Rock of Ages – Don’t Take It For Granite

I do like industrial tours! My next tour was Rock of Ages, which is a granite company. I stopped at the company store/visitor center and bought a ticket. A few minutes later, Todd, the guide, called us to the van to drive us up to the quarry.


On our way up to the vantage point to look into the quarry, we passed these huge piles of rock. Todd told us that they were called grout piles. He said that the term came from the Scottish workers who came to work the quarries.


Todd told us that holes were drilled down around the piece of granite they were going to quarry. After they drilled the line of holes around the block, they drilled out the “web” between the holes. To free the block on the bottom, they drilled a line of holes, but instead of drilling out the web between the holes, they filled them with primer cord and blasted it free. They used just the right amount of explosive – they didn’t want to turn the block into gravel.


You can see where they have been taking out the blocks which measure 10 feet by five feet by five feet. I took some notes – I think they call those big blocks “benches”. They weigh between six and seven tons each. they can only go so far down before they have to widen the quarry. The pressure of the granite above pushes down and makes it impossible to get the benches cut out.

Todd told us that the light blue-green water is due to the granite dust from the quarrying.


In this shot, you can see three quarries. The ones on the left side are not being worked any longer.


The derricks on the edge of the quarry are used to raise the benches. There are 12 miles of cable involved in the derricks. He told us that around 60 miners work on the companies quarries and that 200 people work in the factory.

After looking at the quarry we went back down to the factory.  It was quitting time, but I could still look at the factory floor.


They were preparing memorials to go into the sand blasting cabinet.


I love how the roller tracks go all over. It must be something to see when they are working. Oe of these days a factory will be working when I visit!

Todd told us about the granite bowling alley that we could see and he kind of indicated where it was on the grounds.


After I left the factory, I saw this sign and decided to explore. I had this mental image of granite balls and pins. Cool!


It turns out that the alley is granite. The balls and pins are plastic.


We were invited to try it. We had to do our oun pin setting so that it was ready for the next players.


The pins didn’t have much to fear from me. I retrieved the balls and continued on my way.

Todd recommended that we might enjoy stopping by the local cemetery. With a town full of granite workers, there were some interesting memorials he thought we might enjoy. I got the directions and headed that way on my way back to Onion River Campground.


The first memorial that caught my eye was this one that was obviously purchased “pre-need”. Planning ahead is a great idea. I just find it odd that neither one of these people were named Albert, Alfonse, Alberta or Allison.

Al Dente – get it?


The Arnholm clan has staked their claim to a large section of the cemetery.


This memorial was like none I’d every seen before. Not only were they pyramid-shaped, they came with instructions.


You were supposed to read inscriptions in a certain order. Then, under those little disks on the pedestal, there were QR codes that you could scan with your phone for further information.

You know what those QR codes are, right? I’ve never scanned them, but I’ve seen them around. Incidentally, QR stands for Quick Response, and it it the trademark for a type of matrix barcode first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. The one above an example I found on the internet. The QR codes on the pedestal were worn off.


This one had a delicately carve chain.


Loved ones names are etched into the links of the chain.


This guy had a favorite car, I think.

The orange decoration says “51 FOREVER”. I did a little Googling to see if I could spot the reference. I think it might have been NASCAR Number 51.


I like all the little remembrances left by the loved ones. Lots of little cars.


Soccer was obviously a favorite sport of this person.


Speaking of interesting shapes, this cube standing on its corner. Each face had tributes to the couple memorialized.


I heard at some place or other that this irregular surface is a difficult to create – it’s called rusticated, I think. Cesare Colombo must have been a master craftsman – or else he knew one.


I found some more of those interesting flag holders.


Here is one from the Spanish-American War.


This one is related to the Civil War, I think.



This ship carving is  quite delicate, too.


And he was a veteran of the 1st World War. Obviously, this was placed sometime after the 1940s.


These markers aren’t over the top, but they are so nicely crafted and made of the same granite. The effect is quite lovely.


Just in case I’ve hooked you on looking at these flag holders, this is the one that was next to the BECK memorial.


Here is a couple that is holding hands forever.


Just a close up of the sweet artwork on the memorial.


This is one piece of funerary art that I would like some context for. It looks like a memorial for soldier fallen in battle or for a nurse during a war.brusa-markers

Given the years on the individual markers, it’s not the Civil War.

It has been a long day, and it was time to head back to the campground. I guess I have to …






A Little Bit of Ice Cream

What is Vermont best known for? Why, Ben and Jerry’s of course! Since I was in the area, I had to pay a visit to the factory.


How cool! They have a Ben and Jerry’s RV! I entered the tour line and got my ticket. After a brief wait, our tour guide took us in for a brief movie that gave an overview of the business’ history. It wasn’t too surprising, but I was a bit saddened to learn that this quintessentially Vermont business has been bought out  by Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational company.

After the video, we were escorted up to the production area. I guess they are worried about industrial espionage – or something – and no photography was allowed. I was a wee bit disappointed, though, because with all the factory tours I have taken, I have yet to see one with a production line running. They were busy cleaning, and that is important, but one of these days I want to see something being made!

The next stop was the sampling area.


The flavor they were sharing the day I visited was strawberry cheesecake.


They were happy to share the ice cream, but I have to say that it wasn’t my favorite flavor. I took a couple bites and then threw it out.

WHAT?! Throw away ice cream?!

Yep. It just wasn’t my cup of tea. (I don’t like tea, either.)


On our way out, we passed the Quality Assurance Lab. Hey! I worked in QA at Amazon – I wonder if I could get a job there?


Once again, exit through the gift shop.

I had to get some ice cream that was more to my taste. Luckily, they had an ice cream stand right next to the entrance.


I got a scoop of CoffeeCoffeeBuzzBuzzBuzz. It was delightful!


After I finished my ice cream, I set out to find the Flavor Graveyard.


I found it! It was packed with memorials to retired flavors.


I was surprised at how little times some of the flavors were on the market. The epitaph on the Sugar Plum marker makes it sound like it wasn’t very good. You have to respect a company that honors it’s less than successful attempts.


Ethan Almond must have been particularly unsuccessful.


I had to snap a shot of the Vermonty Python marker. I do love me some Monty Python!


