Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Best Free Entertainment In Town

South Burlington, VT

Every morning while at Jen's, I walk over to the airport to enjoy my morning coffee and the views.   I walk past a big project in progress.  The airport bought 30-50 houses on the bordering streets.  Now they are demolishing all of them.  The demolition is the best free entertainment in town.  (The purpose and ultimate plan of this project, I don't know.)

 First comes the preparation.  Representatives of the gas, electric, water, phone, and cable companies come.  Each marks the paths of their underground facilities, and verifies that service has been shut off.  They paint markings on the pavement with painted codes.

This process is more complicated than it could be because not all the houses in each section will be demolished.  Homeowers had to opt in to get their properties bought.  Not all did.  Therefore, instead of cutting off gas service (for example) at the main for a whole block, the underground network must be maintained for any customers remaining on that street.

Next comes the hazmat people.  They pull out any asbestos or hazardous material.  That takes time.

Next, they pull out salvageable items from the interior.  Kitchen cabinets, toilets, sinks for example.  I did not see them pulling pipes or wires but they probably did that too.

Then, if the house has metal or vinly siding, men pull that off by hand, and put it in a dumpster.   Then comes a special machine on a steam shovel base that scrapes off all the asphalt shingles from the roof and puts them into a dumpster.   Segregating all these materials into separate dumpsters makes recycling easier.

Finally comes the actual demoliiton.  A shovel with a claw tool just grabs chunks and puts them in a dumpster.  This process goes extremely fast.  I watched them do a garage in only 120 seconds!  See the picture below.

Then a back hoe comes in, breaks up the concrete foundation, and deposits the chunks in a dumpster.

Finally, they clean and grade the entire block, making it ready to plant some kind of ground cover.  Picture below.   The process, not including preparation took 48 hours per half-city-block.

Below are some pictures of some of the houses waiting demolition.  Some look ready for it.  Others look pristine, as if they should have real estate for sale signs in front.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Champlain Obsession

South Burlington, VT

We have a few rainy days, time for indoor activities.

The other day, I hiked from our campsite to the other side of .Valcour Island.  From the other side, I could see East to the Adirondacks.  There were puffy cumulus clouds over the whole region.

The view to the West is shown in the picture above.  The same pattern of clouds can be seen over Vermont's Green Mountains.

Over the lake, indeed over the entire Champlain Valley, the sky was almost totally clear and cloud free for the whole day.  

I think this is a great example of a micro climate.   I've read that Champlain is too small a body to give rise to a micro climate.  I disagree.   Many times over many years, I've seen markedly different weather over the lake as compared to over the land.

Most striking (sorry no pictures) occurs in the fall.  I used to drive from Burlington to Schenectady every week, usually crossing the lake at The Champlain Bridge.  Once or twice every fall, approaching that bridge I was treated to a fantastic sight.   A bank of clouds came up to the lake shore, then stopped sharply as if it was cut off with a knive.   The visual impression was a vertical wall of clouds, 20-25 thousand feet high.  That is five times higher than the local mountains, and a very impressive sight.   I think that claiming that Lake Champlain does not create a micro climate is very wrong.

In the past, I think I wrote about the jet stream, and how it's customary path goes north of Albany and south of Burlington, thus dividing them into two climatic regions.

Everything about the lake and the valley continues to fascinate me.  In the past I've written about the geological history of the valley, and the lake bottom.  I consulted with geologists and studied geology books about this region.   Now, I write about the weather here.

Other times I've written about the views of the mountains from the lake and the views of the lake from the mountains.

Still other times, I've grown interested in the history, and studied that.   The time of The Revolution and the history of Bendict Arnold stand out.   Last week we saw a video documentary about the Abenaki Indian life in this region.  It struck me as likely false, reflecting only the white man's view.   Unfortunately, the true history and accounts of pre-explorer life and times are not available to us.

Did I ever mention that my obsession with Champlain began in the 1970s.   I had a sailboat on Sacandaga Lake in NY.  One year, as the water levels in that man-made lake dropped in September, I got the idea of trucking the boat to Champlain for a sailing cruise around October 1 when fall colors peak.  That trip was huge fun.  I repeated it year after year, with my son John, my father, and my friend Walt as companions.

Years later, when moving the family from Sweden back to the USA, we chose to move to Burlington because it was such a pleasant stop along the lake.

Am I Champlain obscessed?  I guess it must be true.

Sunday, June 28, 2015


South Burlington, VT

Libby and I both feel rejuvinated.  We had two days on Valcour Island.  We would have gladly stayed another week except that we didn't have enough food, and because the weather was about to turn nasty.

