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

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

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


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

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

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

PORCHES – North Adams, Massachusetts

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

And, above the mantel in a sitting room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 March 2017 – 1:30 PM


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

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I needed another rejuvenating break, but where to go? I focused in on eastern Connecticut, and booked a fabulous B&B. Then I started researching the various museums and sites I wanted to visit. All reopen by Memorial Day – “my bad.”  But, no problem, just refigure, head off anyway, and something will work out when you keep a positive attitude.

Having just written about the 19th century Mulberry Craze and Silkworms, I wanted to see where it started in Manchester, Connecticut, and the old factories that eventually employed over 4,000 people. That was the goal for Monday on the way to the B&B. Disappointed, you  need not visit Manchester. Now what to do? On the plan was to start on Wednesday at the Submarine Force Museum & USS Nautilus in Groton (closed Tuesday), but I could make it there now, and have almost 3 hours to browse.

Entrance - Submarine Force Museum & USS Nautilus - Rings represent the first submarine, and the size of a nuclear sub

Entrance – Submarine Force Museum & USS Nautilus – Rings represent the first submarine, and the size of a nuclear sub

I am glad I am so flexible – and highly recommend you visit the museum (free).

Looking from the entrance to Sub Base New London - flag on hill. Open hatch in foreground is the top of a Polaris Missile Tube.

Looking from the entrance to Sub Base New London – flag on hill. Open hatch in foreground is the top of a Polaris Missile Tube.

My first ship while on active duty was the submarine tender – USS BUSHNELL AS-15 – and tied up alongside were WWII subs. Next I was Supply Officer of the FBM Submarine Training Center — thus I had somewhat of an idea of what I may see, and I was not disappointed. Moored outside on the Thames River is the USS Nautilus, the world’s first Nuclear Submarine launched in 1954.



Here is a gallery on board the sub (remember you can click on an image to open up to larger sizes). Only the spaces forward of the sail (conning tower) are open. The reactor and spaces to the rear are closed to the public. The material condition of the ship is amazing, and many bulkheads have been cut-away for better views.

In typical Ray fashion, my timing was almost perfect, and I arrived in the Mystic countryside at the Stonecroft Country Inn (built in 1807) shortly before 5PM.

Stonecroft Country Inn - Mystic, Connecticut

Stonecroft Country Inn – Mystic, Connecticut

“I shall return.” The Inn is wonderful. Besides the house, there is an original renovated barn with luxury rooms and the dining room. A few couples were in the barn, I had the house to myself (as usual in my journeys) with four common rooms besides my bedroom on the second floor (front corner on the right in picture above).

Monday night I went to dinner at the Captain Daniel Packer Inne built in 1756 in Mystic.

Monday night, besides working on articles for THE WALPOLE CLARION I had to figure out a plan for Tuesday. I thought about heading east to Watch Hill, RI, not having been there in decades, but then it struck me – “fill in the map Ray, you have not been along the shoreline from Mystic to the Connecticut River. Off I went — on the map below I have marked the B&B on the right, follow the route south, and clockwise back. You can see a small backtrack for Route 169 home on Wednesday.


Out of Mystic I took Route 215 toward Noank arriving “downtown” there.

Downtown Noank, Connecticut

Downtown Noank, Connecticut

Noank is right on the shoreline


And, this is the perfect old general store on the water – now the historical society – CLOSED.


Amelia Earhart married publisher George P. Putnam in Noank February 7, 1931. Here is a haunted looking Victorian on a windswept bluff on the bank.


And, even with this wrap on, this little gal looked cold.


I then continued west towards Fort Griswold State Park in Groton. Museum closed, but I walked the grounds of this Revolutionary Fort.


In September 1781, British troops under Benedict Arnold raided and burned New London in the Battle of Groton Heights. Fort Griswold was the objective on the Thames River, as was Fort Trumbull just across the river.

The wounded during the battle were taken to this adjoining home for treatment. Someday I will accomplish a Colonial garden such as this outside my porch.


I then crossed the Thames River, drove through New London to Fort Trumbull. Yes, also closed, but worth a trip back.



The original Blockhouse from 1794 when President George Washington authorized federal funds to protect seaports.


And looking back east across the Thames to Fort Griswold (you can see the monument on the hill to the left). The yard on the river is Electric Boat were subs are built.


Picking up Route 156 I eventually arrived in Old Lyme. No images for you, BUT DO NOT MISS OLD LYME. Wonderful Colonial architecture and setting, and an easy hop-off from I-95. I then continued north on 156 to Route 82. I highly recommend that you journey up Route 156 from I-95, no matter what time of year. If I had turned left, I would have rolled into Gillette Castle State Park and Gillette Castle, which I shared with you last August.

But the plan this time was to head east to Mohegan Sun, and then to Foxwoods. I thought that I had to at least say I had seen the Connecticut casinos. “I have been to the Casinos in Connecticut – DON’T BOTHER!!!” Well if you are like me, don’t bother. I expected something glitzing and with a Wow factor. Nope, nothing to “write home about” here. Mohegan is not even worth a stop in my opinion – here is a layout


But FOXWOODS is a tad better with a wide range of a variety of decor almost approaching eye-candy (did I tell you I am not a gambler – except with buying books – and have no idea what the games and machines are about?). I stopped first to browse through the Tangier Outlet Mall built between several of the buildings. I am not a shopper, no glitz, and nothing to entice me in. I went into the AS SEEN ON TV store – it seemed catchy. Thought it would be fun – NOT – actually all they had was crap that would NEVER be SEEN ON TV.  I wanted out.

I got my daily 10,000 plus steps just trying to find my way out. I even got desperate, and considered this escape.


Tuesday night dinner again in Mystic. Back to work in the Keeping Room, and soon it was Wednesday.

I had found a list on-line of the Four Connecticut Scenic Drives to Explore. Yes, been there, except one – Connecticut State Route 169 which heads from Norwich to the Massachusetts border. That was Wednesday’s plan to head home.

So, I meandered past FOXWOODS (will get back for the Native American Museum, however) and picked up Route 169 in Jewett City. Again, all new territory, and fantastic Colonial architecture, and the most amazing stone walls I have ever seen. Probably helped with leaves off the trees, but still!

Here is the first home that really caught my eye – as I approached Canterbury.


At the crossroads in Canterbury is the Prudence Crandall Museum (closed). Prudence had a school here in 1831 to educate daughters of wealthy local families. The school was extremely successful and in 1833 she admitted Black girls. The State responded by passing the “Black Law” which made it illegal for Miss Crandall to operate her school. Miss Crandall was arrested, spent a night in jail, and faced three court trials. The case was dismissed in July of 1834. Two months later a mob attacked the school, forcing Miss Crandall to close.


Just across the road was this old filling station. It was in front of such a store in Dillon, South Carolina that I bought my 1890 Bartholomew Sidewalk Peanut Machine in 1965.


I detoured into Putnam to an antique center that Cathy and I would visit. I found one treasure I needed for Prof. RAB’s Wagon on Wonders — arriving in town for Old Home Days 2017.

And then passed through Woodstock, and Roseland Cottage (closed for the season).


And, then home through Sturbridge and Brimfield still looking for one elusive item Prof. RAB needs.

I have been home and busy for six days. Getting harder and harder to write all I want to do. BLUE BELLE went to hospital for repair to some bearings, but Dr. Dewey has found that her entire propulsion plant must be rebuilt, so that is underway. She will be good enough to go cross-country, so I will scrap the CORVETTE idea, and also sort of decided that to be practical (since BB2 and BB1 will get all the attention this summer) that I should help LADY RAB find a new home — so that is the plan.

