Saturday, May 29, 2010

Marshmallow Farm with Oreo Cows

Since so few kids these days have ever lived on a farm, or had family/friends who lived on a farm, there is quite a bit of "disconnect" between the foods youngsters see in the supermarket, and the knowledge of where food really comes from. Some kids might even believe the title of this blog, and think that the familiar candy we call "marshmallow" actually does come from a chopped-up version of the big, white marshmallow-like objects shown in the top photo of this collage. (The actual origin of the name for the white candy is that when it was first made, it resembled a plant called the "mallow" that was commonly found found growing in a marsh, and hence the term "marshmallow") Also, a youngster with no concept of where their food comes from might truly believe that the animals pictured in the lower photo are the ones responsible for "hatching the eggs" that later turn into Oreo cookies! These previous sentences explain my reasons for being thankful that there are places like Meadow View Farm ( ) in Vermont where school groups, or any group for that matter, can take a tour and learn about food origins.

Meadow View Farm is located in the "Northeast Kingdom" of Vermont, and is a fully-operational beef farm with one of the country's largest herds of registered Belted Galloway cattle. ( Belted Galloways developed during the 16th century in the former Galloway district of Scotland). In addition to the cattle operation, visitors can learn about the farm's organic gardens and orchard, plus take advantage of services offered by their spa ( .

The name of the farm suggests that one will view a meadow from their location, but in actuality, one can also see the mountains and valleys, as well as the meadow, from the higher locations of the 845 acres that comprise the farm. In addition, it is close to the Kingdom Trails ( that are popular with cyclists (as illustrated by the three bikers shown in lower left photo, who were also enjoying the scenery on the day I visited).

To me, the most memorable thing about Meadow View Farm was the beautiful chapel that sat on a high hill overlooking all of the property (top photo of collage). It was built in 2006 by the Downing family (lower left photo) as a demonstration of gratitude to God for the success their various business ventures have experienced. I was reminded of the story in the Bible (Luke 17:11-19) where Jesus healed 10 lepers of their disease, but only one of the healed men came back to express his gratitude to Jesus for his healing. The Downings have demonstrated that they are in the "one in ten" category, as they have beautifully expressed their gratitude for the blessings they have received. You can read more on the history and current activities of the chapel at For additional information on this and many other outstanding Vermont attractions, click on Here's wishing you miles of smiles! Tricia
Posted by Picasa

Vermont Tic-Tac-Toe Design

When I saw these cows grazing on a hillside in Vermont, it seemed they were getting into position to make a grid for the familiar game "tic tac toe". I guess if you cut out just the center of the photo, you would have a genuine cowhide playing surface! Miles of smiles! Tricia
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lake Champlain Expedition

Lake Champlain was named after Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer who in 1609 visited what is now Vermont, and called it "les verts mont" which means "green mountains". The three-word French phrase was later shortened to just one word----Vermont. Lake Champlain extends southward from Canada for 120 miles, varying in width from one-fourth mile across to 12 miles across, at its widest point. A great way to experience the grandeur of Lake Champlain is aboard a cruise on the luxury cruise ship, the Spirit of Ethan Allen III. It is a 424-passenger, triple deck ship that offers both scenic and dinner cruises from April through October ( The top photos of this collage show the bow of the ship, while the middle photo shows a view from aboard the ship, looking westward toward the Adirondack Mountains of New York. The lower photo is taken from aboard the ship, looking eastward towards the harbor of Burlington, Vermont, where the Ethan Allen is docked.

The narration on board the Ethan Allen pointed out landmarks of the cruise, such as the Lake Champlain Islands (top photo). The great thing about the brunch cruise my group enjoyed, was that we could savor the delicious food from the buffet, and still see the gorgeous scenery through the large, (and clean!) windows of the ship (bottom two photos of collage).

