In mid October, Sam and I went for a mini-vacation to Vermont. Neither of us had ever been before, and kept hearing how beautiful it is in Fall, so an overnight trip was the perfect chance to see some new sites.
Typically, I like to plan any sort of trip down to the most infinitesimal detail, but for this one I thought, "Let's just go with the flow and see what happens!"
...I've decided I like my overzealous desire to plan things, especially after what could have been some very serious snags we somehow managed to avoid.
We started our trip to Vermont in the late afternoon on a Sunday, planning on staying overnight and coming home on Monday, the next evening (which we both had off for the Holiday). The ride up was beautiful, watching the sun set on all of the mountains as we made our way to Stowe. This was the first time I've ever used a program called "AirBNB" (it allows you to stay in the home of another person - this might mean their guest room, guest house, or even a vacation home that you may rent all to yourself) instead of a hotel, and I was very pleased with the results. We stayed with a very friendly woman who lived near the area we were looking to explore more, and even went over a map with us to point out some attractions (and restaurants) we may like to visit.
By the time we found a place nearby to eat, it was after 8pm, (fun fact #64 about me: hanger is a real thing...and I get a bad case of it...this is why I always bring snacks wherever I go) meaning we didn't get back to the room we were staying in until at least 11pm. Our room was very simple with a ski lodge feel, and warm blankets, but I don't always sleep well away from home, and this was sadly one of those cases. By the time I managed to fall asleep, the original idea we had (we may not have had a plan, but we had an idea!) of waking early to set up for sunrise photos of the mountains was no longer on my to do list.
We may not have been able to take sunrise photos, but we were able to head out and start exploring by 8am, and headed for the "Smugglers Notch" I had seen so many beautiful photos of. What I did not realize however is that Smugglers Notch is essentially the road you drive on through the mountain, meaning as I was driving on some very narrow roads, it dawned on me that this is what everyone was taking pictures of. Sadly I lack the ability to both drive and take photos simultaneously, and we weren't able to pull off with the line of cars that quickly formed behind me. Not too far into the drive though, we reached a more open area where some cars were parked across from a trail. It was decided that we should go for a quick walk on the trail to see if we could get a better view of the mountains.
Smartphones are a wonderful thing, giving one the ability to look up any question they have at any given moment...except when you don't have service in the mountains...and you're not sure if the trail you're getting ready to walk on is going to be an easy stroll or some serious rock climbing...and you didn't plan to go hiking, so you have no water or appropriate gear/clothing for mountain hiking...and the person you're traveling with has decided that you'll "just check it out", and have breakfast after...
...Ya...I like planning the little details for a reason...
Needless to say, we ended up hiking the trail without any of the precautions one typically should bring when they go somewhere they've never been, and once we reached the top (after much groaning and slipping on the way up), we came upon a pond...in the mountain we just climbed...surrounded by more mountains...I sincerely questioned if I had in fact just climbed a mountain at all or was just imagining things.
But we had, and there was indeed "water in them thar hills". Once we were able to catch our breath, I found an apple rolling around in the bottom of my camera bag (yay food!) which we devoured immediately before walking a bit further.
Come to find out, we had just hiked up a ski slope - literally. The second tallest mountain out of the three on this poster (the one on the far right).
But you know what?
It was worth it.
This picture of the view from the top doesn't even begin to do justice to what we actually saw, but I was hungry, fatigued, and sadly didn't think to take some time and really set up my shot, or take a panoramic to show just how magnificent it all was.
At least the walk down was easier (and quicker). By the time we made it back to our car, it was noon, and the couple of dirt parking spots we had found were about to get double-parked, with vehicles were pulled off on the sides of the already narrow road down the mountain in an attempt to create more parking spots. We made it just in time before the rush apparently.
Our next stop was brunch at McCarthy's, which I was ecstatic for, and highly recommend visiting - it should be noted however that they only take cash or check (luckily I had cash on me after our hike).
Our ride home after that was almost as exciting as going on an unexpected hike. We thought we'd stop by some suggested shops before leaving the area, so we headed to Lake Champlain Chocolate shop, followed by Apple Cider Donuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill ...
