Tag: Biking with kids

Boston by Bike

IMG_1597 Naturally once I knew we were visiting Boston, I began searching for information on biking around the city. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the city has a website emphasizing the importance of bike friendliness as critical to Mayor Menino’s vision for a vibrant and healthy city that benefits all its citizens. There’s a bike share program with tons of kiosk locations called The Hubway.

Seeing all this, I knew we needed to work riding into our plan, and decided we’d rent bikes from Urban Adventours. They are a bike shop in the Long Wharf area that offers both bike sightseeing tours and 24hr bike rentals. Rentals include a lock, helmet, and excellent bike maps. Just in case, I opted to rent a flat kit, as we both can change flats. Thankfully, however, we didn’t need to, but better safe than sorry, right?!? I’d made reservations on-line, and had even gotten a call confirming times, sizes, etc.  The on site staff was equally helpful. Adjusting seats, giving us hints and tips. We picked up the bikes Thursday morning around 11am, returned them the full 24 hours later.

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For our first day of riding, we followed their suggested route along the Charles River. Leaving from the shop and ending at our hotel we rode 15 or so miles along this route which they suggest for families, as it is nearly all on off-street paved bike paths. The route follows the Boston side of the river out past Boston University, crossing the river at Harvard University into Cambridge. The return is on the Cambridge side past both Harvard and MIT into Charlestown. The path on the Boston side of the river was more heavily used, but not to the extent it caused any issues or concerns (unlike my recent ride along Chicago’s lakeshore path that was crazy busy).

Small parks dot the path, which has minimal street level road crossings, esp. on the Boston side, usually the path goes under the road along the river. Once to Harvard, we left the planned route to stop for lunch at City Sushi and then tour Harvard by bike and by walking our bikes around Harvard Yard (lots of signs there reminding you to dismount).

Click on any picture or collage for a larger version.

IMG_1602 IMG_1610IMG_1621 IMG_1624 Naturally, Kiddo had to get his photo taken touching the now shiny left foot of the Harvard statue. This is a popular activity, we had to wait for in line behind 10 or so others.

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Stored the bikes overnight in our hotel room (Yes, you can do this. I do it all the time. Just walk confidently through the lobby onto the elevator with your bike. No problem!) On Friday morning, we followed Urban Adventours “city view” route. This route starts on the Charles river path of the previous day but then is nearly entirely on city streets. However, Urban Adventours has done an excellent job of designing the route to keep you on roads and streets with bike lanes, sharrows and where possible less traffic.

We rode around Boston University, Fenway Park, The Christian Scientist Plaza and much of the area on the south end of the Freedom Trail. Kiddo did an incredible job riding in traffic. Followed the rules of the road. Rode confidently but predictably. This route has tons of turns, so I kept the map handy, and stopped often to check where we needed to go (and a couple of times how to get back on track). This route is great – but probably best for folks used to riding on streets and with confidence in their bike skills. In total we rode about 13 miles more or less following this route.

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One of the most pleasant surprises was the community garden area in the Back Bay Fens.

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Along both routes, we made stops to explore and play in the parks. Both sides of the river had fitness parks, even a small zip line.

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Bikes give you freedom to explore at a more human level. You can cover plenty of ground, take frequent breaks and see the city at a slower pace than by car or bus. I highly recommend adding to your trips…and in Boston Urban Adventours is a great option to do just this.

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There’s also a post about our walking the Freedom Trail here. And here’s the full photo set of our Boston visit.

Washington DC…Biking Family Style


One of the joys of family travel is rediscovering the world through the eyes of your child. With Kiddo in 6th grade beginning to understand and show interest in politics and government, a spring break trip to Washington, DC seemed a perfect idea. Planned a trip that included all the typical touristy highlights, along with side trips to reconnect with family (Kiddos sister & hubby’s brother live outside Baltimore).Of course, many of the sites were visited by bike. Others by foot. Or via the use of public transit. Or a combination of all three. We’re a get up and go kinda family with a firm belief that exploring by foot or bike allows a much deeper experience no matter where you are. WARNING: FAILED AT LIMITING PICTURES AND WORDS BELOW. Hang with me. In a complete aside for biking people: All three days I was rented a mixie (being a *girl* and all). And I don’t think I ever stepped through it. Always threw leg over saddle. Old habits.

Our first rental was from the Union Station location of Bike and Roll. We’d taken the subway from our hotel, choosing this vendor both due to location, and we’ve rented from these folks before in San Francisco (read about it). This location only had “comfort” bikes – whose wide, padded saddles are the opposite of comfort when riding all day, just saying. Once we got suited up with the proper sized bike and helmet, off we went.
First stop was the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum. Spent a couple hours wandering around looking at the exhibits. In our case it was just enough time. We were ready to move on.
Started heading up the Mall, with a couple of photo opportunity stops. First by FEMA then by the Washington Monument.

In fact most of the rest of the day was stops for quick exploring of monuments, reading plaques and taking pictures. The World War Two Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial.

