Monday, June 27, 2016

Return to (from) Valcour

South Burlington, VT

We just returned from four more days on Valcour Island.  (That's my excuse for not blogging for so long.  Internet on the island is extremely limited.)  We wanted to stay two more days.  We had plenty of food.  But alas, the light-and-variable wind conditions went away, and the wind was expected to pick up Sun-Tue.  

Oh well, we have to live with our limitations.   Blog reader Don pointed out that with so much gear, our canoe would have very little freeboard.   That's true.  Even without that gear, there isn't much freeboard.  A canoe is no match for the waves on Champlain when the wind blows 15 or more.  Therefore, we must plan our lake crossings for light winds periods only.

The irony is that exactly the days we loved most on Champlain with Tarwathie here, were those when the wind blew 15-25.  The days we liked least were those with little or no wind.  Now with Tarwathie Junior, our preferences are completely reversed. :-)

Libby in particular seems more relaxed and happy on Valcour than at any other place.  Here at Jen's she is a whirlwind of actvity working in the garden and making dinner.   Ditto at Daves.  In Marathon, she also has a long list of planned activities.  But out at Valcour, she is very content to just sit and look out over the water at the beautiful views. 

That applies to me too.  On Valcour, I'm satisfied by only once-a-day checking of the Internet.  To get reception, I have to walk four miles to the other side of the island.  I do that first thing in the morning at 0530.  That morning walk is delightful.

We had a visit from Bob & Carol, friends who live nearby but who have never been to Valcour before.

We hiked with Bob&Carol to the Bluff Point Light House.  It was beautifully restored just last year.

See what I mean about Libby relaxing.  Look closely, her face is sticking out.

Gardener Island lies just south of Valcour.  We never visited it before.  It is about 50 yards in diameter.  The verdict after this visit: "Boring.  There is nothing interesting there."

Monday, June 20, 2016

Pictorial Report from Valcour

South Burlington, VT

We're back from a marvelous weekend on Valcour.  Going there refreshes our souls.   Here's some good pics

It was dead calm on the way out last Friday.

Our view from the campsite.  VT mountains in the background.

Near full moon, can you find it in this picture?

How in the world can all that stuff fit in the canoe?

It fits just fine thank you.  Still room for Libby and me.

Whoops, see below.

Driving back we had a crisis.  On the interstate I saw in my mirror something fly off the trailer, and soon after that I saw smoke coming from the trailer.  I did an emergency stop.   The (brand new) wheel on the right side was too hot to touch.   WTF?  The bearing was cool.  I added air to the tire thinking it might be low.   We continued on at minimum speed.

The smoke returned as we got off the interstate.  Closer inspection revealed the real problem.  The fender was hotter than the tire.  Then I could see that the fender was touching the tire.  Then I found a broken spring.   We called Jen and Pete for help and they came.   We offloaded the canoe from the trailer, and then we could see that the leaf spring was broken.  Pete made a brilliant suggestion: a 2x4 could lift the trailer off the tire.  It worked!  See the picture above, and note that half the spring is missing.

We got the trailer back to Jens, so now I just have to find a new spring.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Return to Valcour

Valcour Island

Hooray! We made it back to Valcour yet another year. In terms of annual milestones, the day we return to Valcour has the biggest emotional impact. It's bigger than Christmas or Thanksgiving. I believe it is the same for Libby.

Our plan is to stay three nights for this trip. Hopefully, during the summer we will return to Valcour several times.

Could we give up the cruising life and live on Valcour? No, Valcour is owned by NY State and it is designated forever wild. Nevertheless, I have been daydreaming about living on Valcour since the first time I visited it in 1975. On the other hand, I have never been on Valcour in winter; doing so might take the polish off my dream.

By the way, one day before returning to Valcour, Libby and I returned from two days camping in The Green Mountain National Forest. That was nice, but camping in a dense forest blocks views of the sky and the sun, and the valleys and the mountains.

Summer weather has finally arrived. 80F weather in the valleys, and 70F on the mountain. But the lake temperature is still very cold, only 59F. Probably no swimming for us this weekend.

Here is Tarwathie Junior preparing to leave.



Sunday, June 12, 2016

This Cold Year; Mere Child's Play`

BTV, Burlington Airport

The weather this year has been abnormally cold.  It began during the winter in Marathon.   I complained about it here on this blog.

It continued when Libby and I wanted to go camping in the mid-Atlantic states on our way north.   The cold weather defeated us and caused us to cancel our plans.

After arriving in Vermont, I thought that we were past the cold spring.  We had some nice days, and May 20 (the day of Sara's wedding) was lovely.   But since then it has turned cold again.

I in particular am eager to take our canoe out to Valcour Island.  But the weather has been so cold and the lake so rough that we can't. (I hope to try again next weekend)

But before leaping to the conclusion that all of this is due to Global Cooling ;-), I heard a very interesting story on Vermont Public Radio, about 1816 in Vermont.  You can listen to the recording here, or read about it here The Summer(?) of 1816, or here Year Without a Summer.  Indeed, it was not just Vermont, but the whole globe's weather was abnormal that year.

By September, most of Vermont had been a full three months without rain. Fires which swept through parched forest land filled the air with acrid smoke and a general darkness. Another killing frost struck the final blow on the tenth, wiping out whatever had managed to survive to that point.
This having been the worst of a string of bad years, many moved west, thinking the weather had turned permanently. Richford was nearly a ghost town, the remaining few barely surviving; Waterford had so few residents that no Town Meetings were held for several years; Granby's population fell so low that the town gave up its incorporation. Unable to sell their land, many just up and left. New immigration eventually brought in people who had no memory of the hard times. 
Perhaps scariest of all, 1816 Vermonters reported that from June all through the summer, that the intensity of daylight diminished noticeably day by day. Religious people would of course leap to the conclusion that this was "the end of days" or the Apocalypse, or that the Sun was being extinguished.

You see, 1816 was a year after the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies.  But local people in Vermont would have known nothing about that back then.

The alternating hot/cold weather in 1816 killed almost all the crops.  Farmers sheared their sheep, but where then forced to bundle the wool around the naked sheep to keep them from freezing. Near starvation was the result, and a mass migration of Vermonters to the American Midwest was triggered.

It is an amazing story and it makes the 2016 weather seem like mere child's play.   It makes me wonder what the result would be if a similar eruption happened today when we have seven billion mouths to feed (compared to one billion in 1816).

0800 today, looked like the weather was about to break finally.

Same view, two hours later.  Cold and drizzly. No mountains visible.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Dawn in Low Ceres Orbit

South Burlington, VT

You may not be aware of this.  The popular press has not paid much attention.  But at the moment, there is a stunning new success in science going on.

The Dawn unmanned spacecraft, has maneuvered itself into orbit around one of the biggest asteroids named Ceres.  Below is one of many close in photographs of the surface of Ceres.

In historical perspective, the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon is perhaps mankind's greatest achievements ever.  But the close up pictures of Pluto and Ceres  are nonetheless very major milestones.

By the way, en-route to Ceres, Dawn got a gravitational boost from Mars, and from another asteroid Vesta.