Category Archives: Vermont

20220922 – Teddy Bears, Wine, and Vegan Dining in Vermont

THURSDAY 22 September

(There are 9 photos in this post.  All of them were taken with a Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.)

I was up later than I intended last night.  As I was thinking about going to bed, it occurred to me to check for updates from Microsoft.  Normally these are available on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month (security and general, respectively).  I had installed the security updates last week (the 13th ) as soon as the were available (and I had enough Internet connectivity to do it).  The 20th was only the 3rd Tuesday, but there was an “optional” preview update available, which was effectively an early release of an update I was going to get eventually anyway.  Even with the relatively good Internet we have through our Verizon Mi-Fi hotspot, the download and installation took about 30 minutes.  I worked on puzzles while I waited.

We were both out of bed by 7:30 AM, had our morning coffee, and had some of Linda’s homemade granola with fresh fruit for breakfast.  We have managed to stretch the granola this far in the trip by not having it very often, so it’s a real treat when we do.

A view of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company factory and store.  (Photo by Linda.)

At the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Linda finally got to meet Bernie Sanders (sort of).  Picture inserted on the left, of couse.

Even though we were here for one more full day and night, our waste tanks were starting to fill up, especially the grey water tank (75% full).  We both wanted to take showers before going out today, so I partially drained the grey water tank back to 35% of full.  We will get it back up to 70%+ before dump tomorrow as the tank rinse themselves out better the more water they have in them.

Today was our last full day in Vermont for this trip, and we had three and half-and-a-half things on our agenda, all in and around Burlington.  There was still a threat of rain, but the weather was otherwise acceptable, and the clouds were pretty amazing, so not a bad day at all for driving around and doing a mix of inside and outside things.  It was cool, however, and temperatures would be dropping from 4 PM on, so we dressed in layers and took our warm hoodies and raincoats.  Given the weather forecast and the timing for our last destination, we left camp at 11:30 AM.

Even though we were camped between Stowe and Waterbury, with the highest mountains in Vermont between us and Burlington, the area was surprisingly easy, and quick to access.  The first part of our route was VT-100 south to Waterbury (~7.5 mi) to get on I-89 N to I-189 (~19 mi), and then a short drive on I-189 to its terminus at US-7.  From there, about 8 miles south on US-7 and we were at the Vermont Teddy Bear Company in Shelburne, Vermont.  US-7 through Shelburne was 35 – 45 mph with lots of stoplights, but most of I-89 was posted 65 mph, so trip only took about 40 minutes.

I was fairly sure that the blue care on the left was a Lincoln Continental, but no idea what year.  The orange and white station wagon on the right was either a 1956 or 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.  (My first car was a 1957 Chevy that I got from my parents in 1968 when I turned 16 and passed my driver’s test.  They got it from my maternal grandfather, who bought it new.)

The drive up I-89 was new for us, and was especially beautiful as it ran along-side the Winooski River through a long valley.  As a bonus we saw two mature Bald Eagles.  They were a mile or so apart, but we figured that was close enough together that they were probably a mated pair.

Like Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company is an iconic American business and a fun place to visit and shop.  You can buy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in supermarkets, and you can buy Vermont Teddy Bears online, but it’s just more fun to do it in person if you can.  Our shopping concluded, we headed back to the truck and saw a couple of beautifully restored old cars in the parking lot.  (Over the course of the afternoon we saw several more classic cars, and figured they were headed to a meet, probably at the Champlain Valley Expo Center in Essex Junction, Vermont.  The Expo Center was the location for the summer 2016 Escapade rally (Escapees RV Club).  We were there as volunteer staff, Linda in the office and me as the official photographer.

The entrance to the tasting room at Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery, South Hero (Crescent Bay) on Grand Isle, Vermont.  The outside of the building had a very rustic charm, but the inside was modern.

Before leaving the Vermont Teddy Bear Company parking lot, we set our next destination in the F-150 navigation system; Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery on Crescent Bay in South Hero, Grand Isle, Vermont.  Our route was US-7 north to I-189 east to I-89 north to US-2 west, and then several small roads once we were on the island.  Grand Isle is one of the Lake Champlain Islands that occupy the middle of the north half of Lake Champlain, but are on the Vermont side of the border with New York.  Grand Isle was the southernmost of these islands, lying northwest of Burlington and east of Plattsburgh, New York.

I did my Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps field training at Plattsburg Air Force Base in the summer of 1975 (ABIR), but have not been back to that part of New York since then.  The 5,000-acre base was decommissioned and closed in 1995, and then redeveloped.  This Wikipedia entry gives the pre-military, military, and post-military history of the base:

The right end of the main building, with the vineyard beyond.  Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery, South Hero (Crescent Bay), Vermont.

We selected Snow Farm Vineyard and Winery to visit for several reasons.  A main one was that they were open every day from 11 AM to 6 or 7 PM (depending on the season), which allowed us to plan a visit.  (Many of the wineries we checked were closed Monday through Wednesday and opened at 5 PM on Thursday, which didn’t work for us.)  We had also looked at their wine offerings online, and saw that they used grape varieties with which we had little or no acquaintance.  We are not wine aficionados by any measure, but we know what we like and are always looking for something different that appeals to us.  Finally, we just thought it we be nice to visit the island, and maybe see one of the “fairy castles.”

Founded in 1996, Snow Farm was the oldest commercial grape vineyard and winery in Vermont.  They only sold wines that they made, and they only made those wines with grapes that they grew, and that as the kind of winery we like best.  Most of their wines were finished dry or off-dry, with a few slightly sweeter ones, as well as a late harvest Vignoles and an ice wine.

The wine flights at Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery were a bit different, but in a good way.

