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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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General Stark exhorting his troops.

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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.

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

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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.

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 Cyas.

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More Randolph Center VT Fun Stuff©

Ok…let’s get on to the last two days of Fun Stuff© here in Randolph Center VT…I gotta admit it’s been a hard 4 days here…long days every day except today and no days off due to the loss of 2 days here after our bearing failure. No worries though…we soldiered on and did cool stuff albeit not quite as fast paced as the first two days.

Sunday after Mass we headed about 60 miles north to the Ethan Allen Homestead Historical Center…not so much to visit the homestead itself as it was too much walking around for Connie’s sore hip…but to listen to a talk on the Shays Settlement Project…which like us you’ve probably never heard of so here’s a little background on the subject.

Daniel Shays was a Captain in the 5th Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary war…and was well known to George Washington…who personally chose him to serve as the commander of the guard over English Major John André during his trial as a spy after his capture following the defection of Benedict Arnold. A little aside here…Benedict Arnold has a reputation as a traitor to the Continental Army during the war…but it’s actually a lot more nuanced than that…the history books have given him somewhat of a bad rap. In actuality…only about 1/3 of the citizens supported the Continental side, another 1/3 were British loyalists, and the remaining 1/3 was effectively neutral…Arnold’s wife was a loyalist and he considered that the Continentals had done him wrong by passing him over for promotion and crediting his achievements in early battles to others. 

Anyways…after the war Shays was discharged and not paid for his service…and then summoned to court and almost sent to debtors prison for unpaid debts which he could not pay since he did not receive the Army pay due him. He and about 800 or so other similarly treated veterans formed a group named the Regulators which went in under arms and closed courts when veterans were being charged as debtors. The Regulators tried to petition the legislature to no avail…and in November 1786 the Regulators went to capture the Springfield Armory to gain arms and cannon…they were met by and fired upon by the Massachusetts Militia with several Regulators killed and numerous others wounded…this action was termed the Shays Rebellion despite the fact that the only gunfire was from the Massachussets militia side. Following the incident at Springfield…Shays and several hundred of his supporters fled the state into southern Vermont and established a settlement at Egg Mountain near Sandgate in 1787. The settlement remained occupied until 1813 or thereabouts…a plague in that year killed 30 inhabitants and the settlement was burned, likely to prevent the spread of the disease. The mountain the settlement was on was known locally as Ague Mountain…ague being an old term for plague…and that was later bastardized into Egg Mountain. The settlement remained undisturbed for over 200 years until a local college professor named Stephen Butz discovered it in 1991 during a snowmobile trip in the area. Common local knowledge in the area called the area Shays Settlement…and as an archeologist he was astounded that something this significant and connected to a famous Revolutionary War figure had not been investigated.

Mr. Butz established the Shays Settlement Project of which he is the executive director and has spent the last 15 years or so excavating at the site.

The talk was given by Mr. Butz and detailed his discovery of the site, documentation searches over the years, and his excavations at the site…which include an annual dig each summer  attended by high school students interested in archeology or Vermont history. While there is no definitive proof that this settlement was occupied by Daniel Shays…a considerable amount of circumstantial documentation including deeds to the land in his name, contemporary newspaper articles, and local lore have convinced him that most likely it was founded and inhabited by Shays and his followers. Archeological digs have produced numerous artifacts that date to the late 1700s time period, ceramics, tools and the like…the finding of glass windows at the site provides proof that somebody lived here and made a go of the settlement and ownership records and other documentation make it likely to have been Shays.

Anyway…a really great talk…Butz is an excellent speaker and both Connie and Neil enjoyed it as well as learning about something…Shays Rebellion and the aftermath…that neither of them had ever heard of.

After the lecture we headed over to nearby Burlington where we had an early dinner at Farm House Tap and Grill before heading home.

Monday was our shortest planned day…good thing as we needed it. We headed off to the Quechee Gorge…a 185 foot deep gorge on the  Ottauquechee River for some photos…then over to the dam and waterfall at Emery Mills in Quechee VT, we also visited the Simon Pearce glass blowing workshop which is located in the old mill building. After that we stopped by Big Fatty’s BBQ in White River Junction for lunch…and take out for dinner before heading home.

We didn’t get any photos at the lecture since we skipped the Ethan Allen homestead…but did get some on Monday.

Looking downstream from the bridge over the gorge…pretty far down there and no real way to get down.

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This is the covered bridge over the Ottauquechee River in Quechee…you can see the water coming over the dam in the background. Again…still in use although this one may have been reinforced as it’s 2 lanes, paved instead of having a wooden deck, and had no weight restrictions that we saw.

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Overview shot of the dam that Connie got…as you can see it used to be a full waterfall before the dam was built but the builders preserved most of the waterfall itself, perhaps because the rocks helped support the base of the sam. Usually dam spillway “waterfalls” aren’t very photogenic but this one is an exception.

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Closer view without all the distracting concrete in the shot.

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Interesting things found on the net.

You’re gonna be here awhile…have a Snickers.

YoureGonnaBeHereAwhile

This is so true.

OnceATechnicianSeems about right…no party affiliation intended or implied.

SeemsAboutRight

Lost pet.

FoundACat

NotMyJobContest

DogsCanTooCount

London when the temperature gets to 75 degrees.

LondonAt75Degrees

Taking speed limit enforcement to a whole ‘nuther level.

SpeedingAWholeNewLevel

Cyas.

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Bearing Replacement, Transit to Randolph Center, VT and Fun Stuff©

Well…we had ourselves a little issue with our rig which resulted in a 2 day delay in leaving Glen NH…which then reduced our time in Randolph Center VT to 5 days instead of a week…so once we got there we ended up with all busy days…but more on that in a bit.

When we were on the way into Newry ME a couple weeks back…Connie heard some squealing from our left rear wheel and we thought that we had isolated the problem to worn out disk brake pads which we procured and were planning on replacing in Glen. We got those and Neil crawled under the rig to do the replacement…pulled the pads out and they were not worn out…so he decided to put them back on…which was when he noticed the hub was wobbling about 1/4 inch back and forth. A little more troubleshooting revealed we had a failed bearing on that wheel…and since we have NevRLube bearings which are press fit into the hub means we needed a new hub…and they’re only available from MORryde who builds the independent suspension we have on the rig.

