White River Junction, VT

July 29, 2010 11:23 pm

This morning, we went downstairs at the Hancock Hotel and had breakfast. Diane was cooking. Actually, I should say the Old Hancock Hotel. According to Diane, there is actually a Hancock, NH also, with a lavish Hancock Hotel. She said that once a man walked in, and she could see by the look on his face that the Old Hancock was not at all what he was expecting. He said he couldn’t let his wife get out of the car, or else he’d never get her to Vermont, again. Diane called her friend at the other place, and got him a room.

While Elliot and I were eating, Diane’s youngest daughter, Anna, joined us at the counter for breakfast. She had an unpaid internship at a Center for Equitable Healthcare (or something like that, I don’t remember the exact name), and also worked at the Big Town Gallery in nearby Rochester. I could hear the passion and excitement in her voice as she described some of the artists and their work that was presently being displayed. She will do well. When she said there was a display of custom harmonica cases, I knew I had to visit.


Unfortunately, Anna blinked as this picture was taken, but I assume she has the same beautiful steel blue-gray eyes as her mother.


The Big Town Gallery in Rochester, VT. Right next to the bike shop.


This was one of dozens of custom harmonica cases. I liked the smooth lines of this one, and metal inlay.


This artist addressed interesting envelopes to his friends, then the friends gave them back to him later.


A garden spider outside the gallery. Good! Keeps the flies down.

We were about to leave Rochester, but it was noon, and the next food was supposedly 20 miles away, so we decided to stay for lunch at the Rochester Cafe. It had Wi-Fi, which was a plus, since there wasn’t any where we were staying in Hancock. I synced the blog, which I had written offline.


The Organic Peach Iced Tea was FABULOUS!!


The day was pretty easy riding. Cool and humid, and almost entirely downhill.


Near Bethel, VT. Shortly thereafter, I started to get stomach pains, so Elliot pulled all the way into White River Junction.


Most small towns have bulletin boards outside the main store. Bethel was large enough to have more than one main store, but here is the board outside the Central Market. Your Invited!

I wanted to stay at the Shady Lawn Motel, or at least see a room there. The rooms were supposedly only $53. It was right on our way in, so at least I snapped a picture. Here is a review.


The Shady Lawn Motel in White River Junction, VT

We instead continued to the Hotel Coolidge, a hostel, which was slightly more expensive at $55 for two people in a shared room. The Hotel was right in the middle of what was once a vibrant area, but we passed deserted storefront after deserted storefront on the way in.

Hannah checked us in at the desk. She said that the area was starting to come back, ever since the Cartoon Academy went in across the street a few years ago. There were signs of revival. Lots of artsy stuff, like a theater company, pottery gallery, bagel and coffee shops. Still a lot of vacant stores, though. The hostel was accustomed to cyclists, and had a bike room (a creepy cellar) in which to store our bicycles. And there was someone at the desk 24-7. And they had good Wi-Fi.


Hannah at the Hotel Coolidge. She was laughing seconds ago, but turned serious for the picture.


The place seems to have about 100 rooms, and must have been the luxury spot of the city in its heyday I wonder what someone who stayed at the Coolidge 60 years ago would think of it now?


No problem getting power here. There was a transformer and street light right outside our window.

Hannah recommended the Elixir for fine dining, but said that I would be fine dressed in a T shirt. As I was walking down the street, I saw 5 people just sitting in camp chairs outside an empty store. It was kind of chilly, but they didn’t seem to mind. Cheryl, the one on the end, started talking with me. She used to be a taxi driver, and had quite a few stories. She had lived there for 40 years, and seen quite a few changes on that street. As for the social club, it started a few years ago with just a couple people sitting on the curb, but more and more people started coming, and they were up to about 10, now. They came out every night. If it was raining, they put up the awning.

As we were talking, one more person came along, and pulled up a chair. The group seemed to know just about everyone passing by. Kathy, next to Cheryl, ran away when she heard the word “picture,” but the others convinced her to come back. Lisa and Rob were abusing each other, but the others said that was just a husband and wife playing.


L-R: Cheryl, Kathy, George, Lisa & Rob, Jason (late joiner)

The Elixir had top-notch food. I met the owners, Jane and Skip. They use all fresh, local ingredients for their dishes, with few exceptions. I had a lovely black bean gazpacho there, and some stuffed shrimp. I sat at the bar and talked a bit with Chris, a dialysis technician. There was SuperCross playing on ESPN at the bar. The LA coliseum had been filled with dirt and made into a motocross track.


Chris, Dan, Jane, and Matt. I don't know where Skip, Jane's husband, went.

Back at the hotel, there was some kind of giant fan outside near our room, so we were lulled to sleep by it. There was also occasional raucous conversation going on in the alley below. We slept well, just the same.

Mileage today: 50.2


  1. Marilyn Lang says:

    I’m NOT going to try to ID that spider, lol!

    I’m curious: where do you plan on ending up? I think you mentioned Maine? Portland, Maine? (Nice airport there.)

    • roderick says:

      Hi, Marilyn.

      Aw, it’s just a garden spider. It just doesn’t have the yellow markings of the kind we have at home.

      Plans change. The original plan was to Maine somewhere, but that would have meant some hard riding days at the end. So, we’re basically done now. The only airport near the route was in West Lebanon, NH – just across the river from where we are now. I’ll talk about it in detail on my next post.

      Take good care,

  2. Mona Schorow says:

    A perfect day to ride — and now perfect days to relax. Congratulations!


  3. Mona Schorow says:

    Perhaps you can get a snap a shot of a New England covered bridge? Oo, not much time left before you’re winging your way home!

    • roderick says:

      Hi, Mona.

      I believe you may be our most frequent commenter.

      Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re going to go over a covered bridge. I saw one across a river in Vermont, but didn’t think to take a picture of it. 🙁

  4. Reuben says:

    Congratulations Roderick & Elliot! I’m sure you’ll have a lot of stories and details to share that were not on this blog. After this adventure, do you have new views about people, or insights into your own life?

    Mom/grandma will be at your home to greet you. I think she’ll enjoy hearing you share stories of your travels together.

    • roderick says:

      Hi, Reuben.

      No life-changing insights, just a reminder that people everywhere are basically good. Watching all the politics on the news, conservative vs. liberal, it’s easy to be misled into thinking we don’t get along with each other.

      I’ll let Elliot answer for himself.

      – Roderick.

  5. Jethro Chan says:

    When you have the info, can you tell me when you will come back. If I am not in Utah then, I would be more than happy to greet you folks!

    I am so excited to see you guys again!

    • Elliot says:

      sup jethro, me and my dad will be back in california in about 10 hours I believe.