Of all the places on Earth, we love Valcour Island most.  So for us this visit was a very big deal.

Our new vessel, TJ, performed admirably taking us there.   We were able to easily load it up with all our camping gear.  That means all the cargo that we could fit in the Camry's trunk and back seat.  But I'm well aware that TJ is not Tarwathie, and that she is no match for Lake Champlain in frisky weather.  Therefore, we drove around the lake to NY to lauch at a point closer to Valcour, and we chose days when the winds were light and variable.   Probably, TJ could handle rougher weather on the lake, but I'm not planning to test it.

Below are a few pictures.

TJ loaded with camping gear, ready to go.
The view of Vermont from our camp site.
Look closely, these are two trees intertwined.  We call them "The Lovers."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sea Trials for TJ

South Burlington, VT

Every new vessel needs a sea trial before undertaking any serious voyage.  Such it is for TJ.  (Cathy Mills won the naming contest, Tee Jay, TJ, for Tarwathie Junior).

So, after a week of seemingly endless chores to get legally and practically ready to use TJ as a registered motorboat/trailer, and to get a trailer hitch for the Camry, we were finally ready.   We headed toward Vergennes and Otter Creek for the sea trial.

Regular readers know that Otter Creek and Vergennes is one of our most favorite places in our nomadic wanderings.  Many times in the past, I've posted pictures of Tarwathie, tied up below Vergennes Falls.  It is the only place I know where we can approach the base of a waterfall on Tarwathie.

But for the sea trial, we chose to go where we've never been before.  We launched TJ above the falls, and we took her south on Otter Creek almost all the way to Middlebury.

So, how did it work?   Excellent.  TJ is a worthy vessel.  She's as stable as a canoe can manage to be.  The outboard started with only three pulls.   We found that the motor is able to drive her at 10 knots, which is a breathtaking speed for sailors.  In fact, we made use of a feature that young people with jet skis have never discovered --- half throttle.

We discovered several things.  We forgot to bring a painter.  We need to carry a sponge to mop up water that we bring in on our feet.  (There are zero water leaks in the canoe.)   I need a flag to back up the trailer because the trailer is invisible in the car's mirrors.  When arranging things in the canoe, it is very difficult for the persons in front and in back to pass things between each other. That's a pretty short list.

How was Otter Creek?   Wonderful.  We saw lots of wilderness, with views of lush green fields, and portions of the Green Mountains unfamiliar to us.  We saw no other vessels, or vehicles or people on the voyage.  Just a herd of curious cows.  I was surprised that for more than 10 miles there are no roads or bridges crossing the creek.

Today, we head out for another landmark Valcour Island.  Regular readers know that our visits to Valcour are almost spiritual.   We are very happy to be able to go there this year even without Tarwathie.  (hmm, should we start calling Tarwathie Big T?)

Libby at the helm of TJ
We can even explore side streams where Tarwathie could never go.
View looking down from above the falls.  Big T usually ties up where that motorboat it.  The water levels are extremely high and the currents very swift.
The only Vermonters we saw.  They were very curious about us.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Caption Contest, Name This Sculpture

South Burlington, Vermont
Jen bought a marvelous clay sculpture from a local artist, John Brickels. I can stare at it all day. See the pictures below, and click on them so you can zoom in to see the exquisite detail.
I think it deserves a name. Something like Dunsmore, The J.A.M. Arms, Mills Manor, The Jenarium, Claymore, The Leaning Tower of Burlington. You can be more creative than me. Please post a comment with your suggested name for this sculpture.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Tarwathie Junior?

South Burlington, VT

My long time blog readers know me well.  I just got an email from Chuck. He said, "I hope somehow you can borrow a small boat and get out to camp on that island where"  Well, guess what I did yesterday.

Meet the newest member of our family.  A 17 foot Gruman aluminum canoe squareback, complete with an outboard motor and a trailer.   With this rig, we can not only make it to Valcour Island (visits are mandatory for our souls) but we can also access 20,000 miles of rivers and 100,000 lakes in North America where Tarwathie can't go.  I'm pumped by this devopment.  It opens a whole new chapter to our adventure possibilities.

Now, a rig like that needs a name.  One of our cruising friends has a cruising boat Orion, plus a small sailboat/trailer that they call Orion Junior.   I'm thinking of the same theme, but Tarwathie Junior is just too big of a mouthfull.

Hmmm littleTarwathie.  The obvious name would be Tar Baby, but I don't have the nerve to do something that politically incorrect.
What should we name her?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tarwathie, We Miss You

Burlington, VT

That we love Lake Champlain is well documented.  But some days are better than others.  Here are some criteria and [current conditions]

  1. Not cold [72F]
  2. Not hot [72F]
  3. Sunny [Sunny]
  4. Nice breeze [NW 10-12 knots]
  5. Low humidity leading to good visibility [50%]
  6. Not crowded [no festivals, Canadian holidays not started yet]
  7. Clear water [clearest in 4 years]
  8. Water temperature nice for swimming [55F\

I count that as 6.5 out of 8 possible points.  Boy oh boy would we have fun in Tarwathie out there today.

I went down to the waterfront for a look.  Here's what I saw.

By the way, there is no place in the whole State of New York, with such nice views of New York State.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


South Burlington, Vermont

Most often we refer to ourselves as cruisers. We could also say, adventurers, explorers, nomads, or travelers.  All of those fit to some degree and part time.  But of all the possible adjectrives, I think nomads fits best.

Most people feel at home when near their residence.   The residence may change, and after some number of years, the new residence becomes the new home.

Explorers feel most relaxed when they are someplace they've never been before.

Nomads, repeatedly follow a path.  They feel at home along that path, and they feel at home at a number of waypoints along that path    Think of Marco Polo era traders moving between Cathay and Europe.  Think of Laps who follow their reindeer herds.  Think of Libby and me.   The drawing below illustrtates this.  They yellow lines show our habitual path.  Bright yellow for most recent and dull yellow for less recent.   The waypoints along the way (red circles) are the places where we feel at home.   Dull red cirles mark past homes.

I've been thinking about these feelings, "at home" and "nomadic".  I think I've identified the key.  The key is the storehouse of memories associated with that place.  In a town, it is familiarity with all the streets, having traversed them by car, by bike and on foot.  It is familiarity with many or most of the buildings in town having had occasion to  do business there at some time.

Of course memories fade, and that is the origin of the famous saying "You can't go home."  After a prolonged absence,  the reality of the place doesn't match your faded memories any more.  Home doesn't feel home.

Of course, the biggest attractive magnet it the presence of family and friends.  We choose to make the places where family and friends live "home", but the feeling of home is not identical with the presence of family.

But a true nomad also feels at home along the path between the circles.  Libby and I meet that definition.  We can describe every  bend in the river or ICW just as well as workers describe the path between their house and their job.  I believe that to be a true nomad, one has to have a very strong place-orientation in the brain.

Socially, nomads are the most neglected segment of American society.  I suspect most Americans, if asked, would say that no nomads exist in the USA.   I'm reminded of that constantly when dealing with government that wants to nail down my identity and my benefits with a stree address.  Our legal address is at Jen's house in Vermont, but if we didn't have that, I do not believe that we meet the requirements to be residents of Vermont or any other state.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Having Time To Observe

South Burllington, VT

Wednedsay morning, at 7 AM I sat in my favorite spot to have morning coffee when at Jen's house.  I sat in a rocking chair looking out the picture windows on the 2nd floor of Burlington Airport.  That place offers the best eastward views in the Burlington area, bar none.

The view is specacuar.  First nearby, is the airport itself.  Most of the airport operations (both civilian and military) are visible from that perch.  Then there is the Champlain Valley extending out past Essex to Jerico, roughly 20 miles away  Beyond that are the Green Mountains.  Bolton Mountain directly ahead, Mount Mansfield slightly north and Camels Hump slightly south.

The previous day it rained, so this morning mists were rising from the ground as water evaporated.  Those mists are most prominent and pretty as the climb the tree tops on the mountain slopes.

At the beginning, all the mountain summits were obscured by clouds.  Then, the summit of Camels Hump appeared as a gentle westerly breeze moved the cloud away from the top.   A half hour later, the wind reversed to easterly and the same cloud moved back over Camels Hump.  

After another hour, the wind shifted to north and cleared all the peaks.   However, a truly masive valley fog filled the valley over Stowe and Morrisville, and Sugarbush.  People down in that valley must have felt that they would never see the sun that day.

All in all, I sat there for three hours enjoying the scenery as I sipped coffee and read the morning's news.

I am so lucky to have the time to observe such beauty in nature, and the maturity and mental relaxaction needed to sit still long enough to see it happen.   In today's world, especially among the young, attention spans are short and getting shorter.

Or maybe I should say that it is me who changed, not the world.  I've mellowed. I've achieved Zen, or any of a dozen mystical or spiritual adjectives that I'm not fond of.  Whatever you call it, I'm glad to have it.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Home With Jen

South Burlington, Vermont

The irony is that we left Marathin two months ago. It takes us two months to get here by boat, it took two months to get here by car. LOL

But we are very glad to be here. Jen was here to welcome us.

