Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hiking the Appalachian/Long Trail

Just over a mile up our road are three side trails leading to the Appalachian and Long Trails, which run concurrently here. So a mile and a half walk brings us on a footpath that leads south to Springer Mt. in Georgia and north to either Canada on the Long Trail or Mt. Katahdin in Maine on the Appalachian Trail. Often when I step out of my house I think of Bilbo and his wonderful poem "The Road Go Ever On" (credit of course to J.R.R. Tolkien).
"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."

I've been swept off down that road to many places in the world and hope it brings me to many others.

Doug and Scott S. on the suspension bridge at Clarendon
Gorge, part of the AT/LT

David and Scott at the south entrance to
the suspension bridge

Clarendon Gorge from the suspension bridge

View from the AT/LT looking west from the top of the ridge

Years ago I hiked the length of the Long Trail from Massachusetts to Canada, about half of it with Scott and the other half earlier, often alone. In a similar vein I connected sections of the Appalachian trail from the Maine border to that of New York. Completing the AT is on my bucket list. I vicariously attempted it supporting my son James' attempt back in 2001. He started from Springer Mt. on March 8 and made it almost to Virginia before stress fractures in his feet defeated him. But he had a wonderful time before that - and had provisions the envy of all others on the trail. That was my contribution to his trip.
Good friends of ours here in Shrewsbury, Gerry and Chyrl Martin, did the entire length in one season after retiring some years ago. It was very difficult but worth while for sure. Scott is not interested in that approach, but I might convince him to do sections with me at some point. Unfortunately with six months on the boat, this dream will have to wait.
But we do short hikes in this area on the trails a lot. These pictures were taken heading south from Rt. 103 and ending at Spring Lake Ranch, just up the road from us. Doug, David, Scott S., Scott and myself had a beautiful morning's trip. The trail starts by crossing the narrow suspension bridge hung over Clarendon Gorge and the Mill river. This bridge is dedicated to the memory of Robert Brugmann, a seventeen year old who was swept to his death in 1973 by the river. He was trying to cross it in high water after the old bridge was destroyed. It's a beautiful bridge and a lovely spot.
The trail climbs steeply up for a mile to a long ridge with some nice views to the west. It continues along that ridge to an old meadow, now filling in. A little later in the summer they'll be lots of blackberries and some blueberries there. At the next junction with a cross country trail, a side trail leads down to the left, criss crossing a power line, to Spring Lake. If you go right along the shore, you join the rutted dirt road that leads to Spring Lake Rd and back down to Rt. 103. If you walk all the way back to your car at the parking lot it's a total of 7.5 miles. Happily the last half of the hike in down hill!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vermont Symphony Orchestra

Scott and I all set up for a lovely dinner and concert

The musicians are tuning up and almost ready to start

Looking away from the concert hall, many people sat in
large family/friend groups socializing and eating before
the evening program.

During the second piece a light rain began to fall and
umbrellas appeared

The woman on the right doesn't seem to mind the rain - it
hasn't disturbed her nap! Check out the hardy gentleman
behind her using his jacket creatively. (tap on the photo
to enlarge it)

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO.org) was founded in 1934 by Alan Carter and he led them for over 40 years. After only two other music directors, Efrain Guigui and Kate Tamarkin, Jaime Laredo, the famous violinist, took over in 2000. It is the oldest state supported orchestra in the country. They give over 45 annual concerts all over the state and 176 school performances. It became quite famous nationally when it performed in each of the state's 251 cities and towns between 1984 and 1986. They don't have a home concert hall - the whole state is their venue.
This is our second summer series evening - last year it was at Okemo Resort and this year at the Polo grounds at Quechee. The orchestra gives 8 outdoor performances in their Summer Festival Tour.

