Our Last Escape
Vermont March 1, 2020
This blog was supposed to be about our 3-week trip to Ireland and Scotland that we had planned for May/June. That of course was rescheduled due to Covid-19 and the severe travel restrictions. It is tentatively set for October/November of this year, but if the 14-day quarantines are still in affect in Ireland and Scotland, that is likely to get rescheduled yet again.
We do have a Plan B and Plan C for out October trip, but Plan B (Southern Driving Tour) has already been scrapped because of Covid. Plan C Autumn in New England, is in the planning stages, but again unless states lift the 14-day quarantine, that is likely to not happen.
That brings us to this 4th
of July weekend trip. We are in the middle of phase 2 and 3 reopening’s, but yet the cases of Covid are rising everywhere except here in the NE. Hotels are slowly opening, restaurants are in between outside and inside seating, with all of this we were able to find an Inn in NW Connecticut (Litchfield Hills) where the rich and famous play. We are of course neither. I booked us a room at the Interlaken Inn, just outside
Life of Luxury
Lakeville CT, in a King Suite room, the only one that allowed Tarragon to come with us. They did have another pet friendly building, but where we are is an old Victorian Style house. There is lots of grass so Tarragon can get some outside time while we play boccia ball. The Journey There
We have not owned a car since moving to NYC, so we usually get a zipcar when we go anywhere. There are several a blog away from us, so the convenience is great. In this case I booked and paid for the car a month in advance. We were leaving town at 1 which would have given us plenty of time to get to the Inn and stop for lunch along the way. Well, as they say “the best laid plans . . .” Three days before we were schedule to leave, I get a notification that they have changed our reservation, thinking it was a different car, I wasn’t really concerned until I read the details. Not only did they change the car, the location was changed from a block away to over 7 miles away and deep in the heart of the
Bronx, thus defeating the entire purpose of a Zipcar which is convenience. Fast forward to the day we are leaving. I walk up to the corner of 145th
and Broadway and spend 30 minutes trying to hail a cab (in the 94-degree 80%!h(MISSING)umidity and blaring sun.) Great start to the mini vacation. Finally securing a cab $30 and 40 minutes later I arrive at the garage where I am to pick up the car. No issue, right? WRONG, the car was not there and the entitled 20 somethings that had rented before me were 45 minutes late returning it (meanwhile I had been on hold with Zipcar trying to figure out what was going on) they didn’t even say F*** you very much let alone apologize for not returning it on time. Needless to say, Zipcar will be getting quite an earful from me later.
A bit of a story to tell that occurred while I was waiting for the Zipcar to show up. I am standing on the slope of the driveway inside the parking garage, on hold with Zipcar, sweating and not overall a pretty sight with the mask on my face and beads of sweat
on my forehead. As I am standing there, trying hard to remain clam (patience is not a virtue I possess) and minding my own business, not one but two male prostitutes attempt to solicit me. Really, I am hanging around in 95-degree weather in a parking garage because I am looking for sex? REALLY? So, you can see that this was not exactly the best part of the Bronx, I did get to practice my Spanish.
I was very stressed by this time and sweating like the pig (do pigs even sweat?) but at least I was I the car programing my route back to Hamilton Heights. The drive back was not so bad, I can drive like a New Yorker if I have to. So, 2 hours behind schedule we were locked and loaded. Our first stop was PJ Wine & Spirits in Washington Heights, to get the weekend beverages (great discount liquor store). I double park while Jerry went in. In New York, especially the other four boroughs and places like Washington Heights, everyone double parks, if not triple parks. Washington Heights is particularly bad. Wine and champagne purchased we were finally on our way out of
the City at 3:30.
We headed up Route A (hindsight being 20/20 not a good choice) and out of the city, 4 hours later we finally arrived at the Inn, with 20 minutes to go before our dinner reservation. Traffic was terrible, to say the least, but I was driving and that rarely stresses me out, unless I have not idea where I am going, but with Navigator Jerome, that is never really the case. We checked in easily (well after ringing the bell, masks on, and having our temperatures taken to see if we were carrying the virus or not) and our room is really nice, big King size bed, Tarragon would have nothing less. Jerry got Tarragon unpacked and setup and then we rushed to make our 7 pm dinner reservation. Now, eating at 7 is very early for us, especially on vacation. We normally have 8 or 8:30 dinner reservations, but with limited seating and few dining options during this time of Covid, we are eating early most nights. First Meal Out since my Birthday Weekend in Vermont.
