Life on the Bike Trail

I am sad to say I have not been for a bike ride on the Kingdom Trails yet this year.

Between work, the oh so wet weather in April and May (and some of June) and interests in other things like boating and golf and gardening, I have just been too busy.

However, last weekend was NEMBAFEST here in Burke, VT ~ which means it was one of the biggest bike weekends on the trails, which do pass right in front of our house. The White School trail passes through our property and so it is not uncommon for us to see bikers passing by.

This year, since we had company and were planning a family barbecue, I knew I would be around the house all day so I decided to count the number of bikers who passed through on Saturday. I used my little chalkboard to keep the tally throughout the day.

As we sat on the deck, visiting with our guests and counting bikers, my husband had the brilliant idea to ‘honor’ the 500th biker that passed. Everyone was in agreement and so we watched and waited. When the 500th biker came around the corner we all started to hoot and holler and yell for her to stop.

I think our yelling scared her a bit – she thought we were yelling because she was going the wrong way or had run over something. We assured her that we were simply entertaining ourselves and she graciously posed for pictures. Here she is with my landowner husband.

We hadn’t really planned this adventure so didn’t have a big prize for her, but we did sent her on her way with an ice cold Corona. I think she was appreciative – and very relieved that she hadn’t actually broken any biking rules.

By days end we had a total of 585 bikers pass by and we enjoyed every single one of them.

Just another day of fun and adventure on Sweetwater Lane.

Gratitude #1

From Merriam-Webster.com

gratitude

: a feeling of appreciation or thanks

I am switching it up a bit here at the Sweetwater Lane Blog. Since April, 2012 I have posted a writing prompt on the site every Wednesday. I have done so because I believe in the power of writing; I believe that anyone can (and should) write; and I believe that writing prompts can force a writer to get explore some new and different aspects of their writing.

However.

I am not convinced that my readers are as enthusiastic about writing prompts as I am.

Plus, I like to mix it up a bunch. I mean, honestly, it’s been three years. Usually I mix it up way sooner than this!

Starting today I am going to post what I call “Gratitude” every Wednesday instead of a writing prompt. Hey, if you happen to be a reader who liked the writing prompts let me know – I would be happy to supply you with more on a regular basis. No worries!

In case you don’t know the word gratitude, I’ve included a definition above.

So that’s what I am going to do. I will try to limit it to one thing I am thankful for each week, but ya’ know, sometimes they come in bunches. I’ll do what I can.

And Hey, if you happen to be a reader who liked the writing prompts, why not write your own gratitudes each week!

So, here goes:

*************************************************************************************************

Today I am feeling thanks for the ability to ride my bike to work and home again. This is the first summer in 30 years that I am not leaving my job in education for summer break. Instead, because of a new position, I will be working 11 months of the year. I decided that when the weather was good, and I didn’t have any reasons why I needed a car that day, I would get more exercise and ride my bike.

For those of you who don’t know this, I live in the area surrounded by The Kingdom Trails.

This means that I can ride to and from work ON THE TRAILS. Honestly, how cool is that? Well, for those who don’t know – it is VERY COOL. I have only done this twice since school officially ended June 5th, but will definitely be doing it more often. I will say that I have been riding to work on the road simply because early in the morning the trails can be very wet. But on the way home I have ridden the trails and just recently, as I was riding along in my cute little skort with my Camelbak it dawned on me – Dang, this is pretty darn awesome. And I stopped and took a picture.

Headin' Home!

Headin’ Home!

So, there you have it – gratitude #1.

In Less Than a Week

On April 7, 2014 there was still at least a foot of snow surrounding my house.
Actually, there was still some snow on the roof of the sun room, as well.
It seemed it would be a month before it would possibly be gone.

Yet, by April ll – only five days later – the entire yard was clear of snow.
It fell off the roof by Tuesday afternoon and was gone from the deck by Wednesday morning.

All the flower gardens are free of the white stuff and ready to be cleaned up.

It feels like a miracle.

Don’t confuse my yard with reality. I get a lot of sun around my house. There is still snow around the edges, where there is less direct sunlight.

Oh, wait – as I am writing this I see the local flock of turkeys headed through that very field to the apple tree on the other side.
Here’s a good look at the turkeys and the remaining snow.
Turkeys april 13, 2014

Sorry about that – sometimes life takes a little detour 🙂

Back to the disappearing snows.

There is still plenty of snow on Burke Mountain and they were open this weekend.

So, while Dave was up working for ski patrol. . .and skiing. . .

I took my first bike ride of the season.

Hi Dave!

Hi Dave!

It was 58 degrees out.
I wonder how many places there are in the world where you can ski and ride bikes and watch turkeys walk through your yard within two miles of one another?

It’s a good life.

200 Miles, There and Back

You don’t have to travel far to feel like you are a long way from home. Earlier this summer my husband suggested we take a weekend to explore the Magog region at the northernmost point of Lake Memphremagog.

Previous summers found us boating on the lake, crossing the border and cruising as far as Georgeville and exploring Fitch Bay, but we had never been to Magog.



