Friday, February 1, 2013

Roadtrip Recap: Vermont House Swap!

Was it a sign that on the way from Niagara Falls to Vermont we saw a rainbow in the middle of a beautiful sunny sky?

I think it was. Incidentally, we had amazing weather nearly the entire trip. I don't remember it raining once, and my iPhoto is filled with snapshots of gorgeous blue skies. Lucky as always.

Maybe even more than this blog has functioned as an information tool for family to keep up with us, it is a book I write for my boys. It is the depository of my hopes for them, my joy at their lives, and a journal so they can see what happened in their lives before memory takes over. That's a fancy way of saying that this is going to be a LONG entry with lots of boring details. This post will just be about the house and the swap; I'll write another entry about what we did in Vermont. I remember this week with so much fondness. It was a time of total relaxation and freedom for the boys. It is why I regularly fantasize about moving us all onto a small farm and living a different kind of life. And why we might, someday!

In the cold winter before our road trip, I had a thought to try to find a farm to rent out for the summer. It didn't take shape the way I'd hoped, and I switchd to the idea of a road-trip where I could show my boys some amazing sights, see some old friends, and maybe fit in a tiny bit of "farm" in the form of a house-swap somewhere more rural. I crafted an add for Craigslist. It read:
Vacation swap - your home for our DC rowhouse I am looking for a summer adventure for myself and my two sons (ages 5 and 3). We have always lived in the city, and would love to experience living somewhere totally different. I'm hoping to find another family that would like to "switch lives" for a while! Ideally, we'd like to stay somewhere rural but are open to anything. 
I'm going to post a little "about us" and a hopeful "about you" along with a few pictures of our home. If you're at all interested, drop me a line and we can talk in more detail. And if you know anyone you think might be open to this sort of crazy plan, please pass this listing along! 
About us: we live in a very walkable area of Washington, DC. We walk two blocks to the Metro, two blocks to the community center/playground, two blocks to the grocery store, 15 minutes to Chinatown and the Verizon Center and a big movie theatre, and 25 minutes to the National Mall (Capital building, Washington Monument). We regularly Metro a few stops to the museums to visit the American History Museum (dinosaurs!), the American Indian museum, and other fun adventures downtown. There is hiking nearby at Roosevelt Island, and it's easy to get to some great child-friendly places all over Maryland and Virginia. We walk to Thai, Ethiopian, Greek, and Chinese restaurants. 
Our house: a decent-sized house for the city: 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, living room, dining room, kitchen, fully finished basement, pantry, washer/dryer, deep freezer. There's a small bricked backyard that you can use for playing or for parking. We have wonderful friendly neighbors who will be happy to help you acclimate, learn about the area, and provide support (and parties!) 
About you: I want to meet up with another family who is up for an adventure. I hope to find a nice house with at least 2 bedrooms, child-friendly, well-maintained, no pets that we need to take care of (we can handle fish or guinea pigs though). Having a bunch of land and a nice porch would be a bonus.
My old boyfriend Jonathan has a stellar wife named Wendy, and she put it on the local listserve in their town of Norwich, VT. I got a bite from a lady named Gail and everything clicked. Looking back, I realize that we never spoke to each other on the phone, not once. In fact, we still haven't, even a year and a half afterwards! This is the first email she sent me:
I read the posting your friend Wendy placed on the Norwich listserve about your interest in a housing swap this summer. We are very interested if you haven't found anything yet. We are a family of 4 (2 girls (8 & 12) and 2 adults) and live in Norwich. Our house is on the Connecticut River with about 4 acres of yard and a swimming beach and rope swing into the river. The house has 4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, family room, and a kitchen/dining/living room. 
We have friends in DC that we would love to visit plus would love to have a chance to visit some museums.. We are fairly flexible with time but are not available for a swap the 3rd week in June, 4th of July week or the 3rd week in August. If this is at all interesting to you, please let me know and I will send photos of the house and property.
To protect Gail's privacy, I won't post the address but suffice to say it was perfect. We sent several more emails and worked out the details. We were able to arrange to swap the week before the boys and I needed to be in Wolfeboro, NH for our week at the lake (maybe 2 hours from Norwich) and so everything lined up wonderfully. Stewart made arrangements to stay with some friends in DC. And so I both took a deep breath and jumped into the adventure! And this is what we found waiting for us:


And all of this? Just the YARD of the house we stayed in! Next post...what we did in Vermont!

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