September 22, 2021
We're up around 7:30 and I make my way out to Miranda from our upstairs bedroom location in our friend Diana's home in Summit, New Jersey. Happy first day of Fall. It'll be partly cloudy and may make 80 degrees by afternoon. There's a slight chance of rain.
We sip the coffee I've made when I return and Melanie has a cup of yogurt. Late morning we make our way over to a local bagel shop where she gets a bagel and I have one with lox, cream cheese, tomato and onion. Orange juice to drink please.
We check out the various pasta dishes that The Meat House has on our way back for future reference and our freezer when back on the road.
We decide to walk about 3/4 of a mile to Reeves-Reed, a local arboretum and check it out. The walk from Diana's home is pleasant and the arboretum proves to be a nice morning adventure. There are still blooming things and the trees are beginning to show the colors of the season.
We stroll back to the van, then Melanie goes to a local store to find a needlepoint project. I leave her and walk around the corner to the Trek bike store to check the status of our bikes that are being serviced.
I'm told late today or tomorrow for the bikes. Melanie has her project and we make our way the few blocks back to Miranda.
Melanie gets into her needlepoint project and I journal and process photos in the van. She eventually makes her way back to me and has a bite of lunch.
She and Diana work inside and I remain outside during the afternoon hours.
I set an appointment in Louisville to have our windshield replaced. The good news is there's no deductible for the replacement or recalibration that has to happen.
I also contact Cummins in Gainesville about a part for our generator. I've just been informed that Buffalo and Gainesville disagree about whether the part is still covered under our warranty.
Since the only thing I've ever done is check the oil, someone needs to pony up. I'm not happy about this, but I'm willing to wait until I get final word.
Melanie and Diana make a salad for us for dinner. I'm on FaceTime with Tate and eat after we're done.
We walk into downtown Summit after I finish dinner and go for ice cream.
Melanie and I finish watching a series and sleep.
September 23, 2021
I'm up around 6:30 a.m. and make my way to the van for coffee making.
We sip coffee and eventually dress for the day and go for bagels again in Summit. Why not two days in a row? When the bagels are good and fresh and you don't often indulge, you go for bagels.
After breakfast we walk back to the van and I begin doing our laundry. Melanie works downstairs in Diana's house.
Melanie has an eye doctor appointment at 11:30 and just before she's to leave, I get word from Trek Bikes Summit that our bikes are ready to be picked up.
I walk with Melanie and she peals off at her designated spot to get her eyes checked. I ride the bikes back to the van and store them away just as it begins to sprinkle rain.
Melanie makes her way back to the van and shortly afterwards we go for lunch in Summit. We eat pizza slices at Village Trattoria. Good.
We make our way back to the van and at 2:30 Melanie goes for a hair appointment.
Afterwards we take one of Diana's cars to do some grocery shopping at Whole Foods nearby.
Once we're back we walk to get coffee beans at Boxwood Coffee Roasters. They're a known entity to me and, as I've mentioned, nomads who love coffee don't pass up an opportunity to stock up on beans when they are close at hand.
One the way back to the van we almost make it before the monsoons hit. We've got our raincoats on which helps, but my shorts are pretty soaked when I enter the van. Melanie makes her way into the house. She too is soaked.
Diana and Melanie go for Ethiopian food takeout and we dine in Diana's kitchen.
We move what few things we have inside to Miranda and I ready the inside of Miranda for an early departure.
We stream and then sleep.
September 24, 2021
The alarm sounds at 5:00 a.m. I can't remember now whether any snoozing happened, but regardless, I'm up and out to the van shortly thereafter. After making coffee, I return inside and we visit with Diana for a few minutes over a cup of coffee.
We're on the road just after 6:00 a.m.
We both enjoy traveling as the sun is coming up. Today we're fortunate to be traveling west out of Summit so the sun will rise behind us.
It's been a long while since we've broken our no-more-than-200-miles-and-stay-for-at lest-2-days rule, but today we'll be traveling nearly 500 miles. We want to get the majority of what will be 700+ miles in two days behind us as we need to be in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday.
We'll be traveling Interstate 78, 76, and 70 to Buckeye Lake, Ohio, through four states.
We stop in Washington, Pennsylvania for fuel and DEF and Melanie has a Zoom Call which takes about an hour. We stay in the lot of the filling station and hop back on the interstate afterwards.
We're both hungry by then as it's after 3:00 p.m. and our Cracker Barrel breakfast is long gone. Melanie finds lunch in Wheeling, West Virginia at a local barbecue restaurant.
Hangover BBQ is a small operation with no inside seating. We order and Melanie sets up the table in Miranda and we, or I actually, enjoy our late lunch. Melanie's miffed because, while they said chips were available with her sandwich, they only had Goldfish and Chex Mix. Her BBQ sandwich is sliced, not pulled.
Who eats Goldfish with a BBQ sandwich, she explains. And who in their right mind eats Chex Mix? Plus, she says, fuming, I ordered pulled pork and I have a sliced pork sandwich. Is it good, I ask? Does't seem to matter. No chips is a real deal breaker.
I, on the other hand have most wonderful Cuban sandwich which was one of the several specials offered. Great pork and great ham on the nicely pressed sandwich.
While I wait for our order I spy a freezer full of ice cream sandwich treats made in Pittsburgh. The Coffee/Snickerdoodle is too much for me to resist. Returning to the van, I stash it in the freezer for later consumption.
Back on the road we travel to Buckeye Lake, Ohio and check into our campsite, a KOA. It's a nice, well-kept park about 2 miles off the interstate and near Buckeye Lake. I make an adult cocktail and we take a walk around the park to empty our trash and check out the shower house.
We're both very tired after our travels and we stream for a short time then sleep soundly.
September 25, 2021
We're up and coffee's made by 6:45 a.m. There's another travel day ahead of us. This one's only 235 miles and I feel well-rested.
We shower using the campground showers that are nice and we're able to park Miranda just outside the building making it quick and easy for us.
We skip breakfast and opt for brunch in Cincinnati. Melanie finds Sacred Beast in downtown.
The food is great. We both have the Diner Breakfast consisting of three Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Soft Scrambled Eggs and Pork Belly. Recommended. Highly.
The drive into Louisville is uneventful. We park next to our friends', Jess and Ziggy's, in Deerpark. We are in Louisville for the memorial service of our dear friend, Jess' sister, Jamie.
We'll be staying with their parents, Pif and Chip, at their condominium. The service is on Sunday.
We have dinner at Jess and Ziggy's and meet new friends of Jamie's. Afterwards we return to Pif and Chip's and catch up a bit more over a glass of scotch and then retire.
September 26, 2021
We're up and having coffee in our room around 7:30 a.m. The condos where we're staying have hotel-type rooms for the guests of the residents who live here. Pif and Chip arranged for us to have a room while we're in Louisville. We also have Jamie's car to use while we're here making traveling between spots very easy for us.
The Memorial Service for our friend, Jamie Hicks, is today at 2:00 p.m. in Willow Park across from the condos. There's a brunch before the service at Jessica and Ziggy's home which is very nice.
Melanie and I get to meet and make new friends who were long-time friends of Jamie's. We're grateful for the time we also have with old friends, John and Kathy, we've not seen in a while since being on the road.
The service is moving and the speakers and musicians provide a most wonderful remembrance of Jamie.
Afterwards, we sit in the park and eat pizza with a few remaining folks and, in Jamie's honor, shoot tequila. 😎
Returning to Pif and Chip's condo we talk and, after a while, eat a bit more before parting ways for the evening.
Melanie and I stream a bit before sleeping.
September 27, 2021
Monday after the memorial service for Jamie finds Melanie working and us sipping coffee in our big ol' king-sized bed.
I go up after a while when Pif texts and drink coffee with her for a while.
In a bit I go back to our room, dress and drive over to Jessica and Ziggy's to show off Miranda to Bill and Hanna. The tour complete and a bit of breakfast eaten in the van, I drive back to the condos and bring a bit of breakfast to Melanie.
I journal a bit before we have to drive about 17 miles away for an appointment to have Miranda's cracked windshield replaced.
I sit in Miranda and await my turn for about an hour before the reception person comes out to inform me they don't have a part that was expected to be delivered that day. They won't be able to perform the replacement.
I had nothing for her, not anger, not what the fuck? who runs a business like this. The afternoon was warm and it was after 4:00 p.m. and all I could think was what a waste of a fine afternoon. The windshield remains cracked and I'm not at all certain I'll allow Safelite to do the repairs.
