Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A GIRL'S VACATION - Summer 2001

Shelburne Farm Inn

Day One

Sherri put the van in drive at 7:17 a.m.on Saturday, June 9, 2001 and eight ladies spanning the ages from 29 to 81 years of age, set in motion for a vacation trip to Vermont.  For readers of this story, please note that you must read between the lines to get the full gist and flavour of the story.  I’m sure it won’t be difficult. 

Sharp-Eyed Barb (aka  Police Mom) at 81 and the matriarch of the group, kept a watchful eye on our chauffer who was clocking 140 km at times.  Sharp-Eyed Barb warned of smokies in the bushes taking pictures.  It’s amazing what cataract surgery can do!

The first of our technical glitches was firing up the lap top computer.  We later learned that the battery had succumbed to deficient power and wouldn’t boot up.  The next problem was Melissa’s CD player.  It kept rejecting the adapter so we had a limited selection of old time cassettes that didn’t suit the majority of music tastes.

The ride was rather boring but Sherri, with her little “Betty Boop” giggle, kept the peddle to the metal and we arrived at the border crossing at 11:00 a.m. for an early lunch.  Wrong Way Carolyn, still living up to fame from the last trip with the help of co-pilot Knock on the Head Cathy, named after my most recent mishap in the stable getting a hooves in the head and face, managed to make one wrong turn.  This was later followed up with a wrong way entry to the motel parking lot.

The group was entertained with Juice Box Connie’s spillage in the van.  She doesn’t have much experience with these contraptions and squeezed her box.  Connie continued to provide lively commentary with the notice of the drive thru pharmacy.  She gleefully surmised, what a good idea for a perfect date and I’m not talking about headache pills.   Snack Pack Chris, added that you could even get your favourite colour and taste.  Just use your imagination.

After being star struck with the delights of the Christmas Loft Store, motel accommodations were soon in order for the traveling ladies.

Juice Box Connie had unknowingly booked our motel right across from the Sirloin Saloon Steak House where we had dinner reservations.  Highway 7 is a rather busy thoroughfare, but once again Take Charge Phyllis was daring to dart across the road with Sharp-eyed Barb dragging behind her.  On better judgment from Knock on the Head Cathy decided to wait.  I, dressed in a long fancy gown, stood on the shoulder of the road in the company of compardres.  All of a sudden the cars stopped, just like Moses parting the waters.  All eight women jaunted across the highway, grateful for the drivers’ kindness.  I guess they didn’t want to be responsible for splating eight women on the pavement and making them all road kill on their vacation.

Take Charge Phyllis now has a new nickname or title.  Knock on the Head Cathy was given the vibrator to announce when their dinner table was ready.  Take Charge Phyllis demanded the vibrator for her jean pocket.  We were all thinking “cheap thrill”. 

Dinner was absolutely divine and the waiter wasn’t bad either.  Ruthie missed a big opportunity that night.  She’s going to be very sorry she missed our trip.  The waiter was even giving us directions on how to get to the Jazz Festival that night.  Cute college guy, and we know how much Ruthie appreciates the younger men.

Dinner conversation was rather heightened with many chuckles over Juice Box Connie’s famous old stories.  Connie has a wealth of them in her diary of memories and only Connie can do justice telling them.  We all roared with laughter, almost, not quite, matching Connie’s volume of cheer. 

Carolyn just had to tell us about our farrier’s visit again.  She does have some problem keeping focused when the fellow is bent over hard at work.  Again, Ruthie – another missed opportunity.  Phyllis suggested that we buy Doug a pair of Wrangler jeans!  However, I’m not certain that the view would be the same – no offense.

Upon leaving the restaurant, Snack Pack Chris, bulging at the seams of her tiny dress as she tried to digest her big meal, wanted to have her mood read on the “love” machine at the door.  The rest of us didn’t dare.  The lights jumped around trying to analyze Chris’s desire and finally landed on “Naughty but Nice”.  Yep, it seems to fit, but only her husband would know that!

Day Two

It was an early start to a very packed day of tourism.  Our group decided to leave the sleepy quiet room next door as we headed down for some complimentary coffee.  Nothing complimentary about the coffee I might add.  Carolyn insisted that we deserted them as they came looking for us.

