I’m catching up here with a post we prepared in September, but didn’t have the ‘bandwidth’ to publish.
We slipped away again in late August, having waited for two events that were very important to us individually. Jennifer is always excited to attend the Valdese company picnic to visit with her coworkers, many of whom are dear friends. I attended our Cohort meeting of the eleven folks who graduated together from the Ornish lifestyle/lifetime renewal program. With that done we turned our eyes to the road again.
As we’ve learned from exhausting ourselves, shorter days are more fun, so we found a state Park in the outskirts of Richmond to overnight.
Sometime we’d like to spend several nights at Pocahontas State Park, a peaceful respite with trails and a pool.
Rainy days and Mondays always get Syd down
Next day we cruised into Delaware to visit my nephew and my sister. I cooked amazing vegan barbecue one evening, and Larry and Linda, who have no fewer than four professional BBQ/smoking setups on their small farm, absolutely ‘loved it’. Oh well, their favorite restaurant over in Chesapeake, MD was perhaps a better choice, since Jennifer and I have become adept at ordering creatively. I also picked up a toll road fast pass that in the NE is essential equipment, allowing us to save our quarters for the laundromat. We left early on the morning of 31 August to scoot around Philadelphia and bypass NYC entirely, discovering the beautiful Poconos of PA, and then continuing on just past Binghamton to rest two nights on the Canaga river in a pretty NY state park that was in full family party mode for Labor Day.
Sydney found dogs to play with and we ate fine meals and relaxed with the neighbors.
On a rainy Labor day we took off again across upstate NY to Albany, and then up the NY state waterway past Fort Ticonderoga. We missed Lake George this trip in favor of reaching our intended destination, one of the most pleasant places we’ve stayed anywhere, on the SE shore of Lake Champlain near Vergennes, VT.
Vermont is like the most hospitable foreign country you’ve ever visited. Every community here was established by the late 1700’s. There are oddities one has to learn – like driving signage worded differently than anywhere else, as if the DOT uses nice older schoolteachers to compose signs giving good advice but being careful not to be judgmental about drivers intentions – still most people speak very passable English, so it’s very much like home. Everyone here seems to be entirely content being patient, kind and helpful, but they nevertheless take our money and things are a little expensive, so the strange attitude is not too annoying.
Even more striking is that all the farms in Vermont, which are everywhere and are one of the most picturesque features of the landscape, seem to be small family farms. “Farmsteads”. You can see the house connected to the barnyard, the vegetable gardens and the neat and orderly outbuildings that have been laid out the same for the last hundred years. Even so,the farms seem prosperous and very neatly maintained, with a Subaru and a pickup in the drive and toys in the yard.
If ConAgra and the rest of big Ag ever get a monopoly on the food supply I’m moving to Vermont – you don’t even need a passport to get in!
We spent a good deal of time in Burlington, which is rather akin to Boulder, complete with a Pearl Street and a walking mall area that is locally reputed to be what Pearl Street in Boulder was patterned after. The University of Vermont is here. There’s a waterfront, and bike trails make it all accessible.
Just below Burlington, and closer to our home base, is Shelburne. Nice little town – great big museum. Several art galleries with the occasional Monet or Winslow Homer, the best circus museum I’ve seen, and acres and acres of everything Folk Art Americana.
Next day We toured the campus, walked downtown and had a fine birthday dinner in Middlebury. Like Vergennes, Middlebury was founded alongside a falls where power was generated. We also went to the Lake Champlain Maritime museum and to the Rokeby, which was the home of one of the numerous Underground Railroad participants in Vermont.
It’s surprising to come to a place where slavery was forbidden from its first day, to learn things we didn’t know and hear a very different perspective.
Finally, our eventful ten days in Vermont included an afternoon in a suburb of Montreal visiting a cousin of Jennifer’s. On the trip up we drove through the Champlain Islands and across Hero Island where, appropriately, Bernie Sanders lives.