Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Vermont to Massachusetts

Wednesday 5 August

No Wifi yesterday so it is another two days together. This seems to be the standard for this trip.

Chilly night, we added a blanket in the early morning. Slept in 'til 9:00 here in the deep, dark woods. Gene walked to the entrance and bought another night. After breakfast we drove .3 mile to the Quechee Gorge Visitor's Center. A pleasant hike through the woods and under Rte. 4 bridge took us to a fork in the trail. The trail to the left goes down into the gorge (steep), the trail to the right goes along the rim to the beginning (variable). We went right and shortly came to some stairs to shops on Rte. 4. We bought some water and went back to the trail. An up and down hike of about .4 mile took us to Dewey's Mill Pond dam, the beginning of the gorge.

Gene took some pictures in cloudy conditions and went back to the store. To the right of the store was the Rte. 4 bridge over the gorge, with a sidewalk. We went out on the bridge and took another picture.

 Then we continued on, thinking it was the way back to the Visitor's Center. After a long walk we realized we were going in the wrong direction. Back at the store we looked the other way and could almost see the motorhome!

After this adventure, we drove to the King Arthur Flour complex. It includes a cafe, where we had delicious sandwiches. Next it was back to the Quechee Gorge Village with a store for Cabot Cheese and  several other venues. Jean shopped while I took a nap.

Then one more trip back to White River Junction to pick up a few groceries at the Coop grocery store. Were running back and forth over the same stretch of road like a yo-yo. Finally we drove in to Woodstock (a new stretch of road) to see what it looked like. We found out it has municipal Wifi so I finished up the previous blog entry and posted it. A pleasant walk down town eventually brought us to a restaurant (Maloza Carribean Bistro) where we had supper.

Back at the camp, I talked briefly with a neighbor that was in a black Class B that looked similar to ours. It looked like a Sprinter but was actually built on the new Ford van chassis. It is similar to a Sprinter but is two feet shorter. Several RV builders use the Sprinter chassis (and now the Ford) and  I am always interested in how they arrange things. So far, I still prefer the Roadtrek, and now that I have spent five years modifying and customize ours I am not even interested in the fancy new ones.

Thursday and Friday

Our next goal was to visit Plymouth, MA. Not that we are particularly interested in the town itself, but because an old friend from Jamestown Settlement, Whitt Perry, is now working there. His job is to get the reproduction of the Mayflower II ready for Plymouth's 400th anniversary in 2020. Being in Vermont meant we had a chance to see him and catch up. It also meant a possible guided tour of the ship.

Thursday got us into Massachusetts, within range to make a lunch date on Friday. After a long lunch and visit, Whitt gave us a tour of the maintenance facility and then took us (two miles) to the ship.

A detailed, top to bottom, tour of the ship showed us how the she differs from the ships at Jamestown, even though they are the same period. Basic design and rigging is the same, but layout is different. Mayflower is slightly larger than Susan Constant, and the stern is quite different. It also showed us that he has a lot of work to do to get the ship in top shape in five years. I hope we will be able to check in periodically to watch progress.

After our visit, we were able to get to Connecticut Friday night. After that it was two days of homeward bound, mostly on interstates. We got home on Sunday night to conclude a trip of just under two weeks and just over 2,000 miles. It was a nice trip, now it's back to the old day-to-day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Burlington and beyond

Monday, 3 August and Tuesday 4 August

Monday was a casual day --- for us, not for Alan and Valerie. Valerie went in to work, where she is dealing with a software change-over, always a recipe for problems. Alan and Jean went off to deliver a new refrigerator to one of his rentals. I caught up on some chores around the motorhome, did some stuff online, and took a nap.

In the evening we went to the edge of downtown to a Mexican restaurant. There we had a long, casual meal and lots of conversation. Afterwards we walked down to the waterfront for Gene to have his annual look at the Lois Maclure, a reproduction of a 19th century canal boat rigged as a schooner. On the canal, she is towed as normal. On the Hudson or Lake Champlain she raises her two masts and sails. She seems to have fallen on hard times since the last time he saw her. She is no longer moored where visitors can come aboard and the hull needs quite a bit of work. Her masts are up, but there are no sails bent and while she has booms rigged there are no gaffs. She was a pretty sad sight.

