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Old Mar 21 2007, 10:14 PM   #1
Brenda
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Default I'm going to Vermont!

Once again I will be spending my summer working as a Student Conservation Association intern. However, this summer is different, because I am going EAST instead of west! I am going to be working at the Goodsell Ridge Preserve on Isle La Motte on Lake Champlain, in VERMONT!!! It’s right at the border of New York, Vermont, and Canada – I’ll be really close to Montreal!

This is different from my other two internships because it’s not at a national park. The Goodsell Ridge Preserve is run by the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, a nonprofit organization. The preserve is brand new – this will be the first summer it is open, so I am going to be helping design displays and doing things like building trails and painting fences, as well as interpretive programs, and also helping organize fundraising concerts on the island!

I am incredibly excited about this position. It’s going to be very different. Not to mention, instead of someplace hot and dry, I’m going to be someplace cool, and surrounded by water! Not to mention a lot closer to some relatives I don’t see often enough...

So stay tuned, because in a few months you will be receiving reports of my adventures in Brenda Gets Lost in Vermont!
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Old Mar 21 2007, 10:23 PM   #2
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Way to go girl! It's beautiful there. What a great way to spend the summer. (Yep a little jealous over here....but totally excited for you!)
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Old Mar 21 2007, 11:10 PM   #3
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congrats, I've always wanted to go to Vermont. I real excited for you. Don't work too hard and make sure you see the sights in the erea.
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Old Mar 22 2007, 12:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: I'm going to Vermont!

Looking forward to your reports and pictures!


And, if you end up taking day/weekend trips to places I've been in Vermont before, I think I'm just going to freak. Cause sometimes I think you're stalking me -- only you're quite a number of years behind!
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Old Mar 22 2007, 01:36 AM   #5
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Best of luck. Did you know that H. P. Lovecraft not only visited Vermont, he set one of his stories there?
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Old Mar 22 2007, 04:09 AM   #6
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Default Re: I'm going to Vermont!

That sounds wonderful, brenda. Lots of luck there, I'm sure you'll have a great time
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Old Mar 22 2007, 04:25 AM   #7
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I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time! I hope you'll take lots of pictures from the area.
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Old Mar 22 2007, 06:57 AM   #8
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Hey Brenda, in that case maybe I will take a weekend trip and go bug ya!
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Old Mar 22 2007, 07:45 AM   #9
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Brilliant!
Have a great time!
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Old Mar 22 2007, 11:57 AM   #10
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I am so excited, but now I have to buckle down and get through the rest of the semester!
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Old Mar 22 2007, 02:28 PM   #11
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Good luck with that too! Looking forward to hearing of your adventures in Vermont!
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Old Mar 22 2007, 02:33 PM   #12
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Congrats and good luck! Sounds like a very interesting and worthy endeavor.
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Old Mar 31 2007, 04:41 PM   #13
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Take lots of mosquito repelent!
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Old Apr 1 2007, 05:37 PM   #14
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Wow!! That sounds great!! Especially being at the birth of a new park!! Sounds like you'll be kept extremely busy....keep up the great work!!
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Old May 21 2007, 12:41 AM   #15
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Sunday May 20, 2007

Greetings from Vermont!


It's been really crazy for me for the last two weeks, as I had final exams, then had to pack up all the STUFF I had managed to cram into my dorm room (luckily we managed to cram it all into the Jeep to take home!), then had only three days to unpack everything (almost), sort it (more like flinging it around the room!) and then repack a smaller selection that had to fit in the Malibu along with my parents' two bags while we drove to Isle La Motte, Vermont, the site of my Student Conservation Association internship!

Somewhere in there we also managed to watch several TV shows, have dinner with my aunt's family (which took several hours longer than anticipated, as the pot roast never did get done cooking before we left!), go to the St. Louis Zoo to see the baby cheetahs (all but one were hiding!) and the baby elephants (Maliha was out, and was sucking her trunk, and came closer but then got shy just like any toddler who realizes Mom isn't right behind her!), and see Spider-Man 3. (It's not as good as the first two, but is DEFINITELY worth seeing on the big screen!)

There was a VERY brief doctor's appointment on Monday (just had to draw some blood for a test) and my parents and I left that afternoon around 4:00. We managed to get to Indianapolis that night. The next day we went through Ohio, the tip of Pennsylvania and part of New York before stopping just past Rochester, NY. My parents had me drive for a bit just to make sure I remembered how... and of course that was when the road construction and REALLY BIG TRUCKS started multiplying... But I must not have done too badly, because my mom actually fell asleep while I was driving!

Anyway... Tuesday night, we watched the Academy of Country Music Awards all the way through. We lucked out - since we had crossed into the Eastern Time Zone the show didn't start until 8:00 rather than 7:00, so we didn't miss any of it! Of course that meant that it went on till 11:00...

Wednesday we got nearly to our destination of Isle La Motte, Vermont; we actually crossed the causeway over Lake Champlain from New York to Vermont, and went to the tourist info center there, where we spent about half an hour talking with a really funny woman named Jenny who told us a little about the area. Including the fact that it was on Isle La Motte that then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt got the news that President McKinley had been shot! (This was quite a coincidence, since my internship two summers ago was at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota!) I also picked up some maps and pamphlets and things. She told us that there really weren't any hotels around except for the one we'd seen back at Rouse's Point, back across the causeway, so we decided to go back there. We weren't due at Isle La Motte until Thursday.

(By the way, here's a link to a map if you want to get some idea of where I am now! Link)

We got a room and drove around several times trying to find a place to eat. We finally went to a grill Dad remembered seeing. The food wasn't too bad, but nothing special. Back in the hotel we watched several season finale episodes, then went to bed.

Thursday morning, since we didn't have to drive very far, we slept in. We didn't even eat breakfast until after 10:30, at the Old Tymes Cafe. The food was really, really good. Finally we started off to Isle La Motte. When we got there we drove to Fisk Farm, where we met Linda Fitch, my supervisor for the summer, Donald, and Pam, also members at the farm. We talked at the farm for a few minutes, and then drove out to the Goodsell Ridge Preserve, which is just a few minutes away. As an SCA intern, I will be helping to develop interpretive displays and programs at the Nature House there, where I will also be living in an upstairs bedroom. (At this point there are still problems being worked out regarding the water line and electricity, so I've been staying at Fisk Farm.)

