Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Runner Girl's Great Vermont Adventure

Last Thursday I gleefully hopped a plane to head to the eastern part of this country. I arrived on time in New York and proceeded to go nowhere fast. They were experiencing thunder and lightning at JFK and didn't think we should try to fly in it. Sissies. On top of my expected 3 hour layover, there were an additional 2 hours of delay. BORED! (Which is completely sad since I had 2 books, my knitting, several movies on my computer, airport internet, etc. etc.)

I finally arrived in Burlington, VT before midnight and made my way to the motel. Sandy had an easy drive up from New York and was comfortably snuggled in her bed. I made sure she was awake and we popped open a bottle of wine to celebrate seeing each other again. Chatter chatter until the wee small hours when we finally realized a little sleep would be helpful.

In a move that surprised both of us, we decided to actually go for the run we had talked about before sleeping. I slathered on sunscreen and dressed in a tank top and shorts - first time for sleeveless this season. We drove to the waterfront and after driving in circles for a bit, parked and started on our way. The plan was for 4 easy miles on the lakefront trail.

We were ignoring that "easy" means a different pace for us both. Although Sandy tried to slow down to my slug-pace, I'm easily rabbited and when she'd get ahead of me, I'd speed up too. The remarkable thing was that as long as I stayed slow enough, my breathing was better than it's been since that first cold I got this winter.

The trail on which we were running, the Burlington Bikeway, is part of the marathon route, toward the end of the race. I knew that even though it was "flat" or "flattish," the little changes in grade would drive me batshit beyond mile 20. The trail was well maintained asphalt with glimpses of Lake Champlain on one side and greenery or houses on the other.

It was fun to me to once again be in the type of vegetation in which I grew up (I grew up in a house, not a garden, but you know what I mean) (don't you?). I had just missed the Lilac bloom which was too bad since it's one of my favorite woody plants and they don't grow well in the East Bay. I seemed to hit peak Peony time though, and from what I could see they weren't the ant attractors that mine are. It was nice to see the varieties of maples and oaks and other hardwoods that don't grow as well (or as big) in the Bay Area, and the green green undergrowth of ferns and vines and flowers. I really felt completely at home. I also realized that I've quite forgotten the names of all the viney plants and wildflowers. They were pretty to look at, whatever they were.

It was a warm, breezy, sunny morning and after about 2-1/2 miles I started getting lightheaded. Because we had forgotten to eat anything or have coffee before starting. D'oh! Here I was, pushing it just a little past my comfort zone speedwise, and I was empty. Dummy. I should have known better. Luckily I had some Sport Beans in my pack and I knew it was only 4 miles. We made it to the end, feeling quite righteous.

After cooling down we returned to the motel for their free breakfast and then showers. We had a full day ahead of us and had to get on the road. Luckily Sandy had a GPS unit since the Gmap directions I had brought with me were complete confusion. We started out for our yarn crawl.

After a while of driving in circles we arrived at our first stop, Northeast Fiber Arts center. Since my stash is a bit out of hand I was only going to buy yarn if it was from a local sheep/spinner/dyer/company and whatdaya know, I found some. I bought a few skeins of a lovely electric blue hand dyed Vermont Border Leceister. [Note: this was very odd to me since I was reading John Scalzi's "The Android's Dream" which involves a sheep with bright blue wool, which I picture as looking exactly like this yarn. ]

I also fed my sock yarn addiction and bought a skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino. The shop was lovely and welcoming and the owner (I think she was the owner) showed me around and pointed out local yarns. The selection of yarns was great but I was being reasonable and stopped while I was ahead.

I thought See's was the candy store for knitters, but I stand corrected

That didn't stop us from moving on to the next yarn shop, Kaliedoscope Yarns. Although this looked from the outside to be someone's home, inside it was all yarn. Once again I was helped by the friendly staff, although they weren't quite as willing to just let me look at only the local items. Because of this, I walked out with a couple of skeins of Madeline Tosh DK Yarn in Tart as well as the relatively local (at least to a clueless Californian) Lobster Pot Yarn's Lobster Sox in Salt Rose (and I would have bought another skein in the gorgeous Lobster Bisque had it been in stock). If you're in the area I recommend visiting both of these shops!

We were getting hungry by then but didn't want to take too much time out of our busy touristing, so we found a local sandwich/Vermont-y store and got sandwiches. We gobbled them down and headed off to my real goal of the entire vacation, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company factory. That will be a story in itself. A long story with lots of pictures. And bears bears bears.

mine mine mine mine mine

After many hours (yes, we went well beyond "couple" and "few") we bid a fond, expensive farewell and left. Next stop, right up the road, was a brewery with free tasting. Marathon, schmarathon, we wanted beer!

The Magic Hat Brewing Company tasting room looked like a combination between a pub and a tourist store. I'm pretty darn certain I was the oldest person in there. Their beers were all listed on the wall and the kind servers poured us whatever we wanted. Between the two of us we tasted most of the choices, liking some more than others. We decided to buy a bottle or two for that night, although we never did end up drinking them (too much wine, I guess). Sandy got to take them home with her, lucky girl!

We were heading toward our motel when we remembered that we were supposed to go to the race expo between 4-7 pm. Funny, all that yarn and bears and beer and we forgot why we were in Vermont in the first place. We went to the expo, which I'll talk about in the race report, then finally made it back to the motel.We were exhausted by that time so we just had dinner at the motel's pub. Very healthy option: salad bar and wings. Well, we needed protein, didn't we? Then we headed back to the room to attempt to sleep.

We spent a night tossing and turning (usual for me, not as much for Sandy) and decided we should eat the free breakfast and get a move on. Again, we had lots to do. Our drive was a little longer this time, out to the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream factory.

ice cream cows!

We were just in time to catch the next tour and walked around the factory. Since it was a Saturday, nobody was working on the floor but the guide was still able to show us how ice cream would be made, if anyone was working. At the end of the tour we got our taste of one of the newest flavors, Boston Cream Pie. Very delicious. In fact, when the tour guide asked us to please take seconds because otherwise they'd be thrown out, we were happy to comply.

waste not, want not

a decent tour would let us taste each of these

From B&J's we moved down the road a bit to A Special Place where our first stop was the Cabot Cheese Annex Store. We sampled all of their tasty varieties of cheddar cheese and ignored the fact that this wasn't quite the nutrition we needed for the race. We ignored that even more at the Snow Farm Vineyard Tasting area, where we tried mouthsful of their wines from the Champlain Islands.

Next up was Lake Champlain Chocolate factory outlet, where the samples were ok and the chocolate was expensive. We bought not one thing there, the first place we'd gone to without spending money. Since we were there, we also went into the Danforth Pewter shop and browsed through their pretty merchandise. I didn't get off as cheaply there, I bought a hair clip and a letter opener.

Since we hadn't tired ourselves out enough, we decided to next (and last for the day) check out the Church Street Marketplace. This is a street that's closed to traffic and made into a pedestrian mall lined by restaurants and shops. And cows. Seriously, the cows came home to Burlington. For a change, these didn't scare me in the least.

the cow jumped over the moon

how pastoral

a porcelain bovine

groovy, man

ok, maybe this one scared me

a little busy

gift wrapped!

I'm seeing spots

mooing in a winter wonderland

We decided it would be nice to rest a little so we headed back to the motel and both took a short nap. We wanted to be lazy once again and had dinner at the motel restaurant for a second time. We tried for an early night but it didn't look like either of us would be having a lot of sleep.

We were right. Although it was late for a marathon (the race didn't start until 8:00 am) the alarm went off at 5:40 am. I spent the night with bizarro oddball dreams and nightmares and didn't mind getting up to shower.

The race was long, and hard, and wonderful and the race report forthcoming.

Sunday afternoon we didn't make it back to the motel until 4-ish. We took turns standing under the pouring hot water in the shower and each climbed into our bed for a little shuteye. Not much sleep, mind you, just resting. The vast quantities of caffeine Gu kept me from sleep.

No motel restaurant for us again, we wanted pizza and beer! We queried the motel staff and were told of a close-by pizza joint, Marco's Pizzeria & Grill, that was very good. A couple of minutes later we had ordered a Go Greek pizza (feta, sundried tomato, artichoke and black olives), wings and beer (that protein thing, again!). Despite not having had anything to eat all day except performance food, our eyes were much bigger than our appetites.

While we were lazily eating our pizza and drinking our beer, we noticed (couldn't have failed to notice) 2 little kids running around the restaurant and playing together. They were loud but not screeching. The sound of their laughing and giggles was fun to listen to. It turned out the family was part of the owner's family. We were talking to the owner's sister and told her we had run the marahton. She was so impressed that she offered to buy us another round of beer. Neither of us was too inclined to drink more but neither were we inclined to move, so we happily accepted her gracious offer. When we got back to the motel Sandy had to pack, I just had to pack it in. I crawled into bed, read a little, and hoped the beer would help me sleep. Notsomuch.

Although I was staying another day, Sandy had to drive home. We had breakfast and decided to go to the waterfront and take pictures. Upon stepping outside we noted it was very hazy. And very smoky. As people who live (or lived, in her case) in a place where a season is called "Fire Season" we knew there was a big fire somewhere. We didn't know there was a huge forest fire in Quebec and the smoke was drifting southward and piling up over Vermont. It was way beyond nasty. Our photo op was spoiled by the thick haze. We went back to the race finish area and walked around a little, but our breathing was bad enough that we didn't go too far or stay too long.

pretend you can see New York and a lovely shoreline

Oddly enough we were getting hungry again so we decided to take another look at Church Street and find a restaurant. We walked up and down and the air was clearing just enough to make it ok to eat on one of the shaded patios. We picked one of the very similar restaurants and I had my annual or semi-annual Reuben (I normally don't eat beef, but I make that exception). Along with the brightly fluorescent orange sweet potato fries, it was utterly delicious. A couple of quick stops later Sandy packed up her car and deserted me (sorry Sandy, just kidding).

yum, orange food!

I intended to take a walk, or knit, or read, or load picture onto the computer. Instead, I closed my eyes and took a nap. Mostly a toss and turn, but I think I grabbed a wink or two. Afterward, the rest of the day went quickly. I did a little of this and that, went for a walk and got a sandwich for a late dinner, watched a little tv and went back to bed.

And that was it. A great vacation with a great friend in a great area. I can't say enough about the friendliness and kindness of the Vermonters we met. Almost everyone was welcoming to these Californians (which isn't always the case). Even the worn areas around Burlington are pretty and lush and green. When I win the lottery I'm getting a summer home there!

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