Right Next to Vermont

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The old joke goes like this: the best thing about Burlington is that it’s right next to Vermont. Funny, right? Well maybe not so much any more. Burlington is as much Vermont as Newport and Rutland, as Chelsea and Rupert. But here is something that isn’t a joke: New York is right next to Vermont, and it has some pretty sweet spots.

More than once on a summer evening we have taken a boat ride over to Essex, New York. Some dinner at the Old Dock, right on the water, and some ice cream at the scoop shop up the hill made for a fine end to a summer day. Since the ferry goes right to Essex, it is easy enough to walk on and ride it back to get home. No personal boat required.

I have taken that ferry many times to access the wonders of the Adirondacks. A couple of days ago a few of us took that ferry to take a hike. We took a car across and drove south from Essex. We arrived shortly at the trailhead to Split Rock. This preserved land has 11 miles of trails. We explored a few of those miles.

The woods are full of history. Wide spreading white pines tell of open fields. Thick, sturdy maples tell of houses that were shaded. We found cellar holes and rusted wheel wells from old cars. There is a wide diversity of trees, from sugar maples to red pine to hickory. The few birches, while and yellow, told us that the forest was old enough to have shaded those species mostly out. We saw garter snakes and the quills of a long dead porcupine. There was lots to see.

Most of what we saw was on the way out. This is because we had to hike fast when we started. There were so many mosquitoes that stopping for a minute or more was just not pleasant at all. We slapped and waved and brushed our way up to the first vista spot on our route. It was breezy there, with a nice enough view down to and across the lake. We watched sailboats and listened to Ospreys.

Our way down started along the ridge and we had another fine vista, this one more exposed with an even better view. The hike down was easy and gradual, and the mosquitoes had abated. We got back to the car for a late lunch and headed back into town. And that scoop shop? Still there. Went to it. Had delicious ice cream.

And we rode the ferry back. Riding the ferry on a perfect summer day, waves rolling across to Vermont, the sun shining on the islands and the mountains, the lake stretching north to Canada, really is hard to beat. We soaked in the beauty of it all as we stood on the deck, happy in the afternoon to be back home after a day spent next door.

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Channel on the Lake

Skinny Open Water

Skinny Open Water

Lake Champlain is way frozen. I took the ferry across and then back this weekend. Looking out over the lake I could see ice as far as I could see anything. It was clear and sunny and beautiful. A stunning crossing this afternoon. The ferry is doing the trick of keeping the water open so it can cross back and forth, but that is all the water that is open right now–a narrow channel.

We saw a couple of bald eagles on the way over. We saw lots of gulls on the way back. Ice and snow in the mountains topped it all off. Not a bad way to end/start the week.

Floating bits up close and ice to the horizon.

Floating bits up close and ice to the horizon.

Early Morning Visit to the Lake

Just getting light as I head out.

Just getting light as I head out.

Got up early this morning to go look for ducks. Because Lake Champlain is frozen over they have few places to go with open water. I went to the Lake Champlain Ferry dock in Charlotte. I was rewarded for my early efforts. There were hundreds of ducks of many kinds there.

Plus I saw two lifers: Barrow’s Goldeneye, which is not very common on Lake Champlain, a male and a female; plus a pair of Pintails. Stunning birds both.

The irony is that I am headed over to New York today so I will be taking the ferry from that very spot. I won’t have much time to look then but maybe I will get lucky. That is the great thing about birding. You really never know what you might see.

Waders and divers on the open water.

Waders and divers on the open water.

Seriously, how can I count all these little dudes?

Seriously, how can I count all these little dudes?

Beautiful Day and Up Early Tomorrow

Rode the ferry over to New York today. Had lunch, and an ice cream cone, and came back. Swam in the lake (only 59 degrees)–it felt great. A perfect June day. Tomorrow I am up early to go birding. 2:15. I could wait until 2:30 to rise but then I wouldn’t have coffee. No one has coffee to go at that hour so it’s make it or go without. Hopefully I will be successful in finding the birds I seek. Report tomorrow.

TTYL Vermont

One of two tractors, driven by teenagers, headed to New York

Like I said, a perfect day

The Merry Ferry

This morning I read this article in the Burlington Free Press that informs me this:

A Lake Champlain Transportation ferry struck pilings at the Grand Isle dock Friday night, sending four people to the hospital with minor injuries.

Apparently it hit the pilings so it would “avoid crashing into the dock.”  The pilings, of course, are there to keep the ferry from hitting the dock.  This ferry, however, must have been going too fast.  Not only did four people get injured, but one car was damaged and “the pilings were knocked over.”

Whoa there, Captain, hit the breaks.  I found this to be a strangely curious and, I admit, amusing, local story.  But then I saw this ad in Seven Days, our local weekly:

Breaking Through Indeed

Breaking Through Indeed

This was far more amusing that the story itself.  Who knew they meant it literally?