Back by the Flavor Graveyard and more parking is the solar array.

Walking back to my truck, I passed many lovely little areas to sit and enjoy the day.


The sun was starting to peek out, but I was ready to leave. My touring there was done.


Ah! Nothing but the good stuff in Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!


Onion River Campground and a Trip to Montpelier

I always love it when I get to a campground and my site is next to another Airstream! What an adorable Bambi!


Mel and Wanda were next to me for only one night, but we had a pleasant chat.

I had booked a week at Onion River Campground, on the bank of the scenic Winooski River. The river used to be called Onion River, so that is where the campground got its name.

Actually, the river was originally called some variation of Winooski, which was an Abenaki word that means onion or leak. It got the name Onion River as part of an 18th century land marketing ploy by Ethan Allen and his brothers. They formed the Onion River Land Company, thinking that it would make the region sound safer and more settled. Around 1850, Winooski was once again in favor. One theory was that people were referring to the capital as Montpelier-on-the-Onion. I guess that seemed less than dignified.

Speaking of Montpelier, one reason I picked this campground was for its proximity to the state capital.


When I  drove over to see the capital, I happened upon a special event. After circling for a while, I found a parking spot that was just a block away. When I walked up, I noticed a woman filming a news story. I struck up a conversation with her, and it turns out that not only was she reporting the story, she had to do the video work. And, when she got back to the station, she had to edit it herself. Things sure have changed!


This poster was really appropriate for the location. The statue on top of the dome is Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture.


On my way up to the capitol, I eyeballed the wonderful items they had for sale. I don’t think I had ever seen yellow tomatoes before.


I entered and found out that I was just in time for a free tour of what they call the Vermont State House. Actually, this is the the third State House. It was built to replace the second house that burned down in 1857.


They were able to reuse the portico from the second State House for the current one. It underwent a complete renovation in the 1990s and the chambers look much the same as they did when the third State House re-opened in 1859.


Under the portico was a Revolutionary War gun that was captured during the Battle of Bennington. It was mounted on Civil War gun carriage with a limber for carrying ammunition or supplies behind.


On the other side of the entrance is native son, Ethan Allen – patriot and real estate developer. Actually, the guide told us that is was a fictionalized image of him, as no portraits were made of him during his lifetime.


Our guide, Mike, gave us a spirited tour of the building. He brought us to the Senate chamber and we got to sit at the desks. desk-i-sat-in-the-senate

I sat at desk number 12.


Our next stop was the House Chamber. It is much larger than the Senate Chamber for a couple of reasons. One reason the room is larger is that is is where they hold joint sessions. The Senators sit in chairs that ring the room. The other reason is that when the state established the government, each town got a representative, so the room needed to be larger.

Mike also explained how Vermont went from a very conservative state to a liberal one. One factor was improved transportation. The Interstate highway system brought new people into the state. The other factor was that the  Supreme Court made a decision sometime in the 1960s that made it necessary to have the legislature reflect the population. I may not remember this correctly, but it seems to me that they made it so that there were legislative districts rather than having each town have a legislator. Since there was an influx of more liberal ideas and a change in how the people that made the laws were selected, the political climate of Vermont changed.


We stopped in to a room that is called the Governor’s Office. It is a largely ceremonial room – he does day-to-day work in another building. The chair that he is displaying was made from wood from the USS Constitution.

The last room we visited was the Cedar Creek Room, which is a space used for receptions. The name “Cedar Creek Room” comes from the October 1864 Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia. This is a significant historical event to the people of Vermont because their troops took part in the battle. The battle is significant in American history because this was the battle that effectively ended the Confederate invasion of the North. This victory aided Abraham Lincoln’s reelection effort.


The mural was painted by Julian Scott in 1874.

After that stop, we were dismissed. I decided to take the elevator down. Outside the elevator, I found a plaque honoring the Vermont Mothers of the Year.


It’s kind of tucked away, but it could be worse. They could have decided to display it in the Ladies’ Room.

I made my way out of the State House. The view of the market from the portico made me want to go explore.


There were all sorts of stands – vegetables, fruits, dairy, wine and even wool.


This cow was there interacting with the passers-by.


I got my lunch at the pierogi stand. It was a tasty treat.

On my way to explore the town, I think I may have spotted the quintessential Vermont scene.


A yoga class on the lawn next to a farmers’ market in front of the State house, with a big dog watching.

I strolled a couple of blocks, but the weather was so gloomy that I decided to return another day. After all, I booked my site at Onion River Campground for a whole week.

More Montpelier later!






Rokeby Museum, Ferrisburgh, Vermont

The day that I was going to leave the Burlington area and head towards Montpelier, I heard that Rokeby Museum was having a free admission day. Free? FREE?!! You know I’m all about free activities. I called to make sure that they had a parking lot that would fit Bart and Flo while I was seeing what they had to offer. They did, so I hitched up and headed out.

When I got to the site, I found out that the house wasn’t open for tours, but the adjacent museum was open. They had some awesome exhibits.

The museum is dedicated to the telling the story of the Robinson family, their Quaker beliefs and the part they played in the Underground Railroad.


This is a photo of Rowland Thomas Robinson and his wife, Rachel Gilpin Robinson. He was born at Rokeby in 1796. He met his wife at a Quaker boarding school he attended and they were married in New York City in 1820.  According to the information there, raising four children and managing their thriving Merino sheep farm kept them busy, but the always found time to agitate against slavery.

The most amazing exhibit was “Free & Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont.” It told the true story story of Simon and Jesse, two fugitives from slavery who found shelter at Rokeby in the 1830s. The exhibit traces their stories from slavery to freedom. It is a multimedia presentation with historic texts, documents and images. I think I spent two hours exploring the displays.


Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of “photo ops” in the exhibit. If  you are in the area, I would recommend taking the time to visit.

Downstairs was an exhibit of furniture made by Stephen Foster Stevens. Some of these pieces were in the Robinson home.


According to the information in the exhibit, what worried Friends most of all was fashion. (Just in case you didn’t know, Quakers are sometimes referred to as Friends.) Friends wanted their belongings to be plain – they should be useful, well-made and not too fashionable.

While Stephen Foster Stevens made expertly crafted pieces of furniture, they were outdated when they were built. For instance, the bureau above was made in 1826, but the style reached its peak of popularity in the 1780s – almost a decade before Stevens was born.


