It's cool this morning after yesterday's rain. 59 degrees when I glance at the weather when I'm awake at nearly 5:00 a.m. Why am I seemingly wide awake at this hour anyway? Luckily, I fall back asleep and stay in bed until nearly 8:00 a.m.
After a brief round of coffee, we ready the van for a short trip into Little Falls, NY. Melanie has work calls through out the day and internet service has been uneven for us at the campground in Herkimer, NY.
I also want to ride a section of the Erie Canalway Trail that begins in Little Falls. I situate us next to Burke Park on E Gansevoort Street and finish journaling for the week past. Time to ride.
I ride through a portion of downtown Little Falls and pick up the Canalway at Danube Street headed east. My goal is to ride out towards Albany, NY for 20 miles or so, turn around and come back for about a 40 mile ride.
The beginning of the trail is asphalt paved which turns into finely crushed and hard packed gravel. Trees cover most of this section of the trail. The ambient temperatures during my ride are perfect.
There are a large number of cyclists traveling in the opposite direction of my ride. I'm uncertain whether they may be together or just a goodly number of different groups. But I'm a little surprised to see so many people on a Wednesday afternoon.
Everything goes as I planned. I ride 20 miles out past Fort Plain, turn around and head back. I'm making good time and ride behind a group of three riders for awhile until they stop at what appears to be a sag wagon station at an intersection.
I continue on at a good clip until I round a curve in the trail. My rear tire suddenly goes flat. Damn.
I take a look, but can't discern what may have punctured the tire. I check to see how far away from Little Falls and Miranda I am. 8 miles. Damn. I'm now about 3 miles away from the last intersection with a roadway where a sag wagon station was and at least 6+ miles from another intersection where Melanie could possibly pick me up. I'm basically in the middle of nowhere along the trail. Damn.
I made the decision when I purchased the bike to forego carrying any way to fix a flat should one occur. That means I have no tire tools, no spare tube, no pump. I realized what this meant every time I set out for a ride. It meant I was playing the odds hoping I wouldn't have a flat, at least not where I couldn't get help, if needed.
The tires are wide and substantial and I've only had three flats in nearly 3 years of ownership, all occurring in places where I could get assistance immediately. The last time I had a flat was in Las Cruces, New Mexico back in February.
The gentleman who fixed the flat in Las Cruces sold me foam inserts which line the tire and prevent most punctures of the tubes. But not today. C'est la vie.
He mentioned I could ride the bike, at least for a short distance after a tire becomes flat. I try this and succeed in riding for a few hundred yards before it becomes unmanagable and I stop and start pushing.
I walk maybe a few hundred yards along the trail and see something lying in the trail ahead of me. When I get close enough, I see it's..., wait for it..., a pump. My first thought is, great karmic taunting. I have a flat tire and a pump, but not even a patch or any tools to get the tire off the bike.
But what the hell, I'll give putting air into the tire a shot. I pump and pump and finally get enough air into the tire. I hop on the bike and within a hundred yards the tire is flat. I stop and begin pushing the bike along again.
The people who I'd passed at the sag station catch up to me and one of them stops and asks if he can help. I tell him thanks and explain my situation, but no there's really nothing to be done. I'm good.
I walk another couple hundred yards and I'm thinking it's going to be getting close to dark by the time I can get somewhere Melanie can pick me up so I stop and try the pump again. I take my time and put more air into the tire this time around, hop on the bike and ride off. Slowly.
Miraculously this time, the tire pressure holds and after a few miles, I pick up speed and, after a few more miles, I'm once again cruising along 15-20 mph thinking, how is it possible?
All's well..., eh? But randomly finding a pump like that. Seriously?
I make it back to the van, load the bike, we make a quick trip to the liquor store for gin, a market for limes and then drive back to camp for adult beverages. But first, on our way in to camp, we empty our black and gray tanks at the campground dump station as they are nearly full after 4 days.
After drinks, I walk over to the shower house and get cleaned up. Melanie has a work-related call going on and afterward we walk across the street to The Miners Table, a restaurant attached to the campground, and have dinner.
After a bit of sitting outside enjoying the coolness of a northern summer evening, we retire to the back of the van for some streaming and sleep.
July 29, 2021
We're awake around 7:30 a.m. After coffee and breakfast, Melanie goes for a shower at the campground bathhouse and I begin to get the van ready for travel.
Our zero-gravity chairs and mat are put away, the griddle has to be cleaned and stored away, and I fill the van with water. Lastly, I unhook us from the water and electricity. Melanie has gotten the inside of the van ready and we leave the Herkimer Diamond KOA Resort.
We're on our way to Ithaca, NY for a rendezvous with two of Melanie's girlfriends she know since college days at Birmingham Southern. They are to spend a long weekend at a Bed & Breakfast there.
We travel in the direction of Syracuse, NY where Melanie finds lunch for us at a Chinese restaurant. It's good and afterwards I find a local bike shop, Gorges Cycles, to take my bike to have the rear tire repaired after yesterday's ride and we're back on the highway traveling to Ithaca. I'm grateful, Thomas Steffie, the owner of the shop, agrees to take me in on short notice.
I unload the bike and spend a few minutes with Thomas, who owns the shop and recommends I replace the rear tire and, of course, the tube. He trues the tire rim and begins work on replacing the tube. He finds a staple in the tire that, because of the foam insert in the tire, barely punctured the tube which may explain why I was able to make it back to the van. He has a barely used tire he says came from a new bike he sold, but the owner came back in a week after the purchase and replaced the tires with a different kind of tire. He sells me for the used tire for 10 dollars.
About this time, Melanie calls from the van and wants me to take her to the B & B where she'll be staying. We arrive, unload her bike and suitcase, say our goodbyes and I'm back in the van headed back to pick up my bike at Gorges Cycles. Thomas has finished the tire repair and he helps me load the bike and I'm off to Auburn, New York.
I've booked a stay at Prison City Pub & Brewery, a Harvest Hosts location in Auburn, New York. I take a bit of a circuitous route taking me along the eastern side of Owasco Lake. It's a beautiful drive up Highway 38A through mostly farm land with corn, cows and huge pastures.
I arrive and check in. The nice bartender tells me where to park Miranda. I'll be located around back of the location that has a small pond and a picnic table she says is there for my exclusive use. Nice touch.
It's then I discover Miranda's macerator toilet is not working. I think about it for a moment, realize it's after hours for most businesses. It can wait though I'm not pleased with my future prospects since I'm also boondocking for two more nights until I pick Melanie up in Ithaca.
I return to the Pub to think on it and order their double IPA and a charcuterie plate which turns out to be large enough for me and several others, but will be my dinner. I finish my beer and snack and return to the van to give the toilet thing more thought.
I text Dan Dwyer, our salesman and go-to guy when it comes to problem solving, and let him know what I've done to try and make it work. We text back and forth a few times before he says I will need to have someone look at it. I do a quick search for mobile mechanics in the area, watch a movie and sleep a fitful sleep, waking up periodically thinking about the damn toilet and consequences of not having a working toilet in the van for God knows how long.
July 30, 2021
I'm up a little later than normal as I didn't sleep very well. First things, coffee and breakfast. I spend I bit of time on social media and a newspaper, but I'm soon thinking again about a solution for my offline toilet.
I'm fortunate, by the by, to have access to the restroom at the brewery. I explain my situation to them and they are most accommodating.
I send an email to Leisure Travel Vans in Canada explaining my problem, telling the what I've tried and hoping against hope they have a solution. I contact a local RV dealer, The Great Outdoors RV Superstore, and speak to someone in service about the problem. He says his service manager will have to make the decision, but one of their employees is also a mobile mechanic and, if they can't take me in, he most likely can help me after 5 p.m. I I leave a voice mail with the service manager, but don't hear from him immediately. I decide not to wait on a response from him and drive over to the RV dealer.