More adventures coming — I have a full plate until July 1, but who knows what I may be able to fit in. Bye for now, as always, yours, RAY

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It has been over 30 years since I was in the Bay Area – 10 May 1986 to be exact – when the USS MISSOURI (BB-63) was recommissioned. I was among the 10,000 invited guests, but that is another old “war story.” You may recall (from history) that on the MISSOURI the Instrument of Surrender with Japan was signed 2 September 1945. She was decommission in 1955, and years after the re-commissioning, she was struck in 1995, and is now a museum in Pearl Harbor. I explored San Francisco when here then, and now I am visiting with family (and some shunpiking too).

My daughter, Julie, and her husband and three children arrived here about a year ago. David and Mari have an annual conference in San Francisco this week, so Alex and I came along with them to visit (Alex and Mari headed home on the 30th). Saturday, after David and Mari headed downtown, we got the four kids going, and they agreed to see the “big trees.”  I love studying real maps, and do so both before an adventure, and after to solidify the map images in my mind. Do look at a Bay Area map, and you can see the circle route we took from Orinda, up over the San Rafael Bridge, to Mill Valley to the adventure, then back across the Golden Gate Bridge, through downtown on US 101, and back home. The “tall” adventure (which you can click for a taller version):


Heading down Muir Woods Road – the scariest “white knuckle” road I have ever been on. The “white” area you see on the left is the glistening water of San Francisco Bay.


you come to Muir Woods National Monument, and its Redwoods.


Twelve miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, the park has over 1,000,000 visitors a year. We arrived around 3PM, and it was no bad. To preserve the ancient Redwoods, the land was purchased in 1905, and donated to the government. You may click on image below for a larger image to read.


This beauty was one of the first to greet us.


The bay area, and particularly along the water, is not forested at all, but the unique microenvironment on the ocean side with the fog and moisture has created this dense forest which may only see sunlight 5% of the day. The plants, lichen, etc. have adapted for survival. Below, very spiritual, reaching for the sky.


We took a number of trails, and the grandkids posed in this tree for us.


You may be wrinkled too at this age.


Sun was beginning to set:


Fast Redwood facts: Height to 379.1 feet, age to 2,000 years, diameter to 22 feet at breast height, bark to 12 inches thick. The tree below fell in 1930. Counting back the rings, it was a seedling in 909 AD – 1,021 years before it fell.


With more hiking than we thought we may do, it was night when we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. A bad image of this iconic structure (painted red to stand out in fog), but here it is.


I am now back to working on this post, Monday, 6 February. So much to do, but with the passing of time it is fun to go back and work on a post because it further kindles my memory of experiences. Sunday (January 29) was a “day home” in preparations for Julie’s youngest son’s fourth birthday party. What fun to see 5 little ones from his nursery school class.

Shortly after everyone left for school on Monday, Alex and I boarded BART for a 35 minute ride into San Francisco. We exited at Market and Powell Streets, and pulled our bags a few blocks up the hill to the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. I was hoping to take Alex to Alcatraz, but since he wanted to met Mari at noon for lunch, the time was too tight, So, off we went to the Cable Car Museum. I have decided that the rest of this post will be mainly images – about 75 – sorry, but then you do not have to “listen” to me as much.



In this building the continuous cables are powered by electric motors for the three cable car lines.

Motive Power Source for San Francisco's Cable Cars

Motive Power Source for San Francisco’s Cable Cars

The museum is fascinating with nice exhibits and equipment.

We then went to the corner, and caught this car.


Alex and I sat on the side, and off we went.

Alex and I sat on the side, and off we went.

Great views of the city


and this “classic view” of Alcatraz


we passed


and later walked back up the hill – no small feat – to walk down the Crookedest Street in the World – Lombard Street.


We met Mari for lunch on Pier 39, and afterwards they went to pick up their bags and head to the airport. I decided to walk down to Pier 33 to see if I could get to Alcatraz. For over a week I had been checking the Alcatraz Tours website that came up on Google.  But do not be taken in by the website that says sells out early – BUY NOW. I could not narrow down the time and day I could go, and each time I checked the site that comes up on Google, the tickets were gone. Now — I have posted my revelation on Trip Advisor (I am a Senior Contributor, for whatever that is worth)  — when I walked up to the ticket window, I was on the boat 7 minutes later – AND, The TICKET WAS $10 LESS THAN ON the site that comes up – and, it is the same boat line . Seems as though that reseller buys tickets to the boat and gets top search engine billing (Alcatraz is free as a National Park) adds a hefty surcharge, and scares you into buying. I was scared, but glad I waited.

On the boat to Alcatraz Island

On the boat to Alcatraz Island

Back at the pier is this model of the island showing many of the buildings that are no longer there.


A volunteer ranger meets you as you disembark to advise what to expect. You can see remnants of the Native American occupation of the island in many spots on the buildings.


Following are some selected views of “my time in Alcatraz”. In the cell block you get a free audio tour – and it is GREAT! Remember, you can click an image in my “galleries” to see larger images.

And, the view back to San Francisco from the tip of the island. Treasure Island to the left, then the Bay Bridge — and make sure to click on the image below to fill your screen with this panorama.


The nearest cable line was “down” with a cable problem, so I took a trolley part way back and then a bus. Have I ever told you I have loved trolleys since the 7th grade? I have loved trolleys since the 7th grade (don’t ask when that was).


here is the back end of the trolley I caught


and, the inside


so I could enter back into the Sir Francis Drake Hotel where I was going to stay with David the next two nights.

Lobby and bar in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco

Lobby and bar in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco

Remember I like giving you the view out my window?


Tuesday my plan was to start touring on a “Hop on – Hop off” bus, so I headed a few blocks down Powell Street to Union Square to one of the main stops. I was attacked by the sales person for the “Deluxe Hop On – Hop Off” and soon accosted by the Big Bus representative. I had gotten on-line information about the Big Bus tours, and even downloaded their app. I put myself “up for auction” when a salesman for another came up. The tours for $45 became $35, and then the “deluxe” salesman cut to $25 – for a two-day, three tour pass. I turned over my greenbacks. You get what you pay for. The “deluxe” bus was probably a castoff from another company, the tour was delayed, but in the long run served my purposes just fine – and for less green. I headed off for the full two plus hour route, and then continued back to Pier 39. Here are some “views from the bus.”

San Francisco National Historical Park

San Francisco National Historical Park

approaching the Golden Gate Bridge


no explanation needed:


Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park

and, then — not much has changed at:


If you do not know what I am referring to you are way younger than I am. Following is a gallery as we headed down Haight.


I continued back past “go” to get back to Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. My plan was to have lunch at the famous Boudin Bakery, famous for their sourdough bread, and many sculptures with their bread.


I had chile in a sourdough bread bowl.


Now, in my preliminary research I found MUSEE MECHANIQUE – A Coin Operated Arcade on Pier 45. And, it was my plan to visit – WOW. I often say I was born in the wrong century, and you may know that I enjoy Victorian and early 20th century amusements and resorts. I visited, and this is probably the LARGEST COLLECTION IN THE WORLD of the old amusement park machines. Amazingly in an old pier warehouse, no attendant or admission, and all operating – mostly for 25 cents. EYE CANDY, and worth the trip to San Francisco alone.


as I said, no attendant, but many of the machines had their eyes on you, as she did:


below a gallery of what I drooled over – remember to click to enlarge:

I could have spent two days in this exhibit playing everything and making movies, but here is a short one.

