Finding Love in Stowe, Part II
So, we ride on that wonderfully sunny Wednesday morning in August of 1983.
Me, trying to figure out, well, should I just pass off this casual implication from Mary Anne to join me in Nova Scotia and just give it a chuckle (as was intended?), or, maybe really consider it and see if there is real interest here?
Well, as with so many things in my life to that point and now, even today, I thought, “well, why not?” “This could be fun and much more interesting to share an adventure than to do this tour solo.” I had quite the internal conversation with myself that day.
We talked, and we talked and we rode more miles on that beautiful Wednesday, admiring the scenery of the Green Mountains and considering the adventure of extending this trip to Nova Scotia as “new friends.”
Ultimately, as we considered this together and I privately I realized, a., she didn’t seem like the ax murderer type, b., she is as strong or stronger of a cyclist than I am (was...) so she will have no trouble riding along side me, and c., you know, I have had a great time in the past three days getting to know this amazing woman, so what the heck.
Quietly, I was hoping Mary Anne could actually make this adjustment to her work schedule and join me in what I thought would be a wonderful way to see a new place with a new friend, or, as I wrote to my parents that day, a “traveling companion.” Taking a leap here came back to me when it came time to consider this “leap” from professional careers as architect and occupational therapist to Innkeeper in Stowe, Vermont.
Lunch on that Wednesday was on the town green of Craftsbury. Over sandwiches, we continued the discussions with some open and frank talk; “no pressure,” “no expectations,” “no strings attached” kind of items all out in the open.
It may have been over dessert of cookies, maybe brownies that day that we mutually said, “well, sure let’s do this.”
The Craftsbury General Store (fortunately, still in existence) is exactly what you would expect to find as a general store in Vermont. Think franchise, gas station retail outlet and then go with the exact opposite. Totally unique, genuine and full of local color and to this day, a positively memorable and lasting memory of how my life made such an amazing turn on that day, in that unique spot in Vermont. Maybe there were, but, I don’t recall seeing any hot dogs on rollers on the counter there. And from the looks of the current Craftsbury General Store website, nothing like that in the current state!
First and foremost, there is this amazing porch on the front of this store. Not very deep, maybe 5’ max., with several benches to take a rest, chat with your friend, locals, tourists. Great place to sit and watch the world go by. Also on this front porch there was, at that time, but, alas is no longer, a pay phone. Remember, it’s 1983.
From that pay phone, Mary Anne called her direct supervisor, and, knowing she had plenty of vacation time, asked if she could have another week off as she was, “having so much fun” and would like to have a bit more time off. Mary Anne’s supervisor agreed. That, I should say right here, was their fatal mistake (as she would give them her two week’s notice several months from that day) and the absolute luckiest day of my life! At least to that point, anyway. ;-)
So, Mary Anne had that box checked off. No work worries or impediments and no other responsibilities to attend to. Things were falling into place. Stars, getting ever closer to alignment!
Then, I could see her wheels turning a bit. She told me, “you know, while I am an independent adult, I should call my parents and just ‘update’ them on my current plans.” “Uh, yeah,” I said, “that is probably a good idea.” Me, I thought, well, maybe I will just save the dimes of a long distance phone call to my parents in Columbus, Ohio, who, by the way, already knew I was going to Nova Scotia that second week, and scribble out a note and drop them a post card in the mailbox (“what’s e-mail”) of how things were going.
My post card to my parents that day read something like, “having a great time in Vermont. Have met some very nice people in this bike tour group. They have big hills/mountains here. Weather has been mostly great. May have a traveling companion next week in Nova Scotia.” Love, George.
Back to Mary Anne’s follow up discussion with her parents. As I sat there on the front porch bench I watched from a short distance away, her speaking animatedly to her parents. Mary Anne explained to me later, much later, I believe, and maybe even once we were married, the follow short, summary of that discussion. After the “Hi Mom, having a great time, weather is mostly great, etc.” the “I am planning to go on to Nova Scotia next week to continue my vacation on another bike ride.”
And from here I get a bit fuzzy on the actual words, but, as Mary Anne explained to me, “when I gave her the final details that I would be planning to ride close to another 300 miles riding around Nova Scotia with this really nice guy I met here in Vermont, named, George.”
Mary Anne’s mother, in response, said something like, “Mary Anne, you are going to go bicycling with someone you hardly know, in Nova Scotia, for a week?” Mary Anne tells me that she responded with, “Trust me mom, I have known him since Sunday!”
Nova Scotia was an amazing second week. More on that next week ;-)