Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Day Traveling New England

The decision was made a number of days before to leave Maine and hit up the New Hampshire capital building on the way down towards Lawrence, my home town and eventually Provincetown, our former home.

We awoke early, as usual, and began packing up.  The campground was already buzzing with kids and parents, heading for showers or the restaurant at Beaver Brook Campground.  One of the woman passing by stopped to chat for a bit.  She apologized for the noise the night before.

I heard nothing to speak of and after telling her so, she explained that her family comes here every year for a few weeks.  They took up many of the campsites surrounding us.  We talked of our past travels and to where we were headed to next.  She wished us well.

We had a quick breakfast and finished with the packing of the car.  Last items in where the two dogs.  Time for a car ride!

We traveled the back roads towards Concord.  A friend out here in Los Osos recently commented on New England and the ten minute states.  I guess she was partially correct because we arrived just a few hours later.

We arrived in Concord and located North Main Street where the State House is located.  We found a place to park directly in front of the building, paid our meter and unloaded the dogs and us.

Having lived in New England for many years, I had never checked out the state houses of my area.  This fascination of capitals and their houses only came about over the past few years.  I wouldn't call it an obsession, but I would like to see them all across the states.

In pretty standard fashion, Tom watched the dogs as I headed into the building to get our book stamped and to check out the innards of the building.  Tom spent his time checking out the gardens, which were classic New England flora.  Luther had a chance to check out the state's replica of the Liberty Bell.

Tom even made a great attempt to grab a photo of the TravelingDogs in New Hampshire.

The foyer of the State House was steeped in history.  You don't see many revolutionary war memorabilia or original flags in California.

I was pleasantly surprised to see in the main entrance and off to the right a display featuring Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., the first American in space.  He has always been a favorite as he is a 4th cousin.  

I headed towards the gift shop to get our passport stamped and found a large group of people.  I learned that they were incoming staff for the new legislative session.  The woman who was leading the group told me that this was a private tour although I could tag along if I wished although there would be some places I would not be able to go with them.

I politely declined and asked only for a stamp for our our book.  Her response took me by surprise.  She explained to the group that there were "Capitol Collectors" that would come in and asked to get their passbook stamped.  She gloated a bit that she had been to 16.  I didn't have the heart to tell her that my number was double than hers.

I took my own tour checking out the Senate and then the House, all the while ruminating whether being a "capitol Collector" was a good thing, a bad thing or a weird thing.  It made me chuckle.

I met up with Tom and the TravelingDogs back outside.  Tom had to use the restroom, so I checked the gardens and took a few more shots.

As I mentioned, the morning was still with us.  I got to thinking that Vermont was not too far away.  I did a quick calculation and found that it would be less than two hours to Montpelier.  Hmmm...

Off we went, after picking up a USA Today and some snackage at the deli/coffee store across the street.

More side roads and then a switch to I-89 in White River Junction, VT.  Right on schedule, we found ourselves in Montpelier.  Parking was a bit more convoluted, but we found a spot across the street in the Visitor's area, I think.

The Vermont State House is located on the front of a hill.  It looked a tad more grand than New Hampshire's State House with it's long walkways and grand stairs leading to the main entrance.

I walked along the pathway and found myself standing on the steps looking out.  It was a beautiful day which matched the beautiful landscaping and lawns.

I entered into the building and was totally surprised to see the grand bust of Abraham Lincoln flanked by white walls and a contrasting black and white checkered floor.

I headed to the second floor to check out the House of Representatives and then the Senate chamber.  I also had a chance to see the 

I also had the chance to see the Governor's Office and the Cedar Creek Reception Room.

The State House was one of the more stylish than I have seen.  The contrast of carpets and drapes, as well as furnishings, against the white walls made it stunning.

The visit would not be complete without a few pix of the dogs.

Luther at the Vermont State House

We headed back across the street and in typical form, Tom had to use the rest room.  He headed over to teh gift shop as I watched the dogs.  They were eager to get back into the car, but it was pretty warm, so I rolled the windows down and waited outside the car until he returned.

I checked out the gift shop upon his return.  The people working the rooms were friendly offering advice on touring the capital building.  I explained we had already done so after noticing a great display of local dignitaries and their dogs on the wall.  I asked about the concept and the artist.  The woman explained that it was a local photographer who had an idea to wrangle up the locals and take some shots.  Simple as that.  I told her of our dogs and how they can be called the CapitolDogs, explaining what we had been doing for the past few years.

I might have to send her some shots of the TravelingDogs when the time comes.

We headed out of town, towards I-89 again.  I called my Mother and let her know of our side trip and also to let her know that we would be arriving about 4 PM.

That task done, we drove down the road towards Massachusetts.  It wasn't too long until, after seeing the wonderful river flanking the highway, I decided to jump off the interstate and onto Rt. 14.  Same direction although much more scenic.

I thought there would be a good chance of some swimming for the dogs and also maybe a roadside sandwich shop for us to have some lunch.

The opportunity soon came for me to pull over along the road and let the dogs out.  They knew what to do.  They knew where the water was.  The both jumped out, ran down the steep hill and checked out the water.  They ran back up the hill, wondering what was taking so long for us to get down there.

I followed their path, down the steep bank from the road and found a large mass of smooth rocks.  The water was pretty swift but the rocks caused a nice pool of water to the North.

Tom made it down, with the balls and chucker and the dogs went wild.  Barking and jumping.  Time for play!

A few short lobs to check out how swift it actually was.

Double Splash!

We played there for about an hour.  The dogs just didn't want to stop.  We eventually began tossing the ball into the rapid part of the river.  The dogs got them every time, albeit a bit more slowly as we kept on doing it.  They were pooped and soaked.  Time to move on.

