Monday, June 30, 2014

Vermont History Museum

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   In 1777 delegates from twenty eight Vermont towns met and declared Independent from Britain and also from neighboring states, New York and New Hampshire, who had been squabbling over rights to the land. Even though the Continental Congress refused to acknowledge that Vermont was a separate independent state Vermonters still fought in the Revolutionary War. Vermont finally became a US state, the fourteen, in 1791. The museum is very nicely done and covers the history of Vermont from Native Americans up to modern times.

  The museum is accessible but the entrance is a little hard to find. Look for the wheelchair logo on the door at the Governor Davis Ave. entrance. Going through that door will get you into a vestibule. Push the buzzer next to the door on the left for entry to the museum.

  RVs will fit in the on-street parking by using more than one space. Museum
44.26112, -72.57946
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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Morse Farm Maple Sugar Works

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  Another Harvest Hosts farm– this one has a beautiful view of pasture land and mountains. Grass fed beef, which is one of the products offered in the store, comes from the cattle in the pastures. Other products include maple syrup, pancake mix, cheese, snacks, ice cream, and gifts.

   The third entrance, traveling north on County Road, is signed for RVs and buses. It leads to a driveway that runs behind the store and back out on the road. RVs should park along the edge of the driveway. The driveway is steep and rutted at the entrance but the exit is fairly level. We’re not sure why the third entrance is the one that they want RVs and buses to use – maybe so that bus doors will be on the right side to access the path to the store and also so it’ll be easy  to exit to the road. We turned around to have our door towards the view. Farm
44.28643, -72.54266
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Little River State Park

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   We got a site in this very popular park without making reservations but that was probably because we asked about  accessible sites and one of the two happened to be available. We were given site 80 which appears to be an added-on afterthought. It’s located on the edge of the playground clearing and directly across from the restrooms and shower house. The site is hard packed dirt around the table, fire ring and grill, and grass in the parking area. None of the sites have hookups but there is a dump station and fresh water.

  In the early 1800s about fifty families lived in a farming and logging community on the land west of the campground. Life was hard and most had left by the turn of the century. Stone walls, cellar holes, orchards, and cemeteries can be explored by following the old roads which are now trails. The trails aren’t accessible due to the steep terrain.

  Some of the sites are big enough for large RVs but maneuvering into them may be a little difficult. Park
44.38986, -72.76709
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

World's Tallest File Cabinet

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   From Roadside America: “The cabinet was built in 2002 by local artist Bren Alvarez. It stands in the path of a proposed beltway that was never built. Each drawer (38) represents the number of years of paperwork accumulated by the project.” The how and why don’t really matter to us – we just love quirky creations!

   The file cabinet sculpture is located in a field a few feet off the sidewalk and is easily viewed without leaving your vehicle.

   RVs can be parked along the street.  Cabinet
 44.4557, -73.21691
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Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour

144   Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is delicious and we like the socially conscious way the company is managed but if you’ve toured an ice cream factory already this one can be skipped. The tour is about 30 minutes long which includes a short film, a look at the factory floor  from viewing windows (no photos allowed) and a teeny scoop of ice cream served in a paper condiment cup. Most of time this type tour is free – Ben & Jerry’s charges $4.00.  Skip the tour and buy a cone instead. :- D

   The tour is accessible. Visitor who can not climb stairs are escorted to the elevator and rejoin the group without missing anything.

   RVs are directed to the upper parking lot. Tour
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Vermont State House Tour

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  Many of the public rooms of the state house have been restored to their 1859 appearance with huge chandeliers and intricate plaster moldings on the ceilings. The furniture also dates back to 1859. The original design had a rotunda opening up to the dome but it wasn’t built that way so the lobby lacks the usual drama. Take a guided tour if possible to learn a little of Vermont's interesting history.

   The accessible entrance is on the west side of the building. There’s a small lot, large enough for cars only, near the entrance. RVs can be parked on the street at the corner of Governor Aiken Ave. and Baldwin St. There’s also parking along State St. but it’s an uphill hike to the state house.  Tour
44.26219, -72.5806
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Friday, June 27, 2014

Sam Mazza’s Farm Market

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  Another Harvest Hosts! Mazza’s Farm Market has U-Pick berry patches, hothouse tomatoes, a variety of fruits and vegetables, potted plants, and a bakery so we bought strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, and fresh bread. There’s also a small petting zoo and a nice playground.

