Monday, May 2, 2011

Birthdays are a good thing!

This time of year is always so joyful and hopeful as the daffodils and tulips pop up, the forsythia are bursting with their delighted bright yellow blooms... having been born on May 1st, it makes for a happy backdrop to my birthday each year. 

The weather forecast was for sunshine and high sixties, which is my favorite combination for riding.... I get to wear all my gear, feel cozy and safe and have cool air on my face. I love it!  I planned a ride through back roads of Connecticut.  This state got more than its share of beautiful, twisty quintessential New England roads. My friend Mannie opened his day to ride with me on the 150 mile loop.  Gave Dirty Girl a pre-ride check, the air is good in the tires.  I am happy because I hate to kneel down under the saddlebags to inflate the back tire. :)  All ready to go...

But the first order of the day is church. 

This is where I transform from Biker Chick to Choir Girl.  I always get a chuckle or two as I robe up... I have no idea why!  :)
Mannie arrived and we took off for CT around 11:30

(Mannie's pic was taken from another ride earlier this season) 
We happily set sail for CT, getting almost immediate satisfaction with the beautiful day it had turned into...
The one big bummer of the day, was the shock at the gas pumps!  Look at the number on the pump, I have to use premium... $18.45 for 4 gallons.  $4.59 per gallon...UGH!  
It is a good thing that it was my birthday and I was having a good time. Mannie and I wound our way south toward a little town called Moosup and then headed west to Willimantic. 
We had the usual missed turns as I was happily looking at the scenery, and one spot where my gps, Jack wanted us to turn down a road that was posted with a 'bridge out, road closed' sign.  The road straight ahead was gravel and Jack did not recognize it.  I am willing to ride on uneven ground when I have to, but DG and I are not trailblazers, so we turned around and found our way back to the route on another back road. Jack worked very hard to get us back on track.  After about 70 gorgeous miles, our bikes rolled into Willimantic CT.  An old textile mill town full of history, The American Thread Co gave the town it's nickname, Thread City.  Names of businesses through the downtown harken to this heritage. 
But the most fascinating tidbit of history centers around these guys... something that made my head nearly spin off trying to get a good look at them:
Giant copper frogs, sitting on top of spools of thread, two sentinels at each end of the bridge. The story of the frogs is rather funny.  Back in 1754, the townsfolk heard horrific screams in the middle of the night. Thinking that the native Indian tribe was attacking them, they ran out into the night with loaded muskets. Others dropped to their knees in fervent prayer. There was no one to be found. The sun rose, people went outside and found thousands of dead frogs piled around a drying up pond. The town suddenly had a mascot, one that appears all through the downtown on signs and sculpture. 
Mannie and I stopped at the Willimantic Brewery, a micro brew pub located in an old post office.  The decor was rustic and welcoming, the food delicious.  The fact that motorcycles were aplenty in their parking lot told us that it would probably be a good choice.  Bikers know how to eat! 
behind those glass door are the brew tanks...
I had a most delicious home made veggie burger,big and flavorful, a delight to most vegetarians. A side of cajun fries and I was happy.  Mannie had fish and chips that he gave the thumbs up to.  A quick stop at the frog bridge for better photos was in order on the way out of town after lunch....The things bikers do for a photo... I just HAD to lay down on the pavement to get my bike and the frog into the same frame because it was so tall  :)
Back on the road, heading north east over more lovely roads, most New England bikers are familiar with route numbers like 664, 198, 197 and 169. The never fail to disappoint.  Having ridden across the states, these roads often remind me a bit of Kentucky and Virginia.
 The houses of New England though, are something special... these old towns are built around Victorians and Colonials that simply take my breath away.  Here is one of my favorites, and you only have one guess as to why I might like it.. 
I could not have asked for a more perfect ride... thanks to Mannie for following me and snapping a boatload of photos!!  That in itself was a great gift :)  I got home around 6:30, parted ways with Mannie and sent him on home... he snapped one more as he rode home that I think is lovely...
BUT... this is not the end of the celebration! Monday, my husband Mo and I took the T into the city and spent a leisurely day walking around Cambridge.  My birthday wish list had art supplies on it, so a trip to Utrecht was in order. It is the equivalent of a 6 year old in a toy store to take me to an art supply store. New paints, markers, drawing pencils and a couple of oil brushes were put into my bag and I was a happy girl :)
Cambridge has such exquisite architecture. I grew up in this area and I was snapping pictures today as if I was here for the first time...I love the old brick and stone buildings and churches. 

The next order of business was lunch...Mo got out his new 4G phone to see what was in the area.  Actually, he had this phone out much of the time to see where things were or to find the answer to a question we had... when I turned to look at him, this is what I saw most of the time. He's only had it a week, so he's having a lot of fun seeing what it can do.  I can't say that I blame him.  :)

We decided on Tommy Doyle's pub.  It is right next door to the famous Grendel's Den, which was crowded with patrons. Tommy Doyle's got a 4 star rating and so it sounded great. As we walked up, it looked quirky and welcoming, just my kind of place. How can one not like a burger and beer lunch special for $9.99? 

Inside it was cool and dark, the perfect pub atmosphere.  We order up our brew, Mo got Guiness and I got a Harpoon special wheat beer on tap.  Again, how could I not love this?  My beer was color coordinated with my hair... (no bike riding today, so I could indulge)
And for the second time this weekend, I had another home made veggie burger, with a side of sweet potato fries, one of my most favorite treats ever!  And I remembered to get a photo of it.  This is dedicated to Lloyd, supreme photographer of his food.  :)

We stuffed ourselves at lunch and after walking it off a bit, stuffed home made ice cream on top. The day today was again, perfectly presented to me with bright sunny and somewhat cool temps.  Mo and I window shopped, and poked through some of Cambridge's multitudes of funky stores, finally dropping exhausted into a seat on the trolley home, in time for pizza and birthday cake.  I am not hesitant in sharing what I wished for.. something that I wish for nearly every day, and that is World Peace. Wouldn't that bee lovely?

A happy birthday to me. 
It truly was! :)

Thanks for reading!  
love, bee


  1. A birthday ride! It doesn't get much better than this. Happy belated birthday, and many miles and smiles. The bike/frog picture is hilarious!

  2. Such a nice few days for someone so deserving of them, glad we got to ride together, glad your Birthday was nice! : )

  3. Great write-up and love, love, LOVE the frogs!! LOL!

  4. Bee:

    Happy belated birthday to you too. I like to look at frogs but don't like to touch them.

    Yellow is my favourite colour

    Riding the Wet Coast

  5. Looks and sounds like it was a perfect Birthday weekend! As always thanks for sharing!

  6. Most excellent ... I love the frog bridge and that yellow house is to die for!