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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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



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

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

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

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


Over cocktails the 3rd, with neighbors Lil and Dave, Lil asked, “why don’t you join us for lunch with our new neighbors tomorrow?” And, she then quickly said, “oh, I forgot, you will be at Plymouth Notch tomorrow.” Predictable, yes – my friends know me. Ms T., I am flexible, but when it comes to tradition on the 4th of July, you will find me celebrating the birthday of our 30th President – now 145 years old. And, this was the best time there yet. And, for several reasons. The weather was absolutely perfect, and former Walpole Player, Tracy Messer made his debut as President Calvin Coolidge.

Friend, Carolyn, journeyed with me in BLACK BEAUTY, and we arrived in plenty of time to see the largest crowd (again a relative term in Vermont) yet assembling for the noon parade to the President’s grave.


We positioned ourselves at the former Top of the Notch Tea Room operated by “Midge” Aldrich with tourist cabins (occupied by Secret Service agents during the President’s stays) and gift shop. I have not shown you this angle of her Tea Room before –

nor of her “gift shop” –

the clouds, the temperature, the humidity – all was perfect as noon approached, and the “crowd” gathered –

and then it was time for the parade to the Plymouth Notch cemetery to begin. Compare this image to those I have taken in previous years — basically all the same – LOVE IT !!!

and, the parade began (you will see site director Bill Jenny waving to me) –

and the largest assemblage I have seen headed off to the cemetery

for the laying of the wreath and ceremonies

Laura V. Trieschmann, State Historic Preservation Officer, gave a wonderful speech, and when I saw her later I asked if I could share it with my readers. Many points she made relates the significance of Plymouth Notch, and lessons from history adding to its importance. You will find her complete speech at the end of this post, which I was able to add on July 6th, having received it from Laura.

Getting through the all afternoon line for hamburgers and hotdogs it was time for President Coolidge to be interviewed by syndicated columnist Cal Thomas prior to the traditional group reading of the President’s Autobiography. In his fifties, Tracy Messer is a former Walpole Player and intense historian with many connections to our 30th President, who he now portrays.

Cal Thomas interviewing President Coolidge (Tracy Messer) in the Union Christian Church 4 July 2017

In its email announcing the event, The Coolidge Foundation included this interview with Messer (if you want to come back to read this, there is more following, then you may come back):

Coolidge Foundation: How did you first become interested in President Calvin Coolidge?

Tracy Messer: As a boy, one of my favorite books was an old paperback collection of presidential biographies.  President Coolidge intrigued me for many reasons: mostly because he was cut from the same cloth as my Dad, my grandfathers, and their Yankee forefathers. Underneath my Dad’s high school yearbook photo is a quote by the English writer Martin Farquhar Tupper, “Well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.”  They were all men of quiet action, engaged in their respective families and communities, and endeared themselves to others through their characteristic wit and wisdom.

By the way, my maternal grandfather started his career as a dairy scientist working for Department of Agriculture during the Coolidge administration.  As a girl, my 97-year-young Mom used to participate in the Easter Egg Roll at the White House while the Coolidges lived there.  My Dad was born in greater Boston just as Governor Coolidge was beginning his first term.

CCPF: What kind of preparation have you done to portray the thirtieth president?

TM: I’m reading everything I can by and about Calvin Coolidge.  Jim Cooke, Jennifer Harville, and Jerry Wallace have all been wonderfully supportive in sharing their knowledge about President Coolidge.  I’ve been visiting various Coolidge-related landmarks in New Hampshire and Vermont and plan to do some more sight-seeing in Western Massachusetts and Boston.

CCPF: What is the most difficult aspect of portraying President Coolidge?

TM: The initial challenge was practicing his particular brand of Yankee speech.  Listening to his recorded voice and recalling my own grandfathers’ patterns of speech helped considerably.  Learning the proper pronunciation of local place names is especially tricky. Now, my biggest challenge is going beyond the known facts to begin thinking and acting like President Coolidge.  That’s what makes Jim Cooke’s portrayals so fascinating.

CCPF: Do you have a favorite Coolidge anecdote?

TM: Every new anecdote I come across seems to become my favorite.  Here’s the comeback I’m now using to start out my current presentation, Calvin Coolidge: The Monadnock Region As I’ve Known It: After an opera performance at the White House, President Coolidge was asked what he thought of the soprano’s execution. Coolidge replied, “I’m all for it.”

CCPF: What do you view as President Coolidge’s most enduring legacy?

Perhaps his most enduring legacy is not his legislative record, but his personal record of leadership with dignity and humility.  In his own words he once observed, “It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man.” Certainly, he was a good man.

For the first time I sat in on part of the reading of the Autobiography, and now I am very anxious to read it. Outside the church the wagon was waiting to give tours, so off we went.

and, down the lane to the fields — “hey, look at that neat car!”

President Coolidge built an addition off the back of his home, but when the State took over the property in 1956 the addition was moved across the field (by the same movers who transported The Ticonderoga from Lake Champlain to its solid ground home at The Shelburne Museum) and expanded. This home remains in the Coolidge family.

I always try to sit right behind the driver, as he is a tremendous raconteur. He started, “I had a visitor from Kansas who was complaining because he could not see anything because of all the hills and trees in the way. I told him that is too bad because I understand in Kansas you can see nothing for 50 miles, but standing on a tuna fish can you see 100 miles of nothing.” Continuing he said, “If your dog runs away, you can watch him run for two days.” What can I say, except I should ride with him all day instead of just once a year.

The fiddlers who before noon were playing at the Wilder Barn were still playing, but now (three hours later) under a tree between the Wilder House and the Coolidge Homestead.

President Calvin Coolidge portrayed by Tracy Messer


spotting the rocking chairs empty on the porch at the Florence Cilley General Store, we claimed two. We hailed the President (aka Tracy) and he joined us while chugging down a traditional Moxie. For an hour or more he entertained and educated not only us, but others who stopped intrigued. I look forward to helping the President on some of his various projects, and have him speak on Monadnock experiences at the Historical Society’s lecture series this coming winter.



Would you like to know about the village of Plymouth Notch? Here is a link to a page on the Historic Vermont website that details all, and you will enjoy reading this page —

And, finally, below is Laura’s graveside speech in its entirety.

Plymouth Notch Cemetery Talk, July 4, 2017
Laura V. Trieschmann
State Historic Preservation Officer

It is my great honor to welcome you on behalf of Governor Phil Scott to Plymouth Notch Cemetery and the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site.

The State of Vermont, now in partnership with the Coolidge Presidential Foundation, has been directly associated with this significant historic site since the 1940s. We strive to preserve this site as a museum to Calvin Coolidge and his ancestors, a museum that tells the story of 19th-century Vermont life and farming, a museum that documents the modest swearing in of an accidental president around 2:30 in the morning in August 1923. Not all historic sites should be frozen in time as this one has been, but Calvin Coolidge was who he was because of this place and that is certainly worth historic preservation.

