To Write About Something is to Live it Twice”

And, I am glad that I have, and can. I have told you that I “write for myself to remember,” but also to share. This holiday season, (like everyone else) I have not been able to get out for holiday activities and events. Well, to be truthful, what I have enjoyed doing in the past has been cancelled for this COVID year. But, I have been enjoying my previous holiday adventures rereading them, and a compiling them here for my pleasure. You may wish to browse through also, clicking on the links to my previous holiday adventures, and enjoy. Let me take you back through nine years of holiday posts. You may (please) click on the linked “red” titles for the full posts.

MERRY CHRISTMAS from “44” – 24 DECEMBER 2019


the above image I included from 29 December 2016. One thing I love about Walpole is that not much has changed since the late 19th century. The Gazebo is new in the past 14 or so years, but the same each year.

Following our massive snow fall (over two feet) on 17 December 2020, Larry and Celia Slason sent me the below image for the CLARION, and I need to share it here also – click for a large size.

how can you not love it?

One thing I will not see this year is the live Nativity following Christmas Eve church services. You know that this is how that story ends.

For a number of years I have put my “trees” out. Not as many this year, but I did buy four more, “new to me.” One is now in the shop, and three that I found at the Stone House Antique Center are on the mantle in the front informal parlor where I enjoy them each evening. Below is on the island in my kitchen.

Holiday traditions help make the holidays special. With friends I have enjoyed traveling from Inn to Inn in nearby Vermont seeing decorations and sampling goods. I miss that this year, but here is the link to last year’s


and, an image below when we finished the tour at Grafton . Do click the link above for decorations and snowy scenes.


For my newspaper, THE WALPOLE CLARION, I wrote an article about the history of candles in windows. I have not found out what website picked up the story and linked to it but I have had over 3,700 views from all over the world, most of those views in the past several months. You know I write to share, so take a look at –




This event below was really something different and special –

25 NOVEMBER 2018

The event at the Harkness House in Springfield, Vermont, was exceptional and festive. I would happily do it again. At the end of this post I provided some recommendations for holiday events – things I had done in the past, and still hoped to do, many “still on the list.”

A Merry Christmas to all


I am really disappointed that I could not again experience these events that I enjoyed in December 2017, but again, I have my posts –

6 and 9 DECEMBER 2017

This post includes the holiday festivities at Storrowton Village in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Manchester (Vermont) Holiday Inn Tour.  The tour in Manchester was similar to the “Inndulgence Tours,” but further “west” in Manchester, and great.

Here are some “teasers” so hopefully you will click the link above:


Next in 2017 I visited one of my favorite places of enjoyment – Old Sturbridge Village for:


Here in the parson’s house is The Ghost of Christmas Present who greeted you. He was decked out in his finery and mounds of food – faithfully replicating the original illustration in the first edition of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This post you should visit for holiday decorations, circa 1830, and then a tour of my trees at “44.”

I ended the year back in Massachusetts visiting Ventfort Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts; and, yes, just down the road – The Red Lion Inn. Below the link are just a few images from this great excursion, so click and take a look (only the first is Ventfort Hall):

28 and 30 DECEMBER 2017


The post below was a trip to Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, but while there I discovered a Festival of Trees nearby. Lots of wonderful decoration ideas. I really enjoyed this stop, and if you have time, click on this link and scroll down past Thanksgiving at Strawbery Banke to gaze in amazement.


19-20 NOVEMBER 2017


Just a leisurely drive can refresh and get you in the mood. I enjoy an old country store in Fairlee, Vermont, and the The Grafton Inn never disappoints:

19-20 DECEMBER 2016

But what about Plymouth Notch, you ask? This post is GREAT with GREAT IMAGES – just ask me. No, just click and visit with me:

10 DECEMBER 2016

Images so great, in fact, that the Vermont Tourism Board used my image below on some of their advertising.




I attended the Christmas celebrations in Plymouth Notch several years, and for a number of visits there was a special holiday hat contest following a hat fashion show given by the Black River Historical Society. Guess who was a top winner?

And, you may also enjoy the 2013 visit for Christmas at Plymouth Notch using this link:




If you have followed my posts these past almost ten years, you know I like images through windows, shadows, and texture.


Below is the first “Inndulgence Tour” – and it was fantastic — please click on this link and travel along with an great ending at The Grafton Inn. (the images directly below are at The Castle in Proctorsville).


and at the out of the way  Blue Gentian Lodge near Magic Mountain.

I do hope you take some time, and take a look at these posts to enjoy some of the holidays I have enjoyed. I know that I will be looking back through several times tonight and tomorrow.


Please Stay Safe, and Stay Well
Love, RAY

and, another of my favorites taken at “The Castle”

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There is just so much you can do as winter approaches, and Dr. Dewey was at the perfect stopping point as the snows approached his high elevation in Weston. “Time to wrap it up,” he advised. The messed up plumbing system was removed, we researched and emailed back and forth, and in developing a fix, Dewey emailed, “I have a vision.”

Would you believe I found LADY RAB III only two weeks ago? So much has transpired, and I have learned so much. The plan was that Bruce, the previous owner, would help and move her across the river when Dewey was done. I called him Thursday night, and he said, “Ray I know why you are calling, but I can’t.” His mother, age 92, fell and had 25 stitches and was waiting to go into hip surgery. I emailed Dewey saying that in the morning I would call David C., my now retired sports car diagnostician, for help. But, I know people’s email habits. David C. is on-line emailing early in the morning, so I sent him a note late at night asking for help. When I checked my emails Friday at 6:30 AM, David had replied at 6:24 saying he could not, but call his son, Patrick, who was waiting to hear from me. Patrick is another mechanical star, and woke up BLUE BELLE from an 18 year nap in two hours when I bought her. Patrick said, “let me plan my day, and I will call you back.” We met just before noon and headed across the river and up into the hills.

