18 September – A grey cold day for our first day in the forest. So cold in fact that I needed to give Wanda a wash in order to keep warm. That took the best part of 3 hours but it was good to get all the road gunk cleaned off before it took root. The sun didn’t make a showing all day, so it required a good forest track walk later in the afternoon to stay warm.
19 September – After a very cold night we at least had a nice clear day, so with good clean water in the nearby brook got all the washing done and then tried to find a sunny place to get it to dry – that was a bit of a challenge as the trees were quite close in, but managed to get it done eventually. A small hike in the White Mountains following a cross country ski trail occupied us for a while in the afternoon. Another cold night looked set to descend on us, so we closed up early to keep the warmth in and settled for a night of thrashing Bob (at Scrabble).
20 September – Headed west toward the Vermont border stopping at Bath (along with several coachloads of tourists) to view America’s oldest country store and a quaint covered bridge.
A flea market along the way also attracted our attention and we picked up some fresh sweetcorn. It was then on to Woodsville and Walmart to pick up supplies and get a flu injection each – thought we should get one as we are coming into winter and some protection is desirable as it is no fun being sick in an RV. That was a bit of a performance while they filled out the necessary forms and diddled around preparing the injections.
Duly vaccinated, we headed for our next destination over the state line and into Vermont, through Groton on 302 and then turning north to the Groton State Forest for a campground, as we are nearing the limit on our waste and water tanks. The Riker Pond Campground was the first one we came to that had the necessary facilities.
The roads around New Hampshire are dotted with stone-wall fences – very similar to the Glenburvie region in Whangarei, although more forested. They were used here to keep in the sheep in the late 1800’s but now there are no sheep and the walls are falling into disrepair. We were told that we would see a difference in the towns between NH and VT – it was noticeable in the first town we came to, the houses were quite close to the road but yet again we see many rural homes abandoned and a lot of sub standard houses. It was amazing what an effect a couple of cold days had on the foliage – a lot more trees have started turning. Enjoyed a campfire to see the evening out as the cold front had disappeared to be replaced with much warmer air. Very impressed with the campground and how it is looked after – each site is cleaned and raked after each camper departs, and the sites are nicely placed well away from each other. Another neat thing they have as well as tent/RV sites and cottages is wooden floored lean-to’s. I guess that these are generally used by tenters so that they have a nice dry place to congregate, or if you don’t have a tent you could easily sleep in them and be under cover.
21 September – After duly making use of the facilities in the campground, went a little up the road for a walk in the woods. These forests are mostly deciduous trees so it must be quite different to see the trails in the winter – they would be much more open and you would get nice views. Came back on to the main highway V2 and at East Montpelier headed north again on a smaller road following small lakes and through the settlements of East Calais and Hardwick, before finally finding a fishing access parking lot to make our home for the night.
We are now following a route we picked up off the internet as being the best roads for viewing the Fall colours. We are still a little early but even over the last few days we have noticed the change. Nice to be back to warmer weather again – it is a little hard to get warm at night when the temperature drops down into the low 30’s. Did manage to find a hot water bottle (not a very substantial one but it will work for now) in Walmart.
22 September – Had quite a bit of rain overnight and it didn’t really brighten all day. Continued on our ‘autumnal leaves’ route which took us up and over a small mountain pass at 2333ft which was covered in low cloud, so not too much to see, and a front was passing through with quite a lot of wind. We have had patches of quite vivid colours. Passed through some small settlements and it is quite depressing yet again to see how many abandoned houses there are. As we went a little further north we got into serious dairy country – Vermont is renowned for it’s cheese production. The size of the barns has to be seen to be believed – a few were quite modern looking but there were just as many very old ones. Stopped off in Newport for morning tea, but as it was still raining we were not too inclined to do much exploring and soon continued on westwards on pleasant rural roads.
