September 29th through October 6th, 2016 Ashland New Hampshire, Burlington Vermont

After hugs good-by to all the two legged and four legged Wellingtons, we set off for Ashland, New Hampshire. Plans were for a six day, pre journey home, mini vacation. Having visited earlier in the year, we had reservations to return and enjoy all that was passed up during our last escape. We would also enjoy a special family meet-up for lunch on Saturday as our niece and nephew’s daughter was attending college in the area.

Pulling up into our previous site, we spent the balance of the day completing the drudgery of everyday chores.  Housecleaning, laundry, grocery shopping etc. are ongoing no matter where we land.  Nighttime, a long walk for KatieBug to the chirping of crickets and a good nights rest before our mini-vacation would begin.

Ames Brook campground

Rising early, day one started with something off my Favorites List, Heritage Farms Pancake House. The farm’s sunflowers were in full bloom.  After dining on one Chunky Monkey Pancake, because one is all you need, we cruised on over to The Lucknow Estate in New Hampshire.

Heritage  Farm Pancake  Sunflowers at Heritage

The Estate sits high atop the Ossipee Mountain Range. Since opening to the public in 1959, it has been called Castle in the Clouds.  We stopped at the entrance gate, paid the fee and snaked our way slowly up the narrow mountain road.

Castle In The Clouds Gate House Entrance

Half way up we stopped to stretch and walk to the Pebble and then on to the fifty foot high Falls of Song.

The Pebble Falls of Song from a distance  Falls of Song

Continuing on, we reached the welcome center, parked, gazed out over the Lucknow Overlook and took the trolley to the Estate.

Trolley to the Castle   Lucknow Overlook, NH

The Estate is an unusual example of Arts and Crafts architecture in New England, living in harmony with nature and my all time favorite style of home.  Woodworking “wow’s” pop out from every nook and cranny.

Lucknow Estate

The 16-room mansion not only exhibits skilled hand craftsmanship inside and out, but features a number of technological innovations of the early 20th century. Innovations including central vacuuming, ammonia brine refrigeration and an intercom system.

cold storage in pantry    Intercom system

The kitchen was state-of-the-art for its time.


Elegant grounds surround the home.

Overlook garden

Encompassing 5,500 acres, the view from the mountaintop garden grounds is breathtaking.

View to the leftView to the right

Tom, original owner of  Lucknow Estate, made his fortune in the shoe manufacturing industry. Samples of the brand, Queen Quality Shoes, was on display in the bedroom closet, including an original box.

Queen Quality Shoes     Olives dress closet

The Estate was built for the newly married Tom Plant and his wife Olive, was started in 1913 and finished in 1914.  Tom’s portrait is mounted on the wall at the top of the stairs.  Toms small but efficient office has a hidden safe.

Tom at the head of the stairs     Office and hidden vault

Elegant yet casual throughout, the billiard and organ room occupied the largest area of the home.

billiard and organ room   Organ pipes

The billiard sitting room has a cozy secret reading room hidden behind a wall.

Billiard sitting room   Secret reading room

Windows were decorated with hand painted and fired glass circles of nature scenes.

Painted and fired windows   The writting room   Library window

Tom and Olive each had their own bedrooms.

Toms bedroom   Olives bedroom

Olive had her own light filled and spacious dressing room.

Olives dressing room

Guest quarters were at the opposite end of the home.

Guest room  DSC_1655

The maid quarters were more spacious than most we have seen on home tours of this era.

Maids quarters

Bathrooms had ample space and we both had a good laugh over why women were not allowed to use the needle shower.  It seems men thought the water pressure would damage a women’s delicate skin!

Olives bathroom   Needle shower

Tom retired as a millionaire at age fifty-one. He accumulated land from the Ossipee Mountains all the way to Lake Winnipesaukee, eventually owning 6,300 acres.

After a series of failed investments, Tom fell on hard times in the 1920s and 1930s. He attempted to sell the estate in 1925, through the era of the Great Depression, and again in 1934, to no avail. Tom and Olive continued to live at Lucknow Estate until Tom’s death in 1941 at which time the property was sold.

Owned and operated by Castle Preservation Society since 2006, Lucknow is open to the public as a self-guided tour.

Exiting the property, you pass a small peaceful pond, Shannon Trout Pond, popular with Estate staff for enjoying lunch and picnics. The pond is occupied by hundreds of hungry trout that swim to greet you when you step onto the wooden dock.

Shannon trout Pond  Rainbow Trout

One way in and one way out, the small stone guard house still stands near the exit road.

Rear gate house

One detour before returning to LilyPad.  TripAdvisor suggested the Markus Wildlife Sanctuary and Loon Center and it was within a few miles of the Estate.  The sanctuary offered a walking path and in the excellent weather we were enjoying, it sounded appealing .  Before taking the path, we watched an educational presentation about Loons, walked around the hands-on learning center and browsed through the gift shop.

Loon Center Visitors Bldg  On Golden Pond Loon

Venturing outside we discovered the path was somewhat overgrown and more of a hiking trail for those with good balance and no fear of gnarly tree root systems.   It was time to leave the area and return home to rescue KatieBug from her crate.

