Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kid Hike to Mt. Elmore

We went on a hike near Morrisville, VT up Mt. Elmore. The hike leaves from the state park, and is about 4 miles round trip. The weather, foliage and views were great. I had never done this hike before. Mattie was staying with her dad in New Hampshire, so she wasn't part of this adventure. We stopped at the Green Mountain Club afterwards for a BBQ, as they were hosting a free BBQ for their volunteer trail maintainers (We do the Wampahoofus trail on Mt. Mansfield).

Em and Ruby nearing the top.

A pretty view of the Lamoille Valley.

Trying to push over Balanced Rock (we couldn't).

The gang at the lunch spot. Ruby, Ian, me, Em and Josh.

Walking down a dirt road with sunshine and spectacular folliage. What a perfect way to celebrate fall!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rosh Hashanah

This year, we had the Stein Family and the Bacon family over for Rosh Hashanah dinner at our house. It was baby Zeke's first Rosh Hashanah, as he's about 6 months old. L'Shana Tova!

Photo Credit Info: Photo's are Michael Stein's, not mine. Michael is available for professional photography too.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tour de Farm

We did the Tour de Farm bike ride in Shoreham VT yesterday. We did the 24 mile mountain bike ride with the kids on their tag-a-long bikes. It's a benefit for 3 non-profits, and the farms along the way. The idea is that you bike from farm to farm, and you get a taste of whatever the farm offers. We tried yogurt, cheese, lamb, turkey, cider, apples, raspberries and cookies. It was so much fun and the weather was beautiful.

Here is Mattie at the start, about 40 degrees.

Here we are at stop #1 having some turkey.

Here we are at stop #2 trying some cassoulet and cookies! Beautiful flowers at this farm.

Here we are stopping for a break on our way to Champlain Orchard with the Green Mountains behind us.

This was the toughest part of the trip, a hilly 8 mile stretch along Class IV roads.

We finally made it to the B Vineyard, where we tasted some wine and grapes.

Here was our last stop at a farm that makes drinkable yogurt. Here's Em watching the action in the milking parlor.

Shelburne Museum

We took a trip to Shelburne Museum. The museum is closed from Halloween to May, so we're trying to get a few last visits in before the closing. They have a motorcycle exhibit, and here is Josh dressed up as a motorcycle dude. We also stopped to see the carousel and different art exhibits.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Long Trail Backpacking Trip

I went on a 4 day trip backpacking from Appalachian Gap to Brandon Gap. I have no pictures since I don't take a camera with me. It was a great trip. I got a ride with a friend of a friend to the start point. Half mile in, I bumped into someone who was heading southbound so we hiked the next 4 days together. His trail name is Rockhopper, and I don't actually know his real name. For four days, we negotiated 10-15 miles a day of up and down. We had beautiful views, sunny skies, occasional showers, two chilly mornings, a campfire and continual searches for water. Like most thru-hikers (he was doing the whole Long Trail), our primary discussion topics were food, water, mileage, weather and food again. I had done this section long ago, but it had been at least 10 years since I had hiked most sections. On the way back, I hitchhiked with 2 other hikers from Brandon Gap to Middlebury, then a kind man in a solar powered RV took me from Middlebury to Shelburne Museum, then the CCTA bus from Shelburne to Burlington. No problem!

I love backpacking. I love the simplicity, the physical challenge, the people you meet, the challenges that you encounter and the views. It also helps me to decompress and love Vermont even more. These trips are highlights of the year for me. It's tough to get out and make it happen, but it's worth it for me.

Apple Picking

While Josh was off at a high ropes course with Young Judea, Emily and her friend Cecilia went to the apple festival at Shelburne Orchards. They really enjoyed the music, food and of course, apples!

Fishing Derby

While I was off backpacking, the kids went to the Fishing Derby on Lake Champlain. It's a free event with hundreds of kids who are given free poles, bait, prizes and instruction. They both caught fish! Josh especially loves fishing, and events like this really are helpful at getting kids outside and trying a new sport.

Drivers License Renewal

I had to renew my drivers license prior to my birthday on 10/2. In most places, it's a fairly impersonal process. You fill out the forms, send money, and you get your license a few weeks later. However, the DMV for the State of Vermont sent me my license in a hand addressed envelope with a thank you note with perfect penmanship! What a crazy place Vermont is.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Burlington Best Place in US for Families!

