Still a tad early for the hills to be all popping out — but BLUE BELLE and I had to get out, and that does not mean we cannot pop out more. Saturday, 26 September, we clocked 209 kilometers. Below is the route we traversed. (and, you can click on the map for an almost full-screen version – and you can also see larger images throughout by clicking on them).

Last year, on both 9 and 13 October, I captured some great views, and you may wish to clink on this link to revisit. I knew I would be a tad early this year, but each year is different. I left in haze (weather – not me), which began to clear once I passed through Cambridgeport on Route 121.

The big tree in front of The Grafton Inn had not yet begun to turn, but this is the view just beyond the Inn prior to Route 121 bearing right out of “town,” how can you not love this?

As you may imagine, I receive a good number of emails advising me of things of interest to me. I get a number from Happy Vermont dot Com. A recent article was Why Vermont’s Fall Foliage is Better than the RestYou may wish to look at that article, but here are some of the fun facts quoting Vermont Forests, Parks, and Recreation Commissioner Mike Snyder. RED, ORANGE, YELLOW and GOLD, Vermont’s foliage is the world’s best because of its variation, vibrancy and vantage points (I believe this is a key factor). Factors impacting leaves changing color include: light level, temperature, soil conditions, and more. The change of colors is NOT predictable, but largely predictable in a general pattern, and within that pattern there are variances each year, adding to the fun.

But why Vermont? It is one of the most heavily forested states in the country and has the highest proportion of maple trees. Soil and geology play a part. Vermont’s calcium-rich bedrock and relative sweetness of its soils “translate into tree composition, growth, and vibrancy.” Color varieties come from the variety of species and forest types, and Vermont has more maples than any other state. Snyder says, “maples are the show stealers.” The array of vantage points is made possible with rivers (as I show above), ponds, lakes, trails, and open farm land with mountains in the background.

My route this day hit all those various type of locations. But what I found of interest is usually I see color first in higher elevations. This trip the colors I captured were east of the Green Mountains. Once I was on the other side and looking at the hills above Manchester and US Route 7 north – there is a ways to go.

Back to the map, I headed out of Grafton on 121 toward North Windham. I soon realized that I am always coming in the opposite direction – this is a first. But, in New England, I marvel at something different no matter what direction, or if the trip is only a week or season later. Going the other way, I had not seen this house before on VT 121.

Recently my lunch stops have been getting a sandwich in a general store and enjoying a picnic table. Deciding not to stop at the crowded (a relative term in Vermont and New Hampshire) general store in Peru, I decided to stop instead at the Dorset general store. Manchester was packed with out of staters, it appears they have missed Dorset. I was heading through Dorset anyway on Route 30 leaving Manchester Center. And, some nostalgia. My first trip to Dorset was in the summer of 1964 in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster. I visited a former neighbor from Wilton. At ninety she had just made a hole in one at the country club there. We had lunch at the clubhouse. But getting my lunch this day, I sat at a picnic table, with my “Dorset Reuben” (turkey vice corned beef) on the greenway in the “town’s center” – again a relative term. You may click the images for larger views.

Another post I get every year from Happy Vermont is  Get Outside This Fall on These 6 Vermont Scenic Dirt Roads.  Many I have been on, but not Danby-Mount Tabor Road between Landgrove and Danby. Lunch done (enjoying church chimes at noon) I headed north to Danby Mountain Road — up and up, dirt and dirt – just what we like. No striking change of color as yet,

but rounding one corner into open fields, just guess what this will be like in a few weeks. (Click for full screen)

I revisited Danby Four Corners (which I think is really just three corners), and all the buildings (four or five) were still there. Then back down the hill to Danby which I have visited before, and you should know why it is noteworthy.

“Downtown” Danby, Vermont

just think what color is just weeks or days away in the distance over this soldier’s shoulders.

and, here is why you need to visit Danby. You can click on this image for better readability, and I hope you do read.

Crossing US Route 7 (quiz, what is my favorite road in the US? – you better know the answer). you head through the hamlet of Mount Tabor into the National Forest, and begin the climb. Click the image below – but better yet, visit in person to see the rock erosion.

White Rocks National Recreation Area – crossing over Bib Branch River

and, climbing higher

there are few open spaces, and not many leaves turning as yet. To be truthful this is not a route for leaves. BUT, if (like me) you have to say you have been on this dirt stretch, then go. But remember – closed in the winter. In fact, the road had been closed for years, another bridge taken out by Irene. Dr. Dewey had warned me that the replacement bridge was built with the wrong angles and to be careful. Crawling at maybe a mile an hour I cleared with inches, avoiding a hard bump and broken crankcase cover.

The road ends in Landgrove, just up from the Inn. I always enjoy going through charming North Landgrove, but there were no images to capture for you. But, then knowing I wanted to head to Weston, I took various turns that indeed brought me down the hill (near Dr. Dewey’s) to the village proper. You know I like to “frame” images, and this one I liked taking.

Back to my map above, note I travelled north on VT 100 from Weston heading towards Ludlow, but looking for Andover Road which I first discovered in May 2015 — take a look at that time for this amazing road and views. And, a stop at East Hill Cemetery is a must for the views. Do click this panorama for a full screen. Still aways to go, but the views at the Andover end of Andover Road – at this end East Hill Road from Andover – are amazing all the way to Mt. Monadnock when the haze cooperates.


I need to get back to this spot soon, and with a picnic. Make sure you also visit East Hill Cemetery in Andover, Vermont. The history related here is extremely interesting. Click the image for a larger aerial view.

As I said before, each year the leaves are different. I have a sugar maple in the back yard which is always the last to turn. This year it is almost the first. It was but a sapling when I moved in 18 years ago, growing from a stump of a downed tree. I did not measure its girth, but it is pretty massive now. Maybe in my next leaf post I will share my treasured tree.

I promise — you will have more short trips with scenery and leaves in the next few weeks. That you for “traveling with me,” love, RAY

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

MY “SECOND HOME” – THE RED LION INN – 9-11 September 2020 – and bonuses 2019 and 2018

I write for myself to remember, but love to share as you know. And during the pandemic I have been able to travel with myself on past adventures reviewing my past posts. In planning new routes to explore I will look at some old posts to check where I have been, and not been. That is why you also see here my 2019 and 2018 RLI trips – in looking for those posts to verify routes to Stockbridge, I found they had never been written. I knew at some point I had been to Cummington, Massachusetts, but no post existed. Searching three computers I found the images I was looking for. May 2018 had been “processed” and stored on-line, but March 2019 was harder. I finally found those images on an unmarked SD Card in storage – wonder where my time goes?