The wine tasting process was a bit different from what we usually encounter, but in a good way.  Four wines for $5 or eight wines for $9, selected from their available stock (with a couple of exceptions).  We each had a 4-wine flight; reds for Linda and mostly whites for me.  Suitably small quantities of each wine were poured into small, stemless wine glasses which were set in a “paddle board” with indentations for each glass, dry to sweet, starting from the handle.  This allowed us to carry the board to a table and sit down while tasting them.  Two of their wines were sparkling, fermented in the bottle (champaign style).  We did not include it in our flights because we thought we couldn’t (we were wrong), but they allowed us a small cup to taste (think ketchup cup at MikeyD’s.)  We bought a box of Carr’s table water crackers to cleanse our palette between wines.

On our way back to US-2 from Snow Farm Vineyard & Winery we saw this “Fairy Castle,” one of six on Grand Isle, most in the South Hero area.

We bought four bottles of wine:  Snow White (one of the original Snow Farm wines, a blend of Cayuga and Seyval Blanc grapes); Fox Hill Maple (a sweet blend of Seyval Blanc and maple wine produced from maple syrup made from the sap of the maple trees behind the winery) ; Pétillant Naturel, or Pet Nat, made with Seyval Blanc grapes and bottled before complete fermentation. It is unfiltered and the natural yeast sediment can be shaken into the wine and consumed, or the wine can be poured off the sediment., and; 2021 25th anniversary Late Harvest Vignoles.  They also gave a small sample of the Vignoles before we decided to buy it.  We have picked up an occasional bottle of wine at the supermarket or state/provincial beverage store to have with diner, but we are transporting all of the wines we have purchased from wineries back home to re-stock our wine refrigerator and provide a reminder of where we were when we tasted and purchased them.

A composite image from three photos of the Church St. pedestrian corridor, looking south from the north end at Pearl St.

Our final destination for today was Revolution Kitchen at 9 Center St. in downtown Burlington.  We left Snow Farm around 3 PM and were parked in the Main Street Lot at the intersection of Main St. and S. Winooski Ave, next to a Burlington Fire Department Station, by 3:30 PM.  It was a pay lot, $1.50 per hour.  Credit cards accepted.  Just enter your license plate, and get your receipt.

It was a short walk from there to the restaurant, but our reservation was at 5 PM, which was when they opened.  One block to the west, however, was Church St., which had been turned into a pedestrian corridor from Main St. all the way north to Pearl St.  Linda knew this corridor was here, and wanted to walk it before dinner.

It was not our first time in Burlington, but it was the first time we had time to walk the pedestrian friendly city.  The Church Street corridor was surprising devoid of people, but it was a somewhat dreary day.  There was an interesting assortment of shops, including food and beverage establishments, but most of the bars and restaurants were closed today, or did not open until 5 PM, which partially explained the light crowd.  We strolled through a few of the shops (to get out of the damp and cool for a few minutes) but spent some time in Fjallraven, a high end Swedish outdoor clothing store.  They sold the kind of clothes that made us wish we were young enough, fit enough, and adventurous enough to justify the price by actually using them for the purpose for which they were intended.  They were not busy, and we had a nice chat with the young man on duty.

The Church on Pearl St. at the north end of the Church St. pedestrian corridor.

This was not our first visit Revolution Kitchen.  We dined there with Norah and Howie Glover back in the summer of 2016 when we were all working as volunteers at the Escapees RV Club Escapade Rally in Essex Junction, and remembered liking the food and the place.  It’s a vegetarian / vegan restaurant that uses local ingredients.  It was as we remembered it; Linda even remembered where we sat last time.

It’s a “small, wood-accented eatery crafting innovative vegetarian & vegan dishes from local, fresh, sustainable and organic ingredients.”  While not an “upscale” setting, it’s a serious restaurant that required a reservation; not the bohemian sort of place that we usually find near college campuses.  For the record, the University of Vermont campus was just on the east edge of downtown Burlington, a short walk from the restaurant.

We both had hot tea, to ward off a little bit of chill.  For starters, we split the Kale Caesar Salad, which was very good.  For our main dishes, Linda ordered the Seitan Picata while I ordered the Wild Vegetable Ravioli, but we each tried some of the other dish.  Both of them were excellent.  For dessert, we split a slice of chocolate layer cake with black raspberry “cream” filling between the layers.  The cake was moist with a wonderful texture, even without the cream layers.  Simply amazing.

Our paid parking was set to run out at 6:35 PM, but we were back at the truck from 6:20 PM.  Main St. was also US-2, which was our route eastbound through the University of Vermont campus back to I-89 north.  Sunset tonight in Stowe was 6:48 PM, so it was dark by the time we got back to camp around 7:20 PM.  We were a bit later than that as we drove past the campground a couple of miles to the Irving filling station to top up the fuel tank in the F-150.  We were back in our trailer by 7:45 PM and settled in for the night.  For me, that meant processing the photos and writing the blog post for today, as well as putting the finishing touches on the post for yesterday.  We noticed on the way in to the campground that it was considerably busier than it was on Monday and Tuesday.

20220921 – Moss Glen Falls, Smuggler’s Notch, and a Rare Treat, Stowe & Waterbury, Vermont.

WEDNESDAY 21 September

(There are 13 photos in this post, all shot on a Google Pixel 6 Pro.  As always, they are captioned and distributed throughout the text. )

We did not see the beavers on our short, ~1/4-mile, hike to the Moss Glen Falls, but we did see this evidence of their handiwork at felling trees.  The park service dropped the tree to prevent it from becoming a hazard to visitors.

I stayed up last night to publish a couple of blog posts, and did not get to bed until 1 AM.  Nevertheless, I was up at 7 AM, did my morning chores, and heated the water for coffee.  I was quiet, as always, and Linda got up at 7:45.  We nowhere we had to be during the morning, and I would have slept longer if I could.

