Monday, June 01, 2009

Stereo sound be damned!

Birthday road trip

Thanks to our friends Kim and David, we had a little movie-going adventure for my birthday. We went to one of two motels in this country with a drive-in theater in its back yard, allowing you to watch the movies from the comfort of your room.

The Fairlee Motel and Drive-in is in the village – and a pretty one at that – of Fairlee in central Vermont on US Route Five and spitting distance from the Connecticut River.

Built in 1960, the motel operations are clearly not the central part of the business. Most of the rooms are rented as apartments and my wife and think that only two or three were actually available for lodging.

We arrived at 3 p.m. Friday and had to call the owners at their home to come down to register us and let us in a room. We were given the option of coming back at 7 p.m. when they were setting up for the movie, but we wanted to stash our stuff.

Despite the lack of emphasis on this end of their business, the room was immaculate with a small refrigerator, microwave and flat screen TV. And yes, the picture window did indeed look directly toward a drive-in movie screen. A vintage 1960 audio system – actually an intercom of some sort – was there next to the window.

Bring your own shampoo if you go and a glass for water as neither are provided. And if you can figure out the 1960s controls in the shower before you scald yourself, you're one up on us.

We decided after a scenic drive down Route 5 to nearby White River Junction that we would dine at the concession stand of which the owners took great pride. The food was expensive – two cheeseburgers, an order of onion rings, an order of fries and two sodas was $28 – but it was all prepared fresh and homemade and tasted great.

Now I didn't go to drive-ins as often as I would have liked in high school and college. The first reason that as a farm boy and I had to get up early. The second reason is that my girlfriend's father would have killed me.

My family did go when I was a kid and I have fond memories of taking a bath, getting into my pjs and being loaded into our 1955 Buick along with blankets and pillows for a trip to the drive-in. I did spill a cup of lava-like hot chocolate from the concession stand – damn those enticing commercials before the films! – on my mom once.

This trip proved quite nostalgic for me. I loved it and I was happy to see the drive-in fill up with cars full of families. The theater only shows films with a rating of PG-13 or less.

I wish this truck hadn't been in the way, though. We quickly discovered that we couldn't lay in bed and watch the movie. The angles were all wrong. So we had to drag the two chairs in the room into place.

But, once the show started there was a little of the old magic of seeing a movie on a big outdoor screen. And the movie, "Knowing," had a horror sci-fi theme as well – good drive-in material.

They even had a vintage animated intermission clock film between the features.

The next morning we found a great diner.

A a small but interesting flea market on the town green.

Although I couldn't really recommend the Fairlee experience to anyone but died-in-the-wool movie or drive-in buffs, we had a great time.

© 2009 by Gordon Michael Dobbs

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