Saturday, July 30, 2011
This patch washes out every spring, and they could not keep pavement on it. There were deep gullies on either side, and the company keeps a crew of rescue drivers on hand to step in for people who just get too scared and can’t drive any further. I would have loved to take the truck up it, but wouldn’t have wanted to miss the views from the passenger seat either. As we approached the summit the ground just was covered with rocks and moss and lichens. We were told there is permafrost a few inches down.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
We continued on to our campground, and later in the day we went up to Stowe and The Trappe family lodge, another place we had not been to for about 30 years. It has grown dramatically over the years, but is still beautiful and has superb views. They not only have this lodge, but cabins and remote villas. It probably could be called the Trappe family campus or complex! Amazing when you consider it was started by refugees from the Nazis, and has grown mostly by family members.
This granite comes in two shades, grey and white. When we went to the monument shop, we saw many different kinds of granite being fabricated in to monuments, tombstones, industrial products and more. The shop was immense, and I'll only show one shot here. They use automated sandblasters, masking, & coloring techniques. They fabricate products using granite from company quarries all over the world. Granite is very dense, weighing 170 lbs. per cu ft. So while this tombstone is heavy, some of the industrial products they make surpass this. They fabricate rolls 4 ft dia. and 20 ft long for paper processing out of granite because it will not flex - at all! They also make surface plates from a few sq ft to some we saw that were 25-30 ft long and several ft wide, as well as thick. These are ground flat to within tiny fractions of a human hair over the entire surface. Incredible. They had a couple of fun things too. This is a tile I'm sandblasting in a booth. The picture is a moose. The company is always looking for new markets, they have an estimated 4000 year supply of Granite here. It descends down 12 miles! So years ago they came up with Granite bowling alleys, and built one. We borrowed a kid to demonstrate, and he got pretty good. the word from the PBA was that 'you couldn't put any english on the ball", so it would not hook. This is the one and only!
and show you the bear hospital, where your injured bear can be brought back to it's former glory under the lifetime warranty.
On Tuesday we stopped by Maple Landmark, another Vermont company using native Vermont material to make products and shipping them all over the world. This one started with a 12 year old Mike Rainville making things from maple in his Mom's garage. The company has grown nicely, and Mike is today using the latest in laser engraving with old time New England craftsmanship in his products. While he is in a large ~ 50,000 sq ft plant now, he still has A LOT of family employed.
On the way home we stopped by the Univ. of Vermont 's Morgan horse farm. It was the place where the U.S. Govt. started a breeding farm to preserve and to promote the breed. Morgan horses served with distinction during the Civil War. They are all descended from a horse owned by a General named Morgan. His horse was very distinctive. It has one less vertebrae then other horses, and a couple of other characteristics. These are transmitted no matter what breed of horse they are bred with. They are closely related to Arabians. It was thought they would be a strategic benefit to our country. Later, UVM took it over and now runs it. They actually make a profit selling Morgans to people from all over the world.
Whew! what a day.
Friday, July 22, 2011
Sorry, I got my order mixed up a little. On Sunday afternoon we went down to the southern part of Lake Champlain, to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Liz and I continue to marvel that we're not running into any crowds. We're not sure if that is because we're where there aren't any vacationers or if it's just that our tastes are different. Regardless, it is very pleasant. This museum was again sparsely attended, but very well done. It was miles from the main highway which probably accounts for the attendance.
We started off with a demonstration of the original 1 or 2 horsepower ferry. This staffer is standing on a turntable that goes underneath the deck of the boat. They would have one or a pair of horses walk on the turning table. Needless to say it was quickly replaced by the steamboat.
They had a benefactor who was really into Ice Boating. He found this 1902 ice boat in shambles somewhere, restored it, and started taking it out on the lake in the winter. He rejuvenated ice boating, and sailed her for a number of years, before donating her to the museum. The museum created a building especially for her, and surrounded her with over 90 small craft, from dug out canoes to modern Kevlar kayaks.
We had heard the stories of the gunboats that Arnold constructed and used during his battles on the lake. I imagined them to be large sailing ships, but they were not. They were built quickly and very simply. They were little more than a floating barge under sail with a large contingent of cannon on board. The museum recreated the gunboat Philadelphia, pictured here. Besides the two cannon your can see here, there were 4 other, 2 on each side. There were also 44 men on board. Nothing below for quarters, simply open deck to sleep on. Not exactly a cruise! they have found another under the surface and they are raising funds to raise her!
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
We'll stay until we hit the ones that interest us most.
We started off with a walk down by the bay in the evening on Friday, (while our laundry was in the machines), Very pleasant, nice breeze, beautiful boats.