The Goodsell Ridge Preserve is run by the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, and has fossil records of the oldest known reef system. Fisk Farm has another preserve, of an old limestone quarry, which contains further fossil records.

http://www.ilmpt.org/
http://fiskfarm.com/

We were invited to dinner at Fisk Farm. In the meantime we decided to drive down through the islands: Alburg, North Hero, Grand Isle, and South Hero; and then down to Burlington, to locate the airport. My aunt is getting married in June, and I'll be flying home for the wedding, so we wanted to check things out. We found it, found parking, went inside, and did NOT buy tickets. Instead we went to the library at the University of Vermont, got on Expedia.com, and got a round trip ticket for literally half the price of what we had been quoted when we asked at one of the counters in the airport! By this time we were pretty hungry - we got a snack at a Burger King on the way back to the highway, then drove up to St. Albans to drop off my parents' stuff at their hotel there. (They were staying in St. Albans because of the AmTrak station - they were planning to take the train out to New Jersey to visit my aunt before going home!) By this time it was after 6:00, so we called Fisk Farm to say we were going to be a bit late... it was around 7:00 by the time we got there! We had just enough time to go out back and see the quarry before dinner was served, and it was delicious!

It was dark and rainy, so I was relieved when Linda said she would drive my parents back down to St. Albans rather than making me do it! I rode along, though. By the time we got back I was ready to crash. I got an upstairs bedroom at the farm; it was very cold (apparently it's been unseasonally cold around here, which is a relief, because I didn't bring very many winter clothes with me!) However, there was an electric blanket and a set of the Chronicles of Narnia, so I was good.

The next day I unpacked most of my things and put them away in my room at the Nature House. That afternoon Linda and I watched clips from an interview made with a geologist at the Goodsell Ridge Preserve last year; I will be transcribing the interviews so that we can use the information for our interpretation! Lyle (Linda's son, a computer programmer who is staying in the loft of one of the other buildings, the old stone house) still has to copy the interview onto a DVD.

I didn't do much else Friday except make the acquaintance of the Fisk Farm pets: Dido, a very friendly little white poodle who's not always sure what the game is with the tennis ball; Diana, a brown-and-golden-brown-striped cat, who is very friendly, and will not only accept petting and being lifted into one's lap, but once the petting begins is very demanding that it continue! And finally, Alaska: a gorgeous cat, white with brown patches, who isn't allowed in the house because she eats the other pets' food - she's Lyle's cat, and while not unfriendly is usually very aloof until she sees you opening the door to the house!

I also made the acquaintance of Claire, another older lady who's spending the summer here.

That evening after supper Lyle invited me over to watch X-Men 3 with him. I enjoyed it partly because I hadn't seen it since last summer and noticed some new things, and also because he had not seen it and his comments were amusing. (When we first saw where Magneto's band was camped in the woods, his comment was "Oh, look, a mutant Renfair!")

Saturday not much happened except a meeting with two people whose names I forget; they and Linda are planning a "Nature Camp", kind of a day camp, for one week this summer. This was a planning, brainstorming session. I contributed a few ideas; they particularly liked my description of the Junior Ranger programs I've seen (or completed!) in various national and state parks, and my idea to have one session at the quarry behind Fisk Farm; the filled-in hole is now a beautiful and highly populated wetland area.

Saturday dinner was fun because Lyle's friend Dominick and his son Moses were visiting, and it got really, really silly! Afterward I got a glimpse of what it's going to be like here: Linda got out the guitar, and Dominick led the singing while doing the dishes. I sang the ones I knew, and suggested a few. It was fun, but I didn't feel like staying up for another movie!

This morning I went to church, then sat around and read. I finished the last of the five C.S. Lewis books, then got on the internet for a while. (Linda, Donald, and Claire all have laptops, and they said I can use them. I'm on Claire's right now.) Donald told me Linda had said I had the day off, so after I was done being lazy I went exploring! I drove down through the islands again, actually paying attention this time. I stopped at the little store in Grand Isle for something to eat, and ended up getting a "grinder" - a HUGE sub sandwich that I could only finish about a third of! I sat in the car in the parking lot to eat that. It was getting overcast, which was nice - I didn't have to worry about sun. (Speaking of sun, I found my dad's prescription sunglasses in the car! I'll have to be sure to bring them with me when I go home for the wedding!)

Once back on the mainland, I decided to save Burlington for another time, and headed up to St. Alban's. I took the smaller state highway rather than the huge interstate, and drove through Milton and then through St. Albans, taking time to notice where things were. (Apparently St. Albans is where to go for supply runs - it has an actual supermarket, not just a gas station grocery, although the store at Grand Isle was pretty good for a gas station!)

From St. Albans I took a county road that went along the coast before joining up with the highway again at Swanton. It was raining steadily by this time, but there was literally no one else on the road, and it was a beautiful drive.

I crossed over to Alsburg and considered crossing over to Rouse's Point, because I knew there was Cingular cell phone service there. (Mom's phone had rung while we were eating in the Old Tymes Cafe, much to all of our surprise!) I decided to try it at the intersection before the crossing, before I went that way, and found I had one bar, so I called my parents. We talked for a few minutes - they're still visiting in New Jersey!

I got back to the house at about 6:45 and was surprised at the number of cars there... then I went in and the house was full of people! I had forgotten that Linda had said Sundays are usually potluck nights... After we ate there was music: two guitars, a banjo, and an accordion! And a bongo drum, briefly. And they all loved my voice, which was nice of course!

After the crowd dispersed I took a shower in the stone cottage next to the house, washed my hair, then came back and spent almost an hour writing out what I've done so far...

And I didn't really mention it yet, so I will: it is COLD here!!! Unseasonable weather - we've been in the 50s F! I dug out my one pair of SmartWool socks, my sweatshirt and jacket, my long-sleeved shirts... of which I didn't bring many, because it's supposed to be summer! It's summer back in St. Louis, certainly! I knew I was going north but it just didn't register how much further behind the seasons would be. (I've seen it before - spring in Cape Girardeau, MO is about a week ahead of St. Louis, and Kirksville, MO is about a week behind St. Louis. I'd say this area is at least a month behind St. Louis, which is wonderful, because I get to see spring all over again! There are ENORMOUS lilac trees everywhere that are only just coming into full bloom! I saw dark pink crabapple trees blooming all over the place on my drive today! And passing apple orchards, I saw that they are just starting to bloom! And the fields are golden with more dandelions than I've ever seen! And I found where there might be wild grapes, and where there might be wild raspberries or blackberries! And - oh yes, I'm on an island surrounded by a lake of water! When I think of how utterly desperate I was last year to find water...

