Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Day 1 Tours:
We arrived at Charles DeGaulle Airport early in the morning on Tuesday, September 16. We stopped to get some Euros and headed directly to the train station. The TGV to Tours was due in about an hour so we bought tickets and found a place to sit. We were both exhausted. As opposed to United Airlines which gives passengers nothing to eat on their red-eye flights, Continental fed us dinner and breakfast. While this is a nice touch, it cuts into sleeping time. The train was on time, our reserved seats were easy to find and it was a beautiful, sunny day. Early afternoon we arrived in Tours.
Here's a photo of the train station.
Fortunately our hotel is only a few blocks from the station and our room was ready. We had stayed at the Hotel Moderne last year at the end of our trip. We knew it was economical and comfortable, so we made a reservation for our first night on this trip. It was the only reservation we made in advance. We planned to walk as far as we wanted to each day and find lodging when we arrived in town.
After lunch, I decided to have a rest but DH, who had slept all the way down on the train decided to explore the city. In the evening we had dinner at a nearby restaurant. Fortunately we were not too troubled by jet lag and awoke around 7:00 the next morning for our first petit dejeuner.
If you look closely at the photo you will notice the small green and white fireplace sign. It indicates the hotel belongs to the Logis de France network. It's made up of 3,200 privately run and reasonably priced hotels and restaurants throughout France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. We love these hotels. Each one is unique; most are in very old buildings. The owners are welcoming and helpful. We were able to pick up a guidebook to Logis de France hotels in the Loire and carried it with us as we walked.
Day 2 Tours to Savonnieres:
The guidebook said it was 12 kilometers to Savonnieres and an additional three to Villandry. We decided to see how it went rather than commiting to go all the way to Villandry.
It is at Tours that the GR 3 crosses from the right bank of the Loire to the left.
The trail goes along the Cher for a bit, crosses a foot bridge and continues on the velo route along the left bank of the Cher all the way to Savonnieres. We saw many bicyclists. The Loire region is now riddled with off road bike trails and we talked quite a bit about coming back some time in the future and biking the area.
This sign says, "Share the road." The dedicated bike trail occasionally joined a quiet country road for a short distance.
We arrived in Savonnieres in time for a late lunch. It was my first opportunity to have a French omelet, one of my favorite lunches. It's usually served with a salad. Even the smallest places can turn out a tasty meal. Here we ate outdoors at tables across the street from the brasserie.
After lunch we looked around for a place to stay. We had seen one hotel on the way into town. Then we noticed a sign for a bed and breakfast and decided we would inquire. The proprieter, Marie Claude Lisbona, was working in her garden. She showed us into her beautiful home, La Variniere. The guest suite was on the lower level. In addition to a large bedroom, sitting room and bath, there was an indoor swimming pool built into a cave. Marie Claude spoke excellent English and we had a pleasant discussion.
The restaurant next door to La Variniere was closed. We asked Marie Claude for a suggestion and she said there was an excellent restaurant in the next town. She said her husband would drive us and pick us up. She made a a reservation and at the appointed time we were whisked to L'Etape Gourmand outside Villandry. We had a wonderful meal based on local ingredients, many of them grown on the L'Etape Gourmand property.
Before we left, Marie Claude took our photo in front of the house.
Dick and I decided day two had been a bit long so we wanted a shorter walk today. I was having some foot pain as well. We decided we would walk the three kilometers to Villandry and spend some time exploring there. We backtracked along the main street in Savonnieres, checked out the church and then climbed the 100 steps to rejoin the GR.
A word about the GR: France is crisscrossed by walking trails. The GR's or Grande Randonnee are long distance trails. The GR 3 which we followed goes predominantly along the Loire River. Some of the time it's right on the river bank, other times is cuts away to travel through forests, fields or vineyards. Sometimes it's a woodland path, a quiet country road or as mentioned above, a bike trail. It's a wondeful way to see the country up close. When we are walking, we use guidebooks from the FFRP, the hiking organization that maintains the trails. The left side of the page is a topo map and the right is a description of the terrain, sights and services along the way. The trail is marked with red and white blazes.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
This morning Hubby and I met up with a group of bicyclists. The plan was to ride south along the shore of the Hudson from the George Washington Bridge to Hoboken, take the ferry to Manhattan and ride north along the west side bike path in New York City and cross back into NJ on the G W Bridge. These routes are part of the East Coast Greenway.
