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More of the Best State Parks in the Northeast

And spiders from Mars

I have seen all sorts of spiders during my camping trips. From big hairy Tarantulas in New Mexico to bizarre Cigarette Butt spiders in Florida.

Spider-1 Spider-2

Even the elusive Giant Tree Spiders of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite.


They are really nasty and will eat all your tacos.

But what about spiders that you cannot see?

Tiny spiders have somehow found a way to sneak into my trailer and make tiny webs. They string them up at night at it appears that their target is my face, which they have successfully captured a dozen times.


Anyway, I spent the 4th of July weekend at Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire.


When I was planning this trip one of the web searches I did was 'best state parks in America' or something like that. This park popped up on many top 5 lists.

It is spread along 6 miles of the Franconia Notch Parkway and contains attractions such as the Flume Gorge, The Basin, Boise Rock, Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway, Echo Lake, Profile Lake, and the Old Man of the Mountain Historic Site.

In fact, that Old Man formation is on the state quarter.

I saw none of this as the place was packed and parking was hard to find so I gave up and just hung out at my campsite on Saturday.


There are 97 sites in the campground, which is called Lafayette Place.

I made the reservation months ago and picked my site because it looked to be near a river according to the campsite map.

I wish there were photos of the sites because that would make picking one a lot easier. Guess what? There are now.

And I was next to a river.


It's called the Pemidgewasset and runs by 11 of the campsites.

Pemidgewasset-River-1 Pemidgewasset-River-3

I avoid taking campsite photos on Saturdays now that camping season is in full swing as I try to get as many empty sites as possible. There is usually a small window between checkout and checkin times so that is when I walked the park last Sunday.

I was in site 66 and some of the other river sites I liked were numbers 50, 52, and 64.

Lafayette-Place_050 Lafayette-Place_052 Lafayette-Place_064

There is a small camp store here and nice hot showers.


The weather forecast was not looking good for the next few days so I whipped up some ham sandwiches to take with me when I left on Monday for Vermont and Quechee Sate Park.

Sandwiches Quechee-Sign

I set up in site 4 and it immediately flooded.


How nice.

Prices in Vermont State Parks range from $18 to $20 with an extra $2 tacked on for non-residents.

It was clear on Tuesday so I checked out the campground.

There are 47 sites here and most of them are huge.

Mine was one of the smaller ones.


9, 13, and 33 were some of the larger ones.

Quechee_009 Quechee_013 Quechee_033

Tuesday afternoon I hiked the nature trail down to the gorge.


It passes through some wetlands where I found evidence of a beaver having nibbled on a tree.

Quechee-Trail-2 Quechee-Trail-3 Beaver-Nibbles

Wetlands is a generic term for all types of swamps, marshes, and bogs.

Do you know the difference?

Swamps have woody vegetation such as trees and shrubs.

Marshes contain more 'grassy' plants like weeds, grasses, and cattails.

Bogs have acidic spongy areas of un-decayed vegetation. And they sometimes smell.

I ended up at the deepest gorge in Vermont, formed about 13,000 years ago.


Not impressed? Well, that is the end of it. I had to hike up to the deepest part.


Which was here.


165 feet below me as I stood on a bridge.

And then bent way over for another photo.


I passed through the quaint town of Woodstock, Vermont on my way to Coolidge State Park on Wednesday.

Woodstock-Vermont Coolidge-Sign

This is an 'old school' campground. Basically unchanged since the CCC built it back in the 1930's.

Some campers say that it has the best views in all of Vermont.

It started sprinkling so I put up my kitchen cover and made some tacos for dinner.

Coolidge-Site-2 Taco-Dinner

Thursday I took a walk around the 26 sites.

I was in number 16.


Some of the other level sites were 3, 21, and 24.

Coolidge_003 Coolidge_021 Coolidge_024

There is another loop that consists solely of lean-to's.

I checked one out called Aspen.

Aspen-Lean-to-1 Aspen-Lean-to-2 Aspen-Lean-to-3

This would be a fun spot for a tent camper with great views of the Green Mountains.

A short hike from the campground takes you to the picnic area.

Coolidge-Pavilion Coolidge-View

That tall mountain in the middle is called Killington, a well known ski area.