Today, we celebrate the 145th birthday of Calvin Coolidge, the only president born on the Fourth of July. The tradition of laying a wreath on the grave of a former president on his birthday began soon after the death of George Washington in 1799, and was informally and irregularly practiced for over 165 years with other presidents. President Lyndon Johnson—at the request of his nature-loving wife Lady Bird Johnson most likely—made the tradition official in the 1960s, with the White House sending a beautiful wreath from a local florist to mark the graves of every presidents on the anniversary of his birth. The sitting president is represented by the Vermont National Guard.

In 1872, when Calvin Coolidge was born here in Plymouth Notch, the doughnut cutter and the wireless telegraph were patented, the automated toothpick manufacturing machine was designed, and Yellowstone becomes the world’s 1st national park. In 1923, when Coolidge became the 30th President of the United States here, telephone service between New York and London began but it didn’t reach Plymouth Notch, congressional sessions were first broadcast, and cars, radios, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines become new products available to all households. In 1933, Calvin Coolidge was laid to rest at the place of his ancestors here in Plymouth Notch. He was always a Vermonter—despite serving as governor of another unmentioned state and living in Washington, D.C., for nine years to serve first as vice president and then as president. When asked why he wanted to be buried here, he said “we draw our precedents from the people, I came from them, I wish to be one of them again.” Seven generations of the Coolidge family are resting here in this historic cemetery in the Brave Little State of Vermont, and we honor them all.

And, just now (Friday 7 July) I stumbled on this fine article in the Rutland Herald documenting the day covering all aspects include Walpole Player Tracy Messer.



and, I have categorized my experiences about this special place, and to read them click on this link – https://shunpikingwithray.com/category/plymouth-notch-vermont/


Posted in Plymouth Notch, Vermont | 3 Comments


Today was BLUE BELLE’s turn, and now with over 600 miles on her rebuilt power plant she is due for a checkup and tightening. Again using Joseph C. Nelson’s  SPANNING TIME: VERMONT’S COVERED BRIDGES – today was Tour 13 – THE WINDSOR AREA. Now that I have travelled this — you do not have to, nothing overwhelming like yesterday’s Green River Village, but I am glad that I did the route seeing some new territory – “my thing”. Several of these bridges are just off the main road (but out of sight). Well, in Vermont and New Hampshire main road is a relative term (state route number, paved, two lanes – state numbered being the key). I will mention those you can see without effort if you find yourself if this area. Tour 13 has eight bridges, but two on private property (and small reconstructions) I did not find, but I added two New Hampshire spans to round out eight for you.

West of US Route 5 and I-91 on Route 11 heading to Springfield you will see a small state history site with the Eureka one room school house and the Baltimore Bridge, built in 1870 but moved here and restored by Milton S. Grafton 1969-1970 (you need to get his book too – THE LAST OF THE COVERED BRIDGE BUILDERS.

Forty-five feet long, I am going to let you learn all about the various structure systems on your own, but this is a plank lattice truss.

It was then up Route 106 (past the Inn at Weathersfield) to the junction with Route 131 at Downers Four Corners. Left on 131, short distance, left turn onto dirt – Upper Falls Road – and short distance down the hill to Downers Bridge, built about 1840 spanning high above the Black River for 121 feet. The stone abutment is most impressive of old dry wall construction – the other side has been cased in cement. the bridge appears to have been raised a tad during renovations (you can see the extra supports)

Downers Covered Bridge

all the rivers (including the Connecticut River) were terribly unusually muddy as a result of the downpours yesterday.

and a few views out the windows on the bridge

Having seen a sign for Upper Falls Road as I headed up 106, I continued on that great dirt road (following a grader for awhile) looping back to 106, then turning back north – recommend you take the route. Then east on Route 131 at the four corners looking for Henry Gould Road. Easy to miss, barely passable loop road, and the bridge a stone’s throw hidden from passersby on 131.

Salmond Bridge – east of Amsden Village, Vermont

Interesting interior construction (first of two seen today). Used for awhile as a town storage shed, the bridge was restored and moved to this site in 1986.

Back to Downers Four Corners, and a pulled pork sandwich at Villagers.

Back north on Route 106 towards Felchville, but I somehow missed Churchill Road to the next bridge. No problem, right turn on Route 44, and right onto the northern terminus of Churchill Road, where (as described by Nelson) “Bests Bridge stands hidden in a cluster of buildings.”

Refurbished in 1991, having been built in 1890, Bests Bridge is 37.5 feet long.

I continued east on Route 44 to Brownsville looking for the next bridge on Bible Hill Road. Brownsville is worth a visit, sure I have driven through before, but did not remember. Also found I had missed Bible Hill Road, so I headed back west finding it heading north to Bowers Bridge of forty-five feet spanning Mill Brook and built in the early 1900s.

again the interesting support, and obviously recent renovations to the exterior – the purpose of which is to protect the wooden bridge and it supports and road bed (now you know why they are covered).

Instead of turning around I assumed (I am good with sensing directions and spacial relationships) that if I headed up Bible Hill Road and eventually took a right that I would end up back in Brownsville.  Take this road — WOW the homes (newer) and views back to Mt. Ascutney, amazing. Here is a panorama I stitched — do open it up for full screen impact.

I continued west on Route 44 to Windsor, turned north on US Route 5. Just after you cross over I-91 at Exit 9 is Martinsville Road to the right. Not a thriving neighborhood. Deteriorated homes with probably more furniture in the yards than in the houses. Road (dirt of course) got smaller, heading down hill. Roar of the river and falls (this was an early industrial area) and there was Martin’s Mill Bridge.

Martin’s Mill Bridge, Hartland, Vermont

once BB2 and I passed through and looked back I realized that traffic was speeding by on I-91 high above the tree line to the left of this image.

and looking at both ends of the bridge, the shed appears to be canting. Only sharing this one end with you — any idea why?

My plan was to end up at the St. Gauden’s concert which started at 2PM – it was well after 3 now, but I went anyway. Of course, I had to cross the Connecticut River on the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge, the longest covered bridge in the US, and the longest two lane span in the world.

Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge – entry from Windsor, VT

I pulled into the field, many cars, but not many people on the grass for the concert. I sort of lost interest just ready and wanting to go home. But on the way down NH Route 12A I turned off at a corner to add this bridge to today’s collection of images.

and, another interesting internal structure.

Back 12A to Claremont, Route 12 then home, but stopping in Charlestown for a fantastic ice cream cone. Last visited there with BB2 when she first came to live with me — we will go back.

Hard to believe today, July 3, is not a holiday — it feels that way, even with simply entertaining myself. I listened to the concert on the common at my front door last night, visited with a few friends. Was invited to an event tonight on a lake, but sadly declined because I just want to “veg out” and get rejuvenated for Plymouth Notch tomorrow. You will get that report too.