Over the door to the pier it said – see our submarine USS PAMPANITO SS-383. I headed out on the pier, but, sorry, I have been on WWII submarines (I was on the USS Bushnell AS-15 – a submarine tender – in the late 60s, and tied up alongside were remaining WWII subs that I inspected and toured) so I did not have to take the tour.


BUT – to her aft was the S.S. JEREMIAH O’BRIEN, one of two remaining WWII Liberty ships of the over 2,700 built. Now – that is a must do. With the war production effort, each was built in 60 days. What has happened to American since?


As a child I remember crossing the Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River and looking down at the cove full of Liberty Ships, but they are all gone now. The Jeremiah O’Brien was one of the over 5,000 ships that was at Normandy for the D-Day Invasion, and of those almost 5,200 ships, she was the only ship that was there for the 50th anniversary.


In Hold #1 is the museum, and the vehicle on the left was at Normandy, and given to the ship by France.


France has given many items to the museum including this model of the beaches showing how material was landed after the beachheads were secured.


the close-up below shows how the S.S. JEREMIAH O’BRIEN was offloaded to barges that were then towed to the floating bridges. Ships were sunk to create break walls protecting shore operations from the tides and waves. Not having gotten to go to Normandy when I was in France in October, now I really have to go.


Well, getting late, and trolley time to head back to the hotel, get cleaned up, and meet David at his conference to visit, have wine, and then head off to dinner.



Did I tell you I like (love) trolleys? I absolutely cannot believe how well taken care of the trolleys are — the appear brand new inside and out. I joined David at the convention, then dinner.

And, then it was Wednesday. San Francisco has the largest Chinatown in the US — when in San Francisco, you have “to do” Chinatown, but I bet most tourists go through this archway, and down the couple blocks of imported gift items thinking they have “experienced” Chinatown.



WRONG — And, I was lucky. I mentioned to a fellow I have been buying books from for almost 20 years that I was heading to SF, and he said, “take Linda Lee’s tour.” And he gave me her company’s name – ALL ABOUT CHINATOWN. I was able to contact Linda for the Wednesday tour (at 10AM only), and David, who was worn out at the convention, was ready to leave and join me, including a Chinese lunch. All I can say is, buy your ticket to SF, and take Linda’s tour — not your usual tour, she really gave us history, insight, and sights in the back alleys with an understanding you would get in no other way. There were 7 of us, David, me, a young lady, and a lovely family of four.

After providing introductory history while in the community park, Linda took us into a Temple and explained everything we saw there.


HELP, I’M HELD CAPTIVE IN A FORTUNE COOKIE FACTORY – I know, old joke, but possible, since Linda lead us really “off the beaten path”. I wish I had take a video of the operation.


See where the batter is being poured out? Then the wheel goes through the oven coming out in baked disks. This woman (chains hidden) would decide if the disk was to be used for a fortune cookie, or separated to be sold as a disk (the locals prefer them this way – they know the fortunes are phony). The operator places the slip of paper (you can see the pile) on a rod, and then folds the disk over, and voila – a fortune cookie. Again, sorry I goofed, and no video.

If you were fortunate enough to walk by this shop, you would have no idea what was for sale.


But, Linda told us, and toured us through. Looks like a lot of gift items or toys – WRONG. All items for Ancestor Worship, and made of paper that when lit goes puff and disappears. The customer comes in, and wishing to provide something to a departed loved one buys something they should have, and then takes it to the cemetery where it is lit and consumed to join the deceased ancestor. Here are a few samples.

Of course we stopped at a grocery story. I maybe recognized 5% of the items, but would not buy any.

And, the herb and medicine store. Hey, these items have worked for over 3,000 years, who am I to argue.


And, that was it — lunch followed with a wonderful assortment, and then David and I got our bags and then the BART to the airport. Home to Boston at 1 AM, a few hours rest, and I drove home.

A GREAT TRIP — a good start for the year with the benefit of visiting Julie and her family.

I have a horrendous and broken up schedule of commitments from now until the end of June which will impact on me taking some serious trips. BUT, I will be taking some trip. So, “stay tuned.”  thank you for getting this far:


1- Take Linda Lee’s ALL ABOUT CHINATOWN tour
2 – Visit Alcatraz
3 – Tour the S.S. JEREMIAH O’BRIEN
4- Spend a day at MUSEE MECANIQUE


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If you get no further

If you have followed my travel posts, you should have noticed patterns to my travels, thus some traditions. If you enjoy something, or some place, what is wrong with repeating? Especially if you can experience at different times of year.

One such place I enjoy heading to is Fairlee, Vermont and Chapman’s General Store. Cathy and I discovered the old general store here a dozen years ago, and visited often.

Village Green in Fairlee, Vermont - adjoining Chapman's to the south.

Village Green in Fairlee, Vermont – adjoining Chapman’s to the south.

I now make sure I stop a couple times a year with BLACK BEAUTY, BLUE BELLE, or sadly (like today) in the “new” GREY GHOST.  One of the oldest country stores in Vermont, Chapman’s began in 1897 as a drug store, and remains in the family. I recall a display on one of my early visits that the store had a special salve that went to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd’s expeditions, and some of of you may know I made two trips to Antarctica, including the remote Byrd Station, and the South Pole (twice).


As you enter the store, you still feel as though you are entering the early 20th century with period displays, and “antique” merchandise, toys, and displays on the top shelves.


And, just like at my favorite inns and restaurants, when Rachel (the owner’s daughter) saw me she said, “Hi Mr. Boas.” “No, please just Ray,” I replied. Yes, one of the reasons you go back. But even without the greeting, I go back to see the amazing selection of unique toys, crafts, local gifts, and selection of wine they stock.

Looking at the old window above a stock of wine.

Looking out the old window above a stock of wine.

I went today to help “get in the holiday spirit” and select a few gifts. I tell everyone in the family “no gifts for me” – hey, I need nothing material, but if I do want something I just go get it – but I enjoy getting a few things here for the kids.


Upon leaving, part of my “tradition” is lunch at the Fairlee Diner


Classic, and filling. I had corn chowder and an open faced pot roast sandwich. I could have survived easily with just one of those choices.

Now, question to Ray. Cross the bridge to Orford, NH to travel south on Route 12?


or, head down US 5 in Vermont (the old road prior to I-91). If you know me, you know I love US 5, as do my ladies, cruising often faster than recommended (but I am turning a new leaf). Today, I choose to stay on 5 back to Norwich. Amazingly, I had never before seen Butternut Lane B&B in Norwich. Remote? Yes! But, minutes to Dartmouth College.


It was then grocery shopping in West Leb before continuing down NH 12, and a stop at Saint Gaudens. Never before been there with snow.


And, a tad further down the road past the covered bridge is Trinity Church in Cornish, completed in 1808.




The plan for the 20th was an evening at The Phelps Barn at The Grafton Inn – yes in amazing Grafton, Vermont. You may know the significance The Grafton Inn has for me being here, and that story is on my bookseller website. I have been back many times since with friends for dinner, or a pub experience. Last year on the way home from Christmas in Plymouth Notch, my lady friends and I enjoyed time in the barn in front of the fire, and that was the plan again to continue that tradition. Tara, Carolyn, and Joanie joined me tonight.


The Grafton Inn - 20 December 2016

The Grafton Inn – 20 December 2016

I called earlier to confirm the barn would be open, and learned it was “trivia night.” But, “timing is everything” and we arrived to capture the couch and armchairs in front of the roaring fire before others showed up.


