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Our Summer Excursion: Days 21-25 Providence and Connecticut

Welcome everyone! Our 2012 Summer Excursion series recaps our experiences from June 3-August 3 by time and location, and should follow up with more detailed topics about finances, family and finesse. Please let me know if you would like more details about anything and I will do my best to work them in or reply personally.

D21: Many, many years ago I drove through Rhode Island on my way back from Boston to NYC, and I regretted not stopping, at least for a moment. Being the smallest state in the union is pretty special. This time through, it coincided with lunch, which turned into a need for ice cream, and so we found ourselves at the Three Sisters, adjacent a craft and farmers market for a couple of scoops as we went from Boston to Deep River, CT on June 23rd.

Our hosts' home in East Boston. Goodbye fabulous strangers and friends!
Three Sisters. The whole state was visiting. While I don't care for large crowds, this was a tight crowd in a small space, that I can enjoy.
Three Sisters. The whole state was visiting. While I don't care for large crowds, this was a tight crowd in a small space, that I can enjoy.
We appreciate an interesting menu. Bright colors help too.
Pedicab trailer for the farmers market?
A market that surrounded the playground. Good for grown ups and good for balls of energy.

My aunt wasn’t scheduled to arrive on the train until bedtime, so we made our first beach stop at Eskers in Groton, CT. The remainder of the evening was spent at the elementary school in Deep River, enjoying dinner, playgrounds and sunsets.

Esker's Beach, CT. A stop to steal a bit more time, just the six of us. Oliver's first beach.

Deep River, CT school play area. We lounged around here for dinner waiting on my aunt. The skies were dramatic.
Dinner. We ate from the grocery often. With out a cooler or cooking method, we ate a lot of dump-trail-mixes, canned fruit, beans, veggies, fresh fruit and vegetables, and the always popular peanut butter sandwiches or tortillas.


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D22: Sunday June 24, we drove to New Haven, CT to meet the Full Hands blog family. They were planning to attend the Arts and Ideas Festival ride to the neighborhood gardens, and we were excited to join them. Once again, the adage of “people are good” remains, and we had a very welcoming stay and wished it could have carried on longer.

I also had the pleasure of riding a most unusual bike, the Bakfiets. Even after nearly five miles (maybe it was more?) to pick up pizza for dinner, I was yet to get very comfortable. It was probably the most fun bicycle I have pedaled, but not the most intuitive. Prepare yourself for the million photos and captions (click for larger images, not sure if this works in a reader/feed)!

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{Link to the Endomondo map of the New Haven bicycle tour, part A. The pizza pick up did not get recorded.}

There is a bit I would like to say about bicycling in New Haven specifically. It was my first encounter with consistently unfriendly traffic while riding. After this day I had a new feeling about why some people do not ride with their children independently and some do not ride at all. There are certainly different attitudes and styles of driving and riding in different regions/cities. It also explains why there is such a need for bicycling infrastructure. It shouldn’t fall on cyclists to continue the fight for such features. Adjustments to streets and bikeways would also help with auto traffic. Drivers should be aiding in the advocacy of integration too.

This isn’t to say that New Haven was dangerous and flippant, it was just different and surprised me. I felt it was a very valuable perspective to gain and had we had more time to adjust we might have found our groove. This varied greatly to the ease I felt in Columbus, a city I was familiar with. New Haven was an all around new experience.

I look forward to another visit.

D23: We didn’t stay over in New Haven, opting to return to my aunt’s in Deep River. Monday turned into a very lazy, watch the rain fall down, sort of day. When the clouds parted we walked a bit through the old town before driving to Clinton to meet up with my uncle and cousin for dinner. Twelve years is a very long time to go without seeing someone, but when it’s family and good friends, it’s all hugs and a good laugh.

View from Darcy's studio lower level.
Post rain creek flow.
The Piano Works is a converted piano factory. This is where my aunt lives! It was such a great place to stay. Both the building and the town of Deep River, CT. They had those brick sidewalks laid throughout town recently. Another great detail.
Walked to the library. I bought a couple of new used books for our travels ($2 cash). Library book sales are hidden treasures.
Family dinner. Cousin Rory on the far left, uncle Michel beside him. Darcy on the far right. The joy of family!


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D24: My cousin Rory is quite the Renaissance man. Tuesday, June 26, I drove our van for the first time (Brent had been doing all the driving), and took the children and Rory to the skate park. Rory gave them all some simple lessons, then we headed back to his and his dad’s place for a pasta lunch, glass blowing demonstration and to check out all the interesting hobbies he has developed (bonsai trees, driftwood art, jewelry making, guitar and drums!!). We had a wonderful day catching up on life and interests, while Brent and Darcy stayed behind to work.

That evening we took my aunt to her aikido class on an old working horse farm several miles from town, then drove out to Chester for a snack and carried onto Gillette castle for sunset over the Connecticut River. (again, click for the larger images)

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D25: Wednesday we drove down to Essex, where I was fascinated by the dates on the homes and businesses. We had drink in a shop that was originally built as a home in 1720. 1720!

Darcy treated us to the River Museum, which was more fascinating than I initially expected. So much history happened on the Connecticut River, and I feel I am finally at a point in my life were I can appreciate the past, while dragging my own children through it.

After we returned Darcy to her studio, we drove to Mystic to meet up with another childhood friend, Matt Manning and his wife Dorothy and daughter Lily. We began our visit with scoops of ice cream next to a very active draw bridge and then snuck into the book shop, record store (go ahead and try to explain records to your children who grew up on a digital system), and finished with play time at the park. Once again, far too few minutes with great people.

The bell was tolling and we headed back to Deep River to enjoy dinner with uncle Michel, Rory, Bess (Rory’s girlfriend), and Darcy on the eve of our departure.

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We never rode our bicycles while in Deep River. The town was so quaint, it was more conducive to walking. It would have been quicker to ride, but everything was worth the time to see and breath in while strolling along. Drivers in this area we also different. Most of the posted speed limits in rural CT were 25-45mph. It was a slower pace of life overall.`

It was such a great pleasure to stay with my aunt. She has given me so many of my first experiences and has had the most influence in my life outside of my parents. Sharing my children with her was a joy. She hasn’t lost touch with the patience and nurturing she showed me as a little girl. Darcy currently lives a car-free life in that tiny town. She rides her bicycle out to the farm for meditation and enjoys the company of good friends who offer her a ride to the train station so she can frequent NYC. She’s built a fabulous community with her family in Deep River.

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535 Miles in Ohio


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Friday night last week we packed up and drove north-west to my hometown, Troy, OH. We intended to make this trip in June when the children were out of school and we could spend a week bouncing around the family farm and fishing with grandpa. We got a call on Monday afternoon that my cousin died in a car accident that morning. We patiently waited for details and made plans to visit family during the weekend.

Friday after school we cleaned the house to a show-able condition, as it is on the market, packed our bags lightly and managed to drive away at 5:30pm. We stopped in Ashland, KY for a pizza dinner at Bella Fonte near 6pm and then in Ironton an auto parts store for a headlight at 7:15pm. At this point, the sense of going no where fast was setting in and I was feeling like we should turn around and head home.

Given we were not going up because of the way I was feeling, we soldiered on. We pulled into Tipp City, where we were staying with friends, at 10:30pm. A 200 mile trip that took 5 hours.

Saturday morning was Kwen’s funeral service in Mechanicsburg, OH. We chose not to bring our children to the service and cemetary and spent the morning working our way toward Urbana where the family was hosting a celebration of life at the Champaign County Fair Grounds.


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We stopped in to Tipp Cyclery. The children played with the shop turtle and Brent and I selected an extra patch kit and ankle straps.

Next stop, Troy town square. I wondered into the new Troy Bicycle Shop location, nabbed some photos of the new city wide bike racks, and then into the natural parenting store, Samozrejme, while Brent and the children had lunch at the Bakehouse.