There are other ways to experience the beauty of Lake Champlain. The top left photo shows sailboats (some of which can be rented) or one can simply enjoy picnicking beside the lake (upper right photo) at one of the state parks along the shoreline ( Knight Point State Park ). However, if just enjoying views of the lake from the comfort of your hotel room is more your style (bottom photo), check out lodging properties located on the harbor at the Vermont Tourism Network website( )

As far as public transportation to get across Lake Champlain, there are ferries (top photo), or various bridges (middle photo). When I made my crossing, I chose to take a bridge that led to U.S. Highway 2, and drove north on this route through the Lake Champlain Islands (bottom photo). It was such a feast for the eyes to be driving on a ribbon of highway, surrounded by water; then looking to the east and seeing the Green Mountains; alternately looking to the west and seeing the equally beautiful Adirondack Mountains. As I was thanking God for this visual blessing, I was reminded of this verse from Psalm 121:1 "I lift up my eyes to the hills---where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." So many miles---so many smiles! We are indeed blessed to live in such a wonderful country!! Get out there and SEE it! Tricia
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Boldt Yacht House Expedition

Once you have recovered from the jaw-dropping beauty of a Boldt Castle tour, you can extend your amazement by touring the equally incredible Boldt Yacht House. Although it is just yards away from Heart Island where Boldt Castle is located, there is no bridge connecting that short span of water, so a shuttle boat is used to get guests from Heart Island over to the Boldt Yacht House. The Yacht House is actually located on Wellesley Island, which one can drive their car to, assuming they do not mind to pay the small toll to go over the expansive Thousand Island Bridge ( The agency that maintains and operates the Thousand Island Bridge (between the mainland and Wellesley Island (where the Boldt Yacht House is located) is the same agency that owns and operates Boldt Castle. On the day I visited the Yacht House, I went by car (lower left photo of collage), since the public shuttle from the castle was not yet in operation.
Behind the massive doors shown on the left side of this collage, George Boldt could motor in one of his yachts, and keep them in an enclosed, secure location, while still keeping them afloat in the river. ( My family in the Ozarks called such a structure a "boat house", since there were no "yachts" on the local lake where I grew up.) These days, a tourist might be able to see a beautifully restored antique wooden boat in the Boldt Yacht House (like the one on the right), as the Antique Boat Museum ( in nearby Clayton sometimes has pieces from their collection on display at the Wellesley Island location of the Boldt Yacht House.

The Yacht House is several stories tall, and has both inside and outside public spaces. The walls of the inside are lined with artifacts, telling the history of the area (right photo). The photo on the left shows the the unusual thickness of the stone walls of the Yacht House, which is probably one of the reasons that it is still standing today.
Perhaps since I have lived in the South all my life, far away from the region of the country known as The Thousand Islands, it never occurred to me until this trip, that there is a connection between the Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence River, and a product I have eaten all my life called "Thousand Island Dressing". According to the website, the original recipe was developed by the wife of a St. Lawrence River fishing guide. Just as fishing guides in this area are famous for their "shore lunches" along The White River, so the fishing guides of a hundred years ago on the St. Lawrence River, were likewise famous for the delicious shore dinners they prepared. Customers especially liked the salad dressing that one of the fishing guide's wife (Sophia LaLonde) prepared. George Boldt was one of the patrons who liked the salad dressing, and ordered his world famous maitre d' ---Oscar Tschirky---- to put this dressing on the menu of Boldt's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. It was this widespread exposure to the dining public, that helped get the word out about Thousand Island Dressing. Reading about the popular shore dinners prepared on The St. Lawrence River reminded me of the "shore dinner" that is talked about in The New Testament (John 21:1-14). Curious about who the cook was for that shore dinner??? ----it was none other than Jesus, himself!! The Bible tells how Jesus cooked fish along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and called to his friends who were fishing nearby, to come join him. So now you know (concerning both the origin of Thousand Island Dressing and The ORIGINAL Shore Lunch) THE REST OF THE STORY!! Miles of smiles! Tricia--------------------------------> click on or for additional information
Posted by Picasa

Uncle Sam Boat Tours

Nothing pleases me more than being out on the water on a beautiful, sunny day. So you can assume I was delighted to be able to take the "Two Nations - One Border" cruise on the St. Lawrence River, with Uncle Sam Boat Tours (, headquartered in Alexandria Bay, New York. They have several different sizes of boats, and this photo collage shows just a few of them. The middle photo shows me on the right, joined by Tillie Youngs, Projects Assistant for the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council ( .

