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.
Steven and Melanie