vanish after vacation there
By Greg Brooks
Special to GwinnettForum.com
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
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
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