries and coffee at the Inn’s bakery shop, and a drive around the corner, so to speak. I arrived at 9:10, twenty minutes prior to opening – I WAS THE ONLY ONE THERE, AND FIRST TO ENTER FOR SURE.

About ten minutes later another woman arrived. I jumped up from the mill stone heading near the door. We chatted. I explained that I was a gentleman, should let her ahead of me, BUT, I had to be first in the door for “bragging rights.” She acquised, but in the conversation we talked about the limited edition souvenirs, and our plan was to immediately head to Miner Grant’s Store to buy ours. After that, I headed to the Center Meetinghouse for the “Common Curiosities” tour. Tom was amazing with his historical information. A great memory and a wealth of information from his 38 years at OSV. I later learned he is a lead interpreter that everyone looks up to. Tom, I am ready to volunteer, if only to stuff envelopes. Here is Tom as he began for (sadly) only three of us.

I had some questions, and was thrilled with his answers. I needed to know the original location of the Asa Knight store, and the OSV covered bridge, both from Dummerston, Vermont, a stone’s through from me. Thank you, Tom, I now know where to look, and will post an update here following my discoveries soon to come. To the left of the above image, is the old Country Store, relocated from Dummerston. Did I tell you I have loved old country/general stores since my early teens?

When Tom was done, we headed into the store because he said there were pictures there of the store’s original location. Here is a gallery of those images, and looking at Asa’s house, you can see the similarity of my home at “44” (down to the lantern style and location) and my need to find the location.

and turning around when in the store, there was Susan – docent extraordinaire, who I first met while “Boarding with the Bixbys” and I have enjoyed chatting with on all my return visits. One of the reasons, I am sure, that many folks return to OSV.


Today BLUE BELLE and I needed a break so we made a 57 mile circle to Dummerston, Brattleboro, Chesterfield, and home. AND, thank you Tom, with the information you provided I can now share the former locations of Asa Knight’s store and the Dummerston Covered Bridge, both now at OSV. Make sure you compare the store images below with those above. Just south of the triangular Common in Dummerston Center, the south end of the Common has a border of trees. Possibly a century ago a road ran in front of the store to the lower road. Have to find maps to see. But here you are:

above is Asa Knight’s home so you can compare with the images above. Again, just like my home at “44” down to the lamp and lamppost position. Below there is now a garden area behind the picket fence where the store was located.

I shot the above through the tree line, and then turned around to take the below shot north of the Common. That is the Grange hall to the right. I have gone to events there.

I continued west on East West Road and crossed the West Dummerston Covered Bridge and headed south on Route 30. The bridge now at OSV crossed Stickney Brook just below the old Iron Bridge. I parked, looked north for this image of the Iron Bridge, and then south to the “new” Route 30 bridge across the brook.

here is an early (late 1940s?) real photo postcard of the bridge in this location above. Postcard image is probably looking north based upon tree line – image above is looking south

below is an image of the bridge I took in 2017 at the village. There is a great story of how it was tied down and saved during a hurricane and flood, Ride with George for details.

on the east side of the “new” bridge you can look down to Stickney Brook as it enters the West River.

From the maps I saw Old Jelly Mill Falls a short distance to the east. And a short distance it is — and so well hidden those out-of-towners heading up Route 30 have no idea it is there. Carved down to the rocks it is amazing. Many people were enjoying the water and surroundings. All I need is a “date” and a picnic basket and head back. Now I need to learn about the old Jelly Mill. There were some old foundation stones along the banks. AND, after a couple hours search on 14 June I found history of the “Jelly Mill” and will begin a ROADS AND ROUTES page with its history – check back for the link when added here.

Now back to the original post.

Now, another reason I return? To ride with George, of course, on a cart or stage with his horses around the village. George is an unsurpassed raconteur relating village history. And, early on in my visits we learned we knew the same people, and his nephew lives near me and works in town here.

on this tour into the farm area we first stopped and chatted with the potter who told us about this 12 cent jug – utilitarian, but not expensive. And then George explained the piggery under construction. With a piggery, the little ones had a better chance to survive the elements and eventually become a meal.

After riding with and enjoying George’s stories I got off at the Bullard Tavern for lunch. I had a shepherds pie (somewhat traditional in the 19th century) and a Mud Cup desert. Much to my surprise there were worms in my desert. YIKES – but on close examination, an extra treat – “gummy bear” worms. Do click image for a squirmy view.

Finishing my enjoyable and peaceful lunch at a picnic table outside the Tavern in the shade, I strolled the bucolic Common before heading over to the print shop. Below are the Center Meetinghouse, looking across the Common to the Thompson Bank and Miner Grant Store, and to the Salem Towne House.

I got my first printing press in 1957, been fascinated with printing, and have a number of presses and equipment to this day. With hobbies of printing, photography and collecting US Commemorative stamps beginning in my pre-teens, it all led to Ray today – publishing and writing history articles, and life is good. The interpreter in Isiah Thomas’ printing office filled me in on much more than how a press operates since I told him my background. A great time. I learned that this press was among the items first purchased by Wells as his collecting mania began.

I had seen on the OSV website that special commemorative items had been made in a limited number for the 75th anniversary. Limited to 75 of each item. Once entering the grounds I headed right to the Miner Grant Store to purchase my treasures (as did the woman I did not let in front of me). I thought that the miniature punched tin lanterns would be small, but just a tad shorter than the real ones in the museum. And, my wood-fired pottery pitcher was a must have. The plates are not yet ready, they want me to come back for one. I left my purchases there to retrieve when leaving.

Now, limited number of items, you want a low number, if not Number One. The lanterns were not numbered, but the pitchers were. I searched for Number One, but was told that one of the clerks when unpacking them found Number One and scooped it up. But I found Number Three. I have enjoyed chatting with many people, as you have come to learn, and once outside a fellow followed with his purchase. Ends up he was the volunteer potter who made the pitchers while at home. We had fun chatting about lots of things (including spinal stenosis). He told me that as he laid the pitchers out for numbering he was pretty sure mine was the first made, but placed where it got numbered three. Well, makes a good story, I was first in the door, and have great souvenirs. I lit my lantern that evening when home using a tea candle.

Back at the Visitor Center was “Curator’s Pick: A Look into the Institution Archives.” This young lady was sharing some of the great ephemera documenting the early years at the village, including a paper board game.

Almost five hours there (includes my early arrival to be Number One for sure) it was time to head back north. Back roads of course, Route 32 into New Hampshire always enjoyable. I will be back several times this year, and someday hope I can contribute (more than dollars) time in some way. Old Sturbridge Village is a national treasure for all to enjoy. What I really enjoy seeing is youngsters being exposed to history, the early way of life, and as a result possibly develop an infinity for and get involved in history.


Visit OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE and get involved and contribute in some way

Posted in Old Sturbridge Village - OSV, ROADS and ROUTES | 5 Comments


Remember, you cannot make this stuff up. I have adventures, and I am blessed (thank you, God). I am fine, well, and always “accept and adjust.” Remember when in my Naulakha post I shared a friend’s tale — “do you know how fast I was going, officer, when you jumped out? You could have been killed”  — think I now have an equal (if not better) tale.