Upon returning to the condo, parking Miranda on the street in front this time, I journal a bit more and we then travel over to Jessica and Ziggy's for a light dinner.
Afterwards, back at the Willow condos, we visit for the last time with Pif and Chip. Melanie eventually returns to the room and I remain watching the first half of the Dallas Cowboys game, Ziggy in attendance.
September 28, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. Travel day. We've decided not to trek north again. Instead, we've contacted our friends who live in Salvo, North Carolina and they've said yes to their wonderful driveway and a visit. Cape Hatteras, we're on our way.
We make a few trips out to Miranda with our stuff and, after checking the room one last time and turning in our keys, we take our leave. We're traveling over 200 miles east and south to a KOA in Milton, West Virginia.
Melanie finds breakfast in Louisville for us at Wild Eggs just off Interstate 64. Okay. Just.
There are high clouds present as we drive east and the temps stay pleasant for a bit. We stop at a rest stop along the way and make coffee and continue.
Another hour passes before I decide the generator needs to be cranked and the air conditioner in the van utilized before we get any warmer. The outside temp will reach the mid 80's today. Better to get ahead of that.
I find the cheapest fuel I've seen in some time in Grayson, KY at 2.99 a gallon.
We stop just inside the West Virginia line at the Welcome Center for an afternoon Zoom Call Melanie has for EPF.
I find lunch for us in Huntington, WV. Huntington has a university and appears to have a very large medical complex.
Lunch is at Navarino Bay inside what's called The Market. We each have a good salad with added protein. Melanie shops for post cards. She's Miranda's corresponding secretary for which I am grateful. I get coffee ice cream with hot fudge.
The remainder of the drive is pleasant and we reach Milton and easily check in. Melanie sets us up inside and I hook up the outside and get our chairs out. She walks and I sit for a bit before she comes back and we walk over to a lake at the campground. It's pleasant out as the sun goes down. We leave when the mosquitoes insist.
Late lunch means we have light snacks for dinner. Stream and a good nights sleep.
September 15, 2021
We awake to a rainy day in Essex Junction. Melanie has the day off so we borrow a car from the Heermans and take drive north to Montgomery, Vermont, to Jay, Vermont and back to the Heermans.
Checking out the lay of the lands in Vermont.
We're gone most of the day. We get back and the Heermans make a very nice dinner for us.
After dinner, we stream, we sleep.
September 16, 2021
We're up around 6:15 a.m. and after coffee and breakfast we get the van ready to travel. We've made a plan with the Heermans to ride the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
We've decided to ride from Johnson, Vermont to the end of the trail as it now exists in Morrisville. Lost Nation Brewing is in Morrisville where we will have lunch.
It's another splendid Vermont day for a ride. We start out in the low 60's and the temps get into the low 70's. Our lunch is great and the beers John and I have are also a treat. The ride is about 20 miles round trip. We stop for maple creamies on the way back to Essex Junction.
Once we're back Melanie and I make a quick Costco run. She wants to stop at Michaels to get crocheting materials and we do that too.
We shower and I snack in the van then we do a bit of streaming before sleep.
September 17, 2021
The alarm is set for 6:00 a.m. and I'm up shortly after it goes off. Travel day. After a few sips of coffee I'm dressed and we start to get the van ready for travel.
Melanie readies the inside while I go outside to check tire pressure and store a few items we purchased on our Costco run yesterday.
We make our way south out of Essex Junction, Vermont to Waterbury, Vermont where Melanie finds breakfast at Hender's Bake Shop and Cafe.
Hender's is a take-out only bakery. We order our breakfast, Melanie, Silver Dollar Pancakes, me, the Hender's Salami Sandwich, both quite delicious. Recommended. Highly.
I also order an Apple Maple Walnut Scone for my breakfast tomorrow and Cold Peanut Noodles to accompany tonight's roasted chicken we picked up from Costco.
We drive through Montpelier and pick up another bag of coffee from Capitol Grounds. You don't miss an opportunity to purchase great coffee beans when you can.
We're then off to meet our friend John and his girlfriend, Kathy at Quechee Gorge. We meet them at Snackbar at the Gorge and walk down into the gorge catching up with John and getting to know Kathy whom we've just met.
Afterwards, John, Kathy and Melanie have lunch at the Snackbar. We say our goodbyes and travel to Springfield, Vermont. We do a bit of grocery shopping before traveling to our Boondockers Welcome location just outside of town for the evening.
Melanie works and I journal for a bit before she makes dinner. I clean up afterwards and we move to the back of the van and stream a bit before a really good night's sleep ensues.
September 18, 2021
I'm up around 7:00 a.m. and make coffee. Melanie is still sleeping when I come back to bed with the morning's brew and begin reading.
We located in a pasture next to a barn. It was a very quiet night for us with the occasional hoot of an owl nearby.
Melanie eventually is up and sipping coffee as begins her work day. We each eat a bit of breakfast and Melanie suggests since we're traveling through Bennington, Vermont that we stop and have lunch at Madison Brewing Company.
The drive to Bennington is great with splashes of Fall color along the way. Melanie tells me just before we get to Bennington that our friend, Kevin, is in town getting work done on his car.
I text Kevin when we arrive and get a great parking spot just down from the brewery. He calls me and says he'd like to join us. We have a great visit and lunch and my beer, an FBomb is good too.
After lunch we travel a short distance and park on the street again in Bennington. Melanie has a Zoom Call at 3:00 p.m. and we'll stay in Bennington for the call then travel a short 10 miles to our evening's campsite.
Melanie finishes her Zoom call and at half-time of the Alabama-Florida football game, we drive the short distance to our campsite at Pine Hollow.
Alabama hangs on for the win and we have a light dinner of Lean Cuisine. I indulge in a gin and tonic or two and watch Georgia annihilate South Carolina and Auburn lose to Penn State. And Sleep.
September 19, 2021
I'm up at around 6:45 a.m. and make coffee. We sip some it, have breakfast and each go for showers using the campground shower house.
Melanie expresses interest in attending church in Williamstown where the website indicates we'll need to be parked for her to go in at 10:30. We're less than 10 miles away from church.
Arriving at 10:30ish, we wait until close to 11:00 and Melanie exits and walks away towards the church which is about a block away. I leave to run a brief errand.
I get to the spot of my errand and the phone rings. Church services are about to be completed. Apparently, their website hasn't been updated to reflect a change in time for service. I retrace my drive and pick her up.
We run my original errand and I find a place for us to have lunch. We eat in Williamstown at Water Street Grill which bills itself as the Best Tavern in the Berkshires. Food's good.
While we wait on our lunch, I purchase tickets to Mass MoCA located a few miles away in North Adams, MA. We're in the parking lot of the museum while I'm composing this as we have about 30 minutes before our tickets' times.
Today is the last day of our time in Vermont, at least for a while. Tomorrow we head south to Summit, New Jersey for a few days' visit with our friend, Diana, on our way to a memorial service for a dear friend who recently died in Louisville, Kentucky.
Our visit to Mass MoCA is great fun. We spend most of Sunday afternoon there.
We return to our campsite. Melanie has a Zoom Call and we then sit outside and enjoy the evening for a bit before she goes and prepares a simple dinner of Costco chicken and a side of summer salad made by our friend, Cece, in Essex Junction and given to us before we left there a few days back.
I clean up dishes after dinner and together we take the trash. Along the way I notice Georgia and Alabama license plates. We strike up a conversation with those campers and find out the Alabama plates belong to folks who live in Trussville, Alabama.
Not only that, but they are the parents of a former associate who worked at Cabaniss Johnston where Melanie practiced law for 30 years. Small world.
We return to the van, stream and sleep.
September 20, 2021
My alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., but I linger and doze through a couple of 10 minute snooze periods. Coffee is made and sipped, but only briefly. We've got the longest travel day we've had in a while today at 195 miles.
We'll travel south to Summit, New Jersey to our friend, Diana's, home there.
I top off our fresh water as we'll be parked in Diana's driveway in Summit for 4 days. I empty the black and grey tanks and reset the flow of our toilet to low.
We're gone from our campsite around 9:00 a.m. After about an hour or so we stop in Coxsackie, New York for breakfast at Chrissy and Tim's Diner. It's a hole-in-the-wall place in the best sorta way. Solid breakfast and local color eating their breakfast.