The clouds were ominous as Patrick hooked up. Fun visit with Dewey, and off we went.

there is something magical about seeing and following an iconic Airstream, but especially a vintage one, and even better if it is yours. But even better is being off somewhere in yours escaping what COVID may be left in 2021.

Arriving at “44” before 3PM, Patrick expertly backed her in alongside the shop, thus leaving space for snow to be plowed if need be.

But not 18 hours later, and before snow, Doug arrived to move her for me into his storage space.

but an easy two plus blocks from me, on a former farm property, this is LADY RAB’s “hibernation den” in front of Doug’s rig.

I will have to learn how to do this

to be able to slide “my baby” between a concrete cow trough and boat. Well, not that tight, but I need to be good. Already have on my Amazon wishlist a wireless backup camera to mount on LADY RAB

Doug’s 28 footer sees a possible meal.

and, off I headed home, but to return for visits. My new LED battery operated camping light (that I ordered last night) arrived at the post office today – but I had not planned on going when others can go. The light will allow me to sit in LADY RAB and gloat and dream.

And, how many trips did you make to Weston, Vermont in the past two weeks? I made four enjoyable trips, and on 2 December I made my third one to see the crazy redo of the waste lines. Guess who was waiting to see me?

LADY RAB – 1965 Airstream Caravel

below is the mess of incorrect and non-functioning piping that Dr. Dewey found. It is no more.

he also pulled the toilet, and moving some boxes that had probably been in the closet for  at least seven years, he discovered a pipe that black tape did not stop from leaking. Wonder why? Now I know why some of the plywood walls have flaked.

Former owner, Bruce, pulled up the drive and greeting us exclaimed, “I had a feeling you guys were at it.”

Here is Dewey (on the right) showing Bruce the breaks he found in the bumper. Dewey has the bumper for the winter, and it will look like new when he is done.

if you remember what the tongue looked like before, it is all cleaned up now. My original propane tanks have been tested and certified. That is great, you know I like original. Oh, Dewey, before I forget to tell you. Both Patrick and Doug have fancy trucks with all sorts of devices. Doug’s truck told him there was a problem somewhere, and he found that the trip wire for the emergency “kill switch” is “hot.” Put that “on your list.”

As you can imagine, I have spent a great deal of time on-line researching and learning the 1965 Caravel systems, and proper equipment. I told Scott and Betty that the replacement refrigerator (propane and electric) really bothers me. It is larger than what should be there, and to make it fit the counter top was cut and the unit extends way up. Kills the aesthetics as you look and go inside, it looks bad, and effective counter space is lost. As you can see, and don’t you agree?

Scott warned me what a correct unit would cost, “it is not a small dorm refrigerator for a $100,” he said. He warned me, I know, but replacing it to one of the correct size and appearance is important to me. So, some more research for the correct unit. I found these images on line for guidance. Of course you can “click” my galleries for larger view.

some variations, but you see how more spacious the kitchen area becomes – at least visually – with the counter top as it should be. Black tile has been placed over my original floor tiles – they are not great, and I have to do something. The top images above show carpeting on the right, but wood laminate on the floor on the left. I like that, and the correct selection will tie the space together, and give it a larger appearance.

Well, the snow has not come here as yet, but it has rained all day. Remember, I have written this for my own pleasure, memory, and to look at on the days I do not run over for a visit. This may be the last LADY RAB post until the spring, but then “watch out” because we will be “on the road.”

Catch you soon with a post from a selection of “Christmases Past.” Until then, stay safe and stay well, love, RAY

And, in case you missed the previous stories on my two week adventure, that is setting the stage for many more adventures to share,
click on these links below:

INTRODUCING – LADY RAB III – 20 November 2020

27 November 2020

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1965 AIRSTREAM CARAVEL — LADY RAB III — A Week Later, 27 November 2020

I am still “on top of the world” and even more excited with my “new” 1965 Airstream Caravel travel trailer – now LADY RAB III. The learning will never cease, and I have found a wealth of information on-line with fantastic websites devoted to the “Airstream Family” to assist in restoration, care and enjoyment. Not to mention the decorative accessories to time travel back. The Airstream “family” is amazingly supportive, and my postings on the Facebook page – Airstream Restoration – has already brought me some answers. And, another plus are great friends Scott and Betty in Pennsylvania who have been supportive, helpful, and have put up with my emails and calls. OOPS Had to stop typing – Betty called, I read the above sentence to her and she replied, “gladly put up with my calls.”

Earlier in the week Dewey moved LADY RAB III to his home and shop, where she could enjoy expansive views of the Vermont hillsides. I visited them both on the 27th, and Dewey and I discussed his operation on her derriere, and additional projects. This is what I had to look at coming up his drive.

and walking around…


Dewey and I spent a great deal of time discussing projects, which I will detail below. But when he had to run off for some parts for a car he was working on, I stayed and explored though LADY RAB III – something I had not done when I bought her in a dark garage after a few moments visit last week on the 20th.

This first view is sitting on the front couch, looking back. I had put up one of the tables. The black upholstery and non-original black painted cabinet doors was probably done by Lisa (owner once removed). She told me her “Toaster” was outfitted in a pirate theme for her sons and nephews.

note the compartments under the coach which slides out to make a bed. Black tiles over the original flooring – pirate theme, of course.

This is the sofa/bed at the front end. What you see upon entering. I was sitting at the far right end.

