Well, that was November 2018

Celtic music and dance at Middlebury College, Florida beaches and sunset, moonset over the Adirondacks, back to the snow in Vermont.

Well, November is here. While October was busy and ‘well documented’, I expect November to be a bit less action packed. And hopefully a lot less verbose but just as fun. Well, let’s get to it. Once again the weather is pushing to take a major roll this month. While an El Nino is forecast, which is supposed to lead to a warmer winter, there is always a bit of hope we will get enough snow to make living in the cold worthwhile. Then again, I really enjoy having seasons so there is a plus already. The first few days of November have started off with a lot of grey clouds and rain although a couple of days of partly sunny skies promise to join us soon. Shortly though we will have a big change of weather. No, it’s not a change in the jet stream or anything like that. We are heading to Florida for a week for a family visit. The forecast for where we are going shows the high in the mid-80s, which is on the edge of my whining threshold for being too hot, but at least it is slated to be mostly sunny.

In an effort to support our reducing our TV watching, we are headed to a music venue tonight. There are two competing programs with both being put on by Middlebury College. Unfortunately they are at the same time so we have to choose just one. The options are a Bach cello concerto or Breton Fest-Noz featuring bagpipes, accordion, violin and penny whistle. We are going to the bagpipe fest! That’s the Celtic side of me stepping up! Mind you, I quite enjoy Bach’s cello concertos and I will be sad to miss it. We can make a last minute change so I will keep you up to date on the choice.

We went to the Fest-Noz, and really enjoyed it. The music was lively and there was audience participation in the form of dancing. It was quite a lot of fun, even though I was too shy to join the foot stomping snake dance. Kind of like a clog conga line. Hope they do more of these as we would like to go to another. Middlebury College also puts on public lectures on different topics so we are looking into what might interest us. The time change isn’t until this Sunday but it is still dark around 6 PM and with the heavy cloud cover the roads are quite dark. Add to that a low hanging fog and it made our short trip to Middlebury a bit more exciting. Not quite sure of the location of the building the event was being held in and trying to find non-restricted parking on a college campus made for even more fun. Still, we made it.

On Sunday we had a brief respite from the rain and actually got some sun breaking through. In order to take advantage of it I took up a sunlit place in the corner of our deck and started reading. I was engrossed in my book and not making any movement or noise when a sparrow flew in and landed on my shoulder. It startled me which in turn startled the little bird who flew off to the safety of the cedar trees. I don’t believe I have ever had a wild bird land on my shoulder before. Too bad I flinched as it would have been fun to see what the sparrow would have done.

One of the unique things around here is folks will put unneeded items by the edge of the road with a sign stating the items are free. These are mostly things the charity shop doesn’t have room for or can’t use like an old table or birdfeeder. I have been kind of skeptical of whether a few of our items could be entered into this roadside treasure hunt but since we are still looking to pare down I figured what the heck. The old birdfeeder and a couple other items went in less than an hour. I was amazed. I guess the lure of items under a sign labeled free is just too tempting. We also had some excess holiday lights that Liz spent a fair amount of time untangling and getting working. They are those types that when one bulb goes so does half, or sometime the whole, string also stop working. Good reason to make them excess. The bag they were in was marked that they worked and were free but they didn’t have any takers. On a long shot, Liz took them by the charity shop and to my surprise they took them. At the rate we are paring down by 2020 we should be down to where we should have been before moving three years ago! Anyway, the process continues.

Monday brought more rain and cooler temperatures. Still made it to the gym and coffee afterwards so plodding along as normal. Tuesday and Wednesday were also the normal routine, as Thursday and Friday appear to be as well. We have a couple of errands but again nothing out of the ordinary.

All packed and ready to go. A summary of our Florida trip to follow.

WOW. And I thought the November entry would be quite short, especially compared to the October one. The thing is, there was a whole lot packed into the last week. So let’s get started.

Burlington airport is not what might be considered a major airport, like JFK or O’Hare, but is not tiny either. It is a decent size with some major airlines to serve it but there are usually intermediate stops and plane changes required with most travel. We have found the lines are never long but parking can be something of a worry if traveling over a holiday. A lot of the flights leave quite early or arrive late, mostly due to the needed connections mentioned above. Since we live about an hour away, a 6 AM flight would have us leaving home around 3 AM. Not an overly appealing choice. There are a few flights though which leave/arrive at a more reasonable time but those are usually highly prized. We were able to get a flight that left Burlington at 10:50 AM and even with the plane change at JFK we still got to our destination in Florida just after 5 PM. It was something of a rainy morning so we left a little before 8 AM to make sure we had plenty of time. I cannot help but mull over all the things that could go wrong which adds to my stress of travel. To reinforce this quirk of mine we were passed by an emergency vehicle that we came across about 5 minutes later stopped at a major accident scene. There were several emergency vehicles there which looked to have just arrived and were starting to deal with the situation and cars were being waved around the scene. We got to the airport and found the parking garage packed all the way to the 4th level where we finally found a space. Not a lot of levels left to go so it was good to find one. We got to the airline counter and no surprise we were the only customers there. One less stressor but expected and we still had a lot of time. Turns out we had even more time as our flight, a turnaround from JFK, would be late due to ‘mechanical difficulties’. The airline agent felt we would not be able to make our original connection and looked for alternatives. As she was searching she mentioned the airline would be replacing these particular aircraft soon as they seem to be having more and more problems these days. Oh great! Thanks for that bit of information! We were now rerouted from JFK to Boston and then on to Florida, increasing our travel time by 4 hours which would put us into Florida after 9 PM. Our flight finally arrived and when we landed at JFK it turned out we had a slight chance of catching our original flight but we had to rush to the airline helpdesk and hope we could get back on that flight. After several tries and not a great deal of customer comfort from the helpdesk agent we did get back on our original flight. When we got to Florida, we found our bags did not make the flight and would not be in until around 10 PM. Sigh. It turns out the airline would have our bags delivered the next day though so that was a plus, at least at the time. They outsource the delivery but we were told we should get our bags by 10 AM. At 10:47 AM I got a text message our bags had been delivered in person. The thing is, we didn’t have our bags. The company that did the delivery did not have a phone number and only had a generic email/text “your message is important to us” maddening response. The airline baggage office that did have a phone number sent me directly to voicemail. Stress level skyrocketing. We were staying in a condo complex with no front desk so I was wandering around the complex looking to see if I could find our bags. Just before noon my phone rang. The guy with our bags had arrived. I tried to get him to explain why his company told us our bags had been delivered over an hour before when they had not but got just got a shrug. At least we had our bags.  And the rental car company didn’t want to miss out causing stress either. While both our regular auto insurance and our credit card has us covered for rentals, as we got into the car they told us if we had an accident we would not only have to pay for the repairs but also cover the rental amount they would have gotten for the entire time the vehicle was unavailable to them. But for a ‘small’ fee we could cover that type of issue. I knew we were covered but it didn’t help with them putting the doubt in my mind so now I am also nervous about driving. Have you ever experienced the way people in Florida drive? More on that below. I guess I could say things got better from there but geeze, that is quite a downside for our first 24 hours of travel!

After a shower and changing into shorts and a t-shirt, a stroll down the beach in warm water and the sun was quite welcome. Gentle waves, a slight breeze and the sun are a great stress relievers. Add to that seeing porpoises playing in the waves just a few feet off shore, the pelicans gliding just above the water, and the general feeling of being on a beach in November is quite a good one. Finishing off the day with a dip in the pool at the complex, the holiday has begun.

Things pretty much followed the same pattern for the next several days. Up early, coffee of course, a stroll down the beach, rounding things out with a dip in the pool. While it seems like something that we could do every day, I am sure the feeling would wear off sooner or later. Still, several days of this kind of life is a real treat. Especially halfway through our holiday when we heard we would be returning to temperatures that had dropped into the 20’s and the cold came with 3 to 8 inches of snow. So we have a few more days to enjoy our time in the sun and we intend to do just that. There was one personal thing we needed to do, a very important thing, that took priority and we were able to make sure that occurred. We also took a few side trips to do some exploring but the beach, waves and pool all called and we answered.

As our week in Florida came to a close we did wish we had more time there but to reword an old adage, it was good we were leaving while we were still enjoying ourselves. We were again able to get a decent departure time although with a different airline. Our intermediate stop this time was Atlanta where we had a 3 hour layover so even if our flight was delayed we would at least have a chance to make our connection. There was no issue with our first flight but there was one possibility that could cause a problem with our second flight, the big storm that had hit the northeast. Luckily the major part of the storm had passed and things transportation wise were back to normal. On our approach into Burlington showed the snow storms were still around. Snow was quite a sight lit up by the landing lights and it was pretty thick as well.

We have gotten back into our normal routine here in Panton and it does not involve strolls down a beach in shorts. It does involve starting the day with espresso though, always a winner. We picked up right where we left off at the gym which was nice. It was as if we hadn’t taken a break at all. Being we are now dealing with temperatures bouncing around freezing it is time to get into winter driving mode. Like not turning on the wipers until one is sure they are not frozen to the windshield and the ice is scraped off so it doesn’t shred the blades. Something else I do during the freeze/thaw/freeze phase is to not engage the parking brake at night. Not sure if I need to do that but when I lived up this way some 40 years ago it was somewhat standard so as not to have the cable freeze in the locked position. I hope the auto manufacturers have dealt with that but just in case. And not trying to lower the windows as they are probably frozen to the rubber gaskets. Also carrying a bag of non-clay cat litter for traction. We always have the emergency items in the car so no worries there. Something else was to put the box of sand on the deck next to the door. The first year I didn’t have it in a covered container and when I went to use it I found a solid block of grit. Not very useful. We now have a covered container. Got out the ice creepers for our boots as well.

This is the first Thanksgiving since we have been here that has had winter overtones. Last week, while we were in Florida, a big storm hit the northeast. When we got back it was still kind of on and off until today, the day before Thanksgiving, when the snow squalls arrived along with low temperatures. Thanksgiving is predicted to have a low of around 8 degrees Fahrenheit and a high in the upper teens. In fact, the squalls have already arrived this afternoon along with more light snow. Right now we cannot even see the Adirondacks due to the snow and wind. Looks like that will be the story for the next couple of days. So, Thanksgiving is going to be pretty cold but no worries for us. We stocked up with food and goodies on Monday and plan on just relaxing and reading and watching movies. Also, most places are closed for Thanksgiving so no need to go out anyway.

Thanksgiving is here and along with it some blue skies. The downside there is it got colder overnight and by 7 AM it was only up to 6 degrees. Lake Champlain has wisps of frosty fog floating just above it as if to say, yup, it is darn cold. There was a light wind but enough to be bone chilling if one stayed outside too long. It only took me 5 seconds to spread the birdseed. We used to use a bird feeder but the furry monsters would dominate it and wipe it out tout suite so now we spread the seed out which gives the rest of the local wildlife a chance at it as well.

As I mentioned earlier, it is veggie soup and stew weather so last night we had a big pot of thick veggie soup. There was a large variety of veggies and it tasted so good we wiped out the entire pot. This morning we were still full so the plan for Thanksgiving pancakes or scones was put on hold. We have some items to graze on during the day but don’t want to go overboard as dinner will be a bit of a vegan feast (Yes, I know. It might be difficult for some to think of a vegan feast. Some good friends in California were able to pull it off quite well even though they were not vegans themselves.). We are having mashed sweet potatoes that have onion, walnuts and chopped oranges, gluten free stuffing, sautéed green beans with garlic, mushrooms and peppers, beet salad that includes shredded carrots, scallions and a bit of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and a dash of lemon. Good thing the gym is open tomorrow.

As with most days we could have slept in today. We could most days but Thanksgiving is still has something of a holiday about it. Nature had other plans.  There are a lot of rock outcroppings here and we have a couple in our yard near the house. When it gets really cold and the water in the cracks freezes the rocks will snap with a pretty loud noise. And of course it is coldest at night so guess what, just after midnight both of us were woken up by a large POW and a very light tremor, not unlike a very minor quake. There were a few more pops throughout the night as well. Kind of interesting. Well, I wanted seasons!

When first light showed up on Friday it showed quite a stretch of blue skies. The thing with that is the cold is a bit more intense as it was around 4 degrees this morning. The cold air is again causing fog over Lake Champlain and enough of it to obscure our view of the Adirondacks. Since the cold weather and snow have hit we have started putting out birdseed in the mornings. This morning there was a ‘customer’ perched on out deck railing waiting for breakfast.

It has warmed up a bit but still chilly. It is taking a bit longer to adjust to early freeze because it came on fairly quickly. Even if we hadn’t been in Florida during the week when ‘winter’ hit it would still take us a bit to get used to the cold. There is a slight warming trend coming up but the long range forecast shows that will only last for a day or two before diving back into the 20’s and teens. We need to make sure we don’t let the cold keep us indoors so we are planning an outing later today.

Well, the weather sure is not cooperating on our effort to get outdoors. While it is a bit warmer, Sunday has started off a grey, dreary day with light rain. Because of the moisture in the air it seems the cold goes down to the bone so it doesn’t feel any warmer. Oh well, another excuse for more espresso – as if I needed an excuse! When we do hit the colder temperatures all this moisture is going to freeze causing some concern.

Our warming trend is still visiting but the monster that is hitting the Midwest at the moment is headed this way. The snow we got around Thanksgiving has almost melted so it seems like it is time for another round. I don’t mind the snow as much as the rain/slush that freezes making streets and sidewalks treacherous. Still getting used to it getting dark so early and light so late as well as the cold.

Not that we need reminding that we live in a rural state but Tuesday we had just such a reminder. During our trips around the state we have seen domestic animals roaming free. Chickens seem to be the biggest example of this as there are a lot of them that roam free. We can never come across and flattened chickens though. Other domestic animals we have come across are sheep, goats and even a pig. Each time we have stopped at the local farmstead to report the situation. The reactions were all positive and we were thanked for reporting it. Although it seems this is a pretty standard thing for animals to get loose so did not cause any panic. Well, the Tuesday event was one where, as we came around a curve, we were faces with a somewhat large bull was standing in the middle of the road. He was not at all impressed by our appearance. We knew the herd was owned by the folks who ran the nearby small general store so we headed there to let them know. When we mentioned it they already knew and had a couple of their hands dispatched to deal with it. As we passed by, the bull was still enjoying his freedom by trotting away from the farm hands. Unlike us, he recognized them as party poopers for his newfound freedom and was doing his best to keep from returning to the field. On the wild side, we are still looking forward to seeing a moose and a bear. We have seen both before but not in this setting.

Well, as November comes to an end it is a bit warmer but still grey out. The grey skies will continue for a while although the warmer temperatures won’t last. At least tomorrow will be somewhat decent for the holiday event in Vergennes. I’ve got my Santa suit laid out and ready to go. Then it gets put away for another year.

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October 2018 is Loooong

Several pictures along the Erie Canal. And one of me in my Halloween outfit.

This entry, as stated in last month’s posting, is of a different style. Because we were doing something out of our ordinary routine it seemed a more in-depth writing was called for. On the down side it makes this posting quite long. But take heart as next month it will be back to a less in-depth type of entries, for the most part anyway. I still might slip in a bit more detail as warranted though, but it will not be on the same order as this.

 

Thursday, September 27: It was time to head off to our Erie Canal trip. Our boat was actually reserved for Friday but we didn’t feel like rushing which is why we headed out on Thursday. It was around five hours to Pittsford, NY where we were staying for the night. We have taken this trip a few times and knew the town of Speculator was just under the half way point and would be a good stopping point for lunch and to take a break. There is a small cafe we found via the web that looked to be the spot. They got raves for their coffee and food too. As is our normal pattern we avoided major highways and stayed on the back roads. This took us through the Adirondacks and the promise of a colorful drive home is not out of reach. Several trees were just starting to turn so in two weeks we should be treated to a wonderful drive home. Anyway, we went through Speculator and pulled in at the sign announcing the cafe we were headed for. As we entered the place things just didn’t seem right but not on a level of actually figuring it out. We both had a fresh, crispy green salad and coffee then realized we had entered the wrong establishment. The place we were looking for was a small building behind the one we were in. No matter as the folks were really friendly and the food good. When we were done we went to peek at the other place and found it to be closed up tight. An open sign was in the window but there was no one around so it was good we went to the other place. We got to our hotel in Pittsford in the late afternoon and as the hotel had a restaurant we didn’t have to go out so we settled in for the evening.

Friday, September 28: We have been waking up early and Friday morning was no exception. We planed to be at the marina where our rental was sometime around noon so we were in no rush. We knew of a health food store about 15 minutes away where we did the shopping for the perishables we needed. There is a good vegan cafe that was sort of on the way so we planned to have lunch there. They opened at 11 and it was only 10 so we hit a bagel shop and found they had vegan and gluten free bagels so we got some to tied us over. By the time we finished our bagels and coffee it was time to hit the vegan cafe. After a tasty lunch it was time to head off to the marina. Our boat was ready so the transfer of items from the car to the boat started. It only took 20 or so minutes and the another 20 to put things away. Around 1:30 our trainer, Dell, joined us to go over the boat and when he realized we were seasoned hands at it we were off and away within the hour. This trip we decided to head east as the other times we went west. Our first lock was about 15 minutes down the canal and since there is very little traffic this time of year we got right into the lock. After a short but cheery chat with the lock master we puttered on to the next lock about 30 minutes further on. We were thinking of maybe pushing on beyond our planned stop but by the time we got there it was almost 5PM, the time the locks close down for the night, and since the next stop was beyond the lock our planned stop it was. I’m really glad we stopped at our planed stop in the town of Newark as it is a very nice place. The people are friendly, the dock has electricity, there are clean bathrooms and showers, a washer and dryer, it’s right near the center of town and docking overnight is free. Like some of the other town docks, this one has a park associated with it. This is mostly a plus but late night use can be a bit trying. The volunteers who run the visitors center are very nice folks. Newark seems good stop on the Erie Canal.

