Monday, September 1, 2014

Starting September Serenely

30 Sep: We overdid it again yesterday, so today we hiked only .5 miles to the AT junction north of the Inn. Amusing to see the two German couples we met yesterday at breakfast, "Ich kann ein bischen Deutsch sprechen," and again at the gravel road near Mountain Meadows, and a third time as they hiked up to Deer Leap. They will be staying in North Adams, so I needed to look up the name of a great restaurant there, Mezze, and the gallery, the Clark Museum, to recommend to them. Before breakfast I talked briefly with another touring motorcyclist, Dan from Columbus, Ohio; he and Brooke are touring on a 1995 BMW 1100 GS with Givi bags, which I noticed two days ago, and they have been tenting and hiking. Brooke is from Cambridge, OH, county seat of Guernsey County, Ohio. She was surprised that I knew of Columbus, but I mis-remembered that the public library had a great genealogy department - that was actually Zanesville county seat for Muskingum County and White Cottage where my ancestors lived before moving to Iowa early in the 1850s. Wouldn'tcha know it; I sit outside to enjoy the air and the colors and the view, and the mist starts falling. Continuing, Dan has dreadlocks, so when I saw him at the breakfast door asking for coffee, I invited them to breakfast at our expense. It was a delightful choice. He is an artist and Brooke is a therapist, so Cynthia was delighted to talk with them.

29 Sep: Today Cynthia was feeling fine and motivated for a seven mile hike to "Jungle Junction" and back. The leaves have turned even further, and leaves underfoot are making the trails a bit more treacherous. Halfway to our destination, the trail passes along the edge of a ski run where there are great views and where we abruptly changed our destination to walk directly up the ski run a bit further (and steeper) to the gravel road to the top of Pico Mountain. We were rewarded with terrific views of foliage colors all around. We had never walked back down that gravel road, so decided to try it to see if it was shorter. Murray says it was 3 miles and small change uphill and 2 miles and large change downhill the way we went. Cynthia thought the downhill was at least 5 miles. True, the loose gravel underfoot provided sudden unnerving slides, but none ended in a fall. The road took us to the bottom of the ski lift, and past that to Omland Outlook. At the end of it all we were tired but happy with the accomplishment, especially considering all the inactive days while Cynthia was sicker.

28 Sep, Sunday:  Cynthia is feeling a little better again, so we attempted another hike and made it as far as the sinkholes today. It doesn't take much to tire one out after sickness, so we rested often. Ron was quite proud that he didn't re-injure his shoulders. Another northbound through-hiker, JD or J. D., came in today, so Ron treated him to lunch. JD started April 5th and plans to hike until November.

27 Sep:  Another beautiful day in Vermont.  We've awakened and breakfasted, but Cynthia is preoccupied with her now totally non-functional cell phone.  Later we'll decide to hike or ride, although weekend traffic will be horrendous.  We decided on a short hike up the Sherbourne Pass trail, but Cynthia is still weak from her bronchial pneumonia, so we cut the hike very short, but were quite satisfied to find marvelous views of fall colors at the Omland Outlook.

View from Omland Outlook at Ski Race Jumpofff

Glorious Vista 

View From Ski Lift North 

Pico Peak in Peak Season

Notice Lake 

Rich Red, Orange, Yellows 

Splendid Colors Splayed Across Green Mountains

26 Sep:  Friday morning in Killington dawns bright, crisp, and clear. The coffee is on at 6:30 and blogging commences. Little SmoochSmooch is feeling better this morning; medications are working. The doctor said Cynthia could hike when she felt like it, and she interpreted that to mean "if she wanted to hike," so we rode the bike to the State Park and hiked past Kent Pond and into the woods for about a mile of relatively flat hiking.  Strangely, Ron was also tired.  We edited this blog and the Mari Annes Norwegin Lovers site in the evening; Cynthia added captions to many of the Norway photos; I incorporated URLs into text.

