SHUNPIKING ON SHUNPIKE ROAD – 28 JULY 2018

The short newspaper article spoke to me immediately for a talk “…about the two sections of the Crown Point Military Road that touched the town, and the layout of the original turnpike and shunpike.” Meeting place, Belmont Village (population 245) – one of the four villages in Mount Holly, which you fly through on VT 103, and totally miss. I had to go, even though friends asked me to join them at the Weston Playhouse for West Side Story at the same time.

 

When BLACK BEAUTY and I went to the Vermont Marble Museum a few weeks ago we saw a couple signs on Route 103 saying Shunpike Road, and I was surprisingly too focused to not stop and “shunpike” – I knew I would be back. About 15 minutes from Ludlow (think Okemo) I turned left on Healdville Road (another Mount Holly village), but first stopped for BLUE BELLE’s portrait for the day.

Of the four villages in Mount Holly, Belmont is the most “formally” laid out with a common, churches (one now the library and community center) and the Belmont General Store, “serving the community since 1843”

A classic hill town, as the road began to climb down you enter the village.

Here are a few images from the “center of town” and you can click on any for larger size.

The afternoon tour was lead by Dennis Devereux, director of the local historical society. Dennis can trace his family to Greene Dawley, born in 1783, and claimed as the first white male born in Jackson’s Gore (the original name of Mount Holly which was previously called Mechanicsville – and you need to learn what a Gore is). He started the tour (14 of us in a small bus, followed by 4 cars) showing the spots we would visit on these early maps. Outlined was the original 1759 Crown Point Road, the 1776 rerouting of that road, the original Turnpike and its tolls, and the sections of the Shunpike. The current Route 103 was laid out in the 1920s, but sections improved (particularly the hill up from Route 100) in the 1960s.

If you travel with the right person (Dennis is the one) you discover history you would never otherwise see or hear about.  Below (off Route 103) is this section of the old Turnpike coming in on the right of the picture below to what is now Summit Road.

The Green Mountain Railroad today essentially follows Route 103 from Ludlow to Rutland, and Dennis pointed out locations of three, sadly now gone, railroad stations. Summit Road is so named since it is the highest point of the railroad line, completed in 1849, from Boston to Burlington. Ironically, this highest point, is also the lowest point in elevation that the railroad found to cross the Green Mountains (hope I remembered that correctly, Dennis).

Dennis pointed out an excavated area with the tracks passing through. “It was swampy, so they dug down 11 feet to bedrock to lay the tracks,” he explained. But in so doing, the construction crew discovered the tusk and tooth of a woolly mammoth (more later, and check this link now). As I have written about, the first train from Boston to Bellows Falls and Walpole arrived on January 1, 1849. I really hadn’t thought of what happened next, but, of course, several sections of track were being constructed at once. On December 18, 1849 at this highpoint, the Summit, with the tracks now connected, trains with dignitaries from both Boston and Burlington met to drive the last spike. “Water from Lake Champlain and Boston Harbor was mingled in front of the cowcatchers, and all celebrated with rum and local hard cider.” Think, Erie Canal, “Wedding of the Waters.” More history in the middle of nowhere that I needed to share.

Next we went north of the old Turnpike and Shunpike to sections of the old Crown Point Military Road. I explored other sections of the Crown Point Road in August 2013 with a group assembling at the Hubbarton Battlefield. Below is a marker of an encampment spot. Several thousand soldiers with their cattle etc. would camp at this spot on the way from the Fort at Number 4 to Crown Point, or Fort Ticonderoga – depending upon which war (I know, but something for you to look up)

This bucolic spot was once a lake and industrial area until a 19th century freshet wiped out the dam.

 

 

A great outing, and I cannot wait to reexplore these roads, and others in this mountainous region. Back in Belmont, Dennis opened up the Perkins House Museum. There I got to see the Mammoth’s tusk, and a casting of the Mammoth’s tooth. (there are some reflections – sorry)

 

Vermont’s Terrestrial Fossil in the Perkins House Museum, Belmont, VT

If you check the Mount Holly website you will be overwhelmed with everything going on in the little village. Even if you go and get a sandwich at the Belmont General Store and eat on the Common (as I did) you will enjoy yourself. To help save the General Store from closing – a young couple just leased it for two year – I will visit again and vote with my dollars to help them stay open. And, just as I was leaving, a couple of kids were finishing up their production of A MIDSUMMER’S NIGHT DREAM on the Common.

RAY RECOMMENDS — 
1 – Visit the Mount Holly website – and see what is happening, and then go visit.
2 – Patronize the Belmont General Store
3 – Make a loop on your visit – you can enter Belmont from Route 103, or Route 155 from Weston – many places to explore.
4 – Talk to a local librarian – before the tour began I chatted with the volunteer in the library to learn that in the 1920s and 30s farmers sold their land for $1 an acre to “city slickers” for summer retreats. Owned for generations, these are now retirement homes for many. Also, as Vermont was switching to tourism, the village name of Mechanicsville was not that appealing to attract visitors to Star Lake that is right in the village.
5 – Remind me to get to the three posts I owe you: More RLI explorations; North Conway Railroad; and “Dinosaurs, Dunes, and Drifting Continents” – the Connecticut River Valley

Thank you for “shunpiking” along – yours, RAY

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ROCK STUDY — VICTORIAN SPRING — 255 BB1 KILOMETERS — 11 JULY 2018

 

The First One to Blink — Looses.

This day off was scheduled two weeks ago – but rain (not good with top down) postponed the outing. I have a fascinating week of learning coming up, and in preparation thought a visit to Proctor, Vermont, and the Vermont Marble Museum would be helpful. Only been in the parking lot before, never inside the museum in the old original factory buildings (you know I like old and original). What a perfect BLUE BELLE day, and the cloud cover dissipated upon our arrival about 10:45 AM, I spent about 2 1/2 educational hours inside while BB1 was puzzled outside — It was a Standoff !!!

