Saturday, December 19, 2009

First Ride of the Year

December! Finally, time to snowmobile! It is sad the season always is so short. I begin with a picture matching the last blog, showing the trail by our getaway place in Vermont. We took a ride up this weekend to work on a few things, but mostly to take a ride on the trails.We traveled up Friday evening and brought our little Christmas tree and my sister had made some stockings so we hung them to give it the Christmas feel. Saturday morning was a chilly -7 outside to start. After a trip out for breakfast, we came back and puttered around for a few hours. The in yard snow gauge showed just under a foot after snow and a little rain to compact it.
I added a thermometer to the depth gauge but its a little far to see very well. It is cleverly disguised from the road as a standard Christmas decoration. I finally took the snowmobiles out and got them ready just before noon. After the sleds were primed and ready, we suited up and headed out, breaking trail on our new feeder trail, packing it down for future use. The air was brisk, the sky was clear, and the trail was hard packed. Down the trail we went, as we came out of the woods we started chasing some turkeys down the trail. Onto the rail bed to the "caves of ice" as we call it. This is always an awesome photo point and every time you drive by it reveals a different character.

We traveled on and ended up at the scenic overlook, with distant views of Mount Washington. The Mrs. posed for the camera and the snow capped Presidential Range can be seen just over her shoulder. We rode around 55 miles and that was enough for now. We did hit some rough patches, and snow is really needed to fill in the ruts, and wet spots that are finally freezing up. As always you do see some unique things on the trail, and this weekend was no exception. We passed a man with a dog sled on the rail bed. We were following him for a while and he was moving at a decent 30 mph. We passed him when he waved us on, and rode ahead and stopped to take a picture, but he U Turned before reaching us.

That is all for now. Look for more travels next year.

We here want to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Waiting For Winter

It is almost Thanksgiving, and we eagerly await the start of winter. Most of my friends do not care for the cold temperatures and snow, and I tell them "I don't care if it ever snows at home, as long as it snows more up north". And it is true, I don't enjoy scraping my windows early in the morning, or starting the car earlier to allow it to warm up, or worst of all the first snow when practically everyone forgets everything they ever learned about driving. But to me there is nothing more enjoyable than the sound and smell of a freshly started snowmobile, or the first time the throttle is pushed, and the track engages on freshly fallen snow, carrying you across the frozen ground. Down through the fields, into the woods, a certain kind of freedom and peace washes over you and there is nothing like it. Unfortunately, snowmobiling season is short, and entirely dependent on Mother Nature, and as you can see nothing is happening as of yet.

We ventured up north this past weekend, with a couple of projects in mind. Insulating the ceiling downstairs was high on the list, as the temperatures were starting to fall and we wanted to cross this off the list because it would help not only the downstairs but upstairs as well. We opted for encapsulated insulation this time, an insulation wrapped in a plastic "sock" if you will. Installing this actually turned out to be very quick, since the ceiling was built with "I" joists, and space 16 inches on center, the insulation rested very nicely in between with no added stapling or other support. Plus, with a R30 value, a great insulator.

The hardest part of doing the insulation was moving all the things around over and over. The snowmobiles and tractor were OK because they were on wheels, but all the little things made it more time consuming. While I did the insulation, Karen tackled the stairs. She was tired of looking at the plain wood stairs, and decided to paint them, which is always fun when trying to remember which side did she paint first when you have to run upstairs.

We worked on a couple other projects, like hanging a corner shelf, moving the pegboard, and I installed a garage door opener, but still have to install the sensors for that next time we go up. There are a couple other things we worked on, but haven't completed quite yet, so I will save them for another blog. I did get out and put the driveway stakes out, and also put up a chain on our private snowmobile trail to deter people from riding across a bunch of stumps and debris we did not clean up in time. I don't expect any real traffic, but you can never tell. Of course no trip up north would be complete without the obligatory moat snapshots. The water was flowing as usual, a little heavier than the past few trips. You can here the water from upstairs at night when everyone is quiet. It still looks very nice even with all the tamarack needles on the banks. We have been adding rocks as we dig them out of the yard, even though I was told there were no rocks when the land was cleared.