Now looking forward to see a full front view. The little lights are 12 volt for when you are “off-grid.” In RV terms that is boondocking. The bracket is for a TV, and a cable comes from the outside that was probably attached to a whip antennae. I guess even young pirates will sometimes need light entertainment. I bet Lisa may tell me when she reads this.

A table can be set up on each side. Tight for leg room. Not the layout I would have liked to have had – BUT – I have a great enjoyable piece of history here, and will adjust since I am flexible. But design of the outside space is where most enjoyment will be (see last image. below)

I pulled the side bed almost all the way out. Yes I have size 12 feet.

I only folded the front bed part way out. Happy to see the shelf behind for 1960s appropriate tchotchkes.

on the curb side is the kitchen. The refrigerator is a replacement and stands above the original cabinet height. In the long term, another search and fix to get back to original.

again, looking back at the bathroom

looking into the bathroom

now, what is that in the image below, and why do you want to see it? In one of our many emails, Dr. Dewey told me there was a problem with the Black Water Tank drain. Yes, you may be able to guess what goes into Black Water as opposed to Gray Water. Well, unlike newer or larger trailers, the 1965 Caravel only has a Black Water Tank, and this is not how the outlet should look. Also, the lever to open the dump valve is lacking. The fellow I bought the trailer said everything worked, but in a later phone call said he never hooked up the sewer line. Obvious now the previous owner only plugged in for power. Dr. Dewey said he would see if he could repair and make the drain work. Well, with all the great on-line resources I learned so much about this tank and age problems. One person even dropped his and had only unrecognizable pieces. I found detailed instructions on how to remove the tank, and an image of how it slides up into the closet for removal. Thinking removal and possible replacement best, I may have found a company that can supply the tank. Remember, if it can be fixed with money, it is not a problem. In this case we will probably be ahead trying to replace than fix. Dewey agreed in an email reply. Still on our discussion list. If you would like to receive a long dissertation I found on Black, Gray and Potable water in Airstreams, let me know and I will email the PDF. By the way, my brain synapses are moving so fast I am getting younger rather than older.

And, the closets, one on each side to the entrance to the bathroom. For privacy while in the shower or on the toilet there is an accordion screen – yes right out of 1965.

Sliding the side bed out, and pulling back the mattress you can see some electrical apparatus and the water pump. There is an access panel curbside to plug into house current. Scott, looking at the schematics, I think where the electric cable is coiled up is where the battery goes for boondocking power. Will have to investigate from the outside to follow the wires and read the switches as shown in the Owner’s Manual.

Reading somewhere I learned there were tubs under the couch beds. Figured I would have to find them somewhere for originality. Well, opening up the doors I was pleased to find four of the original tubs remaining. And, on the side there are slide out drawers they rest on.

Now to the projects. Getting rid of the extension and moving the bumper back to where it belongs was priority. But how far out exactly should it be? Dewey had found the bumper may have been hit at sometime, a section cut out and then shortened. I can live with that, only about two inches on each side, and will be noticeable only if you back another trailer up to compare. Posting on the Airstream Restoration Facebook page, within twelve hours three people sent me images with tape measures in place. I also got additional information on the lid that covers the hose box that Dewey will fabricate. It will look great for sure. So as not to overload Dewey’s email box, I have held back sending all the images until he is ready.


Now, the tongue. Don’t you like all the “sexy” technical terms? See the bar going side to side? There was also one on the rear. A wrench goes onto the pin sticking out, and you crank down feet to stabilize the trailer when parked and occupied. Not original, and ugly. Upon my arrival Dewey greeted me and said, “what to you want to do with it?” “Ugly,’ I replied, “it could go away.” He was thrilled I said that, “consider it done.” We agreed the extensions were bruised shins or broken knee caps waiting to happen. But when inside I did notice movement, have to do something.

Well, that something came easily following a long conversation today with Scott. Shortly after he sent me a link to a trailer supply house with vintage looking aluminum stabilizing stack jacks. I checked the site, then checked Amazon where the same exact set was about 34 cents cheaper (at $35.52 for the set), and with free shipping. My set of four arrives December 1st.


Propane tanks – had been remounted at some time back further than the original. Dewey said the poorly made bracket should go, and a new one put back in the original place. Then we can mount the spare between them and the body. Originally not coming from the factory with a spare, I have seen many restorations with the spare mounted there. If you have it, you will never need it. And, the tanks? One is dated 1971, and Dewey said no one will ever refill them – so for safety, etc., new tanks are “on the list.” Below are some additional wires, and I think a “suicide switch” in case there is a break on the tongue.


Well, over an hour and a half I played and explored my new toy, time to go home. “But wait,” cried LADY RAB III, “even though Dewey’s views are great, I want to come with you.”

I backed up.

Was about to hook up — but in time.


And, at in that time it will be party time – 1960s PERFECTION.

If you made it this far, thank you. Remember I am documenting for myself, and the next owners down the line of this Airstream treasure. But you know I love to share. And in googling 1965 Airstream Caravel I am hoping that other owners will be in touch.

Stay safe and well, love, RAY

PS – If you have not seen my previous story of this wonderful acquisition – CLICK ON THIS LINK.

PPS – Yes, I am curious, and while just now (Sunday, 29 November) reading an Airstream history book I needed to know, “why Caravel.” And, this is what I found – “The Airstream Caravel was first introduced in 1956 and continuously appeared in our lineup as a lightweight, nimble option. The Caravel name comes from early European sailing ships specifically good at sailing windward.



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I got back from the Post Office shortly after 3PM on Wednesday, changed into pajamas, and have no desire, or need to go out until mid-Friday. Most years recently I have visited the boys, or dined out with a friend. But this year the Massachusetts Governor said, “stay away Ray!” (I did not want to chance a trip anyway). It is also not worth chancing even a nice inn where strangers from who knows where will be. Thus, just a quiet, “old-fashioned” Thanksgiving Day at home. But that does not mean I cannot enjoy some Thanksgivings past, and also share with you.