There are still a number of roads I have not been on in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Western Massachusetts, and New York environs. Hard to believe, I know. I wanted to double check Cummington, and decided to head there via Massachusetts 116 (from Deerfield) and then south on Route 112. Cathy and I bought a large book collection in Conway about 15 years ago, but I had not been back since, nor gone further west on this Scenic Byway – thus the plan. Route 116 is great, and passing through town, I finally have a Massachusetts covered bridge to share.

Conway, Massachusetts Covered Bridge

It was then west to Ashfield. Thought I had never been there, but recognizing a few things, realized I came in from the opposite direction – but again, I never shared that in a post.

You know me and country stores. Ashfield’s is now the historical society museum.

always hard to get a shot through a window avoiding glare, but hey IT’S A COUNTRY STORE.

A tad further west the main center of activity, albeit closed for most part.

Now the story, and fond memory, of the sign on the red garage.

The double sided porcelain bus stop sign (from the 40s probably) was still to be found around Haddonfield, NJ, when I lived there. My Dad wanted one – but we were not ones to misappropriate something. On a visit from Florida, he and I were at the antique flea market in Berlin, NJ. He got ahead of me. When I caught up he said, “well, what are you going to buy me?” I was clueless. He finally stepped aside saying, “there is my sign.” Yes, he bought it – I have no idea what happened to it, but he probably made good money, and I have the memory.

Turning south on Massachusetts Route 112, also a Scenic Byway, at Goshen I turned west on Route 9 to Cummington. Yes, I had been there. Located there is great old agricultural fair I have to attend (COVID Cancelled this year) and also a seldom open historical society – and, yes, with a country store recreation in the side.

Cummington, Massachsetts, historical society in old Tavern building.

I have to get back to my page of “rocking chair studies.” Here is another, and the country store is in the wing to the rear.

and, down the road, and up the hill is the William Cullen Bryant homestead — now with two “drive-bys” it is on the list to visit – and coming down from Vermont on Route 112 is the perfect BB road trip – maybe with leaves soon.

Continuing down Route 112 I came to Five Corners Worthington, but sadly no sandwiches in the country store.

Turning off onto a new (to me) road, Route 143 I passed through Peru (Mass. that is, not Vermont – you were thinking South America, I know, I don’t get that lost), and at Hinsdale turned south on Route 8 through Washington and Becket (love the sound of that) to US 20, then west to US 7 (my favorite road in New England – except my dirt routes), and south to Stockbridge. Where I was again welcomed, this time in room 233 on a special deal.

I had a reservation for early April figuring I could travel then after my 25 February back surgery. That would have been my birthday visit for 2020, but I got that Covid phone call, “sorry Ray.” But (a positive Covid thank you) I was a few weeks ago offered 30% off with $100 dining credit. Try to beat $326 for two nights with meals (yes I spent a tad more on wine and food – $40 big deal). If you are going to go anyway, why not save on the way. In the gallery below (which you can click to enlarge) is my room on this trip.

and, then I planted myself on the porch for almost three hours with laptop and books. Can’t get much better.

until I got ready for dinner. Cathy and I were so upset when the dress code changed years ago, and jacket and tie no longer required for the main dining room. It bothers me with folks in shorts and ball caps, but I dress for myself, donned good clothes, a sport coat, but I have relaxed a tad without a tie. Wednesday night I choose blackened salmon.


and, where do you think I went when I got up the next morning? Yes – another two plus hours on the porch reading and writing.

until I got on the road for awhile, and headed down US Route 7 to Connecticut and eventually jogging over to New York state to head back north on NY22. I have been traveling this stretch for decades – almost six. I have always had my favorite stops – antique shops, pleasant places, but sadly many are now abandoned buildings. One great shop is still there where I will often get myself a birthday present, but not this year. I always like taking the “original route” – 7A in this case, and swinging into Ashley Falls on the CT/MA border, there is this former antique shop Cathy and I visited. Now overgrown, the stock still inside – at least the building is not falling down as others I used to visit.

Crossing into Canaan, Connecticut, I always enjoy passing the Collin’s Diner which has been there for 80 years, the past 50 with the same owner. Timing was right for eating, and thinking I had not done so before (as you will read later I was wrong), I went in.

Collin’s Diner, Canaan, Conn. from a 1980 postcard.

you can click the above for a larger image. I was a alone inside except for the owner, an eccentric young lady. Checking on-line later in the day for history of the diner (which is all original except recovered seats and stools), I learned from various comments that the mother now retired was fantastic, but the children not as outgoing and friendly. But, hey, part of the charm? Part of what diners are all about? From the stool I was allowed to sit on (“may I sit down there?” “No,” she firmly replied, “you sit there.”) I took these interior shots. As with my galleries, you may click for larger views.

my tuna melt lunch.

and, what could be better than being at a diner? Having a train and Victorian station right outside. The engineer ignored my request to join him in the cab – hey, it worked when crossing Canada years ago.

crossing into NY State, I shopped at a favorite antique center that Cathy and I started going to well over 20 years ago. No birthday present for Ray, but some great book purchases. But then enjoying re-traversing NY22 north, and cutting back to Stockbridge, it was time for – guess what? More porch time, and dinner.

For the first time in my memory, the Red Lion Inn has had dining tables on both the front and side porches. Obviously to gain more seating since the dining room had some tables moved to allow for social distancing. My plan for Friday was breakfast on the porch. A tad “nippy” I had the world to myself.

and then enjoyed my omelet.

goodbye for now.

Here We Go for 2019 and 2018

and to set the mood, click on this view of the Red Lion Inn lobby for a full screen view from “my seat” where I watch the world, and listen for Cathy’s footsteps on the stairs.

My two night 2019 trip began on my birthday, 12 March, and for some reason has very few images. Only one from that day taken while crossing over the Hoosac Tunnel in Florida (Massachusetts that is). At this point the tunnel is 1,000 feet below. Still need to take the side road back down and explore the tunnel.

