After my four swim races in New York City, we had planned a getaway to Massachusetts and Vermont. We both love New York, but we also enjoy getting away from it all for a while, and this trip provided an opportunity to do just that.
Our first stop was near Lennox in the Berkshires. After a four and a half hour bus trip through the green rolling hills of Connecticut we arrived at our destination. We were amazed at how green and lush it all appeared to our Australian eyes. However, we were told that they were in the middle of a dry spell and that it is normally a lot greener than this. The lake I swam in, called Stockbridge Bowl, was around two feet lower than usual due to the hot summer and the lack of winter snow last winter. It would be incredible to see it after lots of rain though. The wildflowers were out, the berries were ripe, the sun was warm, and the water was so inviting.
My first swim in a freshwater lake was an amazing experience. To go out from the shore through a wall of weeds that float towards the surface and past them into the deep water. The first thing I noticed was how warm the water was, I guess it was at least 26 C. The second thing I noticed was the lack of flotation in the fresh water. The third I noticed was that the water did not taste too bad. So I went for a leisurely swim out a few hundred metres from shore. As I looked around I was awed by the beauty of the scenery. And the air was so pure and clean. What a place to relax in the warm summer sun and go for a swim, without worrying about the tide, the swell, and the sea life. What an experience. It was so nice just to swim for joy, rather than as part of a race or training for an event.
After leaving the Berkshires, we drove north to Vermont. This was only the second time that I have driven a car on the right hand side of the road, and it sure tests your skills. Sure, on the interstate it is quite easy, as you follow the cars in front. But as we left that four lane road and got onto the rural roads I had to really concentrate to get the car into the curves differently, and to stay on the correct side of the road while doing those left hand turns. I was relieved that I was never required to do a reverse park. I also made use of a GPS unit for the first time, and I was thrilled with the ease of use. I can see why paper street directories are quickly disappearing.
Our next stop made the Berkshires look shabby. Vermont is incredibly beautiful. The air is gentle, the sun is warm without being hot, and there are plenty of glorious vistas with the lakes, the Adirondack Mountains, and the greenery. We stayed in “the smallest biggest city in the USA” (so called because it is the smallest of the cities that are their State’s biggest) called Burlington. It is situated on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, the sixth largest freshwater lake in the USA. This lake stretches over 120 miles (almost 200 km) and straddles the Vermont/New York border, and also reaches into Canada. It is around 7 miles wide (11 km), and is just over 400 feet deep (120m) at its deepest point.
I was told that they used to have a cross lake swim that finished in Burlington, but the course was shifted to another part of the lake.
In summer the lake looks benign with all the boats making use of the warm air. But in winter parts of the lake freeze, the ferries stop, and people ice skate on it. The summer is quite short, so they make the most of it while they can.
I went for a few swims at one of the town beaches. The water was very warm, and the lake floor was sandy with a gentle slope into the water, requiring you to go out around 50 metres of so before the water was deep enough to swim in. But if I thought that swimming in the Berkshires was good for the soul, this place was better. There are mountain ranges on both sides of the lake, and the sun sets are amazing. There are a few little coves and inlets as well that are just stunning.
Here are some more photos of this beautiful part of the world.
But all good things must come to an end. And it was soon time to get back to civilization to start the long trip home to Australia. This trip has been a fantastic experience, and it will give me many happy memories to dwell on while slogging away in the pool at training.