Driving straight from Poughkeepsie, NY to Milton, VT on Sunday, July 2nd was quite an adventure even apart from the usual three-ring circus of getting two kids and a cat variously packed up and attended to. It appeared that the most direct route was to get off the Northway (Interstate 87) at Exit 20, and cross over into southern Vermont on routes 149 and US 4. That was no problem, but this requires you to then drive through nearly the entire state of Vermont, south to north, on the two lanes of routes 22, 22A and US 7. We found that the endless procession of farms with identical-looking barns, identical-looking farmhouses and identical-smelling cows (not to mention being stuck in the middle of the same clump of twenty or so vehicles all the way from Rutland to Vergennes) grew a little monotonous. (Next time I think we'll stay on the Northway until Ticonderoga and then take the ferry over.) The club is not hard to find, really, using the map and directions on their web site, but the "Coventry" direction signs which are helpfully posted at some of the turns are not painted in very high-contrast colors and are hard to see unless you're right on top of them. Also, between the club's web site, the actual road signs, Mapquest, and the US Postal Service, there seems to be some debate as to whether one road is named "Everett" or "Everest", and whether the club is on "Beeb Hill Rd.", "Beebe Hill Rd.", or "Beebee Hill Rd."! Beebe Hill Road is a rural hard-packed dirt road, and I found it navigable without difficulty in both dry and wet conditions, though my car needed a bit of a bath afterwards. Altogether it was over a six hour drive, and my wife said, "This had better be worth it after all this."
Fortunately, my wife's first words when we pulled through the gate were, "Wow, what a nice spot!" We stopped at the office and Paulette handed me the forms, punched the computer, swiped my credit card and got me a key, then brought out the utility "golf cart" so we could follow her to the cabin with our car. I thought it a little odd that though she had been working at the desk nude, she threw on a pareo/sundress to go out in the cart. I don't know if this was because the open cart is too breezy or not comfortable to drive with just a towel for traction in the saddle, or if being a bit more dressed somehow goes with the feeling of being "on duty" around the grounds; it certainly was hot enough that evening to be nude! I was tempted to ask about it, but I thought it would be a bit too nosy to inquire about someone else's clothing preferences.
Since this was in every respect a real house, there was plenty of drawer and closet space. In one closet we found plenty of clothes hangers, and a large fan and space heater, neither of which we ended up needing. There were also plenty of pots, pans, dishes and utensils in the kitchen, all in good shape. We were all tired and wanted to eat quickly and easily the first night, so I just picked up a frozen pizza in town, but the rest of our meals were easily taken care of with a visit to the Grand Union and good old home cooking! (By the way, I think it's really idiotic that New York allows grocery stores to sell beer but not wine as they do in Vermont. It makes life so much easier when you can pick up a nice bottle of wine for dinner at the same time you are buying the other ingredients.)
(We also found out that the unusually rainy early summer in the Northeast had, indirectly, also further delayed the construction of the resort's big new inground hot tub. The concrete had been poured, but the contractor hired to do the rest of the masonry and tilework was a month behind schedule due to all of the bad weather. Ray said, "At this rate, I think we'll have to do all the tiling ourselves. To the contractor, we're a small job, and they just don't have time for us." Oh well. My family and I found plenty to do without a hot tub, but had it been there, it would have been a nice cozy place to socialize on a cool, rainy day. Y'know, I bet they'll have the hot tub finished by the time you're reading this; ask them about it when you call for your reservations.)
Well, I guess it's not for nothing that we're nudists. We finally just took the clothes off the kids and sent them out to play in the front yard in the rain. They thought that was great, and that worked for a good hour. Then, during one of the intervals of no rain, we all grabbed our towels and went down to the lake to go swimming. I estimated the water temp to be somewhere in the mid 70s. This was very nice, and was such that you could just walk right in and swim without much of a shock (though remember for comparison that I'm used to the Atlantic Ocean at Sandy Hook, and my family's pool in extreme northern New York!) While we were at the lake, the light rain started again. There was no lightning, so we simply ignored the rain, apart from tightly rolling up our towels to minimize their exposure to the elements. Heck, we were already in the lake swimming, how much wetter could a little rain make us?! And no worries about wet clothes! I found the lake very beautiful to swim in with the rain falling, with the bloops and blobs from the water droplets alternating with thousands of bubbles, like an intricately decorated antique plaster or hammered-tin ceiling. (More humorously, I was also reminded of Steven Wright saying, "When I'm in the bathtub, I like to turn on the shower and pretend I'm in a sinking submarine!")