Loon Center

After our relaxing peek into the past and interesting lesson regarding the life of a Loon, we returned home to give KatieBug a long and entertaining walk around the wooded RV park.  She met up with several of our neighbors and their crazy bouncy fur kids.   Dinner, more pug time and “to all a good night”.


Scanning through Groupon, we found a mutually interesting destination and planned an early start for exploring Lost River Gorge & Boulder Caves.  Just past the entrance, a Cairn grew alongside the trail.

Lost River Gorge and Bolder Caves Entrance    A Cairn along the boulder path

The self-guided tour consisted of hundreds of stairs and pathways

Up more steps  More stairs up

and a variety of crawl spaces through caves.  Neither John nor I chose to squeeze into the caves.

One of the boulder cave entrances

Cool breezes started off our morning as the path see-sawed over hundreds of wooden stairs, traversing rolling hills, rocky and root gnarled paths, over and around and through the treed forest. This venture was going to be an excellent work out but looked increasingly daunting the further in we advanced.  Reaching a giant waterfall an hour into the tour we rested, letting the waters spray cool us off.

The falls   Walkway over the water  Path to a Covered Bridge

There were many pausing points near unusual rock formations including one, for obvious reasons, known as the Hanging Rock.

Hanging boulders   Walkway through the boulders

Climbing crisscrossed boards to the top of the lookout, the view was a full sweep of green hues with a few pops of color but the steep climb down sent my leg muscles into screaming mode after having just tackled all the stairs.

Boulder overlook

A few more sets of ups and downs before we reached the visitors center and melted into the comfortable seats of our car.  These are the times I am grateful for the comfort and strength of our faithful 10 year old Lexus.  Being towed back and forth across the country for five years is a testament to its tenacity and the reason I was adamant about keeping Ribitts for our travels.

Sets of steps up     Stairs down

Relaxing in the car I thought, with 20/20 hindsight, the Loon hiking trail would have been effortless in comparison.

Fall was in full Kodachrome color so a drive over Kancamagus Highway, known for sightings of wildlife and beautiful leaf colors, was a must-see path back to LilyPad.

Kancamagus highway  Kancamagus highway overlook

The bright sunlight made the leaves look less colorful and no wild or tame animals chose to stroll nearby our line of sight.  Next day we relaxed and enjoyed lunch with family, the last time we would have their company this season.

Back to LilyPad to stow away all and ready our box-on-wheels for the slow trek home with several side-steps to keep the journey interesting.

Our short R and R complete, we programmed Burlington Vermont into Ways, our navigation program, and scanned Groupon and TripAdvisor for things to do during our next pause.

Arriving early afternoon, we settled in at an “electric only” space at Winooski Vermont’s Elks Lodge and set off to explore Church Street Marketplace in Burlington.

Burlington Elks Lodge site

If I haven’t emphasized sufficiently how much we love being part of the Elks Lodge family, let me take this moment to express my gratitude for their welcoming attitude towards RV’ers, their spacious sites in which to park and the friendly staff that greet us cheerfully at every Lodge where we have stayed. Thank you Elks Lodge Family!

The Marketplace is a destination of shopping, dining, evening libations and enjoyable people watching. We experienced a bit of everything it had to offer as we strolled the multiple streets up and back.

Church Street Marketplace

We loved it being a “no auto zone” as well as being completely non-smoking along the entire route! The area is clean, has lots of interesting small scale shops, there are no cars to distract your gaze away from the shops and it is lined with many historical buildings along its boarders.

No Smoking on Church Street   Keep VT weird  Beautifully restored buildings

Enjoyable and safe, we found The Marketplace a great area to stretch our legs during the day or night. Purchases might be a bit pricey but there were many locals with handmade offerings and only a few junky touristy traps. No panhandlers are allowed, nice touch, but they do have musicians playing along the route that are very appreciative of your monetary donations. We both agreed this was a must-see when in Burlington.

Church Street art


Next day we visited ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington Vermont. Perched on the edge of the Lake, the Centers mission, ”to educate and delight people about the Ecology, Culture, History and Opportunities for Stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin”.


Upon entering, an impressive gigantic slice of rock and water fall sculpture, locally sourced.

Rock and Water sculpture

This is a small but densely packed Center with interesting facts and hands on exploration experiences for all ages.  The lake’s Legend of Champ was an interesting read.

Kids water play area  The legend of Champ

The Center offered an enjoyable overview of the history of Lake Champlain and our intermission on their outside deck by the docks brought a cooling gentle breeze and an exceptional view of the marina and lake.

The Boardwalk boat dock

There was ample room for children to explore but we seniors had fun as well.  Polymer play sand is a tactile delight.

Polymer play sand

Watching the fish in the Big Tank was relaxing and turtles are surprisingly entertaining.

The Big Tank   Trio of turtles

The movie, Robots 3D, was a fascinating exploration into the progress of robotic artificial intelligence.

John and I had a chance to dip our fingers into the water tank alive with sea critters, read about the fascinating history of the Lake, explore the lives of sea creatures and chat with helpful docents who answered all our questions about the lake and its inhabitants.