We headed off for our breakfast at the former Vanderbilt/Webb estate, The Shelburne Inn and Farm.  We were not disappointed.  As in previous visits, the warm inviting ambiance of the Inn made us all feel like ladies of social grace.   A classical musician gently plucked the strings of an enchanting harp and dancing hot ember logs in the hearth, welcomed guest to the Inn this morning.  It was nice to be pampered in such an elegant setting.  Sharp-eyed Barb and Juice Box Connie had a succulent banana brioche with mascarpone cheese.  Some of us chose more traditional working breakfast themes, but all were absolutely delicious.

After dining in the large stateroom, we decided to finish our shopping before beginning tours of the farm.

We bargain hunted in shoe stores, although no bargains were to be had.  However, Sharp-Eyed Barb did find a very comfortable pair of footwear and purchased them.

The group split up after the shoe fittings.  Knock on the Head Cathy and Betty Boop Sherri revisited the Christmas store where a couple of purchases were made.  I must say that Sherri restrained herself from buying a good inventory of the store, even with Cathy’s persuasion for a few items Sherri adored.  However, Betty Boop Sherri does have a web site address so Harry might not be safe yet from a spending spree!

Everyone returned to the van, minus Snack Pack Chris.  Her fellow travelers had left her behind in the antique store.  While all of us were asking among ourselves if we had seen Chris, a fleeting glimpse of a deer like figure, was observed spanning ditches with such ease, shoeless and somewhat out of breath.  She must have thought we miscounted heads and was abandoning her.

Back at Shelburne Farms, none other than Marshall Webb, a great grandson of Dr. Webb, treated us to a private tour of the Breeding Barn.  He ushered us into the van and drove us to the magnificent facility.  On route, he had mentioned about the farm promoting environmental conscious issues.  It was here that Sharp-Eyed Barb put her two cents in, stating that she guess he hadn’t spoken with Bush lately.  That single comment brought howls on the bus.  Not bad for an 81 year old to be so reflective and sensitive.  I think Mr. Webb was pleasantly surprised.  I don’t think he is a fan of President Bush. 

We arrived at the Breeding Barn and it was a pleasure to see that at least horses have once again been a part of this architectural wonder.  In a few weeks the Carriage Association of America will be hosting an event at the Breeding Barn.  It is a grand structure.  The roof alone equals two acres in size.  It is being painstakingly restored to its former elegance. 

Our visit ended too quickly, but Mr. Webb wanted to have us back at the main gate in order that we could take the property tour.

We arrived in Middlebury late afternoon.  The Inn was expecting us.  It is a lovely quaint historical building dating back to 1827.  For those in the group who hadn’t visited the Inn before, it was like a breath of fresh air and quiet serenity.  They held high tea for us in The Morgan Room, appropriately named. 

After settling into our rooms, a phone call to the farm finally brought a response.  When Bob answered and acknowledged that Harry was there, my first inclination was to ask, “what’s wrong”?  Bob wouldn’t say that anything was wrong and said that Harry was just socializing.  (For those of you who don’t know, Harry is our veterinarian.)  The phone was passed to his wife, Betty Boop Sherri, who instinctively asked that same question – “what was wrong?”  I guess we will just have to wait until we arrive home to see if any damage had been done to human or animal. 

Refreshed and hungry for dinner, we arrived in the dining area for our evening reservation.  It would be a meal to remember.

We had a young inexperienced waiter serve us.  It was his very first day on the job.  We decided to order a couple of bottles of wine, rather than order individual glasses.  Of course, Sharp-Eyed Barb had to confuse the waiter by requesting ice cubes for her wine.  We all looked puzzled when he returned with seven glasses of wine; one with ice cubes.  We all felt bad having him bring us a couple of bottles and returning the filled glasses of wine he had managed to deliver without spilling to our table.  We would have drunk the wine already poured, but soon the head maitre’d took over serving our table. 

The orders were eventually taken for our meals and all were delivered but one.   We soon learned that Sharp-Eyed Barb’s sweet pink salmon had become “flying sword fish”.   The cook had to prepare another dish for her.  By the time her meal had arrived, we had all finished our meals, leaving Barb to begin her solitary dinner.  We were all surprised that not even a hint of complaint came across the lips of Sharp-Eyed Barb about the poor service.  The evening before she scolded the bartender and gave him implicit instructions on how to make a proper Caesar.

