"Happiness is different from pleasure. Happiness has something to do with struggling and enduring and accomplishing."
– George Sheehan
HOLA! How's everyone? We're doing great and enjoying our time in Vermont. Our campground is on Lake Champlain near the city of Swanton, Vermont which is funny because our farmhouse was in Swanton, Ohio. Anyway, this campground is quite a trip in that it is "little Quebec". The vast majority of the people here are French-speaking Canadians with seasonal trailers. It is very strange to be sitting at our campfire and hearing everyone around us speaking French. We felt like the foreigners. Our friends, Glenn and Lori Paton, would be right at home here!!!!
What an absolutely lovely part of the country. Seriously, if you Googled the phrase "bucolic country scene", pictures from Vermont would appear. Steve and I really took a great deal of this type of scenery in one afternoon while doing a tour of Vermont's covered bridges. The bridges we saw were in Franklin and in the towns of Belvidere, Cambridge and Waterville. Most of these bridges were built by the Jewett Brothers during the period of 1865 to 1890. (Attached is a link to a website that can give you more information if you are interested: http://www.virtualvermont.com/coveredbridges/index.html). These bridges were not on the roads used today. Quite the contrary. These bridges were along roads that are quite narrow but used to be the main thoroughfares in the area during this time. The cutest little towns are all around them and we stopped and had lunch in one of them. What a delightful afternoon we had driving through the Green Mountains and experiencing some of the back road Americana we so enjoy.
Speaking of delightful, Steve and I got to play Bingo at the Knights of Columbus in the town of St. Albans. We didn't win anything but it was just nice to play again. Steve calls it "dabbin fever" and it is really quite addicting. Anyway, we met a very nice woman named Jeri who is an older widow. She showed us how to play the new games that we were not familiar with and she even won $130. She was so excited. Good for her!
Once again, Steve and I took a boat cruise. I don't know what it is about these cruises that I love, but I really do find them to be so relaxing. Anyway, we sailed along Lake Champlain and learned all about the important role that this lake played in the Revolutionary War. Did you know that this was the site of one of the most important naval battles? And it was fought by none other than Benedict Arnold (before he became a traitor). Again, there is more to the story than I can write here, so I am attaching a link to the website that will tell you the story. Please enjoy it: http://www.lcmm.org/shipwrecks_history/history/history_revolution.htm.
So, okay, more about the lake. It is 125 miles long and 14 miles across. Rivers extending from it flow as far north as Quebec and as far south as the Hudson River into New York's harbor. The deepest point is 400 feet but most of the lake is between 60-100 feet deep. There are several large ships that have sunk in this lake and remain there for scuba diving adventures. If you are a scuba enthusiast, consider this as a vacation stop. In addition to the boat cruise, we explored a little of the town of Burlington which is a very cool town right on the lakeshore. Organized as an official city in 1785, it is the largest city in Vermont and is the home to the University of Vermont. We made a stop at Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory and enjoyed some of the locally made delights they had to offer. MMMMM MMMMM!
One of the coolest things we did while in the area was take a hike in the Ausable Chasm, which is just south of Plattsburg, New York, on the other side of Lake Champlain from where we were staying. This was an amazing site, not just because of the natural beauty of the gorge, but because of the stories the gorge would tell us. First, of course, is the story of the glaciers that created the gorge in the beginning. But in addition to that, in 1996, this area of New York was hit with a tremendous cold and snowy winter and an ice dam was formed downriver from the gorge. This ice dam broke loose and a torrent of flood waters came through the chasm, ripping out the metal walkways and bridges erected for the tourist attraction. It had suffered so much damage that then President Clinton declared it to be a Federal disaster area. Then, in 2011, Hurricane Irene came through the northeast and, once again, raging flood waters were sent through this gorge and destroyed much of what was rebuilt in 1996. One trail is still closed to the public. There was evidence of these two disasters left in places along the trail and it was incredible to see the twisted metal ruins of what used to be a bridge or a walkway just laying by the side of the river. Anyway, the gorge itself is two miles long and is an enjoyable hike. There are more than 400 steps involved in the hike that we took (the yellow and green trails) but it wasn't too bad. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.
Our last adventure really wasn't an adventure at all. We visited the Shrine of St. Anne for Sunday services. This shrine, located on the Isle la Motte on Lake Champlain, rests on what was originally a french fort built in 1666. The fort was dedicated to St. Anne de Beaupre and therefore, the shrine was also given the same name. It currently houses a lovely little open-air chapel where we attended services as enjoyed an excellent view of the beautiful Lake. We walked the grounds and admired the Stations of the Cross that they have erected right on the shoreline. In addition to that, there is a statute dedicated to Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who first discovered this area. Afterwards, we took a walk on the sandy beach of Alburg Dunes State Park. While walking on the beach, it was very obvious to us how low water levels are in this area. Rivers and streams seem to be a bit low, but while walking on the beach it became quite evident to us that the lake appears to be 6-8 feet lower than normal. Last summer when Hurricane Irene came through, water levels were at an all-time high (for obvious reasons). Just one year later, however, water has become quite the precious commodity to this waterfront community. The number of docks that were completely out of the water along the lake shore spoke to just how bad things have become here.
Alrighty, on to New Hampshire. We plan to do some serious hiking in the state parks near our new campground so we promise some excellent pics next week. Until then, take care.
Love you all!