Heading south on US7 the next day, I had to see the Sheffield Covered Bridge. For some reason I never drove the short distance off US7 to see it, but having read an article, had to go. You see, an unidentified flying object was spotted by multiple people on September 1, 1969, in Great Barrington, Sheffield, Stockbridge and Egremont. The most compelling account was by Thom Reed, According to Reed, after crossing the covered bridge, he and his mother, grandmother, and brother saw a bright light rise out of the water of the Housatonic River. They were taken, mysteriously, from their car to what appeared to be an airplane hanger, where they saw creatures that resembled large insects. He was separated from his mother and grandmother and taken to a strange room, though he could hear them calling for him. Then, just as suddenly, they were all back in the car. This is part of the report I read on Atlas Obscura.

Looking east to the Sheffield, Massachusetts, Covered Bridge. Site of the Reed’s encounter with a UFO

going through the bridge, below you can see a small park and monument that was established in 2015 to commemorate the happening.

but a dispute over the location prompted the Town of Sheffield to remove the benches and monument 4 June 2019, a tad over a year after I visited getting these images, saying it was on town property, and over a year had passed since notice given to move it.

and the Governor’s marker on the 5,000 pound monument. You can click on it for a larger size.


I received my driver’s license in 1962, and enjoyed many a trip in my 1929 Model “A” Ford Roadster. Most of my trips included touring up US Route 7, and my favorite drive is along the Housatonic River from Cornwall Bridge to West Cornwall Connecticut, where you cross the covered bridge into the little village. My favorite picture from that time is above (taken in mid-1963) , just over the bridge in the village at Bruce’s Toll House Antiques that I often visited. I owned this car for twenty years, and sadly sold it in 1982.



then I headed down to my most favorite US7 spot – West Cornwall, Connecticut, and its covered bridge. As you can see (right) I have been visiting this spot since 1963 (don’t do the math). A few vacancies in the store fronts, but nothing else has changed in this perfect spot on the river. Driving from Cornwall Bridge up to West Cornwall is my favorite portion of my favorite US Route 7.


West Cornwall, Connecticut, Covered Bridge 13 March 2019


“Downtown” West Cornwall, Connecticut, 13 March 2019


Then over to Millerton to a favorite antique shop for over 20 years, and I did get myself a birthday present. This arts and crafts looking set of candle sticks. Photographed here in the back of the car for the posting never made that night, and now happily on the window sills in my kitchen. More “flames of a hopeless romantic.”

Eventually back to the Inn for my second night. Below is a gallery of the dining room – click to open larger sizes if you wish. Sorry, not my best images.



Now, setting the stage it is 30 April 2018, and off for two more nights at The Red Lion Inn, returning on 2 May via some new discoveries.

To lessen the burden on your eyes, I have eliminated some images where there was overlap from the two excursions related above. For this trip I headed west on Vermont 9 from Brattleboro, stopping to get a bite at the always tempting Royal Diner.

Royal Diner – Brattleboro, Vermont

On this trip I turned south on VT 100 and probably worked my way over to Mass. Route 112 (it may have been on this trip that I ducked into Ashfield from the west), and eventually I got to Cummington which I wished to see. Showed you the outside of the museum above, but guess what? On this first trip here I got somewhat of a view of the country store in the museum.

I then discovered for the first time the William Cullen Bryant Homestead, and here are two views I did not take in 2020 and show you above. First heading up the drive, and you can see the great barn with all its expansions.

and, then looking through the porch off over the fields and distant hills.

I probably headed all the way down 112 to Huntington where I turned west on US 20 – this portion Jacob’s Ladder Trail. Always a lovely route. (both images below can be clicked for larger viewing — I recommend traveling the route below).

and historic


with this monument along the way commemorating the road built in 1910.

and when I arrived in Stockbridge, guess who greeted me?

and, in my room…

where do you think I went next?

in the evening, of course listening for her footsteps…

and, I had company

You want to guess where I headed the next morning? Yes, down US7 to West Cornwall.

and to document the years of visits


Close by to West Cornwall is Lime Rock Park. Would you believe I had never been there? I approached, there was a club doing practice trials, I was allowed to sign in, and watch what was going on.

Working my way back into Massachusetts, I scooted over to Southfield, Massachusetts, which is way off the beaten path, but another great ride. Here was the Buggy Whip Factory Antiques Mall. While we had our shop in New Preston, CT (less than an hour south) I displayed books here, and made lots and lots of money.

Back to my “second home,” and then upon waking time to head back home. But, a different route to catch some new sights, more covered bridges, and some history to share.

Heading north, and not sure which route, I found some areas around Bennington, Vermont, that I had not explored. Near Bennington College, and south of Sodom (have to get there) I found

the Paper Mill Covered Bridge, and the Henry Covered Bridge

I do have to go back because my memory of what is what is a tad vague with the time passed. But also is this home and historic marker for the “Birthplace of Vermont.”

I have to get back to pinpoint the history for you – sorry. And also nearby on a remote dirt road is an encampment spot of John Stark in 1777. – On 11 December 2020 I found this link, so have added it for your explorations, and for me to remember.


and the road in front of the monument looking west.

this panel will give some idea, but I promise to go back to get the correct story for you.

Well, a great deal here, and thank you for getting this far on three of my Red Lion Inn breaks. If you got this far, leave me a comment so I know you survived. Then you will be part of internet history documented here along with 112,565 other page views. Not a viral record, but certainly impressive for my silly writings.

As always, thank you for being part of my trips, love, RAY

Posted in The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments



CAUTION – Catching Could be Deadly

I am still overly cautious about leaving my home with COVID on the prowl, but often a trip beckons, and a beckoning happened. My daughter and her family had a cabin for a week in New York on Lake Champlain, and were going to cross over to Vermont to check out a camp for her daughter next year. “Would you like to meet us?” she asked on FaceTime. Of course, and a plan was hatched. Watching the weather it looked like Wednesday, the 26th, was best. Since Dr. Dewey (car doctor to my ladies that is) had told me of some spots I had to see in Vermont that I did not know about, I decided to make it an overnight and hit those Thursday on the way home.

