I recall fondly the tales of one of my grandmother’s friends. This dear lady—Dorothy O’Neal—grew up in Quechee, Vermont, at the turn of the 19th century. Quechee, while retaining its small-town charms, has grown into a tourist destination, offering great golfing and interesting attractions like Simon Pearce. But in 1900, Quechee, named for the Native American word for “rough waters”, was a small mill town.
Dorothy’s father was the village barber; but in a move to create more business, he had purchased the town’s only billiard table, which he had placed in a room adjoining his barbershop. Business was very good. So good, in fact, that Dorothy’s father was the first man in town to own an automobile. And so Dorothy’s high-tech, horseless carriage travels began. Her father’s sister lived in Manchester, NH. Today, Manchester is about an hour’s drive from Quechee by interstate. In 1903 or 1904, the horse and carriage paths were crude by comparison. Their trip from Quechee, VT, to Manchester, NH, took approximately 8 hours and was entered upon with much anticipation and an even greater amount of preparation.
The family was up early in the morning. After breakfast, her mother packed a picnic lunch in a large wicker hamper and tucked little Dorothy into the commodious rear seat with her favorite doll and a box of cookies baked just for the trip. As they bumped and swerved along the rural lanes, they excitedly chatted about all of the sites as they made their way to Manchester.
Today riding in an automobile is not considered high tech at all. But we do have our high-tech amenities, such as our smart phone, our GPS and the DVD player and videos to entertain the little ones while we travel. But I rediscovered recently the great virtues of low-tech travel: One of my great-nieces was about to turn 9. What did she want for a present to mark this auspicious, last one-digit-anniversary of her birth? She’d seen a commercial for “The Masters of Illusion”, an extravaganza featuring magicians and exotic animals. So, after getting permission from her mom and dad, I purchased two tickets and off we went in celebration of her birthday.
Now I do have a smart phone for business purposes, but high-tech is not “how I roll”. I don’t have a DVD player for my car. It was just the two of us and the delightful art of conversation that kept us both engaged as we traveled the 1.5 hours to the show and the 1.5 hours back from the show. With barely a silent moment throughout the combined 3 hours travel time, we talked about everything going on in her young life and especially about the stars. She pointed out constellations she knew and entertained me by sharing stories from her fertile imagination about all of the other people, animals and mythical creatures she saw in the shifting stars as we drove to the theatre and then back. Oh, and while we were there, she got called up on stage by one of the magicians and had the time of her life.
The point of my story? Well, there are actually two—the first is that you should indulge in the art of family conversation. Travel low tech once in a while and enjoy each other’s company. To do so is beneficial; in fact, more than one recent study strongly suggests that the greatest predictor of a child’s wellbeing is not what part of town you live in, how fancy your car is, how many enriching activities or trips to which your children are exposed, but the humble family mealtime together. And it’s not the pot roast that makes the difference. It is, of course, the ongoing family dialogue and sense of belonging that contribute more significantly than anything else to a child’s development and wellbeing. I’ll cite the website below as just one of many references that support my point:
My second point is that there are many wonderful things to do when visiting Vermont. Some fine entertainment awaits you. The performers in the cast of “The Masters of Illusion” have played Branson and Los Vegas and other large venues. Vermont offers a wide variety of entertainment and arts events, from the simple, downhome variety, to forms more sophisticated for eclectic tastes.
No matter your age or your interests, you’ll find much to fascinate you in Vermont. So turn off the cell phone, the radio and the DVD player and engage in the delightful art of human conversation as you wend your way to experience the Green Mountain State in all of her beauty.
Not coming to Vermont right away? Well, we can send a little “Vermont” to you. Our online site offers great granite gifts, granite jewelry, gemstone jewelry and other fine Vermont specialty foods and products. Please pay us a visit: