I'm in disbelief that I've never visited the southern region of Lake Champlain, but I'm so thankful that I chose to spend 10 nights camping at the DAR State Park in West Addison, Vermont. While I did experience some weather challenges -- 3 nights in the 40s, 3 days of showers, 3 days of 90+ temps -- I adapted because it was so amazingly beautiful here. The entire area was new to me as I biked toward Button Bay and Adirondack Park; spent a day in Vergennes that has a cool bike shop; toured Crown Point, NY; then made a stop in Montpelier enroute to my next destination. Being on the Lake between the Adirondacks and the Green Mountains -- oh my, I took nearly 200 photos so no further words are needed.
Next stop, the White Mountains of New Hampshire before I cross into Quebec province for the summer.
The Slate Valley that is, a 24-mile area of New York and Vermont.
I’m spending a week in the small town of Granville, founded in 1780, and known as the “Colored Slate Capital” for the rare varieties mined from its more than 400 quarries during the 1800s. Today, much of Granville’s history may be seen by simply walking about, but the long story is told at the Slate Valley Museum.
The town has a sweet little Main Street with the Mettawee River passing through, and surrounding rolling hills and forests. I enjoyed relaxing riverside with a good book on lazy days, meandering the D&H Rail Trail on foot from my backyard on occasion, and cycling the challenging hills of Vermont as much as possible.
A delightful Airbnb studio brought me to this spot, but I had no idea how close I’d be to familiar territory. I was able to walk into Vermont from Main Street, bike to Pawlet where I turned 65 last year, and visit other places of interest like Lake Saint Catherine near Poultney. It was a comfortable week with quite a few chats -- I've decided that Northeasterners are experts at small talk and I quite enjoy it.
Next stop, about an hour up the road to camp along Lake Champlain.
Watkins Glen, New York was known to me for the 1973 rock festival that was once the "largest audience at a pop festival" with about 600,000 fans of the Dead, The Band, The Allman Brothers and more. While I was too young to go(!), the name "Watkins Glen" has been ingrained in my mind ever since. I had no idea there were car races there, and thankfully this didn't happen during the past week.
My impression now is of a fairly non-descript little town of friendly folks on beautiful Seneca Lake, that is also gifted with the Glen Creek Gorge. I'm so happy to have had my first Finger Lake experience here, and even enjoyed the drive along the west side through wine country to connect with friend Barbara at the northern point. State Park camping is lovely when the weekender 36-hour time is up, and I hiked the Gorge trail twice at different times of the day as the light changes the magnificent rock and waterfall scenes. While the Catherine Valley Trail was disappointing (I don't want to bike on grass without a view), it did take me a few miles out to discover the lovely Montour Falls. Just once, I also got my climbing legs on pointing north along the lake and was rewarded with the views.
It was an active, yet not too busy week of the outdoor life, moving on two feet and two wheels, reconnecting with a long-time friend, and discovering the beauty of the Finger Lakes region. Next stop, Granville, just a sneeze to the Vermont border.
Morgantown, West Virginia -- a town I'm not sure I get. It's a college town, but I arrived between terms so half of the population was MIA. Yes, Morgantown doubles its size with 30,000+ students during the school year and yes, I'm somewhat glad I missed this as the in-town infrastructure is questionable.
However, without the hustle and bustle from WVU, it's not clear to me what makes this town of 10 square miles tick. There's the University/Hospital culture, there's the riverfront life, and there's the locals who are unassuming but chatty if you are, too. The historic home where I stayed is hosted by a retired Pennsylvanian, and I had housemates from Hungary, Iran, West Virginia and Maryland who were more long-term than I.
Situated along the Monongahela River, Morgantown is historically tied to the Anglo-French struggle for this territory, and while settled in 1772, Morgan's Town wasn't established until 1785. There are distinctive neighborhoods, and while I didn't venture out of the city limits, it lies in the Appalachian region with the surrounding area of Dorsey Knob and Coopers Rock, scenic and mountainous. A lack of interest in driving and 90+ degree temps kept me out of my car and on the front porch with an iced tea or along the riverfront on two wheels most days.
The most fun was a 36-hour visit with a friend who had me on the go-go (see photos, please). Next up, a push into New York State with a return to tent life.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover