October 15 and 16, 2018

New England Trip – Days 3 and 4

  • 415 miles driven
  • 1.5 mile hiked/walked/ran (total)
  • 5 waterfalls seen
  • 8 geocaches found
  • 3 new state souvenirs earned

Day Three

We awoke at 8:00 am on October 15 in Preston, CT, packed up, and hit the road again. Our eventual destination for that evening was Stowe, VT, but we decided to take the scenic route in hope of seeing some fall colors at last. We decided not to eat breakfast at the hotel and to just grab something on the road.

As we drove the back roads of Connecticut we made an interesting discovery. Apparently, Connecticuters (Connecticotians?) do not eat out! We had driven nearly 30 minutes before encountering a sign directing us off the highway to a local diner in Bozrah, CT. As we debated about how to pronounce the name of the town, we each thought of different versions of the old joke about a couple arguing about how to pronounce the name of the town they are traveling through. My version has them in Kissimmee, FL with the husband saying KISS-uh-mee and the wife saying Keh-SIM-mee. They pull into a fast food drive thru, and at the window the man asks, “How do you pronounce this place?” The employee looks at him strangely and carefully enunciates, “Burger King.”

We had the Mains Country Store and Grill to ourselves on this mid-morning visit, and they cooked us up a fresh breakfast. As we were leaving, we asked the very friendly clerk how to pronounce the name of the town (Bahz-rah) and told her the joke.

We continued driving northwest and soon entered Massachusetts. I wanted to find at least one cache here to earn another state souvenir, so we pulled off at an exit to buy gasoline. I pulled up the geocaching app and saw that there was one very close, and I jumped out into the rain to find it. Yes, it had started raining by now, but that just meant a day of travel without the sun in our eyes.

It was only later that evening when I pulled up the cache again to log it that I learned something interesting. It had been hidden by a geocacher named TinySuperman. I thought, “That name sounds familiar,” and did some research. I was correct. I had already found a cache hidden by this cacher, but it was back home in Tennessee at Bays Mountain Park. TinySuperman had become Instagram friends with Cache Cracker Jacks (my friends Tom and Dori). He had asked them to hide a cache for him at Bays Mountain called “A Long Way from Home,” and had even sent them the container to do that. I related that story in my “found it” log that night. He took a screen shot of it and posted it on Instagram with the comment, “Thanks for the great log antbedy!”

After our pit stop in Massachusetts we continued north, and then veered west toward the Green Mountain National Forest. Our route brought us into the charming town of Bennington, Vermont around lunch time, so we decided to stop here to eat. We found parking along Main Street and decided to eat at the Madison Brewing Company & Restaurant. Neither of us are beer drinkers, but the menu looked appealing, and we had a nice meal there. We then enjoyed a stroll through downtown, visiting some of the shops, taking photos of some of the catamount statues spread around town, and logging a geocache. This was my first Vermont cache, so earned me another state souvenir.

Once we were back on the road, we drove north through the national forest. We started seeing some fall colors, but with such a dreary day much of the scenery was obscured by  fog and the photos I snapped through the car window didn’t do them justice.

It was about this point of the trip that we made another discovery. Whenever Deban drove, we had nice, straight roads a little traffic. Whenever it was my turn to drive, it seems we ended up on two-lane, curvy highways behind slow traffic. This pattern seemed to continue throughout our whole trip.

When we reached Hancock, VT, we made another stop so that we could visit a waterfall and find another geocache. It was 5:00 in the afternoon, so we decided to head toward the geocache first, and then come back to look at the falls. The app said we were .2 miles from it, which we surmised would not take too long. We crossed the stream on a bridge and started following the nature trail. As we crossed the bridge, Deban said, “We drove out of our way for THAT?” Clearly, she was not very impressed with the falls.

We had not gone far on the nature trail when I looked more closely at my map and realized that the geocache was not along this trail, but appeared to be further up the road past the parking area. I reported this to Deban, and she was happy to turn around since we were at the foot of a very steep hill that we would have to climb if we continued.

We returned to the bridge and explored the area around the falls. There are actually at least four different cascades/drops that make up these falls. We saw a trail to the bottom just past the bridge, so went down it to get a view from there. This is a place where I would have loved to have had my Nikon, tripod, and a wide angle lens to capture more of the waterfall’s beauty. I drank it in, and snapped what photos I could with my iPhone camera. From this lower view, I could see that there was a cave-like indention in the rock wall at the bottom of one of the drops, and I wished for a better vantage point to see more of it.

