DC Area and Elkhart IN

Just a quick post to keep all up to date…but really there’s not much to report.

After our few days in the Tunkhannock PA area…we hitched up Friday morning and made the 335 mile trip down to the Washington DC area, parking at our usual campground at Bull Run Regional Park in site 113…where amazingly enough we actually had satellite visibility for a change…where we were scheduled to attend the Cassaday and Company Annual Symposium on Saturday. Cassaday is our financial advisor and do an annual meeting for those investors…we were speaking on a panel about RVing full time for some of their clients who have questions. The session was well attended with about 50 people…including Steve Cassaday the owner of the company, and he actually had a couple of questions for the panel. After that we headed home for the evening as we were due to depart early Sunday morning.

Sunday and Monday were a drag…379 and 333 miles respectively…with a stop every 50 miles to check the torque on our bad axle. Neil put a second nut on top of the one that keeps coming loose and every 50 miles it was stop, pull the dust cap and second nut, check the torque, reinstall and torque the second nut and reattach the dust cap. We stopped overnight in Cambridge OH and arrived at the MORRyde factory in Elkhart IN about 1630 on Monday.

Tuesday morning we met with the service manager Rob Kolean…who confirmed what we already knew that they already had a full service schedule this week but he always makes room for emergencies. He told us it would probably be Thursday morning before we could start work…and after discussing our needs, current status of our suspension, and our rig’s mileage we came up with a plan for repair and replacement of both the failed wheel but to redo the other 5 axles as well to prevent this happening again next year. Our repairs would take 2 full days so with a planned estimated start on Thursday we headed off early Wednesday morning to Classy Chassis about 70 miles west in Valparaiso IN…we had a couple of minor issues with Big Red we needed to get taken care of…and given that Tom’s folks had experience with our truck build decided to take advantage of that.

We had lost power to our rig side and rear view cameras…Tom’s tech quickly isolated the problem to a bad fuse holder which he replaced. We were originally going to get our two 7 pin connectors where the trailer brake and light cable connects replaced…but Rob called and said he might be able to get us into the bay about 1100…so we just bought the parts and Neil will replace them when he gets a chance.

The 1100 start work thing didn’t actually happen…the folks in the bay we will b going into decided on some extra work…by the time that was done and they left it was almost 1600 so Rob will be moving us into the empty bay at 0600 tomorrow to start work. Unless they find some other problem…he’s going to assign enough techs to get us done by Friday afternoon.

So hopefully we will be fixed and out of here on Saturday morning…we’ve got a 3 day transit scheduled back to the Richmond area to visit grand baby Alex…it’s about the same number of miles (750 or so) that we did int 2 days getting here to Elkhart…so it should be a slightly more relaxed transit on the way back.

Gotta say though…the weather sucks here. It got all the way up to 47 today and is going to be below 32 tonight…we gotta get out of this place. When we leave…we’re heading south to Lexington KY and then east on I-64 to the Richmond area where we’ve got reservations starting Monday night.

That’s about it…sorry no pictures today because we’ve been transiting and have definitely not been doing any Fun Stuff© this week.

Cyas.

Advertisements
Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

CT, PA, Disasters…and Bananas

After our leaf peeping trip and CT state capital trip…we had one more day of Fun Stuff© scheduled for CT…we headed out to the Apple Harvest Festival in Southington just south of Hartford. It turned out to be not nearly as good as the festival we went to up at Mount Snowe…unfortunately it was big enough so that instead of all locally produced stuff and craftsmen it attracted a whole bunch of professional festival vendors who were selling mostly imported Chinese crap. There was still some good stuff…but not nearly as high a percentage. We spent a couple of hours wandering around looking at stuff…Connie bought several nice things…and we spent a pleasant 30 minutes at the Oktoberfest run by and out in front of the local Elks Lodge in Southington. There was even music at the Oktoberfest…if you can call what those two guys were doing music…we certainly didn’t.

Following that we headed home and spent the holiday (Columbus Day) at home in the rig…no reason to go out and fight with the crowds and traffic…Columbus Day is a bigger deal up here than we’re used to in the south.

And that was when the first disaster happened…a little fella named Hurricane Michael. Just like Harvey a couple of years back…he sprung directly to life in the Gulf of Mexico close to Yucatan instead of starting all the way over by the west coast of Africa and slowly making his way across the Atlantic. Nope…not ol’ Mike…he started as an Invest…that’s the technical term the weather weenies use before it’s even a tropical depression…then went from a depression to a storm to a hurricane in like 3 days…then intensified to almost a category 5 hurricane before making landfall today in the Panama Beach area on the FL panhandle. The drawback was that the storm is about 300 or 400 miles wide and passed within about 150 miles of our upcoming destination at the Low Key Hideaway in Cedar Key…with predicted storm surges of 10-12 feet which would put the Tiki Bar under about 3-4 feet of water and trash all the campsite utility hookups as well. As I write this…the hurricane is ashore but we still don’t know whether the campground will even be open by the time we were supposed to be there on Oct 22. Our original plan was a wait and see attitude…we figured that after the storm we would get in touch with Maureen and Frank to make a decision depending on how trashed Cedar Key was by the storm.

Notice…I said our original plan…that changed Tuesday morning as we got ready to leave Thomaston. As you recall a few weeks back we had a failed axle bearing on our rig…which was fixed by MORRyde sending us a replacement part via FedEx. That arrived and Neil installed it including torquing it to the correct 150 ft-lbs of torque. Well…Tuesday morning as he was doing his outside stuff he decided to grab that wheel and see if it was still tight…the answer was no although not nearly as loose as it was before. He pulled the dust cap off and re-torqued the nut…with no grease coming out of the bearing so there’s no obvious damage at this point…but since the nut came loose with 3 travel days totaling about 400 miles total there’s clearly something else amiss. 

Neil called and talked to the MORRyde folks…they concurred with him that something is wrong and needs to be looked at…so the correct answer is to head to MORRyde and let their experts fix it since they build the suspension on our rig. 

After re-torquing the nut…and we’ll continue to do that every travel day until we get it fixed…we headed on down to our next stop in Tunkahannock PA just outside Scranton…arriving at Cozy Creek Campground after our 190 mile trip. We got set up in site 78…they originally told us to take 72 but there was somebody in it when we got back there…they then offered us 74 but it wouldn’t have satellite visibility so we agreed on 78 with them. Nice site…full hookups although a bit angled front to back…but nothing we couldn’t level around. After setup…very minimal since we’re only here for 3 nights…we headed out to Kelly’s Creekside Inn…a local dive bar where we had brews and dinner…a cheese quesadilla for Connie and a cheese steak for Neil…both were really good, the brews were cold, and the locals were friendly.