Saturday, September 29: OK, after a night at the Newark Marina I still have a good feeling about it. The small dockside park with a gazebo that gets a fair amount of use with the gazebo being something of a gathering spot. Unfortunately the late Friday night crowd, after the bars let out, like to gather there. Oh well. It seems there is a group of older folks who also use the gazebo in the morning for coffee and getting together. It is nice to see the park be well used and taken care of. This morning there doesn’t appear to be a cloud in the sky and by 7:30 the sun was starting to warm things up and glint off of the canal water. Having the sun out is a plus as when we had checked the long range forecast from home it was supposed to be rainy and cloudy almost the entire time. There is still some rain in the forecast though but we are ready for it. We do have schedule but have decided it is more of a suggestion than a set in stone plan. We are learning! Instead of a 5 hour or so cruise today we are looking at only going 2 hours so this morning we slept in until 7, well that is sleeping in for us. One of the first things to occur this morning was the aeropress got assembled and pressed (yes, a try for humor) into action. It preformed quite well and two strong cups of coffee were enjoyed. There is still a cool breeze out but the day is warming up nicely. With our decision to make Saturday an easy travel day we had time to take a morning walk around Newark. It wasn’t a long walk but we did make it though a bit of the residential areas of town. There are a lot of older Victorians in all ranges of condition but mostly on the well taken care of side. Some looked to still be single family homes while others had been split up into duplexes and quadplexes. There were not many people out and about which made a difficult time for the cub scout pack set up in front of a store selling popcorn as a fund raiser. We made a small donation as I really didn’t need the popcorn but wanted to support them. We then looped back to the boat to cast off on our cruise for the day. We had to turn in our key to the facilities room so we headed for the volunteer office. The same volunteer was there from the day before and we thanked her for the town providing such nice facilities. She was doing some crocheting and had some very nice pieces. She said they were for her son’s wedding and still had several more to do. Luckily the wedding is a ways off yet. She also mentioned she just found out the wedding will be taking place at her house. She was kindly about it and seemed resigned to her fate but it seemed deep down she was quite pleased. We bid her a fond farewell and pushed off into the canal. It was a little more than two hours and three locks to Lyons, our unplanned stop. Knowing it would be an easy day we throttled back a bit to take in the canal at something of a walking pace. A fast walk but a walk none the less. We saw several herons and other birds along the way but the most amazing thing was the water squirrel. We had never seen a squirrel swim before so we both just stood there mouths agape watching as he sped across the canal like an Olympic swimmer. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly no pictures were taken. A real shame as it would have been quite a sight to have on film. We pulled into Lyons around 1:30 or so and had a bit of a time docking as the dock walls are rather high. We have to climb on the roof of the boat to get out but on the other hand we once again have the place to ourselves. The marina listings we have are quite out of date and listed this dock as only having power and no other amenities. After we tied up we noticed a welcome sign announcing free showers and bathrooms at the local fire station just up the steps along with free wifi so the guide books could do with an update. And like Newark there is no charge to stay at this dock. Even though we have only been on the water for a day we decided to wander into the town and stop for lunch at a local eatery. Like most small towns these days Lyons had seen better days but they are hanging in there. A lot of storefronts were empty and there was almost no one on the streets but there were signs that activities still occurred in town like the barbecue next week at the fire station and the live concert at the local theater and playhouse. Since we had a large late lunch we decided to skip dinner and head for the fire house showers. Everything out of the way and just sitting on the stern of the boat a gentleman strolled up and started chatting. It is nothing unusual as a lot of folks around the canal and in small towns enjoy a good chinwag. It turns out this gentleman, Bob, was the official greeter and wandered by the docks in the mornings and evenings chatting with folks. It turns out Bob is a retired teacher who now narrates a canal cruise in this area. He was a wealth of information and since we have not traveled to the eastern part of the canal he filled me in on the sights and history of this area and the canal. It was a joy chatting with him and about 10 minutes later he stopped by with some of the basic information he relates during his narrations. We are now set for what to look for on our cruise on Sunday.

Sunday, 30 September: We were up and about for our early morning start. By 8 AM we were motoring down the canal after coffee, breakfast and a chat with Bob who stopped by to bid us a bon voyage. It was an overcast and a touch chilly this morning with the temperature around the mid 40’s. The wind had also picked up which made it feel even colder so we had to do some layering. There was no one else on the canal that we saw this morning so it felt like our own personal canal. The first lock was only a 6 foot lowering so we were through it in no time. We passed by the town dock at Clyde and noticed they had electricity so we could have pushed on from Lyons but no worries. Lyons was a nice stop. The marina we had thought about turned out to be a no go so it is good we didn’t actually try to head for it. It was more of a campground with a couple of small docks for fishing boats. The second lock was about the same as the first in size and lift difference and was ready for us as two other canal boats exited heading west. We were thinking the day’s trip would take a bit longer and that we might tie up at one of the locks for lunch but we hit the Cayuga Seneca junction at 11:30 and pressed on. We had 3 locks to go with one of them being a double at Seneca Falls. The first lock was at the head of Seneca Lake so if one wasn’t paying attention one could have headed off into the lake, which would not be a good idea as these canal boats don’t have a keel and would be blown around a lot. Keeping an eye on the buoys we made the correct turn and headed down the proper path to Seneca Falls. In stead of stopping along the way we had a quick snack en-route  and arrived at Seneca Falls at just after 2 PM so all in all about a 6 hour trip. We docked, hooked up electricity, and went for a nose around. We found the visitors center that had bathrooms, showers, and a coin laundry. It took us a bit to find anyone as we had to climb up two flights of stairs to the Seneca Museum where we found the docent who was also the welcoming committee. Once again there was no docking fee which seems to be the norm for the eastern side of the canal. Wanting to support the local economy we headed out looking for dinner and came across the Woman’s Museum so we went in and had a good look around. It was pretty impressive and had over 100 plaques of notable women with their accomplishments and a picture, or in some cases a drawing such as the one for Abigail Adams. I recognized about 10% of the women listed with Liz knowing several more. After a good look around it was time for dinner. Mexican food sounded like it would hit the spot but the only restaurant within walking distance was closed on Sundays. We then found a sports pub of sorts that also had quite a few Mexican dishes on their menu and it was only 150 feet from where we were standing. The meal did fill the desire for Mexican food but normally we do not eat out all that often so we felt a bit sluggish and have decided to have the next few meals on the boat. It was decided Seneca Falls would be a two night stop so we have tomorrow to relax and have more of a look around. Rain is in the forecast for Monday so we will play things by ear. Now it is time to kick back and enjoy the evening. And part of that enjoyment includes a rousing game of Scrabble! We didn’t keep score and just played for fun.

Monday, 1 October: Another good night’s sleep on the water. In fact the water was so calm we almost missed the gentle rocking. The morning started with the normal routine of coffee and breakfast. It was then time to get out and about as we wanted to get going early to beat the rain. We have not been hitting the larder as hard as planned so we really didn’t need to do any restocking of perishables. But we found a grocery store run by the Amish was about a mile and a half away and for most of the route we would be taking a local art trail known as the Sculpture Trail. There were statues of some famous women along the way with some modern art and nature sculptures as well. It was a nice walk along the canal and only a few hundred yards along the road. Our path also took us over the George Bailey bridge of “It’s a Wonderful Life” fame so we had to take the walk. The rain was supposed to hit around 11 AM and our return to the boat clocked in close to 10:50, and no rain yet. As we got ready for our next foray, a glance at the water out of our window showed a light rain had started to fall. And it was 11 AM on the nose. By the time we exited the boat the rain had stopped. How about that for timing? Our walk took us in the opposite direction of the one this morning but again on the other side of the canal. We used a different bridge and found a coffee shop that was along our path so of course we had to stop. The sky still looked to be ready to rain but had held off so far other than the short burst this morning. One of our two destinations was the Elizabeth Cady Stanton house, a national monument administered by the National Park Service. Unfortunately at this time of year the house is only open Friday through Sunday but we still got to peek in the windows. There were a lot of storyboards for us to get filled in on the house and grounds. Our final destination of double locks 2 and 3 was just a couple of minutes further on. We got some nice photos of the double lock but unfortunately we just missed a boat transiting the lock. We stayed for a few minutes hoping another boat would appear but at this time of year the chances were low so we headed back to our boat for lunch. The plan for our exciting afternoon includes a quick load of laundry and showers. Before that though we stopped at a deli to grab a tea and coffee. It seemed a friendly and quaint place that was quite comfortable so we stayed for a bit. It was a place we could have brought our books and sat in the corner reading for a while. Still, the laundry and showers awaited so we headed back. And after what appeared to be a 5 mile jaunt this morning we wondered if yet another quick spin around the town would be in order. Time will tell. Which it did. We took a short walk through the town to drop off some postcards at the post office and then it was time for dinner followed by a game of backgammon, which Liz won with a rallying finish, and then off to sleep.

Tuesday, 2 October: Today is slated for some heavy rain. At around 7:30 this morning a light rain started to fall followed shortly by rolling thunder and a lot of rain. The rain is supposed to last through the whole day and if this morning is any preview it will be quite a wet day. We are headed back to the Erie Canal today and are on the edge of turning west rather than continuing east although we might take a short jog east to see an old aqueduct that used to be the Erie Canal then turn back west. For now, it is coffee and breakfast time. It has been decided by a sad but unanimous vote of the crew that we should turn back west today after a short jaunt to the east to see the aqueduct. The plan is to make Clyde as our destination which looked to be a nice, quiet stop with the possibility of electricity. The posts are there so we will find out if they still have power. There are 5 locks we will need to transit today, including the double lock on our way out of Seneca Falls. Clyde should be around a 4 to 5 hour trip which is a comfortable cruise. Our departure time this morning from Seneca Falls will be somewhere just after 10:30 AM. That gave me a chance to make one last trip to the visitors center and have a look at Main Street. Many of the towns we have visited are just barely hanging in there but have many empty storefronts and Seneca Falls is no different. We have heard that canal tourism was down this past season which makes it even tougher for these small struggling towns. It looks like rain will be our constant companion today but at least the thunder has stopped and there is no sign of lightning. The rain was coming down at a hearty pace as we transited the double lock set leaving Seneca Falls and it didn’t lighten up until we had gotten near the last lock on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal heading back to the Erie Canal. During the rest of the trip we got some light rain on and off until we got to Clyde. Luckily we were all tied up and settled in when a heavy cloudburst came through. It only lasted for about 10 minutes and then went back to the on and off light rain. As we exited the Cayuga-Seneca Canal we turned east for about 10 minutes to take in a view of the old Erie Canal aqueduct. A fair chunk of it had been taken down when the newer canal was put through to allow passage as it would have been too narrow and low to allow boat passage. A short piece of it was left in place as a historical marker so we wanted to have a look and take pictures, which we did. It was then time to turn west and transit the two locks between us and Clyde before they shut down at 5 PM. No problems as we were through both locks by just after 3 PM. It the older canal books it lists Clyde as just a dock with no amenities but when we passed this way a couple of days ago we noticed a nice park and electric service had been added. In chatting with a local the park and amenities were added about 3 years ago so it worked for us. The boat does have electricity but it is easier to plug in rather than run off of battery. The major downside of the overnight here, as with quite a few docks along the Erie Canal is the location of the train tracks and the frequency of the freights. In Clyde the tracks are just across the canal. Oh well. It was a bit of a warmer evening and a light rain was falling so we decided to have a boat cooked meal of chili. Tasty and filling and still had some leftovers for later. After dinner we chatted for a while about our adventure so far and made some loose plans for the next few days. It was then time to hit the hay.

Wednesday, 3 October: Once again we were up around our normal time but in no rush to cast off. As usual the first priority was coffee in order to start the day off right. It also felt like the right morning for oatmeal with bananas and strawberries so that’s what we had. Cast off time was around 10:30 so we had time to take a stroll around Clyde. There was not much activity which seems to be the norm these days. We returned to the boat and headed out with our destination being Palmyra. It was just over 20 miles and included transiting 3 locks with a total scheduled time of around 5 hours. There were a couple of other boats out but for the majority of the time we again had the entire canal to ourselves. It seems as if the trees along the canal were getting even closer to fall colors than when we passed this way just a few days ago. It was really an enjoyable sight having a long distance of a tree lined canal. All three locks were transited smoothly and we really settled into relaxed cruising. The first couple of days were about getting comfortable with the boat and adjusting to our new surroundings. Today we hit our groove of being on the canal and it felt good. As stated earlier, Palmyra was our destination. The dock is down a small channel from the Erie Canal and four boats our size would totally fill it up. There were two other canalboats docked when we arrived and the way they were tied up they took all but the last space which we grabbed. We pulled in just before 2:30 so had some time settle in, hook up to power and fill the water tank then take a stroll around the downtown area. Upon returningfrom our stroll we found the other two boats had taken off. I thought they were cutting it a bit close as the locks close at 5 PM this time of year and the next marina in either direction were beyond a lock or two, which was about an hour to reach the one eastbound lock and an hour to the second of the two locks westbound. Anyway, we had Palmyra all to ourselves. By docking at Palmyra we have now hit every local on the eastern side of where we rented the boat in Macedon as far as the Seneca-Cayuga Canal junction down to Seneca Falls. Palmyra, another free docking stop, had recently added a bathroom/shower facility for boaters which we took advantage of before dinner. All clean and sated we are now kicking back for a nice evening of doing nothing. But just before nothing time occurred we did make a plan for tomorrows puttering. A brief stop in Fairport to do some restocking of our larder then on to Pittsford for the evening. Fairport is a nice place with full amenities but a major road crosses the canal right next to the docks using a steel deck bridge which makes it sound like a major racetrack. At least it covers the noise of the once an hour freight trains! Pittsford is also a nice place but is shy on amenities. Electricity and water are available but the closest off boat bathrooms are about 50 yards away in a building shared by the local library and Starbucks, but yet another free stop.

Thursday, 4 October: Another early morning. Seems to be a habit we have a difficult time getting past. It was a pretty quiet night at Palmyra and I was feeling zonked so it was an early night for me. It was then around midnight I woke up for some reason and only drifted in and out of sleep until finally getting up early. We were under way by just after 8:30 headed to the first westbound lock, number 29. A light rain started to fall just as we left that turned into quite a heavy rainstorm that lasted for over an hour. It brought up a light fog that hung over the canal making it seem like an early Halloween. Almost an hour later the rain started to let up as we cleared the next lock, number 30, which was the last obstacle before Fairport where our larder restock was. The cruise was another mellow one all the way to Fairport as we passed by our starting point at Macedon en-route. We arrived just before at Fairport 11:30 and tied up then headed to the small grocery store that is within walking distance from the dock. It was a small place, I believe it was smaller than I actually remembered and the fresh vegetable selection was a bit sparse. Still, we were able get enough to tide us over until the next restock. After a quick lunch on board we got under way at 1:30 and noticed the sky had started to clear. We passed the lift bridge just past the Fairport docks and motored on to Pittsford. About half way between Fairport and Pittsford is a stop called Bushnell’s Basin. On our trip back in May this stop was closed down as their docks were under repair. They are now back in action but have not restored any of the amenities as yet. While Bushnell’s Basin is one stop we have not made it probably won’t be on our list anytime soon. Nothing wrong with it from a general standpoint it just doesn’t seem like our type of place. It feels more like a destination stop for locals to go out for a somewhat fancy dinner that offer dishes we don’t really partake in. We arrived at Pittsford somewhere around 3 PM and found the docks to be at least a third full. Still plenty of room it was just a surprise to see all the boats. We nestled in behind another rental from the same company as ours and the folks on that boat came out to help us tie up. That is not always a normal occurrence but is not unheard of either. After we were docked the four of us had a good old time chinwag for about half an hour. As we were chatting the sky turned a nice blue and there was not a cloud to be seen allowing the sun to make a late afternoon appearance. Our newfound canal friends related they had done some canal boating in France and thoroughly enjoyed it, but also had a family member who was fluent in French which helped a lot. So we had a good time talking boats, being on canals, more boating talk, and then wrapped it up with yet more boating talk.  They are headed back to base on Saturday to return their rental before flying back home to Atlanta. Liz and I then headed to the coffee shop that is a short stroll away and relaxed with a warm beverage before returning to our boat. Tonight’s dinner plan is for pasta sauce with fresh spinach and rice noodles. I have to confess though, the pasta sauce was not homemade.

Friday, 5 October: Today is going to be one of our longer days as we are heading through the area south of Rochester were there are not any small towns to dock at. It was a bit chillier this morning but did warm up as the sun came out. In the early afternoon the clouds returned and the wind picked up making it a bit chilly again. Our scheduled destination is Brockport about 5 hours west of Pittsford. When we did our spring canal trip we also stopped at Brockport and were the first ones to arrive after the visitors center opened. I mentioned it to the volunteer who had the logbook and sure enough, we were the first on the list. Funny as we might also be the last the visitors center in Brockport shuts down next Wednesday. Even though we had a longer journey today we decided to take a morning stroll down the towpath to get a bit of exercise. It wasn’t a long walk, about two miles, but it was enough to get the kinks out of our joints. At 9:50 we were underway and headed for the first lock of the day about 30 minutes up the canal followed by the second and final lock of the day about 20 minutes later. Liz and I took turns being captain going through the locks and then settled in for the next 4 hours of cruising. About a third of the way to Brockport we crossed the Genesse River. The last crossing we did thing were very calm but there has been a lot of rain so the current was up a bit requiring some active steering of the boat. Other than a bit of corrective steering there were no issues as we headed into the canal on the west side of the river. The canal narrows down quite a bit here as this is another section that had been rerouted many years ago. The canal used to run through the middle of Rochester but as always, things change. After a couple of miles the canal widened up a bit, not quite as wide as on the eastern side but still wide enough for boats to pass without too much effort. We have passed a couple of boats, both from the same rental company as ours, but that was in the early part of today’s trip. The town of Spencerport was about an hour and a half before the Brockport stop. We have stopped at Spencerport for a brief overnight last year and have not really given it a fair chance so on our way back it is scheduled as a stop. There are two reasons we bypassed it today. We needed to get closer to Lockport, our last stop before turning around, and while there is power and one can use the restrooms at the canal museum while it is open  there are no showers. Pittsford was somewhat of the same situation with the local library and coffee shop and while we could have showered on the boat we prefer using shore based showers as they are easier to deal with. Between Spencerport and Brockport there are three lift bridges we needed to transit. Not quite a drawbridge but where the entire bridge lifts up parallel with the water to allow boats to pass under. The final lift bridge is just before the town docks so after going under that bridge it was time to dock. It was 3 PM on the dot when the first rope got tied to the dock cleat. By 3:25 all the administration work had been taken care of, a good chinwag had been had with the volunteer and we were headed to a local tea shop we found on our last trip but weren’t able to visit because it had closed for the day. It is slated to close at 5 PM so we figured we had plenty of time to stop by and get a cuppa. The unique thing about this tea shop is it is also a gift shop with a lot of knickknacks. When we got to the front door at 3:30 we were greeted with the hours open sign, 11 AM to 5 PM, we were also greeted with a closed sign. Oh well, another time. Tonight is another boat cooked meal of veggie burgers, steamed veggies and baked potatoes. When we were checking the boat out our trainer mentioned he didn’t believe the oven had ever been used. Well, it has now. Showers taken, laundry started using the visitors center machines and potatoes cooking we sat back and waited to see if the potatoes or the laundry would finish first. The potatoes won as the laundry is still a bit moist and needed a bit longer. No matter as we normally don’t eat dinner until 6:30 and it is only 6:10 now. After dinner we are going to review our flexible plans for the next few days. Right now, Middleport is the projected stop for tomorrow.

