Overview of my Summer: 2013

Summer has come and gone, with little to no blogging accomplished. I have no excuses. I had every intention of displaying my favorite summer recipes that used all of the veggies out of my new garden, but instead gobbled most of these up before I had time to snap a couple of photos. No worries, though, I will be writing some more about the summer in the upcoming days. Then, maybe once I am all caught up, I can get back into current blogging.

Anyways, I really had another amazing summer. It was so great, that I feel fine with letting it go and welcoming Fall with open arms.

Trapp Family Lodge

Anth and I kicked Summer off with a visit from my parents. We were able to show them around some of Vermont including Burlington and Stowe and made sure they ate and drank the best of Vermont (maybe too much!). Trapp Family Lodge, pictured above, offers amazing views, delicious beer made on the premises, and a variety of luscious baked goods.

Young Garden

Before

After

After

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also started our first real garden this year. We have been wanting a garden for the longest time, but have been moving in and out of new places with little to no land over the past two and half years during summer. This year, we moved to our new place, that had some room for a small garden in May, and were quick to start planting. Considering the hard ships many gardeners and farmers had this year with too much rain, we had a bountiful year. Here, you can see our baby kale turning into more adult kale. It was convenient and fun having kale, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and parsley whenever we needed it. In addition, we had beets, zucchini, mint, hot peppers, and chives at other times.

We didn’t end up camping as much as I had hoped but did get a trip in at the beginning of summer. Our favorite place to camp in New England is in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This time we ended up at a cute little campground set right behind a covered bridge.

White Mountains

White Mountains

Shortly after camping, we made our way into Portland, Maine for the “Festival“, an amazing international beer event. There, we got to chat with some of our favorite brewers from across the world, while also sampling their beer. We love Portland, so we also enjoyed the weekend eating, drinking, and basking in the sunshine around the city.

Portland

As I briefly mentioned above, cooking this summer was fantastic. I had so much to cook with from the garden, plenty from the farmer’s markets, and it seemed like everywhere we went, we were ending up with more vegetables and meal ideas. Although soup is usually thought of as a savory winter meal, whenever the garden would get too overwhelming, I would end up throwing everything together for some of the best summer vegetable soups I have ever had. One of my favorite memories of this summer, is having the door wide open, Pup laying outside in the sun, while I cook up a hearty vegetable soup.

Summer Garden Cooking

Summer Garden Cooking

Summer in Vermont is not complete without a trip to see Bread and Puppet. I have other posts on here just about Bread and Puppet, so if you have never heard of it, take a look here.

Bread and Puppet Show

Bread and Puppet Show

I continued my mentorship with Jeremy this summer and we ended up having all kinds of fun, finally getting to enjoy swimming holes and hiking. One of his favorite places ended up being Moss Glenn Falls which is located in Stowe, Vermont.

Jeremy at Moss Glenn Falls

Jeremy at Moss Glenn Falls

The Festival wasn’t the only beer festival of the year. Of course, we also enjoyed the Vermont Brewers Festival that takes place right on Lake Champlain. This year the underdog breweries were the highlight, and I will be adding an article about it shortly.

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Vermont Brewers Festival 2013

Surprisingly, Anth, Pup, and I also took a trip outside of New England this Summer. We usually try to save those types of trips for the other seasons, but when my Mom invited us down to the Outer Banks for a few days, we just couldn’t pass it up this year. I was able to show Pup and Anth all of my favorite childhood spots, including my favorite Southern Lighthouses.

Inside of Ocracoke Lighthouse.

Inside of Ocracoke Lighthouse.

This year, I finally jumped the Ausable River Gorge, right outside of Lake Placid. We had toyed with this idea late last Summer, but were never able to figure out the logistics of it at the time. This year, though, I took the leap.

Me jumping into the Ausable River Gorge.

Me jumping into the Ausable River Gorge.

Most of our Summer was spent enjoying hikes, covered bridges, and brewpubs right in our backyard of Vermont and New Hampshire. As usual, the Vermont Summer activities did not disappoint.

Martin Covered Bridge - Marshfield, VT

Martin Covered Bridge – Marshfield, VT

Sterling Pond - hike from Smugglers Notch

Sterling Pond – hike from Smugglers Notch

Hidden New Hampshire Covered Bridge

Hidden New Hampshire Covered Bridge

My May in Vermont

Ramps

Things change here in Vermont very quickly once we reach May. Spring turns from Vermont from mud and maple back to the Green Mountain State. Once the snow completely melts and the grass and trees are able to breathe a bit, different shades of green seem to sprout from the valleys to the mountains all at once. Then the dandelions begin to appear. Before we know it, the middle of May brings ramps, fiddleheads, and deep green fields covered in bright yellow dandelions.

We began May in the Mad River Valley, foraging for wild baby leeks (ramps) and exploring the valley before tourist season hits. We make the trip to the Mad River Valley a couple times a year, and also enjoy driving through it on our way to the Middlebury area. I’ve updated the site with an article on Warren, but the Mad River Valley has many towns, forests, covered bridges, and swimming holes to explore outside of Warren also.

