October Travels, Part One: Woodstock, Vermont

D. and I spent most of October traveling, and we’re back in Tacoma now, enjoying a rainy Halloween day. I find travel exhilarating, exhausting, fun, frustrating, and very educational. Packing for nearly a month away in three different climates was confounding, and I ended up hauling a fifty-pound suitcase up four flights of stairs in Madrid—but I’ll leave that bit of fun for part two. I hope that spending nearly a month away from my computer has helped stoke my writing batteries, since National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow.

Our first stop was Woodstock, Vermont, home of D’s oldest brother and his lovely wife. What a beautiful village! We weren’t the only ones to think so; the autumn foliage was in its full glory, and the streets around the village commons were thickly clogged with “leafers,” as the locals call them. The commons is surrounded by picturesque buildings, such as the library where K. works as director of the board.

Woodstock library

And here’s the town hall, I believe. (Forgive me if I got that wrong, S. & K.)

Woodstock City Hall

On the second day of our visit, some local kids and their parents were constructing a family of pumpkin-headed scarecrows outside the library.

Woodstock Scarecrows

Of course, there are lovely covered bridges

Woodstock covered bridge

and historic cemeteries.

Woodstock cemetary

But here’s what it’s really all about in October:

Woodstock leaves

S. and K. are very knowledgeable about local history, and they took us to visit the birthplace of Calvin Coolidge, in the tiny town of Plymouth Notch, Vermont.

Coolidge Home

The interior of the town’s chapel was particularly lovely, constructed of simple wooden panels arranged in geometric patterns.

Chapel at Plymouth Notch, Vermont

After a lunch of grilled Vermont-cheddar sandwiches, we finished our tour.

Long barn in Plymouth Notch, Vermont

Coolidge Tomb

I hadn’t realized what a handsome devil Coolidge was, and how beautiful his wife Grace was. Alas, I wasn’t able to photograph the museum’s collection of her 1920s gowns; you just don’t see artistry like that in modern fashions. Apparently, the President liked to choose his wife’s outfits and took great pride in her reputation as a fashion icon.

Another lovely place we visited was the artists’ colony in Cornish, New Hampshire, founded by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907). He started out as a cameo-carver’s apprentice, and created such famous works as the “Standing Lincoln” and the Shaw Memorial. You may be familiar with the latter from the 1989 Civil War movie Glory.

Home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Cornish, NH.

Home of Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Cornish, NH.

View from porch of Saint-Gaudens' home.

View from porch of Saint-Gaudens’ home.

Bas relief sculpture entitled Amor Caritas.

Bas relief sculpture entitled Amor Caritas.

Shaw Memorial

Shaw Memorial

Detail, Shaw Memorial

Detail, Shaw Memorial

We were sorry to leave such good company in such a lovely place, but after four days it was time to begin the second leg of our journey—in Spain.

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