The Un-y-moon – Part II

Here is part II of the wedding series, tweaked and amplified a bit.  I had several requests to re-post them together.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a moment of caution last fall when I first wrote this series, and feared that I would alienate everyone, including my husband, by being so candid about our personal lives. But Geoffrey never reads this blog — he shuns all social media as part of his commitment to what he perceives as “higher” ideals and activities (more on that sometime, I promise) and his family, mercifully, are too busy spending their fortunes to bother with little ole me any more.  So, it is safe to judiciously peel back the curtain again and ultimately update this little set of vignettes by adding two new sequels soon.  In the immediate future, I will be writing about my visitors. Since I took over 1200 pictures during the two weeks they were here, I am dividing it into two posts, and then posting the third previously posted piece I wrote, “The newbie wed” and moving on … stay tuned!

mount snow vermont

Unlike most people, I like cold weather best and therefore vacations, to me, whenever possible, are ideally in cold places or times of the year. So when we were identifying a destination  for the official ‘honeymoon’ to follow our upcoming winter wedding, we put our heads together and came up with two locations that worked for us for the week that we had (as we had other commitments that month).   We narrowed it down to the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia and Mount Snow, Vermont.  It was really a hard decision, because we both liked both places. But, always erring on the side of more guaranteed cold and snow, I pushed for Vermont.  And so, in the midst of a stifling August heatwave in the city, I booked us into a charming vacation village, and thought no more about it, as the honeymoon was six months away.

Greenbrier Resort

As luck would have it, my husband-to-be (who subsequently took over a family business – more about that subject in an upcoming post, I am sure), a CPA for one of the big eight at the time, had to conduct an audit upstate in January, before the honeymoon.  I went with him. Having gone to school for four years in that vicinity, I lectured him about the absolutely mandatory snow-and-cold-shunning clothing and equipment he needed to take with him, even though he had gone to Dartmouth as an undergrad and taken courses at Cornell himself (never in winter, and we never ran into each other during school, either, as I would leave every summer just as he was arriving to take courses, so our paths never crossed as undergrads). He was, after all, a beach boy, and couldn’t possibly, in my view, withstand the bone-freezing and nose-planking icy cold of lake-effect winters.  So, I bundled up as I had done each year at school: fleece-lined thigh-high boots, insulated gloves, thermal silk long johns, woolen pants, a heavy turtle neck and of course a shearling coat (none of which animal products would I ever purchase today). I brought scarves and ear muffs and vests.  I was ready.

Outfit for winter in NYS

Geoffrey wore what he always did, year round and in any weather: thin-soled Italian shoes, a Brooks Brother’s spring wool silk-lined overcoat, a suit (to meet with clients). No gloves, hat, scarf, boots, nada.  It, like the upcoming honeymoon, was a one-week trip.  We stayed in a cozy vintage hotel, the kind that abounds in New England, in a room with a fireplace – it was quite romantic and quaint, with breakfasts in the small colonial dining room surrounded by Revolutionary war Early American antiques.  His first day off to meet the clients, I waved goodbye and shook my head as he navigated through the freshly fallen foot-high snow in his shiny Bruno Maglis.  Well, live and learn, I smugly thought to myself. It must have been in the stars: I became sick as a dog and spent the entire week in bed, barely coherent. My husband sailed through the weather with flying colors and we returned to NY, me the wiser and weaker and thinner for the wear.


But, here’s the rub.  For the first time in my life, I had had enough of cold and snow.  Damn! Had I known in August what I knew in January I might have booked us into a sailing vacation in Jamaica (that we took another time).  So, the chilling spectre of a honeymoon in Vermont in February cast a certain kind of pall over my enthusiasm.

Too late for anything to be done, we packed up the car (we had a vintage diesel Mercedes that was in mint condition) and headed to Vermont for our week of intimacy and relaxation.


Uh, not so much, as you might have suspected from Part I of this saga.

First of all, there are two ways to get there from the metropolitan area.  One is straight flat, wide-open freeway,  boring as all hell and fast, efficient, safe. The other is far more adventurous, small winding  path-like country roads inclining and declining over the steep hills that lie in a northerly trajectory between the city and Mount Snow. It was my parochial romanticism that led me to map out the latter, picturing a stop at a country store for some old home cookin’ along the way.  And for the first part of the journey, it lived up to its promise, as I started out the trip, driving my portion of the road until we were to switch off and my husband helm the ship, trading back and forth as necessary until we arrived.  We planned four hours for the drive.

Icy road

If you haven’t gleaned this elsewhere, I tend to be the anal/retentive type – very organized, scripted, scheduled to fifteen minute parcels, with everything planned, packed and perfect before I go anywhere or do anything.  As opposites do attract, my husband is a classic oral. Unlike my strict upbringing that entailed a military-like timetable of chores and duties throughout my eighteen years under my Dad’s command, my new spouse’s family expected all seven of their children to just enjoy life, and my father-in-law generously made that possible.

