Travel

A bike tour of Vermont's Lake Champlain Islands (Washington Post)

By Lindsay J. Westley.  Published July 18, 2013 in the Washington Post.

Biking A mid-ride beep from my neon-colored GPS watch usually signals a moment of weakness: a stop for a gulp of water or to rest quivering calves after climbing one of Vermont’s many mountains. Today, as I wheel my bike around the potholes in a farm lane, it’s signaling a more important item on the agenda: maple creemees.

The rest of the country calls the frozen treat twisting into my cone “soft serve,” but here in Vermont, it’s a creemee. Made with farm-fresh milk and a high grade of real maple syrup, it’s a delicious start to the weekend — and the official guarantee that no cycling speed records will be broken over the next two days. But we will eat well. And often.

After all, we have the home-court advantage on this vacation. My husband and I have been living on the southernmost tip of Vermont’s Lake Champlain Islands for nearly two years, having moved here from Pennsylvania as newlyweds.

Mush! A dog-sledding adventure in Maine (Washington Post)

By Lindsay J. Westley, Published: November 26 in the Washington Post

The air is charged with the sound of 17 howling huskies, and the snow brake I’m standing on with both feet quivers as the brawny dogs in front of me strain against their harnesses.

It’s not a moment for misgivings or second thoughts: Either you hold tight as you release the brake and the dogs snap forward, or you’re left behind as the sled races toward the mountains in the distance. I choose to hold on.

Already charged with adrenaline, I’m prepared for the rush of euphoria that accompanies our first leaps across the ice, but I wasn’t expecting the silence. One moment, it’s orchestrated chaos accompanied by nose-to-the-sky howls; the next, it’s utterly hushed except for the crunch of snow beneath the runners.

Escapes: A tour of western Pa. Amish country (Washington Post)

Amish plowing

There’s no sign out front, so my mom and I trust our instincts — and the smell of fresh sawdust — to guide us as we pull off the dirt road and approach the weathered workshop. We’re in search of an authentic Amish-made rocking chair, and judging from the woodworking tools and gently curved rocker bottoms propped against the doorway, we’re in luck.

The noise from the belt-driven bench sander drowns out the sounds of our approach, so it takes a minute before a young Amish man looks up from where he’s sanding the armrest of a nearly completed rocker. His brother, barefoot and probably about 8 or 9 years old, looks up too, giving us a shy grin from beneath the fringe of hair cropped straight across his forehead and flaring out over his ears.