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Time To Move On

19 Oct

It seems like just a few days ago that we were packing up our apartment and driving out of NYC, yet here we are, at the end of our 4 months in Vermont.   In exactly two weeks we’ll be on our kick-off flight to Peru for the first leg of our round-the-world trip.

I’ve had the pleasure of living in many different places over the last 15 years, so I’ve had a lot of practice at saying goodbye to people and places I’ve fallen in love with.  This time it’s different.  This time I have to say goodbye to our home in Vermont, a place that holds some of my most cherished memories.

We spent summers here when I was a child.  In college we invited friends up and had rambunctious weekend festivities.  It was our escape from the grime and the noise of New York.  It is where we were married.  This home feels more like ‘home’ to me than any other house I’ve lived in.  We’ve always had a hard time packing up to leave after being here, but this time is different.  This time we are leaving for good.  The house is for sale, and by the time we return it very probably will belong to someone else.  Saying goodbye sucks.

Just the other day So Many Places wrote this post about the odd combination of paralyzing doubt and manic excitement that comes with this type of journey.  It could not have more perfectly summed up how I’ve felt over these past months, and especially the last few weeks, as we make all the preparations for this journey.

It’s the opportunity of a lifetime, but it’s also terrifying.   There are adventures to be had, beautiful scenery to witness, and interesting people to meet.  In order to do this we have to let go of the sense of control we normally have.  We had to find a temporary home for our kitties.  We had to give up our notion of what adult life is like.  We had to embrace a huge amount of change, and change is hard.

The thing is, without change, well, nothing actually changes.  So, tonight we will spend some time remembering the joy we’ve experienced here, and tomorrow we’ll welcome the next step.

The Faster You Run, The Faster You’re Done

13 Sep

A lack of nearby gym facilities requires to me to run and hike  frequently lest I suffer the consequences of the abundance of good food and drink here in Vermont.

I actually ran semi-regularly while we were living in NYC as well, alternating between the gym’s treadmills in the winter, and the West Side Highway as the weather improved.  Mostly I stuck to distances of 3-4 miles, which was perfect in New York because that was about how far it was from my apartment to Battery Park where I typically just got lazy and rode the subway back home.  Once in a while I’d change it up a bit and get out to Central Park for a “hilly” run and some different scenery.

I never thought much about the logistics of my runs until we got to Vermont where I immediately noticed some major differences.

  • Clean air! No litter!  Amazing.
  • No stoplights, no pedestrian dodging.  It was really irritating to try and keep a steady pace when it took me close to a mile just to get to the river, while at the same time trying to time the lights and maneuver around all the other people on the sidewalk.  My other option was to run in the road and risk getting nailed by a car or a bike messenger.  Here, it’s just me and the dirt road.
  • Hills.  I laugh at myself for thinking the Central Park loop was really hilly.
  • Dogs.  I am an animal lover but the damn dogs are going to be the death of me!  Every single house I pass has dogs and as I go by they all come out to greet me…some more nicely than others.  Generally they come storming out, snarling and growling until I coo at them “Nice puppy!  Who’s a good boy?!?!” at which point 99% of them stop and start wagging their tails and I can go on my merry way.   There’s one house, about 3/4 of a mile in, where I have to actually stop and pet the pit bulls or they continue to snarl and chase me.  Another house I pass sometimes has a very friendly chocolate lab that likes to run with me.  He’s followed me as far as a mile in some cases, his owners screaming after him to “Get back here!!”   More often than not, the dogs are fenced in, or they won’t follow me much past their house.  Once though, I was chased by a dog that I really thought might bite me despite my cooing at it.  It was the first time a dog remained aggressive towards me even when I slowed and talked to it, and I wondered what the heck I’d do way out in the middle of nowhere if I really did get bit.
I’ve always had a hard time sticking with a running routine, but I’m much more inclined to keep up with it here where I get beautiful scenery, fresh air, and the stillness of being the only person on the road.

A Brief Interruption In Service

31 Aug

It’s been a waterlogged week here in Cavendish, VT.  Here are some pictures of the areas around our house, where we are on day 4 of no power or water.  We’ve managed to find internet and hot coffee at a small restaurant in Ludlow where we are currently camped out for the afternoon with everyone else who needs an internet fix.

A house and part of the street on the corner of 131 and Whitesville, Sunday afternoon.

Damage to 131 near Whitesville Rd. due to the flooding and debris. This woman's house is between this damage, and the damage on a further portion of 131, she walked to the store and had to climb down into that broken road to get home.

This is Davis Road, about 1/4 mile from our house. The road has literally been swept completely away by the water.

Near the flat rocks off Davis Road where we used to swim as children. Again, the road is completely gone.

This is about a mile from our house on Brook Road, it's usually an alternate route out to Route 131, but no more.

We got past the first chunk of damage on Brook Road on foot, and then came to this, which we couldn't cross, even on foot.

The former parking lot for the Crow's Corner Bakery, and surrounding buildings, in Proctorsville. The owners live down the road from us in one of the stretches of road that's been totally destroyed.

House next to bakery. We talked to these people who told us their insurance won't cover the damage because they don't have flood insurance. We suspect that will be the case with many people who suffered damage.

We are fortunate to not have sustained any damage to our home, but that is not the case for many thousands of others.  The Red Cross has a station set up for food and water, and we’ve seen the local firemen as well as the army (or national guard perhaps? ) delivering water and food on their 4-wheelers to people who are stranded.

We hear there is similar damage in other parts of rural New England, not to mention all the flooding along the rest of the coast, though we haven’t been able to get any real news since we’ve got no power.  We though we were too far inland to sustain any real damage from Irene, but clearly we were mistaken.

