Now Cheshiring: Inquire Within

Like that title? Yeah, I totally Don Drapered that one. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, then let myself think about something else then – BAM! – it just came to me.

Anyway, the Manchester Road Race is tomorrow. To get in some last-minute preparation, Emme and I ventured to Cheshire, The Bedding Plant Capital of Connecticut.  Aside from being the hometown of the soon-to-be-single Dawson’s Creek star James Van Der Beek (I hear he’s good at pullups and has radical hair), Cheshire is also home to part of the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway.

Do Something

The Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway website tells me me that the entire Greenway covers approximately 84 miles from Northampton, MA to New Haven. The original canal was completed in 1835, but just 12 years later some old timey inventor guys came up with the idea of using railways for conveyance of goods instead of waterways. Well, out with the old, in with the new! Rail tracks were laid over the canal. Flooding in the 1980s damaged the rail line so badly that it could no longer be used and it was later paved over to make a recreational trail line. Running 84 miles is a little bit more than the OneSixeNine girls can handle (although Emme is beginning Ryan Hall‘s half marathon training plan, so talk to her in a couple weeks) so we decided to focus on the Cheshire portion of the trail.

Emme is ready to go...

The trail really is a great place to go if you’re a runner, walker, cyclist or rollerblader who wants to enjoy your non-motorized recreational activity absent the threat of people engaging in motorized recreational activities. The trail is well-maintained, relatively quiet and quite pretty.

Non-motorized recreational activity

Non-motorized recreational activity

They're comin' right for us!

See Something

After we were done being superstar runners, we stopped off at the Lock 12 park which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Now, if you’re like me you’re probably thinking “What the hell is a lock?” Well, okay, if you’re really like me you’re probably not reading this and are just looking at the pictures. But, for your information (or “FYI” as the kids say), a lock is “an enclosed chamber in a canal, dam, etc., with gates at each end, for raising or lowering vessels from one level to another by admitting or releasing water.”

The Irish immigrants dug it by hand? The Man couldn't even give the Irish a few shovels?

The Lock 12 Monster

The park includes a museum (which was closed, because we visited on a Sunday), a helicoidal bridge (score!) and a picnic area, complete with awesome climbing tree.

No 'Cheshire Cat' Jokes Allowed

No 'Cheshire Cat' Jokes Allowed

Drink Something

After running and locking, we headed to The Funky Monkey Cafe & Gallery where I got a frozen low-fat caramel latte and made up for the low fat part by also getting a frosted sugar cookie. Emme got chai and bread pudding, as she is apparently on a bread pudding tour of Connecticut. The beverages were good, but the decor was better. The Funky Monkey is, as its name suggests, pretty funky.

Inside The Funky Monkey

Eat Something

After the Funky Monkey we set off for Blackie’s, the locally famous hot dog stand. The service, prices, and relish were great and the interior is cozy in that old-school hot dog stand way. Emme found her dog too greasy. While I did prefer Guida’s footlong delight, I am less discriminating about my hot dogs and found Blackie’s offerings to be just fine. Also note that it’s cash only (I owe Emme the price of a hot dog) and it’s closed on Fridays, except for private parties. (Maybe one day I’ll have my wedding shower at Blackie’s…)

Talk to Someone

Total failure here this time. Maybe we should change this requirement to “stare at someone awkwardly” which is what we did to the guy who lives in the house right next to the Lock 12 park. Sorry so many people come into your yard, dude.

Lessons in Connecticuting

  1. Never let Elle use the camera.  No true friend would allow legs that pale to be photographed AND published on the internet.
  2. Pretty much every small town in the state has a hot dog stand, which I consider to be a real bonus (169 town hot dog stand tour?)
  3. Sometimes antique things are easy to push over.  Like the actual locks at Lock 12.
  4. Swans are not dangerously aggressive when not nesting (those of you who have visited the canal trail in the warm seasons may recall the hilarious signs that, alas, were not up when we had the camera on hand)
  5. Elle SERIOUSLY needs to learn to talk to people, cause I (Emme) sure as heck don’t intend to become outgoing anytime soon.

See you at Manchester!

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