Home Away From Home, Vermont

A Covered Bridge and a Mountain

After our frustrating day yesterday, we tried to go all out today and we did!  Our first stop was the Gold Brook Covered Bridge outside of Waterbury.  We should have gone there yesterday when we went to Cold Hollow Cider as it was very close by but I hadn’t figured that out yet.

In 1849 a young man, Abial Slayton from Stowe went to California to join the gold rushers.  After striking it rich he returned to Stowe and then became aware of the presence of gold in what was then called Hull Brook.  He set up a sluicing operation and got about $200 in gold before the gold ran dry.  The name stuck though and people have been known to try their hand at panning for gold since then.

We drove over the bridge and then I walked over it.  The plank boards are wearing and there was even a hole in one place where I could see the brook beneath Yikes, and we traveled over it in a car! 

We then continued on to Mt. Mansfield. The fee to get in was $25 for the car and one person and then $9.50 for each subsequent person.  Kind of pricey!  The road up to the trailhead was 4 ½ miles of curvy, twisty, narrow graveled road.  Meeting another car was a little scary as we were on far side of the road, meaning it was a long way down!  

We made it to the top parking lot and then walked up to the Visitor’s Center. The center is owned by the University of Vermont and apparently not well kept.  It was closed and the only attendant was a young woman who worked with a hiking organization.  She said the building was mostly empty and smelled of mold and mildew.  

We left on our ten minute walk to see the panoramic view.  I’m not sure where the ten minutes was supposed to take us but we went on – and on – and on!  We were ill prepared for a hike.  We had no boots on, no water, no candy (in case Jerry’s sugar dropped), no Kleenex for my constantly drippy nose and alas, no lip gloss plus no jacket!  As we began, I saw a sign that said we were only 3.4 miles from Canada! 

Are we having fun yet?

However, on we went climbing over rocks.  There was hardly a section where we were not climbing over rocks, big rocks.  At times we were pretty close to the edge of the mountain.  After a while I had to stop but Jerry wanted to go on to the summit.  I sent him ahead and sat down on a fairly comfortable rock with my phone and his camera.  Suddenly the wind blew up and the temperature cooled.  Then it began to rain.  I had his camera stuck under my very soiled white t-shirt trying to keep it dry.  The wind was blowing so hard that I knew I had to find a shelter from it so up I went.  I really was getting uneasy as I didn’t know exactly where Jerry was, I was cold and wet and then my imagination began to go wild.  There were no other people around.  Were there any wild animals around?  I sent Jerry a text that failed to send (he got it tonight) and then I called him.  Oddly enough the call went through although it was breaking up.  He was almost to the summit and said he should be down in a few minutes.  Yeah, right!  

I saw some people come down and I asked if they had seen a man in a blue shirt and a cap.  Wouldn’t you know out of all the people that I could have asked I asked the one who spoke no English!  I don’t know if it was fear, a little rest or Adrenalin but up I went to meet him.  I wasn’t too far from the summit when I finally saw him.  Relief!  Except as I had said earlier it was not a loop trail.  We had to hike all the way back to the Visitor’s Center.  It was a long arduous hike and we were tired.  The rain had caused some of the rocks to be more slippery plus there were more puddles.  I noticed as we went up that we were both very careful to avoid the puddles.  On the way down we just did the best we could to get around them and sometimes we didn’t. The red Jeep in the parking lot was a pretty sight to behold and the bottle of water was delicious!  We were one of only two cars left.  Everyone including the young guide had left for the day.

See that little blue speck? He made it!

The ride down the mountain was not as scary as coming up.  We were next to the mountain, not looking down at where we could land if we made a mistake plus we met no cars.  The station was closed when we got down and the entrance was gated.  What?  Jerry got out and read the instructions for leaving.  Unpin the gate and drive forward over the spikes.  Do not back up as it will ruin your tires!  Oh, my goodness.  Not a soul around so we did what it said to do and off we went.

As we were returning to the campground Jerry saw a sign about the Von Trapp Inn and asked if I wanted to go by.  He said he surely didn’t want to return that way tomorrow so we rode on up.  It is a lovely place but I’m not sure it is reminiscent of Austria!

 Today’s hike was my most difficult hike but Jerry said his most difficult was the Gorham Trail in Acadia. We surely had a lot more rocks to climb today!  When we returned to the campground I I hit the sofa with an ice pack for my knee,  Oh, I slid down one of the rocks landing on my left knee.  Ouch.  We were two very exhausted people but glad we had survived the trek up Mt. Mansfield.

By the way, what’s the difference in a hike and a walk?  Not sure!

Home Away From Home, Vermont

Some Days are Just …

We had a 10:00 appointment with Evan to come look at the motor home engine this morning.  It was not raining so we felt that he would come and he did – at noon!  We pulled in the slides and unhooked everything and Jerry along with Evan took it for a short ride.  It actually started making the same noise before they got to the highway.  After they got back Evan said he really didn’t know what was wrong with the engine but said that it was low on transmission fluid so it could be that.  He said he would come back later to address that. 

