Author’s Note: My next installment related to a previous post called “How Do I Get Naked in America?” Long-time readers know that my wife and I have developed quite an affinity for naturist travel to international destinations, with a particular fondness for those in France and Croatia. But in this most unusual summer of 2020, the immediate prospects for getting on an airplane to go anyplace are somewhere between dicey and impossible. And thus, the Meandering Naturist has adopted a new mission of becoming more familiar with naturist places within driving distance of the greater New York Metropolitan area. This post is another chapter in a quest that seeks to encourage family naturism here and abroad, based on the presumption that knowledge is power – and the more you know about where you’re going, the more likely you are to have an enjoyable experience once you get there.
The Story of Abbott’s Glen: A charming clothing-optional retreat in southern Vermont
Blogging about “places you’ve been naked” can be a tricky endeavor, as you may or may not have a bucket full of glowing things to say about the place you’re “reviewing.” It helps that I use a pen name for my blog, partially to provide at least a modest buffer (no puns intended) between my professional and personal lives, but also, to allow the freedom to actually write what I think after visiting a naked place. To that end, I rarely out myself to the proprietors of a resort until we’re on our way out… if ever. And for that matter, I tend to delay posting such reviews – sometimes by weeks, sometimes for as long as a year – in an effort to remain anonymous in the rearview mirror. I can just imagine AANR sending out a memo to their entire constituency – Watch out! Naturist Dan is on the road again!
But I did out myself to Amy and Lindy at Abbott’s Glen on the last day of our recent visit, which afforded the opportunity to ask a few more questions about the place, with a decided desire to get the word out that if you’ve ever thought about trekking up to Vermont to check this place out, you might want to move that up your bucket list a few notches.
There’s an admitted sense of urgency as to why I would put this quiet little mountain retreat on our very short list of the Best Naturist Places in America. Most immediately, you may have noticed that there’s a pandemic going on, which has had a profound impact on people in the hospitality industry everywhere. I thought it was poignant on Saturday night, while a dozen or so of us were gathered around the bonfire, that Lindy mentioned in passing that in a normal year there would have been thirty of forty people gathered around. This particular weekend, he built huge bonfires for the smallish crowd of perhaps a dozen or so, on both Friday and Saturday nights, but by Sunday evening nearly all the other guests were on the road to resume their busy weekday. On Monday morning it was just us and two other guests.
When we had a moment to chat on our last day there, Amy told us a bit about her days in the hospitality industry, and her affinity for cooking and entertaining. Her idea of a great weekend was crowding her Abbott’s Glen dining room with road weary strangers and knocking their socks off – quite literally in this case – with farm-to-table goodness long before that was trendy and cool. As we bantered a bit with return guests, it became clear that has been a definitive part of the Abbott’s Glen experience of the past, but with social distancing and so many health restrictions in place, that’s simply not possible right now.
While the typical communal breakfasts weren’t an option given social distancing, the fresh breakfast baskets delivered to the room provided a glimpse into those traditions. We also learned about the complete kitchen makeover, saw the intimate dining spaces, and ogled at the glowing windows of the Sugar Shack, a social area sporting a billiards table, lots of board games, and two wood stoves. What a great place this would be to hang out in an era devoid of face-masks and social distancing. Several guests were still “making it work,” dutifully in their use of PPE while trying to distance from one another around the pool table – but it simply doesn’t feel the same as a typical, virus-free summer.
What we have found so elusive about naturism in America – and conversely, so refreshing about Abbott’s Glen – is that choosing a nakation location in the US invariably involves a total abandonment of everything else we love about travel. Rooms that are charming and tasteful with indoor plumbing. (A limited commodity I should note, even at Abbott’s Glen, as many of the rooms have shared baths.) Good food that isn’t deep fried or recently thawed from frozen captivity. Or simply a general ambiance that doesn’t feel like a trailer park that time has forgotten.
Creating top-shelf travel ambiance has been the priority for Amy and Lindy right from the start, including a few other perks like a three-hole putting green and a forest path that leads down the hill to a stream just deep enough to submerge yourself without worrying about getting carried away by the currents to New Hampshire. We also fell hard for Tito the Dog, a dapper Pointer mixed-breed, who was eager to blaze the trail to the stream each day for his afternoon swim. In those moments, the place makes one feel like a character in a Norman Rockwell painting – minus the clothing, of course.
As we were arriving from out of state, full of paranoia about The Virus, we opted for what must be one of their nicest accommodations: The Deluxe Suite in the Abbott House, with the all-important feature in these days of a private bathroom. Rumor has it that this was previously the residence of the proprietors, but they recently included it in the room inventory, along with the spacious shady deck where you could hear the stream rushing a hundred feet below; that alone was a quiet sanctuary worth the price of admission.
The nearby town of Wilmington was charming enough, with a fair number of unique eateries where take-out is the new normal. But the big local attraction for naturists is The Ledges, on the banks of Harriman Reservoir, also known as Lake Whitingham. I’ve read about this place for as long as we’ve lived on the east coast, though somehow, we’d never found our way there before this outing. After all the hype, we were a bit underwhelmed, finding the male-female balance to be heavily slanted toward the former, while the precious spots for swimming in the lake and sunning on the rocks naked to be limited, and mostly occupied by 11:00 am on a Saturday morning. We ended up abandoning our granite perch in favor of paddling around the lake (clothed) for a while on our inflatable kayak. But if The Ledges is on your bucket list, it’s useful to know it’s a mere 20-minute drive from Abbott’s Glen, but plan to get there earlier in the day rather than later, especially if you have a boat, picnic supplies, or other paraphernalia to haul down to the shore.
As my blog has seen a steady increase in readership over the past few years, I’d like to circle back to the aforementioned urgent nature of this post. There has never been a more important time to support your local, or not so local, naturist business, as they are niche endeavors, marketing to a narrow slice of the general population. I’m confident that if more people had their first naturist experience at a place like Abbott’s Glen, naturism and social nudity would become more mainstream amidst American travelers, given the otherwise pervasive skepticism for social nudity.
But in addition to that, here’s the stinger… Abbott’s Glen is for sale!
Amy and Lindy bought the place in 2002, opened the inn in 2004, and proudly wave the banner in the subject line that they’ve been “saving marriages for 364 days a year.” They have cared for and expanded the property lovingly, and they make their guests a priority, but they’re ready to move on. Eventually, Abbott’s Glen will have new owners, who may or may not value just how precious the commodity that naturism actually is.
Since you never know where a blog link will land as it makes its way through the labyrinth of social media, perhaps this post will fall into the hands of someone who might say, “Wow. A naturist country inn nestled in a river valley in idyllic Vermont. Just the business opportunity I’ve been looking for!” A chance to preserve this place that has become a second home to so many people who have discovered the joys of naturism in this quiet hamlet just a few hours north of the hustle and bustle of New York City. Who could want for a more faithful clientele than those who seek all that is good about social nudity in a place so robust with nature? A place to enjoy naturism in an ambiance such as this draws the most loyal of followers who will drive those hours simply for the privilege of enjoying a few days of relief from the madding crowd. So… That’s the story of our first visit to Abbott’s Glen. With gratitude to Amy and Lindy – not only for their kindness to us, but mainly, for their immense contribution to the naturism ideal in America – we are most hopeful we will return one day soon, able to leave both clothing and face-masks behind.