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Number 2.33, Aug. 2, 2002


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Preconceptions about Vermont
vanish after vacation there

By Greg Brooks
Communications coordinator
Walton EMC
Special to

AUG. 2, 2002 - - Vermont's a nice place after all.

As a born and bred Southerner, I had typical preconceptions about the Northeast. It's dingy. It's polluted. It's crowded. People would rather wave with their middle finger than the entire hand. They don't like grits.

My professional association, the Cooperative Communicators, was holding its annual meeting in Burlington, Vermont. I studied the brochures and web sites extolling the beautiful countryside and friendly people. But was this just a chamber of commerce plot?

Nope. Vermont is beautiful and the people are friendly.

Here are a few reasons I enjoyed seeing Vermont:

Lake Champlain: Many activities in Burlington center around the lake, but don't count on swimming. The water temperature in late June was still only 53 degrees.

The lake's shoreline is striking, some of it rocky cliffs. Some nice teenagers gave us a cliff diving exhibition as our dinner cruise sailed by their hangout. It was probably 100 feet from their perch to the water. Bet their Mamas don't know.

If you drive around Northwest Vermont, chances are you'll ride one of the ferries that cross Lake Champlain. The neatest one crossed a narrow part of the lake and was guided by cables under the surface of the water.

Ben and Jerry's: A mecca for our ice cream loving northern cousins where you can see ice cream being made and then taste the results. Learned they whip only 17 to 20 percent air into their ice cream while some competitors put in as much as 50 percent (the legal limit). Hmmm, at $3.99 a half gallon, that's almost $2 for air.

The Green Mountains around Stowe: Lush mountains with quaint New England towns, the ones you see on picture calendars. Some places in the Vermont mountains reminded us of North Georgia.

Farms and barns: You can tell farmers in Vermont are proud of their land and barns. Everything's tidy and in repair. And the barns are big and tight so animals have shelter during the harsh winter and farmers can store supplies of feed. Even though Vermont is small, it's a huge dairy state. Try the Cabot cheese.

Fort Ticonderoga (in New York): Famous fort used to control the Lake Champlain waterway in many early American conflicts. Ticonderoga was built by the French, captured by the English, and the Americans later took it from the English one night when all but one of the English soldiers were drunk. George Washington actually slept there.

* * * * *

Crossing the Canadian border is probably not as easy as it once was. We had a break from my conference one afternoon and decided to drive north so my sons could say they'd been to Canada (actually I wanted to say I'd been there, too).

"Bonjour, hello," said the female guard staffing the booth at the Interstate highway border..

"What is your business in Canada today?"


"Are you United States citizens?"

"Yes." I remembered to say as little as possible.

"Where are you from?" she continued.


"And how long do you plan to be in Canada?"

"Oh, about an hour." Wrong answer.

"You mean to tell me you drove all the way from Georgia to be in Canada only one hour?" I could tell she wasn't trying to be cute.

After explaining why we were in Vermont in the first place, and looking like a typical tourist family, she let us proceed. The American guards we encountered coming back were even more serious.

* * * * *

The people we met in Vermont are as hospitable as us Southerners. Their attitudes on a few things are more progressive, like the environment and protecting pedestrians. It was nice to have accommodations amongst vehicle traffic that allowed walking or biking without the fear of being run over.

Do I recommend a visit to Vermont? Absolutely. But take your own grits.

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BEAUTIFUL VIEW. Sunset over Lake Champlain, Vermont with New York's Adirondack Mountains in the background. Photo by Greg Brooks, who writes today about a recent vacation in Vermont.

For Elliott Brack's latest thoughts, click here.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own set of facts."

----Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-U.S. Senator, New York, 1989.

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