Things did not start well. I woke three minutes before the alarm clock. My clothes were laid out and my things were packed. Mostly. But every little detail took just a minute or two longer than I planned. It was raining. Hard. My no-traffic-at-5:00am prediction turned out to be slightly too optimistic.
When I got close to the airport, I decided to park at the regular terminal rather than the super-cheap, off-airport parking. Just didn't have the time/energy/umbrella for the "economy lot." But then I got to the airport and discovered parking is $20 a day. $100 to leave my car for five days. Great.
The security check point held another surprise: a long line. The KC airport rarely has any line at all, let alone a long line. It got within two people of the security guard with his drug-detecting penlight when an ugly thought hit me: I couldn't remember turning off Paula's lights. After 18 years of cars that turned off their own lights, I haven't quite gotten comfortable with Paula's bronze-age lighting system. Nothing to do but leave the line and go back to the parking lot to check.
I had, of course, turned off the lights.
Another 20 minutes in line. (Sigh)
My little black dress is comfortable and easy to wear, but a barely-above-the-knees hemline is not the best choice for taking off your shoes and putting them back on in the security line. Bend over with your back toward the room and you're flashing the crowd. Bend over with your back to the conveyor belt and you're flashing the security guards. No good option.
Bonus! The little restaurant where I had lunch in Atlanta had crabcakes, my favorite. Unfortunately, they must have treated the crab with sulfites, to which I am allergic. You have not lived until you've experienced...um...intestinal distress in an airplane bathroom at 12,000 feet. Twice.
My rolling bag saves my back, but others may not love my inability to roll it in straight lines. On the bus to the rental car place, I thought I'd lost my wallet. I hadn't.
The little town where I booked a room is in New Hampshire, not Vermont as I thought. I spent an hour wandering the 91, lost. A kind young man in a McDonalds explained how to get back where I needed to be.
None of this dimmed my enthusiasm. Not even a little. Not even in the airplane bathroom, with the head flight attendant sitting 6 inches from the door.
I've had a fabulous day. The place I'm staying tonight is one of the most beautiful small inns I've ever seen. My under-$100-room has two vintage brick walls, plantation shutters, an incredibly comfy bed, and a stack of books with a note saying you're welcome to take one with you. The public spaces are beyond charming. Their restaurant has an outdoor patio overlooking a small waterfall. As darkness gathered, the staff lit 27 torches surrounding the edges of the patio. I savored every sip of two glasses of pinot grigio; every bite of a salad of artichokes, roasted red peppers, white beans, kalamata olives and spring greens; grilled salmon.
Tomorrow morning I'm having breakfast at one of the 10 best breakfast places in America, according to Travel & Leisure Magazine. (I happened to read the T&L article last week and realized I'd be within an hour of Quechee, VT. Too close to miss it, right? I think so, anyway.)
And my niece volunteered to go drive my car home from the airport. No parking fees at all!
Driving through the Green Mountains this afternoon, joy swirled in me like fall leaves in a strong wind. I love being slightly lost. I love finding new, unexpected places. I love waterfalls and torches and old brick walls. I love stepping into the unknown.