We set back up and began to put the slides out and the kitchen slide started making a thumping noise.  I quickly pulled it back in but it wouldn’t go in all of the way.  The side near the door was not flush with the coach.  Several men tried to help push it in but it was just catawampus and no amount of pushing made a difference.  Oh well.  We were already scheduled to take it in September 20 for the bedroom slide.  Guess they will have two slides to work on now. We still have plenty of room to navigate in the motor home so it’s not a huge problem. Well, other than worrying about it that is.

Since it was after 1:00 we ate a quick lunch and then headed to Waterbury to Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  We walked into the store where there was everything “apple”.  We watched a short video on the making of cider and then wandered around the store.  Jerry asked if I wanted a Vermont sweatshirt and I replied not yet as I wasn’t sure I wanted to remember our trip thus far.  A day of heavy rain, an engine problem and a slide problem all within two days.  Geesh!

I went in the tasting room and bought a flight of their hard cider but didn’t find any that I really liked.  Guess I’m not an apple cider person.

We left the mill and decided to try to find an auto store to buy some fuel cleaner.  Our GPS sent us the wrong way and we ended up on yet another of Vermont’s muddy roads!  We finally found the store, made our purchase and then felt we needed to head back to the campground in case Evan came early.

He did come and put the transmission fluid in.  He didn’t know if that would make any difference but he told us that if it was still acting up when we left Monday morning to just stop by his place.  It’s only a few miles from here and on our way.  He thinks it could possibly be a fuel filter or a fuel pump.  Oh joy!

Thus ended a not very good day. Most RV blogs just relate the highs of RV Life but few tell of the problems that we encounter on the road. Today was our problem day but hey, God is still good and all will be well!

Home Away From Home, Vermont

Granite in Barre, Vermont

It was a very rainy day in Vermont today.  Jerry had talked with someone about the engine and he was supposed to come this morning at 10:00 but we knew that he probably couldn’t come due to the pouring rain.  Jerry finally called about 10:30 and the fellow arranged to come tomorrow barring rain.  Thus we had a short day in the rain.  What to do?

We decided to stay in Barre for the day and our first stop was the Vermont Granite Museum.  Policy indicates that not only must masks be worn but our temperature our was checked before we could pay our admission of $6.  That is the first time other than doctor’s offices that our temperatures have been taken.

The museum is located in the former Jones Brothers Manufacturing plant and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Part of the museum is a “workshop” used by artisans creating sculptures from granite. It was fascinating to follow the process beginning with the waxed figure and then the steps to the final granite sculpture.  There are many beginning sculptures around the plant in different stages of finishing. There are twelve sculptures around the town of Barre and it would have been fun to try to locate them but it was raining too hard for that.

Our next stop was Hope Cemetery which is described as a haunting work of art and indeed it is. We rode around amazed at the originality and intricacy of the monuments.  Although many were the usual block with name, dates of birth and death there were many that told a story of the person’s life including their hobbies. One had a car on top of it.  Another was a large soccer ball.  Perhaps the strangest one we saw was of two apparent granite beds with a husband and wife holding hands looking over beds.  Hard to describe! The monument was built by William Halvosa for his first wife who died in middle age.  Apparently, they were both readers and enjoyed reading in bed in the evening.  Halvosa was heartbroken after her death and he could often be seen at dusk sitting on “his side of the bed” reading to her.

When we were at the Vermont Granite Museum earlier we saw the model for the Elia Corti memorial He was a Italian stone carver who worked in Barre at the turn of the century. Coindcidetally we saw his memorial at the cemetery. We did notice as we rode through the cemetery that there were what appeared to be a lot of Italian surnames and wondered if maybe they had been granite workers.

Carver Louis Brusa carved some of the memorials out there but sadly died of silicosis or “stone cutter’s disease”.  His memorial is of a dying man slipping away, held by his wife.

Believe it or not we shared our picnic lunch in the cemetery!  Jerry asked a friend if he should be checking to see if I had bought life insurance for him.  Food and a cemetery didn’t sound good! I guess saying it was a peaceful lunch is a bit of an understatement.

We continued our rainy day adventure at the Rock of Ages Quarry.  The Craftsman Center is closed but they have a small museum and tours during the day rain or shine.  As we were signing up we were asked where we were from.  When we replied North Carolina, we were told that Rock of Ages has a quarry in Salisbury, North Carolina where they get the pink quarry.  We watched a short video about the quarrying and manufacturing process.  We still had a few minutes before the tour began so we were able to walk around the museum.  Included in the history of granite were replicas of monuments they had created.  Again, there were some odd ones!

Our tour guide had worked in the quarry for 30 years, retired and a few years later came back as a guide to share his experiences.  He was very knowledgeable. After an interesting talk which lasted longer due to the rain, we drove to the E.L. Smith Quarry.  At nearly 600 feet deep, it is the largest operating deep-hole granite quarry in the world.  Our tour guide related that he worked as a driller in the very bottom for years. Now nearly 300 feet of the quarry is covered by water which is used in the granite process. We learned that only 15% of the harvested granite is suitable for use.  The other 85% is called grout.

Smith Quarry

As we were leaving the quarry I entered the campground address in my Waze app and then the car GPS.  As usual, the car navigation was lost and Waze who usually takes us a pretty good route took us over the muddy roads of Vermont!  We did pass a maple syrup production area.  There were many maple trees all tied together by green tubing.  We could also see the clear tubing on the trees which would eventually tie into the green tubing.  Apparently someone is getting ready for the season.

