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Of Tropical Storms and Such


Sept. 3, 2011        Hanover, a tiny hamlet in western Maine, consisting primarily of Stony Brook Campground, was our get away spot to weather Tropical Storm Irene.  The thing about hurricanes and tropical storms, as we have learned through the years in Florida, is that regardless of the expert forecast, the storms do not necessarily follow the projected path.  As a result, instead of moving away from the storm, we moved closer to the center.   The storm actually tracked over the middle of Vermont.  What are the chances of a tropical storm in Vermont?!  Buffeted throughout the night with gust of 55-60 mph, the RV was rocking and rolling, but all went well.

We woke to sunny skies, but because we had no services and had been held up inside the RV for 36 hours due to heavy rains, Alan was anxious to move into Vermont.  Not an easy thing to do with over 200 major roads and 24 bridges closed due to flooding.  Luckily, we were able to get a phone signal.  This meant we could use our Verizon hot spot service to go on the Internet and find out what was going on in Vermont.  After extensive study of the state’s 511-road closure information, we were able to create a circuitous route to Burlington.  What would have been a 125-mile trip became a six-hour journey.

Moose Cave
Bear River
Our new route provided some beautiful areas we would not have found if we had taken our original route.   Grayson Notch State Park—in NW Maine had short trails open to Mother Walker Falls and Moose Cave.  The trails had a magical, fairyland feel.  Winding through many backcountry roads, we saw only a handful of cars, so we had the roads overlooking the rushing streams and rivers and shadowed by the mountains to ourselves.  But we also saw the mud covered crops, washed out roads, homes and businesses emptied of their contents to attempt the salvage of water damaged items or just to start the cleanup process, the damage was extensive and we were traveling in the “good” areas.  Having experienced a lifetime of hurricanes, I was not snapping pictures of the destruction or the misfortune of others. 

Sunset on Lake Champlain
Waterfront Bike Trail
Arriving in Burlington, we headed to the North Beach Campground located on Lake Champlain.  The city had gotten heavy rains but there were minimal signs of storm damage.  One of the highpoints of the area, for us, was the widespread bike trails and bike routes.  Along the waterfront there is 7- mile asphalt walking/biking trail, that we took advantage of our first morning to walk into the city waterfront district.

Later, we wandered into the Church Street Market.  This 4-block pedestrian area in downtown Burlington is loaded with restaurants and shops.  The Ben and Jerry’s flagship store is located here, so how could we pass up that?  With the University of Vermont and four other colleges located in the city, the area is crowded with young adults; it made us feel quite a bit older.

Colchester Causeway
Burlington By-way
Taking advantage of the bike trail, we completed a 15-16 miles trip the following day.  Biking along the Burlington waterfront and then marrying into the adjoining town and out onto the Colchester Causeway, which leads to an island in the lake.  This converted rail bed is 20 feet wide and creates a unique feeling as you bike along in the middle of the lake.  Due to storm damage we were only able to bike out a little over a mile but enough to get that special experience.

Luisa Maita
Checking out things to do, we found a local Thai/Vietnamese restaurant, Parima, which was closing down their meal service for the evening so they could present the talents of Luisa Maita.  The music was samba and bossa nova melded with alternative pop.  Luisa was awarded the Brazilian equivalent of the Grammy this year for Best New Artist.   A talented lead guitarist plus bass guitar and drums backed her clear voice and sultry sound.   We lucked into front row, balcony seats, in this small venue, so we had an ideal overview of this great show. 

Burlington waterfront
Heading out on the ferry to Port Kent, NY the following day, we checked the New York 511-road closure information.  Once again weaving our way across a state with multiple road closures, we were planning to drive through the Adirondacks.  Having been told earlier that morning that all state forest campgrounds in that part of the state were closed until further notice, we had not planned on stopping for the night.  But luck held out for us once again.  

Lake Eaton camp site
As we past the Lake Eaton Campground, we noticed that they appeared to be open.  As it turned out they were and we were able to secure a lakefront site.  Serious relaxing was interrupted with some kayaking and fishing.  Alan was rewarded with a small mouth bass, which will be dinner tomorrow night.  Evening campfires and the haunting call of loons on the lake made this a flawless campsite.  We’re now ready to move on toward Niagara Falls.

Ausable Chasm Falls, NY

Alan on Colchester Causeway

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