Back in 2008, I wrote about how Jeannine and I came across a vintage Japanese motorcycle show, completely by accident, while riding bicycles in Northampton's Look Park. I used the word "serendipity" to describe the experience, and noted it is defined by Merriam-Wedster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary as "the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for".
On our trip to Vermont last week, we had two such experiences. One was the unexpected discovery of an A&W roadside drive-in restaurant, complete with young women on roller skates ("car hops", I think they're called) to bring your food order to your car, and set it on a tray hung on your partially rolled-up window. It was also a remarkable coincidence, as just the previous week I had been bemoaning to Jeannine the loss of these very places, and how I had not seen an A&W restaurant in at least the last five years.
(photo by Jeannine)
I had to pull over, of course, and even though it was mid-afternoon and I'd already had lunch, I ordered a hot dog and one of those wonderful root beers A&W is renowned for. The girl who took my order told us that this restaurant was the last of its type in New England.
But before that tasty discovery, we'd had an even more serendipitous experience. On the scenic drive up to Shelburne from Manchester, VT, we'd consulted a touristy map of the area and saw that there were two museums not too far off Route 7 -- the Maple Museum and the Marble Museum. (I later quipped to Jeannine that if there was a type of marble called "maple", that would be a real home run for Vermont.) She wasn't too interested in the Maple Museum, but the Marble Museum sounded kind of intriguing… and, as we were in no hurry, it was not a big deal to get off Route 7 in Rutland and head over on Route 3 to Proctor, VT.
There we found the Maple Museum, a large mill-type building with an imposing stack of marble blocks outside its doors.
Inside, there were many examples of things made from marble -- statuary, furniture, and the like -- and a room with large slabs of marble showing all the different types that Vermont is famous for.
Now here's the serendipity part: There was one room with displays geared mostly towards kids, explaining things like how the geological processes of the Earth produce marble and other rock. And in that room, on the floor behind a simple wooden rail, was this:
I don't recall all the details about this specimen, but I believe it is one of the few articulated (in this case meaning all of the bones were found together and in the proper arrangement) fossil skeletons of a Triceratops ever found. And here it is, on the floor of the Marble Museum in Proctor, VT!
It reminded me very much of another bit of fondly-remembered serendipity from those heady early days of dating Jeannine, when we'd made a plan to drive out to the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, MA. She'd read that an exhibit of masks was on display there and wanted to see them. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, that exhibit had moved on. Since we were already there, we decided we should walk through the museum (which, coincidentally, I'd never been in before, even though I'd lived my entire twenty-eight years at that time not more than an hour's drive away) and see what it had on display.
I walked around one corner and was stunned to see a juvenile Triceratops staring back at me. Or, to be more accurate, a model of a juvenile Triceratops… and right behind it, models of the same beast at earlier stages of its life. That would have been cool enough, but I was even more surprised to read the tags and learn that these were models made for use in an early 1960's adaptation for television of one of my all-time favorite books from my childhood, Oliver Butterworth's "The Enormous Egg". And these things had been in this museum pretty much for my entire life, and I'd never known about them. I was sorry that the mask exhibit that Jeannine wanted to see was no longer there, but I confess that finding those Triceratopses made that day for me.
Well, that, and spending some wonderful time with my lovely wife-to-be. -- PL