Monday, June 30, 2014

the gorge

if you grow up in this part of vermont, there is a thing your parents tell you as soon as you start to get to the age where you might be getting in cars to go places with people.

they tell you never, ever, no matter what, promise you will never go swimming in huntington gorge.

the thing is that huntington gorge is spectacularly beautiful and also a popular swimming hole despite the fact that to go swimming there you have to pass right by the official state sign listing the people who have died in the gorge over time.

the sign, of course, does not detail the most recent deaths, nor does it capture the horror of some years ago when sgt. gary gaboury of the state police was killed in the gorge trying to retrieve a body that was turning like a logroll in the water.

after sgt. gaboury died, they just let that body spin until it was safe to retrieve it.

this morning we woke to the news that a middle-aged woman who had not yet been identified was found dead in the gorge last night.

later on, at a more respectful interval of time, i will go to the gorge and take some pictures so you can see what it is i'm talking about.

Sunday, June 29, 2014


here is the beginning of an email i got today from "nancy peolosi", which i put in quotes because it's from whichever staffer at the DCCC is cranking out trash today:

President Obama emailed you last week to ask for your help on our fundraising deadline.

Sadly, we still haven’t heard from you.


yeah, i'm going to have to suggest that "nancy pelosi" isn't really paying attention to how i'm thinking about it because only just last week when they asked me to fill out a survey asking me which of the democratic agenda items i was going to help them with, i told them 


and then i went ahead and told them that  they are "filthy corrupt warmongering scum" and that i didn't see very much difference in the president's agenda as opposed to the republican agenda, except that the republican agenda has more in it about taking rights away from women, brown people, and gays but mostly it's the same old pandering to the rich by stripping the value from every worker, community, waterway, and patch of land for maximal short-term profit for the already extremely wealthy.

you guys can keep being sad. you're not getting one thin dime from me.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


one of the items on the list for the vermont venture outdoor challenge is to photograph and identify three different amphibians.

i'm kind of a fan of critters in general, but frogs, toads, and salamanders will often sit still long enough for you to take pictures.

my whole field guide album for the challenge this year can be seen here, but i present for your enjoyment a selection of amphibians that i've had the pleasure of meeting recently.

bufo americanus
camel's humps state forest

rana sylvatica
camel's hump state forest

notopthalmus viridescens viridescens (land form)
wilgus state park

Friday, June 27, 2014

slab and slot

slab and slot
for vermont state parks' annual free admission weekend, i decided to visit a couple state parks where i'd never been.

i hiked the pinnacle trail at wilgus and then after a visit with my grandmother i went off to the veritable wonderland of  mt. ascutney state park. i made a video of the drive up and down the road which is spectacular enough, but you're going to have to wait until a later post to see that because i'm currently migrating ALL my data over to a new hard drive, and that's slowing down my machine to the point i'd just rather not edit video right now.

slot trail, as promised
there are picnic tables just off the parking lot at the top of ascutney, so i thought it would be a dandy time to check "have a picnic at a state park" off my venture vermont challenge list, plus it was lunchtime.

you can hike all the way up ascutney from the bottom, but i was looking at a pair of geocaches and after consulting a map i decided that while i wasn't going to save anything on distance, i could lessen my exposure to the steeper portions of the trial by approaching one of them from the summit and approaching the other from the base via the windsor trail.

it's still some challenging hiking, but i like to save wear on my knees when i can.

on the tower
from the upper parking lot the hike is short, but the terrain is still pretty rough, which kind of makes me shake my head at the number of people wandering around up there in flip-flops.

i mean, really?

and speaking of wandering, i was sort of looking for the brownsville trail. i say "sort of", because it's extremely well marked if you happen to be at it, and if i'd just been going there directly i would have found it right away.