After enjoying looking at the furniture, I set out to see the farm. My first stop was the sheep dip. I’d always heard of sheep dips, but I had no mental picture of one. I also didn’t know what a sheep dip was for. I found out.


This is the remains of the Robinson’s sheep dip. After a long winter in the barn, the sheep would need to be cleaned up before they were sheared. Snow melt and spring water would collect in the pond and they would be washed up.


Merino sheep were introduced to Vermont in 1802 from Spain. By 1837, 1,000,000 sheep were in the state, which is about four sheep for each person in the state at the time. There was a boom-bust cycle of price for wool, and wool production couldn’t withstand the more efficient competition from the Western states. Sheep-raising in Vermont collapsed shortly thereafter.

Farmers were always looking for ways to bring in money. If the house portion of the museum was open, I might have learned more about all the different ways they made money, but on my way over to see the house, I passed a distinctively 20th century method of making money – the tourist cabin.


Tourists stayed here for $1 per night in the 1920s and 1930s.

According to a quote on a sign, “Some that are who declare that it is not cows we should milk, but city people. The latter come with full moneybags, overflowing with profits they have got Lord knows where. What more should be ask unless it were manna from Heaven?”


Finally, I made it over to the main house. The entry in Wikipedia lists its architectural style as “other.”


You can see all the additions that were made over the years.


Around the back was the outhouse. Nothing as splendid as the one from Mount Vernon or James Buchanan’s house, but perfectly adequate to get the job done.


It was a three-holer, with a shorter one for children.


There was a smoke house in the back, too.


And a building called The Other House, which was a house for workers. It was originally larger. Over the years, parts have been taken down.

And with that, it was time to resume my travels. Next stop, Onion River Campground.



Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Lake Champlain is a rather small lake – well, at least in comparison with Lake Michigan or even Lake Erie. It’s about 160 miles long by 15 miles wide at its largest dimensions – that’s about 500 square miles of surface area. It’s average depth is about 60 feet and its maximum depth is about 400 feet. It is drained to the north by the Richelieu River, which empties into the Saint Lawrence River. It’s also connected to the Hudson River by the Champlain Canal. Thank you, Wikipedia!

I happened to visit LCMM on their reenactment weekend, Rabble in Arms, so I was treated to something special. I got to see Revolutionary War re-enactors in their camp, as well a witness a mock battle with the Philadelphia II.


The tents were lined up like soldiers. Some were pup tents and some were wall tents.


I have to say – an Airstream looks a lot more comfortable.


There were cooks making food for the meals. The apples roasting on the grill over coals were being prepared for the evening meal. The man was shoveling coals on top of the dutch oven to bake bread.


The re-enactors gathered for their mid-day meal. The food looked good. I wish I was dressed for the occasion. Maybe they would have invited me to join them.

While they were eating, I decided to look at some of the exhibits. They had a good video that described the archeology of raising the Philadelphia. It was originally raised in 1935 by an amateur archeologist named Colonel Lorenzo F. Hagglund. He wasn’t an archeologist, but he was a an experienced salvage engineer. He located the Philadelphia midway between Valcour Island and the New York shore. She was lying upright in 60 feet of water, her mast still standing with its top barely 15 feet beneath the surface.


After Hagglund raised her from the bottom of the lake, he put her on a barge and toured the lake. After his death, Philadelphia was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. If you’d like to see more information on the original Philadelphia, click here.

One thing I found interesting was this ballast stone that was used in the Philadelphia.


It was a cobble about the size of a fist that was used in the bottom of the Philadelphia to give it stability in the water. The ballast stones were given to volunteers who worked on raising the gunboat.

They had a model of the Philadelphia that was a nice preview of what was to come.


They also had other archeological odds and ends that were brought up from the bottom of the lake.


They also had information and an artifact from the caisson bridge that connected    a fort on Mount Independence in Vermont with Fort Ticonderoga in New York. caisson-bridge

According to the information, there were a series of 22 caissons that were built on the ice during the winter and then sunk with rocks. A floating footbridge was connected with chains to the caissons.


What I do find amazing is that all but one of the caissons are still in place, at least according to the signs.


Here is one of the logs from the bridge. When I think of the Revolutionary War, it seems so long ago. Yet, here is a piece of the infrastructure that made it possible.


Ordnance was also found under the water. It looks like this one must have exploded.


Speaking of things that sink, here is a painting of the Philadelphia as it was going down.


And here is Philadelphia II, at the dock. It was getting ready to reenact a battle.


The flag caught the breeze. I imagine that the ship would have really moved if the sails had been up. The used the oars for this exercise.


After the battle, which involved people on shore who lured them within gun range so that they could fire at the boat, They cam e back to dock and I headed up to see what else I could discover.

There was a typesetting demonstration after the battle reenactment. I took a course in typesetting back in the 1990’s, so it was fun to watch.


But, gee! the kids get to have all the fun!


This lucky youngster got to print his own notice of desertion. With a name like “Zephyniah” he got a lot of practice finding letters.


He sure looks proud of his work!


There were many other interesting items.


Like a display of the first hundred years of outboard motors. I was tempted to just walk out of that display, but there was a guy there who collected outboard motors. It was interesting to hear him speak with such enthusiasm about a collection that wasn’t something I didn’t know much about.


Incidentally, this is the oldest outboard motor in the collection. Things have changed a bit, but you can see the similarity.


I got to try on a diving helmet. It sure was heavy! They had it on a system that helped you raise and lower it into position. The woman who took my photo came up with the idea of putting my hat on top of the helmet. The whole experience made me feel like Diver Dan!


After checking out all the exhibits and attending a lecture by the printer, I was ready for dinner. Luckily, my entrance fee to the museum included a 10% discount at the Red Mill Restaurant across the way.


I had a very tasty  sandwich in a lovely restaurant. They were just opening for dinner, so I had very attentive service.


When I got back to the campground, I had to take a picture of the shirt I wore to the museum. Remember how the shirts I wore to the Shelburne Museum matched the the admission stickers? Well, it happened again!


Blue sticker, blue shirt!

Here Comes the Circus!

After all my carping in the last post, do you want to know what I liked about the Shelburne Museum?

