Friday, October 21, 2022

Visiting America- Part One, New England and Canada

My apologies in advance. I am challenged by this blog format. It often has a mind of it's own. Additionally I need a good connection to post and that is not always available. I will let you know when I update or you can check in!

 The Mission

The morning I left I suffered from a case of the unknowns. Like the two guys that jumped into The Time Tunnel (TV series in the 60’s, 70’s). Like Attourney Woo passing through a door and needing to count to herself to adjust. Like Alice Down a rabbit hole…. What adventures await?

A late departure reassured me all was what it was supposed to be and I was off! Gina rides shotgun on her constructed perch in the passenger seat. Tip of the hat now and later to all those who encouraged me, supported me, and answered my questions.

The van begins at mileage 53453. I suppose it is as good as any number. I wonder how many miles I will incur. I wonder a lot of things.

A word about Travels with Charley. There are few parallels.  Steinbeck did his trip in a custom built truck before 1962, when the book was published. He stopped where he pleased, talked to whom he pleased about what he pleased ( although to be fair, he listened a great deal too). That will not be me. America has changed so much that parking on private land, chatting with anyone you run into probably would not be advisable.I envision a slice of each America can be found at a local McDonalds or other similar fast food joint. . Talk about people watching! The worker bees and the customers are unique to each location. 

But there is another facet- I agree that I am also disenchanted with my country and astounded with the selfishness and righteousness that has become the American banner. Surely there must be more and I intend on finding out. For the most part I am avoiding big highways and big cities. 

Between a hard copy Atlas and Google maps I can pretty much avoid being lost (Steinbeck did that regularly). I am making use of a service called Harvest Hosts/Boondockers Welcome. It provides places and connections of places to stay overnight for free. ( Well you pay an annual fee and it is hoped you will purchase something at your host although you don’t have to). They have thousands of places which include farms, wineries, cideries, people’s houses and so on. You contact the place to see if they have room and then arrive. Stay as directed, then leave with no trace. It is a generous system due to it’s hosts and I thank them.

I am trying not to drive more than 4 hours a day, although I think I will do less as Gina wants a couple stops herself to shake away the boredom. Having a curious companion makes all the difference. It also makes me take a stretch and see what’s local.

This blog is a record keeper for me so skip over the parts that don’t interest you or just look at the pictures!

Saturday, October 15

Mileage at end of day 53741

Departure time 12:30 arrival 5:15

Harpswell to   Dummerston, Vermont

Overnight at Bear Foot Farm- Harvest Host 

The drive was lovely. The fall colors provided a fiesta air for the whole drive. I found a place to walk Gina at a Very crowded State Park. I think all urban Vermonters and New Hampshirites left the cities and suburbs to celebrate the Fall. Can’t blame them!

The farm we chose allowed us to pick a site so I chose a flat hillside with a bucolic view. They specialized in maple sugar so I picked some up from their self serve stand the next morning. 

Beside them was an apple farm (Scott Apple Farm) that specialized in heirloom variety apples. They also teach stone wall building and had some exquisite examples of stone work as you see. They have a beautiful property as well They had a farm stand and coffee which was good the next morning as during the night I ran out of propane- read heat, morning coffee, hot water.  It was chilly during the night! Mea Culpa.- Stupida.

Sunday, October 15

Mileage 53875

Departure time 10:30

Gas in Brattleboro 14.63 gallons @ $3.60

Propane @ Ace Hardware 3.9 liters at 3.79

Dreamroad Farm

Dummerston to Johnstown NY

Overnight at Dreamland Dairy, Harvest Host

“Flip” offered a very private hill at the back of the farm but it was very muddy, a challenge to find a level spot and a bit unnerving to be so isolated. Could be the hunter in the woods had something to do with that? but I also thought it wasn’t really that isolated and I should get used to it- the isolation- for future possibilities. I found a spot towards the bottom of the hill. The hill looked out over recently mowed grass land with the bales wrapped for the winter (Anaerobic preservation- hay wrapped wet to keep from combustion). The sides of the hills were covered with autumn’s finest garments. Very bucolic.  16 wild turkeys promenaded for our pleasure in the setting sun.

I was told there was an open Ace Hardware (on a Sunday!) I went and got my propane tanks filled. Was much more comfortable that night!

Our take-Gina-for-a-walk stop was in a national forest off of 9. Many interesting smells. I was wondering about bears but we didn’t see any.

We stopped at Lock 20 of the Erie Canal. Hear that song running through your head? I didn't even know it was still around but it is and it is functioning. An interesting concept, raising and lowering the water. It was a chilly stop but I thought it was the least we could do!

Monday, October 15

Mileage 54016
Departure 9:00
Gas in Rome NY

Came into Oswego NY on the shores of Lake Superior. I feel like I am truly looking West. I often find I define myself by water Is Gemini a water sign? It feels like the horizon lies somewhere out there….

