Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Return

Guess who's back? Back again . . .

I've been M.I.A. over the past several days--since last Thursday, in fact. I needed some time off from everyday life here in the city. And so I headed up to Vermont with my very good friends, Cin and Aleks, and one of their friends for the MLK weekend. We all stayed in a great little B&B just outside of Ludlow in Okemo valley, which is not far from the Massachusetts/New Hampshire border.

But, boy, getting there was an adventure and a half! I dragged my luggage over to my friends' house Thursday morning. They had the car, see, but I would be the one driving us the 250 miles there and back. We picked up their friend, Marci, and then hit the road at around 4:30 pm. Unfortunately, this is the height of rush hour. And even more unfortunate, this is New York City. You get the picture. Needless to say it took an inordinate amount of time just to reach New Haven in Connecticut. About an hour longer than normal, if not more. Considering that we still had another 3 hours to go, I was worried we would arrive at our destination too tired to do anything but drop our bags and pass out. And what a waste of a day that would be, huh?

Still, on top of the horrendous traffic, we also had to contend with mother nature and hungry stomachs of course. What an annoyance! So we stopped at a service station along the road and made it into a McDonald's. Now, I haven't eaten in a Mickey Dee's in quite some time. And whenever I do, I'm never there for a whole meal. This time was different, tho. This was actually going to be my dinner for the night. So I ordered something simple but filling: two cheeseburgers and a small fries. However, when it came to the choice of drink I was drawing a blank. I was craving orange soda for some reason, and I could not remember if McD's served orange soda. The cashier looked at me like I was crazy. No orange soda, only an orange-like fruit drink. I had to reveal that, hell, I haven't asked for a soda in a fast food joint in 7 years. Give me a break, dude!

So I went with a diet coke instead.

But my poor, dear friend Cin had a worse experience. Not known for her adventurous spirit when it comes to food, I don't know why she chose this day to stir things up a bit. Having heard of the cult-like status surrounding McD's limited time sandwich--the McRib--she decided that this treasured delicacy would finally, on this very night, be hers! Oh, if only I had known. See, knowing Cin as I do, I did think this item an odd choice for her to be ordering. Despite the mania in this country for the McRib sandwich, it really isn't as good as it used to be back in the 80s when it was first introduced. I used to love it as a kid, but must say it's gone downhill ever since McDonald's decided it was a good idea to get rid of all the unhealthy saturated fats and other gunk that used to make their food delicious. Who needs a heart anyway, right?

But see, I didn't know that my friend did not know the McRib sucks. I thought she'd had one before and, like other crazy people in this country, had grown to become obsessed with the little faux-ribbed delight. Nope. Turns out she just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Bad, Cin. Bad! Only after she finished the sandwich did she complain about how awful it was. And that's when I found out the truth. Oy vey! I could have saved you the trouble, my friend.

The stuff of Cin's nightmares!

Yes, I'm still shaking my head to this day. Luckily for all of us in the car, Cin's error in judgement did not manifest itself in . . . er, let's say . . . any gastro-intestinal mishaps as we continued on our way. Phew! When we finally arrived at our destination, it was 10:00. Late, but not too late. The innkeepers Julie and Mike met us at the door and showed us to our rooms. Everyone got settled in, retired downstairs to the parlor to hang out a little, and then called it a night.

Home away from home at the Golden Stage Inn.

This tidy inn was very comfy to hang out at during our stay, and is very close to Okemo ski resort. We didn't do any skiing, however. Cin and Marci wiled away their waking hours crafting warmy socks and cool cowls and what have you, while Aleks had to contend with work-related phone calls and a business meeting or two in a big town one hour's drive away. Meanwhile I wrote a little and read a whole lot -- and stole cookies from the inn's infamous "never ending cookie jar" when I thought no one was looking (for the record: they totally were!).

Honestly, though, we were there just to relax and unwind, which was definitely welcomed on my part. And the innkeepers were just too awesome for words, too! We felt like we had free run of the house, hanging out in the parlor by the fireplace and sipping vodka-and-peppermint spiked hot cocoa as if it was our home. Not a bad way to spend a long, cold winter weekend, eh?

At some point Cin, Aleks and I left Marci behind and drove 90 minutes northeast to visit our alma mater, Middlebury College. We arrived on a late Sunday morning/early afternoon--and during January term to boot! Which meant the campus was even emptier and more quiet than normal for a Sunday.

It was weird returning to my old stomping grounds. Since graduating in 1998, I've only been back twice. Once in 2001 for a Chinese dept. reunion, and then again in 2004 to attend a wedding in a nearby town. Since then so much has changed. For one, there is a lot more development in the little village of Middlebury. More empty plots of land are now occupied by housing, or stores, and even a huge restructuring of the town center to include a traffic circle and this massive new bridge connecting the college with route 7 on the other side of town. Crazy! What used to take me 30 mins to walk to back in the 90s now takes only 12! Oh how I could have used this convenience then. *shakes fist*

In my day, we had to walk uphill in the snow . . .

And yet, for all that has changed, the campus itself has remained remarkably the same. It was very weird seeing the same official buildings, the same mail room, the same dorms we lived in looking very much like we last saw them. I had this weird feeling as we walked around campus reliving old memories; a feeling as if I had never left. This used to surprise me back when I attended college there, too, after returning from summer recess or winter break. This sense of sameness that used to drive me crazy, but now I find I miss terribly. If only I knew then what I know now. Maybe I would have savored the experience a bit more, knowing what awaited me out there in the real world.

Checking the ye olde mailbox just for kicks. Oh, how
my knees remember!

My dorm from Feb. 1995 until May 1996. 

Mead Chapel on the western end of campus.

What was even more disconcerting, however, were the few students we did run across on occasion during our trek to all our familiar haunts. Geez, were we ever so young and baby-faced? I mean, Cin could still pass for 19 years old no problem. But myself? Probably not so much. Still, I swear some of these kids looked like freshmen in high school, not college! Or maybe I am just getting older? Could be . . .

Anyway, the trip was a blast and much needed. Too bad it had to come to an end. Sorry for the long silence, but I'm back now and ready to return to this difficult task of getting my life in order. It's going to be a long year ahead, but I must remember to take little breaks like this here and there and have some fun. Or else I shall go mad. And there's nothing worse than a nutso blogger, is there?

Didn't think so.


  1. I loved your pictures! That inn looks soooo inviting! Your little getaway weekend sounds awesome sauce! :) Glad you went and got away and relaxed. Good for you! :)

  2. I love the idea of curling up in a country retreat and not having to do anything except eat, drink, laze...repeat. Sounds an idyllic weekend, David, and good therapy after the trauma of recent life.

  3. I vow to you to never again eat another McRib. What was I thinking? I had a great time hanging out with you and taking a trip down memory lane together. :) You were an awesome friend back then and you are still an awesome friend today (with a couple more wrinkles to your name. I can still pass for 19!:)) I say we get to planning our next road trip together.
    Hang in there, my dear.

  4. Loved the trip :D

    And crazy bloggers...? What's wrong with that? ;)

  5. Glad you went away to retreat a bit.

  6. Sounds like a good trip. Glad you could get away.


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