We put in a call to get parts…the hub/bearing costs about $200 and it was probably another $100 or $125 for overnight FedEX…but Rob at the factory stepped up to the plate since the bearing was only 2 years old with about 18,000 miles on it…he provided a new one under warranty and also picked up the shipping…he’ll deal with Dexter who actually makes the bearing assembly for warranty coverage. Neil talked to him Monday and we received the new hub late Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday he installed it, reinstalled the wheel…and we were ready for a Thursday morning departure only 2 days late.

We headed out about 1000 from Glen Ellis campground for our 160 mile trip to Lake Champagne Campground in Randolph Center VT…pretty much in the center of the Green Mountains for which the state is most famous. Pulling into our site was a bit exciting…we had to have the owner come down and trim some branches that were hanging too low…he said they were trimmed in the spring but obviously they grew considerably over the summer…although to our eye some of those that were trimmed were too large to be this year’s growth…he claimed he had big rigs in the site all summer and nobody had a problem until we arrived. Yeah…right.

Friday morning we headed out for our first day of Fun Stuff©…and a full day it turned out to be with us leaving the rig about 1000…we had to wait for the fog to lift since it was a scenic drive day…and didn’t get home until 1830…so a long day it was.

Connie the DLETC picked out this scenic drive based on some information she found in Yankee Magazine along with several other internet sources…and she had our route planned out but it was largely of the “turn here” variety…where we headed on a number of small, twisty, hilly country roads most of which we wondered what the name of the road was…more on that in a bit though. Our first stop…well actually it was our second but we passed it shortly before getting to our actual first stop and went back later…was to investigate a dead canine on the side of the road…Connie took a look at it and said it was still alive. We didn’t have any cell signal so couldn’t call the fish and game folks…so Neil knocked on the door of the nearest house and he and the owner (who was actually the local constable) took a look. Turned out it was a coyote and it was dead…Connie mistook the wind blowing the fur near it’s eye for blinking. Anyway…civic duty done for the day.

Our actual first stop was at…Bonus Waterfall©…named Texas Falls. She saw it on the map we were kinda sorta following and we decided it was worth a couple of minutes side trip to investigate…and it turned out to be a pretty nice waterfall.

Small cascade just upstream of the man drop.

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The main drop…only about 15 feet downstream from the first shot but a walk of a couple hundred yards to get downstream, down the path from the road, and out on the bridge over the stream.

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Looking downstream almost straight down from the bridge…both Connie and Neil liked the shape of this eroded rock.

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We then continued the planned portion of our tour…and after turning onto a really empty road we started wondering what it was named…the map had nothing except a road number on it…but fortunately within a dozen miles or so our question was answered. It turns out that the poet Robert L Frost…although not born in Vermont…spent 42 summer and fall seasons here in a little town named Ripton teaching at Middlebury College. His farm and residence were nearby…and he was named as Poet Laureate for the state…after his death his farm and home were preserved as a state historic site. We drove past the historic site on the aforementioned unnamed road…and thus the name of the road was revealed…clearly it’s “the road less traveled by.”

We arrived over on the shores of Lake Champlain for our second stop of the day…the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum…which is composed primarily of historical watercraft used on the lake…but also has a built using period techniques an exact replica of the USS Philadelphia…which was one of the gunboats constructed by Benedict Arnold on his original campaign to control both the lake and take possession of the fort at Ticonderoga…which was necessary since George Washington needed it’s cannon to lay siege to Boston early in the American Revolution. We wandered around for an hour or so until Connie’s hip started bothering her.

Indian birchbark canoe. While the museum has many watercraft that were found sunk or buried or in garages…including the remnants of an Indian dugout canoe…this one looks too well preserved to be an actual Indian constructed one…I think it’s a reconstruction but it’s beautifully made.

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Reproduction of a period (late 1700s) drawing by Mr. Champlain of the noble savages that inhabited the region.

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They also have what’s known as an ice boat…essentially a catamaran type craft that rides on 3 ice skates…one under the stern and one on each end of the outrigger. Neil had to take a pano shot with his phone to get the whole thing in.

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Close up of the forward starboard side of the ice boat…according to the signage it would said at 3x-5x the actual wind speed…so in a speed of 20 knots would be in the 80–100 knot speed range out on open ice. There was a short video from back in the day playing nearby and the boat was clearly up in the 45-50 knot speed range even though it was tacking and gybing frequently to stay within view of the primitive movie camera used…it changed course every 5-10 seconds and never really got up to full speed.

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This is the cockpit area…it’s about 8 or 9 feet long and maybe 2 or 3 feet wide.

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View of the replica USS Philadelphia…although back then it was just Philadelphia as the US didn’t exist yet.

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The bow cannon…it carried 3 of these and several swivel guns mounted on the rail.

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While we were standing on the dock this WW II era B-25 Mitchell bomber flew by…must have been some sort of air show or exhibition going on although we didn’t see anything about it. Neil wasn’t sure whether it was a B-25 or a B-24 until we got home and he could look up the silhouettes to make sure…it’s clearly the former from looking at the forward gunner/bombardier canopy configuration and the vertical tail fin configuration.The two engines vs the 4 that the B-24 had would have given it away instantly if he had known about it.

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We headed for our final destination of the day and on the way there stopped by Bristol Falls as well as taking a few shots of the leaves turning…looks like we’ll miss the peak here in VT unless it improves a lot by next week in Burlington but we’ve another 2 weeks after that in MA and CT so we should get some good colors eventually.

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Not quite as cool as some of the other covered bridges we’ve seen the past few weeks…but cool nonetheless…and this is another one that’s still in use albeit limited to a single lane and vehicles less than 3 tons.