Last year I shared with you AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING written by Louisa May Alcott in 1882. I adapted the story to fifteen minutes, and gave a reading at the Town employee dinner last year. Please click on this link, and enjoy the tale of Thanksgiving. (this is Tilly reading to her siblings). You may wish to read aloud, socially distanced with your family.



Also last year, 2019, I experienced “A NEW ENGLAND THANKSGIVING” at Old Sturbridge Village on 19 November. All around the village preparations were being made from practicing shooting for a bird, to preparations on the hearth. Below is the table at the hearth in the kitchen el of the Freeman Farm. Do click the link above to retour that afternoon with me.


In 2017, I stumbled on 300 Years of Thanksgiving – a 90 minute weekend guided tour at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth. What a great way to start my holiday excursions, and off I went for two nights, 19-20 November. I am really enjoying reliving that trip which also included “A Festival of Trees” that was fun to document. I think I got many great images on that trip, so please take the time, and click on this link “to get in the spirit.” Below is a table set at Strawbery Banke (yes, spelled correctly) circa 1919 at the Shapiro House.

So, what about my “old-fashioned” thanksgiving and this year’s Christmas excursions to decorated inns and special exhibits? You know the answer, there will be none in 2020. But, I have memories of travels past, easily prompted with my posts, because you know that “I write for myself, but love to share.” Growing up, my mother was thrilled when Swanson developed TV Dinners sometime in the 50s. Remember those? Compartmentalized in a pressed aluminum tray, portion of meat in the biggest space, flanked by two vegetables, or one vegetable and potatoes, and if lucky a desert in the small center section at top. Can you picture it? What fun to journey back and treat myself to a Swanson Turkey Dinner. But alas, the little shop I frequent across the river has a limited, albeit wonderful, selection, and this year I will have myself a BANQUET.

But, how is LADY RAB III you ask? I thought you never would. She was moved to Dr. Dewey’s Tuesday. He will be performing surgery to return her derriere to its youthful curvy shape. I was thinking he would be waiting until after TDAY, but he jumped in yesterday, and I anxiously await his email to visit Friday or Saturday. As you can see in this image he sent me, he has already trimmed off the excess fat someone once fed her. He believes he may have found another hiccup with her innards for excretion, but time will tell. And, as it can be said, “nothing is a problem if it can be fixed with money.”

And what have I have been doing? Well, lots of on on-line research on the proper way LADY RAB’s rear end will receive her “metal surgery.” Also reading much more about Airstreams is on the agenda for the day, and time to jump into another mystery, and maybe finish it. So…

Stay Safe and Well
as always, luv, RAY

and, until no longer needed, I will continue to run this banner in THE WALPOLE CLARION

and, you know, about this time of year I also start to get more of my trees out. I do enjoy them.

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INTRODUCING – LADY RAB III – 20 November 2020

One of the pleasures I had with my “open bookshops” in Haddonfield, New Jersey, (1990-1995), and then in New Preston, Connecticut from 1995-2002, is that when I woke up I did not know what I would own at the end of the day. The phone would ring for a house call, or a car would pull up in front and open its trunk full of books. In fact, Kevin stopped in New Preston, in probably 2000, with boxes of books for sale. Twenty years later we still email, and he sends me boxes of books.

Yesterday, 19 November, was a hectic day finishing up the December CLARION, and the files went to the printer at about 8 PM. Waking this AM I had no real plans. Time for a full day of reading, interspersed with work in the shop. But, then at 9:03, Dr. Dewey sent me an email saying, “Just talked to the guy and he is looking to sell it.” Email thanking Dewey, and then a call to Bruce. He said 1PM to visit in Weston (his woods back up to my car Doctor) was fine. That gave me time to do some research. You know when you talk with someone that things are “just right.”

Now, Ms. T accuses me of not being flexible – and that is not true. Carolyn and I agree that Ms. T is the problem – out for lunch, it has to be 11:30 exactly, or there is a big problem. I have been searching for a 13 foot 1950s-60s “canned ham” (10 foot box) for ease of towing. I have been looking and researching as you know from my posts. I have learned a great deal – what to watch for, and the problems. Let’s not discuss the time spent on-line, and the messages with owners from California to Texas to the Maine border. It is a process, and makes the final action much easier. I chatted with friends Scott and Betty in the Poconos last week. You have met them on my posts. They are pros with Airstreams, and told me to consider a small one. I learned about them, how made, and on and on. Floor plan maybe not exactly what I was thinking I wanted, but again – be flexible.

I arrived at Bruce’s just before 1PM, and we entered his garage.

Introducing LADY RAB III
Overall 17 feet – Box/Cabin about 14 feet

now, let me show you inside

note the original unused propane lamp. The trailer and its utilities run on electric or propane.

and, a gallery of interior views you can click to enlarge. Yes, that is a bathroom with toilet and shower.

do you believe in “meant to be’s” – well I do. I went to look at the opposite side, and what did I see, but an original – yes totally original, just like the trailer – 1928 Model A Ford Coupe. You should know my history with Model A Fords.

more “meant to be’s” – well this “A” (which Bruce bought from a museum years ago) was originally from Wilton, Maine, owned by a print shop. Now yes, you had better know my hometown (except Walpole now is) is Wilton, Connecticut, and I have had letterpress printing presses since 1957 – only own six at the current moment.

can you believe all this? I am still pinching myself. I had arranged with Scott and Betty to Facetime with them at 1:30. I toured them through the trailer, including underneath which still has the original aluminum protective covering of the frame — something seldom seen. Bruce will fill me in on the previous owners, but he gave me copies of the paperwork going back, including a copy of the registration for the original New Mexico permanent license plate. Did I tell you, or did you guess, I bought “her.”

and, from my research before I headed to Weston, I found the floor plan of this beauty. You can click for almost full screen view..