The Vermont Marble Company was the largest marble company in the US (maybe world, I forget) owning quarries all over the county – but with the work done in Proctor. There had been many quarrying attempts in the area, but it was not until about 1886 that Redfield Proctor made it a success, developing a company town named for him. The exhibits and marble displays are in the old factory building, and this one section is as it had been used up until the 1980s-90s.

Vermont Marble Museum – original work area

So much history inside, I encourage you to visit. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was carved here from a 56 ton block quarried in Yule, Colorado (the largest block ever quarried in the US up to that time – 1930).

Redfield Proctor was a US Senator from 1891 until his death 1908. It is no coincidence that many of the monuments and buildings in Washington, DC, are made of Vermont Marble from Proctor.

Marble is used for so much more, as a mineral added into many things – you would be surprised how much marble is in building materials and household and food products. The company is now part of Omya and this room told all the uses for marble granules (over 100, maybe it was a 1,000 in the width of a hair once processed).

Following is part of a display local school children developed to help document the town’s heritage. A history lesson here for our leader(s). If you cannot read the print, click for a larger image.

there were two rocking chairs in this area, with plaques on the arms. I could not resist capturing these two to share with you.

 

I will not show you all that was here about the quarrying operation, and the geology that formed the marble and granite in the area (my reason for going). But here are two placards with “fast facts” that I did not know that I want to share.

I then toured the town and saw many of the company built duplexes for company workers. Just up from the museum is this abandoned quarry.

The bonus for this venture came from my re-looking at a favorite book from my personal library – ABANDONED NEW ENGLAND: ITS HIDDEN RUINS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM by William F. Robinson. You know I love the old summer resort and vacation experience and historic inns, and hotels. In picking up the book I turned to the chapter – Mineral Springs and Mountain Top Resorts. Goodness, there just below Rutland on a back road heretofore not explored by me was Clarendon Springs Hotel. Further research on-line, and the 1834 hotel, grounds, other buildings, including country store – almost the whole village for 2.5M (gotta check another mattress).

well, here is a map of today’s route (in part once in the area), so you can see Clarendon in an out of the way spot (circled) below Rutland, a tad west.

more about the question mark later and the lower x in a circle.

Having researched on-line, I knew what I was looking for, and up a hill, round a corner I spotted the hotel and this sign.

THE CLARENDON HOUSE – 1834 – VERMONT

of course we pulled in

and, what was to our backs? You know I have loved 19th century stores since my pre-teens. The C.E. Seamons Country Store closed in 1937.

to sweeten the deal, this home is across the street (and I did not take a picture of the modern “caretakers” home that is included).

what is missing from this picture??? You will find the answer at the end of this post, and you better get tomorrow’s quiz right.

just to put things into perspective.

and the backside. The grounds lead down to about 500 feet of river frontage.

Plan was to head south toward Danby and Manchester. I had the route on the state map (above) in mind, but made some interesting turns, and realized I was not where I thought I was – but I never get lost, eventually I spot something familiar. But, what a place to get “lost” – just beautiful. Yes, of course its a dirt road. (you can click the below for larger image)

I stopped and talked to a mail-carrier. “Go straight, take the detour, and you will end up on Route 7,” she said. That is all I needed, you know US Route 7 is my favorite road (well I have some Class 5 and 6 Roads around I cherish, and a few in Walpole I will be working on getting designated Scenic Highways – always have to have a project or two). Still was not easy, but finally I got to Danby. Of course you know that is where Pearl S. Buck lived her final years. And, just before I got to “7” there was a small sign – I had to go.

Under Danby Mountain is one of the largest marble quarries in the world. I knew of it, and just enjoyed the video of its operation at the museum. Oh, they have to let BB1 and me visit for sure — NOT — I decided to stop. Can’t believe they bring the blocks out on the small entrance road we found.

It was then down into Manchester and Manchester Center. Tad hungry – found nice lunch spot and had an artichoke panini – at 3:40 – one traveling friend would not have liked that chow time.

BB1 behaved well, and loved this long trip – longest since her quitting last August in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. BB2 gets new tyres (English spelling, of course) tomorrow at 8, so I better finish up and get a few hours sleep.

Answer to your question — Rocking Chairs!  Catch you soon, as always, yours, RAY

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INTRODUCING GiGi – MY “NEW LADY” – 9 JULY 2018

Did you get to the end of my 4th of July post? Did you see my last comment – “I have a mission tomorrow. I wonder if the local dealer is really “ready to deal.” Well, what may seem an impulsive decision, really it is not. Maybe a year plus of thought was involved, but once the bug bites, I move to action, and I did on July 5th. I did my research and knew what to expect as to trade values VS selling on my own, and average actual retail sales prices. Early Thursday afternoon, 5 July, I shook hands (so easy), wrote a check, and GiGi (to be brought in from a dealer in Massachusetts) was mine. What I wanted, besides four wheels, was cruise control (now called speed control) a radio, and the Granite exterior. I never even saw the interior of the car offered me. Impulsive? Yes, but it works.

Meet my “new lady” — GiGi !!! My friends know I awake with ideas. Friday I awoke – “GiGi.” So obvious, her color is granite, we live in the Granite State, and she is a “lady” – a pretty young lady.

There is something terribly comfortable about an “old shoe.” GiGi is my sixth Dodge/Plymouth/Chrysler “van.” Hey, you know what I do. Have you any idea how easy it is to load boxes of books, or tubs of the WALPOLE CLARION inside to move? Not to mention anything else that may catch my whim while on the road – a goat, or patio set for Gary.

