Thursday, 23 June 2016

Washington D.C to Maine: - A road trip and cycling adventure.

The USA has some of the best off-road cycle paths in the world, thousands of kilometres of them, and we are on a mission to cycle as many as we can - well David is, I'm just along for the ride. Each year for the past few years we have flown our bikes over from Australia (don't get me started on the hassle of flying with bicycles), or sometimes bought cheap ones at Walmart, and set out to explore bike trails in different parts of America. Not being total masochists we also hire a car. Did you know it is possible to fit a car bike carrier into a duffle bag  - neither did I until we started this madness.

This year we are on a road and cycling trip from Washington D.C to Maine. Over the next six weeks our plan is to drive to a new area every few days, cycle as many bike paths as we can find - mostly rail trails and canal trails - and then move on.

David and I are in our autumn years, rapidly closing in on 60 - D is a bit closer than me! Cycling every day for six weeks might just about finish us off so we are interspersing the cycling with scenic drives, sight-seeing and indulging David's love of history and my love of flowers, by visiting some of north-eastern America's historic houses and gardens.

Historic Houses and Gardens


You may have noticed I have recently published posts on -

  • Mount Vernon - The home of George Washington, America's First President -  Click here to read the post.

Mount Vernon
Living history in the grounds at Mount Vernon.

  • The Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm - We went back in time to 1771 to visit the fair. Like so many American living history events it was tremendous fun.  Click here to read the post.

The Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm
A day at the Market Fair at Claude Moore Colonial Farm.

  • Gunston Hall - The home of George Mason, a contemporary of George Washington and a fascinating, lesser known historical figure. Mason was one of the few delegates to America's Constitutional Convention who refused to sign the final document.  Read why - here

Gunston Hall
Inside Gunston Hall

In the coming weeks you can expect posts on -

  • Tudor Place and the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington D.C. - Tudor Place was one of America's first National Historic Landmarks. We visited it and the Gardens at Dumbarton Oaks by cycling the Mount Vernon Trail along the west bank of the Potomac. One of the first of many long, long bike rides on this trip. Just so you know - there are perfectly good roads which lead to both places, although parking is a bit tricky.

Tudor Place
Tudor Place

  • Winterthur Garden - Winterthur, in the Brandywine Valley, was created by Henry Francis DuPont.  Pierre DuPont created Longwood the site of my next blog post. We got the impression the DuPonts were in competition with each other to see who could build the most magnificent house and garden. With 175 rooms the mansion at Winterthur wins on the basis of sheer opulence alone. 

Winterthur
Winterthur

  • Longwood Gardens - Longwood, created in the 19th Century by Pierre DuPont has more than a thousand acres of gardens, meadows and glass houses. David and I first visited Longwood in 2009 and have wanted to return ever since. The photo below shows the water lily garden. The lilies are magnificent saucer-shaped plants, several feet in diameter when they are at their peak. 

Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens

  • Chanticleer Garden - Of all the beautiful gardens we visited, Chanticleer was my favourite. It may not be as large or well known as Longwood or Winterthur but Chanticleer had flowers blooming in almost every corner. David and I spent hours there exploring. If you go there, don't miss the ruin. It is not a ruin at all but built to look like one because the head gardener at the time claimed 'You can't have a garden without a folly' - and what better folly than a ruin.

Chanticleer Gardens
Chanticleer Gardens - Does anyone know what these flowers are? We have seen so many of them growing wild at the side of the road.

  • The Elms - The Elms is one of the ostentatious French Chateau inspired mansions in Newport Rhode Island. The mansions were built early in the 20th Century, as summer 'cottages' by the ultra-weathly New York elite. If you are a fan of Downtown Abbey you will love The Elms. Not only did we get to peep inside the grand public entertaining areas and the only slightly less grand private apartments but we also took The Elms' Servant Life Tour and saw how the 'downstairs staff' lived and worked.

