Rest day and Day 4

With rain in the forecast, we decided to spend a rest day in Morrisville, a delightful little town.  It would need to start with breakfast and coffee, of course and so off we went in search of some.

Not far from where we were staying we found El Toro, one of two Mexican restaurants in this tiny town. I ordered one of my favourites from back when we lived in New Mexico: A breakfast burrito smothered in red chile. It was as good as I remember it: stuffed with eggs, home fries, and chorizo it was a little carbohydrate and protein bomb to load us up for the next day. We washed it down with maple coffees and headed back to the house, full, caffeinated, and happy.

A few hours later we headed back out. This time for more Nepali food. Tucked away in the back of a gas station and convenience store – right where you would normally expect to find the slushy machine, nachos and the rotisserie of ancient hot dogs you instead find a Nepali restaurant. We ordered delicious chicken curry and rice and were not disappointed.

Then we headed across the street to the Bijou – an old school movie theatre like I remember from my childhood. Only four screens, small rooms, $6 matinees and $5 popcorn.

We ended up seeing Dunkirk. I’m not usually a war movie fan but this one was really great. Beautifully crafted and immersive – the barrier between viewer and viewed is as low as I ever remember it.  There are enough reviews out there far better than my own so I won’t go any deeper except to say a couple of messages I liked:

I liked the message that sometimes if things get really messed up the only thing to fix it is for regular people to get peacefully involved.  There comes a point when you can no longer sit at home and wait for things to get better – you have to go do something. The other related message is that even when you think all is lost (Dunkirk was a retreat after all) and the end is coming, you have no idea what is in store. Even as folks thought this battle was the beginning of the end, it wasn’t – and it didn’t end the way many thought it would on that day.  Powerful messages in  these years of Trump and Brexit.

We headed back to the house again and relaxed for the afternoon – Daegan drew and I wrote and then the promised rain came in a delightful downpour.

A beautiful end to the day

A few hours later it was time for dinner – and we had managed to arrange something interesting. A couple of friends I met via 500 Kindnesses on Facebook came from a neighbouring town for dinner. Back we went to El Toro (it was good!) and had a couple hours of chatting and catching up. It was great to find that it was as great talking to them in person as it was online.

The next morning we were up bright and early to head within striking distance of the border. Our host also woke up with us and kindly offered to make us breakfast. And so we had bacon, eggs, and pancakes with blueberries and strawberries with real maple syrup and of course coffee. As we sat we continued the chatting we’d done off and on throughout our stay – politics, culture, life in Vermont versus elsewhere. It was good bt soon it was time to go.

Yesterday’s ride was relatively short – only about 70 km. That said it felt off all day. At one point we stopped at a general store straight out of a movie. There were 1970’s era gas pumps outside and a man in overalls leaning back in a chair out front. A pair of moose antlers hung above the door outside.  He spoke in a slow drawl with a dry sense of humour. We each got a cup of coffee and headed out to drink it before heading out. But then, there were some really upset screaming kids inside the house adjoining the store – the owner didn’t even acknowledge it. Things felt a little bit off so we took our coffee to go.

We continued to ride north along the river with a generally uphill direction. Sometimes the hills got steep but fortunately most of them were eventually followed by downhills.  Just in time for lunch a gas station / deli appeared. We ordered sandwiches and took them to the porch in the back where a group of men were talking about slaughtering cows and other animals. “You know, Canadians eat a lot of horse meat, right?” one told each other. We quietly smiled when we heard this one. I know of only one restaurant, a French one, that sells horse meat in Toronto.  After they left we looked around and noticed a “Hillary for Prison” sign on the wall.  Nope, not all of Vermont is progressive…

We continued north and the wind turned to meet us as we hit a steep dirt road. Up we went. There was a large dairy farm here and it seemed to be serviced by massive trucks that would pass us and coat us in dust every couple of minutes. The farm itself was a little disturbing. There was no pasture at this one like most of the dairy farms. Instead the cows were clustered together in a small, dark barn without walls.  On the other side of the road from the barn were literal mountains of manure that had been dried and were now being “mined” by large vehicles – possibly to load in to those trucks that had been passing. The smell was oppressive.

We finally got to Newport, Vermont where we found a place to grab a coffee to kill some time – we were surprisingly fast before heading to the hotel. Daegan had a nap almost immediately while I searched for the next night’s lodging.  Sadly it wasn’t easy to find but I finally booked an Airbnb in a nice small Quebec town.  But when we got to dinner the host had cancelled. We tried another, and the host was having a huge party that night and sleep would be difficult if not impossible. We tried hotels (all booked). And so we looked at our options…

And so today, Saturday, we have a big day ahead. Instead of going to something in between Friday night’s location and Sunday’s we’re going to make straight for Sunday’s. It’ll be over 150 km – almost 100 miles of riding. On the plus side, literally the last half is downhill and is almost exclusively on bike paths.  Still – this will be my longest fully loaded ride and Daegan’s longest, period. On the plus side, we’ll be back in Canada within an hour of our leaving this hotel. Wish us luck!

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