Wednesday we headed out about 0900 to go and visit the Steamtown National Historical Site…basically a train museum. We wandered around an hour or so…couldn’t really get very interested in them as they were just trains…and then headed off.

Ya thought I fergot ‘bout them bananas…right? Nosiree…I didna do it so here goes.

I’ll have to ‘splain it to ya a bit though…

Back in the 70s…there was this folk singer named Harry Chapin…his most famous song was “Cat’s in the Cradle”…he mostly couldn’t really sing much and his songs were typically ballad like…very similar to those done by Gordon Lightfoot of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” fame.

Back then he also had this song named “30,000 Pounds of Bananas”…ya guessed it, that’s where the reference comes in. Now most of you have probably never heard this song so let me give you a little background.

Way back on March 18, 1965 a 35 year old truck driver named Eugene P. Sesky was on his way to deliver a load of bananas to Scranton PA…he was returning from the piers in Weehawken NJ and was headed for the wholesale grocer block in Scranton PA…He was headed down PA-307 into town…this road drops 500 feet in less than 1.5 miles as it comes off the ridge into town…when his brakes failed. The song details his attempts to slow the truck down…but despite his efforts he was doing about 90 mph when he got to town. He knew that there was a gas station at the bottom of the hill…and he was mightily concerned not for his own life but for those of his fellow residents in Scranton. Hanging out on the truck’s running board…he yelled at people to get out of the way and eventually…according to local legend… deliberately crashed his truck at the corner of Music Street and South Irving Avenue a couple blocks before he would have crashed into the gas station resulting in a fireball and many dead folks. As it was…there were 15 injuries…and tragically Eugene was the only fatality.

The accident was cleaned up and mostly forgotten…until Harry Chapin…this was before he was famous…was traveling out of Scranton on a bus and heard the story being relayed by other passengers on the bus. Being a musician…and having a local hero…he naturally wrote a song about it, recorded it later, and went on with life.

But…the rest of the story as Paul Harvey used to say.

Old Harry’s original recording was of the typical 3-4 minute variety that was designed for play on the radio…but he also liked to have what he called alternate endings to his songs…then his band used these alternate endings which made the entire song last 20 or 30 minutes…in live concerts. The primary reason for them was probably to extend the length of the song and hence lower the number of songs they needed to have on the program…but a lot of these longer versions of the songs actually made a lot more sense and provided a lot more humor.

In the much longer version that Neil heard way back then…the original ending talked about 30,000 pounds of scattered bananas…but I the much longer version there were a couple alternate endings. First up was one that went “Yes, we have no bananas, bananas in Scranton PA.” sung to the tune normally associated with the first phrase of that ending. According to the song…it was with some trepidation that he played it for the band…and their reaction was best summed by his brother John who said in his deep baritone voice “Harry, it sucks.”. So he want back to the drawing board and came up with another one…this one he said was a country-western version since the song already had a truck in it. This ending talks about a woman…presumably the widow…who because of her sorrow over the accident never eats bananas. Once again John’s reaction was “Harry, it sucks.”. So he went back…and there was a lot of talk about thinking about it and wondering how to end the song that he came up with the final ending which goes “I asked this old guy who saw the wreck what he say” and his reply…in your typical old man of the country voice was “Boy…it sure musta been something. Jus’ imagine…30,000 pounds of mashed bananas.”

Connie and Neil have been joking for going on 40something years now about “He was picking up speed, heading into Scranton PA”…so we decided to head in into downtown and see if there was some sort of memorial or marker at the spot. A quick check with Wikipedia revealed the coordinates to us…so off we went.

You can read the page about the song here…and hear it…but I’m not sure if the version linked to on that page has all the alternate endings in it. 

In any event…it’s actually a pretty great song for a live concert as there’s audience participation in it and back in those days involving the audience at concerts was the thing to do. And since Connie and Neil have been talking about it for 40something years…and since we were in Scranton PA…we just had to go see it.

OK, on to pictures.

The sand sculpture at the Apple Harvest Festival in Southington.

D75 5319

The 790…the oldest at 115 years old…steam locomotive at Steamtown. There are probably going on 50 old locomotives and train cars here…and almost all of them are steam. A couple of the early diesel locomotives owned by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&R) railroad are represented alone with a customized Pullman care that the president of the railroad used for his personal transportation are included…but it’s mostly old steam locomotives. There’s a whole numbering system for them…it has to do with the number of drive wheels and the number of non drive wheels and something else as I recall…but we’re not railroad geeks enough to know the difference. They also run train tourist tours around the local area…the first train of the day during the summer is steam but the rest are all steam locomotive powered.

D75 5321

The round table where locomotives were switched between tracks. They rolled onto the center section when then revolved in train wheels to the track…or garage position…they needed to be in. The historical site is on the location of the old DL&T train yard…the station downtown is beautiful and is now the local Radisson hotel.

D75 5322

Two of the old steam locomotives and a caboose from the early 1900s.

D75 5324

They musta stole this from either the Roadrunner of Wiley Coyote.

D75 5327

Looking up Moosic Street (PA-307 from the eastern side of South Irving. The hill beyond is where the truck was coming down…it’s a lot steeper than it looks in the image. Over Neil’s left shoulder behind him is the gas station that the driver crashed to prevent getting into the gas station. The house on the right is the one that the truck crashed into…when Neil got out to take the photo a guy in the yard asked him why he was there. Turns out he and his wife moved into the house a couple months after the accident and have lived there ever since. Nice couple…friendly and they said we weren’t the first ones to stop by and look. The corner of the house needed repair as well as the yard afterwards. The bananas…they were pretty much smashed right where he was standing for this shot.

D75 5333

I grabbed the following image of the crash from the web and the corresponding view from google maps street view.

In this one…take note of the two windows to the left and dormer to the right as well as the tilted pole…also the house in the background with the 3 high windows and the lower ones along with the position of the two telephone poles.

Scr bananas

This image from street view was taken from about the position of Li’l Red in the photo above showing the corner of the house the truck bounced off of…you can see the same windows, dormers, and the high winds in the background house as well as the two poles. 

MoosicAndSouthIrving

While all of that probably matters to nobody but us…we’ve always liked that song and found the location interesting…strange how the neighborhood, houses and telephone poles have changed very little in the past 53 years.

Our second day of Fun Stuff© in northeast PA was a planned drive to see some leaves, take in the Nicholson Bridge which is a railroad aqueduct that was constructed by the DL&W back in 1915, and check out a couple of breweries and wineries.

Unfortunately…it pretty much rained all day so even though we didn’t leave until 1300 most of our afternoon was spent in and out of rain, fog, and drizzle…but we did get a few nice photos along the way.