Pizzagalli Center

I liked the Pizzagalli Center for Art and Education. There were two exhibits up during my visit. The first exhibit I saw was much the same as the rest of the stuff at Shelburne Museum – a nostalgic Americana that was cobbled together from bits and pieces of memories. Grandma Moses: American Modern was on display on the first floor.

Now, before I am skewered for not liking her work, let me say that it wasn’t that I don’t like her art. It was more that I could see the a connection between her vision of America and Electra Havemeyer Webb’s vision. Both of them seemed to fabricate an America that really didn’t exist.

I have no photos of the exhibit, though, because that was not permitted. But, here is an image of a stamp that used one of her paintings. If you want to know more about Grandma Moses, you can check her out on the Internet.


What I really found interesting was the exhibit that was in the lower gallery, Papering the Town: Circus Posters in America. Photography was permitted in that exhibit.

no selfie sticks

Photography was permitted, but selfie sticks were prohibited! Good thing I never got around to getting one.

When the circus would come to town, advance men would go ahead of the circus and plaster their posters wherever they could. They favored houses and buildings at busy intersections. Location, location, location!

In the spring of 1991, a large cache of posters was found under a layer of siding on Harold and Gladys Degree’s house in Colchester, Vermont. They donated the posters to the museum, on the condition that they be removed quickly so they could continue with their renovation project.

house with posters

A team of conservators, curators and carpenters were dispatched to figure out the best way to proceed. Upon examination, they discovered two layers of posters  and then decided that the best way to proceed was to cut out large sections of the wall with the posters still attached. I wonder if that is what the owners had in mind?

In any event, after many years of conservation work the posters are ready for exhibition.

Little All Right

This poster promotes Little All Right The Japanese Marvel in His Perilous Slide for Life from 1883.

Look at Leonati

This poster proclaims, “Look at Leonati: The Gymnastic Autocrat of Aerial Art” This was a bicycle act from 1883.

giraffes poster

Wouldn’t you want to go see a circus with five giraffes? Such elegant creatures!

snake woman

Here we have Nala Damajante: Snake Charmer.

Two-headed lady

Millie Christine: The Two-Headed Lady was also in the circus in 1883.

Doris posters

Of course, the people that brought the circus to you wanted you to know who they were. John B. Doris was the impresario.

Hyena Striata poster

Hyaena Striata Gigateum: The Only Living Specimen in America. This poster is somewhat the worse for wear. It is mounted on cloth, as are the other posters.

Hyena Striata detail

You can see how fragile the posters were. They must have had to work very carefully.

They had a display of poster fragments that were recovered by Nicholas Whitman in a barn in Hoosick, New York.

Hoosick frag

Examination of the twenty layers and the styles of the posters, they determined that the there were posters there from the late ninetieth century to the 1950’s


And that’s a whole lot of layers!

When I got done with the exhibit, I returned to the vestibule of the building. The guide who greeted me when I entered asked me how I liked the circus posters. We got to talking about the whole process and I asked her if she know where the house was. She went over to the computer to try to find the address.


We worked together and identified where the house probably stood. When I left the museum, I set out to find it.

I followed the directions on my phone to the location we identified. I got to the intersection and looked for some place to park so I could look around. I found…


the library!

I parked and went in to ask them if they knew anything about the house I was looking for. They pulled out a reference book and found the address. It was right where I thought it would be.

Poster house

You can see right where the posters had been. I didn’t want to invade the owners’ privacy, so I snapped a few quick shots and went back over to see what I could see at the library.

wae memorial

They had a war memorial. I found it relief that they didn’t have memorials to the individual wars that have taken place, with spaces for future wars, like I saw in Marshall, Missouri.

Behind the library was a cemetery. I decided to stroll through and see what I might see. I was amazed with all the history I could see in the small plot of land. For one thing, family names on the grave markers corresponded with road names I had been driving on for the last few days.

For another, I saw markers from almost all the wars our country has been involved in.

war of 1812 grave

There was the War of 1812.

war of 1812 flag hoder

There was the Civil War.

civil war vet

For those that may have forgotten, G.A.R. stands for Grand Army of the Republic.

civil war flag holder

This vet died in 1863. I wonder if he died in a battle, as a prisoner of war or as a result of illness?

civil war vet 1863

I wonder why there are different designs of flag holder badges? Do you suppose the people who selected them saw a distinction?

civil war vet flag holder

I didn’t see any mention of the Spanish American War, but next up was the World War.

world war vet grave

Such a hopeful time. No, it wasn’t World War I. At that time, they thought it was the war to end all wars.

world war flag holder

Now we know better.

WW II graveWorld War II came along before we had time to catch our breath.

WW II flag holder

Is it just me, or do wars seem to be happening more quickly?

Korean war veteran

Next up, the Korean Conflict.

Korea flag holder

Next up: Vietnam.

vietnam vet

Grave with multiple wars on itThis man served in many conflicts.

grave with WW I and Ladies Auxiliiary VFW

This couple each served in their own ways.

World War I flag holder

He was a veteran of the fighting.

Ladies Auxilliary VFW flag holder

She served in the Ladies Auxiliary of the VFW.

So many of these people must have seen the posters that were plastered on the house at the corner. I imagine they even might have seen the circus. Now this was real history, and much more satisfying than a cobbled together museum celebrating “Americana.”

And with that, it was time to head back to the campground.



Shelburne Museum

Many people recommended the Shelburne Museum as a worthwhile visit when I was near Burlington. I wasn’t quite sure why people thought it was so great, but since I had received so many votes for it, I thought it was a safe bet that it was something special.

So, what it the Shelburne Museum? It is a collection of collections. They have over 150,000 items that are exhibited in 38 buildings spread across a 45 acre campus. 25 of the buildings are historic structures that have been moved there from different places in the area.

Round Barn

For instance, here is the Round Barn, which was built in 1901 in East Passumpsic, Vermont. The three-story round design was built to improve agricultural efficiency. Hay and feed dropped through chutes from the top floor to the middle floor where as many as sixty cows could be stanchioned for feeding and milking. Manure was then shoveled through trap doors to the lower level and hauled away by horse-drawn wagons.

It’s kind of like an assembly line for cow care.

At the museum, it is used to display horse-drawn vehicles and contemporary automobiles.

