I have been tracking Matt on the SPOT because it seems he is getting close to the Virgin Islands. My phone rings Wednesday morning but I miss the call. Somehow I know it was him. He leaves a message “God, … I think we made it. It has been so hard.” He says he spotted land at 5:30 am and they’ll be there in a few hours.
NH is not far from VT and a friend from Cleveland moved to Burlington in 2013 at about the same time we left on our trip. I would love to see her. I pick days my sister can get extra help and tell her the boys and I will be gone for two nights. I’m up at 6 am to do the morning routine and we are on the road by 10 am. The drive is gorgeous, with towering mountains on all sides. I can almost feel myself being elevated alongside them. The boys are ecstatic to see snow (even dirty snow) at the VT Visitors Center. It is one of the things they have missed the most. We stop for lunch in Montpelier and look through the brochures I picked up at the Visitors Center.
There is a Ben & Jerry’s factory tour but what are the chances that it’s close to Burlington? I check my phone map – it’s only 10 minutes off of our route. I tell the boys that our homeschooling lesson for the day is about production and insist they try the final product. They are thrilled. After we leave B&Js and minutes before we get on the highway, Matt calls again. I pull off the road. He says he cannot wait until we are with him again and that the letters and photos that we sent with him helped a lot during the passage. He is so relieved to finally be in. It has been a LONG journey but he sounds good.
On Thursday, we tour the Shelburne Museum (a 45-acre property with historic buildings and museums). We see old sleighs and carriages in one of the few remaining round barns. They have a fabulous new exhibit of jewelry (with a video of one artist’s process which enthralls the boys). Most of the buildings are closed for the season but we tour the property. The boys are in heaven when it snows heavily for 45 minutes. Next stop is the VT Teddy Bear Company where we get another factory tour. After lunch, we drive to downtown Burlington and look at Lake Champlain. We go to Dobrá (a bohemian tea house) for tea and GF cookies; the boys love the private nooks with floor cushions. There is a woman doing Tarot card readings in one of them. I love Burlington. I have yet to see anyone in a suit (why I find this so appealing, particularly as a b-school professor, is unclear).
On Friday, we breakfast, pack up and are out of the hotel by 9 am. We run some errands and then go to the Lake Champlain chocolate factory tour – learning how chocolate is made, from cacao bean to wrapped package. The boys are rapt and, again, I insist they try the final product (they are starting to love homeschooling). My friend ended up being sick so I didn’t get to see her (illness would not have been a good parting gift to my sister). We have to be back in NH by mid-afternoon so we head out right after the chocolate tour. I will miss the mountains and the moose crossing signs. I can’t remember the last time I had such a strong (positive) visceral reaction to a place. We’ve only been here two days but it feels like I’m leaving a little piece of my soul behind.