We retrace our path back to the interstate and then south again. We make Summit and have time to unload our Trek EBikes and take them to Trek Bikes Summit. I'd used them before when they first opened. I had my front disc brakes replaced and they did a great job taking me in on short notice.
This time around and since we're nearing three years owning our bikes, they will replace my tires and give both bikes a major tune up and cleaning. Melanie's bike needs her lights repaired. My chain needs replacing. They agree to have them done by Thursday.
We travel on the Diana's home which is a couple of blocks away. She catches up a bit with us then she continues her work day while Melanie and I enjoy the cooling afternoon on Diana's front porch.
Diana and Melanie put together a very nice dinner as we continue to catch up a bit.
We off to bed not too long after Diana and Melanie clean up.
September 21, 2021
We slept in Diana's home last night. That's the first time we've slept out of Miranda in a good long while. It was the suggestion of a new mattress that cinched the deal. 😎 That's a joke, but the new mattress provided us with a good night's rest all the same.
Diana leaves for the morning walking of her dogs.
We're up around 7:30 a.m. and I go out to Miranda and make our morning brew. We sip coffee in bed and then get into our respective days. Melanie and Diana work downstairs and I remain upstairs reading.
I'm up around 10:00 a.m. and get a shower and move out to Miranda for a bit of journaling and photo processing.
The afternoon finds Melanie and me walking in downtown Summit. We find a place that does pedicures and indulge. A pedicure is something we haven't done since we began traveling.
It reminds us that in Birmingham we would show up at our local place and sometimes run into our friend, Martha Jane Patton. We miss Martha Jane.
We make our way back to Diana's home and wait until she's finished her work day. We all go to dinner at Ani Ramen House in Summit. It's a favorite of ours.
After dinner, we walk back home and spend some time together before going our separate ways. Melanie and I stream and sleep.
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.
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.
August 25, 2021
August 26, 2021
August 27, 2021
It's been very warm in Wellfleet the past few days. Today is not an exception. Melanie works in the van and I help Ann close down her home here for the season.
There are tables and chairs to be moved into storage. Cars are moved into the garage. Melanie and I travel to a nearby RV park to empty our gray and black tanks in anticipation we'll be off the grid a few more days after leaving Wellfleet.
I'm placing this here as a reminder of the insanity that is the Southern U.S. now:
A major hurricane is about to hit three states, including a major city, and there isn't an ICU bed to be had in any of those states.
Think about that. And then try to reconcile those facts with the goobers who are still - STILL - running around saying the virus is no big deal, we don't need masks, stop being afraid. And refusing to take the vaccine.
This period of time should forever be remembered as the most selfish and self-absorbed time in American history. People will literally believe anything if it reinforces what they want to hear and allows them to do whatever they want to do.
There isn't a state in America with a vaccine rate above 70% that has more than 30% of its icu beds filled with covid patients. Most of them, including two states with major cities and high population concentrations, have fewer than 10% of their beds devoted to covid patients.
But here we are in the South booing the vaccine and taking horse dewormer, screaming at teachers and doctors and nurses and anyone who dares tell you a truth you don't want to hear. As your friends and families - and now, your children, your BABIES - are dying from this plague. A plague for which there's a vaccine.
That's never happened in the history of the world that I can find. That a vaccine was developed for a plague but the people refused to take it and kept dying. That's how dumb this is. Congrats to you all.- Josh Moon
July 28, 2021
We're up at 5:30 a.m. and leave Wellfleet at 7:30. We're taking Ann to Logan airport in Boston so she can fly back to her home in Berkeley, CA. The trip to Logan is uneventful and we make good time, only encountering a bit of traffic as we near the city.
After dropping Ann off at the airport, we find breakfast in Medford, MA near where we will meet Reverend Bob Davidson at his home in Winchester, MA. Melanie will meet with parishioners at Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester on Sunday and Bob has graciously agreed to lend us a vehicle so we don't have to drive Miranda into the service.
We have breakfast at Paul Revere Restaurant. It's good and full of locals. We marvel at their strange and wonderful accents.
We have a bit of time on our hands after breakfast and find a spot near a nice park in Winchester. I need to make a minor repair to the privacy blinds that cover Miranda's front windows when we're parked. There's a hardware store within walking distance of us and we make our way there.
Melanie walks around a bit while I go in for washers I need. After repairs are successfully made, we make our way across the street for a few grocery items we need. Returning to the van, Melanie works while I catch up on looking at monthly expenses.
It's then time for us to pick up our loaner vehicle and visit with Reverend Davidson, his wife, Linda, and his grandsons, Bennett and Lenox (both sporting great stick-on tattoos) We have a nice time catching up and take our leave, Melanie following me in Miranda to our Boondockers Welcome location north of Winchester in Lowell, MA.
We're greeted by our host and settle in for a bit before Melanie finds dinner for us and we drive into downtown Lowell to eat at The Keep. Dinner is good and we're back in Miranda around 7:30 p.m.
We stream some and are asleep by 10:00 p.m.
August 29, 2021
August 30, 2021
We're up with coffee made by 7:00 a.m. still parked in the driveway of our Boondockers Welcome location in Lowell, MA. Today's a travel day and rain's predicted.
We leave our Lowell location before 9:00 a.m. headed north into New Hampshire, We'll travel approximately 140 miles to Twin Mountain, New Hampshire to the Twin Mountain/Mount Washington KOA for a few nights. We're looking for cooler temps and it looks as though we'll be getting them.
We stop to top off Miranda's diesel before getting on the interstate.
The phone rings and my friend, Trip, is on the other end of the line. We speak for a bit about our upcoming high school reunion and he verifies I'm still game to attend given the change of venue for the Saturday night dinner. I am and I assume he'll make his payment to hold his and Teresa's places.
We haven't spent any time together since sometime in 2019 so I'm looking forward to catching up with he and his wife, Teresa, and our friend, John, who's living in their cottage in the mountains, in October.
Rain begins to fall on us as we enter the White Mountains. Melanie finds lunch at Mountain View Grand Resort and Spa at The Harvest Tavern. The rain has ended as we arrive. I have clam chowder and a turkey club, she has a burger, both well prepared. And we have a nice view of the White Mountains too.
After lunch we travel the relative short distance to our campsite and quickly set up camp. Melanie continues her work day and after a while, we move inside as a line of showers is moving in. The rain comes and is brief.
I make cocktails and we nosh on smoked fish from a Wellfleet market purchased just before leaving there. It's the perfect dinner after having a late lunch.
We eventually move to the back of the van for evening streaming and sleep.
August 31, 2021
I awake early, but roll over and fall asleep. It's still in the 50's when I wake up at 8:00 a.m. to make coffee. Melanie is already typing away answering emails and putting finishing touches on her weekly newsletter.
After breakfast, it's nearly 11:00 before I get Red Ranger out for a ride on the nearby (5 miles away) Presidential Rail Trail.
The ride from the Twin Mountain/Mount Washington KOA is a scenic and relatively easy one along NH Highway 115. 115 has a nice wide shoulder for riding. I arrive at the trail terminus off Airport Road and begin riding the trail,
In summary, the Presidential Rail Trail is best ridden on a mountain bike. The first 4-5 miles are easy enough on a road bike loose gravel notwithstanding. But after that the trail is basically a single track trail that becomes increasingly more amenable to mountain biking.
I exit the trail and eat a snack standing by NH Highway 115 near NH Highway 115B. I've had enough of a jarring ride for the day. I take 115B back to 115A, then 115 and back home. It's a beautiful and pleasant ride back to camp. Nearly a 20 mile ride total.
Back at camp, Melanie continues her work day and I snack on chicken salad for lunch. I spend some time catching up on my journal entries and around 5:00 p.m. it's time for a cocktail on the veranda (see also, the area directly adjacent to the van).
We enjoy the nice northwestern breeze and intermittent sunshine and screaming children in the pool directly across from us.
I need a hair buzz and a shower so I get out the clippers and Melanie buzzes my head while I sit on our picnic table before I walk the short distance to the shower.
Since lunch was basically a snack, I get out short ribs I purchased while we were in residence in Wellfleet. I make rice to go with the short ribs and Melanie makes a nice salad to accompany.
Our son, Tate, texts us and says he's ready for our weekly FaceTime. After our call, we eat al fresco as the sun goes down.
After I clean up the dinner dishes, we adjourn to the back of the van hoping connectivity is better this evening than last. And Sleep.