About 30 people showed up, with a wide variety of bicycles including three or four tandems and a recumbent. We set off shortly after 8 AM. The leaders were very knowledgeable which was important. Only some sections of the off road path are complete and we would ride for a mile or two along the river and then have to ride on the street for a bit. The leaders controlled car traffic when we were out on the road and knew just when to rejoin the bike path.
The participants were primarily from New York, New Jersey and surrounding areas, but there was also a couple from Belgium who happened to be visiting. There is considerable interest in the East Coast Greenway which will ultimately be an off road walking and biking trail that stretches from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. Many sections are complete, but there are also many miles currently on public roads. This ride was intended to build enthusiasm and support (volunteer and monetary) to close the gaps.
All new development on the riverbank is required to provide a thirty foot wide buffer to allow public access to the river. Each development has interpreted this differently and there are many different paving styles along the way. The real challenge will be to insure that the various developments continue to maintain the pathway. Already there are some spots that need a bit of work.
Once we crossed the Hudson, we joined the bicycle path that goes up the west side of Manhattan from the Battery to the George Washington Bridge. This is a beautifully maintained path although like any amenity in NYC, it's heavily used and some care was necessary when passing or being passed.
We made a brief stop at the Little Red Lighthouse under the bridge and then began the arduous task of climbing from the river bank to the level of the bridge. Many of us found it necessary to push our bikes part of the way but we all made it. I found the trip across the bridge a bit nerve wracking because the walkway is rather narrow and it's two way. There were many bikers coming from NJ and some of them were riding rather fast. At some points the trail snakes around the bridge supports making sharp turns in narrow spaces.
Soon we were on the other side and heading back to the park where we left our cars. Following the ride, most of us repaired to T.J.'s Steak Pit in Fort Lee where we enjoyed a lunch together.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
February Lady Sweater
This was a long slog. I made two attempts at this project with a yarn called Marco Polo but the gauge was not right. While I was at knitting camp, my sister and I made a side trip to Patternworks and I saw this yarn, Waterlily by Classic Elite, on sale. I bought nine skeins thinking it would be enough. Well...I ran out of yarn. A call to Patternworks revealed they had no skeins left in Leaf. I finally tracked some down at WEBS but it wasn't the same dye lot. I was nearly finished with the second sleeve so I knit one row of the old yarn and two rows of the new for a few pattern repeats. I can see that one sleeve is slightly, and I mean slightly, different, but if I don't point it out to anyone... Now it's a matter of waiting for weather cool enough to wear it.
While I was out in California visiting the twins, my DIL asked me if I could make some soakers for the babies. She and my son are committed to using cloth diapers as well as recycling and reducing their carbon footprint. Apparently knitted diaper covers made with wool are very absorbant and much better for babies' skin than plastic pants.
I did some research on ravelry and found a really cute pattern by Heather Johnson for a soaker and what she calls a skirty. It was with this project that I had to call on the skills I learned at camp including the crochet cast on, life lines, I-cord, Lily Chin's improved yarn over buttonholes, picking up stitches and the picot bind off. It was a real feeling of accomplishment to take on and finish projects I would have rejected in the past because they called for a complicated knitting skill.
I'm almost finished with a skirty for Linny and will post photos soon.
Friday, September 5, 2008
I went out to see Becca B and her siblings yesterday. It was the first day of school for the older kids but Becca's nursery school doesn't start until next week so she and I had a nice private visit while Katie napped. You can see the hat is a success. Becca particularly liked the I-cord loop on top. She told me it's the perfect way to hang up the hat when she's not wearing it.
It was a delight to see the pleasure on her face when she tried it on and checked herself out in the mirror.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Unfortunately this yarn has been discontinued and is not readily available. The manufacturer, Classic Elite Yarns, e-mailed me a list of yarn shops that might have stock left. WEBS has five skeins although the representative wasn't sure what dye lot they were. She is sending me three skeins and I can only hope the color is not too far off.
