Monday, August 9, 2010

Burlington, VT

So yesterday, as we drove the incredible hilly and windy back roads of Vermont, we passed what seemed to us to be an inordinate amount of people riding their bikes. The majority of them seemed to be suffering horribly from all the hills. Many of them simply gave up and were walking their bikes up the slopes which seemed to go on forever. After passing about the 50th poor soul on the roads I declared my disbelief that anyone even bothered to own a bike, let alone ride it, in Vermont. The only two cyclists we saw all day who seemed to be enjoying themselves were two different crazy looking old guys riding scwinn bicycles… Apparently that is the secret to happiness.

With this lesson in mind, we woke up early this morning, drove into downtown Burlington, VT, parked down by Lake Champlain, and promptly decided that we should take a bike ride… I claim temporary amnesia.

We started out there on the waterfront, with tons of docks, piers, marinas, etc. All with the grand backdrop of the lake and the mountains across in NY beyond. Such a beautiful setting for a city!!! I even found a stone dedicated to the fabled monster of Lake Champlain, nicknamed Champ. Sadly my camera had technical difficulties today so the picture evidence of this stone has become as much a myth as Champ…

So our bike ride began down the waterfront. There are bike paths everywhere in Burlington, it is incredible. All along the lake. There apparently is even a trek around the entire lake for the incredibly insane… Shortly after starting we came across a sign stating that it was the beginning of the “Cycle the City” trail.

Mistake Number One: Megs and I neglecting to remember that neither of us had been on a bike for years…

Mistake Number Two: Not finding a scale of any kind on the map and just figuring, hey, how bad could it be??

Bad. But amazing too. Strange I know. First we drove about 3 to 4 miles down the waterfront trail until we had realized we were in a whole different town and must have missed the turn. We backtracked almost 3 miles but felt great because the scenery was incredible. How can you be upset about riding by this a couple times??

We eventually found the trail again. Promptly lost it again. Found it. And began a ridiculous cross country tour of the farms and fields of Burlington. When they say that you are going to cycle the city, they apparently meant the entire city limits. We were in the middle of nowhere for at least a solid hour. Driving through the woods on paved paths at first. Then dirt trails that took us through the woods, and fields of flowers, and along a river, and along the edge of a corn field, and straight through a working farm growing just about anything you could imagine. It was insanity. And it was gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous. I can’t imagine anywhere else that would have a cycle the city trail take us on such a grand tour of the countryside as well as the city.

Once we returned to the city, we became the grumbling, sweating, cyclists that we had seen all the day before. Trudging up a monstrous hill. But once we finally reached the summit, we were greeted by the beautiful University of Vermont campus. Then cruised down to Church St. The street is just for pedestrians and overflows with boutiques, restaurants with outdoor seating, bars, and random huge boulders. Just a really cool scene all around.

By the time we finally made it back to the RV, we were completely exhausted and looked like we had survived a battle… But it was only 12 noon!!! Wow what a morning!

After cleaning up, resting up, and refueling with PB&J, we headed up the rest of the lake to one of the few crossings into New York. Literally a mile from the border of Canada. Crazy. Even for a boy from Maine, it just felt like we were ridiculously far north. I almost expected that we’d soon get to the top and be able to see down the other side or something…

But being so close to the border served to remind us that we were planning to spend the next 3 days in Quebec City and Montreal. And that we had not made any semblance of plans for where we were to stay over those three days. There are no Walmarts there. Our phones, broadband, gps, etc. isen’t going to work there. And they speak French!! I mean, I took 4 years of French in High School but that doesn’t mean I know anything…

So needless to say. The rest of the day has been spent in Plattsburgh, NY trying to figure out the next few days in Canada. Through my broken French, Meg’s computer, and a completely useless campground directory, we somehow managed to secure reservations for our time up there.

But I think Plattsburgh dislikes us for some reason… The Walmart here was supposed to be a Supercenter so that we could get a battery and have them install it for us, but there is no auto center. We finished with the Canada plans and decided to go check out the local state park, paid the $5 entrance, got down to the lake ready for a swim, and promptly discovered that the swimming area was being closed because of an oncoming thunderstorm, which poured on us 15 minutes later… And we managed to find the only Burger King in the country that doesn’t have WiFi. So I am posting from our second stint of hanging out in the local Starbucks.

Hard to be upset though. An awesome morning in Burlington, and my first ever trip to Canada tomorrow!!! So excited!!

1 comment:

  1. Hola friend. I'm spending the summer in middlebury. Like ships passing in the night - close but no collision.. Maybe I'll get to see you in Texas.