All of those green sprouts are ramps!

All of those green sprouts are ramps!

The first spotting of fiddleheads in early May.

The first spotting of fiddleheads in early May.

Anth and his ramps!

Anth and his ramps!

You have to get your hands dirty!

You have to get your hands dirty!

New England Photo of the Day: Franconia Notch State Park, NH

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Franconia Notch State Park is located in the North West part of New Hampshire in the vast, yet pure white mountains. The park is made up of countless mountain hikes that run along the clearest of creeks, rivers, springs, and waterfalls. What is most unique about the area, though, are the boulders, rocks, and riverbanks that were formed by melting glaciers, over 25,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age. The solid granite bedrock was smoothed down by years of erosion.

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The Basin (shown above) is a popular stop within Franconia and is an example of the glacial erosion along the great Pemigewasset River. Standing in front of the gigantic pothole, I get overwhelmed by thoughts of jumping in and splashing around. Interestingly enough, Henry David Thoreau, the American Naturalist, stood in the same spot in 1839. He described the pothole as, “perhaps the most remarkable curiosity of its kind in New England.”

Franconia Notch is large and spread out with multiple places to park all along exits that jut off interstate 93. You could spend a 15 minute stop at the basin to days of camping because of the easy accessibility the park offers.

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Block Island’s Southeast Light

Block Island's Southeast Light

Block Island is located about 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. Only accessible by boat or plane, the easiest way to get there is by ferry from Point Judith, Rhode Island. From there, the ferry crosses the Block Island Sound. Once you reach the island, it is easy to forget you are still in New England. The milky blue salt water slides effortlessly over the snowy white sand unlike that of the somewhat chaotic waves that crash along much of the rest of New England’s rocky coast.

A short, though up-hill, bike ride from the ferry port will lead you to one of two of Block Island’s lighthouses. The Southeast Light (in the photo above) was erected in 1975 and was home to the same keeper family for the first 55 years. Though deactivated in 1990, by the early 90’s it was dangerously only 50 feet from the edge of one of Block Island’s most treacherous bluffs. The Block Island Southeast Lighthouse Foundation was able to raise enough money ($2 million) to move the lighthouse 300 feet away to where it stands today. A trip to this lighthouse is not complete without walking down to the ocean from the top of the bluff. Though quite a hike back up, the views are worth it.

New England Photo of the Day: Worcester Range

New England Photo of the Day: Worcester Range

View of the Worcester Mountain Range from the top of Mount Elmore, Vermont

If you head to Lake Elmore State Park (about 20 miles north of Montpelier), you can take the Elmore Mountain Trail to the summit of Mt. Elmore. At Elmore’s 2608 foot high summit lies one of Vermont’s few remaining fire towers. The hike to the top is approximately 1.25 miles with views of the Worcester Range (shown here and includes Mt. Hunger), Mt. Mansfield, and into New Hampshire. If you do not have a fear of heights, you can still climb the 60 foot high fire tower for the best views. The photo above is taken from the top of the fire tower on a cool, August afternoon.

This Car Climbed Mt. Mansfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I climbed Vermont’s highest peak on Saturday. Yes, I cheated by taking the “toll road” most of the way up, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what all of the fuss was over this four mile road which leads you to Mt. Mansfield’s “nose”.  The road is located at Stowe Mountain Resort which owns most of the Stowe side of the mountain. It costs $27; yes, $27. It seems like a steep price, but the road is also quite steep so, unless you want to put in upwards of eight hours (roundtrip) hiking, it ends up being worth it.  Besides, how else are you going to get a “This car climbed Mt. Mansfield” sticker?’

The toll road is actually quite historic. It was constructed in 1856 and used by horse and carriage to get to the Summit Hotel, which was then just below the mountain’s nose. Surprisingly, only ¼ mile of the road is paved, which gives visitors a chance to experience true Vermont dirt roads for the other 3.75 miles. I can’t imagine riding a horse and carriage up this road. It took me about 20 minutes of constant gear changing and pothole dodging to get to the top, where the visitor center is located. Behind me, Pup tried to get as much of her body out of the window, while to my right, Anth judged my driving skills just about the whole way. Needless to say, I was feeling ready to hit the hiking trail by the time we pulled up to the top.

The hike was a little difficult for Pup due to some of the gaps between rocks. Overall, though, the mile and a half hike wasn’t too strenuous and gives you amazing views from beginning to end. During the entire hike, you are surrounded by actual alpine tundra that survived the Ice Age. Only two other spots in Vermont can claim that. Much of this hike runs along the Long Trail and by the time you reach the summit, you are 4,395 feet up. What do you do once you finally make it to the top? Well, the majority of Quebecois, broke out cheese, bread, and assorted dried meats. We gave the dog water and took in the views.