Tara had in mind a wine she wished to order…


and we continued with three courses of appetizers…


Once “trivia night” began, we had a great deal of fun listening in and realizing we knew more than anyone else in the room. In fact, we may go back to show our prowess, and partake for real – price of admission is a donation to the evening’s selected local charity.

But, we really wanted to see the fabulous Christmas decorations around the inn. Here is a sampling, and you can “click” to enlarge.

Yes, I had to find out the answer to the “ball and chain”


Researching convex mirrors with eagle with a ball and chain from its beak I learned there was no significance to the ball and chain. Huh?? The convex mirror is to capture light at angles to allow a wider field of vision, surrounding ornamentations vary, BUT I found that this device is purely decorative. Oh, I am not satisfied, there has to be a good reason.

Well, in closing:

VISIT THE CHAPMAN GENERAL STORE in Fairlee, Vermont; and start a tradition of visiting peaceful Grafton, Vermont, and THE GRAFTON INN.


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Do I repeat doing what brings me pleasure? Do I want to share what brings me pleasure? Yes, so my son, Gary, and friends Tara and Carolyn journeyed off with me to enjoy the annual Christmas Open House at the President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site in Plymouth Notch, VT. So, in case you have missed my other Plymouth Notch posts, please enter the “notch” with us for a bucolic time.


How can you resist this scenery and snowscape?




We arrived to have lunch in the Wilder House. Each year for this event The Tyson Ladies’ Aid Association serves lunch as a fund raiser. This year there was a folder on the table providing the story of the association. Founded in 1880, it operated until 1887, but was revived in 1910 and been active ever since. They help support a number of organizations in the Tyson (Vermont) and Ludlow area. Our server two years ago moved to the area full time to the condo she had for years.


We then walked up to the cheese factory, but I captured this panorama of the fields along the way — you can click on this image to open (recommended) for full screen.

pn-pano-fieldI had missed seeing these great wooden boxes before. You can buy them with cheese, or empty for $25.  Could not decide where I would put one, so did not buy. But maybe an excuse (like I need one) to go back to make a purchase.
















Then we walked back down the “hill” to visit the country store.

pnd6-6Not much different (except less snow) than our visit on December 15, 2013.


I have enjoyed 19th century General Stores most of my life, and collected and decorated with those items. The Florence Cilley General Store is no exception to bringing me smiles. Sadly, Plymouth Notch is an hour away from home, otherwise I would love to volunteer at the site. Hey, maybe I could stay in one of the historic Top of the Notch tourist cabins on the grounds. Maybe I better start hinting around.

Below is a short gallery of views (that you can open up) inside the store.



Bill Jenney relating much history in the homestead

Bill Jenney relating much history in the homestead

Bill Jenney, site administrator, was scheduled to give a tour of the Coolidge homestead at 1PM and 2PM. Not having heard him give a tour of this historic building, 2PM was my plan. Bill has served in his position since 1988 and was able to learn much from people in the notch who had known the late President and First Lady. Talk about bringing history alive, and I hope, Bill, that you have written down all you know. Maybe a book is in you?


pnd6-12For example, the summer after his inauguration in the homestead at 2:47AM August 3, 1923, the hall above the store served as the “summer whitehouse.” Eighteen secret servicemen (the greatest number up to that time) were there to protect the President, worried about Coolidge facing off against the KKK in the upcoming election of 1924. The hills around the notch provide way too many vantage points for a marksman. As a result, no other President has ever visited here, only Lady Bird Johnson visited when the site was designated a National Historic Landmark, June 12, 1967. That summer of ’24 one news report said there were 4,000 to 5,000 cars in the fields one day when the President was there. With at least two people per car, it was estimated that 10,000 people were in the village of 29 full-time residents.

Accounting for the homestead appearing as it was that night in 1923 is Aurora Pierce. Serving as housekeeper first for Calvin’s father, and then the President, she was there for 50 years. Not approving of indoor plumbing, or electricity, she would not let either be installed. The addition Calvin was building was hooked up, but this addition was moved in 1956 (by the same firm that moved the Ticonderoga from Lake Champlain onto the grounds of the Shelburne Musuem) when the State was given the homestead. Here are two interior views, as the house was in 1923, which (and Bill agreed with me) is really an 1880s look at America.

By now you also know I like to “look out windows,” particularly with wavy glass. Click to open for full effect.

It was almost 3PM, and we headed back to the Visitor’s Center for the antique hat fashion show presented by the Black River Academy Museum. But more important (for us) was the hat contest for visitors. Last year, the first time of the event, we were the only ones who had read the “fine print” and came appropriately attired. This year others had somehow gotten the word. BUT, never fear as we still maintained our winning positions. Winners again this year !!! NOT YOUR NORMAL ELF – Second Place (again) — THE RED LIGHT LADY – First Again — but, beat out by a little kid — OUR YOUNG KID.

Heading back to the east of the river, where would you guess we would stop?


Yes at the Castle to claim our seats in the library for wine in front of the fire. It had been a week since the last visit. Here are a few more images of this special place.

Arriving home, David and family pulled into the drive right behind Gary and me. The plan was for dinner here, Gary and Mari head back to Boston area, and then Alex and David were out at 7:30 this morning for Okemo.

I realized as I was categorizing this post as Day Trips that with 234 posts since April 2011, that I really should have a separate category just for Plymouth Notch. Did I say I like Plymouth Notch? Here are three more “parting shots” from my 10 December visit that I like.





Yours, RAY


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There is so much going on in preparation for the holidays – I cannot do it all. This weekend was the Norman Rockwell Christmas Festivities in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, but when I finally thought about going, the Red Lion Inn was already booked solid.  But, then I remembered that “I do not do crowds” anyway. About ten days ago a friend and I both got emails from the Castle Hill Resort in Proctorsville, Vermont, about a promotion, and buried in one line was — Inn-Dulgence Tour. In checking the link – that was it. Ten Inns and B&Bs, all close by, with decorations and goodies at each. I have experienced five of the ten locations, but how can you pass up Inn-Dulging and gorging yourself for five hours for ten bucks? Plans were hatched and made.


I planned the route (always best to start furthest away and work yourself home) with our first stop the Inn at Weathersfield in Perkinsville, Vermont at the noon hour when the tour began. I have enjoyed many a dinner here, and cannot give it a higher recommendation. When I called to reserve our Passports for the tour, Marilee said, “oh, I remember you Ray.”  Yes, a couple years ago I had shared with her a visit that BLUE BELLE and I made. Every time I walk into the Red Lion Inn I am greeted personally by several staff members, and the same happens at the Castle Hill Resort when I enter with my friends. HINT TO INN OWNERS – it makes a difference. Thank you Marilee (and Richard).

The Inn at Weathersfield, Perkinsville, VT on a December afternoon.

The Inn at Weathersfield, Perkinsville, VT on a December afternoon.

Richard showed us around downstairs, and gave us some history. We toured many rooms, each exquisite! And, below is a gallery of some of what we saw. Remember, with my galleries, you can click on an image and open up to larger views. You will see more galleries on this day’s tour.

We then drove north on Route 106 towards Woodstock, but turned left on Tyson Road in Felchville. I have only driven west to east on this road (in BB1 or BB2, of course) so this was the first time east to west – but scenery is always different every day, every season, and in different directions. The next stop Echo Lake Inn on Route 100.


My dear Cathy and I stayed here maybe 17 years ago before we moved to NH. I have had several meals here, and enjoy passing by on the way to my favorite Plymouth Notch. Need I tell you that is Calvin Coolidge’s home? On the menu here were two soups: Maple Butternut Squash Bisque and Stonewood Farms Turkey and Wild Rice — both worth the trip.

