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Oct 16 2012

Kingdom Trails 2012

For a second time Andrea and I have wrapped our cycling season up with a trip to the Kingdom Trails in Vermont. That, coupled with a trip to Pisgah to kickstart the season for a second time… I think it was a great way to open and close the season. Not that we didn’t ride before or after, just that they make nice bookends for a seasonal plan.

We headed out on Thurs. with a plan to camp across the border. A mistake on my part had the camping right and our border crossing right, just not linked up. So rather than backtrack to get to place I’d picked for us to camp we pressed on to a motel we’d been to last year. Clean, reasonable and a waffle maker for a breakfast treat.

Babe had been making some new noises on the way, something I thought I’d begun hearing on the past couple of camping trips. It was noticeably worse and I tried to find out what was going on but didn’t see what was causing it. When we had internet access at the motel I sent out some queries to fellow Vanagonauts to see what it might be and where I might find help checking it out. And I got some great suggestions and helpful offers. No surprise there, it’s a great community. One of the many suggestions was for a couple of mechanics near Burlington VT who are good with old VWs and I arranged to drop in at one. Nick spent a minute listening and found the problem, had it fixed in minutes. We spent more time talking about what it is to travel in a VW camper, what owning an old VW is all about, and nice places to be in Vermont. It was also a PIF moment as Andrea wanted to be sure they knew how much we appreciated their willingness to make time for travellers on the road means. I’m sure they will be just as helpful to the next volks to come by in need. We were back on the road with no real delay, next stop was Montpellier.

Some shopping, a little time being tourists, and a trip through the food co-op. We were set for our trip, and more relaxed now that the camper problem was sorted out. From there it was another short drive to East Burke.

The colours were great, just past their prime with some bare trees and lots of leaves on the ground to ride through. We were told that it had rained for much of the week before and so we expected the trails to be muddy. They were. Not as bad as we expected for the most part.

We got 4 days of riding in, each around 20 KM and all of them different. A few trails repeated, mostly because we like them enough to include them twice even when we didn’t need to. We also included trails we hadn’t ridden before… coming down the mountain on the various “moose” trails was a highlight. We rode Dead Moose Alley until we found out it was closed. We then took a detour to get to Moose Alley (and got in early and had a bog-in to get there… wet feet for the rest of the day).

From there on it was a blast! Lots of down, mostly not soaked, and a little sunshine to make the day even sweeter. All good, too short.

We then headed toward Smugglers Notch, intending to camp there for a night and meet up with Evan (another Vanagon owner) to pick up an EGT sender and gauge. The weather at Mt Mansfield discouraged us from camping there for the night so we headed on to Burlington where we had lunch and did a little shopping before meeting up with Evan.

We all got there about the same time and enjoyed a great Mexican meal. The new gauge is in place already, I haven’t gotten the sender installed yet though. One error on my part was forgetting my raincoat on the back of my chair at the restaurant… by the time I realized it we had an hour lost finding a place to turn around, collect my jacket and get back to where we were. As a result we just got across the NY border around 10pm and rather than pressing on we got a motel room for the second time on this trip. It was a good call, not a great motel but it made the drive the next day more reasonable.

Back in Toronto ahead of schedule, feeling the effort of the week, smiling. Life is good.

And then back to work… Andrea had us attending the 113th anniversary of ATU 113 on Saturday, then she had a MTB race on Sunday while I was covering the 2012 TOCX for PedalMag.

It was a great interlude while it lasted!
Unlike previous years I didn’t use any of my SLR camera gear even though I had it all with me… all of the photos from this trip were taken on my iPhone. Here are a few, I will try to add a few of the panoramic shots in a separate post.

Autumn in Vermont

Babe made some friends there too

At Heaven’s Bench

Six tasty treats

Campfires, a camper, and some sunshine… life is good

Inside, with a warm sleeping bag

Smugglers Notch

The EGT gauge is in, no room for oreos or espressos any more

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