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22 Aug 2010
Vermont Waterfalls Website

www.vtfalls.com website

I don't know why we all love waterfalls. Perhaps we've never seen a bad one. We've seen other bodies of water look bad such as muddy streams, filthy rivers, scummy ponds, and polluted lakes. But not a waterfall. If somebody did something to pollute one, it would get flushed out quickly.

Perhaps it's "The Sound and The Fury" as Faulkner would describe a big waterfall. Or the speed. Some of them are like roller coasters after all and many of us would like the exhilaration of riding one like that. Waterfalls look like fun!

Whatever the reason, it's always to thrill to see one, especially a big one. Vermont has many waterfalls due to our steep terrain and frequent precipitation year around. A good source of information on waterfalls is www.vtfalls.com, a website run by photographer Chris Hungerford.

Chris is a full time science teacher and part time photographer living in St. Albans VT who specializes in outdoor photography. He has photographed and filmed many Vermont "waterfalls, cascades, glens, rapids, gorges, and many other natural wonders" as he says on his waterfalls website. He also has a website for his other photography that you can see here and on Facebook and Twitter.

The listing of waterfalls by name, height and nearby town is helpful but the VTfalls website does not tell you exactly where the falls are. You could end up spending a lot of time looking for them. While that can be fun in itself. it would be more enjoyable if you knew you were at least on the right track.

One solution is to stop in the nearby towns mentioned in the list and simply ask someone there. All the locals will know where their nearby waterfall is. Another solution is to purchase the book, "New England Waterfalls" by Greg Parsons and Kate B. Watson. It's an excellent guide and has driving directions.

If you are visiting in summer and are interested in swimming holes, you could combine it with your waterfall search because some of the falls end up in a pool suitable for swimming. The best source for swimming hole information is SwimmingHoles.info/VT and see my August 7, 2007 Vermont Travel Notes blog entry and the August 18, 2008 Waymark.com blog entry.

NOTE: the usual cautions about venturing outdoors apply. If you are walking, hiking, swimming or just messin' around near rock cliffs, deep pools of water, and fast moving rivers, there can be some danger involved. Don't assume that if the locals are doing something goofy that it must be safe. It's not - it is both goofy AND dangerous. Decide for yourself how much of a chance you are willing to take. For years there was a sign at Moss Glen Falls, between Warren and Granville, recording the dates and details of the deaths and paralyzing injuries of daredevils that took place there. The falls are beautiful but they are like a lot in nature: lack of sense can get you knocked even more senseless.

Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Advice , Nature
posted by  grunhaus at  20:31 | permalink

21 Jul 2010
Moose Watch

Photo credit: www.central-vt.com/moose "Montpelier, Vermont, the nation's smallest capital city had an unexpected visitor Monday, July 19th as a moose wandered leisurely during the lunch hour. This picture was taken by an administrative assistant at Vermont State Housing Authority on 1 Prospect in the city. A co-worker, Lindsay White, remarked that she loves the ruralness of Vermont, and this was the exclamation point of the day! "

I think the most frequent question we get from guests is "Where's a good place for dinner?" A close second is "Where can we go to see moose?"

Answering the first question is easy because we have dozens of good restaurants in the immediate area.

Answering the second question is tougher because we don't have dozens of moose hanging around nearby. We have one (perhaps more) around the inn that must come through about once a week judging by the fresh tracks we see that often. In fact a guest and his family last week pulled into our driveway one evening to find a moose standing right in front of them just a few yards off Route 100.

Moose are most frequently in remote, rural areas but they are located all over the state and, as seen in the photo above, they can even wander into a city This one was spotted in downtown Montpelier, the state capital. Once in a while deer are seen feeding on the state capitol lawn in the evenings but moose are a very rare sight in the city.

We have more moose road signs I think than actual moose. The last time I saw a statistic, the VT Fish & Wildlife Division estimated our herd between 4,000 and 5,000. In fact, the last two moose hunting seasons, F&W increased the number of permits to help reduce the size of the herd. This year, they reduced the number of permits back to 700 something. About 200 moose are killed by automobiles each year in Vermont. Moose have little or no fear and they will usually not hesitate to step in front of a car.

When I'm asked about where to see a moose, I tell people that you need a lot of luck to see one. For instance, the photo at the top of this blog was taken by a guest a few years ago through the windshield of his car. By the time he got the car pulled over and stopped to get out and take a better quality photo, the moose had already walked across the road (Route 100 between Warren and Granville) and was headed up into the woods. The point is that if he had left from our inn a minute earlier or a minute later, he would have missed the moose entirely.

But having explained that, we suggest the area around Island Pond, VT for good moose watching. Island Pond is a good central location for exploring the most remote part of Vermont known as the Northeast Kingdom (NEK).

The Appalachian Mountain Club website has a little primer on moose watching you might like to read. Note especially the warnings about getting close to these animals. They're not known for being aggressive but they are wild animals and you can never be sure whether they will attack. A mother moose (cow) will almost certainly be aggressive if she is with a calf.

An even better article is on the Island Pond, VT town website .

Route 105 is Vermont's "Moose Alley" but other roads such as 114, 111, 5 and 16 are worth driving as well. The back roads are also worth exploring but make sure you have enough gas in the tank before heading into backcountry.

But I would not go to the NEK just to see moose. I'd go to see the countryside with the idea that seeing a moose would be a special bonus.

Here is an enjoyable double (!) moose sighting video shot in the NEK by jenawesome

Good luck on your moose hunt! And drive carefully, especially at night.

Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
Advice , General , Nature , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  16:02 | permalink

21 Aug 2009
Vermont Moose

Mad River Glen moose population has grown by two this year.

One of the most frequent questions we get here at the inn is "where can we go to see a moose?" There are several areas nearby where the possibility is greater but sighting a moose is a rare occurrence even for people who live and work in the forests.

The moose photo at the top of this Vermont Travel Notes blog is a good example. It was taken by a guest in early November several years ago while he was driving on Route 100 between Warren and Granville VT, a popular place to spot moose because of the swampy areas alongside the road. It's not a particularly good photo because he quickly took the shot through the car windshield. He got some better quality photos after he stopped the car and got out but by then the moose was into the woods and walking away so the angle of the photo does not work well. But he was lucky to see it at all. If he had left here a minute earlier or a minute later he would have missed the moose entirely. That's moose spotting for you (or seeing any unusual wildlife for that matter).

I have seen two moose this year but that is very unusual. Most years I don't see any. We have one walking through our property about once a month but we never see it. He or she comes through late at night and all we see are the footprints the next day.

Last winter, we had a few skier guests tell us of seeing a moose near the trails at Mad River Glen. One of them even hit the moose after coming around a corner and seeing it standing right in front of him. He reacted fast enough to squat down so he only bumped the moose a little bit. It must not have bothered the moose too much because it merely looked at the skier for a moment and then walked slowly into the woods.

The moose above may be the same one and, as you can see, it's a female with two calves it had this year. This moose photo and other Mad River Glen photos can be seen on the Gallery page at the Mad River Glen web site.

So, if you want to go moose spotting, the best area is the most remote part of Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom as it's known. Just try the roads around the town of Island Pond. Even if you don't see a moose, it's a beautiful area to do some sight seeing. Stop in some of the local country stores and ask around about where people have seen moose lately.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn except for the moose photo by Deb Steines and Bob Rogers on the Mad River Glen website
Advice , Nature , Unusual
posted by  grunhaus at  19:26 | permalink

16 Aug 2009
Burlington Sunset Over Lake Champlain

Photo by John Hughes

We often recommend Burlington to our guests and, if they decide to go, we suggest they stay up there to watch the sunset over Lake Champlain. This photo is a good example of why. It's from my favorite photoblog, Megapickles, which has a new photo every day by St Michael's College professor John Hughes. I highly recommend bookmarking the site and checking it frequently. I've been following it for years and it consistently has great work.

Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Nature
posted by  grunhaus at  22:11 | permalink

18 Apr 2009
Vermont Bird Tours

Photo (c) copyright Bryan Pfeiffer

Bryan Pfeiffer is probably the best known name in birding around this part of Vermont. He is also a naturalist and lepidopterologist of some note.

Most of all for birders, he's an enthusiastic, engaging speaker and teacher. There may not be anything he loves more than birding but if there is, it would be talking about birding. He's a treasure trove of fascinating information and he loves to share it.

A few years ago, he was often on WDEV, the local radio station, speaking about birds in the area and taking calls from listeners. Often those callers wanted to know what kind of unusual bird they were hearing. They would give the most awful imitation of what they were hearing and quick as lightning, Bryan would be playing a recording of the actual bird and telling the radio audience some interesting facts about it. How he could interpret what these callers were trying to sound like is beyond me but it must have come from years of hearing people try to describe (terribly and inaccurately) what they had heard.

Bryan is exactly the kind of person you would want to go birding with. You will have several opportunities to do so coming up soon.

If you are a beginner, Bryan's Spring Birdwatching for Beginners will be held May 1 and 2. He will be discussing all the basics from boots and binoculars to bird songs.

On May 16, he will be hosting the Bird Bonanza at Berlin Pond, a bird sanctuary near Montpelier VT. May is the peak of spring bird migration and Brian has seen more than 150 species of birds there over the last 25 years. You might even see a Bald Eagle or Moose on this outing.

Later in May, Bryan will be leading the Warbler Weekends at Highland Lodge overlooking beautiful Caspian Lake. These outings will be held May 22-24, and May 29-31.

July 5 is the date for a different type of watching. Bryan's Butterflies for Beginners has introduced hundreds of people to the wonders of the butterfly world through this course. You will be on the hunt for the Great Spangled Fritillary, Red Admiral, Painted Lady, and many more.

For more information on the tours, see Vermont Bird Tours website.

You can learn more about Bryan at his Wings Environmental website and see some beautiful photography at his Wings Photography website.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Events , Nature
posted by  grunhaus at  18:39 | permalink

6 Jan 2009
Attention Skiers and Riders: 6 to 12 Inches On The Way

Weather radar 8:30 pm Tuesday, Jan 6.

In technical meteorological terms, the radar picture above shows a "big honkin' storm" that is bearing down on Vermont ski areas. It starts tonight and goes through Thursday.

When it is all said and done, we will get six to twelve inches of snow according to local meteorologist Roger Hill of Weathering Heights Forecasting. He is consistently the most accurate of weather forecasters in this area.

Roger is also calling for some sleet during the storm: "potentially moderate to significant snowfall northern 2/5ths of state, and 'sleety snow middle part of state...to glazing, icy travel southeastern 1/4 of state' all going back to lighter periods of snow before exiting Thursday."

Check your favorite ski resort's web site for trail reports this Thursday and be ready to jump in the car to head for Vermont. It looks like Saturday should be a very good ski and ride day on fresh snow. Temps will be in the teens this weekend so pack your warmest gear.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Nature
posted by  grunhaus at  20:42 | permalink

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