I go into the Superstore when I arrive and speak with the service manager who says, yes, they can have a look at it after employees get back from lunch. It may be a while. That's fine. My home is parked in your lot and I'll be there when you can see me.
After returning to the van, I check email and find out I have a response from Wanda Wolfe in Customer Service at Leisure Travel Vans. Of course, I do.
I've mentioned checking the connect that goes directly into the control panel and found it was okay. She tells me about another one located just below it in the cabinet under the sink and I should check that one. It sometimes gets jostled and may be loose.
I find it and, as suspected, it's loose. I plug it back in and I have a working toilet. I walk back into the Superstore and thank them profusely explaining the problem is solved. I'm once again grateful for such great customer service from Leisure Travel Vans and also grateful for the Superstore for their willingness to take me, a fulltime traveler, in on short notice.
Problem solved, I have some time to ride another section of the Erie Canalway Trail. The trailhead is only 8 miles away from my location in Auburn at Port Byron, NY.
Arriving in Port Byron, it's now after noon and I'm a bit hungry. I have leftover pizza in the fridge and, while I almost never eat leftover pizza cold, I eat these cold.
I get the bike out and decide I'll ride out 10 miles and back. It's a really nice ride mainly because the temperature in the 60's is more like Spring or Fall.
Once I'm back at the van, I contact my Boondockers Welcome hosts and let them know when I'll show up at their place. The drive south on Highway 34 is another great one, very little traffic for a Friday afternoon.
I arrive and one of my hosts comes out and greets me. We're talking about travel and the van when her husband arrives and I give them a tour, then choose a spot for Miranda to be for the time I'm with them.
They tell me it's Friday night and that means pizza (and wine from the vineyard where Dave works) for them and would I like to join them. I would and spend a most wonderful evening talking politics, film and a number of other things. I have to say it's one of the best, maybe the best, and most interesting time I've spent with a Boondockers Welcome family.
I probably overstayed my welcome as it's after 10 p.m. when we call it a night. I stumble back to the van and I'm asleep shortly thereafter.
July 31, 2021
It was 49 degrees when I woke up briefly this morning. 49 degrees in July. I fell back asleep and woke at almost 8:30 a.m. which qualifies as sleeping in for us/me.
Not much to report about today. I spent a fair amount of time catching up on the past few days of journaling. I read and checked social media while I woke up and had breakfast.
I spent a fair amount of time taking everything out of our water closet in the van and giving that space a good summer cleaning, including polishing the wood. The toilet had stains from a natural treatment we use for our black tank that couldn't be flushed for about 24 hours when the toilet wasn't operational. Note to self, flush immediately.
I ate cold leftovers because no generator use and no electricity at my Boondockers Welcome location. Electricity was offered, but I chose a spot without it and I forgot about their no generator policy.
Regardless, it was a very pleasant day which ended with me watching Bill Maher and turning in. Tomorrow I pick up Melanie in Ithaca and we'll continue on down the road together.
August 1, 2021
I set and alarm for 6:00 a.m. and when it goes off, I hit snooze, but I'm up before the alarm can sound again. I make coffee and return to the back of the van to sip coffee and read.
About 8:30, I rise and prepare the van for travel. I pick Melanie up in Ithaca at 9:30 a.m. from the B&B where's she spent the weekend.
I arrive on time and catch up briefly with Connie and Diana and Melanie and I part ways with them, travel a few blocks to Gimme! Coffee Ithaca. This is the second time I've purchased beans from this location. We were here almost two years ago.
Afterwards, we move the van about a block and park next to Triangle Park. Melanie has a big Zoom call meeting this afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and connectivity is good here in town. It begins to rain about an hour after we're parked.
We had a bit of trauma about 30 minutes before her meeting was to begin. Melanie's computer had a hiccup which caused her to not have access to Zoom and email and documents. We were able to reset and get her on the meeting. That's all pretty much understating the high tension and drama, but..., moving on.
After the Zoom meeting and rain almost over, we remember we skipped lunch. I have no idea why, but at any rate, we needed food and a glass of wine. I'd found a lake-side restaurant and we drive the van there and engage in some minor postmortem Zoom discussion. I assure her the meeting we much better than she imagines. But she keeps imagining.
We drive the 8 miles or so to our campsite at the very beautiful Taughannock Falls State Park and, because they have an express checkin procedure via email, we drive in a park at our site. It begins to rain again, but ever so briefly.
We set up the inside of the van and retire to the back for a bit of streaming and then sleep. A stressful afternoon now behind us, it's cool out this evening.
August 2, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. If you've read any one day of this traveling journal, you know the drill. Coffee, breakfast, start the day. Today it's coffee, a shower for me at the campground bathhouse, as Melanie gets dressed and readies the van for travel.
The bank we've been using for years doesn't have many branches in the northeast, at least not where we need them so we've decided to open a new account for use when we're traveling in this region of the country.
We travel into Ithaca and find the branch of the bank we've chosen. It takes us around an hour to accomplish opening the account. Afterwards, we make a brief stop to deposit mail at a local postoffice branch and then make our way into downtown Ithaca for lunch somewhere on the commons. Moosewood, whose cookbook I've used over the years, is, unfortunately, closed on Monday and Tuesday so we find another spot, Mahogany Grill.
It's an amazing day in Ithaca, New York. Temps are in the mid 70's and we grab the last table outside the restaurant which is on the street the city has closed to traffic forming a commons area. There are a good number of people on the streets today. We have a very nice lunch.
Melanie has a Mahogany Burger and a salad, I have a cup of Clam Chowder and the Spaghetti & Colossal American Wagyu Meatball. Recommended.
After lunch we drive back to our go-to place next to Triangle Park and I take a look at Melanie's email problem from yesterday. It takes me about 45 minutes to read about and then perform a few corrective maneuvers before all email addresses are back online.
We then drive back to our campsite where we're scheduled to have a FaceTime call with close friends in Kentucky, but Melanie is still consumed with work-related matters and it's such a fine, fine afternoon that I get Red Ranger out for an afternoon ride.
The Black Diamond Trail has an endpoint in Taughannock State Park where we're camped. Our van is located just about a mile+ from that endpoint. It's all uphill to the trailhead, but, you know, electric assist bike gets me up the hill with little effort.
The ride into Ithaca is another pastural ride through the countryside along a ridge overlooking Cayuga Lake. It's a rail trail so riding is relatively easy in the direction of Ithaca. I ride the entire length of the trail which ends near Cass Park and Ithaca Children's Garden, a roughly 10 mile ride.
I sit on a handy bench and have a drink of water and a protein bar then head back to camp. The ride back, while up hill, is not too taxing being a rail trail.
I stop at the Taughannock Overlook and take a moment to photograph the falls. They are spectacular.
I arrive back at camp as Melanie is finishing a work-related call. We sit for a while outside and have an adult beverage. She moves into the van and I put my bike and the chairs away.
Since we had a late lunch, we skip dinner and enjoy streaming before retiring. Tonight's low temp will be in the low 50's. It's August, y'all.
August 3, 2021
We're up at nearly 8:00 a.m. this brisk (for August) morning. 55 degrees and sunny. It's a travel day and Melanie has a Zoom meeting at 11:00 a.m.
So, after coffee is made and a cup or so is consumed, Melanie goes to the bathhouse for a shower, I begin to get the van ready for travel and we leave the campground at around 9:30 a.m.
We travel into town and set up once again at Triangle Park. I catch up on journaling while she conducts her Zoom meeting.
After Zoom has taken off, we drive a very short distance, park Miranda and find lunch at Luna Inspired Street Food.
Then it's a trip to a local market for a few grocery items, a stop for diesel fuel and a liquor store for wine and gin.
We then travel to friends' home in Richford, NY which is south and east of Ithaca. Melanie works with Linda who is convener for the Palestine Israel Network within EPF.
