Saturday, August 3, 2019

A Festival of Fools - Saturday, August 3, 2109

Originally, we had planned to go on 9S to cross Lake Champlain at the Lake Champlain Bridge at Crown Point. When I looked at the Rand McNally Trucker's Atlas, I saw one low bridge at 10' 6" (a no-go for us) and another low bridge at 12' 7" (a very close call). 

We did an immediate re-route. We headed north on I-87 to Rouses Point and crossed into Vermont. From there, we followed the signs to I-89 south to Burlington. 
Lake Champlain from Rouses Point, New York.
The bridge that will take us from
New York into Vermont.
Rouses Point, New York.
As we were crossing the bridge from Rouses Point, New York, to Vermont, Bob spotted a fort and I was able to snap a pic of it from the passenger side across the driver's side. This is Fort Montgomery. 

Fort Montgomery, Rouses Point, New York.
Construction was started on the original fort in 1844. Errors were made and it became known as Fort Blunder. You see, the U.S. engineering team had built a fort to keep out Canadians, but they built it in Canada! Oops. 

According to the New England Historical Society website: 
"The U.S. fixed the problem, not by moving the fort, but by moving the boundary line. 
 "After the bloodless and farcical Aroostook War, Daniel Webster in 1842 negotiated the Webster-Ashburton Treaty. The treaty moved the border north."
The fort has been for sale for years. If you would like to own a historical fort, here is a link to it:   or

The roads were fine, but not much shoulder in a few places. We did see a sight that I hope never to see again. Ahead of us, we saw a police car partially in our lane, a line of cars slowing down, a semi-truck stopped on the opposite side of the two-lane road, and a few other cars pulled over helping. We don't know what happened, but there was a person lying on the side of the road face down with a pool of blood around their head. It looked like it must have just happened. And it did not look good. An ambulance had not arrived yet. That was awful!

The worst part of the drive was going through downtown Burlington on Main St. It narrows to one lane and it was bumper-to-bumper traffic. This, we had been told, was the best way to North Beach Campground. The reason is that a big rig has a better turning radius from Main St. onto Battery St. north because you're turning onto a four-lane road. Trust me, you do not want to be driving a big rig through Burlington unless you know where you're going. There are a lot of very narrow streets! It was difficult in many places just to drive our Ford F350 long bed pickup through there without the 5th wheel attached.

Check-in time wasn't until 3:00 p.m. We arrived at 11:45 a.m. We were told to call the campground at noon and if the site was empty we could check in early. Thankfully, there was a big, mostly empty school parking lot where two other RVs were waiting for their sites. We joined them. The school's mascot is the seahorse and I got a good photo of it.

Seahorse mascot on the side of the school.
Just a touch past noon, I called the North Beach Campground office and was told our site was available. We headed the block to the entrance and checked in. Oh my goodness. We had no idea that North Beach Campground was so popular with the locals. There is a really nice swimming beach there that the local people frequent. While we were parked on the side and in the office checking in, a line of cars formed beside us to pay to get into the beach park. When we came out of the office, we had to wait while they went by us. Finally, a nice lady in line waved for us to go in front of her. Sheesh! We were there before all of them.
Our site at North Beach Campground. We backed
up to the exit road and it was busy until the
park closed.
After the 120-mile drive from Wilmington, New York, to Burlington, Vermont, we were happy to set up camp and start walking. Because of the Festival of Fools going on this weekend, we did not want to try to find parking for the truck downtown. It is 1-1/2 miles each way on the bike path from the campground to town and back, making this a 5k distance before we even started our 5k Volksmarch in downtown. We're used to 10k walks, so we figured we could handle it. Our main concerns were that it would get dark before we got back to the campground, and rain was in the forecast for 10:00 p.m. We took flashlights, and I took an umbrella.

The bike path along Lake Champlain is very pleasant. There was a light, cool breeze coming off the lake. In addition, a hot air balloon touched its basket into the lake and took off again. Across the lake were the layers of the Adirondack Mountains. The sun was going down and made purple and gray shadows along the peaks in New York.

