September 8, 2021
After breakfast, I finish a bit of journaling and Melanie prepares for a Zoom call she has scheduled. We're both still reeling a bit from the news our friend, Jamie has died, but it's a nice day in Vermont and we decide after her work call, we'll get the bikes out and ride into Barre, Vermont to check out the Episcopal church at which she'll worship on Sunday, have lunch and check out the town.
Barre/Graniteville, Vermont is the granite capitol of the world. We checked out the Hope Cemetery while we were in town. Great headstones carved by artisans.
September 9, 2021
Not much going on today in Graniteville. We walked over to Rock of Ages quarry mid day to check out the visitors center. Grave stones, various granite gift items, famous epithets, and various structures made from the granite quarried here.
There's a tour offered of the active quarry site not far away. Melanie expresses no interest in it so we walk back to Lazy Lions Campground. I grab a quick snack before walking back over for the 2:15 tour.
Take aways. They've taken a very large amount of granite from this quarry since inception. A Canadian company now owns the quarry and a number of others in the U.S., Canada and France. They work from March until Christmas each year. There's still enough granite at the site for another 4,000 years of extraction.
The price of admission was inexpensive so the meh quality of the tour was palatable. I'm really not into being buried when I die so a granite headstone isn't in my future, but some of the ones I saw at Hope Cemetery in Barre, Vermont were pretty amazing.
September 10, 2021
We have our usual coffee and breakfast in the van. Melanie begins her work day while I continue reading in the back of the van.
It's laundry day for us. We haven't done it in a minute so there's a bunch of clothes and we'll also launder the bedding too.
With Melanie's assistance, we make it over to Ruby's at the campground in one trip. I sit and listen to Ezra Klein's podcast from the New York Times website and check social media while the machines do their magic.
The podcast is worth a listen. He interviews the economist, Tyler Cowen.
It's also our favorite engineer's and our youngest son's birthday today. He's 25. We talk briefly with him before he's going out for dinner with his girlfriend, Zoe.
The evening is spent talking with our campground neighbors from Black Mountain, North Carolina around a fire I put together for us to share. They are relatively new to the camping experience having just taken possession of their 5th wheel camper three weeks prior to us meeting them.
They turn in around 9:00 p.m. and we stay around the really nice warmth of the fire until it's mostly out.
September 11, 2021
We've set an alarm so we can be up and moving. After I make coffee, we move towards the Cross Vermont Trail (Montpelier & Wells River). I've chosen a parking spot in Groton, Vermont where Melanie can be on Zoom calls while I ride the trail.
We arrive in Groton with about 30 or so minutes to spare before Melanie's first call begins and..., there's no cell service. This does not set well with me because we can't pull up a map quickly on our phones to try and figure out where next to try.
Melanie goes into the post office in Groton and is told there's a truck stop about 5 miles away and there's cell service there. We quickly move towards Interstate 91 and what we hope is cell service. As luck would have it the post person is correct.
I park the truck in the back of the truck stop, Melanie sets up for her call and I have a bite of breakfast. I check the rail trail map and see that I'm not too far away from the rail trail I wanted to ride, but much farther from what looks like is the most rideable section.
I'm a bit disappointed, but hey, it's a beautiful day with temps hovering in the 60's. A perfect day to be out riding.
My ride on the trail proves to be a bit of bust as the section is, as mentioned in reviews, in need of some TLC. I ride portions of the trail, but directional signs are not great and I end up riding more on Vermont 302 than not. I get in a nearly 30 mile ride and I'm back in the van before 2:00 p.m.
We get lunch from the truck stop which turns out to be better than expected.
After Melanie finishes her second Zoom call, we travel back into Barre, Vermont for groceries we need before traveling to our evening Boondockers Welcome spot in Orange, Vermont which is very near Barre.
There's no cell service at the Boondockers location so we sit and talk outside the van and enjoy the last bit of a beautiful day.
September 12, 2021
I'm up around 5:45 a.m. after my alarm goes off. It's Sunday and Melanie will attend services at Church of the Good Shepherd in Barre, Vermont. Reverend Kooperkamp has invited her to talk about the Episcopal Peace Fellowship during service.
She wants to take a shower before the service so after making coffee I remove items we usually store in the shower as we travel. We keep a bag of shoes, a cooler with bottled water and few other miscellaneous items. It takes no time to get the shower ready and after she's done I wipe away excess water and restore the items.
