Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Great White North-In Vermont

What a weekend! Finally came up to enjoy Vermont's winter wonderland, after spending so much time running back and forth building, and meeting with contractors, and planning, and on and on. We came up Friday and our plan was to just come up and have fun, riding our snowmobiles, and not doing any work.
It was a balmy 30 degrees when we dressed up and left, and we originally took off to ride the power lines and possibly up to Island Pond. We got about 10 miles into the ride, and hit a trail closure, due to some trail work. So much for that plan.
So we regrouped, and decided to head west toward Danville, and the north toward Sheffield and west toward Walden. Of course to do that we had to pass back through the underpass near our place. Always a little bumpy but gets you from one side to the other. During the ride we came upon the scene above, a tree arched over the trail, snow still on it's limbs, and the tubing from a maple sugar operation. The trails were awesome! Snow was everywhere, and the deeper you went into the woods, the more the snow was clinging to every tree branch, pine needle, and tree stump. We rode till early evening, and put on about 70 miles from like 3-7PM. Coming back down the railroad bed towards home we tried a couple of night shots.
We even met up with the groomer following him for a few moments till we could pass him,

then it was back to the camp, change clothes and out for a bite to eat. The next day we headed out to try the power lines again. We left around 9:30 in the morning, and it was a bit cooler about 9 degrees. We made it around the closed section this time thanks to a temporary re-route. After a short ride, we stopped on Kirby mountain for that scenic picture, and I had a Laugh-In moment. Remember Laugh-In, and the guy on the tricycle? He would stop, then fall over. Well we stopped, and I pulled off to the right edge of the trail. As soon as I completely stopped, the bank gave way way and the next thing I knew I was tipping over in slow motion :-)

No damage this time and we got a picture of it to boot. We headed north and east and hit the power lines, and shortly after we hit some snow squalls, but the riding was great. If you look closely you can get an idea how far the power lines run. They keep going forever it seems. By this time it was maybe noon, and we had only seen like 10 snowmobiles so far. We drove off the power lines, hit some other trails, and ended up in Bloomfield Vt on the NH border. We stopped for gas and a bite to eat @ a place called Debanville's General Store. Great sandwiches, and very nice people. They had a sign in the booth, "we work on the honor system- here is a basket with a pencil and paper, please write down what you eat and drink and bring to register to pay" Kind of refreshing outlook on life. After a bite to eat, we headed south and east, near Maidstone Lake, and some of the streams there made for great pictures.
From there we looped around to the north, and then west. We went down one particular trail and it afforded us a spectacular view of the mountains, treetops covered in snow, and glistening in the sun.
Continued on west to link up with the intent of catching a certain trail to make it home. Instead we took a side trail, and ended up extending the trip a little. We wandered through several small towns, and passed the parked groomer for the Burke Drift Skippers.
Cruising now, we went through Burke, Sheffield, trying to get home, as the temperatures were dropping, and so was the sun. We made it to one hilltop and the sunset was really nice, so of course we had to stop for a picture. The sleds were put on cruise control (not really) but we knew exactly where we were, and how far from home, so we got into a rhythm, and soon we rounded the corner, and there was the groomer! I actually knew he was coming, because our communicators pick up a beacon in the groomer to warn people they are on the trail. From there on it was smooth trails and before we know it we were at the gas station. A quick top off, and back on the railroad bed and a smooth, groomed carpet of white gold all the to our door! We arrived back @ the camp and it was a blustery -6 degrees outside, and a still chilly 30 degrees inside. I need to get working on insulating so we can take full advantage of the heaters. But hey I felt like we deserved a little fun for once you know? We'll get it done someday, and the hotel is 4 minutes down the road and heat is included in the meantime. Here is what the ride looks like on the map roughly.

Sunday morning, we woke up and it was -20 degrees! We decided not to ride, but we went to the local clubs fund raiser. The club we joined this year is the Danville S-Ski-Mo's, and they had a spaghetti lunch fundraiser, so we went for an early lunch, and met some of the club members, some local folks, and even some folks from CT who live like 4 houses down from my dad. Small world.They had a great turn out from what we saw over a hundred in the first hour alone we overheard. Its good to support your local clubs, as the fundraisers go toward offsetting grooming costs, equipment, and trail projects. The turn out was mixed with lots of people riding in and some driving in. We thought about riding in but we were headed home right afterwards, so decided not to dress for a 5 mile ride. There was good rider and groomer representation though. All told we rode 231 miles, filled our gas tanks twice, ate in 3 different restaurants, met some new folks, saw some excellent scenery, and had a great time! The trails were awesome all weekend, the number of snowmobiles whose path we crossed was very low, not sure if its the cold or the economy, but we saw maybe 40 snowmobiles all weekend. That definitely makes for some...Happy Trails!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Warming Trend ?? Where??