On Saturday we went to Burlington's aquarium, and ecology center, ECHO. It is the Glass window structure in the center. This is a nicely done aquarium, showing marine animals from Lake Champlain. Here we began to hear the story of Lake Champlain and the crucial part the battles during 1776-7 played in our country's independence. ECHO had a beautiful little cafe, and we took our lunch out on the patio on the waterfront. The weather was warm, but not unpleasant because of the breezes off the lake. We watched ferries and tour boats come in and out.
After we left ECHO, we went across to a ship the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum recreated, the Lois McClure. She is a sailing canal Schooner, described as a 19th century "18 wheeler". These were flat bottomed narrow boats made to be loaded with coal, marble granite, timber, or what ever needed to be transported.
. They were operated by individuals or sometimmes families.
Up here in Lake Champlain country, they recognize that Arnold did not finish his military career with glory, having changed sides. But they recognize the battles he won and his courage in technique. Like Bennington, where we just were, people here believe this is the place where the colonists fought the crucial battle that set the new nation up for the big win in Saratoga the following Spring.
The cruise took us by some of the geology of this region and our history teacher guide turned into a more than adequate Geology teacher. He described the collision between the two continental plates that formed the Adirondack mountains to our west, the lake we were on, and the Green mountains to our east.
This is really quite a geologists dream landscape, because of the difference you can see in the rock, representing completely different formation, time,and distance traveled. The display we saw the day before in the museum highlighted how the land around the lake was once much lower, allowing it to actually become a part of the Atlantic oceean. They actually have skeletons of Beluga whales that were recovered from this area. when the glacier melted, the land "bounced back" and the lake then became freahwater.
Just outside the breakwater, we were told about a canal schooner the General Butler, that sank, and that is now an interesting dive site. It is the yellow buoy. This lake, while not as large as any of the great lakes has an equal potential for disaster for captains. Storms can develop from the west, and a boat can become in trouble very fast. This happened to the schooner, and the captain headed for Burlington. As he neared it, he ran ground. Then the waves came crashing around the boat raising it up, then bringing it down on the breakwater, repeatedly. He managed to get everybody off, but then they were all huddled on the rocks, in near freezing weather. The harbormaster, seeing all of this, got in a life boat and rowed out and rescued them.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
American Precsion Museum, is one such place. It is housed in an old New England mill building, and is devoted to the preservation and explantion of a momentous concept in our history. The idea that guns (Products) should be made with standard parts, mass produced and interchangeable. This new process began here in New England, by a number of gun producers. This museum reports that Eli Whitney has lots of competition from a number competing gun producers for the ownership of the idea. They do an excellent job of showing the machine tools that the gun producers used. Then demonstrated to us the other products that benefited from the concept of interchangeable parts, from typewriters to cars, and almost every product that is manufactured.
While this museum is devoted to the concept of interchangeable parts, we started off with a miniature representation of custom made work. A German immigrant built models of common machine tools, boring machines, lathes, mills, etc. 1/16 size. Yes those are standard size bricks in the background. He built these and stored them in his parents house in Germany. He came to the US, and then after the war, returned home and found his models preserved by his parents, brought them to the US, and began to work on more. They had 30-40 of them, each one a representation of precision.
They had an example of every type of machine tool that would be in shops. the one pictured here is a lathe, made for turning cylinders.
They also had a more modern machine shop in the center staffed by a young intern, who was a student at a local trade school. Here he demonstrated various machines for us, making a wine glass for Liz smaller than her thumbnail. Nicely done.
We stopped and ate in the Windsor Diner a little roadside dining car produced by the Worcester Diner Car Co. Left the camera in the Truck.
We headed off to the Simon Pearce Glassblowers. I had no idea what to expect, but the guidebook said they offered glassblowing and pottery making demonstrations. We started off at their headquarters location, which had a store showing their pottery and glass. Looked very nice, very durable, and veeerrrry expensive. But we persevered.
They had a video running in the store where Simon told the story of how he began making pottery in his fathers shop, studied throughout Europe, and moved to America in 1981. Those of you who were with us last year when we found Marika's dairy, and Gouda cheese shop will see some similarity here. Simon, like Marika, found that despite succsess selling his pottery and glass, the laws and taxes in Ireland were too restrictive. He came to America to find a place where he could build a glass making and pottery, in a nice little community, beautiful scenery, like home, and be self sufficient in energy costs. He came to Queeche VT.
We toured the pottery. He has about 20 potters throwing, molding and building his dishes, bowls and other pieces of pottery. They allowed us out on the shop floor to walk around and ask questions of the potters. As we chatted , I found myself beginning to admire Simon for the way he ran his company. He was in the video saying all the right business jargon, but I've been on enough factory floors to know that a lot gets lost between the CEO's office and the shop.I was starting to like this guy.
