Thursday, September 05, 2013
Since returning from my weekend in paradise I have been incredibly busy and just as incredibly dumbfounded as to how to articulate how special and wonderful this weekend was. Words are all I have, however and they will have to do.
Three essential ingredients for this weekend: 1) beautiful, like-minded, like-spirited, people with LOTS of heart! 2) equally gorgeous outdoors and 3) my heightened self-awareness and eagerness for savoring every possible moment to the fullest!
The 16 of us staying at the hostel (the building next to the lighthouse) came from varied backgrounds, some of whom I knew fairly well, some whom I met for the first time as there were folks from other bike clubs nearby (Ithaca, Syracuse, Auburn and Pennsylvania). As I learned more about folks I was struck by how many came from either artistic and / or people-oriented careers such as drama teaching, art therapy, artist, speech therapist, school teachers and professors. When one pulls 16 people together you figure there are BOUND to be at the very least some small differences, perhaps arguments.
There was none of that here. Our collective "fit" with each other was hand-in-glove! Such a strong undercurrent of respect, good-will and ability to revel and take delight in nature and the outdoors. There were so many times when either others could finish my sentence or I theirs when speaking about the bald eagle that had just been sighted, the delicious breeze off the sparkling waters, pushing off the sand with one's toes walking along the beach, the seagulls taking flight and showing off their skill in hovering in the air like kites in the wind off the lake. You could see this in each others' eyes, smiles, feel it in the goosebumps that thrill down your arms as you realize how much you are sharing together at that same moment in time.
They"get it." I "get it." We are in sync!
I had the great pleasure of car-pooling with two other bike club members, one of whom I have had the pleasure of many bike rides together and offered to drive his Volvo wagon, the other who was totally new to the club and whom we met for the first time. The three of us greatly enjoyed the conversation during our 160 mile drive to Cape Vincent and again on the return home. Here they are on the ferry:
We stopped at a local grocery store as we needed a few last minute things and spotted in the produce section a whole case of over-ripe bananas marked to only $2 for the case. I'm thinking: 16 soon-to-be-hungry cyclists back at the ranch ready to kick off our weekend...? Yeah, these bananas are gonna GO! :-)
Friday afternoon we warmed up for the weekend with a 30-some mile ride through three bays south of Cape Vincent: Sawmill (near Chaumont), Griffin and Black River Bays. Our bike club president, fellow SP member TEAMAGIS has been VERY happy with her new 'bent and was FLYING out in front during much of this ride and I was quite content to buzz right along with her. :-)
Each of us brought a dish to pass for a pot-luck dinner on Friday. What totally delicious and (mostly) healthy food folks brought! And QUANTITY! It turned out that we ate nearly all of our meals for the weekend from Friday through Monday from the food that folks had brought!
And the best part was: there was very little room to eat indoors. So we ate here instead:
Soaking up more of those wonderful outdoors! Or we sat along the row of Adirondack chairs that lined the end of the pavilion facing toward the water and Wolfe Island with its 100+ wind turbines sprawled out for our viewing pleasure:
Saturday was our long ride, over 70 miles as we did the big Thousand Island tour across to Canada via Wolfe Island and two ferry rides (one to Wolfe, the other from Wolfe to Kingston). In Kingston we toured through the Royal Military College:
The day was overcast and the sun never came out. As we left Kingston, bound for Gananoque it began to rain. Not hard, thankfully, but a steady drizzle. When you're riding it doesn't take long, however before you start to really get soaked. I tried to be patient and out-ride the rain and reached a point where I told myself: if it doesn't stop pretty soon I am NOT gonna be pleased!
And then it stopped! :-)
We enjoyed a pleasant lunch at Gananoque and rode on to the Thousand Island Bridge where we crossed back over into New York. Although it was overcast, the view off the bridge was still breathtaking! Pictures just don't even come CLOSE to capturing how cool it was to be squeezing our way through the pedestrian walk way over the Thousand Island region. You could see tiny little getaway homes and cottages tucked into islands where the only way to reach them would be via boat:
Parts of the walkway were so narrow that one had to rear up the bike on its back wheel and walk it in front as there was no room to walk it beside you:
After reaching New York State it would be a straight shot back to Tibbett's Point...but there was one "must" stop:
River Rat Cheese in Clayton!
One of the experienced folks who spent a number of previous visits to Tibbett's said that the cheese here was "to die for"...they had itsy-bitsy samples of their 12-year-old aged cheddar and boy was she ever right! At $20 a pound, I wasn't about to indulge in much, but bought a teensy bit to bring home.
