Maren

Glorious Vermont

6/14/22

Wow. This state is indeed incredible.

I spent the most of the daylight hours exploring the small town of Brattleboro (population 12,000) with its historic buildings, cute pocket parks and old-time common, incredible green-mountain views, and one of the largest grocery co-ops I’ve visited, despite the size of the town.

After I had spent some time “downtown,” I decided to do some hiking in the forested trails right on the edge of town. (Literally within a couple blocks of my hosts’ house.) I had noticed that there was a castle-looking thing peeking through the trees near the top of a hill, so I made it a mission to go and see it up close. It felt enchanting.

Then it was time to begin heading to the train station, so I made my way back past a picturesque reservoir near a solar-paneled red barn, and bade a fond farewell to my Warmshowers hosts.

I headed down the hill to one of the most diminutive Amtrak stations I’ve seen, enjoying the green views along the way. Boarding the train with the rig was once again a bit tricky—the taciturn conductor muttered “this shouldn’t be allowed on board” as he helped me to heft it up the stairs—but the train itself was rather empty, which felt luxurious after all the packed Northeast Corridor trains I’ve taken recently. And the evening-light views out the window were once again spectacular.

I arrived in Essex Junction, about ten miles east of Burlington (no Amtrak station in Burlington) at about 8:30 pm, and biked the easy half mile to my new hosts’ home. Tomorrow I will make my way in to the fabled Burlington!

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Goodbye Massachusetts, hello Vermont!

6/13/22

Today was a travel day, but a very relaxed one since the train ride took less than two hours. I spent a leisurely morning in Springfield, chatting with my host Ben and then heading out to enjoy Forest Park a bit more.

I also checked out a vegan restaurant in town, Garden of Eat’n, and then visited a natural-foods store called Bumpy’s, where I met the gregarious Bumpy himself! He even took a video on his phone of me with my bike.

On the way to the train station in the afternoon, I stopped at the Dr. Seuss sculpture garden, which my friend Judy (who hosted me early in my trip, in Corvallis, Oregon, with her partner Jeffrey) had brought to my attention yesterday. I had had no idea that Theodor Geisel was born in Springfield. The sculpture garden was whimsical and fun.

And the train ride was pleasant, although once again it was a bit of a challenge lugging the trailer on and off, and at one point, even down the narrow aisle of the coach car. Fortunately, a generous fellow passenger as well as a really cool conductor helped me with it all.

When I disembarked, my Warmshowers host Alice was waiting for me on the platform… with her Brompton! (It’s amazing how many Bromptons I have been encountering lately.) I wish I had thought to take a photo: hers is a bright pink and blue color scheme, which I had definitely never seen before!

Her household is recently vegan, and we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal of a fresh asparagus tart from locally grown asparagus. She and her husband and daughter were all interesting folks, although we didn’t have much time to talk. The daughter, Olivia, has just completed a German degree at Brown University, and my sister and her partner—whom I know will be reading this—will be tickled to know that she is heading to Freiburg for a couple of weeks this summer, to teach English in a summer program.

Small world.

Tomorrow afternoon I plan to board the same train northbound. Destination not certain yet; it will depend where I can find lodging, either in Montpelier, Waterbury, Essex Junction, or Burlington. (Know anyone??)

But first, I plan to explore Brattleboro, checking out the co-op (where Alice’s husband Greg works) and some local parks.

Vermont is beautiful so far!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Beautiful ride to Mount Holyoke

6/12/22

Well, the clouds were out pretty much all day, but the forecasted rain never did materialize.

So, I took the opportunity to bike about 15 miles north of Springfield, up to my maternal grandmother’s alma mater, Mount Holyoke College. It was a gorgeous, classic New England campus, and it felt pretty cool to be there nearly 100 years after she started there in 1926. The school was already nearly 100 years old by that point, having been founded in 1837.