I think the sweater is a bit short and I plan to frog the bottom garter stitch trim and add a few more pattern repeats. Other than that, I'm pretty pleased with how it is coming along.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The photo, taken in front of my tent (which was a bit soggy at times) is of me and my three travel companions. It was a long trip from NJ and we shared driving responsibilities. We're a companionable foursome and it was fun getting to know each other better.
Ferry Beach is a large compound situated right on the ocean near Saco, Maine. it's been in existance for more than 100 years. There are lots of guest rooms, meeting spaces, a beautiful outdoor chapel and a campground. The food is tasty and plentiful.
Those in attendance had a choice of morning workshops including yoga, shamanic journey, women loving women, sacred circle dance, discovering the super shero within and Soul Conversations for Women over 50, the one I chose.
There were 11 of us in the soul conversations group including our fearless leader, Julie. We ranged in age from late fifties to 91 and came from the east coast of the US and Canada. Some of us are straight and some are gay; some in committed relationships and some living alone.
We spent each morning in deep conversation about our lives to date and our hopes and fears for the future. A number of us were at or near retirement and were thinking about change. Over the course of six days we developed a level of trust and honesty that was very rewarding. I felt that these women had become my sisters.
Meals and the late afternoon social hour offered opportunities to meet other women and have conversations about politics, diversity, grandchildren and the frequent rain showers. Those so inclined took bike rides, hiked or enjoyed the beach.
It was a week that expanded my horizons and made me grateful for "the company of women."
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The Thistle Hill Shelter did not appear on my map but that may be because my map is from 1995! I tried to buy a new guidebook and map set in Hanover but the book store was out and wasn't planning to reorder because a new edition is in the works.
But, about trail magic. There were three people at the shelter when we arrived (a fourth, a southbounder arrived soon after we did). One hiker, a northbounder, was staying for a few days because he injured his toe. The other two, Pippi and Hamburgler, were just finishing up lunch. They told Matt and me that they were planning a 23 mile day because they wanted to get to Hanover. They still had about 14 miles to go which seemed like a lot to do before dark. We discussed the various services available in Hanover. They were hoping to find something indoors because rain was forecast again (it had rained heavily the previous day). Matt offered the use of his guest room if they couldn't find an indoor place elsewhere. They were grateful and said they would consider it.
Matt and I set off for West Hartford about five miles further north. We knew that Pippi and Hamburgler would be passing us because they were through hikers and much stronger than I am. Indeed they did come by not too long after we left the shelter. And, it did rain, rather heavily. There are a lot of open meadows on the trail in this section--between Route 12 and Route 14 in eastern Vermont--so we were not protected by the tree canopy. When we arrived in West Hartford we found Hamburgler and Pippi in the general store enjoying hot sandwiches. Matt and I bought ice cream and sat down to wait for DH to pick us up.
DH came along in about ten minutes and got an ice cream himself. I could see that Pippi and Hamburgler were thinking hard about the nine additional hiking miles to Hanover. We suggested they drive in with us, find a spot indoors, and then meet us again in the morning so we could drive them back to West Hartford. They thought for a few minutes and agreed that would be a plan.
We dropped them off in Hanover and they set off for a fraternity house that is known to put up four through hikers every night. Matt reminded them that they could crash at his place if the fraternity was full.
DH and I went back to the campground where our tent had dried out enough for us to sleep in it. Matt jumped on his bike and rode home.
This morning we decided we should have breakfast at Lou's in downtown Hanover. It's the place where all the through hikers go to get a big meal when they arrive in town. We had a great breakfast and spent some time reading the NY Times. Just as we left the restaurant my cell phone rang. It was Pippi. They did sleep at the fraternity house and were just about ready to go back to the trail. We took them to the Hanover Outfitter where they left their packs and drove them back to West Hartford leaving them at the general store.
We spent the morning doing errands and went back into Hanover for a late lunch. There on the street were Pippi and Hamburgler. They had finished the nine miles and were picking up their packs and supplies to continue on to Katahdin.
What a great couple! And, what a pleasure to be able to deliver some trail magic. Through hikers really appreciate it whether it's cookies left in a cooler by the side of the trail, a drive into town, a chance to sleep for free in someone's home. All of these things are a treat for hikers who only have their packs and their feet.
