Traveling Between Snow and Spring

The calendar may say it is spring…but it’s slow coming in Upstate New York. The robins are here, but snow flurries are still in the cold air and we are waiting for the sun to make a come back.

My husband had an early morning speaking engagement at a New Hampshire high school, so we left the day before and drove northeast through Vermont to the border of New Hampshire at Claremont.

We found the welcome center in the town of Bennington, Vermont. Friendly women directed us to a few places we could visit during this off-season. It was disappointing to find out that a local college recently purchased the Robert Frost museum, and was not open at present.

A close up of the red/white/blue, pledge of allegiance.
You can see the spiked monument in the background.

We drove to the top of Monument Circle. The Bennington Battle Monument stands more than 306 feet above the town. It was built to commemorate the battle fought on August 16, 1777, which marked the turning point of the Revolutionary War. There are 471 steps and is open Mid-April to Oct. 31. There is a small fee.

Through our sunroof, you can see the cloudy day.

From the monument we drove down to the Old First Church, which was built in 1763. In the cemetery are approximately 75 Revolutionary War patriots buried, as well as British and Hessian soldiers killed in the battle of Bennington.

Here lies Robert Frost the American poet.

Then we drove to Green Mountain National Forest, and just before the sign was a section of the Appalachian Trail. It seems that when I find myself at the A.T. it is either too hot, (NC), or this slushy snow breaking down to the muddy days. We walked on it long enough to realize that going uphill was too slippery at this point.

Hildene
We headed to Manchester and Hildene, home of Robert Todd Lincoln. The son of President Abraham Lincoln, also a lawyer, had a much different home than his fathers’ early cabin. By this time we were late in the day and it was suggested to take a walk first to the Pullman car Sunbeam of the early 1900’s. It is a fine luxury car that would carry 18 people, beds for all. The wood inside the car is Cuban mahogany, which is now extinct. The porters who took care of the people in the car worked for long hours, some 22 per day and were paid quite poorly.

Cuban Mahogany wood inside.
The beds.

The gloom of the day did not discourage us from the Lincoln house. The entrance with its large pillared posts, led us to the door, and this lovely house.

The drive to Hildene, home of Robert Todd Lincoln.

Pipes for organ were in the walls at the top of the stairs.
Unique player pipe organ.
Steinway Grand
Steinway upright.

Some things of interest:

Family photos including President Lincoln and wife Mary.

Stovepipe hat worn by President Lincoln, his Bible and several historical facts.

The family stayed here 6-9 months of the year and as you can see it was a family home.

There are exhibits on the farm and grounds, Nubian goats, gardens, a youth educational building and walking trails. Bees are also kept on the property, and also pollinator pathways are by the pasture.

The gardens and view in the back of the house must be spectacular in the summer with flowers blooming in every color, and leafed out trees.

The Common Man Inn and Restaurant

We traveled the sometimes-curvy mountain roads from there to Claremont, New Hampshire. Here we found the Common Man Inn and Restaurant where we stayed the night. Since we came in mid-week there was a special on the hotel price and our evening meal was free.

The food was fantastic: a New England Chicken Pot Pie and a seafood mix of scallops, crab, lobster and shrimp for me.

The building is the old Monadnock Mills built on the Sugar River. The Inn was built in the 1870s as a cotton/linen factory. The large old beams are exposed, new 10 foot windows give you great views of the Sugar River or the street on the other side. The rooms themselves have exposed brick and 12-foot ceilings. Even though it is large, the atmosphere is cozy.

In their day, the mills were famous for screen-printing, and clothing labels, such as Levi Strauss. They are also credited for making the sheets for the ocean liner Titanic.

The kissing bridge at the Vermont Store.

Heading home we spied a covered bridge at the Vermont Store. After checking out the bridge and (of course) kissing in the bridge, we saw your typical Vermont-y things in the store such as maple syrup, wintery sweaters, and even Bag Balm for those chapped hands. We came away with some chocolate fudge and enjoyed the sunshine all the way home.

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Marvels of Nature and Man: Jacob’s Well and Waco Suspension Bridge

This was not the weather we experienced last winter in Texas. While my sister and her husband visited, we hiked to Jacob’s Well in the bitter cold. Being Georgians, they were very cold.

A bit of rain had fallen the day before and we hiked a short way down to the well. I imagine it must be more impressive in the summer with bright sun shining on the well, but this day, looking into the hole was cold and dull. The water was moving slowly and it was a bit disappointing.

But Jacob’s Well is deceptive; while the hole is small, if you swim in it, you can go 100 feet down to several caves where you can get trapped. The website says it is believed that eight or nine people died diving in the well.

We walked over the bridge to the other side and I saw a strange sight. At first I thought someone had littered Styrofoam under a tree. When I looked closer this is what I saw:

Nature’s work of art, but I wasn’t sure how it got there. I found more, but most of them were under trees. It was fascinating! It was a gift not expected.

I called it ribbon candy. It reminded me of candy children were given at Christmas.

I had to investigate and here are my findings:

It appears on a plant commonly called frostweed. Other names are crownberry, Indian tobacco or tickweed. The Latin: Verbesina virginica flowers late in summer and a favorite of the butterfly.

When I touched its edge, it fell to powder, so delicate!

I went to see Jacob’s Well in Cypress Creek, but instead I saw a far more amazing wonder of God…ribbon ice. For some say this wonder of nature is created by itself, but for most wanderers Mother Nature is God.

 

Waco Suspension Bridge

Some of the best memories as a kid were the old West stories about the Chisholm Trail, Brazos River, and driving the longhorn north. Everything we’d seen on TV or at the movies was all about cowboys.

We found free parking on the street right in front of the Waco Suspension Bridge, but I wasn’t prepared for what was in front of the bridge.

There stood statues of a small herd of longhorns led by cowboys. It was massive and life-like: a stunning work of man’s art.

The artist is Robert Summers. As we walked around, we saw such detail as muscles straining on the longhorns, some horses plodding along, and others in a near frenzy. It was so life-like there were brands on the backs of the longhorns.

We stood by one horse for a photo: I had my hand on his lifted foot and it was much bigger than my hand.

Old wooden planks lined the bridge; built in 1870 by John Roebling, who also built the Brooklyn Bridge. At first they charged 5 cents per cow, but herds found another way over the river. There are two parks on the river: the east side is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Park; on the west side is Indian Springs Park.

Some historians say the Chisholm Trail didn’t go through Waco, but maps show otherwise, but here we are at the Brazos River.

Don’t miss it if you are on your way to Magnolia Market. The bridge is just a couple blocks away. The whole experience was breathtaking.

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a website if you would like more information:

http://www.redriverhistorian.com/chisholm.htmlr