Over the past few days I've been vacationing in Massachusetts. I've been here before and LOVED IT!

In the weeks leading up to this vacation I had been daydreaming about all the wonderful things I would do and the amazing things I would see. Well, as is often the case, this time reality didn't match up with my expectations.

It took me hours to get across the border from Canada into the US, and then, a few hundred meters after passing through US customs my car started misbehaving. I went to accelerate and I heard something in the engine slip. Afterwards, no matter how hard I pressed the gas...no power. Great! Strange country, late in the afternoon on a Friday. What was I going to do if my car wouldn't run? I've heard horror stories about how much it can cost to have your car towed! Or maybe I'd meet an unfortunate end at the hands of some scurrilous highway men. Well, happily my car showed a little bit of power after I turned it off and restarted it. It still felt as though the same kind of "slip" would happen if I acellerated too fast so I had to take everything annoyingly slow from then on.

Between the delay at the border and my car troubles I got way behind schedule and didn't hit the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts until well after dark. The drive through the Berkshires was one of the things I was looking forward to most about my trip. Dramatic climbs and descents, beautiful vistas, quaint historic towns - its everything I Iove! Well, not only could I not see any of these sites after dark, I was in constant fear that my car wouldn't make it up one of the many steep climbs.

I pulled in to where I thought my hotel would be at about 1am! Only to find that it was actually in a town a 1/2 hour away!! I finally flopped down exhausted on my hotel-room bed in the right town at around 2am.

I woke up at 10am the next morning (actually this morning) and I have to admit I was not feeling particularly positive about the rest of the trip. What else was going to go wrong!? Maybe I should just pack up and go home before my car actually blows up, or ... well let's just say my imagination thought up way too many nasty possibilities.

I decided to continue with my trip despite the rough start. But things didn't improve very much. This morning I struck out for Salem, a great spooky historic town that I really enjoyed when I visited years ago. To my surprise I found out that today at least A MILLION PEOPLE had the same idea! A writhing anthill of eager tourists - honking cars, babies crying. It took me over an hour just to get from the outskirts of this fairly small place to the middle of town. I ended up leaving more quickly than I wanted, and my frustration was reaching full boil. I decided to find a place to stay for the night in Gloucester, a beautiful historic seaside town. Guess what, no hotels! Finally after driving around for too long, thinking maybe I would blow up before my car, I stopped at a gas station and the guy there directed me to an old inn just down the street. It turns out it's a gorgeous historic 3 story mansion with beautiful wood, and fireplaces throughout! Okay, that helped...a little.

I got settled, then went downstairs to see about some dinner. The dining room was empty and the waitress set me up at a cozy table by the fire. This seems promising! And...almost immediately she ushered an older couple and their adult daughter to a bench and chairs by the fire, so close I could touch them. Ah man! I just wanted to sit and eat in peace and quiet - to lick my wounds in solitude. Sure enough they start talking to me... but here's where my luck changed. These folks, all 3 of them, were a god-sent! They were bright, well read, well traveled, kind, gracious. We had an amazing, animated discussion about privatized health care, Scotland, the history of Gloucester. I left wishing I could call them up next week just to get together for another chat, but I know I'll be hundreds of miles away by then.

The fact is I'll probably never see them again.

I've had these moments before, where something small and wonderful bubbles up then quickly goes away. What gifts! I cherish these moments - each one of them marking me, each one changing me forever, for the better. I'm not worried I'll forget these people I've met today. When I think about this trip I'll remember how they changed a disaster to a delight - how they shone their light of goodwill and pleasantness into my pouting darkness. And the memory will continue to shine warm and comforting as one of many stars in my sky, always there for me to see standing out against the dark times of life. Thank you my friends from Gloucester, Massachusetts. And I don't even know your names...

p.s. This is a picture of me by the fire where my new Gloucester friends and I met.