Our Return to New England

We’re back–almost.  Yesterday we biked into Middlebury, Vermont–where we went to college!  It was the first time on this trip that we biked on streets we’ve biked before and know like the back of our hands.  We’ve experienced the comforts of familiarity not only in landscape, but most importantly in the people we’ve seen and traveled with this week!  Here’s a week in review:

August 11: 40 miles from Boonville, NY to Bisby Lake, NY; August 12: REST DAY at Bisby Lake

It really began to feel like the Adirondacks as we struggled our way up to our friend Tamara’s beautiful lake-side family camp.  After 10 miles of steep hills on dirt road (seriously–this was some of the HARDEST climbing of our trip!), we fell into the very good hands of Tamara, Sam, and Tamara’s parents–thank you so much for taking such good care of us!

We spent two days with them canoeing, swimming, hiking, and having excellent camp fire cookouts.  It really felt like what summer is supposed to be.  What an amazing, special place.

August 13: 49 miles from Bisby Lake, NY to Long Lake, NY

After leaving Bisby Lake and our friends behind, we were happily joined by Ian’s parents, Alison and Duncan.


Loaded up and ready to ride!

They are also riding on a tandem, so the dork factor of our party rose exponentially.  But we are so happy they joined us!  They were a little worried about being too slow for us super awesome speedy cross-country tourers, but turns out they were the speedsters!  We chugged along at the pace we’ve traveled for over 4,000 miles, and Alison and Duncan had to wait for us to catch up.  Our egos are a little bruised, but we’ve got the quads to prove that we’re not lazy. 🙂

Poor Alison and Duncan really got the full touring experience, though.  It poured on us almost all day, the sun peeking out just long enough to convince us that we’d have a dry evening, but as soon as we got to camp and made dinner, the sky opened up again.  But, camping pros, their spirits, if not their spandex, were not dampened.

August 14: 53 miles from Long Lake, NY to Paradox, NY

The morning brought more rain–just enough to ensure a soggy breakfast.  But soon after the sun finally came out and we enjoyed a really beautiful crisp, cool day of mountainous riding.  We stopped for lunch in a tiny road-side town and demonstrated for Alison and Duncan the ferocity of our daily hunger.  Then we biked a little more and stopped again at a cute farm-and-goodies-shop where Alison and Duncan showed us how persuasive their sweet tooth (teeth?) is, making a little extra room in our stuffed panniers for home baked banana bread and strawberry rhubarb coffee cake.  Always worth it!

August 15: 37 miles from Paradox, NY to Middlebury, VT ; August 16: REST DAY in Middlebury


Entering Vermont!

Another gorgeous biking day through the Adirondacks into the Champlain Valley.  We had some pretty big climbs followed by some long descents with gorgeous views of the valley and the Green Mountains stretching out in the distance.

Some of the most beautiful biking of the trip!  Maybe that’s because we were biking home–or to what was home for Ian and Christine for four years (four years ago!).  After crossing Lake Champlain in a ferry, the quiet country roads that led the way to Middlebury brought back many memories.  Ian recalled specific bike rides he would take with friends in the fall, and Christine remembered (ok, didn’t remember at all, but believed Ian when he told her about) some of their first tandem bike rides in the summer of ’06 when they worked on campus.

We rolled into the home of two friends of ours, Christian and Carey, who sadly we don’t get to see this time, because they are off on their own adventure, but who nevertheless let us and our brood of fellow travelers camp out in their yard–thank you!!!  We were met there by other friends of our, Chester and Emma, who joined us for a lovely dinner and patiently listened to Ian try on British and French accents while performing his nightly read-aloud to an almost-asleep Christine.  We later serendipitously crossed paths with our friends Miriam and Travis, who are off on their own week-long bicycle trip through Vermont!  Christine was also able to visit with her former adviser, Laurie, to catch up, get all kinds of grad school advice, and try to convince Laurie that camping isn’t actually a miserable experience.  Laurie wasn’t sold.  So, we had a great evening and morning surrounded by old friends.

Being on campus is a surreal experience.

So familiar, so full of significance, and yet no longer our present.  There’s nostalgia, to be sure, but it’s not a desperate longing for the past.  It’s wonderful to enjoy this beautiful place, and to feel a part of it without desiring to stay.  Our journey will continue into Boston, and then New York where our lives are now.  Fun to time travel, though!  And such a treat to be surrounded by friends and family as we near our destination.

Tomorrow Ian’s parents will drive home and we’ll be joined on the bike by Christine’s Dad for our final week of bicycling!

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