As we headed out, we noticed a church surrounded by trees, so we pulled off the road to take a few pictures (after realizing the opportunity I missed that morning, I wasn't going to miss this chance). It was breathtaking seeing all the bright foliage against such a blue sky.
Onward we went! The shops were only a few miles apart, but to our dismay, we ended up sitting in traffic for 40 minutes from just McCarthy's to the Chocolate shop. And it was quite a warm day for Autumn at 75 degrees, in direct sunlight and not moving... the amount of time it took to find some chocolate to take home seemed disproportionate to how long we were in the car.
We put our next destination into the GPS only to realize we were turning around and going the way we just came from. Turns out, the Cider Mill was closer to McCarthy's, and we drove right past it to get to the Chocolate shop...
...I may have had some choice words for the time wasted once I concluded all of this...
Never the less! Donuts were retrieved! And pictures were taken of the cool tractor and truck sitting next to the golden fields as if they were just waiting for someone to take notice and snap a shot.
Annnnnd back we went onto the road we just came off, sitting in traffic for yet another 40 minutes. Turns out, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Factory is also on that road, and the traffic was due to people entering and exiting their parking lot.
Once more, some choice words were mentioned in the confines of our vehicle...
Needless to say, I was beyond ready to get home after quite the eventful day, but alas, even when you do finally have plan, sometimes it doesn't go how you'd like.
To sum the drive up, we were rerouted because the exit onto the highway we were supposed to take closed for three hours on weekdays for road work (and we missed the starting time of said closing by a mere 10 minutes), meaning we followed a detour through the entire town - which was beautiful and very scenic at least - but it added an extra 35 minutes to our drive.
Once we made it to the highway, our lovely GPS informed us we had 130 miles of highway driving before our next direction would be given, meaning it was going to be a long ride in silence due to the car we were in having no radio, and my co-pilot disagreeing with all of the song choices I had on my phone...
We were almost in NH, and I realized we never got gas, meaning our tank was running frighteningly low, and we needed to find a gas station as soon as possible. Sam plugged the new request into my phone and began searching for nearby stations, and just as it popped up with our new directions, the phone died.
...Turns out, even though I thought it was plugged into the car charger, it wasn't holding a connection because of the terrible case I had (I've purchased a new phone since this event and no longer worry about that issue), but meanwhile, we had already broken away from the original route on the highway to find a gas station and were now driving aimlessly on backroads.
More choice phrases spoken at a loud decibel here...
Finally, the phone charged enough to bring the GPS back on, and we headed to the gas station, only to see that upon arrival, every single pump was out of order....Seriously?... Why even stay open? (Insert further phrases and additional explatives here.) Luckily, another station was only a mile away, and the indicator light was just turning on as we pulled in.
A fun tidbit to add to this already excessively long story- while on this wonderfully eventful drive back home, I was wearing a pair of shoes that were essentially made to only walk from your car into a yoga studio so you can keep your feet/socks/yoga straps/etc. clean - they have a terribly tight elastic around the top that actually started to leave a bruise around my heels from driving for 2 plus hours in them. During our morning jaunt up the mountain, I was wearing converse, which became laden with mud and entirely saturated from the small streams running through the trail, so I switched out of them to give my feet, and the shoes, a chance to dry on the drive home. What I didn't know is the pair of comfy, slipper-like sneakers in my gym bag that I had given to Sam so she could dry her shoes as well, were sitting unworn, and untouched on the passenger's side floor while Sam's feet were tucked under her the entire drive thus far...So as I pumped gas barefoot, because my feet hurt too much to wear the shoes for another minute, and Sam sheepishly handed the unworn shoes over to me, I realized I had run out of expletives, and I was now officially hangry.
Thank God for Chinese food.
The night ended with a much needed drink and even more needed delicious noodles while lounging on the couch.
All in all, it was quite the adventure, and the area was beautiful...but I think I'll stick to a bit of research, and making at least a short list, like a list of what we may need to pack and where I'd like to go (or how to get there) BEFORE arriving at said destination.
...Next time anyone asks why I like to plan things out in such detail, just refer them to this post...
Until the next adventure, I'll be enjoying watching the leaves fall in my backyard, where there is no concern of finding a gas station or getting stuck in traffic, and the snacks are readily available.