July 14, 2021
It rained some last night and as I rise this morning rain is beginning to subside. I'm up around 7:30 a.m. to make coffee and, since Melanie has the day off, we plan to take a walk on the Appalachian Trail which runs through Gifford Woods State Park.
After coffee and breakfast, Melanie sits outside and reads while I finish up a post from yesterday. Afterwards, we head out of camp and north on the AT. In 2019 we hiked south out of camp.
Because of all the rain recently, the trail is pretty muddy in spots and we pick our way on the trail avoiding as much of the mud as possible. The trail skirts Kent Pond and crosses Thundering Brook Road where we decide to try and make a loop out of our hike by going around Kent Pond in counter-clockwise fashion.
After walking a ways on the road, we pick a trail that seems like it might work (can't find any references to what we're trying to do on various maps). We're walking a trail called Betty's Loop when we come across a gentleman out walking. After conferring with him, we decide to double back and walk to camp the same way we came out.
We get back to camp in time for Melanie to phone her brother, Scott, to wish him a happy birthday as I clean up breakfast dishes and clean the bathroom sink and toilet. Melanie makes a salad for lunch and afterwards cleans the dishes as a thunderstorm rolls into camp. It rains for about 30 minutes.
We spend most of the afternoon reading and streaming. We decide no dinner this evening.
The generator must be run as there's been little sun to charge our batteries today. It runs for about an hour and a half. We have all devices that need a charge plugged in. We'll be good power wise for the evening.
We travel again tomorrow. We head south to Fort Dummer State Park near Brattleboro, Vermont. Since we've heard good things about Brattleboro and there are rail trails to be ridden in the vicinity, we'll be there for five days.
July 15, 2021
We up around 6:00 a.m. and I make coffee. We've decided since it's a travel day we'll go out for breakfast to a place Melanie found along our route. We don't have too far to travel, about 75 miles south and east of where we're located in Killington.
We leave Gifford Woods State Park at around 9:30 a.m. for Sugar and Spice Restaurant. Breakfast is what I'd call good without really recommending it to you. I found it better than Cracker Barrel. Coffee's good, too.
We make our way south, stopping shortly in Rutland to make another post office run. Melanie needs to mail a few items and she needs stamps.
The trip south is pleasant, good roads and, as usual, scenic small towns, green, green mountain vistas, and the occasional ski slope. We drive through a town where we stopped for Melanie to make a call and I did laundry in 2019. I'd know that strip shopping center anywhere.
Not too far after getting on Interstate 91 heading south, I stop at a rest area and turn on our generator and the RV air conditioner. It's approaching 85 degrees outside and just about to get warm in the van.
Arriving in Brattleboro, we go out to Fort Dummer State Park and check in. We're too early to be in our camp spot, but we check in and find our spot for future reference. We go to the grocery store for a few items we need, find Saxtons River Distillery for future reference, but not for rum Melanie wanted, though she did find another Jack Rudy's Tonic. Elderberry. And a lead on where we can buy our other go-to tonic, Fever-Tree.
Melanie finds lunch at Whetstone Station along the Connecticut River on the New Hampshire border.
We have a moments difficulty finding proper parking for Miranda. It happens. Not frequently, but sometimes parking a 25' van is momentarily challenging. We leave our generator running for the RV air conditioner to keep us cool. I don't necessarily like leaving the generator running, but on a day like today, it's almost a necessity. Keeping the inside cool is better for the van fridge too.
We walk to lunch and opt to sit inside even though there's a nice deck overlooking the Connecticut River. I know I mentioned it's a warm day for Vermont. Lunch is good.
We leave the restaurant to look for a local rum and a return to that local afternoon libation station. After fetching our tonic and Melanie's rum, we end up back at Saxtons River Distillery for an afternoon cocktail underneath (for me) a nice spot just outside the distillery (inside off limits due to an immunocompromised employee).
It's enjoyable and we're the only ones at the distillery in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. That works.
We travel back to Fort Dummer State Park and our campsite. Set up this time includes our outside mat and our zero-gravity chairs. We're not leaving this spot for 5 days.
The afternoon is pleasant and we sit out for a while and enjoy how quickly the ambient temp seems to be dropping.
