We had 79 passengers sign up for our annual Summer Place Mystery Trip, and, wouldn’t you know that chance of heavy rain today, was 93%. The downpour started just after we left Lizak Bus Service. So it goes. Our destination was the Cathedral of the Pines in Rindge, New Hampshire. This 200-acre non-denominational outdoor Cathedral lies on a ridge within sight of Mount Monadnock. The Cathedral is a serene, natural sanctuary surrounded by mountain vistas, with the good earth as its floor. It is an enduring memorial to patriotic service and sacrifice, and is dedicated to the memory and honor of all Americans who serve the Nation. Cathedral of the Pines is a place of spiritual, cultural, and environmental appreciation.
After about an hour-and-a-half ride, we arrived without incident, and scurried out into driving rain. We assembled in the visitor center and tour guide Gretchen gave us an introductory talk on the history of the Cathedral. The center itself is housed in a very comfortable fieldstone building complete with easy chairs and a cozy fireplace. At one end of this building, there is an inside altar dedicated to four chaplains in an area that can seat about 100 persons comfortably. We learned about the family who created this beautiful site and, then like a miracle, the rain stopped completely for about an hour.
Gretchen took us down into the sanctuary by way of a winding garden path past the Women’s Memorial Bell Tower. Everything was in bloom and the gardens were simply beautiful. Some of us walked further down to the Mother Chapel, the Ten Commandments garden, and the Sanctuary of St. Francis. Afterward, we were on our own to check out the museum housing military memorabilia and diverse religious items that have been donated to the Cathedral over the years. They’ve done a very fine job of mounting the exhibits that include several veterans that are local to Central Massachusetts.
At 12:30, we piled back into our coaches and traveled to the Fitzwilliam Inn in Fitzwilliam, NH. The innkeepers were ready for us and seated us promptly in the main dining rooms. Both were brightly lit and natural light flooded in from large windows on both sides of the rooms; iced tea, water, coffee, and soft drinks were ready for us, and most folks helped themselves from the service tables. The salads came next and were accompanied by a cheesy house bread with butter - yum. Our entrees followed promptly and everybody loved the food.
Our hostess knew it would be raining, so she arranged for several local craftspeople to display their wares in the front parlor. Everybody had fun looking around - many found treasures. And, just across the common were two other shopping venues – Bloomin’ Antiques and Chef Allan’s Café. Both had a mix of primitives, antiques, jewelry, and gifts. Everybody was happy with the shopping.
As an alternative to sitting in the Fitzwilliam Inn tap room, about thirty of us toddled over to the Fitzwilliam Historical Society to check out their interesting little museum. They had lots of great stuff to see including firefighting memorabilia, wooden ware, pails, and tubs made in Fitzwilliam, some local chairs and clocks, and a nice collection of toys and costumes.
Overall, our stay in Fitzwilliam was pleasant even though the rain hardly let up for a minute. We had an uneventful ride home with memories of several interesting venues.