Category Archives: Vermont

New England RV Trip 2015

We left for our tour of New England with no travel itinerary. We chose to follow our whims as we went. I highly recommend this approach to RV travel “off season”. Up to Columbus day, we had no trouble finding open campgrounds with available campsites. In fact the campgrounds were practically empty, with some notable exceptions: Normandy Farms Foxboro discounts Columbus day and was booked the weekend we left, the Keene Pumpkin Festival moved to Laconia and campgrounds fill for the festival. On a day we relocated, we would look for campgrounds in the area we expected to stay and called ahead. We had no problem finding a number of possible campsites. All this changed after Columbus day. In New England, Columbus Day marks the end of “the season”. Though some campgrounds close Sept 15th, most close after October 15th and practically all are closed by November 1. We had some trouble finding campsites after November 1. Things close earlier in Maine where we boondocked two days in mid-October.

By having no plans, we could stay as long or as short as we liked. We enjoyed visiting family and friends where we stayed a few days. We used Foxboro Ma as base camp for exploring Boston, Concord, Lexington, Arlington, and Cambridge in a rentall car and Mountain View Campground in Morrisville Vt to explore Stowe. We were not sure how we would do on an extended RV trip. Before we left, friends would ask, “How long will you be gone?” I’d answer, “six to eight weeks” to which Ellen would retort, “we’ll see, four weeks maybe six”. We both agreed as we buzzed home driving 500+ days that we could have been on the road another month. There were so many places we skipped with “limited time”. If we had it to do over, we would have left mid-August. It is great having tourist destinations almost to yourself, as we did on Cape Cod or in Maine. The down side? Practically no shops are open. Those that are open display a huge 10 foot flag stating “OPEN” in huge letters. So much of the charm of small towns on the cape are the people and the seasonal food. Both become scarce off season.

We skipped visiting Yellow Springs and Write Patterson in Ohio, spending more time on The Cape, exploring Moosehead Lake and northern Maine, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, Gloucester, and Salem. We drove past a great number of those brown signs marking points of interest. We simply did not have the time to do “everything”. There were a number of museums we drove past.

We also had three system failures on our trip: 1. hot water running cold with the water heater working fine, 2. central locking crapped out, 3. the refrigerator refused to run on 12 volts. We also had the engine start hard and run very rough with the inverter on. Restarting with the inverter off solved that “problem”. The hot water issue was caused when a campground ran high pressure air thorugh their lines to clear them ahead of a freeze. We were attached. The pressure forced the check valve into the sleeve effectively blocking hot water flow. The check valve is $9 part at camping world. Central Locking and the Fridge are yet to be fixed.

We had a phenominal trip, made more memorable by our daily log. We revisit the blog to relive our trip.

Here is our timeline. I’d say “itinerary”, but that suggests pre-planning, something we assiduously avoided. We had a want list including Stowe, the White Mountains, Cog Railway, Franconia Notch, Smuggler’s Notch, Conway, Hampton and Rye Beach, Martha’s Vineyard, Boston, Arlington and surrounds, the North Shore, Zip Lines, a moose tour, New York City, Long Island, Mystic Ri, Groton, Crowly RV, the Inner Harbor Baltimore, Washington DC; some we skipped, others we did.


9/16/2015 Truckee Ca Coachland RV 10873
9/17/2015 Austin, Nv Pony Express RV Park 11083
9/18/2015 Salina, Ut Butch Cassidy RV Park 11452 Cindy recommended Pony Espresso Deli Eureka Nv
9/19/2015 Parachute, Co Battlement Mesa RV Park 11718 Duayne @ Ace; Jenny @ campground; Green River State Park
9/20/2015 Woodland, Co Diamond Campground 11955 Vail; Breckenridge; past Cripple Creek; John and Rona
9/21/2015 Woodland, Co Woodland RV Park & Campground 11958 Visit with Rich, Alea,
9/22/2015 Woodland, Co Woodland RV Park & Campground 11958
9/23/2015 Woodland, Co Woodland RV Park & Campground 11958
9/24/2015 Oakley, Ks High Plains RV Campground 12218 Capt’n Jack’s Pub, Kobe Beef, Crab Cakes, great showers
9/25/2015 Danville, Mo Lazy Day Campground 12743 Lazy Day great campground. Skipped Chrystler Museum, Oz museum, Totoz Taco, Dinosaur Museum
9/26/2015 Mansfield, Oh Walmart Boondock 13298 Skipped Yellow Springs, Dayton Museum, Cincinnati
9/27/2015 Grand Island, Ny Cinderella Motel and Campsite 13598 Niagara Falls
9/28/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson 13688 Empire Brewing
9/29/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson
9/30/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson
10/1/2015 Syracuse, Ny Visiting Carol, Paul, Dylan, and Jameson
10/2/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica 13966
10/3/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica
10/4/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica
10/5/2015 Tivoli, Ny Visiting David,, Chris, Danny, & Erica
10/6/2015 Fort Ann, Ny Moose Hillock Camping Resort 14114 Near Lake George, Adirondack outlet mall most extensive for miles
10/7/2015 Ticonderoga, Ny Brookwood RV Resort 14172 Lake George
10/8/2015 Lake Placid, Ny Cascade Acres Campground 14246 Fort Ticonderoga in the afternoon, Ellen:”There is literally no other RV @camp tonight”
10/9/2015 Winooski Vt North Beach Campground 14342 Mirror lake & Lake Placid in the morning, Ferry to Burlington VT, North Beach is right on the lake.
10/10/2015 Morrisville, Vt Mountain View Campground 14395 Near Stowe Vermont
10/11/2015 Morrisville, Vt Mountain View Campground
10/12/2015 Morrisville, Vt Mountain View Campground
10/13/2015 St Johnsbury, Vt Moose River Campground closed the campground
10/14/2015 Littleton, Nh Crazy Horse Campground 14708 closed the campground, search for Cherry Lake a bust.
10/15/2015 Lincoln, Nh Country Bumpkin Campground White mountains, cog railway, smuggler’s notch, the Flume
10/16/2015 Lincoln, Nh Country Bumpkin Campground Closed the campground
10/17/2015 Woodbury, Nh KOA Woodbury Nh Closed the campground, expensive but very nice campground, drove the Kancamangas Highway
10/18/2015 North Conway, Nh Eastern Slope Campground 14918 No hot water in the AM (they blew out their lines)
10/19/2015 Portland Me Elks Lodge, electric hookup ate at Bea’s Café recommended by gal at camping world, purchased check valve
10/20/2015 Portland Me Walmart Boondock drove Old Orchard Beach & north along the coast. Gave up install of check valve
10/21/2015 Meredith, Nh Meredith Woods Campground 15220 Beast serviced @ Prime Motors Portland Me, Indoor heated pool, Full resort style glamping
10/22/2015 Meredith, Nh Meredith Woods Campground
10/23/2015 Meredith, Nh Meredith Woods Campground 15310 James ordered an electronic switch to fix our hot water problem, Part & Jim never arrived, left late afternoon
10/24/2015 Shelburne Falls, Ma Country Aire Bridge of Flowers, pedestrian bridge Brookline, NH; West End Café; The Best Pizza in New England
10/25/2015 Shelburne Falls, Ma Country Aire
10/26/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean Parked The Beast and stayed with Ed and Jean for five days!
10/27/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/28/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/29/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/30/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
10/31/2015 Hatfield, Ma Ed & Jean
11/1/2015 Bourne, Ma Scusset Beach State Park Campground Closed the Campground, Marconi Station & White Cedar Swamp
11/2/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort
11/3/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort Enterprise Rental and trips to Boston, Concord, Lexington, Arlington, and Cambridge
11/4/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort
11/5/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort Brad’s RV Service fixed our hot water problem
11/6/2015 Foxboro, Ma Normandy Farms Family Campground Resort
11/7/2015 North Stonington, Ct Mystic KOA Campground Mysic Ct, Mystic Old Town, Mystic Seaport
11/8/2015 North Stonington, Ct Mystic KOA Campground steamers on the half shell (errr)
11/9/2015 Clarksboro, Nj Timberline Campground Ferry Monmouth-NYC financial district, world trade center, central locking fail
11/10/2015 Dumfries, Va Prince William Forest RV Campground 16487 Fort Mercer & Valley Forge
11/11/2015 Hilton Head, SC Jessie & Ryan 17016 Savannah, fishing, oyster toad fish,
11/12/2015 Hilton Head, SC Jessie & Ryan
11/13/2015 Hilton Head, SC Jessie & Ryan
11/14/2015 Moton, Ms Roosevelt State Park 17609 surprisingly, we stumbled upon Roosevelt State Park, on of our favorites from our first X-country trip!
11/15/2015 Vidalia, La River View RV Park & Resort 17795 Natchez Trace, Nathez, camping on the Mississippi
11/16/2015 Abilene, Tx Buck Creek RV Park 18353 Tornado watch, high wind, rain, hail, stopped at Buck Eez bbq brisket was forgetable
11/17/2015 Alberquerque, Nm High Desert RV Park 18873 Billy the Kid’s grave, heavy X-winds, Trouble with fridge not running on 12 volts.
11/18/2015 Kingman, Az Sunrise RV Park 19357 warming as we drove through Arizona, T-shirt weather @ petrified forest & painted desert
11/19/2015 home 19999 Total of 9,126 miles driven 66 days on the road.

Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont

What a wonderful three days.


It started slowly, with an unfulfilled promise of good weather.  It was 35 deg last night and overcast mid-morning.  We felt no urgency in getting moving. Morning cappuccino was great, some local news featuring presidential candidates was amusing, and we finished working on our blog for the day.  We set off late as usual, thinking today would be a bust.  With overcast skies and flat light, photography was out.  We had hoped to take the gondola to the top of Mt Mansfield, but with the weather and cold we decided not to.

Morrisville, Vermont

We turned onto the business loop through Morrisville from SR 100 and just had to stop for photos.  In the hour we spend waking fields to find that “perfect shot”,  the sun started to peak out and some of the overcast burned off.  When we got back in “the Beast” it was clear, we’d continue on to the gondola for a “look see”.







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Stowe, Vermont

I forgot to take the spur that avoids “downtown” Stowe.  We wasted about twenty minutes creeping through town, and enjoying the sites, before we turned right onto SR 108 and resumed a normal clip of 40 mph.  By now the weather was warming and the sun was on and off as clouds drifted by overhead.


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Climbing toward the notch, we saw signs for the “Scenic Toll Road”.  We both though that would be cool and we took the turnoff to the left for the toll road.   We were greeted by a footman who explained that the road was extremely narrow and curvy and that we could not make it up the road with “this traffic”.  Not wanting to be crass nor wanting to find myself in an untenable situation, I agreed that it would be best not to take the “Scenic Route”.  We turned around (an accomplishment in itself) and continued up SR 108.

Seinic Toll Road, Smuggler’s Notchch

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Sometime later we saw gondolas running overhead and turned right toward their source.  WRONG.  We turned into the Stowe Mountain Resort, a posh inn with valet parking and their own gondola to the base of Mt Mansfield.  I wondered if anyone thought we’d valet park “the Beast”.  Again we were back on SR 108, but this time we simply drove through the circular dive.

The third time is the charm.  The next entryway to the left from Stowe Mountain Resort is the entrance to Mt Mansfield’s gondola and is the main entrance to the ski resort in-season.  The entry way faces the gondola lift to the top of the mountain.  Again we were greeted by a footman who asked if we were her for the gondola ride.  “Yes”, we answered and we were told that the gondola had failed and was not in operation.  The diesel generator was running the gondolas at slow speed to bring passengers down the mountain.  Nobody was going up.  We saw groups walking down the mountain.  Strike Two!

We made the most of it.  We walked the lower ski slopes and took some “OK” photos.

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We continued up SR 108 toward the notch.  Some time later we saw two granite cliffs facing each other.  This is “the notch”.  SR 108 runs up between these two escarpments.  A short time after we had our first dramatic view of the notch, a glaring flashing sign notified us that no trailers are allowed beyond this point.   Well, we are not a trailer so we’re good to go.  On we went.  The road continued upwards with a 40 mps speed limit, that decreased to 30, and then lower.  The road narrowed, became extremely twisty, with the added joy of parked cars lining both sides of the street, some not entirely off the street.   There were more than a few places where two cars could not pass, one had to wait for the other to go.  The Beast is narrow for an RV and could easily negotiate the road, but it was a challenge with other drivers on the road.  In two instances I near panicked as oncoming drivers apparently did not now where the side of their car was.  More than a few couples walking the roadside watched me pass with a dumbfounded look.  Ours was the only RV I saw today past the “no trailers allowed” sign.   The Smuggler’s Notch drive is not to be taken lightly.  There are more than a few places where the road is a single lane hair-pin steep up-hill 180 degree turn.   An inattentive or inadequate driver would be disastrous on this road as would an over-confident driver of an 18 wheeler.