Yesterday and this morning we were thrilled to see Vermont's mountains and nature once again. We were not specifically familiar with the mountains near Bromely, by they are u mistakenly Green Mountains. We camped at Hapgood Pond. This morning we found what appears to be tracks from a small bear next to our tent,

How long will we be here? A while. No specific dates in mind. However, we plan some side trips. So keep posted. (P.s. Libby has nearly unlimited gardening work she can do here :-)

Mother and daughter reunited


Hapgood Pond



Sunday, June 07, 2015

As Good As It Gets

Rome, NY


Of course we miss family. The crushing life carries with it a certain degree of isolation. That's why it is especially delicious when we meet once again with loves ones we haven't seen for a long time. Yesterday was one of those joyous days. <3





Saturday, June 06, 2015

Anna At Last

Rome, NY

Finally, we are here to meet our granddaughter Anna for the first time. What a Joy! She's adorable.

Of course it is also great to see Anna's mom, our granddaughter Sara, once again. Sara has become even more beautiful as a mother. She has really flowered. She and Harley seem to thrive as parents. We love them all.

Below, Anna chews on Libby's bracelet. Before Anna, Victoria. Katelyn, Sara, Nick, Dave, Jen, and John all teethed on that same bracelet.

Below is my favorite Anna picture.


Thursday, June 04, 2015

Catching Up

Lamar, pA


We spent a sobering morning at Soldier's Cemetary in Gettysburg. We didn't go to look at the fields or to get a history lesson. Rather, we wanted to pay homage to the many countrymen who died there defending what they felt to be right. The whole Civil War thing is sobering. It seems so unnecessary and so wasteful of young lives. But, the soldiers defended what they thought right, and we still owe them thanks. "Thank you for your service, american casualties of all wars."

But then we headed East to spend the evening with Chuck and Cindy. They are contemporaries, and high school classmates. Chuck was also a neighbor to Libby before Libby Lowber became Libby Mills. We had lots of stories to swap, and news to hear about classmates. Chuck is very active in keeping touch with all of them. Libby and I weren't. By the way, in case I never mentioned it before, Libby and I met in the cafeteria at Fayetteville Manlius Hugh School in early 1962. We went on a date, and the rest is history. It was my first and last real date.

Thanks so much Chuck and Cindy.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

The weather turned nasty. So we are sleeping indoors for two nights instead of camping in the rain. Call us fair weather campers if you want to.

Our last night at Annasteague was funny. Numerous thunderstorms came close to us but never hit. In the midst of thunder and lightning while in our tent, I heard the snort of one of the wild horses. It sounded like he was right next to my ear. Then I heard him munching the grass. I could hear the grass tearing as he bit it. The whole thing reminded me of Beethoven's Fifth.

Muncha muncha munch munch snort snort.

Muncha muncha munch munch boom boom.

The drive over here was terrible because we changed our minds about routing mid trip. We wound up driving north, nearly to Wilmington. Then backtracking south nearly to Baltimore, before heading west to Gettysburg.

The Lollaby pines at the shore are the same species as those in Dave's back yard. But they look very different. I guess. It is adaptation to the local environment.


We found this guy in the Forrest. He had a tag on each ear, a GOS tracker on a collar, and what looked like an antenna wire. Running across his back. He seem totally up afraid of us. Probably the result of his repeated manhandling by Feds.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

How Could I Be So Wrong?

Berlin, Maryland
Berlin, MD
What a pleasant surprise. A beach with brilliant white sand, an barrier dunes. I had no idea that such a nice beach existed north of Florida. (But I did see a news article last week citing Hatteras Beach as one of the best.). More. There is a bay side to this island with salt marshes and crystal clear water. Wild horses roam around our camp site. We met a deer that was very tame. Our camp site is actually on the backside of the barrier dune. We slept last night enveloped in the (loud) sound of surf. It' is a real pleasure to be here.
Right now, we are in the nearest town, Berlin MD. It too is a jewel. Libby is having fun exploring he shops.
All of this at Assateague Island, on a part of the Delmarva Pennisnula that I had though was unpopulated. You see, we have always traveled past his place 20 or more miles out to sea. My knowledge of the Delmarva was limited to what I see on the nautical charts. The chars show a coast unapproachable by large boats, and with a marshy coastline unsuitable for roads and buildings. Totally wrong! There are lots of people here. Indeed, on the road I to the park is a sign saying, TRAFFIC BACKUPS NEXT 3 MILES WEEKENDS. Horrors; I imagine 1000 cars competing to get one if the 25 parking spots at the national seashore beach. That must be a horror scene. We are so lucky to be here on weekdays before school lets out.
Check out the toenails.