August 18, 2021
As you may know, sleeping in isn't generally what we do, but this morning I'm not up until just after 8:00 a.m. I rolled over when I woke up at around 6:00 a.m. Oh, well.
Today is another travel day. We'll make our way onto "The Cape" for a visit with the The Reverend Ann Coburn in Wellfleet where she has a summer home.
Neither Melanie nor I have ever set foot on Cape Cod so we're excited to see what all the fuss is about. Over the past several weeks people to whom we've mentioned our intent to travel there have across the board been effusive about the place.
We leave our very nice Boondockers Welcome location and travel 6 or so miles to a local water treatment plant where they have a dump station for the price of $6.25. We receive a receipt that gives us access to the dump through the end of the year. With tanks empty, we're on our way to the cape.
Melanie finds lunch for us in Braintree, MA. Olympian Diner a relatively small diner and we get one of the last tables in the place which appears to us to be inhabited by mostly locals. We wonder if we aren't recognized as people who aren't from around there.
Lunch is good and, as we make our way back to the van, Melanie spots a Walgreens and says she'll get a pack of Scott's toilet paper we need. I go to the van, start the generator and van air conditioner. It's in the mid 80's and getting warm in the van.
I find a place to get diesel fuel and, after filling up our tank, We head again for Wellfleet. We've still got about 80 miles+ to go. The drive is nice and uneventful and we arrive a little past 3:00 Eastern.
Our host, Rev. Ann Coburn come out to greet us and we decide on a spot for Miranda in front of her garage. Ann is an EPF member and works with one of EPF's working groups, Palestinian Israeli Network (PIN). We sit outside on her deck and drink water and catch up a bit before we all decide an adult beverage is in order. Melanie and Ann have a glass of wine and I opt for a new double IPA I found in Portland, ME.
Ann and Melanie begin preparations for a nice dinner for us and we snack on some Brattleboro, VT cheese I purchased at the Saturday Brattleboro Farmers Market. I also retrieve Kimchi and pickled cucumbers purchased at the same Farmers Market to have with our dinner.
Melanie and Ann continue to catch up after dinner while I clear the table and clean up the dinner dishes. After I'm finished, Melanie and Ann come in and we part ways for the evening.
We make our way to the van, get ready for bed and stream a bit before sleep just after 10.
July 19, 2021
We up around 7:00 a.m. and I make coffee while Melanie checks emails and social media. We have breakfast in the van and Melanie, seeing Ann has emerged from her home, goes to check in with her.
After a while Melanie returns and goes to Ann's cottage and gets a shower. She tells me we're going out around 10:00 a.m. for a tour of Wellfleet and a visit to a house currently rented by her ex-sister-in-law that's within the National Sea Shore nearby.
Our tour and visit last for about 2 hours and once we're back, I get a saw from Ann's garage and prune some branches that overhang and are blocking Ann's driveway. Melanie makes our lunch salad and, as I finish pruning, she's ready for us to eat.
After lunch, rain begins to fall, I journal and Melanie checks email and works for a bit. Lying down in the back of the van seems like the thing to do. We'll run to a local market when it stops raining.
We drive into Wellfleet and park just across from the Hatch's Fish & Produce Market. It's dripping rain as we make our way past the produce outside and into the fish market that has a variety of seafood. Ann asks for help with mussels (part of our dinner tonight) and some smoked blue fish.
We in and out and back into a harder rain shower. Traveling back to Ann's house where Melanie and Ann prepare dinner. It stops raining, outside table and chairs are wiped down for left-over rain water and we enjoy a great dinner of mussels, fresh corn-on-the-cob and salad.
I'm up after we finish dinner and take dishes inside and proceed with the clean up. Melanie and Ann join me and Melanie assists in putting the finishing touches on cleaning up. We chat for a bit before retiring to the van.
Streaming and sleep ensue, but we're keeping an eye on Henri, a tropical storm threatening to become a hurricane as it makes its way towards us. First one to hit New England in 30 years they say.
July 20, 2021
I'm up around 6:00 a.m. making coffee. I check the weather and we're still under a hurricane watch. Not good, but we've got time to make a decision on whether we stay or try to move Miranda out of potential harms way.
Melanie begins her work day as we both sip coffee. Melanie goes for a shower in Ann's cottage and I continue to read and eat breakfast.
Ann comes out of her house and Melanie joins her. I clean up dishes and move outside to take the bikes out of storage and set them up. Batteries are plugged in to top off a full charge of a few days. I remove the rear caution light on my bike and plug it in too.
I also run hoses from Ann's house to Miranda and fill Miranda with fresh water. I leave the hoses connected so we can use that water instead of the water from our 30 gallon fresh water tank. I figure if we lose power and thus have no well water we'll at least have access to fresh water.
I join Ann and Melanie on the deck for more coffee and a brief discussion of the day about to unfold for us. Melanie and Ann will make a plan and I'm going out for a bike ride around Wellfleet.
I finish preparations for my ride and bid all farewell with the ring of my bike bell. I've decided to check out the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT). I'll travel about 1.5 miles from Ann's home to the terminus in Wellfleet and ride from there.
Highway 6 is busy. Almost always busy. It takes me a few minutes to be able to cross it and make my way down the way to the trail. Patience.
The CCRT is an asphalt trail. It's mostly smooth going, but tree roots have begun to buck up the surface which has been gratefully marked with yellow paint so a rider can anticipate them. I ride out 14 miles through mostly tree covered trail. It's a warm day and there are many people out using the trail, waking and riding and skating.
Just after my odometer turns 15 miles, I turn around and head back. I make it back to the terminus at around 1:30 p.m. and decide to get something to eat. PB Boulangerie is close by the terminus of the trail and I ride over, park my bike, and go inside to order lunch.
Because of COVID-19 and it's variant, all food is for take-out or outside consumption. I order a Salmon BLT, get a drink and a cookie and sit outside under an umbrella and enjoy. Recommended.
Returning to the van, I catch up with Melanie and Ann, then rest in the van for a bit before going into the cottage for a shower in preparation for our planned dinner outing to Winslow's Tavern in Wellfleet.
We get to the Tavern a little past their opening at 5:30 p.m. The place on the patio out front we'd hope to get before the dinner crowd arrived is not available. The place is hoping.
We quickly decide an inside table is better than a 45 minute wait for outside and Melanie, Ann and I move inside to wait on The Very Reverend Tracey and Emily. Tracey is a former Dean of the Cathedral in Cleveland, Emily Ingalls is her wife. Melanie had reminded me of a 60 Minutes segment of a few years back featuring Tracey and her battle with a form of dementia.
From her website:
The Very Rev. Tracey Lind and her spouse Emily Ingalls are traveling across North America sharing the insights they’ve gained from a life complicated by dementia. A retired Episcopal minister and city planner, Tracey was diagnosed with the early stages of Frontotemporal Degeneration in 2016. Emily, who spent more than 20 years in commercial real estate and project management, now considers herself Chief Logistics Officer, responsible for managing a life and home turned upside down by this disease.
Tracey and Emily arrive, we're introduced and the evening and food are very, very nice. Tracey and Emily are interested in making Miranda's acquaintance so as we part ways for the evening, we make a plan for them to come by Ann's house for tour.
Since we're under a Hurricane Watch on the Cape, we volunteer to assist Tracey and Emily going around to some of the older parishioners homes to help them prepare.
We drive and meet Tracey and Emily at Wellfleet harbor for a walk around and potential ice cream stop. Many of the boats have already been pulled out of the water, but it's very calm this evening and we can't stand in one place long as the mosquitos are out in force. Tracey and I walk and talk photography. None of use apparently need, nor want ice cream.
Once we're back at Ann's, we part ways, a bit of streaming and sleep follow.
July 21, 2021
I'm composing this day on Monday, the 23rd. Much has happened since Saturday and I'm not sure when I woke up or got up, but I do know with certainty and so do you, if you've read my postings for the past few weeks, coffee was consumed.
We have breakfast and Melanie begins her work day eventually joining Ann on her deck.
I know I must get out either on my bike or by car to buy coffee beans as we've consumed the last of that purchased in Freeport, Maine.
Tracey and Emily show up early afternoon and I give them the tour of Miranda as promised. Afterwards it's time for a swim and all the women folk go to Duck Pond leaving me to run my coffee errand. I'm also charged with procuring dinner for Ann, Melanie and me.