We climbed back up to the bridge, and I then followed a path that led down the other side of it and offered views of the water flowing under the bridge. From atop the bridge, Deban called down that she had changed her mind. It was a very pretty falls and she was glad we came.

Once we had returned to the car, Deban insisted that we take time to drive up the road and see if I could find the cache. However, we soon came to a place where we would have to park and cross a raging stream on foot to reach the cache site. I declared that it wasn’t worth going for this late in the day, when we still had another 1 1/2 to 2 hours to drive. Besides, with the rain, the rocks would have been very slippery and treacherous.

We turned around and drove back out to the main highway, and continued our trek northward. Deban was driving, and I was trying to use what daylight was left to knit a few more rows on the hat I was making. We had been driving about 20 minutes when I noticed that the road was following a good-sized stream. “I should put down my knitting and watch for road-side waterfalls,” I thought. Not fifteen seconds later, I saw a large waterfall cascading down the mountain to our left. I yelled something like, “Look at that!” scaring Deban to death. I continued, “Pull over right there!” pointing at a parking area, then spent the next few minutes apologizing to my shaken sweetheart for scaring her.

We had stumbled upon Moss Glenn Falls, which I learned later is considered the most photographed falls in the state. When we started following the boardwalk to the viewing point below this 35 foot high horsetail falls, we realized there was actually a second waterfall there as well. It is called Little Moss Glenn Falls, I suppose because it is much narrower than its sister. However, it is taller at 50 feet. There was just enough daylight left to get a few photos of both falls, and then we continued our journey northward.

We finally arrived in Stowe, VT at about 7:30 pm, and checked in to the Commodores Inn. This is an older property, but our room had been updated and was quite comfortable. We did laugh about the keys to the room: actual metal keys on rings with plastic tabs that had the room number on them. Accustomed to card entry systems in most hotels nowadays, this was reminiscent of simpler times.

After settling in our room, we made our way into the inn’s lounge and had a nice dinner. We then retired to our room and relaxed after a long day on the road. We could have reached Stowe much more quickly if we had stayed on the interstate most of the day, but would have missed so much along the way. We were happy to have experienced small town Vermont in Bennington, and I was especially happy to have seen three new waterfalls.

Day Four

The next morning we once again rose at 8:00 and enjoyed a very nice breakfast buffet at our inn. In the daylight I could see that the breakfast room overlooked a very pretty little lake and that the inn offered a variety of water craft with which to explore it. However, we had other plans for the day, and it looked very cold and windy on the water.

We needed to be at a certain nearby location at 10:45 am, but in the meantime I wanted to log a few geocaches. While relaxing the night before, I had noticed that there was another waterfall very close to our accommodations and that there was a geocache hidden there. Score!

After loading up the car, we made our way toward the coordinates for the geocache near Lower Village Falls. As we drove past the coordinates I saw no place to park. I remarked that we must need to be on the other side of the river, so we turned around at the police station and backtracked, then crossed the river on a bridge about a half mile downstream. The road took us to a parking area for a nearby business, and we pulled in. I could see the waterfall from here, but as I looked at the map, could tell that the geocache was back on the side of the river where we had started. Only then did I read the cache page and learn that we should have parked at the police station and walked .2 mile down a walking/bike trail to reach the cache. I got out of the car to take a couple of photos of the falls before we went to our proper parking spot. I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be a much better vantage point than I would find later on the other side.

When we had moved the car and walked to the cache location, Deban found it easily. While she isn’t the caching fanatic that I am, she does enjoy the hunt occasionally. We then walked back to the car and made our way up Mountain Road toward Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest mountain. We were in search of information needed to determine the final coordinates for a multi-cache. Once we had gathered that info, we still had a little time to spare before our 10:45 appointment. I consulted the geocaching app and found a cache called Bingham Falls. Never one to miss up the opportunity to visit a waterfall and geocache at the same time, I suggested we stop there as it was on our way.

The cache page said the hike to the geocache and falls was .2 miles, the same distance we had just done earlier that morning on the paved walking/bike trail. What it didn’t mention was that it was a a rather rocky trail, and was .2 miles downhill. Which means .2 miles UPHILL back to the car.

We reached the bottom and quickly veered off trail to find the cache. It took me a few minutes to locate it as GPS signal was not very good here. Deban had left the search to me because it was a a wet, marshy area. I finally located the cache, and it was large enough that I was able to leave a fairly big trackable I had been carrying in exchange for the one that was in the cache.

