Saturday, July 23, 2016
Jorgensen Road Trip 2016 // Day 3 & 4
We pulled up to Les and Ronnie's driveway just after 7:00 on Friday night, greeted with big hugs, white wine, and a homemade spaghetti dinner that tasted so good. It took about ten minutes to feel loved and very at home with this branch of the Jorgensen family tree. Les is Beau's uncle, his dad's oldest brother, and he, his wife, and two girls, Elizabeth and Joanna, now both in college, have lived out East for over twenty-five years. Les is a photographer by trade, once making a living in New York City before he and Ronnie decided to make the move to Vermont shortly after 9-11. Ronnie was born and raised on Long Island, so the move to Vermont was quite the transition for her, but Les's small town roots craved a simpler life for his girls. They chose Manchester, Vermont to plant their roots, and after spending a few days there, it was easy to see why. It's a remarkable little town, home to less than 4,000 people, yet filled to the brim with eateries, shops, and cozy inns for several thousand tourists all year long. Nestled in the Green Mountains in the picturesque Battenkill River Valley, it serves as a perfect New England getaway from the surrounding big cities in the Northeast, and is known for its skiing in the winter, its breathtaking foilage in the fall, and its quintessential New England charm the whole year through.
This same cozy New England charm seemed to fill every space of our living quarters during our stay in Vermont. Les and Ronnie's house sits at the base of a mountain, their sprawling backyard bordered with willow trees and a large garden, where Les is currently growing a variety of flowers to photograph for Burpee Seed Company. So sidenote...the next time you purchase a seed packet from Burpee, I may know the guy who took the picture on the front. :) Their house and accompanied barn were built in the late 1700s, and Les converted the barn into his studio (with additional living quarters) shortly after they moved. The floors are original to the barn, just sanded and refinished, the Murphy bed where we slept Les constructed with wood from a Maple tree cut from his backyard, and most of the decorations were family heirlooms of Beau's grandma or old photography paraphernalia that made me drool. Everything was rustic, a bit unkempt, and inspiring, and I was in heaven tiptoeing around his studio, being in the presence of a real artist.
It didn't take my kids long to fall in love with the Jorgensens, especially Ronnie. It was obvious they had put much time into preparing for our visit - our room was decked out with new bedding, a mini fridge stocked with chocolate milk and water, and several new active toys that were a far cry from the seat toys we had distracted them with in the car. The kids loved the barn as much as we did, loved going back and forth from the barn to their house multiple times each day, and loved running laps in their backyard. They felt quite at home, and it was really wonderful to get to do life with this side of the family we just don't see often enough.
After a quiet night of spaghetti, pajamas, and a movie Friday night, we woke up to misty skies and a forecast of rain for Saturday. A little disappointed at this point, we all decided to make the most of it and go on business as usual. We visited a farmer's market, in the rain, shopped at the sprawling Vermont Country Store, while it rained, and finally decided to go back home and wait for it to quit. Except it didn't. The first day, it was sort of welcoming, for we had lots of time to relax, play with the kids, and catch up. We sipped coffee on the porch mid-afternoon, built Legos, colored pictures, and played games at the kitchen table, and all pitched in to prepare a barbecue feast that night. The rain would stop off and on and we'd all file into the backyard, but soon enough it'd start up again, creating a cozy backdrop and excuse to snuggle in with wine, board games, and lots of family time.
As it turns out, we had rain throughout the day the following day as well, and this time, I was starting to get a little agitated about it. We once again made the most of it (even though I do think I checked the hourly forecast every twenty minutes most of the day), and celebrated like crazy when we saw blue sky peek out of the thick gray clouds while we spent our morning perusing the shelves of Northshire Bookstore, one of the prettiest book stores I've ever been in. While the kids napped, I took advantage of the several high-end shopping outlets that filled the New England style buildings, and we later reconvened for pizza and ice cream at two of Les and Ronnie's favorite places in town. I am still craving that arugula and prosciutto pizza...
Rain aside, looking back on our first two days spent with this wonderful family, was just what it should have been. Maybe we didn't see everything on their must-see list, but it did allow us the chance to slow down and focus on our time together instead of all there was to do. Oh, and chase this chicken that just happened to show up in their yard and apparently hasn't left since. :)