While we booked our current campsite for two nights, we decide to move along to South Hero, Vermont and camp at Apple Island Resort, a place we stayed a few months back, since we don't have cell service at our Boondockers Welcome location in Orange.
We travel into Barre and park close to the church about an hour before services begin. I stay in Miranda and catch up on a few things I need to do.
After services are done, Melanie texts and lets me know there will be visitors to the van. I show the van to a number of people and afterwards we are invited to have pancakes in the parish hall.
We sit and talk with Elizabeth and Earl Kooperkamp over our pancakes and afterwards one of the parishioners who has also joined us for pancakes, Tess Taylor, offers to show us an historic landmark, the Socialist Labor Party Hall.
It's a brief and very interesting tour of the famous meeting place of the once powerful socialist labor movement.
We then travel to Montpelier for coffee beans and brunch at Oakes & Evelyn. It's a very delicious meal. Recommended.
Our trip to South Hero, Vermont is then only about 50 miles. Enroute, we decide to check out North Hero before we check into our campsite. It's a great drive onto North Hero and back. We drive by several State Parks and make a note to check out Grand Isle State Park.
We travel on back to Apple Island Resort and check in before 5:00. The nice person checking me in asks if I had a reason for choosing the particular site I've chosen. I mention the bathhouse close to the site.
She says the site isn't to her liking and she upgrades us at no additional charge to another site also close to a bathhouse. We are very pleased with the upgrade.
Late lunch equals no dinner and we enjoy the evening outside overlooking Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains.
Streaming and sleep follow.
September 13, 2021
After a bit of coffee and breakfast, Melanie goes for a shower and I begin by cleaning our ceiling fans' screens. That task doesn't take too long and I move outside to fill our water tank, empty and clean the black tank and empty the grey tank.
We'll be off grid for a few days in Essex Junction, Vermont at the home of Cec and John Heermans.
We leave our spot at Apple Island Resort and travel north to Grand Isle State Park. We are granted permission to enter and check out the campground there. We're happy we did as many of the sites are very nice and the park is situated on Lake Champlain.
We travel into Burlington and have lunch at The Shanty on the Shore situated overlooking Lake Champlain. We're both pleased with lunch and our spot on their deck outside. It's a beautiful day in Burlington with temperatures in the high 60's.
After lunch we make a quick stop for wine and tonic at a local 802 State Store before driving to our friends' on Jackson Street in Essex Junction.
We get settled in our regular space in front of their barn. Melanie works a bit and we both get ready for a protest march and Burlington City Council meeting.
We travel with our friend, John, to another friend, Louis' home in downtown Burlington. Louis is going with us, along with a couple of others to the protest which begins in front of the First Unitarian Universalist Church.
There are a few speeches and the media interviews a number of participants. We then march down Church Street to City Hall where a few more people speak. The assembled crowd then moves into City Hall where a council meeting will take up a resolution asking that the U.S. stop military aid to the State of Israel.
There are many speakers and the meeting goes on for hours. In the end the resolution is withdrawn.
We end the evening at Louis' home for drinks and dinner, then back to Essex Junction.
September 14, 2021
The alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m., but since we weren't in bed until 12:00 midnight, I'm wondering why. We sleep a bit more before I'm up making coffee.
We sip coffee, eat breakfast and Melanie works. I catch up a bit on my journaling and John comes out after a fashion and says Louis is up for a ride around 2:00 p.m.
Melanie takes the Heermans' Honda for her haircut appointment which is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.
Once she's back, she works a bit more, and we eat leftovers for lunch.
After lunch I get our bikes out for a ride we'll take with our friends. Everyone assembles at around 2:00 and before long we ride.
We make our way to Indian Brook Park and reservoir. We take a brief break, talk to a local man and then we're off again.
A couple of miles later three of the five riders make the decision to ride back to Essex Junction leaving Louis and I to ride farther out and back.
We are enjoying a great ride when, going up a rather steep incline on a highway, Louis' chain comes off and becomes lodged such that we can't free it. He pushes the bike up the hill and into the town of Westford, Vermont.
After making a few more attempts to free the chain, he calls John and John says he'll come get him and the bike. I ride on.
I make it back to the van before Louis and John and FaceTime with our son Tate.
Louis and John show up with Louis' bike chain still stuck. We all have a nice dinner prepared by Cec. John makes a fire for us to enjoy. It's a very pleasant Vermont evening.
Steven and Melanie