This photo collage illustrates the tour title --- Two Nations. It enabled passengers to enjoy close-up views of the historic and scenic wonders in both the Canadian and American sections of the 1000 Islands. However, since passengers do not actually disembark on Canadian territory, there are no passports or visas necessary for the Two Nations Cruise. The knowledgeable tour guide explained the history of many of the historic homes and structures we saw: For example, she explained that the little footbridge on the left holds the record for being The Shortest International Bridge in the world, because it connects an island located in Canadian waters with an island located in USA waters. The guide jokingly explained that both islands are owned by the same family, so when they have have a disagreement, one party goes to the USA side and one to the Canadian side, until resolution is achieved. The photo on the lower right is the Thousand Islands Bridge that was mentioned in the blog about the Boldt Yacht House.

As an example of the friendliness and congeniality of the folks in this part of the country, everyone who happened to be on board the Uncle Sam Boat Tour that day received an invitation to join members of the Alexandria Bay Rotary Club (lower left photo) who had arranged a delicious buffet luncheon for local senior citizens who were able to take the cruise. Since they had more food than those present could consume, the entire boat benefited from their generosity. I was particularly impressed with the sheet cakes they offered, with photos of 1000 Islands landmarks skillfully painted into the icing (top two photos).

I enjoy taking photographs of churches in different parts of the world, so I was delighted to see the extremely picturesque church perched on a steep bluff overlooking the river (upper left photo). Our guide also made sure we saw the statue of St. Lawrence that also sits on a high bluff above the river (upper right photo). It was French explorer Jacques Cartier who gave the name of St. Lawrence to this---the widest river in the world. If you're like me, you may be curious what the thing is that St. Lawrence is holding (see bottom photo) It is a gridiron. This is because St. Lawrence was martyred on a gridiron as part of Valerian's persecution in the year 258 A.D.; during his torture, Lawrence cried out "This side's done, turn me over and have a bite." This is the legend often quoted explaining why Lawrence is the patron saint of comedians, cooks, and chefs. Some religions set aside a special feast day (August 10) for Saint Lawrence, and accord this special prayer to him on that day: "Father, you called Saint Lawrence to serve you by love and crowned his life with glorious martyrdom. Help us to be like him in loving you and doing your work. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen" I say AMEN to that as well! Miles of smiles!! Tricia
Posted by Picasa

Boldt Castle Expedition

When I started researching travel to the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence River, between upstate New York and Canada, the first thing that captured my attention and imagination, were the images I saw in the literature showing Boldt Castle. My mind immediately went back to cruising along the Rhine River in Germany, and seeing the silhouettes of magnificent castles against the horizon. With further study, I learned that, in fact, the original builder of Boldt Castle set out to build a Rhineland-style Castle on Heart Island to show his love for his wife.. That original builder was George C. Boldt, proprietor of the lavish Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Construction began in 1900 on the six-story, 120 room castle. But the castle (middle photo in this collage) is just one of the incredible structures on the island. Other structures on the island (shown in the remaining photos of the collage), include the Playhouse, the gazebo, Dove Cote, the docks, gift shops/foodservice, the "Arch d' Triumph", and Power House.

After construction had been in progress for four years, sometimes with as many as 300 workers at a time doing their craftsmanship, Boldt telegrammed the island and commanded the workers to "stop all construction." His wife, Louise, had died unexpectedly, and the broken-hearted Boldt never returned to the island. The castle remained vacant for 73 years, left to the mercy of the weather and the vandals. Fortunately for us, however, the castle has since been purchased by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority, who maintains it to this day. Since 1977, millions of dollars have been invested in the restoration of the Heart Island structures. The top photo of this collage shows the marble staircase in the main entry, the stained-glass dome of the castle, the dining room, indoor swimming pool, and one of the bedrooms that has been renovated. Additional upstairs rooms are still in the process of being restored, which to me, is a good reason to return to see the progress made!

The grounds of Heart Island that surround the castle, are equally as beautiful as the interior of the castle. I was fortunate that on the day I was there, it was a gorgeous, sunny day, so I could basque in the sunlight and incredible river scenery, as I strolled around on the property. The guides there told me that the gazebo, shown in lower right of this collage, is the location of many weddings in the summer. And if the weather does not cooperate, and it begins to rain, the wedding party can be quickly moved to the expansive veranda/covered porch that surrounds the main entry to the castle (middle right photo). I was amazed to find out there is currently no fee to have a wedding on the grounds! However, since Heart Island is only accessible by boat, wedding guests would have to pay the fee to be motored over to the island; likewise, the group rate for touring the island is only $6/person (12 years and older).