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Our final destination of the day was Prohibition Pig…a bbq place found in Waterbury VT. It’s comprised of both the bbq restaurant and a brewery in the back…strangely although both have the same beers on tap the brewery only has tacos and burgers and we went there for the bbq. We didn’t find this out until we had ordered a couple of brews at the brewery…a Vanilla Bean Porter for Neil and a Blueberry Milkshake Swine Cooler (sour ale or gose  type which Connie’s discovered she likes) for Connie. Luckily they have a way to carry your brews from the brewery to the restaurant without going out on the street and breaking the local liquor laws…so after getting our beers we walked up and ordered dinner. 

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Very nice chalkboard drawing up near the door…the wine bottles were drawn from the outside in so that the unchalked portion of the board became the bottle.

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Connie had a pulled pork sandwich with a side of potato salad…she made a mistake and let them put the eastern NC vinegary type of sauce on it. Neil had a smoked beef brisket sandwich with the bacon bbq sauce and crispy onion strings on top…he ordered a side of maple baked beans to go as he was sure the sandwich would fill him up…he was right. The food was pretty darned outstanding but the beer was typically…for New England…over hoppy so after we finished those Connie had a glass of French Pinot Noir and Neil a Dark and Stormy. Here’s a shot of their cocktail glass.

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But the back of it was the good side…the light square is located on the map of VT where Waterbury is located.

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After dinner…we headed home…luckily it was freeway all the way home as we were tired by then.

Saturday morning…we headed off about 1000 for a trip 20something miles up the road to the capital Montpelier to tour the State House…they have some construction going on up there. The dome is wooden and then covered with copper that is then gilded with gold but it’s currently undergoing refurbishment to stop leaks and replace the deteriorated wooden statue that crowns the dome.

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Chair in the governor’s office…it’s made out of original timber from the USS Constitution…Old Ironsides from the War of 1812.

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This is a painting by a VT born artist painted in the 1870s to commemorate the valiant Vermonters who fought in the Civil War…it depicts them at the Battle of Cedar Creek in western VA. It’s huge. An interesting thing about it, besides its size, is that the artist interviewed families of those who participated in this battle and the portraits of all individuals depicted in the painting were actual participants in the battle.

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After that we stopped by the Morse Maple Sugar Farm for some goodies and such…then headed home with a pair of Maple Milkshakes on takeout for lunch. Yum.

Interesting stuff found on the net.

Don’t text and farm.

DontTextAndFarm

Not all heroes wear capes.

NotAllHeroesWearCapes

I would really like to know the story behind this.

TheRestOfTheStory

Good dog.

StopThat

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

More Glen NH Fun Stuff©

After yesterday’s mega photo post on our trip up the Kancamagus Scenic Drive…I actually didn’t finish up to date but Neil hadn’t finished processing photos from Thursday so I just couldn’t go any farther. We did some Fun Stuff on Friday so let’s get back to things.

Thursday’s Fun Stuff© involved a stop at the Mount Washington Observatory Discovery Center in North Conway where we toured the museum and had a live telecast with one of the weather folks up at the summit, then a stop at Camping World for a window handle, a trip down to see the Madison Boulder and finally we headed up the Kancamagus again but really were just taking a different way back home…we went across the highway 5 or 6 miles then turned onto Bear Notch Road and headed back across the pass to the campground.

Thursday evening we had a dinner out planned…our destination was the Margarita Grill and Cantina just at the end of the road into the campground. The camp host back in Hanover had recommended it to us so we decided to give it a try. On our arrival there were 2 seats at the bar but they weren’t together…but the nice ladies on the stools between the two empties scooted over one and made us space.

We started with a margarita…Neil had an Ultimate and Connie had a Cadillac…the difference between them (other than the 75 cents difference in price) was a different kind of tequila and one used Grand Marnier for the orange flavored alcohol and the other used Cointreau…both are in the Triple Sec family but due to slightly different recipes Grand Marnier is a bit sweeter and Cointreau is a bit spicer. The Reposada style tequila that was in the Ultimate is aged in barrels and has a smoother flavor. After sampling both of them…they decided that the Cadillac was actually a better tasting cocktail…it had a bit more of the tequila bite that distinguishes a good margarita. Reposada is better used for sipping straight without all the other flavors. One really nice thing about this place was that they only use fresh squeezed lime juice in their margarita cocktails and none of that nasty tasting bottled mixer crap. They had at least 3 gallons of lime juice behind the bar…even with an electric juicer that’s still a lot of lime juice and there was probably a guy back in the kitchen that does nothing but squeeze limes.

Connie had a grilled salmon dish with Aztec rice…Neil had a steak burrito…both were outstanding and we had leftovers. Connie had a brew after her margarita…she switched to Dos Equis dark and Neil had another margarita although he went with the better tasting Cadillac the second time.

We chatted with the ladies who moved over for us during dinner…the older one was named Sascha…she’s about to head off on a trip to Ireland so Neil gave her a bunch of pointers. Her younger companions were also locals and we talked with them for an hour while we ate and drank.

Friday we were again off pretty early…we planned to drive up US-302 which is locally known as the Crawford Notch Highway to look at the views, take in a couple of waterfalls and generally see what we could find on the way. We finished that up and were back home about 1200…after lunch Neil got ready for our brake pad replacement tomorrow and fixed a minor problem with our grill…very important since he’s grilling a steak for dinner tonight.

Ok, on to the photos.

As you probably know…back about 25,000 years ago during the last Ice Age most of what is now New England was covered with a couple of miles of glacial ice…and as glaciers do they gradually flow downhill…and this flow moves a lot of rocks around as the glacier moves…they were then left behind as the glacier receded and are known as glacial erratics.. One such rock is now known as the Madison Boulder…and it’s pretty big.

Head on view of the boulder.

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That doesn’t really give you an appreciation for the 87 foot long, 23 foot wide, 37 feet high size or 4,662 ton weight of the boulder…so here’s another shot with something in the shot to give you some scale.

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Hey…that’s Connie doing her best Vanna White imitation…again…down in the left corner. 

