The day was overcast and cool in the low 70’s, a welcome respite from the hot temps that have had me sweating like a pig. We took the required morning walk and investigated the bubbling noises coming from behind our campsite. It turns out we had water view property and didn’t even know it. A small brook made its way behind a number of campsites, ours included. Walking back to the camper I came upon a black snake coiled in an old tree stump. I made sure Mabel avoided the area, we didn’t need any issues with a snake and I didn’t want the day starting at a Vets office. Part of me wanted to write a battle royal between Mabel and the snake. Sensing my distress, she would rush from brook’s rapids to attack the snake, now coiled around my neck, and of course, save my life. I would affectionately scratch under Mabel’s chin and give her a begging strip as a treat. But life is more mundane than exciting and this was a mundane snake encounter. I left the snake alone and the snake left me alone; no parcel tongue conversations today.
I pulled the Arabella out of our spot, the two bigger RV’s dwarfing my little teardrop. We started the day heading North on highway 5 and soon the Vermont sign came into view as did the Welcome Center. Designed to look like an old barn complete with antique farm implements laying fallow in the surrounding field, the Welcome Center really welcomes visitors. A woman holding a red-tailed hawk was greeting visitors as part of their natural history museum outreach program. A barn owl, its full majesty on display, was in shelter where cookies were sold to help raise funds for the museum. The two animals getting along only because of the distance separating them.
Inside the Welcome Center, each part of the state had its own area with a map and correlating activity brochures. I had a general idea of my route but didn’t want to miss the Ben & Jerry’s factory if close so I took counsel from one of the state’s travel ambassadors. She said my route North on HWY 5 was winding, scenic, and would take some time to complete which was fine. Armed with a new set of maps we started our travels through Vermont.
I liked Vermont, it has a nice sense of self, it knows who it is and they promote that. No oceans or cities to steal its identity, the land is the draw and they have a nice marketing plan to promote it. I am calling it “Sophisticated Rural”, where the gentleman farmer feels as much at home on the farm as they do at an opera. Of course, I have no idea if this is the case but that’s how I felt as we drove up HWY 5, the Connecticut River to our East. Mabel and I stopped to take pictures of old homes, grave yards and barns, all the things you would expect in Vermont. In one town, historic looking homes were in disrepair, their paint peeling and a feeling of sadness radiating from their porches. These homes, if in the Hamptons, would fetch stunning prices and if not bulldozed, would be restored to their former glory. The farms vary in prosperity, something I have seen in all of my travels. I have seen beautiful farms and farms just hanging on by their fingernails. In each town I passed, there was at least one church steeple dominating the skyline. Painted white, their starkness outlined against a blue sky and reminding me of a time when church was all day. It wouldn’t bode well for the NFL if that was the case today and more evidence of what change brings.
Self-doubt crept in today and I wondered if the trip was worth the cost, and time, and the abandonment of security. I know this will happen from time to time and I must deal with it. Everyone I told about this project was supportive, so if they think it’s a good idea than it must be, right? The end result if realized, will well be worth the effort and I must keep that in mind rather than the doubt I am experiencing today.
The radio in these parts has proved to be a challenge. Many times, the scan button returns a series of numbers flashing in rapid succession only to stop on another Led Zeppelin song. Other times I hear the same song that I heard earlier in the day. Today I heard Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” twice, on two different stations, in the span of 8 minutes. It’s a good song but I didn’t think so popular in Middle Vermont.
We crossed into New Hampshire and were greeted by probably the strangest site yet. Fully dressed manequins were at the front of an 18-foot utility trailer parked at the side of the road. It was a pop up store complete with more fashionably dressed mannequins lining its steps. Time prevented stopping but I would have liked to understand the store’s logistics and a glimpse of its clientele. We continued on HWY 302 to HWY 2 and pulled off in Gorham to find camping for the night. The town was busy as the nearby ATV trails provide miles of riding. The Maine border was close and my chances in Gorham didn’t look good so we decided to spend the night in Maine.
I noticed a nice lake on my left and pulled off for pictures. A family was fishing on it and when I asked what types of fish they were catching, the little girl said, “big ones!” and I liked her enthusiasm. They were local, a fire department plate on the car, and didn’t want to talk. I took this initially as not being friendly but more thought provided a different answer. They were spending family time and didn’t want to answer questions from a tourist pulling a tear drop camper. I was imposing on their moment and understood their wish for privacy. I took some more photos and continued on my way.
I stopped at a family run campground, right off of HWY 2 in Bethel, and I spoke to the owner at check in. My spot was in the open and not down the tree lined loop where the others were, but I liked it. I backed in as the family next to me watched, the Dad validating my excuse that, “the little trailers are harder.” We were settled for the night and I decided to feed my sloppy joe craving with the groceries we bought earlier in the day. To be healthy, as healthy as manwiches can be, I picked up ground turkey only to find out at the register it was organic and $7.99 a pound. I think the value of organic turkey is lost on manwiches and could have used regular old turkey, but it would sound good when I told Sheri, “I ate healthy tonight, organic turkey for dinner,” and hoped she didn’t question what it was used in. We ate overlooking the mountains, with a Vintage 1967 trailer in the spot before us. It was a nice night and the owner had a community fire going. The conversation familiar amongst the regulars. Talk of land deals and new businesses, local folks making lots of money. They seemed comfortable with where they were at that moment, enjoying the fire and the contents of their cups. I listened and then excused myself for the night. Sleep came fast.