Hello from Vermont
Oh, how I wish we were staying longer than 2 weeks. What a magnificent state. We are on a 21 acre gentleman’s farm in Roxbury. About a 30 minute drive from Montpellier.
Before I gush over VT, let me catch you up on how we got here. Be forewarned … that VT section is going to be long. <grin>
We enjoyed Media, PA, but we were too close to Philadelphia for our liking. Too intense and in-your-face. I’m sure the further away from Philly you are the calmer the people are.
There was a lovely state park near where we were staying — Ridley Creek. We took a couple of great hikes on about 12 miles of maintained trails. The foliage is beautiful. This area of PA is actually greener than Oregon. Hard to believe, but the deciduous trees make every view more dense and more fluffy.
We took a day trip to Washington, D.C. Overall we were disappointed in D.C. Most of the lawns and parks were torn up for renovation and there were chainlink fences around most of the monuments. Not overly welcoming.
The security in D.C. is also stifling. We wandered around the Capitol Building grounds and were approached not once buy twice by Capitol law enforcement. The officer was kind and polite, but clearly engaging us to make sure we weren’t “planning anything.” Apparently not being in a tour group is a key profiling criteria.
There were some D.C. highlights — Arlington and pizza. Yep, pizza.
We were walking to the Washington monument and passing by one of the many school field trip groups. The adults were trying to get rid of the pizza they ordered for the kids. Eric looked at one of the guides and shrugged and said, “Really? The kids aren’t polishing that off?” The guy walked over, handed the box to us and said, “Enjoy!” Lunch on the hoof. Perfect.
We bought tickets for one of the hop-on/hop-off bus touring companies. Mostly to get from one attraction to another without dealing with the car or parking. We drove by the White House, but didn’t get off. There was an incident a couple of days prior and there was so much security that you couldn’t even approach the iron fence surrounding the grounds. We transferred to another route and rode out to Arlington National Cemetery.
What an overwhelmingly amazing site Arlington is. Beautiful, solemn, quiet, honored, heavy, etc. Every possible emotion relating to war, patriotism, politics and valor permeates and resonates from this place.
We spent several hours wandering the grounds — Kennedy’s tomb, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the many grave sites of noted and not so noted fallen. 400,000+ graves. “Overwhelming” is the only word. Everyone should make a trip to this place.
We finished up in PA and made a 10-day detour back to Oregon. Preston (Eric’s oldest) was graduating from Portland State University and wanted us to join him in the celebrations. It was great seeing the boys and family (PDX and Bend); hanging with River (our cat) and being in a familiar place for a little bit.
One our way back to PDX, we stayed 2 days in New York City. Eric and I had dinner at one of our favorite spots — Becco and spent a lot of time in Central Park. We’ve never actually been in the park on our past trips. It was a treat given that Spring was still in full swing and the weather was beautiful. Don’t miss the video of the “bubble man” in the photo gallery for NYC.
We also took time to go to the Guggenheim Museum. Eric hadn’t been and there was a great Moholy-Nagy exhibit going on. Lots of eye-candy throughout. And, of course, the building itself doesn’t disappoint.
After getting back from Portland, we picked up our car and belonging and headed to Roxbury, Vermont. I misremembered how long of a drive we had. I thought it was about 2.5 hours from Newark to Roxbuy. We’re lucky that I did. After about 36 hours of awake time to travel back to the east coast, we would have totally dreaded the actual 5.5 hour drive.
Again, we turned back the seasonal clock and drove into a burst of spring colors. Vermont has out done PA in the green category. This sparsely populated state presents hill after hill of dense maple, beech, poplar and alder trees with rare farm fields with a homestead. I can now see why people make the pilgrimage to New England for the fall colors. Wow!
Commence gushing… Vermont is beautiful. While there are no spectacular peaks, the rolling hills go on and on with barely an interruption. The early spring plants from Oregon — lilacs, columbine, iris are blooming in June. And the wildflowers are everywhere!
The people are friendly, approachable and welcoming. They are proud, convicted and respectful. If you don’t wave as you pass someone on the road, you’re considered a snob.
Andy and Crystal are our hosts. They have 2 eleven acre properties. One is their homestead and farm. The other, they bought in April, is from an elderly couple who now reside full-time in Florida. The second parcel has a 10-year kit cabin on it. That’s our home for the next 2 weeks.
We’ve been here for 4 days and are already talking about coming back in the Winter to get a feel for that side of living here. We asked Andy and Crystal to scare us about Winter and they keep saying that it can be cold, but it doesn’t last indefinitely and getting out and about is very doable.
They have a lot going on with their 22 acres:
- Nine sheep (5 lambs & 4 ewes) for wool and meat. They sell some of the meat and all of the wool.
- about 10 chickens for egg production and about 20 pullets for meat.
- Two ducks for eggs
- Three turkeys for meat
- 2 pigs that will be slaughtered in December. Again, they keep much of the meat, but sell off the excess.
- 3 cats and one neighbor cat who won’t go home
- 1 Jack Russell Terrier
- 3 very fluffy rabbits as pets (can’t remember the breed)
- Syrup producing Sugar Maples and a production sugar shack. They sell their syrup at local markets.
- 15 x 30ish green house and several garden beds growing all kinds of produce — tomatoes, kale, brussels sprouts, carrots, beets, potatoes, asparagus, blueberries, pear, apple, plums, raspberries, blackberries, chard, and on and on.
We’ve met several of their neighbors. Their AirBnB addition to the neighborhood brings them out to see the new faces. All of them, very sweet and very willing to answer our questions and share their Vermont experiences.
This stop is the first since New Orleans where we really want to interact with the neighbors, host a dinner and seek them out for socializing.
Kurt is the character of the ‘hood. He lives in the original Drown family house which was a dairy farm. We walked his property last night and got to hear about the history of the area. He just recently found the grave of one of the Drown children from the 1920’s. There is a lone Beech tree in one of his fields with several oddly placed field stones. He carefully mows this area to pay homage to the property’s past.
We went to Montpelier (the capitol) on Saturday and thoroughly enjoyed the farmers’ market and the quaint aura of the town. Local food and wares are more expensive than what would be found in the Portland/Vancouver area markets, but the quality and care in producing their goods more than makes up for the sticker shock.
Vermont is the second least populated state (behind Wyoming) and the citizens are steadfast in keeping the quaint feel of the towns. There are very few nationally recognized businesses (no Target, only four Walmarts, very few fast food franchises) in any town or city. It feels like the draw of out-of-state economics isn’t strong enough to outweigh the quality of local goods and services.
I think the economy can be described as subsistence. Not a lot of traditional jobs, but each person we’ve met has found a niche market/endeavor that is paying the bills and allowing them to do what they love and live the way they want.
We’ve been treated to evenings full of lightning bugs! They are twinkling everywhere. Unfortunately, getting a good picture is outside my skill and patience level.
An interesting fact about Vermont trees…In the mid to late 1800’s most of Vermont’s trees were harvested for paper and lumber. “Stripped bare” is the phrase we are hearing. At the turn of the century replanting started to take hold and forest management came into existence. To look at some of the vista pictures in my photo gallery, it’s hard to imagine those hills being bare of forests.
I think I’ll stop here for now. I could go on and on, but we have 10 more days of being smitten with this state. Be prepared for another gush-fest later.
Happy summer and sunshine to each of you. As always, if you have a few minutes to drop me a note with an update about you and your families I would be delighted to hear about them.
As Roxbury is touting right now … “Tolerance and Respect”
Cindy and Eric
I’ve added new photos to our galleries: https://hayes-samco.smugmug.com