Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut; Sometimes You Don’t- part 2

Thank you for returning to read the denouement! As promised, here is the final chapter of our New England saga…

Directions were an adventure all their own for the entire trip. My confidence in GPS turned out to be somewhat unfounded in the White Mountains and the Green Mountains. Google Maps floated in and out of commission on my phone. This made me tense. Luckily, Max’s phone did a better job of picking up the GPS signal, so we did not end up in Canada. It was all a little stressful, never knowing exactly where I was headed when I put the car in gear.

We stopped at Queegee Gorge on our way to our next stop- Killington, Vermont. I was feeling pretty chuffed that I had found my way back to Vermont, so I suggested we take the hike down into the gorge. I fully expected Max to politely- or not so politely- decline. When I asked if he felt up for the hike, he said “sure.” He must have been feeling pretty chuffed, too. It turned out to be a wonderful, beautiful, uplifting experience. In fact, that hike stands out to me as a top favorite moment in a week of almost nothing but favorite moments. The hike was exhilarating enough to feel challenging and rewarding but was not so difficult to leave me feeling defeated. The greens and golds and browns of the trees filtered the sunlight, weaving webs of shadows under the canopy of branches. I went to New England to see the fall colors. The fall colors were mind-blowing, no question. I also have to say that the green-gold tapestry in the forest surrounding the Queegee Gorge trail was magical also. 

Since we were in the area, we also stopped at the Simon Pearce showroom. For those of you who have never heard of Simon Pearce (which included me until a month or so ago), the company makes hand-blown glassware that is clear and pure beyond anything I could ever have imagined before I saw it. We were able to watch the artisans making some of the products while we were there. The showroom is a every s huge open space. Every surface is covered with crystal confections catching rays of light, faceting those rays of light into thousands of tiny bits, and throwing confetti of light back into the atmosphere. It is a starry night, without stars and without night. I wanted my own piece of star, but the prices at Simon Pearce are not for the faint-hearted. I hemmed and hawed and debated until I finally walked away without purchasing. I would like to say I felt good about myself for demonstrating excellent impulse control, but that would be a lie. I did not feel good about myself.  I have yet to recover from leaving Simon Pearce empty-handed.

We spent the next day in Woodstock, enjoying the shops and autumn decorations. The day began auspiciously when I found a magnificent parking spot- quite a feat in a village without parking structures- Predictably, my GPS abandoned me, and  I got lost when I tried to get to Billings Farm after our Woodstock visit. It turned out that I was going in the wrong direction, which we found out when the GPS finally roused itself. We were going in the wrong direction… right past Simon Pearce. You would have thought I would have taken this as a sign from God, but I did not. I once more passed up the opportunity to acquire very expensive glass table décor.

We did eventually find our way to Billings Farm and had a delightful time. My favorite part was loving on the newborn baby cows. One of these enchanting critters named Fig was especially enamored with me. She nuzzled me, slipped her head under my hand for pets, licked my hands and forearms, and gnawed on my fingers and hands. It didn’t hurt. In fact, it felt kind of pleasant at the time. About half an hour later, I grabbed a railing to steady myself as I walked down a flight of stairs. As soon as my hand made contact with the rail, I realized my hand hurt. I looked at my hand and saw a light bruise in the perfect shape of a calf’s upper palate. Note to self for the future: beware of champing bovines.

On our final full day in Vermont, we headed back to Burlington. I heard about this incredible, over-the-top Christmas store in Shelbourne, right outside of Burlington. I was sure it had my name written all over it. As we approached Shelbourne, I noticed a sign on the side of the road pointing the direction to the Vermont Teddy Bear Company. I made a wild, spontaneous, and madcap decision that we should stop there. Actually, it was not so much a “decision” as it was a “primal calling.” Max and I have a thing about bears. Being in the proximity of the Vermont Teddy Bear Company was complete serendipity. I did take this as a sign from God. After exploring the whole facility, taking a tour,  and learning all about how the good people in Vermont build a teddy bear, I plunked down my credit card to pay $100 for a limited edition fall foliage teddy bear. Her name is Maple Sugar. After taking the tour, I at least knew WHY a teddy bear should cost $100. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

After the teddy bear nirvana, we stopped at the Christmas store which was indeed a sight to behold. I circumnavigated the shop at least four times and kept seeing new items every time. It was like somebody took all the fancy decorations in all the fancy holiday windows in Manhattan, along with all the leftover Christmas merchandise, and stuffed it all together in a 2000 square foot barn… and then let the public wander through the Christmas explosion for free.

When we reached the hotel in Burlington, we encountered another complication. The hotel had no record of our reservation, despite the fact that I had an email confirmation. I made the reservation through a third-party website and, it appeared, that somehow the reservation information never made it to the hotel. After several unsatisfactory phone calls and online help chats, I got ahold of someone who promised to check and call me back. The hotel had only one more room left. Since I prepaid with my reservation, I was not too excited about renting the one remaining room and paying twice. Still, both Max and I were getting nervous about waiting on the customer service person to get back to me because we feared the room would sell before we resolved the problem. Another gentleman, who had been staying in the hotel for business for the past several weeks, overheard our conversation. He told us that it was Parents Weekend at the nearby University of Vermont and, also, Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. He helpfully advised us that it was unlikely that we would find lodging anywhere in the vicinity that night. We took the one remaining room, and I figured I could try to mop up the issue with the third-party website when we got home.

All of this took some time, and I was getting hungry. We did have a dinner reservation at five, so we headed out to the restaurant. On the way, we got lost again. Surprise, not surprise. As we made a U-turn to right ourselves, I noticed a very attractive, tony kind of Vermont gift store strategically placed across the main highway from the restaurant. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed glassware  in the window. Simon Pearce? I resolved to check it out after ingesting some nourishment. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in a great environment with excellent service. It was a great “cherry on top” end to our trip. While we were at dinner, I checked the gift store’s website. Indeed, they did feature Simon Pearce glass. However, they closed at 5:00pm. Final opportunity to acquire expensive glassware thwarted!

The next day, we traveled home. Aside from a  layover (originally 3 hours, extended to 6 hours) in JFK airport, all was well. We got back to our house around 11:00pm, tired and relieved to be home.

Over the past weeks since we have been back, I’ve reflected on the trip often. When we left, I really felt like I wanted and needed a vacation. I was looking forward to rest, relaxation, refreshment, pampering, and a generous helping of TLC. This trip was not that. It was not a vacation. It was an adventure. It was thrilling and exhilarating and confidence-building. It was organic and real and vibrant. I suppose most people would not have considered our adventure “edgy,” but it was for us. Sometimes it is good when God shakes you past your comfortable frontier and into the expanded unknown. Sometimes, you want a vacation, but you need an adventure.

Sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you don’t feel like a nut, but find you enjoy it once you bite into one!

on our hike into Queegee Gorge
Fig, the woman eating calf
Me with Maple Sugar Bear
Despite everything, I was still sad to leave New England

Have you ever taken a trip that did not play out the way you expected, but was still an amazing experience? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at

Have an adventurous day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut; Sometimes You Don’t- Part One

As you have probably intuited if you are a regular reader of my blog, 2023 has been a pivotal year for me, although stressful. I’ve confronted and battled with some big demons from my past. My last living relative on my mother’s side became critically ill and died, which meant two unplanned trips to Pennsylvania for me. This illness also meant saying good-bye to a much-loved cousin, waiting with her as she finished life in this world, resolving emotionally fraught end-of-life issues, and overseeing her estate. There has also been a rather unsettling shift and expansion of my spiritual life. During the course of this year, I have been working to put the self-discoveries into practice in real life. Change is difficult for most people. For me, it is an uphill slog over a mountain of mud while wearing cement boots. I felt like a vacation was definitely in order.

Recently, Max and I took off on a trip to Vermont and New Hampshire. We took a bus tour of New England about five years ago. That trip was a comedy of errors- so many things went wrong- but I loved, loved, loved New England. I decided that I wanted to go back, without the restrictions of a tour group or the need to constantly bop from one hotel to another. We decided to limit the number of destinations on this trip and to wander in the wind without planning every possible moment. I

In the past, I would have been too scared and nervous to attempt such a bold move. In the past, my anxiety insisted on tidy, carefully planned and scheduled, professionally orchestrated bus tours. I worried I would not be able to find my way around if we went on our own. I worried about directions and driving conditions. I worried that we would miss something critical if I served as the tour guide. I worried that we would “waste time” if I could not articulate a moment-by-moment agenda for the trip before we ever left home. I  worried that selecting hotels or vacation rentals on my own would result in lodging us on Skid Row or similarly sketchy neighborhoods.

I was much more confident of my abilities this year. In the past couple of years, I have driven to Georgia, and South Carolina. I drove all over the state of Pennsylvania and much of Maryland during my trips related to my cousin’s death. I have stayed in a few vacation rentals in the past and all of them have been fine.

I was kind of amazed that I was not more nervous as we embarked on the trip. I was actually feeling pretty sassy. I told myself that all that “putting the self-discoveries into practice in real life” was paying off big time. Take that, crappy self-esteem! Still, I was looking forward to a week of relaxing, irresponsible, reinvigorating vacation.

What happened was not that.

Incidentally, my birthday was the day before we left on the trip. It was fairly low key because we were preparing for the trip and wrapping our heads around the notion of leaving for the airport to fly to Vermont at 0 dark yesterday. I had scheduled an Uber a few days before and I thought we were set to leave at 3:30am. Uber confirmed my reservation so I thought we were good. Luckily, a nagging notion in the back of my mind prepared me when 3:30am proved to be too early for the Uber driver. I drove us to the airport. It was not only too early for the Uber driver, but it was also too early for valet parking at the airport. I left Max at the terminal with the luggage and ventured off to find a parking spot. I left the car and headed back to the terminal, breathing a silent prayer that I would be able to locate the vehicle when we returned in six days.

Our flight to Vermont was uneventful. “Eventful” happened for the first time when we went to pick up the rental car in Burlington. I handed over my credit card and driver’s license, like a good girl. The guy at the counter pointed out that my driver’s license was expired… because my birthday was the day before. I had no idea. We solved that problem by having Max rent the car with his unexpired license. The next step to my “solution” was for me to drive the rental car around all week as an unauthorized driver on the vehicle. When we went to get some lunch, I quickly renewed my driver’s license online, but that still did not address the unauthorized driver problem. Luckily, I was not arrested at any time while I was in New England.

We spent the night in Burlington and had an enjoyable time wandering the shops at the Church Street Marketplace. The vrbo rental, although a little worn around the edges on the outside, was charming and comfortable on the inside. The next day, we drove to Stowe, VT to visit the Trapp Family Lodge. I wanted to break into song the moment we turned the corner into the parking lot. The hills certainly were alive with the sounds of music and the sights of a million leaves turning into God’s autumn oil painting. The scenery was spectacular, and the resort was uncrowded.

I decided I wanted to hike to the chapel Werner Von Trapp built behind the lodge. Max was not a fan of that idea because it involved walking down a trail some ways from the main path. He was, predictably, concerned that monsters would get me. I think he meant humanoid monsters that might be hiding beside the trail to attack me. I decided to pursue the trail anyway. After I walked about ten minutes, I saw the trail offshoot to the chapel. Mountain goats would have had trouble navigating it. I am not a mountain goat. I have the coordination of a seasick sloth. As I turned to make my way back to the trailhead, I found Max hiking up behind me, to make sure I was okay.

After a lovely morning at the Trapp Family Lodge, we made our way to New Hampshire. We had tickets for a trip to the summit of Mount Washington on the COG railway the next day. Finding our way to our vacation rental proved to be quite difficult. We found the condo development with little trouble but were stymied by the numbering system. There were other renters who eyed us suspiciously as we circled around the complex looking for numbers that did not exist. I don’t blame them for being suspicious. We could have been casing the joint. I finally stopped to ask for help from some of the suspicious strangers, not so much because I thought they could really help, but because I wanted to make sure they didn’t call the cops… especially with that expired license thing. After consulting with the suspicious strangers, calling the condo owner twice, and Max getting out of the car and inspecting the doors of about five different condos (which, of course, all looked alike), we had our eureka moment. We found the right condo. We breathed a sigh of relief as we hauled our suitcases up the flight of stairs leading to the unit. Well, maybe it was a sigh of relief. Maybe we were just winded. The flight of stairs was pretty steep.

For dinner, we googled restaurants in the area. There were only a couple of choices within thirty miles, and they had odd hours of operation. We found a place that was actually connected to a nearby campground. It wasn’t great, but it was certainly acceptable. We should have taken the hint that our vision of “vacation dining” was not going to pan out well at this location. I guess we got taken in because we went to the stunning and elegant Mount Washington Hotel the next morning for a delicious, bountiful breakfast. That meal gave us the false hope that food in Bretton Woods was plentiful and accessible.

We enjoyed beautiful weather for our ride to the summit of Mount Washington. It was 78 degrees at the bottom of the mountain. It was 47 degrees at the top of the mountain, with  40 mile per hour wind gusts. The guide assured us it was a mild day. A few days later, the temperature at the top was -7 degrees and the wind gusts were 75 miles per hour. We learned a lot of interesting information from our tour guide on the railroad trip.

The most important thing I learned is that people from New Hampshire are crazy. When they were building the railway, workers used to fashion makeshift toboggans- dubbed “devil’s shingles”- to descend the mountain. Skiers wield velocity down mountainsides that are more perpendicular than my living room walls are to the floor . I have no clue what keeps them attached to the snow. Daredevils engage in government-sanctioned car races on the automobile trail up the mountain. You notice I don’t call it a “road.” This trail was not even fully paved until last year. It is a narrow path with no guard rails. As these drivers varoom up the mountain, they look out their windows to see fairly alarming scenery- an 8,000 foot drop off into oblivion. If you ask me, all of this is just wrong. I know New Hampshire’s motto is “live free or die,” but I do have to wonder how many of them have ended up dying somewhere on Mount Washington.

When we returned from the summit, we checked out the little “restaurant” at the visitor base of the mountain. You know those hot dogs that whirl around a heat lamp in movie theaters? The cuisine was similar at the “restaurant.” Max and I decided to pass. When we went looking for another Google restaurant. The directions took us into a campground and seemed determined to lead us through a tunnel into the woods. Max’s spirit of adventure did not extend to  traveling in a car down a path to nowhere that looked better suited to foot traffic. He asked (well, “asked” might be an understatement) me to give up this folly and get back on the main road. I wasn’t sure how to grant his request, since there was no place really conducive to turning around, I tried, but Max seemed to think I was going to back us off the path into a ravine. Finally, with his direction, I ended up driving the quarter mile or so back to the main road in reverse. At that point, my own sense of adventure was feeling a bit peaked. I was up for driving the 30 miles or so to the next town with a population large enough to warrant a real restaurant that might actually be open at… you know… dinner time. Max, however, was done. He identified a gas station convenience store, and we bought some suspicious looking shrink-wrapped food to stave off cannibalism. I was feeling a bit testy.

Me, without makeup, in front of a tree all dressed up for autumn on the Trapp property
My pictures don’t really do the trees justice
cog railroad

Please tune in next week for the final installment of Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut; Sometimes You Don’t.

Have a nutty day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