Airstream Time

Exploring North America in an Airstream

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Placentia/Plaisance

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Taking our time at Bellevue Beach on a blustery day, we washed clothes and caught up on some things. It’s only a 1-hour drive to Argentia, where we will catch the ferry to Nova Scotia Thursday. On our way out, we stopped to say goodbye to a couple we had met with a 1972 Airstream Argosy in great condition. 

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Martha read a brochure on Placentia, next to Argentia. I had called Sunset RV Park in Argentia about 7 times with no answer, and there is no website. It looks like a parking lot for ferry travelers. When we got there, a nice man checked us in. All the spaces were booked, but we could use the unserviced overflow area for $15/night. We picked a relatively secluded spot near a cute, little Evasion trailer from Quebec. Later a cool o’neiro pulled in between us.

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It’s one of those times I am happy to have solar. Despite my constant tinkering with solar, we have only plugged into electric July 20 and September 2. We pay attention to what we use, but we watch TV, play movies, cook in the oven for short periods, run the fans and lights. It really has done well in a land where the sun doesn’t shine regularly.

We went down to Placentia and drove around. It’s a cute little town with a spectacular harbor, and two rivers. We drove up to National Historic Monument, Castle Hill. It is where the French built a complex fort in 1693. Bill was at the desk and I thought had a great analogy. He said the fishing resources were incredible here. It was full of cod and salmon ran up the rivers. Cod was a resource like oil is today. Countries would go to war over it. It was impressive the amount of cod that were caught, preserved with salt, then stacked and sent to Europe. The French would raid St. Johns from time to time. By 1713, the French gave up their right to settle Newfoundland. 

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Today it is a cool site with great views of the town and harbors. Trails run from one end of the fort remains to the other. It is well-maintained and quite pretty. The visitor’s center is a good one, explaining the design of the fort as well as the history.

We went to Three Sisters for dinner, which was OK.

Drive to Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

We decided to leave a day early in order to catch the once a week ferry to St. Pierre, one of three French islands on the south of Newfoundland. It only runs on Wednesdays. I was unable to book Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park until we cancelled our last night at Lockston Path, but I couldn’t do that online. Martha went down to the office to cancel. The office people are very nice, as we have found pretty much everywhere. Martha did a couple of loads of laundry while I loaded up and hooked up.

On our way we stopped  at Canadian Tire in Clarenville to pick up our repaired trailer tire and refill a propane tank. It was pouring rain. The nice man at the desk gave me the nail that was in the tire, a 4” pallet nail. He said it had been in there a while because the end of the nail was shiny from wobbling around inside the tire, and the head was worn. Asking what the prognosis was he said, “Well, it’s better than it was.” I think we need a new tire. As I walked out he said, “Stay between the raindrops.” 

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I met a young man at the propane refill station, where he filled it up. Then I put it back on the trailer and went inside to pay for it. There’s a lot of trust here – trusting me to come in to pay. Also, when you fill up with gas, you just pump, then go inside to pay. 

Putting the spare tire back in its rack on the front of the trailer requires sitting on the ground and pushing it with your feet, from both sides. By now, my pants were soaking wet, so I went inside and changed.

We had another 3 hours to drive down the Burin Peninsula. It was beautiful, even in the fog, clouds and rain. It is similar to other areas, but more open grasslands, with shorter trees and hills and mountains to give it character. Of course there are always the beautiful ponds.

Checking in at Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park at the end of a long day, Jim and Clay hesitated, looked at the computer, discussed and studied. There was a concern of whether we owed a daily park entry fee. I have always added that to my reservation, so I was pretty sure I had paid it. Looking at all the parks we had stayed in, they said we should have gotten a seasonal pass. I thought that was for each park, not all of them. They said they would check if we could get a refund and let us know tomorrow. How nice! Then Clay showed us to our campsite.