As we approached the pass, it became clear that we would not find a place to park along the road or in the small trail head parking at the top.  We continued past the pass and down into the next valley.  The road was steep, I selected a low gear using the brakes as little as I could.  Cars backed up behind.  I selected a turnout to stop and let them by.  This was not a scenic overlook, but a small turnout.  Surprisingly, the SUV immediately behind me turned in with me.  After about a dozen cars passed by, my follower turned out too and I followed.  No less than 200 feet down the road, there was a dirt road to the right and I took it.  My thought was, maybe this road opens onto great views.  It was the entrance into parking lot 1 for the Smuggler’s Notch Ski resort.

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The parking lot was heavily rutted and slow going all the way in, but the views were spectacular. There was a standing map of ski routes ahead of us, a yurt to our right, and ski runs heading up-mountain to our right.  We disembarked and separated camera in hand.  While I was orienting myself, two woman hiked down a ski trail and into the parking lot.  We exchanged “Hi’s”, and talked about hiking up-mountain.  I had not gone far from Li’l Beast and one of the woman noticed our CA license plates and putting it together asked, “Are you from California?” That started another conversation about how beautiful Vermont is and what California is like.  With their encouragement, Ellen and I headed up the ski trails in search of dramatic views.  There were many.

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It was late and we allowed ourselves 30 minutes to hike up-hill before turning back.  The slope we walked was heavy with moisture.  There were running streams and mud in some areas, firm ground in others.  It was steep and slow going, but rewarding.  I can only imagine what skiing would be like on these slopes.  With the densely packed trees, tree-skiing would be out of the question here.  It is amazing how slow we walk and how fast we can ski downhill.  We returned to the Beast comfortably exhausted and happy to have left the crowds and found a peaceful retreat of our own.

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I considered driving further down to the valley and trying to find a way to Morristown, but Ellen had talked to a woman in the parking lot who said there was no quick way around the mountains to get back to Morristown.  The best way was back through the notch!  Back through the notch we went.  Traffic was less severe, though there were a few cars parked half way off the road making progress challenging.  On one hair-pin turn I had to stop and wait for a long string of cars and motorcycles to pass before the path around the rocky outcropping was safe to turn past.  A low gear by itself was insufficient, I had to brake repeatedly to be safe on the descent trading off brake wear and heat with engine braking when I could.   It was fun for me and other drivers were not a problem in this direction.


We returned to the valley hungry.  Should we head back to the Mountain View Campground and cook, or find something to eat “in town”.  In town won out.  I remembered the woman at the campground’s desk had recommended McCarthy’s Restaurant and remembered driving past it on the way out.  Off we went to find that the restaurant is open from 6:30 Am to 2:00 Pm serving breakfast and lunch only.  That didn’t work.  We discussed what we would like to eat and kept coming back to sushi or Thai.  The nearest Thai restaurant is in Montpelier, not happening.   We remembered passing Sushi Yoshi on the way out and back.  It was a sushi and Chinese restaurant, a strange mix.  I thought we’d be risking it, going for sushi in Vermont, but we did.


We chose to sit at the sushi bar, we were the only ones at the bar.  Talking with the sushi chefs, I tried to order Hamachi Sashimi, but they looked dumbly at me.  Yellow Tail sashimi they understood and we settled on two orders of  Hamachi, two spicy tuna rolls, a lobster roll, a unagi hand roll for Ellen, and avocado salad.  All were amazing and some of the best sushi I’ve had.  The lobster roll was very good, though the delicate flavor of the lobster got lost in the other flavors.  There are six reviews for Sushi Yoshi online, some of them two star.   My experience was so different that I wonder what the “two star” people ordered.   The sushi and sashimi were fresh, excellently prepared, and scrumptious (if you like sushi).

