the run continued
Saturday morning was chilly but promised a fine sunny day, and so it turned out. Our route took us over hill and dale through Londonderry and Chester, busy with its autumn fair, to a rest stop in Ascutney. From there we crossed into New Hampshire and journeyed north along the Connecticut River, crossing back into Vermont over the Cornish-Windsor bridge, second longest covered wooden bridge open to vehicular traffic in the country. Interstate highway 91 more or less runs parallel to US Highway 5 in Vermont and has taken much of the traffic off the older road. This of course is very much to the benefit of our activities and we enjoyed a leisurely run alongside the river until we reached Bradford. After a quick pit stop we set off on VT route 25, following the Waits River northwest to a junction with US Highway 302, which gave us a quick trip to our lunch destination in Barre. I think the whole group opted for a meal at Ladder One, a firehouse built in 1904 and active until 2004 when it was replaced by a larger building. The firehouse has been cleverly adapted to be a bar/restaurant on the ground floor and an inn with four guest rooms on the second floor. Memorabilia abounds, including the old switchboard from the days of old-fashioned telephones. After lunch we headed south on VT 110 alongside the Jail Branch River. This curious name comes from the 18th century when the state now known as Vermont was disputed territory between New York and New Hampshire. In an effort to establish its claim New York built a court house and jail in an uninhabited village they called Kingsland. The jail was at the head of a river and the association with the jail remains, though Kingsland is long gone, the area being incorporated as the Vermont town of Washington. Further south we were delayed by the 150th running of the Tunbridge World’s Fair. The town charter allowed Tunbridge to hold two fairs a year once 50 families had settled in the area. Visiting the first fair Vermont’s lieutenant governor declared that the fair was like a little World’s Fair. Displaying commendable marketing acumen the fair organisers used this to boost their event, and World’s Fair it has been ever since. In South Royalton we turned on to VT 14 and after safely negotiating the single lane railroad underpass on the S-bend we headed toward Bethel on VT 107, following it to the junction with the long-distance VT 100. It is inevitable that any drive in this part of Vermont will spend many miles on route 100, and so it was with our tour. After a brief refuelling stop in Pittsfield, a small town that was isolated for several weeks by severe damage to route 100 wrought by Tropical Storm Irene, we followed this scenic highway south, past the ski resorts of Killington.
Killington twice voted to secede from Vermont in the early years of this century, though how New Hampshire would have administered an encircled enclave is unclear. Taxes were at the root of the discontent, although a significant proportion of the town’s remittances to Montpelier are hotel and meal taxes collected from tourists rather than Killingtonians. Next was Ludlow, where a young Calvin Coolidge attended school. In adulthood he was said to be silent in five languages, a credit to the Black River Academy. From Ludlow we continued to Londonderry and then retraced our route to the Black Bear Lodge, in need of some refreshment after driving for just over 240 miles on a gorgeous early autumn day. Day 3 of a three-day tour always feels a bit sad to me. I packed my backpack that I had so recently unpacked, stowed all the stuff in the boot and after a good breakfast made ready to leave. Our route ran down VT 30 as far as Jamaica, a name that derives from a Native American word for “beaver” and has nothing to do with the Caribbean. There we used the ubiquitous route 100 to pass through Wardsboro which gave the state its official vegetable, the Gilfeather Turnip. This, it must be said, is a recent innovation as the state only realized it needed a state vegetable in 2016. Connecticut of course has long had a whole building full of them in Hartford. We finally bade farewell to route 100 in Wilmington, in the heart of the Vermont snowbelt. The town received 54 inches of snow in a three day blizzard in February, 2010. As we descended towards Bennington on Vermont 9 I recalled the day I made