When George Boldt was designing his castle, he wanted to demonstrate his love for his bride, Louise, by including a heart design throughout the property. This collage shows some of the ways he did this: Upper left---on the brass doorknobs; upper right, a stone heart on a wall; middle right, garden plantings in the shape of hearts; lower right, a heart design in the marble entry-way floor; middle left--a heart-shaped, raised planting bed, and lower left, special heart-shaped wrought iron seen on all the fencing of the castle. In a similar way, God has shown his love for us throughout the scriptures, and in the beautiful world he created. Also, just as George Boldt wanted to show his love for his wife, by building her a mansion, so Jesus tells us the same thing about our heavenly Father: His words in John 14:2 (KJV) state "In my Father's house, are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." So even though I wasn't allowed to take up residence at Boldt Castle, I am promised a heavenly castle----that is something to smile about!!! SOoooo, miles of smiles! Tricia------------------------------------->For additional information on Boldt Castle, click on and regarding other attractions in the area.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vermont Statehouse Expedition

If I could have taken this particular expedition when I was in elementary school, I know I would have scored better on the exams where we were asked the capitol city of every state. I consistently had trouble remembering the capitol of Vermont, but now that I have been there and actually toured their beautiful Statehouse, I know I would get the answer correctly----it's MONTPELIER!!!! And what a lovely city Montpelier is. It holds the distinction of being the state capitol city with the lowest population number, AND, the only state capitol city that does not have a McDonald's Restaurant in it! The tour book describes the Vermont State House ( ) one of the nation's oldest and best preserved state capitols, reflecting the elegance of mid-nineteenth century architecture and decorative art. Although there is a statue of Vermont folk hero Ethan Allen outside the massive front doors of the building, the statuesque figure in the foreground of the photo on the right is not him---it's me.

Although the Vermont Senate Calendar originally called for the session to be over the previous week, they happened to still be in session the day our group visited on May 11. That would account for the fact that the desks in the senate chambers where they met were piled high with papers, each probably representing someone's very important matter of business. ( You will be pleased to know I did not actually sort through any of the papers laid out on each congressman's desk!) Vermont likes to brag about their "citizen legislature", but I didn't want to press my luck( by going through their desk papers), beyond getting my photo made in the chairman's location, holding the gavel used to call the session to order (top photo). Since it was a few minutes before any of the congressmen were seated, my group was allowed to wander around on the same floor as the legislators. I would imagine that when the group actually convenes, visitors are restricted to the balcony seating area. I visited with the one lady who was sitting in the balcony when I was there. She had a bag beside her full of knitting supplies, and was contentedly "tending to her own knitting" before the session started. I asked her if she came there often, and she said "No, this was her first time, and she was curious to see what all went on." Judging from the amount of yarn she had brought with her, she expected to be there awhile!!

I mis-spoke when I said Vermont bragged about its "citizen legislature". If it's true, it's not really bragging! Would you believe our group was able to walk in, unannounced and without an appointment, and chat with the governor!!!???? I took this photo of Vermont Governor, Jim Douglas, as our group visited with him just minutes before the legislature was set to start up. He seemed completely relaxed, not rushed or distracted, and delighted to be able to talk with us! Perhaps his congenial attitude is one of the reasons that he has received more votes than any other person in Vermont history!! He has been elected governor in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2008. (He can't run for governor in the coming election, so he joked that he perhaps could get a job as a "Walmart greeter" when his term as governor expires!) A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, he has a long history of service to not only his state's government, but also to his church: He has served as the President of the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ.