I started working on this post to share with you, and realized I had to call Scott and Betty to thank them for the help. Scott’s mind is racing, and he is beginning lists of things to tell me to help me. As we were concluding the call he said, “let’s plan a trip together to the Airstream factory and the RV/ MH Hall of Fame, both in Indiana.” So exciting.

Well, guess that is it for tonight. I have research and learning to do, trips to plan and dream about, and a safe way to avoid some COVID critters. Lots of fun ahead, and you know I will share with you. Excitedly with love, yours, RAY

UPDATE 22 NOVEMBER — I FOUND THE OWNER OF MY GEM (once removed) in Bella Vista, Arkansas. And, following is Lisa’s reply. So thrilling, I will do as much to document “my baby” as I can.

What fun to see our little “Pirate Ship” pictures!  We did purchase this Caravel Airstream in November, 2000, as a “Family Christmas” gift.  After an especially hot summer in 2000, tent camping and fishing at our favorite spot “Roaring River” in the Mark Twain forest of Missouri, we (husband Mike Million and I) decided that we’d treat ourselves (not necessarily our sons, Spencer and Mitchell) to air conditioning and a bed up off the ground for our future camping fun.  We decorated the Caravel in a “pirate” theme, flying the Jolly Roger and using other red, white and black “pirate flags” as our curtains.  We had many, many fishing tales with our sons and two nephews and plenty of their friends.  That little “Toaster” has seen some fun times, including packing in six or seven sweating little bodies to escape the outdoor temps in the Ozarks.  Many times there were more kiddos than bed and floor room, so the boys and company pitched tents outside of the camper.

We purchased the camper from outside of Kansas City at a vintage car dealership, working after sons’ bedtimes and during their sporting events at the restoration.  We shined the little gem with the same technique used on airplanes, pulled up the decaying asbestos tile and replaced it.  We tried to leave the “integrity” of the camper, but the air conditioning unit and newer refrigerator had been replaced prior to our acquisition.  We had the black sofa coverings done at a local upholstery shop.  On Christmas Eve, we pulled the Caravel into the driveway and had the boys guess their “big” present by an Airstream ornament on the Christmas tree.  You can probably guess that we all four had to sleep in the driveway, in the Caravel, for Christmas Eve.  Such great family memories!

When I have a bit more time, I will try to find some of the pictures of the camper when we acquired it and after restoration.  My oldest nephew is now 29 and younger nephew is 25, so during the “hay day” of our camping, fishing, hiking, biking expeditions we had boys that were ages 12, 10, 8 and 6.  Fishing was the prime focus, but those boys couldn’t sit still long enough to catch a thing.  We had bikes, hikes, board games, hide and seek, kites, rafts, swimming…..  Never a dull moment!

Our sons are now 22 and 27 years old.  But they definitely have very fond memories of the little “Pirate Ship”.  As we had a FaceTime session with oldest son, Spencer, from Tokyo this weekend, the entire troop of local son and nephews were talking about our camping adventures.  So glad we had that trailer to help survive those memories!

Hope you enjoy the Caravel as much as we did!  It will definitely grab attention in a camping area of big rigs, slide outs and “mansion on wheel” units!  We were asked about our little gem often.

Cheers to a Unique Little Airstream!


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I needed a break, we all need a break. But, I am afraid that taking a traditional break, and get-away could be a year away. Just a change of scenery is rejuvenating, and helpful, even if like me, you love being home. But how do you travel, and avoid the world? Carefully, and

NAULAKHA – Dummerston, Vermont

remotely! Remember when friends and I visited Rudyard Kipling’s home, Naulakha, in Dummerston, Vermont, last year? The Landmark Trust USA owns this property, as well as others in the area (and over 140 around the world) that they have carefully preserved, and rent as vacation get-aways. I spent much time looking at their Vermont properties, and decided on a plan.

I have a project I had to figure out the best approach for. A full day away from distractions would help. After much study and thought I focused on The Amos Brown House in Whitingham, Vermont, and made arrangements with Michele at Landmark for a two night retreat, on the 10th and 11th. Son Gary also needed a break, and the plan was for him to join me.

An easy hour away, but I left early to head via Deerfield to chat with the owner of the camper restoration facility I recently discovered – you know I am on a “canned ham” hunt. Now, given the choice – I-91 or the old route US5 – you know I headed south on US5. And, with eyes focused for a “canned ham,” this trip started and ended with finding vintage trailers (actually, now looking, campers were to be observed everywhere in yards and behind trees and barns). First, anchored to a “home” on Route 5 was this vintage 13 foot Scotty – just what I want – but restored.

and, next I found this 1930 Model A Ford tractor conversion. The driver was wearing appropriate COVID protective gear. Any idea why I travel back roads?

Finishing up my visit with Brian at Two Feathers Restoration, I headed west on the Mohawk Trail, and turned north on back roads to intersect with Route 112 at Colrain (more on it later). Entering back into Vermont I saw this colonial home flying true colors on its side (no, not from the trees as Gary asked).

and, I arrived at my destination, The Amos Brown House, circa 1802, at about 3PM.

looking south down the dirt road from where I parked

I headed inside

left my bag in my downstairs bedroom

and sat down on the porch reading, awaiting Gary’s arrival

how can you not feel relaxed?

