Monday, October 31, 2011

Oct. 30th - Killing it at Killington.

We were treated to a hardy breakfast of tunna pannkaken (spelling?) or thin Norwegian pancakes which were delicious. After breakfast we packed up the car and headed into the mountains for some snowboarding.
Yep, we were able to ride atop Killington Mountain today, none of that slush rail hiking stuff for us. The day was a blast, only a couple runs at the very top of the mountain were open but the sides were still soft and there was enough little bumps to fool around on and a little rail park as well. This was Jena's first time on a mountain and although the conditions were pretty similar to some of what we see in the Midwest our last run was almost an entirely fresh powder ride down to the base.
 After riding we returned to John and Leah's where we made some Lasagna for everybody and hung out for the evening.

Oct. 29th - Vermont

We had a great drive down Highway 91 enjoying fog rolling through the mountain valleys and in between small towns.  Along the way to Leah (Morgan’s cousin) and her family’s home in Brownsville we missed an exit. Since we didn’t realize we missed it until about 15 miles past, we turned to our atlas and quickly found a new route on the side roads instead of just turning around. Our detour led us through many small towns affected by hurricane Irene a few months ago. We had heard of the damage but had no idea just how bad it had hit. There were entire trees stuck in dams. And when I say tree, I don’t mean the skinny wimpy tree seen planted in a tree farm fifteen years ago. I mean a huge hundred and fifty year old tree with deeply grooved bark that no lumberjack would even attempt to take down. Along with that there were bridges down or in disrepair, houses completely off-kilter, and the rushing rivers had pushed sediment from the bottom of the river onto roads and people's yards.

After our impromptu exploration of the region we arrived to Leah and John’s quaint house, which is situated outside of Brownsville along rolling country roads. (Luckily their house is on a small hill so the house had no damage during the hurricane but a small creek in their front yard did cause some flooding to their garage/studio.) They and their two children - Owen and Anika, their two dogs - Cody and Tessa, and their bunnies, welcomed us and soon after we were trying on Halloween costumes for a Halloween party going on that night at a friend’s house.  Soon we had our costumes picked out and headed on over to the party for delicious food, fresh pressed apple cider, Vermont beer, and good times. The party throwers showed us their very unique and awesome way of making cider that included a bicycle and a car jack(pictures below). We were amused throughout the night by their nice friends and in particular, a young boy who was marketing himself for snow removal to the local neighbors. Morgan asked him what he was saving up for. He replied "Gasoline". Morgan then said “No like a big purchase, like for yourself”. We were expecting to hear Xbox or something like that. Instead, he replies “a backhoe, so that I can remove snow from driveways quicker”.  If only I had those kind of hard working ideals… 
By the time we were ready to head back to Leah and John’s the snow had left a good couple inches sticking to the ground. We made it safely back through the dense snowfall and continued to chat back at their home. After Owen showed us all of his Halloween rings(one for each finger and toe) and buttons he had won at the school party, it was time for bed.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Pages.

We just added a couple new things and there are more to come soon. If you look right below our logo you will now see a horizontal list of pages titled: Home - About Us. - What We're Reading and you can click on those and they will send you to those pages so you can see what else we are up to.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Oct. 28th - Old City Snow.

 After we awoke at a rest stop on the A40 highway in Quebec we drove into Quebec City and spent most of the day there biking and walking around the old fortified city and the Plains of Abraham (while flurries were beginning - our first snowfall of the season). The Plains of Abraham was a pivotal battle in the Seven Year War between France and Britain over the rights to Canada. The battlefield was a large piece of farmland owned by Abraham Martin, hence the name of the battle, which overlooked the St. Lawrence Seaway. The British were able to hold off the French and their tenacity there led to the British takeover of most of Eastern North America.