The last time we ate out was on March 2, brunch on our last day
in Vermont for my Birthday weekend. Since March 11, we have either been on a 14-day self-quarantine (because of potential exposure to Covid, turned out it was actual since we both got mild cases) or under the stay at home order imposed by Governor Cuomo. My office is finally starting phased opening July 20.
We arrived at Neo in the village of Salisbury (yes this seems to be quite the Swiss/Austrian influenced area) promptly at 7. Dawning our Masks, we entered a restaurant for the first time in over three months. A storm was apparently brewing (it never materialized) so we opted for indoor seating. I will give this place great marks for their social distancing. Outside the tables were a bit closer together but still 6 feet apart, inside they were more like 10 feet apart, it was not well air conditioned, but at least I wasn’t cooking our dinner. While the social distancing aspect was very good, the mask wearing needed some help. People seem to think you don’t have to cover your nose. I don’t think the mask is going to keep the virus from spreading unless you cover your mouth and your nose. Neo is pretty much your typical American Italian restaurant, not horrible but not great either. It still was a meal not cooked by us. We didn’t have the camera on us so all shots are taken from my iPhone.
A couple more comments about masks before I continue with dinner. The vast majority of customers did the right thing, no mask at the table, but the second they stood up the mask went on. There were two exceptions so this. A large group in the back was leaving, they walked right by our table as we were close to the exit. Everyone in the group, save one, had their masks on. One elderly lady in the group had hers around her chin, not doing anyone any good there. I causally looked at her as she walked by, she gave me the look of death so I just smiled at her, that changed her attitude and she smiled back. What I wanted to say, was put your damn mask on lady, (yes, a different word crossed my mind.) The second instance was far worse. A very entitled woman and her two pre-teen sons walked up to the entrance completely with out masks (not to mention no reservation). She clearly was proud of not wearing a mask, “we don’t have masks so we would like a table outside” at first the server said it was reserved, but words of some sort were exchanged and they were seated outside. I personally; think they should have been told to order take out or go home. The mother is teaching her sons that the rules don’t apply to them, because they are special. Well they aren’t special; they are the same human shmucks we all are. Dinner
Since we are driving there was only one class of wine with our meal and no traditional class of bubbly before. On the positive note this did cut our dinner bill by at least 50%! (MISSING)Jerry had a decent class of Pinot Grigio and I had a Rose. We started with calamari (not house made very much Sysco frozen) good but not the best I have ever had nor the worst. The marina sauce needed help and the chipotle dipping sauce needed more kick and less mayonnaise, the entrées came with a side salad, typical restaurant side salad, blue cheese dressing was ok, but the packaged Ken’s Cesare was not. The main course for me was a Chicken Zingara (never heard of it you say? Neither have I). The menu description is as follows: Sautéed boneless chicken breasts with sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus, sea scallops, green peas in a lemon buttery white wine sauce. The chicken was actually moist, typical restaurant chicken breast is pretty dry. The scallops were cooked, but could have been warmer and needed a good sear on at least one side. Overall, the dish exceeded my expectations (which admittedly were low).
Jerry had his standard test dish. He judges all American Italian restaurants by one dish Lasagna. This while not the worst, that honor goes to the House of Lasagna in Mid-Town, was just pretty average. The noodles themselves were over cooked and the sauce lacked any real flavor, I guess they were out of herbs due to Covid-19. For our first dinner out in ages, it did the spot. Not great, not bad, but acceptable and not our cooking (which is very good just tired of it after three straight months of every meal cooking ourselves.)
After dinner we walked across the street to check out the quaint general store and pharmacy, then headed back to the comfort of our room. The humidity was very high and I was quite uncomfortable, the mosquitoes are in full swing and they have always liked my blood for some reason so were trying to make their dinner out of me. Back in the room, we had some champagne and were in bed by 10:30, Tarragon loved the king-sized bed, he does not sleep with us at home, but when there is a king-sized bed, his third is taken right out of the middle.
Thus, the end to our first day out of the hell of New York City (this is going to be a book written after we retire and leave the city working title “New York, the Greatest City in the World?”).
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