Next was heading south on Route 100, through Ludlow to the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, before working ourselves back to 100.

Entrance to the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, VT

Entrance to the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, VT

I had never stopped here before, but have passed many times. I enjoy Crow’s Bakery and Cafe just down the road. In fact, at the bakery I made my first ever travel blog post in April 2011.  On the menu today for us to enjoy at the Golden Stage Inn (yes an original old stage stop) was “Saturday Night Chocolate Cake.”


PN-22Next stop was our “briar patch” — the Castle Hill Resort and Spa. First discovered and experienced 15 December 2013 (yes on the way back from Christmas at Plymouth Notch). I do not miss anything when driving, but one person is a tad better than I am. Coming home that day, Tara said, “what is that? turn around!” And we went in and discovered the most fantastic place. To the right is a favorite image I took that evening.

Up the hill we drove, and in we went. “Hi, nice to see you again,” we were greeted. Yes, I visit often with my lady friends. We cannot afford not to go to the three course dinners for $25 (we all carry half home there is so much, and so good. But we start with wine (and wine) in the library – oh such a life.

Today it was overcast and snowy as we drove up the hill.

Castle Hill Resort & Spa

Castle Hill Resort & Spa

On the menu here was Mini Beef Wellington and/or Creme Brûlée. We had both — fantastic. The decorations were amazing – enjoy these images.

It was then back into Ludlow to the Andrie Rose Inn. We learned that the Inn goes back to about 1950 — about 6 years before the Okemo Ski area was developed.


Large and very comfortable with lots of fun spaces, on the menu was braised pork butt over polenta – yummy!

Time to head south on Route 100 (the backbone of Vermont) to Weston (no I will not tell you again that I was first there in my 1929 Model A Ford Roadster in 1963 spending an evening with Vrest Orton, the founder of the “original” Vermont Country Store). There was the Inn at Weston – another “first” for me.

Entrance to the Inn at Weston

Entrance to the Inn at Weston

On writing this, I realize we never got to see any rooms. Our hostess, Linda, was cordial and immediately said, “let me tell the chef to get your food ready.” Shortly we sat down to mini crab cakes with a roasted red pepper coulis and wild mushroom and ricotta on crostini.


Wow — the inn has a full restaurant, and hours vary with the season and the performances at the famous Weston Playhouse. Here are two more images here:

Back down Route 100 to Londonderry, and left on Route 11. Then right onto Magic Mountain Access Road. Magic Mountain was a failed ski resort, but I read this past week that new owners are opening the mountain this coming weekend. The facilities and surrounding properties are dated and have seen better days. A short way up the access road was our next stop Blue Gentian Lodge. Lisa and Ken have been here since 1994, and are a lovely couple. Lisa’s cut paper ornaments are amazing, and you should turn up the few hundred yards off Route 11 and see her work.


Here are samples of her amazing craft – worth seeing.


This tree represents the Twelve Days of Christmas – wish I could have captured it better for you.


And, one of Lisa’s tree ornaments


Our next stop – number 8 – was the Stone Hearth Inn and Tavern in Chester.


Again, I just realized that we did not see any rooms, but we were getting “inned out.” After a short walk around the first floor we settled into the tavern with wine, and soon Tara’s husband joined us . His horse and donkey are boarded for the winter on the adjoining property.

There was no time left for Inn Victoria in Chester, or The Grafton Inn in Grafton. Some of you may know the special place the Grafton Inn holds in my heart – I would not be in the wonderful place I am in, if it were not for an overnight my late-bride and I had there. But, my friends and I will get back in the next week or so to see the fabulous decorations there. In fact, here we are in the Phelps Barn Pub just a year ago (after Christmas at Plymouth Notch).


Well, I got home a tad after 6PM tonight, and now it is almost 11:36.  I have fun reliving my adventures and experiences while preparing this posts — for myself — but to share. This was the first year for the Inn-Dulgence Tour, Okemo Valley, Vermont. It was fun, and I hope it was successful for the Inns involved, and they continue again next year.

RAY RECOMMENDS – Experience what our local Vermont Inns have to offer – just follow the list here.

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I needed a break; well after all, I have been home three weeks !!! And it was this time last year I felt the same way and spent 9-11 November 2015 in MAINLY MAINE. I planned an exploration of Providence, RI, but the downtown B&B I wanted to stay in was booked. I then realized I had never explored Manchester, NH — yes the downtown B&B there was also full. But hey, I can still explore there, but stay elsewhere – and that is what I did. I booked a B&B in Portsmouth, NH, that I tried to stay in last year. But it was closed last year, and I end up MAINLY MAINE instead. Still with me?

The plan was on Wednesday to stop first at the antique mall in Concord, and then stop at the shops along “antique alley” on the way to Portsmouth.  “Pickins” on the road for books have not been good for years, but from noon to 4:30 PM things were different. I wrote a check every place I stopped – five in all. And when (if) the three cartons of books I bought sell, many more trips are paid for. But I love to buy, and have a nice excuse – it is for resale, and I am constantly challenging my knowledge — well, iPhone helps nowadays price checking.

Inn at Strawbery Banke

Inn at Strawbery Banke


I arrived shortly after 5 PM at the Inn at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth. It adjoins the Strawbery Banke Museum, which I visited shortly after Cathy died when I decided to get out and explore. Also, as my hostess told me, “don’t drive downtown to eat, we are a three minute walk to Market Square.” And, that is what I did. I walked, explored, window shopped, and then had dinner. I have always enjoyed my walks around Portsmouth, NH.



And, here is a panorama of Market Square.  I am trying to learn how to do these – click on the image to get a full screen view.


Thursday, 10 November, I left Portsmouth shortly after 9AM to be at the Millyard Museum in Manchester when it opened. Arriving in the city, I did not recall ever driving through, and I was impressed with the architecture and cleanliness. The mile long brick mill complexes along the Merrimack River are amazing, and defy proper image capturing to share. I thought there would be a parking lot – wrong. It took me about 20 minutes to find a space within a mile of the beautifully restored and occupied mill buildings. Now, remember this. Street parking, but no meters – pay stations every once in awhile to get your paid display ticket. First pay station was not operating – I started to worry my credit card was skimmed.  Not seeing another pay station, I began driving closer to downtown, and parked right in front of a pay station – but its readout displayed “not working, go to another station.”  I saw one around the corner, and dumped all my change in it – got about 1 1/2 hours. Now to hike back to the museum.

The Millyard Museum concisely details the history of the “Queen City” (the state’s largest metropolis beginning in the 1830s) and the textile mills’ histories – which created the city’s history. On this 19th century map you can see the mill complexes along the Merrimack River at the bottom, and the canals created for additional water power.


Originally called Derryville, when the canals were built in 1810 for the textile mills, the city was renamed Manchester after the great manufacturing city in England. In the museum is the model below, typical of the elegant restored brick mill structures.


The city was totally planned out, even before the first building built. The industrialists wanted to create a community.


Above is another view of the city’s layout (looking west – the canals are now filled in). Following the Lowell, Massachusetts, mills’ methods, rural farm girls were hired and joined in the 1840s with Irish immigrants. Immigrants poured in from many European countries, and by 1900 the majority of the immigrants were French Canadians.

Besides documenting the history of the area’s development, the museum has wonderful exhibits on the textile industry itself, and its changes.