Just a little wet!
Home Away From Home, Vermont

Shelburne Museum

Where can you go and see a steam ship, a lighthouse, antique dolls, horsedrawn carriages, circus performers and much more?  Shelburne Museum in Shelburne, Vermont .  When you pay your $25 admission fee you get admission for two days which is needed if you want to see everything.  As it was, we only had about three hours but we saw a lot! More about that later.

We started our day later than usual as it felt good to not have to go anywhere if we didn’t want to.  We had no appointments.  Since the weather was iffy with occasional rain we decided to go to Shelburne to the Morgan Horse Museum and the Shelburne Museum.

Little did we know that the Morgan Horse Museum had been moved to a neighboring town so that was a bust.  After discovering that and finding the Shelburne Museum location, we decided to have some lunch.  We both had gotten a little tired of picnics every day.  We went to Archie’s Grill and got passable hamburgers.

As we were riding along we happend to pass a Fire Hydrant Jack, a giant toy jacks game made of numerous welded-together fire hydrants. The sculpture was created as a tribue to the firefighters involved in 9/11.

Then on to Shelburne Museum.  Mask were required when inside buildings so it was a constant put on and take off. 

The founder of the museum, Electra Havemeyer Webb grew up in New York the daughter of Henry and Luisine Havemeyer who were avid collectors of European and Asian art. Mrs. Webb resolved to follow in their footsteps but instead focused on the arts of America.  When she founded the museum, it was with the intent to preserve her family’s collection of horse-drawn carriages but before long she realized that her vision would be much more far reaching, as she said, a “collection of collections” and ‘an educational project, varied and alive”. She scoured the countryside locating historic buildings that would abe ppropriate settings for her collections including houses, barns, and a jail among others.

Round Barn

Our first building was a round barn (round because it was easier to maintain) filled with ancient horse drawn carriages and sleds.  They even had a “surrey with the fringe on top”!  There were many carriages in other buildings as well.  It was quite easy to pick out the paddy wagon and the hearse!  We saw one wagon that proclaimed it could hold all of your possessions and I heard a young boy refer to it as an RV!

Surry with the fringe on top!

Our next stop was the building that housed the circus models.  All along nearly the entire length of the building was the Arnold Circus Parade comprised of hard carved circus models.  Lions, and tigers and bears, oh my! 

In addition, there were circus performers, circus wagons, clowns, acrobats and many and varied animals from elephants to rhinos.  On a 4,000 one-inch-to-one-foot scale the figures were lined up as a processional like those that used to be held the day before the circus would open.  The parade was more than 500 feet long. 

The second circus was a miniature three-ring Kirk Brothers Circus complete with an audience.  That collection comprised more than 3,500 pieces.  Edgar Kirk took over 40 years to made the figures using only a treadle jigsaw and a penknife!

We then headed to the 220-foot steamboat Ticonderoga, a luxury cruise ship and the last walking beam side-wheel passenger steamer in existence. It was built in 1906 at the Shelburne Shipyard on Lake Champlain. Today, the Ticonderoga portrays life on board in 1923 and what luxury there was.  The dining hall was set with tables for four with personalized china.  Beautiful!

Our next stop was the blacksmith’s, a very necessary profession in every village.  Today the blacksmith was making “S” hooks which would then be sold in the gift shop on the grounds.  We didn’t stay in there very long as the capacity limit was four so we were in and out quickly so others could go in. 

Another interesting building was called the Variety Building.  It housed toys (we didn’t go into that section) and dolls along with doll houses.  I don’t think I’ve ever been in a building that had so many dolls of all types from cloth to bisque to china and everything in between.  They also had a number of dolls made from papier mache´.  I didn’t even realize that early dolls were made from papier mache´.

We went into an old schoolhouse and I could just picture the students sitting on those hard benches.  On the wall was a blackboard and written in chalk were some old adages.  One I remember from when I was young. “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”  Just for reference I am not old enough to have attended a one-room school house!

As  we strolled around we came to a covered bridge.  The 168-foot bridge had two vehicle lanes and a footpath. There were a couple of warning signs indicating that speed should be no faster than foot traffic!

We also went into a church with very basic but cushioned pews which was a surprise to me. There was music softly playing in the background.

Our next stop was the Dorset House, a lovely Greek Revival architecture house that would today be considered a duplex.  The owner built it for his two daughters and the sides are identical.  It houses a collection of decoys that started with 1,400 and now, through donations, has increased substantially.

Our last stop was the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building.  We only had ten minutes to view the art collection which included works by Monet, Manet and Cassatt.  Oh, how I wish we had had more time.  I did “rush” (that’s what they told me to do) up the partially circular staircase to look at a few more pieces.  I glanced into Mr.Webb’s bedroom  which was so obviously a male’s bedroom with pictures of horses and hounds and a red bedspread on the bed.  Without even reading the information card I knew the room would be Mr. Webb’s.

