October 17, 2021 26 Comments
Our friends and family wonder how, and why, we so dramatically changed the course of our lives. Leaving the comfort, support and familiarity of friends and family in Cincinnati to end up on a farm in rural Vermont (to call it rural Vermont is admittedly a bit redundant) where we basically knew no one.
Well, it's complicated.
Let's start with the how - because it's easier. In the Spring of 2020, the pandemic pretty much changed everyone's lives, but our changes seemed to be on steroids. And we doubled down on those changes. The first major change was that someone reached out to see if our house was still for sale and we immediately said yes (our house had previously been on the market because with both kids off to college the plan was to downsize and move to a place a bit more urban and a little less suburban).
While we had no idea where we would go next, we figured we could head to a cottage in Canada - as we did every summer - and take a few months to figure it out. Then the pandemic closed the border. No problem! We'll just pursue Plan B. And we'll rent a place to give living "a bit more urban" a year long test drive before making a decision on our next permanent home. We eventually found a place that was a good fit, but at the last minute the landlord abruptly backed out and said he was going to rent to a Cincinnati Bengal instead. (This is unrelated to the story, but who thinks that way? "I'll pass on the 50+ aged couple with no kids, and instead rent it to a 220 lb 22 year old just a couple of months removed from college living.)"
So Plan A - plot our next steps in Canada - foiled by the pandemic.
Plan B - rent a place for a year - foiled by someone's desire to be one degree of separation closer to Joe Burrow.
Plan C? Yeah, what the heck was Plan C going to be? Move in with the in-laws? Or pursue the pandemic fantasy we had been kicking around and purchase an RV and see the USA in our own self-contained, rolling pandemic pod. We opted for the RV.
On a parallel path, my work (this is Doug by the way) in a global role for one of Omnicom's ad agency networks was also in the midst of dramatic change and I had made the decision that my future was going to lie elsewhere. While that change didn't happen for me overnight, my mindset had definitely shifted to what's next. And given the pandemic eliminated all of my global travel, actually all air travel, I was free to work from anywhere there was wifi, and working from the dining room of an RV not only seemed acceptable, it seemed quite attractive.
So we bought an RV. A 24 foot Winnebago Navion to be exact, and it seems we had made the Plan C decision just in time, as when we went to pick it up after purchase, the owner of the dealership offered us a few thousand dollars to wait for another one to be delivered sometime later. Given we were closing on our house in 3 days, we opted to forego that windfall and to get our new rolling home to our soon to be former home and start packing it for our impending journey.
A few days later we (three humans and two dogs) rolled out and began what was to become an extended tour of two things - National Parks and Real Estate. We also included a number of stops to visit friends and family along the way. Yep, we basically traveled from one beautiful place in this country to another. 35 states. 17,000 miles. Countless National Parks. Lots of laughs and just a few mishaps.
About midway through, after seeing most of Midwest and Western US, we dropped "the boy" off to start his fall semester at Indiana University in Bloomington. Days later we picked up "the girl" in Boston and started the second major leg of our tour - to travel to every corner of the northeast - again, while seeing as many friends and family as we could.
And this is kind of the final step in the how. While visiting friends and family in Norwich Vermont, we were introduced to a realtor and looked at a few places in that part of the state. While nothing really struck our fancy there, at one of the showings the realtor asked where we were off to next. We told him we were going to Stowe and he shared that he had a pocket listing, on the Smugglers' Notch side of Mount Mansfield, and would we like to see it? After seeing the listing, we agreed to take a look, and well, the rest is history. We fell in love at first sight, and while it took us a few weeks to pull the trigger, those weeks were spent wrapping our minds all the farm had to offer, which in sum, was more than a little bit overwhelming.
So there you have it.
That's how we ended up on Golden Dog Farm - with my former career in advertising behind me - we are now solely focused on making maple syrup, keeping bees, growing apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots and peaches. Harvesting hazelnuts and pine nuts, blueberries, wild raspberries and blackberries, elderberries, currants, and grapes. Lots and lots of grapes - both table and wine grapes. And finally, as the harvest has been winding up, spending these past couple of weeks learning to make wine and cider (both sweet and hard).
We promise to tell our stories here as time goes by. And there are lots of stories to tell. We'll eventually cover the why, which to be honest is a bit fluid and an ever-evolving exercise in self-understanding.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end.
And remember, happiness is golden.