July 5, 2014

Far be it for me to say anything about the Kubota.

But a Ford would have more authentic for the period, I think. The week before this year's Central Vt Cycling Tour, Morse Farm was taken over by Civil War reenactors. They left their port-a-john for us to use the following weekend, but not the cannons, darn it.

May 30, 2014

Mad Max trucks II.

March 30, 2014

Making a big deal out of everything.

Been doing a lot bookkeeping this winter. Sheesh, after this, no other rule set will look complex.

December 29, 2013

Fresh Tracks.

The only thing my nephew asked Santa for was "tracks". For running Thomas trains, and also anything else with wheels it turns out. Fisher Price cars (if you balance them just right), Tonka trucks (one big tire can straddle both rails, he showed me).

Santa did bring tracks, which were played with non-stop for days. Something about pushing the wheels along the grooves, round and round, never gets old.

November 12, 2013

Mad Max trucks.

Funky old trucks, coming across lately. The day will arrive, a Cross Vermont Trail Association so equipped.
(Volvo wagon doesn't count.)

September 19, 2013

Fantastic Creatures.

Speaking of.

More great drawings from Crossett Brook Middle School students. What they found turning over rocks in the creek. Of course they were helping to write the Nature and History Guide to the Cross Vt Trail, which makes it scholastic.

bird hopping

This guy is good at finding the fantastic
in places others might over look. Wild Burlington.

June 11, 2013

In mid hop.

When I was a kid playing Gamma World, my friends and I would always pick "hopping" as one of our mutation super powers, not flying. You could fly in any game - but in Gamma World you could really do cool stuff you wouldn't even think of doing elsewhere, so had to take advantage of it.

I think about those days, now and then, about the lessons I learned - how to wander a post apocalyptic landscape littered with fantastic creatures, paying close attention. Like the world around us today, in other words.


Mercury astronauts are not eagles landing. Good though.
Image: NASA.

May 19, 2013

Moving up the food chain.

I was out on the trail during the Christmas Bird Count last winter. I saw a seagull.

But it's nice to know that there's a chance I could see an eagle, like this guy did on the Dog River in Berlin. Maybe today is my day . . .

Brook Trout by the Shoestring Fisherman, Waterbury.

April 18, 2013

What goes around, comes around.

So fishing season underway again. Started as it ended, in a snow storm. I remember closing day last fall. I was headed out the road in the morning, and I see my neighber trudging, teeth to the wind, two gloves on each hand, fishing pole under arm. I stopped to give him a ride to the pond.

"Little bit of weather," he said. "Should have worn three gloves. But it's the last day, I've got to get up there!"

Img Src: Johnny Hazard by Frank Robbins; Hermes Press.

December 22, 2012

Are you a physical culturist or something?

I've been walking along the shoulder of the road a lot lately. And people with trees on the roofs of their cars keep pulling over and asking if I need a ride. Spirit of Christmas.

will eisner cartoon

November 15, 2012

Historical Marker of the change of seasons.

Time to take the machines tired from a year of trail building to the spa, aka Farm-All-Fix (they've branched out).

Which is an excuse to link to this gallery of classic slash random old farm machinery, among other things.

historic marker

October 15, 2012

Historical Markers.

My dad always called them hysterical markers, and would pull over if we were on a vacation drive. That's the point of vacation after all. Which may explain a lot.

As is the way of things, over time the markers themselves become historic, or at least antiquarian, curiosities. I was pleased to find indexes of them online at Vt Division for Historic Preservation and a place called waymarking.com.

Cross Vermont Trail Association is working to create a new suite of "interpretive panels" along our route. Keep an eye out as they are developed. Hopefully they will add some icing on the cake to a state wide trip along the trail, like the kind of icing you use to hold together the pieces of a layer cake when they didn't come out of the pans all in one piece, or you messed up a little bit slicing them, and tricking out the underlying themes of natural and cultural history flowing through the Winooski River and Wells River valleys.

historic view of Jonesville

Photo by Homer Locke; use courtesy of Town of Bolton.

September 15, 2012

And another gold mine of historical photos.

And I cave on my resolution to throttle back the hyperbole. The Town of Bolton website hosts an amazing collection of historic photos.