Saturday, 6 October: I had a bit of a restless night but can’t put my finger on why. On well. Up early, again, and after a coffee and light breakfast we were off to the local grocery store to restock our larder. The walk was 30 minutes in each direction which was nice as it gave us a bit of exercise before our day of cruising. There was a light rain most of the way which of course stopped upon our return to the boat and now the sun is out. Anyway, we were able to stock up on a fair amount of fresh veggies and that makes us happy. By 10:45 we were under way and headed to Middleport. As the day melted away the sky cleared up a bit and some blue popped through. There were a couple sprinkles of rain but nothing like this morning on our grocery store walk. There were no locks on our trip but several lift bridges we needed to go under. There are a few that are fairly close together and being towards the end of the season and not a lot of canal traffic the same bridge operator runs two or even three of them and has drive between them. There were two bridges about 100 yards apart and the next one was about 15 miles away and the same person ran all of them. They must be physically at each bridge as a safety measure but with our boat doing some 6 mph the operator was easily at the last bridge before us. The next bridge pair were near the end of the day’s journey and another operator was tasked with running them both. The operators usually ask how far you are going so they can alert the next lift bridge or lock and will also pass on any information to boaters to make their day easier. When this last operator found out we were headed to Middleport he clued us in that there was a regatta going on and the place was crowded but he was sure they could find us a spot. We thought about it for some 2 seconds and punted. The town of Medina is about 45 minutes before Middleport and we had stopped there during our trip in the spring and figured that would be a better choice. While there was probably a spot for us, we imagined a lot of partying and noise would be associated with the regatta so Medina would be a better choice. The one drawback was the visitors center had not opened yet during our trip last May but at least there was power to be had and the town was nice. Well, we made the right choice.  We pulled in around 3:30 and found we were the only boat there. We docked, hooked up to power and decided to hit a nearby tea shop but had to hurry as they closed at 4. The boat was set and we hurried off to the shop getting there 15 minutes before closing. It was not a sit down place where one sipped tea and nibbled on scones, it was more of a tea store. There must have been so 40 different types of tea in glass jars in a set of shelves along one wall. They also had the requisite tea accessories of cups, pots, strainers, tea towels and the like. The town of Medina is just over 6000 people so I have no idea how a shop like this could exist unless the good folks here are all mad about tea! We ordered our two cups to go and found a couple of chairs right out front. It was on Main Street but there wasn’t much traffic, which surprised us as it is Saturday night, so it was a pretty peaceful time. The tea was quite good and rounded out our travel day. It was then time to wander back to the boat for the evening. The visitors center was open with the showers being warm and clean. After a nice shower we dined on black bean stew and steamed veggies that hit the spot for us. It is now time to kick back and relax.

Sunday, 7 October: It is gray, overcast and a bit cool this morning here in Medina. There is some rain forecast for today and the next several days as well. Still, a hot cup of coffee always helps ones outlook. The relaxing effect of being on the canal is still with us and after reviewing Lockport we decided there is just too much going on there so we are going to make Medina our western most stop. That will make heading back to Macedon more of an easy lope as travel each day will be somewhere around 2 hours which means Albion is our next stop. Having a shorter cruise will also allow us to look around at the towns a little more. There is a watercourse that passes under the canal here that goes over a waterfall and into a nearby lake that we can go take a stroll by and maybe stop in a cafe for another warm beverage. Unfortunately the tea shop is closed on Sunday so we will not be able to revisit them but since we both liked the tea we had we will check to see if they have an online store. For now, it’s off to the falls. To get to the other side of the canal where one could see the falls we walked about 100 yards to a bridge where we were able to get to the towpath on the other side. It was strange to see a watercourse running under the canal. There was one cascade on the falls but the water was running quite fast which made it look pretty impressive. Circling back we headed down Main Street just to poke around. There is a train museum at the other end of the downtown area so, you guessed it, that is where we were headed. Being later in the season it is only open from Monday to Thursday and being today is Sunday it was no luck. The fire station next door was having an open house though so we got to see some fire trucks and other gear. Heading back down Main Street we say a diner that claimed it was open 24/7 which, along with the well stocked tea shop, seemed a bit of a surprise to us. We were back at the boat and were under way by just after 12. It is about a 2 hour cruise to Albion from Medina so we throttled back a bit and just puttered along. There is one spot on the entire canal where a road passes under it and this stretch is where that underpass is located. No cars passed under during our time passing it but we still go a couple of nice pictures. We passed one lift bridge with two more to go before docking at Albion. Arriving at the second of the three it looked like we would be a while as the lift mechanism went on the blink. The bridge operator had to call the maintenance crew to get it working again so we tied up at the terminal wall and waited. It was 1:20 and we figured if they didn’t have it fixed by 4 we would head back to Medina for the night. Being on canal time we just relaxed and chatted. At 2:20 the bridge operator called us on the radio saying they should be able to raise the bridge shortly and when we got the green light we could head out. By 2:25 we passed under the bridge and 30 minutes later we passed under the last lift bridge before Albion harbor. It was the same bridge operator from the problem bridge and I’m not 100% sure but I could almost hear the relief in his voice that this bridge came up no problem. By 3:05 we were tied up and hooked up to shore power. Next we filled the water tank and then kicked back for a while before heading to the showers. We had gotten the code to get in the door from the bridge operator who goes off duty at 5 so we checked to make sure the code worked in case we had any issues. The code worked fine and the facilities were nice and warm. We plan to take our showers before dinner and then just flop. We had stopped at Albion back in May when we took this trip and while it is a nice town there is not a lot of coffee shops or cafes close by. We will most likely take our morning walk before motoring the 2 hours to Brockport for another visit there. It would be a hoot if we were the last boat of the season there as we were also the first. And it is supposed to warm up tomorrow although still a bit of rain in the forecast for our last days on the canal this year.

Monday, 8 October: It is supposed to warm up a bit today but is still on the cool side. We are headed to Brockport today which will be about a 2.5 hour cruise so it is another no rush morning. There has been light rain on and off so during a lull I stepped off the boat for a few minutes. Sure enough when I got about 100 feet away a major cloudburst occurred causing me to quicken my pace back to the boat. A couple of minutes later the rain had stopped altogether as if to say “Don’t leave the boat!”. We have been passing a lot of geese, herons, cormorants, ducks and many other birds along the way. The general reaction is they will fly away as we approach or sit still. The herons, who are standing in the water at the bank, wait until we get right up to them then take off and fly for a short distance until we again get right up to them and again fly ahead. It is almost as if they are guiding us or keeping an eye on us. This behavior repeats for a few minutes when the current heron hands us off to the next one. This is not the most noteworthy reaction from birds we have had during our travels. While the geese will fly off or nervously pace around the banks, there are two different actions taken by the ducks. They will either fly away or race out from the banks into the path of the boat then move to one side and ride the wake. Some sort of duck fun I guess. As we left Albion we heard over the radio that a boat asking for passage under the bridge that held us up for an hour because it wouldn’t lift. It was working fine now so we knew there was another boat on the canal. It was a big cruiser that easily goes a lot faster than we can. The canal speed limit is 10 mph and we can hit 6 if we push it. About half way to Brockport the other boat was within sight. We radioed back to them that there were two eagles hanging out in a dead tree they would be coming up on shortly. The got a good look at them and called to thank us for the heads up. As they caught up to us we moved over and let them pass. They were also heading to Brockport for the night so we knew we would be seeing them again. By the time we got there and got settled a person strolling down the dock stopped and said “Hi, you must be on the Onondaga. I’m from Frizys Girl.” We had a nice chat then headed out for an errand. I had made a terrible miscalculation. I only brought a pound of coffee and from all indications we would be running out around Wednesday. So we found a coffee house about a 15 minute walk away and headed right there. We obtained a half pound of coffee and I made a note that one pound of coffee was not enough for a two week trip, even with having coffee out on occasion. Catastrophe avoided. Wow! What a weather change. It was in the low 50’s this morning with rain and 4 PM the sun is out and it is in the mid 80’s! How weird is that? Funny enough our boat has an A/C unit that we never thought we would be using but it is cranked up right now. Dinner tonight is looking like it will be chopped yellow and red peppers, carrots, celery and walnuts followed by veggie burgers. Tomorrow we will be stopping in Spencerport where a grocery store is about a 5 minute walk away. With the high temperature again in the 80’s we will be looking for another cooler evening meal.

Tuesday, 9 October: It was a beautiful morning. It was nice sleeping weather as it was a bit cooler. There were scattered clouds but a lot of blue sky with the promise of another warm day, which it was as it again rose into the mid 80’s. Last night the docks at Brockport were host to three boats, including ours. One of the boats was the one cruiser that passed us on the way there and the other was another rental boat from the same company as ours. Turns out we are on the same schedule for our return trip so we will be seeing them for the next few days. We got to chatting with them and found out they are from southern California and flew up here specifically to cruise the Erie Canal. They are two retired couples who travel together and this was on their list of things to do. They departed Brockport about an hour before we did so we didn’t see them during the cruise and it seemed we had the whole canal to ourselves again. When we got to Spencerport they had already tied up and were relaxing after the strenuous push to get here, yes, a joke. After we tied up the first thing we did was hit the local coffee shop. I guess that is really a pattern for us. The coffee was decent but just didn’t have the rich flavor of our Vermont Coffee. Yes, I am biased but I still feel our Vermont Coffee has a good, strong flavor. A year ago when we stopped at Spencerport there was not a reference to showers and the bathrooms were only available when the nearby museum was open. Well, this time there were showers and bathrooms available so a nice plus. As the afternoon wore on another rental boat pulled up and parked with us making it three now at the Spencerport docks. We then heard a call come in over the radio that another of our boats was approaching but they had already planned to push on to the next stop, Holley. Hopefully the facilities there have been put to rights as they were a bit rough back in May. Then, just around 4 PM yet another of our boats showed up and docked with the other three of us. It looks like we have taken over the docks here. Not quite a Viking raid but it did unleash 10 of us on the little town, which I am sure they appreciated as we all helped out the local economy even if just a small amount. Since it is another warm evening and the grocery store is a mere 5 minutes away we availed ourselves of their deli and got some coleslaw and potato salad. To round things off we also go a bag of chips as a treat. Of our 4 boats, and the one who went on to Holley, are all due back at the Macedon docks by this Friday. Not sure of the plans of the Holley team but our travel companions are headed to Pittsford tomorrow as are we. The late arrival has decided to turn down the Genesse River to the docks at Rochester While the other group are headed to Fairport with a possible stop at Pittsford as well. Fairport is somewhat the typical last stop before returning as there are no lift bridges or locks between in and Macedon as well as being about an hour cruise. The rental company asks folks to have the boats back by 9 AM on the final day for cleaning and restocking before the next rental that would go out around 2 PM. Rumor has it that our loose band of canal denizens are the last rentals out for the season and no boats will be headed out on Friday. No matter as we plan to be docked by Thursday night at Macedon to have a relaxing day on Friday. Also, Fairport is not really a favorite of ours due to the excessive noise. Not as much the bars and restaurants, which usually shutdown by 11 PM or so, but the steel decked lift bridge as mentioned earlier in this piece as well as the trains, which were also mentioned earlier. As the evening sets in the temperature is again dropping into comfortable sleeping range, and quite welcome. I have found I start to whine these days when it gets into the mid 80’s. It is now about 15 minutes before 7 PM and yet another of our boats just showed up. They must be stopping for the night as the lift bridge here closed at 5 PM. There are now 5 of our boats docked and it feels like we really have taken over the place.

Wednesday, 10 October: While we have been on this cruise for going on two weeks we are not really looking forward to it ending. Sure it will be nice to get back home and back into the old routine but we did enjoy this trip. Sounds like a good omen for possible future plans around boat things. Before we push off from Spencerport we figure on having a look in the canal museum that is close by. It doesn’t open until 10 AM but it will only be around 3 and a half hour trip so even if we are out at 11 we will still hit Pittsford before 3 PM. We wanted to take a stroll around the town before leaving and Liz mapped out a great route through the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods we went through were a mix of new and old but all were quite nice and felt like they came from “Leave it to Beaver” land. Everybody waved, people were out chatting and walking their dogs and all the homes were well kept. Our walk took us about an hour and we arrived at the Erie Canal museum just as it was opening. When we approached the door we were met by a friendly and gentle dog who seemed happy to see us. He belonged to the curator who told us the dogs name is Eeyore. The name didn’t appear to fit but after our greeting he wandered over to the edge of the deck where he took up residence and looked resigned to just hanging out while the curator ran the small museum. We spent about 20 minutes having a poke around and chatting then headed for the boat to shove off. Before leaving though we had to bid farewell to Eeyore who again seemed cheery before dropping back into just chilling mode. We had the boat under way by 10:30 and pointed east towards Pittsford. The canal narrows down as it gets near the south of Rochester which made for an interesting change to more open spaces. Here the walls sometimes reached 30 feet high with the canal not being much more than double that. As we were in one specifically deep and narrow section a jet flew over that seemed no more than a couple hundred feet up. It was pretty loud and somewhat startling as we have only been in smallish towns and not near any major urban areas. Turns out the Rochester airport is just on the south side of the canal, which is a good thing because of how low that aircraft was. A short while after that we came upon the Genesse River which we had to cross. There was a bit of a cross current from the river but Liz guided expertly across and into the eastern side of the Erie Canal. We now just had two locks and about an hour and forty five minutes before reaching our goal of Pittsford. The two locks are about 15 minutes apart and we were the only ones in the area so we pretty much breezed through both of them and docked in Pittsford just before 2 PM. Since it was again a warm day we decided we would eat out but weren’t over the moon with the restaurant choices. They are nice places but not really our style. We came across a bakery that also served food up until 3 PM that was close by so we gave it a try. They had some really good sounding salads and said they did their best to use organic and real food. The salads fell on the good and mediocre side of things but it was healthier than some of the other fare available. Being a bakery, they had samples of their sourdough loaf and being a sucker for good sourdough I figured what the heck. I was shocked. I know it has been a while since I have had real San Francisco sourdough bread but I felt this stuff could rival SF’s best. So much so I stepped up and bought a loaf. I am glad this place is a ways away from home as I would be there all the time otherwise buying up sourdough from them. Hopefully, or not, I can find a place in Vermont that makes sourdough anywhere near as good as this place. We then wandered back to the boat and are kicking back for the rest of the afternoon. Our boat is now in shade so the comfort level is rising nicely. Pittsford has no showers so, after almost two weeks on the boat, we are going to finally use the onboard shower. Tomorrow is less than a 3 hour cruise back to Macedon with just one lift bridge. We will be spending Thursday night on the boat in Macedon but will be able to unload Thursday and be prepared for an early departure on Friday headed for our Adirondack rental. That way we can get settled and freshen up for Saturday when we head to the wedding. Before all that though, we are taking in our last few hours on the canal.

Thursday, 11 October: The predicted morning rain came in early so we slept in. With just a short cruise to our home port we are in no hurry to get going. As the coffee was being served up the rain got somewhat heavy so it was nice to just kick back with a warm beverage and watch it come down. By around 9 AM the rain had stopped and the sky lightened up but more rain is in the offing later today. There is a mist on the canal behind us leading to a curve that makes it look kind of spooky. Up ahead, things look clear. Sometime around 6 AM the trash guy arrived to empty the dumpsters that are behind the local library, just up the hill. Good thing we were already awake as he was sure into his job. And as the town of Pittsford has a volunteer fire department whenever there is a call a loud siren goes off. That was about 7:45 this morning and now the town street sweeper is in action. All that is needed is the lawn mowers but it might be a bit wet for that. For breakfast I enjoyed a slice of my sourdough bread. Life is good on the canal. The feeling of our trip coming to an end is setting in. We are doing some early tidying to make it a bit easier on our return. It looks like around 10:30 this morning for setting sail, as it were. And just as I typed that statement the sun broke through the clouds for just a brief moment. No, not an omen, just a fun coincidence. 10:30 was indeed the time we headed out. There was only the Fairport lift bridge to navigate so we throttled back for an easy float eastward toward Macedon. Funny how we had a lot of the canal to ourselves but on occasion did come across another boat. About 30 minutes after leaving Pittsford the folks who also stayed overnight in Pittsford, who we had left before they did, appeared behind us so we pulled over to let them pass. At the same time a private boat also came through so we now had no one behind us and we took advantage of the lazy pace. The other rental looked to be stopping off at Fairport. They might just be lunching or could stay the night. I guess we will find out later when they show up. As mentioned earlier we are spending our last night on the boat in port. A bit of laundry, some cleanup, and showers then off to a local eatery for dinner. Tomorrow we are off to the wedding. It is a sad parting as we would have liked to have stayed out for a while longer but it is time to move on.

Friday, 12 October: The other rental boat was only stopping in Fairport for lunch and they showed up at Macedon around early afternoon. They also planned to spend the night on their boat and leave this morning. We were all packed, bid our farewells and were on the road by 9 AM. The weather had turned more fall like as it was in the high 30’s when we got up. That was sure a change from the high temperatures we were getting just a few days earlier. It was quite strange to be driving a car after two weeks of steering a boat using a tiller and bow thrusters. The feeling of the odyssey we had just competed started to fade as if it was a long time in the past, if it really did occur. It is strange to have thoughts like that but I guess going from a slow putter on the canal to a rapid pace with other cars is what made me question the experience. During the last week of the canal trip the trees had picked up the pace on embracing fall colors. Because it had been something of a dry summer those colors were not quite as vibrant as years past but still looked pretty. As we headed up into the Adirondacks there was more of a color display but there were also several trees that had already lost all of their leaves. As is our normal way we avoided highways and stuck to the back roads. The traffic was not too heavy and as we headed into the hills it thinned out to a pleasant level. It was an easy drive to the small town of North Point were we would be staying for the next two nights. It would have been a stretch to call the main street of the town a mile long. Still, it had some 5 restaurants, a pharmacy, a grocery store and a couple of all purpose shops. The place we were staying was listed as a lodge but was located squarely in the middle of town. Turns out during the winter this town is hopping as a ski town. The lodge, what one would actually picture as a lodge, where the wedding was taking place was totally booked when I checked so I secured a room at this other place. It didn’t it me until later that all the rooms were reserved for the wedding party and guests which is why it was listed as full. We might have been able to get a room there but c’est la vie. Anyway, we checked in to the place I had booked, got settled, then ventured down the street to one of the little restaurants that got good ratings. We got the meal to go and headed back to the room to call it an evening. At 8 PM the lodge hosted a fire in their outdoor fire pit which we thought would have been fun to attend but forgot about the event and were asleep probably before the first logs burnt out. Saturday night we promised ourselves to at least make an appearance even if it was only for a brief visit. We will be up a bit later as we had a wedding to attend tomorrow.