I use Ann's car to travel over to PB Boulangerie and grab dinner and dessert for us. The entree is frozen so I leave it to in Ann's house to thaw. Moroccan Lamb Bolognese. Yum.
I find a local coffee roasters. They're open until 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and they're located just off the Cape Cod Rail Trail about 6 miles and change from Ann's house.
I get to the roasters at just past 3:00 and find that I should have pre-ordered any coffee I wanted. Drat. Okay, now things are getting critical since many places in Wellfleet close around 4:00 p.m.
Riding at a faster pace, I make it to the CCRT terminus and park my bike in front of Blue Willow Fine Foods and Bakery. As I get off, a woman inside turns the "Open" sign around to read "Closed." Oh, no.
A man inside seeing my reaction opens the door of the Blue Willow and asks if I'd like to come in. I do and quickly find coffee. He graciously grinds it for me and I'm gone, thanking him profusely for allowing me in at the last minute.
I get home and shower. By this time Melanie and Ann are on the deck having an adult beverage. I put water on the boil for pasta that will be served with the Bolognese. I join them for drinks.
Dinner is, indeed, quite good and we talk a while before those blood-thirsty creatures begin to annoy us. Ann volunteers to clean up dishes. Melanie and I begin preparations for Henri's potential impact on us. At the moment, it appears we won't have much about which to worry, but we move the deck table and chairs away from the large windows, put away the umbrella, and close all the windows in Ann's cottage.
We say good night and all of us hope the storm won't be a factor for tomorrow's church services at St. James The Fisherman Episcopal Summer Chapel.
Melanie and I stream a bit and sleep.
July 22, 2021
l've set an alarm for 5:45 a.m. I'm up making coffee before the snooze can remind me. We have a bit of breakfast and just after 8:10 a.m. we're outside waiting for Ann to join us so we can travel together to St. James.
I drive so I can drop Melanie and Ann off since parking is limited around the church proper. It has stopped raining about an hour before we set out and looks like we'll only have a windy day with little or no rain in the forecast. Henri has mercifully tracked well to our west.
I park the car and join the few folks who have shown up to participate join Tracey and Melanie for a Conversation on the Patio before services. There's a nice turnout for such a potentially inclement day and a nice bit of back and forth goes on. Wind is all we get from Henri.
After church services, we travel a short distance to brunch at Van Rensselaer's. There are eight around a table and conversation is lively and great. Brunch is tasty too. Recommended.
After brunch, we travel back to Ann's and Melanie and I go to Wellfleet Market Place in Ann's car and purchase a few items we need and then it's back to the van. I take a big dog nap.
Waking at around 3:00 p.m., I decide to take a bike ride to wake up. I prepare our steaks in a marinade for the evening's dinner and get on my bike headed for the CCRT.
I'm stopped by a phone call from my friend, Trip Tomlinson, who wants to know how Henri treated us. We catch up for a few minutes and Melanie, who said she wasn't interested in a bike ride, shows up on her bike. She's going to the post office in my general direction.
We ride together until she reaches the post office which is only a few yards away from the trailhead of the CCRT.
Since it's getting later in the day, I decide as I ride on to the trail I'll ride out 10 miles at a good pace and then come back. It's windy, but no rain, and there are a good many people, mostly folks with children, out for rides and walks.
I get back from my ride, take out and set up our griddle, get a quick shower and join Melanie and Ann for cocktails and a nosh. Melanie prepares potatoes, Ann a nice salad and when the time is right, I griddle the steaks.
We remain outside talking after dinner until, you know, mosquitos. Melanie cleans up the dishes, then I grab the griddle and clean it up too.
We talk inside for a bit before Melanie and I retire to the van for streaming and sleep.
August 23-24, 2021
Our routine hasn't changed any over the past couple of days. No alarms. We've been able to wake up when we do.
We continue to enjoy our time with our host, the Reverend Ann Coburn. We share a nosh in the evenings and our wide ranging discussions. Melanie and I are most grateful for Ann's hospitality in allowing us and Miranda a very nice spot for our extended stay with her.
The weather has been most cooperative with highs in the low 80's and low's in the 70's. We're happy to have dodged Henri's wrath such as it was.
I've enjoyed a few more rides on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I've ridden most every day and even explored the Nickerson State Park which has easy access off the trail.
On Monday evening I had dinner with the Very Reverend Tracey and her wife, Emily, at their rental home in Wellfleet. It was great evening of talking photography, among other things.
The lazy days of summer never looked so good. Jus' sayin'.
August 11, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. It's Melanie's Saturday, that is, the first of her two days off during the week. It's a travel day. We're not traveling too far to our next campsite, but we have to gather and store in the van a few things we've used at Bob's house. I'll check the tire pressure before we depart.
We eat our breakfast and have coffee, pull everything together and say our good byes to Bob. A day off for Melanie today means we'll first travel to Freeport, ME, home to L.L. Bean for a look around.
It's a short 40 miles, but all of it rural backroads. We take our time and Melanie finds a nice spot for lunch on Casco Bay. Lobster Rolls dancing in our heads.
The lunch spot is busy and we have to wait for our rolls for about 20 minutes, but we have a nice spot overlooking the Freeport Marina and the ambient temp is nice.
After lunch we check out downtown Freeport. On the way back to the van, we come across two young lads who've set up a kiosk selling various things they've made. Melanie purchases a sheet of purple colored paper made into a paper airplane for $3.00 from them.
We drive back near Main Street and L.L. Bean and other touristy shops and find great street parking. We look in various shops and Melanie purchases a few clothing items she wants, I make a coffee purchase we need.
We travel to our KOA campsite and quickly set up and sit for a while before deciding to take a dip in the pool which is located close by to where we're parked. It's warm this afternoon so the water feels great and reduces our core temps nicely. The bonus is there's no one at the pool for a while and we enjoy an adult beverage and time alone in the cool water.
When the sun finally goes behind some clouds on the horizon, we walk back to the van and Melanie prepares dinner for us. I clean up afterwards while Melanie enjoys the cooling evening air. We're both surprised there are no mosquitoes out since we'd just come from Waterford, ME nearby where they gave us some grief.
We retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming and sleep.
August 12, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. After coffee and breakfast time are finished, I catch up on journaling and Melanie is champing at the bit to get ready to go on a bike ride I'd mentioned. It is, after all, one of her days off.
I finish up and we ready the van for take off. The Kennebec River Trail runs along the river between Gardiner, Maine and Augusta, Maine. It's a 6.5 miles long rail trail that is pretty easy riding.
Before leaving our KOA, I crank up the generator and start the air conditioner. It's going to ultimately be in the low 90's today and it's warm in the van already.
We park a the Hannaford Supermarket parking lot in Gardiner and I get the bikes out. It's really warm, but as we leave the van and begin our ride the breeze is welcome and makes the riding pleasant. We ride into Augusta and stop just past the Memorial Bridge to figure out our lunch spot.
Melanie finds the Cushnoc Brewing Company on Water Street. They have salads and pizzas and good beer and mixed drinks too. We have all the things. Melanie's new favorite cocktail is a blue berry lemonade. I have Cushnoc's double IPA.
Melanie runs a quick bank errand while I settle up. It's now hot, but we ride over the the Statehouse and then back to the rail trail and ride back to the van. It's hot on the asphalt. Too hot to be out on a bike and I load them in our KOMO Carrier as quickly as I can.
We decide, since we're running on reserve fuel and our generator won't run for the air conditoner, to make the trip into Augusta where the price of diesel is more than $.35 cheaper per gallon. After filling Miranda we make our way back to our campsite.
We quickly set up and head over the the campground pool which feels more than great in the afternoon heat. The heat makes more than bearable what would ordinarily be just another cold northern water experience. We have an adult beverage and languish around the pool for a while lowering our core temps.
After 6:00 p.m. we head back to the van, gather our shower stuff and we both get cleaned up. Melanie makes our dinner, I clean up the dishes, take the trash out, and we move to the back of the van for evening streaming and sleep just after 10:00 p.m.
August 13, 2021
I'm awake at just after 6:00 a.m., but I lie in bed or a while until I'm awake enough to move to the front of the van and begin coffee preparations. We left the air conditioner on last night as it was not going to be cool enough for the ceiling fans to run until well after midnight. We still have a few more days of above average heat before ambient temps become more seasonable.