It was during our leisurely meal, which just happened to take three hours, and a couple of glasses of wine, that Melissa started to loosen up.  We finally came up with a nickname for her; “Wind Up Melissa”.  Amazing, how a little wine can turn this quiet reserved little thing into a Chatty Cathy doll with a tinge of sarcasm.  Finally, the bill arrived for our meal and we decided to retire to our rooms, since it was now dark outside and we didn’t want to go strolling the streets in the event we would be mistaken for something else.

Since we were located on different floors and since Wrong Way Carolyn’s group wasn’t sure what rooms we were in on the next floor, they decided to follow the call of the wild, “Juice Box Connie”.  It wasn’t long before they honed in on her distinctive booming voice.  They had found us! 

With much chuckles now, especially with our newly renamed Vibrator Phyllis punctuating the conversations with her usual candor laced with sometimes seedy overtones, we all were feeling a little guilty about the noise we were creating and perhaps thinking we might be disturbing other guests.  Timing couldn’t have been better as the phone rang with a sudden urgency. 

Betty Boop Sherri answered thinking it was Doug calling for Carolyn.  The voice on the line stated that they had received complaints at the front desk about the noise level coming from this room.  Betty Boop Sherri’s face paled as she responded in a very apologetic tone.  He got her good!  She should have gone with her instincts, as it was Doug all right and not the front desk.  Still feeling a little remorseful for creating so much volume with our laughter, we decided to cease and desist for the night.

Day Three

It was another early rise for a long day of activity and driving.  We began with a leisurely breakfast at the Inn and this time the service was much faster than the previous night. “Thank God for prunes and All-Bran cereal!” Juice Box Connie added.  Wind Up Melissa still in fine form from the previous evening, kept referring to people as “freaks”.  I think we finally got her to let her guard down.  Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea?

Wrong Way Carolyn managed to get us all safely, without losing our way, to the UVM Farm for a brief tour. 

We had a decent tour guide this time around, despite the lightening strikes that Juice Box Connie noted with alarm.  At the end of the tour, the ladies got to see how a real man does it with a dummy, even though it was a five-legged variety.

After that fantasy trip for some, we climbed into the van and headed out towards Shelburne on a turnaround trip to catch the ferry.

On route we stopped in for a brief visit to the American Morgan Horse Association headquarters.  The painting of “Intrigue” aka Serenity, still hangs in the front foyer as you enter the building.  Even though another name identifies the painting as another Serenity horse, I remember when the nameplate, Serenity Intrigue, was there. It was like Studley posing there to greet us all with his very expressive head. 

We made good time from there to the ferry docks and our van was loaded first on deck.  The ferry ride was uneventful and we stayed inside, sheltered from the cool drizzle outside.  However, the weather made for a good day in the van and this time we were careful not to get lost.  It must have been a boring ride, although you couldn’t tell with the laughter.  Most of the conversation centered around eating too much and having to get out the sticks of dynamite to clear the way.  I wasn’t party to a lot of the chatter, since Betty Boop Sherri was the driver and I, Knock on the Head Cathy, was co-pilot.

Waiting in the pouring rain for Connie to confirm our reservation and get our passes at the motel, we took turns keeping her company.  Once again, the service wasn’t exactly efficient.  It took us half an hour to check in.  Juice Box Connie was peeved saying it was taking away from her shopping time. 

We eventually got our rooms and we all struggled with Juice Box Connie’s body bag to drag it into the room.  Vibrator Phyllis has another name for the odd shaped long zipper bag!  We soon began our window shopping – pronto, although for a few, it was more than “window shopping”.  Remember what I previously said about Betty Boop Sherri refraining from spending too much; well throw that thought out the window.  She is quite weak minded when it comes to Lake Placid and all the boutiques.

Just before we started our shopping, we decided to get some wine for a little party we were planning later that night.  Betty Boop Sherri was elected to get the booze, as she was closest to the door and had a hood on her jacket to protect her from the rain. Off she went, looking like the little wicked witch from the west with her pointed hood, dodging the puddles.  Believe me, she truly looked like a witch earlier that day when she appeared from the shower with her locks pointing in all directions.

