We woke up in Vermont on September 23rd in a WalMart parking lot. We got ourselves ready and set off through some fields and mountains towards Burlington, which is where the University of Vermont is located. We've been enjoying our unintentional college tour of the United States, as college towns are usually more our "scene"--probably because we grew up in one! Burlington was such a pleasant surprise! It's right up against Lake Champlain, and really seems to have a lot to offer. They have great little stores, a cute bookshop and a lot of interesting restaurants--on top of that there are also stores like Patagonia, Gap and what not. The main street is for pedestrians only, with market lights and benches lining the street, and just a few blocks away is the beautiful Lake Champlain.
Our day was spent walking in and out of stores, sitting on the couch in the bookstore reading and sitting in a coffee shop called Muddy Waters--which looks like an old saloon or something inside. We walked down to the lake where they built a nice boardwalk along the water, with swings and benches all along the side. We sat on one of the swings for a while looking at one of the most picturesque scenes--the Adirondack mountains towering over a calm, blue, expansive lake. We decided to get going after taking some pictures (and getting a snack at August First Bakery--August first is our anniversary, so we obviously had to get something...), and headed towards the Green Mountain National Forest!
After driving a couple of hours we reached a small town, and turned on a little street with houses on it--just beyond the houses was the entrance of the Green Mountains, and at the entrance was a small bridge. Just beyond that it turned into a dirt road which we drove down for a few miles--our cell service coming in and out, and our campsite choices limited. It is free to camp in the National Forest, but there are no amenities whatsoever. You basically have a small site with a fire pit, which means no bathrooms, no lights, no water, nothing. The campsites are pretty far apart, so even if other people were there you wouldn’t really feel like it..and with the bears and moose that are known to be around there, I’m glad we had our van to camp in. We turned onto an even more secluded path and when we reached a little bridge we decided to turn around and find our campsite because it was getting darker by the minute. We stopped at the bridge first, to fill our solar shower at the stream, and then headed back towards a few of the sites we had seen earlier. I think we found the prime spot in the GMNF--it was a horseshoe shaped site with a large rock in the middle of it that people before us had made into a fire pit, so we had some privacy and a neat fire spot.
We parked Penny next to the rock and started gathering sticks for a fire, and after a while we went to sleep. The next day John woke up and started the fire because it was pretty cold out--he ended up spending the better part of his day chopping up fallen trees and gathering sticks to keep the fire going. We thought maybe we would do some exploring that day, but we ended up just enjoying ourselves in our little campsite. I wrote in my journal, we played UNO, we made breakfast, lunch and dinner, and got to take (freezing cold) showers--before we even knew it, it was getting dark out! Because we were there off season, there was literally no one around--every couple hours a car would drive by, but no one was walking around or camping near us. There apparently are moose and bear around (although we haven’t seen one after spending almost a whole month in Maine, Vermont, Canada, upstate New York combined), so when it’s pitch black and there’s no sounds but the crunching of leaves in the woods and you have to pee at 10 o’clock at night...not cool.
The next morning we woke up and got ourselves ready to go to the Adirondacks in New York. It was so nice to spend a little bit of time in the woods after being in WalMart parking lots for over a week, and now we were ready to be in a real house! My aunt Sue and uncle Don have a cabin in Speculator, NY, which is where my whole Mom’s side of the family has gone in the summer since I was in pre-school. After my phase of “why don’t we go on real vacations to the bahama’s like everyone elssseeeuh,” I’ve come to crave going to the mountains and living on the lake in a podunk town like Speculator.
My aunt and uncle’s cabin is right on the water, and we were excited to be in a comfortable place that we could catch up on the work we needed to do! When we got there we unpacked our stuff and ate snacks with aunt Sue and filled her in on our trip so far, and when she made dinner I FaceTimed my mom. We were both bummed that she wasn’t able to meet us up there for a few days (it’s only about 7 hours away from home), but it was nice to stay with my aunt for a few days.
Although we were in the heart of the beautiful adirondacks--I’m not kidding--we barely left the cabin! We spent most of the week next to the fire, John getting caught up and ahead with his leather work, and I finishing my thank you notes from our wedding (finally!!!!) and getting a few blog posts written. It’s pretty hard to stay on top of things when you don’t have consistent WiFi or a power source, so it was amazing to have literally nothing on our plate for a week other than getting things done! We were also fortunate because the weather was in the 30’s and 40’s most of the week and it torrentially downpoured for 2 days straight, so having a warm bed and an actual house to be in, rather than being stuck in the van for that time.
On Monday was the blood moon, so we made a fire and sat outside watching it--the moon was right above the lake and the sky was perfectly clear. The next couple days were spent hiding from the rain, making soup, playing Scrabble, rekindling our (my) love of Netflix, tending to the fire and catching up. After the rain stopped on Wednesday, we tried to leave to go to the Post Office--their cabin has no official driveway and we were parked in the grass, so of course we got totally stuck in their yard! Penny left 5 inch deep tracks in the grass from the skidding and sliding she was doing..we (I) eventually pushed her out, and we quickly went back and tried to repair the damage to the lawn. Sorry uncle Don, we did our best! Uncle Don and aunt Sue came back up to the cabin Thursday evening and we spent the night eating hamburgers and playing Bananagrams.
On Friday John and I went to Auger Falls, which is a very short hike a few miles from the cabin. We went last summer and (kinda) took some “engagement pictures” there, and spent hours looking at the mushrooms and moss growing on the forest floor. A lot of the greenery and mushrooms along the way were gone for the season, but the falls made up for it with their power. Because of the amount of rain we had gotten that week the falls were coming with such force--we sat on a rock and watched the water rush through the rock beds. (John here >) I don't know why, but something about this place is magical to me. The smells, sounds, roots, moss, really everything about this place is perfect. Other people seem to not quite share my enthusiasm... Thats fine, when I build a little cabin behind a rock here, I won't have to worry about too many people coming by.
The next day we went to the World’s Largest Garage Sale in Warrensburg, NY with my aunt and uncle, and uncle Don’s brother and his girlfriend (who had come up the night before). The whole main street of the town was covered with tents with individuals and vendors selling everything you could possibly imagine! It’s kind of nice to be stuck in a van, because we literally can’t buy anything big since we have no room for it! We were there for literally 6 hours and we still didn’t see a lot of it! We left with a coyote’s face, a small Penny, a CocaCola pin, a small Jesus statue and a few old souvenir post card envelopes. We went back to the cabin and stopped at a few pretty spots to take pictures along the way.
The next morning we were setting off for Niagara Falls, so we ate a big breakfast and started gathering our things to put back in the van. Aunt Sue and uncle Don came to take a picture of us in front of Lake Pleasant, we said our goodbyes, and left--kind of bummed out that we had to leave the comfort of the cabin, and a little nervous to begin van life again. Although we didn’t technically do much that week it was still perfect..we were able to get everything done that we wanted to and more, and we had a chance to sleep in a comfortable bed, relax, cook in a real kitchen (standing up), spend a little time across the room from each other, I got to binge watch Grey’s Anatomy, and we got to wake up with a lake right outside of our window with beautiful color changing trees surrounding it. It was exactly what we needed before the next leg of our trip, and I don’t think we could have thanked my aunt and uncle enough for letting us stay there. We can’t wait to (hopefully) come back in the summer with our family, it can’t come soon enough!
Here are some extra photos from around the Adirondacks, a local farmers market, the lake, and Johns leatherwork that he got done!