summit mark
but oh, no. first i thought i'd go up to the summit via slot trail and then i was watching some guys drive little RC trucks up the mountain and i was talking with some people and hanging out in the firetower and then i went over to look at the hang glider launch and THEN i decided to look for the brownsvillle trail, only by this time i was way the heck on the other side of the summit from it, and  thought maybe that place i'd remembered seeing the sign for it was that junction off of the slot trail, so i went around AGAIN.
hang glider emergency kit

by the time i wandered past the junction the second time, it was already three in the afternoon, but it's a super nice ridgeline trail, at least until it plunges down the mountainside.

so i had a look at the USGS survey markers, and i went to look at brownsville rock and i admired so carved rock graffiti, which i can only assume was left by the kimball union academy class of 1925. i very much enjoyed seeing the foundation of the little stone hut, and then i got kind of more serious about going down the brownsville trail.

west summit windsock
on the way back to the parking lot i took the slab trail, which the guide says is the easier of the slab/slot choice, but i just don't see how slippery rock and steel and wood steps is all that easier than stone steps, and while i managed to make it up the slot trail twice without any sad missteps, i fell on my butt twice going down the slab trail, so feel free to draw your own conclusions.

it is very GREEN up here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

evening frogs

as part of the venture vermont outdoor challenge 2014, i've made a recordings of frogs in the evening.

spring peepers (psuedacris crucifer) at a pond in springfield, vermont.

june 13, 2014:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

shoe shopping

last moth i wore out two pairs of hiking boots. for each pair the wearing came over a period of years. after three or four years of hard use, the first pair ceased to be waterproof, but were otherwise good for light travel on dry days, so i kept them. after four or five years the NEW pair's soles simply fell off.

this happened the same week that the old pair's soles wore through.

so i had to go shoe shopping. while there are lots of hiking boots out there to buy, there are a very limited number of stiff-soled fully waterproof hikers that you can wear year-round.

and by "year-round", i mean that i will be wearing them for summer hiking, but i will also need to wear them with crampons in winter.

so i tried on all three of the boots that qualified, and it turns out that only one of them fits me.

this isn'
t really a surprise, because it's simply the same boot i've been wearing all these years.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

ludow spring

my grandmother remembers a time when her father used to pile the kids in the car on a hot day and go get water and the ludlow spring, which also meant stopping for ice cream.

Monday, June 23, 2014


there's a lot written on the internet about introverts.

i think this is largely due to the fact that the internet has a large population of introverts on it. the extroverts are maybe talking about extroversion, but they're all off at parties or something and talking about it face to face.

i have come to realize that i require a great deal of social interactions but also a great deal of solitude. i am perfectly happy to go days on end without talking to a single other person and yet i am totally happy to hang out with someone i only just met in a parking lot.

i don't do a lot of thing alone because i have no friends; i do them alone because i like to do them alone. you have a different kind of adventure when you go alone.

and oddly, i like to ski alone precisely because i get to meet interesting people on chairlifts. if you go WITH someone, you're talking to your friend and you don't get to make chitchat with fascinating strangers.

i LOVE talking with random people.

big crowd? AWESOME.

weeks by myself? AWESOME

either of those two things without the other? not so good.

so maybe i'm a mesovert.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

this week's eggs

this week i got my eggs at the vermont youth conservation corps. aside from all their good work with parks and trails and construction, they also keep a farm at the monitor barn on route 2 and the provide food to programs that serve the food insecure and to long term patients at health facilities.

the chickens spend their days up on the hill between the solar collectors and the trail system, and you can go visit them when you buy eggs.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

heart in hand

one of the bonus activities for the vermont venture challenge si to find a heart-shaped rock.

here's mine.

heart in hand

Friday, June 20, 2014

a visit to birch glen camp

birch glen camp, on vermont's long trail, is one of the treasures of camel's hump state forest. i was up there a couple of weeks ago and took some pictures so you can see.

birch glen camp
birch glen camp

as seen from the beane trail
seen from the beane trail

thou shalt not
thou shalt not


detail of door
detail of door

front room
living area

carving on bench
carving in bench

bunk room

fire circle

it has running water!
it has running water!



