Before Tyler and I hit the road with our slate, Jim tells us that we really must see the nearby Island Line Trail, saying it would be a shame to be this far north and miss the railbed-turned-bikepath that crosses the lake. He also advises us not to drive our truck there—he's concerned the rutted road leading to it will break our slate. Jim has another engagement, so he volunteers his partner, Beth, to take us.
Luckily for us, Beth is eager for a break from her gardening, and happily agrees. A few minutes later, we've all piled into her Subaru, and we're driving down a small, deeply-potholed road towards the bike path. When we can go no further, we park the car and embark on foot down the ever-narrowing trail. Soon we're on a ribbon of gravel cutting across Lake Champlain.
The water around us seems endless—if it weren't for the distinct lack of salty air, I'd swear we were by the sea. The excursion is invigorating, as is the breeze, and the ice-cold water on our feet when we go wading.
While we walk, Beth points out islands and good fishing spots, telling us a bit about the history of the area.
We also chat about travel—as it turns out, she and Jim took a nine-month trip through the USA in a Winnebago a few years back. Following that, they backpacked through Southeast Asia for three months! Seeing Beth's eyes sparkle as she talks about experiencing Alaska's Mount Denali, or trekking in the countryside around Dhaka fills me with wanderlust all over again. Like Tyler and I, she and Jim want to See South America next!
Eventually, far out over the water, our narrow path dead-ends abruptly into a fence. Ahead, with just a few dozen feet of lake water between us, is the continuation of the bike path. There, several brightly-colored road cyclists are snapping photos of the scenery. A few days from now, Beth tells us, there will be a tiny ferry bringing tourists from one side to another. With our road literally at its end, we make an about-face and head to the car.
As Beth drives us back to her home, I'm beaming and filled with gratitude about our carefree weekend, and this unexpected meeting of kindred spirits. Back at our truck, Beth gives us both a squeeze and tells us that we're always welcome to visit. Deeply touched, we thank her, and urge her to follow our journal—we'll be writing all about what happens to the slate from their barn!
Then, it's time to head home. As we're pulling away, we wave from the windows. And, just as my grandmother does, Beth walks to the edge of her driveway, and thrusts her hand towards the sky, waving and waving and waving us goodbye. She grows smaller in our rear view mirror, still waving, until finally she's gone from sight. What a sweetheart!
We set out this morning with the simple goal of buying slate from some guy on craigslist—who knew we'd make new friends in the process?