July 7, 2021
We've traveled north and east from Burlington to Mill Pond Campground near (very near) the Canadian border in East Franklin, Vermont. Sixty plus miles from Montreal. It's a relatively small campground that's been here a minute.
There are many "seasonal" spots here. Places where folks park an RV or tiny home and use them during the summer months. There are people living here full time.
I was up before the alarm I'd set for 6:00 a.m. this morning. It was cool in the low 60's as I got up to make coffee for us. It's one of Melanie's days off and she continued to sleep while I make coffee and come back to bed with it.
After a while she too's up and we sip and have breakfast and read. Today we meet friends from Burlington and Essex Junction to ride the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail.
I get on my computer and pull up the map of the trail on TrailLink. I get a screen shot of it and place that in PhotoShop. I give our friends our location via a red arrow and indicate where we might meet them to ride.
I call John and we decide on which of the two options works for them. We leave the campground at around 9:00 and travel the 9+ miles to the parking area beside the trail. I get our bikes out and busy myself with finding a spot for the end of the month when Melanie will meet friends in Ithaca, New York for the weekend.
This rail trail is yet another great ride and the weather (for July) couldn't have been better. Cloudy and low 60's. We ride about 5 miles past Enosburg Falls then back to Enosburg Falls and have lunch. We take our lunch, bike to the falls and eat on a bridge overlooking the river.
Afterwards, I stop by the local State Store to restock gin and then it's back to Miranda. We part ways with our friends and head back to camp. Melanie's got an EPF Zoom (day off?) and I retire to the back of the van to read, listen to music and compose this.
It's fresh tuna off the Blackstone griddle tonight and I should get to it.
July 8, 2021
Thursday morning and another day off for Melanie. We have managed to sleep in and when I finally get up to make coffee at around 8:15 a.m., the temperature is in the high 50's. I slip on a light jacket, fill up the hot water pot and turn it on thinking slippers might be in order.
We sip coffee, Melanie works and we have breakfast in bed. She asks about the weather and I check to make sure we can get in another rail trail bike ride before it rains. The weather will cooperate and we make preparations to leave our campsite around 10:00 to travel the 9+ miles to the terminus of the Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail in Richford, Vermont.
The road to Richford is bucolic with great views of the mountains to our east. There are numerous dairy farms along the way with lots of "ice cream cows" as Melanie has dubbed them. That distinct odor though.
We reach our trailhead parking and I begin getting our bikes out for the ride. A fellow rides up on his bike and begins to ask about ours. I engage in some back in forth with him about our bikes, asking if he's from Richford. He is. He says he's homeless and is looking to trade some electronic equipment for water he needs. Melanie goes back into the truck and gets him a few bottles of water for which he's grateful.
Before he leaves he tells me that the government ran experiments on him some time back. They were very concerned because he is able to make himself invisible. I've got nothing. We part ways, him thanking us for the water. I can see him ride off and I'm grateful he doesn't disappear before getting out of my sight line. I'm going with "invisible" as metaphor. We meet the nicest folks. People in Vermont are some of the nicest.
Our ride is another great one with temps in the low 60's and cloudy skies. We ride for about 4+ miles before we are retracing our ride of yesterday. We continue into Enosburg Falls and find a grocery store for tonic and limes. Adult staples.
There's a McDonald's close at hand and we have a light lunch on sitting outside on the cement in front of the location. For some reason, this location is not permitting dine-in. Our lunch spot yesterday in Enosburg Falls didn't either. We have no idea why. Abundance of caution comes to mind.
The return ride to Richford is windy, but uneventful and nice.
We decide on the way back to check out a Lake Carmi State Park close by our current campsite. We do a drive through of all the campground loops. It's another very nice Vermont State Park we would definitely consider on our next pass through.
Once we're back at camp, I search for our next campsite. It's a Boondockers Welcome location southeast of us. Nothing from them yet. I'm hoping to position us for riding on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
I also make plans to be relatively near Ithaca, New York the last three days of this month. I'll be at both Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome spots for three nights while Melanie is with her friends in Ithaca.
Tonight's dinner is a nice salad topped with left-over tuna, then streaming.
July 9, 2021
We're up around 6:00 a.m. this morning. Temperature is 64 degrees. It's cloudy and will remain so during the day with highs reaching into the low 70's. Pretty much perfect for a nice Vermont summer day.
We don't need to check out of our spot here until 12:00 noon today. Our travels will take us about 70 miles southeast to Danville, Vermont.
After sipping coffee for a while, Melanie leaves for the campground shower. The first day we were at this campground we both went for showers after dinner. Let me say again, this is an older campground. It's not too large and there are seasonal rentals around situated on a lily pad covered pond. It's quiet and is not without a certain charm. The structures, such as they are, have been around for years. The bath house is no exception. When we arrive, I discover quarters are needed to take a shower.