Linda makes a delightful dinner for us which we take outside as the day cools. It's nearly 10:00 p.m. when we return to the van, parked in their rural driveway for sleep.
July 21, 2021
It's foggy, but much cooler this morning as we wake. There's still rain in the forecast, but a much diminished one. We have coffee and breakfast in the back of the van.
Tomorrow we leave our campsite and travel to... Good question. We'll need to be within striking distance of Ithaca, New York as Melanie will meet up with friends there at the end of next week. I've been looking around, do we stay in Vermont or leave and go to Massachusetts or New York?
We discuss our possibilities and Melanie reminds me of the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. There's a campground nearby, but it's not one that's received a review in my go-to app, Campendium. I decide after searching a bit further to take a chance and give 'em a call as they don't have online reservations, something I tend not to like too much, but only because it's generally slightly more difficult.
I will still need to get us within a relatively easy travel day of Ithaca after that so there's more searching to do.
Melanie decides to take a walk into Arlington, Vermont for a postoffice there and that 10,000 step thing she's gotten into a habit of performing most every day. We check the forecast again before she leaves and it looks like she's good to walk with little chance of rain. She leaves and I continue my logistical task.
She calls to ask if I need anything, to tell me she's on the way back to the van from Arlington and there is no shoulder along the road on which she can walk. Shortly afterwards it begins to rain here in camp. I wonder if she's walking down the highway in the rain. She is.
She parks herself under a tree in hopes of avoiding getting soaked in the brief downpour. Paul, a local farmer, comes out of his home nearby and asks if she's stuck. She tells him she's just sheltering under the tree to avoid getting wet and he offers her a ride which she initially declines, but then, as the rain intensifies, she accepts. She soon back at camp and we're grateful for the kindness of a stranger.
We're both hungry and I make us breakfast for lunch and get back at figuring out where we are going to be tomorrow as Melanie cleans up dishes.
Places eventually fall into place and we're now booked for places to park Miranda through August 3rd. I'm reasonably happy with my choices, but as is usual, we'll just have to wait and experience the places to see if I've made good choices.
We take a walk around camp, skip dinner and walk over to the camp shower house for cleansing. We retire for a bit of streaming. Tomorrow we travel.
July 22, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. We're leaving Vermont today heading south and east to Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.
Facebook has a private group of which we are members. Leisure Travel Van Enthusiasts. It's a helpful and sometimes humorous resource for all things Leisure Travel Vans including travel tips. One of the members saw my recent post about Vermont, saw where we were currently and suggested we not miss Manchester and Dorset, Vermont.
Melanie found breakfast for us in Manchester and so, after a brief time of coffee drinking, we pack it in and head north from Arlington, Vermont to Manchester. We arrive just after 10:00 a.m. and are fortunate enough to grab the last 2 top table in the restaurant Melanie's chosen, Up For Breakfast.
There's double entendre in play as the restaurant is upstairs in its location. Here's what the New York Times says in their 36 Hours in Manchester, Vermont:
Vermont night life conjures an image of tie-dye-clad locals grooving in a bar with gravy fries on the menu. But after-hours in Manchester is a more genteel and toned-down affair — Burlington or Bennington this is not. Many of its best restaurants double as bars, the busiest of which is the Perfect Wife. The Wife, as some call it, offers fine dining downstairs and a raucous tavern upstairs. Filled with foosball tables and flat screens, the Other Woman (as the tavern is called) can get loud and fratty at times.
Another recommended place for breakfast.
I've since heard from the nice person who recommended we see Manchester and Dorset saying she saw us pass through Dorset as she was at the post office there. Timing is everything. We've decided to make another pass through and, hopefully, land a spot at a campground in Dorset on our way back east after Melanie's weekend with longtime friends in Ithaca.
Leaving Dorset and Manchester we head south and into Massachusetts for a few days. One of the things I've come to appreciate about Vermont highways is a dearth of commercial billboards along their highways. Not sure if that's intentional or coincidental. Regardless, it's refreshing to be able to take in the great mountain vistas and beautiful farms with distinctive (red) barns without the clutter of commercial interests trying to sell me on the next roadside attraction.
We arrive at our campground around 1:30 p.m. and attempt to check in only to find someone in the check in area broken down and another camper ahead of us waiting to be able to check in. We decide quickly to run a couple of errands, first traveling into downtown Shelburne Falls to locate the Bridge of Flowers and then on to a roadside farmers' market and a roadside coffee roaster.
Before Melanie leaves the van at the Farmers Market, I see a woman leave the market with a soft serve ice cream cone. I quickly see a sign outside the market indicating they have "maple soft serve ice cream." Yes, please, I tell Melanie. And thank you.
Daaaaammmmmnnnnn that ice cream was so very good and I was so very sorry when I reach the bottom of my cup. That's one dangerous treat, y'all.
We return to camp and this time no waiting to quickly check in. Our pull-through campsite is large and, since we're here for 3 days, I get out the mat and zero-gravity chairs. I'll be grilling a steak this evening so the Blackstone griddle comes out of the pass through.
More campers arrive and we quickly discover this is at least one of the places to camp if you want to ride your Harley. RV's and trucks with trailered Harleys abound. And there are children, lots of children here. There's likely a definite correlation between riding a motorcycle and having lots of children. You heard it here first.
Now go get vaccinated and consider a vasectomy. 😎
Melanie has a couple of work-related Zoom calls before and after we eat dinner. I get dishes cleaned up before the second call and then sit outside (with a light jacket on) to enjoy the cacophony in the gloaming.
I decide after a minute my AirPods are a better way to spend some time and I take in the scene and listen to a variety of tunes.
Melanie finishes her last call and joins me for a bit. We retire to the back of the van and stream and sleep.
An aside. As we lie down for sleep, it's about 10:30 p.m. RV parks almost always (maybe always) have what they will call in various iterations, "Quiet Hours." The time periods, varying generally depending on the day of the week, longer periods for weekend days, shorter times for weekdays.
Generally speaking Quiet Hours are when everyone should be either thinking about sleep or have migrated into their respective RV or, if still outside, using their inside voices to communicate. We can count on one hand the number of times since we began traveling someone or a group of people have been too loud after Quiet Hours begin. Last night was another time, but luckily they weren't disruptive much beyond 11:00 p.m.
July 23, 2021
An alarm on Melanie's phone sounds at 7:00 a.m. Okay, but I'm not quite ready to be up. After a few more prompts by the alarm and a next door neighbor's dogs barking, I'm up and making coffee. It's 62 degrees this morning when I move towards the front of the van and, for the end of July..., I'm smiling.
After coffee and breakfast, Melanie moves her office outside and I tag along, park myself in a zero-gravity chair and sip coffee a bit more.
We coordinate having some mail forwarded which requires contacting a third party and getting the correct addresses and making sure two pieces of mail, arriving separately at the same location, but related to each other, are handled properly. Such is the life of nomads.
We need to ride into Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts to snail mail a few other things too. Melanie is our on-the-road emissary of good tidings keeping us connected with those we know and love by composing and mail various postcards from wherever we happen to be camping.
After Melanie's finished her work day and our bike batteries are fully charged. We get our bikes ready for a shortish ride into Shelburne Falls. We ride along Massachusetts 2 which parallels the Deerfield River. Highway 2 has been recently resurfaced and the "bike lane" is both wide enough and smooth making our ride pleasant and relatively safe. The speed limit on Highway 2 is 50 miles and hour and every passing motorist gives us the courtesy of the proper distance (3 feet or greater) between them and us.
We ride into Shelburne Falls, make a quick stop to put post office directions into one of our phones and we're then riding onto Bridge Street, crossing the Deerfield River and into downtown. We easily find the post office off of Main Street and I deposit our snail mail into the outside receptacle. We leave headed back to the Bridge of Flowers.
But first, we spot a Farmers Market on Main Street, stop briefly and buy Kale, cucumber, squash and an heirloom tomato from a local farmer.