This is the Nicholson Bridge…it’s the longest at 2,300 feet  and highest poured concrete railroad structure in the world according to the history…basically it was built to carry the DL&W from one ridge to the other side of the valley…or hollow…or holler as they’re known in these parts. This first shot isn’t the greatest…but we noticed a train headed across it and Neil grabbed this frame so you could have some scale of how big this thing is.

D75 5335

After the train passed we went ‘round the corner on the road and found a spot to get a decent photo of the whole thing.

D75 5340 AuroraHDR2018 edit

We spotted a few nice leaves…but due to the lousy weather this was the bet shot we could get along our 70 or so mile drive.

D75 5347

This was taken on the Adventure Portion of our drive today.

D75 5348

Along the way we stopped at Endless Brewing where we sampled a couple of brews and then had a half pint each of their Maple Brown Ale…pretty tasty. The second brewery…Two Dogs and a Guy…was closed today due to a personal issue of some sort. Our final two stops were at Hidden Creek Winery and then Nimble Hill Vineyards…both had excellent wines but Hidden Creek’s were better and we brought home 6 bottles fro there and another pair from Nimble Hill.

We got back to the rig and made dinner…Neil cooked up some linguini and made a sauce out of baked winter squash, bacon, pecans, and cream…along with spices of course…and topping it all off with grated Parmesan…really yummy.

Interesting things found on the net.

I really can’t figure out how the illiterate folks will get any benefit from this sign.

IlliterateFreeHelp

How to make sure your co-workers really hate you.

MakeCoworkersHateYou

The Stairs of Death…imagine trying to walk down these when you’ve had too many wines or brewskis.

StairsOfDeath

So very, very true.

CatsDontText

I found the square root.

FoundTheSquareRoot

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Connecticut State Capital Day Trip

Before I get into the actual blog post here…Neil said he needs to take over the keyboard for a bit…feel free to skip a few paragraphs if you want.

Neil here…

I gotta tell ya…I’m really, really disappointed by this whole Supreme Court nomination nonsense.

Now let me tell you I’m not really a great fan of the president and I think I would have picked a nominee for SCOTUS with a little less potential baggage since Judge Kavanaugh was on both Ken Starr’s team that prosecuted President Clinton and on President Bush’s White House staff.

Now I understand that liberals would be against a conservative judge on SCOTUS…but the last time I checked any debate over a judicial nominee was about his or her qualifications and not about un-provable allegations.

Judge Kavanaugh has shown remarkably calm demeanor on the bench the past 12 years on the DC circuit…and understandably got pissed at the ongoing character assassination being conducted by the Democrats in the Senate.

I watched part of Dr. Ford’s testimony and she appeared reasonably credible…but I also watched Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony and he was equally as credible. The simple truth is that unless there is a witness to the contrary…any claim that she makes and any denial that he makes reduces to a simple he said/she said situation.

Dr. Ford, her attorneys, and the FBI have produced exactly zero evidence of any sort that corroborates her claim…affiliates from her husband and people who say she told them about it in the past few years aren’t evidence at all.

Senator Feinstein deliberately withheld Dr. Ford’s letter from the rest of the Judiciary Committee until the last minute simply because it was to the Democrat’s political advantage to do so. Her sole purpose…and that of all of her Democratic colleagues…was and is to delay the confirmation vote until after the mid-term elections in the hopes of taking control of the Senate. Sure…they’re pissed that Garland didn’t get a vote by the Republican majority senate during the last year of President Obama’s term…but there was some precedent for that and the Republican’s emphatically did not essentially make up un-provable accusations against him…they simply chose not to bring him to a vote. This was wrong in my opinion…elections have consequences…and he should have been given an up or down vote. The Democrats have a good reason to be irritated about that…but descending to the current charade will simply encourage the other side to respond in kind the next time there’s a Democratic President nominating a justice for SCOTUS.

Senator Hirono said last that week that we should believe Dr. Ford’s story and disbelieve Judge Kavanaugh’s denials simply because she is a woman and “women never lie about sexual assault. Excuse me? Remember Tawana Brawley and her rape allegations…and the Duke Lacrosse team case? Women do lie about sexual assault sometimes…and to demand that she be believed just because she is a woman is wrong.

Senator Hirono also said last week that “innocent until proven guilty”…doesn’t apply in this case. Excuse me? That principle of law has been in effect since the 3rd or 4th century in Rome…the burden of proof falls on the accuser.

So let’s talk about the evidence Dr. Ford claims exists.

Her story has changed 3 or 4 times.

She can’t remember where the party was, when it was, how she got there, or how she got home…and she admittedly  was drinking…but she’s 100% certain that it was Judge Kavanaugh who groped her.

She remembers witnesses who were there and gave their names…each of these witnesses has submitted statements under penalty of perjury that it either didn’t happen or that they have no knowledge of it and do not know Judge Kavanaugh.

The Democrats demanded…and received…an additional FBI inquiry. Last week…they were praising the integrity of the FBI. The FBI was tasked with investigating credible allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh. The FBI interviewed every person save one (who declined to be interviewed) who might have relevant first hand information. They did not interview either Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh as both of them had already testified under oath and had no further information to provide. I would have had the FBI interview both of them…but I can understand why they did not. The FBI investigation found no…zero…none…corroborating evidence to any of the allegations they investigated.

Now the Democrats have stated that the investigation was a sham and that the FBI intentionally ignored the facts to report what they were told to report. Excuse me? That is nothing other than political BS…the Democrats don’t like the outcome of the investigation…so naturally it’s a sham.

Sorry folks…even if you don’t like Judge Kavanaugh or his interpretations of the constitution…this entire circus has been nothing but a political stunt to ignore the results of the election in 2016 and get their way. As President Obama said…elections have consequences…and no matter how much the Democrats stamp their feet…they lost and the other side won.

“Activists” on the Democratic side have threatened the families and grandchildren of Republican Senators. Senators were hounded out of restaurants.

I would not be surprised if this entire circus hurts Democrats on Election Day in a few weeks…I’ve seen a lot of talk about a blue wave and a red wave…but I’ve also seen regular everyday people who admit they don’t like the President or Judge Kavanaugh who say they’re disgusted by the way this went down.

I would also not be surprised to see something similar the next time a Democratic President nominates a judge for SCOTUS…although I hope the Republicans will act like adults instead of kindergartner children…unfortunately with today’s tit for tat political payback environment I don’t hold out a lot of hope that they will.

Again…this screed is not about whether or not Judge Kavanagh should be on SCOTUS…it’s about the process and the complete lack of decorum, civility, and common decency Democrats have shown in it…and it’s about their demands that he’s guilty until proven innocent. That’s just wrong folks…plain wrong.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post…passing the keyboard over to Gunther. 