Hot air balloon touching Lake Champlain.
And then it lifted off again.
Looking across Lake Champlain at dusk and
enjoying the silhouettes of the Adirondacks.
Lighthouse at Burlington, Vermont.
People taking an evening dip in the lake.
We found out there's a Dragon Boat Festival
this weekend as well.
Dragon boats at the dock.
Dragon boats at dusk.
Almost sunset, almost heaven.
Dragon boats waiting for a race tomorrow.
Sunset over Lake Champlain.
 We made it to Waterfront Park; time to start our 5k Volksmarch. 

Waterfront Park.
As we were walking to the Hilton Hotel start point, I glanced over at a building and saw a flying monkey. What's that doing here? Bob thought it was a griffon, but I said, "No, it's definitely a flying monkey." Hmm.

Flying monkey on top of the old
Burlington train depot.

From the Hilton Hotel, we walked through Battery Park which was a military camp in the War of 1812. A British ship attacked the shore here in August 1813. Burlington was successfully defended from this point. The skirmish lasted about 20 minutes.

Battery Park history.
Below is a statue of William Wells, a highly decorated Civil War soldier and an officer who was promoted to brevet major general of the volunteers. Congress awarded Wells a Medal of Honor for "distinguished gallantry at the battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863."
Statue of William Wells
We almost missed a statue of interest to me, "Chief Grey Lock" by Peter Wolf Toth. It was not mentioned in the walk instructions and it was hiding in the trees. Peter Toth gave one sculpture of a chief to each of the 50 states. We saw one in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 2014. Some of his statues have not survived.

Me with Toth's "Chief Grey Lock" statue. 
A Lake Champlain mood photo at dusk.
The steeple of the Unitarian
Church dating from 1816.
The red Romanesque Masonic Temple from 1897.
Richardson Building (formerly
Abernathy's Department Store).
We turned onto Church Street, a pedestrian marketplace, where the Festival of Fools is taking place. The schedule included many bands and singers, jugglers, "The Flyin' Hawaiian," and other street buskers. We modified our walk at this point so we could hang around Church Street Marketplace and the Festival of Fools. It was past our dinnertime, so we chose to eat at Manhattan Pizza and Pub. The pizza was very good.

We saw a couple of these fish drinking fountains.
By this time, it was dark. We did one last survey of the Festival of Fools and decided we better head back to the campground. It was 8:45 p.m. and the weather forecast was for rain and a thunderstorm at 10:00 p.m.

Festival of Fools at Church Street Marketplace.
Ben & Jerry's started in Burlington, but not at this location.
The original gas station they were in is no longer there.
Part of a block-long mural on an outdoor store.
Burlington's City Hall.
When we returned to Waterfront Park and the bike path along Lake Champlain, we were very happy we had lights. Bob had his headlamp that clips onto his baseball cap and I had a flashlight. It was very dark there. 

We weren't the only ones on the bike path. A couple of groups of bike riders came from behind us in the dark and we faced our lights so they could see us, but not blind them. At one point, we heard a large canine come racing at us, barking and snarling. It really freaked us out, but then we remembered there was a dog park along this section with a big fence around it. The owner called the dog back and we relaxed.

At 9:45 p.m. it started sprinkling light, refreshing drops that cooled us a little. We had about 3/4 mile back to our 5th wheel. No other people were out on the path by this time. The raindrops increased in size and frequency. Still about 1/4 mile to our 5th wheel. I put up the umbrella. Bob had his baseball cap on and said he didn't need the umbrella. 

By this time, the rain was coming down steadily and getting stronger. Then we had thunder and lightning, not much, but enough to make me nervous carrying a metal umbrella.

The 5th wheel was a welcome sight and we bee-lined for it. The weather forecasters were right about the timing of the rain. I'm glad we got back when we did. All was well.


  1. Thanks for a look at our old stomping grounds. I used to race in one of those dragon boats. There used to be more of the "flying monkeys", one was on the place we bought our waterbed back in the 90's.

    1. Faye, Thanks. You must have had abs and arms of steel doing dragon boat racing. It looks tough. At least it's not a very long race.

      There are, I think, four flying monkeys on top of the building. I couldn't see them from where we were walking. In my next blog I'll post the photo of all of them.

  2. Loved that seahorse mascot and found the fort history entertaining. Leave it to someone not to check where they should build or who owned the property. I thought that stuff only happened in modern times.


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