Of course the scenic museum would not have been complete for me if it had not had a lighthouse and there in the center of the grounds was a beautifully restored lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1871 to mark three reefs between Vermont and New York. By the time Mrs. Webb discovered it in 1952 it had been abandoned so she had it dismantled and then reconstructed at the museum.  Unfortunately it was closed so we couldn’t go in.  Despite the number of lighthouses we have seen on this trip, and according to Jerry there have been a lot, we have not been able to go into a single one!

That ended our day at the Shelburne Museum.  There was so very much to see and we only scratched the surface.  Another day would have been nice but the museum closed at 4:00 and it was beginning to rain again so off we went.

Home Away From Home

From New Hampshire to Vermont

We often ask what ourselves what we did without a GPS and we know we got lost. Now with two GPS’s we quite often ask which GPS do we want to follow.  When we left our campground this morning in Twin Mountain, NH we had 91 miles to go on one and 92 on the other.  Pretty close.  We stopped for a few minutes at the Vermont Welcome Center for any information we could glean.  Back on the road we got to a point where Jerry’s Clarion said go left and my Garmin said go right.  Jerry went left.  Suddenly we were 50 some miles from our destination on his Clarion and 106 miles on my Garmin.  What in the world? Now who was lost?

Entering into Vermont provides incredible views of mountains, clouds – yes, the rain is coming – and views of where the sky meets the earth.  64 degrees is a little too cool for my flip flops though!  It is truly a “Sound of Music” vista.

When we were about 20 miles from our campground the motor home engine began making a strange noise almost like a chug a lug, like it was straining. We were towing and going up and down some pretty steep grades plus being on a curvy road where we could really not accelerate. 

We made it to Limehurst Lake Campground about 1:10 thank you Jesus.  We unhooked at the entrance and then Jerry drove around to park the coach.  We heard no noise but then he was going very slow.  It took a while to get hooked up as we couldn’t get the coach positioned correctly. We had to be near enough to connect to electricity, water and septic but far enough away to open the den slide.  After a couple of attempts we finally got it situated. 

We ate lunch and then headed out to Morse Sugarworks Farm where they produce maple syrup.  It would have been fun to watch the process but it was the wrong time of year for that.  Instead, we watch a very informative video about the syrup making process. Interestingly, it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup! No wonder it’s so expensive!

Across the way they had some “character wood” I had never heard of that but apparently they made characters out of the wood. The sign explained that he had a “spoof on politics, two perspectives on the elephant and the donkey.

We went into the gift shop and had a tasting of four different grades of maple syrup from light to dark.  We both liked the dark the best so we bought a small bottle.  Jerry had some maple ice cream – it tasted a lot like plain old vanilla ice cream to me.

We decided to try to find someone to diagnose the engine problem so we went to the local Ford dealership who sent us to Vermont Country Camper.  When we pulled up, I only saw one Class A in a sea of tag alongs. I know our chances of getting help were slim and we found out that they didn’t work on any motors. The gave Jerry some people to call.  He finally got in touch with a mobile tech who couldn’t come this afternoon (it was almost 5:00) but said to give him a call in the morning. Question is does he work on motors?  Another question looming in the back of my mind was does he work on slides? 

We stopped for very badly needed gas and then headed to the campground. As has become our pattern on our return to the campground we collapse for about an hour.  No talking, possibly a nap (not today) and a lot of reading. Jerry grilled hamburgers for dinner and then we settled in for the night.  Other than the Boston/Cape Cod KOA the campgrounds have been eerily quiet at night.  No campfires going around here! The weather continues to be cool although not as cool as Twin Mountain, NH.  Our windows are open and we are not using AC. 

Home Away From Home, New Hampshire

The Flume Gorge

It was another chilly morning as the temperature was 48 degrees when we woke up!  We are probably going to really suffer when we get back to the sweltering heat and humidity in North Carolina so we are enjoying the cooler weather in New Hampshire.

Our schedule today included a 9:00 entrance into the Flume Gorge at Franconia Notch State Park in the heart of the White Mountains and was only 12 miles from our campground.  The Flume is a natural gorge discovered in 1808 by a 93 year old woman who was out fishing and yes, you’re right. Her family didn’t believe her! At that time the gorge was a huge egg-shaped boulder suspended between the walls until a heavy rainstorm started a landslide that swept the boulder from its place.  This occurred in 1903 and the boulder has never been found  The same storm deepened the gorge and formed Avalanche Falls which we saw as we hiked through the area.  Today the gorge extends 800 feet and is at the base of Mount Liberty.

The Flume Gorge Trail is a two mile one way loop trail with many interesting highlights along the way. We passed Glacial Boulder on the way to the Pemigewasset River Covered Bridge. The bridge is closed to foot traffic but we were able to walk on a pathe that ran along the side of it.

Our next brief stop was at Boulder Cabin where we saw pictures of past times plus historical information.  There was a great deal of information about Mt. Washington.  Particularly interesting was the information about the Tip-Top House which was built to entertain guests and provide protection from the harsh weather.  There were several fires on Mt. Washington which ultimately destroyed the Tip-Top House leaving only its stone walls standing.  It was rebuilt and served as the Summit House for a number of years. It was refurbished in 1987 and recreated to approximately what it was in 1852.  Unfortunately, it was again closed for repairs so we didn’t get to go in when we visited Mt. Washington yesterday.