The upshot of this was that we were not ready to walk out the door bright and early on the day of the trip as I would have liked. Nope.  My husband slept in, had a late breakfast, two cups of coffee, read the paper, and absently threw a few clothes into a small bag.  And then, on that, the first morning of our official honeymoon: called his parents to chit-chat with them for an hour. How romantic.

Needless to say, I was disappointed, sulky and growing more uptight by the minute, until we finally got in that car and started heading out of NY (but not until we had stopped for snacks, more coffee, the ATM, the dry cleaners, and fuel – this became an ongoing pattern and joke, when I could finally find my sense of humor about it, years later).

So, instead of being on sun-dappled rural lanes from, let’s say, 8 to noon, we hit the hilly patch at 7 pm in Stygian darkness.  It was freezing and all the snow that had melted during the midday, was now transformed by the magic of chemistry and physics to black ice.  Even a heavy Mercedes slipped around like Sonja Henie on that road.  Oh, and, after I put in my first two hours, my husband (juiced up with more coffee) took the wheel and promptly started to fall asleep not 30 minutes into his “half”.

Icy roads with snow

I put half in quotes here, because the four hour trip? Turned into seven, most of it slick non-illuminated mountain roads, that were crawling with big-rigs snaking in a long relentless line in both directions.  And I was at the wheel behind them, peering through a dirty sleet-covered windshield for over six of those seven hours.  By the time we got to Mount Snow, we had been squabbling, both exhausted, having breathed five hours straight of big-rig fumes, eaten bags and boxes of salty and sugary trash from roadside dives, which now littered my usually immaculate chariot and we were both already fed up with the bitter cold.

The “cabin” was more like a ski lodge – cavernous, sterile, sparsely furnished (why had I not known this in advance?  I really don’t recall, but, didn’t I see pictures???) and about ten times too big for us.  I think we counted bedding for 20 people, no joke.  So, out the window immediately went my foolish imaginings of the cozy honeymoon cottage deep in the woods, with an intimate fireplace glowing where we could bond after the invigorating and meditative walk through the woods to a nearby hamlet.

honeymoon cottage

None of this was the case.  The nearest village was Montpelier, too far to walk and not an easy drive in a lumbering boat.  But, neither was there a diesel station in Mount Snow, so we had to make the Montpelier trip anyway, because we were by arrival time perilously low on fuel.  To make matters worse, the Merc was not used to the subzero temps, so the glow-plug would stick, and apparently the fuel became a thick viscous gum that meant the car would stop and start fitfully over the remainder of our stay.

To top things off, the chalet came with — I am not exaggerating — a one and a half-inch thick binder of instructions and prohibitions.  The owners of the property warned about what we could and mustn’t use from supplies, what brands we must replace them with, and where to put them.  What to do with every inch of that cabin, from the fireplace (walk in, and plain) to the kitchen, to any bathrooms we might use, to the disposal of the trash, the way to set and reset the alarm, to letting the gardeners into the tool shed and the fact that the whole structure ran on a generator and propane gas, the latter we were expected to replace by ordering a two-tank delivery before we left.  I sat down and burst into tears and, while my husband called his mother again (!) to make sure she was recovering satisfactorily from the wedding traumas, I ran around checking all my instructions before we both fell asleep on the floor in the downstairs living area, in the street clothes we wore for the drive up.

honeymoon drudge

There were other snafus that will likely make their way into future posts when levity is needed. Still, Montpelier was a nice place to go and have dinner and shop during the cold but sunny crisp days that followed that week.  We had our first big argument about whether or not we were required (in order to get the deposit back, I guess) to comply with all the rules and regulations set out in that binder, or whether as my husband would have preferred, we just left the place a mess and forewent the deposit, so as to put a thumb in the eye of those ridiculous owners. Needless to say, the last day of my honeymoon saw me scouring, vacuuming, scrubbing, sweeping, polishing and installing a propane tank on my own.  My husband refused to lift a finger, as he had paid for it and was not about to contribute to my insanity or theirs (the owners – they may not have known this was a honeymoon, to be fair to them; I simply don’t remember).


There is a coda to this absurd string of events, that took place back in LA, which I will save for the future. What I took away from this experience at the time, I don’t know.  In hindsight, I can see that my struggling to have things my own idiosyncratic way, paddling upstream, so to speak probably led in an ironic twist of fate to all these woes.  I have tried to be objective about my constant chafing against convention, always being different.  Never wanting to conform or to be viewed as a docile sheep, I have actually made quite a few things much more difficult in my life than had I been more secure in my uniqueness and simply gone along to get along.

Nevertheless, you will see as I periodically unpack these past episodes here, some amusing, others only painfully instructive, there is a pattern of striking out on the path less taken and suffering or enjoying the consequences.  In the meantime, I will break up this personal focus with the current events and causes that take up my life and time now that I am older and a bit wiser.  So, this is just the beginning …


22 Comments on “The Un-y-moon – Part II”

  1. OK, I expected that you would get on the road a few hours late, but 7 PM???? That’s ridiculous! It’s impressive someone can dawdle for that long, actually.