Ima back folks…

Lessee…what’s happened since my last post. We were originally going to go to the Connecticut state capital on Thursday…but decided to change and go Friday instead. With that we headed out about 1000 or so for the 25 mile trip over to Hartford…intentionally taking the back road. We spent an hour or so doing a self guided tour around and taking pictures…then headed over to Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ…the Connecticut entry on the Southern Living “Best BBQ in Each State” article we’ve been using. Our plan was to get takeout for dinner…but by the time we got to the counter everybody was pretty much starving…so we got takeout pulled pork and cornbread for dinner and also a half pound of beef brisket which we declared would be lunch on the way home.

I can report that the brisket was excellent…nay, outstanding…juicy, smokey, and tender…we didn’t even put any sauce on it. Unfortunately…the pork was a bit dry when we warmed it up for dinner…definitely not Good Eats. It was a bit better the next day when we made Nachos out of it.

On to the photos.

Looking up at the window in the ceiling of the east wing.

D75 5295

The rotunda and underside of the dome.

D75 5296

The Connecticut State Heroine…a school teacher who opened a school for black children before the Civil War.

D75 5298

Some famous Connecticut resident named Nathan Hale.

D75 5299

This is the Cannonball Tree…during the battle of Chicamauga in the Civil War it was struck by a cannonball fired by a Connecticut artillery battery…then after the war the tree was brought back to the state.

D75 5302

This is the USS Hartford…the flagship of Admiral Farragut…he of the “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead”. Carved by a one armed crewman who lost his arm during the battle after the war.

D75 5304

We did spot one nicely colored tree out on the adjacent park.

D75 5310

This is the best shot Neil could get of the capital building itself…simply no place to get a decent one.

D75 5312

Interesting things found on the net.

Genius.

KeepAllTheCookies

Even more genius…how a husband gets out of shopping with his wife like a BOSS.

GetOutOfShopping

 

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

Transit to Thomaston CT and Fun Stuff©

When last we left our intrepid explorers…it was Friday and raining so we stayed home. We did get out over the weekend to get some groceries, made another stop at the Elks lodge in Greenfield, get Connie’s bangs trimmed, have another great pizza from Village Pizza in Greenfield, and go to Mass…but otherwise we just stayed home as the weather was mostly lousy over the weekend.

With all of that done…we were up early Monday morning for our 121 mile transit to Thomaston CT…it was freeway almost the entire way…10 miles east before we got on then south, west, and back a bit north before the final 7 miles into our next destination…Branch Brook Campground just outside the city. We quickly got checked in and proceeded to our site 68 in the satellite view section of the campground…there are about 6 sites in here that have any possibility of seeing the birds and we specifically asked for one when Neil made our reservation back before we departed Florida. 

While we were setting up…our neighbors discovered a black bear in the trees behind us…it was just a little guy about 75 pounds or so but after he fell out of the tree he was in Neil could never find him on the ground to take a photo. What is strange is that right behind the satellite view sites is a fence to the next property…on the other side of the fence is a little strip of trees maybe 15 or 20 yards deep and 60 yards long…then there’s a huge parking lot and some sort of factory or fabrication business. The next nearest trees of any sort is probably 500 yards from where the little guy was and we tried to figure out how he got there. There’s a state park across the road and 1/4 mile or so down…so we decided that most likely momma bear had stashed him there while she went off to do bear things…and probably came back and got him the next night to take him back to the park…but in any event we haven’t seen or heard from him since.

After our arrival…the first thing on tap for Tuesday morning was laundry as our hamper was getting pretty full…but before I get to that here are a last couple of shots from the Charlemont area.

One more shot of the colors in a tree…we still are looking for decent colors but as days go by we’re getting closer.

D75 5093 Luminar2018 edit

Neil built us a campfire on Sunday evening…it finally cleared up a bit and all the weekend campers had departed so we sat outside for an hour and a half turning wood into ashes.

IMG 4044

OK…back to the story. We did laundry on Tuesday as it was supposed to rain again…and rain it did. The morning was just a little barely there mist…sorta like those negligees that Neil prefers…and then after that we lazed around in the afternoon before heading out for some barely adequate sushi nearby Monday evening for dinner. We hoped to get home before the rain started in earnest…but alas we failed and it started pouring while we were in the restaurant. We made it home and then for the next couple of hours the weather radio was going off every 10 minutes with thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches, flash flooding warnings…and torrential rain. Not much wind…most of the really bad stuff was either to our north or south and it was all heading east at 40+ knots…but we got a whole bunch of rain. It tapered off around 2100…but then rained again off and on overnight until about 0500 although none of it was as hard as earlier in the evening.

Wednesday dawned clear and a pretty nice looking day…so about 0900 we headed out as planned for our first drive here in northwest CT. I gotta tell ya…the DLETC chose wisely this time…although not at peak there is a whole lot more color in the trees down here than we’ve seen anywhere else so far…the only drawback is that most of the stands of trees are mixed hardwood and evergreen…and the latter obviously don’t change color…so there’s a lot of green mixed in with the reds and yellows.

As we departed the rig for our drive…we noticed that the storm had delivered a sign for us that fall has indeed arrived in the northeast US. This was not staged…that’s where the storm left it in Big Red’s starboard side front door handle.

IMG 3049

We headed out from the campground on what Connie termed as the “pre-drive”…the actual drive she was following from Yankee Magazine started 30 or 40 miles away in Granby…and we had to meander through various small towns on the way there. Once we got to Granby we stopped by the garlic farm and picked up some more fresh garlic and corn before getting to our first stop of the day…a mile long loop hike at Enders Falls State Park where we saw some nice waterfalls…they were really rushing due to all the overnight rain in the area so Neil was pretty happy about that.

Here they are heading off on the hike.

IMG 1643

There were a bunch of un-named falls on this small river…we went downstream about a half mile before looping back…in the 125 foot elevation drop before we turned around there were at least six different falls plus some other smaller ones that didn’t quite make it to the definition of waterfall.

D75 5096 AuroraHDR2018 edit

Looking upward through the trees…Connie had to do something whilst Neil was crawling out on the wet and slippery rocks.

D75 5112

D75 5121 AuroraHDR2018 edit

She also found some nice photogenic fungi on a couple of trees…she got one of the waterfalls in the background in the second one.

D71 7521

D71 7523

D75 5129 AuroraHDR2018 edit

D75 5139 AuroraHDR2018 edit

D75 5144 AuroraHDR2018 edit

On arrival back at Li’l Red…this was across the street from the parking lot.

D75 5151 Luminar2018 edit

We proceeded onto one of the local reservoirs…never seen a dam with a gatehouse on it.

D75 5159

Connie looking out over the reservoir.

D75 5172

D75 5174

We stopped by the Riverton General Store for lunch…and got two really good home made meatball sandwiches on toasted buns with cheese and red peppers for lunch…then ate them while overlooking this nice set of bonus waterfalls.