We passed by Table Rock which could actually almost be a table as it was flat enough.  I wondered if erosion would ever change the shape and Jerry said probably in 100,000 years however it was actually rushing waters that formed this section of granite that is now 500 feet long and 75 feet wide. I wasn’t too far off of the mark!

And then we began our ascent toward Avalanche Falls as we followed the path of the flume. There was a wooden path with occasional steps that led up as we walked beside the flowing water.  At the top we were able to look down at the rushing water. We continued our walk/hike as we passed Liberty Gorge, Sentinel Pine Bridge and Pool and then Wolf Den.  Wolf Den is a very narrow one-way den that leads up to the next level.  I went in and climbed as far as I could see and then stopped.  It was too close for me!  I heard a lady say that she went through and it was very tight and she had to use a flashlight part of the way plus she had difficulty getting out.  Nope, not for me.  I’m pretty adventurous but I’m not climbing into small caves and wolf dens! We had seen Bear Cave earlier and some children climbed up and out but I didn’t look to see how small the exit was.

Climbing to the Top!

The trail eventually led by to where else but the gift shop!  We looked around for a bit and I bought a sweatshirt (of course) and Jerry bought a t-shirt.  We then found a picnic table outside and had a lovely lunch. Since we have been in New Hampshire – all two days – the weather has been perfect.  Low 70’s and no humidity makes for perfect outside days. 

Our next stop was at the Basin which is accessed by going under an overpass.  Hearing the passing vehicles going over us was just a little odd to say the least.  The Basin is an area where the waterfall has carved out the rock in a circular pattern resembling a bowl.  Besides the actual Basin there are several streams that can be crossed along the path. I was astonished when I saw a number of people in the streams and before I knew it Jerry and I had taken off our shoes and put our feet in the cold, cold water.  Was it refreshing?  Not sure it was today but it would have been that day we hike 6-7 miles!

Yes we did!

The rest of the day was spent trying to decide what to do!  We rode to the Lost River Gorge but when we saw that it entailed 1,000 up and down steps, we decided to forego that.  On our way back to the campground we passed a dead moose on the side of the road.  There were two trucks there but I don’t know if either had hit the moose.  I tried to get Jerry to turn around but he assured me that he didn’t want to see a dead moose!

On to Vermont tomorrow!

Avalanche Falls
Home Away From Home, New Hampshire

Cold and Windy Mt. Washington

Since we had about 250 miles to go today, we got on up and on the road by 9:30.  Had I know it was going to take 6 hours we might have left even earlier!  The travel was split between Interstate and secondary roads.  While we were on the Interstate the second most frightening event since we’ve been RVing occurred.  Someone decided to change lanes and pulled right in front of us narrowly missing our front cap.  Jerry had to swerve off of the highway.  Thankfully there was enough shoulder to avoid what could have been a real disaster but the coach was rocking and a little more and it might have turned over.  It took a while for both of us to calm down from that.  Oh, how I wish Jerry had agreed to get the dash cam!

We had to travel through a couple of resort towns, narrow busy streets with both cars and people.  Sometimes when we are in heavy traffic, I will just look down rather than watch.  Today I covered my eyes.  We were that close to cars and trucks!

We finally arrived at Twin Mountain Motor Court and RV Park in Twin Mountain, New Hampshire a little after 3:00 on Saturday. It is a small park with very friendly and helpful owners and they have great WiFi!  We only have 30 amp rather than our usual 50 amp but the only difference that really makes is using one air conditioner instead of two.  The weather is so cool though that we haven’t even used the one AC.  A little taste of what our late North Carolina fall migh be. We opened the windows and enjoyed the cool air. It made for good sleeping until I woke up in the middle of the night freezing.

Unfortunately, we forgot to close all those windows we opened so when we woke up this morning it was a mite cold in the coach.  The temperature had gotten down to 52 degrees and we hadn’t even turned on the heat!  Jerry quickly closed the windows, turned on the heat and we were warm in no time.

Today was our day to ride the Mt. Washington Cog Train up to the summit.  We knew it was going to be cold up there so we dressed accordingly.  Fortunately, we keep some winter things in the coach and they came in handy this morning.

There are two trains that go to the top, one a biodiesel and one a steam.  We chose the steam engine although it is slower but I felt more authentic. The steam engine train takes about an hour to reach the top of Mt. Washington as it only goes 3 mph while the biodiesel goes 5 mph.  Either way you don’t rapidly ascend!  The mechanics behind the cog engine are quite interesting and the best explanation I heard was to compare it to a bicycle chain.  Once I pictured that, the process of the cog  became much clearer. 

Mt. Washington in the highest peak in the Northeast and the weather is very extreme.  Today, August 15, the temperature was 40 degrees with a wind chill of 26 degrees and 43 mph winds out of the Northeast.  Supposedly Mt.  Washington has the worst weather in America and many have died from the harsh weather while hiking the trails, even in the summer.  Our brakeman, Eli, told us that there were frequent rescues by helicopter.  He is a member of the rescue team.

