Vermont Part 3

Current Location: Oregon Coast Sunset Bay State Park
It is still dark out, but after slipping into the cozy MoHo bed at 7 pm last night, I can’t sleep another minute.  Outside temps are a mild 61 degrees, but I have a feeling it is cloudy and the wind is blowing in gusts and bursts.  Here at Sunset Bay we have no internet and no phone, something I expected, but a fact that still takes a bit of adjustment.  I can’t check the weather other than sticking my nose outside to get a sense of what the coming day might be like.
Jeanne and Alans house site (7 of 34)I also have no idea when this post will actually get up to the internet, but thought it might be a good idea to at least write it before I have another big backlog of Oregon Coast camping to write about. While I was traipsing about the east coast, Mo was home, and she was definitely ready for a MoHo trip.  This time of year, the coast seems to be the place where we are drawn, with no expectations of anything but windy, possibly rainy weather.  Rain in Rocky Point is cold and can get snowy in November.  Rain on the coast doesn’t often include snow, and has the added benefit of wild surf. 
Time to slip back to my week in Vermont before I completely forget the details.  Thank goodness for photos.
Around Dorset 2 (12 of 21)Wednesday in Vermont was to be simple, with a beautiful morning walk up the hills above Dorset to the orchard and then some explorations around the area.  Several guests were scheduled to arrive this evening, and Jeanne and Alan were attending to pre-wedding tasks.  In addition, they have another big project that needed a bit of attention, and Jeanne wanted me to see the site where the two of them are building their own home.
Jeanne and Alans house site (18 of 34)When we were up in the airplane on Monday, they pointed the location out to me, high on the hills overlooking the valley below.  The house on Alan’s property was first built on in the early 1700’s, when it was a tavern.  The two of them wanted so much to keep the building somewhat intact, but it was an impossible task with mold and other issues to contend with.
Jeanne and Alans house site (1 of 34)Instead, Jeanne’s task for the day was to flag the items they wanted to save from demolition.  I loved seeing the old house, the old barn, and especially the hand forged square nails and hand hewn beams.  The new house will be a timber frame, and they are going to incorporate the beams and some of the existing stones into the design.
Jeanne and Alans house site (10 of 34)Can you imagine living in these Vermont mountains with a view like this?  I was told the house will have a walk-out lower level that will be guest quarters, and I do hope I can get back again to visit and see the place when it is completed.
Jeanne and Alans house site (25 of 34)In addition to the gorgeous view, the house has its very own swimming pond.  I have never seen a pond quite like this one, absolutely crystal clear.  With a diving board. 
Jeanne and Alans house site (21 of 34)Jeanne and Alan are excited about having their own home that is truly “theirs”, not one that was “hers” or “his”.  Alan laughed with me about the old adage that building a house can break up a marriage, saying that the two of them are having a great time making the decisions and choices together and enjoying every minute of the process.
Jeanne and Alans house site (29 of 34)With two people who love the natural world, I know that the home will be a treasure of local wood and stone, and that it will be filled with art from all over the world from their joint and separate travels.  Exciting!
Camp Kinni Kinnec (4 of 30)I took some time that afternoon to explore on my own a bit, driving north to Lake St. Catherine to see if I could find the old Kinne Kinnic Camp on the northern shores of the lake. In the early 60’s, when Mo was teaching in China Lake, she decided to apply for a summer coaching job in Vermont. 
Camp Kinni Kinnec (17 of 30)The camp was one of those tony places where wealthy folks send their kids while they travel in Europe.  Mo had quite the summer teaching smartie-pants rich girls how to play tennis.  As a born west coast, rather adventurous and outdoorsy young woman, I can only imagine what a culture shock that whole experience might have been.  The telling part is that she only did it once.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (14 of 30)The original camp is no longer there, but an internet search turned up alumni including Joan Rivers among others.  I found an original sign at the entrance to what is now a private housing development, and even with the photos, Mo couldn’t remember for sure which ones were part of her camp.
The major acreage of the original camp is now Lake Catherine State Park.  With the season over and the park closed, I parked outside the gates and spent a couple of hours wandering the grounds and taking photos.  I had the entire place to myself, without another soul around.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (6 of 30)It is a beautiful park, with some very nice RV campsites, (no hookups), an easy place to launch kayaks, and trails for bike riding.  I took photos of the best campsites, and of the original buildings, hoping that Mo might recognize some of them.  The buildings were obviously much older than the state park, and I could only assume that they were from the original Camp Kinne Kinnic.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (26 of 30)Jeanne had warned me repeatedly about the typical fall outbreak of ticks in this part of Vermont, so I was careful to stay out of the brush.  Still, I did walk through some tall grass, and sure enough I looked down  and saw a creepy crawling on my pants leg.  I checked carefully for ticks that night, but not carefully enough.
Camp Kinni Kinnec (28 of 30)The next  morning, while taking my shower I was surprised to find a mole on my side that hadn’t been there the day before.  Ack!  I would imagine that little bugger was on my clothes and when I went to bed he found his way to my warm body.  Ick.  I called Jeanne and she said I needed to get to the emergency immediately to get it removed and that there was a high incidence of lyme disease in the area.  Ack again. 
Vermont back roads (29 of 29)Walking up to the house to see what I could do and where I could go, I was greeted by comments, “Russell can probably help you”.  Are you kidding me?  was my first response.  Russell had arrived the previous evening, a very attractive worldly guy with a great sense of humor, a new house in Greece, and a big box of baklava that he carried for 18 hours on the plane to share with all of us.  I had completely forgotten that Russell was also an ER doctor.  It didn’t take him long to get the tick out from a rather sensitive area, and he assured me that lyme disease was probably not a problem since the tick hadn’t been embedded for even 12 hours.  whew.  No antibiotics were needed, and the dreaded rash and bullseye ring never appeared.
The next few days before the wedding were filled with people arriving, including Eve, from my very own town of Klamath Falls.  Eve is an attorney in town and was one of Jeanne’s great running friends.  My other housemates, Tei an Cecil, who live in the previously mentioned village of Waitsfield, also arrived.
Wedding-026I had heard of Tei for years, knowing that she and Jeanne had been friends even before birth, as their mothers were friends when they were pregnant with each of them. Tei was even more delightful than I imagined, a tiny, athletic woman with huge talent and kindness. 
As the wedding drew closer, we especially enjoyed the special meet and greet evening at Alan’s house, where once again his master chef style came into play, and we had a Mexican feast worthy of royalty. Drinking, fun and laughter ensued as we all listened and told stories about Jeanne and Alan and their adventures.
Vermont back roads (3 of 29)The next day, Jeanne wanted to show Eve and I more of the beautiful countryside.  Even in the rain and clouds the colors were gorgeous, and seeing two more historic covered bridges not far from Dorset was wonderful. 
Vermont back roads (20 of 29)I also took some time to visit the nearby town of Manchester with another guest.  Ellen had arrived from Key West and was staying at the Dorset Inn.  We spent a beautiful rainy morning exploring the lovely New England town with great shops, a gorgeous gallery, and a fabulous yarn shop, Yarns for Your Soul.  The only thing that kept me from buying skeins and skeins of hand dyed wool yarn was the thought that I would have to pay all those sales taxes and then try to fit it in my luggage.  I did buy enough to make a couple of cute ski hats however, yummy stuff.
Vermont back roads (16 of 29)Ellen and I had lunch at the local independent bookstore, Northshire Bookstore, a wonderful place with real books, real food, and great cappuccino.  Ellen is another treasure.  She and Jeanne met by chance on some world trip where they were assigned as roommates, and have traveled together since that time to many exotic world locations.  I have heard Ellen stories for years as well, and was so happy that I finally got to meet her in person.
It is from this point, however, that the photos of my visit deteriorate completely.  I fell asleep the previous night with my camera on the bed.  I had been looking at the photos I had taken, and somehow didn’t put the camera away properly.  Sure enough, in the middle of the night, I heard a thump.
UhOh.  It wasn’t a long drop, and the hardwood floors weren’t that hard, but it was enough that the camera no longer worked.  I had no time to find a repair place, so the rest of the week my photos came from the iPhone.  I know that everyone seems to think iPhone photos are fine, but they don’t do that great in low light situations indoors at night, or in a church, or at a wedding.
Lucky for me, once I returned home and took the camera to the shop, the only problem was that the mirror was stuck.  I had tried dropping and lifting the mirror, but evidently hadn’t tried enough.  The camera person had the camera working in minutes.  Whew!
Next:  I know I keep saying it, but this time really:  Wedding Rehearsal, Rehearsal Dinner, Wedding, and Reception!

