I hobbled around my campsite after a restless night of trying to sleep, packing for the trip home. I’d had some thoughts of a 15-mile hike to Wallace Pond, but once up and moving around, knew that was out of the question. Instead, I’d head north and visit relatives…including some time with my grandmother who would be turning 106 in less than a month.
I stayed with my Aunt and Uncle who are extremely active. My Uncle continues to ride a bicycle, rain or shine, every day of the year. He does so with a basket on the back of the bike so he can pick up recyclable bottles and plastic containers for the return deposit. I think they’re worth about a nickel. He keeps a running log of what he’s collected over the years and it’s closing in on $4,000. When I was there last fall, I introduced them to the Paleo Diet and smoothies. They were so excited when I arrived.
“Look at this, Johnny. It’s our new Vitamix…and I got it on special,” my Uncle gushed when I entered the kitchen.
A Vitamix is an upscale blender manufactured right here in Cleveland. He had a large recipe book that had come with the product and was making a Tortilla Chip smoothie. The thought of such a thing almost gagged me, but since he didn’t have the tortilla chips for the blend, I calmed somewhat. He put in assorted fruits and I think some spinach before hitting the ‘mix’ button. It made a high speed hum as it blended the ingredients into a tasty, silky smooth smoothie.
But they bought if for more than its ability to make a good smoothie and began describing the soup they’d be making for dinner.
“Soup? How’s it going to make it hot?” I asked.
“Um…well…I’m not exactly sure, but I believe it’s the high speed at which it blends. It has to go for eight minutes,” he said.
They put the ingredients in, struggled to get it spinning at the appropriate rate and then once it was going went about the business of readying salads. I had time enough to take a shower before returning to the kitchen and their Vitamix dinner.
“How about that Johnny…and it made three cups!”
Three cups…three people…and one of them was me. This was shaping up as a formula for the kind of disaster where I eat a relative.
The soup was delicious…as was the carrot salad…but I warned them that when bears were given such amounts, they tended to chew the arm off the person feeding them. My Aunt picked up on the signals and pulled some meatloaf from the refrigerator and made meatloaf sandwiches. It was touch and go for a few minutes, but I relaxed once the sandwich was in front of me and with my Uncle making a couple of more different kind of smoothies…I think he was attempting to go through the entire recipe book before his 9 o’clock bed time…I reached a point of feeding satisfaction.
I was hobbling in pain throughout the day and there was no way I’d be doing any cycling on one of my Uncle’s bikes. I’d been to Massena to visit with my cousins, Donnie and Pat, who have built beautiful homes on the family property, which backs up to the Grasse River earlier in the day.
Walking through Donnie’s garage, he asked if I’d like something to drink. We opened the frig to check out the offerings when I suggested a smoothie. I think it was what he was waiting for. He loves my smoothies…they’d replaced the milk shakes I used to make whenever I went there. You can never have too many good smoothies. We finished them quickly and headed across the driveway to Pat’s place.
Pat was showing us through the basement, which overlooked the river, when my eyes fell upon two kayaks.
“Just got back from paddling up to the Gun Club with Marshall,” Pat said. Marshall was his black lab and the Gun Club was over two miles upriver.
“Did Marshall swim the entire way?” I asked.
“Nah. He swims some…runs along the bank some…like that,” he said.
“Think he’d like to go again?” I asked.
And just like that, I was dragging a kayak the 50 yards down to the river and climbing in. The Grasse is a slow moving, sandy bottom river at this point. It originates a hundred miles away in the peaks of the Adirondacks and has had me wondering about a trip from its source to my cousins’ back yard. It would only be a matter of a few more miles to its destination…the mighty St. Lawrence River. I suggested as much to Pat as we paddled, but he wasn’t wrapping his mind around that at the moment. He did want to know more about the Paleo Diet and how I’d managed to lose twenty pounds.
“You could also start every morning with a trip up the river before work. I like kayaking at the crack of dawn with a cool mist coming off the water and wildlife teaming along the shores the best,” I said.
He considered that as we sat on a sand bar across from the Gun Club and he sipped on the beer he’d brought along in the hold.
“You could quit drinking calories…like beer…if you really want to get in shape,” I said.
He looked at me like I had a third eyeball in the middle of my forehead. He’d do a lot of things to get in shape…but giving up beer was clearly not going to be one of them that look said. I told him about my coming triathlon and that I’d email him a copy of it and information about the Paleo Diet…suggesting he join me in the endeavor. He’s a worthy project and family does for family…right, Pat?