Things are shaping up in the north! A prolonged cold spell and frequent small snowfalls have covered the trails and our land in a white, glistening blanket of winter gold. Great if you are a snowmobiler, but not so much if you hate cold weather. So where is this global warming I've been hearing so much about? Temperatures as low as minus 40 F last week up here, wish I had a history on my thermometer.
Due to the crazy weather this weekend, we decided to go up Sunday. Good choice. There were numerous spin outs all the way up to upper Vermont, and the ride up was about an hour or so longer than normal. Dad came up with me, his first trip up since his quadruple bypass in October. The last time he was up was when the foundation forms were put in. We got up there around 3:00 pm and checked into the hotel. We went up so he could check out the place, and I had some snow cleanup to take care of. We have the driveway plowed, but they can only get so close, and the snow is starting to pile up. So we had to clear a path out back for the propane tank installation and an area for the installers to work.

Dad even took a turn moving snow. Guess you can't let a quadruple bypass keep you down eh?

The men showed up early and set the tank out back on the corner of the building and then ran the piping upstairs.
The heater was installed on the back wall upstairs in the corner. It took the about 2 hours from start to finish. We turned it on and ran it for about a half hour and it heated the relatively barren upstairs from 21 to 40 degrees pretty quickly.
While we were at it, we installed an electric heater in the garage level to help melt the snow off the snowmobiles and take the chill out a little if you are working down there.
Of course the view of the mountains across the road were spectacular! It amazes me how beautiful the view is no matter what season. Spring and the fresh greens of fields and trees, summer, with the sun and clouds shading the hills, fall. with the fiery red, orange, and yellow, but my favorite still has to be winter, with the trees coated after a fresh snow.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year-New Beginnings

Happy New Year to all, hope everyone had a great holiday. Ours as you may have noticed was a little bittersweet (if not please see previous post) but you have to keep on moving. A long New Years weekend was in order and we decided to go up January 1 and get some work done on the garage. We stayed over till Sunday and got quite a bit accomplished, had a little fun and some unexpected adventures.
It was a cold weekend, temperatures never reaching 20 degrees. First order of business was to work on insulating the first floor or the garage portion. This was the easiest and required the least amount of cutting, fitting, and thanks to my wonderful wife, went up very quickly. With half of the garage section insulated by late Thursday, we went out for a short 50 mile ride on the snowmobile trails. The trails were in decent shape, a little thin in some open fields, and the occasional water hole that hadn't been filled in completely but pretty good riding overall.
By the time we got back the temperature had dropped quite a bit. The left is the temperature inside, and the right is outside.
On Friday we went to look at heaters for the upstairs and picked out a unit which should work out well, and that will be installed in a few weeks. After leaving we went in a different direction, and after a while we ended up kind of lost. We set up the GPS, and its first reaction was "whenever possible, make a legal U-Turn." Well I've heard that before and if you go a little further it comes around and find a new route. Finally it seemed to get back on track.Except for 1 thing. We were in Vermont. Roads sometimes are roads in the Summer, but not the Winter. Soon we were driving next to Uncle Willy's barn with the GPS showing a road, but not the terrain. There were however about 35 turkeys, which decided to promptly take flight.We went back to work on the rest of the first floor insulation, and a little cleanup and organization. We put up a few shelves to store some of the snowmobile gear, and worked on the insulation. Now the first floor is about done.
Saturday was a recreation day. Karen took Ryan out on the snowmobiles for a while and he did around a 20 mile round trip down to Marty's and the surrounding area. I stayed back to work on another project, a prototype snowmobile ramp, which passed its preliminary test very well. Ryan had a great time, and had some good photo opportunities.
This is the wall of ice on the railroad bed, a couple miles away, always a great photo spot. This next one is somewhere on the trails.
And finally the prodigal son (and wife) returns.

Later on Karen and I went out for a spin, and did another 50 or so miles. This time we chose a path less traveled, and went from Danville to St. Johnsbury, Waterford, and back through St. J. We stopped for a bite @ yes Petty Co Junction We drove back on some smaller trails and saw a spectacular sunset. Riding back we took the very less traveled trail, and soon the trail markers became fewer and farther between. It was dark and this trail was barely wide enough for a single snowmobile. One hill was blind and dark and sloped pretty bad, and before I knew it, I was tumbling down the hill, with the snowmobile tumbling over me. I wound up standing in a bathtub with the snowmobile upside down. A great guy Mark happened by and helped us get it righted, and up the hill. We sat there for a few with hearts pounding, a little shaky, and ego bruised and windshield and mirrors broken, but otherwise unscathed.

Neil Peart of the rock band Rush wrote in one of his books "adventures suck when your having them" and its true. It was easy to find a little humor in the spill since I wasn't hurt badly, but also lucky that a tree stopped the snowmobile from possibly landing on me. Even more funny was the fact I wound up standing in a bathtub on the edge of a snowmobile trail. I am just glad I had proper riding gear and a helmet on. And of course I was asked by Mark to stop and help someone in trouble on the trails in the future, as a kind of "Pay it Forward" We tend to do that anyway, but when someone stops and helps you out, you know its the right thing to do. I also learned to avoid trails marked in red on the map in the future (Red means stop now) :-)

Until next time safe travels! And remember folks, don't try this at home! =-)