To catch a 9:00 ferry tomorrow, we wanted to get on the road at 7:30

Brigus Lighthouse Trail

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Driving 35 minutes west from Butter Pot Provincial Park along the coast, we arrived in Brigus, which we heard was very pretty. We pulled into a parking area by a pretty cove. A man and his family drove in behind us. The big man said they had never been there and just followed us. I told him we knew nothing. They were from Corner Brook on the west side of Newfoundland, and he was taking his teenage kids on a trip before they started school again. We chatted for a while, and he told us about a pretty drive when we go back through Codroy Valley. “Just turn at the convenience store with a gas pump and follow the road.” 

There was a tour van with a guide and 6 people. We followed them through a cave leading to the bay. The group was so excited and having such a great time, telling about all the whales they had seen on their boat tour. Meanwhile, the tour guide was telling Martha where to go and what to do. I was trying to listen to everyone, but that was not possible. 

For those who don’t know Diego, he is from Mexico City, and we were classmates in graduate prosthodontics residency at Ohio State University in 1984-86. Diego was 25 when he came from a GPR in Louisiana. I was 40, having sold my share of a general dentistry practice. We have been like brothers ever since. We asked him to come up and join us for any part of our 2-month trip, and he has come for a week, flying into St. John’s.

We drove around the beautiful, upscale village, then stopped at North Street Cafe for tea, a scone and rutabaga cake. Then we drove up to The Lighthouse Trailhead. The little parking lot was filled, so I parked right next to a cliff, which made me very nervous. I walked up the gravel road, which led to the trail, while Diego and Martha went up the trail at the parking lot. 

The lighthouse Trail

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The lighthouse Trail

It is a beautiful hike, well-maintained and pretty all along. there were a couple of unusual things. One was a greatly oversized Adirondack chair where the best pictures can be taken of the cove and town. The other was a big field where cows were grazing. There is more up and down than I expected, but otherwise an easy trail to walk on. There were many walking the trail on this pretty day. We had a late start, so we had it all to ourselves coming back. Diego and Martha had a running conversation all the way, and Martha liked the way Diego helped her at difficult spots.

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Back at the parking lot, I was nervous getting out of my spot on the edge of the cliff, but Diego and Martha were guiding me. First I pulled forward and then backed slowly over a little, wooden bridge with wooden supports for the tires. I was glad to get over it and turn around.

In the evening, we went back to St. John’s Fish Exchange. We have found making reservations is very important in Newfoundland. Again, we had an excellent dinner and service. I missed our previous waitress with the great smile, but Martha sure liked Chad, our waiter. A tall and handsome young man who was born and raised here. He said this is summer and lasts about a month. Then the winds, cold and snows come. I don’t know how they navigate these big, steep hills in snow. We shared a bowl of mussels, which would have been enough with a salad, but Martha and I ordered Cod, while Diego had Arctic Char. All were excellent, but the real treat was the mussels. The restaurant was packed.

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L’Anse au Meadows

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Wednesday afternoon, July 31, 2019

After lunch, we moved the trailer to work on our persistent leak. Backing the truck up close, I can climb up on the truck tool box, then up the canoe rack and get on the roof. I removed all the duct tape and redid that area with RV sealing tape that Martha brought. Surely that would fix it.

Then we drove to L’Anse au Meadows where Leif Erikson landed and spent a winter. It is a UNESCO site and has a great visitor’s center. There is a very cool rebuilding of the village. This is all the way at the top of Newfoundland in a beautiful meadow with a shallow, protected cove. The Vikings had written about sailing the Labrador coast, describing its long, sandy beaches and endless forests.

Back at camp we showered, built a nice fire in the solo stove, had dinner and watched a cooking show on DVD.

Drive to Pistolet Bay Provincial Park, Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Before leaving Port au Choix, we hiked Phillip’s Garden Trail, very pretty, along the coast, 9.0. We saw no whales or moose

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We came back, showered, Martha and I next to each other with a man going to the bathroom at the same time. Nice, big shower with hot to the right, cold to the left – just when you think you’ve seen it all.

