This past weekend turned out to be quite the successful trip to Vermont. Yet, even late last week we were debating whether or not we should even go due to the forecast of rain, rain, and more rain. Ultimately, we decided to go anyway and try and make the best of it. As it turned out, we now know we can't trust the weather forecast more than 24 hours in advance. The amount of time it rained while we were in Vermont turned out to be about 5 minutes, and it only felt like a mist, nothing I would even really call "rain". That isn't to say we didn't encounter super heavy rain on the way up and the way back, but the whole time we were there turned out to be mostly sunny and incredibly humid, but better than rain. So this past weekend we began construction of our pavilion or covered picnic area. Luckily my parents came up to help and we were able to get a lot of it done, but it wasn't easy. The main support structure is up, spanning 24' wide by 16' deep, along with some of the roofing joists. In between the construction, I got to watch our son roam around on his own, go exploring, and essentially enjoy every second of his time in Vermont. As much as I enjoyed building the pavilion, I had much more fun watching our son. His curiosity is boundless and I wouldn't have it any other way. Does he require constant attention to make sure he doesn't wander off too far and get hurt? Absolutely, but its fun just to follow him around and see what he will go and explore next. At one point, he wandered down to our shed. The trail down there is a little narrow and rocky, but he had no trouble navigating it. He actually did quite well with the uneven ground and by the end of the weekend was navigating the dips and bumps quite well. But back to the shed episode. I didn' want to interrupt his concentration on getting to the shed, so I hung back about 10 feet, just far enough that he didn't know I was there, but close enough where I could get to him in a hurry if he started to fall or get into trouble. After making his way down the little trail, he went right for the shed. It turns out all he wanted to do was go up and down the ramp that goes into the shed. When I built it, it was mostly meant as a temporary ramp till I could build a bigger and better one. Its about 2 feet wide a tad bit steep. So of course he wanted to master walking up and down it.
The first time he went up by himself, he crawled the whole way, not entirely trusting his balance. He made it all the way up, stood up in the shed, turned around, and started walking down. The first time was very slow, little step followed by little step. (The ramp is even more difficult as it goes up at an angle into the shed and not quite straight in). He was able to go down the ramp all the way, stepped off the bottom, turned around, and started walking back up. After a few times, he had pretty much mastered it. There were a few slips here and there, but most of the time he was able to catch himself. There was one time, however, where he slipped a little near the edge towards the bottom of the ramp, and tumbled off, face planting the dirt on the side. Before I could even help him up, he got right up and started walking back up the ramp, determined to get it right. We didn't even get a chance to clean off the whole side of his face and body that was covered in mud and dirt. He didn't even care about that. This walking up and down the ramp continued for about half an hour. After about 10-15 minutes, he saw a flashlight laying on the floor of the shed and decided that he needed to carry it up and down the ramp with him. It was by far the cutest thing to watch. I was constantly at the ready should he have started to take a tumble near the top of the ramp, but he never did, only a couple times near the bottom. In addition to mastering the ramp on the shed, he absolutely loved the stream that runs through our property. When we were down by the stream, he would stick his hand in, get it wet, clap his hands together and giggle like a little madman. It was hilarious and cute all at the same time. Then he thought he would just walk right in, shoes and all. That didn't happen though. On Sunday, I figured I would go into the stream with him so he could get his fill of walking in the water. So I put on shorts, crappy sneakers, and took his pants and shoes off. I carried him down, walked into the stream myself, and tried putting him into the water. As it turned out, he wanted nothing to do with walking barefoot in the stream, he wanted to go in with all his clothes on, no other way. What a funny little toddler our son is. All in all, the weekend was fun and productive, though not quite as relaxing as I would have liked. But, there was building that needed to get done, so relaxing took a backseat this time.
The trip back turned out to be a little more nerve racking than I would have liked. The drive started out with no issues. The sun was out with some periodic clouds, but it didn't look like there was any rain to be had. The further south I drove, however, the thicker the clouds got till finally, the sun completely disappeared. Then came the torrential rain. The first storm I drove through wasn't horrendous. I had to drop my speed down from 75 to about 50 in order to stay safe and essentially just stood about a 50 feet behind the car in front of me. As I said, it wasn't horrible and everyone kept on moving, albeit at a slower pace than normal. It lasted about 5 minutes and then I was through to the other side of the small storm. Not thinking much of it, I kept on driving. About the time I was leaving Vermont and entering Massachusetts, I saw what looked like another storm cloud in the distance. It was black, nasty, and looked similar to the one I had already driven through. The big difference was there were a lot more cars on the road. Well, the second storm turned out to be 10 times worse than the first. It started raining, I slowed down, and then the rain just got heavier and heavier. You know when you look at the radar for weather and you see the bright red and magenta surrounded by orange, yellow, and then green? Well, I drove through a magenta section of the radar. Visibility dropped to about 30' in the torrential downpour. I considered pulling over to the side of the road except that I think every other car had the same idea and I couldn't see a space far enough in advance to be able to pull over. So I kept on driving at about 30-35 m.p.h. with my hazards on. To say the adrenaline was pumping was putting it mildly. I couldn't see anything, just two small ribbons on the pavement where the perpetual passage of cars had compressed the asphalt just a little more than the rest of the road. If it wasn't for that and the car 30' in front of me, I don't know if I would have been able to stay on the road. It was by far the worst rain I had ever driven through. Even the windshield wipers on overdrive could barely keep up with the rain beating down. That lasted for about 10-15 minutes although it felt like an hour, and then the rest of the drive was a piece of cake. So it was some good times this weekend (except for the drive home through a river running on the highway) and I am glad that we didn't get the type of rain I drove through while camping. That would have just made it miserable.