I have a Very Tall Friend. Sure, sure, y’say, we all have a Very Tall Friend or two, it ain’t that exciting. However, I am willing to bet that not many folks have a friend where th’ height discrepancy is quite as entertaining as between my friend Gigantor and myself; I am a full two feet shorter than he is. This Hilarious Juxtaposition is not th’ only reason we are friends, of course: we’ve shared time in th’ trenches at Th’ Co-op, are doofy trivia/lit/General Nerdery nerds, and are both members of th’ 251 Club. Sadly, Gigantor lives on th’ far coast these days, which does make travelling around Vermont rather difficult. He’s back in town for a week or two, and we set off for our first Roadtrip in many years this weekend. It was a most excellent time, and filled with Oddities, as every good Roadtrip should be. (Though it was never any doubt, as we were Northeast Kingdom bound, and, y’know…it’s weird up there.)
Using th’ interstate as little as possible – as is th’ rule – we stopped first at th’ Wayside Diner. I’m a rabid fan of th’ Wayside – how many other 92 year old restaurants can y’think of, rilly? – and love th’ fact that they’re one of th’ only remaining places that still serves extra “Vermonty” food. Moxie (albeit a Maine product, it was “Calvin Coolidge’s Favorite Beverage!”) is accorded pride of place amongst th’ beverages, and they’re one of th’ only restaurants that still serves in-season venison, has grape-nut pudding, and will do up a full Yankee Boiled Dinner. I try to bring folks there as often as possible; th’ maple pie alone is worth th’ trip down. Coffee was needed for th’ journey, and so we breakfasted. Besides, we had to save room for th’ pastry case at Rainbow Sweets, another place I will specifically drag folks out to as a specific destination. I’ve waxed rhapsodic about my love for Rainbow Sweets numerous times; this time was a long-awaited milestone because it marked th’ fact that Gigantor and I were actually able to go there. (On our last Roadtrip four years before – yikes, rilly? – we’d gone, but it was closed. One of th’ nice ladies who works there let us in and let us buy coffee? I think? Th’ details have blurred; I mostly remember being let in through th’ garage and having her show us where all th’ magical pastries are made. Again, I reiterate: if you’ve not been there, you should go…and you should take me with you.)
Gorging ourselves on pastries, we drove north up Route 2, passing through th’ Joe’s Pond, uh, area. Joe’s Pond is a large, well-populated lake, but I’m not sure if it has any actual village-type designation. What it does have is a perfect example of a Small Town Website, complete with a lot of fascinating history and even more vaguely connected links: Joe’s Pond. Just outside of St. Johnsbury, we took a quick detour up into th’ mountains to check out Stephen Huneck’s Dog Chapel. Everyone knows about th’ place, but I don’t think I know anyone who’s actually been there. (Th’ prevailing sentiment seems to be that it’s a place for tourists to go and buy stuff.) We went into it with a pretty goofy mindset (as per usual,) but as soon as we went into th’ dog chapel, that was replaced with sadness and reverence. It’s a pretty powerful place; th’ walls are covered with thousands of little messages and mementos from people in tribute to their dogs that’ve died. There are pews, and stained glass windows with dogs in ‘em, and there are carved wooden statues of dogs everywhere, and it should be goofy…but it isn’t. It was very touching, and elicited remembrances of all th’ Good Dogs I’ve known. When you walk back outside, th’ mood is immediately lightened by th’ fact that dogs are running around everywhere with big silly dog abandon.
On through North Concord to eat a creemee and admire th’ extensive setup they had for their big game weighing station, and through Lunenburg. (Ja! Lunenburg!) Outside of Lunenburg, I was suddenly overcome with Eagle Eyed Vision and screeched th’ car to a halt by th’ side of th’ road. Loping around in th’ field off to our right was a huge young moose. This marks th’ third time I’ve seen a (live) moose in Vermont, which is not a big deal for anyone who lives in th’ woods up here, but I’m usually A: living in th’ city, or B: driving around, and unless you hit one of ‘em, they’re pretty difficult to spot as you’re zipping around through th’ woods. Unless, of course, you’re th’ Vanguard Car. It’s th’ Vermont Way: when one car pulls over to eyeball th’ big ole moose moseying around, other cars will slow down, rubberneck, put th’ pieces together, and also pull over to Moosegawk. Soon, there will be a long line of cars on th’ side of th’ road, tying up traffic and making th’ moose nervous, at which point it will usually lope back into th’ trees. Or, in today’s case, flat out run across th’ field. Now, moose are goofy looking animals, but I have seen th’ damage they’ve done to cars due to their size alone. I knew in theory that they were something to be wary of due to their size and speed, but had never seen it in person. Holy cannoli, moose can friggin’ haul.