GiGi now makes the 6th “set of wheels” for this single fellow. Not really necessary. LADY RAB has only traversed 4 miles in the last two years, and now the ten year old “gray ghost,” with its potential hiccups, was excess to my needs. Been thinking about selling

Bye dear “Gray Ghost”

LADY RAB – even though I wanted to die with a Model A, and I planned on moving the “gray ghost” along. Listed both on Craig’s List Friday night. Two hours later the phone rang for the “old” Dodge van. Short story shorter, the family arrived early Saturday afternoon from Nashua to look. I priced firmly at $4950. In my ad I said, “If I wanted to haggle, I would price at $6500 and settle for $5200.” They were here a short time, a drive around the Common, mentioned the potential problems (which I knew), and said we brought $4500 cash. As you know, Ray has several philosophies. One is price to move, and the another is “time (particularly mine) is money.” I said fine, but did you bring plates? They did, from their other van – I said I did not hear that. And that was it.

Now, do not think I have neglected BB1 and BB2. BLACK BEAUTY’s electrical system was replaced recently (remember her 99 mile piggy back ride home from Pittsfield?), and BLUE BELLE came home Saturday with a new generator and rear wheel bearings and seals. Today I purchased four “new shoes” for her to be installed on Thursday. As Cathy would have told you, “I take care of my ladies.”

PW1 has already approved of GiGi. Tomorrow I will see Sandy and leave all the paperwork to transfer my plates over. And, next I will get GiGi’s passport for an already planned out of CONUS trip scheduled in August. Oh, just too much fun.

Not much has changed inside, thus my comfortable feeling, but GiGi is well appointed.

I will not comment on her lines or posterior – not appropriate for a gentleman.

Well there will be new adventures with GiGi (that could be a whole separate travel blog). If you would like to help LADY RAB find a new home, you can find all the particulars clicking on this link.

Stay young and vibrant, I know I am, as always, yours, RAY

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HAPPY 242nd BIRTHDAY USA – 4 JULY 2018

And, a happy and safe 4th to you all. I was “bad” today, “very, very, bad.” I did not travel to celebrate Calvin Coolidge’s birthday in my favorite Plymouth Notch, Vermont. You know I have done this for years, and there is something pleasurable about a comfortable routine, knowing what to expect. But I came across a flyer a month or so ago  — celebrate the 4th in Wardsboro, Vermont. So, for a change, I went. Wardsboro in south central Vermont (you have not heard of it I am sure) is on Route 100, and very, very small. Today was the 69th annual 4th of July parade – southern Vermont’s oldest continuously running parade.

The parade started at 10 AM at the bridge on Route 100 just north of Main Street. Coming up and turning down Main, past the reviewing stand at the Town Hall, and then circling back. After browsing the 50 various vendor’s booths, I planted myself at the intersection of Route 30 and Main Street.

Lots of attendees enjoying themselves, but maybe six floats, a bicycle, many “antique” cars (not!!! I do not relate to the 60s and 70s in rides — Black Beauty would have shown them all up, but she choose to stay parked in a field so her temperature would not be affected), and bringing up the rear were most of the fire trucks in southern Vermont.

The parade lasted maybe 40 minutes, but that is the two loops – coming back past the judge’s stand awards were passed out.

and, following is a gallery of what I saw (click an image to view the larger slideshow)

Of course I had to have lunch there. Not a bad lunch (and not bad legs either)

Following lunch I toured the booths again and listened to music.

And, I had to share this thoughtful display

Back to BLACK BEAUTY (there was a shuttle to the field), back up Route 100, right on Route 30, and then left at the Townsend General Store up, up, up (for miles on end) the hill to Windham – another small spot you should visit. At the crossroad I turned right to Grafton, another great ride, and lots of dirt and scenery. You know the Inn at Grafton is special to me.

And, here is the perfect Main Street in the perfect Grafton, Vermont. And, Ray’s “perfect timing” to catch a holiday festive red car passing the flag.

About 5 hours away, and home again. Hot and humid, impacting on easy sleeping, so I am enjoying some less humid peacefully inside for a change.

I had a revelation this week – big time. For almost a month I have had spread out on the porch my pending trip ideas. Many a distance away, and I have been trying to tie into traveling by train to the destinations, and then rent a car. But working with schedules, and then checking driving time on Google Maps, it is less time to drive. So, I said, “Ray, make the train trips the adventure alone and not tied into something else. Best to drive to the things you want to do this year.” But, I have been hesitant to drive the “new car” for a long journey. Not that it wouldn’t make it, but you get to a point where you don’t want to worry. So, research this week, and it is time to make a change. I have had five Plymouth/Dodge/Chrysler vans in a row since 1990, the current Grey Ghost for ten years. Next year is the last year for the Dodge Grand Caravans – the perfect transportation for me, and wonderful for moving books and everything else. I do not understand why people spend $40,000 for a fancy car when all you need to do is get from one place to another. Based upon my research, I have a mission tomorrow. I wonder if the local dealer is really “ready to deal.”

Happy 4th of July – as always, yours, RAY

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HISTORY and ROCKS — 22 and 23 JUNE 2018

A short quick post, because you could still go to my recommended “rock show” tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, put it on your “must do list” for next year.

I still owe you my North Conway, and Red Lion Inn overnights, but quickly here are some adventures. On Friday the 22nd I delivered a grant request to Concord. Some of you may be aware of my involvement in stopping the building of a gas station in Town, and the subsequent work to get the Connecticut River frontage property in total conservation in perpetuity. A round trip to Concord to delivery paperwork? No way – always other things to do. I needed to get to the New Hampshire Historical Society in its main building. No parking available on other tries.

Entrance rotunda – New Hampshire Historical Society

 

For years the historical society had a second exhibit location and gift shop off Main Street. It was great, in fact, Cathy and I traveled from Connecticut in 1999 to see an exhibit on the White Mountains. Other trips to that satellite location for exhibits where wonderful. But, now with consolidation in the original society’s building with limited exhibit space, I was disappointed. No need for you to visit. Heading up the stairs is the New Hampshire State House Eagle carved in 1818, and 6 1/2 feet tall. It adorned the top of the NH State House – the oldest in the nation – until replaced in 1957 with a gilded copper  version.

 

On the second floor there were two small exhibition spaces. One hall’s exhibit was “Discover New Hampshire” with various historical artifacts nicely displayed such as this Mount Washington exhibit.