I cannot WAIT until it's warm enough to swim! (It's supposed to warm up quite a bit this week actually.)

It is so GREEN out here! Especially because a lot of them are still new leaves, they're still that bright yellow-green... which on gray days like this one was are all the more beautiful...

It's nice to be at a site that's not badlands or high plains. Water is nice. Green is nice. I like green.

It's after midnight Eastern Time, so I'd better post this and get to bed! Stay tuned for my further adventures in Vermont!
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Old May 21 2007, 03:52 PM   #16
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Default Re: I'm going to Vermont!

Welcome to the East Coast, Brenda. They don't call it the Greem Mountain State for nothing!
You may want to invest in another pair or two of heavy socks and long shirts. The weather has already been bouncing around, and I hear we're in for a topsy-turvey summer.
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Old May 23 2007, 03:39 PM   #17
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Sounds like a wonderful adventure. Keep up the reports! And keep the reports, you may want to write a book someday.
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Old May 23 2007, 04:51 PM   #18
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Brenda,

Sounds like you are going to have an amazing summer! Please do keep us updated!!
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Old May 23 2007, 09:27 PM   #19
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Yes please let us know how things are going & HAVE FUN
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Old May 24 2007, 06:34 AM   #20
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Keep up the good work, Brenda! And do please keep us posted on everything.
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Old May 24 2007, 08:10 AM   #21
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Ditto on that, keep having fun and reporting back!
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Old May 24 2007, 03:53 PM   #22
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Get Some Maple Syrup !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old May 30 2007, 02:38 PM   #23
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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Well, I didn't mean to go this long between updates, but there's not much internet access and I didn't do any excursions until yesterday! I'll try to keep this in some order...

So the day after I drove all over the place and through St. Albans, I went with Donald down to St. Albans! This was a grocery run. He drove up through Alburg and down on Highway 7 rather than going down through the islands and then back up. He showed me where some of the stores and things in St. Albans were, and then we went to Price Chopper, where we went our separate ways. (Donald is a former English professor who now works as a literary agent, but he's also the one who does the cooking at Fisk Farm - he's a real chef!) He was spending a lot of time choosing ingredients, but I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where the heck everything was - this is one of the most confusingly arranged grocery stores I've ever been in! Nothing was where I expected it to be, and I had to go back and forth several times before I had everything. Then, when I went to the checkout, I had to use my own credit card becase the SCA hadn't sent me the one with my stipend yet. And my credit card was declined! Heart attack! I'd used it recently, the account was up to date, but apparently the Missouri account was not compatible with the Vermont store. Even though I'd used it at other Vermont stores. Argh. So I was naturally a little panicky. Luckily the store ATM took my debit card and I got to withdraw a LOT more cash than I usually do (since this was stocking up on a lot of things at once it was pretty expensive!) and was able to pay for it all.

We didn't get back to Isle La Motte until almost 2:00. Donald drove over to the Nature Center House (my house) to drop off my groceries first. Linda was there, so Donald left. After I put everything away, Linda gave me a ride back to Fisk Farm. (The plumbing was still being worked on at the Nature Center House.) On the way back she drove down a side road to show me two really amazing houses, both done by the same person. The first is an old barn that was restored and moved to a spot with a great view of the lake. The second is called the "Tree House" and is up on stone columns or pilings! Since it's right on the lake, I guess that's a sensible as well as whimsical feature!

Later Linda had me watch two DVDs that Lyle had produced. The first one followed the rehabilitation of the old barn into the Barn House - it was really an amazing process. They had use hydraulic jacks to raise the whole thing, then roll it forward on airplane tires, using more hydraulics! They moved it a pretty good distance, too!

The second was about Betty Fisk (I think that's the name...) She was the wife at Fisk Farm in the early 1900s. She took up weaving, which most people had forgotten how to do because of the availability of commercially made fabric; she really revitalized the craft, made Isle La Motte known for the woven rag rugs which she got everyone making. And her own crafts were like tapestries, done very fine, but with the ends woven such that the front and back of the fabric could hardly be distinguished from one another. It was really amazing.

-----------------------

Somewhere in there the electricity, plumbing, and finally even the hot water heater were functioning over at the house, so I moved over there for good.

One day Linda was showing me the fossils in the outcrops near the house; there's a pamphlet that describes seven "discovery areas" which have particularly good examples of the different types. Unfortunately there are no signs marking the areas yet, so she was showing me where they were. (There is going to be a large interpretive sign out there, showing where to look.) We ended up walking the full "white trail", a long and very winding trail marked either by stakes painted white on the tips, or by white paint on outcrops. It was a real maze! I saw strawberries blooming everywhere, and can't wait for the results of that... Also there was a clearing full of clumps of gorgeous violets - much bigger than the ones at home, and such a deep, vivid purple!

Dido (that's Linda's poodle, in case you forgot) was with us and was having a grand time. Occasionally she would start going a little too far off the trail and Linda had to whistle for her, at which she came running! She really is a darling.

One thing Linda showed me - this was when she had brought her friend Janet, who was visiting, over to see the rocks and the Nature Center - was how easy it can be to uncover the rocks. The edge of the grass has grown over the outcrops, but since the roots haven't dug in, the edges can just be lifted off to reveal the rock below, and a solid mat of roots above! This is very tempting. I did a little bit of uncovering the other day, although since it had rained the sod was very heavy. Also, once you pull off the parts just at the edge, there's soil underneath and the roots don't just lift off! Apparently there are going to be "volunteer days" throughout the summer, when people come over and work at uncovering. (According to Linda, the person who does this best is a chef with an excellent delicate touch!)