Of course, for my own curiosity I had to research this house, the oldest in Whitingham. And, it is amazing that it is brick, well over a foot (almost two) feet thick. Made in the area, bricks were used on several homes in this remote area. You may enjoy this article on the restoration – British group saves 1802 Vermont home. Eventually I found this fascinating report on the restoration – REPORT INTO REPAIR AND CONSERVATION WORKS TO THE AMOS BROWN HOUSE, WHITINGHAM, VERMONT, USA DURING THE SUMMER OF 2001. In this video, Tristam Johnson, tours you through the property. But for the best professional interior photographs, visit The Amos Brown House page on Landmark’s site.

Gary arrived well after dark, at about 6:20. Hard to find, even in daylight, you just have to watch for the last few turns. We made dinner, ate in the dining room, and then decided it was time for ANIMAL HOUSE, an annual viewing tradition, and planning ahead I had brought my projector to hook to a computer. Then exhausted (partially from laughing) we turned in.

I rolled over in the morning, and the inside wall was fiercely red. Looking out the window, I saw why to the east – it was 6:50AM.

It was time to read, and I also broke out my project notes. I have been working on assembling my history articles into another book, and also outlining “Development of a Village…” which started as a talk I gave at the Horse Thieves’ 200th anniversary dinner. Gary stirred, came downstairs, and soon sat in on two planned Zoom meetings. I worked with my notes. The idea of a getaway worked. Isolated from distraction, outlining the “development” book, it came to me. Much of my work was done with my articles. They just need to be arranged, and then I “fill in” the gaps with more research. Doing so will provide more history articles. It was great, and my winter’s work will go forward.

By 11:30 we headed off to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, for lunch. The house is on an old dirt road. Directions bring you in from the north, but Google maps showed me we could head out south to Route 8A into Massachusetts. We headed south, passed two hunting cabins, and the dirt road became a path. Well, a path with massive rocks to weave around, and pockets of mud waiting to swallow you up. I love dirt roads, BLUE BELLE loves dirt roads, but now having been down this one, once is enough. GiGi still has her crankcase cover intact, BLUE BELLE would not have been as fortunate.

Following 8A, or the other way around, there is a stream, and this abandoned mill village, or mill structures. Wouldn’t it be fun to own a village? Maybe more so than a “canned ham?”

But, wait! How about this – and negotiations are underway for this “fixer-upper” and barn for my books and toys.

And, continuing south, almost to the Mohawk Trail, in Charlemont is the Bissell Covered Bridge.


Me and Handtruck – (guess who is which!) – What Fun!!

Pulling into Shelburne Falls I first showed Gary the Trolley Museum (open May 2021 – lets hope). I visited there September 2011 for a ride on the 1910 Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway trolley car (see picture below I took then) and also I got to operate the hand truck. After enjoying the luncheonette on Main Street we walked over to the Glacial Potholes, formed beginning about 14,000 years ago when Lake Hitchcock drained and the Deerfield River first started to flow over these rocks. The sediments left these amazing patterns that you must see.

and, if you wish you can open this gallery for larger images

We then headed back up Route 112 through Colrain towards Whitingham, which is a village in Jacksonville. But it was bothering me. Colrain is remote, why did the trolley run up there? You know I am not satisfied unless I have an idea why something (a place, town,

Shelburne Falls & Colrain Street Railway Number 10

factory, etc.) is where it is. The trolley line began in 1896 to move freight and people to Shelburne Falls, and to connect with the railroad in Buckland. There was even a trolley picnic grounds built for Sunday amusements. The property is now the transfer station – I have to re-explore the area obviously. I encourage you to visit, and for some history click this link, and enjoy. And, to win another drink at the bar, in May 1812, it was in Colrain that the first American flag was ever flown

Painting by Frank E. Schoonover – 1940

over a schoolhouse, or any public building. For years Colrain would celebrate this event in re-enactments, poetry, art and parades. Hopefully you want to know more. I did, and here is one of the better articles I found on this first in the US, and Massachusetts.

But, after three hours of exploring, Gary and I returned to our “new old home.” This resting up stuff can be exhausting.

Returning, we walked around outside, but first marveled at the front entranceway stepping stones. Not something easily moved, especially over 200 years ago – but they were smarter then. Surrounded by fields on both sides of the dirt road, even in the light rain this tree speaks to you.

And, appears ready to “hug you”

here is the backside of the house. Barns were typically not painted where people would not be looking.

let’s call these “studies in red” – click to enlarge

coming inside we explored awhile the barns. The first image is in the basement, which I find unusual. My Colonial, on the Common, was built in 1806 without a basement. Half was later dug out in my home for a coal furnace installation, now converted. The workmanship Landmark had done is exceptional, and you can tell everything appropriately replaced from the first floor down. The mechanical systems are top line and subtle not detracting from the historical ambience of the house. The barns have been preserved as original – amazing. Below you will see a four-holer, a wall study, and Stations of the Cross mounted. These were found in the attic during renovation. At one time the property (read the links I provided) served as a retreat for monks.

you know I like images looking out windows. Here is from the second level in one of the barns.

Still decompressing and tired, we decided not to head off to an inn in Readsboro for dinner, but instead nap, and then reheat left-overs, or munch on grapes, cheese and pepperoni. Waking a few hours later, we did the later. But wait, there is more, and a new tradition. Gary had never seen KELLY’S HEROS before, another annual classic of mine. Well, we now have a new shared annual “must watch” – we know each other’s level of humor – Gary approved.

Thursday morning came too soon. Gary headed back east and home for another Zoom meeting. I relaxed and enjoyed the home until 10AM, then to head northeast toward home I went west – you know me. Vermont Route 100 can be considered the “backbone” of Vermont, but from Jacksonville west to Route 8 I will call it a tail before it twists back south with Route 8 to the Massachusetts border. Not a stretch of road often travelled, I think I may have headed to the border on Route 8 only once before. Back on Route 2 (Mohawk Trail) at North Adams, I went to Williamstown, had a sandwich, then to my favorite US Route 7. Then east on VT 9 from Bennington to Brattleboro.