Arriving at Pistolet Bay Provincial Park, we checked in with two lovely, young ladies. We settled in as mosquitoes surrounded us. It was a great view over a field with possibility of seeing a moose. 

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We drove to Burnt Cape Ecological Reserve and walked around for an hour. A couple from Labrador stopped, turned off their truck to talk,  They recommending Onion Cove for whale watching. They were in Newfoundland so he could be treated for cancer.

Looking over at Labrador

Looking over at Labrador

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Raleigh, NL

Dinner was pork tenderloin, rutabaga and a salad.

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Drive to Seaside RV Park, Port au Choix

Monday, July 29, 2019

It was a three-hour drive along the beautiful west coast of Newfoundland. The only road north travels right on the coast much of the way. We stopped for lunch in a church parking lot. We arrived at the Seaside RV Park office as howling winds and heavy rain started. Several people parked behind the office, and one, big heavy-duty camper parked behind a shed. We asked the young lady in the office if we would be safe out front by the ocean, and she looked at us like we were crazy. This is Newfoundland where the winds blow and the wind-stunted Tuckamore trees grow.

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Waiting for the rains to slow, we went grocery shopping, toured the town and had a very nice dinner at Anchor Cafe. Seafood chowder 9.0, seafood tacos 10.0, fish and chips 8.5. couldn’t eat it all. 

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By the time we went to bed, the winds died down a bit, but still very blowy. Our wounded ceiling dripped water into a pot all night. Seaside RV Park is right on the ocean with a great view, interesting shower/bathroom that is unisex, good hookups 8.4.

Tablelands Lecture/Hike to Green Gardens

Saturday, July 27, 2019

There is a great overlook of Bonne Bay, where we sat in Adirondack chairs in the morning, watching for whales. There is a beach next to the dock, where people go for a swim.

Looking for whales

 

We went up to the beautiful, modern visitor’s center for some WIFI, but the speeds were very slow. I could upload a picture every 3 minutes. We had taken the tour of the center yesterday, and it explains the area quite well, but to learn more, we went up to the Tablelands for a geology lecture at 10:00.

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Gros Morne National Park, where the mountains meet the sea

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Model of the Pitcher Plant we see so often

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Guide, Chris Rohrback is simply the best!_1GW2059

We were thrilled to see our guide from a previous lecture at Green Point, Chris Rohrback. She is a geologist, who has a great way of simplifying complex things. Gros Morne was made a national park in 1970’s to protect it’s beauty. Later a geologist, whose name escapes me, studied the area finding it so unique that he developed plate tectonics theory. 

At the Green Point site there is a walled cliff of rock that is turned up on end when two plates pushed up. Usually these are horizontal, but the verticality of this spot makes it so different. First the point is covered with big, round boulders, plowed here by glaciers. All the different layers of shale (mud), limestone, sandstone and a conglomerate, like aggregate. Because of these studies, Gros Morne was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At Tablelands, this desert-like area was the Earth’s Mantle pushed up. It is composed of cadmium, cobalt, chromium and other toxic metals, so no vegetation grows here. Well, some does, but very little. Across the U-shaped valley is another mountain composed of sediment, so there is plenty of growth, and a beautiful trout stream runs through it. The U-shaped valley was caused by glaciers, one 500,000 years ago and one 10,000 years ago. Each left a line of boulders like bathtub rings along the sides.

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After an hour and a half talk, we had a 30-minute walk back to the car. We drove to Trout River, having heard of a good restaurant there. first we drove through Trout River Campground to check it out. There was a great view of Little Trout River Pond.

Bonne Bay

Little Trout River Pond

Trout River Harbor

Trout River

Trout River

Trout River

Trout River Post Office

Trout River

Seaside Restaurant

Seaside Restaurant

We found Seaside Restaurant and enjoyed a good meal of Scallops, salad, seafood chowder, fish sandwich and Partridge berry pie. 

