A weekend get-away, one that has been in the works for 15 years. My dear friend, who I met with my 6 week old newborn in my arms, and I have been planning a girl’s weekend forever. Each year we have found a reason to cancel…”Oh, let’s go…wait- I’ve got soccer for one of the kids…Oh wait, that’s my husband’s trip to Seattle….Let’s try again next year.” It’s been postponed long enough and so this year- we bit the bullet. I bought plane tickets and she booked a hotel and we headed off to Vermont.
At first I thought- wow- 72 hours away- an entire weekend. In fact- I left my house at 7:15am Friday morning and was due to arrive back at my home by 8:15pm on Sunday night. A mere, 61 hours, but boy were we going to make the most of it. (and of that time we would only spend 51 1/2 hours together)
She met me at the small New England airport just outside of security- we embraced and we were off and running. She had packed a cooler of goodies- hummus, carrots, yogurt, pretzels. We ate lunch as we drove up and talked as if we’d seen each other the day before. My friend and I have talked on the phone at least once a week (if not more) for the past 15+ years. We have laughed and cried and taken each other through life’s trials and tribulations but in person we’ve seen each other less than 20 times. It’s incredible how our friendship sustains us both.
See back when we met, in a small New England new mommy group- she had a baby with food allergies (took a while to diagnose him) and I had a baby with seizures. We were the moms with the “extra baggage” and although we did make some other friends in the group- there was something to be said for “getting it” when we had a medical crisis that other moms just didn’t understand. That bond has never broken as we have been challenged with medical issues and diagnoses throughout the years. This trip was going to cement our friendship into the next part of our lives and it surely did.
We arrived in Woodstock, Vermont at around 3pm and checked into our quaint hotel. Two lovely four poster queen sized beds, a lovely view of the wintery river out the back and access to all of downtown just steps from our door. We quickly settled in and got our walking shoes on and we walked all around the area. Past beautiful old New England churches, covered bridges, babbling brooks, and adorable shops. We walked around for quite a while and the sun began to come out and the afternoon sky looked lovely. We decided it was time to venture to Quechee, Vermont (pronounced kwee-chee).
Quechee, Vermont is just about a 13 minute drive from Woodstock and it has one of the most beautiful Gorges I have ever seen. It’s the last weekend of March in Vermont so there is still snow on the ground and the ice melt is starting. The Quechee Trail was covered in ice but that didn’t stop us. Two middle-aged gals walking in nothing but sneakers ventured up the steps to the icy walk. We hugged the edge, grabbed onto the chain link fence and off we went. Thankfully it was a warmish day so we were able to dig into some of the ice, and other times it was every woman for herself. We laughed so hard at times, we giggled and I’ll spare my friend the hysterical photos of her looking as if she was ice skating down the middle of the path. We made it down to view an incredible waterfall over the dam. It was an icy path of fun memories.
Once in Quechee, you have to visit the Simon Pearce flagship store. You can witness glass blowing demonstrations- actually- it’s just where they work. The artisans make the glass with a viewing area that you can watch. It’s their job, they are making the glassware that is upstairs for purchase and it’s mesmerizing to watch. It was just about sunset then and we ventured outside to take pictures of the covered bridge and the waterfall just by the store which was formerly a mill. It was beautiful. We still couldn’t believe we were there, together, visiting. We could have been in Antartica in a tent and we would have been equally happy- our friendship is what we traveled for- the scenery was just a bonus.
We walked around a bit and then drove back to Woodstock where we had dinner at Bentley’s- we are glad we did as it’s closing this April after being open since 1976. We sat inside the quaint bar/pub style restaurant and ordered artisan salads. They were delicious and we ended our meal with Irish whiskey in hot apple cider. It warmed our souls, our spirits and we are both lightweights as we do not drink often so we were giggly “girls” by the time we left the bar (and we only had one!). We had parked our car at the Shire so we walked back and laughed and just had a lovely end to a perfect day.
Saturday morning, I was up at 4am. I’m not sure why, well I do. I have a teenager whose cycle I am synced with, so when she has PMS- poof 24 hrs later (in my state of peri-menopause) I get my period. So at 4am, away from home- kaboom. Oh well, since I was up and my girlfriend was still snoozing peacefully- I found a way to not wake her up. Crack the bathroom door open with the light on, sit in the open closet and read my book I had brought. So for three hours I read and it was glorious- even on the floor of the hotel closet just outside it’s bathroom. I was in heaven.
After we both got up and got ready to go we were off to the “Skinny Pancake” a Vermont Creperie. It was so good. I had the Ultimate Vegetarian Gluten Free Crepe. It was so good and had just enough Vermont cheddar cheese to make my soul sing. We ate, we drank really good coffee and we just sat and talked for gosh- at least 2 hours. It was awesome. After our amazing breakfast we decided it was time to drive to Barnard, VT. where my husband’s grandfather had built a house.