It has been hard getting momentum back to get out and play with LadyRABIII (1965 Airstream Caravel), but today was the day finally for a maiden voyage to head to Dr. Dewey’s to get the rear bumper welded back on for safety and aesthetics. I headed off to Weston a tad after 1PM. Heard a strange noise from “my lady” but could have been from rust on a brake pad from inactivity, and in a couple miles it went away. So, no problem.

I got to Weston, and Dr. Dewey went to work.

See that green speck in the background? BLACK BEAUTY’s sister albeit in BRG.

I started up to head home, “hey Dewey, there is that sound again.” It will go away, and it did. Wow, driving home was easier than going. Ray is getting good at towing “his lady.” Speed limit safely all the way, cornered well, my choice in rides to escort her (2001 Ford F150) was just perfect.

You know US Route 5 heading south into Bellows Falls. Coming down the hill into the village the speed limit changes to 30 MPH (hey I am driving American so thinking MPH vice KPH). You know the stretch – flashing speed sign (thanking you for being at the right speed) then the police station, fire station, J&M Towing, and Lisai’s where I love to grocery shop. Approaching the police station I see a cruiser pull to the curb – the blue lights come on, I slide past. The cruiser comes out, siren blaring. Must be on a call, I pull over to make room.

Cruiser pulls up behind me, angles to block the road. Young officer comes up to me. My hands on the wheel to show I do not have a weapon in my hands. Young female officer comes up to me (just a kid), and I say, “hi officer, I know I was going the speed limit.” “Yes you are,” she replies, “but did you know you are on fire?” Well, Ms “I” think that beats your tale!

I get out as the fire trucks roll up (remember the fire station is just yards away). The gracious and polite officer tells me a Cota and Cota driver behind me had called the station advising flames were coming out from underneath LadyRABIII. We crawl under. Right side wheel is leaning out and rubbing body. Fireman pops hub cab and starts spraying something to cool the wheel. It smells. I go inside to check for fire – none. Heat sensor shows major problem underneath.

What can I say? Brief conversation with police officer, fire department, and the towing company that shows up (they were the closest to me – hey, I am talking feet). Do I try driving four and a half miles home? Do I want to lose the wheel on the bridge under reconstruction and screw up the bridge for hours? Do I want to lose the wheel on Route 12, and maybe not relate this tale? Load her up fellows. And we did.

I did the right thing – for everyone. And, everyone was so helpful and gracious. Our Bellows Falls members are to be praised. The officer disappeared before I could hug her – well, maybe someday.

The plan, besides exploring in LadyRABIII, was to “party” in the back of “44” — and she is in position now for those parties.

And, her tow vehicle does not know what is next.

There are lessons here, and hopefully you know me by now. First, ACCEPT and ADJUST, there is always someone worse off than you are. And, for whatever reason I have been blessed, and Cathy and God are watching over me. There could have been a bad and final ending.

Count your blessings, love, RAY

The morning of the 26th, I sent the below email of thanks to the Bellows Falls Police Department, Fire Department, Town Manager, and Cota and Cota. What could have been a very bad situation was handled professionally and extremely well. At a minimum a note of thanks was in order – RAY


This is a note of thanks – yesterday my neighbors in Bellows Falls were special friends, professional and exceptional. 

If I heard correctly from the Police Officer who pulled me over it was a Cota and Cota driver who had called the station to report flames were coming out from under my 1965 Airstream trailer as I was entering the village. If I have that correct, thank you to Cota and Cota.

Pretty sure it was Officer Jillian Cenate who stopped me. Well, going the speed limit, I thought she was going to a call, but when I pulled over she blocked Route 5 and came up to me. “I know I was going the speed limit,” I told her. “Yes, you were, but did you know you are on fire?” Professional and courteous, Bellows Falls has a fine representative with her servicing the force and the public.

Only began talking and crawling underneath with her and the Fire Trucks show up.  Chief McGinnis and his sergeant were there. If others, they were professional, doing their job without my even aware of what was happening. I guess when in a situation like this it is hard to take in all that is happening. But, with trained professionals, things just happen

Yes, there was a problem, and looked like the wheel was about to come off. Discussion back and forth about what to do. Even with less than five miles to go – a real problem could evolve. I decided to do the right thing. Somehow J&M Towing walked up (I was feet from them, and yards from the Fire Department – blessed, yes, and thank God and my late-bride every day). I could not find an email contact for J&M, and did not get names, but believe the owner was there. They loaded up my Airstream, and the young courteous and professional driver placed “her” in my backyard for a summer’s rest.

I have nothing but praise for all involved in what could have been a bad situation. Thank you, yours, RAY

I almost immediately received these replies back:


It is always refreshing to hear positive feedback on our public safety staff.  They work very hard in a lot of tough circumstances and always strive to serve the public.

I really appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge them.

Scott Pickup
Municipal Manager


Ray, Thank you for the kind words.  The employee that call it in was Ed Carello on of our plumbers who is also a volunteer fire fighter.  We are very proud of his actions and showing great character in a potentially dangerous situation.  We are glad you and your airstream are in good shape.
We wish you a happy summer and hope you are able get out and do some camping.

Warm regards,

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | 2 Comments


I have had a hard time getting back out – we all have. I have lost momentum with LadyRABIII, BLACK BEAUTY is buried behind LADYRABII who has a leaking carburetor and dead battery. Bottom line is I am really out of practice. Earlier this week I started planning a BLUE BELLE sojourn around Lake Raponda where Carrie and Rudyard Kipling would visit. On the way I could shop at the Wilmington, Vermont, flea market that opened today. But my mind waffled. Email replies to Ray said, “just do it.” But I modified to a shorter route to hit some new (and old) spots, and finally I left. Glad I did.

Did I say modified? Let me also modify my presentation. Get out your pad of paper and pencil. I will number the images of my route, and see if you know where I am taking you. It could help if you get out a map, I had my 1980 atlas open (real paper in book form) as I went. Write your answers down, and check with the answers at the end. Get them all, and “name your prize.” Actual award up to me. Let’s get going.

For some reason I always end up in Vermont. Better loops? More isolated scenery? Fun dirt back roads? All perfect reasons. I first passed through this village. Great meals at this inn. Sadly most all other retail and eating establishments I used to visit are now vacant

Number 1

Although abandoned, this great “Stonehenge” has not changed in my almost 20 years of passing. The nearby general store, however, is no more.

Number 2

This should be easy. An overnight here in 2002 changed my life. I turned left (south) here.

Number 3

Please do follow this road south. As with many older, original New England roads it follows a little stream. When the road ends, bear right and continue south passing lovely properties until you reach the next town with a perfect Common. This bandstand was constructed for the movie FUNNY FARM, and the “Towns” people asked that it remain.

Number 4

My new plan, hatched less than an hour before I left, was to get something to take out to eat in this historic village and find a spot to eat. I called and found that the village store, since 1822, re-opened just Tuesday by new owners.