Pippi and Hamburgler assured us they would pay our kindness forward and I know they will. And, it gave me great pleasure to provide some trail magic myself.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
We started our trip in Charlottetown, the captial of PEI. We stayed the first night at The Rodd Charlottetown, an old Canadian railroad hotel that has been lovingly restored. On the advice of an AMCer we met in Maine, we took in the dinner theater there, a musical called The Nearlyweds which was hokey but fun.
Monday, July 7
We got up early on Monday morning, had breakfast and moved our car to a parking garage nearby. Our ride to Tignish, the eastern end of the trail was scheduled for 9 AM. At 9:20 we called the outfitter, which is located in Missouri of all places, and were told the van was running late. At 9:35 our driver appeared, loaded the bikes and our bags, and drove us to Tignish.
We had lunch at M and J's Bakery and set off for Alberton where we were scheduled to spend the night at the Hunter House Inn. The trail is well groomed with a surface of crushed gravel. We rode 14.6 miles including a short spur to Alberton and some road miles to reach the inn. Diane and Phil were great hosts and the room was lovely. After we showered and dressed for dinner, Phil drove us to the Boat Store in nearby Northport, on the water, where we had a good seafood dinner. Although Phil offered to pick us up after dinner, we decided to walk back to the inn. It was a bit further than we realized, but we made it.
Tuesday, July 8
After a good night's sleep we had a delicious breakfast at the inn and set off on the road, back to the trail and on to Bideford. We stopped in O'Leary for lunch at Vinny's Restaurant and then biked on to Ellerslie where we left the trail to ride to Bideford and Hilltop Acres B & B. Total mileage for the day was 34.5 miles. Wayne and Janice, gracious hosts who have biked the entire trail themselves, drove us to dinner at The Doctor's Inn. This was a special treat. We were the only guests at dinner and the meal was cooked to order based on the choices we had made the day before when we made the reservation. DH had scallops and I had sole almondine. There were many courses and plenty of wine. We finished off the meal with strawberry pie. Strawberries are in season on PEI during July and over the course of the week we had them for dessert in many variations.
Wednesday, July 9
We had a simple but ample breakfast and hit the road back to the trail. We fought a strong headwind all morning. This was one of the longer days, 36.4 miles and we were relieved to arrive in Summerside, our planned lunch stop. Wayne had recommended that we eat on the coast at Sharky's and we had great seafood again. We were establishing a pattern with DH nearly always ordering the lobster roll while I had PEI mussels. We took a walk through downtown, looking for a book I had enjoyed at Hunter House with sketches of the locomotives and cars on the old PEI Railroad but were told by a book seller that it was hard to find on the island. We got back on the bikes and set off for The Home Place in Kensington. We misread Henry's directions and rode quite a way off course before asking for directions at a local home improvement store. Back on track, we found the inn, quite close to the trail. On Henry's recommendation, we ate at the inn.
Thursday, July 10
Kensington to York was to be our longest day and we were a bit concerned when it started to rain before breakfast. Fortunately, there were two or three short showers but no real heavy rain. We put our rain jackets on a few times and then took them back off because it was too warm. Up until now the weather had been almost too warm so we were glad the showers cooled things off. We stopped in Hunter River at the By the River Cafe for lunch and then continued on to York and the Little York Inn. Total mileage for the day was 38.2
Our material from Henry didn't say anything about dinner that night. When we arrived in York, Robert, our inn keeper told us he could have made dinner if he had advance notice. We hadn't know this. York is not far from Charlottetown and he said we could take a taxi into the city, but we were reluctant to do so. Robert suggested the alternative of eating at an informal resort nearby that he could drive us to. We took him up on this and had a good but rather expensive dinner at the Stanhope Beach Resort. When we were finished eating, the waitress called Robert and he came back to fetch us.
We noted that Henry said we might be able to get lunch at Mt. Stewart and we asked Robert to confirm. He called the cafe and found they don't open before 2 PM. Robert offered to make us bag lunches and we took him up on his offer.
Friday, July 11
While enjoying great conversation and a wonderful breakfast with two other couples at Little York B & B, our luggage pick-up was announced. It was only 8:45 (we thought luggage had to be ready at 9 AM). We rushed from the table to finish packing and brush our teeth while the driver waited patiently at the front door of the inn. If breakfast is not served until 8 AM which was the case at most of the places we stayed, it's not possible to have the baggage ready before 9 AM at the earliest in our opinion.
