You know that feeling you get when you return to your daily life after a particularly good vacation? Like you feel it was all a dream maybe? I’m having a lot of that right now.
Last Wednesday morning, I got on a plane to Albany. Many hours after the first takeoff, I stepped off the plane in a much colder climate than the one I had boarded from. Not having planned my trip worth a damn, I went up to the Hertz counter next to the baggage claim and got myself a car that probably cost a couple hundred bucks more than it really needed to. Oh, well.
Let me compress the next 48 hours a bit: New York was gorgeous. Postcard gorgeous, Ansel Adams gorgeous, holy-crap-was-that-an-eagle gorgeous. The trees were a little past midway in their turning, so only a few were bare and many were still green. I drove from Albany down to Poughkeepsie in the fading sunlight of a clear day, and I had a spectacular view for the full two hours.
That was worth the price of admission, right there.
And then I got to my hotel after getting a bit lost coming off the Mid Hudson Bridge. I wrote about my dinner experiences in the last post.
The next morning – well, the next two mornings, actually – I got up, drove north to Hyde Park and had a luxurious breakfast at the Culinary Institute of America (yes, the CIA). Oh man, if you ever have the chance – it’s a world-class cooking school with several restaurants and a bakery run by the students. Great coffee, great pastries, soup to kill or die for. Oh, and the staff have cute butts. It’s true.
On Thursday I went up to Rhinebeck to scout out the lay of the land after I had breakfast. I also stopped in the Hyde Park cemetary to get some pictures. I lazed around on the benches at the F.D.R. Presidential Library to do some knitting, because the grounds are just beautiful and it’s got a great view of the Hudson River.
Friday was mostly spent at the CIA knitting furiously on the kilt hose. I swear, the more I knit on them, the more I had to do. I ignored several mistakes on the second sock just to try and get the pair done so I could wear them into the fair.
Friday evening, things just got better and better. I came back to my room to find a voice message on the phone from Stephanie, telling me that she and Juno had arrived and were looking to do some misbehaving. Then I went down to the lobby and discovered this . . . throng of knitters milling about. It was surreal and wonderful. At this point, I need to apologize once again for my pathetic inability to retain people’s names. I am horribly, horribly sorry for this. Everyone was friendly and open and just awesome, and I wish I could do them all the justice of at least being able to remember everyone’s name.
So, I suck at names. Moving on.
I went to dinner with a bunch of the ladies on Friday and stood around waiting for a table for about half an hour, still knitting on my sock. Did I mention it kept taking longer and longer to finish? I checked my watch and realized that I wasn’t going to be able to make dinner because I had a very important prior engagement – the lovely Lilith was coming in to town as well, and I had promised her I’d be there to greet her. We met online about a year ago, and a few months back we made a date to meet at Rhinebeck. So I regretfully parted company with the knitter swarm and went back to the hotel.
Later that evening, we both went back to the lobby and guess what? It was crawling with knitters. It was as if George Romero had decided to take a break from writing zombie movies and had decided to explore the world of contagious craft obsession. The knitters of Rhinebeck have a group mentality very similar to zombies, except we seek yarn and roving instead of human flesh. And we’re a hell of a lot louder. We mingled and sipped wine and knit and told tales of knitting adventures until the wee hours of the morn.
Oh, and that story that Stephanie’s telling about owning up to how complex knitting is right now? Don’t believe a word of it. When I commented on her shawl (while still knitting my damn socks), she said “Oh yeah, finished it a few days ago, blocked it the other night, I’m so over it.”
The next morning was the fair. Lilith and I stopped for breakfast at a diner a few miles short of the fairground and she waited patiently while I poked at my omelette and kept knitting the socks. The bizarre space-time fluctuation began to stabilize as we neared the fairgrounds. By the time we were in the parking lot, it was actually possible for me to cast off the second sock. (There was not, tragically, enough time for me to weave in the ends, so I was walking around sporting a pair of what appeared to be finished kilt hose but were, in fact, one finished ho and one ho with a bunch of loose yarn curling around my toes.)
That evening, there was another aggregation of knitters in the lobby. By this point, I’m pretty sure the hotel staff was wondering what the hell was going on. It wasn’t like there were signs up saying “KNITTERS: GO APESHIT HERE”. It just kind of happened. By this time, I did not have a project to work on, but I waded into the knitter mosh pit and sat down and sure enough, Meg and her husband tossed an unfinished sock my way and said “here, weave in the ends”. Hey, why not? I had spent so much time furiously knitting in the past 72 hours that I just could not keep my hands still. It was therapeutic.
On Sunday, we went back to the fair and met my brother and his family. I got to give my nephew A.J. big hugs and show him all of the sheep and llamas and alpacas and assorted furry critters. The kid ate enough sugar to energize a small town and I’m sure he took it out on his parents on the ride home. We did more wandering about the fair, smiled and waved at the knitters we recognized from the previous day, and generally acted like happy, foolish people having a good time.
All too soon, it was over. Lilith went back home and I got on a plane to San Antonio. (The f***ing TSA confiscated my lobster bisque at the airport. They suck.) And many hours later, I collapsed into my bed and slept until it was time to go back to work.
I am, of course, glossing over a lot of things, most notably all the wonderful people I met this weekend. They are really what made this vacaiton so special for me.