Portion of downtown Troy, OH

Our time with family in Urbana was short and very sad indeed. Our children played with Kwen’s and all the other cousins’ children and we each hugged the other tightly. My aunt, Kwen’s mom, asked me to send this photo to my brother. It is Kwen and Lucus, on our great grandmother’s lap, some 31 years ago.

London, Branson, Blake. My daughter, Kwen's sister's son, Kwen's son. All the same age.

We left the celebration and drover further away, into Mechanicsburg to see another cousin, Heather, and her family. They recently bought a civil war aged house, in her home town, and have begun their adventures with two little children. The time vanished quickly and we were heading down another long road back to Tipp City.

Heather's home, and her art.


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For most of the trip I kept feeling I was distracted. We made little changes in our route that took us out of our way, yet we never turned around, we just went with the 20 mile detours, enjoying the landscapes and conversations within our van-cabin.

The stroll from Springfield to Troy, on the return trip to Tipp City was deliberate. We made the choice to pick up Lee’s Chinese, my hometown treat. Everyone has their something they love about going home. Lee’s is one of mine. It’s silly really, but food has a memory trigger and that lo-mein has a lot of memories.

Sunday we packed up the van and spent a couple of hours at my mom’s house in Troy. She had to leave for another celebration of life, for a friend of theirs who passed away a week before Kwen and we needed to push on toward home.

We didn’t set out with an agenda for our weekend. It was interesting to take all our desires and see if our path would intersect with any of them. It did on many occasions. Elliot managed to find two Game Stops and two other electronic stores to hunt for his Skylanders. They are still sold out everywhere (article link quotes your’s truly, written by a friend). London wanted to walk around a mall, and we made that happen for her on the way home.

Mall area at Fairfield Commons

We met up with our friends from Tipp City in Beavercreek at Half Price Books since it was on their way to visit with their family for the afternoon. We found a little lunch and took up people-watching at the mall while London tried to figure out why she really wanted to be here in the first place. I think she hears that this is what her peers do and she wanted to try, but she didn’t do anything other than walk around and talk to her friend and eat a slice of pizza. Watching children learn is very fascinating.

Bike trail signs all around the shopping center


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We left the mall complex and drove straight for home, stopping in Waverly for groceries and dinner (apple slices, carrot sticks, cheese, and crackers). The children made it to bed on time and Brent and I enjoyed unpacking in our home-sweet-home. Yes, enjoyed.

 

Pizza and Pie?

This week was beginning to look like a lot of self pitying. I was feeling sad that we were not going to be spending Thanksgiving with my family, who I miss dearly. We could have gone up to see them, but it ends up with a lot of running around from house to house and the children don’t sleep well and we would probably end up in a hotel and we just didn’t budget for the extra trip at this time. I was moping around the house feeling selfish and grouchy because I wanted them to come to us, but they all had other plans. I projected that today would be a huge disappointment to me, but something else happened. Something I wasn’t prepared to experience.

A lot of the self pitying was centered around the company I was not going to be hosting and the food I was not going to be preparing. I love to cook for others, hate to clean the kitchen, but love to make a meal. With no one to impress and feed, and Brent having turned vegetarian this past summer, we settled on a menu the children selected by themselves; pizza, pumpkin pie and salad. It just didn’t sound that great. I wanted scalloped oysters, candied orange sweet potatoes, bacon tomato roasted green beans, and buttery potatoes with gravy. Should a pecan pie be involved, with a bit of chocolate on the bottom layer, I wouldn’t have said no to seconds for dessert. Pizza and pie?

There was also the matter of the Huntington Turkey Trot. You might recall a few attempts to run up a hill in the past couple weeks. Never in all my 32 years had I ever run a 5K, and it was looming closer. How was this out of shape, huffing and puffing girl going to pull off 3.2 miles?

Here’s what went down today for me. I woke near 6:30 and focused on getting out of the door by 8 to take the children to our friend Rachel’s so Brent and I could struggle through the experience of a 5K together. I had the foresight and time to make a pumpkin and gingerbread bundt loaf last night for breakfast. By 7:45 everyone had a nibble, I had some tea and allergy meds and we were bundling up to cycle through 38 degree fog. 8:00AM we see there is a flat on the trailer and Oliver is kicking and screaming in refusal to get in the trailer or in his helmet.

Ever have those moments? Deep breath, tire pump, a bit of forcing the child into the safety equipment because he doesn’t always know what is best for him.

8:30 drop off for the children and park three bikes in Rachel’s garage. Brent then pedaled me on the deck of the Yuba to the park for race time. There was a record turn out for the 5th Annual Huntington Turkey Trot, that benefits Little Victories Animal Shelter. Estimates I heard were 1000. At this time, our bike ride warm up was wearing off and cold was settling into legs, toes, fingers, and noses. In the sea of bodies I managed to find a few familiar faces but stayed close to one in particular.

Mike, who escorted me to Virginia Point on Saturday, has been instrumental in motivating me out of my comfort zone, and he may not even know it. He has been riding the country side with Brent and conquering his own personal goals in half marathons, 10 & 5Ks about the region. I am enthralled with his quick progression in fitness level, his determination to out-best himself, and always taking advantage of good weather to enjoy the run or ride. It was great to see him this morning and watch him sprint past us on the return lap as we were coming up on the completion of our first mile. He’s been a great person to get to know. Thanks Mike!

Brent and I jogged together till the last stretch. I knew I was slowing him down. It was my goal to finish this race running. I wanted to complete a 5k run, and I did. As each mile passed I wanted to stop and walk. I couldn’t talk or breath or feel my toes. The exuberant feeling of tackling yet another seemingly impossible task, combined with the childless time with Brent, the energy of the crowd, and the knowledge of what lay before us, lifted my spirits and fed my desire to persevere. The clock read 35 minutes something when I crossed the finish line. Slow but persistent.

To stay warm after the run, I rode Brent on the deck back to get the children. I got bragging rights for hauling my 190lb husband around town. It was really easy too, because the area was flat. This bike handles weight. On the last stretch of road, we had a child like moment and I set my feet on the frame as he pedaled the bike from the deck. We were laughing and giddy with our new found bike fun. Just imagine it! Remember those days as a child where you tried to pile all your friends on the banana seat and basket to get from home to the pool? Oh the joy of a bicycle!

From Rachel’s we all rode home together. We didn’t have a house to clean, a table to set, people to host, turkey to roast, a parade to watch. The children wrapped themselves up in their legos and Brent I put together dough. I sat at the lunch table with a salad and thought about how much happier I am today because we are going at our own pace and serving food everyone loves to eat. London and I made pies together last night. Cushaw and sweet potato substituted for pumpkin, but no one could identify a difference. We enjoyed cheese, pepperoni, and a bell pepper, onion, mushroom pizza. We laughed and relaxed with cartoons and wrapped up our evening with popcorn.

It surprised me that I would enjoy being with my family today more than any other day of the year. We put a little extra effort into making a meal we would all love. We worked together to get out the door this morning and then enjoyed a couple of hours with the people of our community who create a sense of warmth and understanding around us. The peace at the dinner table, the naps in our own beds, the laughter from the living room. It was all just as it should be. I didn’t plan it, I just took the time to relish it all.

Miles Walked: 7 Biked: 23.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 10.2 This week
87.9 1059.1 12.6 693.8 Since August 14, 2011

Versatile Bike Deck and A Return to Running?

We had a productive nap time today. Not only did we knock out some community connections for Kidical Mass, but I managed to set up some more volunteer opportunities at the children’s school as well as do some research and house work. Rare display I assure you. Certainly worth mentioning so that maybe Brent will read this and give me a pat on the back. I need those every once in awhile.

School pick up was beautiful. 73 degrees and sunny. A bit too sunny for my sensitive eyes, but I am not complaining really, just thinking about how much time I spend outdoors now and wondering about prescription sunglasses.

