Monday, 26 January 2015

The Road Less Traveled Leads to Shangri-La

If it weren't for the places I have seen by bike, less travelled than those by car, I would never have happened upon an absolutely wonderful little piece of paradise, close to enough to home that within an hour and a short stop at a quiet border crossing, I am settled in with my small two-man tent, my camp gear, and, of course, my bike.

I don't want to tell anyone about my new discovery. We all have our own "best kept secrets"...

In one of my earliest blogs, I spoke of the allure of the rail trail, and how for a cyclist they have become a worthy alternative to riding on pavement, within reach and surrounded by rolling hills, green pastures and cornfields bringing to mind those in "Field of Dreams" and the mystery surrounding them.

My secret paradise is near one of these rail trails, but I still hesitate to give you its name. 
But perhaps a clue as to its location...

The Mississquoi Rail Trail in upstate Vermont is a wonderful trail that meanders through fields and small villages, slightly inching North and East from St. Albans in the West to its conclusion in Richford in the East, just south of the Quebec border.

My secret Shangri-La is perfection in its simplicity. I can't tell you exactly why I feel this way about it, yet it continues to draw me in thought, even during winter when I am unable to access it.



I only recently discovered it, but in a short period of one month last autumn, I visited three times...
I yearn for the late Spring when I will surely visit again...

Within its borders, I could spend the day on my bike meandering at a quiet pace,
or perhaps just strolling and listening to the light whisp of leaves falling gently to the ground.

I have discovered as well that within my secret paradise several things called
 Geo-Caches which I have set out on foot and discovered quite by chance,
and perhaps a bit of logic.

A Geo-Cache map...

 For those uninitiated, the Geo-cache is worldwide phenomenon of hidden caches whereby participants use GPS coordinates to locate caches nearby. Once discovered, the object is to record your find, take a small gift inside the cache, replace with one of your own, and finally to record it online with commentary for others to surely enjoy.

Roots of Hope and Gratitude...

Timmy and I have enjoyed taking on camping as a new pastime, with credit given to my sister who gave us the bug a few years back. This coming summer, I have repayed the favour by making reservations for my sister and her family to camp with us at Shangri-La...

Rich fall colours..

A view from our campsite..

Lean-tos are predominant in the park..

I am not yet prepared to share my secret.... although I surely should not keep this all to myself...
and Timmy... and a few friends... and my bike...

And within its limits, there also lies a bog, and an ecosystem dating back hundreds of years...
They say that in Spring, the bugs are scarce due to this bog, while just a few miles down the road, the mosquitos are unbearable for a few weeks in May.

The Bog of Shangri-La

From the main road, they constructed a wonderful elevated walkway over the bog,
 which Timmy and I spent many visits riding up and down on our bikes.

We hid this walking stick for our next visit...

A bold statement...

A spot to read a book, or ponder the word gratitude..

I will give another clue, but shhhhh... keep it to yourself...

The colours change minute by minute throughout the day. Blink and the lighting has dimmed as evening nears. It is a most wonderful place. Simple with few amenities, except for an abundance of firewood for cool fall evenings and the friendly welcome of the park Warden, adding to the warmth and sense of comfort during our stays.

The hidden path to a boat launch..and a nearby Geo-Cache..

Lake Carmi State Park near Enosburg Falls, Vermont is my Shangri-La.

... but that's our secret...

Until next time, I will continue to enjoy the road less traveled...

...Can you keep it a secret?...

Vermont State Parks
Search Lake Carmi State Park

For more information on Geo-Caching, visit

Monday, 28 July 2014

Hello Again

It dawned on me the other day that some time had passed since my last post. I had to think about why so much time had elapsed and simply chalked it up to other things taking precedence.
 Like most things in life, we need inspiration to produce creativity,
 and sometimes our inspiration comes from other sources.

Having said that, I was inspired today to bring my readers up to date on the progress of these two great words, Hope and Gratitude (which as you can see I choose to capitalize).

I thought it would be fun to do a small pictorial of the things that have offered me hope and gratitude in the past year, a snapshot of how the past months have filled my days.

My readers have always enjoyed and let me know how much they appreciate the photos that accompany the text of my blogs. Perhaps the visuals give more context, 
and for whatever reason, it works.

So, hello again, it's nice to be back....

Gratitude for sharing my rides with Timmy and giving my son Chris
 the gift of a bike for his 18th birthday...

Gratitude for being fortunate enough to ride my bike
 to work, and for the view along the way..

This was featured on the back of my 2013 Ride to Conquer cancer
team jersey. There are over 100 names of people touched 
in some way by cancer in this image.

Hope for a cure...

Gratitude for my team of fundraisers,
Team Hope and Gratitude

Hope for the future and it's endless possibilities...

Gratitude for being involved with a wonderful cause.
Team Ian Ride 2013 in memory of Ian Van Toch
raising money for cutting-edge cancer research

Reflections from one of my rides..

Gratitude for a business that people appreciate..

A collection of my fundraising jerseys that for me represents hope...

...and let us not forget the bracelet..

It has taken on a life of its own. Many who wear the bracelet
now document its whereabouts. This was taken in one of my favourite
places in the world, Lake George, NY at the top of Prospect Mountain.

Gratitude to be able to share a special moment with a friend and
fellow cancer survivor, one who defied many odds to get
to his special day..

Proud and grateful to see my son Chris achieve his goal of going to the 
Junior pan-Am games

My amazing team... an incredible group of committed individuals,
of whom I can also call friends

and one of my many valued donors all of whom deserve
my heartfelt thanks..

Gratitude for family...


Happy moments..

and not so happy moments..

Meaningful causes..

Memories of a great dad..and hero..
33 years since his passing..

Some people say I look like him.. I like that compliment

Hope and Gratitude...

See you soon...