I had actually met Governor Douglas when I was on a group tour in Vermont back in 2007. Some people in the group were having their spouse take an individual photo of them with the governor. However, since I was traveling alone, I surveyed the crowd for a suitable person to ask to use my camera to take a photo of me with the governor. There seemed to be one man in the crowd who didn't seem to be with anyone in particular, and was not distracted by other conversations going on, so I asked him if he would take my photo with the governor. He kindly obliged, and then handed the camera back to me. I assumed that the man was one of the vendors at the event, so I asked him what company he was representing. He said he was the governor's body guard. You can imagine my embarrassment! That is why when our group was visiting with the governor this time, I jokingly asked Governor Douglas if his bodyguard might take a photo of our group with him. The governor said "No, but his assistant there in the room with him would be happy to do so." So that is how I happen to have this photo of some of our group with this wonderful public servant! We all want to express a big THANK YOU to the governor AND the photographer who so graciously took the picture. In closing, I want to quote Arkansas chaplain Paul Northcut, who wrote an exhortation recently to encourage citizen participation in government: "When we as Christians fail to participate in elections, we are effectively saying that we don't care who our leaders are, and don't care how important issues are decided. How can we be "salt" and "light" when we opt out of such an important societal function? If we truly believe that "righteousness exalts a nation," (Proverbs 14:34) then we will participate in all the ways by which our nation makes decisions, in an effort to create and maintain as Godly a society as we can. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus said give the government what is due them and God what is due Him. That verse and many others command that we be involved in the civil process; and informed, prayerful voting is the least we can do." Likewise, the Bible tells us to pray for our leaders. You can be sure that I have added Governor Jim Douglas to my list of leaders to pray for! Miles of smiles! Tricia-----------------------> For information on Montpelier and other great opportunities in Vermont, click on
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ben & Jerrry Ice Cream Expedition

I first heard about the Ben & Jerry Ice Cream Factory Tour (1-866-BJ-TOURS) on a program about food factory tours on a national television network. Perhaps because I toured several food production factories while working on my bachelor's degree in foods and nutrition, I continued to find such tours very interesting. However, the Ben and Jerry tour might be called "edutainment", because it is both educational and VERY entertaining! For this reason, and for the fact that it is located on a mountain with a great view of the surrounding countryside, it is often rated at Vermont's #1 tourist attraction.

The Ben & Jerry indoor facilities include a gift shop, filled with all things related to ice cream (lower left photo), displays of all their product containers (top photo), and clean restrooms (lower right photo). The blue hallway and blue door leading into the women's restroom is just a hint of what you will find on the other side of the blue door. Each toilet compartment door has a sign asking "How blue is your woo?". The sign goes on to explain that the water in their toilets is blue to indicate it is recycled water, and thus, better for the planet. It seems that Ben & Jerry are very environmentally conscious.

The 30-minute guided tour includes a company history movie (upper right photo), an overhead view of the ice cream production room, with an explanation of the manufacturing process (no photos are permitted during that part of the tour), and of course, a sample of the ice cream that is being produced that day (middle & lower right photo) But wait----there's more!! The price of the tour also includes a regular size scoop of ice cream of your choice of flavors, in a sugar cone (lower left photo). Since I was in the land of maple syrup, I chose the nut and maple-flavored ice cream. Do I need to tell you that it was delicious??!!!

There are several photo opportunities, both inside the building, as well as outside on the beautiful grounds. You can put your head inside the cutouts on a reproduction of a Ben & Jerry's lid, or you can make yourself "berry special" (right middle photo) in the sampling room. How about a photo under the "Arch d' Triumph" that declares Peace, Love, and Ice Cream (upper right photo). The upper left photo shows me inside a carton of Ben & Jerry's ice cream called "Euphoric Stuff". It is not surprising that a place that combines fresh milk with all kinds of sweets, is so popular, and is described by such words as "euphoric" or "#1 attraction". After all, thousands of years ago, the Lord spoke these words to Moses in Exodus 3:8 "So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey." Trust me----the Ben & Jerry Factory tour is flowing with (frozen) milk and a variety of sweets such as honey, stirred into it, so in a way, that makes it similar to "The Promise Land" that the people of Israel were searching for. But you don't have to search---just go to the to find out additional information about this and many other "heavenly" places in Vermont. Miles of smiles! Tricia
Posted by Picasa

