Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Week 28 - Mini Road Trip

It was nice to wake up at Carolyn’s, even if my sore throat I’d woken up with the day before had morphed into a cold. I’d sucked Zicam all day Sunday so was hoping it’d be a mild one. The only event on our Monday agenda was lunch with Auntie Margaret and Bette, which was wonderful, as always, for both the food (fried clams at The Crow’s Nest) and the company. We had started laundry before leaving so could just throw a few clothes in an overnight bag to be ready to leave the next day. But there were all the totes of clothes to go through and I didn’t want to leave that until the end of the week so after we got back, I stood right in front of the AC vent and spent 2 hours trying on clothes. By the time I was done, I had 2 totes to take home, another to try again at Christmas and a leaf bag full of things for Sharyn to try. All good.

We were up and out of the house early  on Tuesday, headed for Vermont. Since our first stop was The Vermont Country Store in the southern part of the state, we were taking the scenic route to get there. The store, which Carolyn’s dad had said to skip but John had said to go to, was fun. We sampled our way through the food area and picked up enough stocking stuffers to make it worth the stop. Then it was on to King Arthur, which was our reason for going to Vermont. I was a bit disappointed that it was just a store of stuff I already order from the catalog (I guess I’d been expecting demos or some such) but we had a nice lunch in their café after buying some fun things in the store. Our hotel in Burlington was the next stop.

We arrived without event but when we got out of the car, Carolyn’s bag was nowhere to be found. After beating herself up for leaving it at home, we headed to JC Penney, which was right across the street, for a change of clothes, nightie and undies and then to the market for toiletries. I asked the goth bagger for a restaurant recommendation (cool and not a chain) but she couldn’t come up with anything so I asked where the college was and we put that into the GPS (for future reference, we call her “the lady”) and headed there. What a fabulous town Burlington is! We had our choice of fun places to eat on a 3 block pedestrian mall and had a yummy Italian meal for supper. Afterwards we headed to the lake and found soft serve, which I had a hankering for, at Beansie’s – an old yellow school bus converted to a food truck that’s permanently parked by the side of the park we were in. Nice. Then on the way home we found a cool store to check out later – City Market. It turned out to be a lovely day after the brief upset of the forgotten bag.

Our plan for Canada was just to hit Bulk Barn, which was right off the highway outside of Montreal and we were well prepared with mapquest directions all printed out. Bulk Barn was as fun as the first time and Carolyn loved it so our Canadian mission was a success. Then we went awry. John had emailed imploring us to see this city, which is one of his favorite places and he travels a lot. He recommended going to Atwater Market and the top of Mount Royal to see the view. Despite the fact that neither the GPS nor the phones were working north of the border plus not having a map, we decided to head into the city after all. Well, the first problem was the accident on the bridge that had traffic so backed up that it took 2 hours just to get over the river. I asked every person who had their window open and ended up stopped next to us where the market was and got lucky on the 3rd try – 2nd exit after the bridge. Unfortunately the 2nd exit dumped us in downtown Montreal with no sign of the market so we stopped at a Staples (Office en Gros or Fat Office in French) and found someone who spoke English and could give us directions. The market was a straight shot just few miles down the road and was lovely. It was an old farmer’s market full of locals buying produce. We had a late lunch in a café/bakery and Carolyn realized she’d been there 14 years ago on her only previous visit to Montreal, finding the elusive hedgehog pastry they’d failed to get that time. We shared one and it was delicious!