Wet dogs in the back of the car gave a great opportunity to park in some shade and get some of that lunch I was needing.  We found a great little restaurant called the Four Ace's Diner in West Lebanon, NH.

They were very close to closing, but they took our order of burgers and fries.  Upon their delivery, we got a chance to speak with the owner who loved hearing about our travels.  He also shared some of the other stories he had heard from other people stopping in.  He spoke passionately about the book Blue Highways, something I would like to read someday.

We finished our lunch and checked out the corner on which 4 Aces stood.  One big slice of Americana!  One of these days, I'll figure out these photo bomb things.

Not too long after, we arrived in Lawrence.  Always home to me, especially since my family had lived in the same home since close to when I was born.

The dogs knew the home as well, jumping out of the car and running up the front stairs.  Dog barks from the TravelingDogs and especially Scruffy, my parent's dog.  Hugs and a relaxing couch.  Some homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs was had and then some sleep.  Heavy sleep.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Back in the States

The morning got off to a great start.  Dogs had done their business and we were off to the ferry to St. John.  With reservation made the day before, we headed towards the dock and got in cue.  Sad to say, they had no coffee in the ticketing area, so that would have to wait.

It wasn't long before we were directed into the ferry.  Again, pulling what we needed and leaving the dogs in the car.  We got to park next to a truck hauling some wood.  One never knows what they will see being transported.  Don't they have wood in New Brunswick?

It wasn't too long before we were directed back to our vehicles to prepare to disembark.  In keeping with tradition, we headed towards Fredericton, the capitol of New Brunswick.  The weather was beautiful and there was excitement in the car about heading back towards the state.

We arrived at the Legislative Building of New Brunswick by mid day.  A few pix of the dogs before heading in and checking out the 100+ year old building. 

The building was ornate on the outside, not so much on the inside.  Sure, there were columns and tall rooms, but nothing like some of the other buildings we have seen with their gold and marble.  The only pic I took inside was of the small dome with a light fixture below it.  Certainly not as impressive as the domes in the states.

We headed out of Fredericton and towards the border crossing.  While the more direct route would have been to go to Houlton, we decided for the more scenic route of Canada's route 3 to America's Route 9 leading us to Bangor.  Call us weird, but why take the same road as the time before.  Always something new to see.

The border crossing was fairly busy, but within 15 minutes or so we were talking to the Office of Homeland Security in Calais, Maine.  Goodbye, Canada!  Hello, Internet!

Needless to say, we made it through the border crossing without much issue.  All of our papers were in order and the dogs were good, even when the security officers took a casual look at our boxes and cooler.  All good!

We traveled down Route 9 for quite some time.  My plan was to visit the state capitol building in Augusta before settling in for the night somewhere in Maine.  Between the border crossing, lunch and the winding road, we arrived at 4:15 PM, 15 minutes before the capitol building closed.

One of those mad dash moments began.  I had to get my Capitol Passbook stamped.  Tom dropped me off at the front door and then parked the car.  I ran in, forgetting the passbook.  I walked through the  building's innards and then met Tom in the back of the building, who proceeded to get the passbook.

Back in the building, I hustled to the front of the building again and finally got that stamp!  I took advantage of the few minutes I had left and took a few shots of the interior.  It was a nice building.  Stately but not over the top.  The rotunda was visible, but, in my humble opinion, was skewed by the set of stirs reaching the top, as you can see below. 

I proceeded to head outside to fine Tom talking to an older gentleman.  He was interested in the dogs and after giving them a treat (a chocolate one at  that - bad human) he introduced himself as a member of the governor's team.

We talked for a bit, asking us where we were from, even suggesting we move back to the East coast as they were losing too many people to the left coast.  He seemed to truly care about his state and his constituents as he talked more about the state.  I like to say, at this point, I have a friend in the governor's office.

There was one last thing to do before traveling on and that was the dogs.  They had spent a few too many hours in the car without much exercise.  After a few pictures of them and the capitol building, we headed across the street to the rest of the capitol grounds.  It was one huge expanse of grass with a few memorials scattered around.

The smell of squirrels was everywhere and the dogs were let go as they tried to follow the scents.  They had a good romp as we walked around looking for that perfect shot of the dome.  I don't know if we got it, but we did get a few nice ones.

Tom took over the driving from here.  I was on the search for a place to camp.  We filled up the gas tank and headed South while I downloaded pictures and worked on the budget.  I loved my portable office.  

I managed to find a campground fairly close to us and, with the sun dipping in the sky, not a moment too soon.  The directions were a bit odd.  It appeared that the Beaver Brook Campground was at the end of a residential section.  We followed the directions and found ourselves in a very wooded area on a lake.  AKA - bugs!

Nowhere else to go, we registered and entered through the locked gates.  The campground was more secure than Fort Knox, even asking for immunization records of Lu & BJ.  Really!  It was easier crossing the border than it was simply finding a place to pitch a tent.

After all of the paperwork, we finally found ourselves at our site.  It was good sized and offered water and electricity, both of which would be needed.  We set up the tent and then took the dogs for a walk before it got too dark.

There were lots of children around, riding bikes, coming back from the water park area or from their friends camps.  It was a bustling!  We walked around noting the long term seasonal people that had sites, over small pedestrian bridges spanning brooks and eventually to the lake.  The campground was very busy, considering it was a Tuesday.

We got back to our tent, played a few games of cribbage.  I beat Tom a few times before heading to bed.  Glad to be back in the states, I slept well.  Tomorrow will bring more adventures.  Where, though, would be the question.