D75 5181 AuroraHDR2018 edit

Continuing our drive…we spotted a lot more of the colors we’ve been looking for…although still not the wide angle the whole mountainside is red and yellow peak ones yet.

D75 5224 Pano

We spotted some turkeys crossing the road…this female was one of a group of about 15.

D75 5242

D75 5246

The road up to the top of Haystack Mountain State Park.

D75 5253

D75 5255 AuroraHDR2018 edit

D75 5271

D75 5283

D75 5286

D75 5291

Our last stop on the drive was at Thorncrest Fam & Milk House Chocolates where we sampled some and bought some very nice…albeit very expensive…chocolates. We could have brought home a lot as it was really good…but at $8.45 plus tax for a 4 piece box we resisted the temptation to overspend.

After that we headed to Torrington to visit the Elks Lodge there…there are a total of 3 lodges nearby but this was the only one that provided any useful info on their website regarding hours and facilities…we’ve learned over the years that the lack of into on the website usually means it’s usually just a cheap bar not a very good place to visit…this one owns a 4 story building with each floor being at least 3 times the size of our entire lodge down in North Fort Myers…they have a banquet room and can cater weddings or events up to 200 folks. Bowling alleys, pool tournaments and a huge bar as you can see in the iPhone pano Neil took below. Best of all…they can server up a Dark and Stormy cocktail…which as you know is Gosling’s Dark Spiced Navy Rum and Ginger Beer…the lodge uses actual fermented Ginger Beer instead of the unleaded variety which is just very gingery ginger ale…which while being very good isn’t as good as one where the beer is truth instead of just kidding.

IMG 2907

After that we headed home…dinner was grilled green beans, grilled mushrooms and red peppers, and a nice steak with roasted garlic butter on it…Neil added a roll and we had a glass of wine to go along with it.

Connie must have picked up some sort of tummy bug along the way during the day as she was up all night with intestinal and tummy issues…she’s feeling better today but not up to par yet…luckily we had postponed our planned second drive on Thursday until Friday instead as she would not be up for anything today.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

If you get this one…you’re a math nerd.

DearAlgebra

I can believe this one.

WTFFacts

Awkward family photo…borrowed from one of Neil’s internet buddies…Greg White. According to Greg it was a really mild roller coaster.

AwkwardFamilyPhoto

Important notice.

Notice

RIP.

RIPPillsburyDoughboy

Obviously spelling…did not make the list.

SpellingDidNotMakeTheList

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 7 Comments

Day Trip Around Northwest MA

After our travel here to Country Aire Campground in Charlemont MA last Monday…and the outstanding dinner we had afterwards…we planned to do nothing on Tuesday and Wednesday…Tuesday it was supposed to be cloudy all day which means no nice light for photography and Wednesday it was scheduled to rain. Sure enough…the forecast for both of those days held true so the only thing we did was drive down to the local Elks Lodge in Greenfield just a couple blocks from The Peoples Pint I wrote about in my last post…and it turned out to be one of the nicest lodges we’ve visited in quite awhile. The parking lot was pretty full when we got there about 1530…but it turned out the lodge had rented out it’s dining room for a catered post-funeral reception…so we just proceeded past the dining room to the bar anyway. We had a couple of pints of Leftie’s Honey Brown Ale…Leftie’s is a local Greenfield MA brewery just another few blocks from the lodge…but then Greenfield is a pretty small place so most everything is just a few blocks from most everything else.

We sat down…there were two seats but not two adjacent seats and the members quickly made them adjacent for us…we sat next to the Exalted Ruler (ER) and the bartender turned down our $50 bill as the first two were “on them” for guests from other lodges. The Lefties were so good that we ordered another couple…which were again paid for by the guy sitting on the other side of us…Neil repaid the favor by buying him a couple brews as well. The second pair was so good that…you guessed it…we had a third pair of pints before finally heading out for dinner.

We had taken chicken out and planned to cook it…but by that time we were tired so Neil asked what the best pizza place in town was…the unanimous vote was for Village Pizza just…again, you guessed it…just a couple blocks down. We stopped by and ordered a pie with sausage (Italian of course), mushrooms, and extra cheese…and grabbed a piece of baklava from their display for dessert as well. We took it home…poured us a couple of short glasses of wine from the fridge…and sat down to the best pizza we’ve had in months…the last time we had one close to this good was way back in June in Little Bras d’Or in Nova Scotia…and this one topped even that one. We ate it all save two slices which we saved for later on.

With all that done…we headed out early Thursday morning about 0900 for a day of Fun Stuff©…Connie the DLETC had planned a nice drive for us on little country roads and along the Connecticut River hunting for fall foliage, any other interesting stuff we might see along the way, lunch and Happy Hour…and then Neil suggested adding Bonus Happy Hour to the schedule and popping into the Lodge again on the way by…since we were going right past it on the way back to the rig.

It was a nice sunny day and we completely enjoyed our drive…did not see as much foliage as were hoping for but we did get a bit as well as some other interesting stuff.

Lunch and Happy Hour were planned for the Rendezvous in Turners Falls…we had a couple pints of Berkshire Brewing Company Steel Ale which was a lighter brew but they didn’t have any darker ones, no stouts or porters, and everything else on tap was an IPA which we passed on. We also had a couple of pretty decent burgers…not quite as good as the at The People’s Pint but pretty darned good nonetheless. We also suffered through a a few minutes of the additional Kavanaugh committee hearing on CNN until the young lady tending bar got irritated at our disgust over the way things were being handled and turned it off…so much the better since we didn’t want to hear it anyway. After lunch we finished up the rest of our drive…we only had to back track once as the DLETC’s directions were less than accurate…not her fault as Maps said there was this small bridge over the Connecticut River but the road dead ended into a dirt path with no bridge so we just found another way across. We stopped by the lodge for another quick cocktail before heading home. Dinner was the aforementioned leftover Village Pizza pie along with the leftovers from our dinner the day before…fish chowder.

It rained most of the night overnight and  into Friday so we stayed home again…I think she has more stuff planned for the weekend…but ya never know.

OK…on to phots from our drive. I was hoping we would have some wide angle, full color foliage shots to post…but it appears that we’ll miss the peak leaf peeping season here in New England. So I’ve had to selectively frame shots to give you some of the autumnal colors while keeping as much as possible things like roads, cars, power lines and the like out of the frame. Not really what I wanted to have…but it is what it is. While some of these might look a little oversaturated…they’re really not…it was such a beautiful blue sky day and the natural colors are so vivid that you almost think you’re in a surrealistic landscape when you see the colors.

We liked both this tree in the yard and the house itself in the background…there are a lot of similar architecture and coloring houses up in this area…we saw ones like this over and over.