With no blog posts to work I, worked a few Pic-a-Pix puzzles on m iPad.  Small, easy ones at first, and then a larger and more difficult B&W one.  We try to keep up with updates for our devices and I had another nine for my phone.  Two apps wouldn’t update (Android System Intelligence and Private Compute Services).  Both apps were Android components from Google, and the list of things to try resolving the problem was annoyingly long.  We really liked our Google Pixel 2 / 2XL phones, and we have really liked our Google Pixel 6 / 6 Pro phones so far, especially the camera and image processing, but this kind of thing is just plain annoying and, frankly, stupid for a customer to have to deal with.    Arrrgh.

We had to hike/climb up to the designated viewpoint to actually see the waterfall.  This is most of it.  Safety ropes and signs prevented getting a slightly better shot.  The overcast day actually made for a soft light with less contrast; excellent for shooting in deep woods.

This is a view, looking upstream, of the river that flows away from the bottom of the Moss Glen Falls.  There is a beaver pond nearby, so I suspect that not all of the water from the falls is flowing out on this river.

We had bagels for breakfast (with butter and cream cheese) and fresh fruit (bananas, black raspberries, and strawberries), with some orange juice.  On a recent walk around the campground, we were able to chat with one of the three people who work here (and probably own it).  We mentioned how empty it was on Monday and Tuesday.  He assured us it was very busy all summer, would be busy again by the weekend, and in another week or so, when the fall colors finally appear for real, it will be full.

We finally got a neighbor on our driver/left side this morning, which seemed odd at first as it was way before the 1 PM check-in time.  We chatted with the them briefly before leaving for the day.  It turned out that they were already in the campground yesterday but decided to extend their stay through Thursday night, which resulted in them having to move to a different site.  They were from S. Carolina and were driving a 2008 Winnebago Destination but did have a “toad.”  It turned out that they were traveling with friends, who were parked about 10 sites down and were towing a car behind their motorhome.

The view of most of the Ben & Jerry’s factory building in Waterbury, Vermont as we walked down from the guest parking area.

A visual pun at the Ben & Jerry’s factory visitor center.

Our first destination today was Moss Glen Falls.  The Falls trailhead was approximately a mile east of VT-100, about 5 miles north of Stowe, Vermont.  Most of the road after leaving VT-100 was gravel.  Just before reaching the trailhead parking lot, the road was being worked on and was down to one lane.  The construction zone was only about 30 feet long, so the workers also acted as traffic control.  The parking lot was small, and about 70% full, but I had no trouble finding a spot.

The trail to the Falls was ~1/4 mile, with almost no elevation change until the end.  It followed the river from the outflow of the Falls, but also traversed a lot of marshy area.  A very nice system of boardwalks kept our feet dry.  The area had an active beaver population, and while we did not see them, we did see evidence of their tree felling activities.  Towards the end of the trail, we had to hike up about 75 feet to get to the viewing area for the Falls, which drop about 125 feet.

Linda finishes her non-dairy ice cream cone at Ben & Jerry’s factory ice cream shop.  The ‘Road Trip’ background seemed appropriate.

Our visit to Moss Glen Falls concluded, we headed back towards Stowe to pick up VT-108 to Jeffersonville via Smuggler’s Notch and Smuggler’s Notch State Park.  As we were coming into Stowe we saw a sign for VT-108 and turned.  A short distance later, we had to make a decision to turn left or right.  We went right and almost immediately were on a gravel road.  We were supposed to be on the main road to the ski resorts west of Stowe, and my instincts told me this could not possibly be that road, which is open all winter and sees a lot of traffic.  Still, It took us a few miles to figure out (convince ourselves) that we were not where we had intended to be.

We doubled back to the intersection where we had turned the wrong way, and thought we were now on track, but soon realized we were still not back on VT-108.  Linda was navigating on her phone by this point, and could see that we were at least on a track that would eventually lead us to VT-108.  Besides, we got to drive somewhere we hadn’t planned to visit, and see nice mountain side homes on large properties.  Some days are like that.  (Stowe is a small, but upscale iconic Vermont village, and driving around in a residential area of the mountains underscored that there was a lot of money in here.)

The main gift shop at the Ben & Jerry’s factory is only available to guests who have taken the factory tour (they exit through the gift shop).  There was a small gift shop outside, however, for anyone who wandered in, especially those (like us) who just came for the ice cream shop.  I know the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is pretty good stuff (it’s the number one ice cream brand in the U.S.) but I was amused by this combination lock collar that you can (apparently) buy to secure your pint against unauthorized use.

VT-108 is the road to the well-known Stowe, Vermont ski area.  As expected, the road was in excellent condition.  As we climbed up towards the base of the ski slopes, we saw more and more, and nicer and nicer, B&B’s, Inns, Lodges, Resorts, and vacation homes, as well as the ski slopes and lifts.  Mount Mansfield, at 4,393 feet AMSL, is the tallest mountain in Vermont and anchored the Stowe Mountain Resort.

All of that was nice, and interesting of course, but the main reason for coming up here was to drive through Smuggler’s Notch and the State Park that encompasses it.  Megan and Scott, from Timberland CG in Shelburne, New Hampshire, had strongly recommended that we do this drive; and they were right.  At 2,162 feet AMSL, Smuggler’s Notch is not the highest auto-drivable road in the State.  That honor belongs to the Lincoln Gap, at 2,424 feet AMSL, between Lincoln and Warren, Vermont.  But that road is not open in the winter, whereas VT-108 is open year-round.  And Lincoln Gap is not Smuggler’s Notch.


“Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont is a mountain pass located in Lamoille County. The notch separates Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, from Spruce Peak and Sterling Ridge. Some locals refer to the area as “the quiet side of the Mountain,” and the road through the notch, Route 108, is one of two officially designated scenic highways in the state.”