FAST FACT from the display of the Ballot Box used in Hart’s Location from the 1850s to about 1980. Did you know why this town of about 37 residents along Dixville Notch were the first to vote in the nation’s first primary? Well, most residents worked for the railroad and had to be at work before the polls would normally open. Only in our wonderful State.

The other gallery had art of the White Mountains.

Two paintings really caught my eye. This first is “A View on the Saco” by Godfrey N. Frankenstein done in 1847. Similar to some scenes I will eventually show you of my train ride up the Saco. The railroad’s trestle I crossed is named for Frankenstein.

Benjamin Champney (1817-1907) had his home and studio in North Conway near popular tourist lodgings. Welcoming tourists to his studio, many bought his paintings as “exquisite souvenirs of a Conway summer.” His 1874 oil on canvas of “Saco River, North Conway,” is considered a masterpiece with its pastoral foreground, winding river, and distant cloud-covered mountains.

and a close up

I have wanted to gift a copy of my Walpole book to the historical society library for its New Hampshire collection, and was able to do so. Library director, Sarah E. Galligan, graciously accepted my gift.

Never having explored north of the State House before, I drove through an architecturally interesting area. Wandering up and down hill, I picked up Route 3 and continued north for awhile past the State Prison. Turning around I stopped at the New Hampshire Department of Corrections Retail Showroom. Chatting with the attendant, I learned of the various programs for inmates to be employed making furniture, or to learn or pursue their crafts. An upholstery service is provided for those wishing to have furniture restored and recovered.

You know this “hopeless romantic” has several passions, and I could not resist this purchase for all of $8.

My dear late-bride loved rocks and minerals. Would you believe we never attended the Rock Swap and Mineral Show in neighboring Gilsum? This weekend is the 54th Annual Rock Swap, and it has been “on my list” for weeks to attend. In spite of impending rain, I departed about 10 AM, arriving shortly later.

But, a slight traffic delay on the way at the intersection of Prospect Hill Road and Maple Grove Road.

too cute, could not resist to share more…

BLACK BEAUTY was able to tuck into a small spot in the packed fields. Around her were cars with license plates from North Carolina, Ohio, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and more. This event is a big deal.

On the school field is a long row of vendors — all things rocks, minerals and fossils. When I told Number Two Son I was going to a “rock show” he was perplexed. He is a musicologist and music historian – I quickly corrected myself – “rock swap.”

There was eye candy (or “rock candy”) everywhere.

I have so much I want to learn. Ironically, I had previously scheduled a week long seminar in July on the geological development of the Connecticut River Valley, and have been learning about Lake Hitchcock and the aquifers in our area. A study of rocks and fossils at the show was a natural thing for me to finally do. Below a fellow was selling geods. You could make a selection, and then he would open the stone.

Rocks – Fragile? An oxymoron at best. But the fragile part are the embedded Herkimer Diamond from New York State – have to learn about them.

I found Brett one of the most fascinating individuals there. A Native American in his 30s, he has been working with rocks, fossils and the like his entire life. Living in Scotland for 10 years he even found a partial dinosaur which he sold to a California museum.

He had on display dinosaur footsteps he has found in Erving, Massachusetts and other related fossils. A great website – Bretton Carter should be your “go to source” for the “real deal” in authentic items.

These are dinosaur footprints he found in an area near where Edward Hitchcock found the first such prints in the Connecticut River Valley.

From 1 PM to almost 2:30 I attended the Nancy Swing’s lecture “Rock-Hounding in New England.” Interesting history, fascinating anecdotes, and more things prompting my need and desire to learn more. I had to buy something, and this 2 1/4 inch square (at the base) pyramid is from Morocco. A good number of the fossils of primitive cephalopods were exhibited. I now have a unique paperweight.

A great day out, and if you cannot make it to the 54th Annual Gilsum Rock Swap & Mineral Show tomorrow, June 24, please plan to go next year for the 55th – you will not be disappointed.

Enjoy, yours, RAY

 

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FILLING IN THE MAP for FIVE HOURS – 17 JUNE 2018

Number One son called a few moments ago asking what I had done today. “I traveled a road I had not been on before,” I replied. He said, “I can’t believe you have any left.” Yes, I do, and some routes I can always repeat to see what is new, or just to feel the wind. I have had trouble getting posts done. I have been waiting until I get home to work on a post, but with at least three days to document it becomes overwhelming. “Life gets in the way” and I do not get my stories done. I still owe you RLI from May (actually I owe myself to remind myself of things to repeat), and this week I had a three day adventure with many images. Think I will go back to my old ways and do my trips day by day. Easier to get done, and not as overwhelming for you — but remember, you don’t have to read them. And, if you fail the quizzes, I will not hold it against you – maybe.

Today’s trip I started 3 weeks ago, but feared BLUE BELLE was having an internal problem, so we headed back home only getting as far as Putney. She is now in hospital with Doctor Dewey, and BLACK BEAUTY just got out of hospital with a new wiring system – today her first outing since. You may recall she destroyed her last one in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, last August – a 99 mile piggy-back ride home. What did I want to see? Vernon, Vermont, Fort Dummer State Park, and Northfield Mount Hermon School. Vermont Route 124 out of Brattleboro south was to be the “new road.”

About a mile south of the Brattleboro railroad station is this monument, moved in 1908 about 2200 feet from the south when the site of the original Fort Dummer was flooded with the building of a dam on the Connecticut River.

Fort Dummer was the first permanent European settlement in Vermont, built in 1724. Seventy Abenakis attacked the fort October 11, 1725, killing many soldiers. A palisade was then added. Abandoned in 1763, it served a role in the French and Indian Wars.

Heading south on Route 124 I wanted to see Vernon, site of the now closed Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant. A friend asked, “what is there in Vernon to see?” “I will find out,” I replied.

I expected to see the large towers reaching up into the sky, but that was not the case. It is (was) a small facility. I did not see the large cooling towers because instead the waters of the Connecticut River provided the cooling source.

