It’s clear and beautiful in Washington, DC. Our huge two-foot “Snowmageddon” has melted in what I still insist is a Southern sun. I can finally get out of my driveway, and with no job in sight, I figure it’s time to take a trip up north to visit the mom.

Most beautiful visitors' center in the world.

When I get to Troy, New York, a pit stop to visit my little bro at RPI en route to my mom’s town of Hanover, NH, snow is falling at a relatively fast pace. It’s been snowing ever since New Jersey and my tiny 1996 Toyota Camry (two wheel drive, 4-cylinder engine, no snow tires) and I had thought more than once about pulling over and spending the night in a hotel. Luckily for my brother (and unluckily for me and my car, Lucille), we didn’t find one. So, battling snowdrifts that slowed traffic on I-87 to a haulin’ 30mph, we made it to Troy in a record time of only 2 hours later than we were supposed to.

So much for checking the weather before I left. But then again, I wonder if dangerous weather conditions would have stopped me. They probably wouldn’t have. I’ll be the first to tell you I’m pretty dumb (and daring).

After a great dorm-style breakfast (oh, wait, it wasn’t dorm-style, it was a dorm), a tour of a very snowy Troy and a good five minutes brushing off a fresh foot of snow off of Lucille’s sweet body, Lucille and I hit the road again, driving through Vermont toward New Hampshire. Snow was all we saw for miles. That and a few shocked highway drivers. Then the plows stopped.

We were approaching Vermont and the previously clear road became snow. Snow everywhere. I slowed down, trying not to skid off the highway. Around me, in front of me, cars were plunged into snowdrifts on either side of the road. I must have passed eight cars in half an hour, the drivers safe but patiently waiting for tow trucks to haul them out of their snow banks. There was something comforting about the fact that we were all driving so slowly; the chance of death was minimal. Most likely, you’d slip into a snow bank and just wait a few hours until someone dug you out. But I wasn’t interested in that happening, regardless of how comforting the lack of dying was. I was pretty interested on getting where I was going.

I figured there had to be a plow along the way, so I pulled into the Vermont Welcome Center and waited it out. I had an apple, a serious stash of chocolate and Paula Deen’s memoir to keep me amused. When I showed up, it seemed a few other people were waiting out the storm, too.

My friends in Boston have a fondness for every Vermont Welcome Center that exists. I always thought it was some sort of cute joke…I had been to a Vermont Welcome Center with them once and do not remember having much recollection of it. But it was today that my love for both Vermont and its glorious welcome centers grew, not only because this one saved me from hours of torturous snow driving, but also because it was the cutest little welcome center in the whole world. Unlike the greasy, dirty welcome centers I’d been accustomed to seeing along 95 while driving up home that way, this place was like a ski lodge- beautiful wooden beams across the ceiling, soft music playing in the background, a fireplace with locally crafted wooden rocking chairs, a photography exhibit, wifi…upon mere entry I was transported to the mother of all welcome centers; what welcome centers probably aspire to be. I felt…welcome. It was weird.

I spent a solid hour there and probably wouldn’t have left if I didn’t actually have traveling to do. I walked

A visitors center with a view

through showcases of Vermont history, gazed out the windows at snow-covered fields and mountains (the highway was magically hidden from view), chatted with the kind woman a the front desk, listened to her murmur sweetly, like a friendly librarian, to her other guests. It was a winter paradise. I was almost waiting for someone to come up to me and offer free hot chocolate.

If you’re ever on 87 going from New York to Vermont, stop. You won’t regret it.