Friday, October 22, 2010

Mini-moon; Honeymoon Training

Our mini-moon to Vermont starts a day late and a person extra. Those of you that know Adam and I know that our great planning ideas don’t always come to fruition and we’re always late no matter what…  even to our own honeymoon. So our packing started at 5:00pm on Monday night when we realized we had to take an hour drive to REI to get rain gear since the forecast for Tuesday looked gloomy.  We spent a good $650… still recovering from that shock… got home by 10 and started packing.  Of course, this pushed our trip back slightly, but at 10:00am the next morning, we were off with clear, sunny skies.  

In Africa, when someone leaves your house you give them what is called, a “push.”  Basically, you walk them out the door, down the street, and sometimes all the way back to their house.  I guess at this point it wouldn’t be too far fetched to think that now that someone has pushed you all the way back to your house, it’s only right to now give them a push back home.  So Dave, feeling the African vibe, wanted to give us a push for our biking honeymoon trip to Vermont.  The plan was to push us a couple of miles to Guilford, but, as is the African way, it lasted a bit longer. The day turned out to be too nice to pass up a bike ride all the way to Cheshire (about 20 miles further).  

As we rode, I fell back behind Adam and Dave.  Not too far, but enough to see people’s puzzled faces as they saw the white flag Adam mounted to his bike which read, “Just Married,” and then Dave following closely behind.  I laughed to myself and let people think what they wanted, except for this one couple who congratulated them as the rode by.  When I caught up I yelled, “I’m the wife!”  Looking back, I’m not sure if this clarified things or confused the ladies even more. 

In our hectic scramble to get everything packed the night before our trip, Dave volunteered to start mapping out our trip for us.  It’s thanks to him we got to spend 6 miles or so on the Farmington Trail from Hamden to Cheshire.  No cars, no motorcycles, just walkers enjoying the day, runners getting their exercise, beautiful foliage, and us.  It was here that Dave really got to see what traveling with Adam is really like.  Pictures, pictures, and more pictures.  How could we resist, though with such beautiful shots around every corner. I find it funny that most of the pictures of the first day of my honeymoon are with Dave and I!   

After a while, Adam passed on the camera so we could get a few pics of the actual honeymooners. 

It was bittersweet to say goodbye to Dave after we shared lunch at a small Italian deli just past the end of the trail.  Though we were excited to start our honeymoon with just the two of us, Dave’s relaxed attitude and goofy demeanor are always welcome.  We have him to thank for setting the mood of the whole trip. 

Our next two days of riding were similar to the first.  Clear skies, warm weather, and beautiful foliage.  Check out some of the shots!!!

Generosity comes in all forms.  When Adam first told me about Warm Showers, I, along with many others, was somewhat skeptical.  It’s an app that allows bicyclers to find places to stay on the road while they are touring.  Adam was determined to use the app on this trip and after our first night of camping out on the side of the road all the while freaking out over the police across the river from us, we decided to try it out.   

We were about 20 miles outside of Pittsfield, MA when we called up Steve and left a message for him to see if he wouldn’t mind us crashing at his place that night.  Within two minutes he called us back and invited us over.  We weren’t really sure how this Warm Showers works. Was he going to let us camp in his backyard?  Was he going to let us stay inside?  What about having an actual warm shower??  Well, Steve has certainly set the bar, and set it high.  We walked into his place to hear Bela Fleck playing on his CD player (that’s right, I said CD player).  He invited us right inside, sat us by his wood stove, offered for us to take a warm shower, ordered pizza and gelato, and let us sleep in our room of choice.  How much better could you get, really? His generosity was almost too much for us.  We felt like we had to owe him something, anything… I even offered to share our Snickers bar with him.  But he declined it all and told us simply to pay it forward.  I wrote him a note when we left the following morning (he had already gone to work for the day) and in it told him how I can only hope that when we do pay it forward, we can be as generous and caring as he was towards us. 