Wrong Way Carolyn had made dinner reservations at “Jimmy’s” the wonderful Italian restaurant we visited once before on a previous visit.  We dined to our hearts desire and loved every mouthful.  The only incident at this meal was when I, Knock on the Head Cathy, lost my pill on the floor.  I decided to leave it there, even though it was my last dose of antibiotic.  We drove back to the motel to begin another interesting evening of fun and merriment. Right…

Betty Boop Sherri was ready tonight for Doug’s check in call with Carolyn.  Every time the phone rang, one of us would disguise our voice to answer the call.  Doug never did phone.  We later found out that he was shaking in his boots at Betty Boop Sherri’s threat for revenge and aired on the side of caution, deciding to leave well enough alone.  Never mind coward Doug, we are all very patient, as you well know.

While some rushed to make the pool and hot tub before closing, Sharp Eyed Barb was having trouble with the bathroom fixtures once again.  The night before she couldn’t turn the water on in the shower, this night she couldn’t turn it off.  The dial was frozen open and no amount of female muscle could budge it.  The shower ran for a good 20 minutes before someone came to investigate the problem.  In the meantime, Juice Box Connie had been commandeered to get a cork screw for our waiting bottle of wine.  Betty Boop Sherri had called the office, asking the manager for a corkscrew without explaining why.  The conversation was open to intrepretation.  She is so innocent at times, it’s a wonder she doesn’t get herself in more trouble.  Needs lots of protection this one as I was rolling off the bed with laughter, listening to her speaking with the manager of the motel.   She tunes out external noise very well I might add.

Finally, with the clouds of steam now escaping to the rest of the room, an elderly gentleman with cane in hand knocked on the door.  At the same time, Betty Boop Sherri decided to call home.  Upon entry to the room the fellow managed to shut off the water tap and set in panic when he announced to us that the sprinkler system may go off with the amount of steam in the room.  Meanwhile, Betty Boop Sherri is unperturbed by the recent news while she chats away to Harry on the phone.  She was totally oblivious to all the commotion around her and was flagging us with her hand while speaking into the phone uttering the words “what dear”...  All I could think of was the PC sitting almost directly in line with the sprinkler head.  I ran for the case while Juice Box Connie dove for it with towel in hand, running around like a chicken with her head chopped off screaming “cover it up; get the bag”……  Sherri never clued in during the whole episode and quietly hung up the receiver when she had finished her evening conversation.  Was she surprised when she finally listened to what we were saying.  Thank God, the sprinkler never activated.  The little old man left the room but soon returned knocking on the door, asking to retrieve his cane.  I wondered who he reminded me of, and finally the light came on!  He was like the “dirty old man” from the old Laugh In television show of the early 70’s, only cleaner.  Juice Box Connie figured he had spied our bottle of wine and just wanted to party with us. 

After sharing old stories with everyone and a glass of wine, served with hunks of old Shelburne Farm cheese mixed together with wide-open mouths of tired yawns, we wanted to call it a night.

The bathroom floor was more or less flooded so another call to the front desk was in order.  They decided to move us to another room for the night and in the end, that was the best choice.  I’m not sure if Juice Box Connie ever did get to have her privacy in the bathroom as we had interrupted her numerous times with all the goings on. 

In the confusion of bed changes, I woke up in a panic thinking I was on the wrong side of the bed and that mother had gone for one of her many nightly constitutions.  I flung myself to the other side with a thud!  All you could hear was “OHHHHH…!”  I landed squarely on poor old mom and shook her violently from her sweet slumber. 

Day Four 

We began the day a little later, stopping for breakfast at the Howard Johnson before descending upon the village shops again.  It would be our last opportunity to purchase souveneirs  so our theme would be – “shop til we drop”.  I can tell you that Betty Boop Sherri’s credit card and a few others got some workout today. 

With packages safely tucked away in motor carriage, we rested at lunch in an outdoor café.  Suds were in order along with a light meal.  Wind Up Melissa was really winding up today with unrehearsed comments that caught most of us off guard.  She can be quite wicked at times.

With feedbag time over, we headed off to see Juice Box Connie’s English Bull Mastiff puppy that lives in Saranac Lake.  Once again, Snack Pack Chris whispered to me if I had seen her purse, as she didn’t want to alarm anyone or be put out of the van for being so forgetful.  I later found out that it wasn’t the first incidence.  Her purse was right in front of her feet. 

