October 22, 2020

The 2014 Internet Monk New England Tour

NE Poster3Well friends, I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in the Crossroads of America the roads are clogged with family trucksters inhabited by Griswold families from all across this great country of ours. It’s summer vacation time, and your venerable Chaplain is about to take to the interstate too.

This year, it will be a special combination of spending time with family, walking down pastoral memory lane, and sharing some face to face fellowship with members of our Internet Monk community in various places around New England.

FIRST STOP: East Dover, Vermont.

This little mountain village is the home of our first congregation, the East Dover Baptist Church, which is celebrating its 200th birthday this year. At the ripe old age of 22, I became the pastor of this historic church in the fall of 1978.

It was the season of “firsts” in my life. First move away from home. First church call. First wife (I’m joking, she’s still my wife — my only one, by the way). There I performed my first funeral, my first wedding, my first baptism, and led my first congregational meetings. We had our first baby there. When we left, five years later, it was our first move as a family.

I made all my first mistakes there, big and small, and I’m still making most of them. But that little church, filled with patient Vermonters who had weathered life in the mountains for generations, knew how to put up with a little foolishness from a flatlander who was wet behind the ears; a novice who had the gall to take a “senior” pastor position.

EDBCWe’ll be celebrating all weekend. Friday night there’s a service in which a minister who was the church’s pastor before me will be preaching. After a Saturday morning breakfast, the church will be open all day for people to walk through, with displays about their ministry over the years. That night we’ll participate in a gospel jam session followed by an ice cream social. After Sunday morning worship, in which I will share a brief testimony of my time at the church, we’ll have dinner on the grounds. All of that’s great, but what I look forward to the most is hugging and conversing with old friends, laughing and sharing memories, celebrating God’s grace and faithfulness.


On Monday morning, our children will journey home and Gail and I will continue on for a belated celebration of our 35th anniversary.

We’ll start by heading up to the shores of Lake Winnepesaukee for a one-night stay. There we’ll spend an evening enjoying James Taylor in concert before we continue our journey east the next day.

islesford-3107THIRD STOP: The coast of Maine.

Down East, to be specific. Faithful Internet Monk reader Ted and his wife Jeri have extended an invitation to stay with them in their home in Islesford, AKA Little Cranberry Island.

When Ted first invited us, I looked on the Islesford website and noticed that the little historic church on the island was seeking a resident minister. For a brief instant I had visions of being another “Doc Martin,” leaving the big city and making my home in a little village by the sea. Alas, I’ve heard they have called a young man and his family to serve there since. May they be blessed as we were in our first New England parish.

Anyway, I can’t wait to smell the salt air, get aboard a boat, walk the shoreline, eat fresh lobster, take some memorable pictures, and most of all get to meet a cyber-friend in person.

From Ted’s we’ll move south to the central part of the Maine coast. We will be staying for a few days at a B&B in Boothbay Harbor, from which we will venture out to explore various sights. Again, this will involve lots of walks, photography, seafood, and taking deep, deep breaths. Oh, and L.L. Bean too.

We had hoped to catch up with faithful IM friend Joanie on this stage of the trip, but it doesn’t look like it will work out. I’m sad about that; maybe next time. We’ll wave as we drive by.

10379890_705926566132734_137572379983787982_oFOURTH STOP: Forest Haven: Bradford, NH

Before we head home, another of our regular readers and occasional guest author Randy Thompson will put us up at his pastoral retreat, Forest Haven, for a couple of days.

Here is the mission to which Randy and his wife Jill have been called:

Jill and I founded this small retreat center so that pastors and other Christian workers might have a beautiful place of peace and quiet where they can get away for a few days or a couple weeks to get reacquainted with God. When I burned-out in the mid-80′s, it was a week away at a retreat center in Connecticut that the Lord used to heal me. Ever since then, I’ve striven to anchor my ministry life in silence, solitude and prayer. I haven’t always been successful in doing so, but this is a core value of my life, and which we are hoping to share with pastors here at Forest Haven.

What a great way to end a summer vacation! Leave the light on for us, Randy, we’ll be on our way in a couple of days.

• • •

Of course, we won’t forget about the rest of you as we’re driving east. I’ll be writing from the road and getting help from others who will submit guest posts. The conversation will continue.

It’s a Mercer tradition to say, with exuberance, at the beginning of family trips, “Time to hit the ol’ gypsum trail!”

This is Clark Griswold . . . uh, Chaplain Mike. Until we meet again, in New England.


  1. Sounds like an awesome trip!

    I am 6 shades of green..with envy.

  2. Vega Magnus says

    Careful in small town Maine. You may get murdered and then a local mystery writer would have to solve the case.