Today's a travel day. We're not going too far from our current location, but we're meeting Jane and Bruce Freeman for lunch in Brunswick, Maine before we travel to the place we'll park Miranda for a few days in Georgetown, Maine along the coast.
After a bit of coffee and breakfast, I pack up chairs and mat and fill Miranda's fresh water tank. We pull out of our campsite and I empty the grey and black tanks before we head to Brunswick. We arrive in Brunswick with plenty of time to grocery shop at the Hannaford.
Jane arrives in the parking lot and gives us brief instruction to follow her to George J. Mitchel Park near where she and Bruce have rented a home for the past two weeks in Harpswell, Maine. It's about 12 miles away according to Google Maps. The trip is uneventful, but scenic as we head out towards Harpswell.
The Freemans have found an ideal place to park Miranda in the park and after a brief period to close shades and turn on fans to circulate air in her, I lock the doors and get in the car with Jane and Melanie for the short drive.
Bruce greets us as we arrive at the Auburn Colony and shortly afterwards Melanie and I are visiting with him and sipping lemon aid while Jane puts finishing touches on lunch. We enjoy a very nice lunch of Haddock, hash brown potatoes, green beans, and salad.
We spend some time afterwards catching up, but our time is too short and we have to get back to Miranda to travel towards our next stop in Georgetown, Maine and our friends there, Diane and Jim.
Our trip is only 33 miles, but it will take us nearly an hour to arrive in Georgetown. We park Miranda near the cottage at our friends home and they are not far behind coming over to greet us. We forego setting up Miranda for sitting on our friends back porch with them to have a drink.
Diane prepares us a very nice dinner and dessert and we enjoy each other's company until it's time to return to Miranda to set her up. We retire to the back of the van for streaming and we're sleep before 10:00 p,m.
August 14, 2021
I'm awake around 6:00 a.m., but manage to turn over and before I know it, it's nearly 8:00 a.m. Melanie begins her work day as I make coffee. After a bit of breakfast, Melanie moves inside and I do some journaling and processing of photographs.
About 10:00 a..m. or so, Diane and Jim come down to give us car keys to their second car in case we need to go out and to let us know they are off to take Diane to meet her daughter and grand daughter for a continuation of Diane's birthday. They will go to the movies.
Miranda hasn't had a bath since the middle of May when we were in Iowa. I also waxed her once we got to Barrington, Illinois a few days later. She dirty now, but she's worn dirty well. Today she'll get the hand wash.
But first, since our refrigerator need defrosting, I take all our food from the refrigerator and freezer in Miranda to the refrigerator and freezer in our friend's cottage. I remove all the shelving from the fridge and place towels in fridge and freezer compartments and keep both doors open to allow them to thaw.
I wash all the fridge shelves in the cottage and leave them to dry then I'm outside to hand wash Miranda. I finish giving her the wash at around lunchtime. But not before noticing the large crack in the windshield. Thank goodness for a zero deductible for glass replacement with our insurance carrier. The crack is over the sensors for front end collision assistance. Stuff happens.
After lunch I finish up cleaning Miranda and then move on to finishing the fridge and freezer. There's now just a bit of ice remaining to be easily removed by hand. I clean the fridge, place the clean shelves back in, turn the fridge back on. I'll wait for about an hour before transferring all our food stuffs back into the cooling fridge.
I return to journaling and it's not long before Melanie comes out and tells me Diane thinks it's a good idea to walk down to Five Islands Lobster for dinner hopefully before any line forms. I shower and we're walking towards dinner a little before 5.
We get there and, surprise, there's no line at all. Our friends wonder aloud where everybody is on a beautiful Saturday evening. All the outside tables except one overlooking Five Islands along the Sheepscot River. It's a really pleasant evening especially after the past few days of 90 degree heat.
Dinner is good and Jim and Diane take us for a cruise around Mink Island and over towards Crow Island before we return to the harbor. It's a great way to end the evening.
After returning to Jim and Diane's, we part ways. We retire to the back of the van and stream and then are asleep around 10:00 p.m.
August 15, 2021
I've got an alarm set for 6:00 a.m., but I'm awake before it goes off. Melanie's had a bit of a tough night and I know she's not feeling well, but when I stir, she's up and goes inside to get a shower. I make coffee.
Melanie comes in and gets some coffee, but she tells me she's still a bit tenuous. I check social media and read a bit before Diane and Jim come by for the refreshments that are stored in the cottage that are to be served at Grace Episcopal Church after services there this morning.
Melanie, Diane and Glenis, along with Grace's priest will talk about EPF during services this morning. We'll leave here at around 8:00 a.m. so we have a few moments before services for Melanie to meet the Priest-in-charge, The Reverend Pamela Mott.
We leave around 8:00 a.m. as planned and get to church with lots of time before services. I'm able to make a few photos for Melanie before we sit towards the front of the church. I'll make a few more photos of the discussion about EPF during the service.
After services we go to coffee hour, refreshments are good and we meet some nice parishioners.
We part ways with Diane and go to lunch at Taste of Maine not too far away. We'd eaten at Taste of Maine the last time we visited Bath in September of 2019. My recollection is of a Lobster and Crab roll they serve there. My recollection is fond.
I'm in luck. We arrive just as they are opening and we get a great table overlooking Nequasset Brook. The tide is out and there's a vast tidal plain in view with lots of sea birds in evidence. And. And that Lobster and Crab Roll is one of the specials for the day. And it's just as I recall, 7ounces of wonderfulness on a brioche roll.
We return to Miranda and take both take big dog naps.
I'm up after an hour or so, Melanie stays in bed a bit longer. The temp to day is reaching the mid 70's and, with our overhead fans running it's very pleasant inside Miranda.
I journal for a bit, Melanie moves inside for more work. We'll have dinner with our hosts this evening.
Diane and Jim prepare a very scrumptious salad served with fresh corn on the cob and a baguette for our dinner. We sit and talk about, among other things, the day's event at Grace Church. Desert is vanilla ice cream with Maine Mud, a delicious dark chocolate sauce.
Melanie and I retire to the van and stream a bit before sleep.
July 16, 2021
I'm awake just around 6:30 a.m., but don't get up to make coffee until around 7. It's 58 degrees outside this morning so snuggling in for a bit feels great.
After a round of coffee, Melanie moves inside to begin work. I laze around for a bit reading. I have MUSH oatmeal for breakfast, something my friend, Adam, tuned me on to while I was visiting him in Maine. I'm not a huge oatmeal fan, but this brand is tasty and I find it stays with me until lunchtime.
Tomorrow is a travel day and I'll use today for another task in Miranda, cleaning her window and overhead fans screens and the van windows inside and out. This takes me a couple of hours to finish. Melanie suggests we walk down to Five Islands Seafood for lunch.
It's very pleasant out today, high temps will be in the mid 70's. There's a bit of crowd as we arrive, nothing like what she saw on Saturday, Melanie tells me. We wait on line for maybe 15 minutes to order and Melanie finds us a spot on one of the picnic tables while I wait across from the pickup window for our lunch.
She has a burger and chips, I have a Haddock sandwich topped with a crab cake and fries. We're both happy with our lunch.
After lunch, Melanie suggests we walk over to Ledgemere Nature Preserve. It's on the way back to Diane and Jim's home. We make our way down the paved path to another natural path leading to the rocky shoreline. The tide is out and more of the rugged coastal rocks are exposed. We sit and take it all in. Portugal is just across the pond from us.
We end our diversion by going to another place nearby in the preserve which contains a bit of a sand beach and offers us a good view of the the docks where we'd just had lunch.
There's a load of laundry to be done so we make our way back to the van. I start a load of laundry and do some journaling, Melanie goes back to work.
I'm told we'll travel to Bath for our last dinner with Diane and Jim this evening. We've had another great visit with them these past few days. They are both very generous and delightful people and we enjoy their company. Melanie and I are very fortunate that EPF brought us together.
We decide on Kennebec Tavern, a restaurant at which Melanie and I had lunch the last time we spent time with Diane and Jim. It's very pleasant out and a light sweater is helpful since we're outside eating. The dinner makes a nice punctuation for our visit.
We part ways once we're back in Georgetown, but not before Diane and Jim gift us with a jar of Maine Mud, the aforementioned dark chocolate sauce, and a Classic Wicked Whoopie. The Classic Wicked Whoopie looks a Moon Pie on steroids. Yes!
Melanie and I are asleep around 10:00 p.m.