We were able to park on the south side of the battlefield and bike through it and over into the fortified city of Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec). Due to the width and age of the streets we quickly locked up our bikes and set off on foot to check out this unique, quite European city and the surrounding fortifications.
The Old City was quite unique with small twisting streets and buildings stacked next to and on top of eachother with exquisite stone work and blinding metal roofs (the bright ones were new aluminum not the tin of old). We were able to see two beautiful churches the most interesting being the Notre-Dame Basilica-Cathedral of Quebec with its intricate gold work and stained-glass. The sounds of footsteps dominated the Cathedral as we and others looked around which only added to the intensity of being inside something so ornate.
 As we finished up our tour of the city we remounted our bikes and headed back to the car. We were quickly side-tracked by a cool looking path which wound us even more into the depths of the Plains of Abraham. This ride was awesome. We were flying down gravel paths overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, rolling through leaves and mud soaking in as much of the outdoors as we could before cooking ramen in a school parking lot (only a couple weird looks).
Then we were back on the road and headed towards Vermont. Instead of taking the major highways we opted for the scenic route which wound us westward into the sun, along the river all the way to Trois-Rivieres where night began. We pushed South, crossing the border around 7:30pm. We ended the night at a rest stop with a nice talk with Jena's mom and our Mangolandia friends Jax and Caye.
We awoke this morning to frosted grass and a beautiful view of fog pushing its way out of a valley. We thought that heading south would mean warmer temperatures but as of this morning there is a snow storm on the forecast with more winter advisories for tonight. Luckily we brought our snowboards so snow actually sounds nice.
 So far, we have no plans and no costumes for Halloween. Would it be creepy to hand out candy to children from the comfort of our unconventional home?

*A couple notes on driving/parking in Canada, primarily Quebec because Ontario wasn't much different than the USA. First off, one thing we found interesting is stoplights are different shapes. Red square=stop, green circle=go, and yellow triangle= yield. A blinking green light means you have the right away (not many turn arrows here). Secondly, once you're in Quebec know your small French words, especially days of the week because the parking signs are only in French and they have weird daily no-parking times. Thirdly, they don't give you nearly the same amount of warning before roads exit (1-2 km in most cases) so don't get caught in the far lane. All-in-all our time in Canada was filled with wonderful scenic views and was immensely enjoyable.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Oct. 27th - Meandering through Montreal.

We made our way into Montreal today around 10am and were welcomed with lots of traffic. Luckily we are not on a time schedule, so moving slowly didn't bother us as much as it did many others on the road going to work, school, or to who knows where. We were entertained by some drivers who swerved in and out of lanes trying to find the quickest route, but really having no luck and being stuck in the muck along with the rest of us.
Once we got into the city we found a parking spot in the Westmount area right near a bike path. So we popped our bikes off the top of the car and peddled towards the city center. Our first stop was to listen to a large group protesting union busters at McGill University. The protesters sparked our interest so we joined in their march, which led us to the Occupy Montreal Camp. The camp contained hundreds of tents within Victoria Square, which is right downtown shadowed by the new stock-exchange tower. The camp even has a communal kitchen set up and solar panels supplying electricity. It was interesting to see how the business people working in the fancy tall buildings surrounding the square interacted or didn't interact with the protesters. There were many business people standing outside those skyscrapers having their quick cigarette breaks, staring at the protesters, thinking who knows what. By the looks on their faces it wasn't anything pleasant or supportive and one man walking by on his cellphone even muttered "Just some kids complaining about not having enough money" to whomever he was speaking to on the other end.

After our quick view into what was going on with the protests we continued on our bike ride and checked out a little more of the city. We had heard that there was an underground mall spreading a total of 33km below the city. We were curious. The word 'mall' scared us, but we had to see what an underground mall looked like. It actually looked just like any other mall, but we could not believe its ability to just keep going. After going around numerous corners to see that they just led to section after section of this underground shopping center we decided we had seen enough and got on our bikes again. 
We then headed for the riverfront. The paved streets soon turned to one-way cobblestone roads and the buildings no longer had glass facades. It was like we all of a sudden stepped back in time.  We wandered around the cobblestone streets enjoying the quaint scenery and lack of people. After seeing  Old Montreal we felt content with what we had seen in the city and we were really cold so we biked back to the car. Morgan enjoyed racing a fellow cyclist who didn’t actually know he was being raced against and which meant he didn’t mind being beaten either (editor Morgan's note: he did know he was engaging in a Cat6 race and had to stand up for half a block in an attempt to stay in front of my legs)! After Morgan’s glorious success we were ready to move on to Quebec...