Monday, June 26, 2017

Merci Charlie Brown

The main objective of our 2 day journey to Colchester, VT was to claim our first Merci Car at Camp Johnson. We have been here before for another Grand Tour a couple of years ago, but the guards wouldn't let us on base. I looked up the hours for the Vermont National Guard Museum and saw it was not open on Mondays. I called and spoke with the museum curator, Charlie Brown. He had meet some of the other riders for the Merci and Love Tour, telling me he would be at the museum and I could grab a picture. I was to come around 10:30am. When we arrived we still had to check in at the gate, and for a moment one of the guards said the museum was closed. I felt my anxiety level go up a bit, but the other officer stepped forward and asked if I was Bill Collins. Yes sir and he said we have been expecting you. The museum is not on the actual base, but over to the right. We got to the front door and it was open, we wandered in. Couple minutes Mr. Brown came walking down the aisle. I thanked him for letting us in and he took us to the car.

Yeah I had to be in it since it is inside and the Spyder wouldn't fit through the doors.

Merci Monsieur Brown pour nous avoir accueilli aujourd'hui

Rest of the day is a leisurely ride home, picking up a few bonii along the way. We paralleled I89 on RT 2 for quite a bit of the way. Just outside Montpelier I pulled over Dairy Crème for something and decided it was worthy of a snap.

In Barre we picked up Route 110. As we turned onto the road I did see a sign that said "ROAD CLOSED 13 MILES AHEAD", of which I have been known to ignore these signs before as if they didn't apply to me. Route 110 was a delightful back road, lots of scenery and another sign "ROAD CLOSED 5 MILES AHEAD". Hmmm maybe, naw. Then there was another "ROAD CLOSED 3 MILES AHEAD". Well third time is a charm and I said to Crystal, I saw a Detour sign back there, maybe we should take it. Turned the Spyder around and headed for the Detour. We found ourselves turning this way and that way following the detour signs, praying they were accurate with the GPS squawking "RECALCULATING RECALCULATING"

While the roads we were on were dirt, most of them were in great shape and offered some great scenic rural sights.

When we reconnected with RT110 in Chelsea, we hung a right onto RT133 another great road. We picked up an unexpected "V" town Vershire for Teamstrange.

Right off RT 113 in Port Mills Airport is Vermontasaurus. Brian Boland created this dinosaur out of scrap wood into a sculpture in 2010. At the time of the writing on Roadside America, Vermontasaurus had not give birth to the little one yet. I think the pile next to Mom and Baby is another creature incubating. I hear the guy has a interesting museum of stuff here. We will have to get back here one day and take a tour.

Crossed over the Connecticut River, leaving Vermont in White River Junction and hitting West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Just after the bridge is the 4 Aces Diner. I had forgotten that I picked up the Mt Pisgah yesterday and I had the waypointed so we stopped here for the Americana Extreme Tour. This is a 1952 Worcester Lunch Car Company #837. Crystal and I stopped back here in 2008 when we first started going out.

In Concord we picked up the Mercury Redstone Rocket which is a specific bonii for the Americana Extreme Tour. This sits right outside of the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

A little south and to the east in Bear Brook State Park. This knocked of the second state park for NH and also has the specific bonii of the Snowmobile Museum inside the park. This was also a Civilian Conservation Corps camp under the Roosevelt New Deal work relief program to put people back to work during the Great Depression.

The Snowmobile Museum, at least I hope this is the place.

At the entrance to where the Snowmobile Museum I pulled over to make a call to the Children's Museum of New Hampshire to see if they had a dinosaur on display outside the building since we would never make it there by closing. It's 4:20 and it closes at 5pm. 3 phone calls to the front desk, office and shop all went to voice mail. It's 40 minutes to closing and know one is picking up the phone. Frustrating, however in retrospect I am glad they didn't answer. I would have traveled the extra 30 miles east toward the coast, setting us up for a late night arrival home.