The entrance to the Ben & Jerry’s “Flavor Graveyard.”  A few of the “headstones” are visible through the entrance.

It was an amazing road through the notch, and the scenery was also amazing.  The sun had come out and there were just enough clouds to be interesting, with some still hanging around the peaks of the mountains.  The road was narrow often barely one lane wide, with no shoulder and with tight hairpin turns, some of which had huge boulders on the inside of the curve and a sheer rock face on the outside of the curve.

In fact, this stretch of VT-108 is length restricted; fixed wheelbase vehicles cannot exceed 40 feet, and articulated vehicles cannot exceed 45 feet.  And there are hefty fines if you ignore these limits and get caught.  (If you get stuck, the fine is $2,400, but having driven it, I wouldn’t take a fixed wheelbase vehicle over 25’, or a travel trailer of any kind or size, through the notch).  Alas, all of the places to pull off the road or park were taken, so we just drove through.  But that was OK; we enjoy a nice scenic drive, and this was one of only two designated scenic roads in all of Vermont.

VT-108 intersected VT-15 in Jeffersonville and we took it east towards Johnson and on to Morristown to pick up VT-100 south back to camp.  There was a truck route to bypass downtown Morristown, but we stayed with the main route as we wanted to see downtown.  Morristown was actually fairly large, and VT-100 wound through what seemed like three separate downtown area.  (This was another example where we “be a truck” if we had been towing the trailer.)

The setting sun illuminated the underside of a cloud layer and lit up the sky like it was on fire.  Our truck and the front part of our trailer in the foreground.  I wasn’t the only one who noticed this; somewhere between 6 and 12 RVers were also trying to photograph this.

Coming back into Stowe from Morristown, we saw the same sign for VT-108, but this time was also saw the “ALT” on the sign. “ALT” makes all difference.  Going through downtown Stowe, we finally saw were VT-108 actually came off of VT-100.

As we were getting close to our campground, we decided to keep going and visit the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory in Waterbury.  We had been there before, but it was a long time ago.  Reservations were needed to tour the factory, but we did not feel the need to do that again.  What we wanted, and what we got, were ice cream cones.  We sometimes have non-dairy ice cream at home, and have had it in the trailer a few times on this trip, but actually going out and getting an ice cream cone was a rare treat.

We got in line at the Ice Cream Shop and waited 20 – 30 minutes before ordering.  They currently make 18 different non-dairy “frozen desserts” but the only one available at the window was “Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled.”  We wanted waffle cones, but they weren’t vegan ☹  The sugar cones were, however, so we each one ?

A different shot showing some of the other RVs in the campground.

Most of their non-dairy products were made from almond milk, but the “Colin Kaepernick’s Change the Whirled” was one of only four that was made from “Sunflower Butter.”  We had never heard of this but, based on our experience, it was the best non-dairy “ice cream” we had ever had.

We had just finished our treats when we ran into our neighbors from the campground and their traveling companions, and chatted with them for a bit.  They had made a day of visiting the Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Lake Champlain Chocolates, and a few other places between Stowe and Waterbury.  Ben ^ Jerry’s was their final stop for the day.  We then visited the “Graveyard of Retired Flavors” on our way back to our truck.  Set up like a cemetery, each retired (discontinued) product had its own “headstone” with a clever inscription (as some headstones are want to have) and the first and last year of production (as all headstones have).  A few of them had been “resurrected” and then retired again (something not seen on most headstones).  One had been in and then out of production three times.

This sunset went on for a long time and, as sometimes happens, just kept getting better until it was suddenly done.  (This photo is 1198 by 674 pixels; click to view full size.)

Back in camp,  Linda e-mailed Revolution Kitchen in Burlington to see if we could get a reservation for 5 PM tomorrow.  Her request was answered in the affirmative, so our plans for tomorrow fell into place.  I copied photos from my phone to my laptop computer and started working on this blog post.  We were eventually hungry enough for dinner and got the WeberQ grill out of the truck.  Linda grilled the vegan kielbasa and roasted some mixed fingerling potatoes on the grill, and heated up some sauerkraut in the microwave oven.  We had Barefoot Riesling wine with our meal and piece of chocolate for dessert.

Linda needed an S.O.S. pad to clean the roasting basket and I suggested we drive up to the Shaw’s in Stowe.  I noticed some nice color in the western sky, but when I looked closer I found an amazing sunset in progress over the mountains.  I grabbed my phone to get pictures, and I wasn’t alone.  At least a half-dozen other campers had come out to do the same thing.  Pictures taken, we loaded the grill back into the bed of the truck and headed off to Shaw’s on the north end of Stowe.

PHOTO – PXL … stitchh4_1680x404_sunset-1 …  This is a composite of four images.  (It’s 1680 by 404 pixels; click to enlarge.)

This is a composite of four images.  (It’s 1680 by 404 pixels; click to enlarge.)

The Stowe’s Shaw’s was not nearly as large, or as nice, as the one on the north end of Waterbury, but it had what we needed, and more.  We always go up and down the isles in a new-to-us supermarket, and we inevitably find things to buy.

It was dark by the time we got back to the campground, and I mean really dark.  The entrance sign F-150 navigation screen.  We had also driven this road enough by this point that I knew where it was.

This is a composite of eight images. (It’s 1414 by 34 pixels; click to enlarge.)