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We were tired, but wanted to do at least part of the Green Garden Hike, which can be 9km or all day, and is rated moderate. You have to earn your keep in Gros Morne. It is a long, rather boring hike across a small mountain and down the other side down to the ocean. There are rocks and many stairs along the way. It took us an hour and a half to get there.

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Finally breaking out to a cliff overlooking the ocean and beach, the views were spectacular. Martha sat on a picnic table while I explored for a short time. We knew we had a 2-hour hike, mostly uphill, to get out, so we didn’t want to stay long.

There are natural meadows along the cliff. I was surprised to see lots of poop. This grassy area must attract lots of moose in the evening and maybe caribou. There are campsites along the coast, and I can see why you would like to stay here a while, hiking the beautiful coast. I would have to be younger to carry a 35-pound pack down here, but it would sure be fun.

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On the way back up, we passed a young couple with three small kids. How they were going to manage getting them back up that mountain concerned us. We were exhausted by the time we got back to the top, and rested at a platform with bench seats. We talked with a family who had just done the same hike. They were from Corner Brook and had a cabin near here, where they would stay two weeks. 

After a quick dinner and an episode of a cooking show, we were soon asleep. Of course our neighbors had a Saturday night party that went on until 12:00. I closed the window and stuffed my ears with tissue.

Hiking Gros Morne Mountain

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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Great shower house at Greenpoint Campground

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Love site #14 at Green Point

The goal of the day was to hike Gros Morne Mountain for the spectacular views from the top. It is an 8-hour difficult hike. The parking lot was filled when we got there a little before 9:00. As we read the board, a young lady was coming down. I asked her if she was done, and she said she was. They had only gotten to the base when her friend pulled a muscle. She pointed to the map and said, “This is the easy part, and this is the hard part.” The hard part was the loop around the mountain, while the easy part was getting to the base. 

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It took us two hours to get to the base. Rocks, roots and mud slowed our travel. There were stairs to climb and some areas with boardwalks. At the base, a guided group, and others like us, rested for the climb. Looking across a valley, we saw a rock slide ravine going up the mountain. People were lined up, climbing the rock scrabble. I was reminded of the pictures of lines of climbers on Mt. Everest.

Always the smart one, Martha said she was going back. Always the stupid one, I took some of the food, and set out behind the guided group. As I walked across the valley, a man with a big pack and walking stick was coming down. He was camping and hiking at the top, intending to stay a week, but he got sick and lost his cooking pot, so had to come back down.

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“Why not go up the trail to the right?”, I asked. A teen-aged, lovely girl said, “It’s too steep. See these tight contour lines?” “The scrabble is not as steep as it appears.” a young man said, leveling his hand at about 30 degrees. “Uh huh”, I said. A man in his 50’s, who had already fallen, asked, “What’s the worst that can happen? They can get a helicopter right up there.”

The guide said they usually allow an hour to get to the top. Well, that didn’t sound too bad. I figured the rest was all downhill. The mountain is 800m, not unlike our Appalachian Mountains. In fact, these are the Appalachians, and we had already come half way.

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Looking back down the rock scrabble

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Still more to climb

The first 45 minutes wasn’t too bad, but the second was a bitch. Just when you think you’ve made it, there is a turn and more mountain awaits, then again and again.

Finally getting to the top exhausted, there was actually more mountain as the loop led up and over to the other side for the classic view of Long Pond. Rocks, more rocks to walk on. I sat and ate a chocolate bar, remembering from my Appalachian Trail hike that the muscles need sugar, instant energy. My legs were cramping, so I took a spoonful of mustard.

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Although this stretch didn’t look so hard, it was longer than it appeared. I tried to take it easy, but my legs were cramping, so I stopped for more water and mustard. I could see I didn’t have enough water.