Thursday, June 19, 2014

a lot has happened on facebook since you last logged in.

i have a facebook account. i have it under a fake name because every once in a while a business or organization will get confused and think a facebook page constitutes an acceptable web presence.

first, it's not an acceptable web presence.

there's a lot of new legalese at a lot of companies now that reading their facebook page or hitting their "like"button constitutes your agreement never to sue them for anything, ever.

i am not kidding about this, but you have to go find your own links.

it's also not an acceptable web presence because if as a business or organization you have a webpage, anyone with any browser can go to it, and you are not bound by the terms of one huge skeezy corporation for access between you and your clients / customers / patrons / members.

plus facebook will be happy to throttle back your messages so that unless you pay a premium rate, only SOME of your contacts will get your information.

i hope they are first against the wall when the revolution comes.

anyway, i recently received a message from facebook that "a lot has happened on facebook" since i last logged in.

(you know you should always log out of facebook, right? because they track every webpage you visit and every action you take for the entire time you're logged in?)

so i logged in to read the ONE notification that facebook wants me to feel i'll be left out of things if i don't read.

the important notification that constitutes "a lot has happened on facebook" since i last logged in?

they're improving their advertising.

gosh, i don't know how i was going to live without knowing that.

thanks, facebook.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


so last thursday i was looking for a geocache and i found myself standing on top of a REALLY BIG STUMP. the tree had grown very close tot eh side of a steep hill, so it was a simple matter of stepping off onto the top of it, but on the other side it was quite a drop.

remarkable view.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

family relations

the yard i was staying in this week is sort of my uncle's.

because i've never really thought of him as my uncle, even though he's my stepmother's brother.

it's odd, maybe, because i think of my stepmother as a fully functional mom and i only call her my stepmother because i still have the original fully functional mom and it seems easier to label them that way.

and my grandmother is my stepmother's mom.

so i guess if i go to visit my grandmother and stay in her son's yard (which is like a luxury campsite, next to the pond) it's just easier all around if i call him my uncle when explaining to people where i am staying.

i think i'll just still call him john mostly, just as always. it fits in, because outside of my dad, i call all my relatives by their first names. it's a family thing.

Monday, June 16, 2014

woo! home!

yes, i KNOW i am not yet done telling you about my LAST trip, but last week i packed up my car and went to visit my grandmother.

...which meant camping in somebody's driveway (more pleasant than it sounds), going off and having little adventures and then stopping by at some point in the day to bring happy tales and show pictures to my grandmother.

five days later, i'm home.

if you'll excuse me, i have some dinner to eat. and a shower to take. and laundry to put in the machine. and a car to unpack.

later on i have pictures for you, and i took a little video for cookie and hundewanderer, because i was on the mt. ascutney park road and it was so spectacularly mountain-y and GREEN that i made a second trip just to make a video. i am not sure how it came out yet, and i have not yet gotten the little attachment thingy that will let me make video from outside my car.



personal hygiene.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

ascutney market

k, k, ok.

so i went out to find some caches and then i went to visit my grandmother and thin i was HUNGRY and i asked around where i might go nearby and get a pizza and they sent me up road ways. but then on the way i was passing the ascutney market the had a sign out front that said FRIDAY NIGHT BARBECUE!

so i turned in there going around the corner on two wheels, yah, i did.

got me a pulled pork sammidge and some baked beans.

mmmm, tasty.

no, there are no pictures for you. i was too  busy eating.

you go get your own. this one's mine.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

jump in the lake

last sunday i jumped off a boat into lake champlain. this is the view of a camera on my right wrist.

one of the checklist items for the vermont venture challenge is to swim or wade in a lake, and this is my documentary video for that.

plus underwater pictures. cool.

"how bad is this going to be?" i shout to someone already in the water.
"not bad", he says.

and i jump in.

