Sunday, October 28, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018 - Third Cup at Union Station, Sunset Sip!

It isn't easy taking a selfie in front of a tall building!
With a miserable weekend forecast, I opted to drink tea at a historic place on a longer route home after work Friday afternoon. Conjuring up the idea after arriving at the office, I scampered home on my lunch hour to retrieve my trusty Stanley thermos and herbal tea, which made it easy to leave at 5 pm with a full thermos of freshly brewed tea.

I've always been enamored with Union Station, a stately building at the bottom of Main Street. I approached the edifice from the waterfront trail at sunset.

Look closely to find my bike and thermos sitting on the bench.
It's best side, however, is the imposing east side of the building, complete with clock and ironwork covering a window. I sat on a bench sipping ginger tea, before heading up the hill toward home.

The History:
The current Union Station was completed in 1915, composed of tan colored brick and limestone trim. Vermont marble was used extensively inside. The building is now privately-owned and the interior was carved into two stories of businesses so it has lost it's majestic train station appearance.

Winged Monkey Statues on the Roof
"Four steel statues of winged monkeys currently adorn the roof of Union Station. Created by artist Steve Larrabee, the monkeys were originally commissioned in 1976 for a local waterbed store named "Emerald City" after the capital city of the fictional Land of Oz. The two original monkey statues from the store, along with two statues of monkey children, rest on the roof of the former train station, while two more recent statues are located on the roof of the nearby Main Street Landing Performing Arts Center." -Wikipedia

Union Station, circa 1920, showing walkways extending from building (now removed).

Burlington Union Depot, 1913.
Interestingly, I discovered the first train depot had been located nearby, built just after the Civil War. Showing its age by 1910, the building was torn down to allow space for the more modern and larger, Union Station.

The Place: Union Station
Date: Friday, October 26
Drink: Ginger Tea
Observation:  It's possible to coffeeneur after work, which opens up more options to complete the challenge.
Total Miles: 10

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018 - Second Cup at Ethan Allen Homestead

Focusing on attending one of two different and unrelated historical events happening on the same day (go figure!), I opted to check out Ethan Allen Homestead's special exhibit on the Missisquoi Abenaki Nation where Abenaki citizens were recreating a late 18th, early 19th, century hunting and trading encampment.

Normally I would ride through the Intervale's dirt roads and trails to reach the Homestead, but for some reason I continued in a different direction on a paved trail. As I hadn't ridden that section for a while I noticed a wooden box attached to a tree and stopped out of curiosity. The city parks department has posted a box "for whoever is in need". I looked inside to find a pair of  Bean boots. The box is checked frequently and restocked. Users can also request items. It's an interesting approach by the city to helping the homeless in the area.

I continued to the Homestead and Museum, but first pedaled around, looking for what I thought was a new parklet but in hindsight I've discovered it's in a different location.

However, there were a couple picnic tables on the grounds so I left my compact chair unpacked. I enjoyed my coffee (my Stanley thermos is perfect) while watching several volunteers rake leaves. It was a warm, autumn morning - maybe the last for a while.

I discovered the special Abenaki encampment exhibit was held outdoors, so with specific time allotted for my coffeeneuring outing, I bypassed the indoor presentations and headed out behind the building.

Three Abenaki descendants, dressed in appropriate attire were tending fires, answering questions, weaving a mat, or generally just hanging out. I learned that the Abenakis lived just north of Burlington, stretching on the east side of Lake Champlain all the way towards present day New Hampshire, and northward into Canada. There are currently 3000 descendants registered as part of the tribe, with 400 more applying for inclusion.

After a half hour, I continued riding, climbing into Ethan Allen Park, then descending towards the waterfront for a stellar view of large waves on a windy day before climbing the hill toward home. I never tire of this view.

The History:
The Abenakis called Vermont home for thousands of years before the first European settlers arrived. Land disputes between the Abenakis, settlers, and the Vermont government continued into the 1800s. Fearing persecution, many people of Abenaki descent concealed their heritage, especially after being targeted during the Eugenics movement, but continued preserving their culture and traditions to the modern day, many of those traditions influencing the course of Vermont's history. In 2011-2012 the Stare of Vermont acknowledged four Abenaki tribes within Vermont.

The Place: Ethan Allen Homestead
Date: Saturday, October 20
Drink: Cafe Bustelo, made in moka pot at home
Observation:  There's much more to see inside the barn/museum. Have to make a future trip! Also, it's refreshing and less complicated to leave my stove behind for this year's challenge. 
Total Miles: 10

Monday, October 15, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018 - First Cup on the Lachine Canal

50 degrees and sunshine - a perfect afternoon on the Lachine Canal.
It's hard to believe, but this is my sixth Coffeeneuring Challenge! Over the years, I've gravitated from visiting coffee shops to brewing my own coffee and tea in the great outdoors via Coffee Shop Without Walls option (with water views), to adding a lightweight chair to my expeditions. After becoming overwhelmed with too many self imposed prerequisites in 2017 that took some of the fun away, I've decided to simplify coffeeneuring in 2018. My theme is "history". I will coffeeneur at a historic spot (this region has so many!), learn something, or attend a historical event/presentation/talk and/or gather information from the Internet. I plan to mostly or strictly use a Stanley coffee press thermos that also doubles as a regular thermos (leave the press apparatus out for tea bags) instead of stove and pots. And I may or may not tote my camping chair. This less structured Coffee Shop Without Walls approach should be more enjoyable. 

Last weekend we went as a family to Montreal for two nights. Saturday was chilly, grey and blustery, though we managed to ride an interesting loop around the city. Sunday was more agreeable: the sun came out and it was slightly breezy and warmer! While my family had tired of bike riding, using the heavy BIXI bike share system where one must dock the bike every half hour, they went for a walk, while I set off for an hour with a thermos of tea, aboard my Dahon.

The lovely Lachine Canal Path historic site was the first place my husband and I rode in Montreal nearly 20 years ago. I have not returned since 2011, until now. It's as wonderful as I remember.

Remnants of the LaSalle Coke Crane.
The path meanders near the water, snakes around trees, by picnic tables, park benches, with interesting views of locks, through several parks - all supplied with historical signs. I'd love to return and ride the entire 13K length again, returning by way of the Lachine Rapids park along the Saint Lawrence River. There is ongoing construction this year (and perhaps also in 2019) to repair portions of crumbling canal walls.

The History:
The Lachine Canal was built to bypass the rapids at Lachine, upstream of Montreal. Freight and passengers destined for points past Lachine had to portage the 8 or 9 miles from Montreal's port to the village of Lachine where they could resume their trip by boat.The original canal was 14 kilometers long and had seven locks, each 30 meters long, 6 meters wide and 1.5 meters deep. The new canal officially opened in 1825, helping turn Montreal into a major port and eventually attracting industry to its banks, and populating the southwestern part of the city.

The Place: Lachine Canal, Montreal
Date: Sunday, October 14
Drink: Red Rose Tea
Observation:  It's wonderful to be back riding the Lachine Canal!
Total Miles: 6

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Get Over It - E-bikes are Here to Stay!

Whether to allow e-bikes on our Burlington Greenway has become a hot topic. Like the uproar of a few years ago concerning Segways, which eventually were allowed, the latest hoopla has already taken hold. The sheer numbers of rented e-bikes integrated onto an already busy path (busiest in Vermont) has brought the discussion to the forefront once again.

Mostly, a few vocal people are concerned with speed. E-bikes can go 20+ m.p.h. - the same speed that non-motorized racers zip by me! I stay clear of the discussions. preferring to let nature take it's course. The e-bike movement is backed by Local Motion and numerous bike shops who have been renting e-bikes all summer to tourists - the same folks I share the waterfront path with all summer - who as far as I can see are considerate path users.

And then there are e-scooters (I saw the coolest e-Razor scooter with a large deck and rear shopping crate) and e-skateboards that our teenagers use for transportation, both lacking public controversy probably overshadowed by the explosion of e-bikes nationwide.

Like the general consensus, I believe e-mobility is here to stay and users should be allowed equal access to segregated paths while practicing basic safety and be considerate of all path users.
Trying to regulate, monitor users with policing or ticketing only creates animosity to a growing population of people who benefit from a boost in mobility, especially folks who wouldn't be able to enjoy two wheels without it.

My son and I are looking forward to trying out a Rad Mini, one of the many electric bikes that Local Motion loan out to interested people, excited to ride on dirt trails. And while I'm not in the market for an electric bicycle, it's clear the e-revolution is here to stay.

Here in the Queen City, we used to have a bicycle delivery service that eventually succumbed to the automobile because of our hilly terrain. Who knows what'll happen with delivery services going forward? Perhaps we'll once again find packages delivered by bicycle...e-bicycle!