When I exit to got back to the van to get them, Melanie comes out of the shower and declares there's no way she can shower in the women's side of things. She says it's like a Stephen King novel in there with women's hair hanging from the shower, the floors dirty, trash not emptied. We go back to the van and get our van shower ready for her. I return to the men's shower and, while the men's side is nearly equal to the description Melanie has given of the women's side, I take a shower and return. Though I must admit I've felt better taking a Sunshower shower in wilderness areas while backpacking.
Before we left out to meet our friends on Wednesday, Melanie stopped by the campground office and told the person in charge about her bath house experience. To their credit, the bath house was cleaned and acceptable for use. Squeaky wheel.
We're in a Boondockers Welcome spot for a few days starting today. I'm hoping to be in relative proximity to a section of the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail near Danville, Vermont where our hosts live.
It's Friday, Melanie's Monday for work purposes. She is conducting a Zoom call. The van is basically ready for travel so all I need to do is fill the van with water, disconnect from electric and water and travel a short distance to the campground dump station to empty grey and black tanks.
We'll need to make a brief trip to market and a drug store before settling in at our new location.
Our drive is yet another great pastural journey with farms and mountains as we go. We stop briefly in Morristown, Vermont for a CVS run and it's there that Laurie drives up and tells me she and her husband are Unity owns and live close by. We exchange phone numbers and tells me we might consider staying in their driveway for a night. She thinks her husband, Steve, may like to talk to us about fulltime travel.
Just a short way farther south we stop in Hardwick. Melanie figures we need to set up in a municipal parking lot for a Zoom call she has in an hour or so and she's hungry.
I fetch lunch at a local Pizza, bar and grill place, but by the time I'm back, she's on her call. Melanie finishes her call and eats some of her lunch and we drive farther south and into St. Johnsbury for a few grocery items we need.
We double back to Danbury and find our Boondockers Welcome hosts location. They meet us as we pull up and soon thereafter we having wine and cheese from their front porch overlooking the mountains east of us in New Hampshire. It's partly cloudy and 65 degrees, y'all, going down to 56 overnight.
Retiring back to the van, I nosh on humus and carrots and finish my last glass of wine. We change into our lounging wear and retire to the back of the van.
I'm up and making coffee at around 7:30 this morning. It's cool at 56 degrees, but the skies are mostly clear.
After breakfast and coffee, we ready the van for traveling to a spot along the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail. Melanie will work and walk and I will ride at least a portion of the trail.
We first try a location in West Danville, Vermont near Joe's Pond, but connectivity for Melanie's work is poor. After another try east of Danville along highway 2, we decide to go into St. Johnsbury to the terminus of the trail. And the parking lot is full when we arrive. We try one more spot that proves to have no parking before ending up on the street in downtown St. Johnsbury near the post office.
Melanie leaves the van for the local Farmers Market and I get Red Ranger out for my ride. I've located the van about a mile from the terminus of the trail. It's an easy ride through part of downtown St. Johsbury.
My ride on the trail takes me through more of rural pastural Vermont. It's railroad grade, but the way out of town is steady up hill. In talking with our Boondocker hosts, I discover the gain in altitude is just under a thousand feet over just over 16 miles. My ride back into town is great fun and much faster than the ride out.
Melanie texts and asks if I want to meet her at the van or a local distillery. Distillery on this fine, fine Saturday afternoon, of course. She texts again as I'm approaching downtown St. Johnsbury informing me she's found live music at the Welcome Center. The string band is playing Burning Down The House.
As I arrive, the band's still playing and I find gelato and Melanie. We eat gelato, listen to music and watch the locals dance to a Grateful Dead tune. Afterwards, we walk a block or so to St. Johnsbury Distillery for a cocktail on their front porch. Recommended.
We decide to have dinner at a restaurant next door and after our drinks, go back to the van so I can put the bike away, clean up and change into shorts and a tee shirt. We make our way back to dinner.
When we arrive back at our Boondockers spot in Danville, we sit for minute on our hosts front porch and take in the mountains to our east before retiring to the van for a Zoom call with friends from Birmingham.
Connectivity is good, but not great. We stream for a while, then sleep.
Boondockers Welcome continues to be one of our favorite way to find places for Miranda and for meeting interesting people. Spending time with Dick and Nancy Diefenbach was great and we look forward to seeing them again.
July 11, 2021
I'm awake at 5:30 a.m. Not sure why, but I do know it's chilly. I reach for my phone and quickly take a look at the Weather Channel. It's 49 degrees in Danville, Vermont. Yes! I turn over and spoon Melanie for few more minutes.