Saturday, 13 October: This morning Liz found us a nice hike to take around the nearby ski slopes that were sitting idle waiting for the first serviceable snow. Just after starting out we scared up a flock of turkeys that scurried across our path. There must have been about a dozen of them and we stopped to let them pass. Just as we started up again the second section of the flock decided to follow the first and hurried after the first group. The trail was one used for cross country skiing during the season so it wound around through the forest. During the summer these trails are turned into multi-use trails for hikers and bicyclists. To our pleasant surprise we found we were the only ones out and had the trail system entirely to ourselves. Seems to be a theme for us during this vacation. We hiked for a couple of miles, took in the scenery, then headed back to our lodgings for lunch and to get ready to head to the wedding. The wedding was scheduled to start around 4:30 and was going to be outdoors. The afternoon weather was playing up but the rain was listed to stop really close to the start time. We arrived at the wedding venue just after 3 PM and wandered around a bit. The bride is the daughter of an old buddy I was in the Air Force with some 4 decades ago and nether of us had seen each other in a suit in at least that long so it took us a couple of seconds to recognize each other. He and his wife were dating way back then so I knew both of them quite well. They are such a close and good friend that Liz and I were seated at their table as family. They are both wonderful, kind folks. As I was hugging the wife a couple of young guys were looking at me. It was their two sons who I had met a few years earlier and I joked with them I knew their mom and dad before they were born. They both got a good laugh out of that. Also at the wedding were some relatives of the bride’s mom and dad that I had met way back in those dim times but my memory of those days is, to put it mildly, quite challenged! In any case we all had a good time talking about the old days as a flickering light went on and off in my head as stories were told. One thing is for sure, I had a great time back then. Almost as if on cue the rain stopped and we all headed to the wedding site. While the rain had stopped there were still gusts of chilly wind which we all gave the stiff upper lip treatment and gave our attention to the wedding. The groomsmen had long sleeve shirts and vests and looked as if they were pushing back the cold but the day has to go to the bride and her bridesmaids who all had bare shoulders and mid length dresses and dealt with the weather as if they did it all the time. After the requisite wedding things such as stories about the bride and groom along with the vows, they were pronounced married and everyone was released to return to the warmth of the lodge with the wedding party leading the way. There was then much milling around and happy times followed by a nice dinner. Just as an example of the good folks my friends are, they knew Liz and I are vegans and had the caterer especially prepare us a both a fantastic vegan dish. After the meal it was dancing time. Most of the guests were young folks who knew all of the songs, and even most of the words to those songs, about half of which I had never heard before. The dance floor was not overly large and with the throng of dancing people it was mostly a hug and sway type of dancing. After the premier dance song some of us conceded the floor to the youth and enjoyed the activities from our tables. It was tough to call it a night but we realized we had to so after another round of hugs and promises to get together, Liz and I headed back to our lodge. On the way down the hill we caught a fox in our headlights. It was the size of a very large cat but definitely a fox. We had a good 5 second view as it took the animal a moment to decide which way to run. A few minutes later we startled a deer that was standing by the side of the road. Quite a night for wildlife on our short drive back to our room. I thought it would be fun to visit the fire pit in our wedding clothes so after a brief stop at our room we headed to the outdoor event. When we got there, a fire was indeed going but we were the only ones in attendance as it was still chilly and windy out. We stared at the fire for a couple of minutes then retreated back to our room for the night. It was barely into double digits when we bid the day farewell.

Sunday, 14 October: We were again up early and had the car packed by 8 AM. After a quick visit to a small cafe just down the street it was time to cover the last hour and a half of our drive home. Again sticking to the back roads we were treated to a couple different flocks of turkeys hanging out by the road and in one case one decided to dart in front of our car. Good thing we were taking a relaxed pace home or there might have been a less than optimal outcome for the turkey. We had taken this route a few times and I decided to shun the shortcut around Ticonderoga and was glad I did. As we came over a major hill we were treated to a stunning view of the Green Mountains across Lake Champlain. The panoramic view should have been one I stopped for pictures of but I was so taken by the sight the opportunity passed right by. The colors were quite a view as well but looked like they were just past peak so probably not a chance to return this season for pictures. We pulled into the driveway and set about the task of unloading the car and starting up the laundry. But first things first. We had to get the espresso machine fired up and get a relaxing warm beverage down. After that, the unloading and clean up went well so we availed ourselves of our deck chairs to sit in the warm sun on this cool day and just stare at Lake Champlain. Tomorrow it is back to our normal routine with an early morning visit to the gym. Did all of this really happen?

Monday, 15 October: It was a tough morning to drag oneself out of bed! It was a multitude of factors that led to this condition. The canal trip was a pretty relaxing time but it was not our normal routine so we didn’t quite get the sleep we should have. The wedding was fantastic but we stayed up a bit later than normal for us. And the drive home, while through nice country, still takes a bit out of one. Add to that we are now in the fall season so the sun is coming up later along with the overcast skies, rain and chilly temperatures. All these things made the option of just sleeping in very appealing. So we got to the gym around 8 AM, maybe an hour later than what would be normal, and did a full workout. It was almost 10:30 by the time we left the gym and the grocery shopping still awaited. It was an easy drive to our co-op and I went a bit wild with all the fresh veggies. Our fridge is now stocked to the gills with very healthy, tasty food. And with the temperatures due to hit the low 30’s tonight, a hearty veggie stew is the perfect foil. Even though this is the middle of October and the leaves still have a bit more color to display, the forecast was for possible snow flurries at the higher elevations. Not sure if that is something that will portend the season but we get the snow tires put on the Subaru on Wednesday.

Tuesday – Thursday, 16 – 18 October: We have been quite busy the past couple of days, with most of it being routine items so I decided to combine a couple of days so as not to just repeat things. We did get back to the gym but a slew of appointments and errands have kind of put the kibosh on regular visits just yet. We did get the snow tires put on the car on Wednesday. It might be a bit early but that is fine as it is one less thing to do later, which at the moment seems like a good thing to take something off the future plate. On the downside it looks like they forgot to reset the sensor so the car shows there is a flat tire. Sigh. It is a nice feature but I drove for some 50+ years without the benefit of being told I have a flat tire only to be annoyed by a false reading. Oh well, another thing back on the plate. The extended warm weather looks to have finally given up the ghost. The past few mornings it has been in the low 30’s and there are strong winds about making it even more bracing. The past few years I have been looking forward to winter and getting out to do some winter sports but was mostly foiled by the past few winters being duds. I still enjoy the change of the season but this year I kind of gave up on my expectations of the types of winters I used to remember when I lived up this way in the late 70’s. Now it feels like I am being taunted to again get my hopes up with early cold blasts but for now anyway it isn’t happening. If you have been reading this blog for a while you might remember I have been asked to play Santa in Vergennes the past couple of years. I start letting my white beard grow out around Labor Day each year just in case I get asked again and this year was no different. I had not been asked by the time we went on our canal trip but waiting on our answering machine was the Santa request. So, once again, I will be playing Santa in Vergennes. Today is another day packed with appointments and errands, one of which is dealing with a part of the Federal bureaucracy – oh joy. Actually, I started the process on Monday and of course ran into a wall so I need to follow up. Another sigh!

Friday, 19 October: Rats! Another missed day at the gym because I had a 10 AM appointment I had to get to. Had the appointment been local we could have made the gym early as it opens at 6 AM. The thing is the appointment was over 2 hours away. This only occurs once or twice a year but is still a bit of a trial to get there. One nice thing is the trip takes us through some nice countryside over the Green Mountains so there is a benefit. We also got to see some light accumulations of snow along the side of the road at the higher elevations. At the upper elevations a large number of the deciduous trees have already lost all their leaves. Another sign we just might get that big winter although the weather channel is predicting a warmer than normal winter, whatever normal means these days. There was nothing else on the books for Friday and while the morning was cold the afternoon broke out sunny so we stopped at a small café we know of in White River Junction for lunch. It is fairly close to the active train tracks through town and as we were sitting next to the window we got treated to the Vermonter Amtrak passing through and then a monster piece of track maintenance equipment. This thing grabbed the track, lifted it along with the ties, and sent some large shovel like things into the gravel around the ties and shook it like made. It then moved about 3 feet and repeated the process. This went on for a while. When we finished lunch and gawking at the track maintenance machine, we went home the long way around. Now all settled in at home I decided to give the Federal bureaucracy another try. Lo and behold it went quite smoothly. Well, at least the submittal did. I’ll have to wait and see about the acceptance part.

Saturday, 20 October: Ah, Saturday. Sleep in time. Of course I was up at 4:30 for some unknown reason but at least that didn’t last long as I was determined to sleep in. Got a bit of a snooze but by 7 AM it was crossword puzzle time. By 7:30 I could stand it no longer and the espresso machine was fired up. Espresso on the deck is a favorite pastime of mine. There are a couple of slivers of blue sky but it is mostly dark clouds that look to be holding some rain. The wind has picked up although the temperature is in the low 50’s rather than the low 30’s or high 20’s we have had the past couple of days. Even though the day looks to be what might be considered gloomy, I kind of like it. We are planning on taking a walk a bit later even if the rain moves in, unless it is a deluge then we might postpone. On our canal boat trip we were away from the TV for two weeks. We had a lot of other types of entertainment like all the wildlife, visiting the towns, reading and just enjoying the slow pace. It seems over the past couple of years we have gotten pulled back into wasting time watching TV. For some 15 years we didn’t have a TV and actually went and did thing. Not that we didn’t see TV on occasion but it was not a central part of our existence. Back when I was quite young, I had an aunt who was also not very interested in TV and whenever she came into the room where we were watching it she would ask “What crap are you watching now?”. So even some 50 years ago there was a load of crap on TV. There are some good things we tune into on PBS or the Canadian channel we get but it does seem like there is a lot of bad relationship shows, gore, and inane reality shows out there. Even the news is mostly on the entertainment side of the spectrum these days. Anyway, the canal boat trip was a bit of a wakeup call to cut back on TV and do other things such as the walk. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, 21 October: We did take our walk yesterday. Taking one today would be a bit more of a challenge as it is cold, windy, and there is some kind of solid white precipitation falling. Yes, it seems we are getting some kind of winter weather. Hard to tell exactly what it is as it is very tiny but it blows around like snow but sounds like sleet when it hits the windows. I tried to get a picture of it but it is just too fine to really show up. Lake Champlain is looking quite grey and choppy with several whitecaps. This is a perfect day for a hearty veggie soup! On another note, I have to admit I fell for the lotto hype. I headed off to the store this morning to buy a $2 ticket. After hearing reports of huge lines I expected there to be a line but I obviously had forgotten where I live. I got to the story just after 10 AM but I was the only customer there. As I was leaving another customer did show up – to buy gas! We have a couple of other errands to run in a bit but after that tonight will be mostly an indoor type of night. As for the TV, I did watch about an hour last night. It was Hockey Night in Canada on CBC and the Toronto Maple Leafs were hosting the Saint Louis Blues. I didn’t watch the entire game but enough to get a flavor of it. I was a Blues fan growing up but living in Vermont now I kind of lean towards the Leafs. Funny as Montreal is closer but the Canadian channel we get shows mostly the Leaf games which is probably why I found an interest in them.

Monday, 22 October: It’s a good thing October is drawing to a close as it feels like I am starting to stretch to get a decent paragraph entered. Anyway, this morning was a planned gym day and we made it. Actually for the next few weeks we should be able to make our normal gym visits. Good thing as I feel better after getting a good workout and also seem to sleep better. I mentioned to a couple of the other regulars I know that our snow tires are now on our car. There were some nods and an admission of snow tires going on cars by the end of the week so while I am a bit early it seems others have the same idea. When I used to get to the gym at opening there were two other early birds there as well. For a couple of months we would kind of nod and grunt good morning at each other and just do our workouts. Then a gregarious fellow started showing up early and got the energy going where we all introduced ourselves and started chatting. It turns out he is a teacher at the local high school and does a lot of work with kids. We have not seen him in a while but on the local PBS station there was a special about kids doing geocaching and guess who the adult was who was leading the program. Yup, it was him. Not a big surprise but it was good to see him. It has warmed up a bit but still on the chilly side. Just right for a hearty dinner of sweet potato and sautéed veggies.

Tuesday, 23 October: Another dreary day. Overcast, light rain, and somewhat chilly but at least the wind was on the light side. A couple more errands were on the schedule today and luckily one of them took us past our favorite coffee shop. Of course we couldn’t just pass by so we stopped in for a bit. All errands finished and back home we are settled in for the evening, even though it is only midafternoon. Things have been fairly busy since we have returned which has taken a bit of a toll on our sleeping patterns. As our routine drops back towards normal hopefully that will change.

Thursday, 25 October: What happened to Wednesday? For the most part Wednesday was a routine day. It started off chilly and overcast with a bit of rain. It was a normal workout at the gym followed by an errand involving the Mustang. This is our first winter with the Mustang although it being a 1996 it has been through 21 of them. I wanted to make sure things were all set so off to the auto shop for a good looking at. The shop declared the Mustang was in great shape. Antifreeze good, brakes like new, belts and hoses good, tires and suspension good, and little to no rust. That last part was a bit of a surprise being the vehicle has been through 21 northeast winters. The word we had gotten was it had always been garaged during the winter and this confirms it. We had cleared a space in our garage to follow this tradition and the Mustang is now resting there. If we get a warm, sunny day before the snow flies it might just see one more loop around the backroads otherwise it is in for the season. We will start it up on occasion just to keep things fresh though. The rest of Wednesday was pretty much in line with every other one. As for Thursday, well there is a story to tell. It started off chilly and overcast but no rain. It was a normal workout at the gym. Hey, this sounds a lot like Wednesday! Well, so it does. The major item for today is we went by our town hall and voted early. Not that it will stop us from being inundated with phone calls, flyers and ads but at least we exercised our right to vote. Now it is time to have some espresso and watch the wind make the leaves dance and cause some choppy water on Lake Champlain. It will be a good night for rice and beans with sautéed mushrooms, garlic, peppers and onion.

Friday, 26 October: It was a good night for the above mentioned dinner. Also added to the mix was spinach, salsa and tomato. We woke to mostly blue skies which was nice to see except it made it a touch colder. Our outdoor thermometer was reading in the low 30’s but no frost was visible so no scraping the windshield, yet. Although wearing shorts to the gym is starting to wear thin. Our long range forecast shows the high just touching 50 for the next week but the lows are still hovering just above 30. I guess it is time to dig out the sweatpants. It seems odd mentioning this when I can hear one of the neighbors running their lawn mower. They are pretty well bundled up though. Another neighbor is reluctant to put their kayak away hoping to squeeze in just one more paddle before the cold weather gets fully entrenched. If we had not already put our kayaks up in the rafters I believe I would feel the same way. It is almost time to put the deck chairs away as well. Anyway, while it is chilly out we are getting a welcome dose of sun which always seems to pick up my spirits. We have nothing on the books for Friday afternoon so I might just have to bundle up and have an espresso on the deck.

Saturday, 27 October: Still chilly and overcast out but the rain has not moved in just yet. It is forecast to start up sometime around 11 AM. That gives me a window to do a couple of things. Of course first up is espresso, that is a given. As I have mentioned in the past we take our recyclables into the local transfer station because we do not have curbside pickup. Curbside is available but we like to support the local independent business that runs the transfer station. It is open from 8 to Noon on Saturdays and with it being 8:30 it was time to head out. It is kind of hit and miss on finding a line at the transfer station. Today there were just a couple of vehicles in line so it went pretty quickly. Since I still had a bit of time before the rain was supposed to start I got my hiking boots on and hurried over to our local state park, Button Bay. The entrance is closed but the park people encourage out of season use. None of the facilities are open and no one is on duty so a slight bit of planning is required. There is room for about 8 cars at the entrance but I had no issues as there were no other cars there. I was thinking I had the entire park to myself as I strolled down the entryway when a jogger came around the bend headed out. We exchanged pleasantries and as she jogged away I then did truly have the park to myself. The birds and furry monsters were quite skittish and didn’t hang around as I approached. That is a good thing but I would have liked to get a couple of pictures of them though. One furry monster did delay exiting the scene but then ran behind a tree. I waited with my camera at the ready knowing that since there was no scampering up the tree to be heard I would soon see a furry, little head peak around to see where I was. Bingo! I got the snap then quickly moved on so as not to be too much of a bother. There are several trees that are still holding color so I did get some nice forest shots. Arriving at the point I could see the color changes in the Adirondacks across the lake but being a very grey day the color did not stand out. I did take a few pictures though just for documentation purposes. As I was about 100 yards from the car the first few drops of rain started to fall. Not much but enough to make me pick up my pace. The drive home was less than 5 minutes and by the time I got inside and made another espresso rain mixed with sleet started to fall. My timing was decent on that one but more luck than any superb planning on my part. One side note. It might sound as if I am drinking a lot of espresso these days. Well, I am so since I enjoy a warm beverage during the chilly days and with the precipitation the chill reaches down to the bones. As an experiment we obtained some decaf and mixed it half and half with some dark roast so after my first or second regular espresso I switch to the mix. I still get something of a buzz but not as strong as the full caffeine stuff. Not quite as tasty either though, but a passible tradeoff.

Sunday, 28 October: Shall I discuss a new topic? How about the weather? OK, nothing new. It’s just we have quite a variation of weather here and I guess I am still not fully used to it so I do mention it a lot. The thing is the weather has been somewhat repetitious of late. It is chilly, damp and overcast again this morning. Add to that the fog that has settled in taking away the view of the Adirondacks and one could be forgiven for calling it a dreary day. Although there seems to be little to no wind about and only small ripples are on the lake. Something that makes this morning a bit eerie is there doesn’t seem to be any wildlife about. Yesterday in the park I did see a couple of ducks and some geese along with some other birds and furry monsters but nothing is stirring at the moment. And even though the temperature has hit 40, with the moisture in the air it feels more bone chilling than a colder and drier day. Even my espresso cools off almost faster than I can drink it. An added feature to having the fog is it is even more quiet than normal. It almost feels like a prelude to Halloween in being eerily quiet with no wildlife. There is a very fine rain falling at the moment which adds to the feeling. An espresso side note. After 3 half and half espressos last evening I didn’t have any trouble falling to sleep. I believe I still need to moderate my intake though so I might see what herbal teas are to my liking for an evening warm beverage. Yes, I did actually state I might look into herbal tea. One has to expand one’s horizons occasionally. By early afternoon the rain had stopped and the sky had lightened up a bit although the wind picked up slightly as did the temperature. And there is just a sliver of blue sky that popped up. And even though it is still a bit of a dreary day it is just right for a half and half espresso, but then again when isn’t it? Monday morning will be rolling around tomorrow which means a full workout at the gym. Ah the start of a new week.

