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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Vermont --- Has Gone to the Dogs (Dog Mountain)

View from Dog Mountain near St. Johnsbury


Roger here...  


Dianne and I agreed that the drive from North Conway, New Hampshire to Randolph, Vermont was the most scenic of this summer's trip.  

Our first impression of Vermont was of its greenness.  All things, including the highway signs were green.  (The police cars too -- D.)


The second thing that we noticed was the refreshing absence of billboards.  Informational signs were there, but advertisements were absent.  The third thing that we noticed was that we had left the busyness of New York, Maine, and New Hampshire behind.  Vermont seemed very laid back and calm.  Quite nice, actually.


Scene from a very quiet welcome center

Dianne achieved a really cool milestone during our stop at the Vermont Welcome Center.  I will let her explain.




When I was an 11-year-old kid, I cut this small map out of a book that I had.  Each time I entered a new-to-me state, I colored it in.   When we entered Vermont, I finally got to complete this "project" that was 57 years in the making!


Our campsite....

The frenetic sounds of families having fun in our New Hampshire campground have been replaced by serenity, semi-seclusion and scenery.  We will be at the Lake Champagne (not Champlain) RV Resort for seven nights.



Driving to our full-hookup, pull-through campsite was a new experience.  We drove down a grassy hill to our site over the grass.  The ground cover in every direction (including our parking spot) was green, green grass --- no dirt, no sand, no hard surface --- just grass.


The SUV is actually backed up to the rear of the Airstream.  After hooking up I pulled around and backed down the hill.

The pictures depict a feeling that we were all alone.  Actually, there were several RVs here.  The spacious feel was due to the acreage between the rows and the largeness of the sites themselves.  The picture below shows the uphill distance between our row and the row above.  



The next few photos were all taken from our site.


Happy Hour View




A small lake (Lake Champagne) was very visible from our site.


Imagine what this row of maple trees look like in the fall.
A little camping fun (not) ... While we were setting up at our site, each of us doing our own tasks, it rained INSIDE the Airstream.  How is that possible, you say?  When I hooked up the water neither of us noticed that the kitchen faucet had been bumped during the drive to a spot away from the sink and over the counter.  It was also bumped to the "on" position.  I turned on the water outside.  Neither of us knew that water was spewing all over the counter and the floor.  

We had to move everything that was on the floor outside to dry.  Dianne mopped the floor while I did the carrying.  We now have such a clean floor :-).  Note to self --- never turn on the water at the spigot before assuring that the faucet is OFF!  

It is funny now.  It was not funny at the time.

I decided to lighten the mood a bit and surprise Dianne by installing her favorite festive camping lights.



These are the views from Dianne's bed.


Dianne's favorite tiki lights


The dog paw print lights that I bought for Dianne  in North Carolina were overhead.

Dog Mountain...


Long before we arrived in Vermont, we knew that a visit to Dog Mountain, outside of St. Johnsbury, would be on the agenda. It was an hour drive from our campground, but for us, well worth it.

Vermont native and artist, Stephen Huneck, was a lover of dogs.  He was known for his humorous wood cut prints of dogs.  During his life he  erected a dog chapel and playground for dogs at the top of a Vermont mountain.  The Dog Chapel and Huneck's Gallery sit in the center of Dog Mountain.






Dogs are welcome everywhere on the property.  The four of us (including Bandido and Poquita) traipsed over to the Gallery first.  We were greeted at the door by the coolest pit bull I have ever seen. Her demeanor was so low key that Bandido and Poquita treated her like an old friend.  

Stephen Huneck's art work was displayed throughout the area.  Sales of the artwork help with the maintenance of Dog Mountain.  Weekend concerts are also held to raise maintenance funds.  Dianne did her share by buying a t-shirt, some note cards, some gifts, and a calendar.  



I now have a new pillow that fits the back of my neck perfectly.





 "Hey Dianne!  You are not supposed to take photographs in restrooms!"  This creative restroom was a hoot.  In the picture below the faucet (the dog's mouth) was operated by its tail.  :-)




We need a toy box like this for our casita.  