Mighty darned big rock I think…the sign said it was one of the largest glacial erratics in the world.

Heading across Bear Notch Road we spotted a couple of turkeys running into the woods.

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We also took a few shots at the viewpoints we passed on Bear Notch Road…starting to be little more yellow and red showing up in the leaves.

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As we turned off of Bear Notch onto 302 in Bartlett just north of the campground we spotted this snow roller on the side of the road…it was used to compact the snow back in the day before snow plows were invented.

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Friday morning as we headed out early we were hopeful of some nice things to photograph and see.

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Just as the sun was peeking over the top of the mountain.

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Female American Black Ducks…possible hybrid with Mallard Ducks as they are known to do…so the coloration doesn’t quite match the standard American Black.

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Another turkey struttin’ his stuff.

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Omni Mount Washington Hotel…Mount Washington is at the far right…you can just make out the antennas and towers on the observatory.

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Lower Ammonoosuc Falls…where do they get these names from up here? The several following shots are also of different portions of the same falls.

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Next stop was the Mount Washington Cog Railway…one of the two ways to get to the top. So…just what is a cog railroad? Most railroads try to keep their maximum gradient at 2% or less and almost always below 4%…although the maximum theoretical gradient for a standard steel wheel on steel rails train is about 20%. Troubles arise when the gradients get as high as they are on this passenger only railroad…most of it is at a gradient of 35% and it tops out at almost 38%…which means the train could never get up…and if it did it would slide all the way to the bottom once it started moving. So…the cog railroad was invented…the Mount Washington one was the first one ever built.

Instead of the engine driving the wheels directly…it drives a pair of gears called cogs that are engaged with a set of teeth impeded in the track…essentially it works like a rack and pinion assembly. This allows the train to get up the higher gradients.

Model of how the cog and track work. The black cog is driven by the engine and it rotates against a series of fixed roller shaped teeth in the track bed…the inset at the upper left of the photo shows the actual cog and track mechanism.

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A couple of shots of the trains heading up. The smoke up the track is another of the trains higher up…the line currently runs 2 steam locomotives and 9 that run on diesel. All were designed and built here at the site.

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Our last stop of the day was Glen Ellis Falls…then we headed home for lunch. At 64 feet drop…this is the largest single drop fall we’ve seen this week…although several of the step type were higher in total drop.

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A couple of unnamed falls both downstream and upstream of Glen Ellis.

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Interesting things found on the net.

Fourth most popular religion?

FourthMostPopularReligion

Serious speed enforcement.

SpeedLimitSniper

Coyote warning.

CoyoteWarning

Let me in…we got a situation here.

WeGotASituationHere

Coffee simplified.

CoffeeSimplified

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Transit to and Fun Stuff© in Glen NH

After my last post on Friday before Labor Day…we settled down to basically stay off of the roads and out of the crowds for the holiday…but as it turned out that wasn’t really necessary. The campground had mostly filled up by Thursday afternoon and we expected it to stay that way until mid-afternoon on Monday…but other circumstances intervened. Connie complained Saturday morning that the folks around us must have been in some sort of group as they congregated, wandered between rigs, and made noise until almost midnight on Friday. Then about mid-day we spotted several women heading down toward the campground office all in very dressy dresses and heels…at that point we figured it was either a wedding or a family reunion and didn’t worry about it much.

We headed out to Mass Saturday evening as the Sunday one was farther away…then came home and watched ‘Bama open their National Championship defense against Louisville…we have been hearing ever since the second half theatrics in last January’s Championship Game about the quarterback controversy they had to deal with…should they start the 26-2 starter who took them to a pair of Championship games or should they start the freshman (now sophomore) with little experience but with a better arm and defense reading ability than the 26-2 one…but despite hundreds of demands from sports writers, talking heads, and the fan base ol’ Nick Saban said that he would decide when he decided…and then named them as co-starters for the first game. Sort of like he was seeing which one performed better in actual game situations…and while neither would be a poor choice the freshman won…at least for the time being…the starter job with a pretty impressive performance. The 26-2 guy came in and played in the 2nd and 3rd quarters…but is clearly…as was obvious to everybody before the controversy even began…not as good a passer as the younger guy. Anyway…final score 51-14 and with that the team tied the record at 104 weeks for being the top choice in the AP poll…they should break that record this week as Arkansas State shouldn’t put up much of a struggle for them as long as the team is ready to play.

Around mid day Sunday…the campground pretty much cleared out…turned out it was a wedding and all the rigs were folks visiting for that…but by 1500 on Sunday the campground was probably 1/3 full at best and it remained that way through Monday. Neil grilled chicken on Sunday and then marinated boneless pork short ribs and corn on the cob on Monday…all was good.

Tuesday we only had a 52 mile travel day to Glen NH upcoming…so we took our time getting ready, solved the new brake pads crisis, and headed out around 1130. Connie noticed our trailer brakes squealing the other day and on further review our driver side brakes are all pretty worn but only on the inside pad on the caliper…the outside pads are still pretty good so it looks like the pistons might be sticking a bit. He had one pair of pads but needed 3 pairs to fix…ordered them from Amazon for delivery to Glen and they were supposed to arrive the same day as we arrived. However…the vendor sent them via USPS since he didn’t notice it was a campground delivery…and when the package arrived Saturday at the destination post office…which is literally at the end of the campground road…they marked it return to sender as that particular post office doesn’t deliver to street addresses, only PO boxes. Now why they couldn’t just notice that it was to the campground…this is a small town…and put it in the PO box I don’t know but we got the notification that it was being returned to sender. Neil went onto Amazon and submitted a request to the vendor on Sunday of Labor Day weekend asking for a duplicate shipment to be sent out via UPS/FedEx to arrive on time…then he called the vendor to confirm on Tuesday morning about 0900 and the replacement order packing and shipping was already in progress. Great work by Justin at Breckbill Trailers in PA. 