Traverse - kind of like a tobaggan

I particularly liked this sled-like item that is called a traverse. It looks kind of like a horse-drawn toboggan.

The more I walked around the grounds, I started picking up clues about the founder. (I also did some research after my visit.) After all, who in the world would spend so much of her time and money collecting all this stuff?

Electra Havemeyer Webb was the daughter of Henry Osborne Havemeyer. Wikipedia describes him as an industrialist, entrepreneur and sugar refiner who became president of the American Sugar Refining Company. Her mother, Louisine Waldron Elder Havemeyer, traveled extensively in Europe with her mother after the death of her father. While she and her mother were touring, they were collecting and getting to know all the artists. They got really chummy with some of them. Mary Cassatt made this pastel portrait of Louisine and her daughter, Electra, in 1895.


So, Electra came from money and then married into money. Her husband, James Watson Webb II, was a polo champion from the Vanderbilt family. I guess when you come from money like that, collecting is what  you do.


I wandered along and came to a carrousel. It was popular with the younger set. I have to say, though, after growing up with some wonderful carrousels, I was not wowed. I wondered why she didn’t buy something more eye-popping.

The answer is that she did buy an amazing carrousel, but the animals and parts were on display inside a horseshoe shaped building.

Giraffes from carrousel

The carrousel animals were lined up on one side of the hallway. On the other side was a model of a circus parade, made by Roy Arnold from 1925-1955. It was carved on a scale of one-inch to one-foot. The parade measures 525 feet long, which would be equivalent to a two-mile parade.

I selected some of my favorite groupings to share with you.

Canadian Mounties

The Mounties, in honor of our neighbours to the north.

Buffalo - not bison

Yeah, they are labeled “bison”, but we all know they are buffalo. I snapped this photo in honor of my hometown.

giraffe wagon

I rather liked the wagon with the giraffes’ heads sticking out.

Anyone for Animal crackers?

And this one reminded me of …

animal crackers

animal crackers!

In addition to the 525 foot long circus parade that took 30 years to create, there was also a 3,500 piece circus that took 46 years to make.

Horses and Chariots with audience

Edgar Decker Kirk started making this circus set as a gift for his four children.

In the rings

He was a brakeman for the Pennsylvania Railroad, and he worked on his carvings during his breaks using his penknife and a foot-powered jigsaw.

people waiting to come in

After his children outgrew playing with toys, he would occasionally set the entire three-ring circus in his backyard for the enjoyment of the neighborhood children.

I left the circus building and headed out to see what else I could discover. I found two cabins that Electra Web had built to honor her hunting friends.

Inside one of the cabins was a collection of firearms that were made in Vermont.

Vermont Gun Making towns

There were quite a few places where guns were made back in the day. The docent told me that these were not necessarily large factories – many times they were just one-man shops. I asked her if she had any favorites among the collection. She pointed out this group.

Concealed guns

She liked these because they were guns designed to be hidden. I’m not sure how the larger ones were able to be concealed, but I guess anything is possible.

Speaking of rich people, here is a gun for the filthy rich.

double barrel gun

This is a double-barreled .470 caliber rifle that was made for Donald, S. Hopkins in the 1950s. He was a sportsman and friend of the Webb family, and this rifle is known as the Nitro Express. According to the information in the museum, the high caliber of the rifle gives it tremendous firepower that is enough to bring down animals such as elephants, buffalo and rhinoceros. The animals in question have nothing to fear from this gun, however. It has never been fired.

Talk about rich! You buy a high-powered rifle with gold and silver work on it and then you don’t use it.

The next cabin over was dedicated to the animals that were not able to escape the sportsmen.

cabin filled with taxidermy

A little further along, is the homage to rail transportation.


There is a locomotive and a railcar that was similar to the one that Electra Webb’s family used to shuttle back and forth from Shelburne to New York City to attend to business.


There is a wood-paneled room with a table and seating  at the end of the car.
table and cahirs in rail car

Down the hallway, you find the compartments.

sleeping car

There are couches as well a bunks that fold down. You can see the steps to ascend  to the upper berth.

kitchen in rail car

Of course, you wouldn’t want the passengers to travel hungry, so there is a kitchen in the railroad car, too.

rail station

And, at the end of the journey, there was the train station. Electra Webb bought the station and moved it here, too.


Next stop on the tour was the Ticonderoga, a 900 ton side-wheeler that plied the waters of Lake Champlain. It was built in 1906 and was in regular operation as a boat that connected to the railroad for many years. As more modern methods of transportation evolved, the Ticonderoga’s days were numbered. By 1950, she was saved from the scrap heap by Electra Webb. She tried to keep it in operation, but eventually, the lack of people who knew how to operate and maintain it finally made it impossible to continue using it in the water.

The decision was made to move the ship two miles inland to the museum. During the winter of 1955 Ticonderoga was moved on railroad tracks that were specially laid for the purpose. It was hauled across highways, over a swamp, through woods and fields, and across the tracks of the Rutland Railway to reach her permanent mooring on the Shelburne Museum grounds, where it was lovingly restored.

seating on the Ti

This is the area where people would sit during the passage. There was also a dining area, as well as several sleeping compartments.

room on the Ticonderoga

This was a deluxe room, suitable for a honeymoon.

cheaper room on the Ti

This was a smaller room, more suitable for a traveling businessman.

ticonderoga engine

The mechanicals are also restored, although they are no longer functioning on a daily basis. If I remember correctly, they do fire it up on a yearly basis to keep things in good repair. (Of course, I might be conflating the Ticonderoga with something else with an engine that I have seen along the way.)

Ticonderoga bridge

You can walk all over the ship, from the lower levels where there is freight and the ticket booth all the way up to the bridge.

One interesting bit of information that I picked up somewhere is that when they built the ship in 1906, it had a planned lifespan of about 25 years – maybe a little longer. After outliving its expected use by a couple decades, it has been completely fixed up and maintenance is ongoing.

Not everything is a single historical item. This general store is cobbled together out of three buildings and stuffed full of items – some of which we had in our house.

general store

The campus is studded with “Americana”.

covered bridge

When the museum first opened, people entered by crossing this covered bridge.

sign on bridge

In case you wondered, this is what the sign on the bridge says, here it is.