No TV tonight; just reading and writing and photo editing and puzzle playing.  I got this post mostly written, and the photos selected and edited, but did not get them placed and captioned.  I hope to get that done in the morning before we head out for the day.  The weather forecast was calling for rain overnight and into tomorrow, with the possibility of thunderstorms after 1 AM.  The temperature was predicted to hover around 60 (F) until 4 PM and then fall to 43 (F) by 8 AM on Friday.  Before heading to bed, I checked that all of the windows in the truck where closed and that the windows and exhaust fan vents were closed in the trailer.  The sky was dark and clear, the only light pollution coming from the exterior lighting on many of the RVs.  Both the Big and Little Dipper constellations were visible, which is often not true for the Little Dipper, as was the Milky Way.  Not bright, but clearly and distinctly there.  This was only the 3rd or 4th time during our entire trip (to-date) that I have seen the sky this dark and clear.

20220920 – Local Stuff

TUESDAY 20 September

I was up a bit later last night, but managed to get the blog posts for the 17th and 18th uploaded and published.  As a result, I slept in until 7 AM, and Linda was actually up before me.  We had coffee and some fresh fruit, but held off on anything else to eat as we planned to go the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for their apple cider and cider donuts and some hot apple cider.

Linda checked the vegan restaurant in Burlington (Revolution Kitchen).  They were closed M-Tu-W, and are only open for dinner, so our first opportunity to dine there would be Thursday evening.  I spent some time searching for wineries near us, and the best option I could find was the (Snow Farm Vineyard and Winery.) in South Hero on Grand Isle, an island in Lake Champlain between Burlington, VT and Plattsburg, NY.  It was only 52 miles away, and it was actually open every day starting at 11 AM.  We made a tentative plan to go there on Thursday and then go to dinner in Burlington.  Most of the wineries in the area were closed during the week and re-opened on Thursday for the weekend.  Some appeared to be closed for the season, which seemed very odd to us as the fall color show has yet to really begin.

Linda in front of The Barn at Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  The Barn is actually the cidery (hard cider) tasting room and café.  We did not go in on this visit.

Our first stop was the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  We got six of their ‘legendary’ cider donuts (cake style) and two small apple ciders for $8 + tax.  The hot (or cold) cider was unlimited refills, so we took advantage of the bargain.  Both products were fresh and tasty, as there were a lot of people there and they move a lot product.

As long as we were going out to get cider and donuts for breakfast, we decided to do a little grocery shopping.  Our next stop was the Farmers Market, at little closer towards Waterbury.  It was a small grocery with a mix of fresh and processed items.  We just looked around, as we were also headed to the Shaw’s supermarket farther in towards Waterbury.

At the Shaw’s location, there was also a True Value Hardware Store.  I needed an adjustable wrench or pliers to keep with the water system components, so I went in search of one.  I ended up buying a Vise-Grip channel lock pliers.  Not too large, but with adjustable jaws that could open wide and lock shut.  Perfect.

This is the Cider Mill and Donut Shop building.  It also housed a gift shop and bakery.  An alcove with windows allowed us to view the pressing of the apple mash to extract the cider.  A sign said the spent mash was used to feed pigs.

When I rejoined Linda in the supermarket, she was almost done shopping.  We checked out and headed back towards camp.  We were near the Ben & Jerry’s factory at this point, so she checked online about tours; reservations required and they had to be made online.  No reservation needed if you just want to visit the “graveyard” (of retired flavors) and by ice cream at their shop.  But we were not done yet.  We stopped at the Farmers Market again, and Linda bought some mushrooms for tonight’s dinner.  But we still had one last stop to make before getting back to our trailer; the Lake Champlain Chocolate factory outlet store.  We were only out for a couple of hours, but accomplished what we had planned to do, and the rain had held off during that time, so it worked out well.

Back at the trailer, we had hummus and Fritos as a quick, easy lunch/snack.  Perhaps due to the dreary weather, we both decided to take naps during the afternoon.  After my nap I continued working on a Multi-Sudoku ‘combo’ puzzle I had started earlier.

For dinner, Linda made a pasta dish with Garofalo Lumachine pasta, mushrooms, onions, greens, and vegan meatballs in arrabbiata sauce.  We had a few pieces of the chocolate we bought earlier today.

Now that we had access to TV signals, and the new season has started on CBS, we spent the remainder of the evening watching the three FBI shows.  Linda headed off to bed as soon as they were done, and the cat followed her, as she does every evening.  I stayed up long enough to post the blog entries for yesterday and today.

20220919 – Shelburne, New Hampshire to Moscow (Stowe-Waterbury), Vermont

MONDAY 19 September

I was tired and went to bed around 10:30 PM last night; early for me.  I was awake by 4 AM this morning, of course, but managed to stay in bed until closer to 7 AM.  I put away the dishes and cutlery from last night, and put the kettle on to boil (filled and pushed the START button).  I think I also fed the cat, as that is usually part of my first-thing-in-the-morning routine.

Today was a travel day, and we had our sights set on a 10 AM departure.  If I was going to have coffee and something to eat, I had to do it right away.  I one of the scones that we got yesterday at the Village Vegan in Conway, New Hampshire.  I was part way through my cup of coffee when Linda got up.  She made her cup of coffee and ate her scone right away as well, and then we each had a cinnamon twist pasty.  All vegan, and very tasty.

I took a break from working on the blog last night, so after breakfast I picked up from where I left off.  I was inserting all of the photo references into the text for our Mt. Washington Cog Railway trip yesterday, including writing the captions, and realized I had not yet finished writing the post.  I had set it aside yesterday to start the post for our drive to Conway, New Hampshire and had not returned to it.  As the clock on the microwave convection oven counted up the minutes towards 10:00 AM, it was obvious I was not going to get the post finished and published before we left.  We really wanted to be on the road by 10 AM, so at 8:30 AM we started our final departure preparations.  Priorities, even (especially?) when camping.

