Friday, November 8, 2013

Traveling 'til I dropped ...

by Lorraine Bartlett / Lorna Barrett / L.L. Bartlett

Okay, October is now long past (well, by just over a week), but it was the longest month of the year for me. Why? Earlier this year I signed up for the Novelist Inc. writers conference--because I learned so much at last year's conference.  YAY!

And then our travel agency sent us the offer of a great fall trip:  a vintage rail car from NY City to Montreal, with lots of stops in Quebec City and Vermont along the way.  Wow--what a vacation.  We were lucky to have the best crowd of travelers--including a couple that live only a mile or so from us.

But the schedule was brutal. We had the day to ourselves in Montreal (after a great city bus tour the day before, with gorgeous weather), but it was Canadian Thanksgiving and only a few restaurants and souvenir shops were open.  (Thank GOD for Tim Horton's.)

Next up, we went to Quebec City.  Because we'd traveled there via a cruise on the Queen Mary 2 just a year before, we weren't all that enthusiastic. But then we had a wonderful tour of the walled city with a terrific local guide who made history come alive.  But best of all was our hotel.  Actually, it was a bit shopworn and in need of a rehab--but the view from our room, overlooking the harbor, was spectacular at twilight (and after). I won't soon forget it.

Next we went to Stowe, Vermont and that's where we really got to know our fellow travelers.  What a great bunch of people! But being bussed around the area for two long days was brutal. I recently found a postcard written to me by my dad back in 1989.  In it he said, "I don't really enjoy this bus riding around anymore."  He'd been on a number of bus vacations at that point.  This was my first, but I could sure identify with him.

After ten days on the road (at one point getting up at 4 am so we could catch a train for the next destination), I was road weary.  We finally got home on a Sunday night at 7 pm and 36 hours later jumped in the car to head to South Carolina for the conference.  Were we tired?  You bet.  In fact, exhausted, but at least we were in one place for four nights in a row.

It was great to see friends P.B. Ryan and Kathryn Shay, and become better acquainted with Kelly McClymer, and Judith Arnold.  Like last year, I learned so much.  I can't wait until next year's conference.

After that, we went to Charleston for a couple of days.  Beautiful city, lovely beaches, great food.  But after so many days on the road (and with two more ahead of us), we were eager to head north.

We had the best weather in all our travels, but as soon as we got home, it turned cold and rainy.  Time for me to cocoon for the winter.  And you know what?  I'm staying put for a while.  I think the cats are very happy about that.

Have you ever had an exhausting (so-called) vacation?