We didn’t even stop on our 52 mile trip…got to Glen Ellis Campground in Glen NH around 1300 and set up in our site 15…a nice grass/gravel FHU 30 amp sited…it’s marked as a pull through but probably only for something as tall as Airstream…we’ll have to back around and out to depart but that’s next week’s problem. The only drawback is that the weather for Tuesday through Thursday was supposed to be around 90…and with only a single A/C unit on 30 amp power we figured it might be hot. This turned out to be mostly a non-problem as we’re partially shaded and there’s been some nice breezes.

Connie had Fun Stuff© planned for Wednesday through Friday…then we’ll do the brake pads on Saturday and have a short Fun Stuff© day on Sunday and a visit to the local speakeasy…yeah, from back in the Prohibition days…but more on that later on in the week.

Thursday she had us a nice drive planned along the Kancamagus Highway Scenic Drive with 13 stops at waterfalls, gorges, viewpoints, and the like…an we figured it would be a long day. We left the rig just about 0720 and returned at almost 1600…so it was a full day including 3 hikes…we skipped the planned 4th one as Connie’s hip started acting up and Neil went on a short unplanned one at Franconia Notch State Park to see the Old Man of the Mountain. The hikes totaled about 3 miles with about 400 feet total of elevation gain up and back down…and none of them were of the R&R variety…nice graded paths pretty much.

First up we stopped at Diana’s Baths…this is actually a series of waterfalls…they’re similar to the ledge falls that I posted over the past couple weeks in ME but these have nice deep and calm pools between them. Back in the days the local Indian tribes used them for bathing purposes, then later on there was a sawmill here to take advantage of the water flow.

The path up to the falls…nice and easy walking as you can see compared to what we had in Maine.

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The lowest in the series of falls and the lower pool…Connie mostly stayed down here and sat up on the rock to the right of this picture while Neil clambered ‘round the rocks for 15 minutes or so getting some but not all of the falls on the memory card. The pipe on the right side is part of the sawmill that was on the site.

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Two different treatments of the same fall…the first is Connie’s freeze the water shot from her perch and the second is Neil’s smooth the water flow out taken from a bit out on the rocks.

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Connie snuck one through the trees…she really likes images like this with greenery in the foreground framing the background whatever…and they’re growing on Neil as well.

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A wider shot of the double treatment above…this the area where the baths were taken both to the right of the rock at center and in another pool behind it.

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We headed out toward our planned second stop…then saw the sign for Cathedral Ledge so we took a short side trip to the top to see the views. It’s basically a big chunk of granite sticking out of the ground.

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Connie liked this tree growing out of the side of the rock…there’s no dirt there so I can’t imagine what it’s growing in, probably a mix of various plant compost that lodged in a crack.

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Mount Washington…that of the highest peak in the northeast and the highest ever recorded wind speed of 231 mph…it’s out there somewhere in the Presidential Mountain Range…we think it’s one of the group to the left of center.

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The Swift River Bridge built in 1869…no longer used for traffic.

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A bit farther down…the bridge was a scheduled stop…we had another unscheduled stop at the Saco River covered bridge…this one is still used for car and non dualley pickup traffic.

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After the Saco River Bridge we turned onto the Kancamagus Scenic Highway which runs westward through the White Mountain National Forest from the Conway are over to Lincoln. Kancamagus (the name means The Fearless One)…grandson of Passaconaway and nephew of Wonalancet…served as the third and final Sagamon of the Penacook Confederacy…a loose confederation of local tribes in the late 1600s. He tried to maintain peace between the natives and the white man but eventually resorted to war as harassment and breaking of agreements continued.

The road largely parallels the course of the Passaconaway River…which isn’t too deep and has lots of rocks in it as you can see.

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The Albany covered bridge…again, still open to traffic but limited to cars only and 3 tons maximum weight…one of the few ways to cross the river along the length of the highway.

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The Lower Falls of the Swift River…we never found anything named the Upper Falls…so whatever I guess. Again…another double treatment side by side.

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This is the falls at Rocky Gorge…about 3 miles upstream of the Lower Falls…it’s unnamed but I guess you could call it the Upper Falls though.

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Cool looking barn we spotted.

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We proceeded along to the Sabbaday Falls…which again is a series of step falls…but these actually have some drop in each cascade as the gorge is pretty steep at this point. Again…Connie stayed at the bottom while Neil went up and about the rocks…that seems to be a continuing theme here.

The lowest cascade here.

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Pool below the falls…but then just downstream of here there’s a continual series of 1 to 2 foot high at lmost waterfalls for about 1/3 of a mile back to the parking lot.

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Second and third falls from the bottom…the second is the tallest single drop in the cascade…and there are another 2 or 3 above what you can see in this shot.

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This is actually an iPhone shot of the 2nd and 3rd drop…but it’s a vertical panorama to get the entire thing in one shot.

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At the top there are a couple of small drops…although Neil thought this was the nicest image he got here…somebody built a cairn…or inuksuks as the aboriginal folks would call them…anyways he’s really impressed by how this one turned out. He (almost) always does the HDR exposure bracketing thing with the camera on a tripod and slow shutter speeds on waterfalls to get the smooth flowing water effect…but it’s always a judgement call on what base shutter speed to pick. Too fast and the water gets frozen…too slow and the motion just blurs the water to pure white. The trick is to get it smooth and blurry but still with some texture and color/light gradation in the water…it’s really hard to get it perfect which is why most of the time he misses just a little…but he doesn’t have the time or patience to take 6 different bracketed sets with varying base shutter speeds…and then process each of the sets then compare the final results to see which he likes best…although to be really perfect you make each bracketed set the same exact framing and then take the best 3 combinations and blend them together. All of that processing would take him an hour per waterfall…and for practical purposes there is very little difference between perfect and good enough.

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We stopped by a nice little lake and got some nice shots with reflections in them.

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This is a Viceroy butterfly…a Monarch look-alike…you can tell it’s a Viceroy and not a Monarch by the presence of a black line separating the front half of the upper wing from the back. Other than that line…it’s almost identical to a Monarch…which holds the record for migration as it goes annually…twice…from southern Mexico to the northern USA.