Thank you for traveling with me, yours, RAY

“To write about something is to live it twice.”

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


My friends know that my local commitments the first half of this year (in a play, and producing a play, plus…) have impinged on my “shunpiking.” In addition, there is always something else. My spine surgery and fusion last year was great, but now the arthritis in my hips is impacting on my mobility. Sadly I cancelled out (losing my deposit) on a fantastic trip to Spain and Morocco — I am afraid to fall on uneven surfaces. Swallowing pride, I often can now be seen with a cane to be safe. Now trying to orchestrate buying a new hip. BUT, I had to get out and explore.

I am now sitting on the porch enjoying rain (10PM), and even with this being the worst weather day of the long weekend (back to work Sunday AM – rain and flooding horrible upstate), BB1 and I only had to sit under a tree in pouring rain today for a few moments. Bad cloud cover all day impacting on images, so sorry with what I have to share. Remember the covered bridge discoveries in May with Gary, Davide, and Elisa leading to my repurchase of Joseph C. Nelson’s  SPANNING TIME: VERMONT’S COVERED BRIDGES? Well, that book has several routes outlined, and today I hit Tour 15 – The Deep South. Starting with the West Dummerston Bridge (I showed you the west side in my last post). And, here I approached from East-West Road in Dummerston (from the east)

and crossing through (pardon dust/dirt on bonnet – and my handprint – rain cleaned it off later – beats washing)

heading north on Route 30 you enter Townshend, and if a comedy movie aficionado, you know that the winter carnival scene in Chevy Chases’ FUNNY FARM was filmed on the green here (his home was in my favorite Grafton – I think I know where).

The next bridge was Scott Bridge (1870) just below the Townshend Dam. A combination of three bridges put together, it is no longer open to vehicles.

Remember with my galleries that you can click on an image to open large sizes.

Back south on Route 30 to Newfane, which is idyllic and I recommend you visit.

Court House Newfane, Vermont

Jogging off Route 30 to the village of Williamsville you find the last of Newfane’s seven covered bridges, originally built in 1870. Of course I stopped at the country store, hoping to see an old antique interior, but it is now an evening eating and entertainment venue. But, you have to (and should) pass through the village.

Then I approached the bridge

How can you not enjoy this view? When I parked on the other side a couple from Saugus, MA came up asking, “are you following us, we saw you at Scott Bridge.” “Gee, BLACK BEAUTY sort of sticks out doesn’t she.” I replied. We chatted bridges and Vermont back roads, and exchanged tips. You may wish to open and read these panels for the Bridge’s history and rebuilding in 2010. It was evident on this trip that Vermont is carefully preserving and rebuilding their covered bridges carefully maintaining the original appearances.

And, then back across the bridge, exploring the dirt roads of Williamsville, hiding under a tree, and back on Route 30 to Brattleboro.

to see Creamery Bridge off Route 9 west in Brattleboro.

The bridge was closed in 2010 with a new bridge built just to the east. I walked across the bridge, and back on the covered foot bridge built about 1917. This was the most heavily travelled bridge in the state. Note it appears that power or telephone lines were strung through the gables.

It was then head south on Creamery Road into Guilford — WOW – Guilford needs more exploration. Before I left home I found a Vermont Road Atlas I forgot I had put away in Black Beauty’s boot, and that did not even help to find the village of Green River. Amazingly I got a connection on my phone, and WAZE guided me in (sorry!). I arrived – to the highlight of the day.

cannot wait to come back during foliage season

people were enjoying the water below the crib dam – note that recent wood replacement has occurred.

Crib Dam in Green River Village

and, details about the dam (click for larger image if you wish)

I walked across the bridge to the junction of Stage Coach Road and Green River Road to the center of the village

and, I could not resist —

As BB1 and I were preparing to leave a lovely lady, Ruth, stopped her bike and we visited sharing philosophies of life, and she sharing various routes I should explore. “Head down River Road,” Ruth said, “turn right on Jelly Mill Road, and you will eventually loop back here.” She also told me there are over 100 miles of roads in rural Guilford, and she was surprised that I actually found the bridge the way I came in. I was persistent I said, but did not share I gave into WAZE. I loved the routes she recommended, and do hope she calls sometime so we can have dinner and share more stories.

This view (not my drone, sorry) is an aerial of the bridge, village and dam.

Back dirt roads abound in Guilford, and you have no idea what you may see around the next bend.

Dinner then at The Top of the Hill Grill on US Route 5 in Brattleboro – and I highly recommend the Roasted Root Vegetables.

Home – about 6 hours on the road, fun, great conversations with strangers. And preparations for today to explore the covered bridges in the Windsor, Vermont area, and hopefully make the concert at St. Gaudens. And, I will help Calvin celebrate his birthday in Plymouth Notch on the 4th.

1 – Plan some fun trips from covered bridge to covered bridge – and use back roads
2 – Explore Guilford, Vermont — I saw fairgrounds in the middle of nowhere – can’t wait
3 – Spend the Fourth of July in Plymouth Notch, Vermont

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


And, the Differences continue
An Update – 26 July 2017

Early July – Overcast

26 July 2017 – Overcast

And, how the change happened 25 July 2017
(remember, click to enlarge the images- please)

And, the answer to the question you have wanted to ask – Removal of 47 year old Sugar Maple – $1250 — Purchase and Planting of a 12 year old Sugar Maple – $1400. But I have continued the photographically documented 150 year tradition, and I’m happy I did.


Now, how can you not out of curiosity find out about the “Only One in the US” (almost in my backyard and hidden) after you learn that “Only the Trees are Different?”

Overwhelmed with play preparations (opening night this coming Friday, 16 June) for Old Home Days through the 25th, has impacted upon adventures, but also caused some action on my behalf for safety sake. My maple tree in from of my home was dying, dropping dead limbs from the top, and I did not anyone hurt. Sadly, I knew the tree must go, and on Monday the 5th, another difference with the trees at “44.” Below, now a “new look” at “44” – the stump has since been ground away.

Here are but a few images of that process, removing large sections at a time (click on any image to enlarge the photo gallery):

My home from the front is essentially as it was when built in 1806, except the “trees have changed.” Well, the original attached barn decayed and was removed in the late 1960s. The couple I bought from added an attached garage in 1971 (where the barn was), Then I added the “book shop” beyond the garage when we bought in 2002, and my almost four season porch was completed in 2007.

Cathy commissioned a local artist, Howard H. Hill to paint our home when we purchased in July 2002, thus documenting it at that time.

The red maple of the right of the house expired, and in time I removed the inappropriate plantings in front of the house. Inappropriate for what would have been the early 19th century appearance. But, you can see the majesty of the sugar maple on the left.

