So here's our first blog entry on the road. We haven't had prolonged Internet access, so we've taken a bit longer than we would have hoped to post it. We started our journey on the first day of fall, heading to Anne and Bill's house in Unity to pick up some veggie oil they had snagged from the dump for us. When we arrived it had been warming up in the sun so we were able to filter about four "cubies" worth (almost 20 gallons), which gave us an 80 gallon supply to leave with on our trip. After some goodbyes, we headed up to the Great North Woods of New Hampshire to meet our good friends Mike and Jen at the Deer Mountain Campground. It was a long drive up in the dark and we almost hit a doe on Route 3 that ran out in front of the bus, but an alert Betsy stomped on or newly fixed breaks (thanks Kevin) and avoided her, literally, by inches. We arrived late at the campground, where Mike and Jen (and fred) awaited with fire lit. After stoking the fire and enjoying some burgers and burnt squash cooked on the coals and some nice company from our fellow campers, we retired to the bus, which has the comfiest bed we've slept on in years.
(Our first major veggie oil score):
The next morning we awoke to the brilliant colors of fall in New Hampshire. (Betsy and I were quite excited to enjoy a little bit of early New England foliage in Northern NH, VT, and NY's Adirondacks during the first week of our trip). We bode farewell to our friends, trying to grasp the weirdness of not knowing when we would see them next. We spent the day walking around on the quiet paths and dirt roads around the camping area, hoping to spot a moose (with no luck) and marveling at how small the Connecticut River is up there. After the rain chased us back to our campsite, we cooked dinner on our little camping stove, made a small smoky fire, and went to bed early.
In the morning, after cleaning and packing up, we gathered some water from a nearby spring and headed back down Rte 3. We stopped at one of the Connecticut Lakes and walked around on the rocky shore, admiring the colors of the mountains. After that we headed into Northern Vermont, spent the night at a wayside outside of Newport, and then continued on towards Lake Champlain. We checked out a few potential camp areas and went swimming in the Lake before finding a very peaceful and beautiful spot on Isle LaMotte. We stayed two nights at St. Anne’s Shrine, in their camping area and ended up not having to pay. We volunteered a little the morning we left by helping Louisette (this wonderfully nice French-Canadian woman who gave us some veggies from her garden) chop up a bunch of squash (including a 25lb. Blue Albert from her garden). While on the Island we saw some ancient fossils at a quarry and hung out on the quiet beach near the shrine. We made our first veggie oil score at a golf club just off the island.
The next few days were spent in the Adirondacks of New York. We have spent way more time in NY than we thought we would, but we keep finding cool places to go, and meeting really interesting, nice people. In the Adirondacks, we parked our bus on trail heads at night, and went hiking, checked out the awesome scenery, and gathered veggie oil during the day. So far our pump and filter system works alright as long as the oil is warm. Otherwise the pump will blow its fuse trying to push the viscous oil though the filter. We’ve only had to change the pump filter once, and that was after it filtered about 900 miles worth of veggie oil, and we’re still running on our original primary filter (the one hooked up to the veggie oil tank that’s wrapped in copper piping), which has over 1500 miles on it. Our only problem was when we accidentally overflowed our tank trying to flush out the veggie oil lines with diesel. There was a small geyser coming out of our tank’s vent, but we sopped most of it up, and the bus doesn’t reek of diesel anymore (we had to sleep with the veggie oil door open for a few nights to let it air out). We have talked to quite a few people about the pros and cons associated with veggie oil, and are waiting to hear that Bob and Lynn, who were kind enough to share their campfire with us one night, have purchased their own school bus.
(Our first major veggie oil score):
After the Adirondacks we ended up spending a night out in the country of New York in a rural pub called the Hayloft. We spent the evening chatting with the Hayloft family and managed to sleep through a late night pub brawl. As recommended by the owners of the Hayloft, we headed toward the Seneca Lake wine country the next day. Along the way we stopped at the Circle B Organic Farm in Lyons, New York to buy some apples and eggs. Three nights later we pulled out of the farm’s drivewayafter getting to know Chuck and Lynn Brucato, Lynn’s mother Jeanette, and all their cats, dogs, horse, goats, cows, and chickens. We got a full tour of the farm, ate a bunch of apples and home cooked meals (including seafood chowder with Maine lobster in it), watched a bin of apples get pressed into 62 gallons of cider, Betsy rode Lynn’s horse, we milked a goat, got licked by a bull, picked pints of raspberries, went swimming, collected eggs from the chickens, helped pack apples, and got a sense of the challenges associated with running an organic farm. I think I can safely say that Chuck, Lynn, and Jeanette have shown us the greatest amount of hospitality, kindness, and companionship thus far on the trip. I hope we get to see them again some day.
(Chuck & Lynn w/ us at Circle B Organic Farm):