Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Autumn in New England. Lovely. Through the Green Mountains on our way to Weston, Vermont, we travelled country roads draped in old train trellises, past old houses mirrored by serene lakes, as fog finished its whisper to canoes waiting mostly on the shores and the water began to smile from ringlets of raindrops. Even with the apparent age of these places, splashes of fall color and a Maple Lane in every town sets the stage for great sight-seeing. Weston, the town we read was “like a Norman Rockwell painting” is home to the Vermont Country Store, a popular attraction for shoppers. Adorned with Autumn-ness its pumpkin-lined slate rock walkways accented by wood and iron benches, old wooden barrels, and dotted with mounds of bursting fall chrysanthemums lead to a welcoming porch with waiting rockers. Off to the side, a 1950’s Chevy pick-up and an old milk can. A bit touristy but a trip down memory lane in the candy department helped me get over it with rock candy, jawbreakers, and yardstick bubble gum. We stayed one night in Weston; there was more of Vermont to see.
After lunch in Woodstock the next day, we roamed through an art gallery and a used bookstore, waiting for more flyable weather. As the clouds began to clear enough to make our next flight we shortened our time brief at one of many antiques stores in Quechee and hurried back to the airport in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Next stop: Stockbridge, Massachusetts (landing in nearby Pittsfield). It was my leg to fly on this “interesting” weather day. Light rain, but visibility good. Still, a large band of low clouds meant a longer flight to find clearance over the mountains. Since we don’t have de-icing equipment we would not fly in the clouds, as the temperatures in them were below freezing. Pittsfield’s airport was hiding behind a mountain range, but eventually we came upon it. Fortunately the swift wind was blowing straight down the runway.
Mike: The friendly lineman at the FBO in Pittsfield drove the rental car onto the ramp to meet us, and helped secure the plane. Soon we were on our way to Stockbridge, just minutes away. Stockbridge boasts home of the Red Lion Inn, since 1773. A large and elegant historic hotel (with an operating bird-cage elevator), the Inn is decorated with thousands of antiques. Among the goodies in the room was a booklet with three short bedtime stories, a unique and charming touch. Norman Rockwell lived his last 25 years in Stockbridge. His studio was moved to a larger piece of property it shares with the museum which houses most of his original paintings and tear sheets of every Saturday Evening Post cover he created. He worked 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays, for most of his life. We spent most of a day at the museum that honors the beloved artist who captured on canvas daily life in America for many decades of the last century.
Too soon, vacation was nearing an end. Crossing again over the Berkshires, Poconos, Catskills, Smokeys, the Appalachian, Adirondack, and Green Mountain ranges, bright hues of orange, red, and yellow covered the landscape like a soft knitted blanket. White church steeples in small towns bid a warm good-bye. The video camera got a lot of use.