Today's ride was 30.1 miles total including "the prettiest 11 kilometers on the trail" between Morell and St. Peters. But, before we got there, we went through the mosquito capital of PEI, Mt. Stewart. A mile or two west of Mt. Stewart we biked through a protected wetland area. As I rode I began to experience painful bites on my neck, back, arms and in my hair. It was about 11:30 AM when I arrived, a bit ahead of DH, at the Mt. Stewart Public Library. I parked my bike and immediately was attacked by about 100 mosquitos. I ran in the building to find the librarian and the adjoining shop owner who laughingly told me there had just been "a hatch." They invited me to stay inside, use the free internet service and eat my lunch. I kept an eye out for DH who arrived soon thereafter. He didn't come in the building at first and the two women told me it was because he was busy spraying himself with insect repellent. He soon joined me and we spent about two hours there checking e-mail and reading parts of the N Y Times.
By the time we were ready to continue on our way the mosquitos seemed to have left the scene. We were happy to have the bag lunches because the cafe, across the street from the library, did not open until 4 PM according to the posted signs. We made an additional stop at the Morell train station, now an information center and then rode the 11 kilometers to St. Peters. There were indeed lovely views.
We were relieved that our directions to tonight's inn were a bit off. It was five kilometers closer than Henry wrote and it was right off the trail, not three kilometers away. The Greenwich Gate Lodge in St. Peters was more like a motel, but the room was large, clean and comfortable. We had a fish and chips dinner next door at Rick's and slept soundly.
Saturday, July 12
Breakfast at Greenwich Gate was from 7 to 9 AM, much to DH's delight. It was billed as a continental breakfast, but it included oatmeal, toast, fruit, juice and muffins, more than enough to energize us for the relatively short 22.7 mile day to Souris. Today involved taking one of the spur trails and it was well worth it. The Matthews House Inn is a Victorian beauty. Kimberly and her husband were wonderful hosts and our room and the entire house for that matter were beautifully furnished with antiques. We arrived in time for lunch and headed over to the Blue Fin, within walking distance of the inn. We had a great seafood lunch and headed back to check in. I took my usual afternoon nap while DH read and relaxed. We went back to the Blue Fin for dinner and then had a good night's sleep.
Sunday, July 13
I awoke this morning feeling rather sad that our ride was nearly over. Today was a particularly short day, only 15.8 miles. Again, the weather was beautiful. After a breakfast of cereal, scones and omelets we set off for Elmira, the end of the trail. Kimberly had called ahead for us and told us there was a cafe at the train station/museum in Elmira. We arrived around noon and had lobster rolls and ice cream. There were plenty of benches for us to sit on while we waited for the shuttle to arrive. The driver was actually 15 minutes early. He loaded the bikes and we drove to Souris to get the luggage and then on to the Snapdragon B & B in Charlottetown for our last night on PEI.
The Snapdragon is pretty upscale and we have a beautiful room on the second floor with a large deck outside. We walked into town, had another seafood dinner at a small restaurant at Prince and Water Streets, called Prince and Water, and spent some time amid the tourists down on the Quay where there was live music. As we walked back, we realized we could liberate our car from the parking garage (closed on Sundays but with no gates) and we drove it back to the Snapdragon.
Breakfast is scheduled for 8 AM tomorrow and then we will load the car and head to New Hampshire. I can't say enough good things about the Confederation Trail. The surface is wonderful, the accomodations were very good and the people here on the island are very pleasant. All in all, we had a wonderful time.
Friday, March 28, 2008
I've signed up for Knifty Knitted Neckline Knowhow, Advanced Finishing and Tips, Tricks and Hints. I'm looking forward to learning more about how to finish necklines and attach sleeves. That's always been the most challenging part of knitting for me.
I hadn't realized there would be lots of preparation for camp. Every course seems to have a list of knitting samples that will need to be completed before I arrive. I'm planning to take some time off in June and early July so I should have time to get the assignments finished.
One of the nicest things about knitting camp is that I will be going with my sister. She and I don't get to spend too much alone time with each other and I think it's going to be great. And, there will be all those other knitters to socialize with. I can't think of anything more fun.