Shown here, the camera is looking south, over Jonesville, to what is now the Cross Vermont Trail route. The Jonesville Bridge over the Winooski and the Cochran Rd bridge over the Huntington River are both covered bridges. To which I say - Hyperbole! A lot of the buildings and the shapes of the fields look the same today, and it's fun to orient the then and now of the site. Check out the very large full size version for zooming and panning. If you are out on the Cross Vermont route today, keep an eye peeled for the church (?) on the upper left side of the photo. It is a private home now, but a grand building, and neat to see it anchored in history here.

woman on dock with record player

Photo Source: Lake Groton Association.

August 15, 2012

Summer at the pond.

I am spending some time on Lake Groton this August, and thank goodness.

The Lake Groton Association has a real treasure trove of history about the "pond" from lumber camp days to state park days. These are real stories.

woman weeding garden

July 15, 2012

Garden is getting there.

Minus the little weeds, we rend and tear.

The Cross Vermont Trail route in Marshfield goes right by the really quite photogenic Wellspring Farm CSA. Worth a visit.

Ivy Lee and Tim Berners Lee

Come on, Mr. Lee.

June 15, 2012

Making Connections.

So, going to the North Country News in the first place because thinking about "public outreach", and press releases, and the internet, and tying it all together. And bang, there is the intersection of Tim Berners Lee, you know, and Ivy Lee who it turns out invented the Press Release. Sent out in 1906. After a train wreck, so it ties into railroad history as well. (The railroad company was in no way at fault, it turns out, according to Ivy. I guess they got off easy on the first one.) Follow the thread here, here, and here.

And then there is the radio. Where NPR had a story about how the human brain is hardwired to look for patterns associated with rewards. So, when there is occasional reward, but no pattern, the brain gets into an increasingly obsessive search for the pattern that is not there. This explains how slot machines prey on gamblers. And something else, too, I think.

car in grass

May 15, 2012

Happy Spring.

Hurray for spring, treat yourself to this plethora of wildlife photos from North Country News.

I am one of the few people I know who do not claim to have seen a catamount in Vermont. However, one day along the railbed in Groton I did manage to snap this picture of jaguar.

historic snow groomer

April 15, 2012

History all the same.

Mostly, though, what the books told me was that Vikings did their long distance travelling in the winter, when the swamps were frozen over. Fairs and large gatherings were scheduled for the cold time of the year. Lots cheaper than building boardwalks, trestles, bridges or trackways; and, except for some allegorical eskimos, involving less terminology.

Closer to home, that same thread of history leads to the great network of trails that open up for cross country snow sports each year in Vermont. Like they say over at the Barre Sno-Bees snowmobile club history page, who should know.

runic carving

It says "SigrÝ­r, AlrÝkr's mother, Ormr's daughter, made this bridge for the soul of Holmgeirr, father of Sigr°­r, her husbandman." and it's called the Ramsund Carving.

March 15, 2012

Not alone in gushing about wooden trackways.

I lived one (Vermont) winter in a house with no heat, and became very interested in reading about Viking history. Tales of four foot think turf walls, peat fires, cattle stabled in doors - it was an escape. However, as often happens the real escape came from unexpected stories (that were trail related). Apparently, in medieval Scandinavia wooden causeways were a big deal. It sounds like wealthy nobles would sponsor their construction through swamps in the way that gentry elsewhere would sponsor cathedrals, music or art. In fact, a significant percentage of the famous Viking runestones commemorate the construction of wooden roads, rather than battles or raids. Boardwalks seem to have been seen in just as dramatic a light as those other things - the Ramsund Carving celebrates construction of a bridge by showing a hero killing a dragon, of course.

Continuing this trippy (not to say freudian) approach, the modern bridge between Sweden and Denmark goes half way across an ocean passage, then , in an unexpected twist for a bridge, plunges under the water and finishes the crossing as a tunnel. Of course there is a wikipedia page for it.

diagram of bog bridge

Now, that's a blueprint. Source: Wikipedia, who else?.

February 15, 2012

Rising above (is not that new an idea).