Jerry and Diana purchased my home in February, 1971, raising their children here. When they bought, that sugar maple had recently been planted by Guy Bemis (Mr. Walpole) who had saved the house from disrepair. Jerry gave me two polaroids that he took upon their purchase, and you can see the baby maple, and a massive one on the right (remember to click to enlarge).

In December 1970, my home was featured in YANKEE MAGAZINE in the “House for Sale” column in which “Yankee likes to mosey around and see, out of editorial curiosity, what you can turn up when you go home hunting.” Again, you see “baby maple” on the left (you can click to enlarge and read the article)

Before we “closed” on our home, a welcoming party was given us, and one attendee, Frank, retrieved these two earlier images from files at the Historical Society (he was the President at the time).

Great image above with my original barn sited when the garage now exists. Ironically in designing my “book shop” addition I came up with something very similar without have seen this image previously. And, below, long before the sugar maple was planted. Note the old “two over two” windows that Guy replaced, and the web lawn chairs and appropriate (not) laundry rack at the end of the drive.

The above images are probably from the 1950s. The postcard below would be from the 1940s, and you can just barely see the front porch over the stoop at that time, and a tree in the spot where my late sugar maple was planted in 1970.

And, this is a wonderful postcard documenting my home in the late 1930s, early 40s, with even another tree in the middle of the front elevation.

And, my earliest image of my home from a circa 1877 stereo view (doing the math, 140 years ago)

Not much has changed, “only the trees are different.”

And, now to the “Only One in the US” and maybe
the only one in the world!

You have listened to me lament not having the time to explore recently (and wear out the tires on BB1 and BB2). Production and directing of GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE for Old Home Days has consumed most all of my time. But when we learned a piece of set furniture would not be delivered on Saturday, all of a sudden I had a window of opportunity to “hit the road.”  But, what to do? I am out of practice, and planning. BLUE BELLE and I headed out the drive to head north to explore roads in Acworth. At the end of the drive, I turned south. Recently in my collection of great historical ephemera I found a 1958 tourist guide to the “West River Valley Region on Vermont” and you will eventually get a full post on that. In that little 8 page booklet there was one thing I had never heard of, and probably close to 100% of the world’s population is totally unaware of too. Off we went.

I turned off Route 12 to Route 63 in Westmoreland to River Road, and turned left on Poocham Road – great dirt, winery, and two small cemeteries. Second time down this road, but this time at the crossroads turned west figuring I would end up in West Chesterfield and close to the Connecticut River. And, soon, there I was at the Universalist Church in West Chesterfield, about only thing there besides Actor’s Theater in the old hall.

I was getting hungry, and crossing the river I headed south on US 5. Once before I enjoyed the Top of the Hill Grill in Brattleboro and that became the plan. While sitting there looking at the Brattleboro Retreat across the way I decided to head there and up Route 30 toward Newfane instead of taking the back road past Rudyard Kipling’s Naulakha to the Covered Bridge in West Dummerston. It had been a long time since I had been on this initial stretch of Route 30.

I toured the grounds of the Brattleboro Retreat (no photos allowed), and once I exited I remembered that the ski jump should be close. I choose the first left, and there it was. The Harris Hill Ski Jump completed in 1922.

Harris Hill Ski Jump, Brattleboro, Vermont

Shortly arriving at the West Dummerston Covered Bridge I need to share a few images with you since you are now “hooked on” covered bridges after my last post.

West Dummerston, Vermont Covered Bridge

Driving through Newfane (a must visit for you) I was looking for the road to Brookline, Vermont  (population about 500) and my goal for the day. I found the road just before the closed Newfane Flea Market. I crossed the river, and crawled along looking everywhere. I saw someone in his drive, and pulled in. “Can you direct me to the Round School House?” I asked. “Continue down the road, turn left at the T on Grassy Brook Road,” he replied. Soon, there I was at


Round Schoolhouse, Brookline, Vermont

and, yes there is a story. Built in 1822, as recorded in my 1958 booklet, “A certain Dr. John Wilson who taught here had it built according to his specifications with windows facing all directions so that no one could approach the schoolhouse unnoticed. He kept a revolver within easy reach for it was said that he was none other than Captain Thunderbolt, a highway robber long wanted for murder in Scotland and Ireland.” One place I read that 60 students would be in attendance – hard to believe. I encourage you to Google the Round School House and Thunderbolt, and even better to visit. The building served as a school until 1929.

Looking from the other direction – the privies are in the left side of the wooden shed addition

I then continued north on Grassy Brook Road towards Athens — and I encourage you to do the same. Just remember, you have to plan to travel this route — it is not along any path that you may just happen to be on. Macadam to dirt, dirt without telephone poles, poles reappear, and you can tell when you are in a more depressed area – Athens. But, up on the hill above a concentration of buildings and the town buildings is the Meeting House (you have to know where to look).

It was interesting to find as I walked around that the back, which you do not see, is clapboard instead of brick. I had a view through the first floor windows, and would love to see the second floor.

And then I continued on Route 32 to Cambridgeport, right towards Saxtons River and home. BLUE BELLE had to stop and travel through Hall’s Bridge where we started the last adventure.

And, then it was home, but a much needed four hours off.

“To write about something is to live it twice.”

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips | Tagged , , | 10 Comments


Do I need a new excuse to travel? No, but it is nice to have a focus for a sojourn. In February 2016 when I was staying with Alex, Davide (yes with an E) had just arrived days before from Milan to work for Mari. He was staying at their house. Since then I have enjoyed seeing him when he stops by at David and Mari’s. When I last saw him, he told me his girl friend was coming for another visit. “There is more to the US than Boston and New York,” I told him, “make sure you come visit me to see the countryside.” And the plan was laid, with Gary bringing them out. As plans developed, Davide said, “I have never seen a covered bridge.” Say no more, I began planning. The visit was delayed one weekend due to inclement weather, but they arrived the afternoon of Saturday 20 May (see how hard it is becoming for me to find time to write a post? Too much to do). The plan for their arrival day – drive to Grafton, VT for dinner, and three covered bridges on that 17 mile trip.

First stop – Hall Bridge spanning Saxton’s River on Route 121 between Bellows Falls and the village of Saxton’s River

Gary, Elisa and Davide on the north side of Hall Bridge in Rockingham

Originally built in 1867, a dump truck crashed through it in 1980. The bridge here now was built to the same specs and opened in 1982 by covered bridge builder Milton S. Graton. Yes, I have his book THE LAST OF THE COVERED BRIDGE BUILDERS, and laid inside I have articles about Graton, his business card, and the dedication ceremony program for the “new” bridge. Erected off-site, reassembled in the field to the north of the river, a team of oxen then pulled the bridge across the river and into place. Wish I had been there.

This will give you an idea of size – at 120 feet it is the longest covered bridge in Vermont. Vermont has more covered bridges than the rest of New England combined.