-----------------------------------------

This position is not at all like the previous two, which were both at national parks where there was a scheduled, structured routine. Right now there is no routine at all! There will be once summer gets going. However, I did work pretty steadily for several days, transcribing the interviews I mentioned watching last time. Lyle had made audio CDs of them, and I was working on Claire's laptop - first at the Nature Center, then at Fisk Farm, then at the Nature Center - Linda kept sending me back and forth! Anyway, the interviews were with Charlotte Mehrtens, chair of the geology department at University of Vermont, and apparently the expert regarding the Chazy reef formation and the Goodsell Ridge in particular. The first CD was an interview with an associated press reporter. (I just thought to look it up, and I think I found the article that was written from that! http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15384828/ ) It was an hour long and very intensive - I had to go back a lot while transcribing. It came out to a little over fourteen pages, after which I was very familiar with things like stromatoporoids!

The second CD was different - it was from a video of the grand opening of the Goodsell Ridge Preserve. For the first half or so it was Charlotte Mehrtens repeating the same basic information, or telling people how to use a hand lens, or just the sounds of people looking at fossils. The sound wasn't as good, and there was music in the background, so it was hard to hear. I basically just typed whenever she gave actual information. Towards the end it was more of a question and answer session, and she was in lecturing mode so it was a little easier to follow, and I got more information. This CD was 45 minutes long, and came out to just about ten pages. (If anyone's really interested I can email you the transcripts.)

---------------------------------------

There have been several more fun music evenings, including another potluck Monday. I have a theme song now - I always have to sing "Today, while the blossoms still cling to the vine..." Which is kind of wierd, because I love that song but Linda always draws it out so slow... I like it faster.

--------------------------------------

Linda had said that my days off will be Monday and Tuesday, but this week she asked me to make it Tuesday-Wednesday so I could hang around the Nature Center on Monday in case there were visitors on Memorial Day. I got a few visitors, but no crowd - but the weather was threatening, so no surprise. What was a surprise was who else showed up - Pete, the intern from last year! He lives only about 45 minutes from here, in Altona, NY. So he was interested in seeing what had been done in the house and in the exhibits since he was here, and he was telling me all these places I should be sure and visit! Including some tips I will keep in mind when I venture into the Adirondacks. It was fun talking with him, and then he was at the potluck too.

-------------------------------------

Up until this point I've just been writing random things as I think of them, but now I'm going to tell you about yesterday's excursion, which is still fresh in my mind!

I had decided to wait on going to the Adirondacks, because that's probably going to be an overnighter and it's still pretty cool at night. So I decided to head east instead this time. (I was planning all this out on Monday while waiting for visitors.) I got up pretty early and was leaving by a little after 7:30 - I had made a lunch the night before.

I drove up through Alburg, over to Swanton, and down to St. Albans, then took 104 to Jeffersonville. (Linda recommended this route.) I missed 104 at St. Albans and was forced onto the interstate, where I went back to the other St. Albans exit and had to retrace that whole section! But once I got going, it was a beautiful drive - I soon saw why Vermont is the Green Mountain State! Mountains they are, and green they certainly are! From Jeffersonville I took 108 down to Stowe. This took me through Smuggler's Notch, a scenic drive which is very narrow and windy - a real roller coaster! It was really fun to drive on. I stopped at an area near the top and walked around a bit. The rocks were all very sparkly - there was cleavage everywhere! Lots of mica. Very glittery. There were also huge trilliums blooming, and white and yellow violets. And it was such nice weather - a strong cool breeze, sunny with white clouds racing overhead.

After I drove through the Notch itself, I pulled over at a picnic area. The road had been following a beautiful mountain stream and I wanted a better look! I also saw some lovely little bluets (I think that's what that flower is called!) It was a little tricky getting down to the stream, but I was motivated. When I got down there the water was cold, the rocks were smooth; the current sounded wonderful. It was interesting seeing what all that sparkly cleavage looked like when it was smoothed and rounded. I followed the stream a bit until I ran out of dry gravel, then found a path up.

This part, driving through the notch and getting down in the streambed, turned out to be the most beautiful part of the day. Some of my other plans "gang aft aglae." I had planned to drive up a side road to Mt. Mansfield and taken another in a loop that would lead to Lake Mansfield. Unfortunately the first was a toll road, and the price was 21 dollars! 21 dollars!?! Pikes Peak was only ten dollars! I was not going to pay that much! (This was a neighborhood of big ski resorts - it was one of them that owned the toll road.) The second road turned out to be a private road; and when I looked for where the loop should have come out I didn't find it! Since I had planned to eat lunch at the lake I was hoping I would find some other parklike area, but I never did, so I ate in the car in the parking lot of my next destination: the Ben & Jerry's factory!

I had seen the Ben & Jerry's Factory Tours listed in several of the tourist brochures, and I knew I was going to be going right by there. I think what convinced me was the fact that my map's symbol for "fun sites" is - a Happy Face! Looking at the map and seeing "Ben & Jerry's" with a happy face next to it was irresistable. The tour only cost $3; there was a video, then a view of the floor from above - where they mix the ice cream, and then the chunks, and then the swirls, and then the containers, and then the lids, and then the packaging, etc. It was a fun little tour, especially since it ended with free samples! The flavor of the day was triple caramel - caramel ice cream, caramel swirl and fudge-covered caramel pieces. It was really good. After I bought my postcards I had a scoop of "Phish Food" - chocolate with caramel and marshmallow swirl and chocolate chunks.

It was fun learning things like, Ben and Jerry were two "regular guys" who went into ice cream because an ice cream maker was cheaper than a bagel machine! And that they have a "green" policy, work with nonprofits, use only fair trade coffee, use only milk from cows that aren't given that hormone thing, and work with small farmers... Pretty cool stuff, and not just the ice cream!

Back by the parking lot was the "Flavor Graveyard", filled with tombstones for failed flavors such as "Making Whoopie Pie" and "Sugar Plum" (apparently that one only lasted three weeks!)

Because of my earlier disappointments it was only midafternoon when I got to the factory. On the way back to the car I picked up a bunch more brochures, one of which gave the number for a movie theater in Burlington; I called to get the times, and decided to try to make it to either Shrek 3 or Pirates of the Caribbean. I got a little turned around in Burlington but made it just in time for Shrek (I decided to wait on Pirates, since it would be so long.) The movie was fun - still not as good as the first one, but they didn't overload it with so many throwaway gags. And of course where else are you going to hear a song sung by Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas?

