September 30, 2006
Vermont Bike Trip
So…my mom randomly asks me if I would ever like to go with her on a weekend bike trip in Vermont. I said, sure that sounds fun. The next day she asks me if I’m available the following weekend. Amazingly, yes. That is how we decided to go on (what we thought was to be) a 30-mile bike trip.
Never mind the fact that I don’t own a bike and the last time I even rode one was probably sometime before I had children. My Nanny always told me, “Catch that train while you can because you never know if it will pass this way again.” My Nanny was a wise woman so my mom and I hopped on this train.
The brochure said that we would be biking 12 miles the first day and 17 miles the second day. We realized we better get training before we flew to New England on the following Friday. On Monday we rode the stationary bike for six miles. On Tuesday we rode real bikes for six miles. On Wednesday we bought bike shirts, socks, and shorts (not the tight ones!) On Thursday we biked in our neighborhood another six miles. That was the extent of our training.
My mom picked me up at my house at 5:00 in the morning to catch a 6:40 flight. We got to talking and laughing on the way to the airport and forgot to call to verify the departing gate. Of course, we ended up parking in the wrong terminal. We finally arrived at the check-in counter only to learn that we were five minutes late for the 40-minute-before- departure window of time allotted for checking luggage. We had our toiletries in our bags so we couldn’t take them on board with us. We decided to put our luggage on the next flight and we’d still take the earlier one.
We had to catch the airline terminal skylink train to get to the departure gate. Wouldn’t you know it, one side was shut down for maintenance. That meant, rather than being two stops away from our gate we had to ride around the entire airport back to almost where we started in the first place. By the time we finally arrived at the gate, they had already closed the door of the plane and wouldn’t open it for us to board. Oh well, we’ll just have a nice breakfast and catch the same flight with our luggage.
Not quite. The new flight leaves from the gate we just came from. We decided we better not take a chance on missing this flight by eating at a sit-down restaurant. So, we grabbed a bagel sandwich, reboarded the airline train, toured the perimeter of the airport and disembarked in time for early boarding. By this time, I’m really missing Steve. He takes care of all of these details for me and I don’t even have to think. Apparently, my thinker is out of shape and I better get it together again if I’m going to be in charge this weekend.
While on the plane, my mom challenged me to a three-day “Gin Rummy” tournament. The goal was to play as many hands as possible and whoever had the most points by the time we touched back down at DFW on Sunday night would take the other one out for a steak dinner. The heat was on! Can you believe I won all but one game while we were on that flight? My mom seriously considered catching a plane to Vegas when we landed in Boston. It was a pretty amazing streak of good luck.
That is about the only luck we had all day, though. After our departure fiasco, we finally landed in Boston. I, being rather frugal by nature, rented the tiniest car possible from the cheapest rental car place available. I’m pretty sure we rode the rental van from the airport in Boston, caught a ferry, went through two tunnels and finally ended up at an off-site rental company in a neighboring state – all to save $3 dollars-a-day.
My original goal for catching such an early flight was to have time to grab lunch at my all-time favorite place to eat in Boston, “Serendipity3” for their specialty, a frozen hot chocolate. We navigated the rental car through the endless construction and tunnels to Faneuil Hall Marketplace only to discover that my favorite restaurant closed down years ago. Bummer!
We decided to find a local restaurant and make the best of it by eating everything “Boston” we could order. For lunch we shared: Boston baked beans, New England Clam Chowder and crab cakes, while playing more cards. My winning streak continued to hold up through lunch.
We still had a three-hour drive ahead of us so we hopped back in the car and drove the next two hours in crazy traffic, making us dangerously close to missing dinner at the bed and breakfast. This whole time my mom kept saying, “We are on vacation and we are together – don’t worry about it.” So, we didn’t. Instead, we swerved off at a local Target to buy more supplies. Rain was in the forecast so we bought rain gear, energy bars, bottled water, bike gloves, sweat bands, and a cute little bike bag for the front of my rental bike.
We drove into the “Inn at Water’s Edge” just as they were serving the first course of dinner. My mom and I spent the next couple of hours with our tongues hanging out. Nothing! was as we expected. For starters, this was a really fancy five-star bed-and-breakfast that served a four-course dinner each night. I was satisfied after the pasta dish and that was only the beginning. There was still a salad, a tiny dish of lime sherbet (to cleanse our palette,) the main dish and dessert, still to come.
