Activities for kids in the Burke area when it’s raining

By Caitlin Daulong

We get this question a lot. It came up again this week and so we decided a blog post was in order! Let’s face it: you likely didn’t come to the Burke area to spend your time inside. It can be a real bummer when your best laid plans become obsolete due to the weather, but we have some great indoor alternatives for you below.

Science, Natural History & Art – all in St. Johnsbury!

St. J is a quick 10-15 minute drive from the Burke area, which makes this the perfect option if rain is in the forecast for just a portion of the day. Start out at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium, housed in an architecturally impressive Victorian stunner, which is a small but notable experience for children of all ages. The museum houses natural science specimens, historical artifacts, and ethnological items representing Oceania, the Near East, Africa, Egypt, Japan and native North America. The museum also offers scavenger hunts designed for children of all different ages, which is a great way to let your kids explore the museum independently.

The museum also is the home of the Lymann Spitzer Jr Planetarium, which is Vermont’s only public planetarium! They offer shows throughout the day, making this a perfect rainy day activity!

Once you’ve had your fix of the Museum and Planetarium, head just up the road and across the street to the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. The building and architecture inside alone are impressive, but the real gem is the gallery at the back of the building. While this is best for older kids, a brief trip even with younger children could be worthwhile. The collection of art in the gallery is beautiful and stately, and much of the artwork is original. They also offer self guided tours.

Take a trip up North!

The beauty of Quebec is how otherworldly it feels just by crossing over the border. If you were able to plan ahead and bring your passports, a day in the Magog area of Quebec (just over the border) is full of awesome experiences for you and your family.

While Magog is roughly an hour drive from Burke, it is definitely worth it if you need to get away for a full day.

First up is the Abbaye-de-Saint-Benoit-du-Lac, an imposing Benedictine abbey nestled against Lake Memphremagog. The interiors and grounds of the church are beautiful, but what is truly impressive are the hand made cheeses, ciders and fruit compotes that are made and sold by the monks living in the community. Well worth a trip!

If you have younger kids who need to get out some energy, head to Tikito, which is an indoor amusement center for younger children. It’s open daily (except for Tuesday), and offers a great alternative for rainy days.

Go full ivy league in Hanover

Hanover, home to Dartmouth College, is another great day trip destination for a rainy day! What makes Hanover such a no-brainer is just how easy it is to make a day out of it. There are various parking lots throughout the main stretch of the city center, making parking a breeze. From there, you have a plethora of restaurants (we love TukTuk Thai and gelato from Morano is not to be missed!) and shops within walking distance and the Hood Museum of Art just a hop, skip and a jump away. Hood frequently offers family days on weekends, with a variety of hands-on activities and classes, so make sure to check out the schedule to see if you’re in luck!

A quick, less than 10 minute drive is the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. Depending on the age of your kids, you can easily spend several hours at Montshire. There are frequently new exhibits available, so be sure to check out their website prior to visiting!

Did we miss anything? We would love to hear your favorite rainy day activities with kids in the area! Happy exploring!

Venture and Reward

By Alex Greco

I first got into mountain biking with friends at a young age. We all developed an interest in the outdoors, and quickly became passionate about mountain biking, skiing and hiking. When we were 18 years old we decided we needed to experience other riding than the local trail systems on the North Shore of Massachusetts. We grew up riding these trails and loved them loved, but we were very ambitious. So we dropped everything, put way too many bikes on the back of my friend’s mother’s Subaru and drove to Moab, Utah. This was one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. The experiences on that trip provided so many positive impacts to my life and they ultimately contributed to where I am today.

The moment we crossed the continental divide, I was stunned. Growing up on the east coast I have a special connection to the Green and White mountains, but that day was the first time I had seen the mountains of the west. We were so stoked we had to get on our bikes immediately. We took a quick detour and rode the trails just outside of Boulder, Colorado. I remember we were laughing with joy throughout the entire ride. We pulled into Moab the next day, and I was awestruck by the natural surroundings. It’s hard to put in to words the energy evoked by the Utah desert. The wilderness there is different from other ecosystems, the openness creates serenity. It’s a beautiful venue for mountain biking. We ended up riding all of the classic trails in the area. This trip was an amazing experience. There aren’t many things in life that are better than riding mountain bikes with your best friends on world class trails.

