Visiting in Vermont

19 Jun


Nestled in the valley just north of Brattleboro is Green Mountain Spinners. A visit was a must as we drove north. I had called ahead and set up a tour of the facility, we were greeted warmly, haRVey’s size being remarked upon as it filled in a corner of the small parking lot.

From the tiny sales area were taken through into the spinning facility where antique machines turn raw fleece into wonderful soft spun yarns. After washing, fleece is dried in a spin dryer dating from the 1890’s , the huge carding machine (1916) with its fine needles teases out the debris, smoothing the fibres to make the roving suitable to be processed on the spinning machine. The carding machine was not working as it was being cleaned; this was a plus as we could see the detail of the machine at close quarters. I would have loved to see it working too, to watch the process in action.

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In the far end of the facility where the spun yarn gets turned into hanks it seemed like a blue day!


How wonderful to be surrounded by colour like this in your working day.

As usual we chatted lots. A two way affair, I wanted to hear all about the yarn, the staff were interested in us and our travelling. Having purchased some yarn we set off for Plymouth and the campground being run by Deb and Ed Lord who we had met in Florida last December while they were ‘wintering’.

As we drove along tree covered roads the mountains began to rise at the sides of us, small streams and then lakes, all green and pleasant with the sun shining down.


We arrived at the campground to be reunited with our friends, backed into a lovely spot beside the stream and prepared for two days of catching up.


That evening Ed drove us out around dusk in search of Moose which live locally. He was sure we would catch a glimpse of one very easily at a location just along the road. We perhaps should have warned him sooner about our ability to not see wildlife in even the best of locations. We drove up and down the road several times past the wet boggy ponds the Moose love to feed in, we pulled over at a car park and sat a while looking at a very pretty but, empty of Moose, lake. Not to be defeated Ed decided to try one final location, then just at the side of a small bridge he pulled up sharp as Mr Mousse, looking a little startled picked his head up and looked at us before moving a little further from the highway! By this time it was almost dark, Mr Mousse was not as close as he could have been but…..


Can you see him?

Not only did we catch up on the conversation Robert spent an entire day washing down haRVey, cleaning every nook and cranny and making him the envy of the park!

As we said goodnight to our friends the clouds were looming in the valley, thunder perhaps? We decided it would probably pass us by….. it didn’t, by next morning everywhere was wet and muddy, haRVey was still mostly clean when we pulled out of the campground but we knew he would not stay that way long. Robert was philosophical about it all, saying it was dirt on clean!

From Plymouth we had decided to visit Quechee Gorge State Park, by now the sun was once more out the temperatures soaring, we chose a site in shade to keep us cool. This is the way the weather has been of late, when its sunny its HOT, then the rain comes down, the temperature drops, we feel like we are in winter again. The cycle continues.

So, a spot in the shade sorted and all set up, we took a walk to view the gorge. Mist from the storms still hanging in the hills, water gushing through the rocky gorge below us.


Quechee village was (supposedly) a short pleasant walk away, alongside the gorge, between two ponds, a short walk along the road ….. we would be there. So we set off next morning, again in lovely sunshine. An easy walk through the woods, a stroll through the meadow beside the ponds, iris were in full flower at the waters edge. At the far side of the ponds we joined the road, no footpath, no matter it wasn’t far! Hmm…. Further than we thought or would have liked it to be. Walking along a narrow highway with no footpath is not fun, it wasn’t very busy but that can be even more dangerous as the car  drivers are really not expecting you.



When we did arrive at the village the first thing we saw was one of the famous Vermont covered bridges straddling a road out of town, taking it over the falls next to an old mill building. The building now houses one of the Simon Pearce glass making facilities. A lovely show room, restaurant and demonstration area fill the building and once more give it a productive life. After browsing the showroom we had coffee in the restaurant where our table in the screened annex looked over the falls, we could have stayed longer just looking at the view.