Vermont in October

Current Location:  Rocky Point, Oregon Clear and Cold at 32 degrees F this morning

I had a year to get excited about my trip to Vermont.  My friend Jeanne was getting married, and I knew I had to be there one way or another.  The trip was wonderful in so many ways, and yet losing our sweet dog Abby, just a few days after my return, made it impossible for me to write about the beautiful days and the beautiful wedding until now.

Around Dorset (28 of 35)Mother Myrick in the morning sunrise above Dorset, Vermont

Some time has passed since Abby left us.  We buried her not far from where our also recently deceased cat Jeremy lies, both small rock headstones visible from the kitchen window.  The initial grief and sadness has eased a bit.  The huge empty space that a beloved pet leaves behind is no less empty, but feels a bit less shocking.  The house is very quiet.  I did finally clean the dog spit off the sliding glass door, and just recently Mo put Abby’s toys away somewhere, I am not sure where.

137-Christmas_036 I think October is a beautiful month just about anywhere in this wide country.  However the classic New England fall was on my bucket list.  Mo and I have talked often of attempting to get back there in the MoHo, to fill in those last few states we have yet to experience in our rig.  However the timing for such a journey can be daunting at best.  It is always a juggle between catching the height of color and still not getting caught in the snows that follow.  If we had attempted it this year, we would have no doubt been caught in the early snowstorms that are hitting the South at this very moment.

driving to Dorset (4 of 18)The Connecticut River Greenway along my route from Boston to Dorset

Instead, I flew to Vermont on my own, while Mo spent the time caring for Abby and keeping the home fires burning, shutting down the sprinklers for winter, raking the rapidly falling pine needles and beginning the fall burning. I think I got the better end of the deal, except for Abby of course.

IMG_4470First sight of fall color at the hotel in Marlborough, Massachusetts

With Jeanne’s wedding scheduled for a Saturday, I planned my trip to give me several days of Vermont time before the wedding and before the major influx of guests.  When Jeanne lived in Klamath, and we worked together, she often shared stories of her life in Vermont.  We were both excited that I would be there in time for Jeanne to show me her beloved home state.  I was also happy for the time to spend with Jeanne and Alan and to get a taste of Jeanne’s new life.

driving to Dorset (9 of 18)The Vermont Visitor Center as I enter the state for the first time

Flying from Medford, I flew to Portland and then got a nonstop cross country flight directly to Boston.  Mo and I had been to Boston a few years ago, but it was on a cruise ship.  This would be my first visit to Vermont, and I rented a car with the thought that I would drive the 200 miles or so directly to Dorset.  I obviously wasn’t thinking clearly when I planned this, and realized that I needed to stay somewhere close to Boston rather than attempting to drive unknown back country roads in the dark of night.

driving to Dorset (17 of 18) Finding a hotel in Boston was a bit daunting, with the cheapest rooms beginning at $329 per night!  Not in my budget, for sure.  I could sleep in the car if I had to pay that much for a few hours sleep.  Instead, I drove an hour or so north toward Marlborough, and found a basic decent room for a mere $149.  The bed was OK, but the room wasn’t much more than your average Super 8 out west that goes for 49 bucks.  Still, when I woke the next morning to brilliant skies and gorgeous color in the trees, I was so glad that I waited.