RAB and BLACK BEAUTY on the Ticonderoga Ferry 2011


If you have never crossed Lake Champlain by ferry – you must. There are three ferries across the lake, and a very small one near Fort Ticonderoga (COVID closed in 2020). The Burlington ferry is also not running this year. With two ferry routes running, they crossed on the southern one from Essex, NY, to Charlotte, VT, planning to go back on the northern one from Grand Isle, Vermont, to Plattsburg, NY. A fun circle of experiences, with lunch and visit in between.


Other than the Burlington ferry landing, the landings are remote. I arrived in Charlotte while the kids were still on their crossing.

Tied up to the south was “The Champlain.” Seeing grass growing on the deck, yes I asked. As the ferry making the Burlington/Port Kent, NY, she is tied up this year, but I learned the grass grows all the time, not just because she is laid up.

The ferry is approaching

and they were the second New Jersey car off. If the owners of the first NJ car off (same style and color) would like the photo I took of them, please contact me.

If you have not been in the area, may I warn you that eating options are limited. On the way to the ferry landing, I passed the Old Brick Store—a local Charlotte tradition since 1853 – and the only thing at the “downtown crossroads.”  There was a sign outside with menu specials. Remember my travels last week? Stop at a country store, buy sandwich, and enjoy on a picnic table. I suggested that, and that is what we did.

Next – a picnic table! Not that easy, particularly when COVID has had many taken away. But, recommended to my daughter was a visit to Mt. Philo State Park for its views.  A short hop south on my favorite US 7, and there we were, paid the entry fee, and wound on the road built by the CCC in the 1930s. This park is the first Vermont State park, established in 1924. RAY RECOMMENDS – take the time and visit.

yes, that is the lake with the Adirondacks in the distance. Lunch at a picnic table (I socially distanced on a bench – hey those little ’19s could infiltrate from NJ), fun conversation, and then walks along the western side of the mountain for the views. Below is a panorama you may click on for a full screen view.


My daughter’s youngest two children.


After enjoying the park, we then visited the downtown water front in Burlington, after some ice cream in Shelburne. But, all fun times do end, and the kids headed north to check out the camp, and I headed to Waterbury and The Old Stagecoach Inn, built in 1826. I was exhausted. I walked to the small town, had dinner on the porch of one of the pubs, joined in a church meeting on Zoom, and then headed back to the Inn after eating for the conclusion of the meeting. I had a comfortable room, and basically read myself to sleep in that chair.

Dr. Dewey recently rode his vintage Harley (if I am wrong about make, he will email me) to Warren and across the Roxbury Mountain Road, and told me I had to do it. I was close on my 3 July adventure, but had never been on this stretch of VT 100, nor over that mountain. I had a plan for Thursday.

My plan was head south on VT 100 (the backbone of Vermont) to Waitsfield, then onto Warren, across the mountain to Roxbury (hope you have your maps out) then south on 12A to Randolph and Bethel, then cut over to Royalton and South Royalton on 107. My printer was probably going to have the September CLARION done, so I kept checking emails. In South Royalton their message came in – “Ready.” So time for super-slaps and I was in Brattleboro at 2PM.

I have two more covered bridges for you (remember the great assemblage I provided you in May of last year)? First, here is the bridge in the village of Waitsfield which seems to be a popular outdoor sports area along the Mad River.

and two of the few buildings in Waitsfield – worthy of more exploration, but much is vacant.

heading south again on VT100 you can almost miss the sign to Warren off to the left. Glad I saw it — I cannot wait to visit again in BLUE BELLE – it was starting to rain, maybe a leaf peeping trip in a few weeks. In the center of the amazing village, Dr. Dewey told me was the Warren Store. (yes, that is GiGi – GRANITE GIRL on the right)

Across the street is the Pitcher Inn. An absolute must return to and enjoy.

You can walk across the bridge to the small green, with town hall, library, etc., but on the way is this interesting “band stand” or gazebo.

but what is amazing, and why you should visit, is what you see on either side of the bridge – the flow of water over eons carving the rocks, including glacial potholes. Here is off to the side near to the Pitcher Inn. You may wish to “click” these images for a larger view.

and the other side adjoining the Warren Store.

I need to look for this sign – ROAD TRIP

I thought these were the Warren Falls Dr. Dewey told me about. When I got home and emailed with him, I learned there is even a better site and park, a tad further south on VT100 – I did not get that far since I was going to go over the mountain. THUS – another road trip.  But, going a short distance on 100, I looped back on Covered Bridge Road to the village – thus sharing with you another covered bridge.

and, then to East Warren to begin the climb over the mountain. Here is “downtown” East Warren. In fact, this is East Warren. A Market in an old school building.

remember it is now overcast and raining, thus another reason to return for better images. Without the haze, this view when the mountain road turns to dirt to head down on the east side should be great.

Roxbury, on Route 12A (just south of all the covered bridges I shared with you in May 2019), is alright, not too big, but with this country store, and the town offices in the old train station.


Once I got the email the CLARION was ready, I shot south, loaded up the van, made my deliveries to the Post Offices, and returned home. Lots of driving. lots of sights, and the desire to return very soon. Even a simple overnight, particularly combined with family, is a treat and treasure. I want to get out more, and have some ideas once schools are back in session, and any crowds (crowds in New England?) have diminished. Again, for safety sake. your safety sake, and that of others – wear your masks, social distance, wash your hands, and stay and be well. As always, yours, RAY




Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments


Ray’s travels 2020 – ZERO. And, you know why. To be safe we have all restricted our travels and exposure to others who may have COVID. Further keeping me home is that eating now while out and/or traveling is complicated, particularly when you are unfamiliar

CAUTION – Catching Could be Deadly

with an area. But I needed a break from “44” and booked a bargain lodging rate offered to members by Old Sturbridge Village (OSV). I spent Monday and Tuesday nights at OSV’s Reeder Family Lodges. Gary (number 2 son – in birth order) joined me to tour the Village on Wednesday when it opened for the week. I had not planned to document this getaway, but OSV again has to be shared.

Monday the 17th I meandered south on back roads – always great and scenic. NH 10 to NH 119 East, then south on 32 into Massachusetts to pick up 68 to Royalston, and South Royalston where I got a sandwich at the country store to enjoy on a picnic table along a river. Then US 202 to Mass. 2A to Templeton then unnumbered road south toward Hubbardston where I picked up Mass 68 to 56 eventually to US 20 and into Sturbridge. Spent 5 1/2 hours traversing what can be a two hour trip, but did buy books along the way – hey, that is what I do.