    • Hmm… “The Internet Monk Mystery Series.” Let’s see.

      Book 1: When small town chaplain Mike goes missing, Dan, a pastor in town is the primary suspect but the evidence remains elusive. When local sheriffs Ted and Joanie are unable to solve the case, they bring in a number of gifted but eccentric detectives to help them.

      – Young hotshot Miguel from Long Island, who is able to articulate a complex theory of the case but needs more proof;
      – Straight arrow Steve Martin, who has a simple theory that may or may not fit all the evidence;
      – Quirky psychic HUG, who explores ideas no one else dares to voice;
      – Eloquent but pessimistic Robert F, who doubts the mystery will ever be solved.

      But it’s only when wise old detective David Cornwell arrives, that things really begin to make sense…

      Jeff Dunn, are you listening?

      • Brianthedad says

        Awesome! I’d buy the book. You have a gift of wit and turn of word. Great characters, and just how I’d pictured them in my mind.

      • LOVE your summation of the characters, Chaplain Mike!

      • David Cornwell says

        “wise old detective David Cornwell arrives, that things really begin to make sense…”

        Already on the case. Confidential informants have info, but they want cash first.

      • Danielle says

        Notice how quickly Joanie has offered praise. Is her affability evidence of her usual good cheer? Or is it designed to diffuse suspicion?

        Also note that David has informants about an event that has not yet occurred. Most interesting.

        • David Cornwell says

          The FBI does it, so can I.

          • Danielle says

            Sir, you must surely know by now that I work for the government, and also that my employer does not appreciate competition.

            You can only hope that drugs are not involved in the case, or we will be forced to show up, rifle through all your files, and slow your work down by at least a week by getting in your way. And that’s if we don’t find anything.

      • Robert F says

        “…wise old detective David Cornwell arrives….” and hogs the spotlight.

        • David Cornwell says

          You know me pretty well!

          • Robert F says

            That’s right, Cornwell. The self-effacing police detective act worked for Colombo, but not for you. I can see right through that facade of humility you wear to the sagacious core beneath. You can’t fool me. I’ve got you pegged!

      • Faulty O-Ring says

        So Dan and David must learn to put aside their differences in order to become buddy detectives, evade ninja assassins, and solve a mystery that threatens the very foundations of Christianity.

      • Robert F says

        Of course this mystery can’t be solved. Problems are meant to be solved, but mysteries are meant to be lived…

      • Check out Linda Greenlaw’s murder mysteries. Linda grew up on nearby Isle au Haut, Maine, and became a swordfisherman who got mentioned favorably in the book “The Perfect Storm.” She landed her own book deal for “The Hungry Ocean” and later wrote a few mystery novels set in coastal villages and on fishing boats, something like “Murder, She Wrote.” Fun reading.

        Believe it or not, I’ve never read a Stephen King novel, even though he lives in Bangor, about 50 miles from here. I guess I’m too scared.

        • Dana Ames says

          One has to cross the country to see where the exteriors of “Murder, She Wrote” were filmed: Mendocino, California – 10 miles from where I grew up.

          Mendocino County’s coastal towns have often stood in for the East Coast: Johnny Belinda, The Russians are Coming, Summer of ’42, other films and TV shows. Not as far for Hollywood crews to travel, nor as expensive to get to the locations.

          I was once within arm’s reach of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr….

          And I do love the plot summary, CM! Have a great trip, and blessed times with friends old and new.


          • Murder She Wrote was supposed to be based in Maine, but the boats in the quaint little fishing harbors were all rigged west-coast style.

            Did you ever wonder who really committed all those murders? I mean, everywhere Angela Lansbury went, somebody died.

    • Randy Thompson says


      If we’re talking about Maine, it would be more likely that you’d disappear mysteriously into the Maine Woods and it would be left up to Stephen King to explain it.

  3. Aw, shucks.

    Can’t wait to see you so you can help get that maple tree off our roof. Souvenir of Hurricane Arthur. No, it should be gone by then. A couple of guys and a backhoe are coming today.

  4. Have a wonderful trip, Chaplain Mike! I hope you and Gail will love our beautiful State O’ Maine.

    Ted, were you able to take part in Dinner Impossible with Robert Irvine on Little Cranberry Island? Tom and I saw that episode and enjoyed it. Wish we could have been there! It was neat that so much of the cooking had to be done in the citizens’ homes.


