10 Years Ago: Irene

Workmen gaze into the gap that was left after Camp Brook destroyed Camp Brook Road in Bethel, VT, August 30, 2011. Washouts isolated the town of Rochester for days.

No matter how closely you follow the news, powerful storms and huge fires around the country and around the world can still seem remote, something that can’t happen here in northern New England. But if you have experienced a disaster like the one that hit Vermont ten years ago, August 28, 2011, when Tropical Storm Irene dumped 11 inches of rain on the state, you have some idea what it can be like. Vermont may seem to be immune to this sort of thing, but Irene proved how quickly a catastrophe can happen here.
Click here and click here for more photos from August 2011.

Route 12A, Northfield, VT, August 30, 2011.

Green Mountain Club employees, usually caretakers of Vermont’s Long Trail, were taking care of the clean-up at the Whalley mobile home park in Waterbury September 1, 2011. From left: J.P. Krol, Josh Kinsel, Kathryn Wrigley, Zoe Linton.

Bridge over the Dog River out of commission, West Berlin, VT, August 30, 2011.

Posted in Tropical Storm Irene Tagged , |

Bird Banding at the North Branch Nature Center

Over the summer, staff at the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, VT, have been meeting just after dawn every week or so to band birds. The idea, says NBNC executive director Chip Darmstadt, is to monitor the local bird population in terms of survival and reproduction rates. That information is then combined with statistics from banding spots around the country to provide an overall picture of the local avian population. Nets set up around the nature center capture birds in flight without harming them. Then birds are removed from the nets and a small, numbered metal band is placed on one leg (if the bird has not been previously banded). The birds are weighed and measured and all the statistics taken down for future use. Then the birds are quickly released. These photos show Chip and Charlie Darmstadt in action, banding on a recent morning. “Basically, you get a readout on the vital statistics of the local population,” Darmstadt said. Songbird banding is done for this season, but there will be some banding of saw-whet owls in the fall.

Click here for a full gallery from a recent morning.


Posted in bird banding, birds, North Branch Nature Center Tagged , |

Across the Winooski: the Cross Vermont Trail Bridge

Workers from CCS Constructors in Morrisville, VT, bridged the Winooski River Friday with the latest link in the Cross Vermont Trail. The steel bridge was fabricated in Minnesota, trucked in sections to the banks of the Winooski above the Levesque hydro dam in East Montpelier, assembled and then brought across the river, like a giant erector set in action.

A crane on the hydro site side of the river moved the bridge onto a barge floating in the Winooski. That was floated across the river, where another crane latched onto the bridge and moved it the final yards onto its abutments. The bridge and the associated trail, which will connect to the trail in Montpelier, will not be completely finished or open until the fall.

On the Route 2 side of the river, Cross Vermont Trail founder Rose Paul and the trail’s executive director Greg Western celebrated.

Click here for a nuts-and-bolts look at the whole process.

Posted in Cross Vermont Trail, Vermont recreational paths, Winooski River Tagged , , , |

The Return of Amtrak

Amtrak is back. At least in Vermont. The first post-COVID (?) passenger train rolled through Montpelier Junction Monday morning, heading for Washington, DC, and was greeted by hundreds of rail enthusiasts. Passengers with reservations and $1 tickets for short hops in the state boarded and disembarked from earlier stops. And there was music, free creemees, and a dose of railroad history.

Top: Tim Donovan and his granddaughter, Neala, were in the front row, ready to ride. Below, everybody loved the train, but it looked like it needed some help from the infrastructure bill; Montpelier Mayor Anne Watson; Paul Palmer from O & J’s Sweet Treats in Jericho takes an order; and passengers waiting to embark.

Posted in Amtrak, COVID Tagged , , |

Middle Saranac Lake, ADK

The Adirondacks are close to home, but we don’t get there as often as we should. Thanks to Dave Jones’s persistence and planning, I did get to spend a couple nights on Middle Saranac Lake, including a climb up Ampersand Mountain, a couple weeks ago. Big skies there, even if it’s nowhere near Montana. That’s Dave, kicking back in the last photo. Click here for a gallery, including some air force maneuvers.

Posted in Adirondack Park, Adirondacks, Middle Saranac Lake Tagged , , |

At the Brewery

The scene at the Deschutes Brew Pub brewery in Portland, OR: The brewer, left, is my son, Jim. That’s my brother, Joe, at right. Joe and I drove a pickup truck out to Portland for Jim in early June. I’ll be posting photos from the trip eventually.

Posted in Portland OR

Purple at Night

I was relaxing next to a little lake near Cooperstown, NY, at dusk when these colors happened and this guy paddled by. It’s a lake that is relatively high in elevation and you feel as though the sky and water are very close to each other.

Posted in canoeing, lakes, New York, sunsets Tagged , , |

Bristol, RI

I happened to be in Bristol, RI, very briefly a couple weeks ago. Southeast of Providence, southwest of Fall River, Mass., it was a beautiful spot to see spring arrive on the shores of Narragansett Bay. The surrounding area and the peninsula that contain Bristol were a center of Native American settlement in pre-colonial days because it was the best agricultural land and the riches of the bay were there for the taking. All photographed with Fuji mirrorless, which I’m leaning on for travel because the cameras and lenses weigh about half as much as DSLR cameras and lenses.

Posted in Bristol RI, Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Tagged , , |

Middle School Track Meet

Last week, about 200 kids from 10 middle schools showed up for one of the first track and field meets to be held in Montpelier for a long time. From the looks of it, good times were had by all. For a giant gallery of running and jumping kids, click here.

Posted in Montpelier VT, track and field, youth sports Tagged , , |

Ashes to Ash (or Ash to Ashes)

Because of the impending visit of the emerald ash borer, we felt we had to take down a big, straight, beautiful ash that was close to the house. Down it came: cuts easily, splits beautifully, burns well. Still it was a shame to incinerate it when it could have become floors or cabinets. But it’s tough to find someone to haul a lone tree to a sawmill or to set up a portable mill for one tree. These are from last year, which means all this beautiful ash is now … ash.

Posted in ash trees, fire wood, loggin Tagged , , , |