Thursday October 24 2013

Cold Rain and Snow
Mitten Weather

Well I married me a wife, shes been trouble all my life
Run me out in the cold rain and snow
Rain and snow, run me out in the cold rain and snow

Grateful Dead (Traditional)

Sitting in my office I see a few rays of sun penetrating the lead gray sky outside. It's all I need to decide on a ride down to Kyle's in Derby to see how work's going on my car brakes. After all, it's only a twenty minute ride.

As I ready the Bonnie over in the Bonnie Castle I realize that I didn't bring my riding mittens back to the house after yesterday's ride and they're somewhat damp inside.

Out on 55 I notice right off that a blustery wind's bending trees and pushing me this way and that. At the top of Duffrin Heights I'm greeted with snowflakes, and by the time I reach downtown Rock Island the snow's morphed into sleet and rain.

With no apparent sense of humor whatsoever, the US immigration officer asks me "What the hell are you doing out on a motorcycle on a day like this?"

Having fun?

Sounding almost angry, he asks "Where the hell are you going?"

Kyles Garage seemed too mundane a destination for such a dramatic day so I told him I was thinking about going out to Big Falls.

"Big Falls? Where the hell's that?"

Isn't it so true that we're often oblivious to very special features in our own environment? Takes someone from "away" to appreciate what most native residents ignore, or simply take for granted.

"Big Falls! On the Missisquoa River! Spectacular 100 foot gorge. River Road, just outside North Troy. Haven't you ever been there?" I parried.

He ignores my jibe and asks, somewhat disgustedly, "Why the hell are you going somewhere like that on a day like this?"

"Because it's not windy there?"

Having finished swiping my passport card he hands it back and says "Alright, have a nice day."

Same, officer.

Kyle was gone to lunch by the time I arrived at the garage so I motored aimlessly towards Newport. Seeing traffic backed up at a traffic signal ahead I cut across Price Chopper's parking lot and onto Darling Hill Road.

Under the dramatic gray sky, the view of Lake Memphremagog from atop Darling Hill is so spectacular that I'm inspired to motor right out to Big Falls.

Wheeling around the west side of the Lake I turned off Lake View and up Vance Hill. Suddenly the pavement's wet and the showers are intensifying.

Never mind. I'm in complete Big Falls mode as I turn west onto 105 and head for North Troy.

Soon I'm hanging a left on River Road and covering the two miles of gravel down to the Falls.

Surprise! I have the whole place to myself! I hang around for about fifteen minutes, even summoning the courage to walk to the edge of the lichen and moss-covered rock overhang and peer over at the roaring, foaming River below.

I begin contemplating the probability of survival of a plunge into the maelstrom below and I get the that dizzy elevator feeling. I quickly back away from the edge and look for a comforting hemlock to support me.

In all times I've been to Big Falls I never followed River Road all the way to its end. The rain's falling harder and harder and the gravel's looking kind of muddy. Is this really the time to remedy this oversight?

Sure! why not!

It's a long five miles down to Troy and Route 100, whose cracked and heaved surface is puddled and awash with the rain which is by now falling heavily.

I head north up 100, back to Newport. Somewhere around Newport City and the junction of 105 the rain slacks off to a steady but light shower.

Miraculously I'm not even feeling cold, even though my shoes and pants are soaked and my jacket's quite wet.

I pull into Derby Center fast food for a pee and a large coffee. After drying out a bit I head over to Kyles, pay the bill ($605) for the Acura brake job and head up to Derby Line and home, the showers tapering off progressively as I go north.


Back home I kindle up a good fire in the Dutchwest and put my mittens beneath it to dry them inside and out.