D75 5039 Luminar2018 edit

D75 5043

D75 5044

We drove up to the summit of Mount Holyoke…not all that tall but it’s about 700 or 800 feet above the river and was quite a twisty, narrow, low clearance, switchback road on the way up…definitely not rig worthy. We saw many hikers trekking up the barely one lane wide road…but instead we “Chose wisely” as the old knight said and drove up.

D75 5046

Broad Winged Hawk soaring over the countryside below taken from the Summit Inn on Mount Holyoke. Neil didn’t have the bird lens with him…so I cropped this in as best I could.

D75 5059

Panoramic view of the oxbow bend in the Connecticut River below. For those of you who wonder what an oxbow bend is…rivers in mountains frequently have many S-shaped bends in them that reverse geographic direction over and over. You start with a bend that looks like a sideways U when viewed from overhead with a peninsular like protuberance of land in the interior of the U. Over the centuries…the action of the river gradually thins out the center portion of the land so that it looks like a balloon on a string…and eventually cuts entirely through the peninsula resulting in an island in the river and a new main channel that bypasses the former loop…which is then known as an oxbow as it’s shaped very much like the collar that was used when oxen were hitched up to pull wagons. The new main channel is visible across the center of this shot with the backwater oxbow bend sort of visible in the background. 

D75 5051 Pano

We stopped alongside the dike which protects the town of Travers Falls…

D75 5079

D75 5081

We saw dozens of these on our drive…we immediately recognized them as tobacco drying barns which was interesting to us for a bunch of reasons. First…we always thought tobacco was a warm weather crop but apparently it was common up here. Due to the mostly dilapidated nature of most of the ones we saw…we thought that they were antique structures that had been converted to other farm uses…storing tractors or grain or the like. The vertical slats on the side are built so that every other one is movable and can be rotated out on it’s vertical axis along one ledge to increase the air flow through the barn throughout the crop’s several months long drying process.

D75 5084 AuroraHDR2018 edit

Turns out…they do still grow the crop up here…another thing we were surprised about as given the downwards trend of both smoking and the tobacco industry over the past 30 years or so we figured that it would not be a common crop. I guess there are still enough smokers to keep the demand up…and the various tobacco companies issue quotas to their farmers that are jealously guarded and passed down generation to generation as it used to be…and probably still is…a pretty decent moneymaker for the growers.

D75 5087 Edit

Another tree in a yard…we pulled into the driveway and grabbed a couple of shots.

D75 5091

D75 5092 Luminar2018 edit

Interesting stuff found on the net.

No officer…why?

NoOfficer Why

Finally…a cause I can get behind.

EarthChocolate

Eden problems.

DirtyLaundry

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

And We Have A Winner

Yup…we surely most certainly do. But I digress…that part comes later chronologically…so naturally it should come later in the post…stay tuned. Meanwhile…now that I’ve cleared that up…how did we get here?

We finished up our last day in Bennington area yesterday…with the nice drive that I discussed in the last post. It got quite chilly overnight…down to about 40 now three nights in a row and we noticed as we departed the campground today that the leaves turned significantly more fall-ish since even yesterday. We had to fire up our furnaces for 1 cycle to take the chill off the inside of the rig…it was down to about 61 inside which was a bit nippy for us.

We only had 44 miles to transit today…so we didn’t even start getting ready to go until about 1030…since we had no sewer connection we had to stop by the dump station but we were underway just about 1130 for the move…east on VT-9 15 miles then south on VT-100 and VT-112 to the Shelburne Falls area in northwest MA. Only 44 miles…but what a 44 miles it was…Neil definitely needed a drink after the trip. The speed limit was 50 all the way but he could barely keep it at 40 with the curves, low branches…and have I mentioned the drop-off on the side of the road into the creek. Nah…didn’t think so. That’s about the hardest travel day we’ve had in quite awhile.

We pulled into Country Aire Campground in Charlemont MA just outside of Shelburne Falls…and got checked in. Way back in February when we made our reservation…Neil specifically asked for an open site with satellite visibility…but looking at our assigned site 86 last night on Google Maps he figured there was no way. On arrival we asked about changing to a site between 30 and 50 as those are out in the open…86 is in the middle of the trees…it’s actually a really, really nice site albeit with no visibility of the southwest sky where the  Direct TV birds are located. The owner told us that all the open sites were booked for the weekend so we would not be able to change…we grudgingly accepted that since they do have cable. The bad thing about cable is that Connie can’t do all her recordings that she needs to do to keep up with the series we watch…and all the fall premier episodes are this week.

We got into the pull through site 86…and about that time the owner’s husband showed up with his tractor…he offered to go and get a couple bucket loads of gravel to make the site a bit more level for us…so we waited while he went off to do that. On arrival back at 86…he told us that he just got a text from his wife…turned out that the sites in the open were mostly reserved for a group and she had just gotten a cancellation after we left the office…and that site 47 was open if we wanted it.

We wandered over and checked…47 is a nice open site with great visibility of the southwest sky…so we changed, pulled out of 86, drove ‘round the back of the sites and quickly got pulled into 47, unhitched and leveled. After that we took a break for lunch as it was going on 1400 by that time…then finished our setup tasks.

We rested for the rest of the afternoon…then headed off about 1645 dinner…our destination for the day was “The People’s Pint” pub in Greenfield…this is the MA entry on the 50 Best Brew Pubs in America that we’ve been following the past year or so.

Connie had a nice Farmer Brown English brown ale and Neil a pint of Oatmeal Stout…both were actually pretty decent. Dinner for Connie was Blueberry Mussels…PEI mussels with a sauce of white wine, butter, and blueberries. Neil’s choice for dinner was…and now we need to get into that winner thing I discussed above.

Way back when in 2012 when we were out in the Pacific Northwest we had dinner at a place in Astoria Oregon named Baked Alaska right on the Oregon shore of the Columbia River. He had the best burger he’s ever had there…Kobe beef, bacon/jalepeño jelly, fried pork belly (bacon only better), and white cheddar. That’s been his standard of excellence since 2012…and he has always compared a burger to it…until today all entries were found wanting.

One of the menu items was a lamb/beef burger with harissa catsup and lettuce…he was really intrigued by the lamb/beef combination and was going to order that…until the DLETC noticed on the specials menu a burger called the Wild Mushroom Burger. It had a beef burger and was topped with sautéed wild mushrooms, balsamic reduction sauce, and blue cheese crumbles. He asked if they would make one of those only with the lamb/beef burger instead and with Swiss cheese instead of the Blue Cheese…the young lady bartender said “Of course, why not” and put the order in.

It showed up and after his first bite he declared it the second best burger ever…juicy…I’m talking run all over your hands juicy with the earthy mushroom flavor and the sweetness of the balsamic reduction and the bit of a really good Swiss cheese. Served on a toasted bun with some really delicious oven fries on the side…truly outstanding. Shoulda made it medium rare though…it was juicy but not pink…but the last time he ordered a burger rare it was basically raw. They do know how to cook burgers here…it was definitely medium rare.