Over the top and down the other side, I caught up with the guided group resting. A man with an english accent was in constant conversation with the guide. Off and on throughout the day, I heard them talking. She said the interior of Newfoundland is beautiful, much like this. No one lives there, for the most part, but some treckers love to hike it.

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Rocks, rocks and more rocks

Over the top and down the other side, the trail turns left and up to the spectacular view that everyone comes for. For 15 minutes I stood there taking pictures and just looking. For miles in the distance, the “Long Range” seem to go on forever with alpine lakes, snow and waterfalls. If you wanted to hike out there, you would need very good GPS, as it all looks the same, and all of these mountains go straight up and straight down. It is a nightmare to think of hiking down to cross a valley and then climb the other side. No wonder no one lives in the interior, but with all those lakes and beautiful, pristine streams are there fish?

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Heading back down

Going back down to the base was torturous. It is highly technical with so many rocks and ravines cutting through dense bushes and short trees. You have to find a proper place for your foot to land at every step, then lift your other leg over a boulder. Grabbing tree limbs helped steady the climb down, but were sometimes sharp enough to cut your hands, and sometimes they smacked you in the face. 

Of course this was a walk in the park for the fit, young people. There were some kids along, from about 5 to 10 years old. I was amazed how easy it was for them, however one was really struggling on the rock scrabble going up. Young people kept bounding past me. Then people trickled by on their way up. It was getting late in the day to be doing that. You would not want to walk up or down in the dark, but then, it doesn’t get dark until after 9:30, and the best pictures would be taken then.

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Back at the junction of the loop. The young girl had been right. Going up the right side would have been more difficult.

It seemed to take forever to get back to the base, and I knew it was two hours down from there, so I kept moving. I caught up with the guided group again, and the man with the english accent was still talking. This section seemed difficult this morning, but now was relatively easy. The mud we struggled to get around this morning, I just walked through. Some was deep though, so I had to work around it. A handsome, young Japanese teenager had his shoe sucked off in the mud, and I retrieved it for him.

Cramping again, I took my last sip of water and a spoonful of mustard. 20 minutes later I arrived at the parking lot where Martha waited. She said it was like watching the end of a marathon. Good analogy. I drank a lot of water and got in the truck. As we got to the campground, I cramped up again and had to get out and walk around.

Codroy Valley Bike Ride

Friday, July 19, 2019

Martha talked with Jason about a bike trail. He suggested a 14-mile loop through Codroy Valley. These are country roads, not a bike trail, but there isn’t a lot of traffic. It proved to be a beautiful ride, although it was 17 miles – not exactly challenging for my bike-riding friend, Steve Aquilino, but it was plenty tough for us.

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We stopped at the Codroy River Nature Center and walked their trail. Visiting inside, the staff was very friendly and informative. It is sponsored by Ducks Unlimited.

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We stopped halfway at a long, ocean beach. We chatted with a couple walking the beach. He grew up in Corner Brook, but they had never been to this area before. He suggested we buy fresh fish from a fishing company just up the road.

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Elvis Street

I thought I was going to cramp up as we got close to the campground. I could barely walk to the trailer to get two spoonfuls of mustard. Instantly it was all gone!

After a long shower, I talked with Mark from South Carolina with a big rig RV. He had been in Newfoundland for a month, and was pouring out information faster than I could remember. He found Newfoundlanders like their seafood fried. Sometimes the batter is too thick so there is a big space between the fish and batter. He suggested a French island, St. Pierre. They took the ferry across to Labrador and had their best meal of the trip.

We went to the seafood docks, but they didn’t have anything fresh. We bought two pounds of shelled and cooked lobster for $30/lb and a pound of scallops for $10.

At the top of the hill we stopped at the pretty Anglican Church in a gorgeous setting overlooking the ocean with mountains in the distance.