We make our way back across the Deerfield River and the entrance to Bridge of Flowers. There are no bike racks close by (an oversight, I'm sure) so we lock our bikes to a street sign and take in the bridge. There are new plantings with each season. The summer season is spectacular with the river and nearby mountains as backdrop. Visiting the bridge is a winner.
We linger a bit making images of familiar and unusual offerings in bloom. Then..., where's my adult beverage? Melanie makes a quick trip into a bookstore picking up more postcards to mail.
The West End Pub at the Bridge of Flowers is located on State Street next to an entrance to the bridge. We're initially only in search of a cocktail, but once we're seated overlooking the Deerfield River and a beautiful view of the bridge out our table's window, cocktails in hand, we decide an early dinner is also something to consider. It's a good decision.
Melanie has Chicken Lemongrass Dumplings and I opt for the Local Beef Meatloaf. Both are quite tasty. I have a nice glass of Cote du Rhone and Melanie has a glass of white with dinner.
The bonus is the two motorcyclists from Rhode Island who we chat with during dinner. Our tables are close making conversation easy and they are really nice guys out for a weekend ride. One of the guys bright orange fingernail polish matches a flower Melanie found on the bridge and she shows him the flower. Those nice people you meet along the way thing.
After dinner we make our way back to camp as the sun begins descending behind the tall trees surrounding the open field that is the campground. We sit outside and listen and enjoy the very pleasant evening coolness.
I lock up the bikes, put the recharged batteries back on the bikes for tomorrow's ride and take a short walk over to the campground showers to check them out. It's chilly now and we both put on light outer wear.
Not too long afterwards, it's time for retiring to the back of the van for streaming and sleeping. Movie night is happening across the way from our spot, but they're relatively quiet tonight. I don't remember dozing off.
July 24, 2021
It's 59 degrees this morning when I awake around 8:00 a.m. Nice.
There's coffee and breakfast as Melanie begins her work day and I get to spend some time reading newspapers and checking social media. We turn on the fans mid morning as the day heats up and Melanie moves outside to work.
I finish up in the back of the van, move forward and clean up a few dishes from last evening and this morning. Motorcycles crank next door and our neighbors move away from camp for a day's riding somewhere out there. We're planning another foray into Shelburne Falls on our bikes at some point.
Melanie decides to give the campground showers a try and comes back satisfied with the results. I defer and will shower after our ride this afternoon. Today will be warmer than yesterday, but not by much. Highs are predicted to be in the high 70's.
Melanie finishes work (for now) and we ready ourselves to ride. The ride into town is another great one. Temps are nearly perfect and the sky couldn't be bluer.
We hit the post office first then bike back over to Bridge of Flowers where Melanie wants to get a photo of a plaque on the bridge.
As I'm standing waiting on Melanie to make her photo, a couple walks ups and he asks about our Ebikes. I answer questions mentioning at some point we are full-time travelers.
Craig and his wife, Joan, are retired and live in Shelburne nearby. Craig worked for the CDC in Atlanta before retiring. We chat for a while, exchange contact information and they invite us to come stay with them next pass through the area. Before we part ways they tell us of another restaurant we should try in Shelburne Falls. You meet the nicest folks.
We bike to have a look at the falls in town, then make a grocery store run, have a drink and a snack at West End Pub, sitting at the same table we had yesterday afternoon, and then make our way over to The Blue Rock Restaurant for a light dinner.
We couldn't get a table, so we sit at the bar. It's a pleasant experience, drinks and food are good.
Afterwards, we bike back to camp. Since tomorrow is a travel day, I put away the bikes, the Blackstone grill needs cleaning and stowing and then I go for a shower.
While I'm gone, Melanie folds up our mat we've been lounging on for days. I stow that when I get back and then also stow the zero-gravity chairs and disconnect the water hose and store it too.
I'm making sure when we leave tomorrow morning, relatively early, I don't have much to do. Disconnect the electric chord and store it, pull up the levelers, and empty the grey and black tanks on our way out. Rain is predicted so, if raining, I'm minimally wet.
We retire to the back of the van and stream and sleep.
July 25, 2021
My alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. and that's too early. I doze for not quite 10 minutes before I'm up to make coffee. Travel days are like that sometimes.
We have over a hundred miles to travel before we arrive at our next campground, but Melanie is scheduled to attend church services at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Bennington, Vermont so we sip coffee for a few minutes, wake up enough and prepare the van for travel.
We're moving within 10 minutes as there's not too much aside from stowing electric chord, unleveling the van and moving a few miscellaneous items that live in the front of the van when we're parked. We move to the dump station and I quickly empty black and grey tanks.
Our trip to Bennington is uneventful and we're parked across the street from the church more than an hour before church services begin. Melanie reads and I move to the back of the van and take a nap. Rising too early has consequences.
After services we head back west towards Albany, New York. The roads are busy and cloudy skies give way to a mostly sunny and warm day.
Melanie finds The Whistling Kettle in downtown Troy, New York for our lunch. There's a small downtown market going on with live music as we arrive. The lunch is good and afterwards we make our way over to the Hudson River for peek. There's new construction across the way, but many of the buildings downtown are empty. There's nice architecture here and great potential for a revival.
We move along to Target in the East Greenbush section of Rensselaer, NY. I need a need bath towel and our small Shark vacuum needs an update. On to Whole Foods in Albany, NY for items we can't get at other markets. We forget the wine. Drat.
The afternoon drive west on Interstate 90 parallels the Mohawk River. It's a beautiful drive skirting Amsterdam, Fultonville, and Fort Plain. I imagine in the Fall colors are spectacular. But.
It's hotter than I remember the forecast predicting. After our Target shopping, I start the generator and the van air conditioner. We're much cooler than we would be without it, but the sun beats in on us through the front windshield.
By the time we reach the town of Little Falls, I'm ready for this travel day to end. We stop briefly when I spot a liquor store. Melanie buys the wine we forgot and it's a short 9 miles to our campground in Herkimer, NY.
Late lunch equals skipping dinner and tonight we tired enough streaming doesn't happen either. We're asleep by 9:30 and, unlike our previous campground, Quiet Hours are just that, quiet.
July 26, 2021
We sleep for 9+ hours and wake around 6:30 a.m. Coffee and a muffin for breakfast then Melanie goes for a shower and a walk. She gathers our two weeks worth of our laundry including bedding. It takes most of the morning and into the afternoon to accomplish the laundry as 3 of the 6 washing machines at the campground are not working.
I flip the mattress and vacuum underneath it. I also get out the screw driver and tighten up screws I see are loose. We have storage underneath the bed when the foot of the bed is raised and screws in the hinge loosen.
After a nice salad Melanie makes us for lunch, I work on my July 25th post and, when finished, we walk over to the campground pool for maybe a swim. Having grown up swimming in pools and visiting the Gulf for summer vacations, the waters in many of the rivers, streams and pools in the northern latitudes of the U.S. are..., well, they're mostly cold. On a warm summer day cooler water has its place, but when the ambient temps are in the 70's, not so much.
But. If I'm going in, I'm going to need at least a synthetic shirt to wear instead of the cotton tee I have on. Really that's just an excuse to walk back to the van and make an afternoon gin and tonic.
Accomplished, we enjoy our drinks and then take the plunge. As expected it's pretty chilly in the water, but after a few minutes, not really bad at all. Refreshing and lowers the body temp too.
We return to the van, continue the cocktail hour(s) and begin preparations for dinner. I get out the griddle to make pork tenderloin, Melanie furnishes the sides. Tonight, corn on the cob and a side of spinach soufflé. We dine al fresco in the cooling evening air.
I clean up dinner dishes and we decide to take an evening walk around the campground. There are a good many folks walking, riding bikes and playing various games like on a large chess and checkers boards. There's corn hole being played.
