Saturday, May 12, 2012

Moose sighting!

We were riding along rural Route 12A just out of Roxbury when I saw it:  a young moose standing in a marshy area by the side of the road. A woman in a Subaru was already stopped and outside her car, taking pictures. Mike rode past - until I pounded him on the shoulder and yelled "Moose!". We turned around and slowly approached, hoping we wouldn't scare him off. I guess moose aren't afraid of loud motorcycles because he calmly stopped and watched us before he high-stepped off into the woods.

The impetus for today's ride is part of Mike's search for his Ryan ancestors. He and his dad tracked down the death certificate of Mike's great-great-grandfather, also named Michael, in 1896 in Warren. Mike called the Warren town clerk for directions to the three town cemeteries, and we were off.

Spring has been teasing us since early March. First we had sun and temperatures in the 80's, followed by rain, drizzle, gray skies, and cold weather - too cold and damp for me to be on the BMW. Finally it's mid-May, the sun was shining and the temperatures were climbing into the 70's so we set off north toward Warren on Route 100. Lunch was at our favorite Rochester Cafe housed in a building dating from the mid-1800's. Mike loved the tuna salad on a grilled croissant and I tried the goat cheese/veggie wrap. We couldn't pass up a chocolate milkshake made from the 1940's soda fountain!

The large cemetery next to the church in Warren was easy to find, and we spent some time wandering among the gravestones, looking for Michael Ryan.

People have been buried in this cemetery since the early 1800's, but no Ryan was to be found. Mike's somewhat sketchy directions "Main Street turns into Brook Road, which turns into East Warren Road - look for Dump Road or Roxbury Mountain Road" led past fields backed by the Green Mountains with views of Sugarbush ski area.

After a couple of wrong turns we found the second small cemetery, and then stumbled on the third and smallest cemetery next to the East Warren General Store, which is now a community food co-op. We didn't find any gravestones for a Ryan, so decided to continue our ride on the back roads over Burnt Mountain to Roxbury. The road changed from smooth pavement to washboard-bumpy dirt, hard-packed and smooth dirt, and finally more pavement - all typical for mountain roads in Vermont.

Soon after we rode down into Roxbury and turned onto Route 12A was when we spotted the moose.

The ride home was quiet compared to the day's earlier excitement. We rode along winding and sparsely traveled 12A past the Fish Hatchery totally demolished by flooding with Tropical Storm Irene last September, through tiny Braintree to the junction with larger Route 12 in Randolph, and then onto 107 through Bethel. The roads through this entire area are a patchwork of new pavement put in place since Irene, areas of loose gravel where construction is ongoing, and miles of rocky, tree-strewn riverbeds newly carved out by the storm that drowned southern Vermont in over 14 inches of rain.

Our circular route joined up with Route 100 in Killington, south through Rutland and then further south on Route 7 back home to Manchester. I kept eyeing ice cream stands longingly, but Mike was in rhythm with the bike and the road, and we rolled home without stopping. 6 hours, 186 miles, lunch, 3 cemeteries hunting for an unknown relative, mountain views, meadows dotted with sunflowers, and a moose. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon's ride!