Friday, September 28, 2012

Road Trip

Did I tell you I was taking a road trip?  NC to VT and back, through VA, DC, MD, PA, RI, CT, MA, NY, and NJ for 2 weeks.  I did all the driving so my photos are very limited, but oh, the memories.

I took as many back roads as possible.  Just selected the option on my GPS to avoid toll roads and highways, and my, can you see parts of the country that time has forgotten.  What you don't see in this photo are the two families we met when we drove through this bridge and parked to take the photos.  The husbands had camping chairs, waders, fly rods, and satisfied smirks on their faces because they were about to embark on an enjoyable morning of fishing.  Of course you also didn't see the frazzled wives and kids running around, but hey, everyone can't experience delight at the same time all the time,  right?

I highly recommend the back roads but want to point out the obvious.  You have to make stops and meet people.  So when I visited a small pottery studio in VT, I was instructed to follow this road about 7 miles, then turn left to get to Cambridge NY, and I'd pass the covered bridge on my way.  Photo says yes, I did.

She promised quaint little antique shops, and she was right.  So the owner of one who sat out front in one of her chairs while we wandered up and down stairs inside directed me to follow the same road which led to Greenwich, NY where I'd turn right at the first light and find a fabulous little sandwich shop immediately on the left.

Right again.  She said it was wonderful with homemade pies and pastries, and she wasn't kidding.  But the lunch was so filling we couldn't even consider those 3" deep pies with the lattice crusts.  Such a shame too.

We finished eating and then took a stroll down the shaded streets, inspecting a home under major renovation with workers everywhere painting and nailing and carrying doors & trim inside and out.  We also passed 3 elderly gentlemen sitting on a bench who moments later were standing guard at their school crossing posts.  Who knew kids still walked to and from school, and that retired men would gather for a lovely chat before guiding the tiny ones across streets with no traffic.  Oh my, the good old days are still here.  Now if only I'd had my camera out snapping photos instead of just swooning at the sight of it all.

I took a ferry from NY to VT for the second day of The British Invasion, the car show that the entire trip was planned around, and it was exhilirating!

And if I'd known I would stumble across this ferry, I'd have planned my trip to include a meal at this charming little restaurant right there by the dock.  Next time, for sure!
Wouldn't you love to own this home, sitting outside watching the ferries cross back and forth all day, every day?  Imagining the places all those cars have been, and the places they'll go?  Even if they missed the turn on the first drive by and had to do a bit of sightseeing til they found somewhere safe (translation: wide) to turn the car around and head back?  And even when the husband of the driver is saying, just turn left instead and let's see a little more of this place before we head back to the right.

And he was right of course.  We didn't know the ferry schedule and didn't really care.  Didn't really have anywhere to be.  Well, didn't think about where we needed to be.  Which is why we missed 90% of the Competition of Colors where all those lovely old British sports cars drove up to collect their ribbons, have photos taken of them and their cars, and entertain us with stories about how they came to own the cars.  And you may be surprised to know that I LOVE that part of the show!  Again, I'll plan better the next time.  You can count on it!

And yes, I can see myself driving this sweet little ride!

You should plan to visit Stowe VT in mid-September when the show takes place.  Be prepared to sit on those tiny, winding old back roads in traffic jams, and trust me when I tell you it will be great fun because the roads are filled with all these fabulous little cars whizzing by in the opposite direction and parked in every parking lot whether at a hotel, b&b, or restaurant.  Oh it was glorious...

Did I mention that we had rain on the first day of the car show?

It did not dampen our spirits, though we personally were quite damp, head to toe.

Didn't mind one bit, as we wandered under a tent provided by the local Mini Cooper car dealership where we were given Vermont apples while we ogled the 2013 Mini made in conjunction with Rolls Royce...with a hefty price tag of $51k.  Yowza!

But personally, we like the old originals from the UK the best.

Bah humbug to the storm clouds when you have over 600 vintage cars parked in a soggy wet field that you drove over 1700 miles round trip to see. Pull out the umbrella, the hats, and your raincoat.  Or, sit in the car in the parking lot as someone's mother did... 2 days in a row...even though it was sunny and wonderful on day two.

