In preparation for my upcoming Trans-Labrador Highway trip in a couple of weeks, I took a short 2-night trip down to Vermont, mainly to test out a new tent that I'd gotten for the trip, but also to meet up with board member Bob, who lives in Vermont. Bob had agreed to meet me and take me on some interesting roads before introducing me to a great pub for a late lunch. Here I am before leaving work on Saturday: I headed down to Champlain NY and got through the US Border without any delay thanks both to my leaving Montreal later in the afternoon and to my Nexus pass. It was the start of the annual 2-week construction holiday in Quebec and the news had been reporting border delays of up to 2 hours earlier in the day. So I was pretty happy that I missed it. I'm fairly passionate about photography, but one thing I'd never tried (which some of you do SO well) is to take photos one-handed while riding. I've tried the GoPro route but in video the battery never seems to last long enough and in still shots (one every 10 seconds is what I'd used) it's never quite right and the camera mounted on the bike is always pointing in the same direction and that gets boring. So I put a lanyard around my neck and attached a camera to it and tucked it into the shock cord on my tank bag that's used for gloves. For those interested, that camera is an Olympus Tough TG-2, waterproof and shockproof. But it only shoots a fairly average quality jpg. My other camera on this trip was a new Sony RX100III, which surprised me with the quality results. (I shoot raw with that, and process the images through DxO Optics Pro.) Here's my very first self-portrait taken while riding: I'd wanted to spend the first night at Grand Isle State Park on the Champlain Islands, but because of the Quebec construction holiday they were totally booked and wouldn't even put me on a waiting list. I reserved instead at a private campground very close to the ferry terminal from Grand Isle to Plattsburgh and right on Lake Champlain. While it wasn't quite as nice as some of the State Parks I've stayed at, it was certainly among the best of private campgrounds. The property was spotlessly clean, as were the washrooms, and it was billed as an "Adult" campground, so there were no young children running around. It was extremely quiet there and I'd return for sure. Jean-Claude, a transplanted Frenchman, owns and operates the campground all by himself and it seems he really does a great job. After setting up my new tent (a Hilleberg Anjan 2GT) I decided to ride the 2-3 miles to a pub I'd found on Google Maps. The reviews had been very good for the food and the beer but fairly poor due to slow service. I figured as long as the beer was good, a little slow service wouldn't matter much. There was a wait to get a table but I choose instead to sit at the bar. Ryan the bartender, appears to own the place together with his mom: The beer was fabulous! (I'd been on a low-carb diet, meaning none, or very little, of the good stuff like beer, bread, fries, etc. for many months, and had lost 18 pounds, so I really really enjoyed the beer!) The meal took just over an hour to arrive, so yes, the service was extremely slow! Ryan tried to make up for that by buying me a beer, which I appreciated. The food, when it did arrive, was excellent. On Sunday morning I packed up and headed down to Burlington VT to do a little shopping. On my way out, I snapped this photo of the Pub: Continuing on through the beautiful Champlain Islands: I wanted to pick up some Permethrin (which I hadn't been able to find in Canada) to spray my clothing with before my Trans-Lab trip. That's the stuff they pre-treat insect repellent clothing with, and from what I hear about the biting insects, particularly the blackflies, in Labrador, I would need all the help I could get. I found the stuff at a Dick's Sporting Goods store. Then I headed over to EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) to browse through their stuff and wait for Bob who was going to meet me there. Say Hi to Bob: Bob's got a LOT of bike experience and has done all kinds of great trips. Plus as a GS rider living in Vermont, he's found great roads to travel. We said our hellos, mounted up and headed out of town. There was some good gravel involved: I have to check my GPS history to see exactly where we were, as I was too busy taking photos with my left hand and navigating the curves with my right to pay attention to where we actually were, other than the roads were great fun. I think our route took us past Mad River Glen ski area. Here we are at one of the highest turn-offs on the route: What is the name of this plant? Bob told me, but I've forgotten. He said it has "invaded" Vermont and that it's more poisonous than Poison Ivy, so you'd better stay away! (EDIT: JPCollinsworth pointed out that this is Wild Parsnip.) The route we took was fantastic... not quite as twisty as the Smuggler's Notch pass but fantastic just the same. We eventually made it to Waterbury coming up from the south for some great beer and food at the Prohibition Pig. You could see the smoke and smell the bar-b-que from a couple of blocks away. Sunday late afternoon, and we had to wait about half an hour to get a table. But we were able to get beer right away! Lots of beers to choose from, but I really liked the "Lawson's Finest Sip of Sunshine" (8%!!!): After great lunch (and a Key Lime Pie for dessert) Bob and I said our goodbyes, and we each headed off in different directions. Bob for home and me for another night of camping, this time at Little River State Park only about 5 miles away. The reviews had suggested it was the best of all the Vermont State Parks, and I was totally pleased with the place. Nice and quiet, good privacy for the campsites, and surprisingly few biting insects. And it's on a nice lake with beautiful views. Approaching Little River: When I stopped at EMS the day before I purchased a head net that was pre-treated with some kind of insect repellent. I was sitting at my campsite and there were a few annoying mosquitoes around... not enough to really bother me, but I thought it was a good chance to try out the new head net. Once I put it on, the mosquitoes were gone... they weren't even flying around me and they weren't even trying to bite my hands. Just wish those nets were a little more fashionable: My ride home the next day was uneventful and other than burning out a headlight bulb and searching around Burlington for a replacement H7, it was pretty boring. I needed to get home so I stuck to the highways.