Day Seven: Tuesday, October 5th, 2004
        Didn't take long the next morning to cross into New Hampshire. I stopped at the tourist bureau and picked up a map and a bunch of booklets on campgrounds and attractions. It was overwhelming to see all the possible places to go and things to do. You could spend a whole month or two just exploring one state if you wanted to. I felt a little bad about just passing through. Still, I was taking an extended path through the White Mountains instead of heading directly to Vermont.

        Along the way I managed to spot a whole bunch of wild turkeys wandering around the side of the road. I couldn't get a very good picture of them but they were certainly a peculiar site. I could've driven up Mount Washington but since they charge a whopping $18 just to have the honor of driving to the peak, I decided to pass. I think they throw in an audio tour of the mountain on cassette as well as a bumper sticker saying "This car climbed Mount Washington", but it seemed like a big rip off to me. There were certainly some beautiful mountains in the area. I even got to see the remains of "The Old Man" - a natural rock formation that has been one of New Hampshire's main emblems. It collapsed sometime last year so now it is pretty well just a blank section of rock. Too bad. There is talk of trying to recreate it somehow or having some sort of tribute, but who knows what they could do. And as I was almost ready to leave the state, I couldn't help wondering how I could be traveling north on route 18 and south on route 135 at the same time. No wonder I keep getting lost!

        When I got to Vermont I picked up a bunch of tourist information once again but unfortunately there were no good camping guides like they had in New Hampshire. I wanted to check out something in Vermont but most of the activities seemed more related to summer or simply weren't my style. There were two things that caught my interest though, and they were both conveniently located in the same place: Quechee. One was a little hike around the Quechee Gorge, which was described as Vermont's mini Grand Canyon, and the other was a bird exhibit at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science. I was also kind of interested in a giant corn maze, but it had just closed for the night and I was about to pass it by as I headed south to Quechee.

        I dropped off in Montpelier along the way because there was supposed to be a hotspot there located on the Capitol Grounds. Of course once I got there I foolishly realized that Capital Grounds was the name of a fancy coffee shop and I wasn't in the mood to buy a cappuchino so that I could surf the web for a little while.

        So, off to Quechee. Once again, it was nearing dark by the time I got there. There was a nearby campground but it ended up being an RV Park and they would not accept tents. I felt so rejected! I ate supper at a little spot called the Crossroads Cafe and then tried to figure out where to spend the night. Since my tourist information for Vermont didn't have much campground information and I was so close to the NH border again, I crossed back over (at a place called Lebanon of all places) and went to the nearest campground there.

        By then it was 8:30 and dark. The campground looked more like a trailer park than anything else and the office was closed with no mention of what latecomers should do. So I drove up looking for a tenting site. Not an easy task since the upper sections of the campground, where the "wilderness" sites are, had no lights and none of the site markers were reflective. Such attention to detail... Finally I found a spot and aggravated myself for 15 minutes as I tried setting the tent up in the rock solid dirt. Surely there must be an easier way. Am I just setting this thing up wrong?

        Once I was settled I went back down to the office in case someone was there. No such luck. I went to the washroom and then was halfway back up to my site when I realized it was awfully dark. Yup, I left my lantern back at the washroom. But instead of going back down for it, I decided that I could find my spot in the dark and then I could write a note saying I came in late and then drop it off back at the office when I retrieved my lantern. So I fumbled around in the darkness until I realized I was getting hopelessly lost. Too many peculiar turns in the trails. So, there was only one thing to do, haul my laptop out of my backpack and use it as a flashlight. It worked quite well, though I am sure anyone who saw me would wonder what the heck I was up to!

        Definitely my coldest night yet out in the tent. I was more worried about snow than rain that night. I pretty well made a cocoon out of my sleeping bag and blanket and burrowed under for the night.

Day Eight: Wednesday, October 6th, 2004

        Somehow I managed to survive the freezing night. The office was still empty when I was ready to leave the next morning, but I did the proper thing and waited a few more minutes until someone showed up so that I could pay for the night. There's the secret to camping cheaply. Come in late and leave early. They'll never know you were even there.

        The previous day I had some grand plans of heading up into the Adirondack Mountains and going across to Ithaca in New York state and checking out a waterfalls there. However, after the previous night's freezing weather I decided I could do without more mountains and wanted to head south to warmer places. But first I wanted to check out those two places in Quechee. As I was leaving I got a nice view of the mist coming off a nearby lake.

        Back in Vermont I passed that RV Park and then about a minute further along was a real campground, and a nice looking one at that. If only I had gone a little further the previous night. If only I had asked at the RV Park about any other campgrounds...

        The gorge was rather disappointing. But it did offer a nice hike and a couple half decent views as well as a sign of just how polite the people of Vermont are expected to be.

        The VINS exhibit was much better and well worth the $8 admission fee. (Even moreso since they are a non proft organization and all the money goes towards helping the birds and other animals.) All the birds in their "raptor" exhibit were either injured or had become domesticated and could no longer survive on their own in the wild. The birds were located in a number of large cages all set in a circle.

        The real treat came when they eventually had a show in the center. They spoke of the different birds and how you can tell they are "raptors" and their different flying, hearing, and smelling abilities. (Only the ones with the poorest smell prey on skunks...) They brought out a number of the birds and even had some of them fly in to demonstrate their abilities.

Here are a few larger closeups of some of the birds

        From there it was westwards across Vermont and into "upstate" New York. Though I did stop off at Blanche and Bill's Pancake House to take advantage of their "breakfast anytime" offer. I was even served by Blanche herself. The inside of the place was covered with silly signs like 

"If you don't see what you want, don't ask. We probably don't have it anyway."
"If at first you don't succeed, maybe you don't know what you are doing."
"Helen Hunt was put in charge of our lost and found. So if you lose something, go to 'Helen Hunt' for it."

        Once in New York state I headed for Saratoga Springs. The library there had wireless and after being away for a few days I just had to get back online and let everyone know I was still alive, check how my web site was doing, and all those other things you can do on the internet. As always, I ended up spending longer than I had planned and it was after 7pm when I finally got out of there and realized that I really needed to find myself a place for the night. It didn't help that I had come down with a splitting headache and felt like I was getting a cold as well.

        I didn't have a particular destination in mind. I just planned on heading southwards towards Pennsylvania and eventually Philadelphia and taking the first campground I could find. Traveling along the interstate it was bizarre to see road crews working full tilt late at night with entire stretches of the highway lit up brightly with hundreds of mobile lights as they worked. Of course I was in no mood for such delays at that point.

        I finally decided to just give in and fork out some extra money and get a room for the night. However, when I went to Best Western and was told there were only two rooms left and that it would be $108 US plus tax I decided that maybe I would spend a little more time searching for a campground.

        Once again I had managed to miss out on a quality map of New York and campground locations so I was going by the big set of maps I had to try and find a campground. There was one state park located just past the ominous town of Voorheesville. (You do recall that masked fellow named Jason Voorhees, right?) But after doing a couple laps around the area I was unable to find any mention of it. So I continued on through the night. I was starting to get my second wind and imagining driving right on through to Philadelphia that night when I finally encountered another state park.

        It was after 11pm by then. The place was deserted but I found a spot and parked the car. Too tired to set up the tent, I just slept in the back of the car.

on to the next day...