Monday, October 20, 2008

To The Top of Mt. Mansfield via The Haselton Trail

I first went to the toll road that you can drive up Mt. Mansfield. The cost is $23 per car. The road is 4 and 1/2 miles that takes you to the top of of the mountain. This was not an option for me. I was determined to do a hike to the top of the mountain. I spoke with a friendly fella, who was an employee of the toll road. He advised me to hike the Haselton Trail up the mountain. The weather conditions were perfect for my hike. He told me where to find the trail head, and park my car. I was on my way.I drove to the gondola parking lot. A couple of miles up the road. That is where the trail head is located for the "Haselton Trail".
I was in good luck when I parked my car. I parked right beside a friendly couple of Vermonters. There names are Jill and Ted. They are both active members of "The Green Mountain Club". I quickly introduced myself, and informed them. That I am from Ontario, Canada. That I love the Green Mountains, and was also thrilled to have joined "The Green Mountain Club. Jill and Ted were happy to meet me, and explained to me. That they were in the process of hiking up the "Haselton Trail" as they had adopted the trail, and were going to do some maintenance work on the trail. I was happy to be hiking up the mountain with some nice people. That were experienced hikers. It is always better to travel with friends. Especially if your hiking up a mountain.
Now I am defiantly still a novice hiking up mountains. However here is some friendly advice for anyone who gets the ambition to do so. Having very good footwear is essential. You should invest in some proper shoes or boots. That are designed for serious hiking. These shoes or boots will be equipped with proper treads. Designed to keep you safe and prevent you from falling. While you are walking over all kinds of terrain. The shoes or boots should be lightweight and should also be made out of waterproof material. The foot ware being waterproof will be an added bonus. You should always hike with a light backpack, filled with enough drinking water and healthy snacks. That will last for the duration of the hike. Never attempt a hike that is beyond your physical endurance. Remember you learn to crawl before you learn to walk. Hiking with a friend is always a better idea, compared to hiking alone. Practise all these tips, and you will enjoy a natural high. That will keep you high for a long time to come!
My hike went well. The "Hanselton Trail" was well marked and challenging. Like a lot of the trails going into the "Green Mountains" they are steep, and lead you through all sorts of beautiful pristine natural settings. I caught up with Jill and Ted. They explained the rest of the trail to me. They said that the trail would lead to one of the major ski runs on Mt. Mansfield. The ski run is called "Nose Dive". When you have reached "Nose Dive" you are about 1/2 mile from the top. I went on past Jill and Ted as they were both doing some work on the trail. I made it to "Nose Dive", before Ted an Jill arrived. We sat and talked on the mountain, as I took some great pictures of some great memories from this trip.
I then hiked to the top of the ski run. I decided not to continue to the top of "The Chin". I enjoyed the views from the top of the mountain, then started my decent down. Walking up and down "Nose Dive". From the top of the mountain to the "Haselton Trail" was a huge challenge. Because of the steepest! The grade must of been 10 or 11 percent. Hiking down a mountain can be even more physically demanding then going up. However I made it without incident. I was happy and proud. That I had enjoyed the hike, and made it to the top of Vermont! It is a excellent memory that will be with me always.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stowe Vermont- In Through The Backdoor!

It is here. The final day of a holiday. I'm always full of emotion for the final day of my trips. Very grateful that I had the chance to go, and live, life! However sad that the experience is coming to and end. And I must return and resume my normal life.

I got a excellent recommendation from the lady, that owns and runs HomePlace. She told me to take the scenic drive to get to Stowe. You drive north to Jeffersonville, via Pleasant Valley Dr., and then get on highway 108. through Smugglers Notch. This is the only way to drive through the mountains to get to Stowe. The whole drive was incredible. Driving along "Pleasant Valley Drive" north to Jeffersonville. The Green Mountains had been transformed by nature into the "Orange Mountains". What an beautiful site! One that I will not soon forget. I passed through the "Smugglers Notch. In through the backdoor into Stowe. Vermont keeps making me say Wow! I am so impressed with being here. Vermont is a natural treasure, and gift to be enjoyed. I have enjoyed my time here. Oh, so much.

I was very taken and impressed with Stowe, Vermont. It is a very impressive place. When in Stowe you are in a Green Mountain Valley. Being totally surrounded by the Green Mountains. It is a site to behold. At this point my adrenalin was in full flow mode. I was now ready to do a hike up Mt. Mansfield.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Essex, The Home of "HomePlace"

I woke up feeling much better Saturday morning. I had to go back one more time and see Neille at the "Four Aces". I enjoyed a hot bowl of oatmeal laced with raisins and maple syrup. Just the way I like it. Then I enjoyed the Saturday breakfast special. Which was link sausages served with French Toast for only $3.85. I enjoyed my breakfast and the enjoyed the two river walk back to the Hotel Coolidge. I finished packing and was on my way to my new accommodation. "The HomePlace" bed and breakfast, located in the town of Essex. I relied completely on my GPS to find the way to my new digs. I put my full trust in my very reliable imaginary female companion. No mistakes! My GPS was right on the mark, and found the "The HomePlace" bed and breakfast, located at 90 Old Pump Rd. in the town of Essex.

This accommodation is one of the finest I have stayed at during my travels. One of the other guests that I met at HomePlace put it best. "We come to visit Vermont to leave the real world. When we come to HomePlace we leave Vermont!" All I can say to describe HomePlace is that is the epitome of peace, beauty, and tranquility. If I was the wealthiest man in the world. I would be very happy and comfortable living at HomePlace. No amount of money in the world could find a better place to call home!

After finding HomePlace. I set out on a drive to Waterbury. To find the headquarters for the Green Mountain Club. It is a real pleasure for me. To be a member of the Green Mountain Club. Also I tried to find the main factory of Ben and Jerry's. This famous Vermont Ice Cream Company is an intuition here in the Green Mountain State. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield hit the entrepreneurial jackpot. When they decided to go into the ice-cream business. They turned a dream into the ultimate rags to riches scenario.

I found the Green Mountain Club. However it was closed. I also found Ben and Jerry's. However it was packed with people. So I decided to put off the factory tour. I retreated back to HomePlace to enjoy my new Vermont home! After a relaxing snooze in the well placed hammock. I was off to Burlington for dinner, and to do some shopping. I found a great place to park right off of Pearl street. I was amazed how close I parked to my favorite Tai restaurant, the "Parima". I enjoyed a nice meal of spring rolls and a plate of ginger beef served on a bed of fine rice noodles. After dinner I hit the "Old Crow" used book store. I was looking for more great books with Vermont travel in mind. I purchased a copy of the guide book for hiking the "Long Trail". I also purchased a very nice book on biking in Vermont. That was a great find! I then hit "Downtown Discs" and yes purchased more vinyl. I just can't say no to great music. It is my second blood, that helps to keep me alive! I found a rare tribute double Lp to Steve Goodman. If I didn't buy this rare Lp. I would probably never, ever see it again. I can't wait to give it a spin! I enjoyed a hot coffee and desert at the "Boarders" bookstore. Then it was back to "Homeplace" to get a good night sleep, and get ready for the final day of my trip.

St. "J" To Montpelier!

Today October 10 was another day of relaxation as I still not completely over a bout of flu like symptoms that happened on Wednesday night. After I enjoyed a bagel with peanut butter and jam, at New York bagels. I was off for another day of adventure and sightseeing in the Green Mountains. I drove on highway 91 to the town of St. Johnsbury. Or to St. "J" as Vertmonters affectionately call the capital of the "Northeast Kingdom". It is about a 1 hour drive to St. Johnsbury from White River Junction. I looked around on arrival in St. J. and did a little shopping. St. Johnsbury is a very nice and typical Vermont town. I didn't make any major purchases. I went to the tourist office to make my plans for the rest of the day. A very nice lady greeted me in the tourist office. She recommended that I take highway 2 west to get some very scenic views, and also a chance to visit the town of Cabot. Where the best of Vermont cheese is made.

I took her advice. I had another great day.The views along route 2 were spectacular, and I purchased a rare find. When I parked just off the highway to enjoy the spectacular views of the mountains off in the distance. There was a lady selling locally produced maple syrup. Also she was selling 1 pound bags of maple sugar. That's right, maple syrup that has been dried and ground into sugar. I have never seen it before, and was happy to buy a 1 pound bag for $10.25.

I found the town of Cabot which is 5 miles off of route 2. The creamery has a very nice gift gift shop. They offer unlimited samples of there award winning cheese. Also they give a 30 minute tour of there factory. The cost of the tour is $2. I was happy to take the tour after I enjoyed my fair share of free cheese. Any cheese lover will be very happy enjoying the Cabot Creamery. The tour was interesting. They also showed a 10 minute video which I videotaped. I can't risk bringing cheese home. Just in case I am checked by customs at the boarder. However I did purchase some Cabot Cheese granules. That can can sprinkled on hot popcorn, for that excellent real Cheddar flavor.

My days tour continued on to Montpelier. No Vermont trip is complete without visiting the state capital. This charming capital town. Is a fine choice for capital of this beautiful place. I enjoyed a tasty lunch at the "Four Corners Diner" that has been located in downtown Montpelier for many years. I also hit the local record store, and made a couple of purchases. I did finally purchase the Jackson Browne Lp, that contains the classic hit "Take It Easy". Which the Eagles made famous, but Jackson wrote back in the early 1970's. Standing at the corner of "Winslow, Arizona". I now back at the Hotel Coolidge doing some laundry, and getting ready to move on to the village of Essex, and the bed and breakfast. I have reserved for the remainder of my Vermont holiday.

Time For Some R And R!

Today October 9th was a rest and relaxation day for me. Something had upset my digestive track from the previous day. I slept in to try and sleep it off. So I could enjoy the rest of my vacation. I decided on a scenic drive to the Rutland, Vermont. You can easily drive to Rutland from White River Junction. You simply take route 4 west. This scenic drive takes you first to the village of Quechee. Then continuing west you reach the beautiful town of "Woodstock". Woodstock is considered the most historic and perfect small town located in the U.S.A. After leaving Woodstock you can get ready to see "The Heart Of The Green Mountains" as you arrive in the village of "Killington". Killington is now the prime ski area in Vermont. This drive was very special as the color in Vermont is a lot nicer, compared to last year. The colors are more intense. I continued on to Rutland which is the largest town in the interior of Vermont. It has a population of 17,292 making it a large city as far as Vermont is concerned. I had lunch at an old restaurant located in downtown Rutland. I'm sure it will be the most disappointing meal on this trip. Or I will ever have in Vermont. I had a good return trip. Retracing my steps. Taking Route 4 easily back to White River Junction.

The Dorset-Manchester Ride!

The 8th of October was another fantastic day. I been having breakfast at "New York Bagels". The prices and quality are both very good. Also it is located right beside the Hotel Coolidge. After I finished breakfast. I loaded my bike on the car and headed south towards Manchester. So I could attempt the "Dorest-Manchester Ride". Mother Nature is always doing her best, to make my holiday experience and outstanding one. The high yesterday was 20 C. or 70 F., with bright sunshine. Perfect conditions for doing the bike ride. I arrived at Manchester at 10:30 am, and immediately pulled in "Zoey's Bakery Restaurant. I had eaten there in my trip last October. Zoeys' features delicious sandwiches served on homemade bread. The delicious sandwiches are all served with homemade potato chips. The food prices are high. However I think you should treat yourself. When you are on vacation. I picked up a "Coyote Sandwich". Which is roast beef and fresh topping. You get your choice of bread. I picked there "sour dough" bread. I also ordered one of there oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. They are huge!The bike ride was excellent! However I had problems following John Freidin's book. Where he meticulously describes the route. I guess I have finished the transition to the modern world. I am almost helpless without my GPS. Peter V/D W. doesn't call me the careless navigator without reason. I came back to White River Junction to get cleaned and rested up. As I had tickets to the live performance of "The History Boys". I had dinner at The "Four Aces Diner". Neille's daughter Terry waited on, and served me my dinner. It was very good. It consisted on homemade cream of mushroom soup, and a bowel of beef stew.The play began at 7:30. The "History Boys" turned out to be a very serious story. The acting and production was very good. However it was difficult for me to follow all of the interaction between the characters. As all the speaking was done in British accents. Also there was one scene that was almost entirely in French. Also the story had some pretty sad themes, and a sad ending. The story, this play will defiantly not make you feel happy, after you have watched it.