Unfortunately it was the end of summer and we had to head back east so we could make the first day of classes. Although it was hard to leave we were okay with the idea of not having rice and beans for dinner anymore. By the end of the trip I had learned a lot and I started to look at cycling in a different way. Getting to bike at a world class riding destination helped me realize how unique this sport is. I learned how fascinating mountain biking is because it is possible to ride in so many different regions, and in totally different ecosystems. For example just in the U.S. you can ride in the rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, the deserts of the Southwest, the maple forests of the Northeast, and the high alpine in the mountains of the West. Interacting with these natural places is what sets this sport apart from others. Because of my Moab experience, I now live at another world class riding destination at Kingdom Trails. The riding at Kingdom Trails is unequal to other trail systems. The flow of the terrain, the beauty of the surrounding landscape combined with the immense bike culture and community is what makes this place a paradise.

One of the most important things I took away from going to Moab is to always live life to its fullest potential. I say this because I was very close to not going on this trip. Luckily my friends wouldn’t take no for an answer, which I’m very grateful for today. It’s okay to step outside of your comfort zone sometimes, being bold can often lead to great things. In retrospect, the Moab trip meant a lot to me. Today, I have found my passion and identity in mountain biking. And now it’s where I live and what I do for work. Money was also factor, at 18 years old money was very tight. Even though we were camping in the desert as well as eating rice and beans, it was still a considerable amount of money for me at the time. But I decided to sacrifice because in the end experiences go beyond any monetary value. Looking back, I can say that it’s the things in life that are temporary and the experiences that last forever.

So it doesn’t have to be Moab or even a mountain biking trip but the next time you find yourself on the doorstep of a big endeavor, venture out because the opportunity could be the experience of a lifetime.

Healthy and Happy Holidays!

With another holiday right around the corner and many people, athletes especially, hard at work trying to burn off the extra winter weight it can be a little daunting to pull yourself up to the dinner table again without a side of guilt.

Trust me, I’m right there with you!  But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing if you play your cards right.  I often tell my patients and clients that there needs to be a balance. A little treat or indulgence is completely OK as long as you balance it out with healthier choices along the way.

So here are a few tips for this weekend to keep you from chasing away that diet-sabotaging bunny…

  1. Healthy Hacks: If you are hosting this can be quite simple since you know the menu and have some control over the ingredients.  As the host, your guests might come to expect certain standards such as a sweetly delicious ham, creamy mashed potatoes, and sugary desserts.  You can still manage to sneak in some healthy hacks without altering the deliciousness of the meal. You’ve probably heard this before but add mashed cauliflower to those potatoes!  As much as half of the classic potato side dish can be replaced with steamed and then mashed cauliflower while still maintaining the flavor. In mine I also sub in unsweetened almond milk, coconut oil, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast in place of cream, butter and cheese.  It’s delicious and my family has never complained!
  2. Offer plenty of veggies: Include a huge green salad on your table, this year I’ll be bringing a Kale salad with slivered almonds, roasted beets and mandarine oranges tossed in a light vinaigrette dressing.  You can also serve up some healthy veggies sides like roasted Brussels sprouts tossed in extra virgin olive oil and minced up garlic, or asparagus sautéed in coconut oil with lemon and thyme or rosemary. Either way the more veggies on your plate, the less likely you’ll fill up on the less-healthy sides.
  3. Prioritize your splurge: as I mentioned above, it’s all about balance!  If you’re really looking forward to a slice of carrot cake or a piece of pie, keep your dinner plate a little on the small side to make up for it.
  4. Stay active: Before the big meal, do something active.  Get in a quick ride or plan a family hike before everyone sits down to eat.  This way there’s no excuses afterwards to skip it…we all know that happens! A little pre-meal burn earns you some of those extra calories and lessens the damage done.
  5. Quality over Quantity: If you’re going to indulge in some of the Easter basket treats make them the best treats you can find.  Skip the cheap chocolate and go for something gourmet and dark! There are plenty of options here and you often don’t need to go to a health food store to find them.  So get the good stuff and savor every small bite rather than gobbling down a boring old milk chocolate bunny 😉

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend and some of these tips help you along the way!

Dr Cassie Maximenko, also known as “Dr Max”, is a Chiropractic Physician at Dembski Chiropractic in Southbury, CT.  She has been practicing there for over 8 years and has Masters degrees in Sports Health Care and Nutrition. As a physician, Dr Max focuses on treating the whole person not just the pain so she also offers nutritional counseling for a variety of issues and for sports performance.

She is involved in the cycling community as a professional cyclist, primarily competing in Cyclocross events across the country and coaches a local kids mountain bike team through the Connecticut Cycling Advancement Program.  Dr. Max also coaches a small group of adult athletes through her small coaching business, TriMax-Training.  From beginner triathletes to professional level cyclists, she works with anyone looking to improve their performance and attain any goal big or small.

Outside of her practice and coaching she is also a dog lover who enjoys hiking and mountain biking with her cattle dog, Azura and her husband of 11 years, Michael.

Helpful Tips to Get Your Kids into Mountain Biking

Many of us are lucky to have experienced the amazing benefits that mountain biking has to offer. It’s only natural for us to want our children to reap the same rewards we have benefited from. Mountain biking is an excellent way for kids to connect with the outdoors and nature at an early age, it provides them a great outlet to stay active and healthy, and is an awesome way to see friends and meet new kids! Mountain biking is also an extremely effective way to increase self esteem for youth. Biking stands out from other team sports because it is much less competitive. There is a perfect balance between fun and setting personal goals to improve, which is perfect for kids! What’s really awesome about this sport is that kids can start riding at early ages and both boys and girls can participate together.

Some may think that getting kids into mountain biking can be difficult, but it’s not always as hard as people think! There are many tips and pointers to help out in this process, here they are:

  • Dont push your kids into something they don’t want to do. Let them initiate interest first. But plant the seed by mentioning how fun riding is! The earlier you plant the seed, the better. let things happen naturally.
  • Ask them if they would be interested in trying it out. You can see if they would want to try it out with a friend first, or go one-on-one with you, or even take an Instructional lesson. Just make sure they are comfortable in their decision.
  • Safety is always first! It’s very important to provide appropriate gear for your children so they feel comfortable. Don’t forget about protective gear, providing pads is an awesome way to boost confidence.
  • Once they get the hang of pedaling and riding doubletrack, gradually increase the difficulty. Progression is key.
  • Use pump tracks for practice, so they can understand bike and body control.
  • Patience is a virtue.
  • Provide encouragement. And never lead them into something that will deter them or their confidence.
  • Always remember that it will happen naturally, if they really want it, they will achieve their goal in the end.
  • Preach safety frequently.

And before you know it, you’ll be trying to keep up with them! Have fun, and see you on the trails!

Alex Greco  

Being a Mountain Bike Instructor Is My Dream Job

When I was 15 years old I remember taking a different mindset in life. It all started when I was constantly being asked what I wanted to be when I was older. Every time I simply just answered “I want to be happy.” This was different than the answers from my peers. Some people did not take me seriously, but I was not trying to be amusing. For me to achieve happiness in life I had to live life to its full potential by living every day and all day.

At an early age I developed a strong interest in the outdoors through mountain biking and skiing. Mountain biking quickly became my passion and my drive in life. And here we are, seven years later after being asked the infamous question “what do you want to be when you are older,” I have found it with my first job out of school. I am a mountain bike instructor and guide for Kingdom Cycling and Experiences, and doing this work has brought an immense amount of fulfillment and happiness to my life. I have done a lot of thought into what makes this job stand out from others. First off, I don’t view it as a “job,” I view it as a career. I can easily say I want to be doing this for the rest of my life, whether I am guiding or just working in the mountain bike industry, this is where I want to be. Another reason why this job stands out is because of the values and passion that everyone has here at Kingdom Cycling. Whether it’s Collin and Caitlin, or any of our Instructors and guides, everybody is passionate and believes in the mission of what we do and the value of our work. I call this the “why factor.” The “why factor” is the purpose which stems from our passion.

Mountain biking has done a lot for me in my life. It has developed into something very important to my way of life. I was able to find myself through cycling and now it’s my identity. Mountain biking has benefited my life in countless ways. To name a few, riding allowed me to achieve a better understanding of my relationship with the outdoors and nature, it also surrounded me with an amazing community, helped me form many connections and deepen friendships into lifelong relationships, as well as provide an excellent and efficient way to keep my body and mind healthy. These are benefits that can seriously improve quality of life. What really makes this my dream job is that I get to help others out everyday by introducing them to this great sport. As an Instructor and guide I am motivated to provide memorable experiences through mountain biking so my clients can achieve the same benefits I was able to. Working at Kingdom Cycling and Experiences has allowed me to hack the system, because everyday when I wake up, I can’t wait to get to my dream job.

Thanks, and see you on the trails!

Alex Greco