Vermont Maple Sugarworks Expedition

These days when I think of Vermont, one of the first things that comes to mind is that famous Vermont maple syrup. Perhaps because of my being born and raised in the South, I had never given much thought to an actual connection between the liquid I poured over my pancakes, and its origin from a tree somewhere "up north". It was not until my husband ( who was born in New England, and spent much of his childhood there ) mentioned to me that he had always wanted to visit a "maple syrup farm" that my curiosity was aroused as to what he was referring to. So let me just say, that if you are curious about the production of maple syrup, Vermont is THE place to go to satisfy that curiosity!! There are several locations throughout the state that demonstrate the origins of this very tasty product. The upper left photo in this collage shows me next to the gigantic syrup jug at Dakin Farm ( in Ferrisburgh, VT. The other two photos are from dioramas set up inside the New England Maple Museum ( in Rutland, VT. The upper photo shows the old-fashioned metal spout hammered into a suitable maple tree, with its design that allowed a metal bucket to be hung from it to collect the dripping sap. The lower photo shows the more modern collection methods where the redesigned "spouts" in several maple trees are connected together by plastic tubing, thus allowing for more efficient collection of larger quantities of sap. (It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup, depending upon the sugar content in the sap.)

Another excellent place to learn about maple syrup processing is the Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks ( in Montpelier, VT. The top two photos of this collage show the inside of the Morse "sugarhouse" that has been furnished with wooden church pews, so that the numerous visitors can sit and watch a video of how the sap is turned into syrup, using the huge (and very expensive) stainless steel evaporator shown in upper right photo. The middle photo shows a member of the Morse family who narrated the video when I was there. He was a very funny character, and had many humorous stories to relate about his family's "adventures in agriculture" in Vermont over the last 200 years. With a "tongue in cheek", wry grin, he told about how his father, after a particularly bad season milking the cows for their dairy operation, said he was finished with milking cows, and was going to start "milking the tourists" instead! So they specialized in producing maple syrup in a manner that visitors could watch, or even participate, in the process. With some success in the
theatrical aspects of maple sugaring, the family went on to open an expanded gift shop and food service facility. One of the Morse family members (aptly named "Burr") has written several books about their family, and the Morse family's experiences in farming in Vermont.

I never realized until I visited Vermont, the numerous ways that maple syrup could be used in food preparation---beyond the typical use on hot waffles, preferably poured from a lovely mapleleaf-shaped bottle like the one shown in upper left. The Morse Farm offers a very unique culinary experience called "sugar-on-snow". For this tasty treat, the Morse hostess provides you with a bowl of finely crushed ice (the "snow"), and a container of very hot maple syrup (the "sugar"). She then demonstrates how to slowly pour the hot syrup over the ice, to about the size of a quarter. Wait just a few seconds, then take a toothpick, and gather up the congealed syrup around it. Voila! You have just made yourself a maple sucker! It was great fun, and tasted terrific, too! Besides the waffle syrup and the sugar-on-snow, some additional products are shown in bottom photo of collage: Maple candies, maple cookies, maple crackers, maple salad dressings, maple BBQ sauce, maple mints, maple mustards, maple spreads, maple ice cream, etc., etc.!! I tasted many of these products, and all were delicious!

Although the sweet delights of maple syrup had not been discovered at the time that King David was writing the Psalms, the sweet delights of honey was a lure his culture was familiar with, and actively sought after. Perhaps that is why in Psalm 19:10b, David wrote that the ordinances of the Lord "are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb." I am praying that my "sweet tooth" will crave a hunger for God's word, as much as it craves honey and Vermont maple syrup! Miles of sweet, sticky smiles! Tricia------------------> Note: For more information on these and additional Vermont experiences, click on
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mother's Day at Jay Peak, Vermont

On Mother's Day, I was with a group of folks traveling by motorcoach to Jay Peak Resort in northern Vermont ( ) , just a few miles from the Canadian border. Although the snow ski operation had officially closed several days earlier because of an unseasonably warm April----on May 9, those of us who had never seen Vermont with a covering of snow were treated to a rare sight---a snow storm on Mother's Day!

Because the ground was warm from previously high temperatures, the snow was not sticking to the highway. Of course, we were all thankful for this, as the thought of being in a motorcoach on a steep, slippery or icy slope, is not something one would enjoy!

The snow may have covered these Adirondack-style lawn chairs, but it did not impair the Jay Peak Resort chefs who had prepared a sumptuous Mother's Day Brunch for the hundreds of people who had chosen the Alice's Table Restaurant at the resort, as the perfect location to treat the "mom" in the family to a day-off from cooking.

