Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Welcome to Vermont and the Green Mountain National Forest

After doing laundry at the Motel 6 in Nashua, I started my day with a burger. I noticed that there was another b.good location right around the corner from the motel, so I decided to try another option on the menu before today's road adventure began. I wrote it as an addendum to the entry from yesterday on my burger blog.

I set my navigation to avoid highways and we took more back roads through New Hampshire. Whereas yesterday I went east, working my way toward Maine, today I worked my way west toward Vermont. I noticed more and more Hilary on this end of the state. And as I got even further west and into Vermont, I saw several faded and weathered Bernie signs. 

The speed limits in New Hampshire feel very slow to me. Every road I'm on, my instinct is to be about 10 MPH faster, but I abide. I noticed that there is also a dearth of gas stations, especially ones that I've heard of. But I wondered if the slower speed limits and the fact that they don't seem to need gas as much around here have anything to do with each other.

I was surprised how long I was driving in New Hampshire. I had made a plan to stop and take a stretch as soon as we passed into Vermont, but my route was taking me up, to explore the forest, and then down, just this side of the Connecticut River, which separates the two states. 

I was yearning for Vermont and tired of New Hampshire. Also, I knew I couldn't visit the Green Mountain National Forest while I was still in the Granite State, and I was eager to see that. 

Finally, at long last, around the bend was a bridge over the river and into Vermont....but it was out, and I had to follow a detour. It was a short detour and soon I was passing over the water and into the welcoming arms of a cute town in Vermont that's about a half block long and I can't remember the name of. 

But it was at the intersection at the Vermont end of that bridge where I got my official welcome. There was a four-way stop and three cars, including mine were all ready to go. There was what I can best describe as a domino effect of confusion that had started before I even pulled up, regarding who's turn it was to go. So, the upshot of this confusion was that I, and the driver on my left, pulled into the intersection at the same time. I stopped to let her go and as she passed me, her passenger, a charming young woman, let's call her Meth-head Podunk Trash called out to me "Go back to Washington!"

Vermont is lovely; so green and rustic. It's beautiful when there are no people around, but at other times it feels like I'm in Duck Dynasty. 

I was headed toward the Green Mountain National Forest and it took me along the Saxtons River. I stopped at a place where the river ran near the road and River and I hopped out and gave ourselves our own "Welcome to Vermont" by climbing, splashing, chasing and having fun running around. 



I dried him off, especially really well inside his ears, and I also gave him his dinner before we got back in the car. It was mid afternoon by this time.

As we got closer to the forest, the trees enveloped the road so that we drove under a green canopy. At several points it was dark enough that my automatic headlights came on. At another point, it was so deliciously compelling out there that I rolled down all the windows and completely stopped the car and sat and listened to the forest song. I could see far down the road behind me and knew I was safe. It was a moment of zen. Then I drove on.

We got to the recreation site at Green Mountain National Forest and I wanted to access the lake. There were a few yipping dogs that blocked our access to the picnic area, where we could go right to the lake, so we went the other way. According to the sign, it was the "Pond Trail", but we didn't get that far.

River's nose was going overtime and he was smelling up a wild storm. I actually had to high collar him so he'd walk with his face forward and not glued to the ground. I could hear him sniffing frantically at the air as we walked.

A guy came walking rapidly toward us, taking the trail in the other direction and I said hello to him as I kept one eye on River for his reaction. He was pretty excited about something. But he didn't react to the guy. Of course, having him on the high collar had a lot to do with that.

Once the guy passed us, I stopped and released River to let him shake it off and do a little rummaging around where we had stopped. It was just then I saw that something ahead had captured River's attention. I look up to see a big black Lab running full speed toward us.

I commanded River to jump up on the nearest rock and he only got his front paws up by the time the dog was right next to us. She ran past us and up a side trail where she stopped cold as if to listen for something. Then she turned around and bolted in the direction the man we just passed was headed.

River and I were frozen the whole time. He with his front paws on the rock and me standing right next to him telling him how good we were being by not reacting.

It wasn't until she was out of sight down the trail that River showed signs of emotion. Then he kind of went into a frenzy of delayed reaction. He barked and jumped around and scratched at the dirt. It wasn't until I told him to sit on the rock again to shoot this video that he finally settled down.


A bit later, we were walking back toward the car and see the guy and his dog again coming toward us, off leash. She speeds up toward us and River begins to walk crouched down and slowly toward her. So I guide him to circle away from her. It had been a long time since I've seen River allow another dog so close, so I was willing to let him explore this safely. I was doing pretty good and maneuvering myself to be in a place to pull River out quickly if need be and watch him react calmly to this dog. She was good for him, so I wanted to let it happen.

But then, I saw the noses lock and I knew I had to get him out of there. Just as I was making the realization, the noises started. It didn't take much to get him calmed again, once they were apart. I put my fist in his crotch and near the base of his tail to simulate another dog's nose and complete his emotional need cycle whether he wanted it or not. Then I had him bark and we walked back to the car. 

Next stop was Motel 6 in Brattleboro, VT. This one gets the award for trying the hardest. Kathy was polite and efficient checking me in. She put her business card in the sleeve with my room key. On it it says "I am responsible for your stay. Are we providing you a GREAT stay? We want your 10 rating!" 
When I asked about if there was a guest laundry, she didn't just say 'no', she told me where the nearest coin laundry was in town. When I got to my room, she called me to see that everything was OK. When I took River out for a little tugging and pushing on the grass, I notice she's standing outside, smoking her cigarette and smiling, watching us play. I felt like she was going to have a pie cooling on the windowsill next. 


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