ECHO water critters     pink sea anemone

The building is small but packs a big entertainment punch if you love discovering facts and fiction about the lake.  Two thumbs up and highly recommended for those with inquiring minds.


Cat-a-corner to the Center, Skinny Pancake was our lunch destination. It is dog friendly, shaded by large umbrellas on the stone deck with many outside tables and even has water bowls for your fur baby. We stopped for a snack and enjoyed the flavorful and fresh ingredients of the lite and delicious crepes. So many choices, sweet or savory, something for every taste bud.

Skinny Pancake

They sell a wheat free crunchy dog biscuit that KatieBug munched on happily.  We chose the outdoor seats with relaxing views of the water and excellent people watching.

Waterfront Park skirts the edge of the lake. We returned in the early evening to stroll along the wooden pathway and watch towns people intently focused on building unique talismans along the rocky driftwood shores.  I didn’t ask, but wondered if they were protection from “Champ“ the lake monster.

Along Lake Champlain

From one of the multiple wooden garden swings along the boardwalk, we watched the sunset cast an eerie somber grey shadow across the lake.

Sunset on the Boardwalk

Thoroughly relaxed, we returned to the Elks Lodge for a lite dinner and a quiet night’s sleep.


Today we would jam-pack in as many tourist trap stops as possible.  The leaves were still turning colors, exposing us at every curve and rolling hill to a brilliant showcase of New England Fall.

Twisting     Rolling hills

It would be unthinkable to ignore one of the most ingenious ice cream makers in New England, Vermont’s own Ben and Jerry’s creamery.

Entrance at Ben and Jerry's  Ben and Jerry's RV

The weather was cool and, lucky for us, the line was a short wait for entering the tour.  Most of the visitors were seniors so the medium length tour was taken at a snail’s pace, fine by me. Information presented was no different from other ice cream factories we have visited but Ben and Jerry has wildly original flavors and a diverse list of fancy mix-in’s.  There were several walls of ice cream scoops that spanned the history of ice cream to entertain us while we waited.

Empower Mint flavor      Ice cream scoops

John partook, I saved my calories for our next stop, Cabot Cheese outlet.

The Cabot Cheese Outlet is located in Winooski Vermont, a short drive from the creamery. The Outlet contains a vast expansion of everything cheese.  Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar is my favorite and free samples were everywhere.

Cabot Cheese Store

The temperature was cool, partly because of the weather outside and partly due to the wall of refrigerated cases opening and shutting as visiting customers purchased tasty tidbits. A sharp cheesy aroma drifted throughout the store.  Several rows of food samples were offered along with tables of artistically displayed cheese choices. Mixed among the cheese was every kind of souvenir imaginable, all containing a cheese theme.

One building over, Smugglers’ Notch Distillery. We rarely pass up a chance to sample what local distilleries offer. The flight of 80 proof tastes were exemplary. John and I split each one, ample alcohol for us to enjoy the six flavors. The small sips allowed either of us to be sober enough for the drive home. Tiny liquor bottles for stocking stuffers purchased and tucked into our bag, we headed for Vermont’s premier chocolate, Lake Champlain Chocolates, across the parking lot.

Disappointed that entering the front doors didn’t produce a heavenly confectionery aroma, we quickly scanned the lower area that was filled with upscale jewelry before taking a step up to the next room where the chocolate was displayed. One case of chocolate, various types, not the factory I was hoping to explore. I bought a few small squares for stocking stuffers, popped one truffle sample into my mouth and we left in search of a place to dine.

On the way to dinner, instead of seeing cows grazing in the fields, wild turkeys were marching along through the green brush chowing down on bugs.

Open fields   Wild Turkeys

Trying local restaurants can be a crap shoot, with positive dining experiences floating somewhere around 60 percent. Our House Bistro in Winooski Vermont was rated well on TripAdvisor. We parked, arriving peak dinner hour and ready to enjoy pub grub with a twist.

Our House

A small narrow pub, embellished with vintage lunchbox décor, only a few tables and no room at any so we climbed up on stools at the bar. Comfort food was their specialty with variations on Mac n Cheese, Pot Pie and burgers. John had Pot Pie, I opted for Mac n Cheese, both were excellent.

While enjoying dinner, I noticed the liquor shelf at my eye level. It displayed a newly prominent Texas liquor, Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Small world.

TX vodka in VT

Back to LilyPad, relax for the night, one more partial day of exploration.


Today we would pack up early for our first-thing-in-the-morning Vermont exit.  A grocery run, driving tour of the town and back to LilyPad to relax. A short drive from the Elks Lodge lives the The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College, a public research university.  Since 1862, the U.S. state of Vermont’s sole land-grant university.  On a corner not far away is a 1900’s bank building and Burlington City Hall

University of Vermont    1900 Bank Building    Burlington City Hall

The homes and buildings surrounding the University are stately and well maintained.  St. Joseph’s, built in 1896, still serves the community.  Nightfall and early to bed.

Well maintained homes     St. Joseph's 1896

Rested, refueled and ready to roll, we woke early and were on the road again.  Next destination, Canada!

On the road again   Winding roads