UV Summer Activities: Kayaking the Upper Connecticut River

Orford to Piermont, NH
I spotted an ad in the Valley News saying The Pastures Campground in Orford, NH rents kayaks and canoes. The Pastures is located right next to the Orford boat landing, so I knew they were in a good location for a upper Connecticut river trip. Since we had fantastic weather last Sunday, I decided it was a good day for an afternoon river trip.
I was impressed with the boat I rented. It was a Heritage Featherlight Kayak. I like the fact that it had footrest inside unlike the Old Town Otter I used for the lower Connecticut River trip. They gave me a paddle by Perception which I could set up with offset blades, which was nice. I rented the boat for a half day, which only cost $15. They have one tandem (2-person) kayak and six to eight single kayaks.
Just a little way past the Orford-Fairlee bridge I paddled into a back-in and had a close encounter with a flock of Canadian Geese. I continued up river for a couple hours and turned around near the Orford Piermont town line along Rt. 10. On the way back I photographed a Great Blue Heron fishing along the shore.
It was a great trip and a good rental experience. I would rent from them again and recommend it to other people.

In the News: House approves minimum wage increase

GOP couples boost with estate tax cut, but problems foreseen in Senate

I’m not sure I like our political practice of putting multiple items on one bill put before congress. It may be part of the “give and take” process necessary to get things done, but it is too easy to abuse the system. The practice also encourages “pork-barrel” politics and other abuses. The bill discussed in the news couples a minimum wage increase with a reduction in the estate tax.

“Just think of what it is to have a bill that says to minimum wage workers,‘We’ll raise your minimum wage but only if we can give an estate tax cut to the 7,500 wealthiest families in America,”’ said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

Something for the rich (as if they need it) and something for the poor sums up my take on the situation. I see these as unrelated issues. Why are we voting for them on the same bill? Looks like an attempt to pass the estate tax reduction on the merit of the minimum wage incease. Would the estate tax bill pass on its own bill?

Full Associated Press article on MSNBC

Current Events: Israeli strikes are part of a broader strategy

I have been following the recent conflict between Israeli, the Hamas, and the Hezbollah with interest. I guess reading books like Exodus by Leon Uris made me sympathetic towards the Israeli cause. They have a history of striking fast and hitting hard. I found the following Washington Post article on MSNB, titled Israeli strikes are part of a broader strategy.
Author Robin Wright observes,

For Israel, the goal is to eliminate Hezbollah as a security threat — or
altogether, the sources said. A senior Israeli official confirmed that Hezbollah
leader Hasan Nasrallah is a target, on the calculation that the Shiite movement
would be far less dynamic without him.
For the United States, the broader
goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush
administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing
field in the Middle East, U.S. officials say.

Robin also make the statement,

With its diplomacy redefined by the war on terrorism, the Bush
administration has opted for a course that plays out on the

This article is an interesting look as some of the “big picture” issues going on in the Mid-east. I don’t blame Israel for attacking but it is kind of like watching a fuse burn towards a powder keg. One can not help but wonder if it will get out of control.

Hanover Street Fest 2006

On Saturday, July 15th, 2006 Main street in Hanover, NH was closed off for the annual street fest event. It was a hot day in the Upper Valley with temperatures in the low 90’s. A wide variety of vendors and craftspeople were selling everything from girl scout cookies (I bought some of those) to fine hardwood furniture and oil paintings. We stopped to watch a performer on South Main St. juggling fire and swords.

The music was great. I arrived at 1:30 in time to see the Richmond School Jazz Band. They were followed by band composed of Hanover high school students named Brainchild.
We soon got a table at Molly’s outside patio and were able to enjoy a beer while watching Dr. Burma and Sensible Shoes . I would go see either of those bands again in a heartbeat!

