On December 22nd, I headed off to San Diego for a quick four day celebration of Christmas with my family. The travails of holiday travel did not evade me....45 minute security line, hour an a half chilling on the tarmac and bumpy descent into San Diego, but I arrived! Not the same could be said for the return but I'll get to that story. Despite San Diego's recent torrential rains, I arrived to the sun peaking through the sky and one of my favorite people in the world picking me up at the airport! Christmas was filled with great meals with family and close friends, visits to old haunts (Fidel's, Pizza Port, The Brig for fish tacos), walks on the beach, lots of hot yoga, and just pure relaxation!
As the East Coast was gearing up for a blizzard at the same time we were to fly back to NYC our first flight was canceled and we were re-booked for the following day. Amazingly you couldn't contact Continental Airlines to find out further information; their recording simply said "We are too busy to take your call at this time. Feel free to check our website for further information. Good bye." Seriously? By chance I tried to check in again with my confirmation number and it told me I'd been re-booked for the next morning. No e-mail notification, text message, nothing. Imagine all the people that didn't do that and were waiting to speak with a live person! So, my best friend and I had another full night to spend in San Diego - no complaints! We arose at 5 AM and headed to the airport...at curbside check in the man asked me simply, "Newark?". I nodded...he replied, "Canceled." It was so nonchalant we thought he was joking. He wasn't. We headed upstairs to join our fellow travelers in figuring out when we'd be getting back to NYC. An hour an a half later (with a LOT of confusion on the part of Continental), the woman told us (reticently) that the earliest we could get out was Thursday morning. To her surprise, we were both ecstatic! Four more days in Sunny San Diego with our families! So we headed home and went directly to the beach for brunch and a long walk along the ocean. It was phenomenal! While our friends were inundated with snow, no snow plows, mounting garbage and limited transportation, we were getting our dose of Vitamin D, extra time with friends and family and extra R&R.
Our return to NYC that Thursday was thankfully rather uneventful. The streets were still covered in snow and we could only imagine what it had looked like four days earlier. Thanks to Facebook we'd been kept apprised of New York's "Snowmageddon of 2010". They hadn't exaggerated. Today, over a week later, there are still 10 foot high piles of garbage spanning entire blocks that have yet to be collected. Limited garbage collection resumed yesterday and recyclable collection is suspended until further notice. For people in the Midwest who experienced 15 feet of snow over the past two months, we are a joke. New York City had 22 inches at the MOST and apparently can't deal. It's almost laughable....unless you were the people stuck in a subway car for 9 hours without heat or the family that lost their newborn because they were unable to get to the hospital as their streets weren't plowed. For one of the largest cities in the world, there was a major failure in action.
Despite NYC being off its game, I wasn't! After a 'grueling' half day of work on Friday (the only "work" of the entire week), I was off for my next adventure: New Years Eve in Vermont! Two girlfriends and I had planned a two day adventure in Grafton, Vermont. We had found an amazing place to stay: The Old Tavern at Grafton. The three of us hit the road and were so excited when, several hours later, we pulled into the cutest town ever. It was dark upon our arrival and the homes in town were decorated for the holidays with ribbons on the porch pillars, wreaths on the doors, Christmas trees lit and a candle in each window! It was as if we'd driven into a Norman Rockwell town. We checked into the Old Tavern and were delighted at how nice everyone was and how darling the property was. Our room was perfectly appointed and even had a cheese plate with Grafton Cheddar awaiting us in our room. We took a quick tour of the property before relaxing pre-dinner in our room with our cheese and some wine.
We had reserved a table for three for dinner and were pleasantly surprised at our delicious meal. One of the inn keepers stopped by our table to welcome us and share her story of how she'd come to be part of the whole Old Tavern experience. She was just as fabulous as the rest of our experience thus far and made our night even better. Post dinner we retired to the "Barn" where a Celtic Band was scheduled to ring in the New Year! We were mildly surprised (in retrospect I don't know why given the demographic at dinner) that we were about 40 years younger than most of the other NYE "party goers". Regardless, we sidled up to the bar, ordered a Brattleboro local brew, McNeill's, and headed up to the balcony to play a mean game of Scrabble while being entertained by the somewhat somber band. The Old Tavern provided noise makers, hats, horns, and leis to get us in the mood and the band kicked it up a notch with some great jigs and fabulous rendition of Auld Lang Syne to ring in 2011!
New Year's Eve can be such a painful experience; I was fortunate to be with two fabulous ladies who shared similar interests and were just fantastic travel companions! Despite slight headaches from the bottle of Veuve Clicquot that had been gifted to us anonymously the night before, we arose on 01.01.11 and started the day out with another amazing meal at Old Tavern before heading out to Grafton Ponds. Grafton Ponds is a year round recreation center offering tubing, snow shoeing, Nordic skiing, mountain biking, swimming, etc. located half a mile from our hotel. We trudged down the road in our snow gear amped up to hit the tubing hill and sign up for the wine and cheese snow shoe. We accomplished both and had a blast! On the tubing hill we felt like little boys trying to figure out how to make our ride faster and "funner"! Outside of a singular body slam into the wall incident, we succeeded! The follow up wine and cheese snowshoe was just as vigorous of a work out and with an equal pay off at the end: wine, cheese (Grafton Cheddar of course!) and a toasty fire at the top of the mountain. We hiked back down just in time for the sunset and a quick nap in our room prior to dinner. Back to the Barn we went for great nibbles (Mac & Cheese, local beef sliders, & chili), McNeill's brews, and a re-match Scrabble game (I won). It was the perfect way to end the first day of 2011!
We were early to bed that night and headed out post breakfast towards home. Our important pit stop was at the Grafton Village Cheese shop (at the 2nd location in Brattleboro, VT) where we stocked up on our weekend favorites: Maple Smoked, Four Year Aged and Goat Cheese! We did a quick walk through the charming town as well....I'd been there a number of times as my college roommate is a native and then road tripped it back to NYC. The holidays were a spectacular end to an interesting 2010 and an energetic kick off to 2011. I've got my goals set and my attitude ready to tackle the exciting adventures of the year to come.
Happy New Year!