We skip dinner since we had a late lunch and towards sundown we walk the short distance to take showers. $.75 for a nice clean and hot shower though not too hot tonight. I use the shower to bring my core temp down a bit and return to the van.
Tonight we continue to watch season 2 of End of the Fucking World on Netflix. We're sorry to have binged it the day before and now it's over. Sigh.
It's quiet here and temps are pleasant during the night for sleeping.
July 16, 2021
We're up around 7:00 a.m. I'm pretty excited about the day ahead as there are two different rail trails in the area, one connecting me to a third. After coffee and breakfast, Melanie begins her work day and I finish reading a newspaper.
It's a nice morning and I ready my bicycle for checking first the Fort Hill Recreational Rail Trail and then possibly the West River Trail. As is the case sometimes, best laid plans are somewhat disappointing to expectations.
I ride from our spot at Fort Dummer State Park into downtown Brattleboro and Bridge Street, then cross the bridge into New Hampshire. Looking at the TrailLink map the end point should be within a mile of my bridge crossing. It's not at all clear where one can access the end point of the trail from Highway 119 so I check the next possible access point, this time one that has a parking area and keep riding 119 for about 4-5 miles.
The access parking is also a bit of a bust. Yes, you could park a few cars there, but the area is not maintained and I had to push my bike up over a hill through the woods and then down a fairly step hill to the trail. Much to my chagrin the trail is not very well maintained and would be much more conducive to mountain biking. My ride takes me a few more miles south until I reach what appears to be a road/trail.
This portion of the trail contains numerous pot holes and is quite rough. Again, mountain bike, yes, road bike miserable ride. I turn around after about 100 yards of this and return to 119 headed back north. Maybe the West River Trail.
Arriving back in Brattleboro, I make my way through town and across the West River, make a turn off the Main Street and ride to the trail head. The trail heads north along the West River and eventually finishes at Rice Farm Road. It's a pleasant enough ride, but this trail is really a walking path and, if the intention is for people to ride bikes on it, the trail needs a lot of work. Mountain bike, yes, road bike, not really.
The best part of this ride comes when you cross the West River on the Iron Bridge and make your way to Highway 30 (West River Road). The view from the bridge of the West River is great and the ride along the West River Road back into town is a scenic road ride. The shoulder is wide and nicely paved and there are numerous views of the river.
So, riding was not a complete bust, but not what I'd anticipated coming off of great rail trail rides of the past week or so.
When I return, Melanie is out for a walk and I find her as I'm checking out another part of our campground I'd not visited. She's looking for one of the trails off the campground, but can't seem to locate it. I find it shortly after we part ways and we meet back at the van.
I have a late lunch salad and relax a bit outside as she finishes up her work day. We move into the van to run our generator for a while to both cool the van down and charge our house batteries for evening use.
After a Zoom call Melanie has at 5:00 p.m., we eat and I clean up while she goes back outside for bit to enjoy the cooling evening. We walk the short distance to shower, stream a bit and sleep.
July 17, 2021
We're up just before 8:00 a.m. and after coffee and breakfast, we prepare the van to move. We're heading south into Massachusetts today to check out a couple of places and pick up provisions we can't get close by.
It's really just an excuse to take a nice day trip. We drive to Southampton, Mass, to the grocery store in Hadley, Mass., and then on to South Hadley for lunch. The day is pleasant enough, but again another warmish day. We run our generator and the RV air conditioner to keep us cool.
After lunch Melanie wants to travel to Mount Holyoke college, a place she visited as a 14 year old with her beloved Aunt Myra and Melanie's mother. Melanie's aunt graduated from Mount Holyoke and wanted Melanie to consider attending.
We drive through campus and it is a lovely place, but then it's time to head back north as we have made planes to visit friends who live just north of Brattleboro in Townshend.
As we headed north we take a brief detour to see Townshend State Park which appears to be for tent campers only. A quick look at the website as I type provides confirmation this park is tents only with a couple of lean-to-sites.
We arrive in Townshend and discover we have no cell service. Pulling over I quickly put our friends' address into our van GPS and we make our way to their home.
