Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back in WashPA

We left Essex Junction planning to take three days to get back to Wash PA.  The first night we stayed at Wally World in New York and were on the road so early the next morning we decided to do a long day and drive all the way across the state.  We called Pine Cove RV Park where we stay and were happy to hear we could come in a day early.  We have gotten to see many friends and have already completed many of our doctors appointments.  I'm happy to report I had a good check up at the dentist, dermatologist and eye surgeon, with no need for cataract surgery this year, but I do need to get new glasses.  Nanc does have to go back to the dentist for one bad tooth repair.  We still have appointments with out primary care doctor and Nanc's ob/gyn doc.  Hopefully those will also go well. 
Crossing the Delaware and we are back in beautiful Pennsylvania.......
..............where you are sure to encounter many many orange signs and barrels signaling construction ahead.  Somewhat of a pain, but much needed improvements.
We love going to our old favorite restaurants in the WashPA area and trying out new places.  This new spot, Bacon, Bourbon & Beer, is owned by a former student, Shawn Janovich.  While they are still in their "soft" opening phase we were very happy with our meals and are looking forward to many visits.  If you are in the area add this new place to your dining experience.
This was our first retirees Wednesday lunch bunch gathering this year where we always get together with so many friends.  Here are Reg, John and Pat. 
Lena and Linda
Ron, Becky and Nanc.
Tish and Sandy
Bill and Kim
Jackie and Dave 
Georgie and Chuck
Cheryl, Ann Marie and Joyce.  Out of all these people only Ann Marie is still working, but looking forward to retiring real soon. 
Another local favorite restaurant for us is Al' an Rubens, where they have great food and great music.  Josh on sax and Dan on guitar are former students.
We got together with Denise and Rick at Burgh's Pizza and Wings, another local favorite.
As I'm writing this we are at Rick and Denise's place on Lake Norman in North Carolina for a long weekend visit.  Also here is Betty and some of her family.  When Rick and Denise came to Betty's in the spring we discovered that her grandson Dylan lives nearby.  They invited Betty to come for a visit.  That will be the next post.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

56th Escapade

We moved on to Essex Junction, Vermont for the 56th Escapade.  We attended our first one in 2007 when we started our on the road adventure.  This is our fifth one but our first since 2011 in Gillette, WY. These rallies are always fun and informative with many seminars covering every aspect of RVing.  This time we were on staff and worked rather than attending the sessions.  
Part of the main stage display that Nanc helped set up.  Someone else made the trailer and she added her personal decorative touch. 
Lanny and Lois, whom we met at the 2008 Escapade.  All staff members worked to put together the welcome bags for the 1300+ attendees.
Bob and Molly are Class of  '07 mates who have been Escapade Directors for the last few years introducing Kay Peterson the founder of Escapees.  While Kay has cut back on her official duties, she is still going strong at 91.
Staff members came in early and where treated to a great dinner.  Here are '07 mates Mike, Sandy, Nora, Terry and Sandy.  One of the best things about the Escapade is seeing so many friends.
The Row has information about all the Escapees chapters and campgrounds. 
Opening ceremonies filled the room with the 1300+ attendees.
My favorite shirt.  Sure is true about us.
Staff members John, Monica and Sky.  We worked with Sky and were responsible for setting up, moving and tearing down the rooms where the eighty plus seminars where held.
There was entertainment each evening.  The first night was Jimmy Travis, a singer and comedian who had everyone in the place laughing.  Another evening was the Ham-o-Rama where SKPs had a chance to show their talent.  These are the Marlins, four brothers who played everything from country to blues, to a great piano pounding out Jerry Lee Lewis. 
Of course there was a marketplace with 50 vendors selling just about anything any RVer will ever need.  Since we had many miles and ten years of towing on our old one, I bought Nanc a new Blue Ox tow bar.
Even Santa was there passing out SKP hugs.  There is now a new branch of Escapees called Xcapers that is geared to families traveling with kids, so Santa was really busy.
The Class of '07 mates gathered for a happy hour social.  This group includes people who started fulltiming in '07 and many friends whom we have adopted.
This is the '07 group at our first Escapade in Goshen, IN in 2007.  Many of the original members are no longer on the road and a few have passed away.
Nanc with Sarah, who was helping her grandparents with morning coffee along with Jan and Bill who we just met this spring at Betty's.
We were happy to see Charlie whom we have crossed paths with several times.  His wife Sherri passed away and he had not been traveling for a while. He has since met Margaret and is once again on the road.  
What almost 700 rigs looks like at the Champlain Valley Expo.  It was the first time the Escapade has been in the Northeast and the turnout was great.  Opus is the rig with the white roof :-)
The day after the Escapade ended we had dinner with Michael McCormick, a former student who now lives in Burlington.  We have kept up with him through his father Bill who was our dentist but had not seen him since we went on the road.  We had a lot of catching up to do including hearing about his five week, 9,000 mile trip across America he, his brother Andrew and friend Patrick took a couple of years ago. 
He showed us around Burlington and we were treated to this beautiful sunset on Lake Champlain.  We had a great time in Vermont playing tourist and seeing friends and decided it is another place we would like to return to some day.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Vermont -- Capitol, Ice Cream and Rocks

