We had grand plans for this year, Glenlivet and me. A month before our April departure it became obvious that Covid-19 was not going to be a flash in the pan. With a background in behavioral epidemiology – and travel restrictions cropping up across the nation – we elected to put off our grand adventure for a year. Instead, we did local rides in Vermont’s very rural Northeast Kingdom. Social distancing was easy in a land where you might see three or four cars in an hour.
It wasn’t all fun and games, however. The Honeydew List was epic and being retired I was able to make a serious dent in the chores. Portions of the house were sanded to bare wood and repainted. Three enormous pines behind the house were dropped, chopped, and eventually rendered into ash in a huge burn pile. (This afforded us a very nice view of our upper pasture.) The last of our sheep were sent off to the butcher and the fencing removed. Using large boulders I created a small terrace to level an area behind the house. A new chicken coop was installed along with a dozen new chicks. Damaged or diseased trees were culled from our woods, and a nice trail was carved which ought to be an awesome snowshoe trail come winter.
But we did manage to get the sidecar out at least weekly.
This far north we don’t get the crush of tourists that other parts of the state experience. With no hotels and just a few small diners we lack the infrastructure city dwellers prefer, so it really wasn’t difficult to avoid crowds. Quite simply, there weren’t any, and the forms of recreation we enjoy are the type during which you rarely meet another person. Add to that the fact that our governor followed the science, enacted travel restrictions and public health guidelines which were largely followed by Vermonters, so we were largely spared the effects of the pandemic in those early months.
After ten years of traveling with my dogs, I sensed that my wife might be interested in finding a pastime that we could share. Surrounded by small lakes, we started kayaking together. Eligo Lake came first, as it is scenic and sheltered from the wind. Two miles long, by taking a lap we could get in a four mile paddle. Sometimes we would paddle side by side chatting. Other times we would go our separate ways, each angling toward points of personal interest. I liked the steep and rocky eastern shore; she liked the shallow northern section where turtles often sunned on logs.
And of course Glenlivet loves water, so we often stopped for a dip on our sidecar training rides.
Foliage was incredible this year, though early morning fog often interfered with my attempts to capture it in photos. Thirty miles south of us the town of Stowe would be gridlocked by leaf peeping tourists stopping in the middle of roads to take photos of leaves, but here the roads (especially the unpaved roads) would be devoid of traffic…and the foliage spectacular!
With winter’s arrival our focus switched to other activities like sledding down our hill or snowshoeing in the woods. Getting outside in the fresh air keeps me from developing cabin fever while letting the dogs run off excess energy. Well, mostly Glenlivet as the older dogs no longer have the stamina of youth.
Winter is also my time to go over the bikes, making sure they are clean and ready for next year’s adventures. The wheel hub on our sidecar is failing yet again, so it’s back in pieces. At this point I might just have a replacement hub made using tapered bearings. Though it would require more work up front, adjustments could be made at the side of the road with simple tools.