Mt. Ascutney & The Search For The Perfect Gor-tex!

Another fantastic day spent in the Green Mountains. Today was my first hiking day. I went back to Windsor so I could go hiking on Mount Ascutney. Today Mother Nature was in an awesome mood. Not a cloud over the Green Mountains. Bright sunshine was the theme for the entire day. When I arrived in Windsor. I stopped and picked up a sub in local Price Choppers grocery store. That would be my lunch for the hike. When I arrive at the parking area for the Brownsville Trail. I started on my lunch and eat half of the sub. The other half would be enjoyed on the mountain. I started the hike and everything went well. The trail was completed dry. Which was a nice surprise, and very unusual for this time of the year. I travelled up the mountain just past a mile. When you come to the remains of an old quarry. That was located on the mountain, several years ago. The trail at this point became very difficult. I decided to take a brake, and finished my turkey sub. Before I would decide what my next move would be.I found a nice place at the old quarry to enjoy the remainder of my lunch, and enjoy some fantastic views from Mount Ascutney. I had with me on the hike. My micro lite hiking stove. That was purchased for my ill fated hike into the Grand Canyon. This minute stove worked like a charm. It is actually made out of an aluminum soda pop can. It was one of my better Ebay purchases. The soda pop stove runs on alcohol based fuel. Methyl hydrate is the best choice of fuel to be used. Because I had the stove with me. I was able to enjoy a cup of hot coffee. While I enjoyed the natural beauty, of a beautiful place.After I finished lunch. I decided to call it a day, instead of pushing on to the top of the mountain. After all. When you are on holidays. The main purpose is to have fun and to enjoy yourself.
I made it back to my car and headed south. I wound up crossing the Connecticut River ending up in Clairmount, New Hampshire. I stopped and did a bit of shopping there. I then made the decision. To continue on to the town of Bellows Falls. In Bellows Falls you will find the ultimate in Outdoor Stores. "Sams" has the best selection and prices. In the best quality outdoor equipment you can find. I did purchase two pairs of hiking boots last year. I do love my Merrill Hiking boots. This year I was looking to buy a very nice pair of Gore-tex hiking shoes. Well I had great success shopping at Sam's again. I purchased an incredible pairs of Gore-tex hiking shoes. Which is made by "The North Face". Also I purchased a second pair of Merrill waterproof hiking boots. You would have a challenge to find this quality in Toronto. If you did find it, you would be paying double the price. We Canadians are getting ripped off for sure!

I finished the day with a splendid drive from Bellows Falls back to White River Junction using highway 91. Wow!!! What a fantastic experience. The scenic beauty of Vermont can be overpowering at times. What the heck, just take it all in, and enjoy! I did consume my Calzone tonight at C & S Pizza. This is just one of the reasons. I love Vermont so much!
The picture of the shoes is the picture of the ultimate in Gore-tex hiking footwear. They are "The North Face" Hedgehog GTX. They were a birthday gift from my mother.

The Ulitmate Soup!