It was a brief visit as most of us were swatting fevorously at the hordes of black flies.  They seemed to be in a frenzie with the arrival of fresh new Canadian meat to feast on at their dinner table in the woods.  “Ben” the dog, had grown considerably and at six months, now weighs 118+ lbs.  With the clumsiness and cuteness of a young pup, he entertained us for several minutes. 

After some picture snapping and a bathroom break, we climbed into the van and started our long journey home with Betty Boop Sherri at the wheel.  We knew for a fact our excellent fuel mileage would soon evapourate with lead footed Sherri.  Snack Pack Chris closed her eyes and said ten Hail Marys every time Betty Boop Sherri decided vehicles were impeding her way and pulled out to pass.  I think Chris would have hugged her St. Christopher medal if she had one.  You could feel the turbo kick in and a thrust of power that shot us forward.  A few times the tires squealed too.  Never trust those “fly girls”.  They have a thing for thrust.  However, we didn’t mind so much as home was starting to look good now.

A GIRL'S VACATION - Summer of 2000

The Farm at Shelburne
The doors closed and the engine purred quietly awaiting the driver’s command.  The car groaned into “leveling” position, adjusting for the loads of luggage in its trunk and the occupants of its interior.  Soon the Caddy would roll out the driveway and into VACATIONLAND!

Four ladies who had never traveled together before, but held the common thread of horse lover that bound them in friendship, embarked on a journey that would take them to the green mountains of Vermont and the Adirondacks of New York over the next four days.

Each passenger on this adventure would soon reveal their own unique personality that richly blended with others for the enjoyment of the trip. 

Phyllis was the “take charge” person in the group.  Ruth was the mischief-maker who liked to knock on men’s rest room doors among other things; Carolyn was the one who became known as the wrong-way driver, while I was simply referred to as “the boss”.    The Boss would later be known for spilling things on herself or dropping things in her tired stupor.  Just couldn’t seem to hold on to anything for long.

By late afternoon, the car was piloted into the parking lot of the American Morgan Horse Association Headquarters and Museum.  After touring the hub of Morgan activities, it was off to the motel.  A not-too-friendly innkeeper who confirmed their reservations with a rude politeness first greeted me. After surveying the premises and finding just one lonely small bar of soap and two towels which was to be shared by four adults, Phyllis took it upon herself to ask for additional toiletries and linens. Big mistake…  The manager was outrageously indignant when Phyllis made her plea.  He insulted her, and turned away with the parting words – not to comeback to this establishment again.  There was no worry of that!  It upset everyone, but not for long as the modern buggy was spurred on to dinner at the famous steak house down the road.  After a waddling good feast, the ladies decided to go for a stroll to burn a few recent calories they had just acquired.  Off to a mall with Carolyn solidly behind the wheel. 

It was becoming more apparent as the miles passed by, that our volunteer chauffeur had a bit of dyslexia when it came to white directional arrows on the black pavement.  It seemed that the downward arrow meant forward to Carolyn and the upward arrow meant backwards.  She just couldn’t get the hang of those arrows, no matter how many times she encountered them. 

As the ladies began to march ahead with great gusto, Cathy and Carolyn quietly faded into a local popular hunt – Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Parlor, while Phyllis and Ruth continued their trek to conquer fat cells.

That evening, Ruth decided to entertain the sleeping quartet with her own musical renditions of Miss Piggy.  You see, there is no subtle way to put it - Ruth snores.  Oh dear, now the whole world knows!!  Carolyn was too scared to move too much and awaken “the boss”.  She was the most silent member of the sleeping quartet.  We never heard from Ruthie again, so I don’t know if she ever got any sleep after we teased her so much.  Probably felt so guilty (as Ruth does) that she must have stayed up all night thereafter.  There was no more snoring from her pillow for the rest of the trip.

After a restful night for Ruth, the rest of the weary travelers packed their bags and departed from the dust bunny motel post haste.  It was a glorious day in the comfort of the Cadillac as the car gently followed the slow bends, opening up a new delight of landscape with each curve in the road.  As the car climbed the last roadway to the Inn and found a shade tree to park under, the doors opened and everyone stepped back into another time.  You could feel the ambiance of the old Vanderbilt/Webb estate beckoning you into its great vista rooms.  They were decorated with freshly cut flowers from the ground’s own Victorian gardens.  We were graciously greeted and invited to visit the estate before breakfast.  Out through the wide screen doors, we ventured onto the tranquil and endless manicured lawns and wonderful gardens that lay before us with Lake Champlain as the backdrop. 

