Saturday, July 25, 2009

Last Day on the AT

Sisters at the Wintturi Shelter

Enjoying Lunch at the Shelter

I had asked my nephew Matthew to do an AT section with me while I was in Vermont. He was free the last day of the conference. My sister and brother-in-law asked to join us. I decided the section from Green Gate Road to Vermont 12 would work well because the guide book stated there was a 400 foot elevation gain if one walked from south to north. The elevation diagram on the map showed a climb at the very beginning of the hike and then a long, gradual walk down to Route 12. The section is near Woodstock, VT, not that far from Matt's home in NH.

We met in downtown Woodstock, shuttled the cars and walked up an old woods road to access the AT. It was a bit of a climb up to the trail and the insects were out in force so we stopped to catch our breath and apply insect repellent. Soon we were at the ridge line and saw the first blaze. We continued to climb, passed a lookout rock that didn't have much of a view and then started down toward the Wintturi Shelter, about .2 mile off the trail. It was time for lunch and we spent about a half hour eating and relaxing.

According to the guidebook, the shelter was built in 1994 to replace an older structure with the same name. It is named for longtime trail maintainer Mauri Wintturi and is maintained by the Green Mountain Club. It has wooden sheathing and a metal roof and would be a dry spot to spend the night. The notes on the wall are distances to spots on the trail both north and south. Every shelter has a notebook where hikers make comments or leave messages for those who might be a day or two behind them. I always like to make a note myself to commemorate the fact that I stopped there.

Leaving the shelter we expected a 3.8 mile gradual downhill walk to Vermont Route 12. At least that's what the guidebook said. Much of the walk was downhill, but near the end there were three sizable "bumps" which required uphill pushes just when we were getting tired. We were rewarded by some good views of Mt. Ascutney at the top of one of them, but Virginia in particular, felt betrayed by the guide book. And she had every right to feel that way.

We did finish and were fortunate that it did not rain on us. Here we are entering the parking lot at the end of the trail.

Virginia and Tom crossing the bridge to the parking lot

In front of the signpost in the parking lot at Route 12

Total mileage for the day: 6.1, 5.4 AT miles.

Photos from Vermont

When I got home today and got everything unpacked I discovered the downloading cord for the camera in a pocket of the camera bag. It was a relief to find it but a disappointment to realize I had it with me the whole time and could have done more blogging with photos while I was in Vermont. Oh, well...

Here are two photos of houses in Castleton. On the main street there was one historic home after another, all of them beautifully maintained.

Both of them look as if they are from the Revolutionary era. I've always wondered what it must have been like to live in a small town during that time. These homes seem to be quite substantial, owned by people of means. Still, it must have been hard to live in such a remote place particularly in the winter.

Here are some photos taken in the dining hall.

We lined up here to get the main course. Usually the line stretched out the door to the dining room.

This is the salad bar which was very good.

The main dining room was large and there was an attached sun room with additional seating space. Both rooms became incredibly noisy when full and it was hard for me to follow conversations.

I had most of my meals with old friends from the Mountain Club of Maryland. Some of these women hiked sections of the trail with me earlier this decade and it was a real pleasure to visit with them at mealtime.

After a few days in the noisy main dining hall we discovered there was a room off to the side that few people knew existed. It was so much easier to hear each other that we made this our regular meeting place for breakfast and dinner.

My accommodations, in Adams dormitory, were comfortable, but a bit strange. I was assigned to a suite with four double rooms. I had a room to myself and there were two men, also with their own rooms. There was a common living room and a common bathroom. The bathroom had two toilet stalls, two sinks and two showers. The showers had a common dressing room. None of us could understand how this assignment had been made so I went over to the registration desk to inquire. I was told that couples had requested to room together and the assignments began to get complicated so they just put everyone in rooms randomly. Fortunately the two men in my suite were respectful and we were able to give each other privacy particularly in the shower. Adams seemed to be the only dorm without a working elevator. I didn't mind climbing to the third floor but getting all the luggage in and out on the first and last days was a chore.

The dorm room was standard issue, not very different from the one I had in college back in the early sixties. It did have internet access so I was able to use my laptop.

I've noticed that beds in dorms now are raised allowing for storage room beneath them. The closet and drawer space was rather limited.

While it is good to be home, it was a wonderful conference. I'm really looking forward to the next one in 2011 in Emory, Virginia.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


I had intended to blog regularly while here in Vermont at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy meeting but when I unpacked I discovered I had forgotten the cord for downloading photos from the camera to the computer. What a bummer. As a result, I haven't been very motivated to take pictures.

