On to Vermont

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After a great night in Lenox including an amazing dinner of duck breast in salted caramel sauce (right?) at the Alta Bistro and a comfy bed at the Birchwood Inn, we take a brief sojourn to the Norman Rockwell Museum. I’m not expecting much but the setting is gorgeous (miles of rolling hills) and there’s a special exhibit of Andy Warhol with Norman Rockwell. The juxtaposition of these two artists surprises me. They are contemporaries after all and more than once chose the same subjects: Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe to name just two. There’s also an exhibit of Andy Warhol’s nephew whose illustrations are playful and amusing—several show his family visits to his famous uncle in New York.

But on this trip, the road’s the thing so we hop back into the car for the main event: driving north into Vermont. Our destination for the next two days is Burlington— Vermont’s capitol, it’s largest city and home to the University of Vermont. The drive is again quite beautiful, rolling hills, leaves starting to turn from green to gold and red. It’s still hot and the air conditioning is still on high for this trip. We cross the border into Vermont and I’m struck by the welcoming roadside rest area. There’s green grass and Adirondack chairs and pots of geraniums still in bloom. I feel welcomed.

We arrive in Burlington and pull into the long driveway of an old Victorian house perched high on the hill up from Lake Champlain and several blocks from the center of town. This is Made Inn Vermont, the B & B where we have a booked a room for two nights. Our hostess greets us in the driveway with hands on hips and a huge smile like we’re her long lost friends. She doesn’t look like your average B & B proprietor. She’s dressed in a tight plunging black top over black pants, her black hair touches her shoulders and her red lipstick accentuates her clear pale skin. She is still beautiful and knows it. Her name is Linda and she’s excited to give us the tour of her old Victorian house. It really is something else—a kind of retro sixties throw back kind of place. There are old rock and roll posters, lots of vinyl records in the common areas and we hear Billy Joel’s upbeat piano plinking from the speakers. Old guitars line the hallways and fill the nooks. Linda shows us the hot tub in the back off the kitchen while offering to make us margaritas, pour us an ice cold local beer or glass of wine while her guy takes our bags up the stairs to our room. As it’s still ninety degrees in the shade, I go for the margarita and my husband takes a beer.

The room is ridiculous and fun, all done up in black and white with red heart-shaped balloons on either side of the bed. The opposite wall is one huge blackboard filled with graffiti. Linda flips a switch and the platform of the bed lights up like a lava lamp. The desk looks like any other hotel desk until Linda opens the top to reveal the turntable. My husband is already flipping through the vinyl records in here while Linda gives us the rest of the information we need: breakfast between nine and ten, cupola up the stairs with great views of the lake and the bathroom across the hall is ours alone. She gives us the keys and leaves us alone to take a deep breath and consider whether we’ve just booked the best place ever, or whether we’ll regret this in the morning. But the bed is comfortable and the margarita is delicious and the room is coolly air-conditioned. It’s a good place.

Later, we walk down the hill to a wide pedestrian mall filled with white lights hanging in the trees and restaurants on either side, all with outdoor seating. We find an Italian place and have pizza and cold Pinot Grigio with a Caesar salad. We are happy tourists.

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