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!
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 email@example.com.
Have an adventurous day!