Hiking Along Kent Pond

Glorious color captured in pond

Amazing Fall Foliage

Colors reflected in Kent Pond

25 Sep: Mrs. Smooch Smooch has not improved, so, following the recommendation of our waitress, Ed, we took our bedraggled SmoochSmooch to the recommended clinic (which no longer takes walk-in patients) and then to the new clinic where she was diagnosed with bronchial pneumonia and given breathing treatment and prescriptions for a dozen pills. Our favorite noontime eatery, Sugar and Spice, closes at 2 PM. Since we spent 2 1/2 hours at the clinic and waiting for the pharmacy to open, so we missed that lunch and ate at the Inn again. Thank goodness their food is excellent. By the time we returned to the Inn and Ron added pieces to the puzzle, it was 4:40, too late to accomplish his 7.6 mile hike of choice past Kent Pond to Thundering Falls, but the fearless Shakedown Cruise attempted it anyway and probably finished five of those miles before dark and walked on the road the uphill after dark. The road walk was noisy, but didn't drown out the cell phone conversation with Ed K. Along the pond, the reflections of the fall foliage in the water was gorgeous, and a fish hawk landed on a nearby dead treetop; it was great fun to watch him looking all around for five minutes.

24 Sep: Using Cynthia's hiking poles, Ron hiked to the top of Killington Mountain (4280') and back in 6 hours covering 12 miles RT. Gosh, that last "hiker trail" to the top is straight up a rocky defile, very rough and damp. Murray says that skiing down that in winter is a blast. He was one tired puppy for the last couple of miles, but shoulders and knees seem to have enjoyed the break from trail maintenance. The wildlife sighting of the day was a porcupine, a big one waddling unconcernedly near the trail.

23 Sep: This is one hard jigsaw, whew; a picture will appear when it is finished. Murray found his prized Stihl hand saw for Ron, so towards noon when Cynthia was still catatonic with cold, Shakedown Cruise headed towards those three trees again. The big excitement of the morning was the bright red leaf on the trail, and it was also exciting to see further through the woods; lots of leaves have already fallen. The first tree was hardest and took longest because it was almost as thick as the blade was long and had to be cut twice. Huff, puff, saw, saw and repeat. Interesting that water started dripping from the saw cut and the "dust" was soggy after the cut was halfway through. Eventually the six foot section dropped free, leaving only the job of prying it around and off the trail. The second tree was thinner and dryer, so the cut went more quickly, and it was possible to pry the trunk downhill with a huge effort. Huff, puff, pry pry, reposition and repeat. The third one exhausted me. It was actually an inch thicker than the saw blade, so the cut took forever, and the bole was much heavier than the others, so prying it off the trail was an ordeal. ENOUGH. Fortunately my shoulders and knees feel no worse for my efforts. While bypassing Deer Leap, it was deflating to find three more trees down across the trail that should be cut - later.

22 Sep:  Poor little SmoochSmooch felt terrible today.  Whatever cold, allergy, or bronchitis is affecting her really took charge of her enthusiasm today.  At least she managed to get her new TracFone to work.  Ron continues to spend time on the black & white Springbok jigsaw puzzle that Okie found for him.  About two this afternoon, when Cynthia decided to curl up on the couch & sleep, Ron borrowed a camp saw from Patty and headed towards the three trees down across the trail.  It was the wrong saw for the job. Enticed by the prospect of fall foliage views from Deer Leap Shakedown Cruise took the first trail heading up there. Yes, Virginia, there are two trails, so I took the closest one, planning to come down the other. Up and up and up eventually to a rounded top without a view. That is when my memory kicked in to tell me that I had summited Deer Leap Mountain, and the viewpoint was substantially downhill. Fooey. The views are exceptional, but the leaves are still predominately green with only a few shadings of fall color.

21 Sep, Sunday:  Today we awoke quite refreshed with our bodies no longer reminding us of our over-exertion Friday.  After breakfast at the last minute (service ends at 9:30 AM), we gingerly tested the hiking motions by walking downhill on Highway 4 to resume our AT hiking on the uphill past the Deer Leap to the parking lot at the Inn at Long Trail, about 4 miles total, and enough for our abused bodies.  The leaves are changing apace.  In the overcast yesterday there was little color, but today we saw the early reds, oranges, and yellows.  Trail maintenance today was limited to clipping a few branches and scratching a few waterbars with a stick.  Lunch was wonderfully satisfying, and Ron enjoyed talking trail with No Filter, a southbound flip-flopper.  Now we are back at the computers, happy to report happier bodies.

20 Sep:  Neither of us felt like hiking.  Ron's knees and shoulders all hurt, and Cynthia has very sore feet.  Instead we drove into town to take the cell phone in for repair, only to learn that Verison no longer repairs it's own phones, nor does it offer a loaner phone while awaiting repair.  After shopping for shampoo and food, we stopped at Sugar and Spice for lunch, which was good as previously.  Our waitress recognized us from two years ago and even sorta remembered our order.