UV Summer Activities: Kayaking the Connecticut River

Sumner Falls to Cornish, NH

Last Sunday I rented a kayak from North Star Canoe Rentals in Cornish, NH. This time I took their “half-day” trip from Sumner Falls (pictured to the left) to Cornish. It is a 12 mile trip and takes between three and four hours. The price for the trip is 30 dollars, which I consider reasonable since you get a kayak and shuttle ride. The staff was friendly and provided great customer service. The kayaks they set me up with was an Old Town Otter, which is a nice size for the lower Connecticut river.
The water conditions can change from calm to light chop and ripples and is appropriate for most skill levels.
The scenery is fantastic with Mt. Ascutney visible for most of the trip. During the journey I saw Canvasback ducks, Mallards and Great Blue Heron. I even saw a Bass near the Cornish Windsor bridge.
I also saw many other people along the trip including several other kayakers and canoers. There were couple of guys fishing in a nice Ranger Bass boat. One family had stopped on an island and were cooling off in the river and relaxing. I also saw a couple floating downriver in small inflatable boats. I could hear a radio playing from one of the boats as they leisurely floated downriver. Click here to see the full set of photos from the trip.
North Star also has a branch office below the Main Street Museum in WRJ, where they run their White River trips. Has anyone done one of the North Star trips on the White River?

25th Annual Prouty Century Ride & Challenge Walk

Saturday, July 8th was the 25th Prouty Ride and Walk. This is a fund raising event to raise money for cancer research at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center at DHMC in Lebanon. Participants can bike a 25, 50 or 100 course or walk a 5, 10, 15, or 20 K course.
The weather this year was fantastic with a clear blue sky and temperatures in the 80’s. I chose to do the 25 mile bike course again this year. I left about 9:00 am when they had the mass start for the walkers. (see the photo on the left) The worst part of the 25 mile course are the hills on Rt. 10 going out of Hanover and the dreaded Chieftain Hill on the return trip. They usually put signs beside the road on Chieftain Hill to encourage riders. I made it through the course in better shape then I thought (I think I could have done the 50 mile course) and rolled across the finish line about 11:30 am with Paradise City by Guns & Roses playing on my Ipod.
Post event activities included a food tent, cookout and a band playing a little jazz.
Since the event raised over $750,000 last year and 2006 marked the 25th anniversary, they set a fund raising goal of one million dollars this year. As of Sunday morning they had raised 1 million and 12 dollars. One of the most popular parts of the event is the making a team to raise money and ride together. I started a VNA team this year, but only got one other person to join. I did get a late start in trying to promote and organize the team, however we still raised $910. I was thinking a UVScene team would be something to consider for next year.

Book Review: A Walk Through Europe

I Picked this book up at the Five Colleges Book Fair (A giant used book sale held in Lebanon, NH this year) on a whim. It was far better then I anticipated. If you like stories of travel adventures, you will love this one. John Hillaby takes us on a walking journey from Holland to Nice on the Mediterranean coast. The journey took place in 1969, so contemporary readers can experience European culture as it was back then.
Since Hillaby is walking, he avoids the major highways and tourist traps, and takes “the road less traveled.” This gives him the opportunity to interact with the average citizens of the villages and towns he passes through. Many are positive experiences that illustrates the good side of human nature. But he also encounters people that are less then hospitable and downright mean, petty and rude.
Hillaby also comments on the amount of pollution he sees and how it is ruining Europe.
I was so impressed by the story, I ordered one of this other books titled, A Walk Through Britain. I discovered that most of his books are out of print and had to buy used copies using Amazon.com’s used book feature. Since they are out of print, it makes them even more valuable in my opinion. This book ranks up there with the classic travel adventure, Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck.

Links to Hiking and Mapping Resources

Trail and Topo Maps

This is the best topo map site I have found so far. The reason I like it is because they let you have access to a lot of their content for free. Even when you subscribe, it is not very expensive.

This site has many resources, including topo maps, for a variety of outdoor sports. Without a subscription you only have limited access to the content. They do offer a trial period with full access but they are aggressively trying to get you to subscribe. I have not taken advantage of the trial subscription so far, so I can’t provide much detail.

Google Earth
This is a great site and application for many reasons. From a hiking perspective you can get a vewpoint from the peak you are planning to visit. You can then identify major landmarks that you will be able to see from the top like other mountains, lakes, rivers and towns.