You know I like to “look through windows” framing a view.

and, who can resist a country stream (river) scene? Where is your picnic basket?

There were a few interesting notices posted inside the bridge. Reference to a Vermont Covered Bridge website, and a weathered flyer for a Covered Bridge Post Card Collectors Association – right up my “alley” of interests. When we got home Saturday night we discovered the postcard group no longer existed, but the other website lead to information about the book SPANNING TIME: VERMONT’S COVERED BRIDGES by Joseph C. Nelson. I checked my office computer, and last sold a copy in December 2009 for $60. Quick check on-line and I bought a copy for $12.45 (prime example of what has happened to book prices adversely affecting my business). My “new” copy is now to my right on the counter, and answered some questions we had – and it will serve as a future tour source. Also I have brought downstairs two classic unread 1950s covered bridge books that I have had in my library for over 25 years — now being read. …  But back to the weekend and images.

We travel through Saxton’s River on towards Grafton, and crossing into the preserved village I knew where to turn for Kidder Hill Bridge.

Kidder Hill Bridge – Grafton, Vermont

Sixty-eight feet long, notice how it is built at an angle and with a multiple roadway decking. We were intrigued by the massive wood along the sides, assuming they were there to protect the sides.

But, one answer from a book makes the purchase worthwhile. SPANNING TIME tells me that when this 1870 bridge was reconstructed in 1994-95 that the one foot by five foot laminated wood beam on each side were developed to support the bridge from abutment to abutment. Buy the book before you tour. The bridge leads to a now closed soapstone quarry. If you ever find the Grafton Historical Society open (I did once) do stop in and learn all about the soapstone industry. I thought I documented that visit here, but cannot find it – guess I need to go again – and also find the booklet I bought.

It was then out another side road to the site of the Old Grafton Village Cheese Factory and MacMillan Bridge.

MacMillan Covered Bridge – Grafton, VT

A reproduction, built in 1967, it is a footpath to the fields behind. You know I like images of texture and through openings. Think covered bridges will serve me well with both.

The plan was to eat dinner at Phelps Barn and Tavern at the Grafton Inn. As we were entering Elisa noticed the sign – CLOSED FOR PRIVATE EVENT. Think fast, Ray. And, we headed back to the Saxton’s River Inn for a nice dinner.

The plan for Sunday, 21 May, seven more covered bridges. We made it to two. Remember, have a plan, but if you do not make it all the way through, that is because you are having fun and doing more along the way.

First stop off Route 102 on the way to Chester – Worrall Bridge crossing Williams River.

Worrall Covered Bridge – Rockingham, Vermont

Built in 1868, another bucolic spot, with comparisons looking to the old railroad bridge.

In the gallery below (remember you can click my galleries to see larger images) you will see one of the old signs posted inside. Reading last night, I learned that the inside of bridges were plastered with ads, circus announcements, patent medicines, and the like.

Then, just up the road, and off on Bartonsville Road is Bartonsville Bridge. Originally built in 1870, I had traversed the bridge on the way to our vet’s office many times. But Irene in 2011 was not kind to the bridge, as seen in this video that was seen worldwide following that devastating storm. (from YouTube, an ad will start, but in 4 seconds you can click skip)

Below is the “new” bridge – nostalgically replacing the lost treasure.

and, all the history (you can click to enlarge for easier reading)


It was then Chester and a drive around another village green before heading over Andover into Weston. I figured they had to see an old country store and wares from years gone by. You know my love of old country stores (as shared here) and my history in Weston from my visit with the founder of the store in 1946 – Vrest Orton – while I was camping in the area in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster in 1963. You have heard that before, and will hear it again. It was at this potbelly stove that I chatted with Mr. Orton who ironically had known my great-grandfather – Franz Boas.


Well, I was wrong about the short visit. The Vermont Country Store was a hit with Davide and Elisa. Almost a two hour visit with the first 20 minutes the boys “playing.” Elisa was very sad that she had limited space in her bags and could not take everything home.

Gary and Davide adequately absorbed.

And, where would you expect me to take them to experience a rural 19th century Vermont “hill town?” No second guess needed – my favorite Plymouth Notch. President Coolidge’s site not open until Memorial Day – but you know I love to visit and share.

Gary, Davide and Elisa on the President’s front porch

Rocking chairs on the President’s front porch, to be added to my Rocking Chair Studies page.

Although not yet opened, I just felt we would see the site’s director, Bill Jenney, and we did. He was unpacking things inside the country store, and invited us in sharing some Presidential stories.

We walked up to the cheese factory which was open, enjoyed seeing the goodies, and particularly the museum. I don’t recall studying the plaques on making cheese (and there are many more groupings of history etc.) so decided to share them here with you. Click on the first to open up larger readable sizes.

And, I know you have seen many of my images of Plymouth Notch, but you should realize that everyday a view changes, so here are some more walking back from the cheese factory. I realized that Plymouth Notch could be the most photographed village in Vermont, and I am probably the one who has taken the most photographs.

President’s home on the left

The country store, and the President’s birthplace to its rear (bedroom is the window to left of doorway)

When we were heading back to the car, Bill came out of the store and said, “would you like me to open up the upstairs so you can show your friends the Summer White House?” No need to ask twice. What a treat, and here is the 1924 Summer White House as it would have appeared at that date.

And, you know I like “views out windows” so here are two from the White House windows.

It was approaching 3 PM, and the plan had been to head to Woodstock, pass by the Taftsville covered bridge, cross into New Hampshire and show them the Cornish Windsor Bridge (longest covered bridge in the US, and longest two lane covered bridge in the world), and a couple more covered bridges in Cornish. But we were all hungry, and having had so much fun doing things along the way could not complete the itinerary. Where to eat? “Gary, call Crow’s Bakery in Proctorsville and see if they are still serving lunch.” The bakery was open, and off we went. (you may remember that is where I posted my first travel blog from)

We were there alone with the staff of one who introduced herself as “Crazy Melody.” We all had fun, but I wonder what Davide and Elisa will share about that experience back in Italy.

A very full and fun day and a half. In closing:



“To write about something is to live it twice.”

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips, Plymouth Notch, Vermont | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments


“To write about something is to live it twice.”

Today’s informative, eye-opening adventure (for me at least) stemmed following a lecture I presented two weeks ago at the Historical Society of Cheshire County. The day before I received a phone call from a gentleman in Richmond, NH, asking how he could buy my book, AS IT WAS… AND STILL IS… WALPOLE, NH. Asking how he learned of it, he replied, “I saw it in a doctor’s office in Chesterfield, and the doctor told me how to contact you.” We chatted, and moments later he called again asking if I would wait after the lecture to meet him. That conversation lasted almost two hours – tons of serendipitous coincidences (I was floored when he said he collected country store items, “well I have been doing so also for decades,” I replied). The coincidences and parallels of interests just continued to multiply. Emails followed, and I was invited for dinner on Saturday the 15th.

