People often say they need a “change in scenery.” Usually, they mean a break from the city, or a getaway to the beach; hardly do they ever trade forests for forests. In true rebellion, my family abandoned the trees of Northern New York for the trees of Stowe, Vermont during the summer of 2013. (www.trappfamily.com)
Stowe boasts of many attractions that my brother and I were eagerly anticipating: zip-lining through the trees, canoeing down lazy rivers, hiking winding trails, swimming in calm lakes- basically anything an active family could imagine. My personal interest, however, resided with the von Trapp Family Lodge, located 2.9 miles outside of Stowe.
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My excitement stemmed from the fact that it was the estate owned by the von Trapp family after they fled Austria to escape the Nazis. Yes, this was the family portrayed in the beloved musical, The Sound of Music. And yes, I am enamored with Julie Andrews and have listened to the soundtrack numerous times. (And I might even sing along shamelessly every time).
Anyway, my excitement was met with disappointment; I don’t know what I was expecting, but the house and grounds were not anything impressive: indeed, there was a sizeable house; and indeed, there were sprawling grounds; but it was a dismal, down-trodden place, surviving only upon the legacy of the von Trapp name. In fact, the best part was the gift shop, where an array of memorabilia for the film was held like bait above the heads of hopeless fanatics.
With hopes of salvaging our battered expectations, we wandered the property. Things began to look bright again (figuratively, as the clouds in the sky hung lower than a fat man on a zip line) when we found the Frisbee golf course. Eagerly we paid for our rental Frisbees and set out for some friendly competition.
It turned out the course was a little more difficult than we thought; nobody told us we would be playing hide-and-go-seek with the targets AND the tee pads. After endless searching for both components of the game, we made up a few of our own spots. On top of that, it began to drizzle.
The rain brought out the humidity, and the humidity brought the bugs. Swatting around our heads, we masochistically lit our calves on fire climbing through the thick, knee-high grass covering the hills; slid through unforgiving mud retrieving poor throws; bumbled across upturned tree roots in pursuit of the trail; profusely sweat through the layer of dew and bug carcasses covering our skin; and even bid “so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!” to one of the Frisbees which had been irretrievably lost in the unkempt grass.
Ultimately, we gave up on ever finding all 18 holes, and instead settled for 6. We returned three Frisbees and a bitter apology, and fled the von Trapp estate with the zeal that only four, mud-covered, bug-bitten, disappointment-ridden, rain-drenched, failed frisbee-golfers could offer.
I will say this: the experience did not deter our resolution to enjoy Frisbee golf. Later that week, after zip-lining on the other side of the mountain, we thoroughly enjoyed a healthy game in Smugglers’ Notch. Not only was the weather absolutely gorgeous, but the course itself was obviously regularly tamed (bonus!).
Naturally, we discovered that none of us are actually good at Frisbee golf. Nevertheless, our efforts were worth it. In a heartbeat I would return to Stowe, and I would even pay a visit to the Trapp Family Lodge; this time, however, I would wear pants and bring plenty of bug spray.
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