Finally on the trip back there were several areas that there was some serious work going on. These areas were where there have been issues with falling rocks, and one was bad enough to detour us across the median and onto the other side of the highway. At least they were able to use some of the rock taken off the side to build up the median.

The other wasn't quite as bad, but nonetheless required some serious reinforcement to ensure motorist safety. Those are some steel nets that were installed.

So with that I give thanks to the guys who make the roads safe, as well as family, friends and all the little things that make our days a little easier. I also want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and remember: I am still "Waiting For Winter"

Monday, October 12, 2009

Fall Temperatures and Sights

It is very hard to believe that just over a year ago, the foundation was just being poured on the garage, and the walls were just starting to be put up. We have come pretty far since then, and this should be the first winter of real use. We came up over the Columbus Day weekend for the first time in a month. We initially were going to do some leaf peeping, and maybe a little work. Mother Nature decided to flip our schedule a bit. A wee bit of rain Friday night made for a slow trip up, and it lingered into the morning. Since the weather wasn't cooperating, we decided to finally finish up the walls in the lower garage level. We had just one side left, and fortunately, it was fairly straight forward. Before-
And after- We are glad to finally finish this off because it needed to be done, but with all the work we have done, this was kind of pushed to the back burner, so we could go up and have a little fun. Once this was knocked off the list of things to do, the weather cleared up enough for us to get outside, and do some walking and eventually some peeping. We first went out back, and noticed the brush cutter had been out clearing what will become the snowmobile trail in less than 65 days! Looking off to the northwest, it was apparent color was in full bloom. It almost had passed in some places it appeared, as the color seemed a little dusky, but the contrast were still sharp. We decided to take a drive, and see how things were progressing in and around Danville. First stop was down by the town green. The green is very small, typical of old New England towns, and it truly is one of those "don't blink or you will miss it" spots. It was very nicely adorned for the fall season, but sadly, we missed the Autumn on the Green festival by a week. I will have to add to my calendar next year. We have been trying to get up for some of the different activities, but life always seems to happen. Venturing onward, we traveled some off the lesser roads, at one point ending up on a single wide, pot hole riddled trail, which I eventually recognized as one of the snowmobile trails we frequent during the winter. After a quick U-turn, we ended up out in the countryside, which takes all of about 2 minutes up this way. Past farms, scattered houses, and many open fields, the colors were fantastic. Corn was fading fast, getting ready to be cut into silage, to feed the animals over the winter. There were several areas within a short drive where the views are just amazing. Pictures really don't justify the simple beauty out there as well as you would expect, because being there standing in the crisp fall air adds a dimension that can't be captured on film. But sharing the pictures gives you an idea of what it looks like at least. And the trip included a couple animal sightings as well.

Always see the strangest things in Vermont.
That about wraps it up for now, the clock is ticking, and soon winter will be upon us. Time to get the sleds ready, clean up the gear, and check everything. Then come December we should be riding. Based on this picture, taken October 13, at around 7:30 AM, winter is on its way. You know what they say at New England weather, just wait a few minutes, it'll change....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Late Summer Update

Greetings all, its been a while since the last update. Summer has passed by too quickly, and just so much going on, haven't gotten around to updating. A couple trips up were for pleasure, and the most recent started as a pleasure trip, but the weather caused a change of plans. We went up for Labor day weekend, and early on finally got down into some of the shops in downtown St. Johnsbury. Typical of a small downtown, replete with the old metal style thermometer. Venturing into one of the stores, there were many items you would expect to find, such as a Moose head, old furniture, and the like. One thing that caught our eye was the canoeing squirrel.