Sometimes hitting the random article button on Wikipedia is a gold mine. This is too cool. A boardwalk from 3800 BC preserved in an English marsh. It is basically the same technique as puncheon built on hiking trails in New England these days. Turns out, of course, that there is a whole body of study on neolithic wooden trackways and bog hydrology AKA Sweet Tracks. Boardwalks are pretty much always good trail - when well built and maintained, which is expensive. But when they are, they create a trail that "soars" through fragile area. In practice, with a boardwalk you see a trail with the vegetation growing up to and through the trail, which at the same time presents a durable, inviting tread. (As contrasted with the churned muddy swath lined with fruitless pleas to "stay on trail.") The impact on the site is front loaded during construction (where it can be managed well), after which there is, essentially, zero marginal impact on the site per trail user. Also too cool, modern examples of elevated, light-penetrating walkways as a protection technique that provide access while protecting riparian habitat from Alaska Fish and Game.

long island sound after irene

View of Long Island Sound after Tropical Storm Irene. Source: Caledonia Natural Resource Conservation District.

January 15, 2012

(portion of) Cross Vermont Trail takes off for a beach vacation.

Cold, muddy beaches, that is, like when I was a kid, which makes a kid tough, right? Or smart?

So, one last farewell to Irene reporting. Some additional sweeping photos are posted by Mansfield Heliflight.

Next up - revegetation and erosion control projects.

book cover

Thursday September 1, 2011

High Water at Catfish Bend

Anyone else read this as a kid? I think maybe he didn't make some of it up, now.

Also thinking back to hiking on the Florida Trail. Walking through the waist deep water. Really I had thought of swamps as murky and dirty, but really the water was crystal clear, and while walking I looked down at my feet and saw leaves and twigs and a path, just like normal, just under water. Of course, at any distance couldn't see the forest floor, just the shimmer of the surface tension. Thinking about large predators that swim. Thinking that steel shank mountaineering boots were maybe not what to bring next time. The water in Groton a few days ago, pooled on the trail, was clean like that, anyway.

Wednesday February 2, 2011

Blog post for a snowy day.

It's trail related - broadly defined.


A view along Mouth of the Winoooski River Loop.

Sunday December 19, 2010

Painted Lines

The question has come up. Can you make a path by painting lines? I wonder. I know I often say "trails are made in the mind of the user first, and then with stone and steel. If it's not a trail in people's heads, then nothing else you do matters". So . . . does painting bike lanes on the side of a road make a bike path in people's heads? And if it does, do you need to do anything more than that?

Maybe if the lines were painted like this . . . Roadsworth Gallery.


VYCC crew tries rolling down the window
to cool off on a hot day.

Friday September 24, 2010

The Ravine

Headed out today to take a load of rubbish to the transfer station. Chipping away at this year's pile of stuff we pulled from the the ravine. There's always a ravine.

Didn't Ray Bradbury write a story about an elderly man who feels compelled to return to his childhood neighborhood, and then to climb down into the overgrown ravine behind his old house, and then into the hollow of a rotted tree, where he finds a bottle sealed with a note his 8 year old self had written and left for him to find eighty years later, to remind him of his hopes and dreams and other Ray Bradbury treacle type stuff? You can see from a sketch map he made, the ravine loomed pretty large in Bradbury's mind's eye view of his childhood landscape. I sometimes think that the kids who help out on Cross Vermont Trail projects each summer are going to be walking along decades from now, and come across a section of trail, and suddenly remember having built it themselves years before, and the feeling of the sweat drying on their face as they crested the top of the bank coming up out of the ravine, heaved the rusty wheel rim over the edge, and stepped up into the breeze, waiting there for them like the note in Bradbury's story. (But don't tell them I said so, they'll just make fun.)


Monday September 6, 2010

Swinging Hammer Vermont

Speaking of Yannick, he has a star turn at micro-fame for his role on the Cross Vermont Trail volunteer vacation page where there's a photo of him swinging a hammer.

I've been dabbling in website analytics. Wondering who visits our site, how we rank in searches and whatnot. The short answer is - we don't rank (yet). But if you're just micro-famous, it might as well be for a sleeves rolled up kind of thing. And as determined by Google analytics, that picture of Yannick is the third most viewed/linked/web connected item on our site, after the index page and the trail maps.

Swinging a nine pound hammer looks like real work, feels like numb wrists, smells like gunsmoke when it smacks the granite; and sounds a little something like this (between my ears anyway).

man bikes on busy street

Photo Credit: Mathieu Bouyer

Monday April 19, 2010

Yannick's bike trip blog

Cross Vermont Trail volunteer crew alumnus Yannick Drangowski writes to let us know he is blogging about his bike trip from France to Istanbul.