We met Matt Deen and Ella Kinsman through my brother-from-another-mother, John. Matt worked with John at John's coffee shop in Columbus, Georgia before John retired and sold the shop. Matt has since attended seminary and has a church in Marlboro, Vermont.
Matt has a funeral service to officiate and is not yet home when we arrive. We visit with Ella and soon after Matt's home. We spend a couple of hours on their screened porch enjoying fresh local bread and items Ella has made to accompanying the bread. Matt provides the local beer for us.
We part ways as we have a dinner reservation at Peter Havens in Brattleboro at 8:15 p.m. It rains pretty hard on us traveling back to Brattleboro and after driving around for a few minutes looking for parking once we're back in Brattleboro, we find a spot a few blocks away on Main Street.
Our dinner is good and we have a nice time. It's after 10 p.m. when we leave Peter Havens to travel back to our campsite. And it's raining pretty hard (again). It's very dark and upon arriving, I pull into our site instead of trying to back in.
Shortly afterwards, we're in bed listening to the rain beat hard on the roof of the van. I wonder if I'm going to be able to sleep through the din, but not for long.
July 18, 2021
I'm pretty sure Melanie mentioned setting an alarm for 7:00 a.m. when we retired last night, but when I'm finally awake enough to check the time, it's 7:30ish. I'm up almost immediately because it's Sunday and Sunday post-pandemic most always means church for Melanie.
I make coffee and we enjoy a few cups before Melanie goes for a shower. I'm up afterwards and we prepare the van to move into Brattleboro where she'll attend church.
After services, she texts telling me to prepare for visitors to the van. I move a few things around and vacuum the floor.
We do indeed have visitors who come and view the van and ask questions about our travels. They're a very nice lot of folks and in their midst are children. It's nice to see children among the Episcopalians since that has been rare in our travels. It's the second time we've seen a number of young ones in Vermont.
We turn the van around and head into downtown looking for lunch afterwards. Brattleboro is hopping on this late Sunday morning and we end up at Whetstone Station again. This time we take a table outside. The West and Connecticut Rivers come together here and the West River is raging through town as it empties into the Connecticut.
It's pleasant out today in the low 70's, overcast and a very, very light mist falls periodically.
After lunch we walk back to the van and go into several shops along the way. Melanie buys postcards, I look for Steely Dan vinyl in several shops. Nope, no Steely Dan.
Once we're back at the van, I suggest we drive into New Hampshire and down to near Hinsdale so I can check out the southern terminus of the Ashuelot Recreation Rail Trail. The southern terminus has a large parking lot nearby, but my reconnaissance is a bit of bust as I can't really tell if the trail is worth riding.
The Ashuelot River, on the other hand, is raging through Hinsdale. As we pass back through town, we turn into town and make a stop at a city park where the river can be viewed. As you can see from the video above, the river is out of its banks.
A friend from Melanie's church service who happens to pull up and park behind us says it's generally pretty much a trickle compared to the torrent we're witnessing. It's a great experience watching it from a safe distance.
We're now back at camp and here for the afternoon.
Cocktails consumed and lite snacks for dinner, we retire to the back of the van for a bit of streaming and sleep. It's raining and raining.
July 19, 2021
I'm typing this while located in Keene, New Hampshire which is about 20 miles or so from our campsite in Brattleboro, Vermont.
We were up this morning just after 7:00 a.m. Neither of us wanted to be awake. It was still rainy and rain dripped from the trees overhead onto Miranda with an erratic cadence. Rain for days now. Local rivers are overflowing. Too much rain.
We have coffee and Melanie eats a carton of Yogurt before we ready the van for travel. Melanie has a hair cutting appointment at 10:00 a.m. which was accomplished while I checked our generator oil level as per the prompt from the keypad. Oil level is fine. Melanie's hair is looking good when she returns.
The good news is we get a break in the rain today which is the reason we're here in Keene. On the way in, Melanie has us stop at Monadnock View Cemetery to pay respects at the gravesite of Civil Rights Martyr, Jonathan Myrick Daniels.
