Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Coffeeneuring 2018 - Seventh Cup for the Historical Win

Colchester Merino Mill, built in 1880, extended in 1902. Ice forms first above the falls (to the left in the photo).
Over Thanksgiving weekend I squeezed in the seventh coffeenuring outing, miraculously, because New England in general has plunged into wintry-like weather with regular snowfall. If I had tried brewing hot drinks on my camping stove, like previous challenges, finishing the event would have been a test of my will, and I daresay I would've given up due to frozen fingers!

Looking the other direction, I also admired the underbelly of the Winooski Bridge and Chace Cotton Mill on Burlington's riverbank  The previous bridge was washed out in the 1927 flood then rebuilt, though the disaster signaled the end of mill production as the buildings sustained heavy damage. The mills closed in the 1950s. Today, the bridge is slated to be rebuilt within the next decade to accommodate wider lanes and safer sidewalks and bike lanes.
But, toting a thermos opened up more possibilities for exploration and I often stopped at two historic venues, my theme during this year's challenge. The Woolen Mills in neighboring Winooski have always fascinated me. Most of the mills were constructed in the late 1800s for, er wool production of course, but during the cotton famine in 1860, some of the mills switched to producing cotton.

My bicycle started falling (captured here!) and toppled into the snow.
My personal connection with the mills is my maternal grandfather. I recall him saying that he worked in the power station. Culturally, the mills were significantly responsible for populating Winooski and Burlington with French Canadians and Irish, the population - especially young girls, apparently - were preferred to work in the mills.

Since 1980, the mill buildings have been restored into housing and business space. Perched over or near the Winooski River, there is ample park space to hang out, fish, investigate the fish ladder, or picnic, especially during the warmer months, where cascades drowns out bridge traffic.

Looking south on Burlington Greenway.
As the morning was rather blustery (a pattern on my coffeeneuring outings this fall) I had the freedom to quickly stow the thermos in my pannier and continue riding. The lake front draws me like no other place in Burlington, so I headed directly to Leddy Park Beach.

Looking north.
I knew the Burlington Greenway path was treacherous and as I crossed it - sure enough - there were icy surfaces in both directions.

The beach, however, was deserted - for good reason. 25 degrees and 20 mph winds means you really have to want to be at the lake shore! I was dressed for winter riding though and only had frozen fingers while taking pictures. Otherwise, I enjoyed the view while sipping more coffee, walked on frozen sand, and observed ice chunks at the water's edge.

It had been a week since I'd ridden a bike (insert slippery conditions) so the inaugural 2018 ride on my winter bike meant I could test tire pressure, use the new front rack, and generally assess pannier fit, of which everything worked out fine; just need to eventually install a mirror.

History of Leddy Park:
It is assumed that Abenaki frequented the beach prior to the 1770s. At the end of the 1800's the Roman Catholic Diocese granted land for access to the Rutland Railroad (today's bike path). In 1902 they sold more land to Consolidated Rendering Company (my husband recalls this place) later known as Corenco. In 1970, Burlington acquired the property by eminent domain. Park was originally named Wabanaki but was renamed in 1972 after Judge Bernard Leddy who was a Park Commissioner and crucial to acquiring the land for a park. 

Leddy Park is a gem, in my opinion, as it has an ice rink, tennis courts, ball fields, ample parking, access to a public beach, wooded trails, and of course direct link to the Burlington Greenway.

And just like that, I'm done with the coffeeneuring challenge. By the skin of my teeth!

The Place:  Woolen Mills & Leddy Park Lake View
Date: Saturday, November 24
Drink: Coffee (Equal Exchange though bean type is of unknown origin) in a thermos
Observation:  Originally wanted to visit the Causeway, but due to icy paths I sufficed with nearby Winooski Historic District then tacked on extra miles to visit the lake shore.
Total Miles: 12

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