After sampling the English garden with its fragrance, herb patches and beauty, the four of us strolled slowly back to the Inn and were ushered into the great dinning room.  Like ladies of nobility, we were seated in the grand hall.  Once again the décor of the room, the elegance of the fine china and bouquet of flowers made for such a pleasing sight.  Classical music played softly as we enjoyed the fresh fruit cups, crepes and other delights.  Soon it was time to leave the inn and hop on the wagon tour of Shelburne Farms.

The guide was pleasant enough, but Ruth, Phyllis and Carolyn thought that my version of the history of the farm was much more interesting.  After all, Bob and I had first hand knowledge of the farm when we stabled and raced Trillium Reflection on these very grounds 15 years ago.  Both of us have visited and toured the farm many times since then and had watched its restoration from the beginning.  Each time we came, we acquired a little more history of the majestic model farm that once totaled more than 4,000 acres. 

Everyone was awestruck by the Mule Barn with its inner courtyard that equals two football fields and the large corner turrets and copper roofs that stand boldly on guard against the blue sky.  This building once housed more than 100 mules in its day.  Now it is home to one the country’s finest cheddar operations, with the cheese made from the farm’s own prize dairy of Brown Swiss cows.

There was one special tour of the farm yet to be taken and that would prove to be one of the highlights of the trip.  The Breeding Barn or horse barn was now opened for tourists and so we horse crazed ladies boarded a van for the spectacle we were about to be treated to.

I had heard the stories of the magnificent riding arena that was a marvel in its day and still is today.  The story goes that Dr. Webb imported the finest Hackney stallions to be put at stud for the local farmers to improve their stock.  What Dr. Webb didn’t understand, was that Vermonters already had what they considered the perfect horse – the Morgan, durable and strong enough in the mountains and in the fields, fancy enough for a carriage.  Why fix something if it isn’t broke.  His kind offer of his prized Hackney stallions’ services for little or no stud fee, had no takers.  The proposed breeding program of Dr. Webb for the local inhabitants was a failure.  Adding insult to injury, the advent of the car, eventually over-shadowed the horse and its prominence in transportation and farm labour.  His beautiful stable and dream was abandoned.

The stable had fallen into disrepair over the years and was sadly neglected.  However, funding was found to restore it and what a prize it is.

As you enter through the mighty stone arches of the building, it is the immense size of the structure that literally takes your breath away.  Imagine if you will, a riding arena more than 400 feet in length and over 140 feet wide.  Imagine that facility filled will 60 box stalls, tack rooms, coach rooms, a balcony overlooking the arena, and a hay loft that goes on forever.  Imagine the hustle and bustle of grooms and trainers doing their daily routine.  Once again, just imagine life with the horse and carriage and how it must have been in this place so long ago. 

The great stable is looking for a purpose as the tour guide explained.  They are thinking of hosting special events and market type activities.  Being the horse people we were, we simply blurted out with all the enthusiasm we could muster – “it should be used as it was originally intended – it should be used for horses!”  Novel idea, the tour guide suggested.  “We’ve never had that idea put forth, but then again, we never had horse people before.”  She must have thought us a little strange, but the more she lingered on our proposal for horse events, the more she seemed to like it.  She must have thought those people from Canada have some good ideas!  We suggested a number of activities from polo matches for charity fund raising, to a Vermont showcase show for the Morgan Horse. 

We said goodbye to Shelburne Farms and headed south to Middlebury and the UVM Morgan Horse Farm. It would be our final destination of sightseeing for the day.  One quick stop at a tack shop along the way, and then on to UVM.

The young lady giving the tour (which happened to be the last tour of the day) was rather lackluster in her presentation.  Her “ho hum” guided tour was met with just as much enthusiasm by her guests.  She seemed a little off guard when I filled her in on some bio of some the farm’s famous residents, such as UVM Dexter (Moonraker’s sire) and the great world champion stallion, Royal Fleetson.  Of course, being an old timer in the breed I knew my Morgans and was quite willing to share some bit of history with friends, even if the official tour guide didn’t. 