Many other industries developed in Manchester, including foundries, machine making, and the Amoskeag Steam Fire Engine company. Below is the Ashland No. 1 (the 369th of 853 steam fire engines built between 1859-1913). This particular engine from Ashland, Massachusetts helped quell the Boston fire in 1872.


and, I felt it important to share how this engine works (you can click to enlarge to read more easily):


And, hailing from Derryville was General John Stark. The museum had a nice presentation on this American Hero who at the Battle of Bennington said, “…They are ours, or this night Molly Stark sleeps a widow!”


General Stark, at age 81, could not in 1809 join a group of Bennington veterans gathered to commemorate the battle.  He sent, instead, a letter to his comrades, which closed “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” Live Free or Die became the New Hampshire state motto in 1945. And, now you know.

Fascinating too was this display, including a swatch of Molly Stark’s wedding dress.


Well, I was watching the clock since the time on my “park and display” slip was approaching, but I was pretty well done. Getting back to the car I started looking at the Manchester Guide I got at the museum.

nov-13Question for you. If in a guide you saw, America’s Credit Union Museum, would you want to see it? If the booklet said “closed Thursday” would you still call?  I did call, and the young lady answering the phone said, “come on over, I will be here until 3PM.” About a mile away I went — and was amazed at what I learned.

Below (in a panorama experiment – thus you can click to full screen) is the home office of Joseph Boivin, where he took in the funds of thousands of mill investors, who worked down the hill and across the river from his home. This first “credit union” in the US was organized November 24, 1908, with the help of Canadian, Alphonse Desjardins of Levis, Quebec.


A credit union is a cooperative financial institution owned and run by its members. They pool their funds to make affordable loans to each other. Run to provide a service, and not a profit, members could get small loans that banks would not make. Getting a small loan to pay a bill, such as a doctor’s bill, they often would get a discount for the full payment.

I thought these two panels say it better than I can.


And, children would go to the new credit union and deposit their nickels. This panel really gives you perspective.


My step-mother’s family came from Quebec to work in the mills in Manchester. I bet they deposited their nickels right here in this first credit union.

It was then off to the Currier Museum of ArtRAY RECOMMENDS — NO HIGHLY RECOMMENDS – HURRY TO VISIT THE CURRIER – Particularly the current special exhibit – MOUNT WASHINGTON: THE CROWN OF NEW ENGLAND.

I always need to know why something is, and why it is where it is.

The Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH

The Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH

Hannah Slade Currier, who died in 1915,  married Hon. Moody Currier, a distinguished banker in Manchester, New Hampshire. 1885-6 he was governor of New Hampshire. When she died, she was one of the wealthiest women in the State of New Hampshire.  She left her estate to establish the Currier Gallery of Art. I first had lunch in the cafe, passing through the older section and this entranceway.


I was so fortunate (not planned) to be here for the special exhibit – MOUNT WASHINGTON: THE CROWN OF NEW ENGLAND. As you may know, I love the history of the development of the summer vacation in the US, and travelers to Mount Washington were the beginning of that phenomena. Here is Thomas Cole’s VIEW IN THE WHITE MOUNTAINS. I visited Cole’s home in Catskill, NY, ages ago, but still have to report on that.


The title for the exhibit comes from this painting. George Loring Brown created a monumental painting, THE CROWN OF MOUNT WASHINGTON, which was sent to London for exhibition. The Prince of Wales (Edward VII) purchased it, and it remains in the Royal Collection. This is a smaller version painted in 1858.


Did I say that I loved the Mount Washington exhibit? On the second level are American art exhibits – again great. I have always been fascinated with John Rodgers statues since first being introduced to them in 1963 by Vrest Orton, founder of The Vermont Country Store. Finally (now that the prices have plummeted) I now own two of these late 19th century popular parlor statues.  Cast in plaster, I never knew there were bronze versions. Here is his photographer piece.


and, a few last views in the Currier:

But, I completed all, and it was time to get out of the busy world before the 5PM rush, and I headed home.


1 – Visit the Millyard Museum in Manchester
2 – HURRY to the CURRIER MUSEUM OF ART, and make sure you see the Mount Washington exhibit before it closes on January 12, 2017.  The day I got back I learned that our library has free 
passes for patrons.  HINT – HINT.
3 – Don’t hesitate to explore — if I had not made a phone call, I would not have had the great experience at AMERICA’S CREDIT UNION MUSEUM

ENJOY — As always, yours, RAY




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Part II of this adventure, as promised, but later than I had planned to give it to you. But, there is a reason — “The Power of the Internet.” I had an invitation to Connecticut for Saturday the 29th, and I spent the better part of two days in preparation. Why? Thank you for asking, I will tell you why. Bear with me — PARIS PART II Follows below.

np-9 Remember the story of my move to New Hampshire in 2002? Cathy and I sold our unique property on a waterfall in days, and started our new life. The celebrity, power couple that purchased my home and shop divorced in 2011, and the property came back on the market. Then one day I noticed “hit after hit” on my shunpiking post, following my return to the States on Queen Mary 2, detailing my wanderings through Connecticut and past my former shop. That was followed by emails and finally phone conversations with Anne who was thinking of buying the place. As always, the truthful me with nothing to hide, I shared everything I could by phone and email, answering sufficient questions for her to purchase the former home and shop of Ray Boas, Bookseller.

I had been given information on the old barns and mill back to its first restoration into a residence from ruins in 1953/4, and much subsequent material. Cathy also saved (in multiple copies) anything ever printed about our shop, including the Sunday New York Times from January 19, 1997, when I was featured on the front page (well, front page of the weekend Connecticut section — but that still counts — copies available, of course, upon application). Living in the city, Anne was afraid of my mailing all the materials to her, including a book published in 1954 on the original restoration. Over the past several years we could not coordinate a date during her renovations. But, “timing is everything” you hear me say, and last week she emailed saying, “would you like to come visit Rich and me on the 29th.”  Only hesitation I had was, what else would I do on the trip, but then decided to devote the day to that mission. Off I left, arriving shortly after noon, realizing I could always leave if not comfortable, but the day was great, and Anne and Rich the perfect custodians of the property. We hit it off well, it was perfect that Cathy and I had kept all the materials (instead of passing them to the divorced luminaries) I have now turned everything over to the right people to conserve with their home on the waterfall.

When I arrived and parked in my usual spot, the sun was not quite right.

np-2But, later in the day as Anne and I were walking the property, this came out better, showing her work and touches better.


But, first we headed off to Bantam for lunch at Arethusa, one of the most incredible dining experiences I have had, and worth the trip from home just to eat there. The presentation was the best ever, and Anne later wondered why I did not take my usual “food picture” (she faithfully follows my posts – in fact, remember awhile back I asked for hard to find Connecticut state maps? She gave me three she found for me). “Well, I just did not think it would be appropriate being there with others.” I replied.  Next time there I will take pictures of everyone’s meals, and not just at my table.

Returning, she and I toured the grounds. The “in-between owners” spent massive amounts on landscaping. Here are a few views, that you can click and enlarge.

I could not believe the extensive and beautiful workmanship both in the basement area with all the mechanicals, and the changes in the floor plans she made. Since this property was featured in House and Garden in 1954, I encouraged Anne to contact the magazine for a follow-up. Anne’s tastes in everything were amazing, I just kept gaping. Later when I was turning over the various materials and duplicate pictures I had from our stewardship we realized that she had some of the same style furnishings in the same place that my Cathy had things. They would have been great pals, I am convinced.