Monday, 29 October: I guess we were up and moving early this morning. The tipoff was needing to turn on the lights because it was still dark out. It is true the sun is rising later this time of year but for some reason it was more noticeable this morning which is why I say we must have been up earlier this morning. Being up early also meant an earlier start at the gym and that we would finish up earlier. I was looking forward to an extra few minutes in the café and maybe having a second cup of coffee. But for some reason it was locked up tight when we got there. That a local shop was closed up is always a concern so hopefully all will be back on track tomorrow. Because we now had some extra time and the rain had taken a break for a bit we decided a stroll in our local park. The sky was still quite grey so the rain could start back up at any time but it’s only water. It appeared we had the park to ourselves as no other cars were around. We took a bit of a roundabout amble through the empty campgrounds that overlook Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. There are still a few trees showing color but a lot now have empty branches. By the time we got out to the point an intermittent light rain had started to fall. Not enough to soak our clothes but enough for us to hear the drops hitting around us. It didn’t last long so the walk back to the car was rain free. By the time we got home the light rain had returned which brought a chill along with it. Just perfect for another espresso. As a side note, the route we take to the gym takes us by some farm animals. Actually, it doesn’t matter which route we chose as they all go by farm animals. One particular route though has us passing a large fenced in area that contains two goats. One of the goats is white so we have nicknamed her Whitey. The other goat is black so we nicknamed her, yes, Blackie. Whitey seems content to just wander the enclosure and munch on the grass. Blackie on the other hand is quite adventurous and something of an escape artist. The first time we saw her out we stopped by the farmhouse to let them know. It was then we found out she was always finding a way out and the farmers had given up trying to contain her. They said she is always out but will hang around for the food. It is now somewhat of a game for us to see if we can spot where Blackie is when we pass by. A few mornings ago we couldn’t see Blackie until we looked across the road at the small heard of sheep. There was Blackie just hanging out and munching grass with the sheep. Today on our way home from the gym we saw Blackie out of the sheep enclosure and wandering around the yard. It appears she is teaching the sheep some bad habits as three of them were out with her wandering around the yard. We knew Blackie was wise to vehicles but weren’t sure if the sheep were so we stopped in at the farmhouse where the sheep were kept. The lady we spoke too was a real hoot. She had lived there all her life and she and her husband had been raising animals for some 50 years. They were quite aware of escape artist Blackie and her habit of enticing others to escape as well. They have been trying for years to secure the fencing but have ceded to the inevitable. Most folks around here are animal wise and know to keep a lookout for farm animals wandering around. It happens a fair amount actually. Anyway, after a good chat with the farmer we headed home. On our way out the driveway passes fairly close to the sheep enclosure and all the rest of the sheep had gathered by the fence. As we passed we got a chorus of very loud braying (is that the term for sheep yelling “HEY”?).

Tuesday, 30 October: Finally getting my head around the theme of the sun rising later, it was not a huge surprise that it was still dark out when we got up. It makes that first cup of espresso not only a morning treat but now a necessity as well. A warm beverage also takes the edge off of the morning chill. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my weightlifting days which gives me a break from the other weekdays where aerobics are the order of the day. The café was open today so I was able to spend a few extra minutes after my workout enjoying a cup of coffee. On Tuesdays it is also co-op shopping day. I know this is odd but I look forward to co-op day. I believe it is all the organic veggies that are available for us to use in our weekly meals. On the way home the small specks of blue sky expanded to provide us with the promise of a sunny afternoon. After several days of overcast skies and the shrinking of daylight hours the sunlight was quite welcome. To celebrate I cranked up the espresso machine. Yeah, well, as you are probably aware it doesn’t take much for me to get the espresso machine going. I guess I am just one step away from celebrating making an espresso with, wait for it, another espresso. Good thing I have the caf/decaf mix. Tomorrow is the last day of October as well as the last entry of this monster blog entry. While it has been fun keeping this much of a detailed blog entry it is quite a lot to keep up with for you the reader. Next month it is back to more of the synopsis type entries, at least until our next exciting adventure with daily unique vacation! Blackie update: The sheep were all back in their enclosure this morning but Blackie had crossed back over the road and was munching on some leaves. Whitey was just relaxing in her enclosure ignoring the situation.

Wednesday, 31 October: Boo! OK, it’s Halloween. It had to be said. The last entry for the October blog. And what a way to start the day, I slept in. It would have been easy to just rationalize not going to the gym because I slept in but for some reason I would not accept that. Today is a big workout day and I was not going to give it a miss. It was 8:30 AM by the time I headed out the door, which is close to the time I am usually finishing up my workout. When I got out to the car I was surprised to see the windows frosted over. I shouldn’t have been as we are getting towards that time of year. It was a clue that I should put one of the ice scrapers in the Subaru. Yes, I have more than one, even before we had the Mustang. In my defense they are of three different sizes. One the standard scraper, the second about 18 inches long with a brush on it, and the third that also has a brush but also telescopes for getting the snow drifts off the car roof. Anyway, I put the middle one in the car after using the brush on it to wipe off the windows. It had started to warm up just a bit so the frost wasn’t like cement on the windows, just kind of resting lightly on them. I was greeted at the gym by one of the other early morning denizens. He was just finishing up so we only chatted for a few minutes. By 11 AM I had completed my full workout, gotten in a round of tai chi to cool down, showered, and was enjoying a cup of coffee at the café. Now home and decided today would be one of those stay in for the rest of the day type days. The temperature is now in the high 30’s and supposed to just peek into the 40’s later. A light wind with intermittent rain is also in forecast and has already started. Even though it is Halloween staying in, reading, working a crossword puzzle, and having a few espressos is what is called for. Besides, as mentioned earlier, we don’t get any trick or treaters out this way. Too bad as I have a costume that looks like I fit right in with a piece of my heritage. Maybe we will have to through a costume party just so I can wear it out. Or I could just wear it out anyway. I probably wouldn’t get too many odd looks as people around here seem to take things like that in stride.

Well, that’s about it for this long winded entry. I hope you had as much fun reading it as I did with the experiences I have recorded, including documenting them. It should be a while before I have another entry as long as this.

September 2018 is in the books.

Update note: I had not added an entry after the 24th and did not publish this entry before we left for our canal trip. It is a couple of weeks late as a September entry. The one for October will be in a log style for our trip, and quite long (hopefully not boring). No pictures this time but a lot on the next entry.

We are getting gentle hints of the upcoming change of season but the hot weather is doing its best to hang on. For the first week the highs will hover around 90 degrees before finally heading back into the 70s, where it should be. Even with the heat some of the trees green color is starting to fade and the days are getting noticeable shorter. We hope to get at least one or two more kayak paddles in before we have to put them away for the season. We also have our canal boat trip coming up so there is another water adventure we have to look forward to.

Even though September has just started we are already into all sorts of things. There is a neighborhood party tonight, we don’t have anything planned for Sunday other than chores, and are off to a rally on Monday followed by another party if we have the energy. To follow up on the party, we had a great time chatting with the neighbors, sharing in some good food, and taking in the view as they are right on Lake Champlain. They also have a small cannon which got loaded up and just after dark fired it off. It was quite loud so it is a good thing most of the neighbors were either at the party or not around. A second round, a bit less of a load, was set up and about ten minutes later it was set off. Another rousing boom and spray of glowing fodder that reached to some 30 feet in front of the cannon. We stayed up way past our bedtime which led to sleeping in on Sunday. Thank goodness for strong espresso! And that is my cue for having another one.

We are pretty much through the latest heatwave with temperatures predicted to be back in the 70’s by Thursday.. Luckily it is cooling off at night, probably because we are moving towards the fall, so the heat has been bearable. In fact over the coming weekend the lows are supposed to dip into the high 40’s. Last night Liz and I decided to sit out on our deck and look at the stars. Because we are in a rural area there are not a lot of city lights that would blot out the starlight so we get a very nice night sky view. It is getting darker sooner but twilight still hangs around a bit so we have to wait until it fades for the stars to really start to pop out. And as it got darker the stars did indeed pop out. There is just something relaxing to see all the stars in the night sky.

On Saturday when we can normally sleep in, which we don’t for some reason, we were again up early and accomplishing chores. Since we don’t do curbside pickup we take our stuff to the transfer station. On Wednesdays it is open from 2 PM to 6 PM and is usually has a long line the entire time. On Saturdays the hours are from 8 to Noon and we zipped right through at 8:30 with only one car ahead of us. That meant we were back home an enjoying another espresso by around 9. My cups of espresso usually do not last long enough to get cooled down but we are now getting more normal temperatures so just to make sure I have gotten out my cup hotplate. The temperature dropped into the high 40’s overnight which made for great sleeping weather. It is nice to have the windows open for the fresh air and sounds of nature to come in. For some reason I get a happy feeling with the thought of fall approaching. Once again I am getting my hopes up for a good snowshoe season. We did get a couple of local trompings in last season but not as many as we would have liked. Fingers crossed.

A little after noon on Sunday I heard a rumbling of heavy equipment so I went to look. There were four large trucks and a harvester/shredder in the field across the street. The harvest had begun. They sure don’t waste any time as it looked like the harvester/shredder was doing about 15 mph with its fodder exhaust chute spraying chopped corn stalks into the open topped trucks. How fast they harvest the field is a sight to behold. By 6 PM all 60+ acres were just nubs of corn stalks. Good thing they were quick as it started raining around 1 PM Monday.

It was once again time to go exploring. We packed the car and headed east through the Green Mountains, into New Hampshire, through the White Mountains. It was a very nice drive through the backroads and we could see the trees were just on the verge of turning colors for the upcoming fall season. We wound up in a nice little town in Maine called Naples and stayed in a B & B for a couple of nights. Because it was off season and during the week we were the only guests there so we had the place to ourselves. It was then off to Portland, Maine then down the coast to Newport Rhode Island. Friday we found a boat show and decided to give it a whirl. It was our first one and was quite an experience. It was fun to do once but not really our cup of tea so on Saturday we found a state park with a mostly deserted beach. There was a comfortable bench under a tree near the water where we took up residence for a bit. I then noticed a lemonade truck parked a short distance off and being it was a warm day, even under the tree, a lemonade sounded like it would hit the spot. To top it off instead of basic lemonade it was a lemonade slushy which was just perfect for the day. A bit too much sugar but what the heck?

On Sunday we wound our way back to Vermont and once again took some backroads. Liz found a great small town coffee shop near the Connecticut/Massachusetts border run by what seemed to me to be high schoolers. I am terrible with guessing ages so they were probably older than that. Still, they were quite friendly and finding out we were from Vermont gave us a warm welcome. We planned a stop about half way home for a hearty lunch and to break up the trip. After about an hour for lunch we again hit the backroads to enjoy the scenery and rolled into our driveway around 4 PM. Needless to say we were both worn out and ready for a good night’s sleep. While it is not quite fair to label an entire population by the few who stand out I find myself thinking drivers in Massachusetts have to be the most aggressive ones I have seen in recent times. They seem to really enjoy cutting other people off and tailgating others, no matter how fast the person in front is going. It is tough not to label all of them with these attributes.

Monday morning came around right on time although it is now mostly dark out which was no help in getting us to the gym. Still, we did make it and did a pretty full workout which meant another good night’s sleep. As we started to adjust back to our normal stride we thought another kayak paddle was in order. It was figured by Wednesday we would be ready only to find the high for the day was going to be in the mid 60’s but Thursday and Friday it was supposed to be back in the 70’s so that sounded like it might be a better time to go. For some reason we really have not had any heavy weather from the hurricane that hit North Carolina. The states around us did and so did southern Vermont but we just got a few sprinkles. Our Erie Canal trip is coming up shortly so we were hoping to get one more paddle in before then as it looks like the kayaking season will be pretty well gone when we return. The swap out to our winter tires on our Subaru is scheduled in mid-October and we found a local shop to winterize our Mustang before we put it away for the season. Now if we only get to use our snowshoes this season. Yeah, I know. Be careful what you wish for.

Today is the start of fall, both by date and weather. It has been quite a warm summer, more than normal, so some cooler weather is fine with me. It was in the low 50’s this morning and quite windy causing a lot of whitecaps on Lake Champlain. All this means it is veggie soup and stew weather. Tonight is looking good for a soup or stew. For reference, the difference in my cooking between soup and stew is the thickness of the broth within it. They both mostly contain the same items so it just depends on how much liquid is added. The basics for tonight’s meal will be leafy greens, garlic, onion, carrots, and some spices and herbs all in a cast iron pot. YUM.

Well, that was interesting. The UPS I have connected to the computer beeped and I got a message on my screen that power has gone out. I didn’t even notice the outage before that as the UPS picked up and kept my computer and screen running. The timer on the UPS shows I only have 75 minutes left before it shuts down. Even with that buffer, it is time for another espresso. No, I don’t have a UPS on the espresso machine, interesting thought though, so I will have to go the manual route. Using our camp stove to heat the water then the aero-press. Update, the power came back on after about 5 minutes so it’s time to celebrate using the espresso machine. A positive outcome in either case.

While another kayak paddle could possibly squeezed in at least last time this season we decided it was time to go ahead and put the kayaks away. They are now resting comfortably in the rafters as Monday and possibly Tuesday look to have been those squeeze days. Oh well, we have our Erie Canal trip coming up so there really isn’t a lot of spare time for kayaking.

After our Monday morning trip to the gym there were a couple of chores that needed doing, like taking some clothing to the charity shop. The sun is out, only a few clouds in the sky, and the temperature has climbed up into the 70’s from the morning lows in the high 40’s so as I was headed out to run the errands Liz said why not take the Mustang. Good thing one of us is thinking. While a touch chilly it felt good riding around with the top down. So good in fact that the route I took went a little out of the way in order to spend a bit more time out.

Bye Bye August 2018

A fuzzy visitor, Adirondacks across Lake Champlain, cloudy morning shot, furry monster trying to look inconspicuous, Vergennes Falls lit up at night, clouds across the corn field, woodpecker, robin, eagle, chipmunk ready for a boxing match, sailboats on Lake Champlain, “A dark and stormy night”, red sunset.

August has started off by following up on high temperatures from July. And just like July we are also getting rain almost daily which, when paired with the heat, makes it quite muggy. If there is a nice breeze though it makes it bearable to sit outside. Sitting outside has become one of my favorite pastimes, if nothing else is going on. The furry monsters seem undeterred by the rain and heat as they go about their frantic collection of winter stores. The eagles have paid us a couple of visits just to disappear when I bring out the camera. We can hear their calls in the stand of trees on the other side of the local field but it is difficult to see just where they are. The songbirds seemed to have disappeared recently as I have not seen any Cardinals, Blue Jays, finches, etc. for a while now. There was a robin who stopped by for a few minutes though and I did get buzzed by a hummingbird but those visits are not as numerous as earlier in the year. Then again, we have been traveling a lot so it might just be I have not settled in enough to pay attention.

As if to upend my meme about not seeing many birds, I was out on the deck when a Cardinal flew right past me as if to say ‘Here I am” This morning a small flock of geese flew just over the top of the house. OK, they are around but it does seem there are not as many as before. Another interesting thing are the lightning bugs. One evening in June there seemed suddenly be scores of them flitting about the field across the street. They were out every evening putting on a great show and being helped out because of the lack of light pollution here. Then as suddenly as they showed up by mid-July they were mostly gone. There are still a few that appear to be hanging on but now we are into August I expect they will all be gone soon.

Saturday morning should be a day to sleep in. No gym visit scheduled, no morning errands to run, the sun coming up later now and the usual peace and quiet of a rural area. Well, by 5:30 I was making my first espresso. I tried to sleep in but finally gave up and started my day. Speaking of the espresso, I have been using my regular coffee mug to hold it but it seemed lost in the bottom of the mug. At one of the local shops I found a small cup that looked like it would be perfect so I made it my designated espresso cup. My espresso maker is flexible in that I have two sizes of grounds holders and three sizes of hot water available. To make a really strong cup I use the large grounds holder and press the one cup (cup as in espresso size, not 8 ounces) button. My goodness I like that. If I am looking for an espresso that is a little less intense I press the two cup button. To my ‘feigned’ shock, my new cup is just a touch under sized for a double cup. No matter as I can halt the process by pressing the button a second time. So I now get a cup that is filled to the rim and is still strong enough to be good. Ah, it is sometimes the simple things in life that make my day.  Gosh, all this talk of espresso is enticing be back towards the espresso machine.

What a difference a couple of hours makes. There were still a few clouds over the mountains but the light rain had moved on and the sky above was totally blue. And a couple hours after that the skies went dark, the wind picked up, and we got heavy rain with hail. Forward another hour and there is blue sky out again. What sorcery is this? Oh yeah. The weather. And speaking of weather, around midnight we were woken up by a bright flash of light. It seemed to be just outside the window but was not followed by thunder. A few minutes later there was thunder and lightning followed by a steady rain. This morning, Friday the 10th, the skies are clear blue with a fair amount of wind. Not great for kayaking but nice for watching Lake Champlain.

OK, we went back to the waterfalls at Vergennes after dark to again take in the way they look under colored floodlights. I have to admit there is an attraction to the lights. I got a couple of photos that show what it looks like. I didn’t feel like messing with the settings so just turned the flash off and took the photos. The shutter stayed open a bit longer so I had to keep the camera still so as not to make things blurry. Although it made it looks like I was taking the pictures in daylight. Still, the colors came through. I think I still prefer the natural look of the falls but I can understand the attraction of lighting them up at night.

I know I have been banging on about the high temperatures we have been having so it is only fair I also mention when we get cooler temperatures. Last night it dropped into the upper 50’s, the normal is the low 60’s. It was just on the edge for wearing shorts while enjoying my espresso on the deck this morning. I guess now that we have real seasons I try to live more in the moment weatherwise but the chill this morning had my mind jumping to thoughts of the coming winter. Not that I don’t think about or mention other seasons, each season has its own special things I enjoy so some planning and thinking about them is OK. It is knowing that things will change which brings up the point that it won’t be long before the trees start to put on their fall show with the amazing colors the New England area is famous for. But today, while a bit gloomy, will be warm with a low chance of rain and that has me more centered on what the weather is today, now. Maybe a picnic? That sounds good for a summer’s day.

It has been a couple of weeks since we have had the convertible out so it was past time to take it out for a spin. Sunday started off with a bit of blue sky so we figured we should jump on it. We found the back roads just where we had left them and followed a set of them that took us into Middlebury and back. It was a nice cruise around and got us out of the house for a bit. Back home now and waiting for the car to cool down before once again wrapping it back up in its car cover. The blue sky has gone and the rain on the way so it was nice to get out of the house when we did even for a short while. And the rain did come about an hour after I got the cover back on the car.