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Pano at the lake…Neil walked out on a little dock there to get this shot.

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View from the top of one of the passes…up here in ME/NH they don’t call them passes but notches…hence Franconia Notch, Crawford Notch, and many others that we’ve driven through this week.

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A couple of the NH aboriginal peoples.

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A nice little suspension bridge we stopped by…had to wait about 15 minutes before there were no people in the shot. Sure…Neil could have used the Magic People Remover© software…but not having them there in the first place is just easier. Connie took this shot that I’m posting…between the two of them they took about a dozen frames and only one was (a) perfectly centered and (b) had no people in it.

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After getting off the Kancamagus Highway…we headed up I-93 which goes through Franconia Notch…think pass as I discussed above. Franconia Notch is most famous for the Old Man of the Mountain…but that’s in a bit. This is a sort of sideways waterfall named The Basin…we’ve posted this picture before but it was back in 2012 when we first were on the road…see our entry from September or October 2012 when we were parked at Cannon Mountain Campground which is just a few miles north of this spot. The Basin…as I said…is a sideways waterfall…you can see the water coming in at center left and then it swirls around this 15 foot diameter 10 feet deep pool in the center and then departs via another channel at lower right. Really a nice little place…and we didn’t really realize that we had been there before until we walked up to the fall and said…we been here before…we recognize this.

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A little 2 foot tops high fall on a tributary stream that joins the main one just downstream of The Basin.

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Next up on I-93 was Old Man of the Mountain Plaza. As you recall…or maybe not, depends on whether you read Yankee Magazine or keep up with stuff like this…there was a famous rock formation up on the west side of I-93 in Franconia Notch that had a remarkable resemblance to the facial structure of an old man…hence the name. It had been gradually eroding over the years…and was eventually supported by a whole bunch of wire rope and eye bolts to keep it from falling off. It was about 40 feet tall and 25 wide. Unfortunately…the reinforcing only delayed the inevitable…and between midnight and 0200 on May 3, 2003 it fell off of the mountain…and the Old Man of the Mountain was no more. Undeterred…as this was a pretty famous landmark in these parts…the state and a consortium of businesses planned and in 2011 dedicated a site called Old Man of the Mountain Plaza…where you can see the actual profile of what it used to look like. There are a series of steel posts aligned with the height of the individual looking at them…you stand on the appropriate set of footprints that matches your height and the little metal post thingy…which is only about 3 inches tall…lines up with where the rock used to be on the mountain.

It’s a pretty cool thing…but even back in the day the rock piece was really not very large…this is a zoomed in photo so you can see the outline but in actuality if you were standing on the ground at the plaza and held your fingers up about a quarter inch apart that’s about the size of the former rock structure. It’s gone now…but it’s nice that the state has put up a sort of pseudo Old Man of the Mountain so that future visitors can see it.

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While at the Plaza…Connie stayed in the car as her hip was done by now…Neil got a couple of really great reflection shots.

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This is his current pick as his most perfect reflection shot of all time…and there was no post processing here to get the reflection…just his normal HDR stuff to get the highlights and shadows right as it was getting late in the day. He couldn’t believe how still the water was for both this and the couple of shots above.

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Wow…long post with a lot of photos. I’ve got more to post from our next day of Fun Stuff©…but Ima kinda tuckered out now…we went out for Southwestern food and Margaritas for dinner…and it’s already gotten long so I’ll leave the rest until tomorrow or the next day.

Interesting things found on the net this week…just a couple today as this is already pretty long.

LionOrDog

The brain of a Social Justice Warrior…aka a liberal.

SocialJusticeWarrior

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

Hanover ME

We had originally…well, not we specifically but Connie since she’s the DLETC ‘round here…anyways she had planned that we would have some Fun Stuff© scheduled for Wednesday and Friday…her thought being that we had hikes on both of the scheduled days and she figgered having an off day in between was…as the aged knight in gray said…choosing wisely.

That was afore the dad-gum weather guessers went and changed the forecast…and as it turned out Wednesday was going to be in the mid 90s and Thursday would only be in the mid 70s…the adults talked ‘bout that and it took them mere nanoseconds to decide that Thursday and Friday would be a much smarter idea…no sense hiking in weather that hot unless you had to ya know.

So Wednesday we didn’t do much…for once the guessers were right and it was just too hot to do much of anything…we stayed inside except for running down to the local pub…Sunday River Brewery. When we got there we tried all of their brews…mostly they have their own stuff on tap…at least we tried all the ones that didn’t say IPA in them. IPA stands for India Pale Ale and has a lot of the hops flowers in it…hops is what makes beer bitter. That ain’t the reason there is a lot of hops in an IPA though…the reason is that India thing in the name. Back in the day when India was still a British Colony they obviously needed beer in the colony…and having no barley and no hops they could not make their own so it had to be imported from London…which meant that each wooden keg of beer got loaded on a ship which then took 5 or 6 months to go from England all the way round the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa then up and across the Indian Ocean to India…and back in the days of wooden ships and iron men there was no such thing as refrigerated ships. This meant that the beer kept spoiling…so the breweries back in England took the standard pale ale…they shipped it instead of stout, porter, or brown ale as in a hot climate like India a lighter brew is the optimum drinking choice…anyways they took their standard pale ale recipe…added a metric buttload of hops to it…hops serving to preserve the beer as a side affect of adding flavor…although it made the ale awfully bitter or hoppy…and called it India Pale Ale…or IPA…so as to differentiate it from your regular old pale ale that might be served in pubs back in England and actually tastes pretty decent. IPAs survive today and are the favored drink of hipsters although the last year or so a different style called a Gose ale is starting to make inroads into the territory formerly staked out by IPAs…but Gose is really, really tart…like unsweetened lemonade tart. Anyways…we tried the porter and stout that Sunday River Brewery has…and like all the Maine brews we’ve had so far even those were a lot hop-ier than we prefer. Connie finally decided that their Strawberry Wheat Ale was acceptable…Neil thought it was (a) too hoppy and (b) it’s a wheat beer which he doesn’t like. He was going to move on and have a Guinness instead…but then he spotted a bottle of Goslings Navy Spiced Rum on the back of the bar…so he checked with the bartender to see if they had the other necessary ingredient for a Dark and Stormy…Ginger Beer…which is kinda like ginger ale but a lot spicer and less carbonated. She said yes…so he ordered a Dark and Stormy…it came in a pint beer glass and was about a double…it was made to perfection once he got her to bring him a lime garnish. After that…since we arrived at 1610 for brews and dinner…it was getting onto 1700 or thereabouts so we ordered a roasted garlic pizza…tomato sauce, roasted garlic, parmesan and ricotta cheeses, and spinach. We got them to add some sliced mushrooms to it…and it would have been better with just spinach leaves scattered across the top but instead it was cooked spinach that was squeezed dry of most of it’s water and clumped on top…it needed a little less spinach, a little more roasted garlic, and a bit more spicy to it but other than that was pretty darned good. Neil had another Dark and Stormy with the pizza, Connie a glass of Malbec…an Argentinian red wine…and we had 2 slices of our 14 inch pie left over that we brought home for lunch another day. After all of that…it was back to the house.