How many nucky plants have a Colonial office building?

Here is detail from the sign that gives the history of this almost isolated area.

Next I wanted to see Fort Dummer State Park – you always see the sign for it heading north on I-91, but I had to see it. Heading further south I was looking for a sign, but soon pulled over, turned on my iPhone, checked WAZE only to find I had to turn around and go back north 5 miles. I dutifully turned left on a dirt road to eventually be told “you have arrived at Fort Dummer State Park.” Well, maybe – no entrance, just woods. I continued on the road to US Route 5, turned north to the Guilford Country Store. The clerk said, “continue north, turn right at the Walgreens (in Brattleboro), pass the school and turn right at the bottom of the hill. The road ends at the entrance.” And, there, well hidden was the entrance with I-91 in the background.

The ranger let me drive around for free. A really, really nice campground with hiking trails – that is about it, but now I (and hopefully you) know what is along I-91 as you head going north.

Backtracking back, can have its advantages. I went back down the bypass past the entrance for Vermont Yankee and came upon the Vernon Dam and power plant built in 1908. Bet you have never seen it – that out of the way.

I now have another “favorite ride.” VT 124 following the Connecticut River from Brattleboro to Route 10 in Massachusetts. Great scenery, great straightaways, just like some of my favorite sections of US Route 5 north of me in Vermont. Arriving at Route 10, I turned left, and then right into the entrance of Northfield Mount Hermon School. Had to see it, and was overwhelmed with the size of the campus, the buildings, the beauty — far surpassing what many college campuses are. A prep school for grades 9-12, there are about 650 enrollees.

It was then north on Routes 63 and 10 into the Main Street of Northfield. A beautiful town to experience, I stopped at Highland BBQ in town – amazing. Simple atmosphere, but nice menu and food. I had a vegetarian BBQ sausage sandwich with smoked onions and pickled peppers with a three bean salad. Not eating much tonight.

Arriving in Hinsdale, I continued west on Route 10 hoping to find the Winchester Historical Society in Ashuelot open. No luck – probably never open, but I had to check. At least got a great shot of the old railroad station next door.

and, I have shared the Ashuelot Covered Bridge before, but here it is again.

Arriving in Winchester, I turned north to Keene, and scooted on home. Five hour outing – new road, and a new route to enjoy — VT 124.

Now, I got this done within hours of getting home – yeah, Ray. I will break last week’s trip into three posts, and then get to the three days away at the Red Lion Inn. Lots to share that you may wish to experience also. Thank you, happy travels, yours, RAY

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A CANNED HAM ADVENTURE – 3 JUNE 2018

I know, I know — you have not heard from me here since my post on 2 May of my 11-13 April adventure with Bob Newhart. I am sorry, but I have been busy — just read the last couple issues of my newspaper THE WALPOLE CLARION. But that has to change, and I have to travel and share. I did get to (where else?) The Red Lion Inn the beginning of May, but I did not start working on that post until last night. Recently (so thieves do not know I am away) I have waited until I got home to write up a post – I used to accomplish them daily. But it has not happened during May — so, here I have to share today’s fun, I have more trips planned, and will get to the RLI May post soonest.

Remember I have gone to see “hit n miss” engines at the Gas Engine Meet in Dublin? I have reported my last three exciting times there – Sadly not being able to own everything, at least I could see the machines and all. Well, I read about the Third Dublin Market, an antique show event with Vintage Campers at the same site — And, today I went. (my panoramas can be clicked for full screen views)

What drew me there today? It was the small vintage campers – yes something I would have loved to own just like a “hit n miss” engine. I did not go yesterday because BLUE BELLE developed a noise, and I wanted Dr. Dewey to confirm my diagnosis. Yes, she needs a water pump transplant. Of course, her groan and squeal was not noticeable when we got to hospital yesterday, and today she hardly groaned — but I need to give my babys preventative care to try to alleviate “piggy-back” rides home.

I parked, in a special spot for old cars, and walked over to the three greatest displays and chatted with the owners.

How can you not want one? I want one !!!

and, to do it right, you have to have all the vintage accessories

the “small” interiors are “to die for.”  There is nothing new with the “tiny house” craze.

With almost 150 vendors, it was a nice “antique” show with vintage items – no junk, but sadly nothing that tempted parting with my cash or a cheque.

I chatted with the vendor whose books are below. If you have visited me, you know about my “book-alike” room. Still need to write a book about it, but I have hollow books, book safes going back to the 18th century. This fellow is now working full-time creating vintage book safes.

You know my passion, and my livelihood. He told me how he did his creations – BOOK END DESIGNS, and his card reads BookEndDesigns.etsy.com

There was an interesting assemblage of items for sale – I was not disappointed looking at the creations and will attend again next year.

Now, here is a “Canned Ham” that was for sale – $3,000 or OBO. Well, of course I spent time on Craig’s list when I got home and on eBay – this was not a deal needing a full restoration – have my eyes on a restored honey for $8K.

Hope your ears perked up at “canned ham” – your lesson, and new “fast fact” for the day. Note the shape of the little girl above and the beauties below. Get it now? Sorry, I did not invent the description, but learned on my internet search. Years ago I bought, and have in my library, a book on “Tin Can Tourists.” As Model Ts became popular, many were converted into campers to tour the country side. Farmers would rent roadside space, and the “campers” would park for the night and heat their dinners from tin cans.

Here is a 1963 Shasta Astrodome

and, more vintage eye candy

I chatted with the fellow who had a vision, and built this sleek model from the frame up – he has in mind his next iteration.

Of course (you know this), a 1954 Jewel —

too much fun…

I also chatted with the “left over” 60s hippy lady about her 1980s fiberglass model. Heavy scent of incense as she (as others also did) said, “look inside.”

Well, if I cannot travel the country side in a “canned ham” maybe I should install one in the back yard and start a unique B&B. What do you think?