This past weekend was slated to be the peak viewing time for the Perseid meteor shower with Sunday night being the best time. About 9 PM I stepped outside to check if the cloud cover had broken up so I could see the meteor show. While there were a couple of stars that were visible most of the sky looked empty meaning the clouds were mostly still there. As luck would have it, I woke up around 3 AM and decided to take another look. There was still a bit of a haze but there were stars out so the odds were good for seeing some meteor activity. As I settled into my chair on the deck I was immediately buzzed by a bat. That was worth the being up even if I didn’t see any meteors. Staring off into the night sky I noticed the sounds of the very early morning. Some smallish creature was active in the nearby bushes. I couldn’t see what it was but odds are good it might have been a skunk as we have one roaming the area. I haven’t seen a raccoon or opossum for some time although there is a chance it was one of them. As my hearing tuned into more of the early morning sounds I realized what seemed like gentle purring was actually the distant mooing of cows. I have mentioned in the past there is a heard of cows less than a quarter mile away so the mooing was coming from there. I’m not sure why they were up at this hour although I could imagine the other cows throwing their pillows at the noise maker. According to the news the average occurrence of meteors was supposed to be about one per minute. After five minutes, not that long of a time unless one is starting to fall back to sleep, I had not seen any evidence of the supposed light show. As usually happens, just as I was giving up and heading back into the house there was a streak of light across the sky. Right, I’m not falling for that one. I can check the box that I did see at least one though.

Monday morning and the clouds are back. There are a few patches of blue but mostly grey skies prevail. There are some major storms predicted for the northeast but while we will be getting some rain it appears the heaviest part will be hitting south of us. At least that is the current prediction.

It is really beautiful here and has quite a lot to offer. Views of Lake Champlain, the Adirondacks, the Greens, iconic farms, and much more. While there is a lot here one thing we really miss is our veggie garden. There is a community garden available but it is not conveniently nearby and with all our travels we could not give it the attention it needs. There are farm stands around and our co-op does have a good variety of veggies for our enjoyment. This past Saturday something special happened when one of our neighbors stopped by with a special treat, some fresh cucumbers. They have taken on the onus of tending a garden and wound up with a bumper crop of cucumbers which they are kindly sharing with neighbors. Thinking we might not be able to use them before they lose freshness, something we had done with our once overabundance of veggies came to mind – canning. Well, not canning specifically but refrigerator preservation by use of vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Properly done some veggies can be kept viable for many months. Alas when we moved from California we gave away all of our canning items. Not a huge setback as it is not difficult to obtain canning jars so on an errand this morning we picked up about a dozen new ones. It won’t be long before we have some nice veggies all prepared and waiting for the depths of winter to be pulled out for a touch of summer memory.

When the sun went down it started to cool off a bit and the humidity dropped to be somewhat bearable which made sitting on the deck somewhat pleasant. It was still light enough to see the calmness of Lake Champlain as there was only the hint of a breeze. The crickets were in full chorus and a dragonfly buzzing around overhead. As we were admiring the darting maneuvers of the dragonfly a bird suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere and snagged it out of midair. I guess that kind of topped things off so we headed back into the house.

After a few days off it was time to stop being lazy and head back to the gym. Wednesdays is one of my aerobics days but I thought I might go easy since taking a week off. During my warmup something kicked in that put me back in the old groove and I wound up doing a full workout. I was huffing and puffing the last few minutes but it felt good to finish. Luckily tomorrow is a weightlifting day. But then Friday back to the huff and puff stuff.

There is a bulletin board known as Front Porch Forum and I believe most communities have access to it. There are several categories available for posting such as looking for, for sale, discussion, etc. We are still paring down and still take items to the charity shop but some larger items, like washer and dryers, are not really their bailiwick. After asking around to see where else we might be able to donate our unused washer and dryer and not finding any places I put them on FPF. Within five minutes of it being published I got an email from a neighbor who knew some folks who needed a set. Nice how things work out. We still have more work to do in reducing our collection of stuff though. Funny how as I age I am looking to unwind all the stuff I gathered over a lifetime. I guess that old adage about “If I knew then what I know now” really fits. I now have to go by another old adage, “Live and learn”.

With the washer and dryer in a new home we have more space in our garage. On top of that, our landlord added a wooden frame in the garage rafters where we can store our kayaks so now there is a place for the Mustang to live during the winter months. I wonder if it is time to buy some lottery tickets?

Something I have not kept up with is taking photos of rural areas. The thing is there are a couple of other things that are also in need of my attention. To that end, we put the kayaks in the water on Monday evening. Funny thing about taking an evening paddle it was our first one. Don’t know why we hadn’t gone in the evening before but we will be doing more. It was an incredibly peaceful time with very calm water and a lot of bird activity. Where we put in was about a 15 minute paddle to the mouth of Otter Creek and out to Lake Champlain. Our time in the lake was not very long as the wind was starting to come up making it a bit choppy. It is nice being out on Lake Champlain with the grand views of the Adirondacks jutting up on the western side. Getting back in the Otter Creek channel brought back smooth water and a lazy current. Our timing was perfect as it had gotten dark as we pulled into our driveway. With the plan to head out again in the next day or two we left the kayaks on the car ready for another kayak experience at a moment’s notice. It might be a couple of days though as the weather is trying not to cooperate.

OK, major lesson reinforced. Do not leave wet water shoes, gloves, etc in the car! While we did get some rain yesterday we also had some sunny intervals which caused the car to heat up. So those wet items had a good 24 hours to brew up a surprise for me when I went to use the car this morning to go to the gym. Luckily the odor did not permeate the fabric in the car in any permanent manner although having the windows down is a must for the next few hours/days. I have been too lax and need to do a full rinsing of all of our gear.

Thursday was packed with fun. We started off with our regular morning workout, yes it is fun, followed by a cup of coffee at the café by the gym. We had thought of doing another evening paddle but the weather was so nice we had the kayaks in the water by just after 11 AM. The wind was low, billowy clouds dotted the sky providing nice shade and temperatures in the mid 70’s, and the large patches of blue were incredible. This time we put in above the falls in Vergennes where the falls are less than 100 feet from the boat ramp. There is a line with buoys but it can still feel a bit daunting as the current is fairly noticeable as it is somewhat shallow there. Launching was no issue and after about 10 seconds of paddling we were off into the gently flowing stream. While I would not call it crowded below the falls there is usually a few other boats sharing the creek. Above the falls is different as not a lot of folks appear to put in there so in the three hours we were out we only came across one other paddler. He is from Pennsylvania and had some time off over the summer so was hitting a lot of the New England waterways. We chatted with him for a good few minutes before bidding farewell as he had put in earlier and was on his way out to his next paddle. We didn’t see another person the rest of the time. This part of Otter Creek is a bit wilder than below as most of the property that abuts it is farmland. A lot of trees and shrubs along the shore which made it feel like we were in real wilderness, which I guess we kind of were. We did pass a few houses and thought what lucky folks they must be to have this waterway in their back yard. Definitely will return to this part of Otter Creek. We finished our paddle and got spruced up before heading out to the local farmers’ market. A very nice day.

Friday started off a bit hazy but then cleared up with a lot of blue sky. We decided today was a convertible day as we were a bit tired from the paddle yesterday and the visit to the gym this morning. We then took the backroads to Middlebury to visit our favorite coffee shop. Just as we pulled into the parking lot I remembered they were closed today for a company picnic. So we headed out on some other backroads for our way home. I’m not quite sure why this one thing happens when we take the Mustang out but inevitably a smaller car, like a Ford Escort, decides we need to be tailgated. These are back roads with the speed limit of 40 and I am usually just above that but I feel these drivers feel they need to prove something by tailgating a vehicle that could leave them in the dust if I was an idiot driver, like they are. The license plates are usually not Vermont plates so that might be part of the problem as well. We do get an occasional Vermont tailgater but not understanding the yellow line is the lane separator is usually the standard issue here. Anyway I try to make room for them to pass or I turn off on another road to get rid of them. When we got back home, because we had missed getting coffee while we were out, the espresso machine got cranked up and a couple of cups were enjoyed on the deck.

While we are still getting warm days the evenings are starting to noticeable cool off. The past few mornings have been in the high 50’s to low 60’s making having a cup of espresso on the deck a bit more bracing. It won’t be long before more than a pair of shorts and t-shirt will be needed for the morning ritual. The coolness seems to have sparked a higher level of urgency in the furry monsters who are intent in their gathering of winter stores. We have one chipmunk who seems to be using our downspout as a place for cover but hopefully not trying to make a den out of it. The past couple of rains should have convinced him it was not a good place to call home. The eagle who has a nest in the trees across the field has been quite noisy lately. We were wondering if there is a youngster still around who calls to its parents who return the call as the calls seem to come from a couple of different spots in the woods. This is the same family of eagles who occasionally soar over our place and are gone by the time I get my camera out. The other day though one of the eagles was doing lazy loops that gave me just enough time to grab my camera. I was so excited I forgot I had the zoom lens on and took the first couple of shots without zooming in. Luckily I finally remembered and was able to get some close ups.

We haven’t seen or heard any geese lately. The one small flock that flew over the house was more than a couple of weeks ago and nothing since. Haven’t heard the loon in a while either. There are a few songbirds about but it seems not as many as usual. Although we have seen a couple of bats just at dusk lately.

Today brings partly cloudy skies and a light breeze. With the temperature in the low 70’s it is just right for a picnic on the dock. We made some coleslaw and potato salad earlier and will head down the steps around noon. It has been a while since we have been down to the dock so we figure it is time to correct that. Got to remember to bring the camera as well. Speaking of cameras, I have one of those small sports cameras I mount on my kayak to record our trips. The downside is I cannot upload videos to this blog because I am too much of a miser to upgrade to the level needed for video. Sigh, some habits are tough to break. Still, I can capture single frames from the videos and post them. Probably a better idea as the videos would probably be kind of boring to others.

Just a follow up. Our picnic on the dock was great. It was wonderful to sit next to the water and enjoy the day. There were some sailboats out along with a couple of motorboats buzzing around. Watching the sailboats gracefully move around the lake, feeling the gentle breeze and hearing the waves lapping at the shore all made for a perfect day. More shoreline picnics will have to be taken before the season comes to an end.

I really thought I was living in the New England area but it appears I must be living somewhere else. The reason I say this is because, here at the end of August, we are under a heat warning. That is just not right. In a few days though it will finally drop back to what I would have called normal in the past but I am not sure what to call it now. By early September the highs will be down to the upper 60’s and the lows in the lower 50’s. In chatting with others, even those who are not fans of winter, many are looking forward to the cooler weather. Since we have changing seasons I have come to enjoy whatever season we are in but I have to admit I am now also looking forward to winter.

What is going on with the weather? It has been hot, I mean really hot. This morning which is the last day of August it was 51 degrees at 6 AM! Wow. Tomorrow is September so I will go on about the weather then but just know it will get hot again. But just to show we are living in the moment the kayaks hit the water before noon today. It was a wonderful paddle on the upper part of Otter Creek where we were last week. This time we were out for some 4 hours enjoying the day. While it was partly cloudy I really need to listen to the voice of reason who suggested suntan lotion. Of course I figured I didn’t need it and now have a couple of bright red patches. Thank goodness for aloe vera.

Was That July 18?

Top two pictures are the Atlantic Ocean off of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The bottom two are a sunset through the trees over Lake Champlain and clouds over the Adirondacks.

Well, July sure has started off hot! Even with a cloud cover the temperature is in the high 90’s. Heat warnings are still in effect and it won’t be until Friday that the heat breaks and temperatures get back to normal. Even with the hot weather we still made our morning trek to the gym on Monday and Tuesday. Luckily the staff had the air conditioning running which made working out a bit easier. On Tuesday it was already in the 80’s when we left at 9AM and not a cloud in the sky. Tuesday is also co-op day and not to be deterred the top came down on the Mustang for the trip into Middlebury. The breeze helped a lot so it was the long way on the backroads for us. Once all the groceries had been procured it was best to take the fastest way home although the stuff that needed to stay cold went into the ice chest. It was a bit hot but fun with the top down.

Wednesday, 4 July, a lot of places are closed, including our gym, so we decided it was finally time to get the kayaks out. We were in the water by around 9:30AM and the paddling felt good. The water was a bit low so no fishing boats. We had the entire creek to ourselves, well, except for the fish. And the fish were none too happy we were out there disturbing them. As we glided over them there were big splashes and even a few thunks on our boats as the fish sped away from their mud holes. As we paddled down the creek it opened up and got even shallower, so much so it was right on the limit of the draw for our kayaks. So we turned around and headed back. We were out for just over half an hour and as we were getting out we felt the heat and figured it was good to get out of the blazing sun. When we got home and were washing down the kayaks I noticed I had a small puncture in mine. It must have happened when we were getting out. The boat launch was a bit rocky and I must have hit a shape edge just at the right, actually wrong, angle. Sigh. Repair time ahead so my kayak will be out of action for at least a couple of days while I effect repairs. Not to be thwarted we intend to head to a local state park on Thursday and rent a double kayak.

We didn’t make it to the state park, it was a bit windy so we gave being out on the water a miss. The high temperatures have come down into the low 80’s. Still just a touch warm for me but a lot better than the upper 90’s we just had. And at night it is cooling off nicely where we can open the windows and get some fresh air in. The sky has also been quite clear at night bringing star gazing back onto the do to list. It is nice to sit on the deck at dusk and watch the sky darken and the celestial lights start popping out. Right at sunset the loon that is sometimes about treated us to a few calls. I like most birdcalls but there is something magical about the ones from the loon.

We had some errands to run in Burlington on Friday and it has been a few days since the convertible has been on the road so we remedied that. With the top down we took a nice, easy run up to Burlington and back. The sky was mostly a clear, bright blue with only a few puffy white clouds dotting the edges. When we got back home I left the top down just in case we decided to take an evening spin. About 6PM I heard an odd noise and realized we were being treated to a one off cloudburst. The interior suffered only a minor sprinkle but it was lazy of me not to put the top up. Another lesson learned. On Saturday to shake things out, the top was again put down and we headed off to Plattsburg for the day. Once again we took the backroads through the little towns on the New York side of Lake Champlain. With the sun glinting off the lake and feeling like we had invited all the trees in with the top down it was a nice trip. We spent a couple of hours just buzzing around Plattsburg and checking out the festivities. There were a few things going on but the big event was in the evening. The mayor’s regatta was taking place. We had taken a short stroll along the Saranac River and could see Lake Champlain where the river flowed into it. There were sailboats galore. A couple of the streets were blocked off by the town square and several vendors had set up shop there. Some bandstands also dotted the area and signs declaring the big music fest for the regatta wrap up. We didn’t hang around as it seemed like it was going to get quite busy and we were more in the mood for a quiet evening. We retraced our route back along the shore only to get caught in the town of Westport by blocked off streets. For some reason they decided to have their 4th of July parade on Saturday afternoon. The parade would probably not last more than an hour, most likely less, but we were not ready to take in a parade. Of course the folks blocking the road did not offer any alternatives so we headed down a side road to do some exploring. We found some old back roads, unpaved of course but not in bad shape, that got us around the blocked roads and back on course. Returning to Vermont via the Champlain bridge took us passed the Chimney Point museum. We had been there before and enjoyed our visit but this time we had another reason to stop in. A friend of ours who is quite a good artist had a display set up in a hall and one of the rooms in the museum. We had seen some of the work before but were still in awe of her wonderful paintings. We recognized one specific painting as the one that used to hang by ‘our’ table at the coffee shop. Now we know where it went. This is the coffee shop in the same building as our gym. Our friend has a studio in that building as well and has some fantastic paintings adorning the halls there. I will see if it would be OK if I included some photos of them.

Sunday was chore day. I guess we need to do them on occasion but it was tempting to skip the chores and just enjoy the day. We didn’t but we did get a lot done. And I started the repair of my kayak. The patch will need to set for at least a day, then I need to buff it down and verify the work.

Monday was a normal back to the gym day after the weekend. Lately it has been something of a push to get there but once the workout is started we give our all. There are days where I do sluff off a bit but today was not one of those. Between the bike, stair stepper and treadmill I spent over 90 minutes on just cardio. That is worth having another espresso. Then again, so is just getting out of bed so the bar really isn’t set too high for that.

As is probably pretty obvious these days we like to take the backroads when we go places. One of our backroad routes to our gym goes past an old farmhouse that appears to hoard cats. Somedays when we pass by there are at least a dozen on the front steps. They do not seem to be feral or indoor cats so our guess is they patrol the barns and outbuildings of which there are enough to warrant about a dozen cats. There is also one golden retriever who one might think was outnumbered but it appears he rules the roost. They look to get along but on occasion the golden seems to be having fun chasing the cats around. A bit more down the road is, surprise, another farmhouse with a dog. We are not sure what type it is but we have fondly named him/her Tank. The dog looks like a large, sideways fire hydrant on legs, big head, and bulldog type stance. We see Tank on occasion out in the yard appearing to be keeping a protective eye on the youngsters there. The place may be something of a daycare center as well because of the swing set, trampoline, jungle gym and what look like different types of animals attached to large truck springs that are cemented into the ground. Needless to say, it is always a good day when we get to see Tank. OK, and the cats and golden as well but Tank could be said to be our favorite. Update on Tank. On Friday when we went to the gym Tank was out. I have to say the fire hydrant description does not cover it. Tank is about twice the girth of a fire hydrant.

We normally try to avoid weekends when kayaking but Sunday was such a nice day we couldn’t resist. We headed to a public boat launch on Otter Creek we have been to before. True to form, the boat launch was pretty crowded but we were able to find parking and launch. The public boat launch is on Fort Cassin road which is about a third of a mile from Lake Champlain. It was a tossup on which way to go but with the possibility of wind picking up making the lake somewhat unhospitable, we opted to paddle upstream on Otter Creek. We must have passed some seven to ten other boats along our way up the creek. The round trip was just over six miles and while the current is very light on Otter Creek it was nice to be going with it on the way back. And as if to reinforce we made the right decision on which way to go, the wind did pick up on the way back. It doesn’t make a huge difference on the creek but out on Lake Champlain the waves had picked up to where it would have knocked some of the fun out of the trip. We averaged about two miles per hour which wasn’t bad for the easy pace we set ourselves. One of the things we look forward to is seeing the wildlife along the way. We were able to see some herons, osprey and a few turtles but since there was other boating activity on the creek the sightings were not at the same level when we go on a weekday.