After complimenting the chef…he decided that since the previously mentioned Best Burger Ever was no longer being made…we found out a couple years back that “The Burger” was no longer on the menu at Baked Alaska…pity. Anyways…since that’s not available this is the new holder of the Best Burger Ever title. He was also impressed by the complete willingness of the kitchen staff to build the burger the way he wanted it instead of the way it was described on the menu.

Two Thumbs Up as Siskel and Ebert used to say.

We were originally going to head over to the local Elks Lodge which is only a couple blocks from the pub…but on the way back to the car we said “ya know…we’re tired, let’s leave the Elks for another night.” So that’s what we did, headed back to the rig for the night.

Before I get into the Interesting Stuff…allow me to digress a bit…this is a bit ‘o a rant so if you don’t want to read it just skip on ahead to the Interesting Things section.

‘Round these parts…we’ve been watching the media circus about the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the SCOTUS and the related sexual misconduct charges from 30+ years ago. These paragraphs really aren’t about the relative merits of the nomination…but rather about the way in which the process was followed.

Used to be…the Senate and both our political parties recognized that elections have consequences as President Obama said…and that whoever won got to appoint SCOTUS judges…sure, there were political arguments on the Hill about it but by and large they were centered on the qualifications of the nominee and Senators from both sides judged the nominee on qualifications. Take Justice Ginsberg for instance…she is a liberal who was nominated by President Clinton…she was confirmed by a vote of 96-3 which means that almost all Senators from both parties voted for her. Similarly…President Obama’s two appointees…Justice Sotamayor was confirmed 68-31 and Justice Kagan was confirmed 63-37…each of these 3 had support from both sides of the aisle.

Unfortunately…this is no longer the case…the fight over Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to SCOTUS has been nothing but political. The left…with all of their “Resist” and “Not My President” rhetoric is steadfastly opposed to confirming any SCOTUS nominee by President Trump. It is obvious they don’t like his politics…and that part of their objection is a tit-for-tat reaction to the failure of the last Congress to even vote on Merrick Garland’s nomination but even that was tit-for-tat with Senator Reid’s and Biden’s previous actions…both sides have valid points regarding his nomination but unfortunately neither side will admit that the other side might possibly have some valid points…it’s much more important to disagree with the other side just because and oppose any nomination, statement, claim, or position from the other side just because.

Then we get to the current brouhaha over Judge Kavanaugh. After the hearings were complete the far left…aided and abetted by senior Democratic leadership…several women have come forward with recently remembered instances of decades old sexual assault. Senator Feinstein had a letter in her possession about the first of these since before the hearings…but held it for the last minute for maximum political impact then the woman’s name leaked which led us to the demands from the left for withdrawal. Any reasonable investigation of her claims from the supposed witnesses to the date/time/location and other details of the alleged assault are found to either be non-existent, a bunch of “I don’t know” answers, or the named witnesses categorically deny it happened.

Let’s be real here folks…this isn’t about Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications. He’s a 12 year serving member of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia…so he’s clearly qualified for the SCOTUS…no matter whether you like his rulings or not. All of the unsubstantiated claims from 35+ years ago have been leveled by known anti Trump Democratic activists…with no facts, proof, or any other evidence…and the left is demanding that we arbitrarily and unilaterally believe the claim 100% and arbitrarily and unilaterally disbelieve the denials of both Judge Kavanaugh and the named witnesses…it seems to me that we’re always supposed to believe the woman if she’s a liberal and disbelieve the man if he’s a conservative. Strangely enough…a well known Democrat (Keith Ellison) who is the Deputy Chair of the DNC and is  running for Attorney General in Minnesota…and has several ex-girlfriends charging him with domestic abuse as an adult in the past 10 years or so…well in this case we’re supposed to believe his denials and disbelieve the women.

Even if the charges against Judge Kavanaugh are true…and there’s absolutely no proof either way or any way to know…he was in high school…it was 35+ years ago and he has no record of any similar behavior as an adult…we all did things in high school we aren’t particularly proud of…but we grew from our experience and most of us are far better adults than we were teenagers. If he had continued the alleged behavior as an adult like the aforementioned Keith Ellison there would have been credible, non-Democratic activist accusers with some actual facts or evidence instead of just a bunch of drunken “I can’t remember any other facts besides his name”.

The mob rule the left is using…a crowd of protestors drove Senator Cruz and his wife out of a DC restaurant last night…and in Maine there’s a person who has raised $1.5 million dollars and is promising to give it to Senator Collins opponent in her next reelection campaign unless she “votes the right way” in which case the money will be returned. Yeah…right. That sounds suspiciously like an attempted bribe of a public official to me and I would be surprised if any of her opponents accepts that donation as it’s clearly tainted. The constant demands to “believe the woman and disbelieve the man just because she and we say so” is reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials back in the late 1600s…if this is allowed to stand then ANY court nominee by any President can be tanked by somebody claiming “he molested me”. The description of what Dr. Ford claims happened has gone in the past 10 days from “groping outside my clothes” to “sexual assault” to “attempted rape”. Really…if he was as drunk as the victim was and as drunk as she claimed he was…he couldn’t have even gotten it up.

This isn’t about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh should be approved…I have an opinion on that but it’s not relevant to this…it’s about whether or not the President is allowed to appoint qualified persons of his choice to court vacancies. Let’s get back to judging a nominee on his merits as a judge, legal scholar, and interpreter of the Constitution and stop all of the political BS…when one side wins an election…there are consequences as President Obama said.

OK…let’s get on to interesting stuff from the net…anything has got to be better reading than the drivel we are seeing in the media lately.

I told you it was hunting season Mabel…but noooo…we just had to go visit your sister down by the lake.

IToldYouItWasHuntingSeason

Vegas baby.

VegasBaby

Perfect name.

PerfectName

Now that I think of it…this one came from Randy’sRandom.com.

NowThatIThinkOfIt

I feel for millennial and later children raised by helicopter and lawnmower parents.

MoreTruth

Putting the Fun in funeral.

FunInFuneral

And finally…this might be just a tad toward the politically incorrect…but when have I ever let that stop me.

PatioUmbrellas

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Bennington VT

With our time in Randolph Center finished…we headed off early Tuesday morning…well not that early actually as we only had about 126 miles to go to our next destination…we actually left shortly after 1000 and of our 126 miles about 90 of them were down the freeway so it was easy driving. Once we got off of the highway at Brattleboro VT we headed west on VT-9 the last 30 odd miles to our stop at Camp Greenwood RV and Lodges outside of Bennington…the campground is up on top of the mountain where Prospect Mountain Ski Area is located…this is a cross country skiing only park with 30 kilometers of groomed trails during the winter. It had rained pretty heavily overnight in the Bennington area so although we arrived in nice weather the stream which VT-9 parallels the whole way was pretty full and rushing quickly downstream.

