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September 23, 2012

Vermont – Thursday Sept. 20

After my chilly night, I headed down the mountain, and soon came to Waterbury, which I had driven through yesterday but this time I stopped to walk. Before walking though, I called the Vermont Food Bank, which is part of the network since I was in the vicinity. The guy I spoke with said they can always use non-perishable goods, but he mentioned peanut butter, tuna and diapers in particular. So I knew I would be shopping after my walk. Waterbury was a fun town to walk in and I walked all through town and into the nearby neighborhood, and covered nearly 3 miles. Along the way, I happened to run into another lady out walking her dog (and it was a slightly smaller version of your dog, Erik) and both dogs were friendly and as they were getting acquainted, she and I began to chat. Her dog had been a therapy dog that she had fostered and she got him back because he had some health issues. Then she told that she’s an occupational therapist and does some equine therapy for a relatively new program. She wondered what I was doing in town from Michigan, and as I explained, I knew that I would be making another donation for the day to an equine therapy program. So it was a double donation day, and I didn’t have anything to write with, but managed to remember the name of the business and got the check sent off a day or so later. We each continued on our way, and then bumped into each other on the other side of town! I really enjoyed the fact that a random encounter while out walking dogs led to a fun donation opportunity.

By and large, Tula gets lots of comments – lots of “Hi Buddy” “Hi Puppy” “I like your dog” and people are very complimentary about what a nice looking dog she is. For the most part, she’s good with people who want to pet her – the only group she is shy around is the 5-6 yr old range, and then she just tries to hide behind me. At a train station, we encountered an emotionally impaired young lady with a companion, and they asked permission to pet her, and the young lady was mesmerized – kept stroking her head and Tula was very tolerant. Everybody loves a lab!

Anyway, I had parked at the train station, and there was a little cafe inside, so I enjoyed some broccoli quiche before finding a Price Chopper store to do my shopping for the food bank. And then it was quite a drive up a mountain to find that place! They were tucked away in an industrial complex. Like the other place I donated to in Pennsylvania, it was big, and serves a wide variety of programs. Once I got that dropped off, I realized I was only a stone’s throw away from Rock of Ages – one of the biggest granite quarries in the nation (I actually think she said the quarry I saw was the deepest one in the world.) I made the short drive over there, and the tours didn’t cost much, so I hopped on the bus and we went up to the quarry. It’s mind boggling. The granite at this locations is such a smooth, fine grained granite, that the majority of it is used for headstones and monuments in cemeteries. Every quarry has a different color and grade of granite, and this one is prized by artists because of its texture. It’s extremely heavy – a cubic foot alone weighs 170 pounds. They don’t use dynamite anymore because that led to a lot of waste; instead they use big drills or wire saws to carve out room-sized chunks that weigh tons, and that is then cut into slabs. It can take 6 weeks before a “chunk” is sufficiently drilled or sawed to hoist out. And the. They need trucks with special gearing, and even the surrounding roads were built with the granite in mind. Then I went into the cavernous warehouse – like the size of a football field or bigger – and could watch everyone at work on different phases of projects – from cutting to sandblasting to carving and the other artistry. They have a nice pulley/cable system to move the heavy pieces relatively easily. It was fascinating – again, one of those things I never really thought about before. So that was a fun little detour.

And right in front of the warehouse was a nice bike/walking trail, so I got Tula out of the car, and we walked another 3 miles. I knew I wanted to backtrack a few miles to walk in Montpelier, the capital. On my way there, I found a reasonable motel to stay at. Part of the motel is under renovation, and the proprietor told me it was Vermont’s first-ever motel back in the 50s or 60s.

Montpelier was a fun town to walk through, with a very elegant Capitol building tucked right up against the side of a mountain. It had more of a small-town feel than most of the state capital cities I’ve visited. So the last 2 miles of the day were very enjoyable.

A few pictures will follow when I have wireless service!

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