After leaving Quebec we stayed in Barre, VT for a few days before going to the Escapade in nearby Essex Junction.  We added the Vermont capitol to our list, tasted a bit of Ben & Jerry's ice cream and toured the Rock of Ages stone quarry. 
This is the third capitol in Montpelier.  It was built to replace the second one which burned in 1857.  The front portico was the only part of the burned building that was in good enough shape to be part of this building.  You can still see fire damage on the columns.  The 57 foot high dome is painted with gold leaf and topped with a statue of Agriculture.  The original statue was replaced in 1938.  This was our 20th capitol tour and the first where we could get into the building without going through a medal detector.  Very interesting.  
The statue of the leader of the Green Mountain Boys, Ethan Allen, has been on the front portico since 1886.  Allen is famous for capturing Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775 without firing a shot.  It was the first victory for the patriots and provided the artillery used in the siege of Boston.  Like the Agriculture statue, this statue was replaced in 1941 because of deterioration. 
The 30 member Senate chamber has all the original furnishings with the addition of modern electronics.   
Unlike the other legislative chambers we have toured, this one has a very small gallery overlooking the floor.  Visitors are allowed to use seats on the floor when the Senate is in session.  As part of the guided tour we were able to sit in the lawmakers' seats. 
The Governor's office has been restored to its 1859 appearance, including the paintings, carpet and desk.  Today it is only used for ceremonial purposes when the legislature is in session.  The chair behind the desk was carved from timbers from the U.S.S. Constitution, "Old Ironsides." 
The 150 member House of Representatives chamber is restored to its 1859 appearance, but has fewer desks because the number of representatives has been reduced.  The chandelier was originally a gas fired light.  The painting of George Washington is a 1836 copy of Gilbert Stuart's original.  It was saved when the old building burned in 1857. 
The marble floor at the entrance has fossils in several of the tiles.  The portraits are the two presidents who were from Vermont, Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur.
The Cedar Creek Reception Room has this huge painting of the Civil War battle at Cedar Creek, a battle where many Vermonters fought.  The artist used pictures of the soldiers who were there making the painting a more accurate representation of the battle.  The Vermont capitol is a very well preserved building that has been restored to its original 1850's grandeur. 
Montpelier is the smallest of the 50 state capitol cities.  The downtown is very quaint with many well preserved buildings.
Just down the road in Waterbury is the Ben & Jerry's factory.  This iconic ice cream business was started in Burlington in 1978.  They continue to make a great product while being socially responsible even though the company is now owned by world wide conglomerate Unilever. 
We arrived and were shocked to find an hour and a half wait for a tour and this long line just to get into the roped queue to buy ice cream.
We waited and found the tour to be interesting but no pictures were allowed.  I went for the Stephen Colbert American Dream and Nanc opted for the butter pecan. 
If you love ice cream don't forget that April 12th is free cone day at Ben & Jerry's.
Just down the road from the campground is the Rock of Ages granite quarry.  The company started here in 1885.  The company quarries stone and makes civic and personal memorials.  
It is impossible to capture the scale of the quarry.  Each of those lines in the stone is 28 feet high.  There is more than 300 feet of rock exposed and over 200 feet under water.  When they get down to the water level they will pump the water out to access that stone making the whole thing nearly 600 feet deep.
The pool of clearer water on the left is an area that has not been used for several years while the water on the right is clouded with particles of stone from the active quarry.
Even though they have been taking stone out of the quarry since 1885, they will not be running out any time soon.  At the present rate they have enough stone to quarry this site for another 4600 years. 
We did not tour the factory where they carve the stone but we found many pieces of their work including this granite bowling alley, a failed attempt to find another use for their stone.
This statue in Barre is a tribute to the Italian stone masons who worked at the factory.
Not to be missed is Hope Cemetery where you can see many examples of their work.  A couple together forever in stone.
A throne or just a chair, it is still carved from stone.
A race car.
A couple of M&M nuts who are really planning ahead.
Even a biplane for a flight enthusiast.  

We had a great time and squeezed a lot into four days in the area.  This is a part of the country we definitely want to return to some day.