Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Good times in Vermont

Long time, no post. Well I'm on vacation finally, so I suppose the least I can do is update my blog. We're in Stowe, Vermont at the famous Trapp Family Lodge (I married into a family timeshare). The place is beautiful. Brilliant green mountains all around. Air so clear that it makes your lungs want to sing about the hills being alive.

It's a beautiful place in a glorious land of hippies. Almost. Many of the locals I've encountered are nearly hostile and certainly far from friendly. I certainly understand their plight. Most people who come here are Northeners from New York and Connecticut, and older ones at that. That tends to mean people with few manners and aging baby-boomers who stubbornly believe that the shopkeepers they are giving their money to should grovel for every dime the boomers spend. I can tell you from experience that that kind of customer makes for a surly and cynical retail clerk indeed.

Naturally, my encounters have been limited to the usual tourist stops (there are an infinite number of shops here), so by no means am I passing judgement on this land and its peoples. In fact, quite the opposite. The vendors I encountered at a local farmers market were all quite friendly. If my soul weren't so entrenched ('s buried there in the hills somewhere) in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, I'd love to relocate to one of these small Vermont towns.

In particular, one place we stopped, the Vermont T-shirt Company (not much of a website, but it's there), had the best and most pleasant people I've encountered all week. The small store was run by two beautiful ladies (possibly a mother/daughter combo, but maybe not) who were the friendliest and downright nicest people I've encountered yet. Not only were they very patient with my sons as they selected the designs for their t-shirt and sweatpants, but they made a point to engage (with a smile!) every person who entered their store. I'm going back there tomorrow just for the heck of it.

That's all a little microcosmic of me, especially given the amount of fun family time we've had...that's the important stuff. It's just that today was the visit to the t-shirt company and most recent impression in the Silly Putty of my brain. The Trapp Family Lodge is a beautiful retreat from reality, and yet it's based in half a century of history that I truly appreciate. You've all seen The Sound of Music, right? Well after the European Partridge Family fled Austria, they relocated to the mountains of Vermont and built a resort community. Well, not quite, but that's what it is today. The owners have managed to preserve the historic roots of this place and its beginnings while growing it into a magnificent place to spend a week.

My wife's father bought into the timeshare in its early days. In the early 80's, the original lodge burned down. It was rebuilt in '83 and in the downstairs lobby of one of the main reception rooms, there's an 8x10 photo of the dedication ceremony for the newly rebuilt lodge. Standing on the balcony of the new building is my then-teenaged wife and two of her sisters. It's really weird.

Right now my sons are sitting in front of the fireplace (did I mention that's it's a wonderful 63-degrees? - my idea of a perfect August!) while watching TV. I've spent my time sitting on the balcony reading (Jim Butcher's Dresden Files and Mark Millar's Ultimate X-men [yawn...I've read the first four volumes of Ultimate X-men now and I'm really not impressed by the story or Millar's writing. I'm a Bendis guy]), sampling local beers (Troegs so-so, Otter Creek yes!), and watching the clouds roll across the mountain range below.

Yesterday we spent better than two hours in the pool because my youngest finally decided that he did indeed know how to swim. All in all, we're having a fabulous time and enjoying our first vacation in about nine years. In fact, our last vacation was also here, but with my wife's sister & her family. After that we had two baby-sized children, then toddlers with autism and after that, any time and money we had were spent battling the autism. We and our boys have come a long way in the past few years so that now we can travel (and almost afford it) and have a nearly normal family life. Wow, there are so many unwritten blog posts in those last few sentences.

Time to put the boys to bed. I'll try to be back soon.

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