I traveled down Route 32, and immediately became upset with myself because I had never been on this road below the center of Swanzey. The route heads into Massachusetts, and when it crosses with Route 119, that is the center of Richmond at the blinking light. Beautiful early architecture, peaceful, and historical including a marker for the birthplace of Hosea Ballou, considered one of the fathers of American Universalism. I had a few moments (I am good on planning trip arrivals) so headed in both directions at the junction of 32 and 119 out of curiosity. And, out of curiosity, you may enjoy these two images of one thing I saw.


At five I arrived at Bob and Jan’s original 1775 home (on an abandoned road – first of six I stumbled on in two days. President Garfield’s mother lived there as a child for six years until her father’s death in 1808. Seven years prior to his assassination, the future President and his mother visited. Garfield wrote of his visit with his mother, “I cannot tell you how strange and touching it was to me to see her go back over the old ground which she left sixty years ago.” They had tea in the front room, referred to as the Square Room – 16 1/2 feet by 16 1/2 feet – the size required for Town Meetings.

We toured their impressive grounds. Jan is a master gardener, and they have eclectic and humorous touches though out. Then we toured the restored period barn filled with country store and other collections, not to mention the living room done in Rufus Porter style — I was right at home (if you know my home). After cocktails it was back across the abandoned road for a tour of more collections, and one of the best dinners I have had. But the important thing was the connections and conversations the three of us had with similar interests. The conversation lead to PERLEY: THE TRUE STORY OF A NEW HAMPSHIRE HERMIT. Bob and his family had known Perley, and he helped write and edit the 2008 book published by the Cheshire County Historical Society.

I had planned a rare day off on Sunday – Easter – and had no commitments. I wanted to take a drive. Saturday night when I got home I had started reading my copy of PERLEY at 11:47 PM. Shunpiking destination solved — and the plan was for Stoddard on Sunday to Perley’s environs.

Sunday – 16 April, Easter. Off BLACK BEAUTY and I went over Route 123 into Marlow. Instead of continuing into Stoddard on 123, I saw on my real paper atlas of southern New Hampshire (that I remembered not having touched in ten years) a parallel road, Fox Hill Road. It was dirt, BLACK BEAUTY swelled with tears of joy. We reached the top of a hill and a brick 1823 farm house, and the end of the road. First abandoned road for the day.

I arrived in the “center” of Stoddard where my map said roads would lead to Taylor Pond and Perley’s home.

Original center of Stoddard, New Hampshire\

turning around you see the Congregational Church of Stoddard and the road (beginning on the left) I wanted to travel for my explorations.

Congregational Church, Stoddard, NH

Heading up School Street I came upon a roadside plaque pointing out a cellar hole. Thinking I had seen something down at the bottom of the hill, BLACK BEAUTY turned around, and we went back to the corner and parked. WOW – we learned so much. This placard (somewhat deteriorated) gave a late 19th century view of the spot where we stood.

Actually, we parked at the corner where the marked Blodgett/Ireland Store had stood. Just about all the buildings on the right side are gone now, as well as the horse sheds behind the church. I started collecting images of the center (in gallery below that you can open up) and encourage you to visit and explore.

It was then back up the hill to explore the three roads on my map that headed in the direction of Taylor Pond. School Street – pile of dirt and overgrown path just past the school (Abandoned Road Number Two for the weekend). Mt Stoddard Road – promising, suddenly chain across and “private road” (Abandoned Road Number Three). Back up to the cemetery and left turn onto Center Pond Road – wide (for dirt) populated, and promising. I arrive at the pond and the dirt diminishes to ruts. A mother and her children are playing on the beach to my right. “Nope, impassable Class-6 road now, and even an ATV cannot get through.” she tells me. (Abandoned Road 4). Starting to see a pattern? This is really SHUNPIKING.

Sadly I headed back to paved Route 123 to paved Route 9 (Keene – Concord road) and headed south to Granite Lake, exiting before the lake on (of course) Granite Lake Road where I took the first right onto North Shore Drive never having been on it before. I encourage you to see the lakeside community, and particularly the couple buildings I am sure were originally Victorian inns or boarding houses. I arrived at Aten Road — my destination road to Perley’s property and Shinbone Shack and the failed estate of Florence Cornelia Ellwanger Brooks Aten.


I was so close, but arriving at the estate the road became private, and I was greeted by signs, motion sensors and cameras. We wisely turned around, but first “stole” a few images. (Note – Abandoned Road 5 for the weekend)

Fortunately saved from total disintegration, the property is now Lakefalls Lodge.


Back down Aten Road and West Shore Road to downtown Munsonville.

Then under Route 9 to the “old road” – back on Route 9 for a short distance, and exiting and picking up Valley Road heading back up in a northerly direction. I figured if I picked up Bowlder Road (mentioned several times in PERLEY) I may have one more chance to enter his wilderness.  Great little traveled dirt road, passed Bolster Pond mentioned in the book, and up a hill saw Seward Mountain Farm (1799)

and looking to the other side of the road

But it was time for Abandoned Road Number 6. I thought I may have been looping back to the other end of abandoned Aten Road, but when I got home and studied the satellite views on Google Maps I believe I had passed overgrown Aten Road and really was close to Taylor Pond, and Perley’s old homestead. But alas, I respect signs.

I mentioned earlier, that this serendipitous adventure (you know me and my knack of timing) started with Bob calling about my book, an evening with he and his wife and much fascinating conversation including his involvement in the writing of PERLEY: THE TRUE STORY OF A NEW HAMPSHIRE HERMIT. Of course, I just happened to already own the book, and could not put it down when I got home and picked it up. And Saturday when I started reading it, Sunday’s drive became self-evident. I strongly encourage you to get the well-written book and enjoy it (available at the Cheshire County Historical Society). And if you can, explore the Stoddard countryside. And if you look on Google maps, you will see these roads all dotted, but in my atlas were solid lines — but that made the fun.

What is next for Ray — two weeks of playing Grandpa Vanderhof in YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU. A role that means a great deal to me as Grandpa’s personality and philosophies mirror mine. And when I last played the role in 2008, Cathy died, and the play was instrumental in my getting through that. So attend if you can, and I hope to be writing more soon. As always, yours, RAY

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

2190 SHUNPIKING DAYS – 10 APRIL 2011 to 10 APRIL 2017

FACT – BLACK BEAUTY and I traveled to Proctorsville, Vermont, and accomplished our first “on the road” posting on April 10, 2011.

Proctorsville, VT – Crows Bakery and Cafe – April 10, 2011

FACT – Since that day, in six years I have written 240 adventures and stories to share here – Averaging One Every Nine Days. But with mobility restricted in 2016, 102 days passed without your hearing from me.