While I carried our purchases to the SUV, Dianne headed to the Dog Chapel.  Huneck's vision for the chapel was a place where dog owners could remember their departed friends.


I love the welcome sign!

A stained glass window was the center of the alter.  Be sure to notice the dogs holding up the pews.




Huneck hoped that people would leave remembrances of their dogs on the walls.  Little did he know that ladders were required as every square inch of the walls was covered.  For dog lovers this is quite moving.  Dianne wrote a remembrance of our recently departed Tequila in the registry.



Huneck created stained glass windows for the chapel that depict his artwork.




My favorite shows a dog swimming after a ball. It is entitled "play".  The lab in the window does not look like Bandido, but the theme certainly reminds me of my dog.






After our visiting the Dog Chapel we wandered outside to a picnic table under the shade of a low-hanging limb.  


Lunch time!


All dogs are free to roam the property, off leash.  Huneck's art work is displayed around every corner.  The pond in the photo below is one of two that are provided so that dogs can swim and fetch.




All dogs go to heaven -- D.



Before leaving, the four of us got some exercise on one of the hiking trails.  The trail we chose rose uphill for quite a distance before entering the woods.  There was more to it than I expected, as we hopped on rocks to cross a small stream.  We worked up a sweat.














We thoroughly loved our time at this amazing place.  Any dog lover would be moved by it.

A few raindrops beckoned that we move on.  Our next stop was not visually enticing, but it did tempt our tastebuds.  



Cabot cheese is sold throughout the country.  We actually had some at our picnic lunch that day.  The Cabot Creamery in the small town of Cabot (what else) provides free samples of all its cheeses.  My favorite was the habanero, but my stomach would object.  Dianne and I took turns watching the dogs.  Dianne came out with four bricks of cheese.  I am feeling a little hungry right now.

We ended the day back at our bucolic campsite with a visual treat from mother nature.



Tomorrow we will eat some iconic ice cream!

Dianne's Teensy-Weensy Trailer Tip:

As promised, this entry shows Roger's "man cave" at the rear of the trailer:


The wall next to his bed was prime real estate for hanging shelves and phone holders.  He has two USB ports, each holding two sockets, so he can charge his iPhone and Kindle by just reaching over.  There's space for the tv remote, his glasses, book light, wallet, and whatever else he decides to stash there, all at arm's reach.


At the foot of his bed is the space he calls his "foot locker."  The bed was designed for tall people, evidently, because there is all kinds of usable space there.  On the left of the screen in the photo below, the white ultra-leather item lifts up to reveal storage.  There is also one at the head of the bed.  We use the one at the head of the bed as a clothes hamper, and the one at the foot of the bed for an extra set of towels and sheets -- a mini linen closet.

There is also room for two storage bins with pull-out drawers, one for him and one for me, that holds extra clothes.  A battery-operated fan comes in handy when we don't want to run the overhead exhaust fan or the air conditioner.   

Roger keeps his computer in the "foot locker" and charges it using a wall outlet at the foot of his bed.  We always put a hard tray under the computer when charging it so that it's not on top of soft bedding if it gets hot.



The pet picture of the day shows how relaxing Bandido and Poquita also find this campground:


Monday, July 15, 2019

The Railroads of New Hampshire

Atul, Robyn, Dianne, Roger


Roger here...  More adventures awaited us in the White Mountains in the beautiful state of New Hampshire. 


Atul, Robyn, Dianne
Our daughter, Robyn, and son-in-law, Atul, rented a car in New York City (where Robyn's show #DateMe - an OK Cupid Experiment is running off Broadway) and drove up to meet us.  Warm feelings.  The first part of this post shows our adventures on the Mount Washington Cog Railway. 

When Atul told me when they would be coming, I asked about doing this trip.  I thought they might like it.  When I knew for sure when they would arrive,  I booked the tickets.  Such an unique experience and so much fun!


The train that will push us  up the mountain


We arrived early (of course), picked up our tickets, toured the displays and boarded our train.  The cog railway has been running for 150 years!