Since it was already later afternoon, we decided to head home, figuring we could just go right back to where we’d gotten off the highway and go back the same way. Yeah, right. We did that but the entrance was closed so we followed a detour only to find the next exit closed too. Feeling a bit desperate and with people honking at us, we got on the only highway in sight. While it was headed in the wrong direction, I figured we could easily exit and turn south. Wrong again! We ended up in a miles long tunnel under the city and when we came out, we were underneath one of the bridges over the river. Carolyn was starting to freak out (she’d been a trooper so far) but I have a good sense of direction so told her where to turn so we could find the entrance. After asking someone for directions, which I followed just fine in French, we found the entrance and made it across the river. But from there we were blindly following signs for USA and Carolyn wouldn’t take the exit for the highway we’d come in on for fear of ending up on the bridge from hell again so we kept following the USA signs. It didn’t take long before I realized we were heading to New York, which was the other side of Lake Champlain from our hotel. As soon as we crossed the border, the GPS came back to life and I found a way back via Route 11, which rambles through cute lakeside towns. Unfortunately we listened when the lady told us to take a turn towards a highway and so missed the most scenic part of Route 11, which does down the islands in the middle of the lake and ends with a bridge to Burlington. But at least we were headed back. It felt so good to be away from Montreal and back at our hotel.

We’d spent all day snacking on Bulk Barn purchases while stuck in traffic and had a late lunch so weren’t very hungry and the thought of getting back in the car, even just to drive downtown, was loathsome. Carolyn came up with the idea to walk to The Outback, which is right next door. While I normally would avoid a chain restaurant like the plague, this was perfect! We ordered drinks and appetizers and enjoyed them both. Way to end a stressful day!

The next morning we stopped at a cool food co-op/market we’d seen Tuesday night – City Market. It was everything we’d hoped for (a cross between Whole Foods and a local co-op) and we picked up bread, deli meat and olives for a picnic on the way home. We hit the road for our first stop at Ben & Jerry’s. Carolyn had been before so my expectations were low and the 30 minute “factory tour” was what I expected. After enjoying a high priced ice cream cone (the sample after the tour was about 2 tablespoons so not enough), I made a tie dye t-shirt, which was lots of fun. After a quick stop at the Cabot Cheese Store, we headed south. We stopped at a nice rest stop in New Hampshire for lunch and other than hitting a bit of rush hour traffic outside of Boston, the ride home was uneventful. It was good to be home.

The only plan for Friday was Cornelia was coming for breakfast, which we’d put together Thursday night so only had to pop in the oven Friday morning with a side of bacon. Cornelia arrived at 9:00 and we were still sitting at the table at 2:00 when Carolyn declared she was hungry and brought out our Cabot cheeses. More eating and chatting ensued, with Carolyn leaving us to walk on the treadmill in the basement mid-afternoon. Bob and Daisy stopped by later and then finally Sharyn and Butch arrived for dinner ~6:30. Our intent was to get take out from Iggy’s (the last must eat on my trip – clamcakes and chowder) and Butch offered to go get it but returned empty handed because there was a festival down at Oakland Beach so he couldn’t get anywhere near the restaurant. We headed out in search of food, ending up at Chello’s, where we waited a bit but finally got our dinner. Other than Butch being cranky when they switched the channel of the bar TV away from the Red Sox/Yankees game, it was a nice night. My last one in RI.

My flight wasn’t leaving until late afternoon so we had some free time on Saturday. I woke up early and immediately packed, fitting 2 totes of Carolyn’s clothes and everything I’d bought (lots of stocking stuffers and food mostly) in my suitcase and the huge duffel Carolyn pulled from the attic. Gotta love Southwest with 2 checked bags free! We puttered away the rest of the day, I packed a lunch and off we went to the airport. It was time to go home. I had a 3 hour layover in Chicago but had my knitting and iPad so was good for the long haul. More uneventful flights, which is all good, and I was home by 12:30 a.m. I had trouble winding down so didn’t fall asleep for a long time but it was good to be home in my own bed.

Sunday was full of unpacking, mowing the 2 week tall lawn and doing laundry. It was over in a flash and it was time to prepare for a normal work week. Even with the Montreal fiasco, it had been a fabulous trip, best RI trip ever I’d say. The mini road trip was a lot of fun and may be the first of many now that Aaron’s older. Next year he’ll be driving! When did that happen. : )

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