After the movie I looked in a few of the stores, then headed out. I took the interstate back to St. Albans and had no trouble. I ate at McDonalds in St. Albans, then went to get some groceries. I still had a lot of things - I mostly needed salad stuff and fruit, and a few things I'd forgotten the first time. I decided to go to HannaFord's, the other grocery store, to see how it compared to Price Chopper. The produce looked a little better and the arrangement of the store was more familiar, but there was less selection. Also, unlike Price Chopper, Hannaford's doesn't have an ATM in the store. When the machine denied my credit card I had to go across the street to the bank to use the ATM there! And it was pretty late by this point!

It was after 11:00 when I finally got back to Isle La Motte. I had gotten a soda at the gas station and was not getting sleepy, until the last half of the drive across Isle La Motte! I'm very glad it wasn't any further. I put the groceries away and read a while, then collapsed for the night.

In case you're interested, my soundtrack throughout the day consisted of Collin Raye, the Monsters, Inc. soundtrack, the Medora Musical (from two summers ago) and Twenty Classical Favorites.

--------------------------------------------

This morning I slept in a bit and then headed over to Fisk Farm, hoping to get on the computer to write all this out! My SCA Visa Check card has finally arrived. I hope Price Chopper will accept it.

-------------------------------------------

The weather is still quite cool, the lilacs are just at their peak and overflowing with fragrance, and now there are poppies and irises, and so many things haven't even started blooming yet I can hardly believe it!

Until next time!

Brenda
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Old May 30 2007, 06:58 PM   #24
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Brenda, you shouldn't have trouble with the SCA card. It's usually drawn on a local bank. That is the drawback with Chopper (I work for PC)...they are very limit as far as ATM cards go. You should NOT have had a problem with a straight credit card. They are supposed to be international.

One thing about Price Chopper... once you've gotten familiar with one, you can walk into any store in the chain and not have much trouble finding things.
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Old May 30 2007, 10:13 PM   #25
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Brenda, sounds like you are going to have one magic Summer!
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Old Jun 1 2007, 05:29 AM   #26
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Lovely writeup, thanks!
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Old Jun 21 2007, 06:44 PM   #27
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Tuesday, 6/19/07

I've really let it slide! Three "weekends" now to catch up on! I'll lay them out one at a time.

Two weeks ago, on Monday, I didn't have any plans so I went with Claire when she drove up into Canada to a dairy there, to buy some fancy cheese. It was a fun drive; I was surprised it was so short! It was longer to get to the border than to the dairy once we crossed it! Once there I saw a LOT of cheese and heard a lot of French. (Incidentally, one of the few words I remember from my one semester of eighth-grade French is "fromage" which means "cheese"!) We didn't have any trouble getting through the border either way, although it was easier getting out than back in!

That evening I drove to St. Albans to go see "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End." I had checked the time online but hadn't called ahead to confirm. I should have called ahead. After nearly an hour-long drive, I went to get a ticket and was told that "Pirates" wasn't playing because they were having that theater worked on. I was furious - it had been on the sign still, even, and the person at the counter wasn't very nice. I just sat in the car and fumed for a few minutes (I wanted to calm down a little before driving) and then I went and got some ice cream (since I missed out on my milk duds) and sat and ate it, still fuming. I was just so annoyed - it's a long drive to St. Albans from Isle La Motte!

On the way back I decided to try and find the grocery store I had been told was in Swanton, which is on the way to St. Albans. I wanted to know if there was anything closer than the Price Chopper I'd been going to. Well, I found it! It was smaller than the stores in St. Albans, but it was a regular supermarket. So it was good to know that was an option, rather than going on another ten miles or so! I picked up a few things, and then went next door to a video rental place. I was still mad about missing my movie, so I wanted to watch a movie, any movie! I had to sign up for a card, but I got a bonus deal on my rental if I got out five DVDs (to watch on the DVD player in the Nature Center House.) I picked out Paycheck, Big Trouble, Castle in the Sky, The Great Train Robbery, and best of all, The Rocketeer! That was the one I watched that night. There's a story behind my glee in getting to see this movie:

When it was out in the theaters in 1991, my family went to see it. I didn't understand all that was going on but I was enjoying it, but then my mom made my sister and me both leave while Dad watched the rest! I was SO mad!!! I didn't even remember this all that well - I was talking to my sister about it, and apparently SHE got scared near the end, so mom took us BOTH out. I wanted to see the rest! And I hadn't realized it was so near the end when she made us leave! I really just remembered a few of the scenes, but didn't understand things like why there was a sword fight in a castle (one of the characters is a movie actor, and they were showing a film shooting.) I really enjoyed the DVD, seeing where all my memories had come from, and finally getting some closure! I'd been resenting it and meaning to watch this movie for years and just never got to it!

Anyway.

The next day I decided to go see the Shelburne Museum (http://shelburnemuseum.org/), which had been recommended to me by several people. I had been warned to make at least a whole day for it. It turned out that the Shelburne Museum was a collection of buildings (and a steamboat, and a lighthouse, and a covered bridge, and a train) which were either restored to portray historically accurate furnishings, etc, or which housed various collections of art or artifacts. It was really neat! I managed to see just about all of it... Here are some highlights.
*
The Ticonderoga, a restored 220-foot steamboat, is a National Historic Landmark and the last walking beam side-wheel passenger steamer in existence. Today the Ticonderoga portrays life on board in 1923. http://shelburnemuseum.org/buildings...tail.php?id=29

A round barn and a horseshoe shaped barn.

Mainly it was what was inside the buildings that impressed me - the Horseshoe barn had a collection of over 200 carriages and sleighs inside! (Now I finally know what a "phaeton" looks like!)

A miniature circus parade with nearly 4,000 pieces, and another miniature three-ring circus with over 35,000 pieces, all hand-carved over 40 years!
http://shelburnemuseum.org/collections/detail.php?id=13

The toy collection, with "automata" - elaborate mechanical toys.

The collections of Amish quilts, blown and cut and molded glass, painted bandboxes, chandeliers, carved water fowl decoys, ships' figureheads, folk art... check out the website, it's really amazing!

There was a working blacksmith, a printshop, and a weaving shed, and I spent some time talking with the woman in the "Settler's House".

