Burlington and Beyond!

We left off our last post with our intention of flying home on Friday night (6/21) but Delta had other plans.  The delayed flight was going to be so late that we would miss our connection in Atlanta and no other flights were available. We were rebooked to an early morning flight on Saturday and returned back to the marina for another night on Island Office.  We flew home Saturday morning and had a wonderful weekend with family and friends. Denise was able to get a haircut, a pedicure and a few runs in with her family & friends. Mark was able to get his new notebook computer set up and we all shared a nice dinner with his mom, sister and brother-in-law.

We attempted to leave home and fly back to the boat on Tuesday evening, but once again a delayed flight and the connection to Burlington had to be rescheduled to an early flight on Wednesday morning.  This just meant another night in our dirt-home bed and a few more things done before returning to the boat.  As luck would have it, flight attendant friend (Susan) was on our outbound out of Orlando on Wednesday morning and she treated us like we were in First Class!

Flight Attendant Susan

Flight Attendant Susan

Once back on the boat, the adventures continued:

Burlington, VT (Wednesday, 6/26):
Once we landed at Burlington airport, we picked up a rental car as we had some provisioning to do before entering Canada. We also wanted to explore some of the area surrounding Burlington that required a car as they were too far to walk or bike.

Rental car in Burlington

Notice the license plates on the rental car

We returned to the boat pretty tired from the early morning flight and all the weekend activities. We had time to do a little work, talk to some of the local boaters, and take a quick nap.  It was now hot but not for long; in the late afternoon a weather front came through with fierce winds and rain.  And just like in FL, after the storm passed, we were treated to a lovely sunset and clearer skies.

Sunset over Lake C after the storm

Sunset over Lake C after the storm

Burlington, VT (Thursday, 6/27):
Today was a day of adventure and one where we got to play “tourist”.  We used the rental car to go to Stowe and the surrounding mountains.

Highway to Stowe

Highway to Stowe

But first we stopped in the town of Waterbury, where we visited the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.  We got to see how they make apple cider (and other products) by pressing Macintosh Apples, filtering, pasteurizing and then bottling the product.  We also got to taste some apple cider donuts which were delicious!

We had wanted to tour the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream plant that was nearby, but production was shut-down for a week of Preventative Maintenance. They would still take your money for a tour, but you would not see any ice cream being manufactured, so we passed on this excursion.

From there we headed to Stowe Village.  We walked around the downtown looking at the buildings and architecture, and browsed through some of the stores.  We then headed up Mountain Road, stopping along the way to check out the covered pedestrian bridge and the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church.

Once up Mountain Road we stopped at the Smuggler’s Notch Visitors Center and talked to the guide there. We discussed things to do in the area, most of which involved hiking. However, we were not equipped with hiking boots (only our Keene sandals) so that limited some of what we were going to be able to do.

Near the visitor’s center we walked to the nearby wetland areas and saw the “Smugglers Notch” pass and a wetland area where beavers build dams that keep the ecosystem in check.

We then continued up Mountain Road to a place near Sterling Pond (too rough for us to hike to in sandals) and stopped to look at the rock formations.

Near Smuggler's Notch and Sterling Pond

Near Smugglers Notch and Sterling Pond

We then went down Mountain Rd to Bingham Falls, which we had passed along the way up the mountain.  It was quite a hike down along the falls and we could really only get a few glimpses of the falls. The path down was steep and full of rocks, and a lot of the edge was roped off as the soil was wet and unstable.  We got to a point where we did not feel comfortable going any further, so we never made it all the way down to the bottom to see the full affect, and we still had to hike all the way back up to the car. It was a good work out, but would have been more fun if we had the right shoes.

Bingham Falls

Bingham Falls

Steep climb up rocks at Bingham Falls

Steep climb up rocks at Bingham Falls

By the time we got back to the car it was way past a normal lunch hour, and the apple cider donuts were no longer sustaining us. We drove down Mountain Road and headed to the von Trapp Lodge for some lunch. The lodge is owned by the von Trapp family, who settled here after fleeing Austria during the German occupation. We all know this story from The Sound of Music.  However, not everyone knows that the family still owns and runs this now resort in Vermont.  In addition to the main lodging complex, there is pool and recreation area, timeshare villas, a bakery-delicatessen and a “Brewery & Bierhall”.  The views from the main lodge are spectacular and worth the drive if for no other reason.  We ended up eating a late lunch at the Brewery & Bierhall and learned we had just missed Johannes the youngest of the original von Trapp family. He is in his 80’s now, but frequents the Bierhall which is decorated throughout with his safari big-game trophies.

