Saturday, March 3, 2012

How it all began...

I traveled my first three US states in the backseat of a Ford Bronco.  This is what I remember anyways, I am sure my folks will remember it differently.  My grandparents owned a little slice of heaven across the street from Lake Willoughby in Westmore, VT and we would go see them on a regular basis driving I-91 from Connecticut, through Massachusetts and almost all the way to the Canadian boarder.

When my brother and I were little, my parents would pack the truck the night before, put us to bed then wake us in the wee hours and load us gently into the truck.  I am sure they were praying we would sleep for the better part of the four and a half hour drive and for the most part, I think we did.  Now my brother is older than me, so he often got to sleep across the backseat while I got to stretch out on the floor.  Quite a different view from the floor of the truck.  I would look up and see tree tops whizzing by or street lights, depending on the time of day.  Enough to make you nauseous. 

Now, I gotta tell you – I spent the better part of every trip (For the 12+ years I remembering making that trip) CAR SICK.  Yup, I was the only seven year old with a stuffed bunny in one hand and a bottle of ice cold Coke in the other.   I would sip on that bottle as we drove north, keeping my queasy stomach at bay.  I am one of those people who can still get car sick in the backseat, but it’s getting better.  Now I know what you are thinking, how can you get car sick so easy and still love travel?  I’m an anomaly.  (In a future story, I will tell you how a girl terrified of flying got on her first Jet plane and headed to London.)

I must say, the drive up I-91 is quite pretty, once you get through the construction of Springfield.  Lots of hills and turns – just what you envision New England looking like.  I can remember years with lots of snow where the view was blindingly white in every direction.  Sections of 91 through Vermont were forged by taking dynamite to the landscape and blowing trenches through the glacier-set rock.  During the winter, water will trickle and freeze down the flat sides of those rocks and artistic folks would add paint to that ice and create rainbows of color in the ice.  As I make this trip now a days, I don’t see that art very often, but it is something I will always remember.  

What is the best time of year to make that trip North?  I’d say late September.  The iconic changing colors of the leaves.  Reds, yellows, orange painted across vista as far as the eye could see.  And sometimes you could see it for a long, long time.  YUP, explain to me why folks from New York have to come to VT to see leaves.  I can remember sitting in traffic jams in the fall, jams full of Leaf Peepers from the neighboring state.  What?  You don’t have oaks and maples in your state.  How is that possible?  It’s not like you are from California or Georgia, Florida or Alaska – you live within 50 miles of the leaves you have come to look at.  I sit here still shaking my head.

We would play this game (okay, we were competitive about it) of who would get a glimpse of the lake first.  There was this one part of Rt. 5 where the lake would peek out between two mountains and we would all be poised to say “I see the lake!!”.  I don’t often remember being the first one to see it, but that is now fine with me.  Though back then it pissed me off.  We would wind past the camp ground and past the ramshackled buildings that were once glorious.  By the time we pulled into grandma and grandpas drive way, I was ready to get out of that truck, get some fresh air, stop sitting next to my brother, done listening to the Oak Ridge Boys and ready to play behind the little school house, behind in the brook and most importantly, slash around in the cold, clear water of Lake Willoughby.  

So there you have it, my first travel memories that sparked a life time of great places I would get to explore.

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