Flashback Friday is where I post some writing of my life as a younger me. This is a continuation of my cross-country road trip to Vermont from Utah that I took when I was 13. If you want to read about my drive there, read the post “Life is an Endless Highway.”
When we finally got to Vermont, we stayed at my Grandma’s house. She has a cute little house on Lake Champlain and it’s very charming. You know what else cute houses on lakes have? BUGS. Lots of them. This was quite the culture shock for me. Utah is a desert and nothing lives there unless you make it. So to see thousands of little gnats just swarming on the back of her house was unreal to me. Don’t get me wrong. We have bugs in Utah, but between the scorching hot summers, the freezing winters, and no rain, a lot of them don’t survive. These little gnats got into the house and for some reason loved to buzz in my ear as soon as I was about to fall asleep at night. My Grandma didn’t understand my complaint since gnats don’t actually bite or anything and it’s not like we could have kept them all outside. At night, I could hear the far off sound of small buzzing things in the room and my teeth would be on edge just waiting for that moment when the soft buzz suddenly turned into an electric shock of amplified sound. So I slept as best I could with the blanket pulled over my head and tried not to have a heart attack every time one of those darn bugs got in my ear.
A trip to Vermont wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a farm. My Grandma lives right next to one and we got to have a little tour of it. We went through a barn that was mostly dark and full of cute little kittens. We saw cows and milking machines and chickens wandering around. And poop. Lots of poop.
We spent a lot of time swimming in lakes. When I mentioned to one of my cousins that I hadn’t really swam in a lake before, they looked at me like I was crazy.
“Don’t they have lakes in Utah? Like the Great Salt Lake?” my cousin asked.
Ew. Swimming in the Great Salt Lake is one of those things that you do once in your lifetime just to say you’ve done it. You go out a little ways and then pretend like you’re sitting in a lawn chair in the water. It feels like you’re defying gravity and all that is normal when you don’t sink. Then a huge wave of salt water crashes on your head, burns you eyes (and other things) and you can’t get the taste of salt out of your mouth. Not to mention all the tiny brine shrimp that get lodged in you swimming suit.
“No,” I replied. “I don’t really go swimming there.”
Swimming in lakes takes a little getting used to. I was a little freaked out that fish were going to eat my toes or that I might touch something slimy, but it was fun after a while. We swam at Silver Lake and later at a floating bridge that we would jump off of. I’m serious. The bridge is made of wood and floats on top of the water. Cars drive over it and everything. Vermont is unreal.
At night, there were fireflies. I had never seem fireflies before. And guess what? Their little butts don’t stay lit constantly. There are swarms of fireflies flashing on and off making a little light show, just begging you to try and catch one when you can only see it for a few seconds at a time. One of my cousins smashed one to show me that their guts glow for a little bit after they are dead. How nice of him.
We hiked Mount Mansfield, the tallest mountain in Vermont. I think the mountains here are cute. The look more like hills to me since I’m used to the Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountains are only green for a little while in the spring and then they turn to a scorched summer yellow. Like their name, the mountains are mostly rock without much growing on them. Mountains in Vermont are entirely covered in trees and they are green even in the summer. In fact, everything here is green. The highways have trees growing in between each direction so you can’t even see cars going the other way.
We went to the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, but I don’t remember much about it other than the joke props that looked like melted ice cream coming out of bowls or cones that were laying on the floor. I thought they were real at first and I was appalled that an ice cream parlor would have garbage like that lying around. Even when I found out they were fake, I still didn’t want to look at them. I hate ice cream. Especially melted ice cream.
All along our massive road trip, we stopped at many souvenir shops. I had saved some money to get souvenirs, but I soon realized that even all the money I saved wasn’t going to last long. You’ve got your useless knick-knacks that collect dust and overpriced, ugly t-shirts that I would never wear, but I was determined to buy something at every shop we went to. That led me to the cheap section of the store which was filled with postcards and pens. LAME. Then I saw it. The keychain carousel next to the cash register. Two dollars! And it says the name of wherever we are at! It was the perfect solution. This was the original start of my massive key chain collection that has at least a hundred key chains in it from places that I have been all over the world.
With my new keychains pinned to my mini-backpack, we went to the Morgan Horse farm and I scared more than one horse with my clanging keychains as I walked by.
We went to Canada, just to say that we did. When we got to the Canadian border, my parents just showed their ID and we went on our merry way. Quebec is the province of Canada that borders Vermont, and they speak French there. We wandered around the first city we came to, my dad (who is fluent in French) tried to speak French to the Canadians at the store who insisted on finding someone who could speak English, and then we bought some overpriced stuff. I bought a keychain, of course. After a while, we thought, “Huh. Looks pretty much like America, but they speak French.” And then we went home. I still couldn’t help feeling giddy that we had been to a different country. SO EXCITING.
I saw my Grandpa on the trip. I now know that my Grandpa was not that old, but his health had aged him well beyond his 60 years. He had Parkinson’s disease and several other health problems. I tried not to be scared, but I was. It’s not like I was scared of him, but there’s something ominous about old age to young people. My Grandpa had the best book collection. I had never seen so many old books. He heard me admiring his 1919 copy of Gulliver’s Travels and he told me I could have it. I hadn’t meant to ask for it, but he insisted. It pricked at my eyes a little when I realized why he was so willing to give his things away. That trip was the last time I saw him. He died almost a year later. I still have that book sitting on my shelf. When I look at it, it feels like a little part of him is still here.
The rest of our trip was filled with non-eventful things like my youngest sister braking her wrist at a park. She got a sock monkey and was a little drugged and woozy when she came back from the hospital. Poor Kristen. I hold the record as the only child not sent to the hospital on a vacation.
I was going to write a lot more about our trip home from Vermont when I realized that it was exactly like the trip there except our trailer was now full of stuff that we were bringing back (a dresser, a shop smith, a bench, a table, etc.). We even had a tire blow up. Yay. See? Same old, same old. We did go see the Hill Cumorah pageant on the way home. They have awesome costumes and they reenact stories from the scriptures. It’s a lot of fun and those speakers could shake cars for MILES.
Then, just imagine yourself staring out the window, dazed and bored. That was the rest of the drive home.