What to do when you're in Vermont. First thing's first, leave the kids with their grandparents, and take a long drive with your girl to explore all the produce/farm stands and country stores! The shelves in this one merit a picture:
u.William and a.Natalie came down to the parent's house for a short evening visit. Another event Caspian had been waiting on, seeing u.William. (Apologies to ourselves and everyone else: Fishing and u.William are above us on Caspian's list of favorite things.)
That right there is my little sister, by 7 years, with my very first nephew in her belly!!!
And full-fat chocolate-vanilla-swirl soft serve.
u.William. There will be many more of these two...
!!! That little guy will be Annaliese and Caspian's first first-cousin.
The next day Alexe and I headed to our cabin in Shrewsbury, VT, leaving the kids with their grandparents while we took one night to prepare the cabin and enjoy each other's company in the peaceful Vermont mountains, sans children.
The guardian angle of our family, h.u.Harry (honorary-uncle), followed us up to our access road with a four wheeler he lent us for the occasion. (While our Volt is still the car of my dreams, we weren't ready to pit it against the 700 ft of class 4 road that stands between civilization and the beginning of our driveway.)
Our little cabin, almost 10 years old now, built in 30 days, is aging very nicely. A little sweeping, 20 minutes spent tinkering with the gravity-fed water system, and we were up and running.
The fountain, (see the summer of 2012 for pictures of the kids helping build this,) functions as the outlet for the water system when the shower or sink is not in use, a lovely source of background noise, and our refrigerator. The water is freezing cold, piped from the inlet to the pond.
The screen porch, looking south over the mountains.
Water lines go to the solar water heater on the roof of the porch. It doesn't heat the water so much as take the bone-chill out of it. Unfortunately it's nearly impossible to get an iphone camera to capture the endless view of the mountains that appear here as a white fog.
A view from the pond shows them a little better.
With the cabin squared away we drove into the little town of Shrewsbury, population right around 1,000, and hit up the co-op for two days worth of snacks. We retired to our little cabin retreat, and enjoyed a lovely evening.
We were joined for lunch the next day by Grandmaman and Grandpapa, and two very happy little kids. We had lunch at the cabin, and walked to the pond for some swimming.
Well, the kids tried. They made it to their belly-buttons this year. It is indescribably cold water.
(Alexe did her annual swim across the pond after the grandparents left, I had done mine the night before.)
We talk about having a four wheeler of our own, but can't come up with a reason to buy something that costs more than a decent used 4 wheel drive toyota pickup, and has a much smaller set of practical uses. They're still super fun to play with.
Later Grandmaman told us how fun it was to ride behind her husband for the first time since they cruised around on his BMW motorcycle, before they had kids, 40+ years ago.
We settled into cabin life with the kids, for the short time we had carved out for this. Annaliese and Caspian know their way around, and were far more independent than they've ever been.
We packed in all the cabin-activities we could, with many snacks, fires, and wood wanderings.
A new activity we found was suddenly fun and possible, was picking a direction and heading out into the woods for a hike. Our property borders the Appalachian Trail, and we always knew it was over there somewhere on the other side of the stone wall that borders our property on that side, but we had never gone looking for it. 300 yards into the government land, and we found a little foot-path leading straight up, (or down) the mountain. We followed it up to the top of the mountain, and kept going in what we thought was a Westerly direction, which would have taken us back above our cabin. A little while later I pulled out the compass and found we were headed in the opposite direction, and we did a little back-tracking. I still don't know how hiking up to the top of the mountain and turning left got us so turned around.
Anyhow, the trail is nicely maintained, and a hoot to walk and ponder all the feet that have walked it in the past. Caspian had a little trouble staying on the trail.
We packed up, said goodbye to our little cabin, and headed back to my parent's house for an overnight stay. The next morning I took Alexe to the airport, (she had to be home in time to cook the Saturday breakfast shift,) and I circled back to pick up the kids.
On our way out of town, (headed north to visit the aunts and uncles,) we stopped at h.u.Harry's house to say thank you. He had been hoping we would stop, and has set up a playground for the kids. The toy was a bulldozer. He spent 3 minutes showing each of them how to run it, (forward/reverse, two track controls, and the blade lifting joystick,) and set them loose.
And they drove around for 10 minutes each in a bulldozer.
At first Caspian's leg wasn't long enough for him to push the gas pedal. He repositioned, and suddenly he was doing donuts.
They both really liked it. Caspian maybe a little too much.
Hugs and smooches were given and received, and we packed into the Volt for another couple hours on the road.