Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Our Vermont Vacation

I promised you more photos from our trip, and -- if you ignore the ten day delay -- I am delivering on that promise.

This is a rest area in New Hampshire. We wanted to stop at the Mount Washington Hotel for lunch, so we asked at the tourist information desk here for directions. Well, you can imagine what those directions were: keep heading west and you can't miss it. They were right -- it's hard to miss. It's also hard to visit, as their parking was all under construction. We were being really careful about having Mimi in the car, so with no shady parking we regretfully turned around and kept going until we found a lovely coffee shop with outdoor seating and yummy vegan food. Mimi was allowed to sit with us, and it was a lovely shady spot. And even better: the Mini Cooper that had been so visibly annoyed because I don't drive as fast as I used to, and which had stopped at the same coffee shop, didn't "accidentally" side-swipe us as it was leaving the parking lot!

Next stop: TopNotch Resort & Spa in Stowe, Vermont. This place is clearly hopping in the fall and winter; it had a slight mustiness in the heat of July (and yes, it was hot even in the mountains). The decor indoors is all about huddling together for warmth: communal fireplaces with lots of comfy furniture clustered around them. We literally never set foot in the lounge -- if we weren't in our room, the pool, the spa, or the dining room, we were outside walking the dog.

The spa was great though -- I had an energy realignment "massage," which turned out to be one of those odd admixtures of reiki and some other stuff involving scooping up the air over the client's prone form and sending all the bad juju someplace else. I might have scoffed but for two facts. First, I really enjoyed Ananda Willow (nee Nancy Wright), a woman around the same age as me with a fascinating backstory, starting with how she got that name. Second, I think the massage was having some effect on my subconscious, seeing as how tears were streaming out of the corners of my eyes the entire time. I felt perfectly fine chatting with Ananda Willow, but some part of me was crying!

This is the main pool, where the kiddies are permitted to swim. We used the adults only pool, out of the frame to the right. Check out those mountain views, though! Cool, hunh? this was also the view we had if we ate a meal on the patio. We didn't realize that dogs were allowed there until we saw the Sheltie pack described below. We just never got the nerve to bring Mimi. That would not have been a restful meal!

Lake Champlain. Impossible to describe how beautiful it is, so I won't try. The photo is not doing it justice, even with the Adirondacks in the distance. It's a shame it wasn't a sunnier day. We actually had pretty good luck with the weather. It was pretty hot, though, and that made it a bit harder to do things that seemed like they would be fun, such as renting bicycles and doing the 5 mile bike trail into town. Maybe next time...

I have tons of pictures of the Shelburne Museum, but they can wait for another post. Here's our Mimi at lunch with us at a nice restaurant in Shelburne. I forget the name of the eatery, which is a shame as they deserve the credit for realizing that they could accommodate us up on a paved terrace alongside the restaurant.

We're still learning about travel with a dog. One thing we've figured out is that it doesn't hurt to ask. We were in Ambler, PA the other day and we asked at a bar/restaurant if we and Mimi could eat in the alley (which was set up with tables and already had a foursome of young thirtysomething women, one of whom was showing off her newborn). The woman bartender I asked seemed doubtful but finally relented. It turned out to be a huge success. Mimi was very well behaved, the waitress was charmed ("I don't like dogs, but yours is cute," she exclaimed), the bartender even came out to meet the dog that the waitress had been raving about.

But I was a bit startled when I went to the ladies' room to see a poster up for the "Dog Days of August," an Ambler festival for dogs. A parade, prizes for the best behaved dog, the dog that looks like its owner, etc., and in small print, "dog-friendly dining at select area restaurants." I gotta figure this place was one of those restaurants. Did the bartender not know that her place of business had touted itself as "dog-friendly"?

I tipped very generously, partly because the food had been cheap and partly so that the next time someone wants to eat there with a dog, the staff will think, "Big tippers!"

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