September 1, 2021
When I wake up, the first thing I do is pick up my phone, it's 6:45 a.m., and look at the local weather page. It's 49 degrees in Twin Mountain. Welcome to chilly September, y'all.
We drink a bit of coffee and Melanie suggests, since she's off today, we get Miranda ready for travel and find breakfast along the way. We have a relative short distance to travel to day. We're headed south and east to Meredith, New Hampshire for at least two days.
Retracing our travels of a few days back we travel through the Franconia Notch area. This time through the clouds are high and we can see the mountains stretching out before us. Cannon Mountain Ski Resort is also completely visible this time through.
Melanie finds breakfast for us in Plymouth, New Hampshire. We leave the Interstate and travel into downtown Plymouth and park on the street near The Main Street Station restaurant.
As we near the end of breakfast, Melanie declares it possibly the best breakfast she has ever eaten. She shares this declaration with our waitress and explains that since we travel full time and have eaten breakfast in many parts of the U.S., she knows.
Our server thinks it's "sick" we travel full time. I show her a photo of Miranda and she declares it larger than her apartment. We surmise after she leaves she must be referring to her dorm room at Plymouth State University located in Plymouth. Melanie has often compared living in Miranda to living in a dorm room.
After breakfast, Melanie walks to the post office to mail some items and buy stamps. I go to Monte Alto and buy coffee beans.
We travel on. Seeing diesel fuel at $2.84 a gallon is a good reason to top off Miranda's tank at the Citgo on the way back to the Interstate.
We arrive at our campsite at a bit after noon. I go in to the office to check in while Melanie calls her father to check in.
The folks in the office don't have a record of me making a reservation. I tell them I didn't get a confirmation email as promised, but I do know I've paid as I recently checked our bank account.
One woman goes to another building to check payments, I go for my phone left in Miranda. I pull up our bank account and, yes, I'm right, I've paid. The woman comes back and verifies I'm paid in full. We finish the check in process and she apologizes for the delay. All I've got is time.
While it's her day off, Melanie has a Zoom Call scheduled. We'l travel back into Meredith to check things out afterwards.
After Zooming, we travel back into Meredith and walk around town for an hour or so before deciding on an early dinner at Lago Costa Cucina.
We enjoy drinks and appetizers and I order an entree. I eat about half of that and take the remainder back to the van for another dinner.
Once back in the van we quickly set up and move to the back for an evening of streaming. Sleep.
September 2, 2021
I didn't sleep well last night due to rain, but more specifically, rain falling on Miranda when she's located under trees. The dripping from trees creates an erratic noise that isn't conducive to sleep. Our campsite is, nevertheless, very nice overall. And there's no further rain in the forecast for today.
I'm up around 7:30 a.m. and make coffee. Melanie works some even though day off. I read and begin thinking about tomorrow. We're only here one night and the Labor Day Holiday is upon us. Campsites may be scarce.
We decide to stay here, if they'll have us. I walk over to the office and ask the person behind the counter if there's room for us one more night. A quick check and that's a nope. Full for the holiday weekend she says.
Our next decision involves where do we go from here. At this point we have only two firm obligations, one in Barre, Vermont on the 12th and Burlington, Vermont on the 13th.
While Melanie makes a work-related phone call, I begin to search northern New Hampshire and Vermont. I decide to take what is, generally speaking, the easy route and look for Boondockers Welcome locations.
I find what looks like a very nice spot in near Northport, Vermont. After a quick consult with Melanie mostly about work-related Zooming she has over the weekend, I request a stay. Within the hour, we're accepted. Good news, holiday weekend booked.
September 3, 2021
Travel day. We're not traveling too far today, less than 150 miles north near the Canadian border so I'm up around 7:00 a.m. for coffee making.
We sip for a bit before remembering we'll be traveling by Plymouth, New Hampshire on our way which means we could have breakfast again at The Main Street Station.
After I shower, we quickly ready the van for travel and we're on the way by 9:00. The distance to Plymouth is short and we're eating by 10:00. It's another good experience with the exception of the intermittently screeching baby in the booth behind us.
After Melanie makes a brief stop at the local post office, we're headed north on the interstate again.
We need to make a grocery store run so we choose the Price Chopper in Northport, Vermont. Melanie works while I go in to restock supplies.
Wanting to ride a local rail trail, I put in coordinates for the trail head of the Beebe Spur Rail Trail. I find the trail head and what looks like a good spot to park Miranda.
We travel a bit farther to downtown Northport and find a nice spot to park. We take a walk around town and on a nice board walk overlooking Lake Memphremagog. It's beautiful here and there are a number of people on the streets on this holiday weekend. And it's Friday afternoon around quitting time.