Number 5

Around the corner I knew where I was going to eat. No picnic table, but how about a rock along side a small stream? I remember when this museum was opening for the first time, but I did not make it. Named 36 Miles of Trouble, this railroad ran along the West River from Brattleboro to South Londonderry.

Number 6

these images are not on the test, just click to expand, and look and learn.

Heading back south on the not so bad scenery wise main road, one of the few spots to cross the river for many a mile is right here – often seen in my posts.

Number 7

and, turn south just over the bridge, and on the almost immediate bend, turn right onto a unmarked dirt road that you can easily mistake for a driveway. I have wanted to explore this road for some while now, but in chatting with Ilana, I believe she biked this route last week. It follows the river, eventually climbs a mountain with amazing views. Coming back down the mountain, the road ends on a US numbered route near the Connecticut River. That end is close to Kipling’s Naulakha. Giving you too many hints.

Number 8

Yes, that is BLUE BELLE’s antenna that I did not see when taking this image.
RAY HIGHLY RECOMMENDS — TRAVEL THIS ROAD. Along the way you can make out part of the old railroad bed and right-of-way. At this point (below) the old railroad bridge abutments exist, and with turn-offs for parking many folks were down in the river having fun.

With a spot in mind, I turned back north to this farmhouse. On my list, the Landmark Trust USA property is isolated and perfect for large gatherings. Sorry about not so great images – basically an overcast day, thus not that bad with top down (of course it is never up).

Number 9

Getting to this intersection, I turned right at this old 1874 Grange Hall to head down the hill to a US numbered route.

Number 10

Heading back up north I decided I wanted to get back home, and to “work.” I cut over to the super slab, thinking it was time to “blow out some carbon.” BLUE BELLE and I decided to stay a tad under 160 KPH and 4000 RPM until we exited. Then crossing the big river, and onto Main Street and home.

Number 11

Remember I said I was going to modify this post to a different format? Well, as writing, I decided on another modification. I am not going to give you the answers now. Instead I invite you to post your answers as a comment. So, get out your old detailed hard copy maps (or Google.maps if you must) and plot the route and identity the image locations. Maybe in a couple weeks I will post the answers, and annouce a winner, or winners. But if you just get out and explore, you will always be a winner.

Hit those ROADS and ROUTES, love, RAY

Posted in ROADS and ROUTES | 2 Comments

Three Nights at “A JEWEL BEYOND PRICE” – 13-16 MAY 2021

If you have attentively followed my meanderings, you may remember that I discovered NAULAKHA on Flag Day, 2015. And then toured it during an open house in June of 2019. Landmark Trust USA has a number of historic, impeccably preserved properties, and I have enjoyed three of them since November 2020. It was now time for a stay at Rudyard Kipling’s Naulakha in Dummerston, Vermont.

NAULAKHA – 13 MAY 2021

I seem to gravitate to Porches and Rocking Chairs – time to get back to work on my ROCKING CHAIR STUDIES page.

Remember you may click images in my galleries for a larger view. Below is the rhododendron tunnel on 13 May. I have now visited it in June in bloom, in February in snow, and now about to bloom.

Heading south through the rhododendron tunnel you pass an old swimming pool (now filled in) ending at this peaceful pagoda overlooking the hills of New Hampshire in the distance. Kipling’s original clay tennis court is the first tennis court built in Vermont

and, another close-up view from this bucolic spot

The plan, as always, was to read, write, and watch some entertaining films. I brought three books to read, two pamphlets for reference to write my June “Did You Know That…” article, and I brought my projector, screen, and selection of films. Total accomplishment – about eight pages read, one and a half paragraphs written, and no videos. But – the company, the conversation, the laughs (“do you know how fast I was going, officer, when you jumped out? You could have been killed” – not me, culprit to remain unidentified, you had to have been there), and the meals.

But what I did get written was done at Kipling’s desk where he wrote, albeit in a different manner.

Below are a few images in Kipling’s library

I did not take a series of images around this amazing place on this visit because the professional images on Landmark Trust USA’s website are amazing, and the ones I took on the tour in June of 2019 are not bad either. Click on these links to take the tour(s).

Landmark Trust USA — Tour of NAULAKHA

My Tour and images – June 2019

In my writings I enjoy alliteration, particularly in titles. The selection of the date of arrival for this stay was an alliteration of a sort, based on the date of May 13th. A bittersweet time to be with family and friends and rejoice a life — May 13th was the 13th anniversary of the passing of Cathy, my bride of 13 years. My son David, his wife and family, sent this beautiful arrangement which arrived at my home just before I left for Dummerston. It went with me to enjoy in the breakfast nook, and at dinner on Saturday evening.

On our arrival evening, for ease we brought in Chinese from Panda North just down the hill on US 5 – never a bad idea. On Friday night we enjoyed the picnic table. How can you not enjoy this spot?

The sun sets behind the hills to the west, but looking east to New Hampshire can also provide interesting colors and feelings.

The “big adventure” for Saturday was to visit the “museum” in the horse barn at the bottom of the drive.

Built after Kipling had left, his horses that remained were stabled here. An addition (now removed) trapped water and did extensive damage to the structure. As is Landmark’s norm, the restoration is amazing, and you would never know it had been done (except the new support work in the basement). You may click on any image below for a larger view.

from left to right, top to bottom: one of the horse stalls (note the metal sheathing to protect from horses kicking, and their nibblings on the wood; Sled and skies used on the property; the main room; and the new supports underneath.

then back up the hill to “home” —

guessing game time — father? Number Two Son (in birth order)? — hard to tell who is who, isn’t it?

I do not even remember having lunch on Saturday (that busy and exhausted unwinding), but I do remember being coerced into a few games of pool after these two failed. They took the challenge at a quarter a game, and sunk the que ball loosing. And, three times. I may never forgive the 25 cents and 50 cents respectively owed to me. Nice to have people beholding.

On the third floor in one of the rooms is a little museum. I particularly like this showcase with Naulakha souvenirs. Michele, we have to talk. I have the perfect addition to gift the Trust to add here.

and, then it was “formal dinner night” albeit without tux and gowns. It cannot get much better.

and, I had to do this — not close, but close enough – one is Rudyard Kipling, and the other, “yours truly.” Was he that short? Even Ms. Google could not tell me.

And, all wonderful things come to an end, but must be repeated (Michele – I am looking at dates to book with you.)


1 – Visit and study LANDMARK TRUST, USA’s website

2 – Book a stay at one of their amazing properties

3 – Support Landmark Trusts preservation efforts in any way you can, and

ENJOY – have fun, stay safe and stay well, as always, yours, RAY

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment


…when Cathy died, I was playing Grandpa in the play YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU with the Walpole Players. 

The joyous memories remain until you no longer can remember. Cathy touched everyone she met. One should celebrate the good times, although crushed over the loss.