Leaving I headed down to Peterborough, and then out Main Street north to West Peterborough stopping at Nature’s Green Grocer Cafe in West Peterborough. On an outing in BLACK BEAUTY, Ms. T. introduced me to this fine spot, where you can sit on the patio over the river enjoying your sandwich with BLUE BELLE looking on.

But, then it was – back roads of course – over to Hancock, then to Route 9, over the hill through Sullivan, up Route 11 to Gilsum, left along the river to Route 12A – left onto Walpole Valley Road – left turn onto dirt road Webster, and a right curve back into Walpole — always great to be back home, no matter how much fun you had.

And, the above can be “clicked” for full screen image. Catch you soon, love, RAY

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STRATFORD INN and NEW ROADS — 11-13 APRIL 2018

See the date of the travel in this post? Wonder why it has taken so long for me to get to it? Know how long it has been since my last travel post? Have any idea how busy I have been with other projects? Surprised that after decades of exploring Vermont, the Berkshires, and northwest Connecticut that I still come up with roads I have not experienced (you shouldn’t be – I work hard exploring)? Yes, early April I filled in more of the map in Vermont, and while writing this on the porch of the RLI, I have surprised myself with newly discovered routes of beauty the past two days- but more on that the next post.

I needed a break (need even more breaks), and escaped for two nights to the Stratford Inn. Ring a bell? Does, “I’m Larry, this is Darrell, and this is my other brother Darrell?” With me yet? I spent hours on YouTube preparing for this adventure, and as you know the more and harder you laugh the better it is for your health – think I have added another 1 1/2 years longevity so far. Alright – long enough – I spent two nights where the outside scenes were shot for NEWHART:

You probably guessed I started writing this in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but did you know there is a Stockbridge, Vermont? And, it is basically the geographical center of Vermont on the scenic backbone, Route 100. Here is a map to follow of this adventure.

I left I-91 on Route 12 heading to Taftsville, never having been on that segment, and then passed through Woodstock heading north. I checked out Bethel again, and backtracked on 107 to Stockbridge and Route 100. Heading north on Route 100, it takes a sharp left at this red building. It used to be an antique shop Cathy and I would stop at. No longer, and most places I have stopped over the years no longer exist (yes, that white strip is snow).

From this point, turning the camera to the right is Ted Green Ford – yes in nowhere, and the oldest Ford dealership in Vermont, opening its doors in 1913, just ten years after the Ford Motor Company was founded

and turning another 90 degrees to look back south on Route 100 – kinda rural here.

 but you miss the “center” of Stockbridge unless instead of turning left on 100 you go straight up the hill to the common, church and churchyard and old school.

and most of the surrounding area is a Morgan horse farm.

The plan was to cut across the mountains west on Route 125 from Hancock – not gone all the way across before – to get to East Middlebury. A great route, and you pass Middlebury College’s Snow Bowl:

and then the college’s Bread Loaf – a retreat, conference center, and where Robert Frost taught. Great old buildings line the road – I think it would be fun to experience something there.

And climbing down from the hills I arrived at Waybury Inn in East Middlebury. This image is from their website.

the image below from one of the Newhart shows (if you watch enough of them you will see changes) with the Stratford Inn sign hanging outside.

and, my image from my visit

this sign is in one of the hallways

my room

and the lobby where I spent my time – I was the only guest. Most decorations in the hunting and fishing genres. I chatted a great deal with my hostess, and she said many people come in saying, “you changed the inside so much.” No, interior is as the inn has been for about two centuries. The Newhart show was shot in studios, only the exterior is featured in the show. No problem, I still heard Bob carrying on — well, I watched a couple episodes each night.

I ate in the restaurant there each night, and the included large breakfast was amazing. Off season rate – $75 – with a $15 breakfast.

Usually I spend two nights in one place to have the full day in between to explore, and that is what I did on 12 April.

New road for me, I took Route 116 north – mountains on one side, plains on the other. I came to Bristol, a town unchanged architecturally from the early 20th century.

Continuing up 116, I cut cross-lots over to my favorite US 7, and stopped at Shelburne Museum and bought some books in the gift shop. Isn’t that what I am supposed to do?

Then down US 7 to Vergennes to browse the shops and eat a wrap. I continued south on 22A turning east on 17 until I got to 23. Never having taken 23 into Middlebury, that was the plan, and it was a delight through quiet farmlands. Rain was threatening all day, and started when I came in this new to me way into Middlebury and the Sheldon Museum (not Cooper).

Always interesting history here, and there was a special photography exhibit. Outside there is this commemorative plaque to John Deere who learned blacksmithing here prior to inventing the plow.

It was then back to the Inn, dinner, and the lobby to myself doing additional research watching “The Newhart Show.”

Next day, after another wonderful breakfast here, I had no real plan other than head south on US 7, and take a previously unexplored route into Weston. Pulling into “downtown” Rutland I stopped at the “Curiosity Shop.” Opening the door I called out, “I am curious.” Well, Paydirt! If you already have everything you need, you still look, but it is great when also looking for Number 2 son’s new home. Since he bought his home 12 March, I have made a few trips to help and take some things excess to my needs, and also got to know what he needed to fill-in. Bingo – a perfect glass top wrought iron patio set with four chairs. Perfect for his deck or patio, or best on his enclosed three season porch. I took pictures, sent them to him – no reply (ends up he was driving to pick up furniture), so I decided to just buy it (actually a bargain) along with a few other pieces. Success — got the set to Gary a few days later, and just perfect on his porch. We “christened” it the next morning having coffee on the porch.

Then continued down US 7 to Wallingford where I turned east on Route 140 and then south on Route 155 to Weston – I had not been on this section of 155 before. Lunch then at the Bryant House in Weston, and then home.

