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Countless Memories

A friend and I first set foot into Vermont in 1977. My friend, Allen, was doing his undergraduate work at Kent St. University and had met a guy named Paul who told Allen he should come to Vermont in July for the Craftsbury Fiddler's Contest. I had never ventured east of Corning , NY and drove up from Cincinnati to join with Allen for the trip to Vermont. En route to Paul's home in Barre from Northeastern Ohio, we happened to find ourselves circling Lake Dunmore. We pulled over at one point and walked to the water's edge. I was enthralled by the fact that for the first time, I was seeing and wading into clear mountain fed water. I could see my feet! We continued to Barre and met Paul's parents but Paul was held up at work and told us to go ahead to the fiddlers contest and we would meet up there. The Craftsbury Fiddlers Contest was held on a farm and was like a mini Woodstock. We never found Paul that weekend as we met some nice ladies, left Crafstbury and were given a wonderful tour of Shelburne museum and the University of Vermont.

Allen and I returned to Crafstbury the next year and on our way, spent a couple nights at Branbury State Park. I loved it! Grassy sites, walking distance to the beach and boat dock, and no driveways to the campsites. You and your neighbor cooperatively decided on boundaries.

I was to return to Branbury State Park approximately 30 times after that initial experience. I was married for the first time in 1985 and my then-wife and I started our streak of consecutive summer vacations at Branbury. Our daughter was born in April, 1988. Rachel made her first trip to Branbury as a three-month-old baby. We were blessed to meet some wonderful people at Branbury - so much so that about 10-15 of us started planning to reserve sites the same time each year on the lake side of Branbury. I was able to watch my child grow up at Branbury and experience safely the magic of loon calls, peregrine falcons, hikes to Silver Lake, hikes to Rattlesnake Point, and endless programs effectively led by Bruce Brown and later led by the Vermont Youth Corps. I also made friends on the beach. In particular, I shall remember fondly meeting Dr. Gardner P. Ashley, a professor at Franklin College in Indiana. Gard was in his 70's when I became acquainted with him and came to learn he and his sister Eleanor had spent many summers in rental homes near Lake Dunmore. I visited Gard several times in Indiana subsequently and learned a great deal from him and shared many moments of utter laughter. Gard also created a French newsletter each summer for Middlebury College. I could compose many more words to describe the multitude of magic moments that became part of my very existence on this planet.

This past summer in 2023, my second wife and I returned to Branbury for a day while staying in Rochester, VT to kayak on Lake Dunmore. As we lifted the kayaks from our vehicle, I walked smack into some Branbury friends from New Hampshire - friends that were part of those amazing summers in the past. As I hugged Roxann, her tears explained the deep connections that had been made in those meaningful summer camping trips to Branbury State Park.

Those countless memories are forever part of who I was and who I am now. I love you Vermont and Branbury State Park!

- Ken

A few people enjoy a sandy beach with woods in the horizon at sunset
Branbury State Park, Photo by Vermont Parks Forever


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