We were also surprised when my mom was served her entrée. You see, when we called to say we were running late they asked us which of the four entrees we would like for dinner. I chose the chicken and my mom chose the chili and sea bass. (That sounded really good on this crisp, cool, fall evening.) By the time my mom was served her ganache chocolate cheesecake, we realized she wasn’t going to get her bowl of chili. We later figured out she had ordered “Chilean sea bass.” Oops. We felt like real hicks.
The next thing to stun us was meeting the group with which we would be riding for the next two days. They were all so young and fit! They brought their own professional bikes and gear and they obviously knew what they were doing. Uh Oh, we were in big trouble. My mom affectionately dubbed them “The Kennedys.” They talked of vacationing at their island home and parties at the lake house and grandparents that had letters from the president hidden behind circus costumes. And we were at the other end of the table still waiting for our bowl of chili.
After dinner, we met with our adorable tour guide, Michelle. Now, picture your favorite camp counselor, imagine her spending her life biking, hiking, cross-country snowshoeing, helicopter-dropped skiing, and eating granola she gathered herself, and you get the picture. This girl knew the outdoors intimately.
We took a seat in the billiard room to go over the bike route for the next day. My mother and I looked across the room at each other with panic in our eyes when Michelle passed out the maps. The shortest distance planned was a 22-mile loop but everyone quickly agreed that the 44-mile loop to Woodstock and back was the way to go, with the possibility of an additional 20-mile hill-climbing option if everyone felt up for it. Oh my goodness! We were definitely in deep trouble.
We went back to our room scared to death. Neither one of us had ever ridden farther than six miles and we were just praying we could make it the 12-miles advertised on the website for the first day’s route. We finally got to the happy place we needed to be to get some sleep by deciding that we were there to make a memory together and if we had to ride six miles, then load our bikes up on the van and drive to the Woodstock, only to eat lunch and shop the rest of the day, then that is just what we would do. In the meantime, I sent a text message to my friend, Priscilla, and my mom sent one to my sister-in-law, Maria, asking them to pray for rain.
The next morning we awoke to rain. Praise the Lord! We were saved. Or so we thought. But, no! These lunatics were planning to ride in the rain. We had no choice, we had to play along. We suited up in our Target rain pants and jacket and took off in the pelting rain. These people were crazy! Mom and I made it the first five miles and were graciously met by Michelle at the bottom of “Hysteria Hill.” She offered to load up our bikes and drive us to the top. “Yeah, thanks. In this rain, I just don’t know if we could make it.” (I didn’t mention the fact that we couldn’t even have made that hill on electric bikes!)
The rest of the day was idyllic. We stopped at the Calvin Coolidge birthplace and memorial. We drank his favorite drink, Moxie, and ate Maple Syrup cotton candy. We taste-tested Vermont cheddar cheese and bought souvenirs. Once again, Michelle came to our rescue by driving up with the van just about the time we remembered that we were traveling on bicycles and had just bought another five pounds to stuff into our little bike bags.
Four hours and 22-miles later, my mom and I finally arrived in Woodstock. The rest of the team had already come and gone, and were halfway up the optional hill-climbing route. We didn’t care. We had just ridden 10 miles farther than either one of us even dreamed we would.
Perhaps, the best memory of the whole weekend was still ahead. We stumbled onto this adorable little pub where we finally got to eat our bowl of chili. But this wasn’t just any bowl of chili. It was a tureen of turkey, beef, and bean chili covered with melted Vermont cheddar cheese. It was still raining outside and we were wet, but warm, on the inside, getting warmer by the minute – physically and emotionally!
My mom and I relished every second of this wonderful experience, making this amazing memory. Our mantra from the moment we signed up for this weekend had been, “What were we thinking!” From this moment on, our mantra became, “Nanny would have loved this!” I haven’t missed my beloved, adventurous, grandmother this much since she went to be with Jesus.
We turned a definite corner over lunch and for the rest of the trip we chose to enjoy each challenge to the fullest, grabbing this train and jumping on, ready to enjoy the adventure wherever it took us. I still have a day-and-a-half to write about but I have to wrap it up for now. I’m in Michigan for a MomTime Getaway and I need to shower, get the kids up from their nap, and get to the church for the first night. I wish you all were here. Can’t wait to share the rest of this trip with you next week.
Posted by weblion at 03:56 PM