The ride to and from the school was also beautiful. Before leaving Springfield, I encountered a really cool-looking “tube” bridge across the railroad tracks. I was excited to cross it. Sadly, once I got close I discovered that the elevator was out of service. It was a bummer to have to fold the bike and carry it up several flights of stairs, but I thanked my lucky stars that 1) I didn’t have the trailer with me, and 2) I was on a bike, and not in a wheelchair.

After crossing that bridge, I saw a number of industrial and scenic buildings and bridges.

Returning from the college several hours later, I passed some extra-cool-looking, desolate railroad tracks, and felt compelled to capture them. Shortly afterward, as I arrived back into town, I passed the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The unique building caught my eye.

As I neared my hosts’ house and reached Forest Park, I was captivated by the black benches ringed by trees in the dusky light, so I sat and enjoyed that ambience for a while.

When I returned to the house, there was another guest—a friend of theirs—on the porch, so we all sat and enjoyed dinner together over good conversation, as the daylight dimmed.

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Brattleboro, on my first-ever visit to Vermont!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Goodbye to Boston, hello to Springfield

6/11/22

Yesterday was my last full day in the Boston area, and I spent it mostly in and around Brookline, enjoying leisurely time in natural spaces around the Chestnut Hill Reservoir, then at old-time Boston vegan restaurant institution Grasshopper (vegan tempura!) and then back to Arne’s place in Newton. I got my fill of beautiful leafy trees and waterways in Boston, especially yesterday.

This morning, I said goodbye again to Arne and the cats (that’s Buddy on the bed) and headed downtown to the venerable South Station, where I caught my train to Springfield. The ride was relatively uneventful, if pleasant, and I dozed a bit. When I disembarked, a man standing at the platform greeted me and asked about my bike. We ended up chatting for at least half an hour about my journey as well as his own summertime nomad-like voyages around the US. He likes to travel in a variety of low-impact ways, meeting up with friends and environmental activists around the country. Very cool!

I then followed Google Maps’ directions from the station to the home of my new hosts, Julie and Ben, who are awesome. They live right near the large Forest Park; Google sent me on a dirt path through the woods there to reach them, which was actually pretty cool.

We had a dinner of homemade tacos and margaritas on their wonderful front porch, with some friends of theirs. The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, the ‘70s/’80s “soundtrack” made me feel right at home, and the conversation was good.

Tomorrow the forecast calls for rain, so I’m not sure whether I’ll make the 15-or-so-mile trek up to the Mt. Holyoke College campus, where my grandmother received her bachelor’s degree in economics in 1930, nearly 100 years ago.

This place feels good. I’ll see how things unfold.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Boston Common, and a remarkable cyclist

6/9/22

Today started out with pouring rain. The forecast showed that it would continue most of the day, so I planned to stay indoors mostly, and maybe venture out to a museum or two.

But by late morning, it had cleared up, and as the day unfolded, the sun came out and no more rain fell!

So I took the opportunity to spend some quality time in Boston Common, which had been my original intention for the day.

Once again, I enjoyed the architecture on the way to and from the park. While at the park, the lighting conditions changed considerably over the course of the few hours I was there, as you can see. It was pretty cool.

In the early evening, I made my way back to Diane’s place and packed up the rig to continue on to the place of my new Servas host, Farah.

On the way, though, I noticed something remarkable: a cyclist in the bike lane ahead of me on the busy thoroughfare of Columbus Avenue was picking up trash as he rode. He had one of those long picker-upper sticks that people carry sometimes to clean sidewalks. He held the gadget in his right hand, and picked up pieces of debris that ranged in size from a cigarette butt to a crumpled paper fast-food meal bag. He would deposit the trash in his front basket. All of this without breaking his stride, in the bike lane on a busy street! (It was all I could do to manage myself on that street.) At times he would reach back and put the gadget into some sort of holder that was attached to the back of his bike. But then after maybe half a block or so, he’d see more trash, and take it out again. I even saw him reach it partway under a car at one point.

Wow. Kudos to you, sir! The world needs more people like you.