Remember how this trip started? And, now it ended similarly with a vintage trailer. Gliding into West Brat there is a new RV place, and what did I see to the rear…

it is a 1966 Eljay, 17 footer, made right in Brattleboro on the property with the Estay Organ factory. This is the very last Eljay trailer made, and was owned until 1976 when it was sold to the previous owner of this RV store on Route 9, where it has been for 54 years. The fellow there was so enthused that I was enthused (I stopped to network to find a “canned ham” – “good luck” he said to me). He got the keys, we headed out, and he showed me through. He restored the interior which has bunk beds and a toilet. The exterior is all original, and sadly it has not been used. Then to (sorry) I-91, and home

I got home, and “went to work” processing orders. The phone rang, it was Ms. T saying, “look out your window.” WOW we all have now said the most amazing sunset ever. From my yard, looking west of course…

and, I turned around catching the red reflection on the CONGO Church.

hope you are still with me..

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

Stay well, wear your mask, and have a Happy, albeit solitary, Thanksgiving. Hopefully I will be writing. before Christmas comes. Love, RAY

one last sunset you may click for full screen

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You know me by now. After The Red Lion Inn, where do I enjoy visiting the most? Yes, Old Sturbridge Village, I was there again last evening. In October 2017, I became a member during my first visit in about a decade. On that visit I also wanted to see their evening production – SLEEPY HOLLOW EXPERIENCE – based on Washington Irving’s classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I had an amazing time, and you may wish to relive that post as I have.

With regulations covering events during COVID-19, the Sleepy Hollow Experience could not be staged this year, but OSV came up with a twist – Phantoms and Fire 2020 – a family friendly outdoor event with seven professional Fantastic Terrors of Edgar Allan Poe staged around the village; Clues and Candy their 2020-version of Trick-or-Treat where you must gather clues throughout the Village; the Headless Horseman; and more. So, tickets purchased, and visit made with a neighbor 28 October 2020. Click the logo below for a link to the event.

The entrance to the village was appropriately dressed.



And, scattered along the way were these 19th century lanterns, positioned just as they were when I visited in 2017 for Christmas by Candlelight — did I tell you I love OSV?

Below are two of the “Clues and Candy” stops. The youngsters would get their forms stamped, and upon leaving turn in their filled form for a bag of treats. You can click on the images below for large sizes.


Outside the Bullard Tavern – renamed for this event Prospero’s Tavern, this actress gave a great performance of Poe’s Masque of the Red Death

I believe it was THE BLACK CAT this actor was relating. The director of the theater company wrote his own adaptations of Poe’s works for 10-15 minute one-person shows. Remember, I wrote my own successfully staged adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?.

and, extremely well-done at the Freeman Farm was The Tell Tale Heart,

A comforting reason for me to visit and revisit is to interact with the period interpreters. George, below, has really made my visits special. He is quite a raconteur sharing great stories of the village in the 1830s, and he knows people in Walpole. His nephew even works for our road department.

And, then there is Susan, Susan is special and exceptional. Here I found her. outside the wonderful Bixby House, where I boarded with her and others in September 2018. Gary and I chatted with her in August. This evening she was relating to visitors the folk tale from the 19th century about a vain young woman (Charlotte) who froze to death while traveling to a New Year’s ball in an open sleigh. And, to “win that next drink at a bar,” “Frozen Charlotte” is a name used to describe a specific form of china doll made from c1850 to c1920. The dolls had substantial popularity during the Victorian era. Full disclosure – WIKIPEDIA – not to worry, I send them a donation every year.

There is always something warm, toasty and mesmerizing about a fire…

Something special, not usually seen is the village at night. Here is the front of the Freeman Farm house.

and, the Freeman Barn


Food and beverages were served outside at the rear of the Tavern. By the time we were leaving a massive line had formed, and confirmed the decision to leave the crowds for an nearly empty sit-down tavern elsewhere in Sturbridge with just a few patrons.

The village has posted on Flicker a collection of images for the event, so click this link to view.

It was nice to get back to OSV. With COVID-19 in mind tickets for specific times were purchased on-line in advance to regulate “crowds”, and were sold-out. Visitors were wearing their masks, and families/friends stayed in groups; but in reflection strict adherence to socially distancing was attempted but not achieved. I worked to maintain my distance, we were all outside (no buildings have been open at the village during the pandemic). It was particularly difficult when watching the performances to maintain distance. Because of my concerns, I may not attend the Christmas event this year.

I do hope you got this far, because it is time to get serious, and time for “early voting” as I need your vote in my decision making. In my last post I told you I was thinking of getting a “canned ham” – a vintage 1950s-60s camping trailer. Well, I did buy one last month, but since it is still “mint in the box” I will not be playing or traveling with it.

BUT — Heading down US 5 in Deerfield yesterday I had to make a quick turn-around. I had passed a parking lot of vintage trailers that I had overlooked the past couple years. Yes, I learned this restoration facility had been there for four years, but a “canned ham” had not been on my “radar screen” as yet.

Pulling in I saw this beauty – just what I want. I met the owner of Two Feathers Restoration and Design (pretty sure he was Brian), and told him that was just what I wanted. He said it was a 1963 (or 4 – I forget) Shasta Compact, easily towed by GiGi (my Granite Girl). But alas, this was donated to his traveling museum for the RV/MH HALL OF FAME.  Bet you also never knew this interesting looking museum existed.