After we're back at the van and sit for a few minutes as the sun sets, we decide to move inside, stream a bit, then we're asleep by just after 10:00 p.m.
July 27, 2021
Today we're up around 7:00 a.m. Our usual coffee and breakfast follow.
Many of the people who've occupied this campground are packing up and leaving, by early afternoon about half of the spaces are empty, but by the evening many of them have been replaced. It's quieter today because of fewer people, not nearly as many children running and bicycling around. You can clearly hear West Canada Creek from our spot when you're outside.
Melanie works most of the day, but takes some time for the pool and takes a few walks around camp. I read and check social media from the van. After lunch I watch a Netflix film Melanie has no interest in watching. She continues to work and take walks.
For a while we're under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, but that fizzles at our location and we only get the sound of thunder and moderate rainfall at the campground.
We FaceTime with our son, Tate, who's in the process of moving from a rental house to an apartment closer into downtown Nashville. All seems well with he and his girlfriend, Zoe.
We decide, since it's still raining a bit off and on, we'll eat a couple of Lean Cusines we have in the freezer. We'd planned to use our griddle outside, but you know, rain. After dinner we take a walk around camp, take in the sights and enjoy the cooling evening.
Afterwards, we move to the back of the van for our usual evening streaming. We're asleep by 10:45.
July 14, 2021
It rained some last night and as I rise this morning rain is beginning to subside. I'm up around 7:30 a.m. to make coffee and, since Melanie has the day off, we plan to take a walk on the Appalachian Trail which runs through Gifford Woods State Park.
After coffee and breakfast, Melanie sits outside and reads while I finish up a post from yesterday. Afterwards, we head out of camp and north on the AT. In 2019 we hiked south out of camp.
Because of all the rain recently, the trail is pretty muddy in spots and we pick our way on the trail avoiding as much of the mud as possible. The trail skirts Kent Pond and crosses Thundering Brook Road where we decide to try and make a loop out of our hike by going around Kent Pond in counter-clockwise fashion.
After walking a ways on the road, we pick a trail that seems like it might work (can't find any references to what we're trying to do on various maps). We're walking a trail called Betty's Loop when we come across a gentleman out walking. After conferring with him, we decide to double back and walk to camp the same way we came out.
We get back to camp in time for Melanie to phone her brother, Scott, to wish him a happy birthday as I clean up breakfast dishes and clean the bathroom sink and toilet. Melanie makes a salad for lunch and afterwards cleans the dishes as a thunderstorm rolls into camp. It rains for about 30 minutes.
We spend most of the afternoon reading and streaming. We decide no dinner this evening.
The generator must be run as there's been little sun to charge our batteries today. It runs for about an hour and a half. We have all devices that need a charge plugged in. We'll be good power wise for the evening.
We travel again tomorrow. We head south to Fort Dummer State Park near Brattleboro, Vermont. Since we've heard good things about Brattleboro and there are rail trails to be ridden in the vicinity, we'll be there for five days.
July 15, 2021
We up around 6:00 a.m. and I make coffee. We've decided since it's a travel day we'll go out for breakfast to a place Melanie found along our route. We don't have too far to travel, about 75 miles south and east of where we're located in Killington.
We leave Gifford Woods State Park at around 9:30 a.m. for Sugar and Spice Restaurant. Breakfast is what I'd call good without really recommending it to you. I found it better than Cracker Barrel. Coffee's good, too.
We make our way south, stopping shortly in Rutland to make another post office run. Melanie needs to mail a few items and she needs stamps.
The trip south is pleasant, good roads and, as usual, scenic small towns, green, green mountain vistas, and the occasional ski slope. We drive through a town where we stopped for Melanie to make a call and I did laundry in 2019. I'd know that strip shopping center anywhere.
Not too far after getting on Interstate 91 heading south, I stop at a rest area and turn on our generator and the RV air conditioner. It's approaching 85 degrees outside and just about to get warm in the van.
Arriving in Brattleboro, we go out to Fort Dummer State Park and check in. We're too early to be in our camp spot, but we check in and find our spot for future reference. We go to the grocery store for a few items we need, find Saxtons River Distillery for future reference, but not for rum Melanie wanted, though she did find another Jack Rudy's Tonic. Elderberry. And a lead on where we can buy our other go-to tonic, Fever-Tree.
Melanie finds lunch at Whetstone Station along the Connecticut River on the New Hampshire border.
We have a moments difficulty finding proper parking for Miranda. It happens. Not frequently, but sometimes parking a 25' van is momentarily challenging. We leave our generator running for the RV air conditioner to keep us cool. I don't necessarily like leaving the generator running, but on a day like today, it's almost a necessity. Keeping the inside cool is better for the van fridge too.
We walk to lunch and opt to sit inside even though there's a nice deck overlooking the Connecticut River. I know I mentioned it's a warm day for Vermont. Lunch is good.
We leave the restaurant to look for a local rum and a return to that local afternoon libation station. After fetching our tonic and Melanie's rum, we end up back at Saxtons River Distillery for an afternoon cocktail underneath (for me) a nice spot just outside the distillery (inside off limits due to an immunocompromised employee).
It's enjoyable and we're the only ones at the distillery in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. That works.
We travel back to Fort Dummer State Park and our campsite. Set up this time includes our outside mat and our zero-gravity chairs. We're not leaving this spot for 5 days.
The afternoon is pleasant and we sit out for a while and enjoy how quickly the ambient temp seems to be dropping.
We skip dinner since we had a late lunch and towards sundown we walk the short distance to take showers. $.75 for a nice clean and hot shower though not too hot tonight. I use the shower to bring my core temp down a bit and return to the van.
Tonight we continue to watch season 2 of End of the Fucking World on Netflix. We're sorry to have binged it the day before and now it's over. Sigh.
It's quiet here and temps are pleasant during the night for sleeping.
July 16, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. I'm pretty excited about the day ahead as there are two different rail trails in the area, one connecting me to a third. After coffee and breakfast, Melanie begins her work day and I finish reading a newspaper.
It's a nice morning and I ready my bicycle for checking first the Fort Hill Recreational Rail Trail and then possibly the West River Trail. As is the case sometimes, best laid plans are somewhat disappointing to expectations.
I ride from our spot at Fort Dummer State Park into downtown Brattleboro and Bridge Street, then cross the bridge into New Hampshire. Looking at the TrailLink map the end point should be within a mile of my bridge crossing. It's not at all clear where one can access the end point of the trail from Highway 119 so I check the next possible access point, this time one that has a parking area and keep riding 119 for about 4-5 miles.
The access parking is also a bit of a bust. Yes, you could park a few cars there, but the area is not maintained and I had to push my bike up over a hill through the woods and then down a fairly step hill to the trail. Much to my chagrin the trail is not very well maintained and would be much more conducive to mountain biking. My ride takes me a few more miles south until I reach what appears to be a road/trail.
This portion of the trail contains numerous pot holes and is quite rough. Again, mountain bike, yes, road bike miserable ride. I turn around after about 100 yards of this and return to 119 headed back north. Maybe the West River Trail.
Arriving back in Brattleboro, I make my way through town and across the West River, make a turn off the Main Street and ride to the trail head. The trail heads north along the West River and eventually finishes at Rice Farm Road. It's a pleasant enough ride, but this trail is really a walking path and, if the intention is for people to ride bikes on it, the trail needs a lot of work. Mountain bike, yes, road bike, not really.
The best part of this ride comes when you cross the West River on the Iron Bridge and make your way to Highway 30 (West River Road). The view from the bridge of the West River is great and the ride along the West River Road back into town is a scenic road ride. The shoulder is wide and nicely paved and there are numerous views of the river.
So, riding was not a complete bust, but not what I'd anticipated coming off of great rail trail rides of the past week or so.