From the Burlington Free Press 9/16:

Burlington best place in U.S. to raise a family

By John Briggs, Free Press Staff Writer • September 16, 2009

The magazine (Children's Health Magazine) put Burlington at the top of a list of 100 American cities, looking for "the kind of place where a child can slip on her rubber boots, grab her colorful umbrella, and play on the quiet, tree-lined street outside her home without worry."
The ideal community, Children's Health said, is "safe, nurturing, stimulating, and economically sound.
A neighborhood where parents reflect your values -- education, health and fitness, concern for the environment -- and raise their children the same way."
Children's Health researcher Joel Weber said the national rankings were based on data from government and non-profit agencies. "We looked at six primary categories," he said.
"Employment, health, housing, safety, education and something we called family life. We had 30 (data) sources in all, then we just crunched the numbers for all these cities."
He said education was most heavily weighted. "I think the educational standard (in Burlington) really stands out from the national average," he said. "Students graduate with diplomas at a very, very high rate." Weber said that unlike many cities, Burlington schools continue to offer physical education classes, which is a factor for obesity and general health.
The magazine used Bureau of Labor statistics for unemployment rates, the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for crime data, and the American Community Survey for commute times to work and median family income.
Another weighted data point, Weber said: the number of fast-food restaurants per capita. Burlington had the fewest of all the cities in the survey. Burlington was followed in the rankings by Madison, Wis., Fargo, N.D., Lincoln, Neb., and Fremont, Calif.Regionally, Yonkers, N.Y., was number 10 on the list, New York City was rated 15th and Boston came in 21st.
-->(2 of 2)
At the bottom of the list were Fresno, Calif., Memphis, Tenn., Orlando and Miami in Florida and, at No. 100, Detroit.
Burlington was also selected this year by Business Week Magazine as the best city in Vermont to raise children.
It was selected as runner-up in the 2009 City Cultural Diversity Award by the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials and National League of Cities -- an award that recognizes city leadership in dealing with diversity issues. In November the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated Burlington "the healthiest city in the U.S.A.," for statistics on frequency of exercise and the low incidence of obesity and other indicators of poor health.
Mayor Bob Kiss said he is pleased with the latest national recognition for Burlington."What I like is that they assessed different factors," he said. "That means it's not just anecdotal. I think we all know that people are doing a lot of things right in Burlington."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Biking on the Colchester Causeway

On Labor Day, we went biking out the Burlington bike path and onto the Colchester Causeway. We also stopped to watch the Green Mountain Stage Race, which is a 4 day race around Vermont for amateurs and pros.

A random photo of our Ledge Rd Lemonade Stand, where we raise money for COTS (a homeless charity). It was a cool day on this photo, and we only sold about 10 lemonades in 45 minutes.

Stopping for lunch in South Hero on our bike trip by the lake.

Biking on the causeway.

Josh biking on the causeway!

Labor Day BBQ

We went to Mattie's friends house for a BBQ in Essex. It was very cool. The temperatures were in the 40s even in Burlington.

Moonrise over Mt. Mansfield.

We stopped to go fishing at Indian Brook Reservoir in Essex VT.

Champlain Valley Fair

While I went hiking with the Green Mountain Club, Mattie and kids went with Kathleen Boulanger and her family to the Champlain Valley Fair.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Running Race in NYC

When I was in NYC, I did a 4 mile running race in Van Cortland Park. It's one of the few cross country running sites that's accessible by subway. It was surprisingly tough and hilly. I finished in 28:01 which was a bit disappointing, I was about 45th place out of about 250. It was a fun event simply due to the diversity of the competitors. The Yeshiva University team was there (the Maccabees) but only the men ran. The women didn't compete but they were training in long skirts with leggings underneath! The City College of NY (CUNY) there was there too. It was shockingly diverse compared to races in Vermont. On a typical Sunday in the Bronx, there were several Hispanic soccer teams playing next to our race, and the Southeast Asian cricket teams started playing at noon (I still don't understand cricket.) The race had unusual obstacles like ice cream trucks, Hispanic kids all dressed up in their Sunday church attire, and large mud puddles from Tropical Storm Danny which came through one day earlier.

The guy below and I got caught in a finishing sprint duel. He's at least 20 years older than me, but awfully speedy. I won our little duel by a second. A little victory!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

First Day of School

Today 9/2 was the first day of school for elementary schools in Vermont. Emily is entering second grade, and Josh is entering third grade. Emily has the same teacher that Josh had last year. Josh is actually in a 3/4 grades classroom. He has a male teacher, a rarity at the elementary school level. Unfortunately, a lot of their first few days of school is taken up with standardized testing. Testing is important, but it certainly is a tough way to start a school year. They will both be going to after-school at the YMCA as they have done since pre-school. We biked to school today, and Emily enjoyed biking on the re-paved sidewalks which are far smoother than they were last summer!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Great Neck NY

On Sunday, I visited the Great Neck NY branch of the Scheidt family. I took the train out after doing a running race in Van Cortland Park, and had a nice dinner with everyone.

Here are the master grillers, Peter and Noah.