Reunion Ramble – Our First Real 917 Exploration

Timing for this trip was ruled by Fred’s 50th Reunion (Class of 1968) at Northfield Mount Hermon, a prep school in Massachusetts.  We travelled via the Hudson Valley for a short family visit and then on to Gill, MA for the reunion weekend.  On the way, we stopped at Amherst to visit the home of Emily Dickinson, the poet.  ( We took the final tour of the day visiting her home and that of her brother and his family.  The houses and the history were fascinating and the gardens quite beautiful.  Apparently, Emily spent her time either writing or gardening.  (Sorry, no original pictures as photography is prohibited inside the buildings.)


The weather was glorious for the entire weekend and NMH was at its best. 

Campus view of new science center

A fun weekend with lots to do and friends to see.

Fine camping behind the Gym. (With a great view of the Connecticut River Valley.)

Fine dining in West Hall – as it never was in the old days!

A personal high point was an hour long 60’s revival concert with Fred playing with members of two bands from back in the day, the former school sponsored band, the “Hermon Knights” (a word play on “Hermonite” the name for a Mount Hermon student) and the “Recitation Parking Lot” a band named, with tongue in cheek,  for the place where the buses picked up the Northfield girls to take them back to their campus. Also known for another school tradition – “Animal Hour.” Fred was happy with his playing and the crowd was out of their seats and on the dance floor, a universal sign of success.

iPhone photo by Denise Cook

A quick and dirty, hanging-from-the-mic-stand, audio of our first songs. Rocky, but fun. (Courtesy of Paul “Buzz” Tuttle)


As members of Harvest Hosts (, we then moved into Vermont to spend the night at the Autumn Mountain vineyard near Brandon.  We arrived in time for a fun tasting and found a variety of fruited wines, some of which tasted like Kool Aid!  Others were quite good and we acquired a bottle of cranberry wine, which we both liked.  ( After a pleasant night amongst the vines, we headed back towards New Hampshire over the Brandon Gap, with some lovely views of the wooded mountain slopes both near and far. One nearby mountain rejoiced in the name Mt. Horrid!  We wish we had stopped to take a photo of the sign!  It looked like a normal mountain to me.

We discovered as we headed into New Hampshire that the State Parks and National Forest campgrounds do not accept pets.  As one of the residents of our camper is, of course, Blue our cat, we kept going until we found the commercial campsite closest to Portsmouth. This was the Sea Coast RV Resort.  This turned out to be a very pleasant campground with amazing landscaping from shade trees to flower beds and plenty of space.  The bathroom facilities are impeccable also.  The only drawback was that the new owners had not yet set up a laundry so we determined to check on the status of laundries at our next campsite.  ( 

Denise wanted to visit Strawbery Banke, a preserved neighborhood with 32 historical buildings from the 1700’s. ( Most are still in their original locations.

Strawberry Banke

The name was given because the first English arrivals found wonderful wild strawberries there. The name was later changed to Portsmouth as the area, first a fishing town, became known for shipbuilding and became more respectable!  We enjoyed the visit and exhibits of early building techniques and also wandered down to the Piscataqua river bank to admire the view and the boats.

Denise develops a new hobby – weaving.

We also discovered that the refrigerator had died again, for the third time! This was annoying to say the least.  After an unsuccessful visit to a local dealer, we called the manufacturer, Thetford, who were most helpful and immediately agreed to ship a new one to the dealer of our choice in Maine.  After several calls, we were able to set this up with a dealer in Bangor and get the new fridge installed.  So, we bought a cooler and with a daily ice purchase are managing to keep cool bare essentials, as we await shipping information.

Before leaving the area, the following day we visited the Fuller Gardens in North Hampton, a lovely private botanical garden.  ( The roses and dahlias were not yet in flower but the rhododendrons were beautiful. 

After a stroll along the coastal path to admire the ocean and the huge seaside mansions, we headed for a seafood lunch at Rays of Rye.  ( As the sign says, “Lobzsta!!!”  And fried clams for a belated birthday lunch for Fred.

Several of these houses are for sale. But we followed the rule, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”

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