    Our honeymoon was in San Francisco and I guess as happens on all honeymoons I learned too much about my husband on that trip to enjoy myself. Such as his insistence on being on the go 24-7 when all I wanted to do was chill out. And out expensive, right on the water hotel room was so tiny in reality you couldn’t chill in it anyway – the bed barely fit in there! And he was so cheap he wanted to walk everywhere rather than take cabs or buses, including late at night in dangerous areas….oh how I realized then that for us ‘vacations’ need to be in big lazy cabins where my husband can’t drag me around on 8 million sight-seeing trips! But never having been a traveler I did not know that about myself back then.


  2. LOL. We got on the road, meaning, on the street leading out of NY in the late afternoon. But after all these unplanned stops (this is the way my SO operates no matter what I plan) in the city for cash, refreshments, pick up his clothes, we didn’t get to the actual road (87, I think) until after 5, so by the time we got into the mountainous part, it was around 7 – that is where the ice started (my part of the drive, natch, but I rationalized that I had more experience with icy mountain roads, than the SoCal boy, especially since he was so drowsy, conveniently). I also think vacations are the most revealing about personalities. His idea of the perfect vacation is lying three feet from a warm ocean with margaritas and of course mine is what I described, so, you can imagine. He finally had his way in Hawaii later on – that place made me a complete slug. SF is insanely expensive. And it would be exhausting to walk since there is so much to see there!


    • IKR. You must have read my mind. After that whole wedding debacle, I thought we were on an ominous path. Nothing in life goes the way we imagine it. Thank you for commenting!


  3. Seriously.

    I planned it in the wrong time of year, I apparently neglected to tell them it was a honeymoon (never occurred to me there would be rules and instructions and chores), I apparently didn’t look at a picture of the place, I stupidly forgot that thermostats have to be changed for sub-zero weather, on and on and on. You would think I had never planned a trip before! Dumb.

    And it cost more than it was worth.


  4. OMG, part I and II, I don’t even know how to respond, I’m experiencing a mixture of guilty laughter and complete shock!
    I hate the cold, which is probably why I live in Northern Canada?? and I hate cleaning places that I’ve paid to stay in. Isn’t that what the tip is for, “Hey thanks housekeeper for all the hard work you do, here’s a $20 tip.”
    Glad you can look back on all of this and have a few laughs along with the rest of us.
    I’m also glad you and hubby are still together!


    • Don’t feel badly about laughing over this. It is so ridiculous that it couldn’t be anything but funny, now that it is over. Don’t worry, there are more episodes in this continuing saga of mishaps and unrealistic expectations. Oh, Northern Canada? Let’s switch. I swear I am ready to be in Canada, I am so sick of hot sunshine.

      And yes! Those cheapskates were using their customers so they could save on a cleaning service. You hit the nail on the head and until you said that, I hadn’t thought about that particular point. Wait til I point it out to Geoffrey. I don’t even remember if we got the deposit back, LOL!! I must have blocked all this out.

      Thank you for wading through this and commenting. 🙂


  5. Funny! And I would have screamed at my husband had he dawdled as described. Yikes, surprised you didn’t pull your hair out. Thanks for the chuckles, but it sounded


    • Ughh…sorry didn’t hit the right key…. “Sounded like it was freaking cold. And can see why being sick made the beauty pall on you.” Looking forward to future posts.


      • It was cold and wet for the trip to Vermont, slushy snow the whole way up. Hate that. The trip to upstate NY was the problem — it took all the novelty out of a winter vacation so the actual honeymoon was a let down of sorts. Oh well, we women invest too much in idealized scenarios, don’t you think? Thank you for reading and commenting. 😀


        • Yes, I get told that. I refuse yo let go of my more romantic idealizations. Not that they will rub off on you know who…but because that is just who I am. Not changing but I do bend with the wind if needed. 🙂


    • Oh, we did argue about it then and many times thereafter. I like to be early for everything and he is fine being late. Opposites in so many ways :-). He though I was just being uptight and I thought he didn’t care about our trip together!


  6. See now, I think the two of you balance each other out. 🙂 My husband finds it difficult to sit at peace while all my favourite activities are of a sedentary nature. So he climbs the mountains while I look at them and read. I lounge on the beach while he goes for a run along it. Compromise after the discovery of different preferences. Took a while mind you.
    Funny thing is, our kids are kind of split along similar lines so some go walkabout with him while others prefer to build sandcastles on the beach with me. Just as well that love transcends type, eh? But those early days could cause battles. 😉


    • Your husband and mine. If Geoffrey sits still, he falls asleep. I often ask him how he got through college and graduate school, how did he sit through lectures, especially about finance and urban planning — like watching paint dry, LOL! Opposites do attract and if we don’t kill each other, we get stronger, no? 😀


  7. Pingback: Summer Like it Hot | Beth Byrnes

  8. This post must still show a sore wound which may have healed a bit but when the festering happens, this is an amazing, articulate and very “telling” story, my dear Beth and Geoffrey!! ❤❤
    I imagine you doing such a wonderful and totally careful job of fulfilling the obligations of the manual of instructions to be a cabin tenant on this “honeymoon” (not!) xo Robin


  9. Pingback: The Un-y-mooners: the grand finale | Beth Byrnes

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