For more about “OUR MIRACLE” Move to New Hampshire in 2002” and life philosophies, I invite you to visit, relax, and reflect reading this page …

“OUR MIRACLE” Move to New Hampshire in 2002
Sadly followed by an update in 2008

Thank you, God Bless, love, RAY

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments


10-12 MARCH 2021

Yes, I have been staying at the Red Lion Inn now for twenty-five years straight. I did walk through the first floor some time in the 1980s, and drove by many times in the early 1960s in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster. You, by now, should realize there have been wonderful patterns in my life. I am blessed, and do not take it for granted. I began writing this memory on 11 March – a year ago today COVID was declared a pandemic, and I got a call from the Inn, “sorry, Ray.” I rescheduled my visit to September 2020.

Cathy and I first stayed for Valentine’s Day in 1996. Many visits followed including three nights for the millennium celebration 1999-2000, and also the following New Year celebration. We canceled the next New Year’s since we were still settling in with our move to Walpole. In April 2008, on the way to Connecticut to adopt Nellie Ann, we had lunch in the Tavern here. That was Cathy’s last visit. I felt I could not come back. It took a year. When I finally came back I realized how important the Red Lion Inn is to me. I am sitting “in my spot,” sorry Sheldon, can see the staircase, and can still hear her footsteps coming down.

The past several months I have read a number of books on 18th century development along the Mohawk Trail and Deerfield River. I also found a series of self published books, “A Revolutionary War Road Trip… .” Of course I bought the ones for the area. With these readings, I developed new routes to explore to the Inn and home. The plan that developed was to get to the Mohawk Trail a different remote way, and on the way home to explore part of the Henry Knox Trail – and as I found out about nine miles of roads “new to me” in the Sheffield area.

Guilford Vermont Country Store – US Route 5 looking south

If you wish, get your maps out. Down I-91 to Exit 1, US 5 into Guilford where I turned right at the General Store onto Guilford Center Road. I have eaten here in the past (T – they have inside seating). In a short distance I headed south on Weatherford Hollow Road toward Leyden, Massachusetts – never been there. And, this is hill country, isolated and with no reason to be there. Well, I saw an agricultural fair grounds – could be fun – hopefully this coming September. Then a right on Zimmerman Mill Road to Leyden, and truly a small hill town. Town Hall, Church, couple houses, and great views.

From here to Colrain. And, why? My French and Indian War reading included much on Charlemont and Colrain, Gary and I drove through Colrain in November, and after reading I needed to see more, and in the process I found a significant event that happened in a now abandoned hill town in Colrain.

I drove into the small crossroads town, and hope to someday see the historical society. I then found my right turn to cross the Arthur A. Smith Covered Bridge.

Crossing the bridge I looped back to Foundry Brook and Village – this was a busy place using the North River.

and looping back, to the bridge again

and down Route 112 to Charlemont Road to find Stacy Road — stay with me.

Stacy Road would take you to the now abandoned village hill town of Catamount Hill within Colrain, but no longer. Talking with a hiker I could have gone further to a parking area, but I could tell he felt that would be ill advised. Probably why all the hikers’ trucks were behind this spot parked. Also no longer connecting are South Catamount Hill Road, and North Catamount Hill Road, which I later found off Heath Road. In my readings in January I found that it was here, in 1812,  that the first US flag was raised above an American Public School, and possibly the first over a building. Perfect for my June (tying in with Flag Day) Did You Know That… history article in my CLARION. More on that as time approaches, but I had to get close to the area. Possibly with mud gone, and in BB1 or BB2, I will go further, and then hike with walking stick.

On my list was next to see Adamsville village in Colrain, so back north I went heading there and then to see Heath and Rowe. I eventually turned around and headed back to the sign I saw saying Heath Road. “Must go to Heath,” Ray says to Ray. Passed a goat farm, rounded several bends, and started climbing. Did I say “hill town country?” Became dirt, Ray loves dirt, but wait. When mud takes over when you are still sharply climbing on a narrowing path, and the tires decide on their own where to steer – time to turn around. Twice in one day, what is happening to me?

Back down 112 then to Route 2, and west on the Mohawk Trail to Charlemont. Charlemont is an outdoorsman’s haven, but seen better days. Most buildings closed, but somehow Avery’s General Store has survived since 1861 and is considered the oldest continuously operating general store in New England. They did not have a deli for me to get a sandwich, but I did get an Asian Noodle salad from the cooler, and headed to a roadside spot that may be familiar, but here it is looking from the opposite direction to the east. I slid open the van’s side door, and enjoyed my salad and black cherry soda.


With much in the area to still explore – the Hoosac Tunnel and more remote villages – I checked out the two camping places on the Mohawk Trail. Sorry, not my forte with packed year round tin cans. Lady RAB III already has told me, “Ray, remote quiet spots, wooded and old-fashioned.” My future explorations in this area will be BB2 day-trips.

So passing 1,000 feet over the Hoosac Tunnel in Florida, I opted not to go down Central Shaft Road but continue to North Adams and find the location of Fort Massachusetts. The western most fort during the mid 1700s, on August 19, 1746, eight hundred French and Indian soldiers surrounded Fort Massachusetts and took prisoners to Canada. Rebuilt, but falling into disrepair and ultimately lost, a replica was built in the 1930s as a tourist attraction, and the DAR placed a plaque. The replica was demolished in 1970, and all that remains is the chimney. So, look for an abandoned Price Chopper parking lot, and in the rear is the preserved spot. Next trip I hope to see the plaque.

Then into Williamstown, south on my favorite US Route 7, through Pittsfield, into the Red Lion Inn’s parking lot, check in, unpack, and head to the porch to find this new enclosure of vinyl in custom aluminum frames – ingenious. Small heaters were also included, thus they could spread out tables for meals here and also on the side porch, which was not enclosed, but in use since it was in the 60s.

Dressed for dinner, enjoyed the lobby, slept, and breakfast (below) the next morning before heading off for my usual routine, plus a new exploration.


Staying for two nights, I have a whole day without unpacking and then packing. I have a routine, my day out may vary, but does hinge around some of the antique shops in the area. Always looking for presents for Ray, and books to sell to pay for those presents.

I bought some books, but sadly no new presents for Ray (maybe LADY RAB III and her towing companion fill the bill for awhile). But most important, at Great Finds, just seconds before I pulled away, Joe pulled up alongside me. I have known Joe for almost 25 years, Cathy and I first visiting, and buying books from him, at his “inn” in Connecticut. Timing is everything. We visited awhile, and will get together again soon.