Friday, June 13, 2014

riding in on cattails

you're welcome.

while we're at it, here's a totally unrelated video that, if you have not seen, you should see it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

to anachreon in heaven; an open letter

dear every vocalist who has ever performed the national anthem of the united states in public,

it is the national anthem. it is not the hook for your next big hit, it is not your opportunity to make your mark on public events. you have been honored with the opportunity to perform this one small civic service. do not ornament, invent, or improvise the national anthem. just sing it. sing it the way it's written.

it's not a particularly good national anthem, but it's the one we've got.

nobody is here to hear you sing the anthem. everybody is here for the ballgame / pageant / parade / airshow / meeting. it is a simple civil duty and it is not your place to make the national anthem your own personal style statement. nobody is going to hear your imaginative rendition of the national anthem and run out and buy tickets to your next show or buy your new album.

just sing it, ok? just perform this small civil service without drawing too much attention to yourself or drawing it out for too long, bow politely and get off the stage.

love, flask.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

towdilly stranded

i am assuming you will forgive me if i tell stories out of order, since you never have seemed to mind before.

i believe i told you that last month while i was up in maine i needed a tow on my first day on the ground there.

so then some stuff happened, and there was some kayaking on pretty water, blah, blah

so then after that i went out for a drive out into the NOWHERES and most of you will have difficulty really understanding the remoteness of this part of maine, but i was out there pretty good.

when i travel, i always like to have plans B. C, and maybe D for what i will do in case for some reason i am stranded out in the nowheres.

plan B involves unracking the bike from my roof and riding into the nearest town for help.

plan C involves staying with the vehicle and setting up camp.   until now i never have gotten to use those plans.

so yay?

anyway, i told the story pretty good in the geocache logs and i don't think i can improve much on the telling of that so i'm just going to link you.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

second breakfast at my house

at my house, breakfast is when i wake up, and then again some hours later between eight and ten, depending on when i got up and whether lunch will be at noon or some other more hideous time later in the day.

sunday last second breakfast was fried eggs over toasted english muffins with melted brie served with broiled asparagus.

none of those things suck by themselves.

taken alone, each is very tasty. put together on a plate it is creamy, gooey, protein packed and yes, you got fresh vegetables goodness.

if you attempt this at home (which i recommend), salt the asparagus before you put it in the broiler, and don't be afraid to char it just a little. this adds crunch and smokey to the mix.

Monday, June 09, 2014

sometimes i just stop; an open letter

dear guy whose blog i used to read,

this morning i took your blog off of my reading list because i'd simply had enough and decided i was better off not reading you anymore.

the last straw? a political post in which you blame most of what's wrong with america on president obama and call him "ayatollah obongo".

if you didn't come in in the last ten minutes, you already know that i'm no fan of the president. i think he's a  dangerous lying tool of the warmongering surveillance state, patsy of the oil companies, and a war criminal to boot.

as soon as you use the name "ayatollah obongo", you have excused yourself from the table where the grownups are talking.

the minute you lodge your criticism of him in the name "ayatollah obongo", you are blowing your mean little dog whistle to summon your low-life white supremacist islamophobe tinfoil hat wearing birther friends to the rally.

you are trading on race (because african names are savage names) and you are trading on anti-islamic sentiments (despite the fact that president obama belongs to the united church of christ). you are using low, low tactics that rely on racism, lies, and more racism.

how about you stand up and be a big boy and make arguments based on what you think is actually wrong with the president based on what the president actually does or says wrong, which would actually give you a great deal of material to work with?

the president is just as corrupt and dangerous as any of the creepy corrupt white old men who have ever held an elected office in new jersey and louisiana put together.

so i'm done with you, and good riddance.

love, flask

Sunday, June 08, 2014

carpenter hill

partly the truth is that i just like for you all to see what the landscape i live on looks like, but part of the truth is also that cookie seems to love these little videos of the roads and trails, so sometimes when i'm out on the road, i think: hey. cookie should see this.

you know, because cookie is from somewhere altogether flatter and dustier.

so here's carpenter hill road on a monday morning, from start to finish. it's my POV as i'm driving, and what you can't see unless you pull off or really look off to the sides (which is unwise while driving) are the sugarbushes and old farmhouses and the carpenter hill cemetery, which has graves dating back to the 1700s. it appears to be some kind of rule in there that if you want to be buried on carpenter hill, you have to have a headstone in the style of the old burials, which is kind of nice because the old burials used local slate, a material that is pretty AND it holds up to the weather better than granite.


here's the video:

Saturday, June 07, 2014

jacksonville spring

when i'm on the road i like to get my water at springs i find on the way.

it's cheaper, and often the water tastes better.

plus if i can get it for free, i feel better about using however much of it i want when i wash up.

this is the spring in jacksonville, VT. sometimes when you go there you have to wait in line.

Friday, June 06, 2014

saturday afternoon on the ashuelot rail trail

one fine day last month i spent a morning and most of an afternoon finding caches along the ashuelot rail trail. on my way back to the car, i made a little video.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

venture vermont 2014

so here's a new project i'm working on: the venture vermont 2014 challenge. it's brought to you courtesy of the vermont state parks and the prize for completion is a shiny pretty medal that will entitle you to free admission at state parks for the remainder of this season and ALL OF NEXT SEASON.

i don't know about you, but i like state parks. and i like pretty shiny things.

i have not yet decided how i will post my adventures from that, but you can bet that sooner or later i will be posting those, because, well, because.

right now i'm working on a little railtrail video i shot last month so you can see it.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014


while i was in maine last month i got so many mosquito bites that i came home having to take benadryl twice a day and i think being sensitized like that is why i am feeling this season like, well, bad.

i haven't historically been dangerously and violently allergic to honeysuckle

this evening i am so swollen from mosquito bites that i am mostly one red hot welt. my eyes are puffy, and my throat itches.


i am whining now.

bright side: benadryl along with the rest of my meds will knock me out and i will sleep like the dead.


Tuesday, June 03, 2014

courtesy umbrellas

back in april when i went to NEFFA (do your own googling) it was a rainy weekend for the most part. since the festival is largely indoors, this is largely not a problem, but the festival is in two different buildings and the festival organizers have thoughtfully taken measures to prevent the soaking of those traveling between buildings.
they put out bins of what are called "courtesy umbrellas" at the entrances between the buildings, and people shuttle them back and forth as they go.

i think it's a nice touch.

maybe you citified people see this sort of thing all the time, but i was sufficiently impressed with it that i took a picture of an umbrella bin and i put it on my desktop, waiting for such time as i might get around to telling you about it.

...until this morning, when i accidentally uploaded it to a geocache log i was writing about a ride on the ashuelot rail trail with the label "arty self portrait".

Monday, June 02, 2014

i have things to tell you.

i swear, i have things to tell you, pictures to show you, rants to rant!

i am right now, however catching up in my geocaching logs which isn't going so well because i have to find a geocache every day until time itself comes to an end (or so it seems) and i am working on a new cache puzzle for -none of your business why, it's a secret-

and holy HONK, i swear, when i get a little bit organized or caught up i will have pretty pictures and norwegian-style video and amusing little stories that involve game wardens and guys named fred and tow straps and stuff.

at this very moment, though, i smell powerful much bad and also i have to go turn my pants inside out because


wait for it


i waded through poison ivy today.

heh. you just had NO idea how that was going to turn out, did you?

also, i've worn out two pairs of hiking boots.

and maybe a clutch.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

this is YOUR fault

this is YOUR fault, i say, shaking my finger accusingly at the acres and acres of trees now in full leaf and bloom on the ridgelines above my house.

i am miserable. my eyes and nose keep running and i don't so much care about the nose because that's why we have sleeves, dammit, but i am getting right tired of having to wash my face every five minutes or so because the running of my eyes leaves me  with sticky eyelids that are starting to be cracked sores and have you TRIED reading through that?

i have just sucked down some allergy medicine, which i thought to buy yesterday when i was at the pharmacy.

and i continue to shake my finger at the trees each time i look out the window.


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