While I was moving our technology from the trailer to the truck I had a chance to chat briefly with or neighbors on either side, both of whom had pulled in yesterday early evening, one behind the other.  That turned out to be coincidence, as they were unrelated and unacquainted prior to arriving here.  The older couple on our passenger side was from Ontario, and were also leaving today for Vermont; Waterbury, specifically.  The younger couple on our driver side was from the Cleveland, Ohio area, and were staying through tomorrow night.

Our destination today was Gold Brook Campground in Moscow, Vermont (south of Stowe and north of Waterbury).  The reason we were so focused on a 10 AM departure was:  a)  Check-in time was 1 PM;  b) We estimated it to be a 3-hour drive, and;  c) A massive rain system was forecast to move through that area during the day, but it looked like we might have a window from 1 to 2 PM to set up camp with little or no rain.

We looked at, and considered, various routing options, but opted in the end to just take US-2 all the way, except for a detour around St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and the last 7.6 miles on VT-100.  Our current campground was literally on US-2, so it was a matter of exiting the campground, turning right, and staying on the designated route.

Rain was forecast for last night, and through this morning, with high percentage chances but, as has often happened on this trip, it did not pan out exactly that way.  It rained, but not between 8:30 and 10 AM this morning; we’ve been lucky that way.  We were hitched up and ready to go by 9:45 AM.  Linda took the trash to the dumpster by the office and returned our gate card in exchange for our $20 deposit.  While she was in the office, Megan and Scott gave her a list of places we should be sure to visit in/around Stowe and Waterbury, as they used to live in that area.  We both made use of the campground restroom, and were finally pulled out of the campground onto US-2 at 10:04 AM.

The view out the front window of our Airstream travel trailer, a couple of hours after we arrived at the campground.  We were set up and snug inside.  Rainy days and Mondays.

The weather was heavily overcast, with low clouds obscuring the tops of all the mountains, including many of the lower ones.  US-2 was still a wonderful drive, however; up and down, left and right, alongside rivers, and through small towns and villages.  We were even high enough in elevation at a few points to drive through the clouds.  The rain was moving in from northwest and we eventually drove into it.  It was heavy enough at times that visibility was low and water was ponding on the roads.  No problem, though; lights on, wipers on, slow down a bit.  The truck-trailer combination handled flawlessly, for which the Propride 3P WD Hitch got a lot of the credit.

Our only deviation from US-2 was getting around St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  We had seen on the map that the route through town involved a number of sharp turns in a downtown area; not ideal for a 50’ long articulated vehicle.  I commented that, if I saw a sign for a truck route around St. Johnsbury, I was going to take it.  And sure enough, there it was as we came into the edge of town.  (Once again, the concept of “when are we a truck and when are we not a truck,” which was especially important with the converted bus, but still applies to any RV.  At issue are weight, height, width, and turns.  If a tractor-trailer, can make it, so can we.)  The US-2 West Truck Route took us a short way south to I-93 north, which ended a few miles later at I-91, where we continued north and finally exited back on to US-2 West.

As we got to the west side of Montpellier, we almost had a navigation error.  I saw a sign at the last minute for US-2 West and made the right turn (from the through lane), but then wasn’t sure I should have done that.  Just after the turn ,there was an area on the left where it looked like I could turn around, so I pulled in.  It turned out to be Montpellier High School.  Linda figured out fairly quickly that I had, in fact, turned when/where I needed to.  I looped around in front of the school and back to the road, made a left to continue our direction of travel, crossed over the river, and then almost immediately turned left again to stay on US-2 West.  The “detour” cost us a minute or two of travel time; no big deal.

This photo is from the next afternoon, when the clouds parted briefly and let the sun shine through.  This is what is behind out site.  VT-100 runs just in front of the distant tree line.  It’s busy, but we didn’t hear the traffic.  Stowe is about 8 miles to the left (north) and Waterbury is about 8 miles to the right (south).

By the time we reached Waterbury, the rain had basically quit.  We turned north on Waterbury Road (VT-100) for the final 7.6 miles to our campground, just shy of the small town of Moscow.  Along the way we passed the entrance to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory and the Lake Champlain Chocolate outlet store (not the factory, which is near Burlington).  Shortly after that we passed a ‘Welcome to Stowe’ sign and then saw the sign for our campground, pulled in, and followed the signs to the office.

While Linda went to the office to register, I went in the trailer to turn on the LevelMatePro+ and sync the app on my phone.  The office was locked, with a note on the door directing arriving guests to a mailbox for their information packet.  Our stay here was fully pre-paid, so this approach worked just fine for us.

The interior roads were gravel, but in decent shape, and the sites were all grass, with a bit of gravel in evidence.  We had been assigned site #66 (W3W=”encircling.gadgets.submerged”), a 50A, full-hookup, back-in.  The campground was mostly empty, with maybe 12 sites in use out of 79, so we had open sites on both sides of us.  The utilities were set up side-by-side, which is generally not a good arrangement, but we noticed that all of the RVs were spaced out.  Closer examination revealed that all of the trailers had been assigned even numbered sites, which allowed them to back in and have the hookups on the correct side, whereas the motorhomes had been assigned odd numbered sites, which allowed them to pull in and have the hookups on the correct side.  I thought that was both clever and thoughtful, but something they would be unable to maintain at full occupancy.

It was a rainy Monday, of course, but it still seemed strange that the place was mostly empty as it was a nice enough campground, with good utilities, and was located about half-way between Waterbury and Stowe.  We noticed more trees changing color on the drive here today, but were probably still a week or two from the kind of fall colors that draw millions of visitors to the Northeast U.S., and perhaps 3 to 4 weeks from peak color.

Another photo of our rig in site 66 at Gold Brook Campground.    Not a fancy place, but very nice with good utilities.