We pulled in, finished checking in and then headed off to our site 26…a nice full through 50 amp water and electric site…there are not sewer connections here at all except for the dump station up by the office. No worries…we are only scheduled for 6 days here so we’ll just head up to the bath house…which is inside the office building/owners quarters so it’s a nice inside shower facility with none of the spiders or bugs that Connie hates. It was a bit downhill and then uphill to get into the site…but once in we discovered it was actually almost level so it was an easy setup job this time. Hookup was minimal with no sewer.

Wednesday was a day for laundry…we went into town to a commercial facility as no laundry facilities are at the campground…then Connie got her nails done, Neil picked up a few groceries we needed at the world’s worst grocery store…they didn’t even have peanut butter…he considered leaving and going across the street to the super Walmart but didn’t want to end up in the long checkout lines typical there so he just got the minimum and we headed home.

Later in the afternoon…we went down to the local Elks Lodge…where we met the Exalted Ruler or ER…she’s only 46 which is pretty young in our experience for being the ER as the Elks is mostly an older member type of organization. She told us that the Grand Exalted Ruler (GER)…the GER is the head Elk of the entire organization…was going to stop by for a visit so we hung around and met Michael T. Luhr and his wife before heading home for the day. They’re from one of the Lodges in Alaska.

Thursday…we pretty much did nothing. We went down into Bennington at 1000 for a phone conversation with the CEO of our financial advisor Cassaday and Company…we’re participating in their annual Investor Symposium next month on a panel about full time RVing…some of their other clients are considering this lifestyle so we will answer questions along with another two couples about RVing, full timing, and associated topics. After that we just hung around the rest of the day.

Friday we had the first portion of why we chose Bennington as a destination in the first place…the Vermont Wine and Cheese Festival which is sponsored by Snowe Mountain Ski Resort. The festival consists of a Wine and Soup Tour on Friday evening in the town of Wilmington east of Bennington and just south of the ski resort…we spent a nice couple of hours walking around downtown, sampling both soups and wines. All of the soups we tried were pretty good with only 2 of those being something we would not have wanted a full bowl of…and we skipped a half dozen or so of the offerings as they were types of soup we don’t particularly care for and we were getting full by that time anyway. Even though we only had 3 or 4 spoonfuls of each offering…by the time you’ve had 15 of them it’s a lot of soup…and since most of them were either bisque, gumbo, or chowder they were all rich. Each participant in the walk got to vote on his/her favorite soup…the winner only gets bragging rights but apparently it’s a big thing in the town of Wilmington. The most popular version was corn chowder…and although the 4 versions we tried were all delicious we were pretty much decided that the last corn chowder would be the winter until we sampled our last one. That one turned out to be a vegan corn bisque…it had no dairy, meat, or most of the other good things we normally put in soup…but it had the best corn flavor of any we tried by far. Given the vegan nature so no bacon, no pork fat, no dairy…it was mostly just cooked corn that was then pureed and then strained to remove any remaining corn kernel skin leaving just the corny goodness inside in the soup. Add some spice and it was pretty spectacular…both Connie and Neil were amazed by the flavor possible in a vegan soup.

Saturday we headed off and arrived at the ski resort just after the festival opened at 1000…and spent 3 hours wandering around, sampling wines and many, many distilled spirits as well as several different maple syrup varieties, then we sat down and had a taco for lunch before heading back to make some purchases. We ended up with 5 bottles of wine including one white that was aged in barrels used to age maple syrup, a bottle of maple flavored rum that was far and away the best distilled spirit we tried, a bottle of Maple Cream which is like Bailey’s Irish Cream except it’s maple flavored instead…and our two highlight buys. The first of these was Pineapple Habanero Jelly…sweet and spicy hot it’s a condiment type of jelly usually served with cheese and crackers…and a bottle of maple syrup flavored with Carolina Ghost Peppers…again sweet and hot. The syrup is too spicy to use on normal syrup things like waffles or pancakes…but will be perfect in baked beans or as a component of a sauce for chicken or pork. 

After our arrival home…we watched ‘Bama trounce Texas A&M 43-22 while eating dinner…then as Connie was doing the dishes she happened to look out our back window and said…”my goodness, look at the sunset”. Neil took one look and ran outside with his iPhone to grab a couple of shots.

IMG 2893

IMG 7064

IMG 6602

Sunday we headed out for a drive around southwestern VT…our goal was to just hit a bunch of back roads for about 70 miles or so and see what we could find.

We got a nice pano at the top of one of the ridges we made our way up and over.

D75 5010 Pano

Connie snapped this country store while Neil was pumping gas into Li’l Red.

IMG 2875 Edit

I can definitely confirm that there are indeed…good ole boys in the state of VT…down south we might call ‘em redneck but they’re definitely up here as well. Ya want proof?

First there was this.

D75 5020

And just a bit down the road it’s friend.

D75 5023

Then there was this good ole boy truck in somebody’s front yard…looks perfectly serviceable to me.

D75 5024

We found a memorial to Daniel Webster…he spoke to the Whig Party on this site in 1840 to a crowd of 15,000 people…he musta had quite a voice to be audible to all of them.

D75 5022

A nice covered bridge we went down a dirt road from the highway a couple hundred yards to find…again still in use as we drove across it twice. These are the best two shots Neil got…there was no way to really get a nice side shot of it.

D75 5025

D75 5029

On the way back into Bennington at the end of our drive we spotted this in the distance and drove around until we found it. It’s a memorial dedicated to the 1777 Battle of Bennington during the American Revolution…General Stark and his 1,400 troops from the nearby state of NH came over and help the VT boys rout the British forces when they tried to capture the store of arms at the courthouse that’s on this site…very similar to the way the Minutemen battled them at Concord over a similar attempted arms raid by the British.

D75 5030

General Stark exhorting his troops.

D75 5033

Connie got a closeup of the dolomite sandstone blocks that make up the 300 foot tall obelisk. It’s open to tourists via an elevator to the top but we passed on buying tickets to the top.

D71 7491

This is Benny the Covered Bridge Moose located at the memorial.

D71 7493

We headed home after that…with a stop at the Elks Lodge for Happy Hour…then we had oven roasted potatoes and a steak with a sauce made of butter, roasted garlic, hot sauce, and some of the Ghost Pepper maple syrup we got yesterday at the festival…quite yummy. Afterwards Neil grabbed a shot of today’s sunset…not quite as colorful as yesterday’s but he had the real camera with him instead of just his iPhone so he got a less noisy shot.

D75 5036

 Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment