Thursday, August 30, 2018

Vermont - Plainfield


On July 30, 2018 we drove into the last state - we have now been in all 50 of them! 3 years and 4 months to the day from when we left Asheville. 
We of course did not take the RV to Hawaii, in fact our trip to Hawaii was long before this trip was even thought about. Back in the 1990's we went to Hawaii on a PartyLite trip that Nancy earned. While our trip to Alaska was during this adventure, it was not explored in the RV - one day maybe - we saw it via plane, train and cruise ship.

On this, our first stop in Vermont we stayed at the Onion River Campground. It is a beautiful setting with a mix of RV and tent sites. They hold different festival throughout the year. There are permanent sites in the front with the back of the park open for over-nighters. 
We were in Site 15, well actually across 14, 15, and 16 because the sites are so un-level you can't pull in straight so they had us park this way. We had 50 amp electric and water. There is a dump station on the property. There is no WiFi or laundry. Our Verizon signal was good. We paid $29 a night with their weekly discount.
Left picture taken from the hill

The park is very quiet and sits right on the Onion River. There is a large hill that is topped with a small apple orchard and a meadow. Trails have been cut through the tall grass of the meadow that lead through the woods and onto the 
2-mile long Rail Bed Trail. Nancy and Mielikki had fun exploring them every morning and finding the Nasmith Brook that runs into the Onion River.

The entire campground was filled with wildflowers and we had a few rainy days.

The office building has an art sculpture on one end and a giant eye painted on the other. We met some great people here. Amy and John are traveling the country hiking the highest points in every state. We hope to hear of their future travels.
 A young couple from France who are traveling Canada and the US were staying here in a tent for a few days, they reminded us so much of our daughter and son-in-law because of the height difference and he even has dreads, not as long as Steve's though.
Nancy snapped a picture of them to share with Katrina, later while she was walking Mielikki she stopped to talk to them while they made dinner. She told them she had taken the picture and why, the girl laughed and said that's okay I took one of you guys sitting outside your RV because you reminded me of my parents! It really is a small world and we are all more alike than different.

We were a stones throw from the Cabot Cheese Factory. Yes, we were pretty excited about that. 
They no longer conduct tours as they took you into possible contact with the employees and now regulations do not allow that. But we did watch a video explaining the history of the company and the process of making cheese, from the farm to the plant. They have a large selection of cheese to sample in their shop. Yum Yum! Of course we came home with some too. 

It was interesting to hear about the difference between yellow cheddar cheese - sold in the Midwest and West and white cheddar cheese sold in the east. Cabot uses the seeds from the Lipstick Tree, and not a chemical dye. The seeds yield a red dye to color the cheddar cheese yellow for those of us from the Midwest to the West coast. There is no taste difference. 

If that wasn't enough we were about a half hour from the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory, in Waterbury, VT. They still do a tour as you watch the ice cream making process through large plate glass windows. There is a video that explains the history of Ben and Jerry and the process of making ice cream. It also talks about their commitment to the community and the farmers that supply them with milk. 

They are strong supporters of the Poor People's Campaign. A call against the evils of systemic racism, poverty and the war on the economy and environment. 

While waiting for our tour to start we were seated at a small round table. It was painted with lots of tidbits of history. Ben and Jerry became best friends in their 7th grade gym class in 1963. In 1977 they moved to Vermont and took a five dollar correspondence course on how to make ice cream - the rest as they say is history!

We have been to a number of graveyards, but never one for retired ice cream flavors!
There were many that we had never heard of.

Our drive to Burlington, VT and back was a fun day. We of course found lots of Roadside Oddities. At the Middlesex Center Cemetery we found a headstone shaped like a giant Clothes Pin. W. Jack Crowell, owned the National Clothespin Company, the last wooden clothespin manufacturer in the U.S. Today it produces plastic clothespins and barrettes. He actually wanted the clothespin to have a real spring so children could teeter on it! The inscription on the base says "Here lies old Jack Crow it was too bad he had to go. While on this Earth he was hell bent and we knew some day he would up and went." The headstone for the French's has a pickup truck engraved on it and the saying "We dig Vermont"We loved this Willow Tree - the tangled branches are so pretty.

The Round Church in Richmond, VT, is a 16-sided church, built from 1812-14. It was Richmond's first meeting house, and the town meetings were held here for 160 years, until 1972 when it was closed due to structural problems and restoration.  
The first Proprietors were members of five denominations. Baptist, Christian, Congregational, Methodist and Universalists. 

Today it is open Spring till Fall, for tours, meetings, weddings and concerts. A special Christmas program is held during the holidays.

The organ is a beautiful free standing upright, it reminded us of an old wardrobe. The pulpit looks like wood but it is Trompe-l'oeil painted to look that way. Even up close it is hard to tell. 
Like all old churches each family bought their pews. In the bottom left picture is an original pew, by the way it is very uncomfortable to sit in. The right picture is an altered pew - a strip of wood has been added to the seat and the back rest has been sanded down so it is smooth. 

The seating and view from the balcony
Burlington is home to the Vermont Peter "Wolf" Toth Indian carving. Chief Grey Lock was carved in 1984. He was the 47th carving on the "Trail of the Whispering Giants". He stands 20-feet tall and is carved from a Red Oak tree.

Also in Burlington a Rhino is busting through the wall of an art gallery. Champ the Lake Monster sits quite innocently on the docks of Lake Champlain. Like the Loch Ness Monster he has a long history. There have been well over 300 reported sightings of Champ. The legend dates back to Native American tribes in the region. There is a YouTube Video of an ABC News clip about two fishermen who spotted him. 
The large Rusty Rocket and the Fox and Rabbit Mural are just around the corner from the Rhino. Two Whale Tails sit along the side of I-89, between exits 12 and 13 in South Burlington. Reverence, is a sculpture by Jim Sardonis. It depicts two whales "diving" into a sea of grass to symbolize the fragility of the planet. 
On the corner of Home and Hwy 7 in Burlington is a strange little park. The Antonio and Rita Pomerleau Foundation Park was installed in the late 1990's. They run a foundation that helps non-profits find grant-makers. It is a small pocket park at the entrance to a shopping mall. The statues are half women, half lion and most of the tall pillars are covered in ivy. It has a very eerie feeling to it. 

You know that we have been to a number of cemeteries. One of these days we will have to go back and count how many, but we digress. Many of them have held surprises for us, but none like Hope Cemetery in Barre, VT. Barre is in Washington County, which is considered the capitol of the granite quarry world. Which explains why there are so many amazing and large granite carved headstones. 
There is a Giant Cube, a Car, an Airplane and a Soccer ball.  The Pyramids come with an instruction pillar that tells what order to read the inscriptions on each side of the pyramids. The pyramids will be the final resting place for Dan and Jane Vrooman, both born in 1938 and both still living. The instructions give you a step by step plan to heaven. 

But wait there's more! 
Japanese Pagoda tomb, an Arm Chair, Giant A and hands holding Flowers on an art teachers grave. 

Some are carved with the likeness of the people buried here. One kind of looks like they are sitting up in bed holding hands. On a few they are holding each other and some have scenes from their lives. 

We chuckled at the one with the women encased in the smoke from her husbands cigar. Probably how she spent her life! 

There of course were angels, one is holding a skateboard. 
We found Jesus praying on a number of them and the ones that were etched were just as interesting as the carved ones. Our favorite was this one with the typewriter on it. 

More granite sculptures can be found in downtown Barre. Outside an art gallery and coffee shop is a Giant Zipper. It runs the length of the building and is used as a plant bed. You might want to find a more comfy place to enjoy your coffee other than this Granite Chair. 

The Spider Web Farm in Williamstown, VT is unfortunately closed due to a fire last fall. You can check out their website to see some of the interesting items that they had and to read their story.