We had other company, as my sister and her family came up with their camper and set up for the weekend. While we were there we made a few tourist stops. We went to the local museum and planetarium, the Fairbanks museum. The museum was founded by Franklin Fairbanks, a philanthropist whose family ran the Fairbanks Scale company.
Fairbanks was also a big naturalist, so when he donated the museum to the town, his collection of natural science specimens were included. Indeed is was an awesome collection, from small to large animals, an amazing number of birds, including an immense collection of hummingbirds. We also stopped by the local Maple Sugar Museum. The tours were not running but the gift shop was still open and of course a photo opportunity was there as well.

After a bit of sight seeing we went back and had a cookout and campfire. The evening was crisp, and the fire was welcome.
The following day we went for a walk out in the "back forty" to show everyone the back part of the property. The woods were thick, and the grass was very high, so travel was slow, but it still offered a unique perspective, with the kids shorter than the vegetation. But as usual, the weekend just disappeared too quickly, and it was time to head back to home and work. So we wave goodbye to summer, and look forward to fall, and ultimately winter.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Top of The World-and Other Places

A long weekend again, and this time more pleasure than work. We left late Thursday for a 3 day weekend, which in my opinion, was well deserved. We have been working most of the summer, both at home and up here in the great white north, so haven't really taken a formal vacation. (Still haven't either.) After arriving late Thursday and settling in it began to rain a little, and that turned into a heavier rain Friday morning. Go figure. Not to be dissuaded by the weather in any way, we headed over to the local lumber store to stock up on supplies. More wood for the walls downstairs, and cinder blocks to form a ring and create our first fire pit.

After returning, the rain stopped so we decided to take a drive down Route 2 which runs East/West through the state. Through towns like Marshfield, where we saw a collapsed structure. I thought those things were stronger for some reason. Westerly we continued into Montpelier, the capital of Vermont. Montpelier, was chartered in 1781, by population is the smallest capital in the United States. For more fun facts click here:,_Vermont . The State House in the capital city was very prominent even from a distance, with the golden dome reflecting the faint rays of the sun appearing through the clouds.
This was the 3rd rendition of the State House, last designed in 1857 and opened in 1859. Again for more facts: . On the way back we stopped off at a local ice cream establishment, which had a few interesting features as well. The first thing that caught my eye was the lines in the parking lot. After getting our ice cream and sitting down at the table, we noticed a carnival type mirror on the side of the building. Naturally we had to check it out and it did not disappoint. Personally I was hoping it was the one that made you look thinner, not shorter. Oh Well. On the way home we chose a parallel route to mix it up a bit and drove the the town of Hardwick. We have snowmobiled through here before, but not through the town proper. Again we see the devastation fire can produce, as we drive by another beautiful older building that had been ravaged. Indeed a shame, a moment of carelessness or a chance failure of an electrical nature, and memories, possessions, history, and so much more can disappear.

Saturday we looked at the weather, and it was going to be relatively clear but warm, and it did warm up very quickly. We had been toying with the idea of going to drive The Mount Washington Auto Road. We decided it looked pretty decent and did a little research to make sure we would have time to do it and went for it. (Pretty obvious to figure out by the first picture) On the way we decided that we would take a guided van ride up, saving our vehicle, and blood pressure from extremes, and allowing all of us the time to enjoy it. The picture below shows the entrance to the auto road, and you will note the guard rail. According to our driver/guide this would be the last one we see on the auto road. A bit of trivia:

  • The Mt. Washington Auto Road opened as the Mt. Washington Carriage Road in 1861. As the oldest man-made attraction in the country, the Auto Road is 7.6 miles long with average grade of 12% and a 22% grade on the last 50 yards.
  • At 6,288 ft. (1916.6 m) above sea level, Mt Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast.
  • Famous for its unpredictable weather, it holds the world record for the highest wind gust directly measured at the Earth's surface, at 231 mph (372 km/h), recorded on April 12, 1934.
  • Mt. Washington is the third highest state highpoint in the eastern U.S., after Mount Mitchell, North Carolina (6,684 ft; 2,038 m) and Clingmans Dome, Tennessee (6,643 ft; 2,025 m).Elevation: 6,288 feet (1,917 metres).