I arrived at Farah’s place just in time to share a delicious and healthy meal she had prepared, while we talked about travel and such. It’s a short stay here—just one night—so I’ll be on my way around noon tomorrow. Tomorrow will be my last night in Boston, before I head west in Massachusetts to Springfield.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Back in to Boston, and a cool meetup

6/8/22

Today I went back and forth a couple of times between Newton, where my Warmshowers host Arne is, and through Brookline to South Boston, where my new Warmshowers host Diane is. This took me through many beautiful leafy areas along the Charles River Bike Path, and also on some very busy, and honestly sometimes scary, city streets.

In the middle of all this, I had the good fortune to meet up with a local transportation planner at Boston University. I had seen Carl Larson’s name many times over the years in Portland, mostly in the comments section of the wonderful bikeportland.org blog. But as I recently learned, he had been a fixture in the local bike advocacy community there between about 2006 and 2016, working for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (now called the Street Trust) and later, the Biketown bicycle-sharing company.

He moved back to Boston a few years ago to be closer to family, and now he works in Transportation Demand Management (TDM, to transportation nerds like me) at Boston University.

He kindly took an hour out of his busy day to meet up with me and talk transportation while we walked around Brookline near his BU office. (But first, as I stashed my bike in the office, he showed me his own Brompton, which he purchased ten years ago at the same Portland shop, Clever Cycles, where I got mine!)

During our walk we passed a ghost bike, which he explained was the grim impetus for the reluctant university decision makers to finally partner with the city—after years of grassroots advocacy by local cyclists—to install a physically separated bike lane along the auto-heavy Commonwealth Avenue. (He also told me that Commonwealth used to be one of the largest auto-dealership strips in the Boston area, in the first half of the twentieth century, so the site of his TDM office there, and all the nearby bike infrastructure, were somewhat ironic and poignant.)

We also walked past a mural depicting a vibrant historic street scene including a streetcar, as well as the house where John F. Kennedy was born.

After we parted ways, I biked back to Newton to say goodbye to Arne and the cats, and then headed back along the bike path, and then Commonwealth, to Diane’s place. We stashed my rig at her apartment, and then walked to dinner at a nearby restaurant, sharing stories about bike touring and our various magical Warmshowers experiences.

I admired the architecture along the way.

Tomorrow I hope to spend some time outside, especially back in Boston Common, but there is rain forecast for most of the day—and even some thunderstorms—so we’ll see what ends up unfolding.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

Back to Boston on the train

6/6/22

Today was a beautiful day in New England. I spent some of it biking to the train station in Portland, then a good chunk on the train (we encountered an hour-and-a-half delay waiting for a freight train) and then another lovely time bicycling to my new Warmshowers host’s place in Newton.

After arriving back in Boston’s North Station, I biked over to the Boston branch of the Life Alive café, for another Green Goddess bowl which I enjoyed al fresco. Then I went to relax in Boston Common for about half an hour. It’s such a beautiful and calm greenspace in the middle of the city.

After that, the bike path took me almost directly from Boston Common to my host Arne’s place, again along the Charles River. It was a picturesque way to spend the evening.

When I arrived, I met Arne’s two adorable black polydactyl cats, as well as his Brompton. (I keep running into Brompton folks on this journey, which is so much fun!)

Tomorrow I’ll meet up with a friend for lunch in nearby Waltham, and then explore the area a bit more. I always enjoy visiting Boston.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

More of the Maine coast

6/5/22

What a great day! Warm and sunny and beautiful.

I met up with a new friend, Hans, at Deering Oaks Park in the late morning. We walked to a nearby doughnut shop (which bakes their wares with Maine potatoes!) to get a sweet treat, before setting out on some sightseeing adventures.

He took me to Two Lights, a lighthouse beach. Similar to Perkins Cove, I could not get over the geology of Maine’s coastal rocks, which look like petrified wood (or, truthfully, the old-timey Flake candy bars I remember from my childhood in Australia). The lighthouse was wonderfully scenic, too.

Afterward we went to a different nearby beach, with similar beautiful views of the ocean and clouds.