In Brookfiled, VT we crossed the Floating Bridge in the car and on foot. You really can't tell that it is floating, it hardly moves - which of course you know Nancy was happy about. It is a popular swimming and fishing area. The ladder on the side of the bridge is for jumping into the river.
A short drive from the bridge we found the dry docked boat. The sign over the dock says Climate Change Yacht Club!

Up next Dorset, VT.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You.

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Check your facts and your pictures before leaving the area. 
While researching information on the Whispering Statue in Barre, VT, which we thought we had a picture of, we realized that we had a picture of a totally different statue. 
We use the website RoadsideAmerica  faithfully for finding most of the quirky things we share with you. The website is quite amazing with all of the information they have for each state, and numerous ways to look things up in an area. With that said, sometimes the information can be misleading. Which considering people all across the country submit information it is not surprising that sometimes it is not exactly accurate. It would be impossible for the people who run the website to go to every single place to verify all the information. 
So back to the tip. If we had done our research better while in the area and not 500 miles away, we could have gone back and got the correct picture. 
Also, it is important to check the pictures you have taken. While the majority of time we take some pretty nice photos, every now and then we take one that has a finger in it, or is blurry or somehow otherwise unusable. When we catch this right away we can go back and take another picture. Another way around this is Nancy's method, take 10 -15 pictures of the same thing, one is bound to be good! 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Maine - Bethel


Leaving the Arcadia National Park area was rather sad, but heading to the northern end of the White Mountains on July 26, 2018 made it easier. Our stay in Bristol, NH at the beginning of the month had us at the southern end of them.
Bethel Outdoor Adventure and Campground in Bethel, ME is where we parked for the week. It is right on the Androscoggin River, in fact they run tubing and kayaking tours from here. We were in Site 20, a level, gravel pull through with full hook ups. They are Buddy sites so you face your neighbor but the strip of grass was wide enough and angled just right that we weren't right on top of each other. The park is well maintained and very quiet. WiFi and our Verizon signal were good. We paid $46.33 a night with no discount.

There are trails for walking that give you beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, that is when it isn't super cloudy. They have a suspension bridge that takes you across the river to explore an island - just looking at it made Nancy weak in the knees so we did not take advantage of this.

We did take advantage of the Bethel River Walk which comes right past the campground. End to end it is about a mile and a half so perfect for our morning walks. This bridge was much easier for Nancy to cross!

The walkway runs along side an old water park which has a replica of a Covered Bridge. Nancy and Mielikki extended their walk down a side road and came across an old cemetery and a barn that reminded Nancy of her sister Jeanne who loved to paint pictures of old barns.

We did see three real Covered Bridges. The Sunday River Covered Bridge, known locally as the Artist Bridge, crosses as you may have guessed the Sunday River, just north of Bethel. It was built in 1872. The Paddleford truss bridge is 100-feet long and 20-feet wide. It was closed to auto traffic in 1955. There is a path that takes you down to the river, perfect for a side view shot of the bridge.

The Lovejoy Bridge in Andover, ME, was up next. It is also a Paddleford truss bridge, it crosses the Ellis River. Built in 1868, at 70-feet long and 20-feet wide it is the shortest covered bridge in the state. It was reinforced in 1984 and still supports auto traffic.

The last one of the day was the Hemlock Covered Bridge in Fryeburg, ME. It crosses the Old Course Saco River, a remnant of the original Saco River which was bypassed by canal-digging in the early 19th century. The original river twisted so many times that the locals described it as 36-miles of river in 6-miles of land.
Built in 1857 it is the last of seven bridges that used to cross the Saco River. Also, a Paddleford truss bridge, it is 116-feet long and 16-feet wide. Still open to auto traffic it sits in a quiet area of farm land.

In Rumford, ME we found Paul Bunyan and Babe, these two certainly get around the country. They greet people as they come to the Visitor Center which is at the J. Eugene Brown Park that overlooks the Rumford Falls. With a total vertical drop of 176-feet, they are the highest cascade falls east of Niagara.