I was able to get her out of the car some days.  Not many.  Wilbur's Chocolate Factory in PA did not tempt her at all, though 3 of us ventured inside and had a lovely time.  The Amish Pretzel Factory Tour complete with hands-on instruction making your very own twisted pretzel appealed to only 3 of us.  But a tour of Ben & Jerry's in VT brought her out.

Long enough to eat ice cream and have her picture taken.

Did I mention what an incredible thing the internet is when you're planning a trip that includes your elderly parents who are less excited about British sports cars than they are sightseeing in states they've never visited?  I found an excursion for us in Essex CT that included a ride on an old steam engine train with open windows and a delightful breeze, and a riverboat ride with hot dogs served down below deck, said to be the best on the river.  Can't begin to tell you how much some of us enjoyed that!

And when the boat ride down the river took us up to the Goodspeed Opera House that I'd found by car just days before, I was over the moon. 
I drove over that bridge several times.  Go ahead and laugh because we did.  Again, it was a back road getting from point A to point B.  Don't even remember where I'd been or where I was going.  Near Mystic CT.  So beautiful.

But right beside the opera house was this grand old hotel/restaurant, and we wanted to check it out.  So back we went.   You could stay in a lovely queen room with a separate bath for under $200 a night.  Well, you could if you didn't mind climbing stairs with your luggage since there were no elevators back in the 1800's when the house was built.  (And we will, next time.)

And when you find a little diner located in a building that also houses the local post office right there behind the loaves of fresh bread and bags of chips, you'll get back in the car and mark it on your GPS.  Because a $5 breakfast served all day that included too many home fries, perfect eggs, crispy bacon and toast would definitely have been where you went back for breakfast on Friday morning before the train ride, and again on Friday afternoon for lunch before starting that long trek to Vermont.  But because you didn't even bother to find out the name of the (dare I say it) town/village/intersection where said post office and diner were located, or bother to remember the number of the little road just outside Mystic Connecticut that it was on, you won't find it again. 

I'll tell you something else we'll do next time...when we visit Boston...and plan to visit Faneuil Hall.  We won't pull into a parking deck that we find on the internet offering $12 parking after 5pm.  Well, we will, but we won't pull in at 4:40pm.  Instead we'll circle around downtown Boston in weekday 5:00 rush hour traffic til the clock chimes 5:00, because after strolling through Faneuil Hall, and eating dinner and buying desserts and chocolates to savor in the hotel room with coffee, we returned to find the parking fee was $36!!!!  Might mean you won't have your eyes closed because of the bright setting sun on the waterfront in your photos, but wow, that's a mighty high price to pay for that sunset.  $15 per hour for a photo shot seems a bit much.  Yes?

And instead of laughing and pointing at a dog wearing sunglasses, hanging out the window of a pick up truck in traffic in a state you no longer remember, you'll think of grabbing a camera while the dog is still close enough to reach out and touch.

And though you don't plan to include guests on your next trip to the Smithsonian in DC, you'll learn how to operate the flash on your cell phone camera just in case they don 3D paper glasses to look at an exhibit, because it will be worth a laugh or two.

And you'll definitely plan to take more pictures of a certain someone who loves ice cream better than I love rubber stamps, and who will eat a cone in a McDonald's at 10pm, or sitting on the front porch of The Chocolate Barn in rural Vermont at 10am, or at Ben & Jerry's at 3:30 in the afternoon, or at the Cabot Cheese factory tour where you're circling the table with toothpicks in hand, trying your best to sample every single version of aged cheddar cheese they have on display.  You will.  Truly.

And you'll sift through 14 days of photos until you find one of your Mother who spent more time in the car than out of the car, and a photo that shows she did least once during that very long road trip.  And you'll make a point of looking for those rarely seen smiles so you can capture them in a second photo to show off on your blog... the next time you take a very long road trip to Vermont...or the mountains of NC to visit your big brother...whichever comes first.