19 Sep: We overdid it.  Owwwee !!  Little Mrs. SmoochSmooch wanted to hike a mile down the road to the new AT, 2.9 miles South and uphill on that to "Jungle Junction" (1600' elevation gain), and 3.4 miles return on the Sherbourne Pass Trail.  We passed the ridge runner & a trail crew sawing the big timber strewn across the trail by a microburst predating our arrival.  Ron, as Shakedown Cruise, wielded his new Sears rake against much muck clogging arterial water bars.

18 Sep:  We hiked another moderate 5-mile hike up to the ski run/ meadow and enjoyed seeing the reddish tint expanding throughout the forest.

17 Sept. Wed:  tummies full, head is clearing.  Warm day.  Hiking will resume at 11:00.  Today was a light day due to Cynthia's cold.  We hiked the 2.5 miles round trip to the sinkholes.

16 Sept: Tues:  Cynthia's sniffles turned to a cold.  She slept the bulk of the day, while Ron turned into Maintenance Trail Man chopping down trees that had fallen across the trail. Ron (aka Shakedown Cruise) provided more description on
15 Sept:  Monday,  We are showered, our clothes are clean and the room at the Inn was just cleaned.   We are editing, working on DNA, and  about to head for the mountains to hike.

14 Sept, Sun: we missed the blessing it the backpacks at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Rutland, but we did have a terrific hike on the Sherburne Pass Trail to the meadow for. 5 mile RT hike.  Cynthia had some good photos from Fridays hike of Miss Smoochie, the Frog, with her hiking poles; but the Android cell phone jumped into the washing machine somehow and got washed clean of photos and cell phone contacts perhaps never to be found again.   So who needs a phone?   We hope the phone did not hurt the hiking clothes.

13 Sep:  Another slow start to the day.  Cynthia was still sound asleep at 9 AM when it became necessary to awaken her for breakfast.  (Yummy as usual here.)  Ron has been thrashing though editing the "James Lea" volume; lots to do.  We plan another uphill hike soon, after noon.  Perhaps we will eat a small lunch first.  And then the rain started - and continued - until well past dark.  Much done on James Lea; other projects creeping forward.  It was probably a good idea to let Cynthia's toes and hip rest.

12 Sep:  Since temperatures were cool this morning and poor little SmoochSmooch has blistered toes, we opted to start hiking after noon and limited our walk to an "easy" half mile uphill to the AT and mile downhill to Kent Pond.  That was enough for us both.  Shakedown Cruise is realizing that his new, $5 plastic rake from Sears might easily cause back pain if used excessively.  We have both been quite tired all day, but Ron is excited to think that the Northern Lights might be visible this evening.  Unfortunately at 11:30 PM the skies were cloudy, not even one star in visible.

11 Sep:  Rainy day until about 4PM; several times it stopped for an hour but resumed before the roads dried.  We worked on computers; Cynthia did DNA spreadsheet; Ron backed up and pruned excess.  5PM Shakedown Cruise grabbed his new rake and commenced trail maintenance. only to discover that his lower back needs therapy.  Now that we've written that, excuse me to do stretches and stomach strengthening exercises.

AT White Blaze - Oh what joy I see on that tree
My Smooch the Maintenance Man
10 Sep:  I was a warmer day, and we again opted for a longer hike.  We won't complain, because it is snowing in Wyoming.  Wannie relayed a "HI" from Jamie in Tennessee and burst into huge laughter when I asked about the rake I had given Jamie two years ago because he mentioned that he still had the rake when saying "HI."  After our hearty breakfast we ventured forth on the Sherburne Pass Trail for 3.4 miles uphill (two blisters and 6.8 miles total) to achieve our goal of reaching Jungle Junction, where the AT/Long Trail crosses the Sherburne Pass Trail (the old AT/Long Trail).  It was such a joy for me to see that white blaze on the tree!  (Saith the poet.)  The six hour trip provided Maintenance Man Smooch with lots of opportunity to clear out water bars, move logs and toss sticks.  Treating ourselves, we rode the motorcycle to Rutland for swordfish dinner at Little Harry's, continuing to the library to print and mail a letter to Sally C., and then to  Eagle Mountain Outfitters to shop for blister block, blister meds, and Smart Wool hiking socks.  Not shopped out, Ron bought a rake at Sears, wood trimmers at K-Mart, and a lot of food at Hannafords.

