Flashback Trips: Vermont Indian Summer, Part 1 – Beginning a New Life

In dedication to the best teacher I’ve ever had: Mr. Kerry McCarthy, Freehold Township High School, 2006. You changed my life forever with your enthusiasm, crazy style of teaching, and wild stories. Seven years before I went, you inspired me to take a trip to New England by teaching me about transcendentalism and your own passion for long countryside drives. I will never forget that. Thank you.

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There are times in our lives when it seems that everything is out to get you. Things seem to get so bad, so down, that you end up feeling powerless and waiting for something to change, anything. You wait and wait, but nothing happens. You’re stuck. Then you realize that only you can make the change, you can’t keep waiting. You have to take control of your life. Time is running short. You have to take the bull by the horns and wrestle him until he’s yours.

It was October of the worst year I can remember, 2013. At the beginning of the year my job was killing me. My arm had nerve damage and I couldn’t do my favorite activity, exercising. My dreams of becoming a cop were short lived. Physical therapy dominated the year three times a week until the end of summer. Something had to be done, I had to grab the bull. I couldn’t take the misery.

What happened? Inspiration struck. The beauty of the world couldn’t be ignored anymore. All I could think about was travel. All I could think about was getting out on my own, being responsible for myself, and seeing what the world had to offer. I wanted to live. I wanted to learn. I wanted to love. I wanted to feel good for myself and help others. I believed in myself, but what could I do to satisfy my hunger?

It was a cool autumn night. The artificial light from the computer gave me a headache, but the images online made me oblivious. I was stunned by the most beautiful red, orange, green, and yellow colors I had ever seen. The landscapes seemed magical, almost drawn up for a movie about a lumberjack. There were wooded areas, clusters of trees, and a pine scent that seemingly floated out from my computer screen, tickling my nose. How peaceful could this place possibly be? How refreshing would it feel to be there right now?

“Vermont Indian Summer”

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What a beautiful name. What an amazing phenomenon.

My eyes were glowing. How could somewhere so close be so captivating? Every single picture was like a painting, a stark contrast to the built up mini-malls and clusters of slow moving traffic in New Jersey. The open space was a dream, the nature was a tease. I had to see it.

I had to see it now.

I quickly pulled out my phone and opened up the latest e-mail from my boss. I had to work the next day, but after that I had three days off in a row…Opportunity smacked me in my face. Time to plan.

I rushed downstairs and found a spare blanket. I threw one of my pillows on top and wrapped it up in the blanket. Three days worth of clothes, too. I threw them in the back seat of my car, went upstairs, and went to sleep with a smile on my face, dreaming of the New England countryside.

After work the next day I rushed to Barnes and Noble to begin what would become a memorable tradition. The travel book section! I saw names like Frommer’s, Moon, Rick Steve’s, Fodor’s, and of course, the colorful Lonely Planet. I grabbed a book on New England and opened up the camera app on my phone. Where would I go, what would I do? I had no idea what I wanted, I just knew I HAD to go. Should I take a hike? Should I stay in hotels? Should I try some outdoor activities? Maybe I’ll just drive around like a maniac for 2 days. I couldn’t spend too much money, my budget was less than $200! I took pictures of every interesting section.

After an hour, a rough plan was outlined. Massachusetts was the first stop, a place called October Mountain.What could be more appropriate? Then, onto the naturally isolated, open spaced, and almost Canadian state of Vermont. My number one activity for Vermont? Drive around as much as I can and find anything interesting. Not much of a plan…I also knew I’d have to sleep in my car. I’d figure that out..eventually…

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“Mom, I’m going to Vermont for about 3 days”

“Where in Vermont?”

“Nowhere, really”

“Where are you going to sleep?”

“I’ll try sleeping in my car, I’m low on money”

“Let me set you up in a hotel, I don’t mind”

“It’s fine, I’ll just sleep in my car, it’s really not a big deal”

“Are you sure? I can set you up, let me get you a room. It’s fine”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be alright”

“It’s cold you know, do you have a blanket? Let me get you a room”

Moms are the best.

I went to bed that night knowing I had to wake up early. The next morning I was going to run to the grocery store and buy a few things to keep me going for a few days in case of emergency. Then I’d take off down an empty Route 9, the sunrise in my face and the cool refreshing October air blowing in my face, reminding me I had true freedom for 3 whole days.

My anticipation was off the charts. This was the start of what I’d been dreaming of. I was finally doing it. Some call it crazy, some call it adventurous, but I just call it a necessity.

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Anything you need to do to find happiness is a necessity. Make it happen, whatever it is. Find freedom. Grab the bull by the horns. Be your own person. See the world. Live your life. Learn every day. Appreciate what you have. Travel.

John DeSarno


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