Friday, September 23, 2011

Bennington VT part 2

Bennington Pathway
Along the River walk along the back side of downtown Bennington, there are markers depicting the town’s past. One of these was as a rail station used for logging, marketing, and travel.

The walk itself is short and quiet, with a lovely little seating area on one side. I couldn’t help think it would be a nice place to write on a beautiful Vermont day.

River walk
Head down a block from the river walk into the town center and you’ll come across these charming pedestrian zones. They were being repainted (yes, by hand) when we were there.

pedestrian zone
But on to the Bennington Battle Monument (as promised in the first post)!

The Battle of Bennington was an important factor of the Revolutionary War. The British army needed supplies and Bennington had plenty in their supply depot. With the help of the Green Mountain Boys, Brigadier General John Stark and his troops held them off, saved their supplies, and helped lead to the surrender of the British troops.

The monument stands where the supply depot stood back in 1777. A statue of John Stark embellished with his favorite quote – (“There they are boys! We beat them today or Molly Stark sleeps a widow tonight!”) stands on one side:

General John Stark
On the other is Colonel Seth Warner of the Green Mountain Boys:

Colonel Seth Warner
And be sure to go up the elevator to the top (the fee is very small and the sights are well worth it):

from the top
That’s Massachusetts in the background! I couldn’t help being amused at the painted moose, either. Although I read much about the many moose spotting sites, we didn’t see any other than this guy:

After visiting the monument, it only made sense to stop by Old Bennington Cemetery to pay homage to the local boys resting there since the Revolutionary War, as well as the poet Robert Frost, who made his home in next door Shaftsbury but chose this mountainside view as his final resting place.

Robert Frost's grave
Robert Frost
I’m not sure what the pennies are for. If anyone does, please comment below. [For more info, see the Frost Friends  site.]

If you’re looking for relaxation, recreation, or need to cool off, be sure to visit Lake Paran for a swim. I came to make sure my facts are straight before I use them in the further story of Ryan and his friends. 

Lake Paran
All in all, we had an incredible visit, although very short, and have every intention of returning to explore more of Bennington and the area.


Monday, September 12, 2011

And The Next Day…

Pentagon-Sep2001©LK HunsakerOne of my favorite novels is Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. It’s a gritty story full of flawed characters who continue on their journeys despite mistakes and struggles. Through it all, they are in it together. They don’t always like each others’ choices, but they accept it as part of who they are and realize their friends do the same for them. At least today that’s what I’m pulling from the story.

I can’t do an “I was here doing this on 9/11” post this year. And this is a day after post because I couldn’t do it yesterday. Yesterday I maintained internet silence, in tribute.

Ten years.

The other night my husband and I went to see one of our favorite bands play and they did a tribute song for those who were lost in the attack. Most of the audience didn’t pay much attention. Yesterday when we stopped at the mall briefly to visit Borders on its last day (*sigh*), I saw employees in Steelers shirts – it’s the start of Steeler, ahem football, season after all. What I didn’t see is any thought to the fact that it was the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I did see a ‘stupid politician’ shirt. *sigh* Yesterday was not the day to wear that.

Very sad. I cringe when I hear people say we need to let it go and move on. Are they serious? Move on, yes. Let it go? No.

I also cringe when I hear people bash our president at the time of the attacks for saying we should “keep shopping” as though he was brushing off the event. No, he was saying we should move on and not let them win. He absolutely didn’t mean let it go.

Much of me today is swamped with the thought that, like the Holocaust, people will before long start claiming 9/11 never happened. Very sad. I’m an optimist. I focus on the positives. I cling to the remembrance of the whole US and our allies supporting each other and ourselves, standing up for who we are and the right to be who we are, flying flags everywhere, sending donations, going to New York and the Pentagon and Shanksville and volunteering time to help with search and cleanup. I do focus on that, and on the fact that yes, we are still here despite the terrorist wishes, we are still functioning as a nation.

However, I will not let it go. I will not let it stop hurting as it did that day and every day after. I will not forget the sight in the photo above that I took as we drove past the Pentagon a few days later, or the face of the wife who lost her husband there as I stood within arms distance of her, or the fear of all of those who felt within harms way of another attack if it was to come.

I will not forget the hate that brought on the vicious attack. I will not forget that many, many of the group that planned this still wish our demise. As it is football season, the following is highly appropriate for both events: The best offense is a good defense.

