Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lake Champlain

Up for Breakfast
Hmm... So now I have to catch up with Christopher.  Here goes...

Our last day in Arlington we decided we were all up for breakfast. As previously mentioned, there is not a lot of restaurant choice in Arlington so we again went looking in Manchester and found a place called Up for Breakfast. It is on the second floor of an old downtown building, so in order to get there you have to go UP FOR... yeah, you get the idea. The inside is pretty tiny but the menu was interesting. I had Eggs Scandinavian, which is kind of a variant of eggs Benedict with smoked salmon instead of Canadian bacon. We all managed to get a pretty good breakfast without having anything smothered in Vermont Maple syrup. I didn't think that was legal in this state.
Tiny interior

That afternoon Vicki and I took The Skyline Drive up to the top of Mount Equinox, the tallest mountain in the local area, topping out at an astounding 3848 feet. In Colodaro that's known as a speed bump.  It is privately owned and a big chunk of it was donated to the Carthusians, a monastic order founded by St. Bruno. Of course, I had never heard of the Carthusians, nor of St. Bruno. He was apparently a buddy of Pope Urban II, who is the one who fired up Europe for the first Crusade. But as humility was a key component of his creed, Bruno apparently intentionally had his contributions left out of the histories so we do not know much about him. This was a pretty smart call given that history has not treated Urban particularly kindly. The Carthusians live a
The monastery.  No talking, no visitors.
hermetic lifestyle, living in individual cells in near total silence, communicating their needs via written notes to "lay brothers" who apparently get to do all of the actual work around the monastery. The contribution of the hermits is the benefit of their constant prayer. I'm pretty sure that and six bucks will get you a cup of coffee in most any Starbucks. Apparently St. Paul's admonishment about "he who will not work" is not a big part of Carthusian doctrine.
The view from the top
The monastery at Mount equinox is the only Carthusian monastery in America and, for obvious reasons, they don't really encourage visitors. The family that owns the mountain does encourage you to drive up to their observation platform at the summit, for a generous fee of course. There apparently used to be a ski lodge up there but they tore it down and put up the observation area with a little Carthusian chapel about 10 years ago. The day we went up it was pretty hazy and the viewing was not particularly impressive.

There is a story, by the way, about a bunch of Army cadets who were marched to the top of the mountain on Sept 21, 1823 to take barometric readings and named the mountain Equinox because of the trip's timing. It turns out the story is bunk. The name actually comes from an Indian word, "Ekwanok", which roughly means "the place at the top".

We were rather disappointed with our drive up to the top of the mountain so on the way back to the campground we went by the old Anglican church in Arlington and took some pictures of the graveyard. Nothing cheers us up like graveyard pictures.
Cheery graveyard picture.
Tuesday morning we pulled up stakes and drove north to Colchester, Vermont, just north of Burlington near the shore of Lake Champlain. We stayed in a fairly nice RV Park called Lone Pine just long enough to get the weekly rate, which was still pretty pricey but we figured out way back in the planning stages for this trip that we weren't going to be able to stay in New England on the cheap. We will have to bring down our average daily cost somewhere else during the year.

The cormorant - Old Blue Eyes
The next day we took a loop drive around a portion of Lake Champlain. We started out by taking a ferry across the lake at Burlington. While waiting for the ferry to depart we watched a cormorant fishing for his dinner. From our vantage point at the top of the ferry you couldn't really see, but in the photos I was impressed with the bright turquoise color of his eyes. Christopher and I accidentally hooked one of these while fishing off of a jetty in Oregon many years ago when he was maybe 7 or 8. The bird eventually broke our line but for him I suspect the encounter was terminal. I think that is the day Christopher lost interest in fishing.
A successful hunt
When we got off the ferry we were in New York, "The State so Nice They Named It Once". I believe that area qualifies as "upstate" New York or, as the city folks like to refer to it, "Hicksville". It is extremely rural. Those of us who grew up in Southern California and watched the steady urbanization of everything from Santa Barbara to the Mexican border kind of assume the East Coast is the same way, completely urbanized. But there is still a ton of forest and farm land once you get away from the major city centers. We drove north up the New York side of the lake, stopping for lunch in Plattsburgh and then on up to the town of Champlain at the Canadian border. At that point there is a bridge that takes you back across the lake where it is very narrow at Rouse's Point. A set of smaller bridges brought us south through the  Champlain Islands and back to Burlington. We had intended to stop at some of the state parks along the way but all of them either did not allow pets or did not allow day use (I have never seen so many "camping only" parks), so we mostly drove and enjoyed the view.
Train arrival
So long sonny boy
Thursday was the day Christopher departed for his big train adventure down to New Jersey. His experiences were extensively documented in a blog post much more amusing than this one elsewhere on this site. If you have not read it yet, look for the entry entitled "The City so Nice They Named It New York". After we dumped him at the train station (which was really just a sidewalk) we rushed off to start seeing what fun and exciting things we could find to do now that we did not have to lug him around with us. Like the Echo aquarium.
Echo Aquarium
It wasn't really that much of an aquarium. I mean it had a couple dozen fish and some frogs and some turtles. It was really more of a children's Science Center with the emphasis on "children's". There wasn't really very much there to interest adults.

Two turtles...

...and a frog
We did get to see some real-life sturgeons. Remember those fish that they had all the statues of back in Wisconsin last year? Well here is what they look like in real life:
These were about 3 feet long but apparently adults get up to 6 foot. I hear their eggs are nice on crackers.

Bad Dim Sum
Of course, Christopher did not take Julian to New Jersey with him on the train so we had the pleasure of his company all week. There was a quite nice dog park in Burlington about 5.5 miles from our campground and I dutifully took the dogs there everyday. It must've been about 7 or 8 acres of fenced grass and the first day they
were very excited about it. Each subsequent day they got a less excited until by Sunday they didn't even want to get out of the car. They're so hard to please. Anyway, for the next three days we mostly just sat around the motorhome. Vicky did her Vitas work and I took the dogs to the park and we otherwise vegged. It was pathetic. We did go Sunday morning to Dim Sum at a little Chinese restaurant in Burlington. It was terrible. The noodles and dumplings were chewy and most of the fillings seemed to have no flavor. I suppose it's kind of like having Mexican food in Kentucky. Don't do it.

Arsenic and Old Lace
We also got tickets to see "Arsenic and Old Lace" at the St. Michael's College theater. I assumed it would be a student production but apparently, with most of the students gone, they rent out their theater to a professional summer stock group. I had never seen the play and enjoyed it quite a bit. It's a hilarious romp about serial murder. Vicky largely failed to see the humor in the subject matter.

The smallest capitol in America
Monday we finally got off our rear ends and took a scenic drive around the green mountains up to the ski area at Stowe. It's pretty dead in the summertime. Then we drove down to Montpelier which Vermont proudly proclaims is the smallest state capital in the country. It seemed like a nice town. The capital building was crowned in gold and made for a good picture. Along the way we pulled into the parking lot of the main production plant for Ben & Jerry's, of ice cream fame. However tourists were disembarking literally by the bus load and after looking at the line for the creamery tour we decided we didn't really want ice cream that badly. We took Interstate 89 back to Burlington and had just enough time to give the dogs a thrilling visit to the dog park before it was time to go pick Christopher up at the sidewalk... I mean, train station.

This morning we packed everything up again and hit the road for New Hampshire. If anything happens while we are here I will be sure to let you know.

Leaving Burlington

No comments:

Post a Comment