After Millerton began the new adventure. North on NY Route 22 (another favorite road of mine) looking for Route 71 at Nobletown, to see the Knox Trail Monument. I could go on and on, and maybe will in a separate history article. But briefly, and most important, Henry Knox was a Boston Bookseller (just one more connection and thread in my life). In winning confidence from George Washington, Knox moved captured cannons from Crown Point and Fort Ticonderoga to Boston. His “noble train” took from November 17, 1775 to January 25, 1776. Placement of the cannons around Boston finally drove the British from holding the city. I learned of the Henry Knox Trail and his feats in my readings.  In 1927, 56 granite and bronze monuments were installed along Knox’s route in New York and Massachusetts to create the 300-mile-long Henry Knox Cannon Trail, one of the earliest heritage trails in the country. A new quest was begun, and I found the turn.

here is a close-up of the bronze plaque that appears on the New York State markers. Notice the tokens on top left by visitors.

east, two and a half miles, is the Massachusetts border. Massachusetts’ monuments take a different form, and the ones I visited later on are similar. But, on the back side, facing New York State, is the same bronze plaque as above.

and a close up of the bronze inset

further down Route 71 (five miles from the state line) is North Egremont. I had never been down this route before. Ironically one of the books I purchased earlier is a history of this small village and the work a local historian did correcting the route through this area using Knox’s diary. Here at the country store (where I purchased a muffin to eat on the bench) is the next marker.

and, a close up including a memorial to those lost on 911.

Next I passed through the village of South Egremont which I have visited before with Cathy. I go back even further in time here. September 15-16, 1963, almost 58 years ago, I drove up from Wilton in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster to the now defunct Jug End Barn resort for a Model A Ford show. I took many pictures, but in checking my collection just now (yes I save almost everything), I only have one image of my Belzebuth there, below in the background (right) loaded with camping gear on the running board. Still struggling whether to sell or not sell my “new” ’29 Roadster.

another very important part of American history I am grasping to understand had its conclusion just down the road in Sheffield. Shay’s Rebellion (1786-1787) which exposed the weakness of the government under the Articles of Confederation and led many, including George Washington, to call for strengthening the federal government leading to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. So much more to learn, study, and keep me young. On Sheffield/Egremont Road (which was new to me, and I will traverse again) is this monument of the battle in the field behind the stone.

in this gallery below, if you click to enlarge you can read the history plaque that is here.

it was then back to the RLI parking lot, a walk around town, and return to the Inn to show you the new enclosure from the outside. It is tastefully done in my opinion.

It was then time to prepare for my further explorations along the Henry Knox Trail on the way home. Lots of good information on-line, many notes taken, and I probably will write more about Knox – hey he was a brother bookseller. I discovered that the writer of the series of books I purchased missed a location, off the main road. Yes, on my list to find.

Leaving on Friday the 12th (the three quarter century day) I headed back down US 7 to Great Barrington to head east on Route 23. At that intersection is another Massachusetts Henry Knox Trail marker. I bet very few people pay attention to historical markers.

The next marker is in Monterey where I have visited before, even have lunch inside the country store here during a great trip through in November 2014. I recommend you click, read, and follow that trip. Below is looking west from the marker to the village.

and, by now you know what the Massachusetts marker looks like.

it was then east to Blandford and a small park in front of the town garage.

surprise … no, actually I have been moving one marker from spot to spot.

the next marker, that the writer of my guide missed, was in Russell, so off I went to US 20 and Russell. But no marker. Checking my notes I found it was at the intersection of General Knox Road and South Quarter Road. So, I dictated into WAZE, and off I went – backtracking, making a turn off Route 23 to find this small rural intersection.

and the marker

I decided to skip finding the marker in busy Westfield, so headed north on Route 10 since I had not been on it in awhile. Do not need to do it again – too cosmopolitan and commercial for me. Back onto I-91, I always pull off and into Old Deerfield, and was hoping to buy a toy for Ray at the Museum shop. It has been closed the days over the past year when I have driven through. But, Friday, it had to be open – NOT – not until late April.

But also on the plan was to take the image below to help you win more drinks. One imagines that the buildings in Old Deerfield are all in situ, but there is an exception – Hall’s Tavern, now the visitors center.

Driving down the Mohawk Trail from Shelburne Falls, just before East Charlemont you will see a field and farm – Halls Tavern Farm. Yes, in my readings I found that the Tavern (c1760) was originally here, and moved in 1949, 20 miles to the Deerfield site where a tavern stood until burning in 1799. You may share you winnings with me any time – chardonnay is fine.


1 – Do not stop reading and learning. One thing leads to another, and new explorations and experiences are right in your back yard, or easy day trips.

2 – Add an over night or two, and stop and look at the markers, for again the learning continues. Simply maintain an active mind and intellectual curiosity.

3 – Just don’t stop.


Posted in The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments


I enjoy writing. I write to remember. I write for enjoyment. And, I enjoy writing to share. This past week I have done a great deal of writing for the March issue of my CLARION newspaper, and I cannot stop the words from flowing to my fingers and the keyboard. So, here are some more words, and there is absolutely no obligation to follow from one to the next. Last I reported to you on 4 February when I had a great SERENDIPITOUS SNOWY SOJOURN, complete with lunch overlooking the West Arlington Covered Bridge. And, here are some happenings since that time.

You had better remember that LADY RAB III joined my harem in November. Impulsive – possibly. Smart – most likely in view of travels during COVID, even in 2021. But not without some trepidations. GiGi (Granite Girl) has a towing rating to tow LADY RAB III, but not much margin of error for tough pulls, and we do have some hills here in New England. Did I do the right thing? Lost sleep, concern, what should I do? Get a larger tow vehicle? A possibility that entered the back of my mind. Yes, a possibility, but where do I begin? But things just happen.

I need some groceries to fill out the cupboard for another ten days, so on Friday, 12 February I headed to Lisai’s. Always liking to see what is new in different areas, I ventured north on the east side of the river, and came home on the west side. Passing Westminster (VT) Auto (since 1989) a pick-up truck caught my eye. I checked their website once home – under $8k, new engine, wow. I went back Saturday morning. The truck parked near the road was different, but the one I read about was around on the side. Quick look, and I went inside to chat with Vernon. “It is a two-wheel drive,” he replied to my question as to why it had been on the lot so long. “Everyone now wants four-wheel drive.” I learned the history, what work had been done, and made arrangements to have it checked out at Tole’s on Monday the 15th. Short story shortened, truck checked, back to the lot, negotiations with more “fixes” included, and LADY RAB III now has a new playmate for $7,300. And, with luck our travel towing trepidations are solved. Now close to having a different vehicle for each day of the week.

So, next on the schedule was another Landmark Trust USA escape – this time to the Sugarhouse for three nights from the 16th to the 19th. This was great, and a needed respite 25 minutes and a world away from home. I love being home, but I needed to get away to isolate and read and write. How can you not love hiding out in this environment?

I cannot sing higher praises about Landmark Trust’s properties. They have done everything right, plus. Now having stayed at three of their properties, with authority I can say: impeccably clean, fantastic themed decorations for each property, the finest of kitchen equipment, bedding and linens top line, and the ambience and settings unequaled. Not being able to take images the quality they share on their website – please click on this link for a full appreciation of the Sugarhouse. Only thing missing was the young lady on the couch waiting for me.