I had no real plans for Tuesday other than to explore and re-explore Northeast Connecticut – “the quiet corner.” Passing through Southbridge (the former optical capital) I saw Dudley and Webster before traveling down 193 to Thompson, Connecticut. Never been there before. Great village green (where the bank at OSV originally was located), great architecture – a must visit. Then Putnam, Pomfret, different route into Woodstock then to West Woodstock and for awhile I explored Bigelow Hollow State Park. Then to Stafford Springs, north to Staffordsville where I found another country store; and, yes, another sandwich lunch on a picnic table, this time on a mill pond. How can one person be so fortunate? Then I explored a different route passing through Wales and Holland, Massachusetts, that is, and thence back to Sturbridge. About five hours of exploring, worth every minute, and now time for reading until Gary arrived.

Guess where Gary and I had dinner? On a picnic table behind a Thai restaurant with our take out. We both took home half of our take out. Lots of fun, conversation and laughs before we connected my laptop to the TV in the room to watch THE BOOKSELLERS documentary on Amazon Prime. I knew of the show, Gary discovered it was there. Much fun because I knew most of the booksellers in the show, and what they had to say I have experienced and agree with. Check it out, well done.

But, at last, it was Wednesday AM, and time to head into the Village. The great thing about having a membership to any venue is you do not feel pressure to see and do all, especially if you are close by. AND, OSV is now part of the North American Reciprocal Museum (NARM) Association, which means with a membership over the $100 level you have access to its network of 1,178 art museums and galleries, historical museums and societies, botanical gardens, children’s museums, zoos and more. You can’t beat that for $100.

Did I tell you I love Old Sturbridge Village? Sorry for so many words, now an OSV tour to entice you to visit, maybe join, and possibly donate to help support their fine mission.

Upon entering the village, you first come to the Small House which is a recent reproduction of the small homes that were common in New England in the early 1800s. Inside this interpreter was making the top covering for a basket.

Moving to the Common, and walking down one side we came to the Fenno House – Canton, Massachusetts, c. 1725 – where textile demonstrations are given.

But, with COVID the interiors of the buildings are not open, instead interpreters are outside sharing with visitors. On the far side of Fenno, Susan, who was one of the docents during my fabulous time BOARDING WITH THE BIXBYS in 2018, was explaining the process from sheep to yarn.

While walking around, Gary and I both remarked how wonderful it was to see families (often three generations) strolling the village, observing, interacting with interpreters and learning. When a mother and young daughter came up, Susan immediately shifted to chatting with the youngster, whose eyes opened up as she was entranced in learning. This is the norm with the staff here. But, wait, there is George in his wagon on the other side of the Common. Yes, I get to know great people at museums I return to, and often there is a special hook. George in his horse circles knows people I know here in town, and his nephew is on our highway department crew. We toured with George for awhile. He is a grand raconteur with historical tales to share about what you see. MAKE SURE YOU RIDE, and ride often with George.

In the mill area of the village we came upon these two with their two baby oxen.

as we chatted, we learned that school had already started for these five month old step-brothers. Same bull, different mothers. We were told they were learning their “ABCs OF BEING AN OX.”

And, then through the covered bridge from West Dummerston, Vermont, just across the river from me a ways. It was to be demolished, and OSV bought it from the State and moved it. Only to have it almost destroyed in the flood of 1955, but two people tied it down as it lifted off its pilings.

Saying goodbye to George, we continued back to the Common where behind the Fitch House it was wash day. I had never seen the blue “washing machine” before, and had to see it. We learned it is not often out.

some things today are easier as you can guess.

continuing on the Common we came to the literally shuttered (due to COVID) Salem Towne House.

After a great lunch of Shepard’s Pie, on a picnic table outside the Tavern, we headed down  the opposite side of the Common. At the head is the Center Meetinghouse.

construction has begun (19th century style, except for the ultimately hidden poured foundation) on a new cabinet shop to the left of the Meetinghouse and cemetery. Gary asked me if they had moved the cemetery also – I need to find out.

I have never shown you before the Town Pound where errant loose animals would be gathered awaiting their owners to bail them out. This is a recreation, and somewhat taller and more robust than what most Colonial Town Pounds were.

continuing down past the cobbler shop, old school, pottery shop and kiln, and into the countryside, how can you not just love this view looking over the field to the Bixby House? (click on next few images for larger size)

and across the way the Freeman Farm

below is the Bixby House (built c1808) from Barre, Massachusetts, which is Old Sturbridge Village’s best researched and restored home. It was home to the Bixby family from 1826 until the 1870s and was donated to the Village by the Derby family (Bixby descendants) in 1974. I cannot wait to again to “Board with the Bixbys.”

the front room where we made and ate our meals during my overnight adventure.

We headed back through the Common, and to the gift shop. Gary “gets it,” and wanted to buy something to help support the village. I always enjoy seeing what is in the shop, particularly the items made in the Village and offered for sale. Gary narrowed in on the pottery mugs, and then surprised me, giving me one of the matching mugs he bought (well almost matching, remember hand made). They were both fired in the historic kiln I observed in operation the night I “Boarded with the Bixbys.” We have some traditions, and will now, while sharing movie night on Netflix Party, can each be sipping away on a rum toddy. Gee, a new project to find a “drink of the week.”  Well, almost four hours at OSV we said goodbye, albeit from socially appropriate distancing. To my map, and more back roads that I enjoy.

I enjoy the Quabbin area and decided again to travel north along the western border on US 202 – quiet and remote. So (maps out) – US20 west to 148 north to 9 west to 202 north at Belchertown. Why do I like this route? New Salem, Massachusetts, just off the main road, and worth a visit every time I go by wanting to soak up its charm. This 1951 Chevy truck is always outside the New Salem Preserves and Orchards. Their fields to the south are amazing.

continuing further south on South Main Street, this is a great farm. Two couples were visiting (on a picnic bench) and I chatted with them from my car.

forget what google maps may say, but South Main does not go through. It is gated ending on Quabbin land, which can be hiked. As I turned around, I had to share this image with you.

and, back towards the common is this impressive brick home.

Then up to Orange, 2A west to 78 – a great road through Warwick, Mass. Across the border, right on NH10 and up to Keene, and home.