Sushi Yoshi’s Website

Again we returned to Mountain View Campground well after sunset.  It’s no problem setting up the water and electric connections.  Tonight we’ll forego the sewer line.  We setup, hoisted the Winegard antenna, turned on the local HD antenna, downloaded our video and photos, and settled in.  I played guitar for a while as Ellen looked over today’s photos.  Then as I looked over mine,  Ellen grabbed my throw while watching a TV show, leaving me with a crummy blanket.  We have been looking for comfortable throws that don’t shed lint or fabric for a while now.  I found one I liked last week; Ellen is still looking.  It was surprising to see Ellen wrapped in MY throw.  Bummer, but I’m happy she’s happy.  We’ll have to find a throw for her, and soon.

Tonight we watched the season opener of “the Good Wife” in off-air HD, and now “Homeland” on direcTv.

Stowe Vermont, Fall Foliage, Mountain View Campgound.

Stowe Vermont

The Beast & Dirt Roads

Our campsite is available for another two nights and we’re staying.   It was cold this morning.  The day was nearly schizophrenic; it was comfortably warm in the sun and downright cold in the shade.  We met our neighbor, Jean Franscios, who is an IT guy working for a tech company in Montreal.  We chatted with Jean some then headed off to Stowe.

Mountain View Campground, Stowe Vermont

The campsites at Mountain View Campground are nothing special. They are flat with full hookups and a clear view to the south for Sat TV, but they provide little privacy, the bathroom heat is inadequate to the task, there is hot water though I did not use their shower after seeing how water pressure dropped in the morning.   The main reason we’re staying is its proximity to Stowe and the surrounding area.

The folks running the campsite are very nice and always available, if needed.

Today we explored side roads north of Stowe.  We were surprised when the paved road became dirt, but we drove on.  We avoided a dirt road named “Mud City Loop” and turned back when the two lane dirt road we were on funneled into a single nasty looking lane.  The roads wound through pastures and farm land between colorful rolling hills.   Northern New York and Vermont have an idyllic feel to them in the fall.


Dave had mentioned that “the Mountain Road” was the place to find a restaurant for lunch or dinner.   The Mountain Road is the local name for state route 108.  After our tour north of Stowe, we drove to the town of Stowe.  Three main roads lead into Stowe; 100 North, 100 South, and 108.  All three were bumper-to-bumper with slow moving traffic.  It’s Columbus Day Weekend and an Arts and Craft Fair drew a crowd.  We looked for likely places to park “the Beast” as we crept through town then drove out on 108.  We found a small parking lot on the north side of 108 just out of town and parked easily.  This is a great place to park an RV.  The walk back to Stowe’s town center is short and there’s enough room for a forty footer or two.  We had lunch at Rimrock’s Mountain Tavern.  Ellen had the New England Clam Chowder and an Apple and walnut salad.  I had a Chicken Caesar Wrap with Cajun fries.  All the food was great.  The Cajun fries were very spicy.


Off the Beaten Path

Central Stowe is quintessential Vermont.  it is a very small and easily walkable. The homes around the town are set on acres of land, some set into trees in the rolling hills, others on pastures in the valleys.  It would be a tranquil place without the hoards that descend on the weekends.  Distances in Vermont, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are short.  It is not unusual for families to drive from Boston to summer homes in Vermont every weekend.  Stowe has grown over the years as tourist impact on the town has grown.  There are now numerous restaurants serving weekenders.  I hope to talk to a few old-time residents and ask how changes in the town have changed their lives if at all.  Does the influx of money, economic growth, and higher real estate prices benefit them?  Is the traffic congestion “downtown” drive them crazy?  Do they live far enough from downtown that weekend madness is not an issue?  Lots to consider.

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I like Stowe.  There’s a home on the market that could easily be converted to a B&B.   I would never run a B&B myself.  I have no problem considering setting up a B&B as a business; hiring managers/caretakers, setting up reservation systems online, budgeting income and expenses. That could be fun.  I took a photo of the property on an iPhone, posted below (sorry about the reflection in the glass window).


Potential B&B?