9 Sep: This early AM is time to resume work on Volume 6 of the Colonial Records of the Swedish Churches since the blog looks OK now. We really need to add captions to all the pictures whenever we want to modify the presentation. (Captions become tables that are easier to organize than CSS span or div.) After breakfast and busy-work, we launched ourselves out the door and up the hill for a four-hour, five-mile hike, with trail maintenance option for the Smooch. We are delighted that our condition is such that we are able to do this without aches and pains. Now we are back to the Inn, back to our computers, slaving away on sundry projects. Looks like another early to bed evening.

View of Inn at Long Trail from Sherburne Pass Trail

8 Sep:  Vermont, we are in Vermont, halfway between Rutland and Killington at the Inn at Long Trail.  It was GREAT to see Owen at McGrath's Irish Pub last night and Patty and Wannie this morning.  Today the Smooches hiked to the sinkholes in preparation for next year's efforts on the Appalachian Trail.  Curiosity satisfied, it was rewarding to see that the trail maintenance has held up well for the two years we've been absent from this locale.  Cynthia (my beloved SmoochSmooch) is SOoo EXCited that her grandsons Steven and Austin may be coming to hike & hang out with us here for a week or 10 days.  We called this morning before hiking and are now awaiting their decision. Ron is again experimenting with style and table while trying to align the fershluggin' photos on this page.

View of the Green Mountains

Lake View from Sherburne Pass Trail

7 Sep., Sunday:  We all piled into the 4-Runner to breakfast in town, Cynthia, Marissa, Susannah, and Ron.  Bill enjoyed a chain saw morning.  We planned to hike after returning, but Ron foolishly volunteered to vacuum the car first, and Marissa and Cynthia fell asleep while reading.  Susannah amused herself listening to her modern version of radio, a books-on-tape.  Bill's weekend summertime diet includes BLTs during tomato season, so we lunched on BLTs (LTs for Cynthia & Ron) before loading the motorcycle and riding north on a very pleasant NY 22 with lots of wonderful twisties and tolerably good pavement. The transition near Bennington, VT to U.S. 7 went smoothly, and we remembered a marvelous restaurant, Chanteclear, in time for dinner. Two years ago, their staff accepted without prejudice us and two smelly, inadequately dressed AT hikers Moose Mulch and Sherpa.  The evening turned chilly by the time we resumed riding, and Cynthia was frostily disappointed that the seat heater was not working.  We visited with Owen at McGrath's while Cynthia enjoyed a bowl of Irish stew and a piece of Irish soda bread.  To bed early.

6 Sep:  The Smooches packed up and rolled out at a quarter to late morning for breakfast at the nearby I-Hop.   We indulged in blueberry pancakes without the compote before driving the Tacomic Parkway to cousin Marissa's farm in upstate NY.  Everyone went swimming leaving Cynthia to enjoy solitude and a lovely breeze.  Cousin Marissa is a veritable speed demon in the water, beating Ron each of five laps of the pool.  We were both amazed by (and breathless from) our workouts racing.

Frederick Vanderbilt Home
Eleanor Roosevelt's Stone Cottage at Val-Kill
5 Sep:  We breakfasted at I-Hop while the temperature was rising, so it was quite warm by the time we toured the Frederick and Louisa Vanderbilt Estate (Uncle Freddy's Hudson House," according to the Vanderbilt nieces and nephews).  It was a "gilded age" mansion, a "summer house" built to impress; the family spent only a few weeks in summer and in fall.  (We presume that poison ivy and mosquitoes dictated the times they enjoyed being there.)  It is the only mansion on any National Park property; it was donated by Mrs. Vanderbilt's niece at the strong suggestion of FDR when it could not be sold in 1938 for $250,000.00; no doubt she enjoyed a good tax write-off.  In 1973, 120 Vanderbilt descendants held a reunion and discovered that not one of them was a millionaire (although Gloria Vanderbilt is reputedly worth $200 million.  Hiking Hyde Park means short hikes.  It is too warm to hike any great distance.  We returned to FDR's estate for lunch and hiked (feeding mosquitoes) to Eleanor Roosevelt's Stone Cottage for a tour.  She and FDR were certainly inspirational leaders.  Ron again picked a "scenic route" back to the hotel.  Bone Fish Grill served an excellent Chilean Sea Bass.