Upon arrival to Gill’s road, a long dirt road, we drove as far as we could. We had discovered the night before that the house was up for sale again (my husband’s family sold it about a decade ago). At the bottom of the long driveway was a realtor’s sign and then about a 2-3 foot snowpack. It was a hike from here. We both, still only in sneakers (next time pack boots for VT regardless of the time of year), hiked up the slippery, snowy driveway. At the top we overlooked horse pastures, hundreds of acres and the original contemporary house built by John’s grandfather back in the ’60’s. It really hadn’t changed a bit. I recall coming up when we were dating, sitting in front of the huge stone fireplace and feeling so warm and in love. I remember playing in the snow like a kid with my husband when we were in our late 20’s. I remember this area so well. John even got my engagement ring made by N.T. Ferro’s, the local Woodstock jeweler.
We walked around the property, took photos for nostalgia and carefully hiked back down. On our way out of Gill’s road we stopped at the Windward Cemetery (the house was called Windward) and I paid respects to my mother-in-law’s parents who are buried there. It was bittersweet. The house is for sale for far more than any of us could afford but it would be so wonderful to have it back in the family again, but that is what memories are for- remembering and being able to cherish all the time we did have there.
On the way back to Woodstock we stopped at the Barnard General Store and popped in to check it out. I was able to grab a few painted postcards of the store to send to my in-laws and spoke to the woman at the counter, thanking her for the flags that were at the Windward Cemetery- she knew just who to thank for them so it was nice to at least acknowledge that people were caring for a Veteran’s grave. I know it meant a lot to John that I found out who took care of it for them, the American Legion volunteers in the area. We grabbed some blueberries while there and headed back to the hotel and dried off and proceeded to have an oatmeal lunch. Native New Englanders- we knew how to have fun but also conserve our spending money. Those blueberries and oatmeal were delicious!
The rest of the day we walked around town, went into all the shops that we’d walked by on Friday and we just wandered. It was so great to have a weekend with no expectations, no agenda, no required activities. We simply went where we wanted to, walked a ton (we are both looking to get more active, fit and healthy) and talked the entire time. Once we got back to the hotel in the evening we did some yoga to relax and just hung out. We ventured out a while later in the dark and drove to the Green Mountain Horse Association where my girlfriend had shown horses as a teen. It was fun that we both had memories in the area. We saw the horse rings and the barns and saw some old haunts she’d been too. We landed at the Worthy Kitchen for dinner- an eclectic dinner place with signature cocktails. We clinked glasses, ordered some delicious food and wandered back to our hotel.
Sunday we rose to a home-made oatmeal breakfast and we packed up to head home. We stopped this time on the way back at the Simon Pearce Outlet store in Windsor, Vermont and that is where we purchased some gifts. I got John some Vermont whisky stones and a Whisky glass. It’s our 18th Anniversary this year and I thought it would make a great gift. We saw amazing glass blowing artisans and enjoyed watching them make glass blown trees. It was beautiful. We had plenty of time to get to the airport in Connecticut that I was flying out of so we opted to ditch the highway and go the back roads and how lucky we were. We stopped at the Putney diner and had salads and chatted some more. Our adventure was almost over.
We arrived at Bradley International Airport (a tiny airport) and I was thru Security and waving to my friend in no time flat. It was 4:30pm and my flight was due to leave at 6:30pm. Time to read for me. Little did I know I’d be at the airport til 10:30pm. United never alerted it’s passengers to any delays. Folks were raring to get on board when they realized in fact there was no plane in the jetway. The ticker above the gate (with no humans in sight) flashed “delayed, 7:48pm departure.” Not bad I suppose so I read some more and people watched. Soon after it changed to 10:31pm and we all checked our United app which still stated we were leaving on time at 6:30pm. Until you checked “flight status” did you begin to see that the plane to take us to Chicago was in fact still in Chicago- fuel and mechanical issues. Eventually we found out they had to get a brand new plane and after having dinner at the airport and doing some last minute “shopping” we were off. I landed after midnight and came home and walked into the house at 1am.
I was greeted by my daughter shouting from upstairs “Welcome home MOM! I have a bloody nose…” And that is how my adventure ended. What a great trip away with a friend and what a snap back into reality when I arrived back into the house. No matter what- I’ll have memories to last a life time and a friend who I will cherish more now than ever before.
And in the end my 61 hours door to door trip turned into a 66 hour door to door trip with my flight delay. It’s amazing how much we got done in such a short time.