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?


11 comments:

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

Lorraine, I got tired just reading about all the places you went. I have been to all the places you mentioned and love them all. As you know, I go to Stowe a lot and was glad to see that you got there again. ( I think of Jeff every time I'm there. LOL) Lately, I have been thinking about taking bus trips so I won't have to drive all the time. Now I'm not sure I want to go anyplace that way. Glad you are home safe and sound.

Joanie said...

Ditto to what Diane said about bus trips. This seemed like such a good idea before actually hearing what it could entail.

Debra said...

You were lucky yours was a good group. I took a trip through former Soviet Union and there was an alcoholic on our trip and many, many whiners. I had taken a bus trip through France years before, maybe because I was younger the 4 am get up and clingy travelers did not other me, but no I will not be getting on a tour bus with a group of strangers ever again.

Dru said...

Yes, and near the end I was ready to go home.

Carla Devis said...

Whao amazing, what I can say now? Really, it’s a long trip. I enjoyed it while reading.

Aurian said...

I did go on bus vacations when I was around 20 on my own, and it was fun. But now I prefer to go by car, and have one central hotel from which to make trips into the country side.
Glad you had great weather, that is very important.

Anonymous said...

I got to see what was left of the inn that Jeff & Maggie stayed in. So sad it burned to the ground. I thought of you as we traveled up and down the Mountain Road and wondered which condos you stay in.

Anonymous said...

It could have been really miserable, but the group was great and we had a wonderful guide who was with us for the entire trip, in addition to the "locals" who came on board our bus to regale us with tales of their cities. I bought lots of books on the places we visited. Now to find the time to read them.

Anonymous said...

Usually we drive everywhere we want to go (except to NYCity -- then I take the train). I like going by car because I don't travel light. Who else takes a toaster oven with her? Having one central location (and the same bed every night) is a blessing. Our first night home, I woke up in the middle of the night and didn't know where the heck I was.

Nancy said...

It mostly sounds grueling, at the same time, fun. My oldest daughter was in Quebec at around the same time. They took a cruise ship up from Boston past the New England states and the Maritime Provinces and down the St. Lawrence Seaway. It mainly sounds fabulous. I'm living it vicariously through you and her. I'd love to see the Walled City and I'd like to eat some of the food I heard about. Lobster rolls, for example. What was your favorite regional dish?

Diane LaBrie Leverson said...

Lorraine, I stay at Mountainside, right across from that in and up the hill. Drive is just to the right before you get to Edelweiss sp? little store. Store is on the left. .