Hiking Mt. Ascutney – The Weathersfield Trail

21 Aug

One of our goals for our time in Vermont was to hike at least 3 times per week to prepare ourselves at least a little for the massive amount of hiking we’ll be doing in South America.  Mt. Ascutney is a great mountain for our purposes because it has 4 different trails to the summit, all within a half hour drive from our house.

Not more than a few days after our arrival in Vermont we jumped right into the fray and our first hike was on the Weathersfield Trail, which was listed as “moderate” according to the Chamber of Commerce.  I hiked a fair amount growing up in Colorado, and even some here in Vermont over the years, but I was not prepared for the Weathersfield.  The trail starts out as a lovely pine-needle covered path, and while it’s certainly uphill, you get a beautiful view and a small waterfall at about a mile in.  After this point though, the trail gets more serious.

The trail

There is a significant amount of scrambling over rocks, it is consistently steep, and there are huge chunks of the trail where you have to pay close attention to the markings since there is quite literally no real path.   Justin and I were not happy hikers, but we managed to reach the summit and were rewarded with the great view.

Finally we made it above the mist!

Why was this trail so difficult for us?  Maybe it was because it was one of the hottest days of the summer.  Perhaps it was because it was the first hike we’d done in over a year.  It could have had something to do with how much beer we’d had the night before.  In any case, we were wiped out, sore, and felt defeated by what should have been a fairly straightforward 6 mile hike.

I’ve been avoiding this particular hike for the last few weeks due to the bad memory, but this week a friend was visiting and was up for a good hike, so we decided to try to tackle it again.  We started out early and were the first car in the lot.  We kept a steady pace, and while it was just as steep and scrambley as I remember, it somehow wasn’t as hard.  By the time we reached the summit we had shaved at least 30 minutes off my first ascent time.

Much happier camper the second time around!

There are a plethora of reasons this was easier than the first – it wasn’t as hot, we had gotten plenty of sleep, and I’ve been hiking and/or running an average of 18-25 miles per week, which I suspect made all the difference.

Nothing beats some Moxie after a long morning on the mountain!

At this point I’ll still call it a heft half-day trek, which is just under 6 miles with about a 2000 ft ascent.   It’s got some great views though with at least 3 excellent overlook spots and a fantastic panoramic view from the observation tower at the summit.

Buttermilk Falls – A “Hole” Lot of Fun

10 Aug

We recently stopped by the Ludlow Chamber of Commerce to get some information about area hiking trails and events that might peak our interest.  Being that it was a warm, sunny day we asked the woman at the counter if there were any local quarries or swimming holes that would be worth visiting.  She told us about a swimming hole called Buttermilk Falls which happened to be just down the road from downtown Ludlow.  We drove down to check it out and to Ashley’s surprise it was one of the spots that she and her family had come to when she was a little girl.  It definitely was a swim that I wanted to take.

Buttermilk Falls is a popular swimming hole near Ludlow, VT

It was a particularly warm week in Vermont, so a few days later we decided to pack up a lunch and head to the Falls. We arrived just before noon and there were only a few other people there.  I can’t recall the last time that I actually took a swim in a spring-fed pool, and this looked truly inviting.  It was a good-sized swimming area and near the center of the pool the depth reached about eight feet.  The nicest part about it was that the falls dropped directly into this swimming area.  Picturesque.

I had to build up to taking the plunge

The water was a bit chilly, but the sun was beaming and after five minutes of dipping my toes in the water I took the full plunge.  The only word I can use to describe how it felt was refreshing.  Living in New York City for the past ten years I’d only swum a handful of times and this immediately reminded me of how relaxing it can be.  I felt as if I were being cleansed from the stress of a decade in New York.

Ashley floats at the foot of the falls

Ashley and I swam for a couple of hours and had lunch on the rocks with only a handful of people coming and going.  It was a perfect day and we will definitely be returning to this sweet spot very soon.

Harpoon Brewery BBQ Tasting

2 Aug

Ashley and I were driving around listening to a local radio station when there was an announcement for the 11th Annual Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue the following weekend at the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor, VT.

Forty teams competed for prize money and trophies with a select few selling their award-winning barbecue to the public.  There were great Harpoon varieties on tap for our tasting pleasure, a live band (minus the vocals, which was nice) playing some good music and a sunny, blue sky.  What more could we ask for?  This was exactly what we needed in our first week of transition from New York City.

We strolled around the grounds and had a small sampling which included beans, ribs, pulled pork sliders/sandwich, wings and, of course, chocolate-covered bacon.  I’ll venture to guess that Ashley enjoyed the chocolate-covered bacon the most.  I’m going with the pulled-pork sandwich from, none other than, the Bastey Boys booth.  This booth had a number of different sauces to taste with the sandwich and we sampled as many as we could until the pulled pork ran out.  All in all, we enjoyed everything we sampled.

This was the booth to beat!

Mmmmm....sweet and savory!

Of course, the best part of the day was the tasty brew.  We’ve only been to Harpoon Brewery a couple of times because we usually go to Long Trail Brewery (Bridgewater Corners, VT) instead.  I do have to admit that Harpoon is slowly growing on me.  I tried the Belgian Pale Ale which had a tangy aftertaste (not too bad).  However, I really enjoyed the India Pale Ale and its hopped-up, cheek-puckering aftertaste.  There’s nothing like an hoppy brew!  I am definitely willing to visit Harpoon, again, to give it another shot.

After strolling around for a couple of hours we found a picnic table in the shade.  We sat listening to the live band play some instrumental, classic rock tunes and enjoyed the surroundings.  Sunshine (and shade), tasty beer and easy-going people.  I could get used to this.

Our New Country Neighbors

27 Jul

Justin and I took a meandering walk today and passed this sign at the entrance to the property down the road.  I dared Justin to go ask them for some sugar, but he just rolled his eyes at me.

I'm sure they are lovely people.

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