Thursday, October 10, 2013

Burlington, Vermont

Tuesday night we were at Running Bear Campground in Ascutney, Vermont, a cool little place tucked back up in the woods.  The book said they were set to close in a couple of days for the winter, and many of the sites were occupied with units that had already been winterized.  I learned from the person who checked us in that a lot of folks are seasonal residents there, and just leave their RVs or trailers parked there all year long.  Looked like it must be a pretty hopping place during the season, as they had this huge tent with tables and a stage and a little concession stand, where I guess they have programs during the summer.

Wednesday morning we woke to some pretty heavy fog, so we decided to just hang out at the campground for a while, hoping it would burn off.  Fortunately it did, and it was quite beautiful for the rest of the day.  We decided to head west to Burlington, as the person at the Vermont welcome station when we first entered the state had told us about a wonderful bike trail along Lake Champlain in Burlington.  So off we went, but soon were slowed down by lots of road work on Route 131, a small back road we had chosen.  This would have been okay, as we've experienced road work delays in a number of places on the trip, but this time there was more to it.  With all due respect to the state of Vermont, for whatever reason they seem to have employed less than the most competent folks to handle the traffic control aspect of road work.  One time in Utah we had encountered a situation with some goofballs who stopped us in a little town while they rearranged the orange barrels to route you to one lane or the other, and they did it back and forth about 5 times before they figured out which way they wanted the traffic to go--it was worthy of a Saturday Night Live sketch it was so funny!  But yesterday it was not funny and more than a little scary.  The people holding the signs telling you to stop or proceed slowly all seemed to be the most uninterested, not paying any attention people we've ever seen.  Even though they were equipped with walkie talkies, they seemed to totally ignore them or whatever was being said.  Often they would point you to the wrong lane, and you would have to suddenly swerve around some cones into the other lane, and sometimes they just would stand there without giving you any signal.  But the absolute worst was when they routed us into the left, normally oncoming lane of traffic, which is usual in these situations, as the person on the other end of the work zone would be stopping the oncoming traffic.  Well things were going along okay until we rounded a curve and suddenly were faced with a car coming straight at us!  The dudes had just let this car through, unbelievable!  Fortunately, we were able to swerve around the cones into the lane where they were working to let the car pass by, but it was pretty scary.  Then, after we passed this area, we came to another place where they had us stopped for a while, but after they motioned us forward, we came upon the area where the paving equipment was, but it was all over both lanes, with no way to get through, and absolutely no one was looking or paying any attention to the fact that traffic was coming toward them.  So we just had to stop and wait to avoid being hit by a big excavator.  Once it was out of the way, there was a paver in our lane as well--couldn't believe that they were sending traffic right into the middle of the work.  This kept up for about an hour, where we would clear one area of work, and in a few miles would encounter another, but at every single one of the work areas, the traffic control people were the same.  So we were glad to finally escape this situation with no accidents!

Drove through Middlebury and got to see Middlebury College, a wonderful school I'd heard about for years, so we were glad to see the campus.  Then on through the Vermont countryside toward Burlington, but in lots of places most of the leaves had already fallen, which was disappointing.  Seemed to us that the leaves we'd seen in New Hampshire a few days earlier were prettier, but there were places where we did get some really vibrant colors.  Got to Burlington late afternoon and found a wonderful city park campground right on the shores of Lake Champlain, just beautiful!  Took a nice long ride along the Burlington Bikeway, along the lake in many places, and through some residential areas in others.  At one point the trail ended, but across the road another trail picked up in this big park and eventually led to a little causeway out into the lake, with signs along the way about a bike ferry!  The ferry was apparently closed, whether a seasonal thing or not I don't know, but for over a mile, the trail was just that--a trail about 8 feet wide on a built up little causeway out into the lake!  It was a really cool place to ride, and eventually ended up at a little dock where there is obviously a ferry boat just for bicycles that I suppose takes you on across to the other side of the lake.  Will have to check it out today to find out the details.  But it was about sunset, so it was a beautiful ride back.  I didn't have the camera with me, so I was only able to get a couple of shots with my phone, but it was stunningly beautiful.  Since I had started out rather late in the day, I had to hustle to get back to the campground before it was completely dark, but it was a great 20 mile ride!

Driving through Vermont

 Here we are behind the paver!
 Just a beautiful drive, after we cleared the construction area!!

 Love these tall church steeples in so many of these little New England towns

 Ski area in Ludlow

 Some beautiful churches in Ludlow

 This was funny--someone had painted this cow on the wall of their garage in town!

 Green Mountains

 Coming into Middlebury
Middlebury College campus shots

 This was in downtown Middlebury--really unique style of architecture on this house

 Sunflower field near Burlington
 In several places we saw these really impressive solar farms!
 Lake Champlain
 Outside the Vermont Teddy Bear Company!
 Sunset at the campground
Sunset along the bike path

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