I left here on Friday to camp at Half Moon Pond, one of the most popular parks in the state.

Pond-Road Half-Moon-Pond-Sign

The weather was as perfect as my campsite, number 16.

Half-Moon-Pond-Campsite Campsite-View


I watched boaters play on the pond and had some peanuts stolen by opportunistic tree rats.

Half-Moon-Pond-Boaters Tree-Rat-3 Tree-Rat-2

Oh, a camping tip I have been meaning to mention is bungee cords.


Specifically tarp cords with the little ball on the end. You can get an 8 pack for around $5 bucks at Wally World.

They will keep a constant tension on the guy-out lines from your tent, tarp, screenhouse, whatever. Greatly reduces the effects of the wind on your gear.

On Saturday I took a little hike around 'Golden Pond'.


Campers were already hitting the beach.


There are two camping loops joined by a trail around the east end of the pond.

Half-Moon-Pond-Trail Half-Moon-Pond-2

The southern loop is where you will find the lean-to's, cabins, and the lone cottage along with about 20 of the 52 campsites.

Half-Moon-Pond-Lean-to Half-Moon-Pond-Cabin Half-Moon-Pond-Cottage

That would be the Tall Timbers Cottage which has it's own boat dock and all the amenities of home.

I could definitely live there.

The boat rentals are also in this area. If you look real closely you can see my trailer on the opposite shore.


Maybe this will help.


The campground was full so I put off taking campsite photos until Sunday.


I cooked a fresh batch of tacos and opened my last bottle of birthday salsa. I have been using them in increasing order of hotness, saving this one for last.


It is called 'Tail Burner'. Habanero based. I shall see if it lives up to it's name.

I booked a four night stay here at Half Moon Pond, the reason being is that there is another state park just 3 miles away, and it was there I headed to Sunday morning.


Lake Bomoseen is the largest in the state contained within it's borders. Lake Champlain, where I will be soon, is far larger but shares it's borders with New York and Quebec.

It was drizzling as I walked the 55 campsites but folks were still enjoying the beach area.


The sites are a mixture of shaded, partially shaded, and open. None directly on the water like Half Moon Pond.

Here are numbers 50, 53, 3, and 12.

Bomoseen_050 Bomoseen_053 Bomoseen_003 Bomoseen_012

12 was spectacularly large. Ginormous even.

The lean-to's were closest to the lake.


I arrived back at the pond to more rain.


So today, Monday, I took photos of the sites.

You can't go wrong with 16, my spot.. My neighbors across from me said this is their favorite one, but someone, me, had already booked it months ago.

I apologized, laughingly, and she said no problem. The early bird gets the worm.

I replied that is true, but it is the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I got a strange look in reply.

Some of the pondfront sites are 9 and 28.

Half-Moon-Pond_009 Half-Moon-Pond_028

Off the pond, sites 38 and 40 have the most privacy.

Half-Moon-Pond_038 Half-Moon-Pond_040

This is a wonderful campground that I highly recommend.

I usually end these posts on a silly note bit this one is serious.

I had my hitch put on by U-Haul in January 2013. I would check the attachment bolts to the frame rails constantly but never noticed any looseness. So I kinda let that inspection decrease in frequency. To none in the last 6 months.

Plus I had picked up the Scamp and turned my attention to it's bearings and bolts.

Last Wednesday I noticed the trailer seemed to pull different. There was a squeak where none existed before. At Coolidge SP I looked underneath and noticed that one of the four bolts that secured my hitch to the frame rails was missing.

It was one of the two on the passenger side and the other nut was loose.

I tightened up the remaining nut and found a U-Haul dealer in Rutland, VT 20 miles away on my route to Half Moon Pond.

They replaced the missing bolt and re-torqued all the others at no charge.

I cannot say enough about the customer service I experienced. Well done. Thank you.

So as camping season begins in earnest, don't be a slacker like me. Check everything. Then check it again before you leave camp.

If that other nut fell off the hitch the whole thing would have dropped to the right and caused untold damage to the trailer, my car, and other vehicles sharing the road with me.

I have learned my lesson.

Regards, Park Ranger


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