Finishing this up now on 2 May at the Red Lion Inn. Comcast has not allowed users to send messages now for 24 hours, so no idea when I can tell you I posted this. Hopefully soon, and hopefully soon more intriguing adventures to experience and share. Yours, RAY

 

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NEW DISCOVERIES – LESS THAN AN HOUR AWAY – 28 JANUARY 2018

Don’t ever think I am “retired.” And, I will tell you I do not like the “R WORD.” But, “working” hard, I needed another break, and even a few hours away can make all the difference and rejuvenate. This past weekend was the train show at the Big E fairgrounds. I thought I would head down on Saturday, but hesitant for the hour and 25 minute drive since I was “not overwhelmed” when I attended three years ago. Saturday I decided to wait until Sunday. But researching around I discovered an interesting lecture at Historic Deerfield on Sunday. So that was the plan instead – attend the lecture, but I needed to fill in a few more hours. Awaking Sunday it hit me – drive through Turners Falls and Montague on the way. – it had been a long while. There was the plan.

About 9:30 I entered I-91, but exited at Bernardston (MA) to see what changes there may have been along US-5 on the way to Greenfield (remember I need to know everything, and scenery is different every season, and every day). Getting onto Route 2, I headed east a tad, exiting at the Art Deco bridge to cross the Connecticut River to Turners Falls. “Hey, what is that?” I exclaimed. Parking, I walked to the GREAT FALLS DISCOVERY CENTER – had never seen it before.

What a treasure and introduction to the entire watershed of the 410 mile Connecticut River, and some local history.  Entering, I was met by a great state docent.

the emphasis is on the ecology and nature of the area, and to be honest, I need several more visits to absorb it all. Fantastic realistic displays, and this moose stood still for me.

As I was reading the various displays I was so impressed to see several young families come in with children ranging in age from maybe two to ten. Get them introduced early to the pleasure of learning, I applaud those young parents.

Two “non-nature” timelines were of interest to me. The first being Tales of Tourists and Timber, and another the history of the area.

In reviewing my images of the displays, I thought I would relate the following “fast facts” – for me to remember better, and if you skip over them, I will not know until I quiz you in person.

1700s – Hardwoods were burned to make Potash to export to England for textiles and glass
1798 – First dam at Montague Falls cuts off fish migration
1830s – 65-80% of land cleared in the watershed – mountain soils erode
1840s – Holyoke Dam and Power Canal system built for mills
1850s – Tourism begins with hotels built near mineral springs
1860s – North Woods heavily logged, enabled by railroad access
1870s – White Mountains become popular and the idea of a leisure vacation takes hold
1870s – Turner Falls develops its Power Canal system
1875 – First great log drive on the Connecticut River
1881 – Last mountain lion shot in Vermont
1890s – Vermont works to attract tourists, and sells abandoned farms as second homes (New Hampshire does the same thing promoting its abandoned farms)
1890s – Commercial catch of shad has greatly dropped
1915 – Last log drive
1920s – Outdoor camping and downhill skiing become popular
1920s – Automobile travel impacts tourism. Long hotel stays now replaced by tourists moving about
1938 – Great Hurricane impacts nature and humans alike
1950 – Fish elevator built at Holyoke Dam
1970s – Fish elevator built at Turners Falls
1972 – Clean Water Act
1974 – First salmon return to the Connecticut River
1981 – 83% of Vermont reforested
1991 – Salmon spawn in the Connecticut River for the first time in over 200 years

The discovery center is in old mill buildings which adjoin the “power canal” seen here outside the window. You can see on the right the green Art Deco bridge across the river.

Turners Falls dates from the 1860s when the mill town (following the example of Lowell, Massachusetts) was laid out. The power canal was built, and the town laid out with lettered and numbered streets in a grid. Let me give you a feel for the area with a map, to encourage you to easily detour to the area.

Below you see how the river loops through the area of Turners Falls, Greenfield, and Deerfield – I (and you) have to know how it all fits together. The purple area is Turners Falls where the Connecticut River is turning west before heading south again past Greenfield. My ultimate destination was the Deerfield Community Center at the bottom of the map. You can see the “power Canal” through the town to the east of the river. See how easy it is to detour off I-91 or Route 2 and explore?

 

Avenue A (the Main Street), and its grand brick buildings are as they were and undergoing a resurgence. I had driven through the town before, but never tempted to explore. This time I was, and started with LOOT – LOST AND FOUND – FOUND AND MADE. Wow, I wanted to buy everything. Fantastic original vintage industrial antiques, and unique repurposed items (using the new vernacular). The young clerk said I could take pictures, and I promised to send a link to what I write.

LOOT: FOUND AND MADE in Turners Falls, Massachusetts – ShunpikingwithRay.com

 

I continued walking down Avenue A to explore. I chatted with several shop owners in this newly renovated block. LOOT was the first neat place in town, but landlords are encouraging the arts to move in. There is even a vintage pinball arcade in this building. I was told that the arts and culture are moving into the area, and people are escaping Northampton and Amherst to live here. Below is this great block (with STUFF and STENHOUSE) from the other side of the street. (sorry on images, it was an overcast day)

 

and, a venue to watch as it develops is the The Shea Theater. I commented to one gracious shop keeper that Turners Falls, with the interesting restaurants, and shops could be a great afternoon, dinner, evening at the theater, and home in 50 minutes.

 

 Next on the “new plan” was to scoot down to the Montague Book Mill – remote – not really- but you have to know it is there and consider it a destination location. Cathy and I had stopped several times on book buying trips twenty years ago, but their stock is not what I buy. It is a reader’s shop, and  obviously very successful. I wanted to get a bite to eat at the cafe. Both the cafe and bookshop were comfortably populated by students with laptops, books and notebooks – obviously coming up from UMASS or Amherst to the south.

 

The mill dates from the 1830s. The cafe is on the lower lever to the left, and the bookshop rambles around. There is a separate building with music and an art gallery.

My chicken curry sandwich was amazing.

walking through the book shop and to the river I realized there is a more formal restaurant on the lower lever, and there is outside seating in the warmer times. Alvah Stone is now “on the list.” Applications for dates considered.