We left the von Trapp Bierhall and headed back to Burlington, stopping along the way at Cabot Cheese farm store in Waterbury where we got to sample and purchase some Vermont cheese.

Cabot Cheese farm store

Cabot Cheese farm store

We then headed to West Marine and Costco for our last stock-up before going into Canada.  We returned back to the boat for the evening and for a quiet light meal aboard our floating home.

Burlington, VT (Friday, 6/28):
Mark started the day washing the port side of the boat hull.  There was still the foam residue since the flooding in Vergennes, and we had not had time to do it before leaving for home.  Since we were in a slip with long finger piers, he took advantage of it and managed to get the one side done.  Then we moved the boat to a new slip as we had extended our original planned departure but it was the only way the marina could accommodate our extension.  The new slip was only a few away from the existing one, but was on a starboard tie, so we had to move fenders and lines.  This afforded Mark the opportunity to then wash the other side of the hull.

IO in second slip

IO in second slip

But the deck, top and cockpit would have to wait as we were in a race against time: by 9:00 am we had to get the rental car off the street parking, or put more money in the meter, which is done via a phone app. Who knew that parking fees would move into the 21st century?  But if you don’t have a smartphone; the meters still take coins.  Since there was no way we were going to make it, we just added more money for 30 extra minutes.  We did have places to go, however, and so we had to get moving to get our errands done and in time to get the car back to the airport by noon.

So off we went to a liquor store (more pre-Canadian provisioning), then to the grocery store being careful not to overbuy. There are several items that are on our usual shopping list that we cannot take into Canada. We remembered apples and fruits with seeds or pits from the Loop trip in 2015. However, a local boater we met in the marina also advised that peppers (red, green, jalapeno, etc.) all have to be cut up and have the seeds removed, or they will not be allowed in.  But we still needed milk, yogurt and other items that we can’t keep large quantities of in our small refrigerator.  We will pick up the other items at a grocery store as soon as we get into Canada.

Once this was done, Denise was dropped at the marina while Mark returned the rental car to the airport and caught an Uber back to the boat – all in time for lunch.  We then spent the entire afternoon doing work for clients, attending to some business issues, and writing a proposal for another project for an existing client.  We like that repeat business!

In the evening we decided to explore the downtown area, including Church Street, a pedestrian-only street with all kinds of restaurants and shops.  While there are the usual places (Starbucks, Eddie Bauer, etc.) there are also many local shops and that is what makes it so interesting.  There was much to see and on a Friday night the sidewalk cafés were full and the street performers were out.

We ate dinner at “The Farmhouse”, a place Nancy & Rob (“Misty”) had recommended to us (along with a slew of other places to eat).  There was a long wait inside the restaurant, but we got an outdoor table in the beer garden.  Although forecasted to rain, it seemed to have held off so we were able to enjoy a delicious farm-to-table meal and had fun watching all the people.

Afterwards, we walked further up Church Street and here we saw former Presidential candidate Howard Dean (DEM) talking to some of his friends.  Mark recognized his voice and was pretty sure it was him, so we nonchalantly turned around to get a second look.

Howard Dean on Church St.

Howard Dean on Church St.

After that we walked around some of the other streets and then meandered back down the hill to the marina, stopping for an ice cream at the Burlington Bay Market which was located right up the hill from the marina.

Walking back to the boat we stopped to talk to some of the boaters who had come during the day. The marina was packed and almost all of the boats were from the Montreal area. It provided a good opportunity for Denise to practice a little bit of her (awful) French, and for us to glean information from those who flock south to this beautiful place every year.  And the rain never came and we were treated to a spectacular sunset once again.

Sunset on Lake C

Sunset on Lake C

Burlington, VT (Saturday, 6/29):
Denise finally had the opportunity to go for a run and was hopeful to get in some good distance. The venue was perfect as there is a long flat bike and pedestrian path that follows the shoreline of the lake. It is nirvana for runners and there were many out with the same idea. However, her right leg and back continues to plague her and after 3 miles she had to quit.  But along the way she passed by the new marina, a skate park, the Sailing Center, a campground and cemetery.  And the views of the NY Adirondack Mountains across the lake were spectacular.