1 – Visit Old Sturbridge Village

2- Join Old Sturbridge Village
3- Donate to Old Sturbridge Village
4- Explore the “quiet corner of Connecticut”
5- Experience New Salem, Massachusetts, I am taking a picnic lunch next time, and look for a picnic table.
6- Relax with my other OSV writings – this link will bring you toward six of my writings and experiences there

Thank you for getting this far, as always, yours, RAY

On Monday, 24 August – Old Sturbridge Village shared my post on their Facebook page. As of this writing at 9:15 PM, I have had over 200 page views of this page today. So happy to share, and to get the word out to have others enjoy and support OSV. (you can click these two images below for easier viewing)

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Yes, considering circumstances with COVID, long distance trips are just a memory, and a distant hope. But, today BLUE BELLE and I got itchy, and off we headed to local great places we enjoy, and are safe without crowds refusing to wear masks. You do not have to go far to have fun. And, if you are itchy, jump below to SANTA’S LAND which opened today.

I have always enjoyed adventures and activities at the Fort at No. 4 in Charlestown, and for a number of years had been a member. This week I wrote my August CLARION “Did You Know That…” history article partially on the Fort. Not having visited in a long while, and knowing there probably have not been many visitors I decided it was time to visit, and “vote with my dollars” and again become a member. I entered, greeted Wendy, and she remembered me saying, “well it would have been easier if you parked one of your little cars in front.” “BLUE BELLE is off in the shade,” I replied. We visited, I wrote my check, and I headed back to the mid-18th century.

Wendy told me to make sure to see the new diorama of the fort – I did, and it is great.

Below is inside the sutler’s, and some great log exterior lines (click to enlarge).

and you know I like shots looking in or out windows. This view is from the guard tower through the gun port looking over the doctor’s garden, and over the field towards the Connecticut River.

Wendy and I chatted some more, and she reminded me of the event next weekend – Saturday and Sunday 25 and 26 July, 10 AM to 4:30 PM — OUT OF TIME: THE COMPANY OF WOLF ARGENT AND GUESTS — it is going to be something different. So do attend, take your checkbook, and tell Wendy that I told you to become a member and support the Fort.

Then north a tad, and across the old toll bridge across the river and heading west another tad to pick up US Route 5 South — you know both my BB ladies and I love US 5 — the old “main road” north and south along the river. Scenery, little change, and a few good spots to “blow out some carbon.” Passing Herrick Cove Road I turned around and headed into the park. If I have been there it was over 15 years ago. I was pleasantly surprised what is there – you can click the below aerial view for a larger version.

Not just the boat launch area to the Connecticut River, but lots of picnic and play places. Picnic tables currently “closed,” I guess to stop any COVID spread, but on a day I want to get out, I will pack my lunch and go just over nine miles and relax with food, beverage and a book. Back to US 5, and fifteen miles south to Santa’s Land.

Authentic vintage Roadside Americana, you should know I have written often about David’s efforts to save this National Treasure. And, he is succeeding. I get to be known, well, at least my ladies. I had barely turned BB2’s key off, and Santa (aka Tom) came out to greet me. “Great to see you again,” he said. And as we started to head inside, on this opening day for 2020, he began telling me all the new things David was adding to this classic and special park. (Santa is off this time of year, so coming in from Hawaii for the weekend, still had on his Hawaiian shirt.)


to get you in the mood.

Santa began sharing with me the new additions David has brought to Santa’s Land for the enjoyment of all ages. We soon bumped into David. It was great to see again this fine young man, and Roadside Americana hero. We headed up to the maintenance barn to see the cars for the new Model T Ford old car ride. Here are some of the cars in the barn, and you can click to enlarge.


David just obtained these cars that were formerly at Dogpatch USA in Arkansas , a theme park which was open from 1968 to its closure in 1993. Unlike the kiddie rides that David has traded off, adults can share the thrills while their youngsters drive these gas powered cars. Work on the ride’s road began yesterday, and winds from the carousel through the woods and over a bridge. The ride will be ready by the fall.

Road for the Model T ride, looking back at the carousel.

And, over the bridge on the Model T ride’s road.

walking up to the train station, these new critters come from a water park at Lake George.

how can you not love this place?

Another new plus is the last car on the train ride. An extra car was refurbished and added to the end allowing access for two wheel chairs for handicap visitors.

Continuing along the upper path, the miniature golf course was added last season. Once you pay your admission, all activities are included at no additional charge.

See what is in the background where the kiddie rides used to be? Paint still wet, but opening on 19 July is the new FUN HOUSE.

Another classic amusement park or traveling show attraction, you enter and work your way across moving floors, stairs, to eventually come out the rolling tumbler.

David is working very, very hard to provide the very best family entertainment in the area. First opened in 1957, many area families have three generations of memories visiting the park on US 5 in Putney, Vermont. Next to be added is a massive model train layout. And, you know that kids of all ages (especially the older ones) love trains and model trains. Once I get an image from David, I will include it here.

I strongly encourage you to click on and view and read all my previous posts of Santa’s Land. One more project in the works for David is to establish a museum of old Santa’s Land memories, photographs and souvenirs. I have a large collection of souvenirs, brochures and souvenirs I have promised David when he is ready. If you have anything you would like to share, let me know, and I will let David know, or bring them to the park. David has a picture his family took of him as a young visitor maybe in the 80s (yes, David is a young star), what do you have?

Remember, VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS — visit Santa’s Land, and visit Fort at No. 4. Thank you, yours, RAY





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BLUE BELLE has been crying, “we have not taken a long ride in over a year.” I checked, and she was correct. Short hops, but in 2019 long train trips and Lakes-Locks-Long River prevented us from “having a long date” on the road. Last Sunday I got an email from “Happy Vermont” which told about, and provided a link to the Quin-Town 4th of July Reverse Parade. We decided to go. A three day event, I figured they would be set up on Friday the third, we could take a look, and report to you in case you wanted to attend on the 4th or 5th. We left this morning at 10AM arriving home at 4PM after 185 BLUE BELLE miles. Here is the flyer on the event, which you can click to enlarge.

