Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Wedding Singer, Part 1: You Can’t Get There from Here

As Gordon Lightfoot once famously sang, “You know that ghost is me.” (From “If You Could Read My Mind.”) I want to tell you about our trip to Vermont for a destination wedding. We went a couple of days early to tour the Burlington area before heading over to Stowe for the ceremony.
I will write about the event to the best of my memory, which is not saying much.  While we were sitting in the Burlington airport (15 gates and a fierce TSA team—more on that later) waiting on a flight that was eventually canceled, I made some notes in my “writer’s notebook” (Alyssa called it my “Captain’s Log” in a Star Trek  voice) with Becky’s and Alyssa’s help. We were a jolly group with myself, Becky, Alyssa, Chris (Alyssa’s bf) and Courtney, a friend of Amy’s from college and a pediatrician, even when the flight was canceled and most everyone tore off to the ticket counters to rebook and get vouchers for food and lodging. We moved more slowly and spent two hours in the line as a result, although it was a convivial line for the most part and we got to meet and speak with some interesting people. But I’m getting far ahead of myself.

As I noted yesterday in a piece written at the time, we flew up in a turboprop.  I had not flown in a turboprop since 1968 and while they have improved them some (ours had cool six-bladed propellers), they’re noisy and more prone to turbulence since they fly at lower altitudes.  We were glad to get off (a flight of about an hour and a half) and get our rental car, a blue Ford Fusion that was a nice car with a Sirius radio. I plugged in my GPS which was slow to find satellites. We pulled over to wait for it to do so when I realized I didn’t have my cell phone.  I looked for it in the cabin and in the trunk and couldn’t find it. I called the number from Becky’s cell to locate it if it were in the car.  A guy answered and said he had picked it up in the airport and was at a hotel about four miles away.  I put the address into the GPS and we went over.  I met the guy who was from Boston and thanked him profusely.  He wouldn’t take anything for his good deed so I told him I would pay it forward.  Actually, Becky saw someone drop a cell phone in the airport as we were waiting to leave on Monday and chased after him to give it back. The universe was back in balance, or something like that.

We set out for our motel, a Day’s Inn in Colchester, a few miles north of Burlington.  The GPS guided us to the right road but couldn’t seem to find the place.  We actually drove by it a few times before calling the motel for directions.  The clerk said GPS’s had a problem finding their place.  Our room was nice if basic, and we unpacked and headed for Burlington.  We had heard of a pedestrian mall called Church Street we wanted to visit. We found it, parked on the top of a parking garage (free for two hours!!), shopped and looked up and down the northern part of the mall and then headed in an increasing rain (with one umbrella between us) to a seafood place recommended by the motel clerk, Shanty on the Shore. The meal was very good, and we next went to the University Mall next to I-89 to get a recharging cable for Becky’s Nikon camera whose battery was new and didn’t last long since it hadn’t been conditioned (my bad).  We found the cable which would plug into the laptop at Radio Shack. I also found a small suitcase at the Kohl’s there since my New Yorker gift vinyl duffle bag split under the strain of having a laptop stuffed into it. Becky brought a cute polka-dot umbrella and we were good to go.

Trying to get back on I-89, the entrance ramp came up suddenly after a turn and we missed it.  The GPS kept saying to go right to turn around, but we missed several turns and ended up again in downtown Burlington. It was dark and pouring rain.

I should say here that I have a good sense of direction as long as I have (and keep) my basic north/south/east/west orientation. I didn’t have it for a couple of days. In fact, it was 180 degrees off until then. I thought north was south, etc.

Anyhow, following the GPS, we wandered around for half an hour. I had no idea where we were and whether to trust the GPS which is sometimes wrong. Its directions seemed to make no sense. Finally we came to an interchange and we went north which was the opposite of what the GPS said.  I thought we were at about exit 13 and needed to go north to exit 15.  As it was we were at exit 16, north of where we needed to be. Exit 17 was a long way to turn around but we did it. Let’s just say that things were not happy in the cabin of the Fusion. Another example of what I call a Magic Moment in Marriage.  Becky is an excellent driver, and I give her an A+ for doing all the driving this trip. (She likes to drive; I don’t.)  I usually navigate and I would give myself a B- on this trip.  I learned for once and all the importance of checking a GPS against a good map, which I got the next day.

We ended up at the motel (finally) under the guidance of the GPS. A ten-minute trip had taken an hour and we were frazzled and tired.  And as Samuel Pepys wrote often in his diary, “and so to bed.”

Tomorrow: The Wedding Singer, Part 2: Places to Go and a Place to Avoid

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