One of our great joys, while we were in Massachusetts, was getting reacquainted with Bill and Barbara Ruh. We knew Bill when we were all in school at Vanderbilt, way back in 1981 – 1983, but we never had the chance to meet Barbara. We exchanged the annual Christmas cards / letters but hadn’t been able to get together in all those years. However, our campground in Massachusetts was only a half hour from their house and Bill and Barbara lavishly extended their hospitality.
Barbara started reading my blog after I mentioned it in the Christmas letter and when she saw our itinerary, she invited us to park in their driveway. Not too many people are willing to have our big rig parked at their house (not too many people have driveways long enough!). We decided to stay in the campground, but appreciated the offer, especially since Barbara had never met us. Through a series of e-mails, however, I soon felt like Barbara and I were old friends and that is exactly how we all felt when we got together. Bill and Barbara have a small RV and have camped all over the United States. They both are newly retired, just like us. They are both strong Christians. Their two daughters are adults now. So we have lots of things in common.
We ended up spending parts of four days with Bill and Barbara. We had dinner at their beautiful house and spent several hours talking. Once Tom and I got our schedule for the 10 days in central Massachusetts set up, Bill and Barbara decided to join us in our quest for the Grand Canyon of Massachusetts. Not only did we see Chesterfield Gorge, we also spent some time at Glendale Falls, and then Tom and Bill hiked up Mount Holyoke. Barbara and I drove to the top and met them there. Bill is one of the few people that can actually push Tom in climbing a mountain, and they made it to the top soon after Barbara and I arrived. We all had supper together at Kimball Farm, which is a combination amusement park / ice cream stand.
Another day, Barbara introduced us to Letterboxing, her hobby of choice. Letterboxing is similar to geocaching only with clues instead of GPS waypoints and rubber stamps instead of trinkets. We had fun finding the letterboxes and seeing some interesting historical things along the way. We also gave them a tour of our RV and fed them lunch.
Barbara and I took an afternoon for some “girl time.” She drove me to a yarn shop, even though she has no interest in knitting. Turns out there was a letterbox INSIDE the yarn shop! Island Yarn Company is a fascinating yarn shop. The owner, Victoria, offers a destashing discount. You can bring in any kind and quantity of yarn and she will give you $5 off for every pound of yarn you bring in. I culled two pounds of yarn from my stash here in the RV and got $10 off. Another unique thing about her shop is her repurposed yarn. Victoria goes to thrift stores and buys cashmere sweaters, unravels them, washes the yarn multiple times, and then replys the yarn to make a unique new yarn. I found some I just had to buy (but when have I not found yarn I had to buy in any yarn store?).
Barbara also took me to lunch at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, the inspiration for Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s collection of poems “Tales of a Wayside Inn.” The Wayside Inn claims to be the oldest continuously operated restaurant and Inn in the United States. The salad and corn muffins were very good. The corn meal was ground at the grist mill across the street and the grist mill is the one that is pictured on the front of Pepperidge Farm products. We also saw the schoolhouse where the Mary, of Mary’s Little Lamb fame, went to school – followed by her lamb! I didn’t know there was a real Mary for that nursery rhyme!
We had a wonderful time getting reacquainted with Bill and Barbara Ruh. They shared their gift of hospitality with us and helped us explore a wonderful and little-known (to us) part of Massachusetts. We are hoping to get together again soon and maybe even camp together somewhere along the way.