Route 100 is the “backbone of Vermont,” running from the Massachusetts border to almost into Canada. Weather today was predicted to be overcast, with some showers. I headed up to Ludlow, VT, to pick up Route 100. And, on Route 103 encountered some rain, but at highway speed BLUE BELLE is aerodynamic, and I received barely a drop.  At the end of this post I have a map you can enlarge to see today’s route. Sadly, I have not been to Plymouth Notch for about two years. You know I have often spent the Fourth of July there celebrating with Calvin Coolidge. I could not pass the notch without heading up. Other than the cheese factory it was vacant (and overcast).

Approaching the southernmost stop, Pittsfield, greeting us was this holiday well-wisher.

Then into the village

the village green and band stand

and, general store

Have you started to ask yourself yet, “what is a Reverse Parade?” Think COVID-19 and avoiding crowds. Instead of grouping together on the side of the road and watching floats, bands, marchers etc., the idea here was for the viewers to traverse the route and take in the holiday sights safe in their own vehicles.

Now, continuing north, the next stop is Stockbridge (Vermont, not Massachusetts with my most favorite Red Lion Inn). Cathy and I often traveled here, even before living in New Hampshire. Located here (in nowhere) is Ted Green Ford, the oldest Ford dealership in New England, and one of the oldest in the country. It was founded in 1913. I last traveled through in 2018, and shared many pictures of Stockbridge. Across from the Ford dealership is this colonial home. There was an antique shop here over 20 years ago that we enjoyed visiting – a real classic.

but, there were no decorations for the 4th to be seen.

The flyer shows much activity in Rochester, but coming into town I spotted this flock.

could explain where Walpole’s flamingoes have migrated to.

Rochester is a nice small village with a green. There are activities planned for the weekend, and the most decorations I saw today were in Rochester.

I drove next to the northernmost point, Granville. Total disappointment, nothing decorated except this extensive effort at the Granville County Store.

heading back south, I stopped at the Old Hotel Hancock at the junction of 100 and 25. I stopped here when I went to visit Bob Newhart in 2018, so stopped again for a sandwich. Serving take-out only from a side door, they let me eat on the porch since I was the only one in sight.

and if you are “into signs” to place you.

I headed west on Route 25 as you were supposed to do to see more, but there was no more. Circling back to head south on Route 100, here is the Hancock Town Common.


What can I say? I had hoped I would see more decorations. Maybe they will be coming on the 4th and 5th. I wanted to be able to encourage my readers to visit, but don’t bother. But BLUE BELLE and I got out, and in territory I enjoy, and we endured 185 miles, one shower, and with but three shorts stops in six hours. First to walk a tad in Rochester, second to have lunch in Hancock, and finally to drink some water in South Woodstock.

In my planning, I saw on the map a road from Rochester to Bethel – a road in black on the map (sadly not broken black indicating dirt). I found it – Bethel Mountain Road, and it was indeed a mountain. Climbing, BB2 held her blood pressure, but her temperature went up, but on the downside (which seemed much more of a drop than the climb we had), the exhilaration of speed caused her temperature to drop to normal. Arriving at Route 12, we headed south to Bethel, through Barnard, and onto Woodstock. Now, while on Route 100, the road was unusually  packed. And it was a good thing I knew I was in Vermont, because the license plates said otherwise. Route 12 was empty, but then Woodstock was packed and festive. Circling around the Common we picked up Route 106, and had the world to ourselves again.

I have always found South Woodstock charming, and arriving there I felt I had better share it with you:

Maybe a tad longer drive PWs, but we need to check out dining at the Kedron Valley Inn. I also need to get into the country store, as it was closed, but is on the Inn’s website. South Woodstock is amazing, here is a sampling, and you can click for an enlarged gallery:

I drank a bottle of water while sitting on the porch of the country story. BLUE BELLE had to watch because “no cars allowed.” But you can see from here the Inn and church.

From here, down 106, left on 44 through Brownsville (always a treat), 44A to US5 – cross the Connecticut River to head south on 12A to 12 and home – watching bad clouds all the way.

So, bottom line (well almost at the bottom here): REVERSE PARADE is a great idea, hopefully will get some traffic to the couple country stores along the route, but unless you want to get out for a scenic drive, you do not need to go. BUT, most important, BLUE BELLE and RAB can still perform and enjoy a 185 mile trek.

Here is today’s route map, which you can enlarge by clicking if you wish. I sure hope I can travel and share more the rest of this year – doubtful with COVID, but maybe. As always, yours, RAY

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I do not have to tell you 2020 is different and horrific for us all – pandemic, loss of life (by both virus and knee), loss of jobs and security, students without needed routine and graduation traditions, lack of equality, and the absolute failure of “supposed leadership” to exhibit understanding, compassion, empathy and leadership. I usually do not share my deepest thoughts or opinions, but on my last point above, I must tell you that when in Paris in October, 2016, just prior to our national election, I felt embarrassed to be an American. Now, I am ashamed, and through no fault of my own.

The day before I left the hospital, following my second back operation on 25 February, the first New Hampshire case of Covid-19 was recognized in a staff member at the hospital. Everyone’s plans changed. You know I have enjoyed exploring the past several years, and shared those explorations here. My May, 2020, cruise of the Chesapeake was cancelled. My various road trips for this year remain in piles of brochures and notes. BLUE BELLE and BLACK BEAUTY will not see miles this year simply exploring locally – there are no places open to eat at, nor venues or attractions to “play” at.

But, those who know me, know that I stay positive and “accept and adjust.” There is always someone worse off to pray for. I can still plan my journeys following Benedict Arnold’s route through Maine to capture Quebec City. I can still plan to explore the Great Lakes Seaway Trail through New York State. I can be ready to head on the road again.

