Sunday, July 17, 2005

Day 9: Bradford, VT

In 1987, Judith Viorst published Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day . Eighteen years later, Ken’s Vacation Blog presents Ken and Wonderful, Great, Not Bad, Very Good Day.

What follows are the top five things that happened to Ken today. (They happened to Todd, too, though his might be in a different order.

Number Five
Todd had been craving a New England seafood dinner and he finally got his wish at The Weather Vane, voted the best seafood in the Greater Rutland area nine years running. Yeah, I know, how big is Rutland, right?

Well, let me put it this way. I eat seafood once a year. I don’t like seafood. I had coconut shrimp. It was very, very good. It was not as milky sweet as the coconut shrimp in Los Angeles, but the shrimp itself was plump and good, and the breading was light. There was just enough for me.

Todd? Well Todd had not one but two lobsters, and let me tell you, I was in awe. Any meal where they have to bring you a bowl of tools, that’s a meal I want to witness. Todd, in a ritual tone of voice explained each item. The nutcracker for breaking the shell…the bowl…for the shells…a small pitchfork for extracting meat…a bib for what bib’s are for…a moist towelette because there is no neat way to eat a lobster and Todd is going to eat two. He does, too. When they bring out the lobster, I have a hard time seeing Todd’s head over the mounding pile of red on his plate. Once it is over, all I can say is that I have a new appreciation for Todd and his ability.

Although Todd pays a bit more for his lobster, my tally, including beverage and tip, comes to $11, for the best seafood I have eaten.


Number Four
Nothing like a nice, hot, Jacuzzi by the motel swimming pool after eight straight days of disc golf to cheer the weary bones. I’m not talking a tepid room temperature bath with bubble jets, I’m talking a legitimate hot (but not scalding) Jacuzzi. Thanks, Priceline, for the free upgrade. Oh, and after the Jacuzzi, there was a nice hardwood, New England sauna. I feel so…pampered.

Number Three
Tired of supporting the monolithic conglomerate that is Amazon? Annie’s Bookstore is open next to [see below], and we wander in. The selection is superb, and although I wasn’t planning on it, I get the new Harry Potter book, not because I’m anxious to read it but because I know I’ll get it eventually, and I would rather support the small, independent book store. I also buy a used Alexander McCall Smith book on CD to listen on the way home. Todd picks up a gift for his wife and a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, which we heard discussed on NPR during our drive. (You know that it is a good day when NPR can’t crack the top five.)

Number Two
Vermont is the home of Ben & Jerry’s, and across the parking lot from the motel, next to Annie’s Books, is the Ben & Jerry’s store. Ken has a scoop of Super Fudge Chunk that is piled high out of the cup. Todd has a brownie, topped New York Chocolate Chunk Supreme Decadent Something or Other, with hot fudge and whipped cream, and…a cup of coffee. (If I had those two lobsters, I don’t think I’d eat for a month, unless I had Ben & Jerry’s to tempt me.)

Number One
Eighteen holes at the Oxbow Disc Golf Course. Total course length 5310 feet. 10 holes under 300 feet (deceptive given several uphill drives), 5 from 300-400, and 3 over 400.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when we arrived in Bradford. It is a spot on the map up the interstate, and the PDGA site said the course was on high school land, which usually means not very technical.

There are a few short holes to start, then at Hole Six, the course takes a sharp right and goes up the mountain. The course is a bit of a workout, but once you are on the side of the mountain there are some breathtaking views, including one hole (9, I think), that has a three foot tee pad over the trees below to a blind pin placement. It is as close as throwing off a mountain as you ever want to get.

Then there is a long, 400 foot plus down the mountain. I shot well, not lights out, but as close to my peak as I have on the trip, I think. I miss one putt I should make and another for birdie that is makeable but not a gimmie. One of my fours (Hole 5), is due only to lack of local knowledge, as I put my drive within 20 feet of the pin but in a deep grove of trees with no out. I throw my first roller of the trip on 12 to get around some bush and another on 16 to save par that makes me happy because the difference between 58 and 59 is significant psychologically. I haven’t been in sniffing distance of 54 since Connecticut, and this strikes me as a very good score for the first time on this course.

You know, I like Vermont. I’m lucky I didn’t go to high school here, though, because if I did, I might never have graduated. I can see playing the first five holes for lunch, hearing the bell for forth period and be presented with Trigonometry to my left and more disc golf to my right. (Not that I needed an excuse to skip Trig, anyway.) The vice principal could have met me at hole 12 and I would have detention forever.

Then again, I’m sure the course looks different in the fall and winter. (I wonder if Vermont has an Ice Bowl.) Maybe one could hike up the hill and then snowboard down.

One of the many things for which I’m grateful for this trip is that (mid-life musing coming), I’m not too sure if 10 or even 5 years from now a course like this or Maine’s would be a bit too much for me. I hope to play disc golf into my sixties, but some of these steep climbs would be prohibitive.

So that's my day, and the antique store rest stop with 50 cent sharp, Vermont cheddar cheese can't even crack the top five.

Man, some days being alive totally doesn't suck.


2-3-3 2-4-4 3-3-4 OUT (28)
3-3-4 4-3-3 4-3-3 IN (30) 58

Day 9 Tally
Courses: 13
New Courses: 8
States: 9
Rollers Thrown on Trip: 2
Lobsters Consumed: 2 (Todd)
Coconut Shrimp Consumed: 6 (Ken 5; Todd 1)
Jacuzzis Taken: 1
Things New Hampshire Has Over Vermont 1: (State Motto)
Things Vermont Has Over New Hampshire: Everything Else

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