We jumped onto RT 3 to move along getting off briefly to pick a up Fire Station, Motorcycle Shop and a School, which is shown here.

Still out 65 miles or so, we hit RT 3 to I-495 to fast track it home. Right around 280 miles for the day and 540 miles for the 2 days.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

VWs, Minions, Gorillas and Dinosaurs.

This is the first long trip (if you call the 2 day journey long) that Crystal has taken this year. Time to whip in shape for the upcoming trip in September. Destination is Colchester, VT and I created a nice easy trip up with only spots on the two Grand Tours I am participating in. As I planned this, it was really hard not to bring other waypoints like historic places, silly spots and other waymarking categories.

First stop is Rhododendron State Park in Fitzwilliam, NH for the state park category, Americana Extreme tour. As we entered the park, I did notice a house on the left, which I later found out is on the NRHP, however I didn't take a picture of it. Also found out this is a National Natural Landmark, which is a new category on me. Now I have more places to chase for.

Rhododendron State Park is named after the 16-acre grove of Rhododendron Maximum, which is the focal point of the park. A 0.6 mile-long universally accessible trail encircles the grove allowing visitors to observe, close up, the fragrant clusters of pink blossoms as they burst into bloom in mid-July.

Just down the road the Mt, Pisgah Diner is good for the diner category and wraps up New Hampshire.

Hit Brattleboro, VT and pick up a bunch of qualifying bonii for the tours.

One of two Vermont State Parks

Motorcycle Shop
Vintage Steele on Canal Street. If you are in the area this is a worthy place to stop in just to see the shop and meet the folks at the shop. You will not be disappointed in the viewing the various vintage bikes on hand, as well as the folks taking the time to talk to ya. I get an early stage American Picker type feeling with these guys.

Crystal said she was kind of hungry, we are in Brattleboro, I knew just the place to go for breakfast. Covers the diner category as well.

Traveled up Rt 5, which is a really nice road for moving along quickly, with some scenery to boot. Somewhere between Putney and Bellow Falls came across The People's Car Company. I don't think I have ever seen so many VW's in one place. Who could resist. The link provides some additional detail on the PCC.

In Chester, stopped at the CountryGirl Diner. I had one of the best Reuben sandwiches here I have ever had and had to use a fork to eat it. That was back in 2006 or so and believe it may have changed hands a couple of times. Parking lot was full and good indication of the quality. Will have to decide which diner makes it to the Grand Tour submission.

Literally around the corner is Chester Depot which qualifies for the train station category, Americana Tour.

In Rutland is the Frozen GI, which is the Rutland County Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This was one of the specific spots for Americana Extreme Tour.

Outside Rutland along RT 7 at MAC Steel is a giant robot, possibly an abstract Statue of Liberty (kind of looks like it to me)(good for the Merci and Love Tour) and a Minion. OBSERVATION: Having traveled a good portion of the US, it seems that all of these fabricators like to build and make sculptures. Maybe they started out as artists and decided to get a steady job with a stream of income to supplement their

Almost drove past this next spot, but caught the gorilla out of the corner of my eye.

Stopped in Vergennes for the Post Office for the L O V E town for the V. This is for TeamStrange Love and Merci Tour.

Second State Park in Vermont. This is in Charlotte, VT. As we headed back to RT 7 we passed Charlotte High School and it dawned on me we had been here before for the Double Down Tour. Back in our braver days, before out deer strike in Montana, we grabbed the pick when it was quite dark out.

Last stop of the day before we hit Colchester is the Shelburne Museum. The rally sheet mention a landlocked boat, which we just eked out a picture of.

Just around 260 miles for the day, a nice leisurely ride up to northern Vermont

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Keep on Rollin' Down the Line

Today's ride is all about grabbing a particular historic spot in Monson, MA, which grabbed my attention reading about it. I blew these spots off in another ride and said I would pick them up another day. Well today is the day. Headed out toward Charlton versus thru Douglas State Forest to shake up the route a bit. Gifford is following me for part of this trip.