  The RV parking is in a large, flat, grassy lot beside the a stand of fruit trees. Very quiet at night.  Farm Market
44.52796, -73.20018
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Harvest Hosts & Vermont Wildflower Farm

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   We decided to join Harvest Hosts as we traveled through Vermont because there aren’t many public campgrounds or free camping opportunities. Harvest Host is an interesting concept to provide overnight camping for self contained RVers at wineries, farms and other attractions. A winery or farm wishing to join the organization may do so for free. RVers pay a $40.00 per year membership fee. A purchase is considered an appropriate thank you for the hospitality. Since we don’t drink wine we thought that the program wouldn’t be very good for us but it’s been working well. So far we’ve visited the wildflower farm, a farm market and two maple syrup farms ( I’m way behind on posts) and we’ve found stuff to buy at all of them. The parking areas have been gravel lots or grassy fields. Most haven’t been large or very level but even so I think Class As or large fifth wheels would be able to fit. Most are along main highways so they’re close to attractions but a little noisy during the day. All of the hosts have been very nice and accommodating but when we call to verify our overnight stay the employees who answer the phone do not always know about the program.

   Vermont Wildflower Farm grow their seeds in fields all over the country and sell them at the store and online. The also sell a variety of  decorative items. Unfortunately because of the cold spring few wildflowers in the demonstration garden were blooming. A trail, shown in the picture above, winds through the flower field and into the woods before looping back to the store.

  The store entrance has a ramp with a landing and a door that opens outward so entering is a little awkward. The trail is accessed from the store and, again, the door and ramp positioning is awkward. The trail is fairly accessible – getting to it is very hard.

  The RV parking area along the fence is a little sloped so you may need levelers. Route 7 is a main road with fairly constant traffic but it dies down at night. The owners are really nice.  Farm
44.30615, -73.24553
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Shelburne Museum

023    What do you do if you’re super rich and your passion for collecting is overwhelming your storage capacity? You start collecting 18th- and 19th-century buildings, put them in a village setting, and fill them up! Electra Webb, a sugar refining heiress who married into the Vanderbilt family, began collecting folk art when she was just eighteen. Her collections include almost everything – circus posters, metal toys, impressionist paintings, glass canes, carriages, quilts, hat boxes, and even a steam boat. The collections are exhibited in 38 buildings. There so much to see that it’s hard to fit it all into one day. Fortunately admission tickets are good for two days.
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  The museum website has an accessibility guide. Use this as a general guideline only. Even the buildings that have ramps or are level to the ground may have high thresholds, heavy doors, or poorly made ramps. None of the second floors are accessible. A shuttle with a pull out ramp makes a circle on the outer loop of the grounds and stops at the major attractions. This would be a very frustrating place to visit on your own but it’s doable with some help.
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  The parking lot is huge with plenty of room for any RV. Museum
  44.37244, -73.23196
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Crown Point State Historic Site

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  Ruins of a very large British fort and a small French fort are both within the park. The French fort was built in the 1730s. In 1759, during the French and Indian War, the British forced the French to retreat towards Canada. Before they left the French destroyed their fort. The much larger British Fort was built slightly farther inland allowing the ruins of the French fort to survive. In 1773 a chimney fire broke out in the soldiers barracks of the British fort and burned for four days leaving that fort in ruins too.

   Exhibits and artifacts are housed in a small museum. Walking trails with interpretive signs circle through both fort ruins. Walk or drive across the street to see the elaborate little Champlain Memorial Lighthouse.

   The museum is accessible. The interiors of the forts are not accessible but a good bit of the ruins can be seen by following the paved road and paths. There’s no public access to the top of the lighthouse but there are a few informative signs at the base.

  RVs will fit in the fort lot by backing up over the grass or by parking across several spaces. The lot at the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse is large enough for RVs.  Fort
44.03023, -73.42817
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Ticonderoga Heritage Museum & Bicentennial Park

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  The buildings and lumber yards of the Ticonderoga Pulp and Paper Company once covered the entire area of Bicentennial Park. The only building left, now the museum building, was the lumber company’s main office. The museum was closed the day that we visited but we did stop to see the waterfall which still supplies power to the town. We also walked/rolled along a portion of the trails.

  The paved trail in Bicentennial Park has some very steep parts and is not in very good condition. The trail continues across the street from the museum and is in good condition but becomes gravel after a short distance. Both sections of the trail have informative signs about the industries that used to line the LaChute River.

   A few spaces where small RVs will fit are located in front of the museum. Vehicles with a handicapped tag may drive down to the base of the falls and park. A larger parking lot is located on Tower Ave. across from the museum, near the trail. Museum
43.84868, -73.42147
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Fort Ticonderoga

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  The French finished construction of this fort in 1757. Like other forts along the borders of British and French territories it was built to protect the fur trading routes. The French successfully defended the fort in 1758 but lost it to the British a year later. The Green Mountain Boys captured it in 1775 and shipped the fort’s canons to Boston where they were used to help end the Siege of Boston . Two years later it was back in British hands. At the conclusion of the Revolutionary war the fort was abandon and local people salvaged the stones for their own use. In 1820 New York merchant William Ferris Pell bought the property and built a summer home where the fort’s garrison gardens had been located. In 1909 Pell’s great-grandson, Stephen H.P. Pell, restored the fort which had been just a ruins since the British destroyed it when they left in 1777. He also founded the Fort Ticonderoga Association in 1931 which still manages the fort today.