When I return, Melanie is out for a walk and I find her as I'm checking out another part of our campground I'd not visited. She's looking for one of the trails off the campground, but can't seem to locate it. I find it shortly after we part ways and we meet back at the van.
I have a late lunch salad and relax a bit outside as she finishes up her work day. We move into the van to run our generator for a while to both cool the van down and charge our house batteries for evening use.
After a Zoom call Melanie has at 5:00 p.m., we eat and I clean up while she goes back outside for bit to enjoy the cooling evening. We walk the short distance to shower, stream a bit and sleep.
July 17, 2021
We're up just before 8:00 a.m. and after coffee and breakfast, we prepare the van to move. We're heading south into Massachusetts today to check out a couple of places and pick up provisions we can't get close by.
It's really just an excuse to take a nice day trip. We drive to Southampton, Mass, to the grocery store in Hadley, Mass., and then on to South Hadley for lunch. The day is pleasant enough, but again another warmish day. We run our generator and the RV air conditioner to keep us cool.
After lunch Melanie wants to travel to Mount Holyoke college, a place she visited as a 14 year old with her beloved Aunt Myra and Melanie's mother. Melanie's aunt graduated from Mount Holyoke and wanted Melanie to consider attending.
We drive through campus and it is a lovely place, but then it's time to head back north as we have made planes to visit friends who live just north of Brattleboro in Townshend.
As we headed north we take a brief detour to see Townshend State Park which appears to be for tent campers only. A quick look at the website as I type provides confirmation this park is tents only with a couple of lean-to-sites.
We arrive in Townshend and discover we have no cell service. Pulling over I quickly put our friends' address into our van GPS and we make our way to their home.
We met Matt Deen and Ella Kinsman through my brother-from-another-mother, John. Matt worked with John at John's coffee shop in Columbus, Georgia before John retired and sold the shop. Matt has since attended seminary and has a church in Marlboro, Vermont.
Matt has a funeral service to officiate and is not yet home when we arrive. We visit with Ella and soon after Matt's home. We spend a couple of hours on their screened porch enjoying fresh local bread and items Ella has made to accompanying the bread. Matt provides the local beer for us.
We part ways as we have a dinner reservation at Peter Havens in Brattleboro at 8:15 p.m. It rains pretty hard on us traveling back to Brattleboro and after driving around for a few minutes looking for parking once we're back in Brattleboro, we find a spot a few blocks away on Main Street.
Our dinner is good and we have a nice time. It's after 10 p.m. when we leave Peter Havens to travel back to our campsite. And it's raining pretty hard (again). It's very dark and upon arriving, I pull into our site instead of trying to back in.
Shortly afterwards, we're in bed listening to the rain beat hard on the roof of the van. I wonder if I'm going to be able to sleep through the din, but not for long.
July 18, 2021
I'm pretty sure Melanie mentioned setting an alarm for 7:00 a.m. when we retired last night, but when I'm finally awake enough to check the time, it's 7:30ish. I'm up almost immediately because it's Sunday and Sunday post-pandemic most always means church for Melanie.
I make coffee and we enjoy a few cups before Melanie goes for a shower. I'm up afterwards and we prepare the van to move into Brattleboro where she'll attend church.
After services, she texts telling me to prepare for visitors to the van. I move a few things around and vacuum the floor.
We do indeed have visitors who come and view the van and ask questions about our travels. They're a very nice lot of folks and in their midst are children. It's nice to see children among the Episcopalians since that has been rare in our travels. It's the second time we've seen a number of young ones in Vermont.
We turn the van around and head into downtown looking for lunch afterwards. Brattleboro is hopping on this late Sunday morning and we end up at Whetstone Station again. This time we take a table outside. The West and Connecticut Rivers come together here and the West River is raging through town as it empties into the Connecticut.
It's pleasant out today in the low 70's, overcast and a very, very light mist falls periodically.
After lunch we walk back to the van and go into several shops along the way. Melanie buys postcards, I look for Steely Dan vinyl in several shops. Nope, no Steely Dan.
Once we're back at the van, I suggest we drive into New Hampshire and down to near Hinsdale so I can check out the southern terminus of the Ashuelot Recreation Rail Trail. The southern terminus has a large parking lot nearby, but my reconnaissance is a bit of bust as I can't really tell if the trail is worth riding.
The Ashuelot River, on the other hand, is raging through Hinsdale. As we pass back through town, we turn into town and make a stop at a city park where the river can be viewed. As you can see from the video above, the river is out of its banks.
A friend from Melanie's church service who happens to pull up and park behind us says it's generally pretty much a trickle compared to the torrent we're witnessing. It's a great experience watching it from a safe distance.
We're now back at camp and here for the afternoon.
Cocktails consumed and lite snacks for dinner, we retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming and sleep. It's raining and raining.
July 19, 2021
I'm typing this while located in Keene, New Hampshire which is about 20 miles or so from our campsite in Brattleboro, Vermont.
We were up this morning just after 7:00 a.m. Neither of us wanted to be awake. It was still rainy and rain dripped from the trees overhead onto Miranda with an erratic cadence. Rain for days now. Local rivers are overflowing. Too much rain.
We have coffee and Melanie eats a carton of Yogurt before we ready the van for travel. Melanie has a hair cutting appointment at 10:00 a.m. which was accomplished while I checked our generator oil level as per the prompt from the keypad. Oil level is fine. Melanie's hair is looking good when she returns.
The good news is we get a break in the rain today which is the reason we're here in Keene. On the way in, Melanie has us stop at Monadnock View Cemetery to pay respects at the gravesite of Civil Rights Martyr, Jonathan Myrick Daniels.
We parked downtown next to a rail trail and Melanie can take a break in her work day and walk around downtown Keene and I can get Red Ranger out and ride south on the Ashuelot Recreational Rail Trail. Yesterday I checked out the southern terminus of the trail near Hinsdale.
The trail crosses the Ashuelot River a few times which should prove to be great given that it's waters are running extremely high now.
I ride the Ashuelot Recreational Rail Trail out of town for about 6 miles. The trail is very wet to say the least. I have nice ride, the surface is hard-packed and there are very few spots where water is standing, but on either side of the trail for miles the Ashuelot has flooded farm fields and athletic fields and much of wooded areas next to the trail. More rain to follow it seems.
The trail continues farther out than I rode, but becomes single track and better traversed on a mountain bike or on foot. Before I head back into town, I ride over to a campground on the river where camped two years ago. It's under new management and seems to be in slightly better shape than when we stayed there.
I ride back into town and stop a few times to eat an apple, protein bars and drink water. Once I'm back, I ride around downtown Keene hoping to see Melanie, but she's not to be seen. I ride out a ways on the Cheshire Rail Trail until I come to a road and can't seem to find where the trail continues so turn around and ride back into town. Still no Melanie.
I text her and find out she's headed over to the Jonathan Daniels Trail which begins in Ashuelot River Park nearby. We find each other and sit along the river and trail for a time. It's beautiful.
I'd sent my doctor, Stuart Cohen, a message earlier in the day mentioning I needed a renewal of the only prescription medication I take, a Statin. I get confirmation the renewal has been sent to a local Keene Walgreens and then Walgreens texts to tell me I can pick it up. Sweet.
We decide to walk from our parking place to Main Street and an early dinner before we head back to Brattleboro. We settle on Luca's Mediterranean Cafe across from Central Square. We have a nice table outside and it's a really pleasant evening temperature wise. The food and wine are good.
We make our way back to Miranda and the shortish drive back to Brattleboro and our camp. Sitting outside we enjoy another glass of wine as the sun sets. Melanie moves into the van and I gather my shower stuff and walk the short distance to the campground shower.
We stream a bit before sleep. No rain in the forecast and tomorrow we travel to a new campsite in another part of Vermont.
July 20, 2021
Today's a travel day. Not too far, but we need to be out of our campsite by 11:00 a.m. so I'm up and after a round or two of coffee, Melanie and I are up and preparing to move the van.
