Day 18 – Lake Champlain Loop

What a surprise…I awoke to rain, albeit a sprinkle relative to the last 24 hours.  My plan today was to complete a portion of the Lake Champlain Loop, driving from Whiteface Mountain all the way to the Canadian/New York/Vermont border and then south through some of Vermont’s islands in the lake.

I breifly stopped by Whiteface Mountain to see about taking the gondola ride.  I really wanted an overhead view of Lake Placid.  The chalkboard at the desk claimed a temparature of 46 degrees and visibility of 100 feet.  While visibility of 100 feet would have been nice for some of my SCUBA diving trips, it wasn’t enough to entice me to the top of the mountain.  Instead, I took a picture of the falls nearby the ski center and navigated to my next stop, Ausable Chasm.

Aside from it being down right COLD and RAINY, the chasm was awesome.  Instead of taking a “tour of nature”, I just took pictures from the roadside bridge and again, just looking down stopped me in my tracks.  The canyon’s sandstone walls are between 100 and 200 feet high, and the river, especially with all the rain, raged beneath the bridge almost creating a whirlpool.  Ausable Chasm was one of America’s first tourist attractions, and I can see why…a magnificent site.

I continued on to Plattsburgh and decided to take advantage of the light sprinkle and take a walk.  The weathermen predicted that the rain would clear out by the afternoon, but if they are anything like the weathermen in Texas, my migraine plagued head can determine the pressure systems better than they can.  Thus ye of little faith who also tried being optimistic to no avail yesterday, settled for a city walk with the mutts.  First, we stopped at the obelisk across from city hall that commemorates the last major naval battle during the War of 1812 – a victory for the American fleet.  According to Reader’s Digest, the obelisk is a tribute to Commodore Thomas Macdonough’s imagination, who “using a cat’s cradle of anchors and winches, was able to pivot his ships completely around in order to deliver double broadside to the British fleet.”

Being in the public finance arena for twelve years, I couldn’t help but take a picture of the city hall since it was right across the street.  I spent so much time in buildings like these, once even in lock down mode when it was thought a shooter was in a building, that I had to at least commemorate one municipal building.  I have seen some neat city halls driving through all these towns, too.  Before I left Plattsburg, I enjoyed a coffee at the local coffee shop, Koffee Kats and provisioned VANilla with meals for the next week at Price Chopper.  I was beginning to think I was at Luby’s Cafeteria for the blue hair special.  The man in line behind me determined that it was the first of the month and everyone had received his/her social security or unemployment check. As I left the store, I was suprised to see a parking spot reserved for customers with children right next to the handicap…that’s kind of nice.  A bigger surprise was to pass by a Kmart.  I thought they went out of business…I guess just in Texas.

Somewhere along my drive between Plattsburgh and Rouses Point, I came across a farm that must have had over 50 John Deere tractors lined up in a row in the field.  It reminded me of the Cadillacs half buried upside down along the side of the road near Amarillo.  By the time I thought to take a picture and got the camera, I had already passed about half of them.  This picture is for Brook.  I worked with him at Southwest Airlines, and he collected models of John Deere tractors.

As I crossed the bridge from New York to Vermont, at Reader’s Digest’s suggestion I looked to the left for a “glimpse of the stone ruins of Fort Montgomery”.  Its nickname is Fort Blunder as it was accidentally built on Canadian soil.  I took a picture while driving, so it’s sort of blurry, but I thought the blunder was worth recording.  How many people can say they accidentally built something in the wrong country!

I think the rain actually stopped…though I still had my windshield wipers going for all the spray.  In my book, it was definitely time for a nature walk.  Scout, Petey, and I took a nature trail and boardwalk that looped through the forest, past a pond, and over marshes at Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge.  In some places, we got to wade through inch deep water.  It continues to baffle me to see purple and yellow wildflowers in a field aside forests of fall colors.  For you Texans out there, can you imagine seeing blue bonnets in October?

I continued on to Isle La Motte, known for St. Anne’s Shrine.  St. Anne’s Shrine is the site of the first white settlement and the first Roman Catholic Mass in Vermont, held in 1666.  The site was very large containing historical markers about the French fort, gardens, and different areas of worship.  Just before I left Isle La Motte, I stopped to pick up a cache…one more state checked off the list.  It was hidden in a tree just off the shore of Lake Champlain.  I didn’t even notice all the ducks hiding in the marshy area until they flew away.  It was clearly a hunters paradise as I stepped over a shotgun shell in search of the cache.

I ended the night at Grand Isle State Park…there were only a few campers…I imagine the forecast wasn’t very enticing.  Ashley, one of the rangers, was very helpful.  I took the obligatory two loops around the grounds, picked site 3 that seemed relatively dry, left my computer with Ashley to charge, and went for my final hike of the day with the mutts.  I mistakenly left my camera behind, but most of the time, I was concentrating on not busting it on the slick boardwalk or taking slight detours as to not wade through small streams running down the path!  At least it wasn’t raining.  This state park got state park of the year and is geared toward camping, though most the sites are non-electric.  I am proud to say, that yesterday I learned how to operate my refrigerator on propane and today I purchased a mobile charger for my computer that works for a few hours before it drains VANilla’s second battery, so now I have a few more camping options.

Praying for no rain…ETB.




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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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