I had my lunch in the little cafe there and watched the school groups eating outside. I'm still not used to being so close to Lake Champlain, but there were seagulls scavenging around, and the kids kept chasing them off! I also saw some really cute baby ducks in a pond!

Definitely worth the hefty entrance fee. It's really something.

And afterward, I was able to see "Pirates of the Caribbean" at a Burlington theater! It was a little over the top in places but I enjoyed the whole thing - except for the very end, which was a little annoying, but oh well - I still got to hear the banter and the music and everything!


So that was the first weekend.

During the rest of that week I watched most of the DVDs and showed a group around the Goodsell Ridge. Linda had invited them, and I knew she wanted them to have a good impression. (It turned out one of them was the mayor of Montpelier, the capitol of Vermont! I didn't even know!)

Then Thursday night I was packing frantically to go home for my aunt Jeanie's wedding! She's 56 and never been married before - she's been waiting a LONG time to find Nick, but they're so cute together! So my parents had said they'd pay to fly me home.

I had only flown once before, to NYC and back, with a group that had someone else coordinating everything.

So I was a little nervous.

With reason, it turned out.

I didn't have any trouble getting to the airport in Burlington, or getting my boarding pass - I'd made reservations online but had to get a boarding pass for each flight. I had a window seat and enjoyed the takeoff, but slept for most of the flight - I'd been up since 5 am! I had one connection, in Chicago. The second flight was with a different airline, and I had just under an hour to figure out where I had to go, and I had a hard time getting anyone to tell me, and I ended up having to take a shuttle to another terminal, and I was getting pretty panicked. I was actually hyperventilating, I think. I made it to the gate, got my pass and got on, thinking I was the last passenger, but we stayed there for quite a while while a few more people got on and I recovered from my ordeal.

After takeoff I looked out the window for a while: it was all a grid of fields, mostly brown - the corn was still too new to add that color. But they were perfectly square grids. After I read the magazine through, I looked out again and was interested in the way the landscape had changed: there were still fields, but they were no longer perfect squares, because there were tree-lined watersheds cutting through them. At first just a few, but more and more as we went further and further south. Pretty interesting! Finally we landed; my dad was waiting for me. I was starving; it was after 1:30 central time, and I hadn't eaten since 5:30 am eastern time! I hadn't been able to get anything in between flights, of course! So we stopped at Arby's and ate before going home, whereupon I collapsed on my bed, after clearing off all of the stuff that my mom had neatly placed there to ask me about.

I slept for a couple of hours, and my sister Joanne was home when I woke up! She's been in Costa Rica since April, had to leave for a few days anyway so came home for the wedding! This was one reason I was looking forward to coming home so much!

That evening Mom, Joanne and I drove to the church to rehearse the music for the wedding. It's a BIG family - my mom was one of fourteen kids, so we have easily enough to spare for a small choir! The rehearsal went okay - the music was really neat, especially the two a cappella songs.

After rehearsal I went with Joanne to a restaurant that had live swing music, where we met some of her swing dance buddies. (She's really into Swing!) It was a fun time and a late night - we got home around 1 am. I was sure glad I had taken that nap!

The wedding was the next day! Dad came to the early music rehearsal and got some of it on video with his digital camera. The wedding was really nice. Afterwards was the reception, which was a dinner. Joanne and I sat at a table with a bunch of cousins; it was so noisy we couldn't always hear each other, but we all had a good time!

The next day was the REALLY big family reunion, with the other two branches of the family! Joanne had brought home half a suitcase full of Costa Rican snacks and treats, and she set them up on a table for people to try. I ended up playing pool and mancala with various cousins and uncles, and then several of the families went out to Ted Drewes' Frozen Custard - a St. Louis specialty, famous for its "concretes" - ice cream mixed with chunks, thick enough that the server turns the cup upside down to prove that it's as thick as concrete! I'd actually only been there once, so it was a real treat for me. (There aren't any Ted Drewes near where we live.) I got Reeses chunks and strawberries in my concrete and it was deee-licious! We were all standing around or sitting in the back of a pickup. There were little cousins climbing ALL OVER it!

That evening was a frenzy of packing - more for Joanne than for me, since I just had a carry-on and she had a suitcase, and a bunch of shampoo and stuff she wanted to take back, and it had to be within a certain weight... Her flight was really early, and she was gone by the time I woke up. Mine wasn't nearly so early. Dad dropped Mom and me off at the airport and drove around while we were inside, rather than paying to park for a second time that day! Once again I slept most of the first flight, and at Chicago I was much less stressed; I had quite a bit more time, and knew generally what I had to do, although I still had to ask where to go to do it. I even had time to get something to eat, and time to eat it before the flight. So that was good for my self-esteem. I sure was glad to get back to familiar surroundings, even if it wasn't my St. Louis home!

Of course I'd already had my weekend, so I didn't have Tuesday off. I spent the week with nothing out of the ordinary; I watched some DVDs I'd borrowed from Lyle. (Monsters, Inc., Much Ado About Nothing, Garden State, The Gods Must Be Crazy...) Sunday morning I went to the outdoor service at St. Anne's Shrine. It was really nice; I liked it better than the other church I had tried. Sunday afternoon I was trying to figure out what to do on my days off - once again I hadn't been planning ahead at all! I decided, kind of at the last minute, to go out to the Adirondacks, and just make a day of it. Linda suggested I go to Lake Placid, and the Ausable Chasm, and I found a few other things to look at, and I remembered that Pete (last year's intern) had said that HW 3 was a good route to take.

Of course, "the best-laid plans... gang aft aglae" - and mine weren't exactly the best-laid plans! I drove up through Alburgh, across the causeway to Rouse's Point in New York, and down the interstate to Plattsburgh until I reached HW 3, where I continued driving. It was a beautiful drive; going through these tree-covered hills, it almost was like driving through Missouri hills, but the hills weren't shaped quite right... I stopped a couple of times to take pictures but there were no real vistas to capture yet. I managed not to get lost too often, or to figure it out right away when I did, but it was almost noon by the time I reached my first destination, the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths, NY. I went through the displays and looked at the trail map, and decided to stay there and hike. There were a series of short loop trails, and I chose to connect several of them; I think it ended up being a little over three miles. I went out to the car and sat there while I ate my lunch, then headed out.