The admission fee to the museum entitles you to two days worth of entrance. The issue different colors of stickers each day of the week. I actually went back for a second day. Believe it or not, by complete coincidence, I wore shirts that matched the stickers ON BOTH DAYS!

shirts with stickers

The main reason I wanted to return for a second day was to take a tour of two houses that are only available with a guide.

The first house was the Prentis House.

Saltbox house

Electra Webb originally bought the house so that she could use the wide pine floorboards for another project. According to the guide, she decided to let her friend, Mrs. Prentis, decorate the interior of the saltbox-style house. Now, she didn’t worry about being historically accurate; she just stuffed the interior full of all sorts of things that were more or less ‘of the era’.  Then, out of respect for Electra Webb and her friendship with Mrs. Prentis, they decided to leave it as an example of the mid-fifties enthusiasm for colonial decor. I find that a bit mind boggling.

The Prentis House was originally built in 1773 by the Dickenson Family in Hadley, Massachusetts. Since houses are usually named for the original owners, it kind of annoyed me that it was named for the Electra’s friend who decorated it in a completely inappropriate manner.

The second house was the Stencil House, so named for the elaborate stencils on the walls.

Stencil House

It was built in 1804 on one hundred-acre farm in Columbus, New York. When the museum bought the building in 1953, the walls were covered with wallpaper. Before they moved the house, workers removed several layers of the peeling paper, revealing extensive painted decorations on the board walls. The work was probably done sometime between 1819 and 1830.

stenciled walls

I managed to get a photo of the fireplace. Notice the bread oven to the left of the hearth. On the right side, you can see a clockwork mechanism for turning a spit for roasting over coals.fireplace in stencil house

By the time I had finished touring these two houses, I was just about to my absolute limit of “Americana” – this fabricated version of a past that never really existed was really tiring me. I passed by a few more places.


A building that I assume was a church,

The Dutton House

And the Dutton house.

I couldn’t bring myself to visit the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building which contained furnish rooms from the New York City home of the Museum founder.
Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building

You might be able to tell from my overall tone that I was less than impressed by Electra Havemeyer Webb and her compulsive shopping and acquisition. For me, context is everything. By buying up all these items that don’t really belong together and plopping them down cheek-by-jowl left me rather cold. I’ll agree that is is kind of amazing, and I can easily see that people might enjoy it. It certainly is an attraction.

There was one part that I found quite amazing, and I will share that in another post.

Thanks for sticking with me during my tour of the Shelburne Museum. Come back later to see the part of the museum I found interesting.

Burlington, Vermont

Finally! A new state to add to the map! After talking with a few people and consulting maps, I decided that the way to get to Vermont from Plattsburg, New York would be to take the ferry.

on the ferry

It was a drizzly day when they packed us on the ferry. Incidentally, the toll to ride the ferry with the truck and trailer is based on how long the rig is. I found out that Bart and Flo are about 48 feet long from the front bumper of the truck to the read bumper of the trailer. No wonder maneuvering into campsites is such a challenge at times! Oh, and the 15 minute trip cost $39.50.

ferry passing

Just as we got to the other shore, a ferry set sail from Vermont.

My site at Malletts Bay Campground

I got settled in to my home for the next week or so – Malletts Bay Campground. Most of the campground was filled with seasonal campers and people in town to work on the oil pipeline. Those people are really packed in, and since they are there for a long period of time, they pack their spots full, from one side to the other and front to back. It was much nicer over in the short term area. People came and left, but it was never crowded.

I went into Burlington a couple of times during my stay at Malletts Bay Campground. In my research about what to do in Burlington, I found that they had free two-hour parking in a garage downtown. Since the prince was right, I decided to start my explorations there. I parked and set off to explore the Church Street Marketplace.

Church Street Marketplace

It’s a lovely pedestrian mall with an assortment of building styles from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Payn's Block

For instance, the building on the corner, Payn’s Block, was built around 1865 for a local metalsmith named Edgar Payn.

Windows on Payn's block

It was built in the Italianate style, which you can still see in the windows on the side of the building. A department store took over the building and the one next to it from the early 1900s through the 1930s. According to the plaque on the building, the Art Deco-style pressed metal facade was added in the 1920’s to visually unite the two buildings.

Use and reuse of buildings

I particularly liked how some of the different owners engraved their names and dates over the entrance to this building, which is now a men’s clothing store.

Howard National Bank

And, if you ever wondered where to store your Howards, the have a bank for that.

three stooges

Moe and Curly are all set. Poor Larry would have to find his own bank.

Richardson Place

On the north end of Church Street, there was an elegant apartment building, Richardson Place, with commercial space at the street level.

Masonic Temple

On the opposite corner was the Masonic Temple. According to the information plaque, the cornerstone was laid in 1897 and was built at a cost of $80,000.

First Unitarian Universalist meeting house

At the top of Church State is the First Unitarian Universalist Society Meeting House. It was built in 1816 for the First Congregational Society (Unitarian) and is the oldest surviving place of worship in Burlington. Following a merger of the Unitarians and Universalists in 1982, the congregation voted to become the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington.

Walking back down the Church Street Marketplace, I was taken by the interesting designs in the pavement. I asked the guy working in the little tourist information kiosk at the top left side of the photo what it was, but he couldn’t help me.

Church Street Earthline

I was determined to find some information about it. If they have plaque about all the buildings, they certainly have information about this. I looked and looked and finally found a plaque.

Church Street market Place Earth Line plaque

It turns out that the line down the center of the pedestrian mall is what they call an Earth Line. It’s a line of longitude that runs through Burlington.

Earthline burlington


Along the mall, they have identified cities that lie near the Earth Line.

Earthline Montreal

Earthline Ulan Bator

On the Earth Line, you can see the names of people who have sponsored a block.

Earthline Xian

I was so pleased with myself for having figured out what the story of the pavement design was that I returned to the tourism kiosk to tell the guy where he could look to find the plaque.

After that, I decided that I had to have some refreshment. There were any number of sidewalk cafes I could have stopped at, but I was getting so tired and thirsty that I finally said to myself that I would stop at the next one that had a seat. At that point, I didn’t even care that I wasn’t sitting on the sidewalk.

caprese sandwich at Ken's pizza and pub

I had a Caprese Sandwich, which was delicious! The waiter must have noticed how eagerly I attacked the water he brought me, and he kept coming back to refill my glass.

