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Vermont and Back Again: A Tadcaster Tale
Don't let Ian Navigate

as told by Lord (Lord) Collin Monroe

Northern Region War Camp
July 4th-6th, AS XXXVIII
See the pictures >

I have been asked to write down the tale of the Tadcaster Militia's ill-fated trip home from the Northern Region War Camp in the Shire of Glenn Lynn. I will see if the written word can do justice to the absolute silliness of the day.

There was more to the trip that weekend than just the 3 left turns that led us to Vermont. The next time you see Dons Ian or Jost ask them how the dog in their rectum is doing. Or maybe you can ask Don Thomas about his engineering skills. Or how we learned about the culinary wonders of cheesecake served with cognac while sitting around a campfire. But one of my favorite stories is from Saturday of that War Camp.

Geoffrey Gryffon and I were walking the 150 yards to the list fields lugging our gear. When we arrived we saw Don 'R' standing there and stopped near him to say good morning. After a brief hello, Geoffrey said, "Excuse me, I have to go back to camp and get Ian's stuff." Which he then promptly ran off to do.

Standing there, mouth agape, Don 'R' looked after Geoff and uttered, "I don't believe this. Ian's not even a Don yet and his students are better trained than my cadets." Ian would not join the Order of the Golden Rapier for another 2 months (though he was about the only one in the SCA who did not know it at this point). But I digress - that is a story for another to tell.

I asked 'R' what he meant. He replied, "If I asked my cadets to go get my stuff, they would tell me to go to hell."

At that point one of 'R's' cadets walked by. "Watch this," 'R' said, and asked the cadet:  "'X', would you do me a favor and run back to camp and get my sword bag?"

To this 'X' replied, "Go to hell, get it yourself," and continued on his way.

"See," 'R' said to me, as he shrugged his shoulders and made one of his faces.

But I know you're reading this for the infamous Vermont story, so here goes.


It started out as a normal breakdown day for the 7 of us: Ian Raven, Geoffrey Gryffon, Brunissende Dragonette de Brocéliande (Bruni), Brunehilde de Ravenel (Bruni's Mom), Thomas del bruc, Marion of the Oaken Glen and myself. The tents were taken down and stored in the back of my trailer for the 6-hour ride home. We said our goodbyes and hit the road at 11 am.

The trouble started about 1 hour into the trip. It was 4th of July weekend, you see. War Camp was in the Lake George, NY, area, which is a major holiday stop. Traffic was getting slow on Rt. 87 as we approached Albany. About 6 miles or so above Albany, we came upon one of those blinking temporary road signs. You know the type? They usually have more than one line of information for you to read as you pass by at 65 miles per hour. As I was driving I could only read the first few lines before I was forced to watch the road. The basic thrust of what I read was that the traffic around Albany was very congested and it could be avoided by getting off at the next exit and going to Rt. ... That's all I got.

"Did anyone get that sign?" I asked.

"I read it,"  replied Ian 'The Navigator' Raven. "We can go around the traffic by getting off here and taking Rt. 7 to Rt. 78 South. It will go around Albany and rejoin with 87 further down." We agreed to try the new route. At least we wound see some different sites than just 87. Boy, would we.


Look at a map sometime; there is no Rt. 78 near Albany. Ian should have read Rt. 787. You could drive all the way to Vermont looking for 78... And we did.

If you ask Ian, he'll tell you that Lord Lorenzo got to the sign before us and took out the bulbs for the second 7 in the Rt. number. That's his story and he's sticking to it.

We drove for about a half hour or so. The car had been a non-stop buzz of conversation so far, but people were tired from the long weekend and some started to doze at this point. Even comments like "Nice coupon, baby," and "The Mirror of God's Will, up the hill to the left" were not able to keep some eyes from closing. So the car had been silent for about 20 minutes when I got the first feeling something was wrong. I saw a sign for "Vermont Real Estate". I thought I read this wrong so I said nothing. 2 minutes later I pass "Vermont Liquors". Now in my geographically challenged mind, Vermont is north of NY. There's no way I could drive due east from Albany and be in Vermont. Remember I said geographically challenged.

I turned to Ian, who was still hopefully looking for 78, and asked in a small voice, "Ian, is there any 'F'ing way we could be in Vermont?"

"No,"  he replied. "We can't possibly be in Vermont." As this left his lips, we passed the "Vermont Tourist Information Bureau".

Seeing this, I'm afraid my voice got a little loud as I exclaimed, "We're in 'F'ing Vermont!"

The sleeping and tired people in the rear of the car began to stir at this outburst.  "Vermont?" "Vermont!" "How did we get to Vermont?" I hear from Muppet-like, confused voices behind me.

Somehow we managed to not panic but, as I had no map of this now-dreaded state in my car, we decided to drive a little longer, looking for a place to buy one. Soon we came upon a gas station/food mart, where we hoped to purchase a clue... I mean map.

I went in to the market, while some of my friends went to the fish n' chips and ice cream parlor across the street. Yes, I said fish and ice cream. Don't ask, but it seemed to make Geoff and Thomas happy.

The girl behind the counter smiled as I walked up with my confused stare. "Can I help you find something?"

"Do you sell maps?"

"Yes. But maybe I can help you. Where are you going?"

"New Jersey."

"I think you made a wrong turn," she says, reaching for a book of maps behind her.

I walked back to the car looking at the map, and quickly see the mistake we made with Rt. 787, not just 78. (Notice how I don't say 'the mistake Ian made.' We really don't blame him... really.) Getting back in the car, I'm assaulted by the smell of fish and ice cream. (Ice cream smells in Vermont.) Thomas is holding what I believe to be the largest milkshake I've ever seen. It has to be a half-gallon.


We talk about our situation and decide to try to go back to Rt.87 by driving down Rt. 9 from where we are, rather than backtrack all the way for the hour we traveled to this point and still have to deal with the mess around Albany.

The rest of the ride went well. I mean Rt.9, it turns out, is no highway and in many places you end up going 45 not 65. But it got us where we needed to go, with only a few "Clenching Breasts", "Denied Nuns" and sudden turns "Sooth". It just took 4 hours longer than we thought it would.

On a serious note, I will state that I have a love for this group of people that has not weakened in the year since that trip was taken. I write this a few days before the 1-year anniversary of Vermont and the memories are still happy ones. A trip that went this bad could have made the 7 in the car grumpy and hard to be around, but instead it made our friendship stronger and our sides ache with laughter. I know that's how I feel, anyway, and I think they would agree.

I hope this explains the 'F' Vermont bumper stickers. Or when you hear someone from Tadcaster say, "Man, that shot came by way of Vermont." It makes sense to us, even those not on the trip. But then again, we have "ferret brains".


Lord Lord Collin Monroe
June 29th, 2004