Then it was time to BEAT IT back to the ranch as my backside was ever-so-feeling those miles I was racking up!
After showering and changing I hauled out the guitar I brought along and was pleased to find I hadn't forgotten TOO many songs which I dusted off through the night. Folks really enjoyed the music as did I...it had been WAY too long since I played. Fingertips were nice and tingly with new calluses on the way by the time I finished.
Speaking of music: I noticed a very peculiar thing about this weekend and music. Despite having brought my mp3 player and having oh, around 1400 songs loaded onto my iPhone I never once listened to music. Not only did I not listen to music literally, even while riding my bike I did very little if any listening to my inner radio as well.
I think I didn't dare listen to music and take away from any of my experience. I didn't need music...I was too busy BEING music!
Although there was no memorable sunset either Friday or Saturday due to the cloud cover, it was still so peaceful we would sit around in our Adirondack chairs until 9, 9:30 or so before getting ready for bed.
Sunday's ride was much brighter and sunnier...we were WAY ready for that! The ride was around 50-60 miles and instead of going east from Kingston we went west to Bath, Ontario. This took us through Kingston which was a fairly pleasant ride through the city. What we really appreciated, however was the amount of distance riding along the waterfront and soaking up the sun, water, the fresh breeze blowing in across the water. Our ride leader had picked just the right pace for this ride and instead of feeling antsy and wanting to race ahead as I often am, I was very content to pedal along with others, chit-chatting and sometimes just exclaiming out loud over the beauty of the day, the sights, everything...
Here we are back in Kingston waiting for the ferry:
Sunnier views from the ferry on Sunday:
Despite having splintered into little offshoots of riders scattered 'round Canada, we all gathered back for our ferry ride together. One gal was so excited over having discovered a back roads route as an alternative to the main highway which connects Bath and Kingston. How well I recognized the thrill and excitement of having braved new, uncharted territory and coming up with a "find!"
Sunday night we had our sunset! I took a number of shots of it as the sun moved down to the horizon. You can see all the pictures I saved at this website (please note: for some reason the HTML from the link does not work when you click on these shutterfly links as the colon which follows the https does not get inserted when you simply click on the link. To get them to work properly you need to copy and paste these links OR insert a colon ":" after the "https" after you click on it:
They look best in "slideshow" mode as full screen. Better YET, one of the others at Tibbetts posted HIS pics as well, which include a few of me (playing guitar, on bridge, on ferry):
(BTW, Mike has done SEVERAL RAGBRAI's in the past, LOVES RAGBRAI and is gonna be my "connection" when I'm ready to make the leap and join in the blast of what many regard as the Mardis Gras on wheels!)
I've changed my SparkPage to reflect one of my sunset shots. Here is another:
We later celebrated the sunset and primed the pump for more conversations and connections late into the night with a roaring campfire, 'round which we gathered.
Here is Wolfe Island with all its windmills that I'm told provide all the power for the city of Kingston...how cool is that?!?:
On Monday we had to be out of the hostel by 10 a.m. Was that the end of our day?
We were off to Black Pond! A secluded nature preserve to the south:
Here is a pic of those of us who went:
While the preserves were lovely, what was the REAL delight was the sandy beach that it opened up to! Here we were on a Lake Ontario beach, free, few people...woo hoo! This took me back to my days as a kid on Lake Michigan and I thoroughly enjoyed walking and walking along the shore with another bike club member...we kept a great pace, just under a jog, each sharing a bit about ourselves and each couldn't help but to exclaim at times over how precious this experience was, listing all the nuances of the shore which we savored...
While riding back we remembered one of the fellows talking about the delicious barbeque that was served up at Dinosaur Barbeque in Syracuse...it was heading for dinner time so we agreed: we couldn't just "go home!" Let's do Dinosaur! :-)
Had a wonderful dinner together at the end of which the wind whipped up a little. We had done take out and were eating at a picnic table at a nearby spot as Dinosaur was totally swamped.
Back home, unloading, unpacking we celebrated our weekend, bid our farewells with group and individual hugs and filled to overflowing with such love and goodwill toward each other and everyone who had shared our weekend together.
This is an annual event that I hope never to miss for many, many years to come! I hope everyone can experience something like this as often as possible. I hope to build such occasions into my life more and more!
ps...totaled around 160 miles for the weekend...but yanno? I forgot to mention that when I wrote the blog originally. This weekend was most decidedly NOT about the number of miles, but what went into those miles...!
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Just a quickie update: terrific day of cycling, over 70 miles throughout the Thousand Islands! Ferry over to Wolfe Island and again over to Kingston. Rode to Gananoque and down through Wellesley Island. Walking our bikes over the bridges taking in the breathtaking view!
