Equilibrium Restored: Bennington & Manchester (New England)
19 Oct 2012 - After yesterday’s 6-hour driving debacle from Stowe to Bennington due to my GPS mishap, Peter and I slept like logs. However, extensive travel had taken its toll on us once again. Picking up one of our suitcases from the trunk of the car, Peter pulled the muscle on his right shoulder. Ouch. Luckily, I had an ice pack in my bag that was given to me by Dr Giglia in Damariscotta (Maine) when my lower back became inflamed. Getting hold of some ice from the Four Chimneys kitchen, I instructed Peter to ice his shoulder for 20 minute intervals, followed by a rub of some arnica ointment.
Because of Peter’s condition, our first stop in Bennington this morning was the Stram Center For Integrative Medicine to see if we could get some help. I know, I know. I can almost hear you exclaiming, “What is it with these guys! If it’s not the lower back it’s the shoulder, and if it’s not the shoulder, it’s stomach trouble, or the flu, etc etc” The truth is that traveling takes a lot out of anyone, putting pressure on the joints, muscles, skeletal structures, digestive and immune systems. Crossing different time zones, sitting in pressurized environments, driving for long distances and lifting heavy luggage for weeks on end takes its toll after a while. And while Peter and I like to think that mentally we’re still the same people as we were in our 20’s and 30’s, our bodies certainly are not.
So back to Bennington, Peter was fortunate enough to meet Dana Fulco BS, LMT at the Stram Center, a sports injuries specialist. While Dana didn’t have time to fit him in for a session, she tested his range of movements and was pleased to say that it wasn’t a torn ligament, just a sprain. Thank God! When she asked him what he had been doing for it, he said “My wife’s been getting me to put an ice pack on it and then rubbing arnica into it.” On hearing that, Dana gave me a smile from ear to ear and then gave me a “high five” as that was exactly what she would have advised him to do. “Just take it easy today and start exercising it gently from tomorrow onwards. Keep it moving. If you baby your shoulder too much you run the risk of getting a frozen shoulder, which is far more painful.”, she said.
Bennington, Vermont: Lincoln Family Home
“Why would you want to come to Bennington?”, we got asked several times by locals since our arrival. I agree, there are far more quaint and picturesque places to stay at. But what I liked about Bennington was that it was at the center of the area that we wanted to explore. Using it as a home base, we could then radiate outwards and find some amazing towns to see and things to do in Southern Vermont.
Bennington is not without its own attractions altogether, and here were our favorites:
* Bennington County is home to no less than 5 covered bridges. Crossing a covered bridge is like entering a portal of time. Transporting you back to the days of horse and buggy, Vermont's covered bridges span time and progress, linking more than just the opposite banks of a river or stream.
* Another Bennington attraction of historic importance is the Bennington Battle Monument. Standing over 300 feet tall, this monument represents a key battle of the American Revolution.
* The Bennington Museum is another local, and national, treasure . You can check out the Grandma Moses paintings and one of the oldest American flags in existence. Exhibits in the other rooms include Bennington pottery, glassware, portraits, Vermont guns and a Martin Wasp automobile. Throughout the museum at the different exhibits are phone numbers that you can call on your cell phone for additional information about particular piece.
* If you have any time left to spare, you must visit the Bennington potters. Just a few blocks off Bennington’s main drag, you can park in front of the buildings, follow the path to the rear of the property, and enter the pottery building. Set out in the form of a self guided tour with large signs explaining the pottery process, it’s fascinating to watch the potters as they work on their latest creations. A separate building houses the store, where you can purchase pottery, Vermont produce like maple syrup, and higher end giftware.
Another great ‘plus’ to Bennington was our accommodation, the very beautiful Four Chimneys. Situated on eleven magnificent acres in the historic neighborhood of Old Bennington, next door to the old governor’s mansion, and just a few yards from the historic Old First Church, Four Chimneys was for us a magical respite from the frenzy of continuous sight seeing and traveling. With only ten guest rooms, the inn has an intimate, yet grand feel reminiscent of the graceful summer homes of yesteryear. Staying at our own cottage on the premises, it was wonderful coming back to the inn at the end of the day and not hear any of the other guests until we joined them at the main house for breakfast. And just in case you haven’t the energy to dine out after all that sightseeing, Four Chimneys have an exceptional in-house restaurant. Bliss!
While we had just the day to visit Manchester, and therefore couldn’t fit in Mount Equinox and the monastery that sits on its magnificent summit, we were able to visit Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home. Robert Todd Lincoln, eldest and only surviving son of 16th American President Abraham Lincoln and wife Mary Todd Lincoln, built his ancestral home in the scenic village of Manchester. President of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing corporation in America, Robert Lincoln fell in love with Manchester on his first visit to the town as a young man in 1864. Forty years after his first visit he bought 500 acres and built on it his summer home which would stay with the family for the next 70 years. To walk through its rooms and corridors, this beautifully restored mansion gives one a valuable insight into how a distinguished family lived their lives at the time and a peek into one of America’s most historically prominent families. Hildene sits on on a promontory with breathtaking views of the valley and surrounding mountains, the quintessential Vermont landscape.