It's been a good meeting, at Castleton State College in Castleton, Vermont. It's a pleasant enough campus although there is a lot of construction going on. The most annoying aspect of this is the constant beeping of the back-up alarms on the various pieces of machinery. Work starts at around 7 AM and today, at least, is still going on at 5:10 PM. It's been great to see old friends, particularly the women from Maryland who hiked with me when I was completing Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of Virginia. I ran into a man who hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc with us all those many years ago and the sister of a Whiting neighbor who lives in Wisconsin. I only see her at these biennial events.

I had registered for a different trail segmant every day except Monday. Saturday, on a hike designated moderate, with a steep uphill climb at the outset, I developed symptoms of heat stroke about a mile in. There was a doctor in the group who stayed with me, helping to cool me down, while the group continued on without us. Ultimately we returned to our cars and drove back to the campus. That was a disappointment. The next day, on another section with a similar elevation gain, the leader went more slowly and I was able to complete the hike. The weather was a bit cooler and less humid, but I wasn't moving along as quickly as I did last year. I think it's a result of my not keeping up with an exercise regimen.

Monday was the biennial meeting. Afterward I went biking on the Delaware and Hudson rail trail with a group. We biked down to Poultney, had some ice cream and biked back.

There has been quite a bit of rain in Vermont this summer and the trails are very muddy. I decided not to hike again because of my lack of stamina (didn't want to be holding other hikers up) and because I was tired of the mud. I've been taking a power walk each day on the rail trail and then spending time knitting and listening to books on my Ipod. I finished The White Tiger by Avarind Adiga and Made in the USA by Billie Letts.

I've got about ten inches done on the body of the Laughing Carrots sweater and I'm about ready to do the waffle trim before I start the carrot pattern and I was drawn back to the pink charity sweater for some reason. I've finished the cuff on one sleeve, almost completed the garter stitch edging on the body and am also working on the second sleeve (both at the same time--don't ask--it's knitting ADD). I don't have too much to finish on the Carlos growling dog sweater and the sleeves need finishing on the Oriental Lily dress. Carlos and Oriental Lily need to be finished before I go to Cali on July 31. I just can't seem to focus on one project at a time but I do ultimately get everything done.

No photos to post because of the missing cord. I'll get some up when I get home.

Tomorrow I'm meeting my sister, brother-in-law and nephew to hike a section of the AT over near Woodstock. Going south to north, which is my preferred direction, it's only 400 feet of elevation gain. Since I did 1500 on Sunday, albeit near the back of the pack, I should be able to manage. I'm really looking forward to seeing them.

Then it's time to head home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moving Along

Back in June I did a post on Acute Startitis, my diagnosis for the situation in which I found myself. Having nine unfinished projects was a shock to me. I discovered the total number when I cleaned up and reorganized the stash. At that time I made a commitment to get them finished before I started anything new. I've been plugging along and I've decided to do another update. I've made some progress on three projects. I wish I could show you something that's complete, but two of my projects are so close I can almost taste it.

The Opal Lily dress has one sleeve nearly finished.

Carlos, aka, Growling Dog, has one sleeve and the neck finished. I had a hard time picking up the same number of stitches for the second sleeve, but I think it will be okay. I hope to finish this one tonight at Knit Group. It's made of Berroco Comfort DK and I'm not very happy with this yarn. It's soft but it's very splitty. I really think this sweater would be much nicer if the pattern were rewritten for worsted weight yarn.

And, this is Decimal--doesn't look like much, does it? I frogged it today. I really didn't like the way it was shaping up. The original pattern called for a DK weight yarn and I thought I could make it with a worsted weight because I'm such a tight knitter. It just didn't look right and I haven't done any work on it since we got back from Florida. That in itself is a sign that it's a project that is just not meant to be. I'll have to find something new for the yarn.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Storm King

Here we are on the hill overlooking the wave field.

A friend suggested we take a day trip to Storm King Art Center to visit the sculpture garden. Coincidentally I had just heard an interview with Maya Lin, the environmental artist, on NPR. She designed a wave field at Storm King which was recently completed. It's situated at the far end of the property in what was formerly a gravel pit connected with the construction of the NY Thruway. The weather was ideal, warm and sunny. We arrived around 11 AM and caught the first tram. Dick and I disembarked near the wave field. Our friend chose to stay on the tram to enjoy a riding tour of the property. Dick and I climbed to the top of the hill where we could look down on the mounds of earth that resemble ocean waves. Each of the “waves” measures between 305 and 368 feet in length and, with the grasses, rises to a height of between ten and fifteen feet.The grass on the waves is not yet fully established but when it is, the public will be permitted to walk between and on the waves.