Hudson River Valley

Noteworthy Trees on the Vanderbilt estate

Roosevelt Home
4 Sept, Thurs: Hyde Park, NY tour of the Roosevelt Estate, FDR's presidential library and museum,  the Roosevelt home.  The Roosevelts were old money and FDR could generously donate Hyde Park to the National Park Service.  While hiking Hyde Park Trails we suffered in the heat and fed mosquitoes; fortunately we found no ticks.  We enjoyed watching three deer who were curious and apparently unafraid.  Dinner at the Bone Fish Grill was exceptionally good.

Deer in Hyde Park Woods


Fooey!  Helmets are Horrible!
Marshes Once Used to Plant Rice
Boscobel today
3 Sep: Pleasant, cool ride from Ridgewood, NJ north on scenic 17 to more scenic 9D to arrive in the Hudson River Highlands. Our accidentally private tour of Boscobel estate and grounds was led by a delightful docent who made the tour so very lively for us. The house was built in 1804 by the son of a tavern owner who got rich stealing 20% of the British quartermaster's accounts. Four generations lived in the house until they ran out of funds about 1880 and could not pay the taxes. The house sat empty for forty years. It was bought by a house mover scheduled for demolition; he paid $35.00. But interested people like the Wallaces, owners of the Readers Digest, financed wresting the house from demolition for $10,000 and supplied over a million for its renovation, furnishings, and large estate where it is now located. Most impressive was the commanding view of the Hudson River across to West Point, to Continental Island (once owned by the Warren sisters, AKA America's "Bronte Sisters," one of whom wrote, "Jesus Loves Me."  The Warner sisters donated the Island to the US Government provided it would be used for West Point. We picked one of the famous Boscobel apples and toured the gallery exhibit, lithographs of 19th century watercolor paintings of views along the Hudson River Valley and interesting individual commentary. The furnishings in the house are the most expensive part of the house. My goodness, we had a very lovely morning, although it was much to hot to walk the "Woodland Trail." We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the old Cold Spring Depot right next to the train tracks and an authentic cold spring made famous by George Washington when he was scouting for a site to establish a national military academy (now West Point). Searching for our evening's lodging via Hilton Garden Inn did not prove fruitful; they are sold out tonight. Instead, we found a low budget Best Western reject conference center for only $70.00 a night. The room is certainly comfortable and very clean. Photos from today awaiting the Master's Touch

Boscobel ca 1950 Before
 Boscobel History
Hudson River View of West Point
Close up of West Point
Continental Island

2 Sep:  WhooHa, Ron's in charge, so we are ahead of "schedule" this morning and already for our first detour to the south, to Ridgewood, NJ to visit Cynthia's cousin Greg who has been following this blog.  He contacted us this morning to ask if we were in his vicinity, and it is an hour & 1/2 (estimated) away along NJ route 23.  Hmm, the weather is forecast warm, I'd better check for showers.  The ride crossing New Jersey on U.S. 206 to Sussex County 650 was beautiful and untrafficked.  NJ 23 was less fun and using GPS guidance to avoid traffic while threading through the city streets to Allen Street was interesting.  We left shortly before dark and found a Comfort Inn just before route 209 at the New Jersey border.

1 Sep, 2014:  Cynthia's son passed away 16 years ago today; she and her family thank God for the gift of his life, even though it was shortened by Leukemia.  It is a peaceful, but warm, day for  the pleasant ride on HWY 611 north from Dreshertown, PA towards hiking trails in New England.  We followed the Delaware River scenic route, thankful for the times we traveled through woods with lots of shade trees, and stopped for a salad and soda at a bar with patio tables overlooking the river: unfortunately the Rock & Roll band was a jarring cacophony of sounds.  By 4 PM a Hampton Inn at Milford, PA was inviting us out of the forthcoming rain shower.  Rain had been forecast, but after a brief shower or two it was dry again.  The Grotto Restaurant looked like the best choice, but the brook trout tasted fishy and the rhubarb salad was rubbery.  Ron found birthday cards to send to Erika Lynn for her 15th and to Aunt Eleanor for her 95th, plus a Thank-you card for Stewart for his unused supply of Lipitor. Ron is in charge, so plans are to be made as we travel.