Leaving New York, we trusted our GPS to lead us to Vermont. We shouldn't have. This is becoming a theme. It adamantly wanted to route us up I-91, but we had already decided we wanted to go up I-87. Garmin, you make us mad. Eventually it got with the program and led us up the Hudson Valley, past lake Champlain and into my old stomping grounds in Burlington, VT. You see, I went to the University of Vermont here in Burlington for my Freshman and Sophomore years of college back in '90-'92. I loved Burlington and the area, but the University turned out to not be what I needed so I transferred to Northland College in Ashland, WI. I've only made it back to Burlington once, in the summer of 1993, but have been trying to get back ever since. Now, we have just four(!) days to explore the city and let Pam and Crayton fall in love with it, before we have to move on.
The drive into town was interesting. There's no real way to get to the north side of the city without going through downtown or on narrow side streets, so we took the rig right downtown on Winooski Ave, Pearl St, etc. The last time I was here I was probably on foot, so this was a bit different, but it was nice to see a bunch of familiar landmarks and see that the city seemed cleaner, busier and more vibrant than I remembered. Before long we were at North Beach Campground, checked in and set up. I have some history with the park as this was the location for the Vermont Reggae Festival for many years before it was moved out into the country. I attended twice. Here at North Beach in the summer of '91 and then out of town in the summer of '93. I see now that it returned to Burlington for a few years, but appears to have since disappeared. In any event, I have fond memories of summer afternoons spent in this very park when I was 19-20ish.
Our first night in town we drove downtown, had an amazing wood-fired pizza at American Flatbread and then walked around the Church Street Pedestrain 'mall'. It was much as I remembered it and maybe a bit more vibrant/upscale. I'm amazed at how quickly I got my bearings back and looked to find familiar landmarks. The Ben and Jerry's scoop shop moved, though, but that didn't stop us from enjoying some before heading back to camp.
The Church St Pedestrian Mall in Burlington, VT
The work week was excruciating, knowing that there was so much I wanted to see here, but didn't have time. Pam and Crayton spent a lot of time on the beach, making new friends, enjoying the nice weather and the spectacular views across Lake Champlain. We enjoyed teasing Crayton a bit with stories of "Champ", The Loch Ness Monster's North American Cousin, at one point even convincing him that a far off flock of sea-birds floating on the surface of the lake was actually him. Our four nights here went quickly and Burlington is still on my list of cities I'd like to get to know better. Friday morning we were off to New Hampshire!
Just can't get sick of that View! Lake Champlain
Playin' in the Sand
Our next destination was another music festival. We LOVE to go to festivals and Crayton has had the best time meeting new kids, enjoying the music and all the excitement that a well-run family-oriented festival can bring. This time we were off to Jerry Jam in Bath, NH. I had put out a message on a family-focused music forum looking for jam-band or bluegrass/folk oriented festivals in New England that are great for kids and this one came up many times in the responses. There were others, too, especially the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, but having already done a larger festival (Wanee in FL), we wanted to try a smaller festival just for some variety.
It really delivered. But first we had to get there. Any again our "RV" GPS failed us. This time colossally. It tried to take us over a mountain on a narrow gravel road. Seriously. We pulled up to where the pavement ended and I just stared at it for a few minutes thinking. W. T. (actual) F. This is partly my fault as I usually do a lot of research the night before a travel day so as to have several routes scoped out, manual directions written out of the preferred route, etc. all ready to go. However, for whatever reason, I failed to do so this time. I'll let this be a lesson to me. It took a while, but we got turned around (our 58 foot long beast with truck and trailer doesn't turn on a dime...)
The music was great with performances by Melvin Seals and JGB, Assembly of Dust, Max Creek, Pink Talking Fish and many others. The size was perfect. I think they cap ticket sales at roughly 2000 and there was plenty of elbow room both camping and by the stages. There was a kids activity area that was fairly well run by volunteers with lots of toys, craft supplies and activities lined up for the littles. They even had a daily kids parade where the kids would play instruments and march over to the stage. We met some nice folks, ate great food, and took the time to relax and recharge.
Our home base by the music
Littles activity area
Look who Crayton got to meet!
The whole experience was fantastic and just what we were looking for in a small festival. You know we picked well when every morning the first thing out of Crayton's mouth is "When are we going by the music again?"
I'm playing around with video editing and threw this together from the little clips we took that weekend.
A video tour of our time at Jerry Jam!
They charged quite a bit for an RV pass which did not include any hookups (not unexpected). I think this was to limit the number of RVs as there was limited space. There was a honey-wagon that came around daily but he was asking $50!!! for a pump-out. Even the KOA (Littleton/Lisbon) down the road had high fees for the use of their dump station ($25), though I did call back and ask for the fee again just to make sure they weren't gouging festival goers (they weren't, it's just that high!). We wound up not dumping and waiting until we got to our next site. Our tanks weren't anywhere near full...
Monday morning it started to rain so we got moving as quickly as possible to keep from the possibility of getting stuck in the mud in the farmers hay field that was the campground and headed on down the road to Maine.