Downstairs we watched while the expert glass blowers moulded the signature clear glass Simon Pearce is famous for. A young man eight months into his training was assisting one of the experts who explained they presently have several apprentice which slows them down a little but eventually will lead to more experts in the business. He saw this as an opportunity for him to grow in experience too, enjoying the process of passing on his knowledge. We also discovered that business had restored the mill hydro system installing new equipment a great cost in the 1980’s? but now supplying the power for the building selling excess off to the grid.


Back at our site the prospect of a lovely warm evening prompted us to have a camp fire, something we do very occasionally as we don’t enjoy smelling smoky! It being Friday night – pizza night we sat beside our fire with our pizza and played out our regular backgammon challenge. We managed all this without one insect attack – remarkable; maybe it was the smoke that kept them at bay!

In the early hours the rain once again began to patter on the roof. Saturday arrived grey and wet, we decided to utilise it by driving over to Lebanon to stock up on our groceries.

Sunday was not a lot brighter an indoor pursuit was required once more. The American Precision Museum in Windsor had taken Robert’s interest so we looked for a camp site nearby for the night enabling a visit.

Parking in Windsor was a little interesting but eventually we settled in a spot around IMG_0341the corner from the old armoury building which houses the museum. We had arrived on one of their special days and the $6 per person charge was not being applied! Lucky us. The charge however would have been worth it to see the old machine tools housed there and also the display of working models. I often find things I expect not to have an interest in actually turn out surprisingly interesting, this was one. Robert will go into much more detail I am sure in his monthly blog at



We had been having a little difficulty starting haRVey, the battery was the suspect so Tuesday first thing we decided to get it checked rather than get stranded somewhere. The garage plugged us into a diagnostic machine which revealed no issues but the prognosis is that in the near future we perhaps will require a new battery.

Satisfied we were fine, we drove north enjoying the rural countryside of Vermont. A small State with one of the smallest populations it comprises a few major towns. The city of Burlington has the largest population, Montpellier the capitol is very small we discovered when we drove through its centre. We mostly encountered either small communities with a cluster of houses or individual farms nestling below the green tree covered mountains. Vermont has not always been this green, early settlers saw the native trees as an opportunity to make money, cleared the land for timber and created farms on the thin fertile soil. Storms and erosion then began to change the land dramatically. During a visit to the National Park in Woodstock we heard the stories of three environmentally aware men and their families who were instrumental in restoring the landscape of Vermont. They consecutively lived at the house now known as the Marsh,Billings Rockefeller Mansion, all took an interest in the surroundings, passing on the ethos of stewardship of the land to present day generations.

Somewhere along the route we stopped for lunch, a strong smell like hot oil filtered in through the open windows. We blamed a small garage just along the road thinking they must be working on something which was causing the smell. Later when we stopped for the night we smelled it again….. long story short, we eventually discovered we had some sort of leak spraying either brake fluid or oil under the rear of haRVey. Lots of telephone calls between Ford and a suitable garage eventually meant we had a 60 mile ‘limp’ to Swanton to get fixed.

I am sitting in the garage right now waiting while haRVey has his wheels removed to replace a seal on the rear axle…..

With the repair complete we drove west of Swanton to Lake Champlain. Following on from a severe winter a wet spring has bought extensive flooding to the areas around the lake. Grand Isle State Park fortunately stands a little higher than the lake and has escaped the worst of any damage. The park was more a convenient stop over for us than a destination, however, strolling to the lake to take in the view the mountains a little further east beckoned us. We had driven (slowly and carefully) past the foot hills on our route to the garage, our intention previously had been to drive up to Canada along a route through the mountains, we felt we had missed out. A quick calculation on time and miles, a check of the Vermont Campground Directory led to a telephone call to book a site for the week end in Jay, mountains here we come!



One Response to “Visiting in Vermont”

  1. gracey June 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Vermont is a beautiful state! It is very rural! I know on one of your post you said you don’t always have a plan…just an FYI…the second Saturday in July in PA, Amish country…there is an Amish quilt auction…not sure if you have been to one…I went to my first last year….and am planning on going again this year…I stay with a friend who lives there…

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