The Hills Are Alive With… Maria & ‘Cherry Garcia,’ & THE FALLS
Niagara Falls, New York
"A Day Spent Fishing Is Adding A Day To Your Life"
V.V. Golden (St Vrain Greenway Statute, Greater Boulder, Colo. Area)
Just change the "fishing" to whatever your peaceful passion AND enjoy!!
"I'd like to get away from earth awhile and then come back to it and begin again."
Robert Frost, from "Birche,s" was a Vermont-er
Laura here: I just want to say before Gary completes the rest of the blog that everywhere we go we keep meeting the nicest people. Next blog will be about the special people we have met. Hop seems to be our liason for many conversations that lead to meeting kids, grandparents, moms, dads, dog lovers, young, old, and homeless people everywhere we go. We are literally stopped in our tracks with "can I pet her?" to "what happened to her leg?" to "Is she ok?" and then the conversation begins and sometimes doesn't end for a long time! Before you know it we are exchanging numbers and contact information. It has been a highlight having her with us to break the ice with people that we might never have talked to before. As we connect, we see that people are the same everywhere. We all have the same desires and needs in life. Everyone wants to feel important, listened to, accepted, respected, and most important of all… Loved regardless of race and religion. Now take it away…GaryJ
VERMONT: As our friend Russ describes northern Vermont- it's 'Green on Steroids' and we'll also add- it's 'Fresh Air on Steroids!'
We left Maine, drove through New Hampshire,and except for a Rest Stop, no stops and drove right into Vermont. Vermont is spectacularly beautiful, period. The deep, rich and vibrant 'GREEN' color we really haven't seen in any other areas we've visited. The forested areas are extremely dense and as far as the eye can see! Development is relatively sparse and is almost always below the tree line, so it can't be easily seen from a distance. The abundance of 'FRESH AIR' was amazing and rather unexpected. We attributed it to: frequent rains, dense vegetation, lack of major industrialization, and simply less humans and cars!
STOWE, Vt. It is the premier ski area in New England. Mt. Mansfield at only 4,395 feet (compare to Mammoth at 11,053 feet) is the "big" ski mountain. As you would imagine there was an abundance of very fit, active and outdoors-type folks. Summer was cycling, hiking and whitewater rafting season.
The Trapp family, including Baroness Maria von Trapp, who were largely fictionalized in the iconic "Sound of Music" settled in Stowe. In 1938 the family left Austria and in 1941 purchased a mountain top property in Stowe. They made a life for themselves as the Trapp Family Singers and toured six months a year in over 30 countries. Today, their Lodge is known for world Class Cross Country Skiing and many other activities.
Also, just outside Stowe, is the iconic "Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream" factory, with tours and a 'Scoop Shop.' And yes, yours truly took the factory tour and enjoyed just a little of their fabulous ice cream. In 1977 Ben and Jerry completed a correspondence course on ice cream from Pennsylvania State University's Creamery and the rest is history… Their best selling and most iconic flavor…what else, but "Cherry Garcia."
BURLINGTON, Vt.: The largest City in Vermont and with only a population of about 42,417 folks. Nope, this certainly isn't California!! This is an amazing, vibrant, eclectic, and very hip college town. We really liked it. It's on Lake Champlain and the vistas of the Lake from the waterfront are just beautiful. Again, people seemed really active and loved being outdoors - no surprise here, since the winters can be frigid!
NIAGARA FALLS: WOW!! THE FALLS, are, to say the very least, over-the-top amazing. It is the collective name for the confluence of three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the US. More specifically, the province of Ontario and NY state. There's a vertical drop of about 165 feet and during high flow there's more than 6 million cubic feet of water falling over the crest every minute - and California is in the middle of a historic drought - it just isn't fair! We first saw The Falls on the NY side, then walked across the "Rainbow Bridge" into Canada (passports and customs are now the norm!). Both sides showed entirely different views of The Falls and we'd HIGHLY recommend making the effort to do this!
From Niagara Falls we drove through Pennsylvania, Ohio, the northern reaches of Kentucky and finally into South Indiana. We needed to get some minor work done on our "Brake Assist" system on our tow car.
St. LOUIS: We left Indiana and on our way to Boulder, Colorado we found ourselves driving right through St Louis, Missouri. So, we kinda made an unplanned stop, had a really nice two day visit in this wonderful City! Having just spent the past two months in the Northeast, we certainly weren't use to the heat and excessive humidity we encountered. The highlights included:
The GATEWAY ARCH - the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. It is located mere steps from where Lewis & Clark completed their historic journey and commemorates Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase which opened the "gates" to the USA expansion West. It is the nation's tallest monument at 630 feet and has a catenary shape (think metal chain hanging down as you hold it in your two hands). We took the rather funky little internal elevator to the top and found the views spectacular!
BUSCH STADIUM home to the St. Louis Cardinals (and Budweiser beer). It's the most beautiful baseball stadium we've ever seen and we watched the "Redbirds" play the Cincinnati Reds. The "Cardinal Nation" are really diehard fans with seemingly 90% of the fans wearing Cardinal Red! Their 'Cardinal Village' is really fun to attend pre or post game. In San Diego we can only dream of such rabid fan support!
From Missouri we are now driving through Kansas Corn fields on our way to Colorado.
FAST, LAST & LOOSE:
STOWE: More genuinely NICE people… As we've written previously, it's been wonderful how many really nice, and often times helpful people we've had the opportunity to meet on this trip. Gary would like to thank Dennis Mitchell again from N. Springfield, Vt. He was our campsite neighbor who was watching me struggle trying to install a 'Tow Car Battery Charger' in our car. After, no doubt grimacing watching "the" struggle ( I was never a car guy!!), he just strolled on over, asked if I needed any help… Well, next thing he's taken the lead and we finished the installation in just over an hour. This, my friends, is the kind of friendly and downright helpful folks we have consistently found in our travels.
Forget Soccer, LACROSSE is the go-to Sport in Vermont. We saw a Youth Lacrosse tournament with probably a 1000 kids participating!
BURLINGTON: One of our countries most visited and iconic Bike Paths is the "Island Line Rail Trail." This 12-mile trail skirts the waterfront shoreline parks and offers spectacular views of Lake Champlain and NY's Adirondack Mtns. There's even a Bike Ferry to shuttle bicyclists across a narrow channel for boats designed for pass through. Ninety miles to the North is Montreal, Canada and this trail/pathway actually extends all the way up there. Our next visit!!
On one of our two rides on this trail, we failed to beat out the Thunderstorm and found ourselves racing home during what was really a torrential "dog & cat" downpour with lots of lighting and thunder on the horizon with our dog, Hop, in the doggie stroller! Needless to say we were quite wet in the warm rain. Hop was dry!
Next Stop, HOME (Escondido, Ca), to get our home sold!! We'll explain in the next blog.
Wishing you ALL the VERY BEST
Cruisin' The Highways, Instead of the Seas…
Gary & Laura