Thursday, May 15, 2014
Last year my parents asked myself and my sister if they could take our kids away to Aruba for April vacation...without us. We were specifically not invited. I was initially reluctant. April is typically our maiden camping voyage of the season and that would mean we would have to forego that. As it turns out, the kids are less interested in camping these days (which just kills me) so it was more of an issue that Tim and I had to deal with. Secondly, although the kids are all great together and my parents are more than capable, the reality was my parents, who are 65 and 70, were still taking care of five kids ages 10-15 for a week. My own two kids can exhaust me alone....nevermind five kids in a foreign country with my parents. Finally, where was my trip to Aruba when I was 14 or 15??!! I felt jipped! After I got over pouting, I realized that this was a trip of a lifetime. It was one of those special moments in time that all of them would remember for the rest of their lives. So, off they went to Aruba for April vacation. That left Tim and I to decide what we would do with our time. I had big dreams. I always wanted to go to Iceland so that was my first choice. Why not, right?! The kids would be away...it's not a far trip...it would be a blast. Tim's first choice was Truro...because he loves the comfort of going to our favorite place. My second choice was New Foundland. I've never been but it looks like fun. Granted, a little cold in April, but still tons of fun with little pubs and beautiful scenery. Tim's second choice? To clean the basement. The basement that is filled with his crap-eesh. Uhm. No. We were in vastly different places and had a pretty good "discussion" about how I feel he is too practical and he feels I'm not practical enough. Both valid points, but of course, I felt my points were more valid. I'm just sayin'... I did initially acquiesce to going to Truro. I do love it there and we could still get in our camping trip but as we looked at the weather, it wasn't looking promising. And I knew once we dropped the kids at the airport I had to go to NY for work and would be there for the majority of the week. The reality of us getting the camper ready in one night was dwindling. In the end I kind of gave up and figured Tim would be cleaning the basement and I would do a bunch of things by myself that I've been wanting to do for awhile like trying new restaurants, shopping, going to movies, etc. And I had absolutely no problem with that. As an aside, that week I can't tell you how many random references of Iceland came up. During my work trip, we were talking about places to visit on our bucket lists. Before I could mention Iceland, a co-worker said it was on the top of their list. My friend went on a trip to Europe and sent me a poster of Iceland from the airport. I literally had steam coming out of my ears towards the end of the week. As it turns out, Tim texted me the day before I got back from NY and said he had an idea...what about Western Mass? We have always wanted to camp there and check that area out so why not now? We wouldn't be able to camp but Tim found an Inn for us to stay at. Western Mass is no Iceland but it was definitely worth checking out...and better than cleaning the basement. I immediately went into research mode and found a place to have dinner and made a list of things to do. I got home Thursday and by Friday morning, we were on our way. We figured we would take our time and check out the towns from Florida (where Tim has done off-roading Jeep trips before) to West Stockbridge where our Inn was. Our kids would have HATED this trip. We loved it. We literally drove in the car all day....driving through small towns....stopping when things interested us. We literally had no agenda. We just knew we had dinner reservations at 7 pm. We stopped at the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls and even though most of the flowers were not in bloom, you could tell it was a beautiful place to come back to when it was. Then we stopped at a pub I had found on Trip Advisor called Public. We had gotten breakfast on the road and weren't very hungry when we stopped at 11:30 so we just decided to try one of their craft beers and then move along. 3 beers and a yummy lunch later, we were off for more exploring. We finally arrived at our Inn in the late afternoon. It was one of those large inns that had 2 restaurants, a heated year-round outdoor pool & hot tub, and a pub. Giddy up. We found ourselves watching the sunset as we sat in rocking chairs on the deck having a cocktail. I found myself saying "Your parents would love this place" and then we looked around and it was pretty clear that this was an "older population" Inn. At once we felt very old, and yet very young at the same time. Still, it didn't deter us. We were determined to make the best of our little trip to Western Iceland Mass...as I like to call it. We headed off to dinner at Table Six at the Kemble Inn. The service was fantastic and they whisked us away to the library for a drink before dinner. It was decorated in a very eclectic manner - green velvet couches, big leather comfy chairs, giant posters of the Queen Mum, and busts of horse heads. Great coffee table books and kitschy posters. We decided we should start drinking a signature drink...I chose champagne and Tim had some sort of mixed drink that involved Cape Codder ingredients, of course. We then moved into the dining room and the food, and our server, were fantastic. We felt very well taken care of. In hindsight, we may have felt more at home at this Inn, but that was until we went back to our Inn...The Red Lion...which we affectionately had named The Old Lion Inn. We decided to hit The Lion's Den for a drink when we got back...it was the Inn's "underground" bar. We expected a few regulars at a tiny bard but instead we found a packed bar, a folk singing duo, and two empty bar stools. We bellied up to the bar and had a great time people watching, listening to the music that was actually quite good and enjoyed a few non signature cocktails called wine and beer. We decided to head back to the room and play Rummy, one of our favorite card games. At this point you are saying, Yeah....you kind of belong at the Old Lion Inn....and that might be true but when we got back to the room we realized we had an hour left of the heated pool. Giddy up...cannoball! Let me remind you it was April and as you know, in the Northeast this year, it was as cold as balls for more than half of the year. April was no different. I think it was in the mid-30's that night. When I imagine a heated pool, I imagine at least 80 degrees, with the hot tub close to 100. Well, here's how this played out. We were the only ones at the pool. We brought our room's water/juice glasses filled with red wine and immediately hit the hot tub...or hot soup as we like to call it. We couldn't figure out where the button was to turn it on so it was like sitting in a steaming hot bowl of still soup. Literally so hot it was burning our first layer of skin off. Lucky for us the pool was actually "cold"...probably 60 degrees. We kept having to jump into the pool to cool off our burned layers of molten skin. Then a "couple" showed up. The guy immediately walked over to the button on the wall and turned on the hot soup tub. How did we miss that?! We asked where they were from...what brought them here...Tim was so busy cooling his third degree burns that he didn't quite catch the story. Turns out the dude was there from Florida for a conference and the girl was there checking out colleges (although I'm assuming it was for her masters because she wasn't super young). They had met a little earlier in the bar and were now in the hot tub wishing we weren't there. So, we took our red wine juice glasses and burned skin and fled the scene. But imagine this. We had easily found our way out of the Inn near our room wearing just our bathing suits, carrying our towels and jelly juice glass wines, but for whatever reason, we couldn't find our way back that easily. Instead we ended up WALKING THROUGH THE PUB. Tim had put his towel around his waist and I had a towel around me like I had just gotten out of the shower. It was as if we had taken a wrong turn out of our bathroom and stumbled into the bar in nothing but our towels. Oh. My God. And that's how you spice up The Old Lion Inn in Iceland, people. Sometimes having plans that aren't plans at all can end up being the best times.