Vermont Paradise - Brattleboro to Burlington!


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December 1st 2008
Published: July 25th 2009
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Sunday 21st September (Day 27)

Brattlebro - Burlington

Today we got up and had some breakfast at the hotel, before heading across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire for a bit of a look around the river’s edge. It was a very pretty area, with heaps of people fishing or just generally out in their boats. After a brief stop back in Brattleboro where we had a quick look around some old houses on the hill as well as one of the local covered bridges, before we decided to head north again, for our next destination. We took a scenic route recommended by a guy at the hotel, and passed several covered bridges along the way, including one of the USA’s longest - the Windsor Bridge, which again spans the Connecticut River and joins Vermont to New Hampshire. It was quite impressive and a lot of people had stopped to take photos. Vermont has the highest number of covered bridges in the USA - I’m not sure why, but I imagine it may have something to do with the cover stopping the bridges from freezing over, or being snowed under in the winter.

The Vermont countryside was again incredible, for the second day in a row. We passed through lots of small towns with the most amazing large colonial houses and country stores (selling all kinds of things like fresh beef jerky, quilts, home made fudge and the like). Vaughan couldn’t resist buying some beef jerky, so I bought some toffee in the shape of a moose. Unfortunately we didn’t see any moose on our travels, which would have been cool. We kept on through the countryside, through even more small towns - the mountains and hillsides looked spectacular in their autumn colours! We stopped at a fairly large waterfall to catch a few photos - there were a lot of signs around about not jumping from the waterfall, as several people had died. Unfortunately the photos we took don’t show the context of how large the waterfall was, and how deep and clear the pool of water was at the bottom. It really was quite a peaceful and pretty area. Our scenic route eventually met up again with the freeway, and we travelled the rest of the way to Burlington quite quickly.

When we arrived it was nearing dusk, so we got checked in to where we were staying and then sussed out where the closest supermarket was (where we grabbed some dinner). Our motor lodge had an excellent view of the lake at sunset, although it was a short way out of town. Burlington is a very long city, stretched out along the side of Lake Champlain., and we ventured into the city quickly and past the waterfront, to get our bearings. It was clear immediately that Burlington is built for the winter months and caters to the snow-seeking tourists that visit the area every winter. It seemed that at ever intersection there were at least two signs pointing to various ski fields. Burlington is surrounded by them, and I imagine the whole area must look incredible with the snow right down to the water in to coldest months.

We kept heading north, looking for a drive-in movie complex that I had read about. We had travelled some distance out of town and were about to give up when we saw a McDonalds ahead. We knew that the drive-in was very close to a McDonalds, and we managed to find it about a minute later. We asked the guy there how the drive-in worked, and he explained that you paid per person and each of the four screens showed two different movies each, with the first beginning at 8:30pm. You could move between the screens if you wanted to, at anytime. Luckily for us it was a Sunday night, and the complex was open (it’s only open in the weekends). Wicked - a real drive-in move! We got a couple of things at the McDonalds up the road to kill some time and then ventured back down to the drive-in. We chose to watch a film called Pineapple Express first, which was pretty funny. Then we changed screens and watched the Dark Knight, although I had already seen it. You tune your car stereo into the frequency for each screen & it comes out through your car stereo - since we had a rental car we didn’t really care about, we had it blasting the whole time. Quite good really. Sometimes it was a bit cold so we would run the engine and get the air conditioning to warm us up. Overall there were probably only about 10 or 12 cars in the entire place, and by the time the Dark Knight finished (about 1am), there were only two of us left. It was awesome that we got the chance to go, and we were both very tired but pleased with our day, as we headed back into Burlington for the night.


Monday 22nd September (Day 28)

Burlington

We woke up and ventured back towards the city, stopping off at the supermarket for some breakfast and munchie supplies, before heading back into town. Now that it was light we could see the area much better. The town runs along the edge of the lake, with a small cobblestone central area and a small waterfront area with pier and small aquarium. Behind the central town are several large university campuses, and a massive mall. The town was pretty quiet, but I imagine that during mid-summer and mid-winter, everything is pretty mad, and the place would be heaving with people.

We headed north out of town, towards the Lake Champlain Islands - five different islands/rural communities, known as South Hero, Grand Isle, North Hero, Isle La Motte, and Alburg. The islands are right up by the Canadian border, so we spent some time just cruising around the beautiful countryside, making it through South Hero and up to Grand Isle, where we stopped off at Grand Isle State Park. The Park had a really nice camping ground, sheltered cabins, and heaps of facilities. One of the park rangers came out to talk to us, so we chatted for a while, and it was really quite relaxing and pleasant. There was an area of the park that even had free wireless internet, so we sat in the sun and wrote a few emails on the laptop, before taking a walk down to the water’s edge - the water was pretty cold! Shortly after that we headed off north again and up to North Hero. The small towns were so quaint, with many Halloween displays and good old country fudge for sale outside every general store. We drove onto Alburg Island and decided to take a small back road towards Canada to see if they had any border patrol (they did). You actually get to cross the border officially on the US side, as the border control is about 10 metres away on the Canadian side, so we made it into Canadian territory, before turning the car around (and laughing at the one border patrol vehicle they had onsite, which had a flat tyre) and heading off the islands at a more northern point, and blasting back to Burlington on the freeway.

We arrived back in time to stop off at the main street of Burlington before the stores closed, however, very little seemed to be happening. We grabbed a coffee from the ever-present Starbucks, and went for a bit of a wander. There wasn’t much to see so we popped into the post office to buy stamps and offload a ton of postcards I’d been writing. While we were waiting in the queue, a local guy started up a conversation with us, but he seemed to assume we were English (the most common error generally), although chatting with him was pleasant enough and we didn’t bother to correct his mistake. At least the small-town folk were friendly! After our postcard mission we wandered down to the waterfront and pier to watch the sunset. The colours were amazing, looking out over Lake Champlain, to the islands and Canada beyond. We sat around for about half an hour while I took photos of the sunset - it was really relaxing just enjoying the last rays of the day. With darkness taking full hold we jumped back in the car and drove back south along the lake and stopped off at a Village Inn restaurant for dinner (general diner-type place), where the food was plentiful and fried beyond all belief, and the service was appalling. Almost enjoyable in a bad kind of way! We were finding that we weren’t really staying out at night to have drinks or see the nightlife much, as all the driving was quite tiring. However, we weren’t really there to drink (at least, not every day), and we were both pleasantly enjoying the beautiful American countryside at a much slower pace this time. The end of another successful day! Tomorrow - destination Cape Cod!



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