June 15, ’07 Alburg, Vt

Hello again,

While we were in New York, we found and visited the Almonzo Wilder homestead.  If you read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (the Little House series) you remember she wrote one book, Farmer Boy, about her husband’s childhood.  Turns out the homestead was just a spit and a holler from where we were camped.  The house is the original one built by Almonzo’s father in the 1840s.  It has been restored and furnished with period pieces.  The barns had all collapsed, but have been rebuilt by the historical society in the late 20th century.  They plan to build a one room schoolhouse soon.  We found it quite interesting to see the layout of the self-sufficient farm from the mid 1800s.  They had sheep, cattle, horses and chickens.

Our last night in New York, a whopper of a storm came through with ferocious winds that rocked our RV, thunder and lightning, and pouring rain.  Amazingly, when we broke camp in the morning, it was nice and sunny.

We traveled a couple of hours to Alburg, Vermont.  It is in the extreme northwest corner of the state, surrounded by Lake Champlain.  (How can the town be surrounded by the lake you ask?  Well, just check your map if you don’t believe me. You can’t get there without crossing a bridge unless you want to go through Canada.)  There we were greeted by one of the students from my very last class.  Joe welcomed us to Vermont in a way we can only wish we were welcomed to every state.  He led us to his brother-in-law’s yard where they have hook-ups for several campers. (FREE CAMPING–YAY!)  Ray and Shirley are excellent “camp hosts”.  While we got set up, Joe’s wife Bonnie and a slew of Joe’s in-laws and cousins arrived.  Then they fixed a fabulous barbecue: chicken with Joe’s family recipe BBQ sauce, potatoes, tuna salad, and corn.  And later in the evening we had a HUGE bonfire and s’mores cooked by the intrepid Stefanie — lying prone to avoid getting singed by the flames.  They made us feel like one of the family, and we had a great time visiting with them all.

Now we are encamped near Randolph, in the middle of the state.  Our campground is only four twisty miles off the interstate.

Vermont is everything you have heard it is.  Quaint villages with beautiful Victorian houses.  Narrow country roads.  Forested mountains.  Covered bridges.  We will stay here month before moving on.  We have plenty of things on our agenda—topmost is a visit to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory.  We also have to check out the sugar maple business and get some fresh syrup.  We’ve already been to a farm that makes and sells cheese.  And we went to the Rock of Ages granite quarry and saw the HUGE chunks of rock they pull up out of the 600 foot pit.

I am fascinated with the names of towns around here.  It is like once they get a name they want to get their money’s worth out of it.  Take Randolph, for example:  there is Randolph, west of the interstate, and just east of the interstate you will find Randolph Center, and further east is East Randolph, North Randolph and South Randolph.  And if you got your map out to find Alberg, you may have noticed there is also Alburg Center, East Alburg, South Alburg (where Joe and Bonnie live), and Alburg Springs (home to Ray and Shirley and their very private campground).   The list just goes on and on: Roxbury, Roxbury Flat (as if there is anything flat in Vermont); Northfield, Northfield Falls, Northfield Center, South Northfield; New Haven, New Haven Mills, New Haven Junction; Monkton Ridge, Monkton Boro, East Monkton; East Topsham, West Topsham, Topsham Four Corners . . .  South Walden is actually further north than Walden and Walden Station, but not as far north as North Walden, don’t ask me why.

Until next time,