Lois Bodoky the hot dog lady

After my late lunch, I continued my strolling about. This plaque about Lois Bodoky, “The Hot Dog Lady”, caught my eye. I had to take a photo of her separate from the information about her because of the way the sun was shining, but take a moment to read about her.

Lois Bodoky The Hot Dog Lady text

May we all leave such a favorable impression on our communities with our work, no matter how large or small our missions.


There is a long mural that is on Leahy Way, which leads off Church Street. Incidentally, Leahy Way is named for Senator Patrick Leahy, who has been in office since 1975. The mural was designed by a Canadian muralist named Pierre Hardy and is titled “Everyone Loves a Parade!” Grand Master Samuel de Champlain leads the parade, which depicts an evolution in time with images of the past 400 years.

Bernie Sanders closeup

It wasn’t too hard to find Bernie.

Ben and Jerry's

It was almost as easy to find Bernie as it was to find a Ben and Jerry’s. We are in Vermont, after all!

While driving around, I had heard that StoryCorps was in town recording interviews in their iconic Airstream. Another trip into Burlington, I decided to go find it.

Storycorps Airstream

Just as I got there, two people arrived to record their stories. I waited around to see if I might look inside when they were finished.

Entering the Storycorps Airstream

While I was waiting, I looked around the harbor.

tourboat coming in to dock

A tour boat was coming in to port. One batch of tourists got off and another got on.

waterfront docks

There was also a nice collection of boats at the docks. I think I caught a whiff of money while I was standing there.

ECHO entrance

StoryCorps was parked in front of the ECHO Center. (ECHO stand for Ecology, Culture, History Opportunity, just in case you were wondering. I was.)

I thought about visiting, but there were a couple of drawbacks. One was that it was late in the day and the price was kind of high for a short visit. The other thing was that it was full of children. And, while children aren’t necessarily a deal-breaker, I could tell that the adults with them were tired and cranky. It didn’t sound like a great time to visit. Maybe next time.

Me with the Story Corps Airstream

Apparently, the interview was taking a really long time. I was concerned that the time I had paid for was going to expire, so I had a passer-by snap my photo and I headed back to MY Airstream.




In Which I Attend a Church Picnic

The first weekend I was near Plattsburgh, I had tried to attend mass at this church, St. Peter’s. Unfortunately, I got lost in the time/space continuum once again. I tried to attend on Sunday, but I looked at the schedule for Saturday. So, I was pleased when I actually showed up at the right time on the right day the following week.

Facade of St Peter's

I was only a few minutes late, but when you are on my schedule, that almost counts as early.

I came in a side door, and rushed up the stairs. I was kind of embarrassed that I had popped in right by the musicians. Rather than back out, I spied a seat and sat down.

I was so happy that they were doing the sort of music we did back before the “unfortunate incident” in Kalamazoo. They even did one of my favorite pieces!

Lead me Lord

A lovely woman sitting in the pew behind me helped me out with information on how they proceed to communion.

At the end of mass, Monsignor Duprey invited us all to the church picnic. I wondered what the large tent was doing behind the church when I pulled up.

I joined the crowd in the back. I ended up sitting with a family that were long time members. I asked if this was the original church.

The sign said that it was founded in 1853, but I couldn’t find a cornerstone on the building anywhere. Rita told me that this was the original building, although it has been added on to and remodeled over the years.

I asked her about the French inscriptions in the stained glass windows. She told me that this is the French church in town, and that her family’s name, “Light”, was a translation of the real name of Lumiere.

And then it was time to eat!

What a spread!

What a spread! In addition to all the dishes that people brought to share, they had hot dogs and hamburgs. The hot dogs were served Michigan style.


Actually, they call hot dogs topped with this meat mixture a “Michigan”, as in, “Did you get yourself a Michigan?” That was a questions someone actually asked me. After having lived in Michigan for 28 years, I was a little surprised to hear of such a concoction, but, it was good!

drinks and tents

I liked the wading pools filled with ice and beverages. What a delightful meal!

Mummy contest

After the eating slowed down, they had a mummy contest. Teams of kids and adults wrapped up volunteers in toilet paper and accessorized them with beads, hats and so on. Then the crowd voted for the one they liked the best.

mummy 1

Mummy number one,

mummy 2

Mummy number two or

Mummy 3

Mummy number three.

The crowd favorite was Mummy number one – who also happened to be Monsignor Duprey! What a wonderful example of service and involvement in his community. He was running around helping with the food and warmly greeting people. He even had an extended conversation with me.

Musical entertainment

There was also live music during the festivities. It turns out the the musician is the husband of the lovely lady I met during mass and had urged me to come to the picnic. I also got to talk to the leader of the music group that was at the mass.

I had a lovely time and I felt welcomed. What a beautiful model for other churches.

It was a great last day on the New York State side of Lake Champlain.


Montreal, Mary and Me

I had always wanted to visit Montreal. I was happy that my French friend, Mary, was visiting her son right when I was going to be nearby. We synchronized our watches – and calendars – and made plans to meet.

Canada entrance sign

At the entrance to customs, I was met by the border control sign. I had to answer some questions about why I was all the way up there with my Texas license plates. Apparently my no-nonsense reply and passport satisfied the agent, and I was allowed to enter the country.

Welcome to Quebec

Once across the border, they let me know that I was in Quebec. This is only my second province – Ontario was always nearby growing up. I hope to visit a few more of them before my traveling days are done.

I had done some research on where to park and how to use the Metro. We agreed to meet at the Berri-UQAM metro station at 11:00. I parked, took the metro and made it to station right on time. It took us about half and hour or so to find each other. In spite of the fact that I had stopped by at Verizon to make sure my phone would work over there, it wasn’t of much use. Mary called and left a voice mail for me. Unfortunately, between her French accent and the fact that I didn’t know where I was in relationship to where she was, I needed help.

What to do? Well, I smiled brightly at a college student who was eating her lunch  and said, “Hello! Do you speak English?” She smiled back, and said that she did. Then I asked her if she spoke French. She said that she did. So, I asked her to listen to Mary’s message and tell me where she was waiting for me. She listened, wrote it down and drew me a little map for how to get there. There are kind and helpful people all over!