  The restoration of the fort has been very well done. Interpreters in period dress demonstrate different aspects of the lives of soldiers living in the fort. Many of the rooms in the fort have exhibits and historic artifacts including some pieces owned by George Washington. The Pell summer home isn’t opened for touring due to it’s deteriorating  condition. Touring the gardens that the Pells designed is included in the fort admission fee. If you use an Entertainment Book coupon enter Ticonderoga, New York for the city in the search box.
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  The fort and gardens have a very limited amount of accessible areas. The sally port paving is broken up and very rough. The Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center, located inside the fort, is accessible. All of the other exhibit rooms have steps at the entrance or are on the upper level. The garden paths are paved with very rough and damaged bricks. Because of the high price of the tickets I don’t recommend visiting this fort if you can’t climb stairs.

  The parking lots at the fort and at the gardens are large enough for RVs.  Fort     43.84287, -73.389
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Adirondack Interpretive Center

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  A new exhibit is planned for the center but right now there are a few scattered displays in a mostly empty building. Several short trails start at the center.

  The center is accessible but the trail to it is steep with loose gravel and sand. The hiking trails are not accessible.

  The parking lot is large enough for RVs.  Center    43.96897, -74.17052

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Adirondack Museum

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  Adirondack Park, at 6.1 million acres, is huge. A little more than half of the land is privately owned. The rest is owned by the state but it’s all regulated by the Adirondack Park Agency which keeps commercial development under control. Paved roads crisscross the park but getting into the wilderness involves hiking.
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  The Adirondack Museum is huge too. It’s spread out over 32 acres and includes relocated cabins and lodges plus three large museum buildings with displays about logging, boating, recreation, overland transportation, history, and art. Admission tickets are good for two days. If you use an Entertainment Book coupon, which I recommend because you’ll save the price of a national membership with just this ticket purchase, enter Old Forge, New York as the city location. Some changes have been made on the website and coupons are not as easy to locate as they were with the old system.
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  The three large museum buildings are accessible. Some of the ramps between display areas are very steep. Most of the relocated buildings have steps or high thresholds. The main paths are paved but some paths leading to the cabins are gravel and steep.

  RVs parking is located across the road in a large gravel lot. Park close to the driveway to avoid the push through the lot. The driveway is paved but it’s a push uphill so a drop off at the main entrance might be easiest. Very short RVs may be permitted to parking in the main lot.  Museum
43.86962, -74.43216
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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nick's Lake Campground

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   Mostly likely this campground is very busy in the summer season because it’s a short, easy drive from the tourist town of Old Forge but it was almost empty when we visited. None of the sites have electric hookups so expect some generator noise. There is a dump station and fresh water. Out of state campers are charged $5.00 extra plus there’s a $2.75 charge for registering so one night is almost $30.00 – high for a primitive campsite.

  The accessible sites are excellent with level, paved parking pads and concrete under the accessible tables. The concrete extends the the grill and fire pit. A paved path leads to the restrooms. This is the only loop with accessible sites (two) and the only one without a shower house so it’s necessary to drive to one of the other loops if you want to use the public showers.

  The sites vary a lot. Some are large and level, others are small and very sloped but there are spaces where any size RV should fit.  Campground
43.68699, -74.98138
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Friday, June 20, 2014

Fort Stanwix National Monument

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   The area where Fort Stanwix stood was known as the Oneida Carry. It was a short overland portage between the waterways connecting the Great Lakes to New York City and therefore important to the fur trade. Conflicts between the French and the English ( the French and Indian War) led to the establishment of Fort Stanwix by the British in 1758. The British abandoned the fort at the end of the war. It was rebuilt by the patriots during the American revolution to guard against a British invasion from Canada. In 1777 British troops marched on the fort but after a 21 day siege they retreated back to Canada. The successful defense of the fort and the patriot victory at Sarasota was a turning point in the American Revolution.

  The current fort is an accurate reconstruction of the original fort with wooden buildings and surrounding earthworks. Costumed interpreters are on hand in the fort to answer questions. The visitor center is well done with short videos and displays about all of the different people who were involved in the conflicts that took place around Fort Stanwix.

  The visitor center is accessible. The paths to the fort are hard packed stone and concrete, easy to roll along. Most of the rooms in the fort have a step up and are not accessible.

   Parking is in a lot on James Street across from the visitor center. The lot is large enough for any RV. The curb cuts and sidewalks are in good condition.    Fort
43.21051, -75.45794
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