Once back on the boat, the chore list was handed out by the captain. He would be cleaning the rest of the boat on the outside while the Admiral would scrub the inside. So we buckled down and were hard at work, all the while watching the usual daily activities in this busy marina.  In addition to cruisers coming and going, there is the tour boat “Spirit of Ethan Allen” that goes out at least 5 times a day. There is also a charter sailboat business that has two “Friendship” class sloops that takes people out.  And at the pier next to the marina is the ferry dock which takes cars, bikes and pedestrians over to the “NY side” of the lake.

The marina also has a restaurant and bar (“Splash”) and many people come down to the water to eat or drink there. As it is a community marina, there are Adirondack chairs on the dock, and many people come just to see the sun set.  Likewise local boaters pull up for a drink or a dinner, or to have fun with friends.

Also along the waterfront and near the south docks of the marina is the museum known as the Echo. It is mostly a children’s museum, but also has a 3-d movie theater in it. Next door to it a University of Vermont Energy Research lab, and across from the Echo is the train station and Bob’s Ice Cream. If you continue south between the marina and the ferry dock there is a special piece of land that houses a Navy Memorial.  The US Navy was born on Lake Champlain and this memorial is here to honor the men and women who served in the US Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Maritime Academy.

After our boat chores and showers, we walked back into town and to the Cathedral of St. Joseph.  Here they have a 4:00 pm mass that they unfortunately had to have in the basement chapel. The marble staircase leading up the main sanctuary was undergoing a 4-month renovation and restoration project, rendering the main church inaccessible for mass participants. While we were grateful for a church in walking distance, we felt cheated when after mass we had the opportunity to see the main sanctuary. How can you not be inspired in this place!

In the evening, we were finally able to meet up with friends Wendy & Bruce.  They came to the boat for cocktails and brought some treasures of Vermont Cheese and beer. What a great gesture!  We walked up the hill to Church St. where they had made reservations at a French bistro restaurant (also recommended by friends on “Misty”).  Although we wanted to eat outside (café-style), they seated us upstairs and at a window table.  This worked to our advantage as the rain finally came and we did not have to get wet. We had a wonderful meal and enjoyed our time getting to know each other better. It is too funny that we live 4 streets apart in Winter Park, but had to see each other here in Burlington.  It was a fun evening and we are so glad we got to know these fine people.

Burlington, VT (Sunday, 6/30):
It rained all night long with some hard rain and blowing wind out of the North. The temperature dropped again into the low 60’s and the day was beautiful.  We hung out around the boat and the docks for a while and then decided to go to the LL Bean store near Church St. in hopes of replacing Denise’s backpack.  But first we wanted some lunch so we went to Uncle Henry’s (recommended by “Misty”) and had a terrific meal.  It was so filling that neither of us were hungry for dinner later in the evening.

We did some window shopping, nixed the back pack, but found Denise a dress at another (local Canadian) store, and walked back to the boat. We then planned an itinerary for the next several days and Mark shopped for fuel to top off before going into Canada.  Denise spent time doing major cataloging of pictures and we talked with family on the phone.

We have enjoyed our time in Burlington and find this area is so interesting. There is so much to do and see, and there is always some activity going on.  Politics aside, this is a great city to put on the radar and come visit, although it is probably better in the summer when the lake is not frozen with ice.  Here are some other pictures from our time in Burlington:

Tomorrow we are leaving and heading north.  We would love to hang out here longer, but we have other places we want to go and see, and Canada is calling.

Stave Island, VT (Monday, 7/1):
We left our slip early and headed to the marina service dock for a pump-out just as the marina opened.  We were assisted by the usual summer helpers and were not there long before saying goodbye to Burlington. We headed south for 2 miles then to Shelburne Yacht Basin to take on fuel at the cheapest price in the area.  It would be 9:30 before we finally set out and headed north, but we were not going far so it didn’t matter too much.

Our destination is a privately owned island where the owners generously maintain a few mooring balls for guests. You are not allowed to go ashore, but the scenery and view is spectacular.  We learned of this place from a local when we were in Burlington and decided to check it out.  When we arrived there was another sailboat in the cove, but there were several other empty moorings and we chose the one that was furthest away from land.  There was a man working on the floating docks on shore, and a sailboat was tied to the owner’s fixed wall dock. There was almost no wind and since it was not a weekend there was little boat traffic (or jet skis) creating rocking wakes.  However, it was hot and very buggy, so eventually we had to crank up the generator and turn on the air conditioner.