This picture will give you an idea of my shop looking down from the other end of the balcony seen above on the left. By the way, the proud person I am, you can click the next two images also for much larger sizes and details of my collections.

np-7And, from the front door as you entered my shop on the waterfall, here is my counter. I have decorated in early country store since the early 1970s.

np-8Well, we spent over three hours going through the materials I was transferring custodianship of. Even though I had an invitation to spend the night, I thought I should head back home, and let them enjoy their weekend in Connecticut “heaven” while I returned to my “heaven.” But, subsequent emails since my return, Anne and Rich will come visit with me “sooner than later.”

So, now at long last, onto A WALPOLEAN IN PARIS – 11-17 OCTOBER 2016 PART II. Part I was one of my most visited posts, with many nice emails complimenting the content. Maybe less words was part of the charm. So, posted back on October 24, a week ago, click on this link if you need to catch up on my Wednesday and Thursday in Paris.

Friday, Mari’s parents from Cortona and I had the day together with Alex while David and Mari were at the conference. Alex, thinking he should sleep in while on vacation (not this type of vacation, Alex) he did just that no matter what I tried (I had already realized an early morning departure for a long day in Normandy was not going to work). We caught up with his grandparents at Musee d’Orsay before noon. RAY RECOMMENDS – if you do nothing else in Paris, visit Musee d’Orsay. An architectural treat transformed in 1977 from an abandoned railway station built in 1900 for the World Fair, the building itself is a museum. In addition to the station it had grand reception halls and a hotel.

The grand entrance hall (former railroad shed) of Musee d'Orsay.

The grand entrance hall (former railroad shed) of Musee d’Orsay.



Covering all the decorative arts, the emphasis seems to be on the Impressionists. Here are some images (again you can click for larger images), just a smattering to whet your appetite.


And, concluding with some great architectural detail – first the massive clock
















And, then looking through a clock on the outside wall towards the Louvre.


After lunch, Alex, his grandmother and I walked back to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. When we walked there on our first day I noticed the Crypt – an archaeological discovery. With an affinity for ancient ruins, I wanted to experience what had been discovered during renovations begun in 1965, but underground of what was previously there.

These images provide an idea of what was discovered under the square in front of the cathedral. (remember you may click to enlarge)

And, then we went inside the cathedral and toured around.


Saturday morning, the 15th, Mari’s parents left very early to fly back to Italy. Alex wanted to see the Air and Space Museum, so I was able to get him out “earlier.” The plan was to first take the Metro to the The Paris Catacombs.  Rick Steves’ guidebook says, “find the lion in the big traffic circle; if he looked left rather than right, he’d stare right at the green entrance.” Don’t be confused — to “his left.”


We got there minutes after opening time, I figured, in and out and off for the hour Metro and Bus ride to the air and space museum. But, everyone else in Paris was already in line wrapping around the block. We opted not to wait, and left. I later learned only 250 people are allowed below ground at a time.

Located on the grounds of a lovely Art Deco airport built in the 30s, but now only used for business flights, not commercial flights, and Europe’s largest for that reason. The Museum of Air and Space was something Alex wanted to do and really enjoyed. We spent over three hours there, including lunch.

We started in the space exhibition hall.


I found most fascinating this cutaway-plexiglass mock-up of a Mirage jet fighter. Pushing the button (fortunately one for English) a series of lights and commentary tour you through the plane’s systems.


But, most important, how many CONCORDEs have you been in?  We got inside two at the museum.


Surprisingly small, I guess for the speed, the (expensive) seats and passenger accommodations were not luxurious looking.


But, hey, I have now been on a CONCORDE


Finally we were fascinated by this DAKOTA. Outfitted for paratroopers, this plane participated in the Normandy Invasion.


It was then travel back to The Catacombs. The line was now even longer, but we stayed. Eventually we arrived at the unassuming green entranceway to begin our journey down 130 steps “leading 20 meters underground.”

Unassuming entrance to The Catacombs in Paris.

Unassuming entrance to The Catacombs in Paris.

Easiest to share this panel with you for background.


You follow long tunnels before getting to the actual bones, one of the first to greet you is…


And, here are a few more views from this very popular (for centuries) place to visit.

Sunday was our last full day in Paris. David and Mari would be done at 5PM with the

The Conciergerie on The Seine

The Conciergerie on The Seine

conference, so Alex and I had until then to “play.”  Lots of discussion, and we came up with a plan to see where Marie Antoinette was imprisoned, the Paris Sewer exhibit, and Napoleon’s Tomb.  We first walked over the Seine to The Conciergerie. Walking in, Alex, asked, “what’s the point?” It is the former French Palace (10th to 14th centuries), then a prison, but a masterpiece of Medieval architecture. Just take a look…

It was then onto the Metro, heading west, and exiting for the entrance of the Paris Sewer System Museum. Listed as a unique experience designed to document how Parisians got rid of their waste waters, I expected old abandoned cobblestone lined tunnels, eerily lit. I was fascinated, but…


Alex was not. “It smells, I am sick, I want out…” It was not that bad, I gave in, at least I have the brochure with some history.

Next was a visit to Napoleon’s Tomb and the Military Museum, but first came lunch. Alex choose a little cafe — and it was perfect, and worked. You see, particularly for an 11 year-old, it is hard understanding the foods of different cultures, and knowing what you are going to get (e.g. cheese comes automatically on a hamburger, and it is a liquid-like juice – does not work for an youngster wanting a simple hamburger).

Leaving the cafe, we continued our walk to Napoleon’s Tomb.  RAY RECOMMENDS – use Google Maps overseas, and even in cities here, to plan your walking or transit routes — Absolutely Amazing — of course, you need an overseas wireless plan (my kids have that for all their travels).  It was difficult to get you an overall view of this impressive place.


And, here are some images inside the tomb itself.

We then toured various galleries in the military museum and discussed World War I, World War II, the French Resistance Movement, and much more.  We allowed just enough time to get back to the apartment, arriving 10 minutes before David and Mari got back from the completed conference.

Shortly after 5PM we headed off for the Metro to Montmartre. This is a large hill to the north, and a popular night spot (well, probably all day long). The large Bascilica de Sacre-Coeur (built 1875-1914) is a focal point. Here is the view walking further up the hill from the Metro stop.


and, the crowds on the steps…


listening to a band, and waiting for the sunset over Paris…


As the sun set we walked up behind the Bascilica to the nightclub district for dinner.

We began walking back to the Left Bank and our apartment, and heading down the hill first passed…


and, then the Opera House that I had been fascinated with the model of at Musee d’Orsay.


through the court yard of the Louvre with the Pyramid entranceway…


and, across the fantastic iron footbridge to the Left Bank…


David told me we had just completed about 5 miles walking. Remember, Alex and I had already been out and about walking all day; and, it was six months ago that I could not walk, and friends loaded me into the car to get to my back surgery.  GOOD NIGHT PARIS, and thank you.


Posted in 2016-c Paris in October | 6 Comments


As my friends know, this has been a limited traveling year due to inability to walk, and back surgery. When my son, David, accompanied me to an appointment with my back surgeon earlier this year, he said, “my Dad is not ready to slow down.” Well, I am not, and back surgery went well, and I am beginning to get back on the road.  In fact, I just returned from Paris (France not Tennessee). David and Mari asked, “would you mind touring Alex around Paris while we are at a conference?”  Microsecond of thought, “HAPPY TO!” I had the same problem, and had to to go to London to help four years ago. So, off we flew on Tuesday, October 11.

Mari arranged to rent an apartment on the Left Bank near the site of the conference at Université Paris Descartes. We arrived the morning of the 12th, and the apartment was just south of River Seine at 9 rue Guenegaud.

View across to the Louvre from the end of our street.

View across to the Louvre from the end of our street.

You can “click” on the images below to see larger views (as with any of my image galleries).