We parked downtown next to a rail trail and Melanie can take a break in her work day and walk around downtown Keene and I can get Red Ranger out and ride south on the Ashuelot Recreational Rail Trail. Yesterday I checked out the southern terminus of the trail near Hinsdale.
The trail crosses the Ashuelot River a few times which should prove to be great given that it's waters are running extremely high now.
I ride the Ashuelot Recreational Rail Trail out of town for about 6 miles. The trail is very wet to say the least. I have nice ride, the surface is hard-packed and there are very few spots where water is standing, but on either side of the trail for miles the Ashuelot has flooded farm fields and athletic fields and much of wooded areas next to the trail. More rain to follow it seems.
The trail continues farther out than I rode, but becomes single track and better traversed on a mountain bike or on foot. Before I head back into town, I ride over to a campground on the river where camped two years ago. It's under new management and seems to be in slightly better shape than when we stayed there.
I ride back into town and stop a few times to eat an apple, protein bars and drink water. Once I'm back, I ride around downtown Keene hoping to see Melanie, but she's not to be seen. I ride out a ways on the Cheshire Rail Trail until I come to a road and can't seem to find where the trail continues so turn around and ride back into town. Still no Melanie.
I text her and find out she's headed over to the Jonathan Daniels Trail which begins in Ashuelot River Park nearby. We find each other and sit along the river and trail for a time. It's beautiful.
I'd sent my doctor, Stuart Cohen, a message earlier in the day mentioning I needed a renewal of the only prescription medication I take, a Statin. I get confirmation the renewal has been sent to a local Keene Walgreens and then Walgreens texts to tell me I can pick it up. Sweet.
We decide to walk from our parking place to Main Street and an early dinner before we head back to Brattleboro. We settle on Luca's Mediterranean Cafe across from Central Square. We have a nice table outside and it's a really pleasant evening temperature wise. The food and wine are good.
We make our way back to Miranda and the shortish drive back to Brattleboro and our camp. Sitting outside we enjoy another glass of wine as the sun sets. Melanie moves into the van and I gather my shower stuff and walk the short distance to the campground shower.
We stream a bit before sleep. No rain in the forecast and tomorrow we travel to a new campsite in another part of Vermont.
July 20, 2021
Today's a travel day. Not too far, but we need to be out of our campsite by 11:00 a.m. so I'm up and after a round or two of coffee, Melanie and I are up and preparing to move the van.
My outside chores this morning include putting away our zero gravity chairs which reside on our van ladder which has a carrier attached to it. Once those are secured to the carrier and ladder, I clean and fold our mat and put it away. I check tire pressure in all 6 tires, a once a week job (we have an extensive checklist we go through each time we move Miranda).
Once we're underway, we stop once in West Brattleboro for restocking of our favorite tonic at a local 802 and then we're off to Bennington for lunch. As luck would have it, we park for lunch across from the Episcopal Church, St. Peter's, in Bennington and Melanie goes across the street to take a look.
She soon texts me she's making new friends and I wait in the van while she finishes. She will now attend church services at St. Peter's this coming Sunday.
We find lunch at Your Belly's Deli. Catchy name for a restaurant. I have a really tasty, if messy, Turkey melt pesto sandwich special, Melanie a Turkey brie and apple sandwich. We're both pleased with lunch and would eat there again.
We arrive at our campsite, Camping On The Battenkill, in Arlington, Vermont early afternoon and, after a quick set up, Melanie migrates outside to work and I migrate to the back of the van for a quick nap and reading I missed during the morning.
We're located along the Battenkill River which, like many rivers in Vermont now, is very high. Later in the day, we take a walk around camp walking along the river and take in the scene. A good many families with children tent camping, a good many season sites with all kinds of RV's parked in them and the rest of us.
We skip dinner again and, after sitting outside enjoying the cooling evening, we move inside. There's a "Severe Thunderstorm Warning" out and we're in the path.
The storm hits as we're streaming in the back of the van and initially, we're hit with a few, what sound like, very large hail stones. A very few. But then the rain and lightening. It's loud in the van I after monitoring the situation for a few minutes as the leading edge passes us, we resort to headphones for streaming.
The rain has all but stopped as we turn in for the night and the ambient temps are nice.
Steven and Melanie