The diorama commemorates the Anasagunticook Tribe. They lived in nearby Canton and Bethel and camped on this spot to fish for migrating Salmon.
We did a little shopping in Mexco, ME and tried to make a phone call on the Worlds Largest Crank Telephone in Bryant Pond, ME but the receiver was just to big to handle.

Bryant Pond was the last U.S. city to give up Hand Cranked Telephones. The link takes you to a Time Magazine article from 1982.

As you can tell by the Directional Sign we found in Lynchville, ME you can travel to many "countries" from here.

The Mineral and Gem Museum in downtown Bethel is still in the building process but they have two rooms open for viewing. They have beautiful specimens of local gems on display and a small gift shop.

In Gotham, NH we didn't see Batman but we did visit the Train Museum. It is in the old train depot and Reuben Rajala who was holding down the fort that day was very informative. We spent well over an hour talking to him and learning tons about the history of the area.

Each of the "waiting rooms", there were separate ones for men and women, are filled with displays of historic items.

They have a train display set up in one of the old rail cars, which was pretty neat.

In case you are wondering we don't ever want to live someplace that needs snow trains like the one in the upper left picture.

On our last day here we tried to kill ourselves on the Mt. Will Hiking Trail, just north of Bethel. The description we read listed it as a moderate hike - well that person is certainly in better shape than we are!
It is a 3-mile loop trail, with an elevation gain of 1,020-feet.

The trail is very rocky and there was a tree down on one part of the path.

But, the views from the South Cliffs and the North Ledge were worth every step.

As always on a hike we stop to take lots of pictures, of course it's not to rest or anything, we just find interesting things along the path!

We came across a garter snake, he was enjoying a snack so we didn't want to get any closer. The weathered birch bark made us think of a mummy and the small piece in the bottom right looks like a face. These deep blue berries were everywhere.
We have often wondered how many different colored mushrooms there are. Every time we stop for mushrooms we think of our hikes in Asheville with our friend Janet McAfee.

The view from the South Cliffs overlooks farmland in the Androscoggin River Valley. As you approach the cliffs you get little sneak peaks of the view and then the trees open up and it takes your breath away. Well, that is if you have any breath left from climbing to this point.

There are plenty of ledges to sit on to take in the views. We even got to see a rainbow while we were here.

From the North Ledge you get a great view of the river as it winds its way through the farms, and of the mountains in the distance. Just like at the South Cliffs there are plenty of places to stop and rest.

There are informational signs along the trail that tell you about things in the area, and also a mile marker every mile.

The sign at the end says it is 3-miles and approximately 6,900 steps. According to Les's step counter we did 3.7 miles and 10,475 steps. The difference could be from us going off path by mistake and having to climb up a hillside to get back on the trail!

It might also account for some of the 18 flights of stairs we climbed according to Nancy's phone, she already had a mile walk in before we got here, so Les's is a much more accurate count for the hike.
Top row is Les's tracker 
Bottom row is Nancy's tracker
left is when we got there - right is after the hike.

Up next Plainfield, VT --- the last of the 50 states.

Till we meet again...

Happy Trails to You!

Tips and things we have learned along the way. 
~ Outside living space.
Your awning can only do so much for keeping the sun off the side of your RV. Some ingenious person, who was tired of always sitting in the sun came up with a remedy for that.
Sunscreens are nothing new, people have been using them on patios and porches for a long time and you can get one to attach to the awing of your RV.
You can choose just a simple screen or a full screen room.

The screen usually is attached to the front and has stakes to keep it from blowing in the wind. It can be positioned for the direction the sun is coming from. We have seen a few with side screens as well.

The screen rooms serve a multitude of purposes. They of course give you a shady place to sit, it expands your living space, keeps you out of the bugs and the ones with pull down shades offer privacy and possibly even extra sleeping space for guests. They have either a doorway or a zipper opening like a tent.

We have seen a number of these on our travels and like everything else they come in all shapes and sizes and price ranges. They range roughly from around $400 to $1000.
If we ever stay in one place for more than a few weeks we might look into getting one. We have seen people use them for short stays as they are fairly simple to install but we just are not home long enough to use it.