We decided it was time get out and about so we headed out to visit the Atlantic coast. We spent a couple of days in Portland, Maine. We drove through the White Mountains of New Hampshire on the way there and really enjoyed the views. Portland is a coastal town that has a big connection to the sea. There are several marinas for pleasure boats and working docks for fishermen so it is a busy place. A bit too busy for my taste. We took a side trip to Rockland, Maine, which seemed like a mini version of Portland but not as overwhelming and not as many tourists. To top things off we found a great local coffee shop, yes that is a highlight for me, near the ocean. The location was good and the coffee was great. After a decent lunch we then drove down the coastal road to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and spent a couple of days. It was nice to spend some time along the ocean and on Saturday it was a beautiful day so we went to the beach and just sat there for a while. I am not really interested in being out in the middle of the ocean but being on the shore looking out at it or being on a boat near the shore is quite nice. Of course my favorite place is being in the mountains but sitting on the beach runs a close second. We had to leave the coast and head back home but as a consolation prize we have another canal boat rental lined up for later this season. We have booked it for two weeks and will be exploring part of the Erie Canal we have not been to before. All of our past trips have been west towards Buffalo, NY so this time we will be heading east. The eastern side is a bit more undeveloped as there are some large wildlife areas along the way and not as many towns. While we do get to see some wildlife on the western side trips, the eastern side trip should provide us with more wildlife experiences.

So, back to our normal routine for a Monday morning. We are headed to the gym this morning for our daily workout. We are both dragging a bit after our trip to the coast as we just got home on Sunday. Still, a nice workout will be welcome and a cup of coffee, as usual, at our little coffee shop. Rain is the order of the day and will be for a while so it is time to catch up on some reading.

Summer seems to be fading fast. We are still getting some days with above normal temperatures but signs of the seasons moving on are all around. The farmer’s corn is getting tall, the young birds have all fledged, and the furry monsters are all scurrying around gathering their winter stores. Even with these signs we will still have time to get in several more kayak paddles. We have kayaked a fair amount of the waterways around here but there are still a few places where we can do some exploring that are not too far away. On one of them is on the part of Otter Creek above the falls where a friend from the gym owns some property. He mentioned there are beavers in that area so it would be fun to see if we could spot one or two. We have seen a few otters and have seen some beaver huts but have not yet seen a beaver. This might be the chance to do so.

Well, the weather is not cooperating at all. It rained most of the day Monday and today, Tuesday, we might have been able to squeeze in a paddle but it’s a good thing we didn’t try as the wind came up making the water on the lake very choppy. While the streams were not very choppy we would have still had to paddle against a strong wind which is no fun. So neither lake nor stream were right for taking out our kayaks. While we need the rain, it will be raining for the next few days which makes anything outdoors not really viable. Then again, it is a nice time to find a good book to read.

Speaking of boats, the African Queen replicas are back. This is a group of folks who fell in love with steam powered anything and have expressed that by having this type of boat. Every year they have a reunion at a marina near us and now is that time. We have chatted with some of the owners and they are very dedicated to their type of boat. They meet at other places as well but the end of July one seems to be the big event. They even had one for sale but it is not the type of boat we are interested in. Still, they are fun to look at and see going up and down Otter Creek.

Rain has once again taken over our forecast. While it does make everything green up and provides needed moisture for the farmers’ crops it would be nice to have more of a break between storms. I shouldn’t grouse too much as most of the rain we have gotten has been of the light to medium variety whereas not too far away they are being deluged by it. The fire department evacuated the shore area in Burlington last evening because of a major storm that was supposed to hit. High winds and heavy rain was predicted which put the kybosh on an outdoor concert. Luckily the storm abated a bit but still hit with some oomph. Here in Panton, we got a few sprinkles.

The falls in Vergennes are again lit up with colored floodlights at night. Maybe I am a bit grumpy but I lean toward the way nature does it. Of course one cannot see the falls very well at night but during the summer there is enough natural light to make them visible for some 16 hours a day. There is just something odd about red and green floodlights shining on waterfalls. Maybe I just need some time in the woods.

We have had several days where rain has come and gone. While it is still a bit warm and the rain makes it a bit muggy, I found it relaxing sitting on the deck with a cup of espresso feeling the light rain fall. The rain also makes greens more vibrant and adds some moisture to the air. The forecast shows more rain over the next few days but hopefully there will be a bit of calm and sun so we can squeeze in another kayak paddle or two.

Now June is Gone

On a visit to Farm Sanctuary, one huge cow Liz is petting! Colorful evening sky over Lake Champlain. A sailboat out on Lake Champlain. Several pictures of Niagara Falls. Who in the world would look at this and say, “I could go over that in a barrel!”? And one of Nicola Tesla. Someone who helped me ace my high school electronics class.

Summer 2018 is here! Well it will be on Thursday, 21 June at 6:07 AM Eastern Time. Looks like it was safe to swap out the snow tires before our Erie Canal trip. We have had several sunny days recently. Perfect weather for driving the convertible around with the top down. The only drawback is we needed to get plates for the car so it sat in the driveway, unused. We finally got to the DMV and now the car is street legal. Time for a top down ride? No. Rain has come for a visit for the next few days. Oh well.

Our DMV visit here in Vermont was something of a nonevent. It actually took us longer to get to the DMV office than it did to get our license and registration. I was somewhat dreading the visit as I was not sure how the state bureaucracy would deal with our winning a used car in a raffle. But things went quite smoothly and we were all set and on our way in under an hour total.

With today being overcast the morning light was softer than it has been in the past couple of days. Still with it getting light around 4:30 in the morning sleeping in seems to be reserved for the winter months. The birds also seem to find the early light as a benefit and with the numerous trees close by if the light didn’t wake us up the birdsong would. Especially if we sleep with the windows open. Getting a bit more sleep would be nice but listing to early morning birdsong is a nice way to wake up.

Finally got to take a legal spin in the Mustang with the top down. It was a short spin as I realized there was no jack or lug wrench in the car. That will be remedied on Wednesday. Another short drive will occur later today as Sunday is National Day Out (NDO) and we intend on showing up in style. Our local NDO is to be held in a nearby state park so if we do get a flat it won’t be that far from home. I could take the jack and lug wrench out of the Subaru but I feel that is a bad practice so don’t want to go down that path. The short spin was quite nice as the car handled smoothly. It seems as if this car will be a pleasure to tool around in.

The dozen or so houses in our area now have high speed fiber. While folks are happy to get the upgrade it leaves us all scratching our heads as to why the local networking company would make this kind of investment. As this area is mostly agricultural, zoning for a new neighborhood or business park is not there. And it would take a fairly large investment to change the zoning due to the current infrastructure. The area is all septic tanks and there is a minimum amount of land required for that. Putting in a central system would be quite expensive and the siting would be a nightmare. If something comes up, I will be sure to make note of it.

Friday was a beautiful day. A bit cloudy in the early morning but mostly sunny the rest of the day. That made it perfect for a spin in the Mustang. While it is street legal we do not yet have the registration sticker that goes on the license plate so getting pulled over is not out of the realm of possibilities. We have the documentation that shows the car is legal but getting pulled over is still no fun. The sticker should be arriving soon though. In any case, we hopped into the car, put the top down and headed out to run some errands. Now that spring is in full force taking the backroads with the top down really brings in the greenery. While the Mustang has a lot of power we enjoy just puttering along rather than being a lead foot. We made the entire trip without getting pulled over.

I guess now is the time most folks designate as Spring Cleaning time. We have kind of kept up on keeping things clean but there is one major area that really needs attention: The Garage! We have kind of neglected keeping it in order and now it is out of control. The difficult part will be separating out the items we should donate from the items we might want to keep. Sometimes it is tough to let go of things but keeping them around for a ‘just in case’ moment doesn’t make sense. I’m sure we all have had the occasion, after purging many items, where one of them may have been useful after all. So out of say 30 items that were given away the one that stands out was the one that maybe we should have kept. No thought to the other 29 items that may be useful to someone else or the fact a person had to be like a ballerina, more like a large and lumbering oaf, leaping through the garage to get to other items. Picture that for a minute and have a laugh of recognition related to personal experience. We are planning on it taking about a day so double that and add some break time. As Mary Poppins says: “Well begun is half done.” Or some such cheery stuff to help us get started.

It seems a better old adage is we got 90% done with 50% to go. Funny enough that is just how it feels. We got most of the items moved outside, swept the floor, identified what was to be given away and then moved everything back in. This time though the items that were OK, such as the snow tires, went back in first followed by the items that we need to go through, and lastly the items that are going to go. The bit about the 50% left to go will mostly be taken up going through the questionable items to see what stays and what goes. The rest of the effort will be actually hauling the items to the charity/recycle shop. I must say though that the garage looks a lot better. It also didn’t take as long for the initial phase as we had anticipated. It will take some time to go through the questionable boxes but we can do that at our leisure. So, with the big garage effort in the rear view mirror the thought of maybe dipping the kayaks into Lake Champlain is swirling in our heads. The water is still a bit cool but since there are two of us and we will stay near shore it should be no problem. We will also have our dry suits on. If the paddle happens you can be sure I will log it below.

Today started off with a mostly clear sky. By around 5 AM the sun was blasting through the living room window like an orange spotlight. It is also windy with clouds on the western horizon, not the normal clouds that hang over the Adirondacks but clouds that signal rain is coming. Sure enough, the forecast shows rain sometime around noon. Why am I going on about this? There is a twofold reason. One means it is probably not a good day for riding around in the convertible and it also means it is probably not a good day for kayaking. But like every other day, it is a good time to start the day with a cup of espresso.

One of the things we have tried to keep up with is taking time to enjoy our surroundings. The deck chairs make this effort even easier and watching the sun reflect off Lake Champlain as it is setting behind the Adirondacks is really a treat. And the topper is listening to the evening birdsong. Mornings are also nice but since we are usually off to the gym in the morning there is not as much deck time then. Except for the weekend, especially Sunday when we get the paper, where we put in some heavy duty morning deck time.

We were thinking today might be a good day to take the kayaks out until we found out that there is a fishing tournament this weekend. Last time there were so many boats out the boat launch was like it was free money day at the bank. Several complaints came in about access being blocked and cars parked all over the place. Probably not a good time to go kayaking. Oh well.

Part of the reason we moved to the northeast was to do some exploring. Following that idea we loaded up and headed out to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls has been on the must visit list for years so it was time to check that box. The falls are quite amazing and it is difficult to imagine just how much water is going over them. The falls are fairly large so the view from the Canadian side seems to be able to take in more of them but standing next to the falls is something as well. One can really feel the power of the water going over. Having visited other major attractions, we made sure we got to the falls early in order to beat the crowds. That worked because there were not that many people there when we arrived. As we were leaving around 10 AM the tourists were streaming in by the busloads and carloads and the parking lot was filling up. Going early is the ticket.

Our next destination after Niagara Falls was the town of Ithaca. It was the backroads for us which took us along the western shore of Seneca Lake towards the town of Watkins Glen. Near Watkins Glen is a place that takes in rescued and abused farm animals. We make donations to them and wanted to see what it looked like. When we got there a tour was just starting, the last one of the day, so we joined in and got to meet some cows, which were massive but gentle, turkeys, goats, sheep, and pigs. The animals we met were all very gentle which is amazing after what they had been through. In one of the pictures Liz is petting one of the cows and one can see just how large that animal is. The scar on its back is from a fire it was caught in before coming to this farm sanctuary. I was so taken by the animals I forgot to take more pictures. The goats would wander up to us as if to say hi and wanted to be petted. The turkeys were the same way and came over for a pet as well. We also visited the pigs and I wish I had gotten some pictures of them. They were huge and were taking a snooze on the hay in their barn. The guide said the pigs especially loved tummy rubs so we partook in that activity. Sure enough these massive creatures seemed to enjoy it. We plan to make another visit next time we are in the area and I promise to get some pictures of the pigs and other animals as well. After a poke around the gift shop it was then on to our destination of Ithaca which was about 30 minutes away. We wanted to have a look around the town as we had never been there. Ithaca is located at the southern end of Cayuga Lake which, like Seneca Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in New York. Cornell University is located in Ithaca along with Ithaca College and we wanted to have a quick look at them as well. We did get to nose around Cornell but due to time constraints we had to give Ithaca College a miss. There was a lot of construction going on and the downtown needed to have some cleanup done which detracted from the area.  Near the lakefront there is a nice path that we decided to take a stroll on. For some reason on the side opposite of the lake are some industrial facilities that made the walk feel a bit less pleasant. Probably left over from the industrial days of the past. I know it is easier said than done but a bit of revitalization along the shoreline would do wonders for the trail experience. On a happy note, the trail seemed well used and everyone we met was very friendly.

For the drive home we once again stuck to the backroads to go through some of the smaller towns and countryside rather than taking the major highways. It took about an hour longer to get home but was well worth the drive. New York has some rolling hills that are all covered in a vibrant green right now. The views we got when cresting a hill were really quite nice. The little towns were also fun to have a look at and we stopped in a couple of them for a poke around. One small town had a little country store that served the local community. While I would not call it a major shopping area it did carry a lot of items useful to townsfolk who could stroll down the tree lined street to the shop. They also had a small coffee area that we took advantage of to fill our travel mugs. Getting coffee along the road is kind of a hit and miss thing as one never knows what one is getting. We have gotten some coffee that was like drinking plain water with an aftertaste that comes with hard, unfiltered water. The place we stopped in actually had good, strong coffee. My taste buds are somewhat dull and need strong flavor which the coffee at this place had. I do enjoy good coffee. We headed out with full cups of coffee to continue our adventure. Around three hours later, somewhere around 2 PM, we stopped in another small town for lunch. The meal turned out to be good which was a plus as there are not a lot of options in small towns, especially for types like us who don’t really have mainstream tastes.

We arrived home in the early evening, unloaded the car and just flopped leaving the unpacking and laundry for Saturday. It will take a couple of days to get back into being home to get ready for our next trip planned for the near future.

Saturday and Sunday were catch up days. All the regular chores added to the after trip activities. For some reason this trip also took a bit of a toll on us. We were dragging around with not a lot of energy and tired from not being able to get a lot of sleep. It almost felt like a form of jetlag. Anyway, Monday morning we rallied and went to the gym albeit about an hour past our normal time. I would not call my workout a major effort but I did get some exercise. With another short trip on the horizon I need to at least get a minimal visit to the gym in and ramp up as things get back to normal. One thing I did miss was my espresso maker. While the coffee in the small town mentioned above was decent, the hotel and restaurant coffee left a bit to be desired. While near Niagara Falls we did find a couple of coffee shops that were OK but not extraordinary.

We had an idea of taking the kayaks out on Monday after our workout. While there was some rain in the wee hours the forecast for the rest of the ay was clearing skies and warm temperatures. One look at the swaying trees and we knew that the wind would kibosh any kayaking plans. OK, fall back plan. Top down on the Mustang and a spin around the countryside. I mentioned before this is not the type of vehicle we would have ever thought of buying but winning it in a raffle is a different story. It sure is fun just tooling around the backroads. While this beast has some power to it having an eight cylinder, 4.3 liter engine I have not felt the need to put it to the test. It is a pleasure just cruising around, feeling the breeze and taking in the sights. Not quite the same but it almost gives me the feeling of my younger days when I used to ride a motorcycle. That was back in my 20’s and 30’s when my reactions were fairly decent. These days it makes a lot more sense for me to have a convertible. Sigh, the realities of getting old, and wanting to get older!

A few days ago on our way back from the gym we passed a young beagle who had obviously just gotten out and was having a grand old romp. We circled around and pulled off the road in an attempt to get him to come to us. He gave us one of those “Who are you” serious looks when another car pulled up. From his reaction it was his “pack” who were out looking for him. After gathering him up they thanked us for seeing if we could help. So a happy ending.

Here it is the last weekend of June and we are in the midst of a major heatwave. Most people around here are quite stunned as having temperatures in the 90’s didn’t happen more than a few times a summer yet this weekend and into next week we will be toying with over 100 degrees each day. According to long range forecasts we will finally be heading back into the 80’s after the 4th of July. One positive side of this heatwave is our kayaking waters are getting warmer as well. Next up, July!

There Goes May 2018

High water at Panton beach/boat launch. Those trees are usually not in water. Benedict Arnold’s plaque is also half underwater. High water at Vergennes Falls. A fellow canal boater, a lift bridge, relaxed steering, our boat from across the canal, our new vehicle, sunset from our deck, the rest are from the canal trip. Nice murals and the gazebo at Medina was quite a gathering spot for the locals. Last picture is a canal work barge.

This posting turned out to be a bit long as I went on a bit with our canal adventure. While there is a lot of stuff on the trip, I did actually hold back. The canal adventures are such fun it is difficult not to go on about them but this post would have been much longer if I did. Also, something good just happened that left me somewhat speechless. Yeah, right. Well, it tried to.

For some reason I had forgotten to mention that during April we got some travel in to the coast. We took a week and visited Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts. The major part of our stay was in Providence, Rhode Island where we had a good look around the city. Part of the adventure was picking out a couple of different coffee shops to stop in and get the feeling of the town. Providence has about 1.2 million people, quite a few more than we are used to over the past three years but for some odd reason I was only nervous about driving for the first afternoon. While there is a lot of traffic a majority of the drivers are polite which makes getting around a lot easier. Providence is also a very walkable town so for a couple of days we didn’t even use the car. After Providence we headed along the coast to New Haven, Connecticut. Even though it is still early in the season the crowds are really starting to pick up in the coastal towns. For those of you who have visited Santa Cruz, California during the summer you know what mess that can be. While it wasn’t quite as bad as that I can see it heading in that direction. Chatting with our server at a café where we stopped for a coffee she mentioned during the summer the only reason she comes to town is to go to work and avoids it at all costs otherwise.  In New London Liz found a great little eatery that hit the spot for both of us. Organic, vegan, gluten free items that were quite tasty and we ended the wonderful meal sharing a piece of delicious chocolate cake. We rolled into New Haven in the early afternoon and found our hotel without too much bother. Turns out it was just two blocks from Yale University. We didn’t get an in depth look at Yale but did wander around the grounds for a bit. There was some kind of running event going on so there were quite a few people about. We ran across a very friendly New Haven police officer during our meanderings and had a good old chin wag about Yale, the area, and New England in general. It was a nice time.

We cut our visit a bit short as heavy rains were predicted and we were hoping to dodge them but wound up in some heavy rain for a couple of hours. It wasn’t until somewhere around Springfield, Massachusetts that the rain let up. Stopping near Amherst for lunch and a break let most of the lingering rain pass by so we had a fairly easy drive back home arriving in the late afternoon. On Tuesday morning we got to chatting with some neighbors and found out they had about 5 inches of snow followed by about a quarter inch of ice over the weekend. We picked a good time to be gone. Most of it had disappeared by the time we got home so that worked for us.

Now back into May. May has started with the teasing of what summer is going to be like. By the 2nd it was sunny and in the 80’s. So what did we do? Why, went boat shopping! We had seen several boats on the internet but wanted to get a real look at a couple so we headed to a nearby marina and ran across some very friendly folks who took a lot of time showing us some boats. We even mentioned we were just at the beginning of our power boating effort and only looking around. Again, very nice folks. Actually being able to see and tour some boats as opposed to seeing pictures on the net was quite an eye opener. These things are huge! It was a bit overwhelming so we are now back home recovering a bit and discussing options. We will keep you updated as we get farther down this path.