As you can see on this map, it was a perfect location, with what you see below just minutes of walking, including Metro stops (click for much larger view).


Mari’s parents joined us for a few days, arriving about an hour after we did at Charles De Gaulle Airport. They flew in from Cortona, Italy, Mari’s home town. After getting something to eat before the apartment was ready, we rested a few hours before “hitting the pavement.” The plan for the first day was the Eiffel Tower – tickets are sold out weeks ahead, but Mari booked a “private tour” – a more expensive way to get in when you want. We crossed over the Seine first to Île de la Cité …


and then walked down to Notre-Dame Cathedral …


It was then onto the Metro for David, Alex, Mari, her parents, and me to head to the Eiffel Tower for our tour. We arrived in short order.


David and I reminisced about our visit here 30 years ago – but that was a fast partial day drive through the city, with the only real stop to go to the top of the tower. Built in 1889 for the “world’s fair” celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution, there are three levels to visit (each costing a tad more for entry). The first level (with exhibits) is at 200 feet, the next level is at 400 feet, and the top level at 900 feet. Each level, of course, is smaller than those lower. A few interesting facts: Three different shades of paint are used as you go higher, the tower is painted every seven years, by twenty-five men by hand, completing the job in 15 months.

Below is a gallery (click to enlarge) of “Everything Eiffel – with commentary”

And, now a few views from atop various levels of the Eiffel Tower. The first is a panorama that you can click for the larger image.


The above (remember to click to enlarge) is looking southeast over the Champ de Mars towards Ecole Militaire (straight ahead), and Napoleaon’s tomb a tad to the left. Note the large “skyscraper” in the distance. Our guide told us this is affectionately called “the middle finger of Paris.” The original plan was for six of these “fingers,” but Parisians, being Parisians, there was an outcry of complaint over the spoiling of the skyline, and zoning was passed to limit building height to seven stories within city limits.

Looking east along the Seine from the Eiffel Tower

Looking east along the Seine from the Eiffel Tower

And here is a comparison of two different levels on the Eiffel Tower looking to the northeast across the Seine to the Palais de Chaillot at the Trocadero (which I did not get to visit this trip).


From the middle level of the Eiffel Tower

From the middle level of the Eiffel Tower

Hopefully, you noticed the tall buildings in the distance, and if like me remembered that Paris buildings were limited to seven stories — yes, I asked. The city’s business district is actually outside the city limits, and building height not restricted.

And, from the top level - 900 feet.

And, from the top level – 900 feet.

And, timing was good as we were getting ready to leave.


Heading back to the Metro, and “home” and dinner on the way. Good night, first night.


Thursday, our second day in Paris, the conference began at 5PM, so our plan was to first get to the Arc de Triomphe, and the Louvre. We walked across Pont Neuf and the island to get to the Metro.

Crossing Pont St. Michel looking west "down" the Seine

Crossing Pont Neuf looking west “down” the Seine

And, then we arrived at the Arch of Triumph, 165 feet high and 130 feet wide, commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 .


You know I have great timing ….


Here are a view views from the top observation area.

We then began walking down the Champs-Elysees, and David and I checked out eating establishments while everyone else checked out the Disney store – go figure, in Paris. Following lunch, Mari and her Dad went back to the apartment so she could continue preparing for giving the conference key-note address, and we walked to the Louvre.


But, Alex wanted to see the Mona Lisa. Doesn’t everyone? The Jumbotron recorded that I was the 1,479,985,955th visitor — BUT, I knew better. On display was the larger size (and easier to see) reproduction — the rare national treasure is actually kept safe away somewhere in a secret place.


Yes, I was really there — I am not good enough with photoshop to combine images.



Back to apartment, get ready for opening of conference, and a short ten minute walk to the historic auditorium at Université Paris Descartes. I am still trying to totally understand the research son David, and my daughter-in-law, Mari have accomplished. In simple terms, they work with lasers in bio-medical research, and currently working with the flow of blood in the brain (hope I have it correct). David runs a research center for Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard, but Boston University has hired him away in July 2017 to establish a new research center for them. Among his other pf-35accomplishments (and Mari is right there with him along the way, working in his labs – google them separately – David Boas – Maria Angela Franceschini) he established The Society for functional near-infrared spectroscopy (SfNIRS), a professional organization of basic and clinical scientists seeking to understand the functional properties of biological tissues, especially the brain, using optical methods. David is now the past-president.

One of Mari’s accomplishments is the first movie of imaging of the brain using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as an effective technique for the non-invasive monitoring of cerebral hemodynamics and oxygenation (again I could have it wrong). She shared her paper on the work with me at this link. She mentioned this work during her keynote speech.

Quite a lot for two days.  Thus my decision to break this post into two parts, and Part II will cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Thank you for joining a Walpoleon in Paris — as always, yours, RAY


1 – Wear all black in Paris so you mix in — even better if you adorn yourself with a scarf. Regardless, even if in black, your shoes will give you away as a tourist.

2 – Do not believe predictions. It was colder than I thought it was going to be. Maybe why the Parisians were in black, with black jackets and scarfs.  Really not all necessary in 50s, but there was little sun.

Posted in 2016-c Paris in October | 8 Comments


I was working on “A Walpolean in Paris – 11-17 October 2016” Part I and Part II, but could sense that BLUE BELLE was “blue.” She was pining, “there is all that color out there, but no blue. I can change that.” It was not supposed to rain until early evening, and you know I cannot say no to my ladies, so off we went “leaf peeping.” But our 73 kilometers were shortened after 45 — the building clouds opened up with rain. So, we headed back home. In sprite of the rain, I arrived totally dry. You see, the windscreen (now operating as a rain screen) is aerodynamically designed to keep the cockpit dry above 35MPH (56KPH). A wonderfully dry environment is created. Only a few errant drops that accumulated at the top of the screen splatted back onto my forehead. So, here are some colors – sadly somewhat muted due to the overcast.

We started overlooking the village from North Road. A favorite spot of mine to see the village in various seasons. HINT – you may wish to click on my panoramas to open a larger view. Below is the first panorama.


Below you can see the Town Hall’s cupola (next to my house) in this image looking from a slightly different angle. I have almost the exact image from last year on The Walpole Clarion website – once there, just scroll down a tad.


We then headed up to Barnett Hill. One of the most expansive views in town looking west. Vermont mountains, dozens of miles distant, are in the background. Here is the second panorama.


A tad further up Barnett Hill Road heading east.


You know we love back dirt roads, and here were mostly yellows.


And a tad further, we had to back up to share this panoramic view with you.


I wandered around Marlow, which is always pretty to visit, and captured this bucolic image, albeit with few leaves.


Left turn onto Route 10 heading to Newport, and possibly Lake Sunapee, there walking along the side of the road was Andrea. I was going to stop and see her at the Marlow Post Office (she used to be my clerk in town here). We waved, I u-turned, pulled over, and we visited for awhile — she was on her lunch break, and walks for an hour plus. Lovely chat catching up, but some rain drops began hitting me. “Route 123A has recently been repaved,” she told me. Hating to cut my journey short, at least here was an option. Previously on 123A it was easy for light-weight BLUE BELLE to go airborne over the bumps, even at 30 MPH.

By the time I got to 123A, it was obvious I had to head home through Acworth and Alstead. A two plus hour tour, arriving home to start writing and then lose power — yes, I am on a battery laptop.  So, if we can get out again with nice sun, and get some more images, I will let you know and add them here. Power has been out over an hour or more, hopefully I will be able to get this to you today.  Bye — as always, yours, RAY

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