FACT – In the six years of SHUNPIKING WITH RAY there are been 67,641 page views – 31 per day on the average.

FACT – August 30, 2015 there were 403 separate pages views – the most for any one day.

FACT – Today I posted a new page LOG OF ADVENTURES YEAR BY YEAR. I will use this chronological list to both relive my fun times, and plan future explorations.

FACT – I cannot wait to write more, and share more. Hopefully I have brought some joy and education with my writings, and provided some ideas for your own adventures.

Yours, RAY

and, an added FACT on 11 April — BLACK BEAUTY and I took at 60 mile round trip to visit BLUE BELLE in hospital down a dirt road in Vermont. Her engine block was due back from the machine shop today. Soon…

If you look closely you can see BB1’s tears over BB2’s condition. But all will be well soon.

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | 1 Comment


Title catch your fancy to read? I hope so. I am just about booked solid until the first of July, and even had to “skip out” of a few commitments to stay with Alex while David and Mari made a quick trip east to Berlin (before you thought north in NH). In fact, Gary had to cover for me on Friday the 31st, then I ventured to their home as the snow diminished falling on April 1.

Sunday the 2nd, Alex wanted to visit the New England Aquarium. So, following brunch at the family diner a few blocks away, downtown Boston we headed arriving a tad before 1PM

New England Aquarium in Boston

Save up for admission – seemed pricey, but actually very well worth it. But, a hint right up front — find a parking garage 3-4 blocks away for twenty something dollars, the garage next to the aquarium was $39 for my four and a half hours — I only wanted to rent a space, not buy one.


Upon entering, the first thing we saw to our left was the “Shark and Ray Touch Tank.” I volunteered to get in to also be touched, but the “fish keeper” did not enjoy my humor. The wide variety of rays moved fast, and I never was able to capture the largest spotted one on “film.”


Shark and Ray Touch Tank

The interesting plants with roots extending down (Faux in the exhibits, but so well done) are Mangroves that have adapted for coastal shores. These extensive root systems filter out most of the salt out of the Mangroves’ needed water. What salt does get into the plant goes to the older leaves that then die and are shed. The root systems also provide protection from predators for many small fish, and safety for larger ones to mature in.

In my days in Antarctica I played with Adelie and Emperor Penguins that scientists had in enclosures “on the ice.” Here in the aquarium on the first floor were about 5 other Penguin species that I did not know about. Also one of the information panels explained why Penguins are black on top, and white on the bottom, It is camouflage from predators. With white predominantly on the under belly, when a predator looks up the Penguin will blend in with the light above, and when a predator looks down, the dark side of the Penguin will blend in with the darker ocean below or bottom. Another fast fact I can share.

Surrounding the massive ocean tank are displays on four levels. Most amazing fish I have ever seen, and lots of information to read. Sometimes a fish will even pose for you.

Alex pointing out various fishes in a colorful tank.

Can you find the 6 Dragon Fish in the center of this image?

And the top of the ocean tank is open for informative talks. There is a scuba diver in the tank, answering questions from the lecturer and audience. Projected for all to see is a view from a camera worn by the diver.

I have always enjoyed turtles, and this 90 year old youngster is fed lettuce.

You know I like to share things you may not know about or have seen. Alex and Gary spotted a sign for artwork by the North Atlantic Fur Seals after we left their play area. Here is one of their pieces on display. The seals only see shades of gray, so their keepers help them select colors. The seals hold the brush, attached to a mouthpiece, and go to work. Original pieces were for sale in the gift shop for $70 – to benefit the seals.


About 4PM we left, and walked along the harbor towards the North End. We cut through the Paul Revere Mall. Here are Gary and Alex with the statue.

That is the Old North Church in the background. As you know, two lanterns were hung there April 18, 1775. One is on permanent display at the Concord Museum. The second, seldom seen lantern, will be exhibited by Prof. RAB in his Wagon of Wonders at Old Home Days on June 24th.

It is MondayApril 3 and I accomplished my plan and more. When asked by strangers where I live, to my reply they usually exclaim, “oh, you have the prison and fence place.” “No,” I hasten to explain, “that is Walpole, Massachusetts.” It was about time that I saw Walpole, MASS, but I also am searching for the right fencing for a garden project off my porch — it made sense to visit.

Heading south on I-95 (sorry) I exited on route 109 and WAZED back country roads through lovely Walpole, MA, countryside to Walpole Woodworkers, now called Walpole Outdoors. Remember my mission after visiting Fort Griswold where I saw the type of fence I would like?

Walpole Woodworkers, Walpole, Massachusetts

Pretty close to what I would like to have — still need to figure it all out.

Some things you just have to do — and since always asked, I had to see Walpole, Massachusetts, and the Walpole Prison, now (because local residents did not like having a prison named for the town) called Massachusetts Correctional Institution—Cedar Junction (MCI-Cedar Junction) after an old railroad crossing. In the 1970s (when still called Walpole) it was one of the most violent prisons in the country. Remember that with my “galleries” you can click an image to open a slide show of larger sizes.

Before I left the house I searched for other things I could do on the way home if I had time.  Of course, The Adams National Historical Park in Quincy. The houses would not be open until mid-April, but (according to the Google sidebar) the Visitor Center was open – NOT. The center is in the “city” itself, with the homes around town. There was a rack of information brochures which I feasted on, and with the DISCOVER QUINCY Guide (visit the website) I was off punching addresses into WAZE. Of course, wrong time of year to visit – everything closed, but Quincy is close enough to spend a day in season.

I stopped first at Peace Field – residence of four generations of the Adams family from 1788 to 1927, and home to Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

Peace Field – Quincy, Massachusetts – Home to Two Presidents.

I then drove over to the John Adams and John Quincy Adams Birthplaces – and encourage you to discover what all happened here. I was intrigued reading the history of the Quincy Granite Quarry and industry, and did remember that the railway to move the granite for the Bunker Hill Monument was the nation’s first commercial railroad in 1826 (remember I was in Jim Thorpe, PA, with Scott and Betty where the second railroad moved coal – the Mauch Chunk Switchack Railway in 1827).

Next I stopped to see the USS SALEM , CA-139, a heavy cruiser built in Quincy just after World War II.

USS SALEM CA-139 Quincy, Massachusetts

From there I followed Quincy Shore Drive (along Quincy Bay) north toward I-93 and Boston. Never had I been along this area – great “filling in more map.” I turned onto the road for Squantum Island first settled about 1638 to explore. But now just mostly 20th century homes. And below, a different view of Boston.

But I was there. Soon onto I-93 – through the Big Dig tunnel, and about 8 miles back to David’s house.

With the collection of material I picked up in Quincy were a couple great Boston maps. After chatting with Gary about the fun things to do that are relatively close, I think I will have to explore more in Boston, just have not done that (you know I am a country boy, and prefer that lifestyle).

