For the past few years, we've been in touch with a man named George who contacted us via our website when we first moved to Vermont. Since then, we've exchanged emails about everything from bicycle touring to house building. At least twice, he's invited us to join him and his wife Jodi for a weekend in the Northeast Kingdom to see Bread and Puppet's circus. Each time, we've had to decline the kind offer as we've been busy building, or preparing for building.
Another time, George and Jodi invited us for dinner at their house (about an hour and a half's drive away) for dinner, but we had to cancel at the last minute. Soon after our canceled dinner, George and Jodi left on a year-long European and Moroccan bicycle tour, and we didn't hear from them again.
...Until a couple of weeks before our Northeast Kingdom trip. George invited us to camp with them to see Bread and Puppet the very same weekend I'd already planned to do so. As I'd envisioned our little trip to be a getaway for just Tyler and me, we opted to meet them for an evening, as opposed to the whole weekend. Nevertheless, they send us directions to the campsite, on the off-chance we changed our minds.
Now, with every campsite and hotel and AirBnB place in the region booked for the weekend, we decided to take George and Jodi up on their kind camping offer. We followed their instructions to the farmer's field they'd arranged to use for the weekend, and met up with George just as he'd made it there by bicycle. After brief introductions, we drove the truck off-road and onto the farmer's field. It was glorious, just the sort of placed I'd wished for: secluded and quiet, surrounded by trees and mountains and a babbling river.
And thus, as we set up our tent and got to know George and Jodi a bit, we were swept into a whirlwind weekend, so unlike the couple's getaway I'd envisioned, but so, so wonderful. As it turns out, we'd been invited to join a family/friend reunion consisting of three generations, for a tradition that had been going on every summer for over thirty years! Needless to say, there were plenty of introductions as we attempted to navigate who was married to whom, and whose kids were whose, and what everybody's names were.
Besides the people, there were pets to get acquainted with, too! We met George and Jodi's dog, Oscar, and a pair of adorably vicious Chihuahuas named Elvis and [this space reserved for a dog's name I can't remember!].
Folks kept coming, setting up tents and pulling in VW vans, turning the farmer's field into a veritable festival grounds complete with fairy lights and lanterns. When all was said and done, there were thirty-odd people!
The farmer who's field we were renting had prepared for us a gigantic pyre. As night fell, he trundled down in his golf cart to douse the thing with kerosine and set it alight.
Food played a big role in the weekend's merriment. Cast iron dutch ovens were taken out of trunks and truckbeds. Tripods, from which hung all sorts of medieval-looking cooking gear, dangled over fire pits. Dozens of potatoes were wrapped in foil and baked. I don't even know how much bacon there had to be to feed everybody! It seemed like every meal was a feast, and we were encouraged to join in and eat our fill.
My favorite part of our time with George and Jodi was flipping through boxes of beautifully printed matte photographs from their recent year-long bicycle trip, and listening to their stories. It made us want to pack up our lives right then and there and hit the road again. Thank you, George and Jodi for sharing your stories, family, friends, and campsite with us!