Thursday dawned as a nice day…cool with a bit of rain early but by 0900 or so it had cleared up and we headed out for our first Fun Stuff© day…our destination was Step Falls about 7 or 8 miles west of the campground where we had about a 0.6 mile uphill hike with 203 feet of elevation gain (according to our hike tracking app). Step Falls is a series of short drops as the stream it’s on comes down the mountainside…similar in character to Ledge Falls back in Baxter State Park a couple weeks back although Step’s drops are individually larger and it’s not really feasible to use it as a long water slide like you can with Ledge Falls. The drawback of this type of falls is that there’s not the single dramatic long distance drop that we all know and love. On the plus side…there’s not the single dramatic long distance drop that we all know and love…this means that there are a whole bunch of smaller drops each with different flow patterns and characteristics…so it’s really like visiting a half dozen waterfalls only you don’t have to hike more than once.

As is typical…since she has no depth perception with only one working eye…Connie stayed up on or close to the trail along the stream and got overview types of photos…while Neil crawled out on rocks, down embankments, and across rock piles to find places he could setup the tripod for the flowing water shots.

We stopped at two separate locations for photos…at the first one all of these photos were taken handheld as there was absolutely no place to set the tripod legs up…so he had to use a bit higher shutter speed than optimum, hence no really nice flowing water textures…and aligning the separate images for HDR is a bit more difficult but the software handles the image alignment for him.

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Meanwhile…Connie got a couple through the trees with branches framing the falls…Neil really likes the second one here.

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After the shots above we continued up to our second stop…it was only about 1/3 as far as we had already hiked but was much harder as the ridge got much steeper and there were a series of stone steps to climb up…and as usual for hiking trails in Maine this was an R&R (rocks and roots) trail. At our second stop the falls drops were individually higher…again Neil did the whole crawling out on rocks thing while Connie stayed safe on the bank.

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We headed downhill and stopped about halfway down on a nice stone bench the caretakers of this preserve had built for a snack…then climbed on down to Li’l Red and headed home. We were hot and sweaty even though it was a cooler day…thank goodness we delayed this hike a day as it was pretty strenuous even though it was short…so we had a shower then went down to Sunday River for Happy Hour…after that we came home and Neil cooked dinner. Pork tenderloins with a sauce he made out of leftover grilled mushrooms and onions with the good balsamic vinegar on them, a little flour to make a roux for it then added roasted garlic, red wine, chicken stock, and cream along with a couple drops of hot sauce…he also made some roasted garlic mashed taters to go along with it. The sauce was superb…going great with both the pork and the taters…he was afraid the mix of cream and red wine would make it too pinkish and not an attractive sauce color but it turned out fine. We cooked some frozen corn for him and some cauliflower and broccoli for Connie…both were seasoned with leftover lime/cilantro/hot sauce butter from our grilled corn on the cob the other night. The only thing we had leftover was a bit of potatoes and sauce and some of the veggies…both of those were by design…the veggies to go along with halibut on Friday night and the potatoes and sauce will make a great breakfast with some over easy eggs on top.

Friday morning it was a bit foggy when we first got up but by about 0700 it had mostly burned off…here’s a shot Neil took out our door of it still laying over the river. This will also serve as the Before shot for a Before and After series…this one is before the Labor Day Weekend rush pulls into the campground later on today.

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We stopped by the campground office/general store for breakfast…Green Mountain coffee which is pretty tasty and a couple of breakfast sandwiches…English muffins with eggs and cheese along with sausage patty for Neil and bacon for Connie…both the sandwiches and the accompanying hash browns were excellent. The hash browns were obviously frozen and deep fried…similar to what McDonalds has…although they were spiced nicely and tasted way better than those you get from the Golden Arches…the sandwiches were obviously fresh made and were delicious…the eggs were cooked hard but not quite all the way so that the yolks were sort of jelly consistency rather than hard boiled consistency…they leaked out a bit and made some extra sauce on the sandwich. We devoured our breakfast on the way to our first stop of the day…a covered bridge we spotted a sign for along US-2.

This bridge is no longer in service for vehicles but is still open for pedestrian access…quite a nice little bridge actually.

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As you can see from the red leaves on the tree in the right foreground and the yellows in the background just right of the bridge…fall is coming on here in Maine…and we should get some beautiful fall leaf colors shots by the time we head south. It looks like we’ll be a week or perhaps 2 early for the peak season…but even the non peak season colors up here are pretty spectacular. We can see touches of color starting to show up on the mountains and ridges at the hither elevations as well…and with another 4 or 5 weeks before we head south I think we’re in for some pretty nice photos.