Knowing that heavy rain was on the way, possibly as early as 2 PM, we were anxious to get set up.  It always takes me a few tries (if I’m lucky) to get the trailer backed into a site the way I want it AND with the truck lined up with the trailer.  We did pretty well this time and lucked out, once again, in finding a place for the trailer tires that was level side-to-side.  We were only off level by 6.5”, front-to-rear, well within the range our equipment could handle.

I got the shorepower cord out of the trailer while Linda moved Juniper-the-cat into the trailer.  We then got the trailer tires chocked, the truck unhitched, leveled the trailer front-to-back, and put the stabilizer jacks down.  After we moved all of technology from the truck to the trailer, Linda set about getting the inside ready to use while I hooked up the shorepower and got the fresh water components connected.  I was going to hook up the sewer hose as well but, as I was finishing the fresh water setup, there was a loud rumble of thunder and it started to drizzle.  It started to rain harder just as I closed the trailer door behind me.  It was 1:45 PM, so we had completed most of our arrival preparations in just 45 minutes from when we pulled in off of VT-100.  By 2:06 PM it was raining hard, so we had done very well taking advantage of the break in the rain.

While setting up the interior, Linda found a small steel ball on the floor.  It was a ball bearing, which I figured had to come from a drawer slide.  There are only six drawers in the trailer, so I will have to try and figure out which one this might have come from.  (The drawer under the dinette seat by the entry door was open when I went in to turn on the LevelMatePro+, so that would be my starting point.)

The other new issue I noticed this morning was water dripping from the exhaust fan in the shower.  The inside of the housing was wet, suggesting the water was not getting in around the outside of it.  I checked it while it was raining, and it didn’t seem to matter if the vent was open or closed, so I wasn’t sure what had happened.  We didn’t bring a ladder with us that was long enough for me to get up high enough to examine the vent cover from the outside.  I had to replace the vent cover on the bathroom exhaust fan before our trip as the foam seal around the inside of it was crushed, so perhaps this was a similar issue.  The vent covers are held on by two screws, so perhaps one of them had come loose.  But at the moment, there was no way to know for sure.  Fortunately (?), it was the vent fan in the shower, and not the one in the bathroom.

This is also a photo of our site at Gold Brook Campground from the next afternoon.  Lots of room on both sides of us.

We had Amy’s Alphabet Vegetable Soup for lunch, along with crackers (with butter and peanut butter) and red grapes.  After lunch, I set up our Verizon Jetpack Mi-Fi and my computer, and got back to work on the blog posts, including this one.  Around 4:00 PM we checked the weather.  It wasn’t raining at the moment but more was on the way.  I fed the cat and then set up the sewer hose.  I was just finishing that task around 4:25 PM when it started raining lightly.

When I came back in, Linda showed me the radar.  We were right at the eastern edge of A Big Yellow Blob, which was moving east towards us.  Missed it by ‘that’ much, again.  Rain was in the forecast for all four nights we will be here, but wouldn’t spoil our fun, as we were not planning on hiking here.  Instead, we planned to do more “touristy” things, like go to:  Ben & Jerry’s (they make vegan ice cream); Lake Champlain Chocolate (no explanation needed); the Vermont Teddy Bear Store; the Cold Hollow Cider Mill and Donut Shop that Megan and Scott recommended (which we also passed coming up VT-100), and; other such “points of interest.”

When we were in Essex Junction, Vermont in the summer of 2016 for the Escapade Rally, we went to a vegan restaurant in Burlington.  Linda did a search and thought she found it.  We are not that far from Burlington, so we might go there for lunch or dinner one day.  (I was looking at the map for this area, and we are actually not that far from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.)  She also scanned for TV signals (not that I’ve missed TV that much) and found quite a few.  Being Monday, the important channel was CBS, and we ended up watching the first episodes of the new season for several of our favorite shows.  I worked during the TV programs, and managed to get the blog posts for the last two days uploaded, assembled, and published.

20220918 – North Conway, New Hampshire

SUNDAY 18 September

We did not have to be up early today, so we slept in a bit.  We had our usual morning coffee when we finally got up, but did not have breakfast.  Our plan for today was to drive to North Conway, New Hampshire.  We had two destinations in mind; Valley Vegan (café and bakery) and the White Mountain Winery tasting room.  The winery was our original reason for going.  With Sunday hours from noon to 4 PM, Linda checked Happy Cow to see if we could also find somewhere to eat.  She found Valley Vegan, and one other place that had a few vegan options.  Valley Vegan was open from 9 AM to 3 PM, and had breakfast and lunch items in addition to bakery items.  Our plan morphed into going to Valley Vegan at 11 AM for breakfast and then going to the winery.

We left around 10 AM and had an easy drive down NH-16 from Gorham through a long, winding river valley with the Presidential Range on our right/west side.  The road was in fabulous condition, was posted 50 or 55 mph most of the way, and traffic was light, so it was a fun drive as well.  It was overcast, the distant views were misty, and some of the mountain tops were shrouded in clouds, but that sort of weather just shows the mountains in a different, mysterious light.

Across the street from the Valley Vegan was this Adventure Suites Hotel.  Linda looked it up online and that it was (or claimed to be) one of the top 10 “themed” hotels in the U.S.  More than just a cute front façade, every guest suite was decorated in a different theme.  On our drive down to North Conway, we passed the Storyland Amusement Park.  It was quite a place from what we could see.  Based on the number of vehicles in the very large parking lot, we guessed that there had to be at least a thousand people there, maybe double that number (or more).

