Why wait for heaven when you can go to Vermont right now: Days 102-103
07/30 (Day 102)
I decided to spend the day in Quechee and stay another night. I only had 70 miles to go but wasn’t scheduled to arrive in Waitsfield until August 1st so I had time to kill. The morning was a relaxing one and I felt great after a solid nights rest. I spent most of the day at the house writing, playing with the camera, talking to David and then left the house around 3:00.
It was a gorgeous day and I headed to the ibex outdoor clothing headquarters just five miles away in White River junction. On my way over there I stopped at a cold spring fed creek to wash up. It was a stunningly beautiful day and I was happy to be out riding the bike without the trailer. My visit with Ibex was really fun and I learned about some of the sustainability measures they are taking. I met a couple dozen of the employees and was really happy to see that they all seemed to be living the lifestyle that they are selling. Almost everything they make is made 100% of Merino sheep’s wool. They are big into sustainability and have some great initiatives going on. Here is a video about one of their recycling initiatives.
Leaving Ibex I could smell freedom in the air, imagining that in just over 36 hours I would be a free man. Free of all my rigorous rules and limitations and free to do what ever I wanted when I felt like it. I have felt great levels of freedom on this journey and I am in fact a free man but in just a few days I will be able to turn on a light if I chose to, or take a shower, or use a washing machine to wash my clothes, or drink water from the tap. This is the freedom that awaits me. But by immersing myself in these sustainable measures I know that I will not loose them or shake them off just like that. Although I will be back to living “normally” they will stick with me. In comparison to the radical life I’ve been living for the last 102 days I will be living quite freely.
I headed to the co-op and bought a cookie and some of the fruit that was on its way out on the bargain shelf. I sat in a chair in the dining nook and reveled in the joy that it brought me to sit there. Today I relaxed and today I smiled all day long. My heart is smiling inside and it also feels great levels of stirring that I can’t put a word to. I’m very happy though and feel very fortunate to be alive.
It turns out a Facebook friend of mine lives just 2 miles from where I’m staying which is quite surprising considering I am in the middle of nowhere. We met online because of a mutual friend, Rebekah, and she invited me over for dinner with her family, which I gladly took her up on. From the co-op I took the scenic route back to the house and took in the beauty that surrounded me. I wasn’t in a hurry to get anywhere and was content with breathing in the fresh air and laying my eyes on the pretty trees. Back at the house I did some writing and David made us a pizza. Sheila went out of town to a conference so it was just he and I at home. We talked for a couple of hours today. He’s a cool dude.
I pedaled over to Rose’s home in Quechee and it was a stunningly gorgeous two-mile ride. This land is out of this world beautiful and makes me want to cry every time I come around a corner. Rose and her friends and family were so welcoming and enjoyable to spend the evening with. She cooked up a small feast of healthy food and I stuffed myself until my eyes didn’t want to stay open anymore. The food was delicious and the conversation was enjoyable. She’s really into permaculture and has spent many years out in Hawaii tending to the land. When she was 18 years old for her senior year in high school she sailed around the whole world. Her mom was a fun character too with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. These women have had no shortage of good living.
I rode home in the pitch dark with my tiny little solar charged flashlight illuminating the way. I turned it off for much of the ride and rode along in the darkest dark I’ve ever ridden it. It was trippy to know I was moving but not really be able to see. The road was freshly paved and jet-black so it had close to no reflection of the light in the sky.
07/31 (Day 103)
The morning ride could not have been more beautiful. Everywhere I looked I saw beauty. The sky is so blue, the clouds are so white, and the trees are so green. The combination could make any grown man cry. The route followed the Attauquechee River for the first ten or fifteen miles and I stopped for a swim in its pristine water. I floated down the swift river a bit and found a big rock to clamber up and bask on. Huge logs were wedged into the cracks of the massive rock and made for a great plank to jump into the deep hole below. I played as long as I could but I only had a bit of time to kill this morning as I told the Biedler’s I’d be at their farm at noon for lunch.
Off highway 14 I took a right onto Happy Hollow road and the paved road ended and turned into dirt. I pedaled hard up a steep hillside with crystal clear creeks trickling down on both sides and wondered if I’d end up in a situation like before in the woods on primitive trails. My stomach was rumbling with so much hunger that I could feel my seat shaking and I imagined a farm-cooked meal with fresh cold milk awaiting me at the Biedler’s Organic Valley farm. When I wasn’t thinking about lunch I thought about the Stoller’s who I had stayed four nights with back in Ohio a few thousand miles ago. Fond memories of playing with the kids on the farm, hanging out in the kitchen eating home made pie, ice cream, and popsicles, and looking in the pantry at there bounty of canned goods kept me company as I rode. I learned a lot about organic dairy farming on their farm and ate more than my share of home cooked food.
As I continued north up the steep gravel roads the sweetest smell filled the air and my nose full of happiness. It was a smell so sweet it would brighten anyone’s day. I wished that I could wear that smell on me everywhere I went. It was a smell so sweet that it could bring peace to the world. The hills beat me up but I knew all the harder I worked the more I would enjoy the food at the farm. I pedaled up and down, but mostly up, with a smile on my face. I was so hungry that I could barely pedal move on but I eventually made it to the farm at 1:00.
Upon arrival I sat down for lunch with Regina, Brent, and their daughter Erin and filled my stomach nearly to its threshold. We had great conversation over lunch and I learned all about their small family farm. They milk 35 cows and supply the milk to Organic Valley. Their cows are completely grass fed and spend the entire summer out at pasture besides the couple hours it takes to milk them each day.
When they started farming in Vermont about 13 years ago in 2000 there were 47 organic farms. Now there are over 205, over half of which are part of the Organic Valley co-op. There are a total of 900 dairy farms in Vermont which means nearly a quarter of them are organic. Regina and Brent expect to see that percentage increase drastically over the next years as farmers start to realize the many benefits of farming organically. They do what is called rotational grazing which puts the cows on a new patch of grass every day to graze. This is becoming more and more common throughout Vermont and the USA and is a very healthy way of feeding cows and tending to the land.
We walked down to bring the cows in from the pasture and the cows were interested in me and most were fairly friendly with me which I am not used to. Usually they are very timid. I watched baby cows suck milk from the udder and they were not gentle on their momma’s. Brent also grow spelt and wheat which they mill right here on the farm into flour which they sell locally. I watched the wood made mill do its magic and they gave me a five-pound bag of whole-wheat flour to take with me. They showed me the fields where the cows graze on dozens of species of grass and I helped them pick hundreds of beetles off of their grapevines, which we fed to the beautiful chickens. I learned a lot in the four hours I was there and enjoyed every minute of conversation with them. It was a much quieter time there than on the Stoller farm and a much smaller operation. I’m happy to see that the Biedler’s are able to live a happy organic life on their farm and I felt very fortunate to spend time with them.
I rode off at 6:00 into the town of Randolph and wrangled myself a warmshowers.org host so that I would not have to sleep outside of a church or on a picnic table. It was a five-mile ride with a heavenly vista and on the edge of town I stopped at a picnic table where I sat for a few hours and this journal.
In just 14 hours, after 4,700 miles of riding over 103 days, I will be at the 1% for the Planet headquarters in Waitsfield. My life on the bike will be over soon. For now…