Our “last hurrah” with Jeanne’s sister Denise was a road trip into Portland, ME. We found Cushing’s Point which was an area the government took over and created a WWII shipyard. There is also a lighthouse called the Portland Breakwater Lighthouse, aka: Bug Light. Just a stone’s throw away we found a second lighthouse, the Spring Point Ledge Light. We strolled the area and got some very nice views of Fort Scammell which is on an island just off shore.
Our next stop was just a short 2 day stop at Partridge Hollow Camping Area, in Monson, MA, just outside of Sturbridge. The evil rain gods raised their ugly heads on us again and we fought rain for the 2 days. Jeanne made a valiant attempt to go see the Old Sturbridge Village (an outdoor recreation from Revolutionary War times), but I vetoed that prospect because of the rain. We ended up standing in line, in the rain, at the Tree House Brewery, a VERY popular spot for locals. I think it was the grand opening weekend for them opening on the new site. Got to talk to lots of folks and even listened to a two-man guitar team play some pretty good tunes. The double IPA they call “Haze” was actually pretty tasty to boot.
Still doing battle with the reservation thing in these here parts, we got our next home at Rest N’ Nest Campground in East Thetford, VT. It was a very nice campground, level grass sites with FHU’s, plenty of family activities available and an above ground Doughboy type pool that was clean.
Our first order of business was to run into Lebanon, NH, in search of new phones. Both of our current iPhone 6’s have been acting strangely lately, something goofy going on with the batteries. So Best Buy, here we come! We got hooked up, Jeanne with the 7 and I got the 7 Plus. Don’t ask why we didn’t wait until September when the new version iPhone comes out, the 10 year anniversary version, but we decided we needed the change now. There’s always going to be a “new” version anyway. Jeanne got a bonus too. She picked up a Garmin GPS for her Jeep, so no more using the phones as GPS in the Jeep.
Woodstock, VT, was just a short jaunt from our new home. There we found several covered bridges, more historic homes, and a quaint downtown area that was easily covered in a short walkabout. We also quickly discovered we dropped into this area smack dab in the middle of their yearly homage to the Stanley Steamer steam engined cars. Stanleys were EVERYWHERE!
On the way to Woodstock we encountered the Quechee Gorge. We took Woodrow Wilson on a walk along the gorge for more of that boring old beautiful scenery.
Sugarbush Farm is a popular stop for tourists in the Woodstock area. They do various tastings of their products such as cheese, sausages, jellies, maple syrups, etc. They have quite the diverse selection of cheddars…
Rosie was getting close to her 10,000 mile service, so I managed to get an appointment at the Freightliner of New Hampshire shop in Lebanon. On moving day, we started at the shop. Anybody looking for Freightliner/Cummins service and happen to be in this area, I was happy with our service at Freightliner of NH. They were prompt, fast, and did not rip any of my arms or legs off for payment. From there it was on to the next stop, Maplewoods Campground in Johnson, VT. This was another very nice campground that did not break the bank. We got a week there, only because they had a “break-down” cancellation. I felt bad for the prior reservee, but glad it worked out for us.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream has a factory in Stowe, VT that we just HAD to go see. $4 for a short tour and tasting, then a stop at the outside snack bar for a real cone-full. Unfortunately they prohibit photos inside the factory area, so, in the spirit of the Soup Nazi on the Seinfeld TV sitcom, “No pix for you!” (Well, not a lot.)
The rain continued to plague us at this stop. We tripped up to Smuggler’s Notch State Park hoping the rain would take a break and let us do a little hiking, but no such luck. The park is in the ski area of these mountains and nearby we found an offroad trail that was named “Toll Road.” They have a different way of doing jeep trails around here. “Toll Road” starts out as a quarter mile of asphalt, then morphs into a trail up to the top of the ski mountain. The “different way” I mentioned is that they charge you a fee to use the trail, $31 for 2 persons in a Jeep to be exact. No thanks, I don’t expect this trail to outshine any of the multitude of Jeep Trails scattered throughout the southwest desert that cost you a total of $0 to use.
Rain off and on, we drove over to St. Johnsbury to check out the Dog Mountain Chapel. Now, we have already seen a dog cemetery in the form of the Coon Dog Cemetery near Red Bay, Alabama. The Dog Mountain Chapel is the product of an artist’s passion for his K9 companion. Stephen Huneck is the artist, his K9 is Sally the black lab, and the Chapel is “where people can go and celebrate the spiritual bond they have with their dogs.” The walls are covered with K9 owners’ remembrances (in the form of notes) to their dearly departed pets. There are vast grounds to let your dog(s) run wild with other dogs and a nice pond area for those puppies who have a fondness for water.
From Dog Mountain we decided to continue north into Newport near the Canadian border. It is on the shores of Lake Memphremagog and quite a scenic little town. We came across a small campground called Prouty Beach Campground. They have 54 RV sites, some right on the lake, and with this being the height of the season as we drove through they still had a couple of empty spots. $45 per night gets you one of the Prime Sites right on the lake. I wish we had found this one earlier, it would be worth the extra drive north.
We finally got a rain break, so we decided to take Woodrow Wilson for a walk along the Colchester Causeway at Lake Champlain just outside of Burlington. It was almost 5 miles round trip with beautiful views on both sides of the lake and mountains.
Since we were in the area, Jeanne found something called the Church St. Marketplace in Burlington. The town being very dog-friendly, we were able to take Woody with us on a stroll down the marketplace, basically a very busy outdoor mall. We even got to take him to lunch at the Vermont Pub & Brewery.
