Grandmother Packed a Pistol

Chronicles of a Wandering Marshmellow, Essay

Site 17 Burke Cottages and Campground, West Burke, Vermont

Marshmellow has been parked at site 17 at the Burke Cottages and Campground for the last week. Save for the first few days, we have been the only campers. With the border closed, Kingdom Trails and the surrounding area are devoid of many of the riders who visit in the summer. 

Our first two full days of this trip fell on the weekend, so we spent a day and a half taking advantage of the lift service at the Burke Mountain Bike Park. This means there are no hard climbs for your day of biking, just a relaxing chairlift ride up to the top so that you can hurtle down the mountain on smoothish trails that deposit you right back at the lift so you can do it all over again. For those folks who are not satisfied with just hurtling down the mountain, the designers put in gap jumps, drops, cannons, and other things that will send those with enough hutzpah flying through the air. I am not one of those people. I like my bones the way they are, not broken. Lift service downhill is Luke’s favorite way to ride. Thankfully he is not hucking himself off of any of the aforementioned features, but I am sure it is only a matter of time. He is always out in front, floating down the trail with ease. This should come as no surprise. The first time he got on his strider bike, he went straight into the woods and down the hill on a trail I had made. Noah loves downhill riding too, but he also enjoys the challenge of a good climb and is a bit more cautious on the descents. Erin joined us for the first time and though she learned firsthand why the pedals we all use are called shin-bashers, she kept at it, even getting a little air now and then. She is one cool mama. Not only does she save lives, but she mountain bikes too. 

We’ve had a few spicy moments both with Marshmellow and as a family on this trip. The latter is normal, and any family who tells you they don’t bicker after living a week in a fourteen foot Marshmellow is a liar.  The charging of the battery and the solar are so confounding that Erin and I go in circles trying to figure it all out. At least on this trip we have not run out of power–we wisely got a generator because, surprise, it is not always sunny in Vermont. We did completely drain the battery on our last trip here. That little snafu forced us to go to an RV park, which caused Erin to cry because RV parks are not where we want to stay, no matter how nice the pool is. It poured one night this week, at just the right angle, and one of the windows leaked. One morning in our haste to ride we did not take down the awning and returned to find that the awning and the poles had twisted themselves into a pretzel. The awning is still usable and the water dried so we keep plodding on (KPO).

Grandmother, Uncle Stephen and Sheba

The first drafts of this essay started out talking about my grandmother and how she carried a pistol when she drove across the country. She did not use the expressways nor did she stop at designated campgrounds. She would just pull over along the side of the rode and go to sleep when that time came. She was a fascinating and tenacious woman who did not let the rigid views of society stand in her way. I wanted to tie that and some other observations together to form a message about tenacity, optimism and courage, but that fell apart. I’ve learned not to let that sort of thing derail me too much. It is good to have a plan, but it is better to be able to change that plan when it is clear that is what needs to be done. We are also working hard to live in the moment and to be present, and with that being said, it’s time for another ride. 

Tally Ho!