It was all along wetlands - ponds, marsh, bog, swamp. (There's a difference - I saw all of these!) It was not hot, and was mostly overcast. The paths were really nice - wide, and surfaced with wood chips. It started off going through woods along the shore of a pond/marsh. There were a few places where boardwalks went out over the marsh. There were dragonflies EVERYWHERE, especially on the boardwalks, where they kept landing, and I kept walking, so they kept flying up and landing further on. I got some good pictures of them! There were frogs making a lot of noise, although I never actually saw any of them. There were lots of blooming water lilies.

I moved on to the second trail rather than looping back through the woods, and continued walking along the shore instead. I saw several beaver lodges out in the pond, which turned out to be formed by a natural rock dam - the beavers just took advantage of a great spot. (Location, location, location!) I thought I saw one slip into the water, but that was it. Along this part of the shoreline I suddenly realized I was seeing some really neat flowers - orchid-looking things - lady's slippers! I'd never seen them before! And of course they're shade-loving flowers that don't care about cameras and light meters! I think I managed to get one or two decent pictures despite all that.

The second trail looped back to join the first, but before moving on to the next trail I walked out over the long pontoon bridge that crossed the marsh to rejoin the first trail. There were several kinds of water lilies, and more dragonflies.

The last trail was as long as the other two put together; it was looping back toward the visitor center. It headed away from the marsh and went further into the woods, where the mosquitoes and horseflies made themselves known. Luckily I was wearing a hat and a long-sleeved shirt, but even so they wouldn't leave me alone! There were fewer of them when I crossed a boardwalk over a bog area (acidic, lots of sphagnum moss) and then over a small marsh that had cattails and some gorgeous purple irises - "blue flags" I think they're called. Then on into the woods again. The horseflies never actually landed on me but kept buzzing around my head, which really gives me the creeps; and the mosquitoes landed whenever I stopped walking. I have several bites on my hands, which of course weren't covered.

So the last part of the hike was not as enjoyable. I was noticing interesting things, like the huge ferns that carpeted the forest, and the huge trees that I couldn't really identify, and the way the light came through when the sun came out occasionally; but it was hard to appreciate this when I couldn't stop without a cloud of whining bloodsuckers converging on me! I was really moving to stay ahead of them, and as the last part of the trail was up hills, I really got a workout! I'm still sore from those hills!

When I finally got back to the VC it was after 3:30. It still wasn't that hot out, but I was, from my exertions and from the humidity of the area, so I splashed my face and rested for a few minutes. It was about 4:00 when I left, and I had already decided not to worry about seeing anything else specific. I had picked up a bunch of brochures and things, and I wanted to really look through them and then come back after deciding what to do and see. I was also pretty wiped out from my hike! So I continued driving around the loop I had planned, and drove through Lake Placid (the town, not the lake, and NO, there are not huge crocodiles!) There was a toll road up a mountain with scenic views that I was going to take, but it was closed for the day, so I headed on out. I grabbed a bite to eat in Plattsburgh and drove back to Isle La Motte, and slept well that night.

Tuesday I was still recovering; I had a lazy morning, worked on the computer at Fisk Farm during the afternoon, and went to St. Albans to see the movie "Knocked Up" in the evening. It was really, really good! Some shocking language, but the story itself was good, and the acting was really wonderful; I'd forgotten Katherine Heigl was in it. (She plays Izzy on the show "Gray's Anatomy.")

Yesterday after work (my hours are 10-4 unless something comes up) I drove down through the islands to South Hero, to the evening farmer's market! I got lettuce, some truly amazing strawberries, and a jar of homemade strawberry-blueberry-rhubarb jam. It was Dairy Day, sponsored by the local chamber of commerce I think, so there was a stall with dairy samples and a three-day-old jersey calf! I thought it was a deer for a moment, it was that same light brown! Sooo cute!

Also, yesterday and today I was set the task of cleaning my room - which had gotten pretty bad what with packing and unpacking and just being me. Since I'm living in the upstairs of the Nature Center - and have no bedroom door even, Linda wants my bedroom to be presentable in case she has to show the house to funders. This irritates me somewhat - I can understand not wanting a total pigsty, but I resent having to keep my bed made and my dresser top clear. It shouldn't be anyone's business what my room looks like, and funders shouldn't be thinking anything except "Yes, there is a bedroom upstairs." But at least I did get a lot of stuff away, and figured out different places to keep things that should make it easier; and of course I don't want to get on Linda's bad side. I just think what's downstairs is more important than what's upstairs.

It's been wonderfully cool the last two days - lots of blankets at night, lots of rain, LOTS of wind yesterday, the lake was really choppy - and while it was raining just a while ago the sun is now shining again.

P.S. I bought some OFF - I'll be ready next time!
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Old Jun 21 2007, 07:16 PM   #28
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YOU WERE AT SMITTIES!

That longest trail, when it was originally set out, was called the BLue Dot. Don't know what they call it these days. The site of the Center itself... 20 years ago, there was a simple, brand-new large lean-to there, where the deck over-looking the pond is now. I know, I helped build the dang thing...and they pulled it down less than five years later.

And yes, the wild irises up there are blue flags. There should have been some yellow sweet flag as well...and along the Blue Dot trail, there used to be trillium.

Now you've gone and made me homesick.
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Old Jun 22 2007, 03:45 AM   #29
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A very nice report

So, you took pictures, eh? I don't know why we should believe you..
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Old Jun 23 2007, 05:16 PM   #30
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It's film, dammit! I'll scan some eventually but in the meantime words will just have to do!

Tonight I'm working a concert in the barn at Fisk Farm: "Delights for two pianos, classics and jazz." It's a fundraiser for the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust.
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Old Jun 23 2007, 07:57 PM   #31
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I'm happy to hear you are having a wonderful summer.
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Old Jun 24 2007, 04:51 AM   #32
Hans
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Don't worry, Brenda. if it's affordable maybe you could order a Picture CDrom at the same moment you have your film developed and the pictures printed (here in The Netherlands that's usually the cheapest way to go).

