Another early morning…breakfast at 7 AM and then on our bikes by 7:30. Although the Quality Inn & Suites is close to the Minuteman Trail, we had to navigate about a 1/2 mile on a major highway. Fortunately, the desk clerk gave us excellent directions, and we found the trail without any complications.
We headed west toward Bedford, which is the western terminus of the Minuteman Trail. In about 2 miles, we reached the end of the trail and turned around to ride back toward Lexington and Cambridge.
The leaves along the trail were near peak, and I enjoyed the solitude of our early morning ride. As we got closer to Boston, the number of cross streets increased making my “soft” brakes a safety concern. Although Jay from Houndstooth in Decatur gave me excellent instructions over the phone for tightening my brakes, I was still having difficulty stopping. If I had to stop quickly for a cross street, I resorted to dragging my feet on the ground in order to slow to a stop.
We approached the Alewife station almost an hour ahead of our scheduled rendezvous with Kay so we decided to ride south on a new spur trail. The paved trail paralleled boardwalks through a marshy area and provided access to several apartment buildings in the Boston suburbs. Reaching the end of the new trail in only 5-10 minutes, we turned around and headed back to the Alewife T Station. We continued riding north toward Harvard Square until we encountered more traffic and cross streets. With the heavy traffic, I was concerned about my brakes and suggested that we ride back to the T and wait for Kay.Arriving back at the Alewife T stop, we discovered that Kay was already there and waiting for us. We descended the ramps to the tracks, located our subway tickets, and waited until 10:00 so that we could push our bikes onto the subway without folding them.
We arrived at the South Station Amtrak about 15 minutes ahead of schedule and decided to eat an early lunch while waiting for the train. A slice of pizza and a small slab of marble fudge rejuvenated us for our long train ride to Burlington, Vermont.
As we approached the designated track for the first leg of our train ride, the conductor requested our tickets. This was the first time that we’d been asked to show our tickets before boarding the train. I had my ticket stashed in my fanny pack so I quickly handed it to the conductor. Kay and Joyce were still trying to locate their tickets so I told the conductor that the three of us were together. He could sense that we had our hands full with the folding bikes so he told us to go ahead and board. Once seated and underway, the conductor came through our car to scan our tickets. When he scanned Kay’s ticket, he pointed out to her that her ticket was for the following day. Since she was already on the train, the conductor told her to call the 1-800 Amtrak number to straighten out her ticket. Unfortunately, she kept losing her cell signal every time she’d almost get the problem resolved. When we pulled into Springfield, MA, we hoped that her ticket change had been processed; otherwise, she may not be permitted to board the next train. The station master graciously printed Kay a new ticket and even reimbursed her the $80 ticket change fee that the customer service attendant previously charged her by phone. Relieved that Kay would be able to finish the trip with us, we approached the platform to board the train to Burlington.
The conductor insisted that we cover our bikes before boarding the train. Although we purchased covers prior to this trip and placed them on our bikes in Atlanta, we decided to leave them off for the remainder of the trip unless we were asked to put them on. Besides requiring extra time for covering, uncovering and stowing the bag, the covers made carrying our bikes much more difficult. We rode the previous four trains without anyone ever mentioning anything to us about covering our bikes. However, on this our final train ride of the trip, the conductor was a stickler for the rules. We frantically located our bags and started to cover the bikes. Several passengers volunteered to assist us because they could sense our panic. Anyone who has ever ridden on Amtrak knows that the train does not wait for you! Thankfully, we managed to get the bikes covered and loaded on the train before the conductor returned.
The scenery from Springfield through Connecticut, New Hampshire, and southern Vermont was spectacular. The leaves were at full peak, and it was difficult not to gaze out the window instead of working on our blog:)
We arrived in Burlington about 8:30 PM, called a taxi, and rode to the Dollar Rental Car near the airport. Our cab driver had a difficult time finding the rental car location because he didn’t realize that Dollar merged with Thrifty. After more “red tape” than usual, we finally loaded our rental car and headed for Stowe. It was after 10 PM when we arrived at the Golden Eagle Resort. The desk clerk was extremely friendly and provided us with several maps and brochures to make our stay more enjoyable.
Our room at the Golden Eagle was a suite with two queen beds and a foldout sofa. I chose the sofa bed and quickly nodded off to sleep while watching old episodes of Friends.