It is now the next morning, 10/11.  Yesterday was a short day; we left our campsite late and returned late.  We missed sunset while getting diesel and restoring our supplies.  Luckily it is very easy to setup and tear down “camp”.  Often we just connect or disconnect a hose and electric cable, then run down our “pre-flight” check-list.  I always take a walk-around to be sure we’re good to go before starting the engine.   We’re starting that process now with plans to visit the gondola to the top of Mansfield Mountain and perhaps drive to Smuggler’s Notch.

Here are a few photos we took in and around Stowe yesterday.


Off the Main Road, Stowe Vermont

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Burlington & Stowe Vermont

Mountain View Campground, Vermont

We slept well last night with the heater off. It was quiet and cold outside.  We were snug inside. Yesterday evening, we drove through the town of Stowe and through Morrisville to Mountain View Campground where Allison and a blazing fire welcomed us.   Ellen had called ahead and reserved one of the two remaining sites.  We are in space “B”.   Water pressure this morning was low.  I went outside to check on our connection and met our neighbor, Jean Pierre, who asked, “Is your water pressure low?”  His was too and we concluded that all the campers were drawing water.   Time to use internal water and the pump.

This is Stowe Vermont and the weather is clearing!  I asked Ellen how she felt about spending another day here before pushing on.  We were both OK with it.  Cappuccino in hand, I walked to the office.   Last night I made this trip to get the codes for internet access and met Dave, the owner.  I wondered if Dave or Allison would be at the desk this morning.  Dave is a warm direct and talkative fellow with a distinct Boston accent.  Allison is more typical of a Vermonter,  mater of fact and reserved until you get talking with her.   It was Allison and the blazing fire at the desk.  She said there was a rig coming in and that site “B” was taken, but there were two sites that could go empty today.  The two friends had not decided if they would stay another day.  They had not made up their mind.  As we were talking, Dave walked in.  Allison explained the situation and Dave stalked out to ask if they planned to stay.   Allison and I chatted about Vermont until Dave returned to say, “they’re leaving today”.  Great, we keep site “B” and the newcomers will have one of the vacated sites.   We will stay another night, perhaps two!

We’re setting up to go back to Stowe now.   We’ll probably take the Gondola up Mt Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain at 4393 feet and visit a near-by covered bridge or two.  Last night Dave gave me a list of local hikes that range from easy/novice, intermediate, and expert. One of the expert hikes states flatly that the terrain is steep and wet.  It is a difficult hike up and it should NOT be  descended.

Stowe Vermont

The sky is clearing.  Today promises to be a wonderful day.  We will be walking in and around Stowe Vermont today.

North Beach Campground, Vermont

Yesterday, we were slow to leave North Beach Campground.  It was a cool morning and raining off and on. We watched the weather news over cups of coffee hoping that the cold front would pass and the sun would shine this weekend.  We left for downtown Burlington Vermont around noon and a few minutes later we were driving up Main Street.  I had no idea we had stayed so close to the town.  Main Street runs from the waterfront up a hill and crosses Church Street.  Church Street is closed to traffic.  It’s a pedestrian walkway with shops on either side of the wide street.  In warm summer weather Church Street is probably a buzz with patrons enjoying a meal on a sidewalk table.  This is what Santa Cruz Avenue, Menlo Park should become.

At the top of the hill we turned left and left again going back down the hill and into a parking lot on Lake Champlain.  We drove past the ticketing kiosk which was unattended and had our choice of parking spots.   A large tent on the parking lot housed the remnants of a maritime exhibit.  The nearby maritime building had been flooded and was closed.

We walked Main Street to Church Street.  It seemed that the lights were timed not for the cars, but for pedestrians.  Each walk light lit as we approached.  It was eery.


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Walking Main Street, Burlington Vermont

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Church Street was fun.  Burlington is a college town. While not crowded,  the street was full of people of all ages going about their day.  On a side street to our right we did a double take.  There’s a mural depicting famous and not so famous people. The mural is huge; almost an entire city block.


The Mural’s “Legend”

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Can you find Ethan Alan, President Lincoln, Billy Kidd, Elvis, Bernie Sanders, a bust of George Armstrong Custer?  How many of these people were raised in Burlington Vermont?