August 17, 2021
I've got an alarm set for 6:00 a.m., but I'm awake at around 5:45. I'm up to make coffee shortly after. It's a travel day for us. We'll travel south about 125 miles to coincidentally, Georgetown, MA.
We'll be at a Boondockers Welcome (BW) location in Georgetown for the night before traveling on the Wellfleet, MA for another EPF event. We'll be staying with our friend, The Reverend Ann Coburn at her home in Wellfleet until the 28th of August.
We drink coffee for a bit and Melanie goes into the cottage for a shower and I begin to get the van ready for travel. When Melanie gets back from the cottage, she pitches in getting us ready for the road and I move outside and clean the (cracked) windshield and unplug us from our electric hookup to the cottage.
After we've gotten the van ready for travel, we walk over the Diane and Jim's home and to say our goodbyes. We spend a few minutes together and we're off to Portland, ME for Whole Foods and to find Melanie a bathing suit.
We get in and out of Whole Foods and travel to the Maine Mall to Macy's and Melanie finds a good deal on a bathing suit. She has a Zoom call scheduled and we stay put in the parking lot for that call which takes roughly an hour.
It's past lunchtime, but we decide to travel towards our BW hosts and Melanie finds us a lunch spot in Portsmouth, NH. We get to the spot hungry and find there's a longer wait time to get a table than we want. Luckily Portsmouth Gas Light Company is a short walk away. There's a wait there too, but much shorter.
Lunch is good and we are back in the van and on our way around 3:30 p.m. with a short 30 miles left to get to our BW host location.
We arrive before 5:00 p.m. and after I show our hosts Miranda, Melanie puts finishing touches on her weekly newsletter, I read it and check links for her and she then gets on a work Zoom call.
We'll FaceTime with our son, Tate, after she's off the call.
Late lunch equals no dinner tonight.
We FaceTime with Tate and he gives us the tour of he and Zoe's new apartment in Nashville and a recap of their brief visits to Portland and Seattle.
Afterwards, we stream a bit and then we're asleep around 10:00.
August 4, 2021
I've got an alarm set for 5:45 a.m. so I can get up and be on the road early. I awake at 4:50 a.m. and lie in bed for a few minutes before getting up to make coffee. We're on the road without breakfast at about 6:15 a.m.
It's a travel day and we have about 250 miles to cover before we rest at a friend's home in Shaftsbury, Vermont.
It's slow going in the beginning because of a thick fog. Speed limit is 55 mph, but I'm doing about 45 mph. There are several places looking east into the Catskills where we rise above the fog and get spectacular views.
We travel for a while going in and out of fog and then conditions begin to improve. It's about 8:00 a.m. when, traveling about 50 mph, a doe darts out in front of the van about a 100 yards or so up the road. Melanie immediately reminds me to slow down as there may be other deer nearby.
I take my take my foot off the gas just as her fawn leaps out in front of the van. I brake, but the fawn is too slow and we hit it doing about 20 miles an hour. While the fawn manages to get out of the road and out from in front of the van, I can tell it's badly hurt.
Melanie's crying, I'm a bit in shock at seeing the distress on it's small face. I drive a bit farther and find a spot to pull over to check for damage to the van. I can't see any, but I'm truly upset at hitting the animal and get back in the van and take some deep breaths.
I really don't have the heart to see go back and check to see what I've done to the fawn and we move on.
We drive in silence for miles. I know I've, in effect, killed the fawn and it sits heavy with me. This is the first time in my 51 years of driving I've hit a deer. The incident also gives me a preview of just how much time it takes to stop a 10,000 lb. vehicle moving at 50 miles an hour. As I type this, I am still troubled by the incident. I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent it, but it's troubling all the same.
We move on through the Catskill Mountains and eventually the beauty of it all overcomes our grief and are in awe at the landscape before us. We make note and speculate about how grand the colors must be in the Fall Leaf Peeping Season.
We arrive in Kingston, NY to do some banking. There are very few branches in the Northeast of the bank we've been using for years, but there happens to be a branch in Kingston and Kingston is sorta on the way to Shaftsbury, Vermont where we're headed.
A woman who walks past the van as we're preparing to get out asks about our Florida tag. She lives in Atlanta and, well, Florida = Southerners to her. We tell her we're domiciled in Florida, but we travel full-time. One thing then another and it turns out we know some of the same people as she has relatives who live in Columbus, Georgia where I grew up. Small world thing.
After our banking chore is finished, Melanie finds a local diner and we have a late breakfast. Then we're on our way to Whole Foods in Albany, NY to buy a few items we can't readily get elsewhere.
We're thereafter in Shaftsbury about and hour and a half before our hosts say they will be home and available for us to arrive. I find a convenient place to park, Melanie works and takes mail to the local post office. I'm feeling a bit tired after our drive and being awake before 5 a.m. and take about an hour nap.
We arrive at Laura and Kevin's around 3:30ish. Kevin is a very talented documentary photographer and author of 12 books of photos who I met when I was practicing law and part owner of an art gallery in Birmingham some 15 years ago. We've not spent any time together since, after having an opening and show of his photographs at the gallery, we traveled together to document the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans and attend the first Jazz Festival after Katrina.
We later had a two-person show at the gallery (he could not attend the opening) of photos we made over the three days we were in New Orleans. It was, by all accounts, the most popular show we had at the gallery while it was open. The gallery closed in 2007 just before the economic crash of 2008.
I give Laura and Kevin a tour of the van and we get a tour of their home and we all move out to their back yard near their garden for drinks and conversation before they serve us a nice dinner. The evening is truly wonderful and we really enjoy our evening together.
Kevin promises pancakes in the morning and we retire to the van in our spot near their garden in the backyard. We're asleep by 10:00 p.m.
August 5, 2021
Melanie is awake before I am and she works and checks social for a while before she suggests I might want to get up and make coffee. It's approaching 7:30 and Kevin says he's making us breakfast after 8:00 a.m. I'm up.
We see Kevin as I put finishing touches on the coffee and we make our way into their home, We sip on coffee in the kitchen. We sit around a kitchen table as Kevin makes pancakes and we sip our coffees. The pancakes are some of the best we've had in ages served, of course, with Vermont Maple Syrup.
After breakfast we got ready and drove over to The Mile Around Woods in nearby North Bennington, VT for a nice morning walk. We covered around 2 miles as we sauntered through and around fields of corn and pasture land and nice forested areas. It was a truly pleasant walk.
We return to our hosts house and I quickly shower and we're on our way. We look forward to visiting with Laura and Kevin again next year.
Since we'd glimpsed a collection of sculptures in North Bennington on the way to walk at The Mile Around Woods, we go back directly to North Bennington for a closer look at them. The exhibit stretches about a quarter mile along a portion of Buckley Road and includes the historic train depot.
It takes us about 30 minutes and we're off to Bennington, VT for lunch. I'm up for a craft beer of some sort and Melanie finds lunch and that beer at Madison Brewing Company.
We both enjoyed our lunch. Melanie had a burger and salad and I had the best pastrami sandwich recently. I had the FBomb, an Imperial Double IPA, my favorite. Recommended.
Afterwards I quickly duck into a local chocolate shop for a few take-away treats.
We're then on to our campsite at Molly Stark State Park where we will be in residence for two days before traveling eastward to Brattleboro for a night. We were at Molly Stark just shy of two years ago in September 2019. It's one of our favorite state parks.
We quickly set up and Melanie walks around camp and takes our trash, then goes for a shower at the campground shower house very nearby. I journal some while she's gone.
She makes us an adult beverage and we go to the back of the van for FaceTime with friends.
Later lunch means we again skip dinner and retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming before retiring around 10:00 p.m.
August 6, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. I make coffee and we have breakfast in the back of the van. Melanie begins her work day and around 10:00 a.m. she mentions taking a hike in Molly Stark.
She says we should take the trail leading up the fire tower on Mount Olga. I'm game, so after we clean up breakfast dishes and straighten the van out a bit, we leave the van and hike up through the campground to the trailhead.
The trail is a bit muddy. It has been raining quite a bit in Vermont and various wet weather springs are in evidence. We arrive at the fire tower and have various conversations with other hikers from California and Massachusetts.
Melanie declines to go up in the tower because she'd been up the last time we were here and I ascend to the top and make a few photos. It's quite smokey today, I guessing from wild fires out west. Certainly not close by as Vermont has had an extremely wet summer so far.