Then we went up the hill for cremees. That is what they call soft ice cream in Vermont. We sat on the deck and enjoyed a striking sunset while slurping our cremees. A lovely end to a quiet day.

Tuesday was departure day.  We had topped off our water tanks on Monday so we were away by 9:30. Away but not quite on our way. We drove up to the campground at North Beach where we dumped the tanks. Then to Hannaford's for some groceries. By 10:30 we were actually on our way. Namely, Gene tried to recall how to get to the interstate from the various trips he took with Alan. We made it with only one wrong turn (easily corrected) and headed for Montpelier.

We like downtown Montpelier, but it is damnably hard to park a motorhome there. We finally found a place at the edge of the business district and headed for a store we knew about. When we got there it looked threatening, so Gene went back to the rig for the umbrella. We had gone to get a particular bumper sticker we had seen there on a previous trip. Their stock of bumper stickers was way down and they no longer had it. Shucks.

By then it was time for lunch and we headed to another of our favorite places, the Skinny Pancake. We got there just as it was beginning to rain. Lunch was accompanied by a heavy downpour with hail. By the time we got out it was still raining, but lightly. Still, we were glad to have the umbrella.

Next item on the list was a visit to Bragg Farm. This is a maple sugar farm that we had stayed at a couple of years ago thanks to Harvest Hosts, an organization that puts RVers together with farms, vineyards, etc. for overnight parking. When we were there we bought a supply of maple syrup, and we have gone back there for our supply ever since.

Having checked off everything on our list, we were footloose and fancy free. We decided to follow I-89 to Quechee Gorge, "the Grand Canyon of Vermont." Along the way another heavy storm caught up with us. Rain and a little lightning for a while. We both decided that Vermont is beautiful, even in bad weather.

We pulled in to the campground at Quechee State Park, which is actually leased from the Corps of Engineers. They told us to pick a spot and come back and pay for it. When we got back, Jean learned that the fellow who handled our registration is a student at JMU.  At the same time, a Class C pulled in and asked for the site we just claimed. It seems he camps there frequently and knows which sites he wants. Luckily he had some other preferences as well.

This is a great campground. The sites are large, well-separated, and surrounded by trees. Like most state parks, there are no hookups, but the bathrooms and showers are well-kept. Probably not a place we would choose to dry-camp for a long time since the trees filter out most of the sunshine, but it suited our purposes just fine. We'll probably stay another day.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Relaxing in Burlington

Saturday, 1 August and Sunday 2 August

Visiting Gene's son, Alan, in Burlington, VT. We expect to be here about three days, I'll take it in two bites.

One of the things you have to know about visiting Alan and Valerie is that they are workaholics that never slow down. When you visit, don't expect them to take time and show you all the sights, unless what you want to see is them doing their thing. This trip we spent most of the time at a rental they have in neighboring Colchester: inspecting after a tenant moved out, changing a downspout, doing some additional planting, and trimming a bush and a tree. Gene got a chance to exercise his supervising skills.

It was not all work and no play, though. Among the fun things we did was to try out a new (to them) restaurant, then go see the movie "Minions."  This is not a film I would have chosen to go to, but it was entertaining and a chance to catch up with the "what's happening now" scene. Makes you feel less like an old fogey from the farm.

Sunday morning, we took a walk down to the waterfront to check out the dragonboat festival. There were crowds, many sitting on chairs on the waterfront, an announcer on the PA, a few vendors, the whole nine yards. I found out later that the dragonboats are all owned by an organization that runs such festivals all over the place. So crews just rotate among the available boats. The course is surprisingly short (a few hundred yards), and they run heats of two or three boats at a time. There are a lot of crews who cycle through the boats quickly.

While we were there, there was a performance by a Japanese-style drumming group. One hopes that the paddlers don't confuse their drumming with the drummer aboard the boat.

After a short while, we hiked back to Alan's for a delicious breakfast.

About the time we left Forest, it became apparent that our tire pump was not doing its job. So later in the afternoon, Alan took me to an auto parts store and I bought a new one. This one works a little differently, so I will have to change my routine slightly.

In the evening we went to a pool party with friends of Alan and Valerie, followed by a delicious pot-luck dinner. Back at the house, Alan and I sat out on the deck until late, talking. Finally Jean and I watched the (2-hour) season closer of Poldark and turned in late.

