This vacation has been so packed with fun that my head is swimming. Or is that the heat and humidity that is making my brain fuzzy?
While in Vermont, and while the tent was going up and my-sister-in-law baked 19 wedding cakes (or was it 13?), I got some more stamps on my National Parks Passport. 35 minutes south of my brother Tom’s house, I toured the Saint-Gauden National Historic Site. S-G was a talented sculptor who specialized in bronze-casted, life-sized statues of important people like Abe Lincoln. The NHS was his home and gardens.
More fun was driving through the covered bridge each way. Ramsey is 9’3″ tall, the limit, so I stayed in the middle of the bridge. A local I met later at an ice cream stand told me this bridge is the longest covered bridge in North America.
By the following day, my other brother, Charlie, and his wife Paula had joined the menagerie. They accompanied me in visiting the much more lively Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park. The site includes a working dairy farm — all gold-colored Jersey cows. The best part is the nursery for the little calves. I took a ton of videos, which I’ll insert in my YouTube summary of this trip. For now, here is another still shot.
They had a terrific museum about local farming and a well-done movie about George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882), who first established the estate, Frederick Billings (1823-1890), who bought the estate from Marsh in 1869, and Laurence Rockefeller (1910-2004), who married Billings’ granddaughter Mary French.
The men never met each other. The most important thing they had in common is that they were conservationists. The grounds and house are lovely, but not as fun to see as the cows.
The wedding of my niece Megan to Tom of NYC (yes, another Tom in the family) went off without a hitch. No rain, a huge blessing since it interfered with the wedding of Megan’s parents, Tom and Marguerite, on the same knoll 32 years ago. A haze blocking the sun kept it from being too hot.
After bagels at my brother’s house and goodbyes to Megan and Tom, due to return to Thailand the next day, I headed south. It was Labor Day. I stayed in a charming RV Resort by a stream, where I was able to catch up on my laundry. (Not in the stream.) The highlight of the night was a small bear who lives nearby, raiding their dumpster at night. Apparently, there is no mommy bear anywhere.
He spent a lot of time relaxing on a large boulder across the stream from Ramsey, but not that far. He watched me with lonely eyes and I wished I could feed him but knew better.
My task for today, Tuesday, through Friday, is to visit the final 20 monuments on the Henry Knox Trail. I’ll visit five each day, ending in Cambridge. In general, the trail follows Route 20 as it crosses Massachusetts from West Springfield.
Today I first found West Springfield’s monument.
Then Springfield’s. The monument is in front of the National Armory NHS (also started by Henry Knox), so I toured that, too, and got another stamp on my passport.
After finding each monument, I took a photo of it, then drove to the local library and donated a copy of Henry’s Big Kaboom to the children’s department.
The Most Charming Library of the Day Award goes to the Warren Library.
I had written ahead to the libraries, so they expected me. Palmer (today) and Northborough (Thursday) asked me to perform with my ukulele. I like doing that. My goal is to educate the towns along the route so that in 2026 when the Train of Artillery is reenacted to celebrate our nation’s 250th birthday, the residents will actually know what’s happening.
Tonight I am at Wells State Park not far from Brookfield, Mass, where I start up again tomorrow. Too bad I don’t have time to see nearby Sturbridge Village.