Welcome to Vermont – Nothing to see here…

Latest vacation brought me to Milton, VT and Lake Champlain.  A week off, unplugged, no semblance of Internet access, what more is a guy to do?  Tromp around VT, enjoy the scenery and fresh air, go on a few factory tours and just take it easy.  IMHO there’s no place better to just take it easy and get away from it all than Vermont.

Picture a world were billboards are banned, neighbors look after one another, there are more farms than homes (at least where I was), the air is clean and the asshole driver is normally out of state or Canadian.  That’s VT.

Last Saturday started with a bit of a jolt as I went to start my car, smelled electrical, and then lost my fuel and temperature gauges.  The car still ran fine, and I had an odometer, so we continued out.  I tell ya, those EZ-Pass things are nifty.  I’d rallied against their use for years but finally came to realize that I was tired of not only hunting down the ‘cash only’ lane, but waiting 10 minutes in a line of cars to actually use it.

The 6 hour drive was mainly uneventful, a handful of asshole drivers to keep it interesting an obliterated BMW and subsequent traffic jam for spice.  Once we crossed into Vermont, traffic cleared, roadsides cleared, and most noticeably the air cleared.  It’s a bit of a shock driving in Vermont.  For starters, there are very few traffic lights – plenty of 4 way stops where everyone takes their turn.  Tailgaters?  Aggressive drivers?  Honkers?  Few and far between, like I said earlier, every person I saw honk or drive like a moron were either from NY or Canada.  Not to say it’s slow up there, most traffic did at least 5-10 over the limit.  Police coverage was minimal as well, the only car I actually saw pulled over during my stay in VT was a Civic – the spiffy thing was that the vehicle used to stop them was a fully decked out Chevy pickup.

Talk about culture shock.

Most of the time I spent away from the lake was in downtown Burlington on Church St – the best description I could give is that Church St was like a mini San Francisco.  Sidewalk performers, art galleries, little shops – and the big name stores for the most part were hidden.  Not to say there wasn’t a Quiznos, Papa Johns, StarBucks or Seattle’s Best within view of each-other, but the landscape wasn’t dominated by brand names.

Food?  Well for starters it’s impossible to get a bad cup of coffee in VT, with nearly every establishment serving Green Mountain.  A tour through the Magic Hat brewery also brought about a new appreciation for the micro-brew and dare I say it – there’s nothing like fresh Ben & Jerry’s ice cream straight from the factory.  As far as eating out, I highly recommend the Vermont Pub and Brewery as well as the Church Street Tavern – both have outstanding food as well as local if not in-house brews.  The VP&B put Krogh’s to shame in just about every way possible.

I can’t say I’ve seen so many small businesses thrive in one place, in such a clean an open environment.  Just minutes outside of the hustle and bustle of Burlington where everyone stops at a crosswalk, you’re back amongst rolling hills and mountains, open fields, and farm upon farm stretching out in every direction.

I’ll definitely be going back, as much of a beach bum as I am – I can’t argue with the value of a place like VT.

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