Sunday, July 13, 2014

Arrival in Vermont

So we took a few days to get from Michigan to Vermont. We crossed over into Canada at Point Edward and drove along Canadian highway 402. Crossing into Canada was fairly easy. Vicki and I had updated our passports last year and Christopher applied for his just before we left California and had it mailed to my sister's house where we picked it up on the Fourth of July. We only waited in line at the border a few minutes. We had gone to great pain and expense to get health certificates for all three dogs. The border people did not care about the dogs and did not ask to see the certificates. All they wanted to know was whether we had any guns, took a passing glance at the passports and we were on our way.

We passed about 10 miles north of London, Ontario and stayed at a nice motorhome park in a tiny little town called Granton. All of our time in Canada (all of about 24 hours) was spent in Ontario farmland. It was beautiful country and the farms appeared to be productive and better maintained than many of the American counterparts we had driven through in South Dakota and Minnesota. Gas up there is selling for about a $1.40 per liter but fortunately we did not have to buy any Canadian gasoline. The following day we were back on the road and reentered the US of A on Interstate 190 just North of Niagara Falls. To get back into our homeland we waited in line for a couple of hours, which was no fun. The border patrol ask more questions than the Canadians did like "why are you in a car lane instead of the RV Lane". Well, Vicki was driving.  'Nuff said. They didn't appear to care about dogs or guns either one but did actually climb on board our rig to make sure our pictures matched our passports. Finally they let us return to the United States in spite of being in the wrong lane.

We spent the night of July 7 in Blossvale, NY, which I'm sure you are all familiar with. No you're not. You've never heard of it. It's so tiny, it doesn't even show up on Microsoft Streets and Trips. But it was a Passport America campground, so by driving 10 miles out of our way we saved ourselves a few bucks. The following day we were back on the road and finally made it to Vermont. We were officially in New England.

Covered bridge ar Arlington on the Battenkill
For those of us who are too Californian to really know much about the Northeast and too old to remember our American history classes, it is sort of natural to assume that Vermont was one of the 13 original colonies. This turns out not to be the case. The area that is now Vermont was given to three different groups of investors by three different kings at three different times because of overlapping descriptions of landscapes the Brits really knew nothing about. The land that is currently Vermont fell under the auspices of New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire all at the same time. The governor of New Hampshire handed out a bunch of land grants and people started settling the area even though it was unclear which of the early colonial governments they fell
Cheese and syrup shop
under. This condition persisted right up through the American Revolution. At one point New York tried to assert its control over the area and sent a sheriff from Auburn to throw the New Hampshire grant holders off the land. They met him with muskets and informed them that if he tried to enforce his writ, he was a dead man and he retreated back into New York with his tail between his legs. This was the era of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain boys who were organized not so much to fight the British as to get the New Yorkers and Bostonians to keep their mitts off of their Vermont property. In order to accomplish this, in 1777 Vermont declared itself an independent republic. Vermont actually negotiated with the British to become a loyal British colony during the revolution but were unable to get the papers signed before Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown and England lost interest.

The dehumidifier
With England out of the picture, Vermonters began to realize they would eventually have to join the United States but they were in no hurry. After the Revolutionary war ended in 1881 they put off the inevitable for another decade, finally becoming the 14th state in 1891. The first capital of the Vermont Republic was in a little town called Arlington. What is currently in the little town of Arlington is an RV park known as "Camping on the Battenkill", which is where we have been staying for the last five days. The countryside is beautiful but the
humidity is pretty intense. When we first arrived, we felt like we needed snorkels every time we went outside. The temperatures have not been particularly high but if you go out and try to do any kind of activity you quickly get pretty drippy. Fortunately, we bought a dehumidifier for the motorhome back in February in case we started getting condensation in the freezing temperatures of Chinle. We never got it out in Arizona but we have been using it here to decrease the interior moisture levels and it works surprisingly well. If you run it all day, you have to empty about a quart of water out of it, and that is water that you would otherwise have been living in.  Vicki and Christopher have also complained about mosquitoes but I have been pretty lucky in that regard. I guess the bugs find them more attractive, which is just fine by me.