There are many amazing and bizarre records regarding the mountain as well from fastest time on foot (56 minutes), fastest time on a bike(49 minutes), fastest time in a car (6 minutes 41.99 seconds- Wow!!) People have walked up backwards, walked up pushing a wheelbarrow, and most recently a man brought a camel and walked the road to the summit because no one had ever done that before. But I digress. A few more pictures and details about the mountain. The following is from regarding the various stages of vegetation. "From Pinkham Notch to the summit of Mount Washington will take you through a wide variety of plant communities, ranging from lowland deciduous woods to alpine tundra."" As you ascend in elevation, the northern hardwoods give way to a mixed spruce-fir boreal forest." " Higher up, the trees begin to thin out and become stunted. Dwarfed trees and dense, low mats of vegetation called krummholz (a German word meaning "crooked wood") are evident as you approach treeline.""In the alpine zone itself, low-lying sedges, grasses, lichens, and mosses predominate, alongside spectacular mountain flowers. The meadows of Mount Washington flower in late June, attracting many admirers. The mountain floral display often continues in mid-summer. Some of these plants are endemic (meaning that they exist in a small geographic area) and are quite rare." Also pictured above are cairns. Cairns are rock piles that are man-made often used to mark trails. According to our driver, the cairns on Mount Washington are 30 feet apart. Most experienced climber would have a rope with them and in poor visibility would anchor the rope to one cairn and seek out the next, then tie off on that and retrieve the rope. Sounds like a lot of work, but the weather is ever changing on the mountain, and walking 30 feet in the wrong direction when you cannot see too far ahead could be fatal!

Of course the views of the mountains driving up were phenomenal as well. The most prominent in the presidential range were Clay, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. We arrived at the summt, and had but 30 minutes to explore.Most of the time was spent in line to stand next to the summit sign-at the beginning of this blog- but we always push the limits, and were able to get a few more shots and show up a few minutes late for the return trip. There were several buildings atop the mountain, some functional, some historic, and some a little of each. The Summit Stage Office was built in 1908 and actually served as the first home to the Observatory from 1932-1937. In this building the worlds highest wind speed was recorded. You can see the chain in the picture above as well as the next where the building had been chained to the ground, apparently because there was no foundation.

The Tip Top House, originally built in 1853, was a stone hotel at the summit. We were informed by our driver that is was a symbol of status to go there and gentlemen would wear proper attire-top hats, tails, and the like. The inside accomodations were sparse, but the dining area was ample. The Tip Top entrance, as my wife heads in for a closer look, to the accomodations, much like a pullman car on a train, but very simplistic. Finally, the Sherman Adams Summit Building, built in 1979, which serves as the central visitors center, and houses the Observatory.More facts and info can be found here: is you desire. After the decent from the top of Mount Washington, and a leisurely ride back home, we decided to reduce the pile of wood a bit. There was a significant amount of roots, branches, and the like we pulled from the yard-so far-, so we figured it was time to dispatch them to the never world. Translation? Bonfire. We stacked up the wood and started up a small fire, which quickly proceeded into a larger fire.
Since the fire was going good, I decided to try my hand at a little "fishing"
And there were even a few keepers :->
The next day, Sunday was a pack up day, but we managed to get some work done too. We have talked about a trail from the yard out to the snowmobile trail for some time. This way we do not have to ride down the road to get on the trail in either direction. This makes it difficult to steer on the black top so you can't always get from the road into the trail smoothly. We looked at several options and the best option was directly across from the shed dormer. This works well for 2 reasons-it gives us a better view of the trail, and we are able to cross the"moat" in an area which it is the shallowest, so no bridge required. A before and after look.
I still have to take the stumps out next time, but had to get some of the brush out of the way so we could access them first. And the view from the trail looks pretty good too. That's about it for now. Back up soon for more work, fun, and all that jazz. I will try not to ramble on so much next time, but a picture is said to be worth a thousand words. Although I do not have a thousand words for each picture, I hope I have added enough to tell the story behind them.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!!