You never really know how much you’ve missed something or someone until it’s/they are right in front of you. After spending the end of winter and all of spring in quarantine, the first family Craig and I were able to see were his cousins who drove from LA to NYC this summer. After isolating and testing, we were finally able to visit them at their home in Manhattan and it was blissfully surreal.
This city has been our shelter and our comfort since March, when the entire world hit pause. Most days, it was harder to be outside than inside, walking past the boarded up businesses and seeing EMTs in full PPE load patients into ambulances or the National Guard stationed in our neighborhood. Unless you were here, you just can’t really know. We have still barely seen many of our friends as we all try to stay well in this “new normal.” Even now, the signs remain on shuttered theaters and businesses dated March 12 for show openings or saying “we’ll be right back.”
So when a few members of our family entered our bubble, it felt like a little door had been opened into a suspended reality. And let me tell you, I’ve never known how good a hug really felt until then.
Once they decided they decided to stay out east for the next year — settling in Vermont — we knew we had to visit. Neither Craig nor I had been to Vermont before and we were dying for a getaway somewhere new. And when it comes to fall, you just can’t beat New England.
After more COVID tests, we drove up to the Woodstock area to enjoy some fresh mountain air, relaxation and plenty of cheese. And wow, Vermont did not disappoint. This state is easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. Like whatever image you have in your head of Vermont (think rolling hills, colorful leaves, rocky rivers and covered bridges), it’s exactly that and more. If you’re a puffy vest, PSL, all-things-autumn-loving #basic, this is your nirvana. Start packing.
Here are some highlights from our long weekend:
Quechee Gorge (main image) — The deepest gorge in the state at 165 feet, it’s a short hike down to the bottom where you can even jump in the water. And this is my kind of hike with wide, flat paths and safety rails.
Woodstock Inn and Resort — We visited this historic inn for lunch at the Red Rooster. Recently renovated and restored, it’s pure New England charm inside. There’s also a spa.
Sugarbush Farm — We had to get some cheese and maple syrup to bring back to the city with us and you can’t beat this family farm. Enjoy a cheese tasting and learn more about how maple syrup is produced. The horseradish cheddar is *chef’s kiss.*
Apple Picking — Michigan is big on apple orchards too, so grabbing some fresh apples was a must for me. There are a ton of u-pick spots to choose from.
Souvenir Shopping — I grabbed a cozy hoodie and some pajama pants at the Vermont Flannel Company. For gorgeous housewares, you have to check out Simon Pearce (glassware) and Andrew Pearce (woodworking).
We have so much fun exploring the town and taking in the beautiful scenery. But it was the time spent talking, drinking wine and sharing meals with family that made this trip so special. Craig and I have gotten used to living far away from family. It doesn’t get any easier, especially around birthdays and holidays, but we’ve adapted to it. The time spent apart makes any time we can be with family in person even better.
With everything going on this year, we’re likely all seeing our family far less than we would like. It breaks my heart that we will be moving to a new home — in a new country — in just a couple of weeks without being able to properly say goodbye to our families in Michigan and Arizona. The safety of everyone is our top priority, so we decided it was best to stay out east, avoiding planes until the move. I don’t know what we would do without FaceTime. It certainly made our first year living in Japan manageable, and I’m grateful we won’t have as much of a time difference now as we did then.
2020 has been such a hard year, but we have to find the silver linings. Moving to London has been a a dream of mine for so long — a dream that became Craig’s as well once we got married — and the process of setting up and finding a new home will be a welcome distraction.
I think we can all agree time with family is something we should never take for granted. So enjoy it, whenever, wherever and however you can. Because when the distance feels like too much to bear, it’s those memories that will carry you through.
Check out my favorite spots to visit near NYC here.