My parents picked me up and we drove home to Corn Hill. I couldn't get over the roadside ditches...they were so lush. Overflowing with wildflowers and bright green grass. The heat, humidity, and aroma of a million flowering plants was overwhelming. Sensory overload. The dry air in Calgary is quite pleasant but you know it’s kind of sterile. Eating supper on the deck with my parents, we ate dish after dish of fresh homegrown veggies, pastured meats, and then celebrated my birthday with a rich fruit pie.
This wasn't just a vacation for me. I was home to help finish organizing the 2nd Corn Hill Bicycle Festival which was taking place at the end of the week. Joanna Brown and I had spent the spring emailing back and forth and having phone meetings. Now it was only a few days away and there was so much to do. But with last years experience and the help of Lynn the summer student, and volunteers the final preparations went so smoothly. I actually got a vacation out of it! I never expected that.
What a dream week! I don't know how I managed to pack so many things in such short time frame. Not only did the bike fest preparations go smoothly but I had the chance to visit friends from all over NB and spend some quality time at home in Corn Hill with my parents.
On Tuesday I went up to visit my friend Paul in Marysville (next to Fredericton). We've had some great adventures together and it's cool to see what projects he's got on the go. He has a great place with a backyard on the Nashwaak River! So I had my first swim of the season! Wow its feels good to lounge about in warm fast-flowing water. All the lakes and rivers in the mountains are glacier fed...it sounds nice but god they are cold.
Tuesday night I drove down to Saint John to visit Lucas and Kristy, who brought me into the NB climbing scene years ago. It was great catching up with them and seeing the city that I'd gotten to know when I was starting this blog. After supper we took bicycles out and I had my first crash in years...hit a gnarly crack in the pavement flipped, rolled, and managed to walk away with only a few scrapes...and I was pretty damn sore the next day.
On Wednesday I drove back up river, stopped in to see how things were going at the Bike Fest in Sussex then continued on to Elgin to meet my buddy Dom. I wanted to show him a fun spot in Elgin. Gibson is a cliff jumping spot along the Pollett River just past the village of Elgin. Its beauty is marred by piles of broken beer bottles, trash, and the out-of-town hosers who threw the trash. It's kind of a wreck but I love the place. Great warm water for swimming and pretty cliffs in the narrow gorge.
I got home and raced over to a friends' place for supper with my parents. After a great meal it was time to move a load of hay bales into our barn. Its hard work but I love it. It's something that I've been doing for as long as I can remember. When I was young it was so hard to lift the bales into barn.
The next couple days were spent getting ready for the bicycle festival. Lots of errands to run and odds and ends to take care of. Everything just blended perfectly together. While out in the country picking up big tents from the McCullum's I happened to be near Collina and my friend Deanna invited me over to her cabin for brunch. Collina is a lofty high perch overlooking endless rolling hills and pastured valleys north of Sussex.
Every day at my parents house we ate fresh picked veggies from their garden. My mom is an incredibly skilled gardener. She's been doing it for decades and seems to effortlessly cultivate over 50 varieties of herbs and veggies in her garden. Every year she's trying something new. On Thursday we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with an exceptionally gourmet dinner in the greenhouse.
Saturday came, with no big stresses, and the Corn Hill Bicycle Festival was again a success. Well over a hundred cyclists came out from all over southern NB. I guess the word had gotten out in cyclist circles. There was a great line-up of workshops with Lucas Toron back again with his popular workshop on shifting gears, Bill Consolvo shared useful tips on changing flats and answered questions about long distance touring. John McNair's workshop on basic bike mechanics was packed, and Tim and Dawn put on a great nutrition workshop. The volunteer cooks whipped together a delicious lunch that tasted like it had been made for an intimate few friends rather than a hundred hungry strangers.
This year the amount of spandex rose considerably...there were about 25 riders on the fast 100km ride and many more avid cyclists on all the rides. But what was amazing was that such a variety of riders came out to enjoy the back roads of Corn Hill. That's what really made me happy - the fact that so many different levels of riders can enjoy being active outdoors with friends. It was really cool seeing so many familiar faces from last year and meeting a whole bunch of new people. Unfortunately I was so busy I didn't get a chance to really talk with many...so many interesting people that I wanted to chat with. The day wrapped up and within record time volunteers had cleaned and packed up. We capped off the day with a cold beer at the Cedar Cafe. Just perfect.
Before I knew it I was heading back to the Moncton Airport. I was pretty sad to be leaving home after such a great week filled with friends, family, and beautiful landscapes. It definitely recharged my NB batteries.