However, the blizzard-condition winds did impair our group's plan to load into the aerial tram for a ride to the top of the mountain, to take in the view. We were told that on a clear day, one can easily see into Canada, as well as other familiar landmarks, located in the far off distance. Before we knew that the tram expedition had been cancelled, I had recalled a time in 1988 when my son and I rode a similar device to a mountain-top in Banff, Canada. Before we boarded the "hanging box", the operator warned us that the cable automatically stopped when the winds exceeded a certain miles per hour. Well, sure enough, our little "hanging box" stopped mid-air, and we sat there suspended over the mountain for what seemed like hours, before the cable started moving again. It must not have traumatized my son too much, however, since he has gone on to do extensive "big wall" rock climbing, and has slept in a hammock-like device hundreds of feet above the ground, whenever he is on a multi-day rock climbing expedition of a "big wall" like El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Because of the Banff experience, I was not surprised that the part of our trip itinerary (which was carefully thought out weeks ahead of time) calling for the aerial tram ride had to be cancelled. In fact, the incident reminded me of this "Disclaimer" I write each year on the title page of my Daytimer calendar. I came across it in the book of James, verses 4:13-15. The author was talking about how people made all their plans about what they were going to do on certain days, and he offered this advice: "....instead, you ought to say 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that'. " That goes right along with a saying we have in the Ozarks: I'll do such and such "Lord willin' and the creeks don't rise"! Tonight there are flood warnings out for much of the Ozarks, so I'll sign off by wishing you miles of smiles---Lord willin' and the creeks don't rise!! Tricia--------------------------------------------> Note: For additional information on dozens of intriguing Vermont experiences, click on
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Arkansas Master Naturalist Expedition

Today was "graduation day" for me!! I completed the training to earn my certificate as an "Arkansas Master Naturalist"!! The "seed" for this expedition was actually planted in 2009, when I first read about the Arkansas Master Naturalist program being offered at the Gaston's Visitor Center at Bull Shoals/White River State Park near Mountain Home. The training was to start in January , 2009. However, as you may recall, this area was experiencing a miniature "Ice Age" in January/February 2009, and there was, what I lovingly referred to as the "glacier" on my property, that interfered with my travel to the state park (or anywhere else, for that matter!) . So when I found out that there was going to be a second session starting in January, 2010, I was eager to participate! The training costs $125 (which is money well spent, considering all the books you receive, and speakers you get to hear); but, the REAL cost of the training is that you devote several of your Saturdays in January, February, March, and April, to go to the classes. However, this hardly seemed like a sacrifice because of the fascinating people I have met at the classes, and the fun times we have had learning new things together and participating in some very worthwhile adventures in the outdoors. Plus, our group was led by retired chemistry teacher, Dwan Garrison, who is an absolute "dynamo" of energy and enthusiasm!!

In addition to receiving my Certificate of Completion, each of the graduates received their official Tee-shirt, and their very own Arkansas Master Naturalist name badge. Plus, this was no ordinary name badge---this one is held in place on your clothing by magnets, rather than one of those hole-producing stick pins!

In addition, we each received a set of multi-colored business cards, that we can give out to people we REALLY want to impress!

The design of the logo on the back of our Tee-shirts shows the shape of the state of Arkansas, and suggests what the Arkansas Master Naturalists are all about----helping plants, animals, and human beings, all live together in harmony in this place with the nickname, "The Natural State". The bumper sticker shown in the bottom of the photo shows the Internet address for the website, but you can get there even faster if you click on If you read my blog post about the Central High School Historic Site, you may recall that I have had a "Girl Scout Badge" mentality in the past. However, as I have gotten older, and realized there are limits to the amount of energy I have to devote to a given activity, I try to prioritize participating in activities that are in keeping with God's purpose for my life. Since the VERY FIRST verse of the Bible (Genesis 1:1) states "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" I think that means the heavens and the earth are worth taking care of and learning about! So, thanks to everything I have learned during the expedition to become an Arkansas Master Naturalist, I can do a better job of caring for God's creation. Miles of smiles! Tricia (aka Arkansas Master Naturalist, as of May 1, 2010!)
Posted by Picasa