Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019 - Sixth Cup at Billado Park

New Places, New Spaces
The next stop on my Coffeeneuring in Colchester tour was Billado Park. Because the waterfront path conditions might be iffy because of wintry-like weather, I cruised instead down busy North Avenue (thankfully on a bike lane), over the Heineberg Bridge to where I could easily access the park. With temperatures in the mid-30sF the plan was to meander homeward later along the waterfront path to see if it was ice-free. 

The Place:  Billado Park
Date: Sunday, November 17
Drink: Trader Joe's Red Refresh tea
Observation:  I'm curious where the trails lead.
Total Miles: 15

I walked the last hundred yards to rest on the boardwalk overlooking the Winooski River.

It's a pretty spot and seemingly under-utilized - visible from a car, I rarely see anyone standing or fishing. Sipping hot tea, I noticed ice was forming along the water's edge. Nearby snowy footprints headed off in different directions into the woods. I made a mental note to check out more of the park later. It was still hunting season, also allowed in the woods nearby, connecting Halfmoon Cove wildlife management area with Billado Park. After becoming obsessed with finding access to Halfmoon Cove, I spotted it from a dead end Colchester neighborhood. The water way is much larger than I expected; would make a nice area to explore when frozen or covered with snow.

Overlook is currently under construction.
Lucky me! Looping back home I discovered that 35F and sunny feels like 50F! Trail was passable, so I enjoyed a quiet moment with the best water view in the world - I'm biased, of course - of Lake Champlain.

There is more precipitation in the forecast. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to finish with coffeeneuring next weekend.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

An Abrupt End to Autumn Commuting?

I set out for a reconnaissance at lunchtime to check bike path conditions.

It always takes me by surprise: the first snow storm, plummeting temperatures, a low pressure system that lingers for days. A depressive mood marks the end of safe, regular bike commutes.

The transition is difficult, especially in early to mid-November, to give up commuting to work. For the second year in a row I will struggle to complete the Coffeeneuring Challenge, but if I manage the final stop will be a special one, a culmination of sorts!

The double-whammy: the time change and weather patterns are occurring - much like last year - at the same time this November. Transition to navigating with lights, body rhythms in flux, all while adjusting mindset to taking the bus and/or driving more.

But though the shift has been abrupt, I'll walk more and set up indoor projects. I have mini panniers to finish for the Dahon, research to do on new handlebars for Miss Clementine, other sewing projects, cleaning closets, painting of rooms...

I'll get there, physically and emotionally, just a little earlier than I expected.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019 - Fifth Cup at Macrae Farm Park

New Places, New Spaces
The next stop on my Coffeeneuring in Colchester tour was my first exploration of Macrae Park bottom lands along the Winooski River. Macrae Farm is one of Colchester's largest parks. 

The Place:  Macrae Farm Park
Date: Sunday, November 10
Drink: Trader Joe's Red Refresh tea
Observation:  Lots of trails! Best utilized during winter?
Total Miles: 20

A one mile dirt road ends at the farm where a couple cars were parked on the side of the road. I pushed my bike around a barrier and over a bridge in need of repair. 

I sipped tea while enjoying the views of the river and farm. I like how remote this area feels yet close to neighborhoods and shopping. I'd once explored the upland trails but never along the river. 

 A convenient map for guide, I set off for a walk.

 A massive tree!

The woodland trail started off quite lovely. I saw beaver action: gnawed and felled saplings along with animal trails to river's edge. But as there was recent flooding (somewhat receding), I wasn't able to complete a loop and gingerly returned to my bike, skirting puddled portions of path. I'm anxious to explore the whole area, but I suspect it's best to return during winter, when footing is better, or with skis. With old farmland, I imagine ticks are a problem during summertime.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019 - Fourth Cup at Halfmoon Cove

New Places, New Spaces
Getting to know Colchester, Burlington's neighbor to the north, the next stop on my Coffeeneuring tour included the usual enjoyable ride on the waterfront path, a bit of single track to connect neighborhoods, then, leaving my bike behind, a short but steep descent to sip tea beside the swiftly flowing Winoooski River.

The Place:  Halfmoon Cove 
Date: Saturday, November 3
Drink: Uncommon Grounds ginger tea
Observation:  I didn't know there was river access, though I've passed this way several times.
Total Miles: 18

The river was still a bit high, but slowly receding from Halloween rains that dropped a whopping 3.7".

The real treat was discovering animal tracks on the river's edge. Later, I asked my husband and he said raccoons are known for washing their food before eating so they were probably raccoon prints. I was skeptical - he likes to make up explanations just to see if we believe him - but sure enough, he was right!

This is why I coffeeneur: to learn cool stuff like this.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Coffeeneuring 2019 - Third Cup at Malletts Bay Cemetery

Heading to the waterfront, peak foliage abounds. Across the lake, New York is also awash in autumnal glory.

New Places, New Spaces
Sticking with exploring neighboring Colchester, the next stop on my Coffeeneuring tour was Malletts Bay Cemetery, Approximately 10+ miles from home. During peak foliage too! I pedaled afterward to visit my mom before returning home, racking up 32 miles. Coffeeneuring for me is enjoying a cup of coffee/tea while setting a goal/theme to explore new places. The challenge pushes me to ride on weekends in addition to bike commuting - and this time of year - combating cold, darkness, and falling snow is another test altogether.

The Place:  Malletts Bay Cemetery
Date: Saturday, October 26
Drink: Uncommon Grounds house brew
Observation:  Coffeeneuring is much better during daylight!
Total Miles: 32

Filling up the thermos at Uncommon Ground, closing by the end of the year.
A bush brimming with pink berries. Any guess to it's name?

Waterfront trail colors. It was a slow ride towards Colchester...
Bridge over the Winooski River with golden trees ahead.

Looking upriver.
I lean my bike just inside the cemetery gate

Like many old cemeteries, marble stones have not weathered well. Inscriptions on many stones have been erased.
The older stones are in peaceful area at the back of the cemetery.

The front area overlooks Malletts Bay, beyond the highway.