We spent the entire afternoon planning our next week and abandoning our previous itinerary in favor of spending more time in Canada.  We changed and made future marina reservations that will take us through the Chambly Canal, the Richelieu River, into the St .Lawrence River and a weekend in Quebec City. Denise also worked on cataloging pictures and writing this latest blog.

In late afternoon a local kayaker (named “Mark”) came by and talked with us for a while. He had his sailboat on the other side of the island and told us about his plans to retire and do some cruising, but not the Great Loop.

Kayaker "Mark"

Kayaker “Mark”

We then watched a down-east boat come into the cove and pick up the mooring that the sailboat originally had.  Then the man from shore took his dinghy out to this boat and then eventually back to his sailboat on the dock.   He left, but the Downeast boat stayed for the night.  We watched all this while speculating on who these people were and did either of them own the house and property with such a spectacular view.

Cove at Stave Island

Cove at Stave Island

Meanwhile Mark grilled a few burgers on the barbeque for dinner and eventually when the sun started to set we were able to turn off the generator.  We were hopeful for a great sunset and seeing lots of stars (a main reason for anchoring), but a cloud cover came in and squashed both of these ideas.  As soon as it was dark we turned in for the evening, hoping to get a good night’s sleep.

Rouses Point, VT – Gaines Marina (Tuesday, 7/2):
During the night the wind kicked up and turned our boat in all kinds of directions on the mooring.  The waves were banging loudly against the hull and caused a rolling action that was uncomfortable, keeping us up and down all night.  Just before dawn the wind settled down and things were calm enough for us to sleep in and get some rest.

The Downeast boat left the anchorage at 8:00 am and we considered taking the dinghy out to explore around the island, especially with no one around. But we were anxious to get to a place where we could do some work and make preparations before entering into Canada.

So by 8:30 we left Stave Island and headed north, passing Valcour Island and Isle La Motte (with a shrine to St. Anne); they will have to wait for another time.  Along the way the lake narrows and we watched the Adirondack Mountains fade to hills and eventually to more flat land.  The same was true on the Vermont side, but far away we could catch glimpses of the White Mountains on the horizons.  The wind had picked up, but since it was out of the south the one foot waves were not uncomfortable, and they eventually faded as the land mass grew closer.

Approaching Gaines Marina

Approaching Gaines Marina

We pulled into the fuel dock at Gaines marina, only to top off the tank before heading into Canada. Then we pulled into our slip and began working on all the things we had to do. There was client work and business related items, as well as confirming upcoming marina reservations.  Denise also worked on the blog and downloading & cataloging pictures.

This marina sits less than one mile from the Canadian border and is full of Canadians who come to the Lake for the summer.  It is a big marina with a mooring field and winter storage, as well as many marine services.  But it sits in the town of Rouses Point which is about 30 miles north of Plattsburgh, NY and is a small but lovely town. The library and Catholic Church are directly across the street from the marina, and the pharma giant Pfizer has a plant 2 blocks away.

Gaines Marina buildings

Gaines Marina buildings Catholic church in background

For dinner we walked to a mostly-Italian restaurant called Angelo’s that was nothing special, but inexpensive and good.  The walk allowed us to see some of the houses in the neighborhood around the marina. It took about 15-minutes each way, but most of it was along the water and we didn’t mind the much-needed exercise.

After we got back from dinner we were visited by Gold Loopers Darcy & Wally (“Summertime”).  They live in inland Maine, but are leaving their boat here after having completed a cruise through the Thousand Islands. They have been through the Chambly locks and Richelieu River and shared some good information with us.  We appreciated their information and we agreed to stay in touch via our mutual blogs. And then we were treated to a great sunset.

Sunset over Gaines Marina

Sunset over Gaines Marina

Throughout the day today we met several Canadians and all are very friendly.  Some speak little English but still try to communicate and others are fluent in both English and French. Unlike when we were Ontario and everyone spoke English, people from Quebec speak French first.  We soon will be like them not fluent in the language of the land, but sharing all things boating.

Since we accelerated our schedule from previous plans, tomorrow we will be leaving the USA and entering Canada.  We will miss our nation’s’ birthday celebration on July 4th, but we will fly the American flag proudly.  We will still have email and cell phone access and should be able to stay in touch with everyone as usual.

Stay tuned for more of our adventures on Island Office.

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