Actually what he said was "ola todos suite a notre arriver en turquie, nous commencons a mettre le blogg a jour, jetez y un petit coup d'oeil, n'hÚsitez pas a ajouter vos commentaires, et a faire passer le lien a qui vous voulez.... a bientot hi everyone, after two weeks biking, we've finally reached istanbul, we've started updating our blog, and there's some picture, (deleted, pardon his french) the french text and go have a look."

Wednesday March 17, 2010

We get - guarantee of multiple uses.
We trade away - the guarantee of speed.

The default mode on a shared trail is "yield." If in doubt, slow down, say hello, stop if needed, pass safely. Downhill yields to uphill, faster yields to slower. I recently had a chance to talk with folks from Gravity Logic. They build mountain bike trails at ski resorts out west. I was really fired up by their stories about using wooden trestle bridges to allow trail building in difficult spots. (More on that later.) I wasn't surprised when they said that, in their business, it makes sense to build single use trails. What really struck me, though, was when they emphasized that they work hard not only to make their trails single use, but also with only one direction of travel! In order to break free of the "yield" trade off, they basically end up building trails that work like bobsled chutes.

chicken on a donkey

Friday January 29, 2010

No Chickens or Donkeys on Multi Use Trails

What I hear people say is - THEY don't mind multi use trails, it's just that they're conerned (and feeling chicken about sharing the trail) because OTHERS might be inconsiderate (and behave like, ahem, "donkeys"). Consider a typical example; this article is titled how to manage multi use trails, but ends up being preoccupied with conflict between users. Now here's the good news. Traffic engineers have been looking at this topic. They find that designing a travel way to be shared (rather than having separate uses in separate lanes that happen to be near each other) actually causes people to behave considerately towards each other. Of course, they get in each others way, too. More on that later.

looking at engine

Monday December 21, 2009

How Things Really Go

I think that the real barrier to using bikes everyday isn't fashion, it's mechanics. At least for me it is. Which you may say is more reflective of my relative style sense, but which I like to think is a demonstration of my personal Pauli Effect. I can't get down the trail without breaking shoe laces, much less anything else. Sure, sure, sure, "velcro sneakers" you say; but that misses the larger point. I say choose fearless celebration of gizmos, like that found in Sheldon Brown's classic bicycle technical articles. (Celebrate is a good word. It means you don't have to be exceptionally good at it to enjoy it.)

four helmets

Thursday October 15, 2009

Laundry Basket Chic

It's nice to have friends from the country who send in photos of how things really go.

four helmets

Sunday July 26, 2009

Helmet Chic

One odd thing about the "cycle chic" or "slow bike movement" folks is their strident objection to helmets. They lump helmets in with NASA inspired titanium frames and form fitting special outfits - as barriers to the average person just getting on their bike and going. I disagree. Tires on your rims are common sense. So is a seat on your frame. So is a helmet on your head.

Cheap, too. See the buyers' guide at Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.

bikes parked in front of beauty shop

Thursday June 18, 2009

Cycle Chic

Speaking of the great nations of Europe. Get inspired to Copenhagenize the bike culture in your town. Read a blog by the inadvertent founder of the "cycle chic" or "slow bike" movement. His beef: it's ordinary to ride bikes in Copenhagen because, well, it's ordinary. It's not a sport or a hobby or really even a movement. Symbolized by the fact that bike shops in Denmark do not sell clothes, for the same reason car dealerships do not sell clothes. It's assumed you'll just ride your bike wearing whatever it is you're wearing that day.

I notice also that Copenhagen has nicely made bike paths. That helps.

sign advertising safe routes to school program

Friday June 12, 2009

The second key to a great blog post.

Is linking to other blogs.

Check out Jon Kaplan's "scan" of the state of the art in Europe during May of 2009. Jon is the bike/ped coordinator at VTrans.

I'm enough of a geek to agree that neat design can head a lot of problems "off at the pass." And more than enough of a geek to like looking at pictures of bike paths, especially when they are called "innovative bike treatments".

flying pig

Friday June 5, 2009

The key to a great first ever blog entry is the right picture.

And a link: Go Bengals!