When I'm back down we finish our hike and make it a complete loop going out in counter-clock wise fashion. The trail finishes very near where we're camped.
Melanie calls her father and checks in with him. I read and check social media and, once Melanie is off her call, she makes us our lunch salad.
Melanie continues her work day while I clean up lunch dishes and journal for a time.
She has a Zoom Meeting at 3:00 p.m.
I get out our zero-gravity chairs and we enjoy an adult beverage, then walk around camp. Another beverage, skipping dinner, we retire for streaming and sleep.
August 7, 2021
We're up at near 7:00 a.m., Melanie begins her work day as I make coffee.
We're decided to leave Molly Stark State Park relatively early so we can catch the Farmers Market in Brattleboro, a short distance away. Melanie goes for a shower and I continue to sip coffee and read.
After she's back, we begin to ready the van for travel. Since we've planned to be boondocking for at least 2 days, we stop at the dump station and empty our grey and black tanks. I also fill our fresh water tank with fresh water.
We're less than 20 miles from where we'll be tonight in Brattleboro, VT on the border with New Hampshire. The Farmers Market is about 15 miles away from us.
We make one quick stop to replenish our tonic supply at an 802 Liquor Store. While Melanie is in shopping, a woman walks up and asks about our van. She's interested in renting out her nearby farm and thinks living in a van will give her maximum flexibility. But. It's cold in Vermont in winter and she'll need a 4 season van. Nope. That's not us, I tell her.
The Farmers Market is only about a mile from that stop and we arrive to find it quite busy. As luck would have it, we are able to park along the road and make our way the short distance to all the farmers' and other merchants' kiosks.
We buy some tomatoes and some soaps to give away as gifts for our up coming hosts. I stop at North Wind Farm and purchase, from Nate and Thalla, kimchi and pickled cucumbers that look delicious. They have farm-raised tacos for sale and the farmer lets me sample the pork he's prepared. It's amazing, but it's too early for tacos and we move along and into town.
Melanie has mail so we park in a lot nearby and then begin looking around downtown. It's now nearing lunchtime, but the place we want to go isn't open for lunch. We decide to go back to Whetstone Brewing overlooking the Connecticut River. It's closed until noon.
We walk back into town and I sit on a park bench while Melanie goes into the local Co-op for a few more grocery items we need. Now it's lunchtime.
There's a line forming outside, but it's not too long before we're inside and snag a riverside table for two. Lunch is good bar food. I have a double IPA, she has a lemonade with blueberry vodka.
After lunch we check out an outfitters and I purchase a pair of shorts. Then we're back at the van cranking up the generator as it approaches 80 degrees outside.
We make a quick stop at a grocery store for a 9 volt battery to replace the dead one in our smoke detector in the van.
Our Harvest Hosts, Saxtons Distillery, is less than a 1/4 mile away. Melanie works while I lie down for a while and then get up to work on journaling and processing photos from my Nikon camera.
We've located Miranda around the back of the distillery and after Melanie is finished with work, we walk around to the front and get drinks and a bottle of gin for the road.
I've made dinner reservations for us at Peter Havens Restaurant. We had a very nice dinner a few weeks back.
We arrive at Peter Havens at around 7:15 and are told we should wait outside since our table is not ready (it's not available, we later learn). At around 7:45 we are invited in. It's obvious almost from the beginning that staff and kitchen are behind the curve of the onslaught of patrons who've arrived close together.
Our server is also the host and floor manager. She's doing her best to keep it all together with some success, but we must wait an inordinate amount of time to order drinks, then wait an inordinate amount of time to get them. Once our drinks are finally served, we order dinner thinking we're going to be waiting a while for that too.
I start with the soup du jour, a tomato and eggplant. It comes out in reasonable fashion and is over-the-top delicious. Our entrees in turn come out and we are also served second glasses of wine on time.
Our host/waitress tells us the wine is on the house. She appreciates our understanding about the prolonged waits for drinks, ordering etc. I ask if they are short-handed. They are as, among others, a top server had an emergency and would be out for a week.
Both of us enjoyed our entrees and we'll be back when we visit Brattleboro again.
Making our way back to the van, we drive to our Harvest Hosts location and after a quick set up, we're soon asleep, noting that a place that serves alcohol closes on a Saturday evening at 9:00 p.m.
August 8, 2021
An alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m., I reach over and luckily hit the snooze button on my phone. I quickly check to see how lucky I am and, yes, it's counting down the minutes before it will alarm me again. I doze briefly only to wake up before the alarm goes off again.
It's Sunday, a travel day for us and Melanie has made a plan to be in Keene, New Hampshire for church services there at 9:00 a.m.
We both need a shower so Melanie finds a Planet Fitness in Keene and at around 6:45, we are moving in that direction. We're only 16 miles away and the trip this time of morning is a breeze. Not much traffic this time of day.
I contemplate how getting up early to travel to another location in a van to have access to a shower in a gym would be a deal-breaker for many people. I remember the many times, while out backpacking in some remote wilderness, my friends and I would clean up via a "SunShower" set up and how our trips to Planet Fitness was basically the van life version of my backpacking experience.
The shower is a great one with water pressure that was strong and hot water on which I didn't have to wait. We're are in and out within 15 minutes. We quickly dress in the van, Melanie for church services to be held by St. James Episcopal Church, today in Fuller Park nearby.
We arrive at Fuller Park with enough time for us both to eat breakfast and sip coffee for bit before Melanie gathers her portable folding chair from the pass-through storage in the van and makes her way to services about 50 yards away. There looks to be about 25 or so parishioners in attendance.
After services, we'll make our way north and east to Waterford, ME for a visit overnight with a long-time friend I've not seen for years. He has a summer home there. Waterford is where he attended summer camp as a child and where his children went to summer camp.
While I've been to Waterford many years back, I have no real recollection of the area. When I was there, I traveled over to Interval, NH to be fitted for my custom-made Limmer Boots. The boots were a 40th birthday gift from close (backpacking) friends. They were a very hot ticket then and, as I recall, it took me almost 3 years to receive them once I was fitted. Yes, I still have the boots, but they're currently in storage in Birmingham.
We leave Keene and head east towards Waterford. The day begins to warm up and we crank up the generator and turn on the van AC. We stop for lunch in Henniker, New Hampshire just off of Highway 202 (becomes I-89) at The Country Spirit restaurant. Lunch is good and we're back on the road in less than an hour.
We begin to experience heavy traffic as we approach the intersection of Interstate 89 and Interstate 93 and are delayed by stop and go traffic and a missed exit on my part. We move south on I-93 for 6 miles before we can get off and turn around to travel back north towards Concord, NH. The traffic is very heavy heading south towards Boston. It's the first time in a long while we've seen as many cars on the road.
We make our way north and east going through Meredith and Conway. There's road construction and intermittent showers along the way. We reach our destination just after 4:00 p.m. It's now cooler because of the afternoon showers.
My friend has a nice home on Bear Pond. We spend the evening catching up and are asleep just after 10:00 p.m.
August 9-10, 2021
We intended to spend only one night on Bear Pond with my, now our, friend, Bob Schiffman, but decide, after immediate plans are cancelled for Melanie, to spend another few days with him.
Bob and I haven't laid eyes on each other since he generously agreed to allow Tate and I to attend the Masters back when Tate was maybe four years old. Over 20 years ago. It's hard to believe it's been that long since we saw each other.
A bonus of staying is getting to spend time with Bob's eldest son, Adam, and to enjoy Adam's great preparation of dinners for us on two evenings.
The other delight was getting to go on a hike with Adam and his aunt, Mary Beth, Bob's sister and my high school classmate I'd not seen in a very long time. Maybe we were in brief contact when Adam had his Bar Mitzvah in Columbus, Georgia at age 13?
We hiked a loop trail on Sabattus Mountain and Mary Beth treated us to lunch at a local grocery store afterwards. It was great to spend time with them.
I got out on my bike on Monday to get some exercise, check out the surroundings of a place I'd not been to in many years and deliver mail for Melanie. The last time I was in Waterford was to visit Bob one summer. He had rented Bear Mountain Inn for a month or so and I met he and other friends there for a nice week's retreat.
I rode over to Harrison, ME on Long Lake and back to Bob's and was able to see much of the immediate area, including where Bob and all his children went to summer camp at Camp Wigwam.
We travel again on Wednesday.
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.
Steven and Melanie