Posts Tagged With: cycling

All Creatures Great & Small

We’ve seen quite a bit of wildlife over the past couple of days.  Yesterday we went to the Zoo.  I’ve still not really made my mind up about this.  On the one hand, it’s a great idea for raising awareness and funds for conservation projects and a fair number of the animals would probably not survive in the wild as they have injuries, such as the bald eagles with damaged wings that just wouldn’t be able to look after themselves or hunt properly.  It’s just that, well, on the other hand the animals in the zoo just look so depressed.  They’re usually not in their natural environment with its accompanying geography or climate.  A bit like me actually (but I’m pretty happy about my situation).

Today, however, we went for a cycle around our local wildlife refuge which is an expanse of 9,250 acres that sits on a very narrow strip of land along the coast.  This gave us the opportunity to see snakes (at least three different types, including the venomous Cottonmouth Snake), birds of prey and turtles, lots and lots of turtles (Yellow-Bellied Sliders, in fact).  No matter how small, I think it’s still more special to see real wild animals scuttling past and surprising you than seeing even the most majestic elephant or giraffe that’s been ushered into an small enclosure to meet you.  Especially when you’re not entirely sure whether or not the snake blocking your path is the venomous one you’ve been warned about.  There is nothing quite so heartwarming as seeing a family of turtles sunbathing together on a riverbank.  There’s also nothing quite so pants-filling as standing in a wooden shelter in the woods reading about the dangerous feral hogs when you hear a loud crashing nearby.  Even if it does only turn out to be a squirrel (I swear it was wearing clogs and tapdancing on the roof).

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Wine & Salt

So we went off on part two of our cycling trip around the Williamsburg area, exploring a few places we didn’t get to see last week.  First of all we did a circular route around Little Creek Reservoir.  If last week’s scenery was like the New Forest, this week it was reminiscent of the Lake District.  We parked by the ranger’s office and got a little scared by the buckets of bullets sitting outside, as well as slightly startled by the sight of some of the locals with their guns and nets.  Hopefully they were just off to catch some animals.  Not British cyclists.  This route took us through some lovely woods which were full of cottages backing onto the reservoir, many with rocking chairs on the front porches, thankfully none boasting a banjo-playing resident.  Being a nice sunny morning we had a highly enjoyable trip through the scenic countryside, however we were somewhat pleased that we hadn’t tried to squeeze this trip in at the end of last week’s day of cycling.  We didn’t really fancy being lost out here after dark.

We saw a lot of wildlife on our travels – raccoon, lizard, beaver, birds of prey, deer etc.  Oh, which reminds me, the day before this trip I was lucky enough to watch a school of dolphins playing in the sea at our local beach.  I’ve never seen them in the wild before and they were adorable!

Anyway, next we cycled along part of the Colonial National Historic Parkway that we had driven the week before, this time at a much more pleasant pace which allowed us to enjoy the scenery of the water and the trees as well as reading the boards that tell you the history of the area.  We stopped off at Williamsburg Winery for a tour and a tasting.  Being an east coast winery, they were somewhat disparaging of Californian wines and seemed to prefer the European style of winemaking.  After a wander around their cellars we tasted a good selection of the wines that they produce.  There were a few gems (some yucky ones too, but we all have different tastes), the best being the dessert wine that was basically red wine mixed with raspberry juice.  I also rather enjoyed the Settlers Spiced Wine, which is their version of gluhwein and we drank it cold but I can imagine it would be spectacular hot.  Being on our bikes we were somewhat short of space so we only managed to take home our souvenir tasting glasses and one bottle of wine.

We then cycled onto the Salt Spa, which is a strange but nice place.  It’s in a tiny and unassuming office block behind the Bank of America and it looks just like any other office until they open the door at the back and lead you into a small salt cavern.  It has mood lighting set into the walls and several inches of salt on the floor.  You lay back in a sun lounger which makes you feel like you are weightless and you listen to the usual relaxing spa music while breathing in the salt-infused air.  It does appear to have real health benefits for the respiratory system.  There was a man in there who said he felt like he had a huge weight on his chest at the start of the session, but by the end he could breathe freely again.  I just found it really relaxing and a nice break from cycling in the hot sunshine.

After that we cycled the rest of the way back to Williamsburg including some rather busy major roads, which was a bit of a shock after the peaceful countryside of the rest of the day.  All in all, another very enjoyable day with about 22 miles of cycling achieved, and some spectacularly hot and sunny weather for the end of September.

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Two Wheels Good, Four Wheels Bad

Well I’ve gone and got myself a bicycle.  (Or, as the husband would have it, as he is the only gainfully employed one of us, HE has bought me a bike.)  It’s purple (not surprisingly) and I’ve called it Frankie as it is an Avalon bike.

I’ve never been much of a cyclist, mainly because my parents wouldn’t let me have a bike after the age of about 10 so I never managed to get any confidence in cycling on the road.  However, the area I’m living in is incredibly flat and the weather is good, two things that make it a much easier and more pleasurable activity.  Considering America is very much set up for the car driver, it is surprisingly safe to cycle around here.  You can cycle on the pavements along the larger roads (unlike the UK), but there are a lot of nice quiet backroads that you can pootle along as well (with some amazing houses to gawp at along the way), and because all the roads are so much wider than UK ones, there is a lot more space for a car to overtake a bike without forcing the rider off the road.  You just have to look out for the drivers turning right on a red light (which is legal here) as they are supposed to stop (and most of them do) for cyclists who are correctly using a pedestrian crossing, however it’s still going to be a bit of a mess if they don’t stop in time.

So Frankie has been escorting me to the library and the shops, as well as just out for fun with my friends on their bikes.  The nicest place to cycle has definitely been along the oceanfront, chatting en route, and ending with coffee and cake.  So the usual girly social event but with a bit of exercise along the way.  What’s not to like?

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