Our stop for the night was pre-arranged at a harvest host dairy/maple sugar farm near Swanton. They have 250 mainly Friesian cows which are kept in barns in quite large individual stalls – the owner was very defensive when questioned about this way of farming and went to great pains to inform us of how humane their system is. They can be milked two or three times a day in situ and all the production goes to a local co-op of around 400 farmers; this past year they have been getting record prices. Their milk is nearly all used in local production as fresh town supply or for cheese – if any is sent for powder, the farmer has to pay for that to be done! She couldn’t quite get the concept that nearly all of our NZ milk goes into milk powder for export. The huge silos on these farms are for silage for winter feed and they also feed home-grown hay plus grain and trace elements which is often bought in. The manure from the barns is collected and gets spread at a later stage on their fields.
The maple syrup/sugar production is very interesting. They have 12,000 trees scattered in the woods on their property which are tapped in springtime – the taps are linked to a pipeline so there is no need to manually collect the resin sap during the 30 day production period. Inside their sugar barn they have a large evaporator which gets rid of the water and reduces the resin sap to syrup, which is further processed to make sugar. It takes 40 litres of resin to get 1 litre of syrup, which they bottle and sell locally or off their website. The warmer weather has gone west again, so it is back on with the gas furnace tonight.
23 September – Spent the best part of the morning chatting with the farm owners, tasting the maple syrup and learning about their farming methods. Their son manages the trees and at the end of winter he has to go out with another worker and put in new taps in all of their trees. He can tap up to 600 per day, which consists of drilling the hole and inserting the plastic tap. Each tap is connected to a network of small bore plastic tubing. These tubes end up like a spiders web through-out the forest and link into a central vacuum pump. A sugar maple tree has to be 40 years old before it can be utilised – the minimum circumference has to be 10.5 inches for one tap; if you can reach around the tree and your hands don’t meet then the tree can stand two taps. Each year new taps have to be inserted and the old taps heal in time.
Finally got underway and took the route that our hosts suggested through the Grand Isle islands in the middle of Lake Champlain, which turned out to be quite a well-to-do district. A road follows down three of the larger islands; we stopped in the middle one at North Hero and had a walk in their nature park. What should we come across in the woods but a maple sugar setup – plastic pipes all over the ground, wound around trees and connected to a vacuum tank, all set for the next season. Had a nice chat with a local man who was parked alongside us, who kindly gave us some homegrown tomatoes.
Continued doing our loop and hit interstate 89, then north again up to St Albans. Pretty road for a freeway – unlike the smaller roads which follow the hills up and down, interstates tend to cut through some of the hills – in this case it was quite spectacular as they went through sheer sided granite cuttings. The forests in this area were peppered with the changing colours. At St Albans it was eastward again through to Bakersfield and to complete the loop, south to Jeffersonville where we found another wilderness access parking lot beside a small river which was destined to be our home for the night.
24 September – Traffic going both ways was our morning wake-up – we are surprised how much traffic there is on these small roads. Another loop of scenic roads was the order of the day. A mix of small country roads and interstate took us through Cambridge, Jericho, Richmond, Waterbury then on a middle sized road north again through to the pretty ski town of Stowe. A really nice little town with interesting art & craft shops. Had a nice lunch in one of the cafes after wandering around the town and taking in the period buildings. Didn’t travel too much further, with a short drive up to Morrisville, turning east and near Wolcott stopping at yet another Wildlife Access parking lot – this one again beside a small stream and also an historic covered railway bridge. Being such a nice day, had a relaxing afternoon sitting in the sun and reading. We are not too far from our parking spot of three days ago. We have been doing these loops to make sure that we take in all the scenic roads and as the days progress we are seeing more and more colour in the foliage. The reds being joined by oranges and yellows now.
25 September – Dawn chorus was the continual trail of cars going to and from who knows where – poor things must have been going to work. We headed for Montpelier down a road travelled a few days ago. As it is the State Capital, we thought we should stop and have a walk around but we couldn’t find a park for an RV for love nor money, so flagged that idea and took off on the Interstate 89 westwards as far as Duxbury and then down on another scenic drive, Hwy 100, to the Green Mountains. Pretty route through a mix of farmland and as we got closer to the mountains – ski resorts. The mountains are not very high and covered with forest.
