Travels With Steinbeck



North to New Hampshire

Eaglebrook School where Steinbeck spent his first night.

Eaglebrook School where Steinbeck spent his first night.

Come and ride along with me as I follow the Steinbeck route from Travels with Charley around the U.S. and “rediscover this monster land.”

Itinerary: I left Sag Harbor on the three ferries that Steinbeck took forty-nine years ago to the day ( the South, the North, and the Cross Sound) and angled back across Connecticut to pick up the Winnie. I left Middlebury, Connecticut and followed I-84 to Hartford where I picked up I-91 to Deerfield, Massachusetts. After a delightful visit at the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, I jumped back on I-91 and was heading to St. Johnsbury, Vermont when I got a call causing me to slip off onto US-302 northeast to Lisbon, New Hampshire.

Steinbeck’s route: After getting off the Cross Sound ferry in New London, I would guess that Steinbeck took State-85 to Hartford. According to my 1959 Rand McNally there was only a short stretch of I-91 completed and that was in Southern Vermont. Steinbeck would have followed U.S. 5 along the Connecticut River from Hartford to Deerfield, Massachusetts where he spent his first night.

New London, from the Cross Sound Ferry, "Susan Anne"

New London, from the Cross Sound Ferry, "Susan Anne"

The Landscape: Let me just comment on Vermont. There is nothing going on there. Nothing, that is, but sculpted rock faces (some in the median of the interstate), dense forests and quaint farms with covered bridges. Read my lips, Vermont. You need to work on some good old American Bs— Billboards, box stores and blight (and guess what, barns just doesn’t cut it). Without a super-box store how am I supposed to know I’m always getting the cheapest stuff? And you’re not fooling anybody with those really nice wayside/info centers offering Wi-Fi and the sign saying, “Moose Crossing,” and that color in the trees, really, come on Vermont, what do I look like a clueless tourist?

The Steinbeck Connection: I had promised my youngest son to say good-by in passing. His school is at Deerfield, Massachusetts, but I got there too late to arouse him, so I drove up the mountain and found a dairy, bought some milk, and asked permission to camp under an apple tree.  The dairy man had a Ph.D. in mathematics, and he must have had some training in philosophy. He liked what he was doing and he didn’t want to be somewhere else—one of the very few contented people I met in my whole journey. Travels with Charley

A one-lane stone bridge near Eaglebrook School.

A one-lane stone bridge near Eaglebrook School.

Profile: I did not drive to the dairy Steinbeck referenced but I had a delightful visit at the Eaglebrook School and was amazed to hear from affable Head of School, Andy Chase that the dairy man was apparently so contented that he only just recently moved away from the farm up the road. I had lunch at Andy’s table with his secret weapon, his wife, Rachel Blain. Rachel and I had growing up on a boarding school campus in common. Rachel’s discussions with the boys who dined with us reminded me of my father never missing the teachable moment. During the meal, Rachel good-naturedly tossed academic questions at the young men (grades 6-9) who circled our table.

I have been around independent schools for most of my life. One of my few skills is that I can tell a good and happy

school within fifteen minutes of arriving on campus. Eaglebrook is an extraordinary school in a stunning mountain setting with the unique claim of having had the valuable continuity of three generations of schoolmen at the helm. Andy sits at the desk that was his father’s before him, and his grandfather’s before that.

Eaglebrook Head of School, Andy Chase.

Eaglebrook Head of School, Andy Chase.

My detour into New Hampshire came after a cell call from my brother David directing me to Bishop Farm Bed & Breakfast in Lisbon, New Hampshire owned by his friend and co-worker Heather Salter—and managed by Heather’s sister Annie, and mother, Maggie. I got a cozy cottage tucked back in the trees. My review of Bishop Farm is below:

Five Stars–is that it? Is that all I can award these warm-hearted, hard-working women?  I drove here from Jackson Hole, Wyoming (14 states in 4000 miles), and I’m no stranger to inns and the world of beds and breakfasts and Bishop Farm has it all! It is rustic and modern, laid back and efficient, private and communal. I love it and will return often.

Heather, Annie and Mom, Maggie you are the gold standard.

The Dog: Max has a new girlfriend, GiGi with whom he took an invigorating hike. Life is good.

Sweet Notes: And life is sweet at Bishop Farm. Heather, Annie and Maggie (and GiGi) have pledged to ride along.

Max leading the way on a hike with new pal, GiGi

Max leading the way on a hike with new pal, GiGi

The Bishop Farm Bed and Breakfast Babes, (from left) Heather, Annie and Maggie, at dinner.

The Bishop Farm Bed and Breakfast Babes, (from left) Heather, Annie and Maggie, at dinner.

Thank you for riding along.

Let’s talk again soon, shall we?

Greg Zeigler

Travels with Steinbeck: In Search of America Fifty Years Later

Copyright © 2009

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Comments

  1. * Dave Hall says:

    Greg, last summer we took the wonderful drive from Saratoga Springs, NY, to Middlebury, VT. Vermont is indeed green…

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago
  2. * Jeanne says:

    GREAT photos. Who knew you could take such great photos?
    To Maine and beyond!
    xo

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago
  3. * Tom Armstrong says:

    Zig, Make sure you ask for a Smuttynose IPA. Finestkind. Ayuh.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago
  4. * Dave Hall says:

    Nice catchup last night Zig.

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 1 month ago


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