a surprise vacation in...

Right after I volunteered to bring quiche for my book club's November meeting, Ian told me I couldn't go. He had plans for the weekend.

"Well, can we do it later Saturday? After book club? It's just in the morning."

"No. Actually, it might involve an overnight bag."

chorton along the trail

The next day, I received the following e-mail:

In preparation for this weekend, please block off your schedule from 3:30 PM on Friday, November 12th until 8 PM Sunday, November 14th, and be waiting at the office by 3:30 on the 12th with the following items packed:
  • Nice evening dinner attire for one evening,
  • Casual comfortable clothing for 2 days, including fleece/warmly lined pants and outdoorsy shoes,
  • "Cozy" clothes for the purpose of vegetating,
  • Toiletries,
  • Reading materials of your choice, and
  • Provisions for automotive travel ranging from three to eight hours of travel.
*If possible, please try and complete all work prior to 3:30 PM on the 12th to ensure maximum productivity during the weekend.

If you have any questions regarding this appointment, please feel free to ask. However, know that at this time, some details are confidential, and therefore I may be unable to answer.

Thank you.

Friday, we brought our bags to work and by 3:45 we were sitting on the bench outside. Ian let me think we were waiting for Enterprise, then Brett and Emily drove up. Discovery 1 — the trip was in honor of Emily's birthday. But the guys remained tight-lipped about our destination.


After one Target stop for an iPod cable, three states (including Mass) and four Frosty + french fry snacks, Brett stopped in a gas station parking lot and pulled out his MacBook for a slide show presentation. Emily made discovery 2 — our destination was the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont — quaint mountain resort town and home to Ben & Jerry's and Cabot cheese. Amen.

We enjoyed a late dinner at Pie-casso (tip from our awesome waitress — order "pigs in a garden," an off-menu pie) before checking in at the Lodge.

The next morning, we had a late breakfast and spent a good hour playing with the modeling clay that came in one of Emily's birthday boxes. We finally decided we should probably get out and explore, so we headed to Pinnacle Trail and conquered Hogback Mountain.

emily's birthday cupcake

I learned that while I may have the balance and grace of a mountain goat (flattering, right?), I'm not a die-hard outdoorswoman.

summit .65 miles

In the face of mud and a couple icy sections, we made it to the top and spent some time eating homemade Chex mix while looking at this.

view from the summit

After our hike, we hopped back in the car to catch a Ben & Jerry's factory tour. Short and sweet, you end with a heaping sample of ice cream. Then we headed to the scoop shop to get more.

ben & jerry's/anna & ian's

We finished Saturday with nachos and shepherd's pie at Gracie's, then headed back to the lodge for some well-earned rest and relaxation.

Sunday, we indulged in brunch at the Trapp bakery — possibly the best chocolate croissant I've ever had. After Brett finished his training run, we loaded up the car, then wandered the grounds. Our search for the extra-hairy cows was unsuccessful, but we did see a von Trapp family member giving a tour at the Captain and Maria's graves. Content with our von Trapp experience, we headed into town.

behind the lodge

After lunch at the Depot Street Malt Shop, we explored downtown then headed to the Cold Hollow Cider Mill for some tasty souvenirs and Ian and I's first encounter with cider doughnuts. Car and stomachs full, we headed back to Boston.

ian and brett with cider donuts

Brett — thanks for letting us join your surprise for Emily. It was so much fun spending a weekend with you both. And again, happy birthday Emily!

emily and anna with fresh cider

For more photos, click here.