Arriving back into Portland, after a cool long chat about life, travels, and the like, I enjoyed walking through the nearby neighborhood, passing a beautiful church and spending some time sitting in a colorful plaza. (A man walked up to me there to ask about the Brompton; he, too, has considered buying one for himself.)

I topped off the day with a decadent dinner at an all-vegetarian restaurant, the Green Elephant, before bicycling back to my host Beka’s place before it got too chilly.

I’ve enjoyed my brief time in Maine. Tomorrow, I’ll hop back on the Amtrak Downeaster train to return to Boston for a few more days.

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

An impromptu bike tour of the “other Portland”

6/4/22

I made it to the other Portland today! I said goodbye to my Westbrook host Mary this morning, and hopped on my bike to ride the 6.3 miles to my new Warmshowers host, Beka. She showed me around briefly and then headed back to work, and I headed out to see if I could catch the tail end of the nearby Saturday farmers’ market, at her suggestion.

As soon as I arrived at the market, what should I see but a bright yellow Brompton! I struck up a conversation with its owner, a longtime Mainer named Reggie, and he offered to give me a bike tour of the town.

So we did! He had a few errands to run, including stopping at his favorite local bike shop to order new tires, and then pausing at his community garden plot to drop off his farmers’ market plant acquisitions.

Then we headed down along the waterfront and into the quaint downtown area. Along the way, we followed a paved rail trail that crossed a working narrow-gauge tourist railroad. The train passed right in front of us, which was fun.

Eventually he dropped me at the Portland Food Co-op, where I picked up a few items and then began cycling back to Beka’s place, because the afternoon was growing a bit chilly for my taste. I went back past the picturesque Deering Oaks Park, where the farmers’ market had been.

Beka and I talked touring (she has done a lot of it, including Europe, and had some great stories) and life in general, which I always enjoy doing with my hosts.

Tomorrow I’ll meet up with another local Portland cyclist who is up to some cool things in the world. Temps should hit 73, and I’m ready for it!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

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Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)

On to Westbrook, Maine

6/3/22

Today was an interesting, varied day. It was raining pretty hard when Gail and I woke up in Sanford, and we spent the morning lounging around with her two adorable orange kitties, Candy and Ted. Gail made a delicious vegan pasta primavera for lunch, and then while the rain was paused, we loaded up my rig into her car and headed out toward Westbrook, where I’m staying tonight with my friend-of-friend (and Warmshowers) hosts John and Mary, and their son James. It rained for much of the drive, so I was very grateful to not be navigating those 30ish miles on the bike.

When we arrived, I met two more adorable cats: Zizi (pictured) and Gemma (not pictured, because she is an older and more reticent floof). Zizi is two years old, and full of energy and curiosity. She jumped right up onto my lap, and also made fast friends with my hydration pack, which served as a sort of amusement park ride for her.

This was prescient, because when John arrived home and we biked out to get dinner at a nearby Thai place—meeting up with Mary there—I learned that Westbrook was having a festival this weekend, right near the restaurant. Actually, John was supposed to have been performing music there, but unfortunately that performance had been canceled due to the rain.

Still, after dinner we walked through the festival/carnival, including the main band that were still performing, a ‘70s/disco cover band. It was kind of fun for me to unexpectedly find myself in a nighttime carnival, having just recently visited Coney Island during the day, when the rides were dormant.

After we walked through the festival, Mary walked home while John gave me a short nighttime guided tour of Westbrook’s river bike path. We saw some old mills, new office buildings, a cool sculpture (not pictured) and a really cool waterfall.

I never know what will unfold on any given day. This was cool.

Tomorrow: Portland!

Do you have your own dream or project, and would like some support or collaborative brainstorming about it? Use the green “contact” button above to schedule a one-hour phone or video call with me!

Want to be notified of future blog posts? Use the green “sign up” button to subscribe!

Want to support my vision financially? I am in the process of manifesting $50,000 in lieu of a “salary” for the year of this journey. You can make a one-time or monthly contribution, or even become a Fairy Godfunder! (Heartfelt thanks to all my patrons and supporters!)