The Elms

  • The Mount - Edith Wharton's home. Edith Wharton was one of America's greatest writers and the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Mount is one of the few National Historic Landmarks in America dedicated to women.
The Mount

Rail Trails, Canal Trails and Cycling Paths


As well as posts on historic house and gardens there will be lots of cycling posts sharing the trails we have discovered. So as not to bore my non-cycling readers to death the cycling posts will be separate from the historic houses and gardens' posts. I promise only to talk about bike trails in my general posts when we actually cycle up to an attraction, and even then I will try to give you the edited versions. I will list the cycle paths here as I write them up: -






I will publish a new post every Thursday/Friday (depending on your time zone). If you want to follow our travels check back each week or enter your email address in the 'Follow this blog by email' box in the right hand sidebar just below my profile picture.

For all the posts in this series so far click - here


22 comments:

  1. Bring on those cycling posts! :) I admire you flying those bikes around the world. I can see though that once you have them you know you have a good bike rather than something that may fall apart on the road. Happy cycling and sight seeing. Sounds like you have a good balance of activities for the whole trip!

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    1. Hi Sue. Today we cycled the Burlington Bikeway along the shore of Lake Champlain. It was one of the best bike paths we have done - really scenic and pleasant. I am looking forward to your posts on cycling the Icefields Parkway. We fly home in about a week. I am sooooo not looking forward to packing up our ton of luggage including bikes and getting them from the carpark to the airport check-in.

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  2. Dutchess County, north of New york City, has some rail trails and some beautiful old estates, some of which I wrote about this week. It might be of interest. Looking forward to reading more!

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    1. I will head over to your blog and have a read. David and I are just about to turn south and head back toward New York city.

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  3. So great! I do not know a lot about the area, so, I am looking forward to your posts.

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    1. We have spent a fair bit of time in New England and it is always lovely.

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  4. What a fun trip!
    I believe the flowers are called "digitalis", or "foxtrot".

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    1. Thanks. We don't see them in Australia.

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  5. I love the whole Northeast, so I think you are traveling in some of the best parts of the USA. Good for you to cycle so much of it.

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    1. Cycling is a great way to see things. You are going at just the right speed and the US has some of the best rail trail cycle paths in the world.

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  6. What a super idea (if you're fit enough!) - I'd love to do this trip, but by car only. I'm going to subscribe to your blog, as I can't wait to hear more about your adventures! #WeekendWanderlust

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    1. Hi Cal. The fitness comes after you start cycling. When we first started cycling I was lucky to manage half an hour without getting exhausted. Start slowly and work up to it. Rail Trails are a great way to enjoy getting fit.

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  7. OMG, I want to do this road trip - fantastic! These are all the places I would love to visit - thanks so much for sharing your experience!

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    1. My pleasure. We fly home in a couple of days. I am a bit behind with my blog posts - lol. It has been a great road trip.

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  8. We love to bring our bikes along when we travel in our RV so I for one am very much looking forward to your cycle trail posts.

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    1. I am really pleased to hear that there is so much enthusiasm for my cycle path posts. I do hope I don't bore you all to death. If you ever visit Australia again give me a shout and I will lend you a couple of bikes - trust me flying with them is awful!

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  9. What a great way to travel and explore Lyn. Now if only ... we love cycling ... maybe one day we can be travel cycling buddies. Keep on enjoying and bringing us some great suggestions :)

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    1. David and I (and our bikes) are coming to Perth in September. We're looking forward to cycling to Freemantle and taking the bikes across to Rottnest. I assume you will still be cruising the world then.

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  10. This is great! I'm interested in the cycling AND the history posts. We've just recently got back on our bikes, so I'll forward this inspiring post to my other half, who will appreciate how you are breaking up the rides with other sightseeing.

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    1. We just don't have it in us to cycle more than a couple of days in a row so by having non-cycling days where we just sightsee we get a lot more out of a trip. I can highly recommend http://www.traillink.com/for finding cycle paths in America. David uses it all the time when he is researching our trips.

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  11. I'm looking forward to your garden posts!

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    1. I have a soft spot for gardens when we travel. You get to see all the beauty of them with none of the hard work.

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