When we got to the top and walked out of the door of the train car, I was stunned by the blast of cold wind that hit me in the face and wow was it frigid!  We had on our heavy coats and gloves with our hoods over our heads.  The wind was fierce.  We walked around a bit, got our picture taken at the Mt. Washington sign and then went inside where we learned about the Climb to the Clouds auto race that was occurring today.  There were 80 cars participating.  Normally it takes 30 minutes to drive up to the summit but these races can do it in 5-6 minutes one at a time.  It is a 7.6 mile climb with 138 turns. We watched several coming flying up.  I don’t know who “Travis” was but everyone was excited that he was racing today because he was supposed to be the best! I later learned that Travis Pastrana set a time of 5 minutes 28.670 seconds on his first run to claim overall honors for the competition. I can’t even imagine!

We went up to the summit and got our picture taken and then walked up to the observatory.  As cold as it was there were a number of people walking around in shorts!  Unbelievable.  Notably, most of them were young folks!

After our ride back down the mountain we returned to the coach and had lunch.  Then we were on our way to the Kancamagus Highway in search of  Sabbaday Falls.  Kancamagus Highway was not at all what I expected as I guess I was thinking of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.  The road was lined with trees and views of the White Mountains were infrequent.  There are a number of trails leading off of the highway but you would have to have some knowledge of each trail.  We finally reached Sabaday Falls trailhead.  The trail was only .3 of a mile, but as Jerry has often commented it was uphill – both ways! 

We have seen a lot of waterfalls over the years and I guess have gotten a little jaded but it was surprising to see how lovely the Sabbaday Falls were.  We actually ended the trail at the bottom of the falls but then gradually accessed the top by climbing flights of stairs.  The legend is that one Saturday with winter quickly approaching some workers building a local road decided it was time to stop work.  They hid their tools planning to return the following spring however before leaving they named the gentle brook Sabbaday for the Sabbath Day.  They never returned but the name endured.

Our next stop was at a Vendors Fair in Lincoln.  We had noticed it when we went through on the way to Kancamagus Highway and decided we would stop on our way back.  Jerry was hoping to get some ideas for our church’s fall bazaar.  He did see some cute sled Christmas ornaments that he might make for each of the grandchildren.  Other than that, most of the tents were more commercial than crafty.

Next, we stopped at Flume Gorge to get some information and after talking with the representative we decided that Tuesday would be a good day for that.  We returned to the campground, had dinner, made reservations for for the Flume Gorge and called it a night!

We made it!
Home Away From Home, Maine

Our Last Day in Acadia

Today was in some ways very frustrating but it finally turned out to be a good day, just different.  We both woke up tired but determined to go one more day to Acadia.  Then Jerry began having trouble with both of his hearing aids. While he worked on them, I went over to the nearby bakery to see about getting a blueberry pie.  Regrettably, they were a cash only business and I didn’t have $32 with me so no pie.  Then as we left the campground, I spilled coffee on my shirt so we returned so I could change shirts.  All of this made us getting to the park later than usual and as soon as we drove in we could tell it was a lot busier than earlier in the week.

Our goal was the Gorge Trail but as has happen often this week Jerry drove by it before he realized it and then we had no alternative but to complete the entire loop road to get back to it.  We knew by that time there would be no parking at all so that was a bust.

So far, our day was not starting out too good.  The traffic was quite bad and there were long lines of parking on the right side of the road plus people walking to and fro.  It looked like an accident waiting to happen but everything was safely done believe it or not.

We headed to the rocky shore where we had spent time earlier in the week.  I could sit and gaze at the water while listening to the waves crashing for a long time and I did!

We decided next we would go back to Jordan Pond to see if the restaurant was opened today and it was.  However it didn’t open until 11:00.  Since we had over an hour to kill we decided we’d try to find Jordan Cliffs.  We misread the sign.  We thought it said .3 mile to  Jordan Cliffs. What it said was .3 mile to Jordan Cliff trail!  It was a steep and rocky climb for .3 of a mile.  There was no breeze at all in the arbored covered trail.  When we realized we had another mile to go Jerry said nope and we ended up on the carriage road.  We walked along and tried to stay out of the way of the cyclists and really didn’t know where we were headed.  We finally asked a cyclist and he said we were on the way to Jordan Pond but if we really wanted good popovers to go to Asticou Inn in Northeast Harbor.  We finally reached the restaurant and I stood in an already very long line to find out we would have a 45 minute wait.  Nope, we were on our way to Northeast Harbor.

Asticou Inn is a lovely setting and we ate out of the balcony overlooking the harbor.  I had a plate of oysters on the half shell and they were delicious, smaller than our North Carolina oysters though.  We both enjoyed hot popovers with butter and strawberry jam.

As we were doing our return ride around Loop Road, we saw a sign for  Schooner Head Overlook. We hadn’t been there so we turned in.  We looked over the Atlantic Ocean at Bear Island and yet another lighthouse.  Jerry was so excited!

We continued our ride through to the rocky shore to wait for our 2:30 appointment to go to Cadillac Mountain.  We got very close to the water and watched as the tide rolled in.  We saw a family of ducks gliding down the shoreline dipping their heads in for food.  We also got a glimpse of a seal.  We saw his head and then his body as he was gliding into the water.  

A family of ducks

Our final stop was Cadillac Mountain. We were amazed at the sight before us as it was vastly different from our view Tuesday evening.  It’s amazing to think there are so many islands and harbors out over the picturesque view but they were all shrouded in fog on Tuesday.  I can now see why everyone says you must visit Cadillac Mountain.

