Finding Love in Stowe, Vermont
Celebrating our 10th Anniversary as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn!
This December 16th marks the official date of the transfer of ownership of this historic brick farmhouse and the start of an adventure. As we reflect on this wonderful milestone, we think of our guests that have supported us in this dream of a lifestyle and how we ended up here in Stowe.
Our guests have made this journey such a rewarding and life enriching adventure. Priceless experience, truly. Of the many benefits of this position is the unique opportunity we have to share our story of how and why we made this leap from our corporate/healthcare professional careers to Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn.
Clearly, one of the top 10 questions we get from our guests is; “What brought you to Stowe?” -
To fully answer that question I have to go back to the day I met Mary Anne. It was the summer of 1983 and I was planning to go to college that fall to begin my architectural studies at The Ohio State University. To clarify, I was a late bloomer, heading to college a good four years after high school (by the way, one of the best decisions I ever made).
One of my passions at that time was bicycling, road biking, and more specifically, bike touring/camping. In my youth I had discovered, through biking either solo or with bike tour groups, that the scenery and the experience of travelling by bike provided a unique perspective and one that would easily be lost if traveling by car.
As I prepared to get myself geared up for college I thought it would be fun to take on a bike tour of Vermont. I was searching for a memorable trip as a “final escape” kind of adventure before focusing on my studies. “In the old days…” to do something like this your research involved; getting a bike focused magazine, typically found on a newsstand (“Google it” ;-) or in the local library, going to the advertising/classified ad section of that publication, calling the preferred tour company’s toll free 800 phone number, speaking with a live person, asking some basic questions and requesting a tour catalog to be mailed to you. Yes, very analog like.
Stars were beginning to align -
What I was not aware of was at that same point of time, Mary Anne, who was living in northeast Pennsylvania, working as an Occupational Therapist, was also very interested in a bike tour of Vermont and was perusing that same catalog.
In that catalog I saw a description for a tour of the Northeast Kingdom area of Vermont. Looked like an amazing place (it is) and that became my chosen trip. Mary Anne, in her corner of the world, thinking similarly, booked the same trip, same dates.
After a two day drive from Columbus, Ohio, I pulled into the parking lot of the Gables Inn, Bed & Breakfast, the starting point for the week’s tour. I walked up to the front porch and introduced myself to this beautiful young lady, looking very relaxed and comfortable sitting there seemingly welcoming those to the Inn. Of course I didn’t know it at the time, but, that introduction was to my future wife, soul mate, and best friend, Mary Anne. And to think, I initially thought she was the Innkeeper!
On that arrival night of the tour I was running a bit late for dinner, walking into a packed dining room of fellow bicyclists/guests. Looking around the room for an empty seat, I realized, or, it appeared anyway, that the tables, as set up, were one place setting short. In my pause to seek out an open seat and/or the Innkeepers to resolve this issue (I was hungry), I caught a glimpse of Mary Anne sitting at a bench style seat nearby. She caught my glance, and being the kindest person in the world, and, knowing her now, of course she did, she slid over on that bench seat and offered me a spot right next to her.
I think it was at that point and certainly over the course of that dinner and that week’s trip that I began to fall in love with Mary Anne and subsequently, the Green Mountain State of Vermont -
Each morning at breakfast, the tour leaders outlined a few route options for the itinerary of the day. “Easy,” “intermediate,” or, “somewhat challenging,” were, as I recall, the headlines of those options. Now, remember, this was 36 years ago, think fresh legs, excitement of being in Vermont, city boy, etc., so, of course, I wanted the full experience and took the “somewhat challenging” option each day. Interestingly, and learning of Mary Anne’s passion for bicycling as I got to know her during that week on the road, it made sense that she chose the same itinerary. Bonus! ;-)
It was, as you might expect, an amazing week riding our bikes, mostly side by side, through the back roads and the sleepy little towns of Vermont; Hyde Park, Troy, Orleans, Craftsbury, many others, and of course, Stowe. We would ride through these absolute idyllic landscapes with lakes such as Willoughby, Crystal, Eden, Elmore all with the backdrop of the Green Mountains of Vermont completing the “Kodak moment” kind of composition for our film cameras (yeah, more analog talk). In many ways, the scenery of this trip looked exactly like the images on the glossy pages of those bike tour catalogs and bike magazines. Each town with its iconic town green became a perfect resting place for our group lunches. While Mary Anne and I rode together we also had the unique opportunity to get to know each other at a very casual pace on bicycles with that stunning backdrop of Vermont.
The Bike Tour experience of Vermont left a special impression with me -
One that I know now must have had, even 25 years later, some lasting impact on me/us in deciding to venture back to where we first met to start the next chapter of our lives here in Stowe as Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn, Bed & Breakfast.
Over the course of that week, in that summer of meeting each other, I had learned from Mary Anne that she had come to Vermont on yearly family ski trips and already had a special affinity and love of Vermont. I, being from the edge of the heartland in Ohio with only the skyscrapers of the city of Columbus and the interstate overpasses to break up the horizon, had been dreaming of the mountains of Vermont for awhile and now I was there! I have to admit, in very short order, I was smitten by Vermont, but, mostly by Mary Anne.
By the end of that week I knew I didn’t want to leave Mary Anne or Vermont -
It was sometime during the morning portion of our ride on Wednesday that the next chapter in the story comes to light. “Wow, it’s a shame that we have to leave all of this on Saturday,” stated Mary Anne. I, looking rather smug in response responded with something like, “Well, not for me…” And Mary Anne then asked the natural follow up, “What do you mean?”
My Summer ’83 bike tour plans had included extending my bicycling adventure in Vermont with a week of bike camping in Nova Scotia, solo. No tour company to haul my gear this time, no comfy bed or breakfast/dinners served to me, just a tent and panniers on the back of my bike and a paper map locating campgrounds along my planned route.
And in direct response to Mary Anne’s question, I gave an ever so brief explanation of my Nova Scotia plans. Then, Mary Anne stated, rather casually I might add, “Well, maybe I will call in sick and join you…. (wink, wink)”
And here seems like a good spot to leave this as an ideal segue to my next chapter on “How We Became Innkeepers of the Brass Lantern Inn -
Will follow up with “the rest of the story,” soon!