Off to the famous Middlebury Inn.  We decided to dine in the inn’s pub room.  We chose the room because of its name – “The Morgan Room”.  Photos and paintings of famous Morgans hung on the wall.  The food was excellent and the evening most enjoyable.  Take Charge Phyllis took charge all right and stumbled on her way up the grand staircase to the ladies room.  After dinner and a quick walk about the historic town, we headed back to Shelburne and our new accommodations for the evening. 

After a restful night, we awoke to rain – lots of rain.  Ruth was our weather person who checked conditions every morning on her way out for a run.  I don’t think she ever did get a run in.  We dressed accordingly and headed off for our complimentary breakfast at the little establishment down the road.  You have to wonder when something is free.  Believe us, nothing is free.

We crowded into the tiny restaurant waiting patiently for our turn to be seated.  There were line crashers that day (not us) and a restaurant that was short of staff and short on temper.  We would later comment that a few of the waitresses needed a “happy pill”.  After an infinitely long period of time standing elbow to elbow, Take Charge Phyllis decided to investigate the seating situation and report back.  She marched forward, but with discretion, only to be quickly ushered back in line by the sergeant-in-arms.  It didn’t seem to matter that some ignorant patrons pushed their way by us and seated themselves.  It seemed to be the “pick on Canadians” day at the restaurant and other patient individuals. 

Phyllis decided she might pour us some coffee while we were waiting and headed towards the deserted coffeepot.  Take Charge Phyllis was once again dissuaded when one poor desperate soul grabbed the pot to pour himself a cup.  “That’s against the law, sir” the waitress bellowed for all to hear.  “You can’t serve yourself in here.”  A little embarrassed – or maybe a lot embarrassed, he retreated back to his seat.  Eventually we got service – well maybe not what you would call service.  As we were seated waiting for the waitress to finish taking our orders, Ruth’s school mom training came alive.  Ruth gritted her teeth every time the waitress opened her mouth.  It became a joke eventually.  All you had to do was look at Ruth and try not to laugh.  Her face said it all.  So, at every restaurant, we had a few chuckles when the waiter or waitress tripped up on their grammar and repeated such slang terms as “OK” and the like.  We wasted no time exiting that place.  Out in the pouring rain we dashed to the car.  It was off to Shelburne Museum for a day’s adventure. 

Only Phyllis had the foresight to bring an umbrella and it was far too small for all of us to fit under.  In the gift shop, Ruth and Carolyn decided to purchase the over-inflated priced clear garbage bag rain ponchos.  (Phyllis had another word for it, but it can’t be printed here – something to do with what the male species might use on occasion, if you get my drift.)   I declined to purchase the flimsy plastic and said that I wouldn’t melt in the rain.  Sure enough, the rain stopped mid way through the tour. 

We managed to take in about one third of the sites before leaving to catch the mid afternoon ferry across Lake Champlain to New York state.  Timing was perfect when Carolyn turned into the parking area at dockside.  She was particularly nervous when the cars were being loaded onto the ferry.  Parking attendants guided each driver into their prescribed tight space on the lower deck.  There was barely enough room to open your door and exit the vehicle.   All Carolyn could do was think of Bob’s car and that she better not scratch or ding it.  It might be an old Cadillac, but it was still as Cadillac!

The ferry ride would take one hour to reach the shores of New York State.  Everyone enjoyed the scenery, even on a cloudy day.  The shoreline was always in view.  Rocky projections of small islands jutted out of the water like stone green icebergs.  We decided to scout the waterline for signs of the mystical lake monster “Champ”.   It probably wasn’t sunny or warm enough for Champ to surface for a visit, as he was not sighted. 

Once the car rolled off the lowered drawbridge of the ferry, we headed what we thought was north towards Lake Placid.  Mistakenly we followed the highway (pardon me, that should be “route” as they call the highways in the U.S.)  9N, assuming that “N” meant north – NOT.  But being of the female persuasion, we didn’t drive too far out of our way before logically stopping to verify directions.  (I don’t know what it is about men, but they would never admit to being lost or helpless.)  Ruth, the only available lady in the group, liked the look of the attendant who gave us proper directions.  We told her she was robbing the cradle, but that didn’t seem to deter her.  She liked his smile, at least that’s what she said.  Back south we headed and picked up 9N that eventually headed north towards Lake Placid. 