And speaking of boats, in the very near future we will be back cruising on the Erie Canal. We enjoyed it so much last fall we decided to start the season off with a trip. Opening day for the canal is a soft date and depends on weather and water level conditions so we planned just a bit into the season to make sure we could get out on the water. Things are looking good.

We have been taking advantage of the warmer weather to sit out on the deck. Although it has had to be between the raindrops. Today was a warm day but after we got home from the gym there was a light rain. Not to be deterred on not just hanging around the house we hit the coffee shop. By the time we got back home the rain had stopped so it was lunch on the deck. While gazing out at the lake I saw something kind of big floating by. Oh my, I thought. Could this actually be Champ? That’s Lake Champlain’s version of Nessie. Unfortunately it turned out to be a tree trunk with the roots sticking up out of the water. There have been a few logs floating around, washed into the lake from the big storms we have had lately.

Did you ever have “one of those days” type of day? Probably as it seems most folks I have spoken say they have at one time or another. Well, this morning I knew it was going to be “one of those days” for me. I wouldn’t say I was a full blown grump but I was several steps down that path. It would have been the perfect day to just kick back in the deck chair with a book and some espresso. To further push my burgeoning grumpiness we had to run some errands in Burlington starting with a 9:30 AM appointment. The next stop was Costco. There is never a slack time to shop there but during lunchtime on a Friday would not have been my first choice even on a good day. On a positive note I was able to just plod through the store to pick up the needed items without sharing my grumpiness with anyone. At least hopefully. The last stop was a shoe store that was at least in the direction of home. It then dawned on me that one of the items adding to my state was I had passed on my morning espresso as well as breakfast and lunch. I guess I was in a real state. Luckily there were some back roads we knew of that would provide a calming drive. And about half way home there is a little general store that brewed the brand of coffee we usually drink. True to the order of the day the dark brew was empty so I went for the lighter one. It was enough to get me home so I could make a true cup. Now all settled in and the sky starting to clear things seemed to be looking up. It was then an emergency weather alert came through. It said to be prepared for heavy rain, possible large hail and high winds with the threat of tornados. Fine. It’s all out of my control so I am just going to press on and sit in my deck chair come hell or high water, literally.

Saturday is our local cleanup day. People from the towns around Vermont obtain trash bags at the Town Halls and volunteer to do roadside cleanup. Liz and I decided it would be easy and convenient to do cleanup on our road so we sent a message to the coordinator to let her know. We got a message back that one of our neighbors had started the effort early and has already clean our road, and did quite a good job of it. Liz and I will look at hitting another stretch of road. But first, a stop by the Town Hall to partake in some homemade donuts and Vermont coffee, our preferred brew, all donated as a treat for volunteers. And it is supposed to be a nice day so things should be looking up so hopefully the grumpy gus that appeared Friday morning will not show up.

It was a grand day out for doing some roadside cleanup. We decided to go ahead and retrace our neighbor’s steps along our road. There was not a lot of trash but enough to fill two large trash bags a little over half way each. The most numerous items were bottles and cans that we found at the town beach. It is a real shame as not more than 30 feet from the farthest pile of bottles is a big, blue recycle bin. It is sad. The coffee and donuts that were available at the Town Office went from 9 to 11 AM and even though we got an early start we didn’t finish until it was almost 11 so no donuts for us. Yes, we had espresso at home before starting. No worries as I really didn’t need the donuts and I made some more espresso when we got back home. And gus was nowhere to be found!

We have had couple more very nice days where we took some time out to just sit on the deck and take them in. The trees are really starting to leaf out now and there is an explosion of green everywhere. There are still warnings that the water is still pretty chilly and at flood stage but that won’t be for much longer. And I did finally swap out the snow tires for the regular ones this past Wednesday. And last night, still Wednesday, the sky was totally clear once again making star gazing a real treat. The clear skies lasted into this morning as it started to get light around 4 AM. By noon though the clouds have pretty much taken over and the rain that is in the forecast should be arriving by later this afternoon. It seemed like a good day to vacuum the upstairs. It is rough work as I have to press two buttons to get the robot sweeper to start up. There are a few touchup areas that need to be followed up on but for the most part Little Oscar, our name for the vacuum, does a really nice job. One odd item is L.O. seems to know where we are and likes to bump our chair or leg in its travels. The recharging station is upstairs so when the battery gets low L.O. automatically returns to the station. Downstairs is a different story. He just goes until the battery is drained and I carry him upstairs and place him on the recharging pad. (I was trying not to personify or give gender to L.O. but he almost seems like a part of the family so what the heck?)

Things have gone a bit far. Because we do lose power a few times a year I had a small UPS on our router. Then one day we had a power hit as I was on my computer and things went blip. The laptop would have been OK as it has a battery but the desktop doesn’t. So it is now protected with a UPS as well. Since the router is next to the desktop, I just plugged it into the big UPS as well. Where did the smaller one go you might ask? It is now on the TV. We did have a power hit last Friday with the big wind storm and I did have the desktop computer on. I shut it down and found the UPS would run the router for over two hours, possibly longer, when it was the only thing using the UPS power. The smaller unit kept the TV up and running for a while as well. Not sure how long it would last but a rough calculation is about an hour. I guess we are spoiled! It was just a use for the UPS units. Depending on the time and weather it would be better to use the deck chairs to read, watch the lake, or stargaze.

With this being our second canal boat trip coming up, we have a better idea of what to bring. We have used a waterproof mini-camera to take videos of some of our kayak paddles so why not our canal trip? Well, at least parts of the trip. Being in the moment is one thing but watching hours of a slow canal travel video might be just a bit much even for us. Although during some action time, like transiting a lock or docking, should be a bit more fun.

Our canal trip was another big success! We had a grand time, even on the days it rained. Then again it only rained the first couple of days. The standard process is pick up the boat around 2 pm, get some training from the marina crew, and take a test drive. The full blown training takes a couple of hours which limits how far one can go on the first day. Part of it is because travel after dark is frowned upon. But the biggest issue is the standard operating hours of the lift bridges and locks is 7 am until 5 pm. For some reason this year between 18 May and 12 September the closing hours have been extended to 10 pm. If the 5 pm time was in play then the town of Fairport, where the docks are located prior to the lift bridge, is the one option other than spending the night in the rental marina. Since we had the training last time we just needed a refresher so we were able to clear the Fairport lift bridge and get to Pittsford before the normal closing of 5 pm. It wasn’t until later we found that the closing times were extended. No matter, we still intended on making Pittsford at a reasonable time. I was wondering if adding the names of the towns we visited would be something of an annoyance but then figured if someone was interested they could use one of the map applications to follow along. If not, then using the town names helps to differentiate the stops we made. OK, that said, we motored under the lift bridge at Fairport and on to Pittsford. We had stopped at Fairport last year and while it is a nice town the steel deck on the lift bridge, almost over the docks, sounds like a New Years Eve celebration whenever a vehicle goes over it. Wanting to get a good nights sleep we decided Pittsford was the stop to make. We had dinner out at one of the several crowded places instead of eating on board. As to a quiet evening we were mostly correct. I say mostly because while there is no lift bridge there, a couple of bars in the area get a bit noisy and with it being Friday night they had live music as well. I was a bit surprised that things quieted down around 10 pm so there might be quiet hours for the town. That was short lived as some of the revelers decided to spend some time in the park located next to the docks. A chorus of some 3 to 4 females took up residence not far from our boat broke into a rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Erie Canal song. Cute and it didn’t last too long so no big deal. That was followed by what sounded like a young fellow deciding that jumping in the canal would be a good thing to do. I say he was young because being an age snob I don’t believe there are many of my age who would make that decision. Alcohol must also have been involved in the decision, or at least I hope so as someone who was sober should know better. It seems the realization of his action hit him just before he hit the water as he just barely had time to exclaim an expletive before the splash. Luckily there are ladders dockside that allowed him to climb out. His compatriots did not seem too impressed by the event. It wasn’t long after that things quieted down. Ah youth.

We were in no rush the next morning so after a leisurely cup of coffee and breakfast we shoved off and headed west. The next stop was Brockport. While Pittsford had a lot of things to do the only amenity was shore power. Brockport not only has shore power but also bathrooms and showers. On the upside for Pittsford there was no charge for docking for the night while Brockport had a modest charge. The boats are equipped with a bathroom and shower, and on board power for that matter, but it is easier to use the amenities at the docks. In chatting with the dockmaster at Brockport I found we had the distinction of being the first boat to dock there this season. While at Pittsford we ate out for dinner so at Brockport we decided to have dinner on board. The boats have a small fridge, stove/oven, and kitchen sink so we could have had all our meals on board if we chose to. Think of our canal boat as an RV on the water, one that floats of course. Getting to Brockport we needed to traverse two locks which take a bit longer than a lift bridge to transit. It’s a fairly simple concept but still amazing to see from the inside how locks work. And it’s probably good not to dwell on how many tens of thousands of gallons of water the upstream lock gates are holding back when the rear gates are closing behind one. At least they are pointed upstream so the pressure helps hold them shut. Still, great sprays of water squirt out of the sides and middle of the doors. I had my mini-camera with us but had forgotten to set it up before entering the locks going upstream to get a record of the process. I did remember to set it up for the downstream transit but it does not look as exciting as the upstream version. Anyway, after passing the two locks we motored past the Genesee River and continued our westward journey. The Genesee River passes through Rochester, NY, where we spent a couple of days exploring before starting our canal trip. There is a lot of interesting history in the Rochester area. The Erie Canal used to run through the center of town and actually had a causeway that ran over the Genesee. The canal has since be rerouted south of the town and the old canal filled in. A water related item is the building that houses the city library. The building was set on pillars creating a large, open area under it that was flooded by water from the Genesee. That water was then pumped up to the roof where it was used to cool the building during the summer. And this was done in the 1930’s! We found this out when using the underground passage between library buildings we saw pictures of the construction. There were no information cards, just the pictures. To our great luck one of the maintenance folks was passing by and we asked him about the photos. He was the perfect person to ask. His wealth of knowledge and generosity of time giving us the details of not only the library but of the town and the Erie Canal were awesome! There is so much history about the town I could take up a whole blog with it. But, back to the canal trip. Since it is spring the water levels are up so the current on the Genesee seems stronger than normal. There is a marina we could have visited in Rochester by heading down the Genesee but we will save that for our next trip. The Genesee River is one of the main sources of water used in supplying the Erie Canal. During the winter these water sources are blocked off from the canal by a set of what are called guard gates. These are like large flood gates that are on the eastern and western sides of the river. The canal is drained down, not completely, in winter to reduce or eliminate damage to canal infrastructure by ice. There are several of these gates along the canal. The canal gets narrower in this area with steep to shear rock walls on either side. After an hour or so it opens back up again and views of the land around the canal can be seen. There are many canal side homes in and around towns but that gives way to farm land the farther west one goes. We passed by the town of Spencerport in route to our days destination at Brockport. We had stopped at Spencerport last year but did not do much exploring. It has shore power but no other amenities dockside. I feel I did not give the place the attention it deserved though. There is a canal museum right by the docks that we did not explore even though last year the director of the museum met us at the dock to give us some literature and let us know we could use the restrooms there when it was open. There is also a grocery store within a 10 minute walk which is quite convenient for restocking fresh fruits and veggies. On our next trip this fall Spencerport is definitely on the stopover list. As mentioned above, we stayed at Brockport for Saturday night arriving in late afternoon. The docks are located between two lift bridges that are less than 1000 feet apart. It was kind of cozy having the entire dock to ourselves. We also stayed at Brockport on our return trip and found a wonderful little restaurant called Taste of Soul. Something different than the standard two or three pizza places that seem to dot every small town. And to top it off Taste of Soul offered 6 vegan dishes along with fresh salads. Even if we do not stay in Brockport it is a must stop for a meal. We mentioned the place to the folks on one of the other rental boats and they also mentioned how much they enjoyed the place. A winner. I hope it stays in business. Back to the westward leg of our trip, as we stopped in Brockport another rental boat passed us saying they were headed for the next stop up of Holley. After a nice stroll around the town we settled in for the evening. This night we had dinner on the boat as we had brought a fair amount of food with us. The dockmasters here all seem to be retired volunteers who enjoy their two hour shift as dockmaster. They staff the office from 8 am to around 6 pm. They issue keycards to boaters that allows access to the amenities so we had 24 hour access. All things considered Brockport is another decent place to overnight. The next morning was another easy one as we took our time heading west. Todays stop would be at Medina, the farthest west we are going on this trip. Medina also had full dockside amenities listed but the town was not quite ready for canal boaters yet. There was dockside power but the welcome center was still boarded up. Other than the state work barge docked a ways up we again had the rest of the docks to ourselves. There is a railroad museum here so those of you who know me can figure out our first stop in town. To top it off, today was Thomas the Tank Engine day! A replica of Thomas was attached to a set of vintage railcars which went on a hour or so trip down the tracks. The real power was supplied by the diesel attached to the back of the train but it was not paid a lot of notice. Sir Topham Hatt was in attendance and kids of all ages lined up to have their picture taken with him. A gentleman dressed as an engineer was standing by Thomas and yes, I just had to chat with him. Turns out he had just retired from being a real train driver. He had been doing the Thomas gig for a while and really enjoyed it. And no surprise he also played Santa in his local town. He and I had a lot to chat about! After our train time, we did a bit of wandering around the town. The streets were mostly empty along with a few empty storefronts. One empty place I noticed in particular was the defunct Irish Pub. Not sure if it had anything to do with being right next to the police station but as they say in the real estate business, location location location. It was another quiet night and in the morning we were in no hurry to push off, which is one of the joys of canal boating. It was Monday morning and we didn’t have to be back until Friday. The plan was to stop at every port on the way back to Macedon. It was less than a two hour motor to our next stop of Albion. We pulled in midmorning and looked for the welcome center. The facilities were not far from the docks but no office was to be found. The local police/fire station was only a few steps away so I paid them a visit asking for information. They were very friendly but seemed a bit confused about there being a dockmaster office. They did provide us the code to the facilities though so we were set. As per our plan we took a stroll around the town. The grocery store that is a mile away was the final destination so we could restock on fresh fruit and veggies. On the walk back we stopped at the town library, we seem drawn to them, for a look around. It was a fairly new facility with a lot of natural light which made it quite inviting. There were also a large bank of solar panels on the roof. We had a good chat with one of the librarians and found they had been in this new place for a few years now and served Albion and the several other small towns in the area. The former library was an older building more in the center of town but had become cramped and had several levels which made it tougher on the patrons and staff alike. The new library was not really that far from the former one, only a short walk so no issues there. Another meal on the boat and a relaxing evening. The next stop along the way was Holley. We docked there to have a look around. It was yet another small town that had seen better days but was trying to renew itself. We had lunch on board then pushed on to the next stop which was Brockport, our second mooring there which I described above. The next morning we again headed east past Spencerport. I am still a bit confused as to why it was bypassed other than we had decided to overnight at Pittsford again. Docking at Pittsford again we took a bit more of a wander around the town. It seemed Pittsford, unlike some of the other small towns along the canal, had overcome the downturn and was thriving. There was an interesting building just a couple minute walk away that housed, wait for it, the town library. Yes, we did stop in and have another look around. Again this was a newer facility with a lot of natural light and open area. It is a nice space to just sit and read or relax. Another plus was the coffee shop that was in the same building. It was one of the chain shop varieties but still nice to see. Another dinner on board and a lazy evening. Since we had stopped at Pittsford on the way west we thought we might want to overnight at Bushnell Basin just a short distance away but figured we were already at Pittsford so we stayed the night there. It was a good choice as for some reason the docks at Bushnell Basin were not open, and would not be this season. We motored on to Fairport, with the noisy lift bridge, and stopped in for lunch. There is also a small, local grocery store we decided to check out. We really did not need to restock but wanted to see if we did could we find what we were looking for. We did buy a couple of items but much being it was Thursday and we turned the boat in on Friday. Sitting on the boat listening to the din of the vehicles crossing over the lift bridge we pushed off and headed back to Macedon to spend our last night there. The advantage, besides no lift bridge, was we could unload some of our gear and sleep in because Macedon is where we were returning the boat. Motoring down the Erie Canal at a slow pace was quite enjoyable, especially on the several sunny days we had along the way. The drive home was around 6 hours because we decided to take the back roads and have a leisurely pace back.

We happened across some interesting folks while boating. There was a group of three traveling in much the same direction as we were so we got to chatting. Turns out all three are volunteer trail maintenance leaders for part of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. It was something of a kindred spirit meeting as we spent some time discussing trail maintenance, rock bars, and other things about trails. They were a fun group and also the ones we directed to Taste of Soul. Another person we met also met kindred spirit status but in a different way. As we were ending our trip we saw a canal boat much like our rental one being launched. It was a privately owned boat with some 8 to 10 solar panels on it. Turns out about 10 years ago the couple who now own the boat had rented it for a three day canal trip. They fell in love with the boat and the idea of boating and bought the boat. Of course I had to chat about the boat and found out the husband had just retired from being a college professor. He was an environmental education professor at Penn State. The wife has published some science books and does work for NPR. They converted the boat from a diesel engine to an electric one and added a bank of batteries. They added a small generator as a backup. Bill, the husband, designed the new layout and they did most of the retrofitting themselves. They have taken their electric canal boat on the grand loop, the one that goes down to the Gulf of Mexico, up the East Coast, and back in the Hudson River to the Eire Canal. They are currently launching a trip west from Macedon to Lake Ontario, into Canada to go across the Rideau Canal from Ottawa to the Saint Lawrence River, down Lake Champlain, and back up the Erie Canal to Macedon. The trip will take quite some time as they usually travel around 3.5 to 4 miles per hour. Since we live by Lake Champlain I gave Bill my contact information with the offer to meet them on their way past us and give them a lift to the grocery store, out to lunch, or whatever since they will not have a vehicle. We can also hear of their adventure first hand. More on this if it happens.

Upon returning home one of the first things we noticed is all the greenery. When we left the trees were just starting to leaf out and only the early blooming plants were showing. In less than two weeks the trees were all fully leafed out, the early bloomers were mostly spent, and the later bloomers were just busting out. It is taking a bit to settle back in after such a grand adventure.  At least we have our fall trip to look forward to.

We have just had a great bit of luck come our way. We do our best to support local groups and the latest was to buy a raffle ticket from the Lions Club. The grand prize was a vintage Ford Mustang convertible. There are several sunny days in the forecast where we can cruise around in our ‘new’ vehicle with the top down. Yup, we had the winning ticket!