It is the next day. The sun is bright and warm. We move on with our lives, as we should. Let us hope we can reclaim the feelings of the next day, of togetherness, of determination, of the fighting spirit that made America what it is.

Let’s continue to look forward to our future as well as honoring and remembering our past and how we got where we are. That cannot be forgotten, or we will be lost.

God Bless America and keep it safe and intact.

Since I was an art therapy student, I have to include this link to drawings done by children after 9/11. Really look at them.


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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Summer ‘11 Travels: Bennington VT

Bennington Sign
Summer 2011 has been packed full of travel! We love to see new places and experience new things, and this year, we indulged. During September, I’ll be highlighting some of it, although not in order.

I’m starting with a place I’ve wanted to visit for at least 3 years, ever since I decided to set Off The Moon partly in Bennington, VT. Why? It worked for the story, it’s in the northeast (which I love), and it gave me a good excuse to want to explore a new state. I’ve been to most. Now I can add Vermont to that list.

My husband and I have talked about taking a bike trip for some time. Now that our youngest is 18 and my husband had leave time built up, we grabbed the chance. We set up 5 days of leisurely travel on the Harley, packed light (there’s only so much you can fit on a Harley, even with two saddlebags), left enough food for the kids and dogs, and took off … under iffy skies. Luckily, it held out well. Other than finding, on our first long bike trip, that taking back roads adds more than twice the time interstates take, we made our way through the west edge of scenic PA along Route 6 through the Alleghenies to the west edge of scenic VT by evening of the second day (600+ miles).

Coming into Bennington

We’re used to rolling hills, and we love them. But VT has Mountains! I couldn’t stop staring out at them and taking far too many photos in the hopes some would turn out well (while riding on the back of a bike with sun glare on the view screen and dark sunglasses on, it’s hard to tell what you’re getting.)  In this one, you can see the tip of the Bennington Battle Monument.

We talked about staying at Four Chimneys if they had space available, but since we wanted to be off the bike for the night and walk around town, we opted to drive into the middle of Downtown Bennington. We found a quaint Motor Lodge right beside this gorgeous Episcopal church. (How can you not sleep well with this at your side?)  As it turns out, the lodge is run by one of the Chamber of Commerce members (maybe he said president? we were tired by then and my memory is faulty) who directed us to some nice choices for a nice meal.

We chose Carmody’s, an Irish restaurant and pub, established around the year 2000, although it was there under different names long before that. It turned out to be a wonderful choice! Have you ever had Irish Nachos? Incredible, and I’d take the fried potatoes topped with corned beef and cheese over regular nachos any day. And then there was the meatloaf with Guinness sauce. Mmm.. I think hubby will agree to visit Bennington again just to enjoy that luscious Irish gravy again! They’re also super friendly. (I only got the left edge of Carmody’s in the photo – thought I had a better one.. sigh. But if you check the white sign on the green building, that’s the Bennington Banner.)

Downtown Bennington
Here’s what we saw as we walked from the motel up the street into the main part of town. It’s a beautiful and well-cared-for town that shows its pride in being a large part of the battle for American Independence, as well as a wonderful tourist stop.

This is Evan’s Country Store. Fans of Rehearsal will understand why I had to grab a photo of this little shop that has souvenirs of Bennington. Across the road is Doug’s, a sports bar we didn’t visit this time. Apparently, there is also a Ryan’s CafĂ© on Main Street, also a bar, which we didn’t see, but we sure would have stopped in if we had! (Yes, only those who have read Off The Moon will get the reference.) We did stop for a drink at Madison Brewing Company, a microbrewery where families stop for a meal, as well.

We also stopped at the library the next morning. Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, its hours are currently limited and it didn’t open until 1 pm. With our schedule limits, we had to bypass it this time.

Bennington Bookshop
The Bennington Bookshop was open, though! I stopped and grabbed a few postcards and browsed their fairly large local author rack. With limited space on the bike, I figured I’d better be good and only browse. I did leave bookmarks for Off The Moon. Thank you to the manager for allowing it, and if any of their customers happen to find this post, they can order it for you.  Winking smile

Simply walking along town is a nice relaxing treat. Along with being clean and pretty and having hand-painted brick-like crosswalks, the street is lined with both these advertising cultural banners (can you tell this one features a guitarist?) and the Bennington Flag. We asked why they had “76” flags out when we visited the Monument and were proudly told that the Bennington Flag commemorates the town’s part in the victory of American Independence and can be used in place of the Stars & Stripes.

More on the monument in the continued entry to come…