On route we decided to find a rest room so that we might be more comfortable.  After a long stretch of scenic but winding highway, we came upon three signs – “clean”, “flush”, “toilets”.  Carolyn decided to signal and turn into the gas bar when Ruth noticed one more sign – “Phil Has Worms”.  That was the kicker that turned us all off – and so without missing a beat, Carolyn signaled back onto to the road and we continued.  I don’t think the bait sign went well with the theme of clean washrooms!  Soon we found a respectable place with washrooms, but once again, Carolyn had some difficulty in the rest room.  All I could here from a frantic sounding Carolyn was the word “SHI…..”  You see Carolyn had drop the car keys in the toilet bowl.  Since I was the one with dropsy, this wasn’t expected from Carolyn.  Luckily she had just flushed the toilet so at least the water was clean and the keys hadn’t penetrated any further.  After a little try off, the keys turned over the ignition and off we were again.

Eventually we found our way to the Olympic town of Lake Placid.  Wrong Way Carolyn some how made it into the parking lot of the motel, but only to the annoyance of other drivers trying to navigate around this detoured blue Caddy that was determined to come in the wrong way. 

Our accommodations were spacious and quite nice – pool side too.  Unpacked and ready for food, we strode off again to the Cadillac with Wrong Way Carolyn, who once again, thought that they had painted the angle parking lines wrong. 

We found a nice pasta place to dine at.  After dinner Take Charge Phyllis headed for the washroom.  You have to understand something about Phyllis.  She has great difficulty figuring out those little people characters you see posted on the washroom doors.  So in she went – INTO THE MEN’S WASHROOM!  Hardly frazzled by the episode, she excused herself and went into the appropriate bathroom.  One fellow told Phyllis that she might be quite welcomed in their rest room.   I’m not sure if that was a compliment?  There would be other episodes (two more in fact) where Take Charge Phyllis would enter the sacred domain of men.  In one of these instances, Wrong Way Carolyn followed right behind Phyllis into the men’s room only to notice a man standing there in bewilderment.  Ruth inevitably had to ask the question – were his hands up or down?  Carolyn was so embarrassed; she just wanted to make the quickest exit as possible.  And Take Charge Phyllis didn’t even notice the man!!

Once back in the hotel and after an evening swim in the pool, we decided to get ready for bed.  We all seemed thirsty, but only Ruth was still dressed.  Ruth devilishly encouraged myself and Carolyn to come with her to the vending machines down the hall.  So Ruth headed off along the passageway with Carolyn in her PJ’s and a sweater, and me in my “Pooh” nightshirt and jacket.  Strange looks were given by the passerby.  These vending machine vixens turned a few heads while they were dropping their coins in the machine, as Ruth of course (the famous lamp post lady) made the most of it.

In the morning, after one of Ruthie’s marathon morning put together, we left the hotel for a “shop till we drop” outing.  I think every boutique and antique store in Lake Placid saw our faces and sometimes wallets.  Ruth made her big purchase in one of the antique shops; an ornate lead/brass clothing hook featuring a large horse head in the centre.  She was so worried about Customs that she had us all going.  She was afraid she would be over her limit and for those of you who know Ruth, she kept repeating “I can’t lie”.  Wrong Way Carolyn assured her that it would be fine since the rest of us weren’t over our limit and she could just pond off some of her purchases to one of us.  Still Ruth was skeptical and continued to repeat the commandment “Thou shalt not lie”.

Exhausted, we made one more trip to Ben & Jerry’s before opening the trunk of the car one last time and making tracks north to Canada. 

The border crossing was a non-event, much to Ruth’s relief.  I thought Carolyn handled the nice customs officer well.  We stopped for dinner one last time and reminisced about our trip.  We must have made an impression in the restaurant as one old gentleman came over to our table to compliment us on our sense of humour.  He told us we would all live long lives if we kept that up. 

So as we headed out the door, once again Take Charge Phyllis entered the men’s room.  I don’t know, but I think her husband should know about her wayward tendencies….

Finally, the car turned down a familiar driveway and the trip was over far too soon.  We gave each other a hug and said goodnight.