I finished my caching business, and rushed back to where Deban was walking along the creek. There did not seem to be a very good spot to see the falls from this side of the creek, but I climbed up on a large rock to snap a couple of quick photos. Since it was now only about 25 minutes until our appointment, I knew we needed to head back up the trail. I sent Deban ahead while I dashed across a foot bridge in search of a better vantage point. I took a couple more shots, and then followed Deban up the trail. It was quite a climb, and by the time we reached the vehicle we were both red-faced and out of breath.

I checked Google Maps, and saw that we had exactly enough time to get to our destination by 10:45. We pulled in with a couple of minutes to spare and I breathed a sigh of relief. If my pursuit of geocaches and waterfalls had caused us to miss this opportunity, I would have been very angry with myself.

We were at the Trapp Family Lodge. Anyone who knows Deban knows that she is a huge fan of the movie “The Sound of Music.” After the Von Trapp family (yes, they were a real family and much of what happened in the movie is true) left Austria, they settled in Stowe, VT. In 1950 they opened a lodge there, and it is still run by Maria and the Captain’s youngest son and his family.

Our 10:45 appointment was to join a daily Family History Tour. It began with an introductory session led by a long-time employee of the lodge. She offered a lot of insight into the family dynamics, what was true and what was creative license in the movie, and her personal history working for Maria Von Trapp.

One thing that we learned was that in addition to the seven children portrayed in the movie, Maria and the Captain had three additional children together. We also learned (SPOILER ALERT!) that the family did not make their escape from the Nazis by slipping out of Austria after a concert and crossing the mountains on foot. In reality, they left on a train.

The guide then led us outside to the family cemetery where we saw the graves of Maria, the Captain, and several of the children.

Our next stop was inside the lodge where we watched a documentary filmed in the 1980’s. It showed Maria’s journey back to Austria to visit the home they lived in there and reunite with persons from their past. The film included a great deal of time with Maria reminiscing about the time-frame covered in The Sound of Music, with her sharing more of the story. When the film was over, Maria’s grandson Sam spoke to us, and then answered questions.

This was an amazing experience, even for someone who has not been a life-long fan of the movie. I can’t imagine how thrilling it must have been for Deban, and I am so glad we did not miss this opportunity.

When the tour was over, we stopped at the entrance to the property so that Deban could take a picture of the sign, and so that I could find a geocache. We then drove into downtown Stowe and found a place to eat lunch. After our meal, we walked across the street to collect more information for the multi-cache we had started that morning. We visited a few stores, and Signal had his picture taken with a friendly bear. We then drove back out the Mountain Road to find the final stage of the multi-cache. It was along another section of the same walking trail we had been on earlier in the day.

After finding the multi, Deban returned to the car while I went a little further on the trail to find another nearby cache. This was hidden about 50 feet off the trail amidst towering reeds growing in a marshy area. As I pushed through the reeds, I saw a tent that made me pause. As I looked more closely, I could tell that it was empty and appeared to be abandoned. There were garbage bags, clothing, and bedding strewn all around the campsite. I had to walk right through the middle of it to reach the geocache, which was a bit unnerving. I signed the log quickly and ran most of the way back to the car.

We then drove to Lincoln, New Hampshire, our next stop in the journey. Passing through the Franconia Notch State Park and White Mountain national Forest, the colors were very pretty. Unfortunately, Deban slept through this part of the trip and missed them.

In Lincoln, we checked into our motel, which turned out to be our worst accommodations of the trip. Like the Commodores Inn in Stowe, this was an older property, but it had not been updated. We have stayed in worse rooms, and we would not have minded so much if the room had cost $50 to $60 instead of $160.

As usual, once we were in the room I pulled up the geocaching app to check for nearby caches. I discovered that I had solved a puzzle cache a few weeks prior to our trip and the final coordinates for it were right across the street. After resting a bit, we went out for dinner, and stopped by to find that cache.

Deban waited in the car while I searched the old steam engine for the cache. It was taking me a long time, so she finally got out to help. I eventually found it, and was happy to finally sign my name to the log since it was cold outside. After dinner at a Mexican restaurant, we retired to the room where I spent time logging the geocaches I had found that day, and then doing a little knitting.

When we were getting ready for bed, Deban said, “Do you have a sore on your back?” I reached around to feel where she directed, and could feel a bump with a head to it. Assuming it was a pimple, I prodded it. I grabbed hold of the “head” and yanked, then looked at what had come loose. It was a tick! I HATE TICKS! After checking each other to make certain there weren’t any more, Deban thoroughly cleaned the area it had been. I read that it can take three to thirty days for the symptoms of Lyme disease to appear. So far, so good! I kept the little bugger in a plastic bag, just in case.

We finally made it to bed, and rested up for the next day’s adventures. Stay tuned for the next installment.

 

 

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