My outside chores this morning include putting away our zero gravity chairs which reside on our van ladder which has a carrier attached to it. Once those are secured to the carrier and ladder, I clean and fold our mat and put it away. I check tire pressure in all 6 tires, a once a week job (we have an extensive checklist we go through each time we move Miranda).
Once we're underway, we stop once in West Brattleboro for restocking of our favorite tonic at a local 802 and then we're off to Bennington for lunch. As luck would have it, we park for lunch across from the Episcopal Church, St. Peter's, in Bennington and Melanie goes across the street to take a look.
She soon texts me she's making new friends and I wait in the van while she finishes. She will now attend church services at St. Peter's this coming Sunday.
We find lunch at Your Belly's Deli. Catchy name for a restaurant. I have a really tasty, if messy, Turkey melt pesto sandwich special, Melanie a Turkey brie and apple sandwich. We're both pleased with lunch and would eat there again.
We arrive at our campsite, Camping On The Battenkill, in Arlington, Vermont early afternoon and, after a quick set up, Melanie migrates outside to work and I migrate to the back of the van for a quick nap and reading I missed during the morning.
We're located along the Battenkill River which, like many rivers in Vermont now, is very high. Later in the day, we take a walk around camp walking along the river and take in the scene. A good many families with children tent camping, a good many season sites with all kinds of RV's parked in them and the rest of us.
We skip dinner again and, after sitting outside enjoying the cooling evening, we move inside. There's a "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" out and we're in the path.
The storm hits as we're streaming in the back of the van and initially, we're hit with a few, what sound like, very large hail stones. A very few. But then the rain and lightening. It's loud in the van I after monitoring the situation for a few minutes as the leading edge passes us, we resort to headphones for streaming.
The rain has all but stopped as we turn in for the night and the ambient temps are nice.
July 7, 2021
We've traveled north and east from Burlington to Mill Pond Campground near (very near) the Canadian border in East Franklin, Vermont. Sixty plus miles from Montreal. It's a relatively small campground that's been here a minute.
There are many "seasonal" spots here. Places where folks park an RV or tiny home and use them during the summer months. There are people living here full time.
I was up before the alarm I'd set for 6:00 a.m. this morning. It was cool in the low 60's as I got up to make coffee for us. It's one of Melanie's days off and she continued to sleep while I make coffee and come back to bed with it.
After a while she too's up and we sip and have breakfast and read. Today we meet friends from Burlington and Essex Junction to ride the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail.
I get on my computer and pull up the map of the trail on TrailLink. I get a screen shot of it and place that in PhotoShop. I give our friends our location via a red arrow and indicate where we might meet them to ride.
I call John and we decide on which of the two options works for them. We leave the campground at around 9:00 and travel the 9+ miles to the parking area beside the trail. I get our bikes out and busy myself with finding a spot for the end of the month when Melanie will meet friends in Ithaca, New York for the weekend.
This rail trail is yet another great ride and the weather (for July) couldn't have been better. Cloudy and low 60's. We ride about 5 miles past Enosburg Falls then back to Enosburg Falls and have lunch. We take our lunch, bike to the falls and eat on a bridge overlooking the river.
Afterwards, I stop by the local State Store to restock gin and then it's back to Miranda. We part ways with our friends and head back to camp. Melanie's got an EPF Zoom (day off?) and I retire to the back of the van to read, listen to music and compose this.
It's fresh tuna off the Blackstone griddle tonight and I should get to it.
July 8, 2021
Thursday morning and another day off for Melanie. We have managed to sleep in and when I finally get up to make coffee at around 8:15 a.m., the temperature is in the high 50's. I slip on a light jacket, fill up the hot water pot and turn it on thinking slippers might be in order.
We sip coffee, Melanie works and we have breakfast in bed. She asks about the weather and I check to make sure we can get in another rail trail bike ride before it rains. The weather will cooperate and we make preparations to leave our campsite around 10:00 to travel the 9+ miles to the terminus of the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail in Richford, Vermont.
The road to Richford is bucolic with great views of the mountains to our east. There are numerous dairy farms along the way with lots of "ice cream cows" as Melanie has dubbed them. That distinct odor though.
We reach our trailhead parking and I begin getting our bikes out for the ride. A fellow rides up on his bike and begins to ask about ours. I engage in some back in forth with him about our bikes, asking if he's from Richford. He is. He says he's homeless and is looking to trade some electronic equipment for water he needs. Melanie goes back into the truck and gets him a few bottles of water for which he's grateful.
Before he leaves he tells me that the government ran experiments on him some time back. They were very concerned because he is able to make himself invisible. I've got nothing. We part ways, him thanking us for the water. I can see him ride off and I'm grateful he doesn't disappear before getting out of my sight line. I'm going with "invisible" as metaphor. We meet the nicest folks. People in Vermont are some of the nicest.
Our ride is another great one with temps in the low 60's and cloudy skies. We ride for about 4+ miles before we are retracing our ride of yesterday. We continue into Enosburg Falls and find a grocery store for tonic and limes. Adult staples.
There's a McDonald's close at hand and we have a light lunch on sitting outside on the cement in front of the location. For some reason, this location is not permitting dine-in. Our lunch spot yesterday in Enosburg Falls didn't either. We have no idea why. Abundance of caution comes to mind.
The return ride to Richford is windy, but uneventful and nice.
We decide on the way back to check out a Lake Carmi State Park close by our current campsite. We do a drive through of all the campground loops. It's another very nice Vermont State Park we would definitely consider on our next pass through.
Once we're back at camp, I search for our next campsite. It's a Boondockers Welcome location southeast of us. Nothing from them yet. I'm hoping to position us for riding on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
I also make plans to be relatively near Ithaca, New York the last three days of this month. I'll be at both Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome spots for three nights while Melanie is with her friends in Ithaca.
Tonight's dinner is a nice salad topped with left-over tuna, then streaming.
July 9, 2021
We're up around 6:00 a.m. this morning. Temperature is 64 degrees. It's cloudy and will remain so during the day with highs reaching into the low 70's. Pretty much perfect for a nice Vermont summer day.
We don't need to check out of our spot here until 12:00 noon today. Our travels will take us about 70 miles southeast to Danville, Vermont.
After sipping coffee for a while, Melanie leaves for the campground shower. The first day we were at this campground we both went for showers after dinner. Let me say again, this is an older campground. It's not too large and there are seasonal rentals around situated on a lily pad covered pond. It's quiet and is not without a certain charm. The structures, such as they are, have been around for years. The bath house is no exception. When we arrive, I discover quarters are needed to take a shower.
When I exit to got back to the van to get them, Melanie comes out of the shower and declares there's no way she can shower in the women's side of things. She says it's like a Stephen King novel in there with women's hair hanging from the shower, the floors dirty, trash not emptied. We go back to the van and get our van shower ready for her. I return to the men's shower and, while the men's side is nearly equal to the description Melanie has given of the women's side, I take a shower and return. Though I must admit I've felt better taking a Sunshower shower in wilderness areas while backpacking.
Before we left out to meet our friends on Wednesday, Melanie stopped by the campground office and told the person in charge about her bath house experience. To their credit, the bath house was cleaned and acceptable for use. Squeaky wheel.
We're in a Boondockers Welcome spot for a few days starting today. I'm hoping to be in relative proximity to a section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail near Danville, Vermont where our hosts live.
It's Friday, Melanie's Monday for work purposes. She is conducting a Zoom call. The van is basically ready for travel so all I need to do is fill the van with water, disconnect from electric and water and travel a short distance to the campground dump station to empty grey and black tanks.
We'll need to make a brief trip to market and a drug store before settling in at our new location.
Our drive is yet another great pastural journey with farms and mountains as we go. We stop briefly in Morristown, Vermont for a CVS run and it's there that Laurie drives up and tells me she and her husband are Unity owns and live close by. We exchange phone numbers and tells me we might consider staying in their driveway for a night. She thinks her husband, Steve, may like to talk to us about fulltime travel.
