I didn’t have a wonderful school experience as a kid. My family only actually moved once in those 12 years but due to “redistricting” I was moved every two years to a different school. 5 schools in all.
My friends were always at “the other school”. Once they even drew the line right down the middle of my street and my best friends on the other side went to a different school. So I was constantly a new kid moving into a place where everyone already knew each other. I wasn’t the only one, but there weren’t very many of us.
All this to say that I am not in touch with anyone from my school days in Ohio except for Jody. When he found out that I was going to be in Vermont, where he has lived for years, he invited me for a visit.
Jody works mornings at a Bed and Breakfast in Woodstock Vermont so I planned to stop at Quechee Gorge on my way down and do some hiking before going to his place. He has a hip problem and hiking is not possible for him.
I stopped at the visitor center which is also the trail head and is in the state park. From there the trail dropped down and ran along the Gorge. The first section of trail on the way to the gorge was very nice.
The Gorge is 165 feet deep and the deepest in Vermont. It is lovely I’m told but the extent to which they have gone to protect everyone has made it pretty impossible to really appreciate the beauty.
Wire fences taller than I am went the entire way along the trail. No views at all of the gorge. “Maybe” if you were 7 feet tall. In my opinion, to protect the stupid, they ruined this for the majority.
At the dam, there were all the buildings and machinery ruining the view but thankfully not the sound of the waterfall. I held my camera up over my head and took pictures since that was the only way I could see the water. I cut out the buildings and machinery after the fact. This is the only head on picture I could get. They looked to be big and lovely falls but still the flat kind that comes over an artificial dam.
I certainly wished the park had made a nicer spot for falls viewing.
I think this was about the best shot I could get of the falls and the river. I didn’t really know what it looked like until I saw this picture
Here’s a zoomed in shot to cut that pipe above out. The machinery on the near side and beyond the falls was ugly so I didn’t show what this spot actually looked like to those of us on the trail.
From there the trail went on along the river to Dewey’s Landing. It was a mowed path, wet and muddy, but I wanted to see what was further along.
First through a field and then along the river before the damn dam.
Guess they weren’t worrying about anyone falling in the river here. I could walk right up to the edge.
Turns out Dewey’s Landing is a boat launch with two nice benches marking a former village called Dewey’s Mills.
Sixty three buildings sprung up around Dewey and Company Woolen Mills. I suspect it was a “company town” from 1849 to the 1960’s when the construction of the dam forced the closing of the mill and the demolition of many of its buildings including people’s homes.
At that point I turned around and walked back to the auto bridge over the gorge to see if I could see the gorge. Everything I read raved about from that vantage point. No luck here either. I couldn’t even take pictures over the huge rounded fence over the road bridge. They really don’t want anyone falling/jumping from here.
Here’s what I saw. The gorge is referred to as Vermont’s Little Grand Canyon. Imagine the Grand Canyon on either side with a fence like this all along to prevent people from jumping. But I suppose public outcry forced the city to do this as there were 14 suicides from here between 2007 and 2018. Wish I’d been here 5 years ago. It seems the information on line isn’t up to date about how much you can actually see.
I returned to the gorge trail and took it to the bottom where you could actually be right next to the river but it was difficult to appreciate the gorge from there since I was WAY beyond the gorge walls. Still it was pretty and the best part of the hike.
Here’s a short video so you can hear the lovely sounds of the water in the Ottauquechee River.
It was a long slog back up, with only a short distance of steps. A lot of people were struggling and in the wrong sort of shoes. I was anxious to be on my way and didn’t stop to take pictures of the footwear. I can’t honestly recommend a stop at Quechee Gorge.
When putting this post together I realized I had been so busy admiring everything he’d done there that I hadn’t taken nearly enough pictures. None of the hot tub, none of the beautiful sun room house. Not even a good one of the rocking chairs for sittin’ a spell on the front porch which we did. Too busy talking I suspect. But I did get two pictures of the outhouse. Hmmmmm.
And a few other pictures when we returned from our outing.
There are more pictures of Jody’s place from a visit David and I made in June of 2013. Here’s a link if you’d like to see it all 8 years ago. He’s made A LOT of changes since then.
I was hungry and suggested I’d take him to lunch if he’d drive and show me the sights afterwards. We went to Frazer’s Place which looked like it was right out of our high school days. Wish I hadn’t clipped off the top of their sign in this photo.
He knew where all the local covered bridges were and I was able to get pictures of them to add to my growing collection.
Walk your horse or pay a $2 fine it says above the entrance. I love it.
Taftsville Bridge also has a lot of “stuff” all around it like I saw at Quechee. This is also due to the dam creating the waterfall. It obviously detracts from the old fashioned beauty of the bridge.
View of the falls from the bridge window. Dam falls aren’t as lovely in my mind as a natural falls which isn’t level straight across.
We drove through
And so did someone else. One at a time.
Nice view of it from the dirt road you are on once you drive through.
Unfortunately this day was three weeks ago and I can’t find any notes on the name of this bridge. Perhaps Jody will comment and tell me if he knows. It was a sweet little small bridge in a perfect setting for it.
The sun was in a terrible position for me to take this picture of the Woodstock Middle Bridge which is actually “new” in that it was built in 1969. It replaces an 1877 iron bridge which was condemned in 1966. It’s known as the first major authentic style covered bridge constructed in New England in the 20th century.
But there was a lot of controversy in replacing steel with wood and an adjacent landowner refused to allow jacking on his land so the builder, Milton Graton, built a wooden track for rollers on Union street and the assembled bridge was pulled over the river by Ben and Joe, two local oxen, “to the delight of hundreds of spectators. An engineer later wrote to Graton ‘Milton, in removing a metal bridge and replacing it with a wooden bridge, you have made bridge-building history.’” (quotes from Covered Bridges of Vermont by Ed Barna).
The seemed to stem from the decision to replace steel with wood being made by the selectmen and a bridge committee after Town Meeting so as not to risk a public vote. The anger culminated when in 1974 arsonists soaked the bridge in gasoline and set it ablaze. But firemen were able to put it out with water from the river. The builder returned and renovated the bridge. I assume the town is happy at this point that it didn’t burn down. It’s still a 16 ton bridge with no structural steel. It’s clear a lot of tourists like it.
It’s right off the Woodstock Green in a very busy and touristy area. Jody had to let me out and drive around the green and pick me up so I could get some pictures. I ran through and got this picture of the backside which is painted unlike the front. I wonder why?
The Lincoln Bridge is also over the Ottauquechee River as are the previous bridges
The last stop on the tour was the Eshqua Bog Natural Area protected by the Nature Conservancy in 1990. In a former life I was on the Speaker’s Bureau for the Nature Conservancy so I was particularly interested in seeing their work in Vermont.
The wooden walkway through what is more accurately named a fen was not terribly long and it was clear I should have been here in June when the pink and yellow lady slippers, which probably were the reason for the protection, abound. I’ll have to remember this for next time. To see all the various slippers and orchids you need to come once a week from the third week in May through the third week in June. If I lived as close as Jody does, I’d for sure do that.
Thanks for the picture Jody. I can now prove I was actually here.
Back at the cabin, Jody and Sparky show off the inside of the outhouse.
We sat around in the back and chatted and I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of that or several other really neat things Jody has done to his place since I was here last. Things like the hot tub and the Sun Room. Really more of a sun house. It was a favorite of mine.
But before I left, I did get a video of Sparky chasing bubbles which is great exercise for her at age 10.
Thanks Jody for the hospitality and the tour. It was good to see you again.
And thanks too for being the longest standing friend I’m still in touch with.