Somewhere in Michigan, our front air conditioner quit producing cold air and with humidity levels running between 60 and 90%, one air conditioner was not going to be adequate. We thought we were going to have to drive all the way to Massachusetts to get it fixed, but once again a traveling RV service came to the rescue. It kept us at the motorhome all day waiting for repairs Wednesday, but the guy drove 50 miles from East Rupert and found a leak in the copper tubing that had released all the refrigerant. After some welding and recharging the coolant, it seems to be working again although not as efficiently as I would like. I'm afraid we will probably have to replace the unit somewhere down the line but we are getting by for now.

The Mapletini

Wednesday evening we decided to go out.   There are three restaurants in Arlington and on Wed. they are all closed.  So we drove 9 miles north to Manchester and ate at Ye Olde Tavern in an 18th century hostlery.  The food was excellent and they had a locally brewed 1770 style ale that was quite good.  Maple syrup being the official food of Vermont, Christopher tried a Maple Martini for
dessert.  It was OK, but had a glop of syrup in the bottom so the more of it you drank the maplier it
got.  The other official Vermont food is "cheddah" cheese. so the next morning Vicki dragged us to the Arlington cheese shop to purchase our required rations of cheese and syrup.

On Thursday we took a circle tour of the Green Mountain national Forest. The original settlers of this area were actually French and they called it "Verde Monts", the Green Mountains in French. It shortens to Vermont, get it? The French wound up siding with the wrong Indians and got kicked out during the French and Indian war. Until then, the area was part of Qu├ębec. Anyway, the drive was quite lovely. We went through a lot of little New England style towns. Some of the old houses are really nice but a lot of them are quite run down. We stopped and went through the museum
Calvin Cooledge's birthplace
at Calvin Coolidge's birthplace at Plymouth Notch. I did not really know much about Calvin Coolidge and we discovered why. In nearly 8 years as president, almost nothing happened. He presided over the years between the end of World War I and the beginning of the Great Depression. It was the roaring 20s, the economy was good and he had what could only have been an extraordinarily boring presidency. They have preserved the whole town he grew up in and it's a quite beautiful little place. A stroll through the whole town will take you about 15 min. We learned all about Calvin Coolidge and then forgot it before we had gotten 5 miles up the road. We continued along Highway 100 up to Quechee, then West on Vermont 4 to Highway 7 and back down to Arlington. We were in the mountains the whole way (well, they call them mountains. The highest one is about 3000 feet.) and they were definitely green.

The last couple of days we have been pretty inactive. The Battenkill River runs down the backside of the campground and we swam in it a little bit. You're supposed to be able to go down in an inner tube for about 25 or 30 miles and we were considering that but it's been pretty rainy and none of us were really up for 30 miles of tubing in the rain. We did go to a play last night in Bennington, about 10 miles south of here. We thought the acting was quite good but the play did not seem to have a lot of point to it. I guess I am old-fashioned. I like the story to have a beginning, a middle and an end. This one just had a middle.

The river ar Quechee
The weather might clear up some tomorrow, in which case we'd like to reconsider the tubing idea. Otherwise, we will probably veg out again. Then we head North to Burlington, on the shores of Lake Champlain. Vicki apparently has all kinds of interesting stuff planned for Burlington. Christopher is so excited about it, he's planning to take off for New Jersey to visit a former roommate. We will let you know how things work out.


  1. We didn't spend much time in Vermont when we were there and it looks like we missed a whole lot. But I have the same problem - five minutes after I learn all this great stuff about something or someone, I've forgotten it. I think I need to invest in a tape recorder. See - now I'm dating myself - they don't make "tape" recorders anymore.

    1. But tape or other audio takes too long to listen to. You'll never take the time to go back to it. That's the advantage of writing a blog. The information may be sketchy and inaccurate, but at least it is condensed and quick to skim through a year from now .