Just a short way farther south we stop in Hardwick. Melanie figures we need to set up in a municipal parking lot for a Zoom call she has in an hour or so and she's hungry.
I fetch lunch at a local Pizza, bar and grill place, but by the time I'm back, she's on her call. Melanie finishes her call and eats some of her lunch and we drive farther south and into St. Johnsbury for a few grocery items we need.
We double back to Danbury and find our Boondockers Welcome hosts location. They meet us as we pull up and soon thereafter we having wine and cheese from their front porch overlooking the mountains east of us in New Hampshire. It's partly cloudy and 65 degrees, y'all, going down to 56 overnight.
Retiring back to the van, I nosh on humus and carrots and finish my last glass of wine. We change into our lounging wear and retire to the back of the van.
I'm up and making coffee at around 7:30 this morning. It's cool at 56 degrees, but the skies are mostly clear.
After breakfast and coffee, we ready the van for traveling to a spot along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Melanie will work and walk and I will ride at least a portion of the trail.
We first try a location in West Danville, Vermont near Joe's Pond, but connectivity for Melanie's work is poor. After another try east of Danville along highway 2, we decide to go into St. Johnsbury to the terminus of the trail. And the parking lot is full when we arrive. We try one more spot that proves to have no parking before ending up on the street in downtown St. Johnsbury near the post office.
Melanie leaves the van for the local Farmers Market and I get Red Ranger out for my ride. I've located the van about a mile from the terminus of the trail. It's an easy ride through part of downtown St. Johsbury.
My ride on the trail takes me through more of rural pastural Vermont. It's railroad grade, but the way out of town is steady up hill. In talking with our Boondocker hosts, I discover the gain in altitude is just under a thousand feet over just over 16 miles. My ride back into town is great fun and much faster than the ride out.
Melanie texts and asks if I want to meet her at the van or a local distillery. Distillery on this fine, fine Saturday afternoon, of course. She texts again as I'm approaching downtown St. Johnsbury informing me she's found live music at the Welcome Center. The string band is playing Burning Down The House.
As I arrive, the band's still playing and I find gelato and Melanie. We eat gelato, listen to music and watch the locals dance to a Grateful Dead tune. Afterwards, we walk a block or so to St. Johnsbury Distillery for a cocktail on their front porch. Recommended.
We decide to have dinner at a restaurant next door and after our drinks, go back to the van so I can put the bike away, clean up and change into shorts and a tee shirt. We make our way back to dinner.
When we arrive back at our Boondockers spot in Danville, we sit for minute on our hosts front porch and take in the mountains to our east before retiring to the van for a Zoom call with friends from Birmingham.
Connectivity is good, but not great. We stream for a while, then sleep.
Boondockers Welcome continues to be one of our favorite way to find places for Miranda and for meeting interesting people. Spending time with Dick and Nancy Diefenbach was great and we look forward to seeing them again.
July 11, 2021
I'm awake at 5:30 a.m. Not sure why, but I do know it's chilly. I reach for my phone and quickly take a look at the Weather Channel. It's 49 degrees in Danville, Vermont. Yes! I turn over and spoon Melanie for few more minutes.
I get up to make coffee around 6:00 a.m. and turn on the furnace to knock the chill off. It's 55 degrees inside.
It's a travel day and Melanie has found a place to worship in St. Johnsbury. We have coffee and breakfast and, after speaking with our hosts, Dick and Nancy, thanking them for a great few days with them on their farm, we depart for St. Johnsbury to find the park where services will be held.
After lunch in the van we'll stop by a local market and pick up a few things we need before traveling back west and south to Allis State Park.
We decide enroute to Allis to drive through Montpelier, Vermont, the state's capitol. We luck out and find a parking spot on the street in front of the capitol building. There's live music happening on the lawn of the capitol and listen in as we make our way towards the capitol and up the stairs to see the marble statue of Ethan Allen.
We wander the streets of downtown and buy coffee beans, chocolate and finally sit outside and enjoy a drink before getting back on the road to Allis State Park.
Allis is a smallish State Park with campsites nicely spaced and not very many people camped on a Sunday. We check out the bathhouse (acceptable) on the way up to a vantage point/picnic area that has a fire tower. The climb up into the fire tower is worth the effort providing great 360 views and a sketch above each of four observation windows with identifying mountains and places on each.
It's very pleasant outside so we decide to grill a steak and have drinks outside during the evening hours. Melanie washes dishes and takes the trash to the front of the park. Afterwards we stream a show we're watching and turn in around 10.
July 12, 2021
It's 59 degrees this morning when I awake at 7:30 a.m. I'm up and make coffee boiling water on the stove top this morning since we have no electric connection. Dry camping for a few days.
Melanie has work and I need to find places for us to park. After coffee and breakfast, Melanie works outside for a while and I begin looking for new campsites. It appears the temps are trending up for the next little bit so we decide to not to travel too far south in Vermont at least for a few days.
We have a salad for lunch and Melanie goes out for a walk and upon returning moves her work day outside. I continue my bookings in the back of the van. The private campgrounds I'd like to book have no vacancies on the upcoming weekend so we'll stay in Vermont State Parks for the near future. Not a problem as they've all been nice especially for dry camping spots.
I make sure we have a place to be just after Melanie meets up with girlfriends for a weekend at the end of the month in Ithaca, New York. I've previously booked a brewery and a Boondockers Welcome location for my three days while she's away.
Dinner is pork tenderloin on the campground grill with a couple of sides Melanie prepares. More rain is forecast overnight so I store our chairs and make sure everything outside is put away. Tomorrow morning all we will need to do to move is retract the auto-leveling/stabilizers and move along.
We walk the campground loop to take trash and then retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming and sleep.
July 13, 2021
It's raining when the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. Nope. Turn that sucker off and roll over for a few more nice hours of sleep with rain falling nicely on Miranda's roof.
I'm up around 8:00 a.m. and make coffee. Rain has subsided somewhat. It's misty out.
We take our time over coffee and breakfast, then ready the van for travel. We need to dump our black and grey tanks and fill the fresh water before we leave Allis. It's sprinkling rain pretty steady as we accomplish both with relative ease. There's no one but us at the dump/water station.
We don't have too far to travel today. We are moving south and east towards Killington, Vermont and Gifford Woods State Park. Melanie has Identified Rutland, Vermont as a city we should check out before going to our Gifford.
We follow along the White river on Highway 107 movie through small towns along the way and pass Gifford Woods as we move through the outskirts of Killington and head west for Rutland.
Melanie finds lunch for us and we park within a block of the restaurant, Roots. We procure a table outside under their awning. The rain stopped before we got to Killington so it's now cloudy and a cool 68 degrees as we eat our lunch. There are marble statues in a courtyard-like setting. Rutland is known for its high-quality marble deposits.
We take a brief walking tour of downtown Rutland after lunch, pick up a few grocery items we need then travel the short 13 miles back to our home for a few days, Gifford Woods.
We have our weekly FaceTime with Tate. All's well in Nashville.
I text a photo of an Appalachian Trail marker to my brother-from-another-mother, John and mention he must have hiked this portion of the AT since it goes right through Gifford Woods. He had and related his memory of staying in the Ski Patrol shack at the top of the mountain, free rides on the gondola to an all you can eat breakfast, a big thunderstorm during the night that provided a great light show, and the great sunrise the next morning.
We have a salad with added protein for dinner, I clean up the dishes, and we go for showers. The bath house has received an upgrade, at least the one we are using this time around, since our appearance here in 2019. The facility is very nice and relatively clean considering it's wet outside and the campground has a number of others in residence.
We retire to the back of the van and watch a movie before sleep. Tomorrow we hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Steven and Melanie