Brian opened this little doll so I could see the original interior

He also had on hand for restoration this larger model

I learned a great deal in my brief visit here with Brian. He also has a Model A Ford truck, and I will send him my for sale page when done on my ’29 Roadster – he may have a friend just waiting to adopt Lady RAB. But in telling me the little girl was a Shasta Compact, I googled using that term last night and found (just 3 1/2 hours away) this little girl – a 1964 Shasta Compact.

and the interior in a gallery that you can click to enlarge

So…now your help, and YOUR VOTE.  I have tried contacting the owner of this little girl to see if she is still available. Since I plan to divest myself of one engine and four wheels, do I go ahead and buy two wheels, no engine (and no bathroom in this little model)?  Even if enjoyed in the back yard, I am ahead, and just think of the small journeys.

So, YES, get a Shasta Compact, or, NO, start a duller trajectory? Maybe the results will end with an adoption. Stay safe, and stay well, as always, yours, RAY

Posted in Old Sturbridge Village - OSV | Tagged , , | 9 Comments


It has been so long since I have “chatted with you.” And, also so long since I have had any new explorations to share. But, I have to write, and I have to share.

Looking out my front door — 24 October 2020

Probably a half dozen days the past month, my plan was to take a day off, travel back roads and explore, but to no avail. Even last night I decided that today, Sunday the 25th, I would “shunpike” for awhile. But, alas, awaking I changed my mind. I am a tad afraid to go out, things have changed too much, to be safe one must constrict exploration and exposure. But, no problem, as I love to be home, and have lots to accomplish.

Looking north out my front door – 24 October 2020

The past couple of months I have gotten into boxes and piles that have laid untouched, in some cases, for decades.  Last month I found some rare prints hidden in a book I had not opened in maybe 20 years. My timing is always just right. It was a week before closing date for a print auction by Bonhams. They have set the world records for Leonard Tsuguharu Foujita cat prints.  Fingers crossed, the auction is this week, the 30th, and the estimate for my nine cat prints is $6,000 to $9,000.

Two more leaf images from yesterday. Looking east down my drive, across the Common looking towards the Congregational Church. (all of these images may be clicked for larger sizes)

and, this is an “intense close-up”

Staying home, which I have always been good at with plenty to occupy my time and curiosity, allows time for reflection and thought. I have been blessed, I know that, I do not take it for granted and always thank Him. My blessings include crossing paths with Cathy (1956-2008), and our time together (1995-2008). I would not be where I am, nor living where I am without the connection we had. When we lost her, I developed two phases.


I share these thoughts when I can, even last evening when FaceTiming with my oldest son, David.

ACCEPT and ADJUST — when we lost Cathy, I could have “gone off the deep end” and wallowed in pity. In about two days I realized I could not change things, so ACCEPT what has happened, and then simply ADJUST your life.

In harmony is CONTENT and COMFORTABLE. When you accept things you cannot change (basically anything in life) you then become CONTENT. Going back maybe forty years, David once said to my grandmother when we were at a nice restaurant, “you must be rich.” She replied, “no, but I am comfortable.” I have always interpreted that to mean if you can do what you would like to do, without worry, then you are COMFORTABLE. Give my phrases some thought.

On 4 October I headed to spend the afternoon and evening with David, Mari, Alex and Gary. Heading east on 101, just before Dublin, is the Howe Reservoir on both sides of the road. The views south of 101, bounded by Charcoal Road, I always enjoy visiting as fall arrives.

Dublin, NH, looking at Mt.Monadnock from Route 101 next to Charcoal Road – RAY BOAS Photograph

and, you can click on the panorama below for a full screen

I meandered new “back roads” toward the Boston suburbs, passing through Greenville, Mason, and then some remote Massachusetts villages. I am sure you know (you better) how the iconic Uncle Sam image developed from Samuel Wilson’s meat packing in Troy, NY. Well, if not, learn – but here is his childhood home in remote Mason, New Hampshire.

Saturday 10 October, as I was walking past LADY RAB she said to me, “let’s go out.” We had not been out together since May. It was a perfect day, similar to many I passed up going out.

She started right up – started to flood, and stalled. Trying again the battery went dead, and I discovered fuel pouring out the carburetor. ACCEPT – we are not going out – ADJUST – I have had my fun, time to find a new home and conservator for her, and BLACK BEAUTY too. Thought and Reflection ensued for almost two weeks. I have also been thinking of getting a “canned ham” – a vintage 1950s-60s camping trailer. More wheels to worry about. But, then, I also have to play more with my Peanut Machine, and CORNELIA. Instead of traveling on the 10th I just headed outside to capture images of the leaves in my yard. This year the last tree to turn was the first, and I have had more intense colors that ever before. Feel free to click for larger images.

Remember, I am CONTENT, and I hope COMFORTABLE. Things to me are memories, but at this point in life what is most important (besides health) is to have experiences and memories of those experiences. Selling LADY RAB (but decided to keep BLACK BEAUTY – never even gave thought to selling BLUE BELLE ) will cover many experiences and new memories. You know I enjoy old inns, B&Bs, train travel. But I also have some river adventures and files of other things I would like to do. So I am shifting my focus, particularly considering COVID-19 is going to be with us for a long time. Planning for a trip or adventure can be almost as much fun as the execution. My planning has begun. And, I have focused in on an historic property to rent from time to time to isolate myself for the writing projects that must come to fruition.

I hope to have trips of some sort to share soon, forgive me for rambling and sharing my philosophies of life – at least what has worked for me.

Stay safe, stay well, stay content – Love, RAY

the above will appear in THE WALPOLE CLARION, the monthly newspaper I publish, until we can say – “it is gone.”

Posted in Miscellaneous Musings | 7 Comments


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

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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

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