Cadillac Mountain

Thus ended our trip to Acadia National Park.  It is a very large, lovely park but some things made it very difficult for us.  Of course, the fog for two days blocked any views we might have seen but weather is one thing that you can’t guarantee, sort of like sighting whales on a whale tour!  The difficult part was the one way loop road.  If we missed our parking area which was very easily done, we had to make an entire loop to get back to that point. Perhaps if we had been visiting the park when the number of visitors had not been so high it may have made some difference but with the crowds this year it was nearly impossible to return to a spot.  

Home Away From Home, Maine

Jordan Pond

The alarm went off at 6:00 this morning and I didn’t know if I could make it.  Jerry said he wasn’t sure I was going to get up and if I didn’t, he wasn’t going to wake me.  I drug myself up and headed to the shower. I was a bit dismayed when I looked out the window and saw that once again the fog was very dense.  In fact, this was the first morning that we had heavy fog at the campground.   An hour later though we were on the road to Acadia and Jordan Pond.

Amazingly we immediately got a parking place and were on the Jordon Pond trail by 7:50 plus as a bonus the fog was lifting!  At one point the trail divides and we decided to go left.  It is a 3.4 mile loop trail that follows the shore line of Jordan Pond so we were going to get both sides anyway.  I’m glad we chose the left side because it is a bit more challenging so it was nice to have a more moderate walk on the down side.

The first mile or 1/3 of the trail is on plank boards, two boards width.  It was an easy walk and had occasional platforms to wait on when people needed to pass.  Only one section was a bit off of the ground and it had railing on either side.

The tricky part came when the we neared the big boulders but hey, we practiced yesterday didn’t we?  We carefully navigated the boulders with no difficulty and actually it was fun.  After the boulders we reached a lovely bridge which marked the halfway point of the trail.  As we walked on, we began to meet more people.  The trail was not crowded at all when we started but the number of people began to increase as we neared the end and I would think it would eventually become very crowded throughout the day.

We had checked the restaurant when we arrived and saw that the notice regarding being closed due to Covid was replaced with one just stating that the restaurant was closed for the day.  No mention of further dates.  When we arrived the bathrooms were locked and I wondered if that was a Covid protocol but they were opened when we returned from our hike.  The gift store was also opened but masks were required and only a few people were allowed in at a time.  Since we were not in the shopping mode although I did see a sweatshirt that I would have like to have if I hadn’t already bought one, we didn’t linger long.

We headed to the car and anxious folks wanting our parking place.  We sat in the car for a few minutes trying to decide exactly what we were going to do next and finally to Jerry’s delight we decided to go to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse.  We knew it was in Tremont but we had no address so we just headed in that direction.  There was little signage so we turned at Bass Harbor and finally asked someone where it was.  We were probably a quarter of mile away when we asked!

The parking lot only has 27 spaces so you can imagine the backlog of cars.  We were in a line and when one car pulled out of the lot, another one pulled in.  We finally got a space and headed to the lighthouse.  By this time the fog that had lifted in Acadia was pretty thick there.  We were right up next to the lighthouse but of course there was no access.  We could hear repeated fog horns so we knew boats were in the area but we couldn’t see a thing.

We walked back to the parking lot and as Jerry headed to the car I headed to the other end of the lot and down the stairs to the rocks below where I could actually see part of the lighthouse. If Jerry had been with me, I would have tried to go a bit lower to get a better view but I decided not to risk it.  The wonder of it all was the boats and the kayaks suddenly appearing.  There was no fog.  No wonder the fog horn was blowing continuously.

The best I could do!

We returned to Southwest Harbor which was full of boats.  We had a nice quiet, enjoyable lunch with a lovely view.

Our next stop was Bar Harbor.  Jerry wanted to see it during the day and I wanted to see the waterfront.  Although busy it was nothing like it was when we went down earlier in the week.  We found a parking place on the waterfront and then walked around the dock. There was an absolutely huge boat there and I later learned that it was owned by the gentleman who bought the World Trade Center just months before 911!  It was one big yacht!  We continued to walk around and found a bench overlooking the bay.   We sat there for a while watching a lone loon continuously ducking down into the water.  There must have been some good food there.

We bought a couple of cones of ice cream and no I didn’t get chocolate.  They didn’t have any so I got mint chocolate!  We took our cones across the street to Gaumont Park and sat on the grass while we ate them.

Back to Acadia we went hoping that since it was later in the day some of the traffic had dissipated.  It had not!  We rode along Loop Road again but the difference was this time we could actually see the water because there was no fog.  Jerry was afraid he was getting a blister on his foot so walking was out.  We just rode in a long line of cars and looked at the view.  By the time we got to the two direction lanes we were, along with several other cars, behind six very slow scooters.  No one wanted to pass them – well, there was a double yellow line – and they must have been afraid to go any faster.  I could understand their reluctance.

Since we had noticed a sign for Fabbri Overlook and picnic area every time we had ridden by, we decided to make a stop there. It was a pretty view of Otter Cove plus we could see Little Hunter’s Beach from there.