If things work out, we'll be going directly from camp to the coast of Maine where we will join our DH's for a week at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Echo Lake Camp. We've submitted our applications and are awaiting the results of the lottery.
It looks as if the summer is really starting to shape up.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Two skeins of Sugar ‘n Cream Cotton Yarn
CC—Ombre with complimentary colors
Size 8 needles
With MC cast on 35 stitches
Work in seed stitch (knit 1, purl 1) for four rows
Begin pattern maintaining 3 stitch seed stitch border on either side in MC (you will have to attach a second skein of yarn for the three stitches on the far side). Be sure to wrap the yarn each time you change colors or you will have a hole in the bib:
Row 1: With CC [knit 5, slip 1] 5 times, knit 5
Row 2: With CC [knit 5, slip 1] 5 times, knit 5
Row 3: With MC knit across
Row 4: With MC knit across
Row 5: With CC knit 2, slip 1 [knit 5, slip 1] 4 times, knit 2
Row 6: With CC knit 2, slip 1 [knit 5, slip 1] 4 times, knit 2
Row 7: As row 3
Row 8: As row 4
Repeat these 8 rows four more times.
Repeat rows 1 through 3
Work in seed stitch for four rows
Continuing in seed stitch, work 7, bind off 21, work 7.
Leave first seven stitches on the needle or transfer them to a stitch holder, continue in seed stitch on the seven stitches you just worked, until the strap measures 5 inches. Bind off.
Attach yarn and work the other seven stitches in seed stitch until the strap measures 4.5 inches. Make button hole by binding off one stitch in the center of a row. Cast on one stitch in the center of the next row. Work until strap measures 5 inches. Bind off.
Weave in ends. Sew button on strap. Block if necessary.
If you try this and you run into a problem with the directions, please leave me a message in the comments section.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I'm out in California visiting with the newest of my grandchildren, twins, Linnea and Peregrine, born October 5, 2007. This is my second visit--it's a long way from New Jersey to northern California, but I want to be a part of their lives and this is one way to do it.
In between in-person visits, we use a web cam. Perry and Linnie don't quite understand what they are looking at, but we enjoy seeing how they are growing and developing. You should have seen the look on my mother's face when she saw the twins moving around, holding rattles, when I set up the computer and web cam at her place.
By the way, northern California is lovely this time of year. The daffodils are in bloom and the temperature is in the sixties by afternoon each day. We've been out for a walk every day.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
I have a few projects OTN, including Babies and Bears sweaters for the twins but I've gotten really caught up in making bibs.
When I was in California in November I checked out the LYS. My daughter had been in there a few days before and received a small cloth bag for her purchases. The store policy is to give the shopper a gift each time said shopper returns with the bag in hand. Most of the gifts are more appropriate for quilters or other sewing projects, but there is a coupon for a free skein of Sugar 'n Cream yarn. I stopped in the store a number of times while I was in Arcata and acquired a few different colors. I had never used this yarn before. I researched Ravelry to see what other people were doing with it.
Wash cloths and baby bibs--I have twin grandchildren (I'm sure I've mentioned this before) and I thought they could use some bibs. I made three using ideas I found on ravelry and then branched out using the Vogue Stitionary. It's addictive! And, it's almost instant gratification because they knit up so quickly.
The bibs from left to right are box stitch, chevron, knit and purl stripes, diagonal moss stripe, bricks and Miss Thing (based on the feather and fan stitch).
Sunday, February 3, 2008
So, back to knitting. Once my granddaughter tried on the tween jacket (that is, tried to try it on, as she could not fully insert her arms in the sleeves) I decided I would make some smaller items that would give me some quick satisfaction. I had some Sugar 'n' Cream cotton yarn which I had gotten when I was out in California. I searched the net and found any number of free patterns. I've finished two bibs at this point: a cornflower blue one for Perry and a yellow and pink feather and fan design for Linnie.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
We're told the weather will turn cold tomorrow (a hard freeze is forecast). We biked 20 miles today on the Withlacoochie Trail and will be content to stay in tomorrow if the weather calls for it. The coldest day in Florida is still warmer than the weather in NJ.