 

WAZE then provided me a shorter route over to Old Deerfield. Originally I thought I would drive south, cut over to US-5 and head north. But WAZE was smarter than me, and I was minutes away to the Deerfield Community Center for the Winter Lecture Series, “Risky Business: Getting Ahead in the Early Republic” – “Making Crime Pay: The Dangerous Careers of Ann Carson and Mary Clarke,” Presented by Susan Branson, Professor of History, Syracuse University. It was interesting this early 19th century crime in Philadelphia, and how its publishing history made these women money.

But, “on the list” for some time has been to become a member of Historic Deerfield. I have been driving through Old Deerfield for over five decades, and still have yet to see it all. I just found out that the Flynt Center of Early American Life was a modern facility, carefully tucked away. Perfect winter indoor activity, and I had my checkbook to become a member. When a member you don’t mind not seeing it all at once, and often it is to hard to absorb it all at once.

Amazing, fascinating, and worthy of many more visits. I need to spend more time in the exhibit on woods and the making of period furniture.

some items are “exploded” so you can see how they were actually made and assembled.

upstairs is the “attic” – items in storage, but on display for further investigation and learning for visitors. Here is a Spinning Wheel chair, made probably about the time of the Centennial in 1876. Nostalgic of our history, people would make these chairs from spinning wheels that were no longer needed.

The museum closed at 4:30, too early to head to dinner, but YANKEE CANDLE’s flagship store is always a fun stop a couple times a year. I always enjoy wandering through the villages and Christmas displays. I even chatted with Santa (no line of smaller kids). Then I saw something new — instead of candle dipping, an attendant would “dip your hand” to make a wax decoration. A charge, of course, but fun to watch.

Timing was perfect, and I headed to The Whately Inn for dinner. First there last September, and I needed to see if I was still impressed – I was. Here is the Inn from that last visit.

Last time I had the lamb dinner, this time Veal Parmesan – more of a comfort platter, but still 4 courses with appetizer, salad, entree and desert. I went all out and started with French Onion Soup, they even bring you marinated vegetables. I do not know how they do it for the price, and they have done it for decades. Here is everything passing in front of me, and what I brought home was two more meals. Again I had the marinated mushrooms (left) – you can click on an image below for larger savory images.

One of the fun things on my trips is to find something that helps me remember the trip – not necessary, but an extra treat. Guess what?  More “Flickering Flames” and now within reach as I type. Can you figure why I snapped these up (from among maybe 12 choices – but I will go back)?  It was not the $9 each – can you guess?

Home at 8 PM, this was a great 10 1/2 hours off. And,

RAY RECOMMENDS:

1 – Explore Turners Falls, Massachusetts
2 – Visit the Montague Book Mill to browse, have lunch,   or dinner

3 – Learn what you can at Historic Deerfield
4 – Experience The Whately Inn

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ICE HARVESTING DAY – 21 JANUARY 2018

I had so much fun today — and I have been looking forward to this day since August 20th – six months ago. You can read my post about my finally getting to Muster Field Farm that day – but you also have to learn about Muster Field Farm in Sutton by clicking on this second link. Of course, I have the book about the history of the farm, but when I was there in August I learned about ICE DAY — and finally it was today. AND WORTH THE WAIT. When I confirmed the event by phone I was told that this was the warmest time ever for the harvest — and it was a perfect day.

I arrived about 9:45, parked, and hurried down the path to Kezar Lake to view the harvesting.

now, I have always been fascinated by all things 19th and early 20th centuries — and ice harvesting just one of those things I just had to know all about. Following my August visit I vowed to finally write about Ice Harvesting, and published one of my DID YOU KNOW THAT… articles in the December issue of my publication, THE WALPOLE CLARION. At the end of this post I will include that article.

Wanting to take you through the process, here they are lining up the gas powered saw that does the initial cuts.

Note above that cuts have already been made in one direction, now it is time to do the initial scoring and cuts at a 90 degree angle. And, time to cut away.

and, some action while cutting to view —

here is a second gas driving cutting machine on the ice

following the initial scoring, next comes the final hand sawing. Everyone could cut (cheap labor), and I jumped in also. It was really easy to cut with the hand saws following the line cut by the gas machine.

here is an overall view of the operation  — hand cutting, then moving the blocks to be loaded for removal to the ice house.

and the loading – with a hand operated boom

and onto the assembled volunteer trucks and trailers.

I had forgotten that there were also going to be a number of Snowmobiles on the ice, and fortunately I turned around and saw the five Model T Ford Snowmobile conversions that were there.

Of course, you know that my Dad collected antique cars, particularly Model Ts.  In fact, the first car I drove was his 1919 Model T Touring Car – a tad before the time for my generation. These machines were fascinating, and I enjoyed looking at the conversions since I really do know all the ins and outs of the mechanics and chassis of these ubiquitous automobiles. Later on I got to ride in the below machine.

there is an extra axle and set of wheels – more powerful rear ends – and devices on the front axles to facilitate quick removal of the front wheels when jacked up, and then lowered down onto the skis. (click images below for larger views)

one more for you to savor

and, then it was my turn for a ride

I then headed back to the farm itself to watch the loading of the ice house. In the small center of town is the Follansbee Inn which I mentioned before, and I have to stay at.

I arrived at the small ice house on the farm

when I got there they were unloading sawdust which acts as insulation between the layers of ice blocks.

the blocks of ice (of course I asked) weigh about 280 pounds each

did you see the clear ice below, and the “snow ice” on the top surface? Yes, I asked, the snow ice melts first, but still will be there for summer use.

the bottom layer of blocks in the ice house was still from last year’s harvest. They were laying two levels of blocks, and then a layer of sawdust.

 

and, that was about it, except for lunch in the School House, I choose the combo – soup, beverage, and desert. About 7 soups, but I had the venison and bear meat Chile, cocoa, and some great cookies. It was all I could do to sit at the school desk.

In summary — RAY RECOMMENDS – investigate and attend the events at Muster Field Farm in Sutton. And, I am now going to  triangulate my adventures between Plymouth Notch, Muster Field Farm, and Old Sturbridge Village.

Let the 2018 adventures begin.

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