Tuesday, raining and working on projects. Plan to head to Lawrence and a big antique center and lunch. Will report on that later. Now evening, and the day has been a WASH OUT with rain and a worthless Canal Street Antique Mall which instead of over 30,000 square feet of antiques had simply worthless junk, and not even junque. BUT, it got me to Lawrence, MASS, and seeing the sign “Welcome Center” I got to experience the Lawrence Heritage State Park. RAY RECOMMENDS you make a stop to learn all about how Lawrence was planned and its importance in textile and labor history (1912 Bread and Roses Strike).

Lawrence Heritage State Park – Lawrence, MA – entrance into former Mill Boarding House.

Remember it is raining, so no good outside images (but now I regret I did not take one of the front of the museum and the north canal). I have history panels in a gallery at the end that may be of interest to you. On the Merrimack River, Lawrence was built in open agricultural land taken from two other towns in 1845. The river was dammed and parallel canals dug to then power the mills (more later). The Merrimack River, which begins in the White Mountains, powers mills in Manchester and Nashua, NH, and then Lowell and Lawrence Massachusetts. We think of most rivers (Hudson, Connecticut, Mystic, Mississippi) flowing south, but the Merrimack turns back up northeast at Lowell, finally emptying into the Atlantic at Newburyport, Massachusetts.

Here is the first floor exhibits of mill operations and the development of Lawrence.

This panel will give you an idea of how the river was dammed, and the flow of the north canal to the right, and smaller south to the right.

This cutaway below is fantastic telling all (and better display than what I saw the end of last year in the Manchester, NH museum). The canals are higher elevation than the river due to the dam. Water will flow through a turbine or waterwheel under the mills to drive the belts to drive the machinery before flowing back into the river.

Let me come close to concluding before the information panels in case you want to skip those. The tad over an hour I spent in this Visitor Center/Museum was great, and the State of Massachusetts has other state parks where you can learn more about Massachusetts’ industrial heritage: Blackstone River and Canal HSP, Holyoke HSP, Western Gateway HSP, and Lynn HSP. I have been to the to the Western Gateway HSP in North Adams, and now want to go back.

So in just a few hours over two days I experienced and “filled in the map” in Walpole, Quincy, and Lawrence along with the aquarium in Boston. I hope what I shared may bring you to experience these at some time. HAPPY SHUNPIKING, Yours, RAY

HISTORY PANELS from the Lawrence Heritage State Park that you can click to open larger for reading.

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


My tradition with The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, has now begun its 21st year. Cathy and I first experienced the Inn for Valentine’s Day in 1996, continued coming and had a grand time for four days during the Millennium Celebration. It took a year after we lost her before I could return, and now do so as many times as I can each year, including simply stopping on the way driving home from elsewhere for a sit on the porch or dinner.

And, as I have been doing, I am here for my Birthday. I left Sunday morning and picked up the Mohawk Trail in Greenfield. First stop, enjoyable as always, was Shelburne Falls. Visited in the book shop, had lunch, and continued west on the trail. It has been awhile, and usually I am heading east and not west, and seldom with the leaves off — a whole new experience – I love this route. And, as you may know, my favorite sign is just west of Charlemont.

The sign sits at the entrance to a great roadside area along the Deerfield River – reminder to self – picnic here in BB1 and BB2. I like to take images of informative signs to refresh my memory and share – so if you wish, click on these to read more about the area and Mohawk Trail.


Sometimes when you are Shunpiking you get a tad off course. I was saddened to see that most of the snow in FLORIDA was almost gone.

And once through the forest, and around the hairpin curve you slide into former industrial North Adams. Before leaving home I realized that I never had explored north of Route 2 and the Hoosic River. I studied, realized that was where the mill workers lived, and location of PORCHES.

An update – 10AM Monday, as I am writing this in the lobby. Snow supposed to be so bad, I am going to head home today (a day early), instead of being stuck until Wednesday or Thursday — I will be back, but now back to writing this post.

PORCHES – North Adams, Massachusetts

PORCHES is owned by the Fitzpatrick family that owns the Red Lion Inn. With the establishment of MASS MoCA they purchased a row of abandoned, boarded up mill worker tenements and created unique lodging. I knew of it, but never saw it, until now. The row buildings have a u-shape allowing for porches and railings for hanging laundry to dry. In the renovation, skylights were installed to enclose those spaces between buildings. Hard to explain, stop and see, hopefully tempted by this gallery of images (which you can click on to see larger).

And, above the mantel in a sitting room.

And, below are some period (and one new) travel booklets I have of the Mohawk Trail which was first completed in 1914 as probably the first scenic road built for that purpose in the US. I have decided that many of this year’s early explorations in BB1 and BB2 will cover all the historic “nooks and crannies” and maybe I will start searching for some unique collectibles of the road as I saw at The Porches on display. “On the list” to publish here for you is RAY’S RECOMMENDED ROUTES and ROADS – watch for it.

I then headed down Route 8 to Adams. I wanted to collect lots of travel information at the Visitor Center there for this summer’s explorations while staying atop Mount Greylock, but the center was closed. Oh well, probably have more in my archives than they have anyway. Picked up Route 9 to Pittsfield, then my favorite Route US 7, and into Stockbridge, and The Red Lion Inn.

Not sure if I have ever showed you “my room” before, complete with flowered Victorian wall-paper (inside joke).

and, looking back from the window – the Rockwell print on the wall is signed, of course. Rockwell lived across the street, and when the Rockwell Museum was built his studio was moved past my window to the new location.

Having made the decision to cut my stay short, I enjoyed the lobby until about 11:30, went upstairs to pack, and checked out shortly before noon. Actually, all I was going to do on Monday was retrace some of my favorite routes south and west of Stockbridge – but I will be back.

I did have a return trip plan to look at the fences around the Colonial homes in Old Deerfield (remember what I told you on my last post while at Fort Griswold?). So onto the Mass Pike (toll booths gone, simply transponder reading gantries spanning the road at intervals), north on I-91, exit onto US 5 (the old route) and then loop into Old Deerfield. Now, whenever possible I take in lunch at The Deerfield Inn.

I had the dining room to myself, and had and loved the soup of the day – Smokey Tomato Soup, and Pulled Pork special.

And, then it was home shortly before 4PM – a day early, but safe and sound.

14 March 2017 – 1:30 PM


Now on Tuesday it is hard to see across the Common with the snow falling and blowing. I just finished my first sweep of the drive. I find it easier and faster to do multiple snow blowings of 6 or less inches rather that deal with 12 or more. Inside now to finish this up, but I also just finished a brand new page on THE ORIGINAL HISTORIC INNS OF NEW ENGLAND, and I highly recommend you click on the link above to view the page and plan your visits accordingly as you will not be disappointed.

Posted in Day (or maybe two) Trips, The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments