18.09.22 — Travel

An Intense Day in Burlington

Before I get into the intense day, I should quickly mention the party that we attended the evening before. We’d all been invited over to Megans parents’ place to help out with preparations for Scott’s leaving do, as he was then off to Croatia to begin a new job the day after – quite the change!

Megan and I were tasked with “shucking” some fresh sheaves of corn, which just turned out to involve peeling off the inedible husk. We then set about designing the cheese platters, which turned into a competition as we fought it out to create the best designs between the cheeses, crackers, grapes, and the lovely wooden boards themselves.

Everyone then began to arrive and the party got underway, with plenty of drinks and a BBQ served buffet style. I got chatting to Megan’s family and friends and we all had a good laugh, during which I was particularly happy to be called a charmer by Megan’s great aunt!

After one of my personal favourite moments of the night – the dessert buffet – people began to head out as the night wore on. I said goodbye to Scott and me and Megan headed back home to save up some energy for the next day: our intense day around Burlington.

It was a lovely and relaxing evening before what was to come the next day…

On the way to the ball game a couple of days prior, Megan had told Breen, Aaron, and Scott of our plans to cycle down the causeway in Burlington. Breen and Scott had laughed our plans off, saying that it was going to be way too hot and that we’d wind up way too tired to do it.

Megan and I didn’t exactly rush out of bed and by the time we did the weather was already hotting up, but we decided that we had to attempt this bike ride, even if it was just to spite Breen and Scott. So, and without further ado, we packed some supplies into a backpack, grabbed the bikes from the garage, and headed out on our journey.

The first stop was at a pharmacy near Megan’s house, where we grabbed some energy drinks and bars for the journey. After noting that the mudguard on Megan’s bike had come loose, we then wound up having to MacGyver a solution with some electrical tape that we also grabbed in the pharmacy. I should note here that the pharmacies in the US are wild – they have everything that a normal supermarket in Europe would have!

Our botched job worked quite well as we powered on down the streets and to our next stop, the farmer’s market. We parked our bikes against a barn which we then headed inside in order to check out an antiques market. It was pretty hot and sweaty inside, but I did really like some of the stuff on offer like some old Vermont registration plates and road signs.

From there, we moved on to the open area of the market which was jam packed with tonnes of stalls. I grabbed a fresh ginger beer and we wandered around for a bit, resisting such temptations as nepalese dumplings but then caving to another in the form of some peanut butter cookies filled with maple syrup (of course) cream. A pretty wild combination!

We then carried on to the bay to merge onto the bike path that lead to the causeway, where I found my “base pace” (a saying that Megan taught me from her gym). We carried on for a good while, passing under a high bridge and a residential neighbourhood where the bike path deviated from the edge of the lake for a while.

It was a gorgeous day and a beautiful trail, but the heat was a fearsome opponent.

Along the way to the causeway, we stopped at a lookout spot over the lake to rest, and then at a cool bridge so that I could take a few photos and catch my breath. We then stopped at a little park for a toilet break and to refill our empty water bottles – it was now over 30°C and we were getting pretty exhausted!

After this last stop, we powered on until a dodgy gear change left the chain hanging off my bike. With a bit of teamwork and some sturdy sticks we soon had it back on, and then pushed ahead to reach our destination: the causeway.

This jetty of curved land connects mainland Vermont with one of the islands in Lake Champlain, so we cycled out about halfway and then stopped in the shade for a while. We took in the views over the water on either side as we munched on the snacks we’d bought earlier, including the wild and very sweet peanut butter and maple syrup fusion cookies.

We then began the long journey back, which soon became a pretty intense challenge as the afternoon heat combined with our exhaustion. A good few rest stops later and after throwing what was left of our water over ourselves, we concluded that we couldn’t manage the rest of the cycle all the way home. We decide we’d stop in the bay, tie up the bikes, and grab a taxi back to Megan’s place.

We tied the bikes up outside an ice cream parlour in the bay and grabbed ourselves some soft serve “creemees” – maple syrup flavour, of course. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten an ice cream so fast in my life – I desperately needed some sugar and something cold!

Megan then looked for a taxi, but the cheapest one for the five minute journey was over $23. We thus – perhaps foolishly – decided to carry on and try to push ourselves to cycle the final uphill stretch back home.

The journey began with optimism, but then the slow incline of a seemingly endless road started to really get at me and I began to lag as Megan steamed ahead. I was motivated to carry on by some light rain that began to cool me off and by Megan, who was cheering for me to carry on as she waited next to some traffic lights.

The rain became torrential as we turned off this long road and onto a steep uphill section. It felt pretty amazing, and I took off my cap to allow myself of the soaked to the skin. The killer came with the second section of this incline, where the road got steeper and the rain became properly violent, but we pushed on and eventually made it to the final stretch back home.

You can’t appreciate it in the photo but the rain really was something else.

Now finally back home, we parked up the bikes, dumped or stuff on top of the car, and ran to the pool where we jumped in fully clothed. We were on cloud nine, laughing and splashing in the relief that the cold water brought us!

We then headed inside, where we dried off and went for a nap. I was supposed to be up at 7pm, but I slept for an extra hour – I think I deserved it after the slog of a 32km (20 mile) journey that we’d done in 32°C heat! I then finally showered and headed downstairs where Breen, Aaron, Malory, Martín, Megan, and Ryan were already having some drinks in the kitchen.

I fixed myself a gin and tonic with earnest, and our evening of drinks moved to the back porch, where we played a competitive game of beer pong and then some card games. These worked a treat to get us all merrily on our way (except for the designated drivers, of course), and we headed out to Burlington to carry on our evening.

As I’d been to watch the softball game and met the team, I was greeted with a chorus of “Ollie!” as I entered the bar where we were going for our first drink – turns out the team was also there! We had a quick drink and then left for a place called “Lamp Shop”, where the roof was choc full of retro lamps that were connected up to flash in time with the music. As those who know me and of my obsession with lights can imagine, I loved it in there.

As much as I loved the decor, the music wasn’t really my jam, and so we wound up moving to yet another bar. Here it was karaoke night, so it was time for me and Breen to take the mic once again and show the Vermonters how it’s done!

In the end we didn’t have chance to sing as we’d arrived late and our requests never came up before lights on at 2am, but we had a blast dancing, singing, and chatting. I was giving it my all and signing with the best of them though, so at one point the woman leading the karaoke handed me the microphone so that me and Malory could really go for it!

With the lights on at this rather divey but very fun bar, those of us who’d stuck the out until the end then went to grab a kebab to end the night. After a good wait for our greasy goods, they went down an absolute treat and then I was given a lift back to Megan’s place.

And so ended a rather wild and intense day, but one of the best I’ve had in a while. We’d really given it our all: we’d cycled hard, we’d napped hard, and then we’d partied hard! As you can well imagine, I then slept like an absolute log and was ready for our next adventure, but more on that in the next post…