They weren't blowing glass at this shop. because a furnace was down for repair, but everybody said we had to see the Queeche facility, 20 min north. so we did. This is actually the back of his shop. It shows the beautiful restaurant he built over the river, with his shops selling the glassware and pottery in the brick building behind, where the people are standing.
In the wood building is the glass blowers, and below that his power plant. Here is the Generator he put in. They had to excavate from where I'm standing down to the bottom of the generator you see here, and then go another 30' below that for the sluice way. this was a major project! He originally sold all the power back to the power company but later on as he grew, he decided to consume it, and sell any excess. The permits to do this cost him $750,000!!! He still persevered. I was really starting to like this guy, because he was not just saying all the right things he was actually DOING them! Just above the generator room was his glassblowing shop, where he had artisans making Christmas ornaments today. We were told he has shops selling his products in most major cities in this country, and a similar facility to the Queeche plant complete with river, and generator for power in PA. and a very large pottery shop in an old Bausch & Lomb plant in Md. He has to employ hundreds of people. This is one way to create employment in America
Wednesday found us heading towards the Calvin Coolidge Birthplace, via the Vermont Marble Museum. Marble and Granite have always been associated in my mind together, and with Vermont. Those of you who are back from prior years know that Liz is our geologist, and I learned that Marble is formed differently than granite. First of all marble is limestone that has been compressed over time with two of the big forces on earth, heat and pressure. Granite, as I’ll learn next week is basically lava. Marble has incredibly compressive strength, as you can tell, by enlarging the picture of the entrance to the Museum. The very large pieces of Marble are being held in place by the little pieces in between. It is very durable, but cuts and polishes well, and is a natural material for important buildings, because certain veins of marble have high degrees of luminosity, sparkle, color or other characteristics that suit architects well. Marble can be cut and shaped easily as evidenced by all of the sculpture we’ve seen, like the owl pictured.
The Vermont Marble museum is in the former plant of the Vermont Marble Co, in Proctor. Proctor was named after it’s founder, Who was appointed as the receiver of the company after a number of previous owners failed. Proctor was a frugal man who put all of the company’s earnings back into the company, and he quickly acquired most of the other marble companies in the US. This is quite an accomplishment when we discovered that marble is found in most of the 50 states, An architect changing his mind from a pink shade of white marble to a green shade, may in reality change the location of the marble quarry by thousands of miles. Proctor, by owning them all, could provide a “full service” marble company.
Almost everyone knows that the marble used in the tomb of the unknown soldier is white marble. We learned that the marble was actually quarried by Proctors company in Colorado, shipped by rail to Proctors workshop in VT then shipped to Washington for final work.
Much of the town is built out of buildings made of marble including bridges, most commercial, government buildings, and even the firehouse! ( I don’t know what happened to the second floor!).
Vermont Marble Co. is still operating in VT, all though they are no longer the nation’s largest company, as they were in the beginning of this century.
From there we travelled to a Vermont State historical site, the birthplace of President Calvin Coolidge. Liz’s dad was born a couple of years into Coolidge’s term and was named Calvin Coolidge Miller in his honor. He, like the President was a quiet, simple man who loved the “hills” he was born in.
Coolidge’s family had lived in Plymouth NH for generations when he was born in the back of the country store his dad operated, pictured here. We received almost a personal tour, moving from there to the house where he grew up, across the street. Coolidge went to college in Massachusetts, became a lawyer, then the governor of Mass, before becoming Harding’s VP.
Coolidge was back home in the mountains visiting his parents when the general store receive the 2AM phone call that President Harding had died in CA. Coolidge needed to be sworn in, and, his father being a notary public assumed the honor. He swore his son in as President at 2:30 in the morning- then everybody went back to bed.
The next morning Plymouth became famous, and people came for mile to see where the President was from. The little restaurant across the street actually bought 3 pre-fab cabins, and set them up to rent to the tourists.
Coolidge’s son John, became a successful investment banker. Knowing his Dad stood for a type of old fashioned hard work ethic, integrity, and uncomplicated ways, that was disappearing ,bought up the town as buildings became available. Virtually all of the pieces on display were Coolidge's, and were given by his son. He then gave it all to the state of Vermont for this site, probably 8-10 buildings.
Liz and I were both left wondering what has happened to our political leadership today. We are miles away from the citizen leaders our founders and their successors contemplated. It would be nice to return.
This last photo outside the Coolidge store, is a remembrance from my childhood.When I was small I had a handmade, (by my uncle) Gulf Gas station, and a box full of toy cars. It had all of the detailed decals, including their signature which I loved to repeat. "Good Gulf Gasoline! This one's for a reader in FL, my Dad!