Wild Card Days in Vermont

After the family fiesta that was A’s and N’s wedding, and a couple of days of R&R (including a visit to Martha’s Vineyard- more on that later), it was time for our wild card day and night of adventure. In my family we’ve always called those days where you have just a general idea of where you might end up that night wild cards. And sometimes they end up being some of the most fun – or at least the most different.

J had randomly selected from the internet a very small town of 3000 with a historic (and very cheap) inn as our destination. The exact name shall remain unstated, so as to protect the innocent. The inn, dating back well into the 1800s, was grandiosely described as “dominating” the town common, and we envisioned a sort of quaint New England town, with old growth trees and clapboard houses.

This particular wild card day was to take us from the South Coast of Massachusetts all the way up to visit some dear friends in Saratoga Springs, New York. More on that later, also. Somehow we plotted a course that took us through four states – Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Notwithstanding such anonymity, I will mention that on our way there we happened upon The Vermont Country Store. What a treat! I’ve shopped their catalogue for years and the store is a real life version. We spent an hour enjoying trips down memory lane perusing items such as Windsong and Charlie perfumes, Lincoln Logs, and those glass Christmas ornaments that all of us who were children in the 1960s and 70s remember.

We arrived at our destination about mid afternoon. Think Bob Newhart. That is, the second show when he retired to run an inn in a small village in Vermont.

We knew something was amiss when we went to check in. The inn was indeed right at the edge of the fairly small common (could have been described as an unmanicured field with sidewalks), which had buildings only on one of its sides. My favorite shop was the bookstore, which was closed, but a sign in the window specified if you were there to pick up an order you could stop by the nearby CBD store and ask for the owner.

But back to check in. The “lobby” area was right at the front door, a desk area behind which were old fashioned mail boxes and keys hanging nearby for each room. Not particularly high security. After ringing the service bell several times in vain, another guest walked by and wished us good luck. That was not propitious.

Eventually an elderly waitress emerged from the back dining room to see if she could help us. Unable to find our internet reservation- I was becoming more and more surprised these folks were on the internet- she tried to text the official desk clerk. After another delay said desk clerk arrived, managed to check us in, and gave us somewhat rambling directions up a few flights of stairs to our room. She seemed uncertain as to whether we should turn right or left and exactly what floor we were on.

Nonetheless, we found said room – perfectly adequate although the mattress left something to be desired, and the fact there were locked French doors going out to an upstairs porch that only the other rooms could access seemed a bit odd.

We decided it was happy hour and therefore time to explore the local watering holes. Two were listed on the internet – an Irish Pub and some other place, called something like Ye Olde Tap Room, which was our place of choice. On our way out the elderly waitress seemed anxious that we make a dinner reservation so we complied. However, it turned out she actually did not know how to make a reservation on the IPad storing such information, and had to enlist the assistance of her much younger companion server. Another delay.

We marched along by the strip of shops, hunting for the address- which we could not find. Eventually we determined we must have missed it and made a u turn – only to find ourselves back at the inn. It turned out they had a separate address and name for their little hotel bar. It was closed. We opted for the the Irish pub.

The Irish pub was actually quite nice and had a remarkable selection of whiskeys. It was clearly one of the local hangouts and it looked like 10 pm was a late closing night for them.

After a pleasant time imbibing their specialties, J and I felt fortified enough for dinner. It turned out to be served only on the inn’s front porch – the dining room having been closed since Covid – and our elderly waitress appeared to be the only server. While the menu looked rather comprehensive, she first announced a list of things they did not have, which reduced the menu to a series of about five choices. I picked the vegetarian entree, the central feature of which was to be various grains. When it arrived – about an hour and a half later – there were no grains to be had. And, even though we were in Vermont, they were out of maple syrup. So much for the majority of desserts. On the flip side – there was a really good pie, the contents of which I no longer remember.

We awakened the next morning eager to try out the breakfast part of the bed and breakfast experience. It was a bit difficult to locate the breakfast room, as we appeared to be the only guests eating. There was a circle of people in Ye Olde Tap Room who seemed to be holding a 12 step meeting of some sort and they graciously directed us to the right spot.

There was a thermos of coffee with just enough for two cups. Two slices of bread each carefully wrapped in plastic for toast. A slightly brown banana. And a couple of yoghurts. I was hopeful that either we were the only guests or that everyone else had eaten.

Our check out went more smoothly. It was time to hit the road again. And our next destination was a hike up Bromley Mountain via Mad Tom Notch. Somehow very appropriate.