Afterwards, we travel about 8 miles out of town to our Boondockers Welcome location, Hurdland Farm. Our hosts were dairy farmers up until recently and are becoming retired in methodical fashion. They both enjoy travel and own a nice diesel pusher RV that they've graciously moved to make way for us and another couple.
Their farm is east of the Green Mountains which makes for a most bucolic setting. The sun setting over the Green Mountains and great conversation around a camp fire as the temps dip into the 50's. Perfect.
I've touted the virtues of the Boondockers Welcome service before, but when one gets the warm welcome we got and within minutes has fresh produce and an invitation to join them around a fire after dinner, it becomes camping at it's finest. We, of course, hope to see them again in the future.
We discover we have sporadic connectivity and realize quickly streaming is not going to happen when we retire to the back of the van. Melanie reads some and I finish an essay by Carl Sagan in The Sun magazine given to me a few weeks ago by a friend in Burlington.
I do not consider myself a religious person in the usual sense, but there is a religious aspect to some highs. The heightened sensitivity in all areas gives me a feeling of communion with my surroundings, both animate and inanimate. Sometimes a kind of existential perception of the absurd comes over me and I see with awful certainty the hypocrisies and posturing of myself and my fellow men. And at other times, there is a different sense of the absurd, a playful and whimsical awareness. Both of these senses of the absurd can be communicated, and some of the most rewarding highs I've had have been sharing talk and perceptions and humor. Cannabis brings us an awareness that we spend a lifetime being trained to overlook and forget and put out of our minds. A sense of what the world is really like can be maddening; cannabis has brought me some feeling of what it is like to be crazy, and how we use that word "crazy" to avoid thinking about things that are too painful for us. In the Soviet Union political dissidents are routinely placed in insane asylums. The same kind of thing, a little more subtle perhaps, occurs here: "did you hear what [comedian] Lenny Bruce said yesterday? He must be crazy." When high on cannabis I discovered that there's somebody inside in those people we call mad.
September 4, 2021
After sipping a bit of coffee we opt for getting the van ready so we can get breakfast and find a spot for Melanie to work for the day.
Melanie finds a local Newport restaurant, The Brown Cow. There's a short wait involved and it appears to be a place locals eat breakfast. The breakfast is good and we travel back towards downtown Newport.
We park in Gardner Memorial Park long enough to go to the local Farmers Market. We buy items mostly to be used as gifts for people who host us at Boondockers Welcome spots along our way. But there's also a jar of pesto I'm looking forward to trying eventually.
Cell service is not great at Gardner so we move downtown to near the historic public library, Goodrich Memorial Library.
Melanie continues her work day and I get out my bike to ride the Beebe Spur Rail Trail that runs north out of Newport to within a mile and a half of the Canadian border.
It's a beautiful sunny and cool day for a ride and, since it's a holiday weekend, there are a good many folks out riding and walking. The ride is relatively easy, even the last bit of road riding to the border.
Since connectivity has been a problem for us at our location in Newport Center, I stop by Prouty Beach Campground just off the trail coming back into town. I make a reservation for Sunday night and Monday night and get a spot very near the water and beach.
Returning to the van, we walk down to the Pick and Shovel. From the website:
The Pick and Shovel is a maze of aisles where you’ll find just about anything, because if we don’t have it you don’t need it.
We’re an adventure, not just a hardware store.
Melanie bought a tee shirt there while I was out riding and wants me to see the place. I buy shop towels for the van and we walk around and take in the many splendored thing that it is.
Walking back to the van, I pull up the Alabama football game and we both watch while Melanie works.
Melanie has a Zoom call at 7:00. Afterwards we watch a bit of the Georgia/Clemson football game before returning to Newport Center.
After trying without success to get the remainder of the Georgia football game, I give up and read a bit before sleep.
September 5, 2021
We up and out after a bit of coffee. Another breakfast at The Brown Cow calls us.
We ready the van and leave behind reading materials provided by our hosts and a small token of handmade soap we recently acquired in Brattleboro, Vermont at a Farmers Market.
After breakfast, we make our way over to Gardner Park again. Melanie saw a poster a few days back indicating Bernie Sanders will be hosting a Town Hall meeting there at noon. We're in.
There are benches placed in front of a gazebo where a band is setting up to play. We settle in on one of the benches on the front row. The band plays blues music.
Bernie arrives and talks about the infrastructure bills. He has three guest speakers, two from the Vermont legislature and a dairy farmer. They all speak highly of Bernie's efforts on the state's behalf. The Q&A afterwards shows a good knowledge of the issues by local folks. It's nice to hear folks talk positively about how the federal government can assist.
