The Weekend … The Whole Story

DSCF3287We departed Montreal early Friday morning. Myself, my sponsor and another friend, who is also a sponsee of my sponsor. It took a few hours to get to the other side of Vermont, in a round about way, we traveled 4 hours out, only to retrace our route 90 minutes back to our final destination of Mad River Valley in Waitsfield.

The weather was gloomy. cloudy and raining. We arrived mid afternoon and parked in the lot adjacent to Bill’s family home. The house is a working bed and breakfast space for members and visitors who come to visit. While we were there, a group of women from all over the U.S. were there to sit a Women’s Intensive Step Weekend. While we were there we spoke to the folks who run the house, anticipating that our men’s group may eventually host a weekend at the house. The house sleeps 18 on the second floor, there are two sitting rooms, one with the family piano. There is a full dining room that seats upwards of 140 people in one sitting. A full kitchen, meeting hall and fireplace lounge in the same space in the back.

We had our obligatory cup of coffee, because who else can say they had a cup of coffee in Bill’s family home? It was very special for us to visit this place.

After our visit we traveled up the road to the graveyard where Lois, Bill and many others are buried in simply marked graves, well kept by a caretaker. A group of the women from the house were already there and they asked if we would like to join them? We shared time together, and they gave each of us a St. Francis prayer card. We joined hands and said the prayer together, followed by a quick share from those present at the graveside, speaking about something that meant something to them. We closed with the Serenity Prayer.

I left my Twelve Year Chip on Bill’s headstone, pictured above. There were a few chips with BIG numbers on them, and a couple with a short amount of time. I almost got a 14 year chip that was there, but one of the women beat me to it, so I left without a chip. I was the only one to leave a chip for the next visitor.

Two hours had passed since our arrival. We got back on the road and made our way to Waitsville, and the Mad River Barn for our Men’s Intensive Weekend. This weekends group was half the number we had attending this past May. There were several factors that attributed to the low numbers. One, the price went up $40.00. Things have changed at the Inn that did not bode well for the weekend. Tempers were on edge all weekend between the host staff and the guests who came from as far as New York City, Vermont, and Canada.

I stayed in the annex building this time around. The annex was still under construction back in May. Both the guest rooms in the annex slept six people. We were twenty five in number this trip. The weekend did not go off without problems.

We got to see some old faces and a number of new people, who were either making their first weekend, or had come at other times. The food was good. Some thought that the meals served to us were sub-par, ala Chef Boyardee … But I ate well, for certain meals, and not others.

In the end, this would be our last visit to Mad River Barn. After twenty years of coming, our group elders voted for finding a new location that would serve us better. The bottom line is full fare paying guests, who stay, eat and DRINK ! They don’t make a whole bunch of money on twenty five sober folks who don’t drink. And it was apparent that our stay was more pain than pleasure, and the owners were to blame for the lack of cordiality, kindness, and the attitude several of us got from the couple who now own the Inn.

It rained all weekend, which made it kind of miserable. Getting out early to jog, or walk the paths up the mountain were muddy with puddles from the rain, so for the most part we all stayed in for the duration.

We departed at lunchtime. The Inn did not offer a last meal for lunch on Sunday. And by that time people were itching to get the hell out of dodge. We took the scenic way home from Vermont to the lake district of Quebec, where we crossed the border at a one man shack border crossing.

I arrived home around 3, and went to set up the Sunday Meeting at 5. We sat a full house and my friend and I, from the weekend shared our experience with the people. It was amazing. We read the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Ten.

The reading was short, the room was packed. And we concluded the share by ten after seven, which left plenty of time to have cake from a 23 year anniversary celebration.

It was the most amazing weekend. If you ever get to make the journey I highly recommend it.

More to come, stay tuned …

Men’s Intensive Weekend – Bill W. House East Dorset, Vermont

DSCF3269East Dorset is about a 3 1/2 hour drive from Montreal. This sign stands outside the home where Bill W. was born.

DSCF3270This is Bill’s family home – they can house 18 guests on the second floor of the house, and an additional 85 in a motel setting that is about 1000 yards from the house here.

DSCF3271This is the meeting room in the back of the house, There is a sitting room adjacent to this space, that has couches, tables and lamps, a full working fire place. We met some very nice folks from all over the area and visitors from other places. Notice the license plates from all over the United States. There are many more tacked to the rafters all the way around this room. There is never ending coffee, a pop corn maker, and comfortable places to sit during the day when you visit and for the guests who are staying and the guests that come for meetings in the house.

DSCF3272The living room/piano room. Lots of literature to read, and a really great space to enjoy your special Bill W. cup of coffee. We did … enjoy the coffee. How many people can say they had a cup of coffee in Bill W’s home?

DSCF3275This is the side view of the home.

DSCF3277Signs on the front of the home

DSCF3278DSCF3280

DSCF3271The meeting space. It can quite comfortably seat upwards of fifty people for a meeting.

DSCF3282Your author standing behind the “chair.”

DSCF3283In one of the dining rooms, there are photos of the house as it was built, family photos on the sideboard below the pictures on the walls.

DSCF3285The Graveyard where Lois, Bill and many others are buried. The headstones are very simple and humble markers. They sit side by side.

DSCF3286This is Bill W’s grave. You can see chips that have been placed on the headstone. There is only room for 11 or 12 chips. When you come, you bring your chip and leave it for someone else to take, when THEY come to visit the grave. My 12 year chip is now sitting here, along with many chips with anniversaries in the high 40’s. When too many chips appear on the headstone or on the ground surrounding it, the caretaker collects the chips and stores them in a shed on the property.

DSCF3287The CHIPS