A Slippery Slope

Dara LevanBlog1 Comment

The smooth ride to Albany, New York kicked off our annual family trip. We rented a car and drove four hours to Stowe, Vermont. I figured the carefree, seamless start to our vacation must be an auspicious beginning.

Every soul has a story, and so does every trip! One of my favorite parts about traveling as a family is creating intentional (and unexpected!) memories. The first bump in our journey occurred the next day.

My husband discovered that the GMC Yukon Denali that we had rented was apparently not equipped for a Vermont winter. We incorrectly assumed that all New England SUVs would have four wheel drive. Perhaps our first clue was the FLORIDA license plate that we noticed a few days later? Appearances are often deceiving.

After a restful sleep, we headed to the gym. I was psyched that my entire family willingly joined me! It would’ve been easier to snuggle under the soft, flannel blankets. I was proud of us: We were four Florida natives that ventured onto the icy roads to exercise. What I didn’t know was the more intense workout would happen outside the four walls of that building!

As we drove uphill, the wheels began to spin. Of course, I started to laugh hysterically, and my uncontrollable cackling escalated the more agitated my husband became. As I tell my family, if you cannot control what’s happening to you, you have two choices: You can laugh or you can cry. I chose laughter!

I quipped, “We can walk home and leave the car here! That’ll give us an extra workout!”

Snarky comments and eye rolls ensued. A lively and loud banter began. Then I had an idea.

“Zoe, please go back to the gym. Ernie is not only physically fit, but he was a Marine, too. I know he will have a solution and find a way to get us out of here.”

A few minutes later Zoe and Ernie approached our truck. He tried to drive the truck up the hill, but he was also unsuccessful. I don’t know Ernie well. However, the times we’ve chatted he appeared to be a determined, proud man. And I had a feeling he did not give up easily.

Ernie’s stocky, stout frame leapt from the car like a stealth panther. I suddenly felt like we were in a cartoon; his head seemed to light up the parking lot as an idea struck him.

“You drive the car. I’m going to stand on the back of the truck as you drive it,” Ernie commanded. What??? You’ve GOT to be joking mister. He was not kidding.

My husband pressed the gas pedal full force. I stifled nervous giggles. The kids stared out the back window and watched attentively. It was a mere 15 degrees, it was dark, and the owner of this gym, Ernie, was literally standing on a three-inch platform on the back of our rental car. He then began jumping up and down; we wondered if our vehicle would go airborne.

I start to make sassy remarks like, “Honey, does our insurance cover homicide? What if the car slides backward and we run over Ernie?”

Before anyone had the chance to reply, we were on our way. Unbelievable! We thanked Ernie for his brave and brilliant maneuver. He said, “No problem” and he shrugged nonchalantly as if this was an everyday occurrence.

I listened patiently as my sweet husband expressed daily frustration about the driving dilemmas. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise! We didn’t let it stop us. We walked to town several times and even down the mountain over a mile to the restaurant on New Year’s eve.

In between the slippery walks, the kids and my husband skied. I prefer solid ground, so I stayed home and wrote, cooked, and relished reflective moments in the mountains. I was grateful when they returned each afternoon with all limbs attached! Skiing in Stowe is not easy, at least from what I’ve heard!

I love that our children have become proficient skiers. I never did this as a child so it’s exciting to experience their joy and love for this activity. And the flips, flops, and falls provide entertaining apres ski conversation.

During some quiet hours, I waited as always for wildlife to appear. This winter didn’t disappoint me. I saw docile deer and mischievous squirrels. A stunning, orange fox slyly yet brazenly showed up. I believe strongly in messages, and they may manifest in various forms. I am certain the fox visited frequently for a specific reason. I have visited the Green Mountain state for more than a decade; this was the first time I’ve ever seen a fox.

This clever creature made himself known. I saw him on three separate days in less than a week! One of the times I was strolling alone in the neighborhood in which we stayed. The fox crept quietly just a few feet in front of me. I didn’t have a second to snap a photo that time, but I did capture some images of him in the snow. (I am still waiting to see a moose!)

We had an incredibly meaningful and memorable winter vacation. I am thankful for each moment with my husband, children, and friends. And in typical Levan style, we are discussing our favorite parts of the trip while planning for the next one!

When we arrived home Saturday night, a chirping, chocolate-brown…I will share the second part of our journey next week! Until then…

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