We arrived at Valley Vegan, on the north end of Main Street (NH-16), a little before 11 AM.  The only person working there was the owner, and he was busy.  It was a carry-out place (we knew that before we arrived), with a few picnic tables outside.  It was also a “new age” shop with crystals, stones, and other such things.  Fun to look at, but we were there for the food.  Several orders were already in the queue when we placed our breakfast order; oat flour waffle with chaga maple syrup for me, and a breakfast sandwich for Linda (just egg patty and sausage patty on an English muffin).  We also got two triple-berry scones and four flaky cinnamon twist sticks “to go.”  We sat outside and ate two of the sticks while we waited for our main dishes, which took about 30 minutes to get.  The sticks were very good and so were our meals.  A bit overpriced, in our opinion, but we did not mind supporting a small, all vegan (and partially gluten-free) business.

The Valley Vegan café and bakery with The Original Cigar& Bar behind to the right.

We finished our breakfast at noon and then drove into the main area of North Conway.  It was an unapologetically upscale tourist town, chocked with vehicles and with lots of people on the sidewalks and in the shops.  We lucked out, and got an angled parking space on the street not far from where the winery was supposed to be.  We did not see it on Main Street and figured it must be around back somewhere.


It was, and it was definitely a tasting room in a city, as we saw no evidence of the actual wine production.  They had a bewildering variety of offerings—reds, whites, and fruit “flavored”—all bearing their label.  I told the lady behind the counter that we were looking an actual blueberry wine and was informed that all of their offerings were made from grapes; the fruit (flavored) wines were infused.  We’ve had less expensive versions of this approach to wine, and they were terrible so, no thanks.  (The exception would be Sangria and mulled wines.)

Since we were there, we spent a little time looking at what they had.  I spotted a Caménère, which I had never seen or heard of before.  Linda looked it up online, and found that it was a grape variety originally from Bordeaux, France but now mostly associated with Chile, although it is also grown in Italy, California, and Washington State.  What that said to me was, these grapes did not come from anywhere near here, (and maybe the wine didn’t either).  In any event, we were both turned off by the large number of fruit infused wines on offer.  Indeed, the labels said “natural fruit flavor,” whatever that meant.  We left without tasting or buying anything and returned to our truck by way of the front entrance, which was on a small courtyard connected to the street by a small pedestrian alley.

Linda checked their website again on the drive back, and it indicated that they ”made” all of their wines, so I guess we have to take their word for that.  We were in agreement, however, that we like tasting rooms that are part of the actual winery, especially ones where we can see the tanks, or tour the building where they located.  Even better, is when we can see the vineyards where the grapes came from to make the wine we are tasting.  (All of our favorite wineries in Michigan’s Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas meet those criteria.)

Rain was in the forecast for Shelburne starting mid-afternoon, with the percentage chance jumping from 17% at 2 PM to 47% at 3 PM, and going up from there.  Once it started, the chance remained high through the night and into tomorrow morning.  That left us with the choice of possibly breaking camp in the rain tomorrow morning, or getting some of that done today before the rain started, and operating off our fresh water tank and pump.  We had encountered this situation several times already on this trip, and opted every time to partially break camp ahead of time.  Our choice was the same today, which required us to be back in camp not later than 2 PM.

When we got back to US-2 in Gorham, we headed west towards the Walmart.  Linda wanted to get some more paper towels, and a couple of inexpensive bath towels to put on the rug in the trailer when we stored the shorepower cord there for travel.  Before getting there, Linda spotted the Dollar Store and I pulled in.  As a bonus, the NH Liquor & Wine Outlet store was in the same building.  I went there to see if they might have the Black Tower Rivaner that we discovered at the Masstown Market in Nova Scotia.  They had a lot of different wines, but only four from Germany, all of them Rieslings.  They did, however, have two Taylor Fladgate Tawny Ports, a 10-Year-Old ($23) and a 20-Year-Old ($42).  I opted for the 10-Year-Old.  Taylor Fladgate is Portuguese and has been making port since 1692.  They also make a 30-Year-Old and a 40-Year-Old, with prices to match.

On the way back to the campground, I pulled in to the Irving fuel station and topped up the tank.  On the short drive back from there, the fuel economy calculation reached 29.9 MPG.  That was as close to 30 MPG as it has ever been.  The slightest uphill grade, however, and it dropped back down, but was still above 28 MPG when we pulled in at 1:30 PM.

We had driven through rain coming up NH-16, but it had not yet reached Gorham or Shelburne.  I got busy with my outside tasks, and enjoyed not having to rush or do them in the rain.  Linda cleaned the interior and mopped the floor while I worked outside.  I dumped the black and grey waste tanks, put the sewer hose back in the storage compartment in the rear bumper of the trailer, and put the hose support accordion back in the front storage compartment of the trailer.  I then disconnected all of the fresh water components, drained them and stowed them for travel in their designated places.

I removed the covers from the hitch and WD jacks, put those away, and then put the stinger back in the truck receiver.  I backed the truck up to the trailer and had to make 2 or 3 minor adjustments to get the stinger lined up with the hitch.  (It usually takes me quite a few more adjustments.)  At that point, I had done everything I could until we were ready to hitch up in the morning and leave.

I was still intrigued by the Caménère grape wine we saw at White Mountain Winery, so I did a bit more research online.  One wine review website described it as having a distinctive taste, but went on to mention “smooth tannins” (no thanks to tannin) and “green pepper” (yuck).  (I like bell pepper, but not the green ones.)  Another wine review website said it had found a particularly good home in Chile, and was poised to surpass Merlot as Chile’s number one wine.

I spent the rest of the afternoon working on blog posts.  The first rain drops came about 4:30 PM, but were light and did not persist.  Linda planned dinner for 6:30 PM so I stopped at 6 PM, and put my computer aside.  Dinner was a green salad, baked potato, and Gardein Stuffed Turkey roll (vegan, of course).  We finished the Ménage à Trois Midnight red wine blend with the meal and had a few cookies for dessert.  The rest of the evening, Linda read and I worked puzzles, as I wanted to take a break from working on the blog.  And that was our day.