Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Week 12, Part 2: Vermont & Niagara Falls

I've always wanted to visit Vermont, but we only had time to visit the Southern portion. We simply ran out of time. But also, I've been growing weary and felt less motivated to sightsee. I'd been ready, since our last visit to New York City, to hunker down and find a sense of rest and routine. Still, I knew I was lucky for this chance to see the country and didn't want to forego the plans. Vermont, even without the fall colors or snow, was postcard-beautiful. As was New Hampshire, the state we drove through on our way to Vermont. We stopped for lunch at a lovely little college town in New Hampshire--Keene--and ate, surprisingly, some of the best Mexican food I've ever had for lunch. It had a vital bustling Main Street, marked with another pointy-steepled church. The weather was starting to turn cold and even crossing the street to the car, we felt underdressed for what was the beginning of winter.

View from Joshua's Retreat

We arrived in Vermont after dark, at this lovely Airbnb apartment called Joshua's Retreat. Joshua's Retreat is part of a historic farmhouse in Shaftsbury, just up the road from Robert Frost's Stone House and Museum. Our host, Kevin, had the wood stove going for us when we got there, and I thought, "I may just sit in this living room for the next two days and write." Then I thought, how and when can I return here for a writing retreat. Woodstove, fully stocked kitchen, warm cozy bed--I was ready to take up residency.
East Dorset, VT

East Dorset, VT

But I did leave the house to see the country side the next day--we drove North to Manchester and then to Dorset and East Dorset. Manchester is kind of like Napa without the wineries, lots of shops and outlet stores and I wondered what everyone there did for a living. We spend a lot of time wandering a general store in Dorset that had been around since the 1800s and had some foodstuffs, hardware, tourist items, warm clothes, and various other items you never knew you needed--like my new ladybug ski cap and mittens set.

We were happy to eat supper in--a rare treat on the road (we had a vegetable feast)--and to read in big chairs by the wood stove until bedtime. The next day, we took a swing down by the Robert Frost house, which was closed for the winter and under renovation, but is pictured here:

Robert Frost House and Museum
Then we went back to East Dorset for a bit of a tour of the historic buildings and such.

Then, we drove through the country side of Vermont and through small towns in New York state, having lunch in Cambridge, a tiny town where my friend Genevieve grew up. It was easy enough to get to from where we were in Vermont and I was somewhat curious.

We slowly made our way to East Syracuse, where we stayed at a lovely hotel that included full kitchens as well as full dinners and breakfasts. The next day, after lunch in Syracuse at a place our friend Melinda, who grew up in Syracuse, recommended, we were on the road for Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Larry lived on the American side of Niagara Falls when he was a toddler and had been fairly recently. I hadn't been since I went one summer with my grandparents who drove me there from the Detroit area while I spent part of a summer with them. I remembered it being a magical visit and had left with all kinds of romantic ideas about coming back for my honeymoon, which strikes me as hilarious, since I was just twelve at the time. But I asked Larry if we could spend a couple days there so I could revisit whatever magic had entered my heart when I was there before.

Niagara Falls are magical and awesome. We went and saw them lit up at night. Their enormity quieted my mind. Like most big tourist areas we've been to, there was a long strip of ridiculous tourist things -- like Ripley's Believe it or Not and Dinosaur Miniature Golf. The Skywheel--a giant ferris wheel--marked the skyline.

Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls 
The next day, we bought an inexpensive package deal that included a really silly video and experience called "Niagara's Fury" that tried (and failed) to explain and have you experience the making of the falls throughout history. But the other two stops on the package made it well worth the 20 bucks each we spent. We went behind the falls and saw the water streaming through these open windows cut into the rock. Then sort of just stood on a landing from a side view, looking at the falls from below and the side of them.

Then we took the city bus to the Butterfly Conservatory where there's over 2000 butterflies, 40 varieties total, fluttering around, sometimes landing on sightseers. It was nice and toasty warm in the tropical environment, a nice change from the morning where there was a light dusting of snow. As awesome and quiet-inducing as the falls are, the butterfly enclosure was similarly inspiring.

The trip to Niagara Falls definitely made me aware that there's something larger than me designing this world. I felt small and held at the same time, which I guess is what I must've felt when I was twelve--like in the turmoil of my upbringing and the awkwardness of puberty, I was going to be alright because someone was making beautiful things in the world.

This was the last of our sightseeing for awhile. We'd head to Buffalo to pick up one of Larry's sister's and take her to Michigan, where we'd spend Thanksgiving week with another of his sisters and her family. After this week, we'll go to Chicago and house and dog sit for a month. We hope to get an intimate look of that city while we're there, and also lean into some routine and rhythm.

We wish all of you who have been following our journey a lovely Thanksgiving. Thanks for being along for the ride.

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