Mary and I finally met up and greeted each other with bises – both cheeks. Then we took off to explore Montreal.

Statue in front of cathdral

Our first stop was the Notre-Dame Basilica in the historic district of Old Montreal on the Place d’Armes.  The fountain in the center is a monument to the memory of Paul de Chomedey, the founder of Montreal.

spitting water in the fountain

With the overcast skies, it was hard to capture details of the sculpture, but I was quite taken with the parts at the base spitting water into the pool at the base.

We lined up to enter the Basilica. Unfortunately, for my thrifty soul, they charge $5 to enter. I do realize that it does cost money to keep up buildings like this, but you all know my favorite word, right?


That’s right!

While waiting to go in, I snapped a shot of the square in front of basilica.

opposite the cathedral

It was finally our turn and we went inside.

Basilca altar

The interior is rather eye-popping.

Basilica vault

When we got up to the altar I looked for the symbols of a basilica – the crossed keys of Saint Peter on their coat of arms, the canopaeum and the tintinnabulum. I didn’t see them, but when I got to the stand for holy items for sale, I did see incontrovertible proof that this is, indeed, a basilica.

Basilica rosary pouches

A rosary pouch embroidered with the name.

After our tour of the basilica, we set off to explore Old Montreal.

pedestrain street

We came across this charming statue, and I asked a young man sitting on a nearby bench to snap our photo.

Mary me and the statue

Just in case you are not sure, we are the pale ones on the ends.

Bicycle parking meter

I love seeing things I have never seen before. In fact, I had never even considered that there might be such a thing as a parking meter for bicycles. Oddly enough, this one seems to be labeled a no parking zone.

After strolling about, it was time for lunch.

La Sauvagine restaurant for lunch

We found pleasant seats on the sidewalk bistro at La Sauvagine. When it started to drizzle, we managed to find a slightly more sheltered table and we stayed outside for our meal.

Lunch wild boar

I decided to try something I hadn’t had before. I ordered the wild boar, and it was tasty. I had Mary select the wine, as that is not a skill I possess.

Flan - but not so good

We even indulged in dessert. I ordered the flan. I have to admit that I was less than pleased. In fact, I even left it largely untouched.

new Canadian money with a clear strip

When it was time to pay, I paused to examine the money. The new money – well, new to me, at least – is largely plastic. In fact, there is a holographic section and you can see right through the money! I was amazed!

Suitably reinforced, we set out for Bonsecours Market. It was begun in 1844 and completed in 1860. It served as city hall from 1852 – even while it was under construction – until 1878. It was used for a variety of public functions (according to the plaque on the building) and was renovated and again became a public space in 1996. Now, it appears to be dedicated mostly to shops.


And, what would you expect them to sell? Well, I think I saw four different shops that specialized in maple products.

maple syrup

They even  had tastings! Who knew that there were so many different flavors in maple syrup?

Church that was closed

On the corner at the far end of the market, there was a church that we had hoped to visit, but it was Monday. Apparently, it is closed on Mondays.

Posted on the side of the market was one of those signs I find hard to resist. No words are necessary.

watch out for falling snow

The street in front of the market was under construction – or, rather, reconstruction. I guess you need to do that from time to time when you are dealing with an old city. They were doing it right, though. They were prying up the old pavers and replacing them with new ones.

granite blocks

There were pallets filled with heavy granite blocks. The workers were busily doing the skilled work that goes into laying the pavers.

shaping blocks

This guy used a box filled with sand as a work space. He shaped the blocks and then passed them along to another artisan who laid them in the road bed.

kaying blocks

We continued along to Place Jaques Cartier and admired the architecture.

restaurant with flowers

We took pictures of each other in the frame put there especially for tourists.

Mary in the frame

I think Mary sent me the photo she took of me, but it is somewhere in the digital slush pile.

siamese sign

We kept encountering these signs while we strolled, but we couldn’t figure out what they might mean. Mary asked a shopkeeper and he walked us back out to show us what it meant.

siamese firehydrant

A siamoise is a double-opening fire hydrant! I guess it got its name from the fact that they are joined like Siamese twins.

toasting before the rain

After all that strolling about, it was naturally time for a little refreshment. We go seated just in time! the skies opened up and it poured. Mary and I exchanged different expressions to describe a deluge. I wish I could remember them in French, but one translated to “raining ropes”. The rain was coming down in ropes, but luckily it didn’t last long.

city hall

After our refreshment, we walked past the current city hall. The construction began in 1872 and it was completed in 1878. Unfortunately, the building was gutted by fire in 1922. The outer wall remained and was used in the reconstruction. Architect Louis Parant decided to build an entirely new building with a self-supporting steel structure inside the shell of the ruins. It took six years to build the first structure. I don’t know how long it took to rebuild it, but it was renovated again in 1932.

Chateau Ramezey

Kitty-corner from the city hall is Chateau Ramezay, which was built in 1705 as the residence of the then-governor of Montreal, Claude de Ramezay. It was named by UNESCO as one of the 1001 sites you must see before you die. Unfortunately, it was late in the day, so we didn’t go inside. There was an arrow pointing to the gardens, so we decided to explore.

Chateau gardens

We strolled and chatted and chatted and strolled and eventually worked our way over to the metro station. We took the metro to the neighborhood where Mary’s son lived.

banana sculpture bench

I was taken with the banana sculpture. What a fun addition to the area!

Mary had a guide book that recommended a restaurant in the area. We found it easily enough. Unfortunately, it was closed. However, we found another just down the street. We dropped in to the Restaurant Fameux for a light supper. If you look in the upper left corner of the photo below, you will see poutine. We both tried it for the first time. Neither one of us cared for it.

Smoked meat at the Reastaurant Fameux

The smoked meat was more than enough for two meals, so I did take half of it back with me. I meant to ask what kind of meat was smoked, but I forgot. Mary told me that “Restaurant Fameux” means “Famous Restaurant”.

We walked back to the metro station, and Mary and I parted ways. I hope it won’t be another 16 or so years before we meet again!

Back to the truck, back across the border – and yes, I declared my leftover sandwich – and back to camp.

I declare the visit a success!