But right now, it’s our turn to receive the generosity and it came to us again when Victoria from The Equinox, a beautiful hotel in the middle of Manchester, Vermont, found us sitting on the stoop outside of The 1811 House, one of The Equinox’s separate buildings.  We were calling all sorts of places trying to get a decent priced hotel, but it looked like we were going to spend upwards of $180.  When we told her we’d pay $130, she got right to work, calling up the receptionist, making a deal for us.  I heard her say, “We have these newlyweds who biked here from Connecticut and a bunch of empty rooms.  I’d like to make this work for them.”  And she did it!  We spent the night in the hotel, got to sit by a fire, and got breakfast served to us all for under $110. 

After we spent the night in The 1811 House, we reluctantly got on our bikes in the pouring rain and cold.  Our plan was to ride 30 miles to Rutland, VT just so we could shave off a little distance for our last day.  

 About 20 miles in, Adam’s hands were soaked and we decided we’d look for a place to stay the night.  Instead of a place to stay, we found a welcome restaurant in Wallingford, VT and stopped in after getting rejected from the only two Inns in town.  We were discussing our worry that we wouldn’t be able to find a hotel in Rutland tonight and I said, “Well, there’s always churches.”  I guess this sparked some interest in the older couple sitting next to us.  They immediately offered for us to stay in their “barn.”  Lucky for us it was on the way, seven miles towards Rutland, down beautiful back roads.  Even though we were cold and wet on the ride to their home, our spirits were high and we enjoyed the last of our rainy ride.   When we arrived, we realized this “barn” was a 3 story studio.  The bottom floor was used for wood working and stone work, the second floor was a decorated studio with marble floors in the kitchen and bathroom, and the top floor was the bed room.  What luck!  So Jen and Art set us up here in their studio apartment for the night and left saying, “I hope you have a minute in the morning to look out the window and enjoy the view of Killington before you get on your way.”   Ahhhhhh.

But it isn’t just these huge acts of kindness and generosity that have made our trip, it can be something so simple.  It’s the people who stop in their cars and offer us help when we stand on the side of the road looking lost.  It’s the people who drive by us and notice the “Just Married” sign and honk as they ride past.  It’s the people, on roads with barely any shoulders, who follow patiently behind us until we get to a straightaway when they feel comfortable enough to pass.  This world is truly filled with good people. 

Our last day was uphill.  You can take that any way you want because it all applies.  It was cold and wet, we had to ride seven miles up Mt. Killington (there was actually snow at the top), the downhill afterwards was frigid, and though we had a fulfilling breakfast, I didn’t have any coffee.  I need to come up with some backup plan for coffee… it’s not fun for either of us and when Adam noticed I was in no mood to take a picture of the “Moose Crossing” sign in the middle of our seven miles uphill, he just pedaled on ahead and steered clear of me for a while. We did break at the top for a picture with the snowman, then took the icy plunge down the mountain until we landed upon a little Vermont restaurant.  I got my coffee, we thawed out, and we finished our trip in high spirits.  

Even though we just biked up Mt. Killington, no hill on the whole trip compared to the driveway of our cabin (especially after we had just packed our bags full of breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer, and wine).  We had just biked 240 miles and there was no way we were walking our bikes now!  We used that logic all the way up the driveway and happily parked our bikes outside our cabin. 

So yes, we rode 240 miles in 5 days but we weren’t quite done.  We had one more task we needed to complete.  At our wedding, Adam and I gave away tree saplings as our favors to our guests.  For 240 miles, a little tree sapling hung strapped to Adam’s bike.  We wanted to plant it at the place we were engaged.  So we hiked into the woods a bit, found a little clearing, pulled up the grass and weeds around it, and planted our tree.   

Who knows if it will escape the perils of the winter snowmobiling, but a little piece of us has been planted in Vermont.  Hopefully the other 180 tree saplings from our wedding are scattered around New England and beyond, excited to see what life brings… I know we are.