Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Warm Showers Connection

Warm Showers smiled upon us again, bringing like-minded travelers to our doorstep. We hosted a couple from Washington State. Janice and Gary were on a two week vacation, pedaling from Buffalo, New York to Bar Harbor, Maine. There résumé  gets more impressive, once you get to know them, having taken their children around the world by bike in 2002. I chuckled at the sight of their bikes and gear adding to our fleet in our single car garage. It resembled a bike shop!

Gary, sprouting a duck from his head.
Janice and Gary tagged along on with us on Friday. Part of this summer's quest with my sons is to investigate local places of interest. We toured a granite quarry and then picnicked in an Italian cemetery. Afterwards, we strolled for an hour among the elaborately carved stones—though many are actually sculptures—which is what makes it special. The Italian quarry artists carved their own grave markers because, sadly, the sculptors died early after developing a disease from the granite dust.

My family with Gary and Janice.
When Janice and Gary were ready to set off on Saturday morning, my husband proposed I go along for part of their ride. It was an offer I couldn't refuse. I married the best guy in the world!

I begged Gary to let me haul a set of his panniers. He carries the tent and both sleeping bags. With the extra weight, it's his method to match Janice's pace. I still had touring legs from the lake sojourn, so it wasn't a stretch to add weight to my bike—actually I relished it—feeding my love of two-wheeled self-sufficiency.

First, we stopped at the airport to meet their special friend Carl. Over several years, Carl and Gary pieced together sections of the Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier route (plus their own variations), utilizing vacations to make it all happen. It's a mastermind of planning and determination. 

I haven't been in the Burlington airport for sometime. I liked the mural: the view of the city with the ferry in the foreground.

It was the perfect venue for a photo. Maybe even for a postcard.

Carl loved to chat.
I played tour guide, routing us eastward around the urban sprawl.

Gary and Janice, preferring to keep the pace.
Then it's pleasant country riding. This is the road that my husband rides to his workplace. It's full of cornfields, winding along the Winooski River, with little traffic. A spectacular tailwind eased our journey. My husband had earlier joked that he didn't expect to see me for a week. Of course I couldn't be gone that long, but I admit that I fantasized about pedaling with our new friends all the way to the Atlantic.

All buildings are colored with the distinctive cow motif. 
Nearly 30 miles later we arrived at the Ben & Jerry's factory in Waterbury. This was a great place to meet up with my family, and as luck would have it, our children had yet to visit the factory.

It's an entertaining tour, cow jokes included, and culminates in the taste testing room. We gobble free samples in a paper cup, slurping and squeezing the last bit because, as a Vermonter, you don't refuse or waste ice cream that costs 5.00 a pint.

Our oldest boy also needed more calories so he chose Chocolate Fudge Brownie on a cone. I tasted a bite. It's a rich and yummy concoction. This is the number #10 best seller. Had I needed to ride more, I would've been right up there in line for a cone.

Boys and ice cream.

Ice cream and boys.

Every year Ben & Jerry's introduces new flavors and retires 10 in its place.

The epitaphs were humorous, but the graveyard is incomplete, featuring only a few of the many defunct flavors.

For example, I never found my favorite early flavor: Apple Pie. It really was chock full of filling and crust in a vanilla base. Instead, I located a couple others that my husband and I cherished, both coffee flavors. And we didn't realize they were dead and gone. Sniff.

You can tell I'm not ready to roll to anything other than to our car.
My eyes are closed and I'm not wearing a helmet.
Time to say goodbye to Janice, Carl, and Gary. But first, one last photo in front of the replica of the bus that toured the country in the 80s when Ben and Jerry handed out free cones. It burned somewhere around Detroit, adding publicity to their then small enterprise. Hugs all around.

1 comment:

  1. I had the honor of being connected to your great state while our daughter attended UVM. Your welcoming these folks into your home and lives strikes me as typical of Burlington. Your freeform ponytails accentuate your vitality. It's inspiring. Good work with the kids.


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