Oliver and I did our jaunt up the hill and around the bend. After getting the other three we headed to the library. We spent a considerable amount of time snacking outside the main doors. I laid out the children’s options right on the Yuba deck. Instant snack bar!

The children took turns going into the library for books today while I managed the remaining children with their vittles. It never fails that when we all have our helmets on and half of us are heading for the road, there is the need for a diaper change. Yuba deck to the rescue, instant diaper changing table!

Now I doubt Yuba will promote their amazing cargo bike in this fashion, but when you need a snack bar or a changing station, it’s there for you. No modifications necessary.

Donning my Running Shoes
This evening I took London to Girl Scouts on the back of the Yuba. I dressed for a run. The church for scouts was two blocks from the park and trail. Running is always on my mind. Has been for decades. I am not a good runner, I have no endurance, I hate the way I feel when I am moving, but I get a genuine rush of good endorphins later.

Getting mentally prepared to run could take me years, and in this case it has been 10 months. I haven’t attempted to go faster than a walk in 10 months. Before that I was jogging regularly (although intermittent with walking) with a neighborhood friend. We went from barely being able to hold a jogging pace for 60 seconds in March 2010 to running about two miles before we needed a breather and then could pick up the pace again for another mile. We ran/walked the Turkey Trot last year in under 30 minutes and continued our evening runs for a couple more months before life did its rearranging and we just tapered off.

Sunday of this week I was at home cheering on many friends who ran the Marshall University half marathon. Then today a friend posted something on Google+ about their registration for the Ritter Park Off Road Challenge and I was sparked into action. Everyone else is going about their business of running and I am doing an awful lot of thinking about running. So I put on my shoes and took off for the park. I told myself I would go and I went. I made it .76 miles. I congratulated myself for moving from thinking to doing. Now I just need to do it again.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 29 Bused: 0 Drove: 3.4 This week
75.4 890.7 12.6 662.4 Since August 14, 2011

Feeding Six: Breakfast-Week 1 (rather, day 1)

Saturday October 1, 2011
Pumpkin Pie Spiced Rolls with Salted-Caramel Frosting and Crumbled Pretzels
Adapted from Allrecipes’ Clone of a Cinnabon and bakedbree’s Salted-Caramel Frosting
It’s been previously mentioned that I do not buy cereal for our brood. I am not opposed to cereal. I actually really really enjoy a bowl or two with cold milk. We gave up cereal nearly two years ago because I was exhausted with the expense of five or more boxes a week plus the extra gallon or two of milk. Cereal became the filler for after school snacks and late night husband food cravings. I got fed up with the whole cereal racket in terms of marketing, nutrition, expense, and mess (bowls being found in the office days later).
This breakfast series has been thought about for months. I have tinkered with and talked about how to work this meal into the blog without crowding out the transportation portion. Feeding Six was established with the Shopping Experiences and the Meal Co-op (which has been the most popular post on this site) and I still feel that A Simple Six is about how we do what we do as simply as we can. It began with one of the largest lifestyle changes we have undergone, but has at it’s heart the underpinnings of who we are and what we are establishing in our lives, with our time.
Beginning today I will compile each week’s breakfasts as photos and a link to any web sources I may have adapted. Maybe some day I will get into food blogging, but for now, I am going to keep it simple. Feeding Six: Breakfast will be about what we eat each morning. I intend to post our adventure on Saturdays. Being what Saturdays are, I am sure you will all forgive and forget if it’s Monday before I compile my post. I have the best intentions…sometimes terrible follow through. Please let me know if you want to see more or less and if you have any questions.
Today’s breakfast was pumpkin pie spiced rolls with salted-caramel frosting and crumbled pretzels. London had her annual we are surviving back-to-school slumber party last night. The young ladies helped me make the rolls before bed and I got up before them all to put them in the oven.We have two bread machines now, so I made two batches, meaning we have enough for breakfast tomorrow, or what’s more likely to happen, a great snack later.
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