Dick and I then took a meandering walk past numerous sculptures as we made our way to the main building where we enjoyed a display of other works by Ms. Lin including models and drawings related to the design and building of the wave field and works relating to water including a representation of the Hudson River done in pins and one of the Yahtzee done in molten silver. We reunited with our friend and took the tram back to the parking area. The three of us had a pleasant lunch in historic Cornwall, NY and headed home.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I'm happy to report that I have finished the Weavers Wool Mini Shawl. Here's a photo of it blocking. The points on the chevron edging were curling up. I'm hoping that blocking will cure that. I have to give real credit to Patrice of ravelry whose modification of the original design I shamelessly copied. That's the wonderful thing about ravelry; the opportunity to see what other knitters have done with a particular pattern. Patrice also used Berroco Geode, in a different colorway, combining it with Berroco Ultra Alpaca. I had the Geode in my stash and had some Cascade 220 that complemented it. I'm happy with the color combination. Here's hoping the blocking is successful.

I'm sending off another letter and I discovered four $.18 stamps in the $.15 envelope. They commemorate the Space Shuttle. I'm not sure which year they date to. I've combined two of them with a $.08 stamp to obtain the requisite amount. Click on the photo to get a close-up look at the stamps.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Stamp Collection

My Dad had an extensive stamp collection. Shortly before he and my Mom moved to Vermont we took it to a stamp dealer in an attempt to sell it. Unfortunately we were informed that the collection was not worth much more than the face value of the stamps. A few short months after settling in Vermont, my Dad broke his hip and within ten days he was gone. My Mom began to use the stamps for letters. Eighteen months later, when we lost her as well, my sister and I were sorting through her belongings and found the stamps neatly sorted into envelopes by value. We divided them and I ended up with the following denominations: $.15, .13, .10, .08, .04 and .03. I've been using them for over a year now, doing the simple math to make combinations that will fit on the envelope and meet the requirements of the USPS. At first it was $.42 and now, of course, it's $.44. I'm fascinated by the stamps, how the designs have changed over the years. The $.03 stamps seem to date from the 1950's and are one color on a white background. Do you remember when it cost only $.03 to mail a letter? The $.13 stamps date from the 1970's. By that time, stamps seem to have become much more colorful and the art work is of a more playful nature.

I'm not sure if the collection ended with the $.15 stamps, which would have been from perhaps the '80's or whether my sister has some of the higher denomination stamps. I'll have to ask her. Recently my California son and daughter-in-law mentioned how interesting it was to receive mailings with the colorful stamps. Today, as I prepared the envelope for the monthly co-op maintenance fees it occurred to me that I should be getting a pictorial record. So, I'm going to be taking photos and posting them as I use the rest of the stamps. Here's the first one:

You can see I've used two $.15 stamps, one $.10 and a $.04 for a total of $.44. The evolving style is evident I think. Click on the picture to get a close up view of each stamp.

We pay almost all of our bills electronically so we don't use the stamps very often. I'll post one whenever I use one. When I am licking the stamps (they all predate the era of self-stick postage) I think of my Dad and how much pleasure it gave him to build this collection. Somehow using the stamps makes him feel closer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Progress

As you can see, I've made real progress on the Oriental Lily dress for Linny. The skirt is finished and I'm slogging along on one of the sleeves. This project is going to need some heavy blocking. I worked hard to keep the hem from curling in order to take the photo. As soon as I picked it up to work on it, the bottom curled right back up.

Last night was really fun. It was the fifth Tuesday and the Union County NJ Crafters Group does something celebratory whenever that happens. We meet the first and third Tuesdays at Starbucks and the second and fourth at the Coffee Beanery. For the fifth Tuesday in June, we decided to convene at The Tavern at The Stage Coach Inn in Scotch Plains. Shortly before we were scheduled to meet, there was a thunderstorm with heavy rain. We had hoped to eat on the patio and wondered if we would be able to do so. The indoor portion of The Tavern was crowded and it would not have been possible to get a table big enough to accomodate all of us. Fortunately the storm ended, the sun came out and The Tavern staff set about drying off all the outdoor tables. We did some eating and drinking as well as knitting and crocheting. The group ebbed and flowed as members arrived and left.

Here's a photo of the appetizers and the "pay what you want" barbecue (the dish on the right in the photo) which was delicious, a combination of chicken, ribs, brisket and sausage. You pay as much as you want and you get a gift certificate for a future meal.

We did some knitting and crocheting as well as eating.