On Monday evening I arrived in Vermont after an easy train ride from NYC. I chose to start out in White River Junction since the Hotel Coolidge, a historic train hotel, offered Hosteling International beds and was just across the tracks from the Amtrak station.
The next morning, I called the rental car company and learned it would be at least four hours before they’d have a compact vehicle. At home, I never had delays getting a car at the RDU airport. You should have thought about it being peak summer season in a small town, my critical voice chided. Guess I’ll just spend a little time getting to know this community, I thought and walked over to the Welcome Center.
The lady who was volunteering, Janet, was a retired elementary teacher. We had an easy conversation about my solo journeys and our mutual love of reading. I mentioned that I needed a book, always a precursor to sleep.
“Check our giveaways in the bookcase,” Janet offered. “Jodi Picoult lives nearby in Hanover, New Hampshire. Might find one of her books in the stack.”
Sure enough, her book, Nineteen Minutes, was there for my taking. Ironically, it involved a school shooting, one of the things I feared as a school nurse.
Two doors down from the Hotel Coolidge was a knitting store, White River Yarns. I took in my skein that was hopelessly tangled.
“Oh, we’ve seen a lot worse,” Karen, the owner, told me. “We can fix that.”
And they did. For over an hour she and one of her staff patiently worked out the knots. They included me in the conversation as their regulars came in to make purchases. When I left, I imagined that if I lived in White River Junction, I’d be part of their circle, spending snowy days in the warmth of their company, ‘knitting the community together’ as the sign said over their door.
I checked with the rental company, sure that my car would be ready. It wasn’t. Frustrated, I took my laptop to the hotel lobby where the WiFi was strong. I worked on a story and chatted with Rebecca, the desk clerk. She had a business establishing social media for companies. I told her how I struggled with that, feeling overwhelmed by all the options. She seemed genuinely interested in helping me and made several suggestions on ways I could be more efficient.
I dialed the car company one more time and they’d closed for the day.
“That makes me so angry. They didn’t even call me back,” I told Rebecca.
Outside, the rain that had been a drizzle was now a monsoon.
“Maybe you weren’t supposed to be out there driving in an unfamiliar place,” she said. “Wouldn’t be safe.”
Her words helped me to settle down. I prayed each morning of my journeys that God would lead me through the day, blessing me and the people in my path. Today was how it was supposed to be, I thought.
What I couldn’t see then, was that the next morning I’d have that car and drive to Hanover and explore the setting for Picoult’s novel, eat lunch in lovely Woodstock, then travel west to Button Bay State Park where I’d spend my next three nights by Lake Champlain. I’d maintain a Facebook friendship with Janet and Rebecca, seeing that area in all seasons through the pictures they posted.
When I left Vermont, I carried with me the beauty of that place and the kindness of the people in my path.
What about you?
Have you experienced roadblocks in your travels that turned out to be a path to a better place?
What was your Take Away from that experience?