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Fishing The Battenkill River and Roaring Branch

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

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Camping on the Battenkill campground

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Battenkill behind our campsite

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It was 57 degrees when we woke up, which makes for great sleeping. Sooner suggested driving 9 miles south to the New York side of the Battenkill River where they stock trout  so we might have a better chance of catching fish. We stopped at a bridge and fished above and below for about an hour. A man, who looked like he knew what he was doing, entered from the other side. None of us did anything. 

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We looked at several other areas before settling on another bridge on a secondary road. We are in the land of covered bridges. It was a beautiful spot with several good runs and nice holes. I switched to a small nymph and caught a small Brown Trout on the first cast and immediately walked down to Kelly to tell him the news. Maybe we were onto something but only one more strike was it. Maybe it was just the end of feeding time, or maybe they were keying in on something else. There was nothing rising and no hatch however it’s never a bad thing wading a cool, beautiful trout stream in the summer.

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We drove upstream to another bridge where a professional entered the stream above us, teaching a couple how to fly fish. Changing flies and techniques, we didn’t move a fish. There was a hatch of teeny flies, and one sulphur almost hit me in the face, but I could see no fish sipping, rolling or rising. 

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Tired and hungry, we went back to camp, fixed lunch and rested a bit. Then we rode back through the little town of Arlington and drove up Sand Road to Roaring Branch. It didn’t look like much as we drove along and it didn’t appear to be much water in it, but what water there was, was crystal clear. Cabins and houses were all along the stream. Roaring Branch seems to be appropriately named. It’s a huge boulder field with what looked like a trickle of a stream running through it. We could see that when the spring rains came, all hell could break loose, moving these huge boulders around and washing trees downstream. 

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Not having any idea where to fish, we just stopped in a shady area where at least the fish would have something to keep them cool. Traffic was heavy on this dusty, gravel road and, while I don’t know where this road goes, thankfully, all these cars were not carrying fishermen. We were in Green Mountain National Forest, which only means the government has timber and mineral rights. 

Kelly went directly to the stream and I worked my way downstream, fishing a couple of small pools. I wasn’t optimistic since a road ran along the stream providing easy access and there was little to get in the way of casting, I suspected there would be few, if any, fish. I looked up as I was moving and saw a man watching me; he looked like a game warden, but didn’t say anything. We had gotten a $10, one day, non-resident New York license and a $21 Vermont license. For $2 more, you could get a 3-day license which was a smart enticement to get additional state revenue but we did not fall for it since we really only needed the one day and we are cheap. We have a little printer in the Airstream that is great for printing licenses – I might start a little collection from this trip.

I asked the man if he had caught any fish and that he said he was new to the area and was unsure of what to do. He had fished up higher with a caddis fly and caught a couple of small trout. I told him we were new to the area too and didn’t know much either. 

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The stream is deceiving. It splits, comes back together, makes runs and falls into some very deep pools, some of which aren’t 4’ across but we found fish in them. Kelly caught a couple early on and I got a couple of strikes. OK, game on. I love this kind of fishing. Just about everyone says Brook Trout will readily take a fly, and they will but if you miss, it’s all over in that pool and you will not get a second chance. Brook Trout can see you so you best stay low, get behind a rock and don’t let this fast-moving water drag your line. It’s target fishing and you have to be accurate. 

The longer we fished this little stream, the more impressed I was. It’s not easy going in this boulder field. You have to navigate carefully, and you are climbing up a mountain, so it’s great exercise. At our age, we may not be able to do this much longer, which made this afternoon so much sweeter. We caught 8 nice, little Brookies and probably missed 15 more. They fight so hard! By 5:00 we were whupped and called it a day, but what a good one it was.

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7″ Brook Trout

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Behind this little dam is a deceivingly deep pool that was over my knees.

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Back at camp, Kelly surprised me as he went back to the Battenkill to fish. A young couple had settled in beside us, cooking hash over an open fire for dinner. Kelly went over to discuss how they made it. They started by frying bacon, add potatoes, then anything else you might have. In their case it was peppers and something else. Sounded good. He told them Stouffer’s made our dinner.