Monday morning we started packing.
We took a last drive over to the grandparent's house to bring a load of VT-cabin supplies that can live at my parent's house without suffering the inevitable mouse invasion that is sure to occur the moment we leave the cabin.
We also said our last goodbyes. The kids have spent a wonderful amount of time with their grandparents this summer, and the effortless distance has been, again, wonderful for these 10 weeks.
Monday night ended up being our last night in Vermont. Alexe was expecting us on Friday night, but with the end right there, and at least two long days of driving looming, we packed, cleaned, and piled into the truck by around noon on Tuesday.
We swung the door of the cabin closed, patted her log sides, looked with a sigh at our mountains, now five different ridges visible through that one avenue through the tree, and headed out.
We made it as far as my neighbor right down the road, where we stopped to pick up some maple syrup. It turned into a long jawing session, as he had been married to the aunt of one of my classmates in high school, had worked in the Shrewsbury school system for 20+ years, had recently retired, and was ramping up his grass fed beef and sugar operation. The kids had fun running around in front of his house, rolling down the hill, and playing hide and seek in the shrubs.
His house is at a lower elevation than the cabin, but it gives a sense of the views we could open up if we took another few hundred trees down. Tempting.
We toodled into town, admittedly dragging our feet. It was gorgeous, mid 70s, bright and clear, as though Vermont was doing its best to tempt us into staying, or at least leaving us with positive feelings to bring us back. We stopped to gas up, and after going inside to grab some drinks, I came out to find Pete filling up his truck behind us.
Pete and Barb are two of our favorite people. We met them while Alexe was working at the Ranch in Cuttingsville, VT, during the semester she took off from Vanderbilt her Junior year. The Ranch is a working farm that houses around 70 folks that need a respite from the world for reasons ranging from life-fatigue to addiction and mental handicaps.
With a resident-body that large, and probably half again that number in staff, the farm goes out of its way to find manually intensive ways to accomplish all sorts of things, under the principal that working the body and mind is one of the healthiest things a person can do. They collect sap with buckets, harvest hay with hand scythes, harvest ice from Spring Lake in the winter, etc.
Alexe was a house advisor, Pete is the maintenance man for all the many cabins/barns/buildings, and Barb is the cook for those 100+ bodies. Barb can take a lot of credit for Alexe's food passion.
I had stopped by the Ranch to try to say hello earlier in the summer, and had missed them both. Our last possible chance to see them, minuts away from us hitting the road, there Pete was.
We had a hyper-speed catch up, Pete met and charmed the kids, and after trading updated contact info, we were off.
There's not much to say about driving 12 hours. The kids were good, we saw lots of roadside things, many cool old buildings, most in states of disrepair or abandonment. Movies were watched in the back seat, driving was done in the front. Having left at 1:30 or so, I was reserving the right to take a leisurely pace home, but the goal-oriented part of me kicked in, and after the kids asked a thousand times if we coud stay at the same hotel with the indoor playground, I made that the day's goal.
We stopped once for gas, and once for dinner at Cracker Barrel, with a few impromptu roadside pull-overs for peeing.
We didn't quite make it that day, but an hour into the next, we were checked into the right hotel, and the kids were settled in.
There's not much to say about day 2 of the trip. 13 hours of driving, more interstate with less interesting infrastructure to look at for me.
I got a kick out of this kid driving next to me in a VW TDI, plastered with bumper stickers in the "Eat Organic" and "Running on BioDiesel" vein, and as he pulled by, he was lighting a cigarette.
The kids were great.
We pulled in at 10 PM on the dot Wednesday night, to a beaming Alexe standing in front of the Blue House.
Maybe in a few days I'll have the words to share how happy we all are.