Happiness is Putting An Old Form of Transportation on an Even Older One

For some reason, putting a bike on a ferry makes me really happy. Even putting a car on a ferry is fun, but biking onto a ferry just always seems to make me smile.

Bike ferry on the Island Rail Trail Burlington VT

Recently, my wife and I spent a long weekend in Burlington VT and I rode the Island Line Trail, an awesome trail that includes a ride on a causeway over the lake at the opening for Malletts Bay for several miles. Years ago a storm wiped out 200 feet or so of the causeway and a local bike organization Local Motion has been operating a bike ferry for many years. I’ve biked in/around Burlington a half dozen times over the past 20 years but this was the first time I was there when the ferry was operational.

The 200 foot gap in the Island Line Trail causeway – not a very long ferry ride!

Riding across the causeway with the view of the bay to the east, Lake Champlain and the NY mountains to the west, was a happiness sundae – the ferry rides were the whipped cream and cherry on the top.

Bonus Happiness

On the 500 mile ride home to Maryland, we split the trip in two and stayed a night in Schenectady NY. I got ride 30 miles on the Erie Canal, doing a 15 mile out and back to the west – our Marriott Courtyard hotel on the Mohawk River was adjacent to a local trail that connected to the Erie Canalway Trail.

Mileage market on the Erie Canal Trail about 10 miles NW of Schenectady

At home I do a lot of riding on the North Central Rail Rail, C&O Canal Towpath and the Washington and Old Dominion Rail Trail. In many spots there are preserved railroad signs and the like. Preserved stone mile markers like this one always make me smile – my GPS files from 15 years ago are useless, this navigation aid still works 200 years later! This is the view heading SE on the trail, I assume it was 163 miles to New York City. The other side was 63, the mileage to Utica or Rome NY to the NW.

Avid cyclist, sometimes touring cyclist. My main road bike is a Trek Domane SL6, my touring/unpaved riding bike is now a Jamis Renegade. I'm located in Maryland, about midway between Baltimore and Washington DC.

15 response to "Happiness is Putting An Old Form of Transportation on an Even Older One"

  1. By: NancyG Posted: September 2, 2021

    2-3 years ago I was in Burlington with some friends as part of another trip. We rented bikes from Local Motion and rode that trail but a ferry was not running and we did not get over the causeway area. Disappointed, but we really liked that trail.

    I too am happy when I see any of the old rail trails maintained (to a degree) old mile markers and agree that they are ‘ageless’ in their usefulness.

    Sounds like you had about a perfect trip with many bike ride opportunities.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 3, 2021

      My daughter offered us a free stay with them in an AirBnB she and her husband had booked in Burlington – if we took care of our 9 month old grandson on Saturday while they were at a Covid-delayed wedding reception. We jumped at the deal – plenty of time for biking! We all did a bit of hiking, too.

      Earlier in the year we biked the Erie Canalway trail around Pittsford NY and decided to make the return a two day trip in order to check out the trail in Schenectady. The Pittsford area is much more scenic but lots of old history in the Albany/Schenectady area.

  2. By: Lednar De Nalloh Posted: September 2, 2021

    A big thumbs up, ferries and railtrails make me happy too.

  3. By: Rich-Illinois Posted: September 2, 2021

    That is pretty neat they have a ferry across the gap.
    Does the rail trail continue so there are no worries about missing the last ferry of the day?
    You find some excellent places to ride!

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 3, 2021

      The trail continues about 1/2 mile to shore on the north end, then continues another mile or so until it meets up with a road on South Hero Island. You can continue north from there on back roads for many miles to North Hero and Grand Isle. There is a road route back to Burlington that you can take if you miss the last ferry – bit more hilly, much more traffic but decent shoulders most of the way.

  4. By: Laura Posted: September 2, 2021

    We rode the Erie Canal from Buffalo to Rome and had to stop due to rain. I went back later that summer by myself and finished the ride to Albany. Other than some riding in Massachusetts, I haven’t ridden in any other northeastern states. I’ll have to remember this trail if I ever get up that way.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 3, 2021

      The Island Trail is worth a visit and Burlington is a great city to spend time in anyway. Lots of good riding north of the trail on South Hero/North Hero/Grand Isle, too on very low traffic roads.

  5. By: BobinVT Posted: September 3, 2021

    Great that you got up my way, and the bike ferry is always lots of fun. The folks running it are always so friendly. And lots of nice road riding once you get into South Hero, with some great views of the lake.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 4, 2021

      The Local Motion folks operating the ferry definitely were friendly and nice. It made me happy to donate a few $$ to that effort. I really enjoyed the shore roads up to Grand Isle, lots of yard art and great views of the lake. Also got to see a hay baler/plastic wrapper tractor attachment in action – always wondered how they did those plastic-wrapped round bales.

    • By: jpescatore Posted: September 4, 2021

      Bob – since you are Bob in VT, maybe you can answer a question we had:

      Why is the University of Vermont called UVM?? Did it happen before the postal service standardized state abbreviations, or was the state called Ver Mont when the university was founded??

      My son in law did a stroller walk with our grandson over to the campus bookstore and bought us all t-shirts and we all wondered why UVM?

      • By: BobinVT Posted: September 4, 2021

        Well, I had absolutely no idea, so I went to the Google. According to the UVM website:
        “The initials UVM stand for the Latin words Universitas Viridis Montis, or University of the Green Mountains. The phrase appears on the university’s official seal as Universitas V. Montis.”
        So many of us Vermonters are fluent in Latin. 🙂

        • By: jpescatore Posted: September 5, 2021

          Thanks, Bob – I thought all Vermonters would know that off the top of their head, the way all Connecticutters can tell you why they are called ‘nutmeggers”!

        • By: jpescatore Posted: September 7, 2021

          A bit of an extension to your explanation: a friend said the state name Vermont came from the French words Vert (green) and Mont (mountain) – the French explorer Samuel de Champlain had called it that.

          Around here, Maryland was named in honor of Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I and Virginia after Queen Elizabeth who was apparently called the Virgin Queen, and probably because Elizabethia was hard to say.

  6. By: gregblood Posted: September 3, 2021

    I’ll tell you something that made me happy about your first picture. Well, maybe “happy” isn’t the right word, but I was amused by the giant bug that photo-bombed your picture and appears to in attack mode.

  7. By: jpescatore Posted: September 4, 2021

    I think that is really my wife’s surveillance drone. Our AirBnB was on Union St, close the University of Vermont campus and it was check-in day for the fall semester. And the first day was quite warm – 90+. So, clothing was kinda skimpy and my wife laughed every time I looked out the windows to “check the weather”…

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