I have no reservations as perhaps there was going to  be rain and I didn’t know what I wanted to do about that. Yes, the van is waterproofed. Gina did some squirrel chasing.

Stayed at an RV park on the shores of the Lake Superior. Not many people there and it was A quiet night.

There was a restaurant across the street but I am not feeling like doing that yet. The van has plenty of food.

Tuesday, October 16

Mileage 54219
Departure 9;40 arr. 2:30
Overnight- Snyder's Sweet Corn- Harvest Hosts
Canadian Gas- by the liter 55.75 liters @ 1.61/liter = $C 90.10 
Crossing the border- Planned to get US gas before I crossed the border but went all back roads and the only place I passed was Smokin’ Joe’s on an Indian Reservation. I just did not want to take the chance on a no name gas. I have heard it can really cause problems. Crossed the border easily with a nice chat with the Border Lady, showed my pass card and Gina's rabies certificate and got gas before I stopped for the night. Crazy Price and Americans complain about their gas prices! Don’t know how Canadians do it! Hopefully I can make it across the border again without buying more.
Stayed at Snyder’s Sweet Corn Farm. You gotta like a farm with a name like that and the host, Tom was very pleasant and put us at a nice spot right by the Grand River, well tended, mowed and private. He had firewood and a fire pit but it was a cold wind and we did not hang outside much, other than to walk along the farm road. 

The heat seems to be working all right although it has a hard time keeping up with the drafts. Warm enough for sleeping. Both Gina and I are under the camp blanket that Mark gave us. Effective.

Quiet night. Finished another book…

Wednesday, October 17

Mileage 54366

Departure- 9:15 ish- arrived 1:30

38 degrees

Lookout to Hamilton Ontario from Devil's Punchbowl

Swung by the nearby Devils Punch Bowl. Striated rock carving out a big scoop but no waterfall. $C 7.50Canadian to park- seemed a little steep. I call it a donation. Seems like it is also a good place to jump from if you feel so bitterly inclined. Some signs around but no one in despair.

There was a nearby market/bakery with an interesting assortment of canned and fresh food- no produce. I got a couple meat turnovers, samosas and empanadas and brownies to tide me over. Flaky pastry, lots  of butter so I couldn’t finish the turnover. Had a nice chat with the clerk and baker there. Folks are very friendly

Drove a couple hours to The Pinery Provincial Park on the shores of Lake Huron. We will check out the lake tomorrow. It is a bit cold and rainy at this point. We did get a better walk in and found evidence of interesting animals, woodland critters. It probably is great for birds but I think they have all left for warmer climes. Mostly juncos and woodpeckers at this time.

The area is a mixed scrub, river and woods, could be a great birding place in the early summer or fall.

Gina’s first week

There are some who want to know, what about the dog? How is Gina doing? If you do, this is for you. If you don’t, you may skip this.

Gina loves a good hike and generally when we would head out on a drive that would be the sole purpose so she was a bit antsy the first couple days when after an hour drive she was not being walked specifically for a hike. 
She is adapting. That being said, I do stop for her in the morning after about an hour, hour 1/2 and she gets a walk at whatever overnight spot we are in. I try to hold to her eating schedule but she is getting less treats. So, some constancy and some adaptation.

She is a good traveling companion. She is curious, doesn’t complain and takes interest in the farm animals and squirrels she sees out the window. She rides shotgun on a padded perch I made so she can look out the window easily whether reclining or on her toes. When asked to cross the open grate bridge over the Erie Canal she was obliging without too much anxiety and has been uncomplaining of being on the leash for the majority of the time. She especially has enjoyed the black squirrels at The Pinery Provincial Park

At night, although she has a bed on the floor, she sleeps on my bed, it’s plenty big enough for two, and a bit warmer I suppose. She doesn’t mind the cool weather (It has been mid 30s-low 40’s for a couple days) but she doesn’t care for the rain. Nor do I. Cold weather cramps our style. But she has a jacket and we walk.

Her appetite is always good and she will eat indoors or out. All in all. She’s just fine and I am glad to have her along.

Thursday, October 18

Mileage- 54380 

36 degrees, light rain, all damn day

Overnight - 2 nights at The Pinery Provincial Park

stayed put. Took walks, housekeeping,  took a shower. Finished another book- Oh, William- Elizabeth Strout

These are all The Pinery Provincial Park in Canada at the edge of Lake Huron. We had a cold rainy day where we took a couple walks but also I got a shower! and read. Later in the day we took a two mile walk when it stopped raining and it was really just so wild and lovely. Apparently it is a VERY popular park int the summer. You can see why. The beach is lovely and there are many migrating birds apparently. I was told the campground is full many times. There were allot of sites too. Glad it wasn't so crowded.