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Church Street in the Rain, Burlington Vermont



A Popular Guy in Burlington VT


On Lake Champlain,, Burlington Vermont

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Lake Shore Burlington Vermont

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We have no idea what this guy is all about

Everyone is saying that the foliage here in Stowe is “at peak”.  It looks to me like it is a few days to a week away.  I could easily be wrong, but I think people want “peak foliage” this weekend.  It’s Columbus Day Weekend which is Canada’s equivalent of our Thanksgiving.  I’ve heard more french spoken today than I have since visiting Paris so many years ago.

Everyone is talking about how strange this fall has been.  It’s been warm (hot!) and dry which is not good for fall colors.  Last week the weather turned cold and wet.  The cold weather brings on the color.  Without moisture, the leaves turn brown and fall all at once.  The rain and cold is welcome, though 44 degrees is uncomfortable compared to 80.

New England Foliage Trip, Mirror Lake NY, Lake Placid NY, Lake Champlain, Vermont

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                       The Festive Entrance                     Inside view


The Gift Shop & Cafe is Warm and Cozy

Yesterday (10/7/15) we visited Fort Ticonderoga.  We did not post photos of the fort or views of Lake Champlain in yesterday’s blog, so….    here is a sense of what it is like to visit the fort.

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Canon, lots of canon

All but two of the canon at the fort were brought from the Caribbean in the 1950s.  One of Pell’s relatives went to the islands and purchased old French and Spanish canon for the fort.  He and the canon were captured by Honduran Thugs and held for ransom.  The ransom was negotiated and paid and he was released along with the canon.

The Pell family owns the land around the fort, the fort, and King’s Gardens.  This is the same Pell who instituted the Pell Grants for education.

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One Very knowledgeable Docent               A French Cannon

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The Fort’s Battlements

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Walking the Ramparts                  French Canon Close Up

We knew it would be a cold morning, but come on: 32 degrees?  That’s cold.  Later talking with the owners of Cascade Acres Mobile Home Park and Campground we learned that it had snowed a foot and a half this time two years ago!  “Be Prepared?”  NOT.

Cascade Acres Mobile Home Park and Campground, Lake Placid


At the Cascade Acres Campground

First I must say I was glad they were there.  We had no desire to push on to a KOA that was pretty far from the town of Lake Placid.  Had we gone to the KOA, we would never have walked through main street Lake Placid or seen the beauty of Mirror Lake.  The owners of Brookwood RV Campsite, Ticonderoga said some of the best BBQ is at Smoke Signals on main street Lake Placid.  We would have missed this place if we pushed on to the KOA.  We still missed it, but for different reasons.

A word about Cascade Acres.  Off season the RV campground is EMPTY.  Park where you want, no problem.  Well sorry, there is one little bitty problem.  They do not have your typical 30 AMP hookup.  50 amps?  Forgetaboutit.  What they do have is a pair of 15 Amp 110 V circuits to each campsite. Technically that is 30 AMPs but good luck connecting.  At a local hardware store the next day we bought an “in case” 110 to 30amp connector so we could connect to a 110 V circuit and carefully run some “stuff”.  Overnight at Cascade Acres I chose to use batteries and our generator.   Also the men’s/woman’s showers and toilets are not heated. That would be no problem “on season”, but a real drag mid-October.

All in all, camping at Cascade Acres was an “adventure”.  On the bright side, it was so close to the town of Lake Placid that all the negatives were a non-issue.  Walk main street and Mirror Lake in the fall and you’ll see why.

The owners were good to talk to.  They recommended taking the Cumberland Head Ferry from Plattsburgh NY to Vermont and described the route and said it would be about $20.00.  They were correct on all counts.

Mirror Lake, Lake Placid

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The main town of Lake Placid sits on Mirror Lake, not on Lake Placid.  It is a charming ski town and a tourist get-away the other three months.  We walked the town, keeping on the sunny side of the street which was a good 15 degrees warmer.


Smoke Signals opens at 4PM.  With some difficulty and longing, we agreed that staying at this lake until 4PM could jeopardize catching the ferry to Vermont.

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Lake Placid

We chose to drive to Lake Placid, the lake, after walking the town on Mirror Lake.  There’s a road around Mirror Lake, but there is no direct way to get to Lake Placid from the town.  After trying to find an “easy” way to get there, we both agreed that it would “cost” us at least an hour or two if we’d continued on.  We chose to skip the lake and head on to Lake Champlain and the Cumberland Head Ferry to Vermont.   We were told that Lake Placid was at peak color.  What we were seeing at Mirror Lake was near peak color.  The temptation was high, but we thought by moving on to Vermont we’d have better opportunities.  Then we have been in New York for at least eight days.  It was time to move on and Burlington would be our next stop.   There’s the Burlington Coat Factory and Bernie S. had his political start in Burlington Vermont.