I settled in Tuesday night, and started writing. I set up three “work areas.” The round oak table, the writing desk, and the couch. I ended up “working” most of the time at the claw-footed round oak table. Wednesday I finished up my March “Did You Know That…” article, and then headed down to pick up two luncheon specials at Panda North. Even though Landmark’s kitchens are perfect, I brought with me some frozen left-overs from various casseroles I had made. The Panda’s luncheon specials are about half the price of dinners, so I could not resist, and easy to microwave (did I say the kitchens are fully equipped? Yes, but just reiterating).  And, then it was off to Keene for my first COVID shot. Yesterday I wrote of that experience to share with others so they know what to expect. It will be in the March CLARION, but since that is a week away I posted the article on-line, and it has been read almost 200 times so far — click here for that article. Thursday was an all day of reading (THE CONNECTICUT by Walter Hard, 1947, part of the Rivers of American Series), and writing. I watched movies Wednesday and Thursday nights on my “big screen.” Gary suggested I again see 1941 — and I did with laughs all the way through.

Awaking about 6AM on Friday there had only been a light dusting of snow, but soon it got heavier. Check-out time is 10AM, I planned on reading until then, but with books to ship, decided it wisest to get out of the Dummerston hills sooner. Remember the snow when I left Kipling’s Carriage House in January? Well, now again.

I cannot wait to get back in warm weather and have a fourth “work area” inside this screened in area overlooking the apple orchards.

bye, snow and all

and, I also wish to enjoy the bucolic and historic Scott Farm – headquarters of Landmark Trust USA. Beautiful even in a snowy mist.

What is next? Each day is different, and gone before I know it, packed with projects that emerge. I do have a RLI date, was thinking of postponing, but now thinking I won’t. Did I say I enjoy writing? Ideas flash through my mind, and last week some words and problems creatively came together. Those thoughts began to ferment as I was falling asleep, but coming downstairs my fingers began to move quickly on a keyboard. The result, Peeves and Other Indignations. Sending it off to friends, they called in hysterics. Number Two Son (in birth order) emailed and said, “Awesome. 😉 You’re like the Andy Rooney of Walpole!” I have another jelling in my mind – Pillows. So, again, no obligation, but here is that bit of writing just below. Stay safe and stay well, and thank you for getting this far, as always yours, RAY


I have been accused of not being flexible – but that is not the case (except for my aging frame). But, if not being in favor of change is being inflexible, particularly at the grocery store, then I am inflexible.

When did you last push your cart down the aisle 12 feet, stop, turn left and reach for a 64 ounce jug of V-8 Juice, only to find it not there? It has always been there – just below eye level, swing your arm out, open fingers, clamp down, and move to cart. Scanning the shelves left to right, up and down begins. Tears well up. Finally, hidden on the bottom shelf paces away, I see it. I guess they aren’t paying up for shelf space, I ponder. Decades ago I ran the Navy Commissary Program with 89 grocery stores around the world, so I know something about the business, enough “to be dangerous.” But it gets worse. Trying to be flexible (the body remember) to get down to the bottom shelf, I discover: 100% Vegetable Juice (now ‘original’); 100% Vegetable Juice Low Sodium; Spicy Hot; High Fiber; Low Sodium Spicy Hot; Hint of Black Pepper Vegetable Juice. It is hard work making sure you transfer only your customary ‘original’ into your cart. And, then being careful that someone has not messed up the shelves, and the second jug you pluck is “spicy hot.” By experience, not my choice.

Forget the fact that a product has been relocated on another shelf. Add to that a change in packaging and I am lost. Don’t they realize, if I cannot see the package I have trudged home for years, that equates to lost sales? With luck, I may see the “new and improved” (their words) packaging, but is it really? And is it the same product inside? And is the price the same, but for less product? Maybe I am not flexible. This is not a one-time occurrence. Just think of your own frustrating grocery searches.

But not just the grocery. I wanted some more Tylenol to help my not so flexible body. I carefully wrote down all the detailed information on my bottle: 500mg, Coated, Extra Strength, 225 tablets — it is the red tablets I like as they go down easily (maybe I am not flexible). Trip to Walgreens, needed refill prescriptions anyway. Maybe eight feet of shelf space devoted to Tylenol just below eye level with more choices on the shelves below. I have trouble if I have to choose between chocolate and vanilla. This was too much. I assumed the hole on the shelf was where my choice (and that of everyone else) was. Have you ever counted up the time wasted scanning shelves and repeated trips to the store? Looking for Tylenol on Amazon once home was no easier, and did not result in an addition to cart and purchase.

Latest indignation? I have been “short sheeted.” You have probably been as well. Manufacturers, always opportunists, have utilized the pandemic to line their coffers. Actually, now having spent hours pondering this problem and comparing packages, although still an adequate “comfort level” I have been “short sheeted” with my latest toilet tissue paper procurement.

Starting a year ago you could not find a sliver of tissue, but I was in a good stock position. There was no choice on those shelves for months – no decision has to be made when there is nothing there. One visit there was a sleeve of an off brand – it went home with me. Each rare visit (I live alone) to the big city (Keene) store I check the shelves, and recently there was one small package of Angel Soft. It flew into my cart. Yesterday a roll needed replenishing. I opened the package. Something did not seem right. I went to replace the roll, and it struck me — the new roll was 1/8 of an inch shorter (I have what I call “a printer’s eye” and can spot small dimension problems). Those cheapskates. Still enough cover to do the job, but I feel cheated. I pulled the old wrapper of what I have purchased for years out of the recycling bag to compare all the stats – Angel Soft 2-Ply, 36 Double, 4 inch by 4 inch. On the new package, there it was, fine print, 3.8 inch by 4.0 inch. It just adds up to more confusion and frustration. Maybe I am getting too old. But I guess if it gives me more to write about I want to get frustrated and old.

On 22 February, one of my faithful readers, Lauren, emailed saying — Haha! I enjoyed your update. And your story at the end reminded me of when they completely rearranged the layout of our Target about a year and a half ago. I knew where everything was in the store, and how to get in and out as quickly as possible before my toddler lost patience with her temporary shopping cart prison. I was so upset when they literally rearranged the entire store, scrambling all the departments into a different order for who knows what reason. New shelving, new flooring, new layout…it was a construction zone mess for a good while, and then on top of that I couldn’t find anything anymore! In commiserating with the employees who also had to figure everything out all over again, I found out they were just as annoyed as we the shoppers were!

To which, I had to reply, more words and chuckles flowing — Yesterday I visited “… Lisai’s in Bellows Falls – a nice (almost 100 year old) family food market. I first stopped at their earlier Chester location, to get some cans while camping in Vermont in 1963 in my Model A Ford.

Well, a tad more expensive for routine stuff, but the best meats, and great people in the store, and I get to avoid the “big city” stores. Yesterday I get to the deli corner and reach for the home made cookies — but no, where are they? And there is a floor case there now rather than shelves. The young deli girl walks by, “where are my cookies?”  “We moved a few things around for a change, they are right at the front door when you enter,” she replied.

I go back to the front – there are the shelves with those baked goods – right where you should stumble into them. But, with focused shopping knowing where everything is supposed to be, I would never have seen them. I wonder where they will be next month? First product relocation there that I am aware of. I guess every couple decades it is alright, but not during my shopping experience.”