It took me nearly four hours to get to Dorset because I just couldn’t resist stopping a bit for photos along the way.  It was my first time in Vermont, and the timing was very nearly perfect.  The visitor center at the Vermont state line was state of the art, beautiful, and I began to get a feel for the rural nature of the landscape, and the focus on dairy farming, agriculture, and forestry that is the hallmark of this lovely place.

driving to Dorset (12 of 18)On the winding highway along the West River I came upon the beautiful West Dummerston Covered Bridge,  remembering that Vermont has more than 100 covered bridges, and that there are more covered bridges per square mile in Vermont than any state in the country.  Of course, after our springtime covered bridge tour of Oregon, I couldn’t miss taking a photo of this lovely bridge.  I learned later that it is the second longest covered bridge in the state, but at the time I was taking the photos, I only remembered some of what I had previously learned about trusses and joists and supports.  I loved the open window on one side of the bridge especially.Around Dorset 2 (2 of 21)Alan’s home on the hill above Dorset.

I really had to make some tracks because the weather was cooperating perfectly for Alan’s offer to take me up in his airplane that afternoon.  It was a gorgeous, completely cloudless sunny day, and the rest of the week was forecasted to be rainy and dreary.  No time to waste.  If I was to see Vermont from the air, I would need to do it on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Around Dorset 2 (4 of 21)I arrived at Alan’s place by noon, and after greetings and settling in to his brother’s home down the path, Jeanne and I walked to town to the local farmer’s market to get some veggies for supper. 

Around Dorset 2 (9 of 21) Alan was brining a beautiful “happy chicken”, and only fresh grown organic veggies would be worthy of the meal.    Dorset is a beautiful small burgh with lovely historic homes and inns, winding country roads, a town green, and lovely historic churches, one of which would be the location of the wedding the following weekend.

Around Dorset 2 (1 of 21)My home for the week, just down the path from the main house.

My home for the week belonged to Alan’s brother, at the moment traveling around the world on a sailboat, and later the three bedrooms would be filled with other wedding guests.  It is a dramatic timber frame home, with great views of Mother Myrick towering over Dorset. 

airplane over Dorset (5 of 37) Within a short time, the three of us piled into Alan’s new truck for the drive north to Rutland airport. Needless to say, I was excited.  Flying in a small plane is thrilling to me, and as a map maker, seeing the landscape below up close is magical.  Alan is a forester, and his understanding of the patterns of the vegetation, his explanation of the various timber communities, and the history of the logging industry in Vermont added tremendously to the flight.

airplane over Dorset (13 of 37)airplane over Dorset (31 of 37)airplane over Dorset (18 of 37) airplane over Dorset (23 of 37)airplane over Dorset (36 of 37) Alan was excited about the flight as well, exclaiming over and over how incredibly lucky we were with the clear skies and the beautiful color playing out over the mountains.  Alan and Jeanne pointed out the local mountains, and told some sweet stories about their first hike together on Haystack as they flew past the dramatic glaciated peak. It was a perfect introduction for  my week in Vermont.

Around Dorset (1 of 35)Around Dorset (8 of 35) After our flight, Alan drove some of the back country roads around Dorset, searching for color on the hillsides.  I learned that Vermont was almost completely denuded of forest when it was first settled in the 1700’s, with more than 80 percent of the state being cleared for agriculture.  In the ensuing years, the trees have once again taken over the landscape and there is now only about 25 percent of the state cleared for agriculture. 

Around Dorset (21 of 35) I knew I wanted to see New England stone walls, but what I didn’t know was that many of those old walls are found in the forests, marking what were once open fields.  Now taken over by the forest again, the old stone walls are crumbling and tucked away in the shadowy undergrowth.  Around Dorset (9 of 35)

After that breathtaking afternoon, we returned home to Alan’s place to partake of one of the most amazing roast chicken dinners I ever experienced.  Alan is a fabulous cook, and his favorite resource is Cook’s Illustrated, also a favorite of mine.  I have never ever ever in my entire life had such a succulent chicken, set off with Jeanne’s homemade cranberry sauce and fresh beets from the market.  The gravy (another favorite food group of mine) was beyond incredible.  Thus began a week of some rather fabulous meals, both home cooked and at inns and restaurants throughout Vermont.Around Dorset (25 of 35)

Next:  Lake Champlain, Mad River Glenn, and more of “Jeanne’s Vermont”