Post Thanksgiving Road Trip

We made it north to Vermont and New Hampshire this past weekend. That meant passing through Massachusetts twice. Having an infant child forces you to see things differently. For example, we spend more time at rest stops, in commuter parking lots, and other random places. One stop was brief, but enjoyable. We got a chance to explore the Norwottuck Rail Trail in Northampton, Massachusetts. We went out on the old (decommissioned) train bridge where the trail crosses the Connecticut River. It is a very cool spot. I’m a huge fan of Rail Trails and that is a big reason why we live on one.

Once we reached Vermont, we participated in the Putney Craft Tour, which has become an annual tradition for us. We have been to it five of the last six years. It was a short tour for us this year. We went to four of the many open studios, including Green Mountain Spinnery and Dena Gartenstein Hand-woven Garments. Both shops do wool. The Spinnery is in the raw material business, making yarn from raw wool, cotton, and other materials. Gartenstein is in the weaving business and she teaches weaving too.

The Spinnery has some awesome machines, including a great big Whitin Spinning Frame. I’ve been through there before and will never tire of seeing all of the old clunkers. They still run every day. One of the machines is from 1910 and several others are more than 75 years old. I saw the Whitin brand on several pieces of equipment. Those machines were built in Massachusetts, in a town, known as Whitinsville. There is something seriously romantic about old machines. I wish we hadn’t discarded so many at Horst Engineering. We couldn’t compete with them and just didn’t have room for them anymore…

Gartenstein’s studio is also home to the Vermont Weaving School. We all got a chance to try weaving for ourselves.

We made a brief stop at the Billings Farm & Museum in Woodstock, Vermont, to build a Lego turkey. That was a short but fun stop. Then, it was on to the Sugarbush Farm in Queechee, where we stocked up on maple syrup.

The big hit at the farm was the large Kubota tractor. The three-year old doesn’t miss a construction vehicle or tractor.

We spent the night in Hanover, New Hampshire, visiting cousin Monique at her Dartmouth College residence. Hanover is a cool town with good culture. Many of the students had returned home to their families for the weekend, so it was quiet on campus. We had a beautiful walk on Sunday morning. We saw  more construction equipment and a blue heron behind the Dartmouth Outing Club.

On Sunday, we cruised the beautiful roads of Norwich, Vermont, a community that I really like. We saw some great spots, including a little pig farm. Debbie is a big pig fan, but I told her that we would have to stick with photos (rather than the real thing) for now. I told her that manufacturing was tough enough, and that I wasn’t interested in farming.

One of our last stops was back in Queechee at the Simon Pearce mill, one of my favorite spots. The old mill runs on hydro power and contains sample glass blowing and pottery workshops. The heavy production is done in a more modern plant, but the mill houses their retail store, restaurant, and these  model shops. It is so cool to watch the demonstrations, and then browse the finished goods.

Every time we make it to Vermont, we return to Southern New England feeling a bit more relaxed. The pace of life is tiny bit slower up there. The artist community is neat to explore and the countryside is beautiful, even in November.

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