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Next up we stopped at Screw Auger Falls which is one of the most popular falls in Grafton State Park…our route for the day was up the Grafton River Scenic Drive which runs up the Bear River Valley…then entering NH and turning right at Errol to head up to the Lake Umbagog NWR to hike the Magalloway River Trail to the backwaters of the river…there’s an observation blind there and we figgered we might see some wildlife…at least the NWR propaganda claimed we would. Anyways…the Screw Auger Falls was our first stop on the scenic drive of the day…and I gotta agree it’s pretty popular. We got there about 0845 and were the only ones in the parking lot so we had the falls to our selves for maybe 10 minutes before the hordes started pouring in…by the time we left there were over a dozen cars in the lot and 2 dozen folks wandering around the various cascades in the falls. Again…this is one of those step type falls with numerous cascades in varying heights.

It’s really hard to believe that all of these are the same set of falls…so many different characters in here.

Connie got a nice shot with the sun just out of frame at top left…we like the way it cast that early morning glow over the falls.

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Nice reflection shot here…strange for it to be this calm with a waterfall dropping into the pool 15 feet to the right and another fall to a lower pool 8 feet to the left…but almost dead calm on the surface in between them.

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Gadzooks…an actual wildlife sighting…and a rare bird to boot. This is a Wilson’s Phalarope…which is normally a upper midwest to northwest US species…but according to Peterson it’s a rare but regular migrant in the east. We immediately picked it out as a shore bird…and Peterson’s lets you sort by physical location and date as well as type (we picked small wader) but most of the typical shorebirds we see are either brown rather than gray and more speckled on the back along with a little speckling on the breast. With this one being almost pure gray topside and pure white underneath along with a touch of yellowish in the legs we finally picked through all of the shorebirds and eventually matched this one by appearance…then we looked at the range and wondered if we were right…but this is the time of year for bird migration and it is a rare but regular migrant in Maine according to the map…so we’re sticking with that identification.

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While Neil got those couple…Connie took a rest and got this nice shot up through the trees with the sun peeking through…very nice.

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This is the tallest cascade in this set of falls…about 25 or 30 feet I reckon…Neil had to crawl…again…out on the rock to get a decent photo. Connie was worried that he was on the edge and it was a pretty long drop down into the gorge…but he played it safe and was actually probably 4 feet away from falling off…and was careful in all his movements.

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We continued on westward on the scenic drive and stopped to get this shot of the view…Neil had to run out in the middle of the road and wait until cars were clear to get it…didn’t get quite centered on the stripe on the road though.

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Next stop was at Mother Walker Falls…which is a mother something I guess but neither we nor the other couple that were there were able to find any falls there. Neil did spot one that might be labeled a fall…but it was only about 15 inches high and 5 feet wide and the only view was straight down from about 40 feet above it on the rim of the gorge…both we and the other couple eventually gave up looking for it.

We also stopped at Moose Cave…Connie stayed in the car while Neil went to take a look at it…and it turned out to be pretty much a fail like Mother Walker. The only cool part about it is that the stream both it and Mother Walker Falls are on runs through what is basically a slot canyon upstream from the falls. The slot canyon is about 45 feet deep according to the signage and at the rim it’s narrow enough that you can literally put your hand out onto the opposite wall. It’s actually 45 feet deep from the side you walk up to but the other side is a cliff extending up another 40 or 50 feet. Moose Cave is actually a large…like 400 feet long, 6 or 7 feet thick, and 50 feet tall…chunk of rock that split off from the main structure of the mountain and there’s a second slot canyon behind the split off piece…the secondary canyon is what’s named Moose Cave as it is sort of cave like. You can’t see the stream at all from the rim…you can hear it but that’s about it…and it wasn’t worth the half mile walk and 50 feet down and back up to look at it. It wasn’t on the DLETCs original list anyway…but we saw it and after reading the signage Neil decided it was worth a look…but it weren’t.

Once we crossed the border into NH…we stopped at Lake Umbagog and Neil got both a nice reflection shot as well as a pano of the lake itself.

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We got to our destination at the Magalloway River Trail and hiked the half mile out to the observation blind…where we saw…precisely nothing, bupkus, nada. No water fowl, no boreal birds, no nuttin. We did get a couple photos from the blind though.

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With that our day was mostly done…except for a return trip back to the campground…although we did stop to get a couple of shots along the way as we returned.

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We continued on down to Bethel and made a quick grocery stop…we needed some fresh produce as well as some tortilla chips to make Nachos for the ‘Bama game Saturday night against Louisville…then headed back to the campground. We’ll have some halibut with wasabi/dill sauce along with our leftover veggies and a pineapple…or maybe pear depending on what Connie pulls out of the fridge…salad.

Interesting things found on the net…just a couple since this is already a long post.

First up…thought this one illustrated the state of our current media…Frosted Mini Wheats. The Washington Post actually paid for one of their reporters to investigate whether or not Kellogg’s Original Frosted Mini Wheats have less frosting than their generic counterparts. This reporter…who claims that Frosted Mini Wheats are the ultimate breakfast item…seem less frosted than he remembers from his childhood. Kellogg denies they are of course…but since this guy thinks they’re the bee’s knees he took pictures of both Kellogg’s and the generic, did some Photoshop and Illustrator work and then counted the number of pixels that were the base color of the Mini Wheat and those that were icing colored. After careful counting, calculations, Excel graphing and assorted semi-scientific mumbo jumbo he determined that Kellogg’s have 48% of their surface area frosted, Great Value (Walmart’s house brand) are 71%, and Malt-O-Meal are 59%…so his worst fears were confirmed. Despite the variation in frosting percentage…all 3 brands have the same sugar content per serving…which the reporter ignored and said that Kellogg’s taste less sweet.

And this is what we pay our reporters to do these days. Crikey.

Do we have to rename *everything*?

BrusselSprouts

One of our Elks friends sent us this…we’ve all gotten the emails about some Nigerian guy wanting to send us millions of bucks, right? Turns out it’s true.

DeadNigerian

Remember…somebody is *always* having a worse day than you are.

HavingABadDay

Bad Ass of the Week…haven’t had an entry for this one in awhile.

BadAssRaccoon

Cyas.

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