 Our ride up was to be one scenic hour.  


We sat on comfortable wooden benches and enjoyed the mountain air.  The conductor provided continuous commentary.


The first picture I took during the ride was of a ramp that was being constructed for a television event.  Evidently, mountain bikers will be jumping over the train!  Not for me.

The photo below gives a different perspective of the ramp.  Look just to the right of the U.S. flag.






I was able to walk to the front of the car to take this picture of the train ascending the mountain.  The conductor - brakeman is in the picture.  Walking back to my seat on a 25% grade was a little dicey.


After leaving the tree-line, the views became panoramic.

It was intriguing to watch the clouds drift up and down along the mountain slopes --- continual movement.




Two hiking trails climb to the summit ---  the Crawford Path and the Appalachian Trail.  Cairns mark the path.  They are spaced closely together for the hikers to navigate during the frequent heavy fog or snowy conditions.  Unfortunately, there have been many hiker deaths on Mount Washington --- mostly due to rapid weather changes and hypothermia.  The latest was just a month ago.

The hikers below were on the Appalachian Trail.



The young lady below was hiking up right next to the train.



The clouds dominated the views when we reached the top.

As you can tell, the temperature was a bit chilly, but not too bad.  It was also windy, as it always is at the summit of Mt. Washington.  In fact, the largest wind speed ever recorded on the planet occurred here on April 12, 1934 --- 231 mph!  Dianne held her hood closely around her neck.



Below is a great picture of Robyn and Atul.




The weather station was definitely reporting cloudy on that day :-).















We walked through a replica of the Tip Top House Hotel that was built in 1853 for hikers.  











Rows of bunk beds lined the sleeping area.











In the photo below, Robyn is preparing a home-cooked meal :-).


"Betty Crocker"


I took a couple of pictures of the track at the top.  This shows the initial descent.  The actual place where the cogs engage the track is in the center.  There is never a time that the train is not physically held on the track.  Good to know.




After an hour at the top, a new train arrived to take us back down.




Back at North Conway, Robyn and Atul bought us a delicious lunch.  We went back to the campground for a couple of hours to walk the dogs and rest up.  It started to rain before we made our way back to Robyn and Atul's hotel.  We were not really hungry, so we stopped at a Ben and Jerry's for ice cream.

The rains grew into a downpour, so we went back to the hotel lobby and played a rousing game of "Send 'em Back Home, Baby!"  Dianne and I knew this game as Aggravation.  We had a blast.  Unfortunately, Robyn and Atul won.  


Such a good idea Atul had!   We really had fun playing this game on a rainy evening.

Dianne and I spent a worrisome night back at the Airstream.  It literally poured all night.  When we returned to our camp site, we waded through a pond to get into our trailer --- wet shoes, wet feet.  Dianne put on boots to walk the dogs.  We listened to the weather channel and worried about flash flooding since we were just a few steps from the Saco River.  It all ended well, but the river was certainly high the next morning, and no longer clear.



We met Robyn and Atul for breakfast before they began their trip to see Atul's family in Ohio.  We spent that day reading and blogging.

The sun returned the following day, so we decided to take a different kind of train ride on the Conway Scenic Railroad.


The historic train depot

The railway station was just down the street from our campground.  However, in the busy North Conway traffic, it took 20 minutes to get there and find parking.


We had ordered tickets for the 5-hour "notch" trip after confirming that our dogs were welcome in the coach class.







We were to arrive 45 minutes before departure.  So, after picking up the tickets, we found a shady spot to wait.  As you can see, Dianne dressed the dogs up for the trip.  

We were a little concerned about "chicken boy Bandido" on the train.  We really had nothing to worry about.

All Aboard!!!!!!  The pooches had a  nice big place to chill out during the trip....




... that is, until Poquita decided to claim her reserved spot on Dianne's lap.

Don't feel sorry for Bandido.  The young man in the photo below loved my dog.  He visited often, frequently sitting on the floor next to Bandido.  Bandido rewarded the boy with licks on the face 
:-).