It occurred to me, however. I have trips I never got to finish sharing, or share at all with you. So, to relive those adventures myself, and to share as I like to do, I am hopefully going to finally bring you at least the following:

Voyage to Antiquity – Around the Aegean September, 2010
Amazing adventure; and,
a year before I began writing Shunpiking with Ray


More Maine Explorations – August 2016

Drifting Continents, Dinosaurs, and a Glacial Lake
July, 2018

City of Pittsburgh – October 2018


Coast to Coast to Coast, June 2019
I have to finish and get you back to the East Coast by Train


Lakes Locks and Long River, September 2019
I left you stuck on the Hudson River, and we need to get to NYC

Now that I have said I want to share these adventures, I have to do it. Stay well, and stay safe – as always, yours, RAY

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | 2 Comments

25 YEARS — 18 MAY 1995 to 18 MAY 2020

Some Dates You Remember,
and Today is the Date for Me
Twenty-Fifth Wedding Anniversary

Ray and Cathy (22 March 1956 – 13 May 2008)

Some things you save for the memories — but most important are the memories in your mind. These saved bottles (below) are memories. In the center we had this wine on one of our first dates at the restaurant next to my shop in Haddonfield, NJ – Swanson – Napa Valley Merlot – 1992. We later served it at our wedding dinner party, saving this one bottle. On the left is The Red Lion Inn – Cabernet Sauvignon saved from the four day Millennium Celebration we attended over 31 December 1999 at the Inn. And, the folk art girl adorns Ballet of Angels from Pomfret, CT, which we discovered at dinner in the late 90s while scouting books in Pomfret.

You know the Red Lion Inn is special to me, and I cherish my nostalgic overnights. Part of the “package” during the Millennium Celebration were portraits on the staircase. No, Cathy was not that short, she is on a lower step than I am. You may recall, that even today as I sit in the lobby, in front of the fireplace, I can hear Cathy’s footsteps coming down the stairs from “our room” Number 340.


I am where I am, and who I am because of Cathy,
I have been blessed,
                                thank you God.

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We have a problem in town, and I told you about that in my last post (sadly I may not be able to have a travel post until Maine opens in July, hopefully). The problem may have stemmed from a report in the April issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION on page 10, or from our follow-up article in the May issue on page 21. But, they are here bringing smiles and hope to residents from valley to hills. It occurred to me, I need to document images of the pink invasion for posterity. So, I sent the below out this evening around town, BUT, if you can help, do so and send me your images (and location). And, to follow the progress you can visit THE WALPOLE CLARION website, for updates (I will post the findings on the sidebar as they occur). And, you may even wish to “sign-up” to follow and receive posts from my newspaper. Stay safe, yours, RAY

To View Images and Details of Sightings to Date


The invasion continues, and continues to bring hopes and smiles to residents from one end of town to the other. South to North, and East to West. I received an email earlier today from Charles Caserta, saying, “HI Ray…..they’re playing in the pond at entrance to Walpole Valley Farms !!” I had to see them.

So, I “broke the rules” and left my home with BLUE BELLE (1960 MGA for those of you who don’t know), and toured the hills and back roads to Surry and back, circling down Wentworth Road to see the “new” pink feathered friends. And, here they are enjoying the pond life. You can click the image to enlarge if you wish.


And, then it occurred to me. Many people have said these “pink things” have flocked their way also. “Why not set up a page on the CLARION website, and share everyone’s pink visitors,” Ray said to Ray. So, I am asking, no pleading, that you share your Flamingo images, and I will begin sharing them with the world on-line.

Take a nice shot, and email it to me at  — I am sure there are many out there, lets capture (in picture) as many as we can to share with the world. I look forward to receiving your precious pink portraits soon. Thank you, and stay safe, yours, RAY

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A story in the April issue of THE WALPOLE CLARION, that I publish, attracted a great deal of attention, and foretold a possible local problem resulting from Global Warming, or something else. A sort of “unique virus” has hit our area. Here is that April First story:

Invasive Species?
Flamingos Spotted in Walpole

Even with global warming affecting our planet, it was a real shocker to see a flock of flamingos at the Mill Pond in Walpole this past week. Said Tilly Wilfert from Old Drewsville Road, ‘I can’t believe my eyes. These are such beautiful creatures, and I’m so surprised that they don’t mind standing on the ice and in such cold, cold water. I hope they stay all summer.’ Bradley Mange from Cold River Road in Drewsville commented, ‘We’d better contact Fish and Game real fast. It could be a bad problem if they keep showing up and start wiping out all the fish.’ If you see these wonderful creatures in your area, please take a few photos and send them to the Clarion, and perhaps the Walpole Historical Society. – Eric Merklein

Now three weeks later, these pesky, pink, non-passerine, genus Phoenicopterus birds are flocking to Walpole in great numbers. In fact, today I received an email from a friend who, driving past my home, and taking note, advised me that I too “Had been Flocked.”

Working already on the May issue of the CLARION, a follow-up story (below) had been prepared, but now must be rewritten and updated.


Since the flamingos were spotted on the frozen Mill Pond in March, global warming seems to be bringing more of these pinkers to the north country and into Walpole. They’re nesting at the Lennon property on the Common, at the corner of Main and Prospect Streets, and the Palmiotto home just off the Common. Said Fred Nobbils, a farmer from Alstead, ‘Now I’m getting a bit scared of these things. If these pink birds are nesting all over Walpole, who’s to say they won’t be tearing up my fields and taking all the fish from my pond? We gotta do something fast’ And recently we’ve gotten reports that these birds from the deep south are getting feisty and scaring the town’s children.

Neighbor of the kids in the photo right, Gretta Ziff, said, “I’m nervous as all heck. The kids are locked in most of the day because of COVID, and now they’re afraid to go out and play when their Zoom classes are done for the day. Why don’t the selectmen do something?” If you want to help, let the Clarion know if you spot any more of these pink invasives, and we’ll pass the information on to the Zoning and Select Boards. – Snead Baudelaire

The “new norm” in Walpole?

For additional extra, educational, elevating, edification, explaining these beasties, click on the link below, and be enlightened:

What is the Meaning of the
Pink Flamingo in the Yard?



Flamingo, like a flame in the sky
Flying over the island
To my lover nearby

Flamingo, with your tropical hue
For it’s you I rely on
And the love that is true

The wind sings a song to you as you go
The song that I hear below
The murmuring heart

Flamingo, when the sun meets the sea
Say farewell to my lover
And hasten to me

Aah-ooh, aah-ooh, ooh-ooh

Flamingo, when the sun meets the sea
Say farewell to my lover
And hasten to me

Aah-ooh, ooh-ooh, ooh-aah

Duke Ellington & His Orch. (vocal: Herb Jeffries) – 1941

HOPE YOU GOT HERE FOR THIS WARNING ABOUT THIS PINK PLAGUE — There is now (at least in our area) another reason to stay inside and be safe. Stay well, and watch out where you step. I can attest that the droppings in my yard are also pink (some round, some squished) — RAY

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