Then a speedy zap up the NY side through Clayton, Cape Vincent and back to the Tibbetts Point lighthouse where we're staying.
After we knew the way, a straight shot down the NY side I broke away from our group (6 of us) for a really pumped up, speedy ride back on the last 20 miles. Three things propelled me:
1) It's a blast to go fast! :-)
2) I like to challenge my body and torch more calories,
3) just like Paul McCartney at the end of Helter Skelter screams "I got blisters on my fingers!" my backside was hollering at me to "get the heck off this bike!" The faster I pedaled, the sooner I'd be off the bike! :-)
Today was the take-it-all-in day, tomorrow will be more of a noodling, smell the roses day.
We had a little rain today from Kingston to Gananoque but not so much to make us unhappy. The day was overcast, but cool.
Pics to follow when I get home!
Monday, August 26, 2013
Just came across this wonderful piece from NPR / The Oatmeal:
'Why This Compulsion To Run Long Distances?' A Runner's Beautiful Confession
Now although I am NOT a runner, I could relate to SO MUCH of what he shared so creatively, but from a cycling point of view!
When I ride:
"Demons are forgotten
Krakens are slain,
and Blerches are silenced."
Sunday, August 25, 2013
I am still filled to overflowing with all that this weekend had to offer...! I SO wish I could bottle it for those times of need.
Between yesterday (47 miles) and today (59.5 miles) I just could not stop those wheels from rolling and rolling and soaking up as much, more and more of the perfect weather, perfect company, perfect EVERYTHING!
Today especially...! I started off by heading down to Binghamton for the Chris Thater 5K race, www.bcstopdwi.com/bcstopdwi/thater , not to run, but to watch fellow local Sparker STRIVERONE wrap up yet another race and to meet up afterward so that we could hop on our bikes and do the Hallstead/Great Bend Loop down into Pennsylvania.
Another bike club member mentioned wanting to join us (I'll be heading up to Tibbett's point with him next weekend) and while waiting for STRIVERONE yet another club member caught up with me and was up for the ride. That made four of us. Little did I know ahead of time, as I had never ridden before with STRIVERONE before, that the four of us would be such a HIGHLY compatible quartet of strong riders! Double kudos to STRIVERONE for doing so well AFTER having run a 5K...whew! We just hung together so nicely throughout our thirty-some miles down to PA and back. One of the club members showed me a neat little detour on our return route and lead us up into the hills off the main road for some climbing workouts.
After returning to Rec Park in Binghamton I had another 10 miles to head back home from there. Another bike club member who lives up around my neck of the woods was heading home also so he joined me and we took the River Road loop for yet MORE climbing and adding another coupla miles to the route.
Throughout my rides both yesterday and today a song kept coming to me with a melody that is so lovely and complex and actually a good dose of minor key usage, no strong beat to power me along...so how does that fit with my being so enthralled by the sun, the flowers, birds overhead, woodchuck scurrying for cover and the four of us thrumming along in such harmony?
1) Beauty...the music embodied the sense of gratitude, savoring and accenting all that the visual, tactile world was laying out before me...intensifying the experience even more.
2) Self-soothing...music has always been for me a treasured method of a self-embrace, self-affirmation. And it's calorie-free, unlike other unhealthy methods of self-soothing which shall remain nameless! :-)
Here is the song which I've carried with me through my weekend outdoors: Canta Canta Mais. This is yet another gem from Maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim from Brasil, composer of so many songs you have heard but may not know were written by him. Certainly Girl From Ipanema is his most well known work. But his works encompass so much more.
There are many versions of this song which have been performed by many. My earliest introduction to it was through another artist who is among my favorites, Paul Winter, from his 1969 Winter Consort Album:
I think it works best for me as an instrumental, even if the lyrics do speak about singing.
Probably a rough, rough English translation from Portuguese. I'm betting the lyrics were very idiomatic and nuanced:
Feel the beauty and
Forget the sadness
So much, so much
Sing, go, go
Follow singing alone
Here is a vocal version which has a series of artwork/pictures highlighting the theme of "beauty"
A very thoughtful piano rendition:
And finally Jobim (who is sadly deceased) himself at the piano with orchestra and choir:
Finally (you mean I haven't shaken you off yet?) a little artwork that made me think of the transitions so many of us here among our SparkFamily go through in our journeys, taking flight, reveling in our freedom and living our lives with SPARK!
Link to artwork: t.co/CSPJftIjmd
Wishing a fine week ahead to all!
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