When he was not being fawned over by passengers, he slept on the floor.  










Enough about the dogs for a while!  We picked seats that were great for the dogs, but not the best for the scenery.  Until we reached the mountains, this was our typical view.



This shot of "floaters" on the Saco River was fun...



... as was this promising photo of scenery to come in the distant mountains.




Since we were free to move about the train car,  we often walked to the other side of the car as we entered the mountains.  







We snapped some interesting photos as we approached the half-way point at Crawford Station in Crawford Notch State Park.
Dianne took this picture of the train entering what looked to be a tunnel, but was actually...
... a very narrow rock wall.















We had a one-hour layover at the state park while the engine was repositioned for the return trip.  This was a scenic place to spend an hour.


Saco Lake --- the source of the Saco River


We thought we would take a 20-minute walk around Saco Lake, but the recent rain turned the beginning of the trail into mud.
No thanks.


So, we took a couple of pictures and headed back to the train to eat lunch and claim better seats for the return trip.

The "open" car had bench seats positioned to look out the side of the train.  We gave up the comfy seats for the wooden bench seats.  This time, for the return trip, we picked our seats on the scenic side.


Dianne had packed a picnic lunch.

Bandido soon made friends with the lady who sat next to us.  He was having a good day.  The "open" car was just that.  There was a railing, but not windows to obstruct the views.  The continual breeze was welcome on the warm day.



Dianne took another good photo as we approached the "fake" tunnel.



The open views allowed us to take better pictures.


Notice the people hanging out on the rock.





Sleepy Eyes....
Poquita again enjoyed Dianne's lap; that is, until....

... she fell asleep on her shoulder.  It was a long day for puppy dogs.

Dianne's Teensy-Weensy Trailer Tip:

I gave up my linen closet when we sold the motor home.   To save weight and space and drying time at the laundromat, I researched and found these nifty replacements for the queen-size bed sheets we had been using in the motor home:



These nifty zippered Vumos sheets dry very quickly, weigh literally nothing, and are surprisingly warm.  I unzip one side and sleep between it like a sleeping bag.  They fold up into a tiny pouch (which I don't use).


Dianne's Bed a/k/a Dinette - I love my big window open!

On a Costco run before we left Texas, we discovered the amazingly lightweight comforter shown on the far left of the photo.   It also weighs literally nothing, yet is extremely warm.  Large enough for one person (we bought two of them -- more on that later).  We brought along an extra blanket each -- the old-fashioned, heavy kind -- thinking we might need them in Maine, that these new comforters couldn't possibly be warm enough by themselves.   We haven't used them yet, and they have been relegated to the "I didn't need to bring this" stash in the SUV.

On our first trial run camping trip in the new trailer, we slept in the bed like we did in the motor home.  After one night of crawling over the sleeping person for a bathroom run, plus two dogs trying to squeeze in there with us, we decided after  47 years in one bed that it wouldn't kill us to split up on vacation.   The dinette makes into a bed, so the second night on that trial run I moved my little sheet and comforter and slept there.   Hmmmm.....the ultra leather cushions felt pretty firm (translation:  way too hard).   What to do?

I decided to cut-to-size the memory foam topper we had used in the motor home.  I was too cheap to buy a duvet cover to fit the smaller size, so I repurposed our old queen-size one and enclosed the memory foam in that. 
   

During the day, the memory foam topper fits on top of Roger's bed in the rear of the trailer.   After supper, when we convert the dinette, we lug it over and place it on top of the dinette cushions.   Then I simply unfold my sheet, unzip, crawl in, and if I need it, pull up the comforter.  There are conveniently placed USB ports to charge my phone, iPad, and Kindle right above the dinette.  It works for us!   Next time I'll show you Roger's little "man cave" nook at the rear of the trailer.   


We spent a week in New Hampshire.  Our next post will be from Vermont where we will spend another week.

Pet Picture of the Day....

Bandido and Poquita stretched out on the floor of the train.


Our well-behaved fur kids