The program, with Anthony Princiotti as conductor, was:

SMITH Star Spangled Banner
DVORAK Carnival Overture
HANDEL Overture from Music for the Royal Fireworks
BERLIOZ Ballet Music from Les Troyens
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV The Kalendar Prince from Scheherazade
MEYERBEER Coronation March from Le Proph├Ęte
ELLINGTON, arr. CUSTER Duke Ellington!
RODGERS, arr. BENNETT The King and I
TCHAIKOVSKY 1812 Overture

We arrived an hour and a half before the program and set up our picnic dinner. Many larger groups had already set up elaborate meals and were enjoying the perfect lawn set out in front of the tent covered stage. Our meal was potato and crabmeat salads with lettuce and tomatoes. This was accompanied by a gin and tonic first and a glass of white wine during dinner. I made a fresh fruit salad for dessert and happily the only food booth was ice cream, so we added some sorbet. Mid way through the second piece light rain began to fall. Resilient Vermonters all, no one left. Instead folks opened up their umbrellas or snuggled into their rain jackets and continued to enjoy the concert. The showers were brief however and only a few people got really wet. It was a warm evening so no damage done.
As the 1812 overture began, we noticed some bustling activity near the edge of the field and soon, on cue, the fireworks began. How marvelous! The pyrotechnics lasted through that piece and the next two shorter encores. Everyone clapped on time and cheered. What a wonderful late Fourth of July moment!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Fourth of July

Most of our friends got in the group picture this year. We are missing Julie and Nat, and Leslie and Rob.
Left to right; Rebecca, Debra, Scott S., Russ, Doug, Marty, Scott, Heather, James, Jenny, David W., Leslie, David S.
and in the front, Dick and Larry

Deb and I assemble pizzas
This was our 28th annual Fourth of July weekend and it was, as usual, a lot of fun. Happily the weather cooperated on the whole with mostly warm sunny days. Russ raced round and round Lake Rescue in his motor boat with everyone in turn; some waterskiing, tubing or just rubber necking. Dick and Debbie brought their twin kyacks and explored Spring Lake with it's family of loons. A hiking group went out each morning and tramped the Appalachian/Long Trail nearby. And the Shrewsbury Outing Club docks up at Spring Lake were well used. A group swam the length of the lake each day.

James, Dick and Doug pour over the Atlas to find Doug's
son Tom's Peace Corps location 
Food is generally the star of the show. Everyone brings several dishes or ingredients with them and meal planning involves choosing which ones to combine. The kitchen is a hub of activity before and after the meals. Some things are traditional, like Leslie's flag cake and others should be a tradition, like Rebecca's mojitos. Marty made amazing toasted coconut bars, Doug brought barbecued pulled pork and Debra's vegetable tarts were the star of one lunch. Scott S. organized his helpers for Thai fresh spring roll construction and James slaved over the stove to produce delicious Asparagus Risotto for 17 people. My Scott made four loaves of bread for the weekend using his new 6 hour no knead receipe.
As in most Fourth of July meals, the grill was smoking, presided over by Dick with several helpers. And those who didn't cook the meal, cleaned up afterwards.

We ate many of our meals out on the deck

But the best part of these weekends is spending time talking and relaxing with old and new friends. The mornings begin around 6AM and several hours are spent over endless cups of coffee or tea chatting or reading. The lounge chairs are always occupied with sun worshipers or others just taking a nap. With everyone chipping in on the cooking and cleaning - no one works too hard, especially the host and hostess!

Setting the automatic timer to take our group shot was
a group effort!

Jenny, looking chic as always

Mojito preperation - Nat, Julie, Jenny and Scott S.

Gathering out on the lawn for our group picture

Rebecca, Larry, Russ and Dave head out for some
water skiing

Rob, Scott S. and Leslie assemble Spring Rolls

Most of the group have been coming since the beginning and James, Jenny, Julie and Scott were babies at first. A few of our original friends have moved away and each year we enjoy meeting someone new so the cast of characters changes some. Still, a core of old friends look forward to this annual get together and we feel lucky to be part of this lovely tradition.