I booked a room for us at The Manoir des Sables in Orford, about four miles north of Magog.

It proved to be the ideal spot. It had all the things we enjoy – proximity to the Lake; bike trails; hiking at nearby Mont Orford; an outdoor swimming pool; a small lake with kayaks, canoes and paddle boats; a spa with indoor pool, hot tub and various other Nordic type spas; a golf course (actually two); and a gourmet restaurant on site.

As we traveled from Jay Peak, where we spent the first night of this long weekend, we went through Newport in the midst of ground breaking news and got some shots of the devastation from moments before.

Traveling north around the eastern side of Lake Memphremagog, passing over Fitch Bay, we viewed this ‘castle’ from afar and vowed to learn more about it before returning home.

After a grueling day of traveling across foreign borders and driving for over an HOUR we checked in and headed for the pool to relax.

Ahh, such relaxation!

That night we splurged on a lovely dinner at the hotel restaurant, Les Jardins. It was scrumptious.

Our room looked over the small lake in the back and gorgeous sunrises.

The next morning we biked into the city of Magog. We went in on the main route, 141, and headed for the nearest information center. There we discovered there were extensive cycling trails in the area and we could access them all the way back to Manoir des Sables. We explored the city of Magog a bit, planning to come back in the evening for dinner. In my mind I’d been expecting Magog to be a quaint french village, but it felt more like a Hampton Beach to me. I did enjoy the park area built along the lake for walkers and cyclists, with it’s scenic places to sit and enjoy the peacefulness of the lake.

We ended up going into Magog twice more during our stay. Friday night we ate at The Liquor Store, downtown. I picked it because I liked the classic rock music the live band was playing. There was no wait because this place has ‘getting them in and out fast’ down to a fine art. Dave had a nice salmon dinner and I enjoyed a spicy honey chicken breast sandwich. It was good, but too noisy for us to talk.

Saturday night we dined at L’Ancrage on the terrace. It is located on the Route Verte cyling trail overlooking the lake. I was thrilled to see mussels on the menu, so that’s what I ordered, provençale. They were DELICIOUS! Our meal was served with a full basket of bread, including herb bread sliced thin and baked to a yummy crunchiness, which was perfect to dip in the musselly provençale juices.

At the hotel there are actually two golf courses. A little par 3 where you can play as much as you want for $7.00 and the 18 hole professional course, which was busy, busy, busy.


One day we visited the public beach in Magog. The view of Owls Head more than 20 miles away was perfect.

The beach – not so much. The ‘sand’ was dirty, the water milfoily, and the bottom mucky, mucky, mucky. The swimming area is roped off, only allowing you to go to a depth waist-high.

Another day we traveled to Parc National du Mont-Orford. It cost us $22.00 to enter the park where we could swim at a small beach that was part of the campground there. We did access the bike trails, covering about 7 km. One stop was La Sarracenie, a cabin where hikers can spend a night. The cabin was complete with multiple bunk beds, a gas stove, kerosene lanterns, running water and an outhouse.

Oh, and this peaceful setting.

We left Sunday, traveling toward Owls Head to check out the ski area and golf courses there. Along the way we did stop at that ‘castle’ seen earlier from the other side of the Lake.

It isn’t actually a castle, but the Abbey of Saint Benoit du Lac.

Being Sunday the monks were in the midst of mass. We were allowed to stroll through and observe. It was a peaceful visit.

Owls Head was our last stop. The ski area was totally abandoned with no available information for hiking in the area. We stopped briefly at the golf course for information. It’s another gorgeous northeast course.

Soon we were over the border and home again. All this done in about 200 miles, round trip. Though we were so close to home it felt like, well, like being in a foreign country.

Okay, we were in a foreign country. One where I think we’ll spend more time in the future.

Bonjour, por maintenant!

In the Morning

This morning I got my husband up early and we went for a bike ride. I love to exercise early in the morning because then it’s done and out of the way. Otherwise I have this voice inside my head whispering to me all day – ‘you haven’t got any exercise yet today.‘ I tell the voice to SHUT UP, but it keeps at it until I either get some exercise or convince it that walking to and from the clothesline and bending over to weed the garden IS real exercise.

Though we have miles and miles of bike trails to ride, they are often dewy this early in the morning so we took a road ride. We went ten miles this morning and it was joyous.

Early morning is my favorite time of day. Often the fog is lifting from the valley and the birds whistle as they go about the business of their day. For most of the ride all we heard were the birds and the wind rustling the leaves.

The first five miles were a nice warm up on paved road that was relatively flat. Then we climbed steadily uphill for three miles on dirt road and the last two – glorious downhill all the way! We enjoyed a different view of the mountain along the way.

I planned that route so we had the downhill at the end. I think of it as a reward for the first seven miles. It’s important to reward yourself for hard work. Sometimes I reward myself with chocolate. The downhill ride is probably a better reward.

Back at the house we enjoyed coffee on the deck before Dave headed off to work. I am feeling satisfied knowing I won’t hear that nagging voice inside my head today.

Ahhh, life is good.