It’s official. I am a Vermonter again. It has taken a few years of this relaxed pace of life to find my groove, but I no longer assume that every other driver on the road is out there for the sole purpose of cutting me off, and when there are long lines at the supermarket (you know, up to three or four people in each line), it only makes me angry, not murderously angry. This change has happened so gradually that I didn’t even notice that it was going on, but there is nothing like being thrown back into your old environment to test a metamorphosis.
The trip to the crayon factory was mostly without incident, and when you go to a place for kids on a weekday morning, you tend to avoid crowds. It was not totally dead there, but attendance was light and we felt comfortable. Of course once we left the land of magical colors and continued our journey south, we were reminded that we were not in
Kansas Vermont anymore. Driving through central Pennsylvania was a nightmare. Huge trucks were everywhere, surrounded by small cars that were apparently terrified of huge trucks. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. Construction. Swerving. Cutting me off at high speeds into spaces far to small to fit a vehicle. The old me would have been right at home, tailgating, glaring, veering, and shouting, but the new Vermont me was just sad, as person after person jumped in front of me. “Fine, maybe I WON’T leave a safe following distance!” I shouted into the air, sounding like a crotchety old such-and-such.
The thing about this traffic was, it wasn’t really all that bad. I mean, if I think about it, I can remember sitting on the beltway (either DC, or Baltimore), not moving for eons at a time. I remember one time I tried driving the 4 miles on 495 between Silver Spring and College Park during rush hour, and then literally giving up, turning around, and coming home after over an hour. My family and I probably only lost about an hour in traffic driving from Easton, PA to Frederick, MD, but it seemed monumental to us Vermonters.
We were driving through there because it was the final leg of our annual RennFest pilgrimage. Our friend Bleric lives in Frederick, so we were staying there for the weekend and were planning on spending Saturday at the Renaissance Festival. And traffic is always terrible getting to the festival, but it seemed especially bad this year. Was it? Or was I just not used to it anymore? Hard to know.
But traffic aside, once we got into Revel Grove we were astounded by the sheer number of people there, with the crowds growing all day long. Eventually their overflow lot was full and they had to start turning people away at around 2 pm, so it wasn’t just me this time. That place was packed. And to their credit, the event ran very smoothly. We didn’t have to wait long in any lines, and there was plenty of olde funne to be had, but that crush of people everywhere was so off-putting.
My wife does not enjoy crowds in general, so she certainly felt the push of overwhelming human presence, but I traditionally love crowds! The hustle and bustle of the mall at Christmas time, the group excitement at a stadium event, the feeling that you are a part of something big and you are sharing it with everyone, I love that. But this was too much for me. You couldn’t turn around without hitting another person, and when you have two small children, crowds can be very frightening. Especially when one of those small children is three, and so does not listen to anything you say and is liable to run off at any second to headbutt a stranger in the codpiece.
This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy myself. I did. We had an awesome time. My kids got to ride a camel, for which we did not wait in line at all. They rode down the giant slide, and that was only perhaps a three minute wait. We got many foods on sticks, and we even found a table right away to eat lunch at. The only real difficulty we had was at the joust, where there were not enough seats to sit together. We’ve been going to the RennFest for ten years now, and we have never shown up to a joust twenty minutes early and had it be standing room only, so that was a little intense, but overall we saw what we wanted to see, did what we wanted to do, and can’t wait to go back next year.
I am used to Vermont crowds now. If I see two other cars on the road, that is traffic. If I am in a room where it is hard to move around due to the vast numbers of people in it, I am probably not in Vermont. So I have changed. I have moved on. I have moved on back, to where I used to be I suppose. It took me a while to get used to the crowds in DC when I first arrived, and it took me a while to get used to the slower tempo of Burlington, but I think I can safely say after this trip, that I have made that transition. I still like crowds, but next time I go to the RennFest I am definitely not bringing a three year old. Although I may try bringing a four year old…