Those who have taken my Digital Photography class will recognize the “cut out the distracting cluttered background” trick.
People who live in Vermont are “Vermonters.” I know this because my family and I just spent a bucolic five days in the Green Mountain state. I've got to tell you, Vermont is spectacular. God has been messing with the color balance there — the grass is chartreuse, and the leaves are safety orange and road-warning yellow. I don't think it's a good thing when school busses are essentially camouflaged by the local foliage, but whatever.
We had a timeshare (thanks, Dad) in the Mad River Valley, easily the most beautiful place I've seen since I moved away from my beloved Santa Cruz Mountains. The Mad River must be a good place for kayakers, because there were people in the frigid waters even in mid-October. Crazy people, yes, but people, nonetheless.
The first full day we were there, we went to that mecca of all things ice cream, BBen & Jerry's. BK distinguished himself on the tour by actually answering a question. The tour guide asked us, “where does our ice-cream process start?” BK answered (loudly), “Cow!” Of course, there is the chance he was just reacting to the image on the video screen, which happened at that moment to be showing a cow, but I prefer to think he's an ice-cream prodigy. The tour was great: we saw a movie, we saw the production floor (not as big as you'd imagine), and then we went to the free-sample room, where we each were served a scoop of the new-for-2010 flavor, “Milk and Cookies.” Damn good. So good that when three samples remained, we took them. Mmmmm. BK was rhapsodizing about “ice cream cup!” and “cow!” for the rest of the day. We took some photos after the tour and then I took the kids to the wet playground, where BK shot down a slide so fast he landed three feet away on his butt. We left, kids under my arm and screaming at the injustice of the world and their tyrannical mother. We couldn't visit the “flavor graveyard,” a graveyard with tombstones commemorating long-lost B&J flavors (trivia answer: the shortest-lived flavor was Sugarplum. People kept sending it back because they thought something was wrong with it. It was in stores for only two weeks). Monstro bought a coffee shake. I didn't get a taste.
Lex loved the gameroom at the resort and spent quite a bit of time at the air-hockey table — truly, he is a chip off the old block. We also let the kids roll billiard balls across the pool table. They thought that was pretty much the shit, as it were.
On Monday, we went to the world's busiest cider mill and enjoyed hot cider and the best cider donuts that have ever graced the planet. Then we stopped at a little mall of local-products stores and ate our fill of free samples at the Cabot cheese outlet. We were plagued by tour busses from Louisiana — Monstro queried why anyone from Louisiana would visit VT in October — and so beat feet back to the resort.
The boys slept together on a futon and it was a high point of the trip to watch them nestled together like two halves of a walnut. It was the low point of the trip to go to them every morning at 3:00 a.m. because someone's knee hurt, or someone wouldn't shove over, or whatever. One of these downstairs visits was punctuated by my fall down the stairs. My bruises are blooming and they're just lovely. I haven't had an elbow scrape like this since second grade. In a way, I'm kind of proud.
Monstro left on Tuesday but before he could go, I piled the boys and my mom into the minivan and we trucked out to the Vermont Teddy-Bear Factory. BK had seen a lobby card at the clubhouse the day before and augmented his vocabulary to include, “teddy-bear house! teddy-bear house!”, so even though it was an hour away we drove to Burlington and had a wonderful time. Lex was reluctant to go (“I want to do something FUN.”) but asked questions at every stop on the tour and had a hard time containing his glee. Mom bought both of the boys teddy bears and Lex even got to work the machine to stuff his own bear; he filled it with magic and a red felt heart. I wanted BK to have a honey-colored bear but they didn't have any forms for stuffing one's own, and all the pre-stuffed ones were just too flat, so the customer service folks ended up cutting a bear down from a rope. Excellent customer service at the Vermont Teddy-Bear Factory, in case you were wondering. That building is also the home to the Pajama-Gram outlet so I bought jammy jeans for me and mom for five bucks apiece. Can't wait to wear them to drop Lex off at school.
By the time we left the factory, scoured a secondhand bookshop for a hardcover Gravity's Rainbow (no luck), and had lunch at a McDonald's that posted the Canadian exchange rate and featured people who spoke English with a Vermont/Canada accent (tres weird), and got home, we'd missed BK's nap window, so instead we watched “Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue” because Lex has a thing for Tink and wants to be a fairy wizard when he grows up.
The drive back to the house seemed much longer than the drive to get to vacation. We stopped in Barre (“Is it pronounced Bar or Bar-ray, I asked a man sitting one table over at the Ladder Grill downtown. “It's Barry,” he said, “the biggest producer of granite in the world.” “Then why is New Hampshire the Granite State?” I asked him. “Guess they yanked it out from under you, huh?” He had a response but I couldn't understand it because he spoke English with a Canadian/Vermont accent even thicker than Monstro's fake New-England-speak) and had a pretty good lunch, even if Lex did tell our server that the Halloween window-clings were scary every time she came over to bring us something, and asked in a loud voice as two bearded gentlemen walked past us, “Is that Ben and Jerry?”
We arrived home at 4:00 and our neighbor gave me $20 to reimburse me for Monstro's overpayment of the neighbor kids who fed our cats and scooped their poop but apparently did not clean up the kitty-puke on the floor.
So, we're home, and truth be told, I'm a little foliaged out, but at least there are still leaves on our trees and it's not yet winter.