    • Yeah, I was there. I came late and left early, pigged out on great food, which included a lot of meat. Tried to stay out of the way. It was a zoo with all of the running around and TV crews and hard to socialize with old friends that we’ve been too busy to get together with all summer (which is what it’s all about, except when a TV crew invades the island). My wife managed to find a “quiet” corner with friends but I stayed outside at the picnic tables so I could make an escape.

      Usually the Columbus Day weekend is busy enough because it’s a beautiful time of year and a lot of summer people come back for one last weekend before they drain their pipes and close their homes. But that particular Harvest Supper there were a lot of extra people who may or may not be referred to as “media sluts.”

      I don’t think we had a Harvest Supper the following year. People got burned out. And as good as the food was (with an unbelievable amount of leftovers that people got to take home), most people agreed that the island cooks are just as good or better and probably serve healthier food. And with less commotion.

      Can’t find the youtube of that episode, but I know it’s out there. It’s a lot of fun to watch, and for me more fun than the event itself.

  5. Christiane says

    sounds really wonderful, Chaplain Mike

    one of my own favorite places in New England is along the Mohawk Trail that parallels the Deerfield River up in Massachusetts. My Aunt lived in Charlemont and my father would stay with her while my sister and I stayed at the Oxbow Resort Motel . . . a little place with the best restaurant for breakfasts and a lovely pool. Very special. We used to tuck into Shelburne Falls to shop and grab lunch and visit the Bridge of Flowers. New England IS gorgeous in summertime.
    Hope you enjoy your time visiting and touring.

  6. East Dover, VT? My husband grew up in Brattleboro; his sister and his mother still live close by. Is the reunion this weekend? Drat – I’d love to crash it. It might be something we could have gotten the church-allergic family to attend. Have fun!

  7. David Cornwell says

    Wow! What a great trip. Take care, do some relaxing, and let yourself get recharged. Let Gail drive a few miles also.

  8. Hope you have a wonderful and refreshing time. I’d tell you to wave at northern Illinois as you go by, but I don’t that is on your way :)) By the way imonkers, let’s all remember to cheer for the Dutch tomorrow, OK?,,,please?

  9. That Other Jean says

    On the road again. . .your trip sounds fantastic, Chaplain Mike! Drive carefully, walk slowly, eat lobster, and enjoy yourselves much. Meeting old friends and new and seeing all the sights looks to be nicely balanced by your Forest Haven retreat at the end. Happy anniversary and happy vacation!

  10. Randy Thompson says

    Things Not To Miss When Visiting New England:

    1. Acadia National Park (and Bar Harbor)
    2. The Mount Washington Cog Railroad (NH)
    3. Mystic Seaport (CT)
    4. Sturbridge Village (MA)
    5. BLock Island (RI)
    6. The Freedom Trail (Boston–but don’t even begin to think about taking a car into Boston! Use the T.)
    7. The Flume (NH)
    8. Tanglewood (Summer Home of the Boston Symphony, in Western MA)
    9. Burlington, VT (A great place to jut hang out for a day or two.)
    10. Fenway Park (even if you’re a Yankee fan)

    • Good list, Randy. I haven’t made it to all those places, but some. I would also add the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay, Maine. Mike and Gail already have tickets for there. It is a fantastic place! Burlington Vermont is a nice city. I have only briefly visited twice, but I love the area blocked off from traffic and paved with bricks. Nice restaurants in that area. And Lake Champlain is great, of course.

      And if you want to see lakes and mountains in Maine, the place to go is Rangeley.

      • Randy Thompson says

        Yes! I forgot about the Coastal Maine Botanical Garden! My wife and I discovered for the first time a couple years ago. It’s a fabulous place, and well worth a day trip to Boothbay.

        Another great garden is near us, on Lake Sunapee. “The Fells” has wonderful gardens, a fascinating old estate to tour, and is the only place where you can hike on or near the shore of Lake Sunapee.

  11. I realize that your posting your itinerary isn’t the same as like, inviting crazed fans to crash your party…but let me just say that if you find yourself with not much to do, I’ll be happy to buy you a drink (beer, coffee, Moxie, whatever) for the pleasure of your company. I’m in Concord and wouldn’t mind the chance to meet.

    On the other hand — yeah — just enjoy the peace and quiet. Peace go with you as you rest.

  12. It sounds like a great trip CM, East Dover is great. If you have a little free time around East Dover you might like the Manchester area. Have a great trip.

    • We love Manchester and all things Vermont. My wife grew up there and we spent five wonderful years of our life there, mostly before we had children, so we had time to explore as a couple. We’re looking forward to doing more of that.

  13. Danielle says

    This whole thread is making me nostalgic. I grew up in Hanover, NH.

    Have a great trip, CM!

  14. Sounds like a great holiday, CM. Enjoy