Friday, March 7, 2014

Adventure: January's Trip to My Beloved 'Shire.

I haven't been complimentary to 2014. I feel, I have solid reasons for it, but I should point out that it started out nicely. The high point was a visit back to My Beloved 'Shire, to see My Lovelies, and former colleagues. 

You know you have awesome friends when, even after a year since laying eyes on each other, you just launch back into the same rhythm you had when you did see them most every day. Such is the case with My Lovelies.

The entire long weekend+ was jam-packed with fun, good food, delightful company, more adventures than any one adult should have in a six-day period.

We began with a concert by Red Baraat at The Hop, which is basically my favorite venue. The show was so phenomenal, I just can't even tell you. By the second song, my lovely date & I were in a side aisle with the other lovelies (+ many others) in attendance, dancing.  By the end of the concert, we were overheated, parched, exhilarated, and in need of sustenance. But WOW. If you have a chance to see this band (from, of course, Brooklyn), you really just should. 

Sustenance came in the form of the new-to-me restaurant, PINE. When I left Hanover, The Hanover Inn was re-opened, except for the conference spaces and the restaurant, so while it's been open a little over a year, totally new to me. Another huge WOW. First, the difference between that space before the whole joint was renovated to now is nothing short of stunning. (Imagine, painted white wood; red carpets; brass fittings - just old New England that wasn't shabby-chic anymore, just shabby). 

Drinks and dinner were incredible, but let's face it: we could have been eating taco bell on a hard wood floor, off of milk crates, and it would have been a feast, because of the company. 

I've written a little about my neighbor and muse for this whole blog thing, Sydney. In our merry band of peoples, there is also Stephanie, Jim, Johanna, Tiger Tail Lodge Lady, Diane, Lisa, + others I didn't get to see in this visit but consider to be A Lovely. So at dinner that night, there was Sydney, Stephanie, Jim & Johanna. And great food. And delightful cocktails. And the stunning ambiance of the restaurant. I had a very distinct "sit back, look at their faces, sigh, and be really, really thankful for life" kind of moments. <le sigh>

My accommodations were with Sydney, next door to where I lived, so that was awesome. It was even more awesome, when I saw my room and what she & Stephanie had arranged for my arrival: 
Penguin humidifier, magazine with covers of  (l-r) Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch & Damian Lewis
Between the humidifier and Chris Pine, there was another stack of mags with fun things in them. What a welcome!!

Saturday night, I was hosted by some former colleagues with a scrumptious Mexican feast - all homemade yummy things. For a while, it was a segregated affair with all of the lovely ladies, hanging out and chatting. When I lived there, the ladies & I started the Culinary Adventure Club, which was a monthly Girls' Night Out, where we went to someplace new to us. To be fair, at that point, we were all new to the Upper Valley, so pretty much anything was fair game. I'm thrilled that they have continued with the tradition, and think of me when they are gathered. Such wonderful women. 
Lisa, Peggy and me, taken by Lynne. Missing: Andrea & Carrie.
But after some time, we ladies decided to join the fellas and continued to have a wonderful time. There was a LOT of laughter, funny stories, and general shenanigans. I was honored that a bottle of Single Barrel Jack Daniels was cracked, so we could toast the occasion with more ceremony than already existed. 
The fellas: Gary & Mark. Missing: The Dean & Derek.

I got walked back to Sydney's by Gary & Lisa and Mark & Peggy, and it was lovely to walk through the lightly-falling snow comprised of big snow flakes, in their company. Talk about not feeling the cold. 
Stunning chapeau Peggy "made" me wear on way back to Sydney's, complete with dorky face.
Of course, I sent it to my sister, so she could laugh at me.
The rest of the visit was full of some shopping at my favorite places in New Hampshire and Vermont, good food at old favorites and some new favorites, talking with everyone, drinking in their love and friendship, Cards Against Humanity and just enjoying myself. Oh and the "reason" for the visit: season 4 of "Downton Abbey" and season 3 premiere of "Sherlock". AWESOME!

This town and these people are a place and folks who feed my soul. In a very real, very amazing, and deep way. With the exception of Mark & Peggy, The Dean & Lynne, and Derik, I did not know the rest until September, 2011 or a little later. And to become such friends, - again, after a year of NOT seeing them - that no beat is missed is a treasure. True. Story.

Even though not a highlight, it was while I was visiting that I found out my Aunt was terminal, and she actually died, while I was still in The 'Shire. There is no good scenario or scene for something like that to be optimal, but I was surrounded by so much love and genuineness, that I think it would have been even more painful almost anywhere else. I'm also really thankful that Sydney had unlimited long-distance, because I put a serious hurt on it, I'm sure (no cell coverage in her place. One of the joys of living in the literal woods). 

There's just no way to go on with any new sentiment, so summation:
- Had an awesome time.
- I'm a freaking lucky chick.
- I have exemplary friends in my world. Even though some live far-ish away. 
- Hanover and the Upper Valley in general are lovely places and you should visit sometime!

Sights from my visit:

My ex-back yard

Gougeres.....warm, cheesy, puffy bread things....
Dartmouth Green, with Baker Library Tower behind

Coming soon: my Adventure to South Carolina, after SC received 11" of snow!

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