The wife wants to go to Vermont to attend a surprise 50th birthday party for a fourth grade classmate (and godmother to our daughter) and before I can permit my innate agoraphobia to veto the expedition, she pre-pays two nights in a B&B so I have to go or risk burning $300 in Amex charges.
Off we go on Friday in the all-wheel-drive vehicle, forging north and west into the teeth of an iminent blizzard forecast to drop a foot of snow on Cape Cod. By the time I get to the Vermont border, it’s snowing like the Donner Party and traffic is moving at a resoundingly sluggish 20 mph on Route 91 on one lane of slick asphalt. Oh joy. Oh semi-trailers laden with logs going 70 mph in the fast lane and blowing total white-outs in their path. Wife is doing contortions of panic in the seat next to me. Begging me to find safe refuge off the highway from hell.
Forge on! I declare and we limp into Waitsfield, Vermont, 350-butt-puckering-miles later. I find a bar (the magnificant Pitcher Inn of Warren, Vermont), get a glass of 52 year-old armagnac and turn into a total couch potato in front of a roaring fire as the snow falls and the world turns into a remake of White Christmas, replete with carolers, grumpy dairy farmers in their Johnson woolies, and dusty mooseheads staring from the log cabin walls.
Life improves. Saturday the village is covered with diamond sparkling powder so we head to the mountains, Mad River Glen to be exact, an anachronistic, socialistic cooperative ski area where snowboarding is banned, there is no snow making apparatus, and there is no grooming of the rocky, icy, gnarly slopes of General Stark Mountain. We meet good friend and former cycling partner Marta in the lodge, I get all comfy with the concept of some lodge chili and local microbrew, when Marta decides it is a good time to go snowshoeing and introduces us to the resident naturalist, Sean, who gets us equipped, hands me a vague map, and recommends we try the “challenging” trail.
Off we go, up mountain, through the woods, in a total Last of the Mohicans experience that rapidly deteriorates into Lost Bohican (bend over, here it comes again) as I lose the trail and begin to learn the perspiration wicking wonder of wool, becoming sodden in forty pounds of Dave sweat while standing up to my knees in a silent birch forest with the bluejays and squirrels making the only noise.
Lost, we forge onwards — this is how it always begins I say to myself — and get more lost by the minute. No water. No compass. Great.
Then I hear a skiier on a trail, catch a flash of color, and head to an ungroomed slope. Wife and I trudge down the hill, to the base lodge, where we call it a day and turn in the snowshoes. So there’s a supposedly cool thing I can say I have done (and would do again, but with better preparation next time.)
Surprise 50th birthday party was conducted in a restored barn. Bluegrass band. BBQ. I was happy.
Then we drove home yesterday into the teeth of an even bigger snowstorm. Wife unhappy with conditions. Me tempting disaster in the unplowed fast lane. Home by 1 pm into a howling rainstorm. Cotuit is the antithesis of Vermont. Where they have pretty snow, we have grey slush and dog poo surfacing through the mess.