A spin around the reflecting pool brought us to the Martin Luther King, FDR, and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. Sadly we were a couple of weeks too late to enjoy the cherry blossoms.
The day was getting long, so it was time to head back to return the bikes. But first a swing past the White House.
A great day of sightseeing. Much, much more seen, much more enjoyable, cheaper, healthier and fun than a bus tour.
On another day, we rented bikes from Bike and Roll’s Alexandria location, opting for their Combo bike rental, Mount Vernon tour and ferry package. In this you bike 11-12 miles on a bikeway along the Potomac to Mount Vernon, receive tickets to the site, lock your bikes up on the grounds and take a ferry back to Alexandria.
It was a nice easy ride, great for families. Mount Vernon is such an interesting place to visit. The gardens, the plantation house, the glimpse of how for Washington and others of his day their lifestyle only existed due to slaves.
The ferry ride home was also quite enjoyable (even if I would have liked to bike a bit more).
Equally enjoyable were the oysters and beers when we got back to Old Town Alexandria.
Other trip highlights were visits to the International Spy Museum, and using their GPS enabled “Spy in the City” handheld to go on a walking spy adventure around the city.
Plus visits to the Ford Theater (make reservations!), the US Capitol, The Library of Congress, Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, Fort McHenry (oh say can you see….), seeing friends and family, catching Uncle Mike’s band perform, meeting cousin Wrenn’s fiance and hanging out with big sis, a Food Network inspired trip to DC-3, a visit to Dogfish Head Brewery, and another bit of biking this time along Ocean City, MD boardwalk.
Yes a busy week…that’s how we roll…and how we like our vacations!

Read all the way to here, and wondering why I wrote a recap of a 2012 spring break trip in spring of 2013? It has occurred to me that maybe if I either deleted or finished all the partially written drafts I have hidden behind the scenes of this blog that I might feel like writing more. Take away some of the pressure created by evidence of procrastination. Or some such. I have a tendency to start a post, give it a title, throw in a picture, and then get stuck – usually because I can’t figure out how to limit the # of pictures or words. Looking at the list in the draft folder, a few were easily deleted. Others I would like to finish.

This recap of our spring break 2012 trip to Washington DC fit under the need to finish category.

Day with Kiddo…..1st ride of the Spring

This has felt like the winter that wouldn’t end. Combine that with some unusually busy weekends, and a focus on training for a half marathon, and I just haven’t been out riding. Kiddo and I were home alone this weekend, while Hubby was down at the Masters. As we planned our weekend, Kiddo suggested we go mountain biking. When I explained the trails were closed because they were too wet, we discussed riding Milwaukee’s lakefront trail. We’d done this last year, this same weekend, and I’d written it up here. I knew the South Shore Half Marathon was Sunday, and was worried the lakefront trail would be too crowded due to the race. I’ve been wanting to try the Lake Country Recreational trail, so this is where we decided to ride.
The 13 mile Lake Country trail runs along the southern end of Pewaukee Lake and Lake Nagawicka from just west of Hwy T in Pewaukee (the trailhead is close to Country Springs Hotel on Golf Road) through Delafield and on to Oconomowoc. This is a good map of the trail.
After airing up the tires, and giving both our bikes the once over, my first challenge was loading the bikes. I’ve never put the hitch rack on my car, and didn’t feel comfortable attempting without a demo – the vision of rack and 2 bikes falling off on the highway was a bit too scary. Throwing my road bike in the back of the car is easy. But my hybrid is bigger, heavier, more unwieldy, and a second bike adds to the difficulty. I can never remember front wheel first or back wheel, but somehow I got them both in, using an old yoga mat to protect the paint and drivetrain of my bike.

The trail runs along a right of way under Wisconsin Electric lines. The first 3 or so miles are paved, a bit further down the trail changed to crushed gravel.

Views ranged from golf courses to marsh to lake views. Though suspect once the trees leaf out, lake views will be limited.

 Kiddo and I enjoyed our time out on the trail. Being the 1st ride of the season we realized we could use a bit of work on our endurance. Nonetheless this ride whetted our appetite for more. We’re both excited to hit other trails, make a family ride a weekly event. 

"Fall"-ing for new things….


Wow, has it really been two months since I posted? Continue to struggle with getting my garden mojo back, that passion just isn’t hitting me. Dunno why. Think I remain overwhelmed, unable to find a path, a place to start, a vision for this space. I keep reminding myself, “You’ve created three great gardens”, but then the demon voices say, “Yeah, but those were blank slates, easy beginnings, this, this, this is, well, uh, a mess”. And that is as far as it gets.”Which makes posting in a blog under a name of “GardenKim” difficult.

Then it hit me…..I say in my profile, “striving to maintain balance through lifestyle changes, fitness, gardening, and travel.”. Well, heck, that gives me options, other things to write about. And suddenly I have so many posts in my head. I realized I’ve never done anything with those pictures from my trip to San Antonio and those lovely walks along the river, or the pictures from Grand Cayman and those beautiful gardens under the sea on my first scuba adventures, or the updated pictures of the beds in Chicago from this post, or my new found love of cycling that fits into that whole fitness and lifestyle changes heading.

Through the cycling, I’ve discovered a couple of county parks I’d never really visited. Fox Brook and Mitchell in Brookfield, WI. Both along the Fox River, both with good bike paths. Both with sights that cause me to pause, to smile, to slow down, even if only for a moment. First it was the surprise of a beach. The bumpity bump of riding the boardwalk paths through the marsh. The crunch of leaves under the wheels.

This cluster of purple asters, milkweed, golden rod caught my eye as I curved around the lake, slowing just enough to also catch the surprising sight of a sign for scuba diving. Really, here, in a county park? Will have to check that out next summer.

The brilliant red of the Virgina creeper slowed me down enough to catch another interesting sign, “Dog Swimming Area”, where on a ride with my son tonight we paused to watch a chocolate lab retrieving balls before heading back down the boardwalk path, across the Fox River to our car.

Of course, in all of those potential topics that love of plants, of gardens still is there. Perhaps by not worrying about writing about gardens and instead letting this blog lead me down any path, I can find the way back to the garden.
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