Who is next to share their tale of woe, frustration and hysterics (both good laughs and tears of hysteria)?


Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , | 3 Comments


When a back roader (me) finds a road back of his favorite back road (US Route 7A) you cannot imagine the resulting euphoria. And there is a backstory to this serendipitous snowy sojourn. It all started buying some books a couple weeks ago. The majority of the collection was books on Vermont. I buy books that I feel I can find a new home for, and also do not mind owning forever, and maybe even reading, or at least browsing through. One book is this collection was ROBERT TODD LINCOLN’S HILDENE AND HOW IT WAS SAVED 1975-1978. It was fascinating detailing how the home of Abraham Lincoln’s surviving son’s home was saved and turned into a historic museum. It detailed the property, and some facts I did not know. I love placing things on Google Maps, and in doing so discovered some roads between US Route 7A (the original road) and the (UGH) super slab US Route 7 bypass (that to be honest, helped protect the area). In over five decades of touring this area I had not been on, nor was aware of, these roads. A plan was hatched, reading done, and weather reports watched. February 4 looked like the day – I was on the road at 9AM. As you can see in my images, it was afternoon before the haze broke in the skies.

I headed across Vermont on Route 11 towards Manchester, but prior to entering Manchester Center turned south on Richville Road (I cannot find the origin of this road’s name). This road eventually runs along the Battenkill River in the valley between US 7 and US 7A. The first connector road to historic 7A is Union Street, and I turned right (west). Where else but in Manchester would a road run between two golf courses? To the north, The Golf Club at Equinox – designed in 1927 – and on the south, Ekwanok Country Club – founded in 1899. At the top of Union Street is the Equinox Hotel. I now know how locals avoid the ugly declining outlet stores and traffic rotary in Manchester Center.

Equinox Hotel, Manchester, VT

Mary Lincoln spent two summers here with her sons. Robert was introduced to the area. Mary planned to return with her husband in the summer of 1865, and the hotel began building a presidential suite. John Wilkes Booth’s action killed that plan as well. The inn was essentially abandoned and falling down by 1972, but saved from destruction, and following a $20 million restoration, the Equinox reopened in July 1985 as a year-round resort hotel and conference center.  Cathy and I had dinner here in the late 1990s, just as my first herniated disk broke loose.

Next door to the north is the former home of the Johnny Appleseed Bookstore. The shop was run by legendary author and bookseller Walter Hard. Time to re-read my copy of A Memory of Vermont. Our Life in the Johnny Appleseed Bookshop by his wife, Margaret. Ages ago I did get to see inside the shop before it ceased to operate.

Former home – Johnny Appleseed Bookshop.

Turning around and heading back east on Union Street, I turned south once back at Richville Road. Richville dead ends on River Road where I turned north to find the school house mentioned in the book on Hildeen.

continuing on, I came to the entrance to the Wilburton Mansion, and turned in. Remember my tour there in 2017? I need to return and stay.

and, coming back down their drive are these expansive views of the valley which you cannot appreciate with leaves on the trees. In this gallery (remember you can click to enlarge) the image on the right is looking off to the hilltop to Hildene.

Continuing back south on River Road it becomes Sunderland Hill Road. Sunderland is the next town south before Arlington. From google maps I saw a cross road, Hill Farm Road. And this is where the Hill Farm Inn is located. It was another great stop on that Manchester holiday tour in 2017.

looping  back to the “back road” – Sunderland Hill Road – perfection soon appeared in the form of the Chiselville Covered Bridge.



With clearance supposedly of eight feet and six inches, I am not sure if LADY RAB III would make it through. Don’t think I will chance it. Chiselville you ask? I hope you do. Well click on the image to the right to read the sign at the bridge to learn.


Crossing through the bridge heading south I had to turn down the dead end Chiselville Road. I did not trespass into a yard to see the gorge the bridge crosses – but guess it is spectacular. Of course, you could not even get this image in the summer.

So continuing south where do you end up? East Arlington, and tears for Ray. Yes, I had visited East Arlington in the 70s and 80s, but once retired (hate that word) from the Navy, and was a full-time bookseller, one of my first scouting trips included East Arlington – it was packed with antique shops – but no more. In the first image in the gallery below there was an antique shop on the second floor with the entrance through the red door. Bought many books, and a 3 foot high RCA Nipper Dog that I did real well with. The next two images are of antique shops now vacant, and the last shop (in the old movie theater) was amazing. Whenever I entered the owner greeted me by name (even if a year had passed), and said he remembered Cathy as well. Did I say teary eyed memories?

One of the joys I have is planning a trip — almost as much fun as the execution. I knew that when I left East Arlington I would stop at the deli in Arlington and pick up a bite to eat. And, where do you eat during COVID? In West Arlington, of course. But sorry Ms. T., I did not clean off a picnic table, but savored my sandwich behind the wheel while also savoring this view.

My journey west to West Arlington was on the north side of the Battenkill River on Route 113, but heading back east I traversed River Road for the first time in winter. Need to do it again.

Now for some history – interesting history to win you more drinks at the bar. Below is the sign you see entering Arlington on 7A from the south.

Yes, the First Capital of Vermont. But put this into perspective. Vermont was the Independent Republic of Vermont for 14 years, and not part of the new United States until 1791. Thus, going a tad further you could say that Arlington is a former nation’s Capital. Portions of your winnings graciously accepted.


Back in “downtown” Arlington is this sign explaining that Governor Thomas Chittenden lived in this spot. It is not clear (at least to me) if it was this home, built in 1764, or one just to the east (behind it) that was the Governor’s. However, looking west from this spot legend has it that a tall pine stood – the pine that became the state seal in 1779. A sugar maple (tree on the left in image below) now towers from that spot.



Directly next door to the north is this old Gothic church. In the late 80s this was a Norman Rockwell museum. The old red sign can be seen leaning against the side of the building. At that time Rockwell models from Arlington staffed the museum and related stories of sitting for the illustrator. I am sorry I do not remember what they told me.

At the north end of Main Street (US 7A), but do not blink, is The Arlington Inn. Cathy and I were staying there when that disk popped at dinner at the Equinox. Our hosts encouraged us to leave, and fast, not wanting to be blamed for the mishap. But, now 25 years later I know it is just my deteriorating frame. In my preliminary planning for this excursion I found the Inn is now for sale for $1.6M. I decided not to make an offer – I have my eyes on river front property instead.

Next up the road heading back towards Manchester is the Battenkill Camping Ground. In the 70s and 80s I had a tent trailer camper, and several times stayed directly on the river here with the kids.

Another cross road between 7A and Sunderland Hill Road was around the bend, and I had to see it also. Laver Road — so glad I went up and back.


Back on 7A I decided to snap these two images. For a long weekend in the late 1980s I rented this house with the Battenkill in the backyard. Trying to decide what to do post US Navy Supply Corps, I decided having a bookstore in the barn would be perfect in this area. I toured the barn, and decided upon naming my shop Battenkill Books.  But, now the barn is but a stone foundation.

