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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Blue Backpack Chronicles: Cycling and Sculptures in Stowe

Posted By on Thu, Oct 10, 2013 at 9:00 AM

  • photos by Alison Novak


Monday morning was dark and gray, and my mood was equally stormy. My 3-year-old son, Theo, was channeling his boundless energy in all the wrong ways — dipping the TV remote in milk, taking the lid off the toilet and barricading me in the bathroom with a pile of pillows.

I knew my best bet was to get my turbocharged boy out of the house and into a wide-open space, but I feared the impending rain would put a wrench in the plan.

I decided it was worth the risk. We loaded Theo’s pink, streamered hand-me-down bike into the trunk of the car and headed for the Stowe Recreation Path.

Despite the cloudy skies, the 50-minute drive was a gorgeous tableau of autumn colors. We arrived in Stowe Village a little before 10 a.m. and decided to hit Black Cap Coffee to fuel up before the bike ride. With a latte (me) and cinnamon twist (Theo) in hand, we strolled down Main Street, mingling with the leaf-peeping tourists.

The sun had started shining through the clouds and Theo and I soon noticed outdoor sculptures sprinkled through town — they’re part of the temporary “Exposed” exhibit sponsored by Stowe’s Helen Day Art Center. Theo loved interacting with “Box of Courage,” a huge, primary-colored, plywood box dotted with holes that he could pop his head out of and climb through.

To our delight, the outdoor sculptures extended into the first stretch of the bike path. Clusters of pastel balls spread across fallen dead trees like Easter egg fungus begged to be touched. Upon closer examination, Theo and I realized they were made from fabric.

A little farther down, several trees had hot-pink plastic cable ties wrapped around their trunks, which gave them a whimsical, Seussian feel.

Theo glided along the path on his training wheels for about 25 minutes, with me walking and running beside him, before fatigue and hunger set in. The 5.3-mile recreation path has 10 wooden bridges; we made it across three of them and probably traveled about one mile.

After a snack break on one of the many benches lining the path, we headed back, stopping occasionally to examine mushrooms and caterpillars.

By the time Theo crossed the wooden bridge that marked the entrance to the path, my disposition was decidedly sunnier and Theo’s maniacal morning energy had dissipated. It was proof that sometimes a change of mood is only a bike ride away.

If you go:

The Stowe Recreation Path is accessible from Stowe Village. Follow signs for recreation path access to a parking lot behind the Stowe Community Church (137 Main Street).

Black Cap Coffee is located at 144 Main St. in Stowe, and has an assortment of coffee drinks and pastries.

“Exposed” is an annual outdoor sculpture exhibit sponsored by Stowe’s Helen Day Art Center. It runs through October 15.


This post was written by Kids VT contributor Alison Novak, who lives in Shelburne with her husband and two kids. Every week this fall, she and her 3-year-old son, Theo, will embark on an inexpensive excursion to someplace they’ve never been. The Blue Backpack Chronicles — named for Theo’s trusty travel backpack — is a blog series about their adventures.

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