I get up to make coffee around 6:00 a.m. and turn on the furnace to knock the chill off. It's 55 degrees inside.
It's a travel day and Melanie has found a place to worship in St. Johnsbury. We have coffee and breakfast and, after speaking with our hosts, Dick and Nancy, thanking them for a great few days with them on their farm, we depart for St. Johnsbury to find the park where services will be held.
After lunch in the van we'll stop by a local market and pick up a few things we need before traveling back west and south to Allis State Park.
We decide enroute to Allis to drive through Montpelier, Vermont, the state's capitol. We luck out and find a parking spot on the street in front of the capitol building. There's live music happening on the lawn of the capitol and listen in as we make our way towards the capitol and up the stairs to see the marble statue of Ethan Allen.
We wander the streets of downtown and buy coffee beans, chocolate and finally sit outside and enjoy a drink before getting back on the road to Allis State Park.
Allis is a smallish State Park with campsites nicely spaced and not very many people camped on a Sunday. We check out the bathhouse (acceptable) on the way up to a vantage point/picnic area that has a fire tower. The climb up into the fire tower is worth the effort providing great 360 views and a sketch above each of four observation windows with identifying mountains and places on each.
It's very pleasant outside so we decide to grill a steak and have drinks outside during the evening hours. Melanie washes dishes and takes the trash to the front of the park. Afterwards we stream a show we're watching and turn in around 10.
July 12, 2021
It's 59 degrees this morning when I awake at 7:30 a.m. I'm up and make coffee boiling water on the stove top this morning since we have no electric connection. Dry camping for a few days.
Melanie has work and I need to find places for us to park. After coffee and breakfast, Melanie works outside for a while and I begin looking for new campsites. It appears the temps are trending up for the next little bit so we decide to not to travel too far south in Vermont at least for a few days.
We have a salad for lunch and Melanie goes out for a walk and upon returning moves her work day outside. I continue my bookings in the back of the van. The private campgrounds I'd like to book have no vacancies on the upcoming weekend so we'll stay in Vermont State Parks for the near future. Not a problem as they've all been nice especially for dry camping spots.
I make sure we have a place to be just after Melanie meets up with girlfriends for a weekend at the end of the month in Ithaca, New York. I've previously booked a brewery and a Boondockers Welcome location for my three days while she's away.
Dinner is pork tenderloin on the campground grill with a couple of sides Melanie prepares. More rain is forecast overnight so I store our chairs and make sure everything outside is put away. Tomorrow morning all we will need to do to move is retract the auto-leveling/stabilizers and move along.
We walk the campground loop to take trash and then retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming and sleep.
July 13, 2021
It's raining when the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m. Nope. Turn that sucker off and roll over for a few more nice hours of sleep with rain falling nicely on Miranda's roof.
I'm up around 8:00 a.m. and make coffee. Rain has subsided somewhat. It's misty out.
We take our time over coffee and breakfast, then ready the van for travel. We need to dump our black and grey tanks and fill the fresh water before we leave Allis. It's sprinkling rain pretty steady as we accomplish both with relative ease. There's no one but us at the dump/water station.
We don't have too far to travel today. We are moving south and east towards Killington, Vermont and Gifford Woods State Park. Melanie has Identified Rutland, Vermont as a city we should check out before going to our Gifford.
We follow along the White river on Highway 107 movie through small towns along the way and pass Gifford Woods as we move through the outskirts of Killington and head west for Rutland.
Melanie finds lunch for us and we park within a block of the restaurant, Roots. We procure a table outside under their awning. The rain stopped before we got to Killington so it's now cloudy and a cool 68 degrees as we eat our lunch. There are marble statues in a courtyard-like setting. Rutland is known for its high-quality marble deposits.
We take a brief walking tour of downtown Rutland after lunch, pick up a few grocery items we need then travel the short 13 miles back to our home for a few days, Gifford Woods.
We have our weekly FaceTime with Tate. All's well in Nashville.
I text a photo of an Appalachian Trail marker to my brother-from-another-mother, John and mention he must have hiked this portion of the AT since it goes right through Gifford Woods. He had and related his memory of staying in the Ski Patrol shack at the top of the mountain, free rides on the gondola to an all you can eat breakfast, a big thunderstorm during the night that provided a great light show, and the great sunrise the next morning.
We have a salad with added protein for dinner, I clean up the dishes, and we go for showers. The bath house has received an upgrade, at least the one we are using this time around, since our appearance here in 2019. The facility is very nice and relatively clean considering it's wet outside and the campground has a number of others in residence.
We retire to the back of the van and watch a movie before sleep. Tomorrow we hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
Steven and Melanie