Of Baseball, Bicycles and B-Towns

Two things have encompassed about 90% of my energy over the last two months – the house search and baseball.

After Doreen landed a job in town Montpelier, we decided to try to buy or build a house in Montpelier.  We would wait until Spring and then find something in time for our lease expiration in August.  Easy peasy!  Only not so easy – one of our top priorities is energy efficiency, whether achieved through a newly-built Passive House or an existing house that we can retrofit.  And we are finding that land is hard to come by (and expensive), and the houses are big and old (and expensive).  We’re having a hard time finding something that fits our needs.  It’s frustrating.  And the rest of the story is suited for it’s own post, sometime after we have had some success.

Outside of the house search, there is baseball.  I’ve taken up with a senior men’s baseball team, the Montpelier Monties of the Vermont Senior Baseball League.  Since the start of the season in May, I frame pretty much everything in terms of baseball. “I banged my knee!  I hope it doesn’t affect my game on Sunday!”  We only started winning games a couple of weeks ago, but it’s been a blast.  And this also deserves a post of it’s own.

So what has been happening with the remaining 10%?  Dribs and drabs mostly.  We went to the Black Fly Festival in Adamant at the end of May.  It was quirky, wholesome fun for the community.  Though not, I must say as an outsider, all that exciting.  Music was fine, food was not vegan, and we didn’t really know anybody.  But it was fun to check out the scene as it were.  Downtown Adamant was as packed to the gills as I suspect downtown Adamant ever gets!

At the end of June, we indulged Doreen’s passion for football (known colloquially as “soccer”) by taking a trip to Ottawa to see the US Women play China in the FIFA World Cup quarterfinal.  We were excited because Ottawa is drivable (about 4.5 hours from Montpelier), and my long-time best friend Brock would be able to drive over from Toronto (also about 4.5 hours from Ottawa) to see the game with us.  We left early enough to spend a few hours in town before the game, and luckily so. It took nearly two hours to cross the border, as there was tons of traffic heading to Montreal for another World Cup match that afternoon.  Then The Google took us through Montreal Friday afternoon traffic rather than the much faster southern route.  And then we were delayed another hour by an accident west of the city.  Our time cushion was completely used up, and we got to our seats just as the anthems finished.  But it was a great game, and we had splurged for front-row, so the action was right in front of us, though we were obstructed by the US team’s bench/shelter.  The next day we toured Ottawa for awhile, checking out Parliament and the surrounding neighborhood, before bidding Brock adieu and making the much-faster drive home.

Also at the end of May, we bought a new hybrid bike for Doreen, more suitable for Vermont’s substantial unpaved terrain than her road bike.  And we’ve been slowly exploring.  We took a ride on the Stowe Recreation Path, an 11-mile out-and-back with a gentle grade heading out.  The best part of this path is that it parallels Mountain Road most of the way and therefore it runs through the back yards of a bunch of bars.  We didn’t stop at any, but this could be a fun way to spend an afternoon.

Finally, last week was Doreen’s birthday and we spent a few days tooling around.  On her actual birthday we sandwiched a ride on the Burlington Bike Path between lunch at all-vegan Pingala Cafe and vegetarian restaurant Revolution Kitchen.  The bike path runs mostly along the shore of Lake Champlain and finishing on a three-mile causeway out into the lake in Colchester.  There is also a bike ferry operated by Local Motion that can carry riders to the islands for an even longer tour.  The whole trail is 14 miles one way, but we started a few miles in and only went a half-mile on the causeway for about a 14-mile ride.  We’d been to Pingala before, but this was the first time at Revolution, and it didn’t disappoint.  The double chocolate cake for dessert was a perfect cap for the day.

On Friday we took a trip to Manchester to do some shopping.  Clothing stores are hard to come by in Montpelier, particularly for men’s clothes, and though we prefer to shop local sometimes you have to make compromises.  From there we went to Bennington where we spent the night after dinner at Marigold Kitchen, a neat little pizza joint that serves pies with vegan cheese.  The owner also brought us some mango iced tea that he brewed himself, just because.

We were going to take another bike ride on Saturday morning, but we didn’t get moving early enough to make that happen. Instead we visited the Bennington Battle Monument, a 300-foot obelisk commemorating a key Revolutionary War battle.  It’s a beautiful spot, and incredibly quiet for a historic site.  The attendants were very friendly and informative, and the views from the observatory ($5 fee for adults) were spectacular, reaching into Massachusetts and New York.  Then it was off to Brattleboro on the other southern border of Vermont, where we had lunch at the vegan Superfresh! Organic Cafe.  We cruised downtown Brattleboro for a bit and found it offered a lot more neat shops and restaurants than we expected.  The highlight for Doreen was discovering Mystery on Main Street, an all-mystery book store that would be a regular haunt were it located in Montpelier.

Then it was back home, so I could get ready for my baseball game on Sunday…

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