Don't know what's happening tomorrow, but I will report on whatever it turns out to be (if anything).

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Last lap

Friday, 31 July

We are poised for the last run to visit Gene's son, Alan. We stopped at Gansevoort, NY, because we had been tasked to pick up an item for Alan in that area. He had asked us to pick up a driver's seat for his car at a junk yard --- excuse me, Auto Parts Recycling Center.

When we got there it turned out to be an amazing place. The customers go in to a building that looks like an auto parts store, with several people at computers. One of the guys looked up the account, issued a receipt and said to wait for 20 minutes. Twenty minutes later he showed up at the Roadtrek carrying a new-looking driver's seat. After telling us how to get to Route 4, we were on our way.

At last a day off the interstate. It was good driving through farm land again, with much less traffic; though there seemed to be more than the usual number of RVs on this route, presumably going to and from Lake George. We got into Vermont in early afternoon, drove into Fair Haven, and stopped at the Wooden Soldier, a small-town cafe we had found the previous year, for lunch.

Fair Haven is a typical New England small town. Quiet, with well-tended lawns, interesting older houses, and churches with tall spires.

A couple of hours on the road took us through rolling hills and neat farms. At one place there was a taco truck open for business out in the middle of a field. We arrived at Alan's place about 4:15, quickly set up, and relaxed on the deck with cold drinks. Into visiting mode for a couple of days.

Temperature was pleasant, so we decided to try dry camping for the night.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Off to Vermont

Tuesday, 28 July

We're off to Vermont. But first we needed to go to Williamsburg. We can't go to Vermont looking shaggy, and our barber is in Williamsburg (don't ask). So off we go on a 200 mile side trip.

The forecast was for scattered showers and we ran through several, three of which were real gully-washers. But we made it to Williamsburg safely and got our haircuts. Then we went to Martin's and did some grocery shopping. The weather was HOT and we went down to the Parkway and sat on an overlook at the river, opened the windows and enjoyed a nice breeze off the James.

Finally, we went back in to town and had supper at Cracker Barrel. After enjoying the food and air conditioning, we went back out to the motorhome and spent a very hot night. We did manage to get some sleep, but we decided that if the next night was hot we would find a campground where we could plug in and run the air.

Wednesday, 29 July

Off to an early start, finally heading toward Vermont. We prefer country roads wherever possible. Thus we stopped for a late breakfast at the Country Cafe in downtown Bowling Green.  We were soon back on the familiar path toward Winchester. Instead of switching to I-66 as usual, we kept straight on Route 17. It turned out to be Business 17, which doesn't return to the main stem but peters out in farming country. We were soon lost.

In the process of wandering around trying to reconnect with 17 at Paris, we stumbled into serious horse country. Normal farms gave way to huge spreads with big houses and bigger stables. There were miles and miles of black fences and miles and miles of low, stone walls. The whole countryside from horizon to horizon looked manicured. There were even a few horses.

Eventually we came to a small town with interesting old buildings; and a little later we connected with 17 at Paris. The scenery reverted to standard Virginia countryside, pretty but not spectacular. The magic ride was over.

At Winchester we merged onto I-81 and the prospect of a couple of days of traffic and lots of big trucks --- broken occasionally by big cities with even heavier traffic. About 3:00pm we stopped in a small town across the Pennsylvania border and had lunch at an Arbys. Temperatures were in the 90's.

Shortly after we check in at a KOA. Once set up and the a/c turned on, we strolled back to the camp store and relaxed with some ice cream. Back at the rig, which was now nice and cool, we did a comparison test of Cuba Libres made with two different grades of rum (both Mount Gay). Gene liked the expensive version while Jean preferred the usual (cheaper) one.

Thursday 30 July

Bought a cheap (but good) breakfast at the camp store and on our way.

In and out of rain again, some of them frog-chokers. Hope we run out of rain before I run out of cliches. By the early afternoon, we drove across a mountain and into bright sunshine (and lots of heat).

We stopped to make some sandwiches and discovered that the cap had leaked on a bottle of Gatorade in the fridge and we had a major clean-up on our hands. After that, peasant driving in sunshine with big cumulus all around However, much of the road in New York was rough, making it difficult for Jean to text.

She found us a good campground in NY near Glens Falls so we were in a good position for the next day's situation.