My second ride again started and finished in White River Junction. I used scenic route 14 as my bike trip. Route 14 hugs the White River and travels north. During my trip in June. I drove route 14 from White River Junction all the way to Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. I was so impressed with that trip. I decided to ride route 14 by bike. It was an awesome ride. This ride was about 24 miles in length. I rode for 12 miles, almost to the village of Sharon. I did stop in the village of West Hartford for a break. The weather at this point was threatening rain. So stopping to see what Mother Nature's decision would be. Was a good one. In the village. They have a library that dates back to 1922, and they also have a village store. I looked around in the library, and picked up two free copies of Vermont Life magazine. On the advice of the lady that was filling in for the Liberian. I checked out the West Hartford General Store. That features a restaurant and deli. I enjoyed a large bowl of New England Fish Chowder. It was fabulous! I did meet the owners Joe and his wife Pat. Pat made the delicious soup. My favorite celebrity chefs; Suzanne Sommers, Jamie Oliver, and Graham Kerr, or even the "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld couldn't have out done this great soup.

I Walk For Great Coffee!

Today is Monday October 6. I woke up a 7. That is sleeping in for me. I enjoyed the morning with a fantastic walk, over the two rivers. First you walk across the White River. You leave White River Junction, and arrive in Hartford, Vermont. Then you turn right and reach the second bridge. That takes you across the Connecticut River. Which takes you from Hartford to West Lebanon, New Hampshire. Right across this bridge you will soon find another classic New England diner. It The Four Aces" diner. I have always enjoyed a big breakfast. Especially when I'm on holidays. And especially when I'm on vacation in Vermont. There is a very nice lady that provides the warm service and pours the endless cups of gourmet hot coffee, at "The Four Aces". Her name is Neille. I did enjoy my breakfast this morning, and the 3 cups of delicious coffee, that I consumed. Thank you Neille! I'm now ready for another serious bike ride for sure.

Windsor Is My Kind Of Place.

I'm off to a very good start on my holiday. I spent some quality time in the old capital of Vermont, Windsor. It was country and state capital, from 1777 until 1805. When the home of Vermont politics, were moved to the mountain town of Montpelier. Today Windsor is a typical, charming, historic, and tranquil Vermont town. It featured the Old South Church. That was constructed in 1764, and their famous wooden covered bridge. Which at 464 feet is the longest one still standing in the U.S. I did walk and drive both ways on this historic bridge. Which connects Windsor with Cornish, New Hampshire, crossing the Connecticut River. I had lunch, in the classic Worcester Diner, that is located right in Windsor. You will always enjoy good food, and conversation. When you eat in one of these great places. I haven't posted great food in Vermont yet. However it is planed and will be posted soon. I did enjoy my first serious Vermont bike ride. I rode from White River Junction to the village of Quechee. The total distance for the ride was about 16 miles. I then enjoyed some homemade stuffed shells with cheese, at C & S Pizza. This eatery makes great tasting pizza, and the best Calzone. I have ever tasted. I will not be leaving town. Until I have eaten one.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I'm Back! Vermont Trip #3

It is difficult for me to put into words. What it means to me. To be back in Vermont for the 3rd time. All of my trips have been special. All of the locations I have had the privilege to visit, over the years. Have been incredibly interesting and beautiful places.

Vermont holds special meaning for me. I feel like when I'm here. I am at home, and when I'm away from here. I away from home. This wonderful place offers peace, beauty and quality of life. It is a great place to visit, and to live.

The trip down went perfect. The weather conditions were very good. Also I had no problems, crossing the boarder. I was arguing almost the whole way. With my GPS. My GPS has a mind of her own. She wanted to send me an alternate route. From the route I was accustom of going. I won this argument. I do love the route, crossing into Vermont, from Rouses Point, N.Y. I love the scene. When you have arrived, and reached Lake Champlain. This Lake has to be one of the moist beautiful lakes on our planet. I call Lake Champlain. The welcome mat, for the the State of Vermont! Just wait until you cross the lake and see what's on the other side.