First stop is the Rider Tavern on Stafford St in Charlton.

Built as a hostelry in 1797. It is of the Federal period and was an important stop on the Worcester to Stafford Turnpike. The most famous person to have stayed here was the Marquis de Lafayette in 1825. It contains two kitchens, a wine cellar, nine guest rooms, a ballroom and a dining area. Rider Tavern is owned by the Charlton Historical Society today.

From here we zig zagged along some roads bordering the Hamilton Reservoir. I would have guessed at some point the roads were going to turn to dirt, however they stayed paved, well sort of. We came up on the Hamilton Reservoir, which is where Giff parted company and headed back home. I stopped for a picture of the dam.

In Wales I grabbed Dr. John Smith's House and Office built in 1840, which became the local post office

Riding along Wales Road, I initially stopped for the arched stone bridge on the right, but settled down behind the viewer and composed a shot of the whole scene.

Having nothing but time on my hands stopped for the Hillside Cemetery free standing arch for Waymarking.

This stop was the whole objective for the day, Monson Development Center. There are quite a few buildings on this site, many of which are fenced off from traffic. I did run across a Security Officer, who I spoke with briefly.

In 1854 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts acquired 175 acres (71 ha) of land in Monson, on which it erected an almshouse to provide facilities for poor immigrants fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. In 1855 it was renamed the State Farm School, and later the State Primary School, and it housed children who were wards of the state. It served in this role until 1887. In 1898 the state's Hospital for Epileptics opened on the grounds, using the old facilities and building several more buildings. In 2012 the state relocated the last 31 residents, and began to consider the future of the property. Wikipedia

While the Development Center was the objective, I passed thru Palmer and specifically wanted to see Union Station, which was designed by HH Richardson in 1884. Richardson was one of the "Trinity of American architecture" along with Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. His designs created a whole class of architecture called Richardson Romanesque. His most prominent work was Trinity Church in Boston.

Union Station was opened in 1884 and consolidated 2 stations into this location. Today it is a restaurant called the Steaming Tender.

On site is this 1915 Porter Steam Locomotive & Tender.

Outback is the more modern stuff.

While in Palmer picked up a couple more building in the Register, Memorial Hall and the Post Office. Palmer is the home of the Palmer Motor Sports Park opened for racing in May 2015. It is a 2.3 mile road course with over 190 feet in elevation change. Road & Track magazine named Palmer Motorsports Park one of the top 10 racetracks to drive in North America.

Right across the street from the post office is St Paul's Unitarian Universalist Church built in 1879. I was struck by how big it was and the architecture of the building, especially the two towers. Palmer is only 12,000 or so people and back in the late 1800's it was around 1,200. Religious history is quite interesting in New England. Congregational, Baptist and Unitarian are quite prevalent in New England towns, where many towns have all three churches surrounding the greens and commons. Universalism at it's origin was separate and distinct congregation. In the 1960's some Unitarian and Universalist formed a union creating Unitarian Universalist Association as a combined belief system. The merger created it's own controversy, since the two beliefs are not exactly aligned.

Passing thru Warren on Rt67 I caught the Warren Cotton Mills out of the corner of my eye and turned around and went back to investigate. This site has been used for industrial purposes dating back to 1812, when Mr Richardson began making scythes. The business was taken over by Mr. Taft who operated the same business until 1843. In 1854 Warren Cotton Mills was established, co-owned by Bliss and Fabyan. Four separate mills were built on this site dating from 1866 to 1912. While the dam did exist and may have been used to power one of the earlier dams, the mills were primarily powered with steam.

In Warren proper is the Boston and Albany Railroad Depot built in 1895. Inspired by HH Richardson the firm that formed after his death Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge designed the station.

Picked up the Grove Street School in Spencer built in 1876. This was my second time here. The first time the sun was so overpowering I could not get the camera to focus properly. Being in the Register, of course it was important to get some better photos. Kind of sounds like an obsession doesn't it, just ask Crystal.

Today's view of the trip.