Our next top was at Sieur de Monts where the nature center and museum are located.  Our first stop was the Spring Canopy which was built by Georg Orr. It was all glassed in and because of the shadows we couldn’t even see into it.  Unfortunately, the museum is not opened this year so we continued on through the “Wild Gardens of Acadia” which was a guide to many if not all of the native plants.  I didn’t realize that there were so many varieties of ferns and that so many grew in this area.  It was a lovely one-way stroll although we had passed the time for most of the plants to bloom.

Back to the car and to the traffic.

We tried to get into Cadillac Mountain but couldn’t so decided to try to make another reservation for tomorrow.  Hopefully there won’t be any fog!

We absolutely loved the slice of blueberry pie we had for dinner last night so Jerry suggested we try to buy a pie.  Instead of going back to the restaurant though he remembered a bakery very  near the restaurant so he headed there.  Unfortunately, they were closed but they will be opened tomorrow at 7:00 am.  Guess where Jerry will be before we head out to Carriage Roads.

It was a fun filled and long day although neither of us was as exhausted as we were yesterday.  Although we didn’t walk 6-7 miles like we did yesterday we still got in nearly 12,000 steps.  That’s a good day’s work!

Home Away From Home, Maine

Gorham Trail in Acadia

Both alarms did go off this morning at 6:00 and I must admit we were a bit slower hopping out of bed.  In fact, although we were up 15 minutes earlier we left 10 minutes later than yesterday.  Our ultimate goal for the day was Gorham Trail.  It had almost everything a challenging hike should have except … the view.  Another foggy day!

Our first stop was Sand Beach.  We easily found parking and walked down to the fogged in beach.  It was a bit eerie to hear the crashing waves but not be able to see them.  Interestingly, folks were getting ready for the day with their chairs all set up.  One person was already laying out in the “sun”.  Don’t think he got much tan today!

Where are the waves?

We headed on down or was it up to Gorham Trail and were able to get a parking spot in the Gorham Trail lot near the trailhead.  I’ve read the descriptions of the trail and it’s supposed to 1.6 miles on a heavily traffic trail ascending 525 feet.  The trail is rated moderate but I thought it was a bit difficult.  The entire trail was boulder climbing!  When there were no boulders to mount, there were roots to avoid but mostly it was boulders! 

I had worn my warm sweatshirt because it was cool this morning but I quickly shed it and wrapped it around my shoulders as the intense hiking warmed me up quite a bit!  I couldn’t tell if the water dripping was dew or sweat. Oh wait, Southern girls glisten, don’t they?  There was not a lot of conversation as we trekked up that mountain and it was another prime example of look where you are walking.  I’m sure I missed some pretty nearby scenery but my eyes were fixed on the path.  I even missed the wild growing blueberries but Jerry saw some and got me a few.  They were good!

We reached the top, sat down and had a Kind bar and some water.  As we were sitting there, we suddenly realized that nope, we were not at the top.  We still had more climbing to do so up we went!  The top was just a bit further up but we made it.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t see a thing beyond the edge of the rocks.  One day …

We began our descent down and, as we had been told, it was more treacherous and had  more boulders than the ascent.  We even got off the trail one time and had to circle back a bit.  The trail is marked by cairns and blue paint on the boulders and trees.  Someone needs to go up with a can of blue spray paint because most of the time those marks were hard to see.  As we descended it began to rain.  Luckily the trees sheltered us from the heavier raindrops but the rocks became even more slippery. 

We finally made it back to the road and wait – where was the car? We did not end up where we started.  In fact, it was difficult to determine where exactly we were.  Do we go left of right?  Jerry thought it was right so on to the highway we went climbing uphill again.  By the way, Jerry says there are four directions in Maine: Uphill East, Uphill West, Uphill North and Uphill South!  Not sure I can agree with that logic but this trek was uphill and we didn’t know if we were right.  We finally saw someone we had seen earlier on the trail and they assured us we were going in the right direction but it was probably about a mile uphill.  We had to pass Thunder Hole and Otter Point before we got back to the parking lot.  We paused at the Thunder Hole entrance wondering whether we should try to see it again.  When we saw the throngs of people there we just kept going.

We finally reached the beautiful red car. What a relief!

Our next stop if we were lucky was going to be Jordan Pond.  We decided that we would have an early lunch there if we could find a parking spot and believe it or not, we got a spot.  We headed to the restaurant only to see a lady putting a sign up on the door saying the restaurant was closed due to an employee having Covid and would reopen when contact tracing had been completed. We didn’t even get any of the famous poppers. 

We just came on back to the campground.  It was not even noon and we were exhausted, wet and chilled.  As soon as we got in, I took off my boots and hit the sofa with my warm throw.  I didn’t even eat lunch.  Jerry did eat some lunch and then retired to the bedroom for his nap!  It had been an exhausting morning but a very good one.

We needed some Internet connectivity and it’s very poor at the campground so we headed in Ellsworth to a MacDonald’s to see if we could connect there. We couldn’t so we just decided we’d deal with that when we get home. A quick dash to Walmart for some groceries and back to the campground.

Looking a little worse for the wear I donned a cap and off we went for dinner. We went right across the street to Gateway Lobster Pound. Jerry had clam chowder and I had a lobster roll. We toppped it off with hot blueberry pie and ice cream! What a way to end a foggy day!