As you might expect, with the wet weather, there were not too many of the other guests out and about, and those we did observe sheltering under porches and dodging the rain were more clothed than not. I for one tend to wear as little as the situation allows even under ordinary circumstances, so unless it starts snowing, I refuse almost as a matter of principle to wear any clothing at all at a nudist resort. (That includes footwear. Even with Coventry's roadways being paved with gravel and loose stones, I would rather put up with treading carefully and wait for my feet to toughen up, if it earns me freedom from shoes.) Still, even allowing for the weather conditions, I was beginning to wonder where all the other nudists were (though to be honest, we did see a handful of other nakers here and there, rain or no.)
On the way back from the lake to our cabin for lunch I stopped at the office to see if there were any events planned that day, or if there was a particular time of day that people liked to hang out at the clubhouse and socialize. Ray said that there was nothing special planned that day, but that the clubhouse was always open if we wanted to use the big-screen TV or VCR. VCR!! I mentioned that we had some videotapes with us, but that they were more for "Grandma's House" and we hadn't planned on being able to use them at the resort. Ray said, "Well, it's first come, if nobody else is using the TV, why not put on a movie for your kids." Ah-hah! That took care of the rainy afternoon. Our daughter, not quite two, was delighted to be able to watch Stuart Little, her current favorite movie.
Nice relaxing family dinner at the cabin, and a nice clothes-free evening around the house and sitting on the porch listening to the invisible sound of the fog wrapping itself around the trees. By the way, I had been dreading the mosquitoes, but even being in the woods near a lake, there were surprisingly few -- hardly any, in fact -- and mosquitoes find me especially tasty, and will usually come from miles around when they hear I'm in the area! If the flying-insect conditions are always this good at Coventry, it's truly miraculous.
Altogether, this was probably the nicest, most relaxing, most wonderful "miserable rainy day" I can remember in years!
July 4th was everything that July 3rd was not. The remaining clouds blew away early, and the sun came out full blast to remind us that it was, in fact, July. I was thinking, "That figures, the weather gets nice the day we have to leave!" Our guest information we'd gotten when checking in said that the checkout time was 11am, but if late checkout was desired to "inquire at the office." Well, the office (that had never let us down yet) checked their reservation book, and finding nobody scheduled to come into our unit that day, said, "No problem. Stay as long as you like." Wow! Not having to worry about packing up our traveling family circus at any specific time was an incredible relief, and it made the day very enjoyable. We spent lots of time by the lake chatting with all of the other nudists (who were there after all, and came out in force when the sun did!), soaking up the sun, and cooling off in the water. There were at least two other families with young children having a swim. Hank, who "has been coming here every summer for 37 years" (in the days of course when it was called Forest City Lodge), showed my son (who is almost seven years old) his electric-drive platform/pontoon boat. A few hours later we saw Hank and his boat out in the middle of the lake. We called out, "ANY FISH YET??" and for answer he held up a three-pound bass! There were nudists in canoes and nudists in paddleboats, nudists swimming and nudists sunning. The only thing I might wish for would be some resort-owned watercraft for general guest use, since most of the equipment we saw was privately owned, and being enjoyed by the owners. I bet the new resort management will do something along those lines once they get more established.
Well, all things must eventually end. We were expected across Lake Champlain at my family's for dinner that evening, so we packed up the car in mid-afternoon, took out the trash and sorted the recyclables. I stopped by the office to drop off the key at around 4pm, and thanked Ray for the wonderful time. Driving out of the gate, my wife summed up our visit by saying, "Next time, I think we should stay here a whole week!"
All in all, we found Coventry's location/setting, grounds, facilities, accomodations, and the friendliness of the clientele and the customer service attitude of the management to be, without exception, terrific. We definitely plan a return visit and recommend this location highly to others. --JMF
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