Words for now will suffice, I immensely enjoyed your almost diary like long entry and the concert sounds good, wish I could be there.
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Old Jun 26 2007, 04:57 PM   #33
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Keep up the great reports, Brenda! They are facinating and writing it all down will help keep it solid in your mind as well.
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Old Jun 28 2007, 06:29 PM   #34
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Here's the latest!


The arts are starting up at Fisk Farm! There were two concerts in the barn this weekend. The first was "Delights for Two Pianos" on Saturday evening. There were several duo pieces, including the Peer Gynt suite, and several solo pieces for each of the players. The music was great, but what I remember most about the evening is Dido's escape act!

Dido is normally pretty calm, but there was another dog visiting, and what with that and all the people showing up for the concert, she was really tearing around out there. Linda went and put her in the house, and a few minutes later as she was introducing the performers, in trotted Dido! Linda stopped short in the middle of her intro and said to the audience, "Now how did that dog get out of that house?" I was able to scoop her up and carry her back to the house. Luckily she let me!

It gets better.

In the middle of one of the pieces, in trotted Dido! Right in front of the two pianos! And over near where I was sitting, where once again I scooped her up. Dom took her back to the house that time.

Then during intermission, when I was eating my brownie and drinking my lemonade and guarding the table with the contribution basket, guess who I saw?

That's right - Dido was working the crowd!

Claire thought Dido may have been able to jump at the back screen door and open it. Also, people are used to letting Dido out, so she may have just been let out! But when I took her back to the house yet again, I made sure all the doors were shut all the way, and was promised by those still inside that she would not be let out again!

The other memorable thing that happened at this concert was that a bat flew into the barn, flew a few circuits around the ceiling, and found its way out. It really moved fast!

The other concert was Sunday afternoon; it was a local jazz group, which I enjoyed, and it didn't even rain like it had been threatening to!

Monday I took another scenic drive. I had gone through the huge pile of brochures and tourist stuff that I had somehow accumulated, and one of them had suggested routes for scenic drives in Vermont. This one happened to go where I had been wanting to go anyway - northeast, into the Green Mountains. (My previous trip, through Smuggler's Notch, had been further south.)

It was a lovely drive, although there weren't really any spots where I could stop and take pictures of scenic vistas. The green mountains mostly look like gently rolling hills. (Really BIG gently rolling hills.)

I had driven out to the turning point, and took a little side detour of my own. I had noticed on one map that there was a spot marked "Big Falls", and on the other map was Big Falls State Park, after a covered bridge. The second map even showed where the dirt road was that led to them. It was quite a roller coaster road, and just when I was beginning to wonder if I'd taken the wrong road, I came upon the covered bridge! (There are an awful lot of covered bridges in Vermont.) There was a spot to pull over, which I did, because I wanted to get down to the river. It was a pretty river - it could almost have been an Ozark stream, with its gravel bars and riffles. Of course once I got down to the gravel bar it was obviously distinct from the Ozarks, because the rocks were all rounded and smooth. (Missouri streams mostly have gravel bars made of quartz and chert/flint, which are too hard to round off smoothly.) But it was still a beautiful spot, and the riffle still sounded wonderful, and it was a nice place for a break. And now I was sure I would get to Big Falls eventually - which I did.

I had no idea how big Big Falls would be! At first I just saw a small cascade, and then I walked a little further and saw that that was just the beginning! There were several drops, one of them much longer. I walked downstream, hoping to be able to climb down to the base of the falls, but I couldn't. I did manage to get to the water a bit downstream - it was a lovely spot, but not really worth the climb back up! Still, it was a chance to walk in the woods. The trees were mostly pine, or some other similar evergreen; the forest floor was covered so deeply with pine needles that it actually felt squishy! Which made it a little nervewracking to go down slopes - but there were plenty of roots to provide secure steps.

Big Falls was the best surprise of the day, because I hadn't known what to expect! The rest of the drive was nice, except for a few times when I wasn't sure whether or not I had gone the right way, and once, after driving through Hazen's Notch (not as scenic as Smuggler's Notch, but a great roller-coaster road!), finding that I had been going the wrong way for about five miles! But that turned out all right, because it meant I was able to stop at a picnic area I had noticed as I was going past it the first time. This has to be one of the prettiest picnic spots I have EVER seen, and that's saying something! It was a little green hollow, with trees providing shade, and concrete picnic tables that had gotten a little mossy, and a beautiful little stream that was quiet and dark at one point and then rippling and bright and gurgling, with an even more beautiful little stream coming in over a tiny waterfall surrounded by flowers! I spent a few minutes looking around there.

I decided to continue going southwest into Burlington rather than up to St. Albans. I wanted to check out a camera store I remembered seeing, and I wanted to catch a movie.

The camera store was closed (I had wanted to get a cable release for my dad's Pentax, since I'd left his cable at home) but I got in my movie. I saw "Ocean's Thirteen", which was so much better than Ocean's Twelve that I think I'll just pretend that one doesn't exist. (I think one improvement was that like the first movie, this was a revenge caper.)

It was a late night. Tuesday I didn't do much, but went to the afternoon showing of "Surf's Up!" in St. Albans. It was fun - worth my $4, at least. Afterward I went and picked up the photos from the film I'd dropped off the day before, did my grocery shopping, and went home and watched "Paycheck" on DVD. (I think that may be my favorite thriller movie.)

Yesterday, Wednesday, I went through my photos and was worried when I appeared to be missing a roll. I called the store and was told that there was still an envelope there. So when I went to the farmer's market in South Hero, I once again drove all the way to St. Albans and around; I really wanted to get those photos, and I had decided to catch an evening movie. I went and saw "Knocked Up" again. It's that good.

Yesterday was hot and sticky and possibly tied the heat record of 90-something F. Today was overcast and very cool and VERY breezy. I went through my photos. It turns out that at the store I went to, if you get doubles you get a free 8x10 of one of your photos! You don't get to pick which one, but I got some really nice ones - flowers, a sunset, and Big Falls! I didn't have CD's made because the last time I did, the quality wasn't very good. It wasn't as good as that of photos I had scanned - so I'm just going to wait and scan these when I get a chance.

Still having a great time here, although it's hard to think about where to go next time! I want to go back to the Adirondacks, and up to Montreal, and maybe down to Fort Ticonderoga...

Until next time!

Brenda
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Old Jun 29 2007, 02:30 AM   #35
Hans
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That Dido..
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