Hello again from Vermont!
We hope all of your summers have been warm (but not too warm) and full of fun and adventure.
We are winding down our month-long stay in Montpelier, Vermont. This is our last “settle in” stop on this year-long adventure. We just passed our 1-year mark of closing on the Tigard house and setting out on this trek. Hard to believe. It flew by!
As I mentioned in an early post, Vermont has captured our hearts and minds. It has all the outdoor offerings of Colorado (albeit not on the grand scale of the Flat Irons and Rockies). It has the like-minded vibe we appreciate from CO and parts of Oregon. It isn’t crowded! Shhhh, don’t tell anyone that. And… the property costs are very reasonable compared to Colorado, Oregon and Washington. It is so refreshing to _not_ see national chain stores all over the place. They are here, but so sparse you don’t notice them.
Montpelier is a delightful town. Hard to comprehend it’s the state capitol. Think about Sisters, Oregon and you’ll get a sense/feel for this place. It’s about twice the size of Sisters, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s great to see the mix of people – statesmen in suits walking next to farmers in mud-covered boots; college students and hikers stopping for coffee and exchanging all kinds of pleasantries. I didn’t see a shoe with a high-heel until about 3-weeks into our stay. And I don’t think they broke the 2-inch mark. A very casual and relaxed place.
The Montpelier Capitol is the most accessible and welcoming government building I’ve ever been in. You can walk into pretty much any of the rooms in the building. If there is a session underway, find a seat and sit down to listen. No metal detectors; no security (that I could see); friendly volunteers who almost force a personal tour on you. There are some very homey (or homely depending on the beholder) politician portraitures on display. Good ol’ Howard Dean is depicted so appropriately.
The current capitol building is the 3rd for Montpelier. The other two burned to the ground. They finally figured out that open dome architecture acts like a chimney. This current building is a dome, but they closed up the open space in the heart of it.
The surrounding mountains and hills continue to captivate us. I mentioned how soft and fluffy the vistas are to our yoga instructor — also from Portland. She mentioned how old these mountains are compared to the Rockies and Cascades. They have been softening for many a millennia. The hikes are as challenging and strenuous as those in Colorado; and not so manicured and restrictive. We like that.
Each of our stays gives unexpected surprises. I had no idea that the von Trapp family (“Sound of Music”) emigrated and settled in Stowe, VT. We took a drive to their homestead and saw where the family is buried. Who knew!?
Of course, a stay in Vermont isn’t complete until you visit Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (also in Stowe) and the Cabot Creamery. The Creamery is owned and operated by 1,100 family farms. Each farm has a 1-vote to cast regardless of size or production. Ben & Jerry’s is as fun and quirky as you would imagine. They have a “cemetery” up on the hill behind the factory with tombstones describing the demise of a variety of flavors. They also have an impressive and expansive solar farm that supplies the majority of the electricity to the factory.
A fun fact about Ben & Jerry’s: They discovered (1984) a little-known clause about stocks and brokering, then establishing a Vermont-only public stock offering to raise money for a new manufacturing plant in Stowe. They are very early “crowd-sourcing” trailblazers!
I walk by a funky old building each morning as I head for coffee. It housed the last U.S. wooden clothespin factory. It was established around 1900 and finally closed down in 2002 due to cheaper alternatives coming out of China. I guess there is a small plastic clothespin manufacturer in part of the space now. Apparently the first patent-worthy clothespin was designed in this area.
Eric treated me to a very special 4th time experience. James Taylor was playing in Gilford, New Hampshire on August 1 (our 4th anniversary). We took the 2 hour drive through the beautiful countryside and then were serenaded by this wonderful artist. We had near-the-stage seats and the awful rainy weather broke right before he came on stage. It was a wonderful evening.
We’ve been rewarded with wonderful quirky events on this trip. I think a highlight was the Vintage Travel Trailer show in downtown Montpelier. I had heard about it, but promptly forgot. Eric and I were heading to the Farmer’s Market and stumbled on it as we walked into town. Lucky us! These relics of a yesteryear traveling community were delightful. It was so crowded that we didn’t get good shots of each of them, but there are a few in the recent gallery I’ve created (link below). The oldest one was a 1944 tear drop. There were about 30 represented. I’m so happy we didn’t miss it.
We are packing up and heading West in the next few days. We’re expecting to be back in the Portland area mid September. We’ll be looking for a place to rent in the Vancouver, WA area. We’ll spend the 2-week trek across the northern part of the U.S. chatting about what we’ve learned from this adventure; what our plans need to be over the next couple of years; rereading these missives (I haven’t reread them yet and Eric hasn’t read any of them!); oh… and seeing more sites along the way.
I’ll write one more of these installments once we are settled in the PDX area. A recap of sorts, I think.
Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend!
Cindy and Eric