The scenery throughout this area has been pretty spectacular. On our drive home we passed the Fairfax Hydro Falls. I’m gonna take a wild stab at this and say this would be a hydro-electric power producing station, just a guess mind you. A couple more covered bridges and it was back at home to finish the day.
In this north part of Vermont they have a trail-in-progress, the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail, stretching from St. Johnsbury to Swanton, soon-to-be-covering about 93 miles, one way. We grabbed the bikes and headed to a section that was completed, catching it in Johnson and biking over to Morristown. It ended up being about a 25 mile round trip, winding along the Lamoille River, through some vast corn fields and across a couple of bridges over the river. Very scenic and peaceful.
With another break in the wet stuff, Jeanne and I set out to do a walkabout in the tiny downtown area of Stowe. Another town full of historic old buildings (looked like most were of the 1800’s era), our walk was a good choice of travel on that day. Seems the townfolk had lost someone, probably of some type of noteworthy status, and the church smack dab in the center of town was the site for the funeral. That made vehicular travel pretty rough, the tiny streets were bumper to bumper and folks seemed to park anywhere they felt like it, further choking off streets to cars. But we got around on foot very well.
After our little stroll, we loaded into the Jeep and headed out to check out a couple of nearby features; Emily’s Bridge (another covered bridge, also known as Gold Brook Covered Bridge) and then Moss Glen Falls. Emily’s Bridge comes with a couple of local stories, I liked the first one I read. Back around the time of 1849 a local farmer’s daughter, Emily, got jilted at the altar. She took her own life at the bridge, and now it is haunted by her spirit, particularly on moonlit nights, as she awaits the return of her betrothed. We were all over and around the bridge, albeit at noontime without any moonlight, but did not hear from Emily nor get to meet her. Hmmmmmmmm…Moss Glen Falls was a short (less than 1 mile) walk through the forest. It is popular with swimmers at the base of the falls. We were on full time “tick alert” during the whole hike, it seems that I am currently a perfect “bug magnet.” “Arrrgggggghhhh!”
We fought through more light rain and took the drive back up to Smuggler’s Notch from the opposite side of the mountain that we did before. It is a cool drive through the rocks and trees and we ended at Bingham Falls. A short half mile trek down the trail and we arrived at the falls, again a very beautiful scene. This one is also a popular place for folks to go swimming and we watched several kids jumping off rocks into a pool below some of the falls.
We got another day of no rain so we ventured out on bicycles to cover the 10 miles of the Stowe Recreation Trail. This is a very nicely built, popular trail for bikes, pedestrians, and joggers. We wound through the countryside and parts of the town. There were stops scattered along the trail for various businesses such as restaurants, a bicycle repair stop, and even a corn maze for family adventure. We took a break at the Idletyme Brewing Co. where we had a couple of their Bloody Mary’s. Jeanne was in awe as they used celery as garnish that they had just yanked up from their veggie garden. We finished up the stay here with visits to the Red Covered Bridge, Sterling Gorge, and Cady Falls, then prepared to hit the road.
Moving day took us to Twin Mountains Motor Court and RV Park in Carroll, New Hampshire. This was bare bones as far as RV parks go, but we were in an open field (satellite service) on a level, gravel site with FHU’s (30A) and they had a clean pool. The location is in the White Mountains area, an extremely popular area for all things outdoor; hiking, biking, ATV’s, fly fishing, and skiing in the winter.
Waterfalls and covered bridges. This place is loaded with them. During our week’s stay here we did quite a few miles driving around, gawking at that scenery. The folks here in this area take their outdoor activities seriously! Every trailhead, every state park, every accessible piece of river were jam packed with folks, even on the rain days we were here. But we battled the masses and got to see some very beautiful country.
One of our days we chose to drive the Mt. Washington Auto Road. It is a road straight up the mountain (8 miles worth, to an altitude of 6,288 ft.) with an average grade of 12%. The fee for both of us in the Jeep was $38. When we started, we were in no wind at about 67 degrees, high overcast, and plenty of visibility (no fog). By the time we got to the top we were in 46 degree temperatures with 70 MPH wind gusts and no visibility. Their are numerous hiking trails up, down, and around this mountain, including part of the Appalachian Trail. And there is the Crawford Trail, touted as the oldest hiking trail in the U.S., the trail having been “blazed” back in 1817. I was amazed at the number of serious, diehard hikers that were milling about at the top of the mountain in this nasty weather, then heading out into the blankness of visibility. I thought to myself, “I would not want to be a member of the Search & Rescue team for this area!”
Flume Gorge in the Franconia Notch State Park is another popular attraction for this area. The fee to walk the gorge was $16 per person and no dogs. So we left Woody in charge of the bus and ventured into the gorge. The trail is about a 2 mile easy loop, taking you by sights like Table Rock, the Flume Covered Bridge, Flume Gorge, Avalanche Falls, Liberty Gorge, Sentinel Pine Bridge and Pool, Wolf Den, and numerous glacial boulders. All in all it was an awesome spectacle of nature.
We are still being treated to some thunder/lightning/rain showers off and on, can’t seem to shake them. Our time about done, for now, here in New Hampshire, it is time to start heading back into Maine towards our last planned destination on the east coast, Bar Harbor. Jeanne has spoken many times about wishing to tempt the weather gods and to be able to be here during the fall colors show. In all our driving around here in NH, the trees are already starting to turn a bit. So it looks like she may get her wish when we start westward-ho in mid September. But, hey, that remains to be seen (definitely pun intended!)
Until next post… (Whew! this was a long one. Sorry…)