High Falls Gorge, The Adirondacks, Wilmington NY

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I drove past a sign for “High Falls Gorge” and noticed a waterfall to my left.  “Should we go back?”  Yes! We found a good place to turn around a quarter mile down the road and we retraced our path back to High Falls Gorge.    This is a privately owned and operated developed park with a cafe, a souvenir shop, and a wooden walkway with stairs, banisters, plexiglass underfoot viewing platforms, and guard rails and fencing.  It is a bit pricey at $11.50 each.  A group of seven people were justifying not not going at that price. We did pay and were glad we had.

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The day was brisk but sunny and the walk through the pines was invigorating; breathing in the pine, feeling the mist from the water falls, walking the maze of stairs, and incredible scenery were well worth the price.

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Cumberland Head Ferry to Vermont


For someone taking the ferry for the first time be warned, our GPS had no idea where to catch the ferry and the signs for the ferry are spaced very far apart.  If we had not stopped a postal delivery guy, we might still be hunting for the ferry.  Worse still, when we realized we were “lost”, we stopped to dial in the ferry location on our iPhones, we both had “server unavailable” popups on our phones.  We were SOL until the postal guy “saved” us.

The ferry is well outside of the town of Plattsburgh, here.

Our GPS showed a 3:34 Pm arrival at the ferry.  We actually found the ferry at 3:56 for the 4:08 ferry.  Great, we paid the $19.75 for driver, 24′ RV, and 1 passenger and queued up in line #2 behind a sprinter van and beside two 18 wheelers.  The trucks went on, the cars went on, our line started forward and the sprinter van ahead of us was waved through.  We sat and watched the last few cars waved on from lane 1, the gates close, and the ferry pull away from the dock.  Crap.

But, the advantage?  We were first on the next ferry that arrived a mere 13 minutes later! No sweat.  Three ferries ply this route.  We were the first vehicle on the ferry and had a great front row view as the ferry steamed across the lake.   It felt more than a bit like I was driving Li’l Beast across the lake.  All I needed do is turn the steering wheel and we’d turn.  No, but it felt like that.  It was very cool being the first off the ferry too.


The ferry terminates on an island.  We drove the island to the causeway connecting it to mainland Vermont.  There’s a view point on the causeway and we had to stop.  The views are stunning.

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               Memorial Stone honoring those that lost their lives during 9 -11


North Beach Campground, Burlington Vermont

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Sunset at Apple Tree Bay, Vermont

Ellen found three campgrounds past the bridge from Grand Isle; Lone Pines Campground, three stars,  Malletts Bay Campground, three star; and North Beach Campground, also three star.  We talked over the advantages of each.  North Beach was closer to the water and further on than the other two and therefore a better choice.  We could arrive well ahead of sunset, settle in, and be close to the water.  North Beach is a bit of a drive from Rt 84 through Winooski, past a huge graveyard, through a college campus, around some side streets, and down a dead end road to an entry with an 11 foot lintel welcoming RVs into the campground.  We stopped well ahead of the lintel, we are 3 inches too high to make it through.

We were third in line, busy at this time of year maybe due to college and Columbus Day holiday? We wanted an open view to the south and internet access and were told which might work for us.  We were free to drive around and pick a site.  Just come back and do the paperwork.  We chose #105 thinking it had an OK view to the south.  We have good web access, but poor sat reception.  We do get good off air HD.


Postcard Perfect

As the sun set, we hooked up, closed up, and walked down to Apple Tree Bay to watch the sun set.  The view over the bay looking toward New York is not to be missed if you are in the area.  There were sail boats off toward Burlington, a large gaff rigged schooner sailing south on Lake Champlain.  The sun had not set, but it was below the ridge to our west.  The mountain ridges in New York were different shades of gray-blue as they receded into the distance.  Lake Champlain is a huge lake.

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Sunset Light is Constantly Changing


We are now comfortably ensconced in The Beast, snug and warm.