Stopped for a nice nature walk around a snow-making pond and as we walked around it, noticed tracks leading from the forest down into the pond and pondered about what it could be. Our questions were soon answered when we came across a large tree which had been half gnawed through, as well as the stumps of several smaller ones, very obviously by a beaver. A little further along we came to the lodge – piled high with small trees and branches. I can see where the saying ‘busy as a beaver’ comes from – they certainly put a lot of energy into building their homes.
Had a couple of free dispersed camping sites on our list for staying in the Green Mountain forest, the first one near Granville turned out to be not very suitable, so carried on to another area a little further south off on a side road from Hancock. Texas Falls was were we found a perfect little spot beside a brook.
26 September – Time for another lazy day. Had a little walk down to the Falls and back along the forest nature trail; though currently there was not a lot of water in the falls, the rock formations that have resulted from the spring melts and storm flows were dramatic and interesting. Lots of beautiful clear pools were all down the path of the brook.
27 September – Nice clear start to the day and back again to warm weather. First stop today was the little settlement of Hancock where we noticed a book sale going on in the local library. The libraries are a great place to stock up on cheap books so we now have enough to keep us going for a few weeks. In between times I work through the 10,000 books that I have on my kindle. Had a nice chat with the librarian, Caroline, who gave us a few tips for some local roads to sample. Thanks Caroline – really enjoyed the road up to the quarry. This quarry was harvesting a lovely green granite known as serpentine and the pit looked to go down about 200ft.
This would have to be the only place we have ever come across where the outdoor public picnic table had a granite top – very posh. After that we continued down to Woodstock. It was jam packed with weekend visitors and we couldn’t find anywhere to park, so had to drive through. It’s main claims to fame are an association with the Rockefeller family and that all the services are underground, which seems to be quite a novelty for this country.
Next stop was to have a look at a remarkable furniture and pottery shop – Shackleton and Thomas. Everything is hand crafted and comes at a very remarkable price (when you see coffee mug seconds at $42 you know it is a rather special place). The quality of all the pieces was amazing.
From Woodstock headed westwards yet again towards Rutland, with fall colours making a stunning show. We have been told that we have timed it right and are getting to see the best show. Another week in this area and they might disappear as they are quite visibly falling already. Walmart was the target as we needed supplies. Not such a great location, right in the middle of the town beside the Amtrak station, but we have pleasant neighbours from Texas, so nice to have a chat with them and hear about their particular travels and learn a bit about their corner of the world.
28 September – Amtrak was our alarm clock this morning – the train must have been parked up overnight, but at 6am it started it’s engines and by the time we left at 9am it hadn’t moved from the station. Spent a fruitful hour at the Laundromat and a less fruitful time looking for propane. Some states you can get it at most gas stations, but Vermont is not one of them – so it becomes a challenge to find the right sort of business that may be able to fill the tank. Went out of Rutland on V4 – the same road as yesterday but going the opposite way and retraced our steps as far as West Bridgewater before heading south on Route 100.
Another pretty road, going up into their small mountains before dropping back down to Londonderry and just before Jamaica was our target – an Army Corps of Engineers Campsite along the West River. A lovely place – over 100 sites but plenty of space between them and really nicely cared for grounds. Decided it was a nice place to stay for a couple of days – especially as they gave Bob the senior’s price (in reality you have to be a US resident but they let it go) of a whole $11 per night with water and power. A real treat to use our awning and sit outside and enjoy the lovely warm afternoon.
29 September – Walked a small trail following the river – it must have been an old railway judging by the grade and width of the trail. The walk was mainly tree covered with carpets of fallen leaves to soften the road.
This is my first attempt at loading a video onto the ether.