Cycle the City: Burlington, VT

Since moving into Burlington again, I ride my bicycle just about everywhere. The Burlington Bike Path (aka the Burlington Recreation Path, aka The Island Line Trail) is a regular part of my day for at least some of my commuting. When it’s nice out, I’ll often add a few miles to my commute and get some extra exercise. All this time, I’ve ridden past the old, faded “Cycle the City” signs posted on the bike path and side streets without a second glance. So, when Local Motion announced that they were hosting a guided tour of the path to celebrate its 15th year, I thought it would be good to join in on the fun.

About 150 people showed up at Maglianero Cafe for some refreshments before at 10:00 ride. The group broke up into 4-5 smaller tours (Kid friendly, less talking, more talking) and we were on our way. Tawny and I joined the “more talking” tour with Chapin and I’m glad we did.

The first stop on our tour was the Burlington Waterfront Park. I had remembered playing here as a kid in the 80’s, but I don’t remember the area before it was turned into a park. I mostly remember that my parents thought it was great to have access to all of this waterfront land. Chapin gave us some of the history of the railroads and the transition from a rail yard into real centerpiece of Burlington.

 

 

 

Next stop, Leddy Park where we heard about the “string of pearls” plan and the dueling chainsaws.

 

 

 

In Ethan Allen Park, you have to stop at the tower and take a look out over the city. Especially if it’s warm, sunny, and clear.

 

 

 

In the Intervale, we stopped at the Ethan Allen Homestead to learn about Ethan Allen’s large family (and small house) as well as his belief that the Intervale contained “the best farmland [he had] ever seen.” We’re pretty luck that this farmland is still in use and provides vegetables to many residents in the city.

 

 

 

We continued through the Intervale and up past the old dump. I’ve passed this hill regularly and never knew it was a dump — it just looks like a nice grassy hill. I’ve actually been meaning to come back here to take some portraits because it has some interesting sight lines. Maybe I’ll leave out the fact that we’re going to a dump to take photos until after we’re done with the shoot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cycle the City loop goes right past Old Spokes Home, which was kind enough to host a refreshment table staffed by The Skinny Pancake.

 

If you’re going on the loop, stop by this shop to go see the museum of old bikes. They’ve got some hanging in the main showroom and a bunch more upstairs. While you’re there, browse around for your next steed. They have a collection of new and used bikes for just about every use.

 

 

 

 

 

Past the half-way point, we stopped at Mary Fletcher’s house (not pictured.) She’s responsible for starting Burlington’s hospital — the first in Vermont — which opened in 1879.

 

After a stop on the UVM green to learn about John Dewey and Ira Allen, we continue on to our last stop. A house that has been reclaimed by the university from a fraternity and is undergoing renovations. It turns out, the owners of this house were involved in the Burlington cycling club and would throw parties that would begin with a ride and end with a long dinner party.

 

In order to keep with tradition, after the tour ended back at Maglianero Cafe, we ventured up to Church Street for lunch and a beer at Halvorson’s.

 

 

 

It’s hard to argue with 75°F, sunshine, no wind, and low humidity. Thanks for the great tour, Chapin!

Hug Your Farmer: 50 Years of the Rolling Stones

Hug Your Farmer returned, last Thursday, with a tribute to 50 years of the Rolling Stones. A who’s who of musicians rallied to raise money for The Vermont New Farmer Project, which provides assistance to the next generation of Vermont farmers. Thanks for a great night of music! I’m already looking forward to the next one.

(UPDATE: Links to videos at the end of this post)

 

 

Brian Cadoret was at the event and, as he often does, he’s posted a few recordings of the show:

Thanks, Brian!

USA Triathlon Nationals

On Sunday, August 19th, 2012, the USA Triathlon Sprint Nationals came to Burlington, VT. I was busy for the Olympic distance race the previous day.   Around 8am, I was able to open my front door and wander onto my porch with cup of tea to enjoy the bike leg. The wheels really hum when the riders are coming down the street at 25MPH! For about 2 hours, our road was a constant stream of cyclists on their out-and-back route. It was fun to cheer them on and see them pushing so hard. I couldn’t help but grab my camera and take a few photos.

I hadn’t seen these before. Looks like a great way to speed up transitions. How well do they pedal?

My favorite competitor, below. (No relation, however..)

These are only some of the photos, you can also visit the full gallery of Sprint Tri photos.

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival – The Necessary Means at Nectar’s

The first week of June is a great time to be in Burlington. It’s the week of the annual Burlington Discover Jazz Festival which brings together international and local musicians together to play at a variety of venues around the city. I love walking down Church Street during the festival; every block you can hear different sounds drifting out of the windows or on outdoor stages.

This year, The Necessary Means played at Nectar’s as a part of the festivities. Ray Paczkowski and Russ Lawton (Soule Monde) opened.  If you haven’t seen these two play together, you’re missing out. It’s hard to believe that two people can produce such a big, full sound. I kept looking around to see where they were hiding all the other musicians.

Burlington Discover Jazz Festival - Ray Paczkowski at Nectar's (June 5, 2012) (1)

 

After a quick stage reset (it’s gotta be hard always moving around that big Hammond organ) the Necessary Means came on and didn’t disappoint. Their Facebook page describes their sound as “70’s horn funk meets modern jam jazz” and that about nails it. Longtime Grift fans will recognize a few songs as solo riffs that have been turned into full fledged, standalone art. What strikes me every time I see these guys play is that in addition to sounding great, they’re all having fun on stage.

Enough words.  Enjoy the photos — and maybe put on a few tunes while you’re scrolling through them.

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I found the secret sauce to Daiki’s awesome percussion. Coconut Juice.

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I recommend picking up their album, “Click” from CDBaby. It’s only 6 bucks as a digital download.

 

There are still a couple more days of music. Who’re you going to see?

What a difference a year makes

Last year, Lake Champlain was dealing with historic flooding. This year, I’ve started to hear references to record low lake levels. Since I now commute along the waterfront, I’ve been witness to the lack of water. Take the photograph below. It was taken yesterday, April 25th, 2012.

One year ago, the same lighthouse looked like this.

When I compare the two images, I think the lighthouse was actually damaged enough that they had to remove some of the lower boards.

According to this chart, the lake level should be around 99′ at this time of year. Instead, we’re at about 96.5′ — more like what I would expect in June. And that’s after a pretty rainy couple of days. We were at 96.0′ on April 21st. According to the USGS, the lake level changes by about 5′ annually. If we’re at the annual high point now, what does that mean for the rest of the summer? Will September or October 2012 bring us new record lows, only 18 months after record highs?

On a somewhat related note, there’s still a lot of effort going in to repairing our broken state after last year’s flooding. There are lots of people in VT that still need homes rebuilt and businesses that are still recovering.  One of the things that’s near and dear to my heart is the Burlington Bike Path. OK, it’s somewhat selfish, it’s part of my daily commute — but it’s also a big draw for tourism. Many events like those put on by Run Vermont and Race Vermont rely on the Bike Path for their routes. It’s in rough shape right now as a result of all the flooding last year. Parts have been patched, and repairs on other sections have begun, but there’s a long way to go.  Local Motion has put together a fund to help repair the Island Line Trail. If you use this path and have a few dollars to spare, I’m sure they would appreciate any contribution.

If the Bike Path isn’t your thing, maybe consider the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund or VT Farm Disaster Relief Fund.