Sunday, July 27, 2008

What A Long Strange Trip It's Been

After years of taking long weekend vacation trips (if we were lucky), the family packed-up our bags and headed out for an entire five days of vacation! Our destination was Vermont and our plans were open.

Just crossing over that state line made my heart beat slow.

The trip started with a visit to our old college friend's house in central Vermont. I first met Alicia the day before the first day of classes in college. We were both running to a placement test for elementary education students. Me with my granola bar in hand and Alicia with her flannel shirt.

We immediately hit it off and proceeded to have almost every class together for four years. (How did we ever pass chem/physics?) Alicia and I were even placed together for student teaching. We were lucky to have taught at the same elementary school...across the hall from each other..both in the third grade.

Long story short, Alicia married her college sweetheart Josh. She slowly morphed from a Jersey girl into a quilt making, food growing, Subaru driving, fifteen pairs of skis owning Vermonter.

Alica even introduced me to Hubby (my college sweetheart) during a political science class. They lived in the same residence hall and met because of how very social they both were. At Hubby's and my first meeting I thought that Hubby's earring was cute (barf now!) and so was he (still is).

The family spent our first day in Vermont playing with little Ben, catching-up and reminiscing about old times. Alicia and Josh live in the "suburbs" as they call it simply because they have cable TV and share a road with neighbors. I would call it the woods, but hey I can hear my neighbors making dinner. What do I know?
After spending the night we continued on to Burlington, Vermont and Lake Champlain.
Let me tell you how happily surprised I was as we first arrived in town. Street signs reminded drivers not to idle, as it is bad for the air quality. Recycling bins lined the busy streets. Bike riders and bike trails were everywhere. Restaurants touted the fact that their food was all from local growers, cows and bakers. Used bookstores and thrifts shops were more prevalent than chain stores. What a change from the fast-food driven, car driving, trash loving area that I like to call Connecticut.
Was this Gruppie heaven?

The family even spent a day on beautiful Lake Champlain.
(Hubby doesn't want me to blog about Lake Champlain because he is afraid of others finding out about it's unspoiled beauty. In respect of Hubby I won't tell you about how sparking clean the lake was. I will not mention how calm and warm the water was. I will not tell you about the restaurant that filled an old boat with beach sand and put it next to their lake-front restaurant to keep the kids busy while Mom and Dad drank local beer. I will keep my lips closed.)

I will tell you about a few of the yummy touristy destinations we encountered. First, we toured the Ben and Jerry's factory. The tour included amazing free samples (strawberry cheesecake is to die for) and we of course had to buy more ice cream at the end of the tour.

Hubby as Ben Gruppie as Jerry

Next, we toured Lake Champlain Chocolates. Not so much toured as stood in front of a glass window and watched the chocolate makers as if they were fish. (FYI, if you knock on the glass they wave back) That tour also came with lots of freebies and we, of course, purchased more chocolates afterward.

Finally, the family debated weather or not we should do the Cabot cheese tour. Ultimately, we decided that our stomachs could take no more.

My experience with Vermont was almost like I had visited another country. The locals are so proud of what is made in Vermont that they don't have to go to great lengths to use and consume Vermont products. From the smallest dive diner to the fancy-smanshy of restaurants, the food was made in Vermont. From the toy store to the art gallery. All Vermont. Why? Maybe it's because Burlington is a college town. Maybe it's because they are relatively isolated from other cities. Maybe it's the resourceful Yankee in their DNA. I don't know. Whatever the reason Vermonters seem like an environmentally friendly, low-consuming, locally focuses bunch of people.


Anonymous said...

We were just in Vermont, in South Hero, wading into Lake Champlain. It is a beautiful place. Our friends just bought a place there to retire to. It was our first visit to Vermont. We'll be back.


Gruppie Girl said...

Too funny!

Hubby and I were just looking for summer rentals on grand Isle. It is an absolutely beautiful place!

See you there next summer.