How does one begin to share the story of a road trip, covering 2671 miles, 11 states, 3 friends, one bad tire, changing seasons, a cottage, u-turns for donkeys, a bad three-story fabric shop, laughing and laughing, narrow stairs, bunk beds, tobacco drying in the barn, dangerous driving, tag sales, spinning wool, history lessons, friends made, stories shared, cemetery walks, crafting on the porch, and a wagon riding Amish woman.
It’s too much. The experience is too great to share and hope to convey the spirit of such a journey. But I shall take a leap of faith and gather up my memories and tumble them around in my mind until I can form them into something worthy of sharing.
A plan was laid last year that my mother and I would drive to the Vermont Getaway Retreat. We had followed other guests through their wonderful visits there via Instagram and we wanted to be a part of it. My good friend Nina was scheduled to go last winter and a snow storm in North Carolina kept her tucked in her cabin in the woods. It didn’t take but a second to realize this meant she could go with us.
Our adventure began on a Sunday. With sweet souvenirs from Nina, we started out from her home. We stopped on the Tobacco Road bridge overlooking a red barn and stream and we held hands as mom said a prayer for our trip.
We had plenty of food and too much luggage. Winding our way through beautiful Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and finally West Virginia. We stayed in Harpers Ferry. It’s a charming little town full of so much history. Our B&B equipped us with a wonderful dinner and breakfast and a waiter who should have been a history teacher. We slept to the sounds of the trains driving through on their way to DC. We felt snug and rested and awoke to the bluest of skies and a crispness in the air.
We spent time visiting Nina’s quilt artisan friend in Maryland. We visited her lovely studio and farm and wished we had more time to spare. We drove through Gettysburg, completely unexpected but how can you pass it by. We gathered acorns from a large tree on one of the battlefields.
We passed the Mason Dixon Line.
We spent 2 nights in Lancaster County, PA, In the sweetest of cottages alongside a brook. It was very old and had been lovingly restored by the property owners. Quaint and homey with the wooden drive, flowers blooming and sheep gathered around the pond we passed. At dinner we asked our waiter where would be a good place to drive around and see the beautiful countryside. He told us to take such and such road out-of-town and take any road we see and it will take us into beautiful farm land.
Parking spot at the fabric store. And at the pretzel bakery.
We did a lot of reading about what these Amish believe and why. As we were driving around it was time for school to let out so we saw lots of children with little coolers riding scooters (no bicycles) An Instagram friend later told me bikes are not allowed because the children can roam too far from home. We all started a book in the cottage about the Amish and now on our “must read” list.
I overheard the fabric lady recommending a cafe that is owned by the Amish so we had lunch there. Katie’s Cafe. It was delicious and our Amish waitress was chipper and sweet. What our cameras could not capture was the vast beauty of the tended fields and seeing the Amish harvest the crops with wagons lined up, and the sweet little glimpses of a curious children peeking out the wagon windows, and the rows of clothes, black and blue, hanging out on lines stretched out from the window into the yard’s tallest tree, and a small child toting her infant sibling while her mom shopped. Glimpses of a different life and time.
Our favorite site (forever to be remembered) was passing a red wagon speeding down the hill with a young woman and two children sitting in it. The mom’s outstretched legs straddling the handle as she safely steered them down the road. Completely charming.
We left Pennsylvania on a raining dreary day and headed to Vermont. The worst driving day full of rain and traffic and jams and lots of road changes. A toll not paid and missed turns. Stressful driving. But we arrived in the drive of Meleen’s country cottages and were welcomed with open arms and hot coffee and love.
We made it! We are at Meleen and Charlotte’s Getaway Weekend. We enjoyed three days of meeting Instagram friends, crafting, and eating together around one long farm table, spending time unwinding from life.
We visited Tammy’s Wing and a Prayer Farm.
During the Getaway we went on a tag sale Saturday morning, we bought fresh (still warm) maple syrup from Greer and honey from the next door neighbor who has an honor system shop on his screen porch. We ate pies from Tammy and listen to a local writer share her writing tips. Charlotte taught us to make felt houses and Nina taught us to weave around a heart-shaped rock with twine.
I drove mom to a quilt store and we picked fabrics to make a little lap quilt from our trip. We stopped and mom bought a winterberry wreath from a road side vendor.
Our time went so quickly. The hours passed like minutes.
Sweet Charlotte offered her home to us for Sunday night and so we traveled to Irvington, NY for the evening. We enjoyed staring out into the Hudson River at sunset and sleeping in a dear sweet home. Selfies taken every day.
I have never been this north before. Five states I had never visited. I tried to find one geocache in each state so I could add them to my map. This quest brought us to a beautiful look out over the Potomac River, an odd rock carving in the Gettysburg Battle Field, an Amish parking spot, and a wonderful 600 year old tree in Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
The tree was amazing, growing in an old church yard with a cemetery surrounding it.
While we were admiring the tree, an elderly woman came out to tell us to be sure and go see a beautiful tree in full fall splendor at the library. (Nina had already spotted it.) We asked her about the big tree and she told us each year they think it’s the LAST one. At night when it’s storming she lies in bed hoping the tree will weather it.
I slipped into the church and quietly listened to a piano recital, later I heard the church bells ring and we walked slowly through the cemetery admiring the old markers and reading their words. None of us eager to leave.
Stopping in Staunton, Virginia we stayed in a wonderful B&B and awoke to a delicious breakfast. Another town added to the list of places I’d like to visit again especially this beautiful B&B. (Fredrick House)
Our trip was nearing the end as we drove the last few little hours headed south.
The drive so beautiful through Virginia and North Carolina. Dropping Nina safely home in Cullawhee, mom and I decided to go ahead and make the last leg of the trip that evening. Home was beckoning us both. Isn’t that how all trips go, itching to be in your own bed as it draws closer.
As I pulled into my garage I looked at the odometer. 2671. Home. We made it safely, each taking turns driving, and only replacing a tire in New York slowed up our trip. My toll lane mistake was handled without fines. All is well.
Had we stopped at all the things that caught our eye, we’d still be on the road.
We had a grand adventure that didn’t seem real. Memories and new friends, and witnessing the beauty of our Country first hand.