Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Back to Houston

We had to get up early, so for once we were up by seven. John went out and got breakfast fixings, so we had a light breakfast of coffee and English muffins. We tried to eat sparingly, hoping to get one last good breakfast at Paul's before heading out.

After loading up the car, we went to the drugstore and made copies of a couple of the pictures Susan had taken of us the previous year. They were quite good ones and we made copies and put them in frames for Grandma. Then we had our second breakfast of the day at Paul's and went to the nursing home. At the home, we got to see a video of Grandma on the news in a special interest story about nursing home penpals for grade school students. Grandma looked so sweet on the tape! She was raised with money and has always known how to carry herself like a lady. I hated when we finally had to go, but we promised to be out in time for her birthday next year.

Then we drove up to Hartford, turned in the car and settled in at the airport to wait for our flight. They made us change terminals, causing us to have to go through security twice due to the layout of the airport, and once on the plane, we sat on the tarmac a good half hour waiting for storms to abate before we could take off. Luckily we were expecting a long layover in Cleveland anyway, so the delay taking off only shortened our layover. I felt sorry for anyone with a tight connecting time, though.

At the terminal in Cleveland our gate was unfortunately located across from a specialty coffee shop that served lattes and oatmeal cookies, which of course I couldn't resist. And Dan couldn't turn down the temptations of a Burger King down the hall, having been eating too well on this trip and needing a junk food fix, I guess. We were glad when we were allowed to board our flight. If we'd had to wait much longer we would've been too big to fit on the plane!

The flight home was uneventful, and it was good to get home and put things away where they belonged. Our animals were very relieved to see us, although the bunny put on a show of not really caring very much. Pixel stuck to us like glue though, and it was a few weeks before he figured it out that we were home for good. At least we're home for awhile, anyway.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

New Haven and More

We woke up at 8, but lazed around for an hour before finally getting out of bed and going to Paul's for a light breakfast. We ran a couple of errands and then went to see Grandma. At 12:30 we had lunch with her, but it wasn't as good, relatively speaking, as a few days before, and even Grandma was "disappointed" with the meal. Personally, I thought it would've been okay if they hadn't served jello for dessert. What happened to the chocolate cake? But we were there to see my grandmother, not for the food, and it was good to spend some time with her, since I sure can't get up to Connecticut every day.

After lunch we went to New Haven where we explored the Grove Street Cemetery, which we had seen briefly on previous visits but had never had time to explore properly. This time we spent a couple of hours reading the stones and wondering about the people who had lived in the area long ago, and even though it was pretty warm out in the sun, we had a good time. Then we walked over to the little café that has the oatmeal cookies and lattes I like, and strolled around the Yale campus and New Haven town green a bit before heading back toward Cheshire.

By now it was 4:00 and we figured if we hurried we'd have just enough time to do the easy trail at Sleeping Giant. The easy trail supposedly led to a stone tower, so we figured we'd go check that out. The trail was nice and wide, as well as rock-free, unlike the one we had climbed the previous days. There were some obnoxious teens at the tower, but they left soon after we got there and we had blissful quiet up there in the hills. The view was too hazy to get any good pictures, but otherwise it was a beautiful day.

Back home, we found John waiting for us, and he offered to take us out for seafood. We were good and hungry, and lingered over dinner a long time visiting. When we got home, Susan had just made it in after a long day at work, and we all chatted for awhile. But John and Susan needed their rest and Dan and I still had to pack, so we called it a night, even though it was nearly midnight before I finally was able to get to bed, after trying to pack as much as I reasonably could.

Monday, June 10, 2002

A Bit of Hiking

We had breakfast at Paul's where Dan had the biggest omelet I had ever seen-- I told him it must be a dozen eggs, at least! Then we went to see Grandma, where we took her outside to enjoy the sunshine. I caught her a butterfly and she tried to get us to stay for lunch but after that omelet, there was just no way Dan was going to be hungry again before midnight! So we promised to have lunch with her the next day and went to run a few errands and change into hiking gear.

My aunt had given us directions to Sleeping Giant State Park, telling us we'd find some good trails there. So of course we immediately took off on the toughest trail they had, not realizing that it would actually involve some rock climbing. The 2.8 mile trail seemed to go on forever, but it was fun and we had taken granola bars and plenty of water. Since it was getting late by the time we reached the end of the trail, we took an easier 2.2 mile trail back to the car, but still arrived home exhausted.

Uncle John arrived soon after we got home, and I visited with him while Dan napped. He had been in Geneva the previous summer when we had visited, and we had a lot of catching up to do. When Susan got home, I fixed myself up a bit and we all headed out for dinner. We visited for a long time after dinner, and back at home Susan gave us a lot of good advice as to things to do the next day. We were all tired though and turned in early.
At Sleeping Giant Park Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 09, 2002

A Lazy Day

We woke up later than planned and headed out to hike some of the trails around the lake. At first we were just hoping to find a beaver dam, but it turned into an extended trail hike as we became progressively more lost and confused trying to follow little red flags and tree markings through the underbrush. We had no idea where the markings were leading us, and we hadn't taken food or water with us, so I became very hungry and was glad when we finally found ourselves back on a main trail and we could head back to the house.

Since I was starving, I brewed a pot of coffee and made some raisin waffles, which we ate on the porch in the sunshine. Then we went out in the canoe to see if we could find the heron we'd seen the previous summer. Surprisingly, we did find it, but of course it flew off across the lake and in spite of our efforts to track it, we never did find it again.

Back at home, we toyed with the idea of driving up to the Shaker village about an hour to the north, but decided to just relax for the afternoon instead. Dan settled in on the sofa with a book and I did laundry and worked on a jigsaw puzzle I had found in one of the rooms, putting it together on the same table that had held my grandfather's puzzles in his Cape Cod house when I was a little girl.

When Dan woke up we had a late lunch of leftovers from the night before with strawberries for dessert. Then we packed up and headed back to Cheshire.

By the time we got home we were hungry again so we picked up a pizza and salad and had dinner and read the New York Times at the kitchen table. My aunt and uncle were due back that night, so after dinner we settled in to watch Star Wars and wait for their arrival. The movie ended though, and Dan had gone to bed and I had almost gone to bed too, when they finally came in. They were tired, and after visiting briefly, we all went to bed.
In the woods Posted by Hello
More woods to get lost in! Posted by Hello
A cove Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 08, 2002

To the Berkshires

We slept in until 9 with the cat snuggled in with us. Having a cat in the bed made us feel right at home!

We scurried around, throwing weekend essentials into smaller bags to take up to the lake house, then headed to Paul's restaurant for breakfast, then on to the nursing home to see Grandma.

Grandma was asleep when we got there but we woke her up and she was glad to see us. We gave her the book of Lexington pictures we had bought last year and she was very interested in it, even seeming to recognize some of the places in it. Then she insisted we stay for lunch. Of course we weren't at all hungry, having just eaten breakfast, but Grandma wasn't taking no for an answer, so we asked the nursing staff for reduced portions and went to the dining room. The food was pretty decent, for a nursing home. It was certainly no worse than anything students eat in college. The dessert-- chocolate cake-- was particularly good, although I can't imagine how they could've screwed it up.

After lunch we took Grandma back to her room for a nap, then picked up a few groceries for the lake house and headed north, toward the Berkshires. We got off track briefly in a little town with some of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen, but got straightened out again and soon were in Tolland, MA, where we were surprised to find that it was Black Fly Day and a small festival was going on. While we were pondering the meaning of Black Fly Day and trying to get a better look at the alpaca in the town square, we missed our turn and had to double back. After that though, we found the house with no trouble and let ourselves in.

After we unloaded our bags, we suited up for a run and ran twice around the lake, then took one of Aunt Susan's canoes out on the water for awhile. Tired after that, we had melon and ginger ale on the back patio and watched the local wildlife before going in and relaxing for a bit with our new books.

That evening we went to the New Boston Inn for dinner. The dining room was packed, so we had to wait in the pub for awhile, where we talked to a transplant from El Paso and watched the CNN news ticker. It had been so long since I had read any news that it was kind of nice to get caught up again on what was going on in the world.

We finally got a table and settled in for a very fine meal. There was enough food left over that we had it boxed up with a dinner salad for lunch the next day. After a dessert of blueberry streusel, we went upstairs to see if we could find any ghosts, since the inn is quite famously haunted. Dan felt very certain that there was something in the pool room, but I felt nothing. Later though, when I went into the bathroom something creeped me out so bad that I didn't dare look in the mirror and I nearly panicked when I had trouble getting the bathroom door to open. It was probably my imagination, but I sure wasn't chancing looking in that mirror and it was a relief to get back downstairs and out to the car.

Back at the house, we went for a little walk by flashlight, then hung out on the back porch watching the stars. Then I called home to check on the pets and found that Pixel, my antisocial cat who hates everyone, had taken a shine to my father. Poor little guy was lonely, I guess. Finally it was bedtime, and after a shower (quick so as not to run out of hot water), I went to bed.
Canoeing on the lake Posted by Hello

Friday, June 07, 2002

"Home" to Cheshire

We got up at 7:00, and since we were already packed, we had turned in our key and were on the road by 8:00. It was a little bit sad, leaving our cottage. We aren't planning to go back next year, so it will be awhile before we see it again. The cottage is quite a find, and I hope it will continue to be available for a long time to come.

On the way out, we stopped at the Brewster General Store for some coffee and pastries for the road. Then we stopped at Peterson's Grocery for a cheap Styrofoam cooler for the groceries we had bought earlier in the week. As we were putting the groceries and ice into our new cooler, it began raining, making it an unpleasantly damp operation.

Finally though, we were headed off the Cape. Trying to take a shortcut to New Bedford, we got lost for a little while, but found our way back and didn't lose much time. We got into town at 11:00, parked and got our bearings. First we went to the famous Seamen's Bethel, where I read the citographs on the walls, sat in Herman Melville's pew, and tried to see the ghost Dan was certain he felt was on the upper balcony looking down at us. Dan has been correct about these sorts of things often enough that I smiled and waved to the spot he indicated, but didn't actually see or feel anything.

Next we went to the New Bedford Whaling Museum, a very fine museum full of artifacts from the history of New England whaling. Just as at the Cape Cod Natural History Museum and in Provincetown, there were noisy schoolchildren running around, but by making judicious tour choices, we were able to avoid being in the same room with them most of the time. I can't vouch for anyone else's experience, but I can't really enjoy a museum if there's a lot of noise and running about.

After buying a few items in the museum gift shop, we got back on the road, Dan drinking the last of his Vermont root beers and me eating the blueberries we had bought on the Cape. We got to Mystic around 2:00 and even though it wasn't cheap and our time was limited, we decided to check out Mystic Seaport. What fun! They've managed to recreate a 19th century whaling village, and you can go see actual ropes, sails, and ships being made. It was really quite an experience, and well worth every penny, even with the now-obligatory schoolchildren running around shrieking.

Just as the museum was closing, I happened upon a swan and her cygnets paddling around near a few boats tied up at dock. I watched them for awhile, before we headed into town for dinner. We went to Bombay Spice, one of the nicest Indian restaurants I've ever eaten at. Their saag paneer is good and spicy, and they serve a delicious tandoori seafood. After dinner, we walked over to Bank Square Books, my favorite bookstore in the world. I don't know who their buyer is, but he or she must be my psychic twin because I can never go in that place without wanting to buy them out and make them my personal library. Instead, I settled for two books. We were getting pretty weighted down with books, anyway by this point in the trip.

By now we were eager to be done traveling, so after getting some strong coffee and a big oatmeal cookie to fortify ourselves, we got back on the road and headed up to Cheshire. We got to my aunt and uncle's house around 8:30, where we found a grateful cat waiting to be let in. Thankful to be in a house again, we started our laundry and unpacked a bit. Finally settled with stacks of good books (and more for the asking all around us), clothes humming in the washer and a cat rubbing against our feet, we felt like we were home at last.
Ships at Mysic Seaport Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Pirates and Whales!

We got up at 7:30 and headed straight to Harwich Port to catch the ferry For some inexplicable reason, Dan tried a different route than the one we had used the day, and we were briefly lost, but we got to the ferry in plenty of time anyway. Once there, we discovered that the price was $43 per person-- much higher than the ferries in Hyannis, which charge $27. When Dan had called about ferry hours, he had neglected to ask prices. We considered going anyway, but $86 for the two of us seemed pretty steep, just to get to the island and back and not accounting for any spending we might do while there. So we got back in the car and headed toward Hyannis. On the way though, we changed our minds about the whole adventure. It seemed like a hassle, and we both hate Hyannis. So we went to the Brewster General Store for coffee, pastries and a little reflection. After some consideration, we decided to go whale watching out of Provincetown instead.

In Provincetown, we found parking and walked to the wharf. There was a Dolphin Fleet boat scheduled to go out at 12:30, so we bought tickets and then tried to decide what to do for an hour while we waited. At the end of the pier was a pirate museum containing treasure from the pirate ship Whydah. This seemed like a good bet, so we went and checked it out. The exhibits were interesting and there was a lot of information on the recovery and restoration of the ship's artifacts.

After we toured the museum (it was rather small), we still had a little time, so we went into town and got some coffee. We sat outside and watched people go by, which is usually a lot of fun in Provincetown, but for whatever reason, several schools had decided to take their students on a field trip that day, and there were pre-teens running around everywhere. We were glad enough to finally get on the boat at noon and settle in. As we boarded, we were warned that the seas were rough, and we were advised to help ourselves to the free Dramamine at the snack counter. I considered it, but have never been prone to seasickness and decided I didn't want to take anything that might make me sleepy.

Dan and I settled ourselves on a bench on deck, sheltered from the rain a bit. I thought at first that I'd be able to tolerate the wind and cold, but about 20 minutes out, I decided that until we came within sight of whales, there was no point in freezing, so I went inside. A few minutes later, Dan followed me in. He was just in time, because no sooner had he settled in beside me at the front of the heated cabin, when a huge wave crashed over the side of the boat, dousing everyone on the bench we had been sitting on just moments earlier. After we had been out for maybe 45 minutes, we saw a finback whale. Dan went outside to see it, but I stayed in and tried to get a few pictures of it. Then we didn't see anything else for a long time. A few people caught sight of some spouts in the distance, but we were unable to catch up with any actual whales, leading the guide to believe that we had seen the spouts of right whales, which are notoriously shy and can dive for hours.

Finally after nearly three hours on the water, we came upon a humpback that stayed by the boat long enough to surface several times so we could see it. The last time, it did a complete dive, raising its fluke into the air as it did so. It was so unexpected and beautiful that I didn't want to ruin the moment by fussing with my camera, so unfortunately I didn't get a picture of it.

After that, we headed back to port. We were a long way out, and it took about an hour. The seas were a little calmer now, since we were no longer moving against the wind and tides, but it was too late for a lot of people to avoid being sick. I had never seen so much seasickness before-- people everywhere were hunched over paper bags, if they could get one open in time. A custodian with a mop took care of the ones who didn't have bags. The seas were really rough that day though, with waves going completely over the bow at some points, so I wasn't put off by it all. Dan and I later learned that the boat that had gone out before us had hit a hard wave around noon, and 18 people were injured, 3 with broken bones. Luckily, nothing so dramatic happened to us, although there were a few fools who stood outside without holding onto anything and got knocked around a bit.

Back on shore, we decided that a snack was in order, so we headed into town. We went to the Lobster Pot, where I warmed up with a delicious lobster chowder and cup of tea. Then we walked around a bit, browsing the shops and taking in the street scene. It was after 5:00 by now though, and a lot of places were closing.

We headed back toward home and checked out three of the beaches in the area known as the Brewster Flats. Then, since no evening would be complete for Dan without a sunset at Corporation, we went to his favorite beach for one last look from the jetty. Then we headed over to Brax for dinner, where the dark dining room made me feel inexplicably as if I were back on the whale watching boat. If I closed my eyes, I thought I could actually feel the room sway.

After a nice dinner of salmon (I was tired of local fish by this point), we headed home, getting in just before a thunderstorm hit. Cozy in our cottage, we turned in early after packing a bit, to minimize work the next day.
A pier in Provincetown Posted by Hello
Brewster Flats Posted by Hello
A gull on the Brewster Flats Posted by Hello
At Corporation Beach Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Lighthouses Galore!

The day was overcast and windy, and we overslept until 8:30. Unsure what to do with the day, we dressed and went for breakfast at Grumpy's, where I had an oatmeal waffle and Dan had eggs and cornmeal pancakes. The service at Grumpy's always lives up to its name, but the food is too good to pass up.

We had been thinking of going to Nantucket for the day, but we called the ferry in Harwich Port and found they had already left. So instead, we decided on a day of general Cape sightseeing, and went first to the New England Fire Museum in Brewster. Their collection of old hand and horse drawn fire pumps was fascinating, and they even had an old fire station switching board from the 1920s.

Next we considered the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, but the fleet of school buses outside made us reconsider. Instead we went to Chatham, where we found to our chagrin that both of the museums we wanted to see had not yet opened for the season. We went into town to regroup, stopping at our favorite candy store so Dan could pick up some white chocolate-covered pretzels. Then we got some postcards across the street and picked up some coffee to go. By this point we had decided that the Nauset Light should be our next stop, so we headed toward Eastham for some lighthouse-viewing.

We reached the Nauset Light via one of the entrances to the Cape Cod National Seashore. It's a cute little lighthouse, much smaller than one would expect. I had hoped there would be a lighthouse keeper and we could go up inside, but no such luck. We looked around the beach for a bit, but the strong winds that day made it unpleasant to be outside for very long.

Continuing up the Cape, we stopped next at the Marconi Station. Here, we ran into a tour bus of elderly people. They were very nice, but also very slow on the narrow windy trails around the remains of the station and the various observation points.

Next we went to the Highland Light, the day suddenly having turned into a tour of Cape Cod lighthouses. This time, we could actually go up into the lighthouse, so we climbed the winding stairs to the top, where we had a great view of the surrounding beaches and marshes. There was an annoying woman up there who insisted on reading every wall plaque in a very loud voice to her son, as if her 10 year old boy were both deaf and illiterate. To his credit, the kid seemed as annoyed as we were. On our way out, we stopped at the gift shop, which was actually one of the better ones I found on the Cape. They had a lot of nice gifts there, not kitschy, but still the kinds of things one might take home to friends and family as mementoes. The old man behind the counter seemed easily confused and had to mutter to himself as he worked, but he managed to give out correct change and bag the correct items in spite of himself, so it was okay.

We headed back out into the cool, blustery weather and debated continuing up to Provincetown to see the lighthouses there. Dan was ready for a few beaches though, so we turned back toward the Mid-Cape. After trying unsuccessfully to find a road to the defunct Stage Harbor Light (we later found that there wasn't one), we decided to try to find some of the beaches I remembered from childhood. First we located Cold Storage beach, only to find that it had become a private beach. We spent a few minutes checking out the boats at dock, and then headed on. Next we went to Chapin, which I remembered as being always windy and full of biting green flies, but with stunning dunes. The road to Chapin was (unbelievably) exactly as I remembered it, down to the very restaurants and apartments along the way. If someone had replaced all the late-model vehicles with early '70s vintage, I would've thought I was six years old again and wondered where Grandpa was. Fortunately though, one thing had changed-- no nasty biting flies at the beach. The dunes were still high and deep though, and the wind blew constantly. I walked a good way down the beach, picking up a few odds and ends, including a dried out baby crab, bleached white by the sun. I found and claimed a grassy tidal peninsula, climbed a few dunes and examined some beached horseshoe crabs.

By now, Dan was ready to catch a sunset at his favorite Corporation Beach, so we headed over there for a cloudy, rather undramatic sunset. Dan's calf was hurting from the race a few days earlier, so while he sat on the rocks and watched the clouds turn pink, I went for a walk along the beach, marveling at how much more seaweed there seemed to be than when I was a child. The seaweed was as much as three and four feet deep in some places, and while I remembered Corporation as always being rather slimy with seaweed, I didn't remember there ever being quite so much of it.

When I got back to where Dan was, it was 8:15 and the tide was nearly in. We watched the tide for awhile, until I reminded him that restaurants close early on the Cape. We headed over to Oliver's for dinner. I had some haddock, rice and vegetables, topped off with key lime pie and coffee. Then we went home, took showers, and settled in to enjoy our new books. We turned in early so we could get up early and go to Nantucket. It was still windy out, and as we turned out the light, we could hear the tree branches scraping against our windows. I was tired though, and it didn't prevent me from sleeping at all.
Nauset Light Posted by Hello
Cape Cod seashore Posted by Hello
Site of the old Marconi Station Posted by Hello
Highland Light Posted by Hello
Inside the Highland Lighthouse Posted by Hello
Dunes at Chapin Beach Posted by Hello
My very own peninsula! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

Cape Cod Rail Trail

We had breakfast in our cottage, praising ourselves for our virtue in avoiding all the cool little breakfast places nearby. Then we geared up for a bike ride and headed off around 10:00 to rent bikes for the day and ride the Cape Cod Rail Trail. At the bike rental shop, we were able to rent a backpack, which was very helpful for carrying snacks and my contact lens supplies. Dan took off on his bike over the deep gravel of the parking lot like it was nothing, but my bike was a little too big for me, had been left in a high gear, and in the deep gravel I fell off immediately, giving myself some truly stunning bruises. After making a few adjustments to the bike and getting onto a harder surface though, things went better. It was a beautiful sunny day to be out riding, and we followed the trails into some of the local towns, past cranberry bogs and ponds, and had a great time. We got amazingly hungry though, after four hours of riding, and since the food we had brought with us was long since gone, we stopped at a little store for Cliff Bars and cookies, and Dan found a teenager with a Bianchi bike (Dan rides a Bianchi back home), and they had a long chat about bikes.

We returned the bikes around 3:30, by which time my knee that I injured in spinning class last winter, was giving me a little trouble. We went back to the cottage, changed into street clothes and walked up to the library to check our email. Chaos had not ensued at my office without me there (shocking!), and all seemed more or less right with the world. We headed back home, stopping for hot tea at the Brewster General Store. Once home, we weighed our options and decided to see if we could catch a few stores open in Chatham. So we went to Chatham, where I tried once again to get a small shirt featuring the White Cat of Chatham. Just like last year though, they had no small shirts, or even large ones in children's sizes. None with the white cat, anyway. So I had to content myself with a cap. After that we went to my favorite Cape bookstore-- Yellow Umbrella Books, where I found a nice book on Cape Cod: The Enduring Shore, and Dan picked up a copy of Stove By a Whale, which is the sequel to Heart of the Sea.

After a quick walk on the beach, we decided that a lobster dinner was in order and went to The Lobster Claw, taking our host's advice that the touristy places were the best ones for lobster. The food was good, but I had forgotten what a barbaric hassle it is to get to the good stuff on a lobster. There's something about ripping apart a whole animal that makes vegetarianism seem so much more civilized.

After dinner, I was still craving sweets from our bike ride earlier in the day, so we stopped at a store where I bought some Pepperidge Farm cookies, which I had with vanilla soy milk back at the cottage. Taking a shower afterwards, I realized that my arms and shoulders were slightly sunburned from the ride. I knew I should've worn sunscreen!
Seymour Pond  Posted by Hello
Taking a break at Seymour Pond Posted by Hello

Monday, June 03, 2002

To Cape Cod

We were up early, since we had a lot of driving to do to make it from south-central Vermont to the Mid-Cape. We had done some packing the night before, and now we finished stuffing things into suitcases as we got dressed and ready for breakfast. I had some of Kay's whole-oat oatmeal and watched chipmunks and finches at the feeders outside the dining room window. Dan and Kay talked about cats, and Kay related the story of a cat she once had who hid in the trunk of a guest's car and wasn't discovered until the guests arrived at the Canadian border. After lunch, I bought a big jar of apple cider jelly and a few bottles of locally made root beer from Kay, and got directions to some horse stables for a morning ride.

It took about twenty minutes to get to the stables, where we had a pleasant, if slightly boring ride on trails through the woods. We had hoped to see a bit more wildlife, but the guides were chatty. We didn't mind too much though, it being such a pretty morning to be out riding.

After our ride, it was time to head for Cape Cod, so after mailing out a few postcards, we headed south. It took about four hours to reach the Cape, and once we got to Dennis, we stopped for an obligatory snack at Captain Frosty's, a favorite from my childhood summers on the Cape. Then we headed up the road to Brewster and our cottage. After we got all our bags upstairs, Dan laid down on the bed for a nap. I was stiff from sitting in the car for four hours, and went for a walk. I stopped first at the Brewster General Store and uncharacteristically bought a ginger ale. What can I say? When I was a kid, my grandparents on the Cape were the only family members who ever had ginger ale, and it's strongly linked in my mind with Cape Cod summers. Feeling happy and nostalgic, I continued up the road to the Brewster Ladies Library, where I hoped to check my email, but it turned out that the library is closed on Mondays. This wasn't the kind of day that one cared too much about having to change plans though, so I continued walking, enjoying the houses and antique shops along the old King's Highway, until I came upon a tiny pond with a small dock perfect for just one person. The whole thing was obviously a public park of some kind, and small enough that I could've put it in my pocket and taken it home with me. I hung out there for awhile, enjoying being alone for the first time in days. It was getting late though, so I went back to the cottage, not wanting Dan to worry about me.

That night we went to Corporation Beach to watch the sun set. I found some great shells and rocks, retrieving them at some risk to ankles and other joints and limbs, over the rocks of the jetty. Once it was nearly dark, we went for dinner to Christine's in West Dennis. The crab cakes and remoulade were delicious as always, and I had a nice swordfish steak as well. On the way home, we stopped at the 24 hour Super Stop and Shop (a travesty, in my opinion, but too useful to avoid), and picked up some goodies for our refrigerator, and some portable food for our bike ride the next day. Once home, Dan turned the TV on for a little while, but that didn't last long and we soon went to bed. It was early by our standards-- only midnight--- but by Cape standards, we were quite the night owls!
Our cottage on Cape Cod Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 02, 2002

Covered Bridges Half Marathon

Race day! We got up early, wrapped and taped our assorted injuries, geared up and went downstairs for breakfast. We were glad to see that the promised cold front hadn't moved in yet, so we dressed in shorts, but stuffed some warmer gear into our bag just to be sure. I had a light breakfast-- just one cup of coffee, oatmeal and a little fruit. Dan, however, went for eggs and chorizo, making me wonder if trouble was in store for him later on, since it's generally a bad idea to eat heavy before a run.

We found the new parking area for the race, and hurried through a slight drizzle to the bus that would take us to the start area at Suicide Six ski area. We had over an hour to kill, so after we picked up our timing chips and race numbers, we hung out, watching the sky and debating whether the front was moving in and we should therefore dress for rain and cold, or whether things would clear and we should prepare for warm, sunny weather. Noticing that the clouds seemed to be clearing, we decided that the race would be warm and went sleeveless. With that decision made, we checked our bag, drank some water and did a little warm-up and stretching.

The race started late, 10:15. This was 15 minutes later than scheduled and several hours later than any Houston race would ever start. I easily kept to the goal pace I had set for myself for the first half of the race, but later began to feel my lack of training. I had pulled a tendon in my knee in April and missed my last month of training. On flat roads, the undertraining was almost inconsequential, but I sure felt it on the Vermont hills after mile six. I tried to just be glad my knee wasn't bothering me, and planned to pick up my pace after the infamous hill at mile 8. I walked the Mile 8 Mountain, along with nearly everyone else, but I lost nearly 2 minutes off my pace on that hill and couldn't summon the energy I needed to make up for it. At mile 10, I started noticing a little pain in my knee where I had been injured in April, so I contented myself with simply maintaining my pace until the last mile. It was too late to make my goal time, but I was still about 5 minutes faster than the year before, so I had to be satisfied with that.

During the last mile, the promised front began to move in. There was a little rain, but it quickly stopped, unlike the year before, when we got caught in a downpour. The temperatures, however, quickly dropped to around 60. This was great for running, but a bit chilly for wandering around the post-race area afterwards.

After I crossed the mats and got my chip removed, I picked up my shirt and bottle of water, and went to wait for Dan. He wasn't very far behind me, and I ran him in part of the way. Then we both made the rounds of the food tents, where I inhaled four rather large chocolate chip cookies without even trying. Dan wasn’t limping as much as I had expected he would, considering all the trouble his plantar fasciitis has given him in the past year, and he seemed in pretty good shape for a guy who had barely trained at all. He conservatively ate a bagel while I was involved with the cookies, and I admired his resolve.

Since the lines at the massage tent were unbelievably long for a race with only 2000 people, we decided to skip the free massages and caught the next bus back to the parking area. The previous year, everyone had parked in the post-race area, leading to huge traffic jams trying to leave. This year with parking accessible only via bus ride, things were much better. With only a single bus-load of people to contend with for parking lot egress, we were back on the road in no time. On the way back, we picked up some ice for Dan's plantar fasciitis, and debated whether we should go horseback riding that afternoon. I thought hiking the Brownsville trail up Mt. Ascutney would be more fun, but once we got back to the inn, showered, dressed, and had some tea and puff pastries set out by our hostess, we lost all interest in going out again any time soon and took a nap instead.

After we got up, we had more tea and perused some magazines in the parlor. Then we left for Hanover, NH, for Indian food. I had a delicious tandoori swordfish. After dinner, we went for a walk around the Dartmouth campus. We talked, as we had on other trips to New England, about moving to the region, and for some reason this year the idea didn't sound as impossible as it had on other occasions, although I still don't like the idea of living someplace that gets cold in the winter. We decided to suspend all judgment though, until we could make a winter trip to the area to see what it was really like.

We drove back to Brownsville, and once again sat outside and looked at the stars. It was colder than I generally like, but it was a clear night, and it seemed as if every star in the universe was right there in Kay's front yard.
Waiting for the race to start Posted by Hello
Considering our dining options at the Millbrook Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 01, 2002

Morgan Horse Farm

We had breakfast at 8:30 in Kay's dining room. As always, she set out a hearty and varied meal, but I limited myself to oatmeal, fruit and café con leche. Dining with us were some Aztec dancers, in town for the pow-wow.

We had picked up some brochures the previous day about a Morgan horse farm, and decided to go check it out. Kay warned us that it was pretty far away, but gave us a map and recommended a route anyway. It did indeed take awhile to get to the farm, not including our stop at the New England Maple Museum to use the restroom and buy a few maple products for friends.

Finally, we arrived in Weybridge and found our way to the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. What fun! The horses were beautiful, as were the facilities. We were given a full tour and history of the farm, and Dan's ears pricked up when they mentioned internships. He's never quite gotten over his experiences working with Peruvian Paseos in the mountains of New Mexico, and he spent a few hours talking about what fun it would be to become a certified horse trainer. After a couple of hours of tours and browsing, I bought myself a souvenir coffee mug and we headed back south after briefly considering, then rejecting, a notion to continue up to Burlington. Next time, perhaps.

Back in Brownsville, we decided to check out Ascutney State Park -- something we had read about while trapped in the car by the previous afternoon's rain. We drove up to the viewing area, and then decided to hike up to the summit-- about a mile. The trail was easy for the most part, with a few stretches of rock near the top. At the summit was a viewing tower, as well as some communication towers and a plaque marking the "official" top of the mountain. Driving back down the mountain a little later, we noticed a couple we had seen at the summit. The man put out his thumb as if he were hitchhiking. We thought he was kidding around, but stopped anyway. It turned out that he wasn't joking at all. He and his wife were tired from having hiked from the base of the mountain and needed a ride back to their car, three miles down steep switchbacks. So we told them to hop in, and the man, who was from one of the nearby towns, kept up a steady chatter while his Bucharest-born wife smiled and rested. It took us ten minutes to reach the road at the base of the mountain, and another five to get them back to the lot where they had left their car, so if we hadn't happened along, they would've been hiking a long time, much of it in the dark, since the sun was setting. The man seemed unconcerned about this though, even though the sun was already setting. He said he had figured things would work out, and sure enough, they did.

We got back to the B&B hungry and tired, and had some tea and snacks. Then we took a little nap until 7 when we were awakened by the sound of the TV. The Aztecs' children were watching a movie and although they were being quiet, it definitely broke the rustic mood of the place. We had no plans to hang around anyway though, so we got dressed and went out for dinner. We found a place where we could get big bowls of pasta and salad, and indulged in some pre-race carbo-loading.

Then we headed back to the inn, seeing a fox at the same place as the night before. Once home, we sat outside and watched the stars again, but no Ecuadorians came looking for directions this time.
UVM Morgan Horse Farm Posted by Hello
Morgan mare and foal Posted by Hello
Another Morgan Posted by Hello