Tuesday, August 3, 2010

It’s All About the Journey

What began as a conversation about a day trip turned into a weekend adventure to Burlington Vermont and the shores of Lake Champlain. I went to bed on Friday and awoke Saturday morning to discover my inbox contained a MapSource route and hotel reservation. Our only requirement was to pack our bags and show up at the meet point. Both we accomplished in record time.

Lee had spent half the night devising the route, and put Deb to finding rooms, which we later learned must have been a feat of magic considering the town was sold out due to the activities taking place there this particular weekend. The trip unfolded in surprise after surprise and while the destination gave us pleasure, it was the journey the left the spine tingling.

The long way anywhere is an adventure all its own, and even quiet familiar spots are a joy when shared with friends. Early in the ride we stop to enjoy the Contoocook River, the Covered Railroad Bridge and appreciate the beautiful day unfolding around us.

We wiggle our way northwesterly enjoying long comfortable sweeps along rivers and breathing in deeply the beauty of Mascoma Lake in Enfield New Hampshire. We pass through Lebanon, over the Connecticut River and into Vermont. It isn’t long before Quechee Gorge is below us and we creep across above to enjoy the view and the dizzying height. As the miles fall away beneath our tires, we enjoy Vermont’s quiet and peaceful byways.

As we approach Hancock, Lee informs us we will have a decision to make. At a fork in the road, we will decide route 125 through the Green Mountain National Forest, or along route 17 through a portion of Camels Hump State Park. I’ve never traveled either, so I have no strong opinion either way. However as we get closer to the fork, the signs are warning us of road construction along 125, and in speaking to other bikers, are warned away from this path. So on to 17 we point our fenders via route 100; written about often in motorcycle touring magazines as the best route in the country for motorcycling. Just before the assent, Lee stops the bikes and say.

“Now this road is fun. Do NOT follow me. And enjoy!”

Now Lee typically speaks this way and I give it little thought. To me is means he just wants to scrape pegs the way a puppy can’t help but romp. The three of us watch him disappear into the turns and we know he will be waiting for us at the end. After the first few twists, I am well aware THIS is no ordinary stretch of road. We come to a stop at the top, where Lee is indeed waiting. My jaw is hanging in how I had misjudged his simple comment “this road is fun.” This road is full of twists and switchbacks and 180 degree turns. I step away from Blaze and try to photograph what we will “enjoy” on the way down. What I really need is an aerial view for photos to be really appreciated.

Route 17 proves to be a sweet surprise I little expected, yet so enjoyed, it didn’t seem odd to me that at the bottom, the GPS tries to route me back the way I came.

As the day turns to evening we pull into Burlington with the view of magnificent Lake Champlain in the distance and the sun’s rays dancing on the waters. Our next gift from the gods, is to arrive at the height of Champlain Valley Folk Festival in full swing at Waterfront Park. We watch as the sun decends on this moment in time and we stand in reverence to the immensity of natures beauty, yet humbled that we in our insignificance, have been chosen to witness the final curtain call this day.


Richard said...

I love rt17 and your blog reminds me that I haven't ridden it in years. Last time was on my Katana at speeds way in excess of what could be considered sensible or safe. I've seen a good many crashes on that road. Your sunset shots are spectacular. It must have been a nice weekend. Give our regards to Lee and Deb. Very nice couple. Say hey to Andy and we hope to see you both in Stowe.

PatnWilton said...

Rich, Unfortunately, we did see a bike down that day. The sunset photos were taken by Lee, but at my direction as I had forgotten the camera at the hotel. Thank you Lee for the great route and the photos too.