Did I say I have spent a great deal of time in this beautiful area? Next heading north, in Sunderland, is – The Ira Allen House, a B&B. It was built by Ethan Allen, of Green Mountain Boys fame and Ira Allen (Ethan’s brother) who was the Surveyor-General of Vermont. Cathy and I stayed here on two different occasions traveling up from the shop in Connecticut.

Remember it was reading the book on saving Hildene that prompted this sojourn? About 12 years ago Scott, Betty, Rich and I toured Hildene in the winter, and then cross-country skied on the grounds. I had to pull in the long drive. I took a look at the gift shop, and snapped this view of Mt. Equinox.

What a great outing, and even nicer with a bright sky. Heading home I swung through Peru (in Vermont that is) which is always a treat.

and in Simonsville was able to catch this view of Rowell’s Inn. Cathy and I never made it there, but I did start enjoying dinners there with BLACK. BEAUTY and BLUE BELLE. It was a place were “everyone knew my name.” But, more tears, not well run (but great food), the bank foreclosed. Vacant for years, last I heard a bakery was to open, but it appears that has not happened and some deterioration continues.

Back into Chester, stop at the antique center. But, alas, it is getting hard to spend money – nothing even tempted me. But in Bellows Falls I did get to spend some coins at Lisai’s, and am set with meals for a week plus.

A wonderful six and a half hour outing, rejuvenating, nostalgic, and I maybe some touring ideas for you. But, remember I write for myself to remember, but do like to share.

Stay well and stay safe – my first shot is on the 17th — as always, yours, RAY

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For safety, of course, options for travel, diners out, movies, and the like are limited, and best should simply be avoided. But a CHANGE OF SCENERY can help, and I have found a great way (for me) to enjoy a rejuvenating change. You may recall that scenery change in November was at the Amos Brown House, an hour (and two centuries) away. This week’s escape was 25 minutes away at Kipling’s Carriage House. Gary again joined me. We both drove directly from home, no stops, and spent three days, interacting with no one – not even a moose or squirrel or mouse.

In June 2015, having read about Rudyard Kipling in Vermont, BLUE BELLE and I decided

NAULAKHA – Dummerston, Vermont

we needed to explore Kipling Road in Dummerston, Vermont. There we saw NAULAKHA, built by Kipling in 1893.  It is in this house that Kipling wrote CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS, THE JUNGLE BOOKS, A DAY’S WORK, and THE SEVEN SEAS. He also worked on KIM and THE JUST SO STORIES. But more importantly, I then became familiar with Landmark Trust USA. And, then was fortunate to learn of a tour in 2019 of Naulakha. I wrote about that experience in “A JEWEL BEYOND PRICE” – NAULAKHA – A VERMONT TREASURE.  Friends and I had a great time that afternoon.

Returning from the Amos Brown House I knew I had to experience more of Landmark Trust’s exquisite properties, and I booked Kipling’s Carriage House, seen below 13 January 2021 from Kipling Road, and coming up the drive.

and, placing you between Kipling’s home and the Carriage House. I decided to not even try to capture how great this property is, but recommend you browse the professional images of the interior on Landmark’s page for the Kipling Carriage House.

Wednesday night we had dinner (I had made casseroles at home to make it even more relaxing while there – and easier with your own kitchen even though Landmark’s kitchens are amazing and well outfitted). We then figured out how to use the new screen I had purchased following our not having a screen watching movies with my new projector at the Amos Brown House. Laughs at our “new theater” followed before bedtime.

Michele, of Landmark, told me no one would be at Kipling’s home until Friday, so we could enjoy the rhododendron tunnel if we wished. And, we so wished and did Thursday.

above is looking at the tunnel from the porch, and below another “rocking chair study.”

The tunnel is a unique experience, having now been through in June and January. Can’t wait until a visit in full bloom.

you can certainly tell it was overcast during our entire visit. At the end of the tunnel is this gazebo. This view looks over the tennis courts towards distant “hills” in New Hampshire.

you probably remember you can click on my “galleries” for larger images.

and, passing the entryway to NAULAKHA, back “home” for the rest of the day.

Gary had work, and Zoom meetings, and I had writing projects and reading. He got his work done, but I did not. As usual I brought more to do than time to do it – when will I learn? I brought books (eleven in total) for three writing projects, along with related folders of information, and reading material. Also a pile of old antiques magazines to cull out articles to save – well, maybe another year. I thought at least I would finish a Josie Prescott “antique mystery.” Maybe tonight, Sunday. So, after diner? More of our “mindless” movies and shows.

Friday we both “worked” in the morning, and following lunch I had a circular route to drive – up Kipling Road, past Scott Farm (headquarters of Landmark Trust USA), roam around Dumerston Center, then west to cross the West River, down Route 30 to Brattleboro, and back up US 5 and back up Black Mountain Road, and “home.” First here is Scott Farm, a filming location of The Cider House Rules. The movie also features Ventfort Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts, which I have toured twice, and opens at the Bellows Fall train station.

Scott Farm – Dumerston, Vermont

we spotted a couple of these educational bee displays

my next “Change of Scenery” is already booked at The Sugar House

You have heard me say that a drive is different each time you take it, well a different season makes bigger differences. With leaves on the trees I could never share with you this southerly looking view of Vermont’s longest covered bridge across the West River.

Driving down Route 30, on the other side of the river was obviously an old railroad bed, something also too hard to see with leaves out. Back at the carriage house, and googling to learn I got my answer. The West River Railroad. Fascinating, I had read about the museum opening, but missed the day. And, a book I can always quickly sell – Thirty-Six Miles of Trouble – is about this short route. Can’t wait to find my next copy.

Back “home” – I defrosted the vegetarian chile I had made, and then it was back to “movie time.” Ended up being a seven hour marathon with a Gilligan’s Island Documentary, Delta House episodes, something I cannot remember, and to prove we are not totally “mindless” The Cider House Rules — hey we were right there, so had to.

my new ten foot screen (well you know they measure diagonally) is great, as is my blue-tooth speaker. Gary is ready to start.



It was about 1 AM when we decided to save the last two Delta House episodes for another “movie night,” and turned in. I was aware something had happened early morning, and getting out of bed at 7AM confirmed it was a loss of power. But I started packing, and got back to my mystery. Gary soon found me downstairs with an emergency lamp. Did I tell you Landmark Trust thinks of everything? (PS – great image, thanks, Gary – and it can be enlarged by clicking)


And looking out the door, there had been a heavy wet snow fall that probably knocked out the power.

Do you remember my recommendations following our stay at the Amos Brown house? Well, I am simply going to repeat them:


1- Visit Landmark Trust USA and review the exquisitely restored properties you may rent and experience.
2- Spend your money for experiences and memories
3- Document those experiences and memories such as I do. You have no idea how much pleasure I get rereading what I have done, particularly now when our travels are impacted by COVID-19
4- Did I say book a stay at a Landmark property? Book a stay at a Landmark property, just don’t bump me from getting back, and back soon.

Stay well, wear your mask, and stay safe. Love, RAY

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