Afterwards, we check in at our new location at Prouty Beach Campground. Melanie showers and we move back into town for an afternoon Zoom call she has scheduled. Zoom call complete we travel the short distance back to camp.
I warm up some Moroccan Lamb Bolognese we'd purchase while on Cape Cod. I made a batch of rice and Melanie makes a Kale salad from Kale we received from our Boondockers Welcome host, Judy a few days back.
I clean up the dishes while Melanie takes an evening walk. We sit for a while enjoying the gloaming until rain starts and we're forced to move inside.
We're able to stream a movie, then sleep.
September 6, 2021
The rain has stopped and it looks like the start of the day will be sunny and cool. We drink our coffees and Melanie begins her work day.
We each have breakfast in the van and afterwards I get out my bike and Melanie decides to walk into town to the library for more work.
The ride along the Beebe Spur Rail Trail is nice. While there aren't as many people out today, there are a good number walking and riding. Labor Day.
On the way back I get caught in a shower of rain that wasn't supposed to happen until around 1:00 in the afternoon. I'm pretty soaked by the time I get back to the van. Melanie is still at the library in Newport and we agree I'll meet her there.
We discuss lunch and decide on Eastside Restaurant near our campground. Lunch is good, but we finish and don't linger as it appears we're about to get rain. Melanie is on foot so she leaves ahead of my settling the check.
We arrive at roughly the same time and I have just enough time to store the bike in it's carrier on the back of the van before the rain starts. It's a nice hard rain with a bit of thunder thrown in, but doesn't last too long. The afternoon brings sun and calm.
Many of the people camped here have gone in late afternoon.
We snack and enjoy the evening before moving to the back of the van for a bit of streaming and sleep.
September 7, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. It's nice out this morning, temps in the 50's. Melanie begins work and after coffee is made we decide one more of The Brown Cow breakfasts is in order before we leave Northport. It's a travel day.
It takes us about 30 minutes to prepare the van for travel, including emptying our black and grey tanks, putting away our zero-gravity chairs and sweeping and storing our mat.
Breakfast is again good and we depart for Graniteville, Vermont after we finish. We're about 70 miles from our campground there.
We decide to detour to Montpelier, Vermont for connectivity. Melanie's newsletter needs work and we also will need coffee in a few day.
We'll be positioning ourselves near Barre, Vermont for a church service at Good Sheperd Episcopal Church Melanie will attend this coming Sunday.
We drive into downtown Montpelier and park. She works on and finishes her newsletter and I take a walk to Capitol Grounds, a local coffee haunt. I'd purchased what turned out to be some very well-roasted beans a while back.
I purchase a few bags of coffee and a couple of cards for Melanie to send out. She's also a recording secretary and emissary of good-will for us on our pilgrimage/journey.
We leave Montpelier and reach Graniteville just after noon. I check us in and the nice proprietor, Steve, leads us to our site and I get the outside ready as Melanie prepares for a Zoom call she has scheduled. Connectivity is good here so Zooming is not a problem as it was in Newport.
After her call, Melanie eats a bit of lunch and then she suggests we take a walk. I'd scouted out a local trail and we make our way to it. Millstone Hill West Bike Path runs about 2.4 miles between Websterville and Graniteville, Vermont.
We get on the trail in front of Rock of Ages Quarry. See Also: Video
We walk to the Barre Town Middle & Elementary School on the trail and back. The trail is scenic and takes us through Barre Town School Forest.
Back at camp we sit and enjoy the afternoon sun. Steven, Lazy Lion proprietor, comes by with his dog, Buster, and we talk about local attractions including the trail of which we've just walked a portion. He mentions Hope Cemetery and Brookfield Floating Bridge.
Eventually, Melanie moves to the van and prepares dinner for us. Afterwards, she takes our trash and I clean up the dinner dishes.
We move to the back to stream a bit, but just as we're about to begin, we get a phone call from our dear friend, Pif Hicks. She sounds shaken as she tells us she has some very terrible news to convey.
She proceeds through tears telling us Chip, her husband, found their daughter dead at her home during that afternoon. She hadn't shown up for work and wasn't responsive to phone calls by the family so Chip had driven over to her home where he found her.
Jamie was a truly lovely woman with a quick smile, great sense of humor, and contagious laugh. She had a great sense of fairness and was politically active in her community.
Being a parent of three myself, I can't compose this without more tears. The loss of a child is the stuff of unimaginable grief. There isn't a parent alive who wouldn't, given the choice, say, please allow me to depart before my child. Rest well, sweet Jamie.
We so love our friends and their family and our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Steven and Melanie