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Coulda Been a Disaster….

September 23, 2012

Vermont – Friday Sept. 21

I decided to head to the northeast part of the state – most of the
little villages I drove through were too small to get out and do any walking, and the dog and I were getting restless. Then I ended up in Cabot, another small village, but this one had a lot of stainless steel towers – it was a large dairy and cheese making co-op. I stopped in the visitor center and tours were just $2 and one was getting ready to leave, so I joined. The co-op unites 1200 farms in the area, and gives them all a market for their milk output. The dairy here not only made cheese, but also cottage cheese, yogurt and sour cream, and some special butter. The cheese making was nearly identical to what I saw at Shelburne Farm, and again, they were making Vermont cheddar. All cheddar should be a natural color like mozzarella, but for some reason, in some areas (like Michigan) lots of cheddar cheese is colored orange. I think I always thought cheddar cheese was orange, and it didn’t occur to me that that is not the actual color of milk! I asked the tour guide why some markets want their cheddar cheese orange, and she didnt know!

They had lots of different kinds of cheese to sample, and encouraged us to try as much as we wanted. I ate about as much cheese as I can in a sitting, and tried a couple of their dips too.

After driving a bit farther north, we came to St Johnsbury, which was a big town good for a long walk. They have a boarding school there – St Johnsbury Academy – and since it was quiet at that end of town, that’s where I parked the van. Tula and I got ready for a long walk, and as always, I double checked to make sure I had my keys before shutting the doors. I had the keys, so I carefully locked up, and we set out for a good hour’s walk around town and into adjoining neighborhoods. However, locking the door and actually closing it are 2 completely different things. Imagine my dismay upon returning an hour later to realize I had left the sliding door on the side if the van wide open the whole time, facing the road. And I hadn’t taken anything with me other than the dog and her leash. And nothing was missing. Of course, the door that was open was “Tula’s” door – she has a lot of space in the van, and from the dog bed and water dish, it was apparent that a large dog belonged in there, and that may have helped. I was so grateful that everything was where I left it, that I knew I had to make my donation in St Johnsburg. So I spent a little time researching some possibilities, and it came down to either a food pantry or an “umbrella” organization for women and children. Ideally, I would have liked my donation to have something to do with the St Johnsbury Academy, since my things were safe on their grounds, but I couldn’t find anything. So I decided to drive by the 2 addresses for the donation possibilities, but first I had to drive the route I had just walked to see how far I had gone, and I had covered almost 3 miles. As I returned to my original parking space, I noticed all the students gathering on a grassy area, and I assumed it was some sort of pep assembly since it was a Friday afternoon and I had seen cheerleaders and guys wearing football jerseys. But the kids kept gathering – hundreds of them – and they left their backpacks in piles under the trees. Then I began to see signs – and it became apparent that they were about to begin a hunger walk – the signs said things like “End Childhood Hunger Now” and I knew the kids often collected pledges to raise money to fight hunger. And my immediate thought was “perfect timing!!!” I wanted to talk to one of the teachers/adults about making a donation. But they were busy getting the kids organized, and I watched them all stream out – nearly 1000 of them. The police were out to stop traffic while they crossed streets, and it was an impressive sight. I eventually found a police officer to ask about the event, and he told me where the administrative offices for the academy were, so I drove there and made a donation – feeling very happy that I could make a donation to the school (which eventually goes to the big food pantry in town) like I had originally wanted to do after finding all of my things safe and sound!

On that happy note I headed north to Lyndonville, where I got another couple miles of walking in. It was a beautiful day in the low 70s and I decided to camp at Brighton State Park by Island Pond. The campground was about 75% full – probably because it was a